Friday, 18 April 2014

The Writer's Life As An Online RPG

Yep, you read that title right. I have just outed myself as a geek - which probably comes as a huge surprise to precisely no-one.

But it's an idea that came to me a couple of days ago, and the more I thought about it the more I couldn't let it go. Because the similarities are definitely there, and it got me wondering if it wasn't actually quite a good way of charting the progress of an average writer's endeavours (and I count myself as being within that category.) Having been a writer for a long time - and also an online RPG-er for... not quite as long, but I know the drill - I am willing to offer myself as a guinea pig for the purpose of this experiment. So come join me as we play... World of WriterCraft!

*cue dramatic music and login screen*

Creating a character
Right, we're starting from scratch, so the first thing we need to do is create our writer avatar. We can pick any race and gender we like because, as we all know, they make no difference to our character's abilities... okay, done that. Now, do we want to pick a premade Character Class? Let's see, we've got Journalist, Screenwriter, Playwright, Lyricist, Novelist, Short Story Writer, Poet.... or shall we pick a Multi-Class character? Yeah, let's do that, give ourselves more options. Right... this hairdo, that eye-colour... jeez, do I really want a piercing there..? Okay, done. Right! Into the game - here we GO!

Starting Out
Right, here we are in the newbie area. Oooh, there's a lot of people running around here... they all look the same as our character.Oh hang on, a popup window's just come up. "Welcome to World of WriterCraft! Let's walk you through the basics of Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling." There's a button underneath that says "Skip tutorial" - do we want to do that? Well, we could do that and just get on with playing the game - those things are usually deadly dull, after all... but we all know that'll come back and bite us on the bum later, don't we? Oh heck, let's do the tutorial. You never know, we might learn something we didn't know - and we might even get some freebies at the end. (We can always sell them to a vendor if they're crap.)

*goes through tutorial*

Well that wasn't so bad. And look - we got a Pen of Scribing as a reward! And a rather nice pair of writer's gloves. And - oh yay - Ding! We just levelled up! An extra stamina point and now we're Level 2. Bring it ON!

Doing Some Basic NPC Quests
Right, now we need to do some questing; get some experience and maybe earn a bit of dough as well. Jeez, who are all these people shouting all these adverts repeatedly in the Chat Channels, over and over again? Must be the self-pub spammers... *sigh* will they ever learn? People buy from self-pubbed authors who behave professionally, not the ones who stand in public places shouting their heads off and making a nuisance of themselves.... Anyway, where are these Quest NPCs? Ah, here's one; he's got a glowing exclamation mark over his head, that's useful. Mr... sorry, Lord Genre. What's your quest then, mate? Ah - "Venture into the libraries and bookstores of this fair land and read twenty Booker Prize-winning books, then return to me for your reward." Aw, seriously? That's gonna take ages.. oh, alright then...

...Right - I'm baaack! And I've read your twenty books, as requested. What do I get?

"Well done, young writer! Have 50xp! And now.... I would like to you venture further into the dark and dangerous corners of this fair town's bookstores... and read twenty Penguin Classic books! Return to me once more when you have completed this dangerous task!"

You are kidding me, right? I've just been.... I already went.... Another twenty things to..? Well you could've said that when I was... oh, never mind. Okay, off I go again then...

...Right! I'm back. And I've done your sodding quest. Now where's my reward?

"You are indeed a worthy student, young writer! Here - take this Cap of the Well-Read and five gold pieces. Now I would like you to travel to the Big Library on the edge of town - and read twenty..."

*punches Lord Genre in the face* Y'know what... I'm gonna see if there are any other NPC questgivers around here.

Finally - Crafting!
Aha! This looks more promising - the Crafter! Okay... "So, you wish to learn Fiction, do you? Well, read the book I've just magically smuggled into your inventory, and then speak to me again." Oh, okay then.... right, done that! "Well done - you have now earned your own Crafting Station! Your Fiction Writing skills will improve with each new item you craft, and as your skill goes up you will acquire new recipes and techniques."

Cool! My own Desk and Crafting Computer! So... I just keep writing lots of beginner-level stuff then, until my skills level up and I can start writing more complicated stuff? And I can sell all the stuff I've written on the Auction House as well? Ooh, maybe I'll make some money! And if no-one wants it on the Auction House I suppose I could just flog it to the vendors...

Joining A Guild
Wow - check out those guys over there! Look at their armour and weapons - they're much cooler than mine! I wanna be in their gang....

Hi guys - loving your look, are you looking for new members? What's my what? My Gearscore? What's that? Oh, I see... well actually I'm fairly new to this at the mo... no, I haven't got any higher-level alts to kit me out with Epic Gear, I'm afraid... um, no I haven't done any Instance Raids yet.... *sigh* no, I'm not after some power-levelling.. Fine, I'll come back when I've got 'more xp' then...

Let's try this lot instead... Hi guys, are you looking for new members? You're always happy to accept new members? I can be any level to join? Cool! Where do I sign? Oh, there's a fee - okay, fair enough, how much? How much? *chokes, splutters.* Erm.... okay, maybe I'll think about that later then... yeah, thanks...

Maybe I'll start my own guild then...

The First Big Boss Fight!
Right, I know this one's an important quest, because I got the loading screen when I started it... Stage one, create the Plot Outline.... pppffft, lots of traipsing all over the place and looking in dark corners then.... right, I've collected all the pieces for that, what's next? Find the Great Opening and use it to navigate the Beginning Section.... okay, done that... oh, now I have to navigate through the treacherous Sagging Middle... well, that was tough but - I made it! Now I cross this bridge to the Great Ending... and inside this room is the Final Boss... the Tough Critic! Okay, I'm armed with my Completed Draft... here goes...

Aaaarrgghh! He's flippin' huge! And he's got big claws and pointy teeth.... I am sooo gonna die..! Oh no - he hit me with Adverb Contempt! That's a big chunk of health gone right there... let me just swig a Spellcheck potion.... well that's helped a bit, but - aaarrgghh! Not the Passive Voice Attack! I'll have to put my Good Grammar Aura on... okay, that's mitigated some of the damage.... crap, now he's going to hit me with a massive Plot Hole! There's only one thing for it... I'll have to use my Rewrite Spell!

Yaaayyy, I did it! The Rewrite Spell finished him! I defeated the Big Boss Critic! Now let's go raid his loot chest to see what I get.... oooh, Armour of Thick Skin+1.... nice!

The PVP Arena!
Okay... normally I stay away from PVP, 'cause I'm not the type who goes looking for a fight, but apparently the rewards are awesome, so here goes... here's the venue - "Writers' Conference" - let's do this!

Oooh help! There are tons of people here and I don't know anyone and I don't know what to do! Okay, calm down. Just follow the big groups and do what they do. Don't take on a big Boss Fight on your own - join a big gang who are already taking him on... safety in numbers and all that... Might as well face it, I'm probably not gonna get any of the epic stuff on my first time; there are loads of people here who've done this loads more times than me and know all the tricks for that. I'll just watch them and pick up tips, I think. Ooh, that person over there looks like a fellow newbie... Hi, I'm new here too. Yeah, good idea - let's stick together...

Hmmm... this might not be as scary as I thought it was gonna be...


Well that was fun! I think I've got up to about level 5 - which is still a long way from being a 'Leet' player (that means high-level, for any non-nerdy people who didn't run away from this post long ago - thanks for sticking around, by the way.) But that's not a bad start - and it's not like I'll be banging my head on the Level Cap any time soon.

This is one RPG I'm going to be playing for a long, long time yet...

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