Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I'm not the killing type

Some enterprising gamer put together a list of all the questions so far answered on the City of Heroes AMA. There's a lot of good there, a lot of pain, but it's worth the read even if you don't play--because, yet again, it perfectly demonstrates how active, and interactive, the development team at Paragon Studios was with their community and customers.

Of course, the biggest example I have is from experience with Second Life, where asking a Linden for any form of redress is about as effective as kicking a brick wall. But even jumping over to a near competitor, Champions, the difference is striking. Part of their "Whiteout" adventure pack had several glitched missions. They were all annoying to get through, but part three did us in, and--because the main enemy to fight never spawned--trapped us in the endgame space, where we had to simply log out.

Before we logged out, three of us sent in a support ticket explaining the difficulty. It's now one full week later, we've heard nothing. We likely won't hear anything, either, based on folks who've sent support tickets to Cryptic in the past.

Essentially, we had to log back in, return to the "Whiteout" mission sets, and do section three over again from the very beginning, and hope that the end boss did actually manage to spawn. We did this, but it was two hours we didn't need to spend, on a mission that was still glitchy.

I contrast my experiences in Champions and Second Life (as well as a host of other games) with my experiences in City of Heroes. It was a rare occasion when I didn't hear back within the hour of a support ticket going in. Those rare occasions were generally always on me, having to log out before that first hour wrapped up, and in each of those instances, I was sent email within two hours, at the latest.

I never had an unresolved problem. I never had to wait days, or even weeks, for a reply. And while I have nearly always been a subscriber to City of Heroes, I don't think that's even it, because for over a year now, I've heard back from sim owners--sometimes, even multi-sim owners--in Second Life who send in requests for support and hear nothing back. So it's not a money issue, it's a caring issue.

Meanwhile, I've been on this long and meandering journey (for about three weeks now) investigating various YouTube feeds concerning the Slender Man mythos. I've been concentrating mainly on the MarbleHornets videos, because they're the most comprehensive work so far (at 66 videos to date).

There's been other interesting developments I've discovered along the way. Like YouTube user "totheark" began commenting back on the MarbleHornets videos. While some of the Marblehornets videos are disturbing enough, "totheark" seems to be communicating in some cryptic, unbroken code.

And then there are the ones that just don't seem to sync up with the main storyline: like "Operator":

of the
The description on that one, by the way?
So what does it mean? It took me a week to realize, I was slow on the uptake: the capitalized letters form an independent word: LISTEN. And once I did, I realized that the sounds directly traced back to the missing audio from one of the early MarbleHornets vids.

What's been so fascinating to me in all of this (and, to date, I've watched the total output of MarbleHornets, DarkHarvest00, EverymanHYBRID, and TribeTwelve [with TribeTwelve's videos, so far, being my favorite], as well as about a third of the videos on the compileTRUTH channel), is that the Slender Man is, start to finish, a wholly invented urban legend. Yet, at this point, there are countless blogs devoted to the happenings in the mythos, several video feeds solely dedicated to him, and at least one (though I think fan-produced, not commercially released) actual film devoted to the Slender Man.

I'm fascinated enough to continue watching. There are some really inventive, arcane minds putting these various feeds together, and there's a definite liking for puzzles. Some of the puzzles I get, some take me longer (the bit of coding regarding prime numbers and the sequences from Base 64 notation, for instance, sent me researching for three days before finding out what that one said), but it's still enough to keep me watching. And to keep me unnerved.

T'is the season for unnerved, after all...or at least, it will be soon. I'm just getting the preparations underway a few weeks early.

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