Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A few things I've learned on a forum

I thought I was relatively tech-savvy prior to joining Lucasforums. After all, I knew my RAM from my ROM, had learned some Basic and Fortran in high school, knew how to update a sound card, and was on a three-person team that revised a 75 page policy manual entirely through email. I had figured out how to get the wireless going on all our home computers and had even got some games going on a laptop with only a 32Mb video card, which I learned later was something of a minor miracle.

Well, this all came about as a result of a search for a fix to a very simple problem: how to put rancor scent into the pile of bones in the PC game "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic." This is a seriously cool game, and considering I had not played much in the way of video games since my Atari days, mainly because we didn't have the money during the college years to spend on a console or a decent PC, I thought (in 2005) that this had to be one of the greatest looking games I'd seen, not to mention Jolee Bindo's dialog is hilarious. In the game, though, the only way to get through this one particular section is to put rancor scent into the pile of bones along with a grenade in order to make a tasty (and explosive) treat for said rancor, which looks a lot like a giant brown drooling Godzilla minus the scales for those of you who missed Return of the Jedi. Throughout the entire game, anytime you open a storage chest, you click 'take item', and the storage chest gladly complies, offering you items like healing kits, stimulants to boost your speed and stamina, Jedi robes, and the occasional Baragwin Assault Rifle. There is also a 'give item' button to press, but who wants to give up a Baragwin Assault Rifle? I mean, those things do some serious damage.

The single solitary time that you ever are required to utilize this 'give item' button is to 'give' the rancor scent and a grenade or two to the pile of bones. Why you can't just drop them there and run like the wind, I don't know, but that's how the devs made the game. Needless to say, if you haven't played a video game in several years, this is not immediately obvious. I got stuck trying to figure this out, and was not yet familiar with the concept of game walkthroughs (how much walkthrough do you need to destroy Asteroids or pop balloons in Circus Atari, after all?). However, Google and I are on a first name basis in the search department, so I googled Kotor and 'rancor scent'. Up popped a thread in the Kotor section of Lucasforums. Here were a bunch of people who geeked out about Star Wars as much (if not more) as me, and I was right at home. So I signed up, read the rules (a novel concept, I know), and lurked a bit to figure out who was who and what was what.

I quickly discovered that an entire gaming language had developed in my sabbatical from playing games. I was hit with LOL, FTW, pwn, 1337, emo, "11one!!one!111eleventy-one!!111"and the ever-popular WTF, which was obvious even to this n00b. Mind you, Jimbo's in the military reserves, so we are no strangers to speaking in acronyms. Thank God for urbandictionary.com. Without that, I'd have looked like a complete idiot rather than merely totally n00by. I have actually managed to learn to say "Orlando Bloom is teh hawt, and I lurv Jimbo". IM speak is right out, though. I can type the words normally faster than I can think of the IM codes and intentionally misspell things. So, don't ask me to IM speak, plzkthx.

There was also the concept of three levels of moderators, with varying degrees of God-like powers over The Editing and Deleting of Posts and Banning of Members. Up until this point, I'd only seen a moderator or two on e-lists, and they didn't have to do anything except tell people maybe once a year or two that the conversation was getting a little too heated and to play nice. Of course, they weren't moderating a bunch of post-pubescent teens, either, so maybe the lists didn't need as much watching.

One thing I learned was not to post when under the influence of medications. My first post in LF was momentously awful--I had had knee surgery earlier that week and was taking Vicodin. I discovered that week that writing anything while taking Vicodin is A Bad Idea, but I was bored to death, so what can I say? I'd go and delete it now, but Trusty Friend Niner would probably undelete it just to torture me. :D

I've also learned how to make a mod for a game, make my own custom avatars and signatures, find a nemesis, moderate the forum (I'll never know what possessed them to think they should turn me loose with demi-god powers, but they did), and how to use GIMP, among many other things. Not bad for a Star Wars gaming site. :)

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