Saturday, July 30, 2011

Contest Etiquette (Part 1: For the Taker)

Hey all,

The past few weeks have been mighty grueling with the compilation of duties and responsibilities of the truncated summer school class (finally completed!), work, broadcasting and commentating for the United We Stand tournament held by Cassandra Dragonheart, unraveling some miscommunication, relaxing up on a fantastic community-focused game called Fiesta Online (which Thomas Lionblood and Amber Rosepetal have openly sponsored in the past), initiating a new personal PVP-based project (which is secret for the time being, for the sake of my -- and others' -- sanity), guest-judging an official fansite contest, and preparation and execution of the Petnome Project contests.

While operating and administering the events for Petnome over the past year (along with other activities where I've guest-judged), I found myself surprised, concerned, and contemplative with the overall culture of contests within an online community.  In other words, I saw (or heard) things I couldn't believe I was seeing (or hearing)...and this goes beyond just erroneous or incorrect entries.  So, here are some contestant guidelines and personal advice from yours truly for enhancing your chances of winning contests from any event, from blogs' to fansites' to the official company's:


Don't Beg
After Day 2 of the Petnome Birthday Week, I lost count on how many entries were direct requests for the prizes.  Examples of this include "I want the 5,000 Crowns...now!"  "Give me the Black Cat!"  "Can I please win this?  I need it really, really bad!"  While begging may not disqualify entrants from winning (unless the rules specifically state that it does), it does become a nuisance for the contest holders.

Imagine if you were holding up $20 in cash in your hand and proclaimed you would give it to the person who painted the best portrait of you.  Then, along comes someone without any artistic skills, asking you for the prize.  You were trying to narrow your pool of players down to someone with creativity -- not someone who goes up to you and begs.  So, keep in mind that when you're in a contest, you're in a competition.  You have to show some work that follows the requirements to be eligible for the goodies.






Follow All Directions (FAD)
Read everything...literally!  While it may be advantageous in the sense of time to skim for keywords such as dates, rules, times, and any second-party applications or programs, not reading everything thoroughly can hurt your entry via disqualification.

For small-pool contests (contests with few seats available for contestants), paying attention to details is important, since the rules will be enforced strongly when the judges are allotted enough time to be picky with their selections or ruling.  If a contestant, for example, has the wrong version of an item required by the rules, it may not transition to the next judging phase, no matter how similar or "close" it is.

For large-pool contests (contests available to over hundreds of people), judges may not be as lenient when there is a factor with at least 3/4 of the contestants following the directions correctly.  Chances are, the other 1/4 of entries aren't even looked at; entries could be manually OR automatically screened.  For example, failure to include a key piece of your information could count as disqualification, like omitting a word; automatic screening may delete any emails with the wrong subject line or message!

Sometimes, judges or contest holders may allow for re-dos when a mistake has occurred that you've caught (truly, it depends on the format of the contest; i.e. trivia vs. riddles vs. feedback vs. media production, etc.).  If you happened to omit something, like forgetting to add your Wizard name, try to send the exact same entry (with the missing piece of information included) so that it has uniformity, AND matches exactly what the contest holder asks for.  In other words, treat it like a second-chance entry, rather than a follow-up message!

So, hand-in-hand, ALWAYS double-check your information and submissions.



No Trolling
While this concept may seem intuitive, it's both a surprise and an expectation when some contestants don't understand "no trolling."  The simple truth is that there is always at least one threat (or worse) or a profane remark thrown at contest holders when the results don't turn out in the violator's favor.  Here's another fact: this community is very tight-knit and cohesive, and no contest holder will tolerate malicious contestants within their own contest OR another's.  The same goes for those who try to cheat with multiple entries or submissions -- once discovered and marked, violators will have trouble finding eligibility or success with future or other contests.  There aren't simpler rules than (1) no harassment and (2) no cheating.



Too Much Information (TMI)
Believe it or not, sometimes contestants will provide more information than we ever need to know...like a phone number or home address.  NEVER send any personal information other than an email address that will help the contest holders contact you.  Though Official Fansites may be trusted entities, you never know if someone's correspondence email may become hacked (or is already hacked) or keylogged.  Also, you never know who someone really is behind the computer screen or keyboard, no matter how nice or considerate they are.  NEVER tell someone where you live, or where to call you, or what your real name is, or (Frost Giant forbid) anything that shows up on your birth certificate.  True, sometimes birthdays are required for age verification, but other than MMO-based sites like Massively or Beckett's, that information isn't relevant for Wizard101-based contests held by Wizard101 players.  And, to reiterate something that seemingly hasn't gotten to all players, yet: NEVER tell anyone your Wizard101 password.  The only time you should be using it is if it's at http://wizard101.com or the Game Client.  Also, keep in mind that Official Fansites are not KingsIsle.  Then again, even THEY ask you never to send your password, even in emails to them!



Have Fun
This isn't redundant, is it?  Contests, in my interpretation, are merely windows of opportunity -- privileges, if you will (not rights!) -- to attain some tangible or intangible commodity or benefit for the exchange of minimal (or competitive) work!  Know that there will always be contests flowing out of this wonderful community, and that you're hardly missing out if you aren't a winner!  "Oh well, Susie got the 5,000 Crowns."  That doesn't mean that Susie will also take the 10,000 Crowns that you may win in another contest.

The important fact is that you tried in a contest, and that you didn't have a 0% chance of winning -- not participating is the only way to guarantee a loss.  Sometimes the die (or Random.org) doesn't roll in our favor, just like when cards don't come up the way we'd like them to.  As long as you didn't troll the contest or contest holders, you'll always have a chance to win!

Cheer on and congratulate the winners -- I'm sure you'd like to be cheered and congratulated yourself when you're a winner someday.  Look at it this way: thanks to the contest, your Wizard101 community is populated and full of energy and action. Someone's interest in Wizard101 was enhanced with the prize, and most likely, they'll continue to play and contribute their presence to the game.  I haven't seen a barren MMO that's fun to play...heck, it contradicts the concept of it being "massive," "multiplayer," and "online."  When you see other wizards running around, you know that there's someone behind another keyboard enjoying the same game you're playing.  That makes us feel less isolating, less alone.  And heck, at least there will be other players to show-off to when you win a prize in future contests.




(to be continued in Part 2: For the Maker)

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    I Spy Some Loot...

    ...within the circles within circles...

    ...in what is provided to all students...

    ...within a community puzzle...

    ...and within a loop...

    From Crowns to reiterated seeds (that drop Mega Snacks and themselves at Elder!) to promotional pets to rare weapons to free codes, the Wizard101 Community is being flooded with prizes and goodies of all sorts!  So, whether you collect Pay-to-Play areas, creatures, or fancy equipment, be sure to check out what your options are within the links above.  Not only do these activities add a new dimension to the game, but it also helps with prolonging some entertainment, be it the allowance of stitching your items around 50-100 more times, or opening up windows for some awesome future purchases that you "must have."

    Good luck, all!

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    View > Hidden Files and Folders (8-Bit Trials Documentary)

    >> Opening folder /Kevin_Battleblood_8Bit_Trials
    >> ...
    >> ...
    >> ...
    >> Processing...
    >> ...
    >> ...
    >> ...
    >> Enter command: start HIAG8BIT.exe
    >> ...
    >> ...
    >> ...
    >> Begin HIAG8BIT.exe?  Yes.


    >> Text file found. View Day1.txt ? Yes.


    >> Opening Day1.txt ...
    I honestly have NO idea what I'm getting myself into.  As soon as I opened Autumn Duskhunter's post, it looked like something had corrupted Homework in a Graveyard...  But...there's a distinct message in this.  "Safety."  SOS?  ASHCAN looks promising...
    >> End of Text file.  Proceed? Yes.


    >> Opening Level 1...


    >> Text file found.  View Lvl1.txt ? Yes.


    >> Opening Lvl1.txt ...
    Hm...a little "Da Vinci Code"-esque...  Looks like it's binary, due to 1's and 0's.  Thankfully my new job's required me to utilize graphics editing to build up their Knowledge Retention database via electronic display.  Going to cut up each piece, add Transparency, and set them up as New Layers in GIMP.  Then adjusting pieces based on the known/unknown...  Looks like the "A" and "D"-looking pieces fit here...
    >> End of Text file.  Proceed? Yes.


    >> Solution found.  Corrupted/missing file.




    >> View alternate file?  Yes.


    >> Proceed? Yes.


    >> Opening Level 2...



    >> Text file found.  View Lvl2.txt ? Yes.

    >> Opening Lvl2.txt ...
    Mazes.  Bleh.  Never heard of an "Alice" maze before...  Something to do with "Through the Looking Glass" perhaps?  Let's try working backwards...
    >> End of Text file.  Proceed? Yes. 



    >> Solution found.  Missing file.  Find Missing file? No.


    >> Proceed?  Yes.


    >> Opening Level 3...


    >> Text file found.  View Lvl3.txt?  Yes.


    >> Opening Lvl3.txt...
    Oh my Frost Giant...  There are SO many pieces...  Contacting Cassandra Hexthorn to see if we can hammer this out together...
    >> End of Text file.  Proceed? Yes.
     
    >> Media file found.  View Jigsaw1.jpg? Yes.

    >> Opening Jigsaw1.jpg...


    Comment:  Managed to fit this abomination of a jigsaw together in a few places...
    >> Proceed? Yes.


    >> Media file found.  View Jigsaw2.jpg? Yes.

    >> Opening Jigsaw2.jpg... 


    Comment:  DAG-NABBIT!  I right-clicked, selected Zoom In...and now I can't Zoom Out.  At least we have this string...

    >> Proceed? Yes. 

    >> Media file found.  View Jigsaw3.jpg? Yes.

    >> Opening Jigsaw3.jpg... 


    Comment:  Visited the direct link that Autumn included.  White background makes it SO much easier.  Isolated pieces according to internal content.  "Border" pieces went to the upper right.  Bottom left zone is designated for "fitting."  Pieces with color are piled in the top center.  Pieces with both a straight line and parts of characters are to the left.
    >> Proceed? Yes. 

    >> Text file found.  View FinalCountdown.txt?  Yes.

    >> Opening FinalCountdown.txt...
    Thankfully due to Hexy, we aren't down and out, yet... It makes me shudder to think what would happened if we were "Nullified."  Frozen in "disk space to be overwritten," perhaps?  We solved the bottom two lines first, and I wanted to submit the codeword right away, but she made a great point in defending that the entire puzzle may reveal something else for future use.  While that wasn't the case, at least we felt secure in advancing.  Thank you, "ALM."  Seeing that many Guardians had chanted in using the "Save me, Mouse" option, and being the two that corrupted the Save File upon entry, Hexy and I decided to find any possible means of leaking out information.  We tried to dodge DAEMON's scanware (and succeeded) in sending out tiny packets of data to everyone else.  ALMOST got caught...but we managed to squeeze out the last two lines before the firewall activated...unfortunately, not all Guardians managed to receive or utilize our attempts in time...
    >> End of Text file.  Proceed? Yes.

    >> Solution found.  View JigsawSolution.jpg? Yes.

    >> Opening JigsawSolution.jpg... 


    Comment:  Courtesy of Hexy.  How fitting.  Hexadecimal.  Translates to:  Save a backup of your personal files offline,`like your pictures, and text documents. Save early, save often! Code word: BACKUP.
    >> Proceed? Yes. 

    >> Opening Level 4...

    >> Text file found.  View Lvl4.txt ? Yes.

    >> Opening Lvl4.txt ...
    Math... YAYYYYYYYY!  Simple algebra and order of operations...
    >> End of Text file.  Proceed? Yes. 

    >> Solution found.  View Level4Solved.jpg? Yes.

    >> Opening Level4Solved.jpg... 


    >> Proceed? Yes.

    >> Opening Level 5...

    >> Text file found.  View Lvl5.txt ? Yes.

    >> Opening Lvl5.txt ...
    Uh...symbols.  Math + symbols.  I totally get that...but these dang symbols.  Male and female.  Google time, and then checking with Heather Hexheart...
    >> End of Text file.  Proceed? Yes. 

    >> Solution found.  View Level5Solved.jpg? Yes.

    >> Opening Level5Solved.jpg... 


    Comment:  Used pen, pencil, and notebook paper to begin the puzzle.
    >> Proceed? Yes. 

    >> Text file found.  View Hexheart.txt?  Yes.

    >> Opening Hexheart.txt...
    Heather Hexheart's worked on the puzzle on her end...  We chose to work independently to try to come to the same solution.  Got her file!
    >> End of Text file.  Proceed? Yes.

    >> Media file found.  View Hexheart.jpg? Yes.

    >> Opening Hexheart.jpg... 


    Comment:  Noticed that her symbols/numbers were mixed up!  Corresponding with her to correct them...let's hope she gets her entry in on time!
    >> Proceed? Yes.

    >> Opening Level 6...

    >> Text file found.  View Lvl6.txt ? Yes.

    >> Opening Lvl6.txt ...
    More visual puzzles!  I've NEVER seen THAT before...hmm...  Gonna look at the Wikipedia example, and then correspond with Maria Moonblossom.  (Thanks to John Lifeglen for connecting us!)
    >> End of Text file.  Proceed? Yes. 

    >> Media file found.  View Wikiexample.jpg? Yes.

    >> Opening Wikiexample.jpg... 





    Comment:  Sum of the numbers adjacent in the Rows or Columns signify how many squares within  the corresponding Rows or Columns are filled in, respectively.  Autumn's puzzle, with color coding, made it MUCH easier on us...THANKFULLY!  Seems like this type of puzzle would take HOURS...especially in this example
    >> Proceed? Yes. 

    >> Solution found.  View nonogram.jpg? Yes.

    >> Opening nonogram.jpg... 


    Comment: Completed this with Maria, using GIMP and screen-sharing over Skype.  We laughed about how it looked like there was a fish within the picture...only to find that THAT was the point!  Thought of "Fish EX = FedEX, Fish Eggs, Fishy Mark, Fictious."  Didn't realize it looked like a timer, until searching on Autumn's blog for "FISHY," which had the code word.
    >> Proceed? Yes. 

    >> Opening Level 7...

    >> Text file found.  View Lvl7.txt ? Yes.

    >> Opening Lvl7.txt ...
    Hah, more grids and numbers?  "Akari."  What's Akari?  OH DANG, THIS LOOKS FUN!  No allies, huh?  All right, then!
    >> End of Text file.  Proceed? Yes. 

    >> Solutions found.  View akari.jpg and akari2.jpg? Yes.

    >> Opening akari.jpg... 


    Comment:  Started out with the squares that were surrounded by black tiles...rules state that all white tiles must be lit up, so those were dead give-aways!

    >> Proceed? Yes. 

    >> Opening akari2.jpg...

    >> Proceed? Yes. 

    >> Opening Level 8...

    >> Text file found.  View Lvl8.txt ? Yes.

    >> Opening Lvl8.txt ...
    Ugh.  "Chaos spatial data."  Do we treat this like a Katamari ball?  Is it rolling the die on the 2D platform...or put ourselves into the cube's shoes?  AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!  Hints from Twitter say that it's the former.  Good.  Working backwards...
    >> End of Text file.  Proceed? Yes. 

    >> Media files found.  View tools.jpg and die.jpg? Yes.

    >> Opening tools.jpg... 


    Comment:  Starting as Guardian 4...gonna actually work from my ending position backwards...
    >> Proceed? Yes. 

    >> Opening die.jpg... 


    Comment:  It was suggested a "Magic Marker" be used on the die.  Well, due to the lack thereof, I went with blue duct tape.  Ghetto Magic Marker!!!  The "arrow" is pointing North-East.  One of my solutions: 2U, 5L, 1D, 1R, 4U, 7L, 9U, 5R.
    >> Proceed? Yes. 

    >> Text file found.  View Conclusion.txt ? Yes.

    >> Opening Conclusion.txt ...
    The point of all this explained.  Heh, the last was OPTIONAL.  Bleh.  That was a very insightful and engaging post, and a one-of-a-kind method of sharing an important message with the community.  There have been a LOT of shake-ups throughout the past 12+ months, but somehow, we still manage to keep it altogether.  Why?  As Autumn said, that's who we are, this Wizard101 Community that we have.  Especially after Level 3, I realized that even the aspects of Wizard101 follow through to our overall attitude of forgetting about personal competition, and working together to bring about a new light on the cliche MMO-community image.  Instead of fighting for the lowest bargain, we're fighting monsters to fill one another's pockets.  Instead of aiming for the "best pet" and keeping the secrets to ourselves, we're writing guides and spending time explaining the process.  Thus, in the postive and negative times, we're powerful enough to become, once again, stabilized, and band together quickly when challenges arise.  Need guides, tips, proofs via pictures, help, etc. etc. etc.?  Just look to anyone, especially the Twizards.  Many thanks to Autumn Duskhunter for this elaborate test of mental, ethical, technical, and persistence skills.  I had a LOT of fun learning and attempting the challenges.  Our hats are off to you, Autumn!
    >> End of Text file.

    >>> End of folder.  Terminate program?  Yes.

    >> Goodbye...
    >>
    >>
    >>



    Friday, July 1, 2011

    Into the Spiral: Issues At Home and Abroad

    Before picking up my Arena deck and heading into the duelists' lobby this weekend, there are some important PVP-related matters that I must address.  The first has been suspended in thought, probed thoroughly during my contemplative moments.  The latter is a separate problem, originally unrelated.  That is, it was, until the connection of these vertices (and all dots in between) became necessary for a solid point that needs to be made and touched on.  This point in question has become misrepresented and taken out of context recently, and while I introduce a personal and global issue, I hope to reconnect the dots to present the bigger, underlying picture.

    Through countless observations of public reception, letters, and conversations inside and outside the Spiral, it seems that there are many players who misunderstand Perfect Catch, my PVP team.  Younger players look up to us as this "iron wall."  Our peers have jokingly and seriously viewed us as "unstoppable."  Almost every three or four days, I find a message in my inbox from some individuals, asking to challenge or fight Perfect Catch; most of these usually begin or end with some form of the statement of "I think we can beat you," where some are more or less troll-like.  Over the course of many months since the team's creation, we've had a pretty decent win-to-loss ratio, as evident with our videos on YouTube, but, inevitably, the illusion of us being unbeatable seemed to form somewhere within our audience.  We're perceived to be the "best" or "invincible."  As the leader and creator of the team, let me just say this:  "That's nonsense."

    The fact of the matter is: we're just different.  Here's a great, hefty explanation here.  We're simply not the "best" out there (nor should any team be considered the "best," as an important side note), and we're obviously not invincible.  The key word here is "unique."  Teams may mimic or play in similar ways as us, but our strategies and thought processes are simply "outside of the box."  Guides cannot be written with specificity to what cards should be in decks because of our practice of adaptation and evolution; our cards (and ultimately, our decks) change every single game, much like how we play.  As explained in the Perfect Catch's Origin video, we try to be as flexible as possible so that we narrow down and shift around our weak point(s). 

    We can't tell anyone how they should build their entire deck, though we can share the basics.  In fact, our cards (the 400~ spells between us) are chosen to specially synchronize Cassandra, Fallon, Ronan, and me in a virtually seamless way; unless you have people who think and react the exact same way we do, our deck builds will not do anyone much good!  Keep in mind: I'm not saying we're better; we're just in a different playground. 

    Thus, when players meet us in the arena and outwardly express their fear or anxiety by shouting non-sequitur like "We've lost" or "Oh no, it's TPC," we flinch or grimace; and, when players outwardly express their confidence and arrogance by shouting other non-sequitur like "You're gonna lose" or "These guys are bad," we flinch and grimace, too.  I just want to point out that getting beat by TPC should NOT be expected (everyone has a chance to win against us) and that beating us should NOT be celebrated (again, everyone has that chance -- there's nothing special in it).  Matches -- especially when it's just one -- should NOT be used as a measurement of skill via the end result.  Bad luck in the form of fizzling, lag, and poor probability rates (i.e.  drawing "wrong" cards, going second, etc.) can be major factors for just one match, and thus, one fight should NOT determine who is better than who.  Instead, the focus should be on the long run; ask yourselves, "Can we win against other teams doing what we did just now?" and "Can we win against this team again and again?"  Hence, we don't care too much for teams that believe they've found a way to "defeat" TPC (in fact, TPC enemies should be looking for a way to break our friendships and bonds with one another if they're looking for our expiration date).  To understand our point of view, imagine if some random person ran up to you and yelled, "I know how to beat Malcolm Thunderstrider, Jenny Longstockings, Sebastian Gutentaag, and Tiny."  Big deal!  How about outplaying every other team out there, too?  That’s a feat that certainly deserves some recognition and applause.

    But, let's not take this out of context.  There's a titanic difference between outplaying and defeating teams with simple, imbalanced strategies:  the former allows for a "dance" to play out, where players exchange spells against each other, while the latter is like stealing all the Monopoly money and preventing any transactions of actual strategy from being applied for true entertainment value.  Some people have suggested that if players don't like an aspect of the game, then they should not dwell on it or care about it.  Unfortunately, that's the equivalent to saying, "Don't play Monopoly if you don't like people ruining the game."  Monopoly's entertainment value has no correlation to how a few people play.  In this case, situations in PVP should not be treated like an umbrella for all aspects of PVP.

    In Wizard101, the imbalanced strategies have transitioned from Chain-Stunning (where victims are not allowed to play anything) to Blade-stacking (where 5-7 stacked blades can do at least 4,000 resisted damage in one turn) to Chain-Stunning again, and is currently set on Tempest-Spamming (very similar to Chain-Stunning, where the victims are destroyed before they can play a card). 

    I'll give you a little personal spoiler, in case assumptions arise with this seemingly volatile subject:  TPC is already developing an effective counter for Tempest-Spamming; we started a week ago, the night after the recording of the match I've released exclusively over Twitter.  It's working pretty well on our prototype pig, so the method (the "strategy" of Tempest-Spamming) is NOT what bothers us.  Period.

    Instead, it's the social and technical effects that imbalanced strategies have on players and the community – that’s what bothers us.  Naturally, players tend to mistakenly treat a single win or loss as a measurement of skill or dominance.  “I’ve lost, so they’re better than me.”  That’s a dangerous fallacy to hold onto, because it enables cheap-tactic users to believe that they are a legitimately dominant force.  What’s the danger in that?

    First, it discourages newer players or Arena participants from appreciating the true nature of PVP.  Just last night, someone on Twitter asked how PVP was appealing at all if there were so many concerns about imbalanced strategies.  The thing is, imbalanced strategies do not affect us or other advanced teams personally, but the internal aspects do tend to harm the na├»ve who use them.  These infamous playstyles require little thought, preparation, and coordination.  Accepting them as a legitimate norm would be misrepresenting what PVP is truly about: advanced play.  Most people PVP because they enjoy playing against human intelligence, rather than against a monster that exhibits boring patterns and incompetence.  It’s a totally different element when your enemies have the capability to anticipate and plan.  So, when cheap tactics are used (playing as if it’s a farm run rather than playing against humans), the lack of advanced play creates the illusion that PVP is generally about killing rather than outplaying.  Sounds like more grinding, honestly.

    Secondly, to an audience of players who enjoy and understand what PVP is all about, imbalanced strategies are like trumpets calling out for verbal attacks, disapproval, and negative association.  Skilled players, with all their knowledge, wisdom, and experience, take appreciation in participating in the “dance” known as a “duel,” where an exchange of tactics fly from circle to circle.  Imbalanced strategies hinder and cut off that dance.  Imagine taking a salsa class, only to end up failing the course because the judges flipped a coin and determined they would grade you based on how it landed; you never got the chance to perform.  I don’t think anyone would just sit back and accept their fate silently, in that case.  Thus, cheap tactics create social pressure and tension.

    Third, those who utilize such methods tend to stunt their ability to advance further in Rank once a direct or indirect counter is found.  Think of the Fisherman Metaphor.  “If you give a man a fish, he will last for a week.  If you teach that man how to fish, he will last for a lifetime.”  By letting imbalanced strategies exist as accepted styles of team play, the pool of incompetent players increases, and as a result, their reliance on a single tactic will require them to take advantage of lower ranks (via down-ranking).  Because there is no self-development available for using notorious plays, there is little room for change, innovation, and reform.  Therefore, when a team like TPC comes along and finds a way to counter (for example) Blade-stacking, some teams have dropped out of the Arena due to the inexperience of playing another way.  Once something “stops working” the way it used to, its overall longevity is truncated; in this case, when a cheap tactic “stops working,” the user’s PVP participation dies (or slows), too.

    So, why is understanding TPC and understanding the nature of imbalanced strategies significant or important?

    Most recently, words and actions of my teammates over Twitter were taken way out of context, to the point where the original issue was no longer addressed.  Well, how do we put things into context?  By exploring three important components: community history, culture, and the full story.   Don’t want to hear it?  Well, consider the argument against California’s Three Strikes’ Law, where opponents of this law took it out of context by pointing out that it was putting away people for 25 years-to-life for petty acts such as stealing a pizza.  Sure, it sounds absurd, but when you take it back into context, realize that stealing the pizza was the third act in a series of law-breaking (including felonies).  By absorbing and opening yourself to more information, the situation becomes clearer and more justified.

    TPC’s mission, since birth, is aimed to restore the fun to PVP by showing (1) teams don’t have to play a certain way to reach Warlord, (2) teams don’t have to follow a specific roster of school combinations, and (3) friends can PVP together, regardless of how much experience each of them have.  Ever since Ronan Dawn and I met for the first time, we’ve noticed that PVP had dwindling popularity and players were losing interest.  Left and right, PVP players were being judged in a lump sum, and we were deemed to be arrogant, selfish, obnoxious, or rude, just because we enjoyed that part of the game; no one believed that good sportsmanship existed in this realm.  Imbalanced strategies at the time, which was solely Chain-Stunning, created the illusion of “power.”  Friends of these teams rooted and cheered for their mates, while they spat and put down the unprepared victims.  Pretty similar to kicking someone down and making fun of them for being pinned.  Even 1v1 had its own trolls (and Gobblers, Onis, etc.)

    Ronan and I knew we needed to shine the light on the other side of PVP, despite how difficult it was to make a case with all the unsportsmanlike conduct flying around in the Arena.  We just didn’t have a shared execution, nor did we develop one together.  But, we did agree that we needed to increase PVP’s popularity to add to the pool of players.  When the number of competitors grow, the number of inventions and strategies do as well.  It’s all explained here.

    After TPC was created for the intent of friends having fun together, we realized that our peers around us didn’t agree or approve that we were moving from PVE to PVP.  Slowly, we took on active movements to reinstate the Arena’s good name through my Arena series, the PVP Party Forum, and PVP commentaries.

    Thankfully, the Massive Fantasy Palace came out.  This enabled us to hold PVP Parties, where we encouraged players to renew their interest in the Arena by providing them an in-game site to innovate, test, individually measure their improvement, learn, and enjoy PVP, while discouraging and removing the badly behaved and bad sports.  Through this, the overall acceptance of PVP (from the Ravenwood Radio, Blogger, Twizard, and Diary of a Wizard end) increased tremendously.  Even our dear Paige Moonshade, who used to detest, dislike, and avert away from PVP after witnessing corruption amongst her friends in the past, rediscovered enjoyment in participation – she eventually overcame the dreaded anxiety, pressure, and tension she used to feel.

    As you can see from my Arena series, it meant a lot for me if someone saw the light and benefits of PVP.  Paige and I had about two or three discussions last year, and I remember I was begging the question of whether or not she’d give PVP a chance again; she’d reply along the lines of “Never.”  But, as evident from the 2nd Annual Ravenwood Ball, that "never" wasn’t a promise, and I’m honored and happy that “the spell was broken.”  Paige is having fun again…and if you knew the Paige Moonshade from many months ago, you’d see this as some sort of miracle, too.  Cassandra Dragonheart was also a relatively new PVP prospect around the time – initially, she didn’t see or believe much in PVP (due to the negative environment and bad sportsmanship of other wizards).   It took time, and I’m glad she gave it a chance, because now she’s fighting around the 1300+ ranks and enjoying a new hobby.  Our very own Autumn Duskhunter from Homework in a Graveyard (a non-regular PvPer), after attending one of our parties, developed enough interest to stand around for a number of TPC Ranked matches,  ask for tips and tricks, and apply them.  Many people from Diary of a Wizard and YouTube thanked us for relighting their Arena candle.  

    Each member of TPC is a strong advocate for being supportive and constructive for a player’s PVP development.  In other words, we’re critical of other players who accept, condone, or promote the methods that accelerated the Arena into the Dark Ages.  We don’t believe that the use of imbalanced strategies is ever a positive or constructive way to improve one self, or accurately represent what PVP really is about.

    A few nights ago, there was a disturbance in our attempt to keep the PVP environment harmonious.  An imbalanced strategy, mainly Tempest-Spamming, was used by one of our regular PVP Party participants.  Don’t get me wrong, now – that wasn’t the main issue.  Instead, the problem was that a few players were teaching a young child that the imbalanced strategy was an acceptable learning tool for their PVP development.  When my teammates questioned their logic, one replied that “they will learn the hard way.”  Keep in mind that this is an adult encouraging a younger player to put himself (or herself) into a volatile situation, considering the three negative aspects of imbalanced teams explored above.  The counter-argument was that the child was going to be subject to insults anyway.  This is what threw some of us off.

    Even when teams like TPC play fairly, it’s true that we’re still on the receiving end of insults and profanity.  This is from a default player base that will always exist, called “trolls,” which are players who have nothing but destructive comments, motives, and intentions, where their actions do not benefit or help anyone but themselves.  When players win or lose against trolls, it’s generally expected that there will be something said from the other side that doesn’t help anyone improve or leave dignified.

    Thus, it seems cruel, if not negligent, to encourage a younger player to adapt a playstyle that will add another player base to sink the child down further into social and emotional pressure.  This player base is generally of the rest of the PVP community, where players play to have fun or improve their skills in the game.  When Tempest-Spammed, the fun is ruined for these players who want to give the Arena a fair chance and who want to learn and enjoy the game.  

    My question is, why not advocate for the child to play in a productive way, so that, instead of the burden of negative recognition, they are known positively?  On top of peer pressure and the innate desire to want to belong, children do not need another reason for other players to talk down to them.  Blade-stacking, chain-stunning, and Tempest-spamming may earn them some easy rank points and tickets, but PVP will lose its fun if the player (1) is constantly bashed and flamed, (2) realizes that a game update will quench their winning streak, (3) sees everyone else rooting for the other side, (4) becomes bored with the repetitive playstyle, (5) loses friends and gains enemies, (6) and/or runs into a counter.  Teach them how to PVP, and they will find windows upon windows of opportunity to improve.  Also, if they are respected, they may find their own self-respect, opposed to degenerating out of spite.

    It’s understood that Twitter recently exploded with a lot of misconceptions as the issue was taken so heavily out of context that most Twizards failed to learn of the actual problem.  Instead, it sounded as if small battles were trying to be won through blunt, singular points that did not contribute to solving the actual problem.  The wrong people were being called “trolls.”  Players of skill were being told to discontinue their hobby if others used cheap tactics to win.  Active, trusted, and credible community members did not have their voices heard.  I originally wanted to discuss and defend these issues, but I think most of them will be spoken for in the near future.  Those of you who’ve made it this far into reading and understanding (some friends and I thank you, deeply) will see what I mean...for example, sharing the counter against Tempest-Spammers, debunking the idea that TPC and friends were "complainers."

    Before making judgments based off of actions, get to know each person involved and get to know the issue at hand.  Take into account all stories, not just one, lest there comes another monumental misunderstanding within our community.  Self-victimization is not a long-term buoyant.  If involved in a conflict, understand that within due time, when all these multiple stories and puzzle pieces have aligned, the act of gambling a friend's alliance and omitting key information will come back to bite someone in the end.  When you write, voice, work, play, or act with a positive and constructive attitude, and maintain integrity, we all win.

    Thank you for your time.

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