Full Circle

[This is a local re-post of an article submitted for the October GoMe Newsletter. They’ll be pleased to note that I’ll be submitting items for the next couple months, in part inspired by ‘recent discussions’ within the community. Stay tuned, and hunker down…]

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For the first time in three years, I stopped by NYC during 9/11 this past week. The event meant a lot to me, as I lost co-workers (who were also good friends). But, it also drastically shaped who I was, and how I would eventually find – and interact with – the overall Myst and Uru communities.

I have always had problems with losing people – I made very few friends when I was young, and changes I made to my life since then have caused me to want to actually do something as a ‘personal rememberance’ for those losses. That is, in part, why I now work late at night (as of Dec 2001).

Despite my starting Uru via the Ubisoft ‘Accounting Error,’ my first full introduction to their community was actually with the launch of Until Uru. As part of that, I joined my first ‘external’ forum at Guild of Greeters (since their shard was the first I heard about). About six months later, that was followed by Uru Obsession, due to the ‘Pats Parade. Active involvement through other forums has grown and shrunk over time, as well as (nowadays) through MystBlogs.

And with that, I discovered friendship through community – something that was new to me, being in prior groups that were normally devisive. We’ve had our own issues of course, but overall its been much better than some of the groups I’ve been with. I’ve also experienced loss within this community, which I’ve used as a force for keeping things alive in my own way. Either through Second Life(tm) or external events (like local game conventions – including, currently, a LARP), I’ve continued to promote Uru and its potential both as a game itself and its unique community.

So, here we are, full circle. MO:UL, our second attempt, is gone, and we’re into a Second Interregnum. We are awaiting yet another attempt at rebirth. And, most of all to me, we’ve lost community members that we all care about, and who will not see that rebirth. That, again, has re-charted my own course; I am not as interested in MO:RE as I am the community as a whole, and will foster that as much as possible.

–TSK

Going Forward…

I woke up this afternoon to one of my ‘forward looking’ dream-images (some of which, over the years, have come true to varying degrees). This time, it was a series of weblog posts about various things in the Myst community, but nothing at all related to Uru itself.

This makes me wonder if I really am at a new state in my life, regarding Uru. I’ve said to several people now two possibly conflicting statements:

1) Uru *can* work, but it needs some dire work to get there. This is the essence of my old ‘Response to Rand’s Letter‘ post on the Ubi forums, and even five and a half years later I stick by that.

2) With MO:UL’s closure, I’m not going to participate (other than Guard appearances for stuff like the ‘Pats Parade) on any successor. My #1 gripe at the Ubi Shutdown was that we never got any real chance to see Uru stand on its feet in a ‘paid’ format, and that’s all I ever wanted. I’m not going to get into what happened with MO:UL that made it not survive – plenty of discussion there already! – as that is not the point to me. I got to finally see it as a paid service, and as the cliche goes ‘my work is done.’

Now, I want to stress that this does not mean I don’t like Uru, and don’t want it to survive. Go back and re-read my first statement, including the Ubi post, as well as various forum posts over the years. I care, end of story. If you think otherwise – again, spend a couple days and read through my posts on UO and GOG forums, as well as here on the weblog. Then come to me with a good (and non-flaming!) argument, and I’ll listen.

But, as of last year, my focus has shifted (possibly because of the first Interregnum via UU). To me, the community itself matters more than what venue(s) we seek together. Its what drives me today as a whole – even outside that community. I still talk about Uru, and evangelize about it (though to a MUCH lesser extent than I used to). My main talking point now is its extensive and friendly community; Though not without its detractors (who constantly remind me of Prokofy) I think we do better than most groups.

And that’s something I can really rally around, until the end of time if needed.

–TSK

Much Fun /w Upgrades…

Lots of things in the last couple days:

-> Upgrade both my sites to WP 1.6.1; Unfortunately that also required I switch off of Fantastico and onto something called ‘Simple Scripts,’ but the interface does not look *too* bad and I guess I’ll just have to watch and see…

-> The two notebooks had their HDDs swapped. Now the HP has the Sager’s 7200 RPM disk, which makes it much snappier but also quite a bit hotter (I still have a 40 gig lying around from the Slug that, if faster than 4800 rpm, may become the ‘final’ disk here). The other downside was that I cannot find the HP notebook’s XP media disk. So…

-> The HP now is running Debian. Also, very good response, snappy boot time, and looking good – other than wireless (WTF is Etch doing on 2.6.18 still?). *sigh* I downloaded the ‘lenny’ netinstall ISO and will try that next.

-> The Sager is pretty much a write-off at this point, due to a combo of its weight and the lack of a even-close-to-modern video card. Again, I’m willing to part it out, for anyone interested, or sell the unit as a whole. It *will* play Uru TPOTS/CC just fine. It just barely (today) will do SL, but it should be OK with There.com as well.

/salute
–TSK

MA to NJ, and Mysterium After Action Report

Yeah, I’m a week late in posting this, but still not quite back into work due to being away nearly 2 weeks…

So, the drive back to NJ was about 4.5 hours this time. Again, I was tired (Sunday night I was up later than expected, even if I didn’t actually eat anything at The Melting Pot). Left around 5:30 for an arrival time around 10:30 (I actually stopped by my desk at work around 10:00 to say hi and let folks know I was actually back). If I try that kind of driving again, I’m going to change the leaving time so that I hit the approach to NY around 10:00 instead of 08:00 so that I don’t need to invoke detours on the Nav…

Myterium itself was cool, if a bit unstructured. Friday was more-or-less that way out of necessity, since folks tend to wander in during the day. Signups occurred then, mostly for Tomb once that was announced. And I ended up missing Robert’s presentation since I did not know where it was being held (got to at least meet him though, however brief that was).

Saturday morning/afternoon was dominated by the various field trips, which again was dominated by Tomb but other things were going on. I just stayed at the hotel for the day, and had a late lunch at the mall next door. The evening’s marker hunt looked interesting, but I did not participate since I’m not into geocaching (which it was related to). The ‘What would Atrus do?’ segment though was absolutely hilarious, and would be interested in trying that next time…

Sunday. That morning was the memorial vid for Wolfie. Before that, I had tried multiple times to write something in his book, but could not work myself up to do it. I eventually did, early Sunday when no one was in yet, but had to practice the wording somewhat earlier in the morning. The video itself was extremely moving – no clue how Eleri got through making it, but thank you. I wanted to say something but I was too choked up, and disappeared to my room for an hour or so afterward to get myself back in one piece.

The rest of Sunday was finishing various things up – like the Heek games – and Closing. I’m used to actual conventions where they have these ‘set in stone’ setups laid out and you sign for events (which you then arrive at the time specified!). This was more of a free-for-all, mega meet-and-greet, which I had no issues with (That was essentially explained as much during Closing, which devolved more into a Debriefing). :) I’m tracking down a few things in order to followup on suggestions that were discussed.

/salute, and Thank y’all for having me,
–TSK

Travel Update 2 – MO to MA

So, the flight home from MO to NJ was delayed a bit from Memphis last Thurs, but otherwise was a nice enough trip. And I had some ironically amusing fun with the Newark Airport long-term lots (since it was the first time I left the car there). But the week was fun, things worked out, and that’s what matters.

As for Boston, I left Hoboken by car at 8 AM Fri morning and arrived at the hotel a bit after 2 PM. The actual travel time (per the car) was supposed to be under 4 hours, but I needed to stop regularly to stay awake. ;) I learned a lot more about car travel in doing this, so it was definitely a good idea. I expect the trip home to be quicker, whenever that starts (sometime tonight I hope).

Mysterium has been great; It’s my first one and I’m now interested in going to more as my life permits. Wolfie’s memorial video/music/etc just finished playing a little while ago, so need some time before saying anything more about this weekend (twas a bit more touching than I had expected – very well done). Probably tonight…

/salute
–TSK

Itinerary (or: How Nuts will I *really* be the Next Two Weeks)

Well, my vacation will start this evening, with Dexcon 2008. In reality things really will start tomorrow (where I will stay at a nearby hotel this time, cashing in on HHonors VIP points). This convention ends on Sunday, July 20.

However, I’ll be going home Sat night as I’m flying to my father’s house in MO. This will mark the second time I’ve been able to make it down there, the first being in Dec as my original plans were deep-sixed from a company re-org. With luck, I’ll make the connecting flight at Denver (and yes, per a comment on UO I am beginning to think we should consider a Mysterium there one year). More worrisome is my first experience with the Newark Airport parking lots; My father says that security is not a huge issue, but distance may (can be a mile or more of walking). We’ll see, since I don’t mind walking too much.

My return flight is on Thu 7/24 where I’ll likely be home around midnight. That gives me enough time to clean up, rest, and re-prep for a 3 AM train ride to Boston on Sat.

That’s *The Plan* anyway. Keep your eyes open through the next week and a half, to see how well things fit (oh and yes I SHALL rant as needed!)…

/salute
–TSK

OK, What’s Next?

Anyone who’s been a die-hard fan of ‘West Wing’ should recognize that quote: It’s from President Bartlett, of course, said an uncountable number of times.

I bring it up because it’s what I’ve been thinking all weekend. What, really, is next for us all?

Cyan has not said anything yet, that I’ve seen as of now anyway. Most feel that this to them is the end, and perhaps also a beginning. I don’t know; I’m personally not fond of speculation when there’s no information at all to speculate on. It’s something I learned the hard way during my busier time in SL, and has helped me keep my head in times of stress at work.

The community as a whole is en-route to another diaspora, a course to what I’ll term Interregnum II (like SuperGram, I just won’t say its the end either; I’ve invested and even sacrificed too much – far, far too much – to just think that its been for naught). A large portion of the group are looking at the two virtual worlds, Second Life and There. I still intend to help with that (a welcome guide tailored for the community), as the writing exercise will do me good in more ways than one. Another portion is looking at the more traditional MMOs – of those, Guild Wars and Eve Online appear to be at the top. I can’t comment on either as I’m not interested in spending any more money right now; That’s going to RL endeavors now, such as my health, and the health of my mother.

For my own plans, they have not changed. I’ve had my final fun at the Parade. I spent time yesterday finishing Prime for what may be the last time, and I now have every spark except two: K’Veer and Myst. Other than some final, quiet meanderings, I’d like to quietly fade out. I’ve been retired from virtual worlds and other Massive environments, and have no intent of getting back into them now (though I still like to poke my head in from time to time). For me, there’s still new things ahead of me in the Real World, challenges that I know I can meet now.

All because of the power of community. Because its not just about one person changing many; It’s also about many inspiring one. :)

Shorah B’shemtee, and best of luck of all of you.
/salute
–TSK

Final Hurrah I (3/7-8) – Informal Invitation

I will be spending some time this weekend in the Cavern, both for grabbing personal video and seeing what I had missed this past year. This is an informal invitation to follow along, help out, and generally have a good time. :) My KI number is 131567 for those wanting to track.

For this weekend, I will be starting sometime around 8 PM Fri Cavern Time (MST, or GMT-7 I believe) with a walk through the *original* 2005 Parade route (the one in the City); This started at the stairs near the Kadish Museum doors (the stairwell over by the hollowed ‘tree’). From there I will get the remaining markers needed to gain access to marker quests. This will only be a couple hours or so, since I’ll need to get some sleep before the Sat meeting.

This should probably resume around 10 AM Sat (Cavern), with a visit to GZ and other public City locations prior to the meeting. After the Guard meeting I may continue to wander around, probably to complete the Prime ages (yeah, leave me alone, I know ;) – My other avatar, Alan, did that so I *do* have a full-grown tree in a Relto). No set time when I’ll stop, but most likely after the main meeting in TeamSpeak.

If I can get There to work, I’ll be spending the evening with them. Afterward I will spend the overnight continuing my MO wanderings, finishing Prime and attending a Pod Tour if one exists.

The rest of my ‘Final Hurrah’ will continue after the Parade, *very* early the morning of the 15th, Cavern time. That will concentrate on the ‘true’ 2007 content, other than the Garden Age puzzles (I’ve done one, it was OK but tedious) and the remaining Sparks. Hopefully I’ll finally get my Watcher’s Jacket before this is over. :)

MystBlogs readers are welcome and encouraged to post a link to this entry on forums (I don’t have the time, and in fact my home PC’s been off the past two days!); Again, this is a very informal thing I’m doing and is for my own ‘farewell’ to the fun that was MO. If an actual video comes out of this, all’s the better…

/salute
–TSK

Tired

About 14 hours ago, I finally heard about what will probably be termed the ‘Second Shutdown’ for Uru Live. I had planned to spend time here venting about that, but I’m too drained emotionally to consider it. Probably for the best; There’s enough of that going around already.

Even right now, at what’s probably the lowest ebb for the community, I still feel that this could work. However, it’s now probably best done from a ‘ground-up’ re-write to fix the scalability/network factor, and that’s probably something that Cyan should best shelve for now if they want to continue to be solvent.

Perhaps the Writers and Maintainers can work it out instead; If so I plan to keep an eye on that, finally get Blender fired up again, and do something with those Ahra shells (I may consider a change of venue though, closer to the link-in point if possible – I finally want a permanent home for my old Memorial Gardens from Second Life).

Again, my hat’s off to you Rand; Despite everything that’s occurred, you’ve persevered and tried – Thank You. My original answer to your 2004 post back at the Ubi forums is still valid: This concept is a very unique one, and should be kept alive in some form – even if that means letting the community give it a try now.

As to my own future with Uru, I already had more permanent plans to step back from all this before the announcement; Not because of anything the community has done, but because of unrelated personal matters that I need to pursue. Most of these are things I never would have considered doing if it was not for y’all, so don’t think I’m leaving because of disappointment – nope, it’s because you’ve all helped me grow as a human, and you should be proud of that.

I will remain to be more of an ambassador from the Cavern, its ideals, and what it can do for people. Otherwise, my last act (for now!) will be a semi-quiet affair: One last march, one last gathering, and quietly walk away.

From that point on, I will probably be more involved with Second Life, as that was always my personal ‘Plan B,’ and already have a group of friends there. I may also take a peek now and then into There, but it’s less likely. No other MMOs, however – sorry.

But while we await the end, let’s enjoy the final trip, and argue later. Have Fun all…

/salute
–TSK

There is only ONE Guard…

[And, in theory, I’m currently captain of it – well, what’s left of it anyway.]

I see that the (at times) heated discussion regarding what Uru / Myst Online was, is, and will be has spilled over to MystBlogs.

As to what my opinions are about the whole thing – I don’t have any (that I intend to directly disclose anyway). I took the ‘Honor’ in the old Honor Guard rather seriously, and always felt it was a community construct, connecting the players to common causes despite their expected differences (and regardless of the cause – as long as it was non-IC or relatively so).

I still feel that way, so it’s not in my best interest to discuss my feelings about the current discussion – other than to be a bit miffed about placing folks in this ‘old guard/new guard’ pigeonhole (gives my old role here a bad name ;) ).

I’m going to be very frank though – I really started getting deeply involved with Uru when Pepsi died (damn, it still chokes me up when I think about that). I realized then that I could care a lot about someone I almost never knew, despite seeing the occasional post on a forum here and there. In that respect I ‘got’ the community bug big time, and dedicated myself to promote this rather odd, supposedly dead game that just won’t die.

My ‘Alan Kiesler’ avatar/account in SL is a prime example of that dedication – a lot of what I did back then was geared toward showing folks there the uniqueness of the Myst/Uru experience in general, and getting another network of friends in the process (back then I was hedging my bets in case the UU experiment failed to take off). And my dedication and duty as an Honor Guard – and later Color Guard Captain – was another.

Right now (with enough of a ‘heads up’ via PM/email), if any community/guild/Cyantist pointed me in a direction you wanted me to appear in the Cavern, for any community-minded reason, I’ll be there (barring work obligations of course). And if you REALLY give me enough time, I may be able to drum up an actual group under the ‘Guard’ banner for better coverage. However, regular Cavern visits are just not possible anymore for me and my rather weird and wild schedule; My time is best served nowadays ‘offline,’ here in weblogs, forums, and (hopefully again) Age Building tools.

I care about the people in Uru – ALL OF THEM – and will stand watch no matter what happens over time.

/salute
–TSK