An online community like XBL or PSN is a lot different than what you find in an MMO. The same core idea of playing with other gamers online is still there, but the dynamics are completely different. An MMO is a whole other world you can step into and live in vicariously through your avatar, but when you're gaming over the Internet to play Call of Duty with other gamers all over the world it feels more like the old days when you used to have a bunch of friends in one room playing splitscreen, except, you know, over the Internet.
In the first part of "An Online Gaming Journey" I discussed my experiences over the the five or so years I played the MMO Runescape. As I mentioned in that piece, I eventually stopped playing Runescape when I got an Xbox 360 and signed up for Xbox Live. Today I will be picking up where I left off last time by discussing my experiences on XBL.
In a previous post, my first here on TAY actually, I discussed how gaming over XBL helped me to improve my ability to deal with my social anxiety issues, but this time around I want to go much more in depth into my entire XBL experience. While these experiences were a big help for me in that context, they were so much more than that. Much like with Runescape, I met a cast of interesting characters and we had our ups and downs together.
The Early Days
It was the very beginning of 2009 and I had just subscribed to Xbox Live. Before long I was spending a few hours a night playing Halo 3 online. At first I was playing without a mic, but then I started wearing it, listening to what was being said but never speaking myself. Unlike my past experience with Runescape where communications were text-only, I had to talk into a microphone to talk to people. This is something I have always been self-conscious about be it in person or over the Internet.
Even when I made my first Xbox Live friend it was still the case. We played a few rounds of Social Slayer in Halo 3 together the first day and maybe a few other times but we never really talked and inevitably never played any more games together.
It wasn't until I met my second Xbox Live friend that I started opening up. I met a couple guys who we will call Cale and Earth in Halo 3 matchmaking and we played a bunch of games together. At the end of the night, Earth sent me a friend request. For the next few days I played a bunch of Halo 3 with Earth and his equally cool gamer dad fittingly named pops, and I began talking more and more.
This is when our group of friends began forming. Soon we were joined by Cilleuete, a hot headed but pretty nice dude. I remember having a blast replaying some campaign missions with him and some of his other friends one night. Before long we had quite the group built up, with the addition of Massassi who was kind of uptight but very good at Halo and a pretty nice guy most of the time and Granz, a British guy who was kind of a dick but so not serious that you couldn't help but like him.
At some point Pops, Earth, Massassi, and I kind of got sucked into a clan known as the Four Diamonds run by Tyson and Destroyer. I don't remember exactly how it was that it happened but there it was. It was fun for a bit before we started to realize how bad it was. On one hand we met some pretty cool guys like Eric and Drake but on the other hand there were a bunch of annoying people and jerks, most notably co-leader Destroyer who was a total ass and kind of racist. There were also a bunch of arbitrary rules and stuff like that and the disorganization was horrible.
Some of us were seriously considering leaving when there was a big split in the Four Diamonds. Tyson and Destroyer had a major falling out and were basically splitting the clan in two, arbitrarily deciding who would become a part of which clan. That was all we needed to make up our minds and Massassi, Eric, and I jumped ship.
A New "Clan" is Born
Almost immediately after we left the Four Diamonds, Massassi and I decided to form our own clan and do our own thing. This kind of led to a falling out with Pops, Earth, Drake and the other friends who had stayed. It wasn't that we stopped being friends, it was just that we sort of fell out of contact.
And thus Kimera was born. Don't ask me who came up with that stupid name, I don't even remember. Right from the start we decided to run things differently than the Four Diamonds (at least our name wasn't as bad as that). No arbitrary rules, no required color schemes. and no more of those stupid meetings where every member of the clan gets crammed into one Halo 3 custom game to talk (those meetings were horrible). All our clan business would be conducted through our newly created Bungie.net page.
Our membership blew up pretty quick to a pretty large but still manageable size. There was the initial group to join up which was comprised of our current friends. Eric, Granz, and Cilleuete of course, but also Massassi's old friend Caboose and his new friend Spoange. Soon we were joined by Alec, a real life friend of mine, Spoange's friend Triple and Shiny, a friend we met through Drake. Somewhere down the line we were also joined by trio of guys who knew each other in real life, Maccallum, Dan, and Pie. Through them we met V1rus, rounding out our main clan roster.
We by all means an amateur clan, more like a group of friends than anything, but we were having fun. We played a ton of Halo 3 matchmaking together and as a reasonably well oiled machine we would win a lot. On the side a good chunk of us would play some Call of Duty 4 together, and later Modern Warfare 2 when that came out. Our CoD group was made up of Eric, Spoange, Triple, Dan, Maccallum, Pie, and myself. Additionally, Massassi, Spoange, Triple, Maccallum, and I played a lot of Halo Wars together.
Every weekend we would have our Clan Game Night where we would all come together and play Halo 3 custom games. We would play whatever popular and crazy custom games were out there as well as play on maps made in Forge mode by the members of Kimera. Massassi and I became quite the map-making team, creating a bunch of maps that became Clan Game Night staples. At the peak of Kimera's glory we were easily filling the custom games lobby on every Clan Game Night and it was so awesome.
The Great Schism
For a time, Kimera was amazing but, as with all good things, eventually it came to an end. To understand why Kimera began to fall apart, first we must understand something about my fellow Kimera co-leader. As I mentioned before, he can be kind of uptight, but he also likes to be very strategic when playing Halo. For him, it's all about winning. When we don't win there's some issue with the team. We're not following his strategy, we're not good enough at the game.
Most of us in Kimera did enjoy winning but winning wasn't the ultimate goal. For us, fun was the ultimate goal. Sure winning is nice but you don't need to win to have fun. I would rather have a blast losing than win all the while being yelled at for not following the strategy to the letter or for dying because I made a mistake or something. That's how the majority of Kimera members felt so it began to create a growing divide between Massassi and the rest of us.
There were a couple of incidents that were the catalyst the led to Massassi's ousting from Kimera. The first happened during a game of Halo 3 matchmaking. We were not winning so Massassi was in full on yelling mode, particularly at the player on our team with the least number of kills. This just happened to be my real life friend Alec. Now Alec has a vision impairment so he can't see out of one eye and not too well out of the other. Considering this, he was doing a damn good job in my books.
After that game, Alec was completely done with Massassi in every way, shape, and form. I would have given Massassi another chance if not for the next incident. Massassi and Spoange had a major argument over a game of Halo Wars. It was a stupid thing to fight over, Spoange definitely understood that but not Massassi. It completely destroyed their friendship. They refused to even been in the same party at the same time.
That was the catalyst that led to what I like to call the "Great Schism." I picked the name because it sounded cool at the time, but looking back, the comparison to the divide in the Christian church between the Pope and the Byzantine Empire that led to the creation of the Catholic church and the Orthodox church actually Kind of makes sense.
Instead of being the reasonable individual I normally am, I hastily and foolishly posted a referendum on the Kimera page to replace Massassi as a clan leader instead of talking things out with him. I did include keeping him in power as an option but needless to say, he was voted out. The clan had spoken and they wanted Maccallum to step up as clan co-leader. Needless to say, Massassi was not very happy about this and pretty much unfriended all of us except for a few who weren't really involved in the whole mess. Shiny also left because he had basically become a Massassi worshiper, and Caboose left since he had been friends with Massassi way before he met any of us. Granz also pretty much left to do his own thing, occasionally playing with both camps.
Massassi went on to make his own clan called Myrmidon with himself as the sole leader. This clan was later dubbed by Kimera as Massassi's Army of Twelve-Year-Olds, a name that Eric and Spoange came up with. The reasoning for this was that members of Kimera who still played with Massassi from time to time noted that Massassi's new clan seemed to have a lot of young kids with squeaky voices.
Post-Schism Kimera and The Decline
After Massassi's ousting, things got better, much better. The fun returned to our multiplayer matches because he wasn't yelling at us all the damn time. And hey, we were still winning a good chunk of the time to boot, at least in Halo 3. As always, our Call of Duty games were a bit more hit or miss.
Our Clan Game Nights did shrink in size a bit, but we always managed to get our core members in for some great custom game fun. Honestly, it was more fun with a fewer number than what we were getting before the Schism. The favorite amongst clan members became the custom game "Lava Pit" involving driving a bunch of vehicles around a small platform trying to push each other into the kill ball pit in the center.
Some new faces also joined our ranks, notably Maccallum, Dan, and Pie's, friend Snipe, and Diego who just sort of appeared one day. Neither actually officially joined Kimera but they would play with us all the time.
Things were pretty great for a time, but then things started to decline. People really weren't feeling Clan Game Nights anymore, it we getting harder to throw together even a few players to play Halo matchmaking or even custom games. Everyone seemed to be much more interested in CoD and even then we were only getting a few of us together to play that too.
And that's when the trolling began. Snipe basically became a total dick. First he started trolling random people, then members of Kimera, and then I basically became his primary target. Let's just say that in my angsty teen years I was bad at dealing with trolls, terrible even. Dan, Maccallum and Pie just sort of rolled with it since they had been friends with Snipe for a long time. Eric actually started actively participating. Snipe basically twisted him from a petty nice dude into a total dick. Diego was cool on his own or when Snipe and/or Eric weren't around but when they were he could be just as bad. Spoange was sympathetic but still wanted to maintain friendships with everyone. I ended up getting kicked to the curb a lot. A remember a few instances when I tried to join a game and then Eric and Snipe would leave and somehow managed to bring the entire group with them. Triple was really the only one who felt my pain since he had been victimized as well. V1rus was as well but his Gold ran out for a while so he was MIA for a while.
Eventually enough was enough and I kicked Eric, Snipe, and Diego to the curb and cut as much association with them as possible. At the same time, Maccallum, Dan, and Pie were getting on less and less and spending less time playing with people they didn't know in real life. On top of that Cilleute had all but stopped playing with us. For a good chunk of time it was just Spoange, Triple, the newly returned V1rus, and myself played Halo 3 or Modern Warfare 2 together. Occasionally Alec would join us as well, but most of the time it was when he was at my house and we were splitscreening. We were all that was left of Kimera. At that point I officially dissolved Kimera because it had long since become a clan in name only.
Burying the Hatchet
Halo: Reach came out in fall 2010 and pretty much all the people remaining in our group got it. It was a lot of fun, even with so few of us left. Interestingly, Triple had actually made up with Massassi and would play with him frequently. I didn't see that happening with me ever. Spoange was the same way.
Then something odd happened. Diego refriended me and he apologized and we ended up playing a bunch of Reach together. He was still friend with Eric and one day the three of us ended up in a party. I thought it would end poorly, but Eric actually ended up apologizing and we sort of became friends again but we really didn't talk much after that day. Then Snipe joined the party and tried to troll but Eric actually stopped him. In his words he was done "with being a dick all the time." Even if they hadn't stopped, I had come a long way in terms of dealing with those kinds of people. Now I can laugh that kind of thing off like it's no big deal.
Interestingly, Diego also helped me to bury the hatchet with someone else. Somehow he had become friends with Massassi, sort of. Enough that they played Halo together occasionally. Diego invited me into a game with Massassi and it went okay. It was a bit awkward but it was okay. Afterwards, I sent Massassi a message and apologized for the poor way I handled the situation that led to the Schism.
After that we started playing together more. Before I knew it, we were really good friends again. I ended up playing a lot of Reach with him and a bunch of the Myrmidon members. Both members I had met before (such as Shiny) and ones I hadn't were surprised that I actually wasn't the total jerk Massassi had made me out to be. I ended up becoming friends with most of the regulars and actually ended up joining Myrmidon.
My Online Gaming Experience Today
I honestly think Massassi changed as a person. He wasn't as in your face about things, he toned down the yelling, and was an all around nicer person than I remembered. In Joining Myrmidon, I saw a return of having a full team of eight players to go into Big Team Battle with. Sure I was no longer in a leadership position, but I was totally fine with that. Massassi achieved with Myrmidon what we had always envisioned with Kimera. There was a loose set of rules to keep things running but everything was relaxed for the most part we were free to do whatever. Myrmidon didn't get held down by the bullshit of Kimera.
I made a lot of good friends in Myrmidon. There was Massassi, Shiny, Caboose, and Triple of course, but there was Call, a fellow metalhead who I got along great with, Irelandor, the awesome guy from New Zealand. Scottish, the sometimes annoying but always loyal guy, and many others. We all had such fun in Reach and we would frequently trample the competition because of Massassi's strategies and our all around skilled team.
Of course I always made time to play with my other group of friends. Spoange, Triple, Alec, and I would frequently play Reach together for some less serious gaming. There actually was a lot of crossover between these groups with many members of one becoming friends with members of the other. We probably would have become one big group if Massassi and Spoange could have settled their differences. Both felt wronged and neither felt they had wronged the other so it never happened.
As we all started to get older and go off to college there was less time for us to game so we stopped playing together as frequently. We do manage to get in a lot of time gaming together on weekends, breaks, and over the summer though. With each passing year, I talk to them less and less but we still have fun together when we can.
With the coming of the new generation of consoles things are getting shaken up. Many have upgraded to the Xbox One already while many of us, including myself, have not yet. Others have or are planning to switch to PS4. It will be hard to keep in contact. Thanks to Facebook and other such things hopefully I will be able to keep in touch with my XBL friends better than my old Runescape friends.
That concludes my journey through online gaming. Thank you for taking the time to read through these two very long posts. I hope you enjoyed them and found something you could relate to. Of course, the journey really isn't over yet. I will always be a gamer and I will continue gaming online for a long time to come. There are more chapters that are unwritten and new experiences to be had. In fact, a new era has already begun, the Era of TAY. I've only been here on TAY for a few months now but I have met just as many awesome and interesting people as I did in Runescape or over XBL. So thank you all again for welcoming me here and for reading what I write here.