Too Much Free Time

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That is not a slam of the hundreds of EverQuesters who devoted days to killing off one supposedly unkillable monster (although you do kinda wonder), but the basic problem for any central entity trying to cope with a very distributed computing network. Anything you build will face tens of thousands of man hours dedicated to taking it apart.

In this case, EverQuest's owner Sony thought that merely giving a monster 100 billion hitpoints would make it immortal. What it did was make it a target. This Kerafyrm effect should be studied at the nation's great universities.

(via Fark.)

NEXT: Rough Trade

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  1. Which begs the question: Whats so great about universities?

  2. Does this have anything to do with Dubya and his unkillable military under the leadership of Rummy?

  3. Consider the following from Mieke Bal’s Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative: “Narratology studies narrative texts only in so far as they are narrative; in other words, in their narrativity.”
    If I were spending thousands of dollars per year in pursuit of an English PhD, and I had to read an entire text filled with that type of language, I’d damn well need to kill something. Fortunately, today’s students have games.

  4. Too much free time? Come now, what’s a better way to spend your life.

  5. Mark A.:

    It is not good to be attacked by diverse and weaker forces, but don’t read too much into the EQ thing. People are much more willing to pay virtual costs of virtual battles than actual costs of actual ones.

    This is true of the political, economic, and life costs of waging an ongoing war against the US.

    I’m not saying that people won’t pay those costs (obviously, they will), but I am saying that in ensuring that they die in the process and hopefully that their financiers also get dead, you will eliminate all but the most committed.

  6. Mark A. – if anything, the analogy cuts the other way. The Islamists are basically betting that Allah, which is their version of the unkillable Kerafyrm, will save the day for them. They know that their attacks by themselves cannot win, but will be effective only as the vehicle for the unkillable Allah/Kerafyrm to win the war. This is part of what is meant by the fantasy ideology of the Islamists.

    The US and its allies, culturally and geopolitically, are much more like the consortiums of players that came together to win the day in EverQuest, and not at all like the monolithic Kerafyrm.

    Feel better now?

  7. The developers didn’t intend Kerafyrm to be unkillable — there are unkillable creatures in the game, after all, so it isn’t like they would have needed to add special code to make Kerafyrm impossible to kill as well.

    The thing was, Kerafyrm had never actually *been* killed, and since it could basically kill anything in one hit nobody had ever really tried very hard to kill it. Also, it can only be woken up and fought once per server, after which it’s gone; as there are only a few dozen servers, there weren’t many data points to work with. So it was widely-believed to be unkillable.

    A number of player guilds on one of the servers decided to attempt killing it. They came close to succeeding. The problem was, although Kerafyrm could be killed, Sony didn’t really expect it ever would be, and hadn’t tested its scripting enough. So it bugged out and reset the zone.

    This caused the usual Tinfoil Hat types to begin a series of long rants about how Sony Conspired To Screw Us Because We We Killing Their Favorite Monster — think “anti-war protester meets Comic Book Guy” and you’ll have a good idea of the mentality here — which in turn gave rise to rumors that “Sony meant for Kerafyrm to be unkillable, and had to personally intervene to stop it”.

    Of course, the next day the admins had reset the zone (allowing Kerafyrm to be woken again) and it was successfully killed. Did this stop the conspiracy theorists? Of course not; I don’t think they even paused to draw breath. But then, I suspect Ted Rall still claims Afghanistan was about an oil pipeline.

    And that concludes this episode of “More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About EverQuest”.

  8. RC, your narrative assumes that our enemies are motivated by religious zeal when they fight in the name of “Islam.” But I recall reading about how the suicide pilots spent September 9 and 10 – booze, drugs, hookers, fire engines…

    I suspect that, for many of them, “Islam” is primarily a banner to rally under, and refers to “our people” (Dar al Salaam) more than a certain religious teaching or relationship with Allah. Read “Islam” as being akin to “Christendom.”

  9. GEEK-TASTIC!

  10. RC, your narrative assumes that our enemies are motivated by religious zeal when they fight in the name of “Islam.” But I recall reading about how the suicide pilots spent September 9 and 10 – booze, drugs, hookers, fire engines

    Dying as a martyr is so good that you’re guaranteed a VIP spot in heaven no matter how much of a scumbag you were in life.

    So partaking in a night of booze/drugs/etc, right before becoming a martyr, is a perfectly rational behavior for a devout Moslem.

  11. Is this getting into Glass Bead game territory?

  12. No, we’re still in the age of the Blog – I mean, Feuilleton.

  13. Is anybody else out there as disconcerted as I am about the parallels between the US/ al Qaeda and Kerafyrm/ EQ players?

  14. Too much free time? Come now, what’s a better way to spend your life.

    How ’bout: sex, drugs and rock and roll? You’re only young once, and playing computer games don’t qualify as having a life.

    Now shaddup so’s I can get back to browsing the web 😉

  15. joe, like most non-religious folks, I think you seriously underestimate the degree to which religious thinking permeates the minds of the Islamist nutballs. They really do believe that they will win this war because Allah is on their side. Their campaigns and tactics only make sense in this context, because what they do makes very little strategic sense unless you posit a Big Guy in the Sky who will intervene for them, or who is at least rooting for them.

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