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Reflections on the Mirror by David McCallum #701548


Well, I’m back from the Metaverse for good now… at least that particular pocket / stream / trouser leg of time, however you wish to term it.


Unless of course there are more payments to be received or contracts to be fulfilled… you know how it is with us mercenary types.


As I sit here waiting for my ‘usual’ body to reacclimatise to me inhabiting it full time and for the last transfer stations to ship through the remaining mechs that have been liberated and deliver them to my hastily cleared hanger spaces, I have the time to ruminate on the past 3 month prolonged mission.


It helps of course that I can get away from the usual hurly burly of Clan HQ by breaking into the offices here at Galaxy Gathering and helping myself to Kenneth’s hooch stocks. Some things don’t change (despite the decor) and his naivety is one of them; old access codes still work and he still leaves the decent stuff in easily accessible (well, for those of us who have, ahem, certain skillsets..) places. One day I may give him a few lessons in security, but today is not that day.


Besides, silly bugger has managed to go and put himself in intensive care again, probably by tripping over his own shoelaces. I shall remember to raise a toast to his speedy recuperation with his own single malt…


However, as usual, I digress…


God that was a long slog!


Now please bear in mind that for me this was my first trip through to one of the parallel universes, having missed out on the prior incursion due to being seconded to other duties. If this means that some of the information contained herein is old hat then please bear with me… I know there were plenty of pilots over there who were… less well known. It is to that particular audience that this is mostly aimed.


I know I was one of the first through the portal, and the wear and tear of simply crossing back and forth every day has taken its toll.


Oh, it was fine for the first month, fun learning to pilot all over again. There was plenty that was new and strange enough to keep you on your toes. Equipment didn’t work the way you expected it to. Pilot identifiers that you would avoid like the plague normally were now simply cannon fodder for your newly minted guns… and the thrill of gaining enough skill to accurately fire off a Double Mordem!!! When was the last time you had those as your primary arsenal?


The second month you had settled into your stride. You knew who the new big shots were and if you hadn’t already secured your mission objectives, you had them very firmly in your sights.


Of course now was when confusion started setting in. Folk who were prey in the Metaverse were still as dangerous as they have ever been back home and it was all too easy to make mistakes in the Wars back here hitting somebody you had gotten used to picking on over there. It didn’t help that unlike month 1, the second war was now interleaved with a war in the Mainverse so on what should have been an off day was actually another war but under different conditions.


I hold my hand up to having given away at least one loss back here when I forgot to swap out of my normal defensive specialist formation when attacking, purely because over in the Metaverse I wasn’t a specialist and so I’d ‘lost’ the habit.


The third month was for me a bridge too far. Again the wars were interleaved which was just a pain that I could have done without. The problem was that there were certain mission objectives that had to be seen through still and that meant the daily commute through the portal still had to be done. 30 Niodes for making the daily trip every day is not to be sniffed at, and there was also 2 prize mechs that were still uncertain. To be honest, I would have been more than happy had the portals shut as time rolled over into month 3 and ceded the last prize mech that was still achievable at that point.


That’s the overview of how it felt… for me at least. But you know us at the Galaxy Gathering. We like to go in depth and dissect things as impartially as we can.


So here’s a list of what worked and what didn’t; negatives first because they are in my opinion far outweighed by the positives.


First of all, as already mentioned, the interleaving of Meta Wars and Main Wars was a right royal pain in the proverbial. I can appreciate in some cases where those events could impinge on holiday seasons it may be necessary to squeeze in or truncate things, but it really did just detract from missions in both universes.


Speaking of ‘missions’ (and dropping out of character for a moment) one of the age old bugbears we have at the Galaxy Gathering is in game narrative. Its either ‘contests’ and ‘prizes’, or ‘challenges/missions’ and ‘rewards, payments, bounties, whatever…’ And to make it worse, the intro screen between Mainverse and Meta keeps swapping between the styles… keep it consistent!


A minor niggle was that fact that Circuit Fights stayed open to all levels with no level based splitting. It did mean that one of the ‘Cavalier’ objectives was next to impossible if you joined late, were in the wrong time zone or plain didn’t have the time to keep pace with the levels of the higher up players. Splitting the field would have been good, and if the idea were to keep a reasonable limit on Cavaliers being aquired then 8 x D1 circuit medals could have equated to 16 from other divisions.


The timeframe was too long and this is me saying it; one of the few who thought that the Mechalympix was brilliant and should have been brought back long before now. A lot, I believe, were put off by the length of it to start with while more gave up part way through. This was evidenced by players with a few levels and then nothing further, or those who factored highly in the kill tables then dropped off the board completely. One of our guys did a last minute rush and climbed from outside the top 100 up into the 90s with no response around him, a surprise when the leaderboard was both advertised and there was one of the big prizes on the line.


Saying that, it appears that the scope of the tasks and prizes was pretty much spot on. If you were willing to put the effort in and had the time and inclination, every task was achievable. There were also plenty of achievable tasks for everyone else, provided they kept their head and ensured they were keeping an eye on the objective requirements.


Speaking of tasks, it was good to have them clearly laid out prior to the start. It certainly allowed you to set your own goals and keep an eye on what objectives you wanted and what were achievable. I went in with my battle plan of what I wanted out of the event and managed to achieve everything and a little more. I deliberately ceded early power levelling to have a chance at a ‘Young Guns’ medal and thankfully it payed off, doing so in the knowledge that it would probably put me out of contention for a 4th Cavalier (which to me seemed a bit too much of a stretch, even though I almost snagged it in a D1 Anzu Run..). I also picked up the Dreadnought bounty which was a pleasant surprise since at the start it seemed too far out of reach.


It was nice to see the addition of new tasks and bonuses as time went on, and I need to split that into two parts.


The additional bonus of being able to bring our point mech back was pleasant in its confirmation. I say that because I had an inkling we would be allowed to bring it back after the last parallel universe jaunt and while it was nice to be right, I must admit to an amount of greedy guilt in not being allowed to bring equipment or weapons on them, especially after having ferreted away a reasonable Niode stash to spend on ‘duty free’ kit. Ah well, at least not spending the Niodes didn’t have any effect on war outcomes or anything else of import.


In addition this meant that a few of our clan mates who hadn’t previously jumped across got a nice wee bonus, even if it was just their starting Warhorse. It was also a pleasant surprise that the ‘MetaMarathon’ reward was still valid despite less than a week of activity.


There may have been more challenges added that I missed, however the one that stuck out for me was the addition of the ‘Weekly Newcomer’ challenge to snag a Cavalier. I personally thought this was a very good incentive for late starters to go hard out and have a chance at one of the big prizes. It did however lead to some unfortunate incidents, which I shall take a short aside to recount to you now.


On behalf of the Heroes, I must apologise for our unintentional deployment of a WMD (Woman of Mass Destruction).


We are unsure which prankster covered over the signs directing pilots to the Metaverse portal with large stickers saying ‘Mega Shoe Sale This Way!!!’. I can report that the 2 pilots from our Light Brigade and 3 from Ranger Raccoons did suffer injury in the resultant rush (bringing a new slant on the phrase ‘Trample Damage’) but are recovering well.


Unfortunately when the wife got to the far side and found that there was a distinct lack of footwear at special pricing, she may have been a tad annoyed. On a scale of 1 to 10, it fell somewhere between any sentence that starts with the words “YOUR CHILDREN” and the great “YOU DID REMEMBER WHAT ANNIVERSARY TODAY IS?” incident of ’07…


I understand there was an amount of unpleasantness, including (but not limited to) our own current Editor in Chief Kenneth receiving multiple kickings. But the wife said he was ‘looking at her in a funny way’ so he probably deserved it. Or if I’m truthful, I’m not going to argue the point…


I’m also not going to tell her that the resulting rampage netted her the last newcomer’s Cavalier as collateral damage; I shall wait until it arrives in her hanger as a surprise.


I may be a bit circumspect and see what her mood is like first, preferably with the use of high powered binoculars. The last thing I need to do is walk into a question like ‘Will this mech make my bum look big?’ without prior warning…


But back on topic, there were a few more very positive things about the Metaverse experience.


The changes in weapon or equipment properties between here and there were a very definite twist. It took me at least a little while and a few tries to shake the habits of years and years in the Mainverse. Some may have been irked at getting caught out by being trapped in traditional thinking or patterns, I myself look back on it with a wry smile and a self-administered mental kick in the pants for not paying attention. It was a good thing.


The level playing field was a huge plus. I believe I started as a pilot in Mainverse perhaps a year or more after the first pilots climbed into the cockpit. I do recall being disheartened that I would never catch up to the most elite and would always remain at best a second rank Mech Jock; good for my weight perhaps, but never one of the elite. That has faded in time and I am content with my lot, happy to grind a living at the level I have achieved.


Oh, but to see the names of those gods now around me, bare arse naked in their shiny new warhorses… and clicking the attack button with more than a little perverse, delicious, malicious pleasure….


I’m sorry… I may just have had a moment there…


But the final, and perhaps most important thing from my perspective was the mix up of clans. Yes, a lot of my normal clan mates ended up away from us… some never even entered. Of those I was grouped with in Metaverse, it was good to reconnect with old clan mates who had moved on to other families or those who I started out as a pilot alongside but who now found themselves in other groups and divisions. We even had some up and comers who were dumped in with more veteran players and those were good introductions too.


I think… yes, I enjoyed it.


But you need to remember that enjoyment as an emotive issue rather than one of game mechanics… ultimately it is not something the developers have any direct control over.


The level playing field was satisfying but in truth the enjoyment came from the player base you were interacting with.


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