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Froob For Life #1: A Tale of Two Anarchies

Hi, I'm Hahnsoo. I started playing Anarchy Online in October of 2005. When I first heard about FunCom's Free Play offer for Anarchy Online, I thought "Hey, it's free! I'll try it out." A couple years later, and I'm still playing the game. Unlike most of my peers, though, I'm still playing on a froob account, despite the best efforts of my friends and my org. I've settled into the Froobie life and learned to appreciate what it means to play Classic Anarchy Online (and now Notum Wars). When I'm not tradeskilling on my main character, a TL6 Trader named Ferrell, I tend to nurse a terrible case of "alt"-itis, with at least one character for every conceivable profession available for froobs. I'm a packrat by nature. My orgmates think that I'm a witch or that I'm cursed, and I spend much of my time on OT OOC answering questions. I tend to make silly characters that are far from the norms of the common "cookie-cutter" archetypes (my latest character is an Agent that uses Martial Arts, for example), and I love to experiment with the extremes. Despite my best efforts at resisting, though, I've managed to learn a lot about AO's various expansions, and for a brief time, I even played a Shade on a short-term account. However, unless FunCom dumps a free lifetime account in my lap, I'll probably be froob for life and loving it.

A Tale of Two Anarchies

For the Froob, it is the best of times. For the Subscriber, it is the worst of times. Okay, I'll admit that things are not really painted in black and white like that... but you wouldn't know it from looking at the official message boards compared to the forums at AOFroobs.com.

Of course, the populations are a quite different among those forums. The official forums have some new players, but those who post are mostly folks who have been playing the game for four to six years. They have seen expansions come and go and some are quite a bit jaded. Some are also still enthusiastic about the game, which is great to see. But it always seems like a competition: between favorite professions, favorite breeds, favorite equipment, favorite raids, favorite damage. The word "nerf" seems to turn up quite often. I get the overall impression that some folks really don't enjoy this game, and their outlet to express their dislike is the official forums.

I compare this to the folks at AOFroobs. While there are some veteran players (even some who had expansions, but later decided to go froob!), for the most part it is full of new players, just grasping some of the "basics" of the game. Some of these folks are the ones who never had a character over level 60, never escaped Temple of the Three Winds (which is still a daunting mystery to them). For the average Froob, things like Dreadloch camps and Pande raids are way beyond their ken, and reaching triple digit levels (let alone 220) are unfathomable.

It may come to a shock, then, to some subscribers that some of us actually like being Froob. We enjoy discovering the game (without all the nasty bugs that plagued its release, of course) and exploring some of the well-worn paths. We play for free, so there is no obligation to "get our money's worth" out of a monthly subscription. We can walk away, do our tasks and chores in real life (RK4, as it is lovingly called), and the game is still there waiting for us when we have moments to play. We don't feel that sense of entitlement, the feeling that FunCom owes us something, partly because the game was ironed out before we came and partly because we realize that this game is a gift and not a product we have purchased from a virtual or storefront shelf.

We Froobs co-exist in a world with powerful folks all around us who flaunt armors and weapons with ghastly stats. We know nothing about "perks" or "research" or any of the hundred worries of the subscribing player, the SLer, if you will (Technically, it's SL/AI/LEer, but that doesn't quite roll off the tongue and is rather hard to type). We know that we cannot achieve such power, but there is some solace in mediocrity. Without the competition to be the best and to have the best, we can play the game at our own pace and even experiment with characters that are just plain awful in combat. We don't have to compete in the rat-race. This isn't to say that our froob characters are not adequate... after all, Rubi-Ka was originally made without any expansions, and thus the content was balanced for us.

To us, Rubi-Ka is our only home, and the Grid and Whompahs are our mass transit. Yeah, the SLers use them, too, but we froobs do not have to carry around 20 different garden keys and rings to get anywhere where we want to go. And on Rubi-Ka, we can FLY. Rubi-Ka is a land to be discovered and explored freely, rather than a linear mountain climb like the Shadowlands.

It's as if FunCom created two very different games, and threw the populations together on the same servers. It makes for some wild parties at Reet Retreat, at the very least. The SLers have been there, done that, and bought the T-Shirt (even though most of the T-shirts are NoDrop). They have moved on to a magical land in the sky; quite literally, in the case of Shadowlands. What they leave behind is a legacy that is being rediscovered by another generation of characters. To us Froobs, Rubi-Ka isn't just another old playfield. It is a new land of promise and opportunity.

Hahnsoo is most definitely not a syndicated columnist, and he is not published in 100 newspapers worldwide. He hails from the Rome Blue Advanced Shop, where he sleeps on the couch in the Trade department.

Last updated on 12.07.2011 by Khuri
Article written by Hahnsoo
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