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Within the Framework
Written by VelvetLies

  Over the ten years Aardwolf has been open for public play; it has seen a few version upgrades. These upgrades are always met with mix feelings. My own freak-out occurred during the v1 to v2 changeover. Being a non-rpger by nature, the idea of a more workable stat system was more than my poor brain cells could fathom. I was one of the people who planned to never play post v2, and I did take quite a substantial break. I came back, with all my beautiful SHedness all jacked up, messed round some, and ultimately my faith in Lasher's genius was solidified. I was more attentive to the approach of v3. I spent time on the tester port, which already had some of the Subclass features in play.

   And then there was the announcement about dodges, and the subclass framework soon followed. It's hard to say if the general malcontent is any different than, say, everyone who cried about their SW's being broken post continents, or how I cried at the idea that there would be a new stat to account for, etc. It's futile to try to please everyone, as I learned from Aesop, but I wanted to offer the readers a few things to consider while they decide - is this bunch in my panties worth crying about?

   I believe most of us have lost our share of friends to WoW, or Oblivion, or GTA, DDR, Pac Man, and possibly, tiddlywinks. Unlike most of these, Aardwolf does not get developed by a team of cubicle monkeys, it has no army of minions, and it certainly isn't making for insanely fat pockets. The effort from our admin team is totally voluntary, they punch no clock, they enjoy no corporate perks, and often they are leading their own full-time careers. Lasher himself has kept Aard running and developed for over a decade, along with maintaining his own life and family, never requiring any subscriptions, or placing any demands on his players. I would say Aardwolf is more art than business.

   So now we are given this beautiful framework which allows for diversity that has been lost in the immense growth and development of Aard's most dedicated players. At the time I am writing this, there are more t9's online than there are on Wolf's entire roster. Granted, I'm not saying they have all gotten there by the most legit methods, but the fact remains that this is the first time there has been a fundamental structural difference between r7 characters of any tier, beyond their race. Suddenly, it now matters what your primary class is.

   I hear a lot of complaints about the increase of difficulty to play, and a lot of assumptions about there being only one logical primary class choice. This is fitting for the portion of players still looking for the Quick Fix. The truth of it is that most of the development that has gone into Aardwolf is for the purpose of providing players the ability to make their characters their own. I hear some of the usual 'I'm not going to keep playing', and I have heard theories that subclasses shouldn't have been introduced in a 'framework' stage. However, there have been a lot of opportunities to see some of the subclass development on the test port, and I personally believe we are all better off having a little bit of time adjusting to the basics before trying to 'pick' a subclass blindly. Those who choose to may find the chance to even try out a couple of different primary classes in their pre-appointed subclasses. Logic prompts me to tell you that if you feel your character 'sucks' (i.e. you can't level yourself, complete quests, etc), I would encourage you to reconsider not only the compatibility of your build for the type of character you are trying to play, but also your priorities in terms of enjoyment and entertainment.

   In great part due to all of the admin team, Aardwolf has exploded with features that don't even rely on character build. Immolate isn't going to help you in laser tag, and there's no backstab in poker, and 'blockexit' isn't half bad for a scrabble score. Even beyond the activities that provide tangible rewards, our entire virtual world has been handcrafted from a myriad of brilliant minds, and each area consists of a unique story, or at least an adaptation of one. In your rush to 1337ness, I encourage you to truly explore (beyond that shiny 100% explore rate that, in many cases, is a result of purchase), lest you end up a t8 that can't find a shop in Aylor. Over the years, I have found new fondness for areas that are based on other concepts, like Dune and SoulBlade, as I get more exposure to the sources of their inspiration. Other areas, like Myst, prompt me to stay away from things that may create hazards like Great Frustration. The most admirable are the unique areas, though, particularly the ones that obviously were masterfully built for Aard appeal, and I commend those builders for their brilliance. Take into account the phenomenon taking over gametalk, the communities within clans, and the best of the players (people, not characters), and there's no shortage of reason not to log in, even if your character 'sucks'.

   Each of us has seen points in our own character development where we had to adapt or change our methods to get to a point of happy progressiveness again. Some people seek refuge in activities like area building, manor building, clan admining, SH sitting, ltag playing, etc, but I guarantee it is possible to build a strong, self sustaining character with individual effort. In response to the question of the timeliness of subclass implementation and the phase of its development - if you were caught off guard, that's your bad. In the long run, the period of 'live testing' is going to be only a blip on the history radar, but the more that you utilize it, the better off you will be. Choose wisely how you spend your idle time; invest in your knowledge before you seek curing your boredom with a little Flame & Whine action, and keep in mind that Aardwolf is sustained on player donations. While I don't agree that donating gives anyone's whine any additional weight, I do believe that there is a degree of resentment that is natural for long-time supporters of Aard to feel when hearing certain bitching. Yes, the spirit of donation should be for one's own gratitude and satisfaction of Aard, but the donators make it possible for everyone to keep playing.

  There are a lot of ways each person can contribute to making Aardwolf a better place, so don't hesitate to set the example. If you are truly concerned about the state of the game for any reason, it is your place as much as anyone else's to step up and wear a helper flag, contribute to a clan, build an area, fill a tester role, and so on. If we put half the effort we current spend complaining, and responding to complaints, and put that into continued development, we'd see a slew of progress over a wide range of issues, and in that perhaps we would find less reasons to initiate our whine bots.


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