After a week’s hiatus for many 5punkers courtesy of Bashes, we returned in force last night for friday games. I have to admit, I deliberately pushed for Fabyak’s suggestion for an opening game because I knew it would be fun to write about afterwards, but that’s okay – it’s fun to write about because it’s fun to play. The theme from last night, though, was trolling. Or rather anti-trolling and the proximity of that to being an actual troll. It’s a fine line.
We had a good turnout last night. Burnout Paradise, or Bumout as we have taken to calling it, had been hinted at for a few weeks arranged in good enough time for a turnout of ten 5punkers on Teamspeak. It’s popular with us because it’s arcadey fun in an unrestricted environment, or to put it another way, we can piss about in it.
Bumout is a good example of a console conversion horror story. As good as the game is, the options and UI are mind-bogglingly badly designed. You have to perform certain arcane rituals in order to get it running properly, including exiting multiplayer to add online friends, exiting the game to set up your webcam (more on that later), fucking about with old EA accounts, and throwing chicken bones. This means that when we dust it off for a game there’s a drop-in, drop-out population of people playing and people trying to get it working. Fortunately the aforementioned capacity pissing about means that it doesn’t disrupt the game.
A 5punky game of Bumout is generally a consistent thing. We attempt various challenges with all the coordination and cooperation of a shaken bag full of drunken cats, colliding and disrupting each other so that even the simplest challenge becomes hilariously difficult. Last night’s highlight was the simple task of everyone travelling for 200 yds down the freeway into oncoming traffic. Traffic isn’t heavy in Bumout, so that’s not difficult individually, but we all must have done several laps of the city by the time we actually managed to get everyone on the freeway at the same time.
There’s something else about Bumout. Remember the webcam I mentioned? Well Bumout will make use of it if you have one, taking a picture of your reaction when another player rams you off the road. This is just as much fun as the game itself, gurning for the camera and finding amusing things to wear. I heard Cthulhu made an appearance on Pnut’s cam at one point (dead Cthulhu waits dreaming in his house at Manchester, apparently). More notable was Fabyak, who was playing in his dressing gown. I won’t go into the sordid details, but not for the first time the words ‘strip Burnout’ were uttered.
And therein lies the first reference to the title of today’s diary. Strip Burnout, invented by myself I’m proud to admit, is what some may describe as trolling. It’s subjective though. There’s no doubt that Grimmie had an aversion to seeing Fabyak exposing rarer parts of his anatomy just as pretty much anyone else would, but he’s come to expect it. You need to play to your target audience lest what you consider to be a jolly funny prank is taken as nastiness or abuse. Fortunately 5punkers are a close lot and raised tension isn’t common.
Bumout was the architect of its own downfall. The turnout was too good, as it happens. Unfortunately Bumout only supports eight players, and you may remember we had ten. With two waiting in the wings we called a premature end to the game and moved onto the harder stuff of our late night staple, Dota 2. True to 5punky form this in turn caused the loss of two different players who either didn’t have the game or were too tired/drunk for the intensity of Dota 2‘s team battles. The mythical 10-player 5punker Vs 5punk grand slam eluded us for another night.
A couple of random bot match were as random bot matches are, enjoyable and casual. When a few more left and we found we had five players remaining we decided to play against real people. It’s not often we do this, partly because it becomes a bit more Serious Business, and partly because we’re actually not very good. Still, it’s nice to have a change and sometimes you get a new hat.
There was a distinct theme to the two public games which were played by a 5punky team of Shot2Bits, Pete, Fabyak, Mr Johnson, and I. Not trolls, or at least not for us, but disconnects. Apparently this is a problem in Dota 2, and indeed any other similar game (MOBA, ARTS, call them what you will). Disconnects on the other team led us to victory in both instances, which must have been frustrating for the others, especially since, as there usually is, there were some good individual players faced against us. I suppose whether or not a disconnect counts as trolling or not depends on if it’s deliberate or not. Who knows, if that’s the case.
Game one was actually very good natured. Dota 2 has a fierce reputation for terrible behaviour, enough to put many people off playing it. Enough that Roman’s account during Burnout of a group of Romanian teenagers on Dota 2‘s in-game voice comms led to a run of screeching faux-abuse in bad east-European accents. In fact despite those rumours I’ve found even the angry internet types in Dota 2 to be capable of cracking the odd joke among their rants, lending them an air of having at least the tip of their tongue in cheek. Even so, all credit to the skilled Dazzle player who, once we finally blundered our way to their ancient to end the game, thanked us for a good game. He got a fair play commendation from me for his graciousness in abject defeat. Whether the Dragon Knight player who died to my Queen of Pain in the mid-lane two seconds after the game began was trolling – deliberately feeding the other team – in this case, and many others as the game progressed, or just very inexperienced, we’ll never know.
Game two was more difficult to determine. They put up a much better fight, but an early disconnect put them on a handicap from pretty much the start. By the end of the game they were down to two players. Notable though, and much easier to gauge the trollishness of, was their guy who raged regularly about how much he hated Dota and how much better League of Legends was. Genuine or otherwise, he seemed to be trying to get a rise from us. He got it in the form of 5punkers feigning ignorance, asking what LoL was, which game was better, and even which game we were currently playing. This is certainly cutting closer to the line of trolling. We were deliberately winding this guy up. I hope the rest of his team enjoyed it though, because they probably weren’t enjoying getting beaten up by our random draft of ganker all-stars. At the end they disputed that it was a good game, but it seemed to be mostly good natured. Which I take to mean that trolling the trolls isn’t really trolling after all.