Saturday, August 16, 2003, 1:40:18 AM (ScreenShot0603)
Rodd Flanders… How the **** am I going to explain this?
The Name – Around 1999, my old college roommate and I started playing Counterstrike (Beta 1.3). After toying with different names, including Daniel-san & Mr. Miyagi, we finally settled on RodFlanders & ToddFlanders. RodFlanders stuck, and I used it for years online. Vroflus actually has part of RodFlanders imbedded into it as well. When I went to create “Rod Flanders” on the Tarquinas server, “Rod” was taken, so I had to create “Rodd Flanders” instead. After time, I became so recognizable as “Rodd,” that I eventually dropped the Simpsons reference.
The Reason – While obsessively playing SWG at home, I of course could not play at work during the day. In lieu of playing the game, I spent a lot of time on the official discussion forums @ SOE, and soon after I joined a group of players from the SWG GAT boards that broke off and made their own website at www.gatcity.com (which eventually became www.generalanytopic.com). And there I lurked. All throughout beta, and into launch. Eventually, I started to post on GAT City’s SWG forum, but it was often hard to relate because we were on different servers.
The “GATers” had a very long planning process together before the game launched. They had city plans, and even a mayor voted, before the game ever launched. They had a planet picked (Talus), they had professions mapped out, etc. When the game launched, they ended up getting into a fight that broke them in half. I believe the fight revolved around the fact that people that did not own the game yet were trying to tell the people that were actually playing what to do in game. The group that broke off left GAT for good prior to my arrival.
The group that remained were composed of about 20 people from the forums, and another 15 or so that they met in game. One of the players from the forums was “Niklut,” who acted as their Droid Engineer. Niklut and I had a conversation on their boards about his profession, and how he felt that it was hard to level up because his droids didn’t sell, which meant he’d lack the funds to acquire materials to grind. For some reason this set me off, and I was determined to buy a droid off him… so my reason for starting a character on their server was to buy a droid off of this guy.
The Real Reason – Looking back, I think I had other reasons. One could be that I was trying to avoid the HHT drama. Another reason, was that I think I fell in love with those Solar Generators, and wanted to create a crafter. Since you could not have more then one character on a server, and I’d never respec Vroflus, this was my only way to have a crafter. Another reason was that I wanted to play with the guys that I was speaking with during the day at work. What I saw was a lot of guys, sometimes bickering, but potentially able to pull of something big.
So I created Rodd Flanders. The intention was to play incredibly casually. I figured I’d play when Eclipse was down for maintenance, or when none of my friends on Eclipse were around. That’s how it started. What it ended up being was something different. I’d end up getting more involved on Tarquinas than I was on Eclipse, essentially abandoning all the people that I was closest with. Some would think it was no big deal. Others would take it very personally.
Tuesday, August 19, 2003, 9:29:58 AM (ScreenShot0604)
When I started to play on Tarq, things felt very different immediately. The guys told me to join “GAT Chat,” which was a way for everyone to talk together, even though they had started separate guilds. The chat rolled by quick, with a good 20+ players online at any given time. Very few people noticed I had even joined in the first week or so. They had two predominant guilds, <GOD> which stood for Guardians of Defstar (the CSR’s eventually made them change it because the Christians complained about “GOD” being the acronym), and <PM>, which was Project Mayhem. <GOD> (later renamed <HATED>) was led by Jagermeister, and was PVP centric, while <PM> was more about running around in your underwear.
As for me, I asked them what profession they were lacking, and they told me they did not have an Armorsmith. So I rolled an Artisan, but as most other noob characters, picked up all the other Novice Professions as well. I made the CDEF rifle & all the clothes I was wearing in the screenshot above… and obviously I met up with Niklut and made good on my original intention of buying a droid from him. By the time I had joined, GAT had moved from Talus to Naboo, and had already lost about 20% of it’s starting player base due to people hating SOE. They were also an Imperial community, so I went that direction as well.
In my first week playing with them, I made a promise. As long as you were a member of GAT City, I would make you as much armor as you wanted, for free. The promise went unnoticed by most when I first said it, after all, I wasn’t even a novice armorsmith yet. But a few people did pay attention, and they started bringing me materials to grind. One of the first was a Ranger named Gun-Li, followed by a Pistoleer/CH named Kzin. Dwr Budr & Batou. One by one they started to invest in the idea. Elu Vagabond, Port Kreede, Cheshire Cat. Then Zom’bo, Werrt’zer, Mekal. All the names I recognized from the forums, all the names in the chat, I was starting to meet them in person.
None of us knew it, but this one promise became the foundation of what would become one of the largest and well organized Player Cities on the server. What started as guys helping a player grind his profession, ended up being the backbone relationship that would bring all the stragglers, and even some of the quitters, back together, to work towards a common goal. At its height, GAT City would have over 80 residents, all serving two common goals…. Death to the Rebellion, and unabashed hijinx.
Thursday, August 21, 2003, 12:27:47 AM (ScreenShot0610)
Back on Eclipse, I found myself in Theed talking to an Architect named Felicity. It was time to upgrade, and I wanted fusion generators. In typical Vroflus fashion, I asked to trade rather then pay credits for her services… we agreed on power in exchange for generators, which was perfect for me, because the Solar Generators I recently relocated to Corillia gave me more then enough to go around. Much like Darkghosty, Felicity was an Imperial operating out of Theed. It was interesting, on one server, entering Theed meant 20 guys chasing me out of the starport, while on the other server, it’d be my home.
Thursday, August 21, 2003, 1:15:33 AM (ScreenShot0611)
Thanks to my new business, my brand new Fusion Generators paid for themselves. What was even better was that not only could you use the radioactive material mined as power, but crafters needed it for crafting recipes as well. These things were more expensive to run, but if you found a good % to drop it on, you were rich fast. For the time being, logging into Vroflus would just meant checking on my generators, and that was it.
Thursday, August 21, 2003, 12:53:42 PM (ScreenShot0612)
While on Tarq, I was maintaining my small mineral extractors. It was a duplicitous life, but the actions were the same for a time. As for Rodd, I couldn’t pull up the minerals fast enough our of the ground, to the point that I was actually taking core samples by hand along side the harvesters. While GAT was helping with hide and bone, no one was helping with money (yet), so I would have to take destroy missions out of Theed to kill Capper Spineflaps with my CDEF rifle just to get enough cash to keep my harvesters going.
Friday, August 22, 2003, 12:19:14 PM (ScreenShot0613)
The more I look at this screenshot, the more I think it’s one of the best I ever took. Something about the way the wind harvester looks in the glow of my flashlight. Speaking of the wind harvester, it’s too bad my fusion power from Eclipse could not be moved to Tarq, cause Rodd could’ve used it big time. The life of a crafter was proving to be a tedious one. I needed power to make my extractors operate, so I had to use some of my lots to have wind generators planted. It was all more expensive then my budget allowed, so instead of grinding 100% of the time, I had to run a lot of missions while my harvesters did the extracting. If the GATers weren’t supplying me with a steady source of hide & bone, I don’t know what I would’ve done. Without them, the grind would’ve taken me twice as long at least.
Saturday, August 23, 2003, 9:56:32 AM (ScreenShot0614)
I knew armorsmith was for me, when I made my first set of Bone Armor. To this day, I think Bone Armor looks pretty awesome. No GATers really wanted garbage bone armor, so I couldn’t start paying guys back for all the resources they were dropping off, but I could put it on the Bazaar for noobs to buy. Finally, I started getting a tiny bit of reward to offset the huge expense of starting this profession. Not that I even hit Novice Armorsmith yet, I was still trying to get out of the Artisan tree.
Monday, August 25, 2003, 12:29:59 PM (ScreenShot0617)
Back on Eclipse, I was still trying to wheel and deal, trying to get Felicity to give me some more fusion harvesters at a discount. The middleman business was now completely extinct, so I had little to bargain with, other then the power I was pulling out of the ground. It was okay though. I was now building a social network on the other server, so I didn’t feel like I was missing something when my trade network died on Eclipse. I think Darkghosty dropped off the face of the galaxy around this time too, and considering that he was my main crafter ally, I now had to fend for myself.
Monday, August 25, 2003, 1:09:11 PM (ScreenShot0618)
A day away from the two month mark, and Anchorhead already started to look less crowded. Players had all picked sides of the GCW, they had picked guilds, and they had built houses in what would one day become player cities. Meanwhile, even though I was spending less time on Eclipse, I was spending it with Flo and <COL>. <HHT> was on the verge of disbanding, as the only active members were Zox, Ciale, and Rampage. It was only a matter of time before some of us were absorbed into the Rebel machine of <COL>.