I’m a middle-aged man, a professional with a lot of credentials. On a daily basis I have colleagues who rely on me to get work done. I also have a family and a social life.
Sound familiar? My story is pretty typical of a Planets player. In getting to know my allies and opponents in the game, I’ve quickly learned that Planets players are the cream of the crop. I’m amazed at how many of my Planets friends have terminal degrees and prestigious jobs. This game seems to attract many scientists and creative types. There are also many government leaders and civil servants who play this game. Also there are a great number of Planets players who serve in the military (thank you for your service!).
Escaping into the Echo Cluster is a great way to escape from earthly life. Our minds and bodies need regular changes of pace to keep ourselves healthy. Planets offers a far greater degree of mental stimulation than most online games. Certainly when you open the results of your turn, it may be entertaining to watch the VCR, but the great majority of the time we spend in the game consists of solving puzzles, resource management, and communication.
Most people I know think of computer gaming as pushing buttons in real time to build things or kill things on the screen. I find it difficult to explain to some of my friends that I actually enjoy playing this game in which action happens only two or three times a week, and in which a single campaign can last several months or even more than a year.
We Planets people are a special breed. Some of us play this game because we enjoyed it when we were kids. Some of us found Planets when looking for a good strategy game. Some are attracted to it because of the sci-fi scenario. But regardless of why we play, we all have something in common: we are all willing to put our time into meticulous resource management, and we all try to solve esoteric puzzles, and we are all willing to wait hours or days to see the results of our work.
Take Care of Yourself
A few weeks ago, Thin and I were talking about real-life things we needed to do. I told him about my house and how I was thinking of building a shed in my back yard this summer. At that time, I was in four games. Four is a lot for most people, but the summer is my slow season, so I have more time for Planets. When the Cyborg position opened up in Die Hard LN-2, I really wanted to take it, but I was torn, since the Borg can be unbelievably time-consuming in a well-developed midgame – and five games just seems like too many for one person.
When I was pondering joining LN-2, I asked Thin for advice. His answer was: “Take the Borg slot, and build the shed.” That was sage guidance coming from a Lizard, don’t you think? In other words, play the game, but be sure to balance your life at the same time.
If you want to play more Planets, be sure to offset the time you spend in space with other activities also. Go outside, or exercise, or build something. Read books or magazines. Cook a special dinner a few nights per week. Balancing different types of enjoyable activities will make you a more healthy person, and it will make you think better. And if you can think better, you will become a better Planets player!
I’ve lost my cool in games before, and I’ve even had to retract my words or apologize. Like most Planets players, I get emotionally connected to what I have created and I feel violated if others mess with it. When someone is an enemy in the Echo Cluster, we have a tendency to have ill feelings toward them, especially if they are blowing all our stuff up. But being opponents in the game is not a good reason not to be polite.
Have you seen outstanding moves or unfamiliar techniques from an opponent? Have you observed great resource management or masterful diplomacy from your enemies? If so, perhaps you should congratulate the person. A simple “good job” will do.
And if someone is bulldozing your empire, please don’t spell out swear words with your friendly codes. Everyone notices when you do that, and nobody is amused.
Just yesterday I needed to break safe passage and declare war on someone. It’s always slightly uncomfortable to do that if I’m enjoying playing with that person, but I need their planets to win the game. So I decided to send this war declaration:
Warmest Greetings from the Crystal People!
The Crystal People have found most planets in the Echo Cluster to be far too cold for our taste; therefore our reproduction has slowed to an alarming rate. We have learned that the television stations in the far northeast of the Adviel Sector have begun to broadcast arousing adult films. The Crystal People desire to begin viewing these flicks to get our rocks off in a desperate effort to increase our population.
Unfortunately these areas are now inhabited by the Rebel Confederation and the Evil Empire. Alas, the Echo Cluster’s silly rules disallow for the coexistence of the Crystal People with any more cold-blooded race. Our discovery of these titillating transmissions in the northeast necessitates the removal of those Rebel and Imperial occupants, likely through force. Gentlemen: defend well, and enjoy the fight!
Everybody knows that I am going to war because I want to win the game. But why not have fun with it? I find it just as fun to be a defender as an attacker. I hope that those with whom I’m waging war will enjoy the battle as much as I do, and I hope they will put their best foot forward in defending.
Here is the essence of our VGA Planets “Hearts of Space”. We are opponents in the Echo Cluster – this is a war game after all! As we rise up the leaderboard, we all know that there can only be one Emperor, and our competitive spirit is what keeps the game alive and enjoyable for all.
In the Echo Cluster, we choose to spend our time in a sci-fi space scenario. When you fly through space and blow up ships and capture planets, you’re expanding your territory and attempting to dominate a virtual universe. But never forget that the person on the other side of the screen is a real human being just like you. As we discussed above, Planets players are a special breed. Your opponents may be playing the role of Lizards or Borgs or Robots, but the person behind the mask has the same mindset and motivations that you do.
We always owe gratitude to our opponents, no matter how things turn out.
Play hard and play often, but take care of yourself and be polite!17