Welcome to Empirical Purple

A blog by Simon Brady to cover a surprisingly wide range of geekiness, in a combination that no-one else does quite the same way. Probably. Either that, or it'll just be Simon talking about the likes of Football (usually the Soccer variety), PC & Tabletop Gaming, WWE, Movies, Music and occasionally even my actual job of Graphic Design, depending on what I'm up to in the world.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Reach High

Me aspiring to let the army General take the first swing.
"I've got your back, Tyrus. Go get 'em."
Image ©2013 Oliver Facey - oliverfacey.co.uk
"Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul.
Dream deep, for ever dream precedes the goal."
- Pamela Vaull Starr

It's mentioned pretty much everywhere that Empire is an 'aspirational' game in terms of costume and kit. The idea, apparently, is that as long as you do your best and keep on improving, then that's fine.

There are no 'miminum' requirements beyond no jeans, no trainers, no heavy metal t-shirts. It's like the complete opposite of Bloodstock, save for the pretend pagan magic.

The aspirations don't just limit themselves to how you look. Everywhere, whether it's on PD's blog posts, Facebook comments or the extremely extensive (but not particularly well categorised) Empire wiki, there's plenty of purple prose about people working to make the game better for everyone else.  It's a theme that runs through the entire organisation, background setting, battles and especially to the actions on the field. But how do you, as one of anything up to around 2,000 people, make the game better for the other 1,999?

Empire is an easy world to run around playing make-believe in (as that's all we're really doing, right?). The aspirations, first and foremost, have started with PD's own goals. Alongside buildings for the Senate and a two-storey Tavern, there's street lighting, a host of in-character traders, civil servants and obvious-but-inconspicuous referees wandering about the place.

Everyone looks great as they wander around, doing their own thing and it's very easy to fall into step and play as your character. But the aspiration doesn't stop with kit and costume, it pervades the entire universe because we're all on the same side.

Already "For The Empire!" is a stock call-and-repeat phrase, even given an acronym (FTE, duh) on Facebook. Yell it pretty much anywhere and you're almost guaranteed that other people will chant it back to you. It's omnipresent in the religious background, too, with seven virtuous that righteous people are supposed to live by: Ambition, Courage, Loyalty, Pride, Prosperity, Vigilance and Wisdom.

"Ambition? Pride? How are those good things that everyone should have?" you might ask. From a certain point of view, Obi-Wan, it looks like arrogance, greed and hubris would abound in this game, right? The way it's pitched at the players, however, is an unending stream of self-improvement and only gains for the group by the individual are truly honoured. The concept of a continual cycle of a magical reincarnation mystery tour until your soul is virtuous enough to ascend to... 'wherever', is forefront in the background.

'Improve yourself and work together' is what the game designers are trying to tell us, both In Character and Out of Character. They're not quite at the point of knocking everyone's heads together to achieve it, but they're close.

In order to have any sort of power in the game, you need to work with the other players. You need to either have a large group on your side, or the support of your nation, or the priests of your virtue, or your fellow mages, traders, crafters... whichever group(s) you belong to. The entire Player vs Player set up of the game is in the various political, religious and economic arenas, but if those arenas started to work together in some form of harmony... then amazing things would certainly happen.

But only if you aspire to them.

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