Saturday, 18 May 2013

Just Ride : City of Steam, GW2

There were no horses in the 20th Century. They didn't begin to appear until the very end of 2001 and it wasn't 'til the spring of 2002 that I saw my first. It was coming on summer when I finally saved up enough money to buy one all my own.

Horses in those days were very different to horses as we know them now. It took a while to build up to a gallop and you really had to lean back on the reins to bring them to a halt. Turning a horse was like moving a grand piano in a small room. That didn't matter so much. I hadn't bought mine to get anywhere faster. I'd bought it to sit and think.

Sitting astride a horse was... well it was sitting and sitting mattered because only by sitting could you get your thoughts back in order and regain the energy you'd used up casting spells, energy you'd soon enough need to cast more. Meditation, we called it. Medding, the way we spoke back then.

Quickly horses passed from luxury to necessity. The ability of a cleric to keep a party alive depended on having a good seat. It wasn't merely that thought flowed more clearly when mounted; lions, goblins, bandits, anything used to seeing a seated gnome as snack-food or spare change lost focus when a horse came into the picture. Mounted clerics no longer got picked on the moment they opened up their spell-books.

We were very happy with our horses. I don't recall anyone observing that horses were all very well but they'd prefer something more leathery. Still, wished for or otherwise, not much more than a year later the fashionable thing to be seen out riding was a drogmor and with drogmors the stable door stood wide, never to be bolted.

In the years since almost every world has learned to ride. Horses, tigers, dragons, mechanical pigs; there's nothing so outlandish someone won't throw a saddle on it. In some worlds mounts transcend gravity; flying carpets, hot air balloons, jetpacks. Get me up in one of those? Hell, yes.

Last night I rode a Steambike for the first time. There wasn't really anywhere much to ride it, just around the tight streets of Heartland Road. I'd been gifted the bike on arrival from The Ironwaste, a terrifying wasteland teeming with skeletons whose gauntlet must be run unless you wish to spend the rest of your life living on charity in The Refuge.

I had no idea how much I'd missed riding until I kick-started that bike and heard it purr. All these months traveling the length and breadth of Tyria on Shanks's Pony I knew something wasn't right but you get used to these things. Now I know. It's wrong and it's been wrong all along.

It's just plain wrong to run everywhere. It's not realistic, naturalistic or immersive. It's silly. Even in our own quotidian world we mostly go mounted, to the corner shop on roller skates, to a friend's by bike, to the next town over in a car. And when we go somewhere on foot we walk. We don't run.

I'm done with jogging. Wishes are horses. Let's ride.


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