Sunday, July 14, 2019

Flying High: Riders of Icarus

There's an expression journalists use: "Don't bury the lead". Or "lede" if you prefer. Not that the spelling matters. Call it what you want, just don't bury it, that's the point.

It means stick to your main point. Open with the thing you want people to focus on. Don't distract them with secondary issues. Don't give them a chance to lose interest before they find out what it was you wanted to tell them.

I hadn't heard the phrase until Wilhelm used it in a comment recently, when he noticed I was doing it. I often do. Look, here I am, doing it right now. This isn't supposed to be a piece about good journalistic practice, after all.

Burying the lede (I'm swaying that way. The other spelling reminds me too much of "swinging the lead") is something MMORPGs do all the time. When you consider the complexity to come it's forgivable. More than that, it's all but unavoidable. It's tough enough introducing new players to concepts as basic as movement and combat without them throwing up their hands in despair. Imagine what would happen if they found out what the game was really like.

Fine. We'll accept it as a practical necessity, predicated by the form. But what's the excuse for hiding the scenery? Why do so many MMORPGs set out their stall in barren wastelands or cluttered farmlands when a few levels down the line, lie vistas worthy of Dali? Or at the very least, Roger Dean.

Riders of Icarus is good-looking enough in the lower levels but now I've reached the mid-20s it's positively stunning. The zone I'm in right now, Sea of Hakanas, is a glorious seascape, where waves crash against crumbling pillars of moss-covered stone and mist shrouds the cliffs above a desolate shore.

There are ruined battlements and towers, plateaus and parapets, thundering waterfalls and abandoned coliseums. Islands of stone hang in the sky, held in place by massive chains. Everywhere you turn the air is filled with life.

Riders of Icarus is perhaps the most vertical MMORPG I've ever played. Every map has a flight ceiling that limits how high you can go. In early zones flying feels a little like I imagine chickens might, when they somehow get up enough lift to land on the top of the henhouse. By the time you get to Sea of Hakanas it's El Condor Pasa.

I have a fair amount to say about how the game's going. About the gameplay and the storyline and the payment model and  few other things. But rather than bury that lede I'm going to stick to the point and post some pictures.

They really don't do it justice.


  1. Burying the lede is one of those things I do, because the way I write I am often not sure what I am on about until I am well into what I am writing. But it is also something that can annoy me.

    When I was managing a group I wrote up a series of instruction for my team about how to get the best out of their leader. At the top of the list was, "Don't tell me a story before getting to your point. Tell me what you want. If it is reasonable I'll probably say "yes" and we can both get on with our lives. If I need supporting information I will ask you, then you can tell your story."

    Basically, blogger me would annoy manager me. But, at work, I do stick to my own rules and start with the point, then move on to justification.

    Your pictures are pretty though. I probably should have led with that.

    1. I'm all in favor of metaphor and analogy but the time to bring out the stories is when you can see someone doesn't understand what you mean, not before they have any idea what you're going to say. Unfortunately, I frequently have no idea what I'm going to say until I hear myself say it, something that goes double for blogging, so by the time i work out what the lede is, it's often too late.

      I do re-write - or re-edit - to correct that on occasion but mostly I don't bother. Now it's been brought to my attention, though, I find myself noticing it more so maybe that's going to change. More likely, though, I'll keep doing it then refer to having done it in an annoyingly post-modern and/or ironic fashion. I like to keep myself amused.


Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide