Big Fake Robots

With Planetside on my mind and a lot of great memories welling up I’m also reminded of one of my stupidest moments in online gaming.

As I mentioned in my last post I’m a somewhat big fan of Planetside and I’ve resubbed to the game many times though because of the game’s many flaws I can never stay subscribed for very long before I get bored, annoyed, whatever – at the very least I get my fill and cancel yet again. Shortly after renewing my account for the first time in many, many months I received a gaming magazine (Computer Gaming World for the record) in the mail that had a relatively small article about this huge new free expansion they were adding to the game that centered around the addition of what they called Battle Frame Robots, or BFRs. Mechs for you Planetside virgins.

Sometime later I was curious about what kind of idiocy was going around on the official message boards as a result of this (SOE’s Planetside forums were always a pretty hideous pit of bitching about the developers, flame wars over balance and whatnot, and immature braggadocio) only to find absolutely no mention of this new content being added whatsoever. Suspecting I might be the first to know, but not 100% positive, I posted a purposely naive message asking what people thought of the new content. Call it trolling if you like but there wasn’t really any ill intent.

The first several replies were filled with people questioning my sanity but many others were intrigued and wanted to know more. I then posted a link to a picture of one of the pages of the article. I quickly grew tired trying to explain what I was on about and just posted high resolution scans of the entire article and tried to limit my number of replies as the replies grew more and more heated.

The absolute torrent of flames and acquisitions hurled at me was truly something to behold. The board erupted into frenzy as thread after thread was created on the subject. I was amazed as I watched things I obviously knew to be 100% fact get torn apart and debated incessantly. Some of the amazingly intricate conspiracy theories people came up were quite fun to read though I’ve got to say. A large number of people replied to my posts or PMed me asking for more proof, wishing I’d die in a fire for being a filthy con man, congratulating me on such a brilliantly executed scam, and, most annoyingly of all, bluntly declaring that I was a liar and betting millions of combined dollars that everything I had posted was pure bunk. Insert some great revelation about “John Gabriel’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory” here. I admit that after awhile I started throwing out some purposely snarky and slightly misleading replies just to mess with people since I knew the actual truth would eventually come out.

A day or two later when the devs finally responded and confirmed that what I had posted was true I didn’t get a single check in the mail or even an apology in my inbox. *sigh* Still, it was pretty exciting being the most infamous person in an entire MMO for a couple of days and I did get quite a big kick out of watching all of the chaos I had caused.

And all that is just a small sampling.

It’s funny. BFRs were hated by a large portion of the community the second I posted about them but they were even more hated once they finally made it into the game: as many of us had feared they were grossly imbalanced and the game suffered as a whole due to their addition. Eventually they were nerfed over and over again until they were just another vehicle on the battlefield, albeit still a very powerful one. The controversy still lives on as you can see from the celebratory comments on this news item announcing that BFRs apparently won’t be reappearing in Planetside 2. I, for one, liked the idea. 🙁

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