"Fat lady? I didn't hear no fat lady!" The never-say-die gamer attitude.
Forgive my stream of consciousness posting here, but I want to get this out of my head before I crash.
DC Universe Online has a daily shutdown at exactly 0600 CST. They even give announcements in world. 30, 25, 15... Even a countdown when it's in the last 10 minutes, and by the second in the last 10. There's no excuse for not knowing that the server is about to undergo its daily "maintenance". On a side note, I always get this vision of a beleaguered geek being rustled out of bed, dragging himself to the server room, peeking in, saying "we're good", and hitting the reboot button every day. It amuses me.
I got done livecasting at 3:30 AM, but I still felt like playing after a short break. So I logged into a character I don't play as often, and cued up for random instances. At around 5:30 I was starting to wind it down when I got a notification. "Your instance is ready".
Huhwha? I already ran the 4 player ones I... oh, it's a raid! I forgot I cued up for that. 30 minutes to shut down, it's probably a group trying to hit the last boss on a final hurrah. That happens. I'll help. Hit "accept". Then pause.
If you don't play DCUO, or if your MMO of choice doesn't have a random party option, lemme tell you what this means. If it's a group that only needs one person because of a party member leaving, there is no pause. You hit accept, and you're magically whisked away to the instance where you check the map, see how far up they are, and run like hell to catch them.
If there's a pause, however, this means a fresh instance. All 4, 5, 8, 25, whatever people are all hitting "accept", which takes time. So if there's a pause, you're starting from the beginning. With about 30 minutes 'till shutdown. You know that feeling you get when you start your car, look at the gas gauge, and see it hovering dangerously close to "E"? Yeah, it's like that, but with 7 people in the car with you. Who are all heavily armed. And three of them are furries.
We had a minute of uneasy pause before anyone really moved. Nobody typed in chat, nobody spoke in voice. I think we were all doing the same thing, spinning the camera and seeing who was going to leave. Nobody did. "30 minutes to shutdown" comes across the chat window. What happened next was, in hindsight, creepy but utterly cool.
Almost like it was choreographed, we all pushed into the instance as a group, torpedoes be damned full speed ahead push. The first part took too long, it always does. We moved into the second part, without talking we all fell into our roles and as a solved the puzzles we needed to. There was no talking voice or text, there was no blame or anger... It was pure "head down and drive forward" mentality. There was a sense of "no time for talk, let's DO THIS!"
The timer clock said "10 minutes to shut down" and I knew damn well we weren't going to make it to the end, let alone finish the instance. We were too far back. I think we all knew at some level. And yet, we pushed. We barely beat the main second boss, losing half the party who got knocked out. The few of us who remained pushed on. We're doing a raid with half a team, and we're still driving.
We get to the fight before the end boss. Even with a full team this takes 10 minutes and we've got half a roster. We drive. The healer who's left is doing all he can to keep us standing. The 'troller is doing all he can to keep us in power. The tank... he went DPS so we could pour more damage out faster. We hit this boss with everything we had while the chat window seems in a constant scroll "5 minutes before shutdown" "4 minutes before shutdown" "3 minutes before shutdown."
No stopping. No excuses. The whole time we're doing the mission. We all know the fight, we all know how the rhythm goes, and we all know that there's no way in hell we're gonna down this boss before shutdown.
But we keep driving.
I think we lost the healer with 30 seconds to go. I popped all my "self-heal" abilities, but it wasn't enough and I go down with 15 seconds to go when I get overwhelmed. I'm watching the team and there's still two guys fighting to win even though the timer literally has the chat window scrolling. Screen freezes, and I get the disconnect screen. No words, no blame, no excuses. We fought all the way down.
And I sat back in my chair, Pink Floyd still playing in my speakers, staring at the disconnect screen.
All I could think about is "Why the hell did we do that?"
Logically, we all knew that 30 minutes is an unreasonable time window to even try an 8 player pick-up group. A good team of players with practice could do it, but not a PUG from the graveyard crew. The better play would have been to sit in the HQ, sort stuff, sell what you need to and call it. But then again, I don't think that gamers are always logical creatures.
I think we took it as a challenge. "30 minutes to run this? Challenge accepted." We all knew it wasn't going to happen, but that wasn't going to stop us from trying. Even when it was painfully obvious that we weren't going to finish, we made it "how far can we go?" And even when the seconds ticked down, it was "us" vs the clock. It was going to win, but we were going to make it earn the victory. I also think that we all held each other up. I'm not leaving because he's not leaving because she's not leaving because I'm not leaving.
You may notice I'm using "we", because this was a team decision. Unspoken, but a decision. "We're here, we're not going to win, but we're going to try." If someone would have left just before the instance began, I don't think we'd even gotten out of the gates. If someone would have left in the first area when we stumbled a few times, it would have fallen apart and I don't think anyone would have thought less of them for it. But no, we were there, we were gonna stick this out.
Honestly, it's one of those moments that shows me why I tolerate the small percentage of trolls and the gold spammers.
It's when you fit into a team, where your individual efforts become amplified through others, and you amplify theirs. When the individual parts make a much better whole. The team elevates the individual, and we all walk away better for it.
This also shows me one of the more glorious stereotypes that gamers aren't as famous for. Tenacity. For every "rage quitter" there's gonna be a player who will tough out an unwinnable situation. Why? To prove it can be done. Or to say "Hey, we got this far." Even if it's for "lulz" it's still showing that there's something more there. An underlying attitude of "The only time a situation becomes unwinnable is when you quit." And one thing I'm happy to see, real gamers don't quit that easily.
I didn't have a chance to get their character names, even if I did I don't think we could re-capture lightning in a bottle like this. So on the off chance that any of you guys were doing the run tonight, thank you for the try, and I hope to have the honor of fighting along side you guys again. Hopefully, without the clock.