Thursday Mar 12, 2009
Different versions of Phantasy Star, dating back to the Master System and Genesis versions, have taken place in wildly different times and locations. Fans of continuity, however, should be pleased that the recently released Phantasy Star Portable takes place in the same timeline as Phantasy Star Universe. To that end, GMs for Phantasy Star Universe—namely myself and Ruby Eclipse—were able to put on an in-game event this past week with characters from Phantasy Star Portable showing up in SEGA’s own MMO.
Meet Helga (the sinister looking femme fatale on the left) and Vivienne (the innocent-looking robot with the bunny ears on the right).
Vivienne is a CAST (an android), a newly-minted member of the GUARDIANS defense force and one of the principle heroes of Phantasy Star Portable. Her personality plays a lot into the plot, as she is new to and doesn’t quite understand most human emotions, although she is programmed to. She’s a great character and very-well done in the Phantasy Star Portable storyline.
Helga is the villain of the story, and in the Phantasy Star Portable storyline, is first spotted causing trouble on the GUARDIANS colony–which is where she showed up this past Friday. She is clearly a troublemaker, and may have a much darker backstory than what’s been hinted at so far . . . much of the storyline following the two characters is a cat-and-mouse chase between Vivienne and Helga, and this inspired the event itself.
Ruby Eclipse and myself took turns piloting Vivienne and Helga in-game, and in what was essentially a hide-and-seek game spanning the three planets and many servers of Phantasy Star Universe, players helped (or in some cases, hindered) Vivienne in finding Helga. My editorial opinion is that this was a ton of fun to do, and we got a great collection of players–chaos reigned supreme at times, but this only seemed to add to the fun.
As you can see, huge masses of players followed Helga and Vivienne around in-game. The goal was to track Helga’s whereabouts and report her to Vivienne, who would then track Helga down. Much delightful chaos ensued: there were, at times, huge numbers of players involved—servers that were usually empty filled up almost instantly whenever one of our characters moved there, and when found, Helga was swarmed with true zealotry.
The event was fun in part because it invited mass participation: While it only took a few people to actually relay information to Vivienne as to where Helga was, finding Helga required hundreds of players streaming through every available server, planet, and lobby location.
Participants brought a lot of different play-styles to the event: Some people straight-up role-played the event, talking to Helga and Vivienne in-character and playing along with the storyline. Others were a bit more tongue in cheek (see the Thundercats reference above), while still others seemed to decide they would help Helga instead of Vivienne. The event took on a life of its own over the course of the day, and Helga began to take advantage of the nefarious assistance of the players.
A highlight of the day came on PC/PS2 servers, where players were particularly efficient in tracking down Helga. In this case, Helga–piloted by yours truly–ran to the Observation Deck on the GUARDIANS Colony and threatened to plant a bomb. Vivienne showed up, along with what appeared to be the entire PC/PS2 population (give or take a few dozen). A special phrase was then issued to all GUARDIANS who were online at the time–any character who said this phrase would win, as they had done at the end of each event throughout the day, an exclusive in-game item–and GUARDIANS were instructed to repeat the phrase until Helga was “forced” off the server (one of Helga’s few weaknesses, it seems, is massive spam). The resultant spam–just a glimpse of which you can see in the image to the right here–was epic. Imagine that phrase repeated by several hundred players crammed into a single lobby, nonstop, and you’ll have an idea.
All in all, it was an extremely fun day–certainly for the GMs to get to see so much unique player participation, and hopefully for the players who took part as well! The prizes were a nice element to be able to offer as well: anyone who typed “Phantasy Star Portable Day!” at any point during the day will be receiving a special in-game room item, and anyone who helped to complete the event and got the “special phrase” to say will be receiving the in-game weapon.
Thanks again to everyone who was able to participate–Helga has been spammed & hunted out of Phantasy Star Universe, but you can find both her and Vivienne in Phantasy Star Portable!
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