Confessions of a Dangerous Guide

Last week, I kinda sorta promised to write about my time as volunteer customer support. Consider this Customer Service, Part II … or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Enjoy the Lack of Service. (Part I is here; try to keep up.)

Here’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

About three or so years ago, I was an EverQuest guide. Hard to believe, I know: how in the world did he get through Sony’s rigorous screening? and, why in the world would he want to get through Sony’s rigorous screening?

Short answers. The screening was mostly: can you type and have you printed out the 149-page Guide Manual? As to the why … I was in between hardc0re raiding guilds, I was burned out and I thought it might be interesting.

It wasn’t interesting, other than the great comedy material I pharmed, but hell, live and learn.

Now here’s the thing: Sony had a hardon for making absolutely, positively, no doubt about it, certain that the petitioning player had a legitimate claim before the guides could reimburse or rectify the situation. This was drilled into our candidate heads ad nauseum. Because, as it was explained to us (in so many words), we all know most of the players will lie to get “ahead” in EverQuest.

So I toed the line while I was just a pretend guide-in-training, but once I got my own Guide resurrection stick, it was mayhem.

Sony’s rule: player death due to a documented game bug could be Guide rezzed; otherwise, give them some roleplay song and dance and (CHEERFULLY!) invite them to enjoy the corpse run. Where are these documented game bugs? Where is said documentation? Nobody knew.

Foton’s rule: If Foton has run into the same shit in his play that you just did during your raid, rezzes all around, no thank you’s necessary! Foton will even /kill the aggro mobs nearby while your raid recovers. If I hadn’t run into that particular brand of shit that just mowed down your guild raid, give me a good story on why it sucked ass and you’ll get the same remedy.

I’m no idiot and have been around the EQ raiding block about 1,209 times, so don’t even think of telling me the Plane of Fear is bugged when I know damn well your dumass guild can’t follow the raid leaders’ instructions. (Those people always got my roleplay song and dance.)

Needless to say, I was more popular with the players than I was with my Sony GM superiors. But I ask you, just as I asked my Sony GM Overlords, do the players deserve any less? They spent their evening for just that moment, killing InnoryuckGodOfHowWeHateFarmingThisZoneAgain, and because of some fucked-up pathing, the entire zone just dropped on their heads from the sky.

I think 99 percent of the playerbase could cook up better schemes than pretending to wipe a raid due to a game bug for (maybe) three pieces of loot. To share. Among the 40 of them.

Another situation that used to piss the hell out of me was the Play Nice Policy violations: you know, when Billy Necrophunker would zone his badass into an experience zone and start stomping on all the spawns just cuz he could or cuz he wanted. My first few weeks as an SOE-sanctioned guide (hehe, fools!), I would try to appeal to Mr. Necrophunker’s sense of fairplay.

Life Lesson #2690: The soulless have no sense of fairplay. So I would cut to the chase: “Hail, good fellow, this experience group here would appreciate if you left the experience monsters so they could improve their skills. Perhaps there’s another zone more worthy of your particular brand of death and destruction.” (like on another server).

Life Lesson #2691: The Necrophunkers of the world aren’t terribly ambitious. Billy would demand a random, no doubt banking on the 50/50 chance to get guide-sanctioned peace and quiet in a level 30 zone with ebay potential.

Life Lesson #2692: Roleplay typing takes too much time. “Listen Billy, you have two choices here. You can leave now or you can leave later after I fill in all the blanks on my guide incident report.” For crissakes, there’s only about 50 zones where he can pharm his bullshit, $5 a piece ebay crap, why this one? And c’mon Billy, who is Sony going to believe? You and your spotty record, or me and my guide incident report with several polysyllabic descriptors?

Life Lesson #2693: Randoming PNP disputes is for lower primates.

I think it was about this time that I was put on Double Secret Probation … or something. There were UNDOCUMENTED guide rezzes flying out the door, PNP shit was solved through compromise and coercion, and I was generating far too much paperwork for actual Sony employees with my item and quest reimbursement requests.

I’m such an ass. I thought players that got ripped by broken quests should get their reward anyways. I would even followup on reimbursement requests by checking on the status. The balls on me!

I’m not certain, but I believe I got caught one day in a Double Secret Sting when I lectured some jagscratcher on the errors of his way while he lay in wait for an epic mob that some poor sap had been camping for several hours. The sap assumed (correctly, I would guess) that said jagscratcher was going to KS the mob for his twink and had requested assistance. Ever the champion of the underdog, I arrived in the zone and gave the jagscratcher my usual PNP choice: Leave now or leave in 30 seconds.

I was summoned to the Qeynos Catacombs (the l337 guide hangout zone) to explain myself (as if), and subsequently to turn in my battleworn rezz stick. There would be no more free EQ account for me! (Ya, that $10 a month was so worth it). I don’t (and didn’t) harbor any ill will for getting shitcanned — if I was SOE, I would have canned my ass, too. Their house, their rules.

At first, I didn’t understand why most of the other guides didn’t share my perspective or rebellious nature on player petitions. I did come to realize that the other guides didn’t have nearly the quantity of game time or character levels as me … and by that I mean, their mains were level 30 paladins and rangers roleplaying their way to the endgame whereas I was max level taking a break from several months of hardc0re raiding.

I had been fucked by EverQuest so regularly, I didn’t even entertain thoughts of petitioning on my own behalf anymore. Why waste the time and mental energy to do so? Obviously, my roleplaying colleagues had plenty of time and mental energy to waste before they would reach my upper echelon of lost hope. Ding! Level Lost Hope!


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