*I meant to post this before the race ended but due to reasons beyond my control it took a lot longer to finish...
Anyone who’s known me over my time here in this game, I hope I made you laugh at times, maybe challenge yourself, and possibly see things from a different perspective. I always tried my best to push my teammates and fellow leads to be understanding of the different cultures and backgrounds we all come from. To treat even our worst players with the dignity and respect that they themselves would want, and to be this way to even the worst recruits (and boy we’ve had some bad ones), or even in the worst of situations. I don’t know if I can live by this same example much longer myself though.
Those who know me best also know that I struggle with my health. Plain and simple I’m terminally ill, and it is what it is. This is why I’ve been afforded the time to play this game as much as I have and meet so many wonderful people along the way.
My team (Black Flag, formerly known as TerrorKnights) has been amazing. I watched them overcome falling apart and being put back together from just 4 of us left who actually did anything (shout outs to Ido, Maestro, and Ikura)… to coming back and doing 40 some odd laps in the following race back when that was insanity. I watched most of them get their first X runes, some of them even their first level 100 monsters. I have watched them grow from a team where we were eliminating the people who did 0/5 in wars, to eliminating or helping the ones doing 3/5, all the way to everyone (usually) getting 5/5 with proper defenses and an interest in everything from which epics were the best to testing out which monsters were most consistent in the automated simulation. The guys and girls at Black Flag have surpassed everything I ever hoped they’d become.
Unfortunately because of my health I cannot continue to lead them. I am leaving them in good hands, that they know and trust, and I expect that they’ll continue on this path with the fresh energy of a new leader.
Lately my health has turned for the worse. At first I blamed overextending myself and various other reasons, but as it persisted I knew I wasn’t keeping up with providing my team the same standard of myself that I believe they deserve. I was getting dizzy for no reason, nauseous even. My pain was becoming worse. I was also going down for a nap and waking up 12-14 hours later confused. Speed charts would get started and I’d wake up 6-8 hours into a war not sure how or when I fell asleep, still in the middle of doing them. The co-leads were taking on the bulk of the work and I found myself struggling to even focus enough to have the important conversations with them. I knew my days were numbered in the game. With my health these conditions are sadly familiar and they only get worse.
Part of me always wished that players would admit it to themselves when they’re unable to keep up with the demands of whatever team they’re on. Whether it being too busy, too burnt out, or God forbid it’s medical. This only comes at the expense of everyone who’s still able and still putting the work in.
Anyway, I included that last paragraph because I realized this now meant me. So I started paying close attention to myself and what I was able to get done day after day, and began doing the math how long I had left to make my exit without screwing anyone over. I realized that I wouldn’t make it another month in the game doing what I was doing. Next I began considering what I could do for, or help my team do that would leave them better off than they already were before saying my goodbye.
This is where I found myself at the beginning of this month. I had already given into the idea that I’d need to get the ball rolling to hand off the team in a way that would be as smooth as possible and thanking them for all of their efforts along the way. It’s a video game but to anyone who’s ever spent as many countless hours on one as I have, you know it becomes much more than that. With the race coming up it seemed like a small gesture but a good opportunity to have a farewell.
At first leading into it I hoped I’d just be able to mash through it mostly myself for the team and leave them with a new monster in their inventory and a nice memory. I could also use this time to break the news and prepare the co-leads to take over. I loaded up a few hundred dollars from my credit card onto my Google Play, I put a few more hundred in the bank, and checked out what backup stashes I had. This was a lot for me and I needed to use credit to do it, and whatever money I actually had was all put on the table too. I didn’t care though, I’m sick, and I don’t have secret fortunes hidden away but what I do have is expendable. Most of the things that could help me any are out of my price range so this is something I could do for my friends. After this I go back to being bedridden, something I’m far too familiar with.
This is the point where things went wrong….
My one fear became realized as the matchups were announced. My team is ranked in the 200s, and we were matched against a top 10 team (6th I think at the time) for the race. I recognized the name the moment I saw it. I knew to fear this because it happened to us last race with these teams forming race teams out what I always used to call cowardice. Now I’ve heard these matchups are based on MP, but I don’t believe that that’s true when we were unlucky enough to draw a team with a literal 4 times the amount of MP of our own.
I took to writing a long winded letter to SP since they had clearly taken a stance against this (with very little effort put in place to prevent it from happening). I had my obvious fears that their reply would be patronizing at best, and it was, so I took the added steps of beginning to research consumer rights and how it applies to all the times I’ve been wronged by this game. I, like most people, have had a bad habit of putting up with a lot from them for the sake of moving forward and not letting it effect my team. Considering the circumstances, I was beginning to go through that file I thankfully kept of every time my issues in the game (lost gems, items, monsters, runes, etc..) that support did very little to correct. I was preparing civil action…while preparing for this race.
The conclusion to this with the company itself, for now, is that I will continue seeking legal advice and pursuing this matter. I’ll do this as well as any other means I find available whether through the retailers, social media, etc…
The second thing I was doing was reaching out to different friends in the community in hopes of establishing contact with this team in hopes of just pleading my case to them. Not that my team can’t pull in 40-60 laps, but for the reasons outlined in the following paragraph I know we’d have to work 3-4 times as hard for every one of them.
They have level 130s in every element (and book) as a basic requirement for joining them, my team has 100s. What this immediately tells me is that they have a vast bank of resources that we do not. Being a 6th place team they likely have an abundance of cells for ranking monsters, undoubtedly an abundance of runes for ranking, and a gold and food production that we can’t even imagine. Their guardians are probably mostly maxed, and they have the resources and organization to have no problem keeping them going in shifts the entire race.
The first of two good things I had noticed about them was that I heard they too have also been vocal against these “race teams” everyone’s doing. In my opinion it’s not a solution to a problem when you’re creating the same problem for someone else. Too often it’s at someone else’s expense and anything else that can be said about it is just letting that greed get to your head. Most people who know me have heard my opinion on this more than once, and it’s caused disagreements with friends when in reality it should be something that’s fixed by the developers.
This leads me to the 2nd of the two good things I noticed about them. Right in their team profile loud and proud it shows they’re participating in that thing where they post “our teams stand united in hope of fair resolution by SP”. I’m familiar with this from social media groups and always felt it good for the community to come together, especially being vocal about the changes they wish to see. I helped a member of my team promote a petition they had started for a hatchery guardian and know first hand how nice it was to see the community band together behind that. Anyway...
It took 3 days to track down someone who knew someone from their team. I found out they’re sometimes active on the SP forums (which I didn’t know because I’m usually not), but that information didn’t go to any use because at the same time they also just handed me the information for a contact on the team to reach out to. At this point both of our teams were already invested in the race sadly. We were between 1-2 laps apart which my team could easily do in under an hour (especially with my gems). Also it was unfortunate that at this point this was clearly not something I could do FOR my team, but it was definitely something I could still do WITH them. In the meantime however I sent the first message and sparked the conversation.
At first we just sparked some small talk and I have to admit the person I spoke to on the surface at least was very nice and pleasant to talk to. I was completely transparent with her, opened up about my situation and everything that lead to our conversation. I wanted her to put me in contact with her leads but at least she agreed to speak to her team as a whole about it. Her immediate concern was the gems some of her team members had purchased for the race and that we were already moving into day 3.
When she got back to me the initial reaction she had received from her team was the same as she was concerned about with the gems and added the effort they had already given into the race. In response I offered to compensate any lost expenses they had from the race and stressed everything I’ve said in this post about how important this was to me and why. I stressed that I was offering to compensate lost expenses accrued during the race and that it was not any type of pay off or bribe. Also adding in how as a dying person this was literally my farewell wish for how I wanted to leave things with my team and how important they are to me and how difficult it already was having to say goodbye.
At this point the line of communication was open with her being the messenger, which I appreciated and understood what I was asking of them. The follow-up reaction caught me off guard a bit. They wondered how they could even know I was telling the truth. At first I was taken back by it but then I realized “they don’t know you, just show them”. Easier said than done, you don’t exactly get an official membership card with your death sentence when you’re told that you’re dying. I figured I could find something though.
The following set of events played out like a dark comedy in my household. Having had to move in with family since I was no longer capable of caring for myself basically left me living with an antiques/collectibles dealer. This essentially means a lot of boxes and very little organization. I believe one stack of papers was in with my box of medical supplies for my infusions, another stack was kept “in a safe place” with our dishes we eat off of, another with our bills, and the last one in with our stamps and envelopes and whatnot. Being mostly bedridden I got to watch this comedy unfold all the while taking the stance of “don’t ask me why, I just need them”.
I managed to get my medication list from late last year, a paper confirming my demyelinating illness and the encephalopathy effecting my central nervous system, and even some various papers including the most recent printout from my intrathecal spinal pump and some letters pertaining to my Barrett’s. I politely explained each one of the papers to them in layman’s terms and offered to add proof of my being hooked up to an IV for a week out of every month just to keep me alive this long, and apologized for not being able to find anything on my Crohn’s disease (not that proof of Crohn’s is the main thing I was aiming at showing them, I was just being thorough). I explained how the demyelination and encephalopathy are what’s killing me. I did my best explaining 7 years of a downward medical spiral as best as I could in one conversation. I definitely showed her an abundance of proof though.
This is the point in the sequence of events where they stopped responding after that conversation. I’m guessing human greed outweighs human decency. I however was just waiting to hear back from them after they’d discuss it over amongst themselves.
Usually I struggle to stay awake more than a few hours at a time, and that’s on a good day. With everything leading up to the day of these events I had already been pushing myself too hard. On the day of these events I had been awake from about 6 in the morning until 11 or so at night. I was afraid to stop racing, I was afraid I would miss their response when they got back to me, and I was even afraid to take my medications out of a fear they would just make me fall asleep. This is one of the worst things I’ve stubbornly done to myself.
Had I of had a choice I’d have been doing anything to stay awake from that point on, but instead I was becoming more and more sick the further I pushed myself. This is what happens in my condition and I hate it. By the time I finally laid down I wasn’t sure if I’d be waking up in a hospital bed or what would happen. I was dizzy, nauseous, throwing up and Zofran wasn’t stopping it like it usually does, having chest pains, and fighting to breathe properly. I was also having tremors in my right arm, hand, and fingers, which is something that hasn’t happened to me in probably over a year. This is how I fell asleep. My team was still within a lap of them though.
Before going to bed I still was waiting to find out what the other team decided so I added in how different the race must be for our two teams and to consider that they don’t even have a use for this monster whereas my team genuinely would. I added in how I heard of other top teams sitting out in unfair matchups for just for no other reason than that alone. Here they were being given the opportunity to do something good for someone and to consider how they’d want to be treated if it was one of their own.
My team was complaining about being burnt out, and rightfully so, we had to work 3 times as hard.. We don't have the same resources as them.
I was dizzy and nauseous and having tremors in my arm, my heartbeat felt funny and with the chest pains it was scaring me on top of my arm/hand jerking uncontrollably and trying to take enough Zofran to keep me from throwing up any more.
I refused to take my other medicine fearing I might fall asleep and miss their next response, or sleep in too much.
The whole situation sucked and was certainly not what I wished it would be knowing out of 7 years of playing various games that this was it… what an awful farewell.
I woke up the next day, immediately checked messenger and saw that they still hadn’t given me an answer. I opened up the game, picked up where I left off, and as I did I saw that they had given me an answer after all. The night crew on my team hadn’t done a whole lot but did get a few laps. However, the other teams response was to pull an all-nighter and get over a 10 lap gap on us. I told my team to just stop, it wasn’t worth corrupting a good thing to fight someone else’s greed.
Part 3/conclusion: (the part where I speak more freely while wrapping it up)
I wanted to share my feelings and thoughts. What it's like to have a farewell wish from a dying person too sick to continue ignored for the sake of someone else's greed. Or just when your team is going toe-to-toe with a team that’s over 200 spots better with infinitely more resources.
What is it like as you hope this other team will honor your dying wish to leave a gift to your team as you step down as lead, knowing that afterwards you're spending out your days bedridden with no happy ending? What does it feel like when you hope your team has something to remember you by?
When speaking with them it seemed their initial reaction was concern over the money and effort already spent by day 3 of the race. As a reminder, I did offer to reimburse them for the money. This wasn’t a bribe, but an actual reimbursement of lost expenses. I had hoped their “players united” stance would ring true. This is a prize that many players on my team would use and be a positive force, whereas for them it will rot on the benches compared to numerous monsters at level 130.
After reaching out, the gap in the race went from 1-2 laps to well over 10. Their initial response about effort and money was all a facade. It wasn’t about money with my offer to reimburse them. It was about pride and greed, plain and simple. Ugly ugly greed.
Moving forward I’m going to post about this on the forums and in the facebook groups. Why? I do this in hopes that some sense of eye opening within the community can form. That players and teams will open their eyes and actually truly “stand united”. We are humans and people playing a game. There should be enjoyment and community here, not greed and adding to the same problems you yourselves are facing.
But instead of helping a dying person achieve their dying wish they chose the other route. This team has meant so much to me. It’s something that I have invested in and been passionate about; it's something I truly loved. It is made up of people that are a part of my life now. And our race competition instead made it all about them, “me first ... me... me... me... gimme... gimme... gimme... gotta have it all.”
I hope that should any of you find yourselves bedridden as I am, your dying wish isn’t met with the same attitude and greed. I hope that you find someone willing to work with you to make a dream or goal happen. Whether it’s a wish to see a family member, to have one last hoorah, or whatever it may be... I hope that no one stands in your way and says, “No, I want that for me instead ... even though I’m far better off than you are and can obtain it so much easier than you.”
May you not have hypocrites who speak about "standing united" just want to keep everything for themselves when it actually comes down to it.
Be good to one another. God bless.