Safe House Avatars – Benefits Over Negatives: Survival Tip # 9

Posted: April 5, 2012 in Editorial, Survival Tip
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I sat still lining up my shot. I could see the small camp from the flickering fires at this distance. The rooftop was a good optimal site for picking targets off in order to raid their camps. I was not entirely proud of what I was doing, but then they had walked into Terry Fox territory and seemed to be looting supplies from our houses. Supplies, those are hard enough to come by already without extra scavengers.

“Note the wind when you take the shot.” Malkoris murmured to the left of me. He was being my spotter and had the binoculars trained on the camp. “Wait, wait awww shit. Down, get down.” I slide back down from my sniper’s nest and held my breath looking at him questioningly. Malkoris grimaced, “its Summit.”

I crinkled my nose, “are you certain?”

Malkoris grumbled in response,” I can see the markings on their bag and the van they’re using.” I sighed softly and twisted to lie on my back and stare up at the stars. A known safe house, not one of the ones we had direct contact but one known none the less. Did I really want to start taking pot shots at them?

When a Safe House gets to be a certain size, has an organized structure, or is seeking to have one, the members will often unite to use a common symbol on their avatar images to identify them as being part of the group. ATCO members will have a tag that says ATCO, Rite Aid use a blue and red tag with their name, Shark City tattoos have changed their images to appear shark like, and in this case many members of Summit industries have a stylized version of the word “Summit” on their image. Many of the other safe houses I would qualify as major or becoming major safe houses have done the same. There’s no hard and fast rule about doing so, but the action brings both benefits and possible negatives which a player wants to weigh out.

The single negative that I have seen is fairly mild compared to the benefits, so I’ll get that out of the way first. If a rival safe house, a player or a group of players have taken up issue with your safe house having your avatar image tagged in a manner that makes it easy to recognize you are a part of that group. This can make you a possible target for duels and troll attacks. Some individuals and some safe houses will target specific groups out of a grudge or slight they felt they received. I’ve witnessed some of those rivalries already and they are common to most online games with an element of social behavior. That targeting might not just be duels but also how you’re responded to in Global Chat. Despite having your safe house name beneath your name in Global, a symbol on the avatar makes it stand out quicker for the eye and identifies you as a member of your group.

However I see this possible issue as mild. The fact of the matter is if someone wants to target your safe house for any reason they can do so by searching for your safe house, pulling up a list of names in their duel range and doing a targeted search for duels. People bounce safe houses, much as they would any association or guild in any online game. However common elements within stable safe houses get known and identified. So once that association has been made, if you speak in Global and someone has a grudge against you or your safe house you might be grieved with or without the symbol for the quick identification.

So what I want to focus on are the benefits of using these symbols to unite your house. I would first point out that Terry Fox does not have a symbol. This is in part on purpose. Instead I have taken care to tag all my alts, Chyram being my main, Beebles and Searlait my alts, with the same symbol. I have done so to make certain to not hide the fact that these are mine. Obviously this is not a fool proof plan as someone could use the same symbol, given it’s a common symbol from the site I prefer to get my avatar images from. However, that is how I’ve chosen to unite my split personalities in the Safe House in an effort to fully disclose they are all me. That has been a personal benefit for me.

The biggest benefit safe house symbols, that clearly identify you as a member of a safe house, is the same as what can give you trouble. Some players will simply be less incline to hit you in a duel because of your avatar connection. Personally I won’t hit anyone from a safe house I am friendly with on purpose at this time (unless they hit me first). I know that’s a lot of qualifiers but I cannot predict as I level up how slim the pickings are going to be. I imagine my stand on this will be more difficult, but at that point there will be a benefit in knowing what safe houses are more likely to unite in retaliation and to avoid them by association through their avatar images. This has included times when I am searching for “TOUGH” people to duel. I have elected to not hit members of safe houses despite wanting the possible fame point because of their avatar’s safe house symbol.

Now that’s my personal take, and for some safe houses who have informally or formally allied with other safe houses there may be specific policies about not touching members of their allied forces. Other people will develop a fondness for a certain safe house due to conversations in Global or on Pal and avoid hitting its members for that reason. But the duel window does not display for you in text the safe house the target belongs to. Only the avatar image can warn a player to reject striking the target.

Another benefit to having an identification on your avatar images that unites your members under your banner is Global Chat visibility. When the Sharks talk, I know it’s them from their images. I am drawn to pay attention to their conversation because I’m fond of the Sharks. Same with other safe house members, I am inclined to pay attention or to not read based on their images. If a safe house has developed a reputation for talking about a matter that I simply don’t have a personal interest, I can skip that conversation. While another safe house might be good for humor or might be helpful in tips to new players and I will pick out their text in the spam of Global to quickly scan before looking at other text.

Impressions of your safe house, the number of players and how active your membership is will be affected by how visible you are in Global. I have known safe houses that gave an impression of having more members than they did simply because one or two of their small group often spoke in Global and had a symbol identifying them. More than a few people have been surprised in the past with Terry Fox’s membership size because of how active I can be in Global with my single speaking account, Chyram. Such impressions can draw new members to your safe house, as you encourage people to view you as active, friendly and accessible.

One final point about dueling and avatars: Even if you don’t wish to put your safe house symbol on your avatar get a Foursquare account and create a unique avatar for yourself. (It’s free.) If I am looking at the duel list I have a mental checklist of people to look for. Let’s say this time I was dueling for money/supplies. I would seek the “FAVORABLE” options with at least 2000 of either money or supplies or both. I would remove from my mental list any targets belonging to safe houses based on avatar images. Then I would look at who is left and I would have options for unique avatars and no-name avatars from Please Stay Calm. I will always hit the Please Stay Calm avatar players first. The reason I do that is because I know a player who has not yet figured out how to add an avatar image is more likely to have weaker skill levels and be an easier hit. Ranking up from there are those who have unique images, to those in safe houses known, to those in safe houses I am friendly with. If nobody on my list meets the criteria to hit, I will refresh my list. Currently if I don’t find a target within two refreshes of the list I will use the before mentioned criteria to find the next available target.

Now I’m very methodical in my method based on my own perception, however I have spoken to others about this topic. For some all that matters is farming fame and looking for the “TOUGH” to hit. For others, they target specific safe houses. And yet there are others like me, who have weighted scales on whom they hit and who they don’t hit. It’s the psychology behind the game about how people process social interactions.

So use it to your advantage! Reap the benefits for yourself and your safe house in finding a common symbol to attach to your images and show a solid support for your membership.

  1. I love your incorporation of story and advice. Keep up the great work.

    It seems you’ve thought about groups and avatar/symbols for quite some time, and I agree with everything you said. Well done mate.

    • chyrampsc says:

      Thanks for the encouragement! I may have been accused in the past of over thinking things a few times. But in any game that has player vs player context I really do believe there is a human element you can use to your advantage. There are game mechanics and then there is the peoples reactions. To be at the top of the game it helps to know both. (Not that I claim to be at the top of the game yet!)

  2. puggamoo says:

    Heya Chyram, Long time lurker, first time poster. You are doing a great service to the PSC community, especially zombie-loving folks like myself who love the game. Keep on keepin’ on!

    • chyrampsc says:

      Thank you so much for the encouragement. This started as something to amuse myself one weekend. It’s become so much more fun for me with the community’s support. PSC has a great bunch of players!

  3. Tenda foot says:

    I’ve gone on major duel runs on multiple occasions. I have had to avoid targets based on SH alliance, but never cared for it. If I chose to avoid a target, it is because of that individual alone. Also I’ve reached a level now where duel targets are thin. So if your on my list. Your a target. Though out the game though I have had friends who we would remove each

    • chyrampsc says:

      I do have concerns about how the higher levels will shape things for me. I am hoping that because I’ve slowed my leveling down I won’t experience the same short list of targets that you have. With the future release of hard core levels this might actually get worse in the 30s and 40s so I’ll be curious to see how this plays out. Thanks for your input.

    • Tenda Foot says:

      other to be able to duel. Friends fight too. 😉

  4. […] safe house. If you have not seen that posting or would like to review it you can find the posting HERE.  I have seen people in Global Chat request help on how to show their own unique avatar images. […]

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