My Adoration of QuikTrip

Rest In Peace

A few weeks back I had an idea for another regular column of sorts.  The idea was that I would react to things I found on forums.  I had enough fuel for one topic, but that’s where things went off the rails.  It turns out that I really don’t read the various game forums as often as I thought I did, so Friday mornings became a mad dash for me to try and find something that inspired me in any way to write about it.  After spending a few minutes this morning trying to do the same… much like I tried last week…  I have reached the point where I am just filing this one away in the “bad idea” vault.  Essentially the crux of this is in order to make it work I would have to devote more time than I currently have to trolling the forums.

I might make another stab at a feature, because Steampowered Sunday seems to work pretty well.  Admitted it has been a few years since I have frequented the battle.net forums, and similarly with the rift forums as well.  There seems to be a drought of substantive conversation out there, or maybe it really never was and I just applied substance in my head?  I have heard for some time that forums are a dying thing, and by my attempts to find something worth writing about lately…  it would almost seem to be the case.  I am wondering if people have moved on to posting about things on the forums, and instead posting about them on social media or potentially sub reddits.  I would be curious to find out you guys take on this.  I know personally I tend to post things on my morning blogs rather than trying to find a home for them on a game forum.

Community Chest

Trove 2014-02-20 22-17-10-33 Last night I had a fairly spastic night again, but towards the end of the evening I patched up Trove.  Now I have not really followed the subreddit as closely as I once did, but they have been plugging away at this with high frequency.  They seem like they have posted roughly a patch a week, and keep adding more features and polish.  It had been roughly a month since I had last played it, and while Landmark has taken most of my “building game” focus, Trove is still very much an awesome game to play.  I always sell the game as “minecraft with MMO loot” but as a whole the game is so much more than that.  Right now I am loving the focus on the social community of a server, that really does seem like the ultimate win for trion is to make people care about the world.

One of the coolest additions that I saw last night was the community chest.  For some time at the spawn point there has been a giant version of the in game chests, but inside of it now is a storage system.  It allows players to donate items to noobies, and last night I was extremely thankful for this.  I was able to pull a good weapon and a good shield out of the bin and jump straight into doing cool stuff.  Another really cool thing is they added in /randomhead command, which you can see above I now have this really awesome engineer goggles appearance.  This was the first thing to go into game to make abandoning the Fez and Moustache worth it!

Trove 2014-02-21 06-18-35-45 The best quality of life change is the addition of a map.  You can see above that each of the various biomes is now marked.  I have not quite figured out what the red X icons are for, maybe dead bosses?  Your home is marked with a little sign post to make it easier to find it.  Of course this is still very alpha, and there are lots of bugs.  Last night for example I killed six golden beetles… which are now super rare, and not a single one dropped the golden soul.  Golden Souls are now needed to craft the gold torch, which in turn unlocks the ability to craft a robotic workbench opening up a whole new tier of crafting.  That change went in some time ago, but crafting is now a tiered affair where crafting this thing unlocks the ability to purchase another thing.

I spent most of the night playing as Gunslinger because I had not really spent any time leveling that up.  Right now I am level 12 Knight I believe, which gives me a good start each server reset, so I am hoping to bring Gunslinger in line to that same range.  So far I am really enjoying the “rocket jump” ability where the Gunslinger fires at the ground and propels themselves high into the air.  Really great for exploring areas.  Another cool thing are the random quests while out in the world that provide fuel to the star meter shown on the right hand of the screen.  This is something that the entire server works towards, so each boss you beat in the world helps leveling the world as a whole.  Not really sure what happens when the world “dings” but the world I have been playing on has 46 stars.

Trove 2014-02-21 06-26-23-20 Mostly my time spent playing last night has made me realize that I really need to devote more time to this game.  While it is not as mind bending as Landmark, it has so much charm.  Everything about the game, especially the user submitted weapons just drips “fun”.  Especially as the game gets fleshed out, it has started to feel more and more cube world like, which is awesome.  That game was a really great idea that was never really capitalized on.  I might ping the Alliance of Awesome and see just how many of us are in Trove currently.  Would be fun to have a night where we meet up on voice chat and wander about the world looking for mischief.  Saying this is making me realize that I never actually mentioned the AoA before now… I should remedy that.

Alliance of Awesome

The blogosphere and the gaming groups they are associated with is a really twisted up community.  Each of us have been the part of so many different groups that it became super evident with the launch of Landmark that we needed to come up with a way of standardizing some things.  There was a period of time when several of us were joining upwards of seven different social channels, each of them with a different subset of players in them.  I believe it was Scarybooster who first voiced the idea, but from there it spread quickly and the ever amazing Zelibeli became the ideas Champion.  The idea was simple… to create a super alliance of all the different multi-gaming groups that our little community was associated with.  After a few different tries we landed on using a subreddit as our “global forums” of sorts, and as a way for us to post about upcoming events in the various groups.  Also it acts as a nice call to action to figure out what people are doing in the various games.  Another big thing to come out of it is that we decided to start using “AoA” as our global social channel to span the various groups.

One of the challenges we have had in House Stalwart is trying to maintain guilds in each of the games we happen to be playing.  When there is a rush of players it is an amazing thing and we have 50 or so active members.  However after a few months this becomes a skeletal crew, and the question of whether or not it is actually worth keeping up arises.  As it stands right now House Stalwart will focus on World of Warcraft Alliance side, Rift, and The Elder Scrolls.  These will be the only “official” stalwart guilds, and for the rest of the games our members want to play we will be leaning on other AoA member groups to maintain them.  This does two things…firstly it makes my life less spastic for trying to maintain a presense in so many games.  Secondly it opens up so many more worlds to us.  You can just take a look at the right hand side of the subreddit to see which guilds have active groups in which games.  So when folks want to dabble in FFXIV or SWTOR or eventually Wildstar… they have a ready made home they can go to.  While this arrangement is still very much in its infancy… it gives me a lot of hope for the future.

My Adoration of QuikTrip

QuikTripGeneration3Store1I am in love with a gas station station…  and have been since the first time I set foot in one.  One of the things people not from this area find hard to understand, is the love that Tulsans have for the QuikTrip chain of stores.  While I will use other Gas Stations, I will always go to a QuikTrip if one is available even if it is significantly out of the way.  A little over a year ago, a friend of mine moved to town to accept a job at my workplace.  She had heard me talk about QuikTrip but was skeptical, but within weeks of coming to town she was a devoted acolyte.  Quite simply the chain is unlike any other gas station.  Now I have had people sing the praises of Kumandgo, Casey’s, Flying J, PDQ… and many others that I have visited in my travels.  None of them compare to the awesomeness of the QT.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhy do we love it?  Well for starters even in the slummiest parts of town… QuikTrip is clean, well stocked, brightly lit and fully staffed 24/7.  On top of this… they have actual food.  Their breakfast offerings are especially awesome, but pretty much you can go into a QT any time of day and get fresh food that is not a “stomach bomb”.  They have really great donuts and muffins… and if they ever have their limited time Red Velvet Muffins…  you have to try them.  They have a half dozen flavors of Taquito, Country Sausage, Jalepeno Sauage, Buffalo Chicken roller, cheese burger rollers… and fresh steamed buns.  The newer stores have a place in store where they offer made to order food and coffee drinks as well.  My friend Rae pretty much stops by every day to pick up a sandwich for lunch, because they have fresh made sandwiches and wraps.

Another really awesome thing about the chain is that they guarantee their gasoline… and were the first place I can remember doing this.  It was their claim to fame back in the 80s, and has continued on to the current day.  If you ever have a fuel related problem with your car, QuikTrip with pay to fix whatever it is… pending I am sure you can back up receipts of purchasing gas from there.  Still however it is more than almost any other chain can say, and at the very least makes you feel better about purchasing your gas from them.  Admittedly this is a huge chunk of why I always gas up before leaving town in the hopes that the tank of gas will last me until we reach another QuikTrip.  Unfortunately their reach only extends so far, so once you leave the south central united states you have to rely on other chains.

The chain itself has really good cashiers, and the custom software they maintain is designed to be able to ring up I believe up to 16 customers at the same time.  Once I finish writing this blog post, I will go to QuikTrip this morning and get a drink and a jalepeno sausage roll.  I know that I can get in and out extremely quickly because there is a culture of efficiency that has sprung up around the store.  Expected protocol is for there to be two lines at each and every cash register, one to the left and one to the right.  As the QT employee finishes ringing up one, they immediately begin to ring up the next one on the other side, giving the first one time to walk away from the counter.  When this works, it is a thing of beauty… but you can always tell neophytes when they try and form a single line.

I think in part QuikTrip is so successful because they have really good working conditions.  They have managed to make the Fortune magazine top places to work list for 11 years in a row.  In part this is due to their really odd practice of after 25 years with the company, you can take a year paid sabbatical, to do whatever the hell you want to do with it.  This on top of paying significantly better than average wage allows them to keep good employees for the long haul.  It is the type of place that folks either thrive in or they wash out really fast.  As a customer and loyal devotee I really appreciate their attention to detail.  I have long said that I could never live in a city that did not have QuikTrip… so pretty much that leaves me St. Louis Metro, Dallas Metro, and Kansas City Metro.  Granted I am not sure if I would want to be without Taco Bueno, Arbys or Sonic Drive-In either… but the most important one is my beloved QuikTrip.

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