Double Shower Day

This morning I am barely capable of movement.  Essentially we worked our little butts off yesterday but I will go into more detail below.  Also I am groggy as shit, since I am having to get up way earlier than normal on a weekend morning so that we can get up and around and try and intercept my mother when she goes to breakfast after church with her friends.  I am not a huge fan of holidays in general, but since mothers place the utmost of importance upon this day I try my best not to disappoint.

The Trash Pile Grow-eth

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Over the week we had decided that the project we were going to tackle was getting the gaming loft back in order.  Essentially for the last several years it has been unusable space.  We had robbed the entertainment center of its television when we started RVing.  When we got Sugar Gliders, the cage needed a relatively dark location, and the loft is habitually so.  In addition all this clutter made its way out there, so without comfortable seating options, and a viable tv it just stopped getting used for anything at all.

The problem with cleaning the loft is that we needed to clear a path through the backyard to start a trash pile.  We had an entire year of leaf litter and random debris that had accumulated back there, so my wife decided that we needed to start the day by clearing a path.  The scope was relatively small at first but we went well beyond the intended stopping spot.

Red Tipped Laurel

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With the help of my brother in law we got the hedges and trees pruned back.  Previously the hedges had overgrown to the point where you could not walk along the backside of the pool at all.  Now the pathway is mostly clear, or at the very least passable.  When the pool guys hooked up the cover to winterize it, they were not able to hook up one of the tethers because it was underneath the hedge.  In our normal fashion, it just took us ages to actually get around to seeking someone with the equipment to trim them.

The other huge surprise is that our trees have flourished.  Not sure why but this year is the first year I have noticed just how big they have gotten.  When we moved it they were half that height and there was a clear delineation between each of the individual trees in each cluster.  All this time we had thought they were just sickly, since every few leaves was a reddish brown color.  According to my brother in law who is a borderline arborist, these are red tipped laurels, and that color mutation is on purpose.  Apparently the trees are excessively healthy.

Winter Debris

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The main thrust of the backyard outing was to clear away all the leaf litter, and assorted debris that had collected over the winter.  Honestly I wish I had taken a before shot, because the backyard was a mangled mess of junk everywhere.  We had gathered leaves at a previous time, but neglected to collect the bags… and over the winter they had disentigrated.  So those were an extra pain to clear.  In addition all the furnature, and pool toys were strewn around the yard.  The majority of pool toys are not even ours, but one of our good friends keeps bringing them over and leaving them.

That is actually the story of our yard as well.  There were so many things just left in the  back yard that we didn’t even recognize.  There was a stereo that had been left out over the winter, and now had little bugs crawling in and out of the back.  There were what felt like a couple dozen cups in various shapes and sizes that once contained a drink.  All of this basically is the assorted debris accumulated by the kid that does our lawn.  He is extremely forgetful, and just leaves things laying around constantly.  We used to get home and find his bike just sitting in our yard for no apparent reason.

Enter Junkman

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This would be disturbing to most, but we’ve seen  him grow up and are used to it.  We are as close to these neighbors as humanly possible, and they have listed us in the past as emergency contacts.  Nonetheless this added up to a bunch of junk that we had no idea what to do with.  We had looked into getting a dumpster rental, we have done that in the past when we knew ahead of time there was going to be an excessive amount of crap we would be throwing in it.  However that is always a pain, and you feel that your time is ticking down since you only get it for a short period of time, and when one is in your front lawn… all sorts of random things seem to show up in it over night.

I had looked into the Bagster, which is a portable dumpster that you pick up at home depot, and then just call Waste Management to pick up when you were done.  However while reading the reviews on Amazon, someone mentioned something they do instead.  Basically they pile the stuff up in their yard and then call a junk and debris company to come get it.  After a quick google I found the Junkman service, and that idea stuck.  Basically you pile your crap up, and then they come load it up for you charging you based on volume.  The cool thing about their service is that they will clean the area to the ground, and try to recycle everything they possibly can from your stuff.  Seems like a win in all possible directions.

To the Loft!

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We did not shower in the morning, since we knew we would get filthy working out in the yard.  So both of us went in, showered, put on relatively clean clothes and went and got some lunch.  My wife ended up taking a cat nap, and I ended up getting sucked into a couple of relatively quick bots matches in League of Legends.  When we got started again we tackled moving the stuff out of the loft that we had intended to… namely these three weird doctors office seating chairs we had picked up ages ago.  We thought the little unit was interesting, but they never really were comfortable, especially for long gaming sessions.

In addition the chairs were massive cat hair magnets.  We corralled the cats into the bedroom, and carried them out one at a time, adding them to the junk pile.  In addition we took out to my Jeep an old HP LaserJet 4 printer that was sitting up there, waiting to be donated to good will.  We had an old male cat that was given to marking everything, regardless of what we did to try and stop him.  So initially we had thought the entertainment center would be in extremely bad shape.

Turns out for whatever reason he had barely touched it.  This combined with the fact that it was extremely well made, which means extremely heavy… we modified our plans and decided to just use the existing center.  We cleaned it off completely, and changed the orientation, to make hooking the cable up easier.  The loft is extremely screwy to be honest.  You have a power outlet on the side behind the loveseat, and it would be near impossible to run cable over there, since that is the side that backs up to our rock chimney.

Loveseat Juggling

The last major chore was trying to figure out a way to get the loveseat up our very narrow stairwell, and into the loft.  This involved so much odd maneuvering, and brute force that I am certain it is the cause of the majority of our aches this morning.  It is amazing how something so relatively small looking can be such a pain in the butt to maneuver.  There were several times we managed to get hung up and stuck on walls, banisters, railings etc.  The final push to where it rests today essentially involved me pulling and lifting with all my might, while my wife got under the other end and lifted it almost straight up in the air.

To be a gentleman, I had tried to grab the end of the loveseat where Mac had sprayed… and even though we had cleaned several times it was still absolutely permeated with the stuff.  As a result once we managed to get the loveseat upstairs and everything arranged… I took my second shower of the day.  I was absolutely filthy from the dusk and cleaning up fermented cat urine.  At this point the sunburn from working out in the yard, combined with the soreness in places I am not sure I even had… left me in a rather catatonic state.  However it was all worth it, when I was able to hang out in the loft and play PlS3 last night in comfort.

Happy Mothers Day

I am needing to wrap up and get on the road.  Going to meet up with my mother after she gets out of church and meet her at the local watering hole for breakfast.  In addition after that, I need to see my grandmother, then travel an thirty minutes and see my wife’s step mother, and ultimately another thirty minutes to see her mother.  It is going to be an extremely hassled day, and as sore as I am right now I am completely not looking forward to it.  However it is Mothers Day, so what are you going to do.  I hope you all survive the madness as well, and for the mothers out there… I hope you have the happiest of Mothers Days.

Almost Elite

This morning has already started off to be super amazing…  and I am trying to say that with as much sarcasm as I can muster.  In my gathering of breakfast, I had to go to three QuikTrips to find 2 jalepeno sausage rolls.  On top of that I had another wonderful night of NDA restricted activities, so there is not a whole lot that I can really talk about today.  However in keeping with my promise to myself I am going to make something happen anyways.

Almost Elite

I did manage to play a little Rift over lunch yesterday afternoon.  Essentially there are three of us at work that bring our lunch, and laptops and go find a quiet conference room in which to relax and play games over the noon hour.  I think it’s a pretty awesome plan, and it gives us all that mental break we need during the day.  Since our work wifi is laggy as shit, I try my best to do something pretty relaxing.  Traditionally this is some EQ2, but since I have most recently reignited the fires of Telara…  it was some Rift.

While I am loathe to do them for long, I have been focused on getting as many daily quests as I can both of the adventuring and crafting variety.  They are good money, and also give me the sweet sweet infinity stones that I crave.  Yesterday it feels like I made real progress, as between crafting three new items and obtaining another infinity stone item I have replaced all of my greens and pre-60 blues.

Essentially by swapping out two items with infinity stone items, I will be able to get my hit rating up to the suggested 300 for doing elite dungeons.  I am really looking forward to doing some random elites.  As much as I dislike pugs, that reaction seems to be reserved for when I am tanking.  If I am playing a DPS, like I am right now… I seem to be able to just blend into the background and watch the events of the pug unfold around me in a completely stress free fashion. 

I guess when I am dpsing, I no longer feel responsible for the success or failure of the instance.  I am hoping over the next week I can get in enough adventure dailies to be able to start running the instances.  Our little four man team I believe is getting close to being elite dungeon ready as well.  The more gear I can get before that point, the easier it will be for us to break into elites as a team.

Double Fine Bundle

Every so often Humble bundle comes out with an unbelievably good deal.  This time around it is all of the double fine games in one neat and price what you want package.  Essentially they are offering Psychonauts, Costume Quest, Stacking, Brutal Legend and contributor access to Broken Age their kickstarter game.  The kickstarter game requires a $35 dollar donation to unlock, and brutal legend $8 but for 10 bucks you can easily walk away with four really good story driven games.  Definitely worth checking out if you are so inclined.

Backyard Blues

Over the week we managed to get really good deals on two televisions.  One is now hooked up in the bedroom and the other is awaiting us to finish setting back up my game loft.  As a result we will be focusing on that today… since tomorrow will be entangled with mothers day madness.  We are starting out in the backyard first to clear a space to start piling up the old furniture.  Since my wife is now pacing back and forth, I need to cut this short for the day.  I hope you all have a great morning and afternoon and if so inclined an awesome Mothers Day.

Player Taxonomy

This is the sixteenth post in my experimental “post every morning” scheme, and it represents the first true roadblock.  Up to this point, I had been posting about whatever was happening in my life, and namely whatever games I played the previous night.  The problem I have right now is that while I have plenty of awesome things to talk about from last night, I can’t speak a word about any of it.  I may or may not be under a pretty sizeable NDA.  So as a result I will be trying to find interesting things to talk about otherwise.

Player Taxonomy

I was having a discussion the other day with a good friend and we got into the whole dividing players into groups concept.  We often times have this notion that players are either hardcore or casual, and depending on which side of the divide you are on that other term becomes a slur against what you don’t enjoy.  He presented an interesting take on the divide, in that players are made up of multiple parts of different drives.  He broke things into 3 drives, but I have since expanded it into 4.

  • Casual – These players tend to play games on a very peripheral level.  They may play multiple titles, but not really get heavily involved in any one game.  They do not perform large amounts of research, even if it is a game they play very often.
  • Core – These players tend to get extremely invested in one or more games.  They may play multiple titles, but are more likely to dig into the theory and gameplay of one specific game.  They are likely to do large amounts of research on technique and related information.
  • Social – These players tend to be focused on the social aspect of gaming.  They are in games because their friends are playing them.  Their gaming experience revolves around interaction with their friends, and if enough of a critical mass of their community leaves the game they are likely to do so as well.
  • Solo – These players tend to prefer to do things alone, and while they may associate with communities they do so mostly for the benefits that being a member provides.  They will participate in group activities if there is a large benefit to doing so, but afterwards they often wander back off to doing solo content.

Essentially the theory is that we are all made up of these building blocks.  For example I tend to be Social-Core by nature in online games, but I will have large periods of being Solo-Core depending on if I am playing a game with a preformed community or not.  I crave the social connection of a community in an online game, however in the absence of it I tend to withdraw and not reach out to strangers.  I have tried to be Casual about games in the past but it rarely works, as I almost always end up digging deep into the minutia, figuring out mob spawn patterns, what the best drops are, and which areas I should be hunting.

There is a line of thinking that says that labels in gaming are a bad thing.  I agree to some extent, because the old social versus hardcore debate only really tells part of the story.  However the truth is that different kinds of players are motivated by different forces.  We need some kind of judgment free taxonomy to help understand what kind of a player someone is, and what they are looking for out of the online gaming experience.  I cannot claim the above is a new idea, as I got it from a conversation with a friend… and he cannot claim his ideas are new either because this is something that has been kicking around in the marketing side of the industry for several years.

I feel these building blocks do a pretty good job of modeling opposing forces, namely social tendencies versus solo tendencies, and casual tendencies versus core tendencies.  All that said I feel it is totally viable for someone to be social-casual-core striking a balance between really digging into a game and playing them on a superficial level.  The thing I have noticed over the years, is that most of the players that claim to be casual… myself included really dig deep into whatever game they happen to be playing.  They just may play lots and lots of games at the same time or serially.  I think it is an interesting discussion at least, and as a guild leader I have always tried to understand the drives of the people that I am trying to mold towards a specific goal.

Journey to Coldharbour

 

With all my personal posts and game log type posting, I have not had a chance to really mention this.  At the beginning of the month Zenimax released this video about Coldharbour the domain of Molag Bal.  I have to say right off the bat the footage from the video looks amazing.  I think it is awesome just how vastly different Coldhabour looks and feels from Deadlands the Oblivion plane belonging to Mehunes Dagon we experienced in Elder Scrolls VI: Oblivion.  It seems like the Dark Anchors that are mentioned are going to be similar to the Mehunes Oblivion gates.

I really look forward to seeing how all of this will really work in game play.  It seems like the anchors drop down from the sky, so I am wondering if they will be “Rift like” events that occur around the map, or static spawns.  The Elder Scrolls games have always had a certain measure of dynamic content, so it would be cool if the Anchors were this games answer to “Rifts”.  There really isn’t enough in the video to really make a call one way or another, but it is a super cool concept.  Every time they release one of these videos, I just want to play ANY Elder Scrolls game I can get my hands on.  Why hullo there Skyrim!

Wildstar: Devspeak Movement

 

So I am still on the fence about whether or not I care about Wildstar.  Firstly I have not had a great track record with me trying to get deeply involved in any Science Fiction based MMO.  They are awesome for awhile, but they seem to lack the stickiness with me that fantasy MMOs have had.  Secondly no matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to view this as anything other than a much higher resolution World of Warcraft.  There is a moment in this video that I immediately thought the guy was falling into Area 52 out in Netherstorm.  All of that said, the game does look much nicer in every department than WoW.

Range of motion in a video game is a huge thing.  If the combat animations feel clunky, the combat itself will feel clunky… as goes with the jumps, rolls, running animations etc.  This is a beautifully animated game, and the video really showcases that.  The big take away I always have from one of these videos however is just how amazing their Marketing and Communities are at engaging the public.  They do a phenomenal picture of painting a picture of the game and setting up an attitude that makes you want to play it.  I feel like this is going to be one of those titles that I will need to play before I can decide if I am going to look into it very seriously.

Aatrox, The Darkin Blade

Another nifty tidbit of information from yesterday, is that Riot games announced their next champion for League of Legends.  Basically it looks to be a badass AD melee character with life draining abilities.  Similar to Mordekaiser he uses a health spending mechanic to cast abilities.  You can click the picture, or this link to see a full breakdown of his abilities.  At first glance he kind of feels like a fusion of Mordekaiser and Zac, so will be interesting to see how he plays.

Initially I thought… hell yeah, badass demon dude with a molten sword and wings!  But ultimately I am really not sure if this is a “Bel” character or not.  So far I have not really enjoyed playing Mordekaiser, because his mechanic feels super “fiddly”.  I don’t really like champions that are very “do this one thing, so you can do this other thing or you die” in their ability set up.  I admit it, I am totally a barbarian and like simple gameplay…  think Garen, Wukong and Darius.  When I play a game, I am about as subtle as dropping a piano on someone.  I feel like even though he looks awesome, and I like his abilities (other than the health spending mechanic) he will definitely be a “try before I buy” character.

Adventures in Legally Viable Posting

So I have managed to weave together a post this morning after all, and this makes me happy.  I was afraid that my certain restrictions would dry up the well of rambling, but I have managed to grab a few things I thought was cool out of the air and cram them into a single posting.  Not that my nightly rundown posts are all that exciting in the first place, but hopefully folks won’t mind these posts every now and then when I am bound not to talk about the previous night.  I hope you guys have a great Friday, and that it is the gateway to a really amazing weekend.  We are going to be super busy this weekend finishing up the game loft, so wish me luck!

Forever Downwards

It’s a rainy Thursday morning here in Oklahoma, and it took everything I had to pull myself away from the covers.  The constant rhythm of the rain was absolutely intoxicating, and was calling me to stay in bed and sleep.  Unfortunately with my boss still out, I am thrust into the role of his proxy and end up having to attend all the meetings he was supposed to attend.  The biggest positive however is that since it is Thursday, there is only one more day in the week.

Rewarding Exploration

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One of the things that the Elder Scrolls games have taught me is to explore every corner of the map.  You never know where something extremely cool is hiding.  I’ve always appreciated it when a game likewise rewards players for getting “off the path”.  When Rift launched, it quickly became known for all the explorer moments that occurred on the tops of mountains, bottoms of the ocean and forgotten dungeons.  There were a number of things that could only be found by straying from the path.

I can still remember the first time I stumbled onto a puzzle, or a cairn and remembering how cool that felt to have found something in the game on my own.  It also reinforced the gameplay style of wandering all over the map looking for possible Easter eggs.  From that point onwards I was traipsing across the tops of mountains, just because I could and just to see if there might be something to be gained from doing so.  I have been glad to see that Storm Legion if anything has ramped this instinct up.

Forever Downwards

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Yesterday I stumbled onto a hidden path and experienced one of the coolest of these “Explorer Moments”.  I had been doing a few quests in what appeared to be a partially submerged Brevanic ruins.  Leading off to the side of the entrance tunnel was a non-descript path that truncated in a flooded room.  This just screamed to be explored, so I started swimming downwards into the abyss.  The tunnel continued to wind downwards through bend after bend, with no sign of stopping.

I had been through what felt like a dozen of these turns when I reached the point of no return.  My breath meter was at the halfway point, and I decided to push on ahead…  because surely there had to be a reason for the tunnel to exist even if it was just an instance zone in.  At roughly the 1/4 of my breath bar mark, I noticed the tunnel straightening out and a break in the water leading up into a chamber.

The Patient Sentinel

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Upon breaking out of the water and entertaining the chamber, I was rewarded with an achievement: Deep Learning.  Across the room waiting on me, was a holographic construct with a quest, and a lever that appeared to enable a teleport to the surface.  The quest was actually part of a chain, and ultimately lead to some pretty cool storyline.  To me however, the coolest piece of this whole experience is that now I apparently have permanent teleport access back down into the bowels of the Storm Legion base.

It is little moments like this that make games worth playing.  This type of stuff is why the Elder Scrolls and Fallout games are so much like crack for me.  There is always something cool off on the horizon, that I know I can go over to and explore.  Rift does a really good job of lacing the gameplay with little discoveries that you can only find if you deviate off the path. 

ARAMination

Originally I had plans to run dungeons with the Alea Iacta Est folks, but as the night wore on my friend Plasmodia to to feeling woozy.  Seems as though her supervisor had brought back some form of the “convention crud” and she was beginning to run a decent fever.  We all agreed that she should be ushered off to bed, but with that we had lost our tank but more importantly our 4th member.  I have not minded our instance runs where we pugged a single person in, but the more you add the more unpredictable the process becomes.

Throughout the week my friends have been diligently playing League of Legends matches every night, and I’ve felt bad for not joining them.  In large part I had been coaxed into playing the game, so that I could be a stable fifth player for them.  With my resurgence of Rift, I have been anything but that.  I think part of the issue is that I just do not like the game nearly as much as they all seem to.  I have fun, and it is enjoyable when I am playing with a full group of friends, but I am often times thinking about other games.

Not Competitive Enough

This shows badly in my game play, and my lack of improvement.  I am not super competitive, and I just don’t seem to get the adrenaline rush they all do from killing other players.  When we have scrimmaged against each other, I have enjoyed beating someone I know far more than I have enjoyed beating any of the random players.  I have learned to assimilate a lot of the language and phrasing that has come with the game, but it rarely if ever is the thing I am looking to discuss as a group.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the game and I enjoy playing with my friends when we play the game together.  However I just find myself lacking caring about things like build order, and last hitting, and all the other trappings that come along with the game.  I have watched a friend go from not knowing the game exists, to super hardcore about it, and all the while I am just struggling to understand why anyone would play the game if not for others.

The prime example of this difference really came up last night.  We had managed to pull out a “back door” victory in the ARAM gameplay mode.  What this means is a player hides in the bushes from the other team, and then when they are charging down the lane, sneaks back and takes out their nexus ending the match.  It essentially catches the other team with their pants down, and steals a win.  It is extremely cool when it happens for your side, and extremely defeating when you have it happen to you.

A Difference in Motivation

After this whole chain of events, while I thought it was cool… she was talking about how pumped she was and that she would not be able to sleep after that.  I seem to lack that adrenaline rush entirely, because while it was nifty that we had won, and I was proud of her for her maneuvering…  it was just another match to me.  The problem is, because of this lack of adrenaline and craving for victory… I still make the same bad decisions and still fall for the same traps.  Winning the map just doesn’t mean that much to me.

This is my problem in every game I have tried to do any player versus player gameplay.  I just don’t care about the outcome as much as other players do.  When there is not a direct correlation between money and loot on the line, winning over another player for sheer bragging rights doesn’t mean much of anything to me.  Now on the other hand, I have always had the drive to push to kill that raid boss, or clear that raid instance… because I knew there was a chance at tangible goodies awaiting me.

While I try my best not to be, I am very loot driven.  If you lay out three paths before me…  one gives tokens, one gives nice gear, and the other lots of experience…  I will always go for the one that gives the nice gear.  One of the reasons why I have so much bloodlust in these games and literally kill everything walking, is I know that any single mob could have the chance of dropping something really cool.  When you remove loot from the equation, you remove a ton of my motivation to achieve.

Since I am very focused on improving my character through gear… League of Legends feels like rerolling a new character, getting it to level 10, and then rerolling something else… over and over and over.  You never reach that point that you can do amazing things, because you’ve built up your character in the process.  I think the methodology of the game works and levels the playing field for all players.  But the fact that I start over at square one in each match really drops my enjoyment whether or not I want it to.

Rambled Long Enough

Well I’ve rambled on at length about League of Legends, and how generally ill suited I am for the game.  The tail end of this post feels like me thinking through things on paper.  I enjoy League still when we have a voice server full of people playing together, but if given a choice I will always choose to play an MMO.  I just feel extremely bad for abandoning my friends, when they really have needed a stable fifth person.  Looking at my calendar, it looks like today is going to be super busy with my boss being out of the office.  I hope all of you out there have great days that are far less stressful than mine looks to be.

Tower of the Shattered

This is yet another slow start morning.  I am not sure if I am just massively sleep deprived or what, but I have just been exhausted this week so far.  Having to be in training all day yesterday, certainly makes the week feel bizarre as Wednesday now seems an awful lot like Monday part two.  To add to the upheaval, my boss has been in the hospital all week thus far and they are thinking he might need emergency gal bladder surgery.  So I have this odd mix of deep concern and worry wrapped in the knowledge that I am going to have to fill in for him in meetings and such.  I am definitely not looking forward to the three hour block of meetings I have to attend this morning as his proxy.

Daily Bonanza

2013-05-07_210942Yesterday was the first day I managed to complete both the Ashora and Steppes of Infinity daily quests.  I have always had this tainted relationship with the concept of daily quests.  On one hand I like the idea that I can repeat them over and over, and on the other hand I have always hated half of the ones that blizzard has come up with.  I really really dislike “gimmick” quests and mini-game quests, and while playing wow it seemed like there was no set of dailies that did not involve at least one of these.

So I could have simply skipped the quests I disliked, and did the rest… but this always felt somehow wrong to me.  There is a certain satisfaction rolling into a camp and there are no active quests available for you.  I think another problem I have is that I LOVE kill quests.  These seem to be the bane of the industry, but nothing makes me happier than getting a quest that tells me to go kill 10 of something pending they are relatively easy to find. 

I love killing mobs, and can only go so long without randomly charging into a pack of them.  I am sure this is a trait that drives my friends insane, because I am constantly in combat.  So when I pick up one of these kill X quests, it gives my bloodlust a sense of purpose.  Yes random quest giver man, I will go kill these ten rabid wombats for justice and great freedom!

The thing in particular that I have always liked about Rift daily quests is that they mix things up considerably.  Today you might go to this camp and do three quests there as part of a daily, and tomorrow you might go to a completely different quadrant of the map and kill completely different things.  WoW tried to do this, but it never felt the same, because on a daily basis there was a good deal of overlap from the previous quests.  So for now at least I will continue to do my daily quests, because I need the money, faction and sweet sweet infinity stones.

Tower of the Shattered

2013-05-07_215916On Tuesdays and Wednesday nights, the Alea Iacta Est Rift crew has been trying to gather together and run a few instances.  The last few times it has been nothing but Empyrean Core over and over, but still been fun to run around as a group.  Last night we pulled Tower of the Shattered from the random queue, and it was an extremely enjoyable experience learning a new place.  Luckily Plasmodia had run most of the dungeons, and had some vague guidelines that helped us get through all the fights without a ton of wipes.

For anyone who has completed Cape Jule, the instance is a trip down memory lane as Auram the melodramatic monotone construct leads you through the zone.  One of the first things that Auram does, is turn on a series of jump pads that enable you to move throughout the levels of the instance silently.  I thought this was an extremely cool mechanic, as they added the feeling of platforming, without the need for skill jumps.  All you really do is orient your body towards the platform you want to land on, and jump… the game takes care of the rest.  The first set of jumps took a little getting used to, but there is no cursing or tears of frustration as you fail to land just right at the top and have to do it all over again.  I am looking at you Guild Wars 2.

2013-05-07_215855Another spiffy thing, was that most of the boss trash floors could be cleared by using this special “Execute” command that you got from Auram.  Essentially you had to wait until each storm legion mob was alone, sneak up behind them… and then hit the special ability.  Like all stealth checks, I failed miserably at them…  and wound up with us having to clear an entire floor by hand.  After that I gladly let Marklaar, who appeared to be excellent at them, to run as scout and clear the wings for us.

I loved Empyrean Core, but so far Tower of the Shattered is my favorite dungeon in Storm Legion.  It is just the right mix of gimmick and stand up fight to make it enjoyable and not painful to experience.  I feel like this is how you make an Occulus-like thematic dungeon, without making it pure hatred to run on a regular basis.  Essentially you are given a choice, you can either use the stealth mechanic or fight the floors outright.  You don’t seem to be punished for taking either path.  In addition, just to ratchet up the coolness factor, there were tons of hidden chests we were able to find by kicking our way into air conditioning shafts.

Bad Decisions

If you are super close to me, you might already know this… but across the board I have not talked much about it.  I’m fat, I have been all my life, and I likely always will be.  I come from a fat family, from a proud German-American fat heritage and to make it even worse I am 6’4”.  I will never weigh what someone considers normal, I have that whole “big boned” thing going on in addition to the excessive “chub”.  However my wife and I of late have been trying really hard to be “less fat”.

On the most simple level we are just watching what we eat, making slightly better choices, and most importantly logging EVERYTHING.  I’ve been using Loseit.com and their related phone apps which end up monetizing food for me.  There have been several times I have made a mental decision of… Nope that food is just to pricy for me right now.  When you reach a point where you cannot look at a donut without seeing 350 calories sitting there, it changes your outlook on food and American portions.

Over the course of the last 8 weeks we have been pretty religious about the process, and in doing so I am down over 30 pounds.  My wife like usual, loses weight slower than I do when we actually attempt it, but she is down a good 20 pounds as well.  We are both making progress, and definitely noticing it in the waistline and the fact that I keep having to move my belt up another notch.  I am going to have to go jeans shopping again soon, but that is totally a good problem to have.

The Game Had Changed

However last night for whatever reason, we were both craving Mexican.  One of the things we had decided is that we would take away the demonizing of food.  If we want to eat badly, fine… just log it and try and do better so that you are still in a good position for the week as a whole.  We both ordered Cheese Enchiladas, and the first sign that the game had changed was the fact that in both cases we barely put a dent in our plates.  I managed to eat the enchiladas before I was just too stuffed to continue, and she made it through most of the rice and a single enchilada.

The problem is, we were both painfully stuffed the rest of the night.  I am not sure if that adequately describes the state we were in… we were absolutely miserable at having eaten less than half of what we were normally finishing off.  The other thing is we both felt horrible and sluggish, and still do this morning.  Basically it is like our bodies are treating the food almost like a toxin.  It feels like mine is screaming… “Wtf did you just do to me?”.  So while I think the concept of a “cheat night” is a good one, I don’t think we can really do the full blown Mexican thing again.

This is probably the most personal post I have made anywhere, so feeling a little naked at the moment.  However I promised myself I would share more about my life since it is my blog and nothing professional.  I hope you guys have a great day, I am going to try and recover from the walking food coma of last night.  I have so many meetings today, so I just hope I can escape with my sanity in place.

Hazy Shade of Neverwinter

This morning is an absolute paradox.  For some reason I am more exhausted than normal, even though I went to bed last night at roughly 9:30 rather than my usual midnight timeframe.  I am convinced that my body has a sweet spot of 5-6 hours of sleep, and anything over or under causes me to turn into a slug.  I am hoping that as I digest this coffee that its sweet sweet caffeine lifts me out of this slump.

Hazy Shade of Neverwinter

GameClient 2013-05-07 06-52-12-08Last night I really had nothing much going on, and do not have any real grouping options in Rift until tomorrow night, so with all the recent buzz surrounding it I figured I would fire up Neverwinter.  Quite honestly I had not even booted the game since the day it released to the public, and had not actually played the game since before that.  The game is “fun enough”, but for me at least it has lacked whatever spark makes me want to log in and play it.

I had left the game just long enough for the control scheme to feel awkward, but after a few minutes I was back acclimatized.  Unfortunately it is not the kind of game you can play with a cat draped across your chest, or at least not play it successfully.  As a result I didn’t last all that long in the title, before wandering off into something else.  I have been trying to figure out exactly why this game is so lackluster to me, but others are loving it and consuming it completely.

Subscription is not a Barrier

GameClient 2013-05-07 06-53-16-12I think I finally landed upon a nugget of thought.  A subscription fee for an MMO has never been a barrier, or something that honestly gave me pause.  Sure it did, when I first started playing these titles back with Everquest…  but now that I am used to paying to play it is just one of those things I have come to expect from online gaming.  For a whole segment of the gaming world, the subscription and box fees are real barriers to getting into the game and enjoying it.

As a result I am maybe somewhat falsely comparing Neverwinter to what has now become “premium” subscription games, or even “buy the box” titles.  The real competitors with Neverwinter are the completely free games like Runes of Magic, that you can sign up on a website, download the client and never actually be forced to buy anything.  When you narrow the scope down to only paying attention to the “absolutely free” games… it becomes super impressive.

No Egregious Pay Walls

GameClient 2013-05-07 06-52-35-72What Neverwinter seems to give the player for nothing, is an extremely fluid experience with well crafted storyline, relatively solid classes, and no egregious pay walls restricting your field of play.  You can get in and do essentially everything there is to do right now without obstacles standing in your way.  Basically the game has taken a completely different approach to the free to play genre, in that it gives you a carrot instead of a stick.  Namely that all of the options seem to give you something quicker, better or shinier for your coin rather than locking you out of functionalities.

I think this is the aspect of the game I have been missing all along when I played it or attempted to review it.  I still do not think free to play is the “one true payment model”, but I think what Neverwinter is doing is a more equitable model than we have seen to date.  The only problem is, the game introduces large swaths of “pay to win”, which is a concept that western audiences have claimed they do not want.  But this is exactly what Neverwinter seems to be delivering, the ability to purchase astral diamonds and get nice gear in the process.

To Infinity Steppes and Beyond

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As I said earlier, I really did not spend a lot of time last night in Neverwinter.  I had a cat that was trying to “aggressively snuggle” and quite honestly the game just leaves me nonplussed overall.  I logged back into familiar and happy Rift to work a bit on the Steppes of Infinity.  Earlier in the weekend I had unlocked the daily quest content in Ashora, which is good for at least 10 plat per day for some really easy questing.  I had hoped to do the same out in the Steppes for maybe an easy 20+ plat per day.

The quest chain overall was far harder to solo than the one in Ashora, and involved a relatively difficult boss fight.  I truly do mean a boss, because it uses all the same kind of tactics that the bosses do in dungeons.  While this was nowhere near the difficulty of the Gatekeeper fight in The Secret World, I feel like it would definitely give a similar “right of passage” feel for Rift, based on the level 60 boss encounters I have experiences in dungeons.  The quest chain as a whole sets the player up for what to expect from later game content in general.

All this while I am struggling to stay awake, because after the weekend we had I was just exhausted all day yesterday.  Before I gave in to sleep however, I was able to finish out gathering the 300 plat for my 130% speed mount.  I wound up getting the Grey Ursin, because of the non-armored varieties I felt that was the nicest.  Above is a quick picture I snapped before finally falling asleep of me on the new mount.  Unfortunately I mostly purchased the mount for the overall mount speed boost… and am likely to never ride it.  I like my Hellbug, White Tiger and Flaming Horse far too much to ride the angry looking bear.

Needing to wrap up once again, as I am out of coffee and need to consider moving onwards to work.  I will be in training all day which will be the opposite of fun.  I hope you all have an amazing day out there.  I am going to work on not falling asleep in a boring training presentation.

Death of the Internet Service Provider

Monday mornings are without a doubt the worst thing to ever exist.  I sit here and am tired and worn out from the weekend, knowing I am going to have to go be passably intelligent for the next several hours.  It was a busy weekend, but unfortunately not busy in the kinds of ways I would have liked it to be.  At this point I am just hoping to survive until evening so I can crash.

Sofa is conspiring against me

Saturday was an absolute whirlwind of furniture shopping.  Sunday followed with a whirlwind of cleaning and then even more furniture shopping…  because we are inherently neurotic and could not trust our opinions from Saturday.  As of right now I have completely dismantled the gaming loft, and 20 years of console gaming is more or less neatly packed into office depot boxes.  All that is left there is to remove one set of furniture and replace it with the love seat from downstairs and a new more minimalistic entertainment center.

There are so many things urging these projects on, but not the least of them is the fact that after over a decade my ISP is closing down DSL access.  Yes you heard me right, I am still on DSL and have been in part because I was caught up in an anachronism.  I literally had my DSL service through an old fashioned Internet Service Provider, and with it came the ability to call them at any time and get a person I actually had known for decades.  Additionally I had perks like the ability to host servers, a static ip address, all things that I would no longer have in going to a less custom experience.

Death of the Internet Service Provider

While I have wanted to make the switch for years, simply because my 4 meg internet connection sucks massively in todays realm of all streaming all the time.  I have not done so because there are a lot of legacy applications that my wife and her teacher friends use that I hosted off of a home server.  Over the years my wife has moved on and is no longer using most of these, but her teacher friends still were.  Windows hosting, is both painfully priced and painfully limited in kind of access you have.  So up until now it has just been easier to host it myself.

We got an email and later a paper letter from my ISP stating that it was no longer financially feasible to continue with DSL support.  So by June 15th we will be entering the greater broadband world, as that is the day we officially lose our “artisan” internet, as I have taken to calling it.  Right now I am looking at 50 meg cable, because I sincerely doubt we need to bump all the way up to 100meg or whatever the top of the line is.  I figure 50 meg is already 12 times more bandwidth than what we previously had, so the jump up any higher is just truly unfathomable at this point.

High Definition Daze

How this need links up to the desire to fix the game loft, is that we will be having to have cable run to the upstairs.  So we might as well clean the loft and get it set up with proper cable while we are running it to my office.  Two things still need to happen out in the loft.  Firstly we need to haul out the stuff we are getting rid of, secondly we need to acquire a television and entertainment center and set them up.  Television shopping is an almost surreal experience, and this is coming from someone who understands all the numbers and settings and features.

We are not really huge television people.  I am sure this counts as blasphemy, but in our living room the largest television we own is a 32 inch 1080p from 2006ish.  While I grew up as an only child, and use the television as background noise, we consciously consume it in small doses.  We tend to record things on the DVR all week long, and then watch them as my wife grades on the weekend.  As a result, I feel ill equipped for the realities of buying a television…  I quite honestly rarely watch television in HD at all.  It doesn’t really improve any of the programming I actually watching, since I tend to be violently allergic to sports casting.

Plans within plans

Right now the plan is to upgrade the living room television, and move our old 32 inch television up to become the game loft setup.  All of this will allow us to pair down the living room to just our main sofa, which sets us up to move in the new furniture that we have yet to even purchase yet.  So as of Saturday morning, we thought we had everything figured out.  But upon a re-measure of the pieces, we were either going to not have enough room, or barely an inch of clearance on the wall it all was going on.  Essentially we were back to the drawing board.

All of Saturday we had not really been looking at the home theater components/sectionals…  that was just something that we stumbled into at the end of the day.  Once we had gotten our fill of dust in our lungs… we decided to go back out and hit a few places looking specifically at the component sectionals.  Quite honestly, I am glad we did, because it was at the second stop of the day that we found what I think will ultimately be our living room setup.  After calculating what “Recliner > Console > Recliner > Chair > Chase Lounge” would end up being space wise, we still would have roughly 8 inches on either side to spare.

Of course being as neurotic as we are… we did not accept victory, but instead spent the rest of the day going from store to store trying to break the bubble we had just built.  Fortunately, or unfortunately… depending upon your perspective we were not able to bust the deal.  So now it feels like we really do have a final plan in place, now it just comes down to ordering the furniture and planning for delivery. which also involves having the loft done as a dependency… plans within plans.

Finally some gaming

All of this added up to just not much game time at all.  By the time I made it home each evening I was extremely sluggish and worn out.  Yesterday afternoon I took an hour long cat nap, so that helped quite a bit.  By the time I made it into Rift I was almost sociable again.  I finally unlocked the daily quest content out in Ashora, and apparently you can make roughly 10 plat a day by just doing those quests.  Overall they seemed pretty easy to solo, and went fast enough.  Just involved quite a deal more travel time than the previous daily quest zones had.  I think Iron Pine Peaks has forever spoiled me with its efficiency and changing mob types.

After doing my daily quests, I had wandered over into Steppes of Infinity and began the quest chains out there, hoping they would also eventually unlock daily quests.  Round about this time we had some life bloom in the guild, as Aleriase, Marklaar and Plasmodia all logged in within thirty minute of each other.  We circled the wagons and decided to queue up for a normal dungeon.

Almost instantly we got assigned a random fifth, and were zoning into Empyrean Core.  So I am wondering if it is just a case of not having a lot of upper level dungeons, but so far at 59/60 I have done three dungeons and each of them has been the same place.  Not that I am complaining really, it is a fun dungeon and goes pretty quickly if players know the pitfalls.  I managed to pull a second one hand sword from the dungeon, so I now have a matched set of Unstable Core Shards.  Supposedly one hander and two hander dps have been normalized, and I have always preferred the look of dual wielding to two handers.

Getting back to normal

It was yet again, an awesome time hanging with the guildies.  I know there are plans for both Tuesday and Wednesday night runs, so I am looking forward to those as well.  The clock is ticking away, so I am needing to wrap this up.  Thanks for bearing with me on the recent flood of personal posts.  I made myself a promise to post about whatever was happening, regardless if it was exciting.  Lately there has just been a good deal more real life happening than gaming.  Hopefully this week things can get back to at least somewhat normal.

If you’ve made it this far in the post… I hope you all have a great Monday, or at least as good as a Monday can be.  It serves to be a busy week for me, the server move that was scheduled for Saturday night is going to have to be rescheduled for tonight.  Hopefully the rest of the week ends up better.

Spring Nesting

This morning is definitely one of those ones where I am struggling to wake up.  It is chilly and I am currently swaddled in my fuzzy blanket after making a run to get breakfast.  At the moment it just hurts to think, but I am hoping the migraine meds will kick in soonish and remedy that.  In addition I have a cat who has decided the perfect place to be is on my chest between me and the laptop.  Today serves to be a day full of cleaning, organization and home re-arranging.

Spring Nesting

I really don’t have much gaming wise to report,  because yesterday nearly the entire day was spent going from furniture store to furniture store.  As with every spring, the nesting instinct has kicked in and with it a list of home improvement projects and minor renovations.  In this particular case, it has been decided that the living room furniture needs to go.  We had talked about this for some time, but the season has brought on a new sense of urgency.

Quite honestly my recliner is super uncomfortable and our sofa looks like crap at this point.  So we have needed to do something for some time.  We are both successful adults, but we don’t really live like we are.  Always in the past we have settled for whatever furniture happened to be readily available and looked nice, but this time we are working on holding out for just the perfect pieces.  However after spending all day yesterday going from store to store, we remembered that exactly what we want… doesn’t actually exist.

A Few Simple Requests

So there are a few simple requests that we had.  First that we had a recliner for me, since that is my favorite mode of seating.  Second that my wife who is fairly tall be able to lay down comfortably, because at this point we are resigned to the fact that we will never keep the same bedtime, and she greatly prefers falling asleep on the sofa and then having me bring her to bed later.  Lastly my wife has always wanted a chase lounge, or at least since a friend of mine from college had one that she fell in love with.

Ultimately after looking around all day, we stumbled onto a modular sectional that would potentially fit the bill.  After getting super excited about it, we went home and measured only to find out that our living room was nowhere near big enough for it.  After some shuffling around, we managed to come up with a combination that would fit all along one wall… essentially would be this awesome wall of furniture.  The above picture is of a similar configuration, but not quite what we were going for… also actors and fake house and stuff.

Problem is, after coming home my wife started freaking out because the manufacturer website lists a different length than many of the furniture stores do.  Today will involve a trip to the store and hand measuring a few of the pieces.  Either it is going to fit absolutely perfectly, or be 10 inches too long… so we may or may not be back to the drawing board with this one.  There is another configuration that is acceptable, but would end up with us needing to shop for an end table to complete the wall of furniture.

Hellbugs Ho!

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So after the day of running around, standing, walking, sitting, squatting as we went from store to store looking for the perfect furniture, I was pretty wore out by the time we got home.  Add to that a great sense of trepidation for the server move that was scheduled to happen at 10 pm last night, and I just didn’t feel like I could get into much of anything.  My friends on mumble were happily scrimmaging over in League of Legends and engaged in the banter that only a LoL player could understand.  However each of those maps takes between 30 minutes and an hour, so with my oddly truncated play schedule I just didn’t feel like I could take the risk of getting into that world.

As a result I logged into Rift and wandered around aimlessly for a while.  I came to the realization yesterday, that each of the Carnage quests out in Ashora rewarded Infinity Stones. which could then be turned in for really nice level 60 gear.  So my downtime activity has been mindlessly slaughtering packs of mobs to finish out all the infinity quests.  I was in the middle of doing this when I stumbled upon an “Invasive Species” Rift, and before I knew it I was caught up in another roaming group in search of more “bug rifts”.

That is one of the things I have always liked, the way groups just kind of happen on their own.  Then when you have a group together, it tends to stick together for awhile as well.  I cannot count the number of times I have been randoming in Rift, and the entire group just stays together for two or three instances after the initial one.  The community as a whole just seems to have a better sense of cohesiveness. 

After a handful of Rifts on a slow mount, I had enough of the frustration for one evening.  Unfortunately the ports are in bad places out in Ashora, and it was extremely hard to keep up with the 150% mount folks.  I did not get any new mounts, but I did manage to get Skritt the red hellbug companion.  So in the grand scheme of things I would be happy, even if I didn’t get any more doodads since I now have a Hellbug mount and its matching companion.  I still would love to have the green ones, since green is my favorite color… but if it doesn’t happen it is fine by me.

Life Happens

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I realize this is out of line with almost every post I have ever made on my blog, but I am hoping that my readers will be okay with that.  Thing is, Tales of the Aggronaut, more than anything else is my blog about me and my gaming happens.  Sometimes you have one of those days where very little gaming occurs, but a ton of life does.  These are the days that always in the past have thrown me into a writers block, because I thought that no one would ever want to hear about what actually happens to the me being the screen.

In this most recent binge of daily posts I have decided that a goal of mine is to be more honest with what is occurring with me.  To actually blog about what happens regardless if it feels interesting to me.  I totally spent the entire day furniture shopping with my wife, and while some gaming happened it was the biggest event to occur that day.  So as I started to blog this morning, it seemed the most logical thing to write about.  I know I have dropped some subscribers of late, and maybe this will cause more to drop as well…  but at the end of the day I feel like I have to be more truthful and show more of the person behind the keys to keep this up over the long haul.

If you’ve made it this far in the post, I hope you have a pretty great day.  It is still a pretty dreary day out today, but we have indoor plans for the most part.  I will be boxing up the 15 years of console systems in the loft, so that we can tear it down and hopefully rebuild it as a much more usable space.  Right now the intent is to still have PS3, Xbox 360 and a custom gaming PC hooked up to a new TV with a new entertainment center. 

While I love owning a Sega CD, Famicom, NeoGeo etc… they just take up a ton of room and are a pain in the ass to keep hooked up and “on tap”.  I plan on running emulators for most of the console systems on the PC and then just knowing I have the others neatly boxed in my closet.  Above is a picture of the “Game loft” during its heyday, and hopefully the new version will be a little neater, but every bit as cool.

Sixty Candles

This is another one of those mornings where I am struggling to write.  I know I have a lot of things to do today, but just am having trouble getting started.  It is a cold, dreary and rainy morning, and that definitely does not help the sluggishness.  I’ve been out already, gotten breakfast and filled up the gas tank on my wife’s car but as I sit here to write the words are now flowing as well as they usually do.

Gameplan Changed

2013-05-03_230918Last night I had all these plans of riding along on the Hellbug raids in search  of a purple mount, but that didn’t actually happen.  Instead I wound up getting distracted once more by carnage quests, and as I saw my experience bar moving I decided I would push for level 60.  I am normally one of those people that levels extremely quickly.  In fact I used to pride myself that in WoW I could take a character from 1-85 in 7 days.

So as a result the fact that I still did not have a max level character almost six months after the release of Storm Legion was a bit of a point of embarrassment.  I hit a massive wall along the process however, and the crap spec that I thought was decent… presented an impassible barrier as I tried to grind through the content.  Every few weeks I would fire the game up, and try again knowing I was only three levels from the cap.  I should have sought help, but I had been hearing the same grindy comments from others and assumed that was just the master plan.

Sixty Candles

2013-05-03_220213Thanks to a post from Wilhelm, I finally got out of the funk and found some specs that actually worked.  As a result the game has been a blast for me.  Last night I finally dinged 60 and it was a complete accident.  Over in Kingsward I found this really great sequence of quests that started at the Academy, and culminated in a siege on the tower of dawn.  The whole feeling of taking back a part of the world for the royal family was amazing.  I don’t want to give away more spoilers than that, but as a whole it ranks up with some of the most epic quest chains I have experienced in any game.

The other night in Empyrean Core I had gathered up a few items for level 60, and the quest chain at Dawn Tower provided a really nice blue sword.  So after completing that I set out to explore Ashora.  I had been out there before, during some guild event that involved doing an invasion out there, so I had at least one of the ports.  The zone is pretty awesome looking, but also would have been super dangerous if I had explored it before now.  I was originally going to work on the quests, but just ended up wandering around and exploring the map for most of the evening.

Money or Mount

2013-05-03_221626Now I am not sure what my next goal is.  Ultimately there are really two competing goals.  Firstly I feel like to be anything but a detriment to world events… I need to get the 130% speed mount.  In order to get that I need to gather up 300 plat.  Considering I am one of those players who is habitually poor in every single game, this is a pretty insurmountable obstacle.  I cannot even fathom having enough money to be able to purchase the 1000 plat 150% mount. 

So the ultimate question is, do I begin actively searching for Hellbug rift raids, knowing that they will be annoyed by the fact that I am slow… or do I grind out the 300 plat and buy my mount first.  I have no clue how long the Hellbug rifts will be active, but knowing Trion it will likely be at least a month.  The only problem is, I have yet to unlock any daily quests, so I have no clue exactly HOW I will get the money.  Money is just not a thing I worry much about in MMOs.  It is odd, in the real world I am completely financially stable, but in games my characters are habitually broke.  This feels somehow backwards from most MMO stereotypes.

Oh well I need to finish this up so we can go out and do things.  Though honestly I am not sure exactly what we will be doing as rainy and icky as it is out there.  If you’ve made it this far in the post, I hope you have a great Saturday and an awesome weekend in general.  I have a server move to do at 10 pm tonight, but I will likely be gaming before and after it.  Figure I am going to have to take a nap today for optimal clarity of thought during the downtime.

Specimen Captured

This is day eight of my experiment, and this is the first day I really don’t know what to write about.  I knew this day would come sooner or later, as writers block is almost always the headsman’s axe for my blog.  I think it could be a bunch of separate things happening all at once.  Firstly it has gone from sunny and 80* here in Oklahoma, to dark, dreary and 35*.  On top of this, I have a big server move scheduled for 10pm Saturday evening that I am fairly nervous about.

Hellbug Rally

rift 2013-05-01 17-58-53-39Pretty much my overarching mission for the day was to try and get one of the Hellbugs before the crossover event disappeared.  For those who are not familiar with them, the Hellbug is one of the archetypal creatures in the new Trion Worlds and SyFy game/show combo…  Defiance.  They remind me of a cacodemon from Doom… with legs.  Right now in rift, there seems to be a one in five shot of any spawning fire rift being a “Invasive Species” Hellbug rift.  Granted this is completely through incidental observance and is “not a real number”.

The big problem I have had is that I have no clue where the best place is to FIND Hellbug rifts .  Wednesday night I devoted a bit of time to farming Fire rifts, and never even saw a single one.  Thursday at lunch and early evening, I ping ponged between the level 50 top end zones, namely Shimmersand and managed to see three… and in most cases those were just as they were closing.

ARAM Strikes Back

After a few hours of this, mumble was filling up and I needed a break from the skull drudgery of killing closing “not hellbug rifts”.  When we had four people online, I got coaxed into doing an ARAM map over in League of Legends.  I had initially thought that Tam was going to queue us up for another 2v2 battle… but much to my surprise we were going out into the main queue.  We picked up a 5th random, with whom I traded Jayce for Volibear that apparently we were both more comfortable with… and we proceeded into the map.

The takeaway is that I still suck at League of Legends.  I had a good time and it was a close map but honestly there is still so much of the time I am running around not really knowing quite what to do.  Playing a full on melee support character against a bunch of ranged characters is one of those situations.  I like everything about Voli, but he is definitely a “set someone else up for the kill” character.  I never could seem to get in sync with the other players on the map.

After that we played a couple of Summoners Rift maps, mostly to get various friends their kill of the day bonus.  On the first I played Darius, who is still brutal and awesome to play.  On the second I played my current favorite, Wukong and did sizably worse.  I played a bit too aggressive a bit too early and wound up underfed for most of the map.  After that I was just playing catch up trying to eat all the minions I could.  I still have not gotten terribly good at “last hitting” and ended up with way too many minions wasted.

Specimen Captured

2013-05-02_225242After those last few maps, I decided I would head back downstairs and work towards my goal of capturing the illusive Hellbug.  Shortly after logging into my account on my laptop, I noticed a player asking for more for a Hellbug Raid group.  I figured… sure what the hell, it is not like I had been having much luck on my own.  I made my way to City Core, and after a few minutes received a player summon directly into the heart of an Invasive Species rift.

The cool thing about the Raid, is that they seemed to have found a pattern where one had not existed before.  We systematically crossed the zone hitting various Fire rifts, with about every third one seeming to be a Hellbug rift.  It all felt very reminiscent of trying to spawn the “Ancient Cyclops” in South Ro… but the raid leader seemed to know what he was doing.  At the very least it did not involve killing every other mummy or some nonsense like that.

It was round about my fifth Hellbug rift that two things happened.  Firstly upon closing my Fifth Rift I got an achievement: When Worlds Collide which apparently happens after reaching the final stage of five of these new rifts.  Additionally the achievement nets you the very cool <Ark Hunter> title.  Upon receiving my loot, I also noticed that I had acquired a Skittering Hellbug (rifthead does to appear to have parsed yet).  Based on discussions with some of my G+ Rift friends, I got extremely lucky to get the mount this soon.

Based on the write-up over on Rift Scene that I linked the other day, it appears that Skittering Hellbug and Skritt pet are the green quality items and red in appearance,  Gulanite Hellbug and Burple are the blue quality items and purple in appearance, and finally Toxic Hellbug is the purple quality item and green in appearance.  I have no clue if there is also a Toxic Hellbug pet as well, especially since Rifthead lacks any of these items right now.  The Toxic Hellbug is rare enough, that in the rift raid, and tempest bay I have yet to see one.

Hellbug of a Different Color

I had quite a lot of fun once I managed to get into a viable rolling raid.  I hope to join up again tonight and try my luck at getting one of the other colors and at least one of the companions.  While I doubt if a hellbug would ever replace my Snogs, I am a total sucker for pets and mounts.  Additionally, I really need to make my way back out to Ember Isle, especially now that it is no longer as heavily farmed and see if I can find any of the other rares.

While I didn’t much feel like writing, I guess I was able to force myself through the process and write anyway.  I guess I can throw writing in the same bin with “parties”, in that they greatly stress me out and I try and avoid them… but if I actually attend I usually have a good time.  I’ve been enjoying writing to you, my mythical audience.  It is always interesting writing something, knowing it is going to go out into public…  but also knowing that it is highly unlikely to actually garner any comments.

If you’ve made it this far… I hope you all have a great day, and I hope it is followed by an even better start of the weekend.  I have no clue what we are going to be doing, but based on the pile of laundry and the state of our house it will involve some cleaning.  I know at some point soon I have to get cable run to a couple of rooms, which will involve making sure nothing is in the way.  It has been interesting getting past the initial seven days…  I have no clue how long I will actually be able to keep this going.