Long Time Coming

Bug Squish

ffxiv_dx11 2016-08-08 20-43-42-52

At the launch of Heavensward we absolutely wrecked us a Sky Whale, but struggled a bit with Ravana.  It was a combination of insane amounts of incoming damage, mixed with the fact that we consistently failed at Final Liberation.  As we all faded away and off into other games, the one big regret many of us had was that we never actually managed to take down a bug.  Last night we finally set that record straight, and defeated Ravana.  In true fashion for our group however, the kill was a complete mess.  In fact I managed to get knocked off right before we finished the fight, because some random roofer was knocking on my door.  In Oklahoma our version of ambulance chasers are fly by night roofers looking to repair “hail damage”, and this guy had an equally questionable name to go with it.  So in my somewhat distracted state I was just a bit too close to one of the attacks that knocks you off the edge.  Ashgar somehow managed to survive alone until we finally pushed him over the edge at the last possible moment.  There is a final final liberation… and we probably killed him as the bar passed the O and was creeping up on the N…  aka seriously the last moment before we all died a horrible death for our hubris.  Of course like is usually the case no axe was dropped… but instead we did manage to pick up a pretty spiffy looking book that reminds me of a strange armored butterfly.

ffxiv_dx11 2016-08-08 21-56-46-46

After downing a bug, we set our sights on Final Coil since a few of our modern assemblage were not with us when we managed to take this down the first time.  We started off with Turn 10… and honestly had to relearn fights as we went.  So much of this happened so long ago… that we maybe partially remembered a mechanic here or there but had largely forgotten the bulk of them.  We outgeared a good deal of the mechanics, but in truth what this really meant is that we could simply chain resurrect players when they died instead of dealing with the proper mechanics.  Ashgar and I attempted to think on our feet and deal with this as best we remembered them…  the primary example of this being the giant metal clad hydra that serves as the boss of Turn 11 who happens to have an attack that will straight up oneshot the current tank if it is not taunted off.  Traditionally we have a firm cut off time of 10pm CST but we went over a little bit.  Tam called our final attempt on Bahamut for the evening, and that happened to be the attempt we pushed across the finish line and got the win.  I am so happy to have been able to come back and take on these fights for the folks who had never seen them.  While I want to keep progressing into content that I have not seen, it is always good to go back and do the stuff we have, just to remember how far we have come.

Legion Lock

Wow-64 2016-08-09 06-00-10-36

In other news I managed to push across the finish line in a completely different sort of fight.  For whatever reason I have had a fire lit under me to level a bunch of my stragglers up to level 100.  I pushed the Rogue from 92 to 100, Druid from 95 to 100… and then started on my Warlock that happened to be sitting at level 75.  As of last night I managed to nudge him across the line to 100 and even got in a quick LFR before the FFXIV raid.  I was honestly shocked to find out that you could queue for Highmaul LFR at item level 615, and I absolutely did just this.  I am not sure why I am enjoying my warlock so much.  It is just a style of game play that I have never really spent much time doing… and this represents the first “finger wiggler” I have ever legitimately leveled to the current cap.  I’ve had a Priest and Mage temporarily at “cap” but in both of those cases it was a boosted character so it really does not count.  I think part of it as well is that I really want a proper character to start farming transmog items for all of my cloth wearers.  I also want a tailor that I don’t mind grinding cloth on, because the Shadow Priest is absolutely not that character.  Now with the launch of Demon Hunters tonight, I fully expect to be attempting to do that madness…  however in the meantime I am really looking forward to exploring the world with my army of demon buddies.

Weekend Rusty

Diablo III 2016-08-06 08-38-17-21

Demon-Huntering

Diablo III 2016-08-06 08-38-17-21

I promise that I had every intention of getting up this morning and writing a blog post immediately following breakfast.  However the world had other plans… or more truthfully my friends Grace and Sol had other plans.  Last night was the beginning of the Diablo 3 Season 7, but unlike so many other season starts I had other plans.  Firstly yesterday was the birthday of my amazing wife, and I ended up taking off a half day to go out to lunch and then to a movie.  We saw Ghostbusters, and I have things to say about that movie but it is probably going to be a discussion for another day.  After that we came home briefly where my folks came over and brought a cake, and then it was off to a semi-monthly dinner with some of my wife’s siblings.  By the time we got home it was after nine and after sitting down to start working on a character I found that I was fading extremely fast.  So I only managed to make it to around level 25 before crashing, and during all of this… I forgot to take any screenshots for the blog.  As a result I popped in early this morning with the purpose of taking a few screenshots and logging right back out.  However this is the one where Grace and Sol invited me to a group…  and when I joined and explained that I was only online to take a screenshot or two…  they both “noped” and proceeded to drag me up in levels a bit.

Wow-64 2016-08-03 22-51-23-35

As a result I am getting a late start to this whole weekend posting thing, which is not terribly surprising given that I have always had trouble staying on focus during the weekends.  Something about getting up and milling around the house causes the morning to lack a clear sense of purpose.  I think the key to the week days functioning at all is the fact that I get up and take a shower the moment I crawl out of bed, which serves to wake me up completely.  This whole leisurely getting up, having breakfast, and nestling into the couch with my laptop business is a recipe for slacking off.  Regardless I am blogging now because Grace decided to go out for coffee giving me a nice break in the leveling process to knock out this post.  Firstly I am not nearly as pumped about D3 this season as I was in previous seasons.  Right now there is just too much stuff going on that I want to be participating in.  Namely at the moment my seeming fresh re-addiction to World of Warcraft.  Tuesday we can start rolling Demon Hunters, and I figure that will pretty much be the end of my Diablo 3 season experience.  Additionally I still have my Warlock that I am enjoying leveling, and I want to continue pushing it to 100 as soon as possible.  At the moment I am knee deep in Talador around level 94, but once again I am doing the method of leveling where I jump zones as soon as possible so as soon as I hit 96 I will be shifting to Spires of Arak.

This feels very much like a scattered post and I guess in a way it is.  I am so very not used to doing this weekend blogging thing.  This is the first weekend post I have made since breaking my streak of blogging every single day in May.  These couple of months have been more than enough to push me out of the habit.  In truth I think I enjoy not blogging on the weekend because there is nothing really hanging over me.  That isn’t strictly true I guess because I still end up having to edit and get posted the AggroChat episode each Sunday morning, but that at least gives me Saturday to be relatively carefree.  From a standpoint of our lifestyle it has been pretty huge as well because it means that my wife and I can get up and around and go out and do things, without having to wait for the inspiration to hit me… and a blog post to mysteriously appear on the page and get posted.  So while I am doing this for Blaugust I absolutely expect to return to posting week days once the month of August is over.  I am a prime example of trying to find a livable schedule to blog on, and this is a huge part of why I decided to do the more chill version of the initiative.  Sure we can push ourselves to come up with thirty one blog posts, and it is an interesting exercise…  but if the end result is resentment towards your blog or blaugust in general then I think the overall mission of promoting blogging on a schedule has failed.  For the time being however I am returning to my games and calling this post to a close.

Petulence

Wow-64 2016-08-04 06-58-53-61

World Go Boom

Wow-64 2016-08-03 20-28-25-29

For the last several nights there has apparently been a shit storm happening on the Blizzard network, or more likely the networks they use as a backhaul.  The frustrating thing about a DDoS attack is that at least on some level, if it is a large enough one there isn’t a whole lot you can do other than triage.  Most successful attacks don’t actually target the servers of company, but instead the connections just upstream of the data center.  If you can somehow manage to get that provider to start blocking the ip ranges that are attacking you… and most of the time they are not nice clean IP ranges, but instead random rootkit/malware infected bot machines…  the attack often times moves upstream again making the effect inconvenience even more companies.  The real problem in this whole situation is that bot networks are dirt cheap to use, because virus infections of all those folks who only use the internet for “the facebooks” are prevalent.  The rumor has it that this particular bot attack is spawned by some of the players who were recently banned from Overwatch for hacks and cheats.  Now as is shockingly commonly the way among spoiled internet brats, they are throwing a massive tantrum in the form of an attack directed at Blizzard and their customers.

Now for the most part the last couple of nights have been chill for me personally.  It seemed as though initially so long as you were not running raid content and as a result switching server clusters… you really didn’t encounter much issue.  I for example happily leveled my way through Pandaria, and it was not until about 8pm last night that I started to encounter issues.  I have to admit it was a little nostalgic seeing the “World Server is Down” message, because it had been so long since that was a regular occurrence on the Argent Dawn server.  Because we were the first Role-playing server sorted alphabetically in the list, we became the target of a lot of protests and down right petulance from players simply wanting to wreck our fun time.  More often than not it was spawned by a similar set of spoiled internet brats, namely in the form of players on the PVP server Blackrock.  Any time their server would go down they would come over and flood our server with level 1 Gnomes “protesting” and as a result bringing our server down as well.  Those same players would likely be the type that are currently DDoSing the network, but back then that sort of attack was not really possible.  I am sure there were plenty of otherwise good people who got swept up in the madness, just like what happened during the “warrior protests” that also targeted our server.  However the bulk were likely simply lashing out at the “lol arpee” server because we made an easy target.

Storming Draenor

Wow-64 2016-08-04 06-58-53-61

The servers however eventually recovered and as a result I was able to say goodbye to Pandaria and move on towards Draenor.  I spent a silly amount of gold last night upgrading all of the caster heirlooms I have to level 100, so that I could use them on my Warlock, Mage and Priest… all of which have yet to push through to level 100.  It seemed like gold well spent given that I would likely be playing all of them shortly.  In the grand scheme of things, percentage wise it was not that big of a hit to the total amount of cash that I had laying around.  Additionally questing through the Draenor content is going to make back a good chunk of it given that I will be selling my gear instead of wearing it.  If I find myself desperate for money there are lots of characters that I have not touched tons of quest content on.  In any case I picked up Grimoire of Supremacy that lets me swap my Felguard for a permanent Infernal which seems pretty awesome.  I think running around with an infernal is the ultimate player fantasy for a lot of folks that end up going Demonology, and I remember how much fun it was when I helped my friends complete that quest in Felwood to get their first.   The only negative is… that it seems to have removed my ability to summon these various demons as their short term “fire totem” like variety that was a decent dps boost.  I have a feeling that while fun for running around, that I might eventually swap back to using one of the other talents.  I managed to stay awake long enough to get through the Tanaan Jungle intro quest, and am now in the process of setting up my garrison.  I am hoping that tonight I can make a serious dent in the leveling process, and maybe move into Gorgrond.  Mostly I am making the big push, because I know that Friday night will begin another Diablo 3 season, and I will begin switching time with that game.

Rubber Band Thief

20150628_115421

A Game of Fetch

20150628_115421

This is Kenzie and she is a mess.  I am not sure how else to describe her, because she is unlike any other cat we have shared a home with.  She can be the biggest butt ever, and a bit of a bully to the other cats…  but she can also be the sweetest and most adorable animal you have ever seen.  She sort of vacillates between being an angel and a devil sometimes within the same moment.  She likes to help with the laundry… and as you can see here sometimes crawl under the upturned laundry basket.  She also gets super obsessive about certain things… for example I really like Red Velvet Muffins from QuikTrip…  and apparently so does she.  I can wrap up one of the muffin wrappers in several layers and she will go spelunking through the trash can in search of it.  When she finally gets it… it is not like she eats it but more certainly rips it to shreds.  Another similar obsession is twist ties and rubber bands.  We go to the cleaners fairly often and for whatever reason they like to rubber band together sets of wire hangers.  I am not sure exactly when it happened but Kenzie started stealing these rubber bands from the closet and running off with them.  In fact our living room and bedroom are filled with little caches of rubber bands that she mysteriously “loses” and can then summon up at pretty much any moment when she wants one.  I have a feeling if we ever moved out the couch there would be a sea of rubber bands and twist ties laying back there waiting to be rediscovered.

Over time this obsession started to morph and I am not completely sure when it started.  Instead of just playing with the rubber band she started returning back to wherever we were at and dropping it next to us.  When she first did this I decided to go ahead and toss it away again and see what she would do, and from there…  a new game was born.  We have a cat that plays fetch, in the truest sense of the word.  She will bring us something… and want us to toss it… and then she brings it back and we do this over and over until she gets tired of it.  When that happens one of two things will happen… either she will “lose it” and by lose I mean know exactly where it is at all times but decide to stop returning it.  Either that or she will just lay down beside me ON the object and want attention.  This second cessation of fetch generally means that she just wants a break and will resume fetch in a little bit when she starts nudging the object again.  So as a result the highlight of my evening was more or less spending an hour and some change playing fetch with Kenzie, quite possibly the longest running game yet.  It was extremely important because my wife was in the bedroom with the doors shut off attempting to bond with Luna, someone I have not really introduced you to yet.  As a result I am trying to be elsewhere so that both Kenzie and Allie have a stable and friendly source of attention, and as a result while I tired of the fetch thing about thirty minutes into it… and while my reaction time slowed significantly as I tried to level my Warlock…  I kept at it because I knew Kenzie needed someone constantly paying attention to her.

Pandaria Is Maddening

Wow-64 2016-08-03 06-28-35-04

As far as the gaming I was doing while playing fetch …  I continued to push my Dwarf Warlock up through the levels.  At this point I am sitting at 88 and somewhere in the Townlong Steppes quest chain.  I said that Pandaria was maddening and that is mostly because we are in this awkward transitional period of time… where you cannot actually purchase the flight book off the black market auction house.  That means you can level an alt and have it fly happily from level 60 until 85… then have this awkward block of 85-90 where you cannot fly, and pick up once again in the 90-100 content.  This is a prime example of one of my complaints with World of Warcraft content, in that often times they seem not to take into account the ramifications of changes.  Removing the Black Market Auction House until legion… also probably unintentionally blocked players from being able to purchase the level 85 book for flying.  The easy fix would have been to simply change the level you can purchase Pandaria Flight from the trainer in the Shrine to 85, and do away with the book.  However instead I am stuck in this limbo as I try to level a new army of alts to the current level cap of 100.  I realize that I could always purchase boosts to 100 and be done with it… but even though I am taking every shortcut possible, I still enjoy the act of leveling and questing.  The mob density in Pandaria just makes that whole process a bit of a slog.

The one thing I am super thankful of however is that while each individual zone is a fairly linear process… they have added quests that unlock zones rather than having to quest your way through one to get to the next.  That way when you ding a level you can check the Adventure Guide to get the quest to move on to the next area.  This admittedly really speeds up the leveling process, and while I once had this ideal path through Pandaria that mostly still works…  it is sped up by no longer needing to clear to a specific quest to unlock the next area.  My next big decision however is what to do when I ding 90, and if I want to spend the gold to upgrade my caster heirlooms from 90 to 100.  I am highly considering it given that I have two more cloth wearers that have yet to hit 100, so it is not like they won’t see a lot of use in the coming months.  Essentially where I am standing on the whole leveling game is that I have my Priest, Mage and Monk that will be sub 100 now that I am zeroing in on getting that Warlock up there.  At some point once I get some gear at level 100 I will probably take a lengthy break to finish farming up the remaining cloth that I need to push my tailoring up to a reasonable place for Legion.  As to why I am suddenly motivated to play all of these alts…  I guess in theory it is because I am constantly seeing new appearance items and creating a stable of appearance farmers for the various armor types.  Prior to the Warlock I did not really have a cloth wearer that I enjoyed playing… and as a result don’t have much in the way of cloth appearance gear.  After all… the true end game is looking awesome.

Blog, August, Blaugust

ffxiv_dx11 2016-08-01 20-34-25-59

Pronunciation Guide

Yesterday evening I had a weird sequence of events happen, that I feel like I have to share with you all.  As I said yesterday my wife has her own version of Blaugust that is part of the Math Blogging/Twitter community she spends most of her time in.  When I stumbled onto the awkward name that is Blaugust, I jammed Blog and August together because for me they have the same “Og” sound so they fit together well enough to be a word.  I took for granted that this would be the case for everyone, and they would immediately grasp why the name is what it is.  The truth is I didn’t invent the word, as apparently there had already been something called Blaugust going on within a circle of bloggers in Australia for years, and without realizing it I co-opted their thing and made it OUR thing.  So in part because of this… last night I had an awful lot of trouble grasping the above tweet.

This spawned a whole sequence of tweets within the alternate reality Blaugust community about how they pronounced Blaugust, and even spawned a hashtag.  So after a bit of passing back and forth various clips of folks pronouncing the words and saying the phrase “I’m going to blog in august”, I was drafted to record something along the same lines.  I am not sure if my wife was too embarrassed to do so, or simply as she says I had a headset on.  So the first recording was simply me saying some equivalent of the phase.  Which spawned a request for me to say the words Blog, August and Blaugust within the same clip…  and I obliged as well.  I just found this sequence of events funny because I never thought that someone else might not get the jammed together nation of this event.  I mean “blog” itself is a crude concatenation of Web and Log, so it only makes sense that the name of our event is an equally crude joining.

Raidy Bits

ffxiv_dx11 2016-08-01 20-34-25-59

As far as proper gaming news… well last night was once again our new raid team night in Final Fantasy XIV.  A good number of us took a significant break after the launch of Heavensward and as a result we are super behind the current content curve.  As a result over the last few weeks we have been working our way through Alexander Midas.  We would have gotten through sooner but there have been several occasions where we did not have quite the same make up of folks, which lead to us repeating certain sections of the raid.  Tonight we started with Midas Seven again to catch up Kodra who was absent when we last attempted it, and oneshot it with a pug… and no explanations.  We zoned in last week and warned the pug player that none of us had done the fight, and when he proceeded to start explaining we said “thanks but no thanks” and I pulled.  I am sure the random was expecting a complete wipe, and it was not necessarily our neatest kill… but we did the thing that brings us great joy and that is learning a fight on our feet as we go.

ffxiv_dx11 2016-08-01 21-15-13-27

I am not one of those people that can really gain any knowledge of an encounter while watching a video.  By the two minute mark I have already zoned out completely and lost any real information that might have been useful.  Now if you can find a proper guide written out in long form, I can usually get lots of information there,  however for me to truly grasp the fight I need to be doing it.  That means I need to wipe over and over and adjust to things that are going wrong until at some point everything clicks and we win and get tasty loots.  Last night in this case was about learning the most insane Voltron fight ever, and that is Midas Eight.  It took us a handful of attempts but we managed to get through the encounter and even look like we knew what we were doing.  From there we moved on to our old friend Ravana Extreme, that we never actually beat.  While we were a little rusty, we managed to piece together enough of the fight to die horribly to final liberation.  Which means once we conquer that we will down us a bug… and I fully expect that will be the case next week.

 

Happy Blaugust

Blaugust2016

Blaugust2016

So this is really happening I guess.  It is funny how something can go from “I am thinking about not doing it” to a completely fleshed out and active thing over the course of a week.  As of this morning there are thirty two folks signed up to participate in Blaugust this month, and I think that is pretty great.  My wife has even spun the event off into her own thing within the MTBOS math community, and I created a completely separate logo for them.  This time around as I said before it is a greatly revised event, mostly focused on producing more content, rather than having folks attempt to run a gauntlet.  The gauntlet concept was cool, but a bit misguided given that the end result often times caused folks to take a few months off after the event.  I didn’t want the month of August to feel anywhere near as stressful as say NaNoWriMo for example, so as a result this year we are dialing it back a bit.

You can check out the full post over here where I announced that we were in fact doing it this year.  However a quick rundown of the rules are simple.  First just fill out this Google Form with pertinent information about your blog, to make sure it ends up on the radar of the community.  Next blog… and this time around set your own intended schedule.  Whenever you post your blog on twitter please use the hashtag #Blaugust2016 to make it easier to track and so that folks can simply subscribe to that and see all of the content.  There is also the Blaugust Nook for folks who want to hang out and share ideas and topic prompts, also a great place to share your post content.  Finally and most importantly…  get to know the other participants.  Common struggle makes a great means for bonding… and for those who are not used to posting on a schedule this might be a bit of a struggle.  Reach out to the other Blaugustians and get to know them, because it is a great time to make new friends and rekindle old friendships.

The Participants

I hit refresh on my google sheet just to make sure I am including everyone, but as of this very moment we have thirty two participants in the 2016 running of Blaugust.  There is still plenty of time to sign up an participate but for the moment these are the folks you can look forward to seeing content from.

Daily Posts

Weekday Posts

Three Posts a Week

Some Other Schedule

As Time and Inspiration Allows

I believe that is everyone represented that has signed up currently.  I cannot be 100% certain however because in true “Belghast” fashion I decided to complicate things at the last minute and attempt to list everyone out by the schedule they signed up for in the google form.  I believe however I have all thirty two blogs accounted for, and that no one is duplicated, however if I somehow made a mistake please let me know.  I look forward to the next month and seeing how this “kinder gentler” Blaugust goes.

[Edit] as folks sign up been adding them into the post as time allows.  Right now we are up to forty!

A Chill Blaugust

Blaugust2016

Blaugust2016

Over the last few weeks folks have been pinging me, asking if Blaugust would be returning.  I feel like I have put off this post as long as I could possible do so.  Originally I was planning on calling Blaugust this year because I simply did not have it in me.  However when I finally got around to posting that statement… I had folks come out of the woodwork to suggest that the contest was cool and all, but not terribly essential to the concept of Blaugust for them.  They also started brainstorming ways to make it less stressful for me personally.  Essentially last year was a perfect storm of events that made Blaugust extremely hard.  Firstly we had a truly irrationally large number of people participating jumping from 52 the first year to 88 the second year.  There was a period of time that I thought we would be breaking 100.  The thing is… for whatever reason I decided to make this thing a contest, with a win condition.  That means that I needed to take the tallying of numbers and such super seriously, because I would ultimately be handing out rewards at the end of the journey.  The only problem with that was that due to the participation and the large number of folks “winning” each year the concept of having a true single winner seemed super silly.  As a result the last two years I have relied on a random number generation to finally pass out the prizes, and that felt somewhat icky.  So this year we are rolling back to a previous revision in our magical source control system… and taking a stab at what the root of the idea really was.

Blogging on a Schedule

If you were to ask me what caused me to launch this thing in the first place, I am not sure if I could actually pin it down to a single thought.  However I wanted Blaugust to be about posting blog content on a schedule.  I went from being one of the least prolific bloggers to one of the most prolific in a matter of weeks when I embarked upon my “grand experiment” of blogging each and every morning.  In truth it was madness that I would ever suggest that someone do the same.  Ultimately this year I broke my streak on purpose just to have it done and buried and behind me.  However I did manage to make it a little over three years without skipping a single day, and it is a feat that I am rather proud of.  However the rhythm I have settled into as a result of posting every single week day also feels pretty great.  Additionally it is far more manageable because at least for my wife and I.. the weekends are the only time we really have to do much of anything together.  I can bang out a post in 30 minutes when I am under the gun of having to get to work on time, but for whatever reason my blog posts on Saturday and Sunday often times took hours.  I tried a bunch of hacks to get around this, like having a reoccurring movie/television column, or a summary column that recounted the best highlights of what I did that week.  However none of it felt really fresh or meaningful, and instead just superseded any planned activities that we might have wanted to do that weekend.

The core message of Blaugust has always been that blogging on a schedule is a good thing.  My thought was by challenging people to blog every single day for a month, then when they decided to roll that back to every other day, or only week days… it wouldn’t seem near that daunting.  For some this absolutely worked and Blaugust has seemed to make a lot of blogs more active.  The only problem is it has the opposite effect as well… the challenge “broke” some people and they would go for months without making a post after the challenge wrapped up.  This was absolutely an unintended consequence, and one that really bothered me from the very first year.  The last thing I want to do is in some way bully people out of the blogosphere by setting up some sort of artificial gate.  Additionally the whole concept of having winners bothered me as well.  If you sit down and create a blog, and commit yourself to posting on it and baring your soul to the rest of us…  you are a big winner in my book.  Blogging is one of those things that gets in your blood, but it also takes a lot out of the person doing it.  So everyone out there posting on their own blogs be it MMO Gaming, Cooking or Stamp Collecting…  you are all awesome to me.  So in this reboot we are no longer going to think of this as a contest, but instead a festival of sorts.  I want to embrace the positives that the event can bring, without adding to the pressure everyone is already under when trying to do their own thing.

Blaugust 2016

So what we end up with is a Festival of Blogging on a Schedule.  What schedule you intend to stick with is entirely up to you, and honestly even if you do keep a schedule at all.  2016 has been this year when a lot of bad stuff has happened around the world, and I don’t want my artificial contest to be something that adds stress to anyone.  If you want to push yourself to blog every day, awesome.  I will be watching and will be tabulating those folks at the end, with probably a special sidebar image that denotes that.  However I am not putting any real prizes on the line this year.  This is the year that we are doing this thing for the sake of doing it.  I always got the impression that no one was really in this for the gold at the end of the rainbow…  so I doubt this will make any real difference.  However I am trying to de-escalate the stress of the event, and I think by no longer making it a contest that might help.  The hope is that you will take this month and make your own content creation more active than it has been in the past months.  That is it.. that is the ultimate goal to get folks out there creating more awesome content.

The Rules

There really is only one serious rule, and that is the sign-up sheet.  If you are going to start participating in Blaugust 2016 please take a few minutes to fill out this Google Form.  It doesn’t ask an awful lot but what it does is important.  It asks for…

  • Name of Blog
  • URL of Blog
  • Schedule if you Plan on Sticking to One
  • Twitter Handle if you use it
  • How you Heard About Blaugust

That’s it, nice and simple.  I will tabulate the results and keep some sort of sidebar or event page with the collected information on it.

The other thing that I would ask is if you post to twitter please use the hashtag #Blaugust2016 just as a way of making things easier for folks to see as they are posted.

Resources

There is the Blaugust Nook over on Anook, and it is a great place to ask questions and have conversations with other bloggers that are doing this thing.  Twitter as well is also a great resource, and I know personally that is where I end up holding most of my conversations with other bloggers.  As far as Discord that seems to be the popular thing to be doing right now… I would prefer not to start a brand new server just for this event since I already have like twenty servers in my app.  There are a couple of ones devoted to blogging so going to be pestering the folks who run those to see if they mind sharing.  Additionally for anyone wanting to see what has happened in previous years there is always the Blaugust Category on my own blog, which I have been more or less fairly decent about tagging related posts.

Back to the Roots

Personally I will be going back to posting every day during the month of August.  That said I might be staging some of the content on Saturday and Sunday so that it posts in the morning, rather than getting up and doing them and thereby impeding whatever activities we have planned.  Giving up Saturday and Sunday was a strange thing for me when I did it, and on some levels I think it was a positive effect.  That said there are lots of times that I have events that happen on the weekend that it feels artificial to wait until Monday to talk about.  For example the passing of my cat Chloe this weekend… happened Friday night, and by the time Monday rolled around posting about it just felt like ripping a barely formed scab off the wound that was trying to heal.  So for the first time in the history of Blaugust me posting every single day won’t just be my default interaction.  It is going to take work to get me back in the habit of doing it, so I will essentially be struggling with you all to up my game and make more interesting content.  One last word that I want to leave you with… is while everything about this keeps saying Blog, I don’t want to limit any creative outlet.  If you are a vlogger or if you do twitch lets plays, or honestly any form of regular content creation, I don’t want to exclude you from this “festival”.  Please sign up and let us know what you are creating and where you are creating it, and while blog means something specific…  in my mind any sort of regular content creation be it blog, vlog, stream, or podcast feels like blogging to me.  Additionally this is not just an MMO or Gaming thing… if you are out there blogging about your own personal stuff or another completely different industry… I want you to know that you are welcome as well.  This thing started as a part of the MMO Gaming community, because most of the other bloggers I knew… were MMO Gamers.  Last year Blaugust expanded quite a bit, and I hope it will as well this year into new and interesting areas.

Blaugust Results

A Phenomenal Blaugust

blaugust_2015_logo

The time has come and as I said in my original post this year, I would tabulate the results and post them on September 2nd.  This month really was an absolute deluge of content, and there is really no other way to say about it.  I know I personally struggled to keep up with it all.  I have to say however one of the best moments for me was reading the many “last posts” of the challengers.  They all seemed to have a theme of “this is what blaugust taught me” or “I am proud of myself that I survived”.  Reading each of those was so amazing.  As I remarked yesterday I feel like the bulk of the community is not quite sure if they want to give me a hug… or flip me the bird.  It is interesting being both Hero and Villain at the same time.  After reading the posts… I can be perfectly fine with either distinction because the end result was pretty awesome.

This year we had far greater participation, and I am still completely floored by it.  In 2014 we had 52 folks participating, and of those 28 managed to “win” the challenge of posting something every single day.  One of my frustrations however is that because of the way I was running the contest, it kept someone from joining late, playing catch up, and being eligible for the final prizes.  This year I changed the guidelines to something I am much more happy with, which is simply getting thirty one posts during the month of August.  We had a grand total of 88 folks who signed up and participated in the challenge, posting at least one blog post.  From there I made a separate distinction to give folks some credit who at least made it to the half way mark with fifteen posts and in that group we had 76.  The most impressive thing however is that we had 56 people who managed to complete thirty one posts during the month of August.  For added benefit I also kept track of who happened to participate last year as well, and we had 24 who were returning.  Without further stalling… here are the lists!

The Challengers

The thought of posting something every single day for a month is a scary prospect, so simply signing your name on the dotted line and participating is pretty awesome in my book.  This list is folks that joined the Blaugust initiative and posted at least one blog post during the month of August.  Some of them however got really damned close to the halfway point.  So lets take a moment to recognize them.  You have all earned the right to use this badge in whatever fashion you like!  It is available in a full resolution version and a sized down version ideal for sidebars.

blaugust_2015_challenger

Of this batch, there is a group that I want to give special recognition to.  These are folks that participated for the second year, and for them I have special versions of the badge also available in full resolution and sized down versions.

blaugust_2015_challenger_veteran

The Survivors

This year I made a special distinction for all of the folks that managed to make it through at least fifteen blog posts during the month of August.  We had some folks in the group that barely crossed the line, and others that damned near hit the final mark.  There were several that managed to hit fifteen only to decide that this daily blogging thing really was not for them.  In any case posting essentially “every other day” for a month is quite the feat as well, and I wanted to acknowledge this separately.  I’ve dubbed this group the survivors, and they have earned the right to use this badge and title in whatever form they wish.  Once again it is available in both full resolution and scaled down versions.

blaugust_2015_survivor

 

Once again I wanted to recognize the folks who managed to “survive” the challenge this year that also participated last year, so we have a special badge for them available in full and scaled resolutions.

blaugust_2015_survivor_veteran

The Conquerors

I hate the term “winner” for a challenge like this, because it doesn’t really encompass the purpose.  Just the simple fact that you signed up and made an effort to be more active and create more content makes you a winner in my book.  So when I was looking for a new term, I decided to go with Conqueror, because really every person on this next list did just that.  They conquered fear, they conquered apathy, they conquered doubt, and they conquered Blaugust.  I am so irrationally proud of every person on this list that I struggle to put it adequately into words.  Once again they have a badge available in both full and scaled resolutions.

blaugust_2015_conqueror

Once again we have a special group of Conquerors that returned from winning the previous year, to kick this one in the face.  I find it pretty awesome that 13 of the 28 “winners” from 2014 returned.  I feel like I also need to give special recognition to the Mystical Mesmer who managed to complete Blaugust on two completely different blogs this year.  If that is not a microphone drop… I am not sure what is.  Regardless this group also has their own special veteran badge in full and scaled resolutions.

blaugust_2015_conqueror_veteran

 

The Prizes

BlaugustDiceRoller

So now that all of the acknowledgement is out of the way… lets  talk prizes.  Since not everyone that crosses the finish line can actually win the grand prize, we have to unfortunately rely on random chance.  Last year I struggled with figuring out a good way to do this, and as a result this year I just wrote my own damned dice roller.  This allowed me to type in the number of folks who managed to get thirty one posts during the month of August, hit the big Roll the Dice button and get an output stream with one result per line perfect for pasting into a spreadsheet.  I sorted the thirty one club alphabetically and then pasted all of my results in a new column.  If you are curious what the final numbers looked like, I am working off of this spreadsheet as a award prizes.

There was a slight monkey wrench thrown in my original plans as to how to give out awards.  This was a good monkey wrench in the form of a bunch of prizes from Kings Isle entertainment.  This actually gave me more “big prizes” to spread around which was really awesome as they gave me three prize packs from Wizard 101 and three from Pirate 101.  Sometimes random chance is serendipitous.  I had said from the very beginning that I would purchase a steam game for whoever managed to get the grand prize.  It turns out… today is the birthday of this years winner.  The dice were in the favor of Paeroka from Nerdy Bookahs.  For winning the random number generator she got a Steam game of her choice… and she chose Valhalla Hills.  Additionally since Kings Isle was so damned cool to chip in prizes, I also gave her one of the Wizard 101 and Pirate 101 packs.

That left me four more codes to hand out… so starting last night I messaged folks and had them give me their preference of Wizard 101 or Pirate 101.  The next four in line were…

The Prize Closet

Since we had so damned many people manage to complete the challenge, I am going to try and give out as many prizes as I can.  I have a stack of various game codes largely left over from humble bundles gone by.  I have a spreadsheet that I am starting to circulate down the list of folks who managed to “conquer” Blaugust.  I may not have enough codes to get through everyone, but I am going to try!  So expect in the next few days to get a private message from me with a link, asking you to tag one of them items with your name.  This was a pretty crazy month, and I want to thank all of you for participating.  Next year I am going to start planning significantly ahead of time and am hoping to get more game companies to chip in goodies for the prize vault.  I know at this point you are saying “What about Anook?”.  Lonrem was up late last night tabulating the results, and since that prize is based on community participation on Anook I will be letting them make their own announcement.  I am really happy that they have been so supportive of us essentially taking over a chunk of their website during the month of August.  Blaugust will return next year and hopefully be even bigger than before!

Paragon Levels with Friends

Screenshot012

Blaugust Administrata

Blaugust is officially over…  I mean it… put your pencils down and turn in your papers.  Now begins the fun part of actually attempting to “grade”, and by that I mean tabulate the results.  I started doing this yesterday afternoon with some of the early finishers, and if everyone that was a day away crossed that finish line… we have a pretty huge bunch of winners.  Equally impressive as of yesterday we had 76 “Survivors” meaning that during the course of the month they managed to get in at least fifteen posts.  Mostly I wanted to say a little bit this morning about just how proud I am of everyone who attempted any length of posts this month.  The concept of daily posting is rather daunting and there are still days where I question my sanity as I plunk away at the keys each morning trying to make sense of the jumble of thoughts in my head.  So while I will be terming people as “winning” the challenge you are all winners in my book even if you didn’t make it to fifteen posts.

My goal all along has been to get more people creating more content about the things they love doing.  After a point folks stop caring so much about what you are writing, and focus in on the fact that it is YOU behind the screen that is writing it.  The whole idea behind Blaugust is if you can prove to yourself that you can churn out thirty one posts in a single month…  then posting a handful of posts every week on a fixed schedule is really not that terribly daunting.  Whether or not they realize it, people crave consistency.  I started this blog with a decent boost of readers, but over the years of my lack of posting…  I pretty much pissed all of those regular readers away.  When I became consistent, folks started tuning in every morning to read all of these seemingly useless thoughts I was dumping out of my head…  and apparently enjoying it.  Today is my day for calculations, but I wanted to close Blaugust with one thought.  Don’t let Blaugust be this marathon that you run once a year and then stick back on the shelf until the next year.  Let Blaugust be a spirit that you embrace every day, and an excuse to create regular posts throughout the year.

Boys Will Be Boys

First off I have to say that I have always hated this phrase… but sometimes it absolutely fits.  Last night I talked to my mom on the phone, because it had been a few days since I had called my folks.  They have had to deal with the fallout of a flood in one of the bathrooms, and this weekend they got into my childhood bedroom.  My closet backed up to the bathroom so it was a assumed that pretty much everything in it would be ruined.  The funny thing is… my Mom expected me to remember what I had in my closet over two decades ago.  Luckily it seems that for the most part all of my comic books, and various sundry cards that I never bothered to “move out” were left untouched.  Apparently some plywood seems to have wicked up the bulk of the water that made it through to the closet.  As she was pulling stuff out of the closet she kept stopping and asking my dad what various things were.  Then she got to an item that threw her for a loop.

I was a little skater kid, and there was a phase in my life where everything that mattered about anything…  was skateboard related.  She pulled out this baseball bat that was scrawled with all sorts of skater terminology and logos in a combination of sharpie and paint pen.  She wanted to know why this bat was all scarred like it had been hitting concrete and “defaced” in such a way.  My Dad just said that it looked like “little boys were playing”.  So I had to explain to my mother what the bat was used for.  We used to go to the tennis court with our skateboards, as much padding as we had, and baseball bats.  My friend and I would ride towards each other, each of us on one side of the tennis net like we were “jousting”.  At which point we would put as much padding on our left arms as we could and use the right arm to swing the baseball bat at the other person.  The goal of course was to knock the other person off their skateboard and the padding was in a vague attempt to block the blows.  It is a miracle we didn’t do serious harm to each other.  This apparently did not phase my father, because it turns out his childhood friend and he would fire arrows at each other from recurve bows…  so I guess in the grand scheme of things getting beaned with a baseball bat doesn’t seem that dangerous?

Paragon Levels with Friends

Screenshot012

Since a good chunk of our raid was still doing the whole Pax Prime thing, we were not able to put in any attempts on Ravana Extreme last night.  Instead I spent a good chunk of time fiddling with Bitdefender and ultimately uninstalling it.  I guess I should have known better when my good friend Wulf struggled to keep it from blocking the Final Fantasy XIV game client, but I went ahead and gave it a shot.  This time around it was the Glyph client for Trion Worlds that I could not get it to unblock.  I finally uninstalled it and went back to AVG because at least I am used to it.  That of course killed an hour, so by the time I finally logged into Diablo 3 it was fairly late in the evening.  Grace was already hard at work doing rifts and such so I joined her until she left to go eat dinner.  Then there was a block of time when the server was rebooted and patched, and I could not get reconnected to save my life.  All the while I am watching The Strain on Hulu, which is a show I would absolutely suggest if you like Horror.  The added benefit is you get to see Argus Filch playing a Van Helsing like badass… and yes I know the actors name is David Bradley but he will always be Filch to me.

Screenshot014

The big take away of the evening is that we managed to get Mor to 70 on his Crusader, and I managed to get up to 47ish Paragon levels before the end of the night.  I still cannot deal anywhere close to as much damage as Grace can at this point so I feel like I need to do some research into how best to gear and spec out a Barbarian.  I mean I do respectable damage but I think my gear just isn’t quite at the same level as hers.  She is still absolutely carrying both of us hard when it comes to doing group content.  Though last night I did manage to stay alive most of the time, I think I took two deaths throughout the night, which is significantly better than previous outings.  We spent most of the night on Torment IV, and I can personally solo Torment I pretty effectively… it is just that bosses seem to take forever.  I am not sure how long this current addiction to Diablo 3 will last, but for the time being I am rolling with it.

Blaugust and Nephalem

Last Day of Blaugust

As the subheading says, it is in fact the last day of Blaugust and as such very soon I am going to begin tabulating the results.  It has been an interesting month, but also a very quick one.  It seems like just yesterday I was kicking off this challenge, and now we are staring at the finish line.  It has also been interesting just how many people have participated in one way or another.  Even if you did something as simple as retweet a Blaugust post, you are part of this and I thank you.  In truth I was not really sure how the turn out for year two would end up looking.  The biggest surprise honestly was just how many year one folks came back for this year.  You’d think that they would have learned better by the time the second event rolled around.  As I sift through the results it is going to be interesting to see just how many folks have completed both years at this point.

The big take away this year is that we have already reached a point where we are just too big to be planned somewhat “on the fly”.  Up until July I was still questioning if I would actually go through with a second Blaugust.  I was somewhat shocked at the number of people who were looking forward to it.  So I pulled things together and we ended up with this year, that went significantly more smoothly than the first.  As a result I think for the 2016 Blaugust I will be starting to pull things together about four months in advance.  Folks offering to sponsor prizes was a brand new concept to me, and this year we had Anook and KingsIsle Entertainment both chipping in prizes.  I greatly appreciate them both, but I am hoping if I start the wheels moving several months ahead I will be able to get a few more people to come on board.  It would be awesome to get some game keys donated for a sort of “Blaugust Game Club” like our AggroChat Game Club.  Where every Blaugust writer has the opportunity to play a specific game and write about it, because it is super interesting when you collect a bunch of opinions on the same title.  I realize we are just how wrapping up, and folks are I am sure sick of it for the time being…  but I am already thinking about how to make next year better.

Nephalem Ascended

Diablo III 2015-08-31 00-01-16-066

Friday night when I got home from eating with friends I started a brand new Female Barbarian, and as of last around 8 pm I managed to hit 70 securing at least some of the Season 4 rewards.  While I managed to get drug along for a handful of levels, this is still the fastest and most dedicated I have ever leveled in Diablo.  In part a huge chunk of it has been that I have largely been leveling with my friend Grace, who keeps pushing me to go do content rather than just piddling around like I normally do.  Pushing is the wrong word because she was not even insistent… she just gave me a reason to keep grouping up and doing interesting things.  The other big change this season is that I pretty much completely ignored the story line.  In Season 3 I attempted to level my way through the story, which is apparently the worst possible way to level these days.  Instead I largely started adventure mode from the moment I created the character, and the result is as I leveled I tended to always have legendary weapons that I could craft for my character.

diablo3Season4Journey

One of the big changes that came with Season 4 was the introduction of the “Season Journey” interface that serves as a way of unlocking the various rewards.  Just for hitting level 70 on a seasonal character I unlocked the transmogrification pieces, but in order to get the Portrait Frame and the Pet I have to complete all four Chapters of the Season Journey.  As of last night I have completed the first three and they were honestly all pretty easy.  The final element that I needed was to defeat one of the major bosses on Master difficulty or harder.  Since Belial is the fastest to get to on Adventure mode I popped over there and took him out with relative ease.  Now I have to do some of the more grindy things like taking out each of the key masters on Torment difficulty.  I also need to finally use the Kanai cube to extract a Legendary power, but I am trying to sort out what sort of power I want to keep.  Honestly I feel like I need to read up on how exactly that process works before making any decisions surrounding getting powers from it.  I know that once you do this you can choose at least one power as a permanent buff, and I have a few that are really nice.

Diablo III 2015-08-30 21-57-05-55

I really did not spend much time playing Reaper of Souls, and as such I had never actually done a Rift of any sort until this weekend.  Grace on the other hand is an expert at such things and as a result I spent some of my “post 70” time last night with her working on Rifts and then the Greater Rifts that follow.  I have to say they are crazy amounts of fun, and I am trying to sort out how best to use my legendary gems.  Right now I have two of them, and I need to run more Greater Rifts to power up the second one.  The first one is now at level 6, but once again I think I need to do some research in how best to utilize them.  The game is so much more intricate than I remember it being, and in truth I have never played Diablo 3 seriously.  I am having a blast so I guess that is really all that matters.  My hope is that tonight our Final Fantasy XIV raid can down Ravana Extreme… but after that… I hope to put in big ole dent in some of these Chapter IV objectives.