Day One Rundown

Shock and Awe

That is really the only words I can think of this morning to explain my reaction to the huge turnout we have gotten for Blaugust.  I want to thank each and every one of you that is plugging away on daily posting.  I also want to thank the folks that have now joined on day two, and anyone else out there waiting in the wings that may or may not be chipping in the occasional post as well.  When I came up with this idea in part due to my wife’s own may challenge, and my love of the concept of jamming together Blog and August into one word… I thought that maybe three or four people would join in the madness.  As of yesterday we had 38 day one posts, and since then a handful more have added in on day two.

The thing I am happiest about is just how many of you have easily “grokked” my intent.  I wanted to stir things up and get folks out of the doldrums that is the summer season.  I have been doing the daily posting thing, so I thought it might be cool to challenge others to do the same thing.  That said it is far less about daily posting than posting on a regular schedule.  The other neat thing is that basically this is training for undertaking something more serious like NaNoWriMo.  I could never have completed my novel last year were it not for my getting in the habit of daily posting before then.  Basically if you can prove to yourself that you can write a ten sentence or more blog post each day, then that 50,000 word goal isn’t completely unreachable.

Day One Rundown

While this has been a bit of a pain in the ass to pull together this morning, I wanted to do a rundown of all of the posts that were made yesterday.  I’ve read them all at this point and commented on several of them, and I have to say the world you all did is amazing.  You are making this a truly amazing initiative and I have very little to do with the success.  I think we all want to do awesome things, we just sometimes need the catalyst to make it happen.

Such an amazing list of bloggers, and I am absolutely humbled to have them supporting me in this initiative.  Additionally to all these awesome posts the very cool gaming site MMO Games gave us a good write up about the event.  The also awesome has been featuring our nook as well so it should be giving us additional bandwidth to the initiative.  So much blogger love going on I am still constantly amazed.  It is still plenty of time to get started and join the madness, just check out my Gospel of Blaugust post for the rules.

Setting Down Roots

ffxiv 2013-10-30 22-51-40-21 Over the last few years I have been flitting from game to game for some time, and it is really tiring.  What generally happens is I get into a game and then the community we have built up around it starts to deteriorate.  Without the people to sustain me, I start to get my own wanderlust since I crave the next place that has the happy guildchat spam I am looking for.  One of the more enjoyable games I have played over the last few years was Final Fantasy XIV.  Everything about the game felt “just right” until I ran out of content to level with.  I love the fact that you can pour all of your effort into one character without feeling like you are missing out on anything.  The only problem is when we last played the game shortly after launch, after you had run out of storyline quests you were pretty much forced to grind fates if you wanted to level anything else.

In the months that have followed they have patched some of these gaps.  Right now I am still doing a fair amount of FATE grinding, but I am perforating it with trips through the Duty Roulette system.  While this might seem grindy still to some, for me this is enough of a break to make me happy.  The other thing that just feels right about the game is the community.  It is this weird throwback to a time where people were generally cool to group with.  I remember during Everquest, wipes happened and no one seemed to mind… they just picked themselves up and recovered.  The WoW generation changed that, and introduced the culture of “your bad and should feel bad”.  Last night we were running Hard Mode Ifrit and I made a mistake that ultimate wiped the raid.  Not a single person was grumpy about it, they just explained what I should be doing instead and were happy to try again.  That type of attitude is just refreshing, and I keep running into it over and over.

I have this feeling like I would really love to set down some permanent roots in Final Fantasy XIV, and I am starting to try and reach out into the community.  This game has had me adding people to my friends list in the first time in literally years that I did not already know going into the game.  It reminds me of the early days of wow, when we still cared about our fellow players and were happy to collaborate and coordinate on bigger things.  One of the biggest gaps I am finding is there don’t seem to be any big public Linkshells for folks to communicate and cordinate with.  I am kicking around the notion of starting one of these.  There is so much content we have yet to see, and FFXIV is one of the only games in the last bit that all of us seem to be able to agree upon.  Here is hoping that I won’t be writing another post in a months time on how the game just isn’t doing it for me any longer.  Right now the game feels very much like home, and I look forward to logging into it each day.

#Blaugust #FFXIV

Sixteen Years

Blaugust Begins

At this point the first few blaugust posts are starting to trickle into the nook and I am super pumped that this apparently is going to be a “real” thing.  I have to admit at this point that the inspiration here is from my wife.  During the month of May she decided to try and follow my posting every day tradition, and in the process she gathered up a bunch of math bloggers that also wanted to try it.  While not everyone succeeded in posting something every day, including my wife… it did stir up a lot of new and interesting content in their blogosphere.  Since August is such a dead time normally, my hope was that an event like this would get people moving again and a bunch of interesting stuff would flow as a result.

I had hoped that maybe I would get a couple daring bloggers to take up the challenge, but instead this seems to have developed a life of its own and right now we have over 25 bloggers committing to the daily routine.  If nothing else this is going to be another awesome opportunity for networking and community building.  Some of the best friendships are forged in the fires of shared struggle.  Since the process has begun I now have to device the best possible way to track progress.  Right now I am thinking a google doc spreadsheet, that way I can share out the link to the bloggers.  If I happen to miss giving credit for a post they can correct me, because they can actually look at my tracking mechanism.  I want to thank everyone so far for also posting their posts on the nooks blog.  This is going to make the entire process significantly easier for me.

Sixteen Years

kenzi_conkedout August first has way more significance for me than just the beginning of Blaugust.  Sixteen years ago today my wife and I were married.  If you want to check out the tales of us getting married at the house of vacuums you can see that here, as I talked about it during my factoid february initiative.  There is not a day that goes by that I don’t realize how lucky I am, in that I have found someone compatible with me.  Together we live a pretty damned charmed life if I do say so myself.  As many folks commented during the math conference, we really do make an awesome team and both of us seem to be capable of focusing on the task at hand without getting bogged down in the minutia of it.  We often bicker as we work through problems, but I cannot remember the last time we had an actual “fight” which I guess says a lot for the success of our marriage.

There is also not a morning that goes by where we do not say “I love you” more than a few times.  Granted a good chunk of the time it is simply our single line of text that says “loves”, but inside of that simple word encompasses so much.  Another hallmark of our relationship is that we support each other in pretty much any endeavor.  She is completely supportive of my blogging and podcasting and gaming and streaming… and while she has spent more time than she can probably recall waiting on me to finish something up.  She also totally gets why my guild and my community are so important to me.  She has her own completely separate community, and since I get the importance too, that is why I took time off from work to help with the math conference she organized.  At the end of the day we “get” each other, and that is more than you could ask for in a relationship.  I am truly lucky.  I included a picture of Kenzi conked out on my wife’s lap yesterday because really… is there a reason not to?  My god this kitten is adorable.

Want to Try FFXIV?

ffxiv_07202014_201342 Over the last couple of days there have been a few really cool developments in Final Fantasy XIV.  First off they just announced yesterday that you can now get a free 14 day trial of the game.  If you’ve always wondered what it is like to play, but did not want to plunk down the money to do so…  now is your chance.  I know my friend Calamity Jess had been kicking around the notion of playing and lamented the other day that there was no way to try it out without coughing up the full price.  Now folks have an excellent way to do just that.  Granted there are some severe restrictions on what you can and cannot do.  You can’t join a guild, or pretty much use any of the social communication channels.  I do believe you can join a linkshell however, which I am guessing is precisely what we would do for the various folks trying out the game so that they can have some means of communication.

For those wondered I am located on the Cactuar server, which is one of the most highly populated servers in the game on the Aether Data Center.  For World of Warcraft players, the data center is like the Battlegroup in that when you do the duty finder it pulls from players in that grouping of servers.  If you are a member of the Alliance of Awesome community, a former House Stalwart member, or just a reader of this blog I would be more than happy to have you hanging out on Cactuar.  One thing of note, sometimes Square decides to bar new character creation on Cactuar, so it is best to try and create your characters in the morning or during the day.  During primetime most of the high population servers reach a locked down state.

Lets Be Friends!

In addition to offering free trials of the game, they have now opened up a recruit a friend program.  You are seeing this right, that is in fact a two seater Chocobo… and I want one really badly.  If you end up liking the game and sticking around I would love it if I could recruit you.  The system works similar to most of the other recruit a friend programs and you can read the full details here.  After 30 days of paid subscription both the recruiter and the recruit get a nifty item that increases all experience gain by 20% below the level of 25.  This is kinda huge in that a lot of the rough spots leveling wise happen before 25 when you don’t really have all the bells and whistles for your class.  For example Gladiator is a bit of a slog until level 26 when you pick up the 3rd step in your primary combo Rage of Halone.  Anything to help speed that process up is a massive boon.  Additionally it also increases your craft experience, which in itself is a slog to level.

After 90 days of paid subscription the recruiter gets the spiffy two seater Chocobo mount.  The person being recruited of course gets the normal “veteran” benefits from a paid subscription which in themselves are pretty cool.  As you can see here for 90 days subscription you get 3 pets, a swimsuit, a appearance change potion, and a flying eyeball mount.  They have one of the better veteran rewards programs, because really at each step there is something really cool there.  Right now I have gotten the 180 day step which gives me an awesome pet that summons a warrior of light from final fantasy 1.  I tend to cycle it until I get the black mage, because the FF1 black mage is adorable.  Anyways if you try out the game and want to stick around I would appreciate being given the opportunity to make you a recruit!

Writing Prompts

The first posts are rolling in and folks seem to have plenty of inspiration behind them.  That said I plan on still posting a series of daily prompts to help out those folks who need a little bit of inspiration.

  • What is your proudest gaming accomplishment?  What think took you the longest to complete or required the most skill.  What thing makes you the happiest that you have accomplished.
  • What is your favorite game biome?  Games often have the same kinds of generic climates spread through the zones and levels.  What is your favorite type of climate and why?
  • What is your favorite grouping experience?  Even the most staunch solo artist eventually groups up, what is the best thing that has happened while grouped with other players?

Amazing Community

Computer Meltdown

All that I really wanted to do when I got home was to log into my computer and play some Final Fantasy XIV.  Unfortunately my computer seemed to conspire against me.  Everything seemed happy when I first got home and I had just queued for duty roulette and begun working on a FATE when something odd happened.  The screen froze and turned black, and then moments later I was rebooting.  Now I am notorious for ignoring windows updates, and I know in Windows 8 there will reach a point where it simply will not let you ignore them.  Sure enough upon reboot it was installing new software, so I thought that maybe all that had happened is that I reached that threshold.

So I went ahead and booted up my machine and logged into windows.  Everything seemed just fine, nothing really seemed out of the ordinary until I booted into Final Fantasy XIV again and then boom… the same thing.  I thought for a bit that maybe it was my video card driver update that I applied last night, so upon rebooting I proceeded to roll back that driver.  Upon booting into the game again…  this time a brown screen then a black screen and then everything powers off.  The thing is that the video card never actually felt hot when I reached back and felt the air vent on it.  My initial thought was that the video card was just toast, which is disturbing because it was only a few months old.

As a test I swapped out to an older card and sure enough the machine booted right up.  Unfortunately however upon firing up a game I was back at the black screen cycle.  It was then that I noticed something.  I took the side panel off my case and watched it boot up, and the fan on the processor heatsink was not moving at all.  So I am guessing at some point it died, and potentially for awhile it was working intermittently.  Processor overheating would in theory cause all of the things that I was experiencing.  Here is hoping that there has been no permanent damage to it.  A heatsink/fan combo is a relatively cheap thing to replace, so I ordered a new potentially better one from Amazon and it should be here Friday.  Until then I guess I will be gaming on the laptop exclusively.

Meet Kenzi

kenziandshilohkenzi_alone Now other than my computer having a meltdown and throwing me into stress mode, there was some awesome that managed to happen yesterday.  We added a new child to our family, and unfortunately she moves so damned fast that this is the only picture I have managed to snap since bringing her home.  Thankfully the folks we got her from gave us a far better picture of her.  However as you can see she apparently loves the ferrets.  She has kept returning to the playpen to play with them through the bars.  They seem completely enthralled by her as well, and moments after snapping this albeit blurry photo of her and Shiloh she also woke up Bellatrix and they were both following her every move.  Being a kitten however she is rarely in one place for too terribly long.

We thought for a bit about a name and tried multiple characters from Harry Potter as well as Firefly, before finally settling on Kenzi.  She seems far more like that character than any other so far.  She is fearless and kenzishoulderdaring, and a little bit shifty at times.  Not to mention the whole dark hair thing works well also.  Kenzi was my favorite character from Lost Girl and really the only reason why I enjoyed that show for as long as I did.  So I feel like the name is fitting.  Right now she is batting my fingers as I type this and trying to hop up on the keyboard.  While I think it is absolutely adorable… I need to finish this post up so I can get on to work.  Here is hoping the ferrets wake up and steal back her attention.

So after writing my blog post she decided to crawl up on my shoulder.  I am officially in love, not that I wasn’t already.  I have always wanted a shoulder cat to hang out with me while I game.  Now she is curled up under the lapboard that my laptop is on grooming herself, but she spent a good long while on my shoulder.  This is totally going to work out… we just have to somehow figure out a way to stop the nibbling.  She seems to like to attack my beard and bite it right now.  Which is adorable, but will eventually get to be frustrating and potentially painful.

Amazing Community

ffxiv_07202014_212651 For the last week or so I have been spending most of my evenings playing Final Fantasy XIV on the Cactuar server.  I have to say I am starting to fall in love with the sense of community there, and on the entire Aether data center as well.  Thanks to my time in wow and just how toxic that environment can be… I have been extremely gunshy about branching out and playing with people I did not already know.  I’ve always been willing to group with my guild and their friends, but I had zero interest in poking my head out into the larger world.  Quite frankly when I had done this in the past, I dealt with so much abuse as a tank that I had no interest in ever attempting it again.  The problem is this negative attitude towards pugging carried forward into every game from that point on.  The moment someone wanted to do something, and we did not have the requisite number of people I would immediately remove myself from the equation.  This means I’ve spent an awful lot of time sitting around in games waiting for the magical number of people to log in so we could go do something fun.

Coming back to Final Fantasy XIV however I did so without much of my support structure.  For most of this past week I have been the only person online at night in my guild, and as a result I finally decided to brave the Duty Roulette.  This essentially is a random dungeon system that picks from any dungeon available to you.  The awesome thing however is that for leveling, you gain experience as though the mobs were your level not the level you have been scaled down to.  I went into this with the plan to attempt to be more social, so I started talking to the group the moment the instances started.  Funny thing is…. other people talked back, and in very positive ways.  Instead of running the dungeon in silence we started to banter back and forth much like grouping used to feel like during my Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot days.

So what caused this magical environment to appear in the face of so many games with toxic grouping environments?  I honestly think it is two fold.  Firstly at this point the only people who are playing Final Fantasy XIV are the players who are in it for the long haul, the players who are devoted too the franchise and willing to weather whatever storms might arise.  There is a sense of general camaraderie that I have not seen in many games, and I think it comes from a shared struggle.  I expected the servers to feel dead with the initial drop off of players after launch, but in reality while there are fewer overall players, they are just more focused in specific areas.  While you cannot go to any zone and run FATEs, the zones where you can… are extremely active.

The other part I think is a weird little system that Squaresoft put into the game.  Similar to league of legends, at the end of each dungeon or guildhest you can “commend” a player for their actions.  You only get one single commendation per dungeon run, so it forces you to think long and hard about who best deserved it.  Now there are some pretty significant rewards for having racked up a large number of these.  This I think causes players to want to seem friendly, and through the course of pretending to be… they end up actually being cordial.  I expected that the commendations would be almost exclusively reserved for the tanks and the healers, but it turns out that apparently I have made some appreciated contributions as well.  At this point I am sitting around 25 commendations, and there is rarely a duty or hest that I don’t walk out with at least one.  So apparently my banter, combined with the fact that I try my damnedest to interrupt everything as a DPS…  is appreciated and matters.

cactuarfashionshow I feel like Final Fantasy XIV is this strange time capsule where players have returned to the kinds of values that I used to appreciate so much while playing the games that existed before World of Warcraft.  While I have not poked my head out into the raid community yet, I find it really impressive that I am playing on a server that has actual community events.  This game feels like a crazy throwback… and I am loving it so far.  It seems like somehow we managed to actually pick the right server to be playing on all those months ago when we picked the server name simply out of our love of the cactuar.  The server even keeps track of the spawn times of hunt mobs, keeping a google doc to record when one last spawned and was killed.  Granted the other day when I looked it had gotten a bit out of date, but just the fact that the server cares enough to create something like that is pretty awesome.  I think the next thing for me is to try and find some social linkshells and meld into the broader community more.

Writing Prompts

Tomorrow is the official beginning of the Blaugust initiative, and as promised I will not leave you hanging.  I will be posting a series of writing prompts each day to help turn the wheels and get your creative juices flowing.  Please note of course that you do not have to write about any of the prompts I post.  I am just trying to provide inspiration if it happens to be lacking.

  • What was the first game that made you “feel” something.  I am talking about the first game that invoked a real human emotional response be it fear, love, outrage…  we’ve all had it happen and I am curious about your first time.
  • What is your favorite boss encounter in any game and why.  What makes that encounter stand out in your mind and what can be learned from it.
  • If you were an NPC in a video game, what type of NPC would you be.

Gospel of Blaugust

What is Blaugust?

With the beginning of August rapidly approaching, I thought it would be a good time to do another general rundown post for the Blaugust Initiative.  The idea is really simple, and honestly was inspired by my wife doing something similar in the math blogging community.  This all springs out of something I decided to do 442 days ago that I called the Grand Experiment, where I got up every morning and made a post… even if I didn’t really want to.  Through doing this I have learned a lot of things about myself, and as a result the community as a whole has learned a lot about me.  I feel like at this point I have almost transcended writer block, in that I can sit down at the keyboard and start a stream of conscious flowing and at the same time make it somewhat relative to the purpose of my blog.

Thanks to cramming together of blog and august, Blaugust was born, and the idea is to take the challenge during the month of August to write a new post every day.  More than anything this is about pushing you out of your comfort area and into undiscovered territory.  When you have to produce posts without being able to rely heavily on multiple days of pre-writing it can be a scary thing.  What happened for me is that I also began to allow more of my personal life to slip into my posts.  As a reader, I am far more interesting in the people behind the screen than what they might happen to say.  I’ve never been a big fan of building myself a personal echo chamber filled with only people who think like I do.  As a result I am interested in whatever my friends and fellow bloggers have to say, and I think free writing like this really brings that point home.

The Topic

One of the questions to come out of the whole contorted process of this initiative being born, was if we had to write on a specific topic.  Ultimately you can write about anything that happens to suit you on a given day.  You can diverge from gaming in any fashion if you like, and your blog doesn’t even have to be gaming related in the first place.  Liore gave a really excellent example early on of writing a gaming related Foodie blog, and this would be an amazing thing and should totally happen.  The purpose is to get used to writing on a schedule and not so much dictating what you happen to be writing about.  Inspiration can be an extremely fickle thing, and if you want for it there end up being some massive lapses in your posts.  The plan here is to make you realize that you don’t really need the muse to crank out interesting posts.  If you allow yourself to do it, your personality will inhabit the writing and inspiration will find you mid paragraph.

The Guidelines

Since I also decided to make this a proper contest and give away some prizes among those who manage to finish I realized that I really needed some basic guidelines.  I am not trying to bog this initiative down in rules, but at the same time the only way to have a fair ending is to make sure that everyone has followed some really basic guidelines.

  1. Write A New Blog Post of no less than 10 sentences in length.  This is essentially two large paragraphs, and feels about right for the minimum size.
  2. Include a link back to the Blaugust Initiative Page.  My hope is as this starts others will join in the challenge and play catch up.
  3. Advertise the post on the Blaugust Blog.  You will be given “blogger” level permissions to do this.  More than anything this simply serves as a central repository for all of the awesome posts.  Some folks have mentioned that they want to write some deeply personal journal style posts on occasion, and with these just make sure I have access so I can credit you.
  4. If you advertise the post on Twitter, please include #Blaugust hashtag.  Again trying to help spread the word and get folks to join midmonth.
  5. Over the course of the month, repeat this process 31 times.
  6. ????
  7. Profit!

The Rewards

I will be keeping track of who has posted a post each day during the course of August.  On September 1st I will be holding a drawing for several prize packages.  I hope you like games, and want to acquire more of them… because that is what is going to happen here.  As someone put it.. write awesome stuff and get games!  Over the course of a few years of the various bundle series, I have accumulated a bunch of duplicate game download keys.  I can think of no better way to give away some of these than to reward the hard work of participating in this grueling challenge.

  • Grand Prize!

    I hope you follow me on Steam, because I will be picking a game off of your Steam Wishlist and purchasing it for you.  In addition to this I wil be letting you pick a game from my Humble Bundle surplus list as well.  For this prize specifically I will be looking for someone who has actually posted a post on each day individually, rather than someone who has posted 31 posts in the month, but not necessarily one a day.  This prize should represent the truest form of the challenge.

  • Three Also-Awesomes

    Additionally I will be picking three individuals at random from the total pool of contestants to win the “Also-Awesome” award.  To qualify for this you have to have started your posting on August 1st, and have written a total of 31 posts over the course of the month.  I will have each of these folks in order drawn pick two games a piece from my Humble Bundle surplus list.  I am varying the requirements here a bit to allow someone to have missed a day here or there but still have posted “catch-up” posts to be in the running for something.

  • The Catch-Up Artist

    – Anyone who joins the initiative late is going to be in the running for this prize.  To quality you have to have joined after August 1st, but managed to catch up and still write a total of 31 posts in the month of August.  You can procrastinate however long you like, but I am expecting 31 well formed posts to get this one.  After the above prizes have been picked from my Humble Bundle surplus list, the winner of this prize gets the chance to name one of the games for themselves.  I promise the surplus list is more than big enough to support a wide variety of choices from all of the winners.

  • All Participants

    I will be crafting some sidebar badges and banners that can be affixed to your website showing that you won the Blaugust challenge.  Additionally you will be able to bask in the warm afterglow of knowing you accomplished something really awesome.  Depending on the number of participants I reserve the right to make up a bunch of other awards along the way.

The Sign-Up

I have honestly been staggered by the amount of interest I have received since concocting this loosely strewn together plan in the first place.  For ease of maintenance I am asking that all participants sign up on the Blaugust nook.  All you have to do is go there and click the join button, and of course have an Anook account…  but everyone should at this point because it is an awesome site.  Right now we have several members ready to go, but I am hoping this last push for people will help get us a few more.  I really appreciate each and every one of the people who have shown interest in participating in the challenge.  Through the course of the month I will be posting some prompts on a daily basis that you can use if you like to help you out with coming up with something to post about.  The goal right now is to give you two to three a day at the bottom of my own blog posts for the month.  I know I risk forgetting someone in the process, but here is the list of the folks that I know have mentioned interest in the process.

There is still plenty of time to add your name to the big long list of folks who have already mentioned they are interested in the process.  Even if we get no more people, this is more than enough to make sure we have an awesome month.  I thank you all for following me down this path to madness, and I hope we make it out the other side unscathed.


Fear of the Tonberry

Unexpected Enjoyment

ffxiv_07202014_212651 This weekend was an odd one, in that I had to devote pretty much all of Sunday to helping set up for the upcoming conference.  Since we recorded so late Saturday night, that meant that pretty much as soon as we finished with the podcast I crashed hard.  Normally I stay up that night and edit away on the podcast getting it posted round or about midnight generally speaking.  What this meant in practice is that my entire day was pushed by by a number of hours yesterday.  So by the time I had finished with that, played my SteamPowered Sunday title and knocked out yesterday mornings blog post… it was 11 pm.

At this point I struggled to find anything to settle into, in part because playing Frog Fractions was such a weird experience.  Before long my wife and I decided to go run some errands and get lunch.  By the time we made it back from that my day had pretty much dissipated.  When it came time to finally play something I settled into Final Fantasy XIV and quested my way through the daily hunt.  After finishing that I opted to work on my gladiator a bit, which meant trying to remember where the hell the optimal area for level 27 was.  It turns out that FATE running isn’t quite like it used to be.

Previously you would jump the gun 25-30 and go straight to Costa Del Sol.  The problem with this is that you no longer have the huge wandering mass of players needed to make an army of under level characters work in a zone.  As a side effect however FATEs have become far more enjoyable in that running across a zone to get to one is no longer an act of futility.  They are no longer up for a matter of seconds but instead feel like real epic battles with big monsters.  So for me at least this makes it a far more enjoyable prospect for leveling, in that I feel like I actually have to work to get my experience.  The single best addition to FFXIV though is the ability to have your Chocobo out to get it experience, and then turn around and mount it again when you are finished.  This instantly improved the enjoyment of the game for me ten fold by no longer having to make the choice of leveling my Chocobo, or moving at a snails pace.

Fear of the Tonberry

ffxiv_07202014_203225 Something interesting happened while I was sitting there playing Final Fantasy XIV.  One by one various friends opted to download the game or at the very least patch it back up, given that it was a free weekend.  Before we knew it we had the beginnings of a group.  Tam first started the idea of running a dungeon, and after I had fixed some dinner for my wife and I that is precisely what we did.  Sadly at this point Warenwolf had to leave because he gets up at a truly insane hour in the morning, this coming from someone who gets up every morning at 5:30 am.  We decided to roll the dice and pug in a fourth player to run Wanderers Palace.  This served two purposes, firstly Ashgar needed it for a grand company hunt log and secondly this is one of the easier max level dungeons.  We figured it was a good way to break us back into the game.

ffxiv_07202014_201342 Surprisingly it went really smoothly, with only one wipe happening… and that was in the not terribly surprising “rush to climb the tower” phase.  We had two things happening at the same time that proceeded to make it a difficult thing.  The first thing was the fact that for whatever reason myself and Tam were having some massive lag spikes, that even went so far as to cause him… our healer… to disconnect a few times.  Secondly I really did not remember how to bard.  The muscle reflexes came back instantly for playing a Warrior, since I spent most of my time in this game tanking, but Bard was a relatively new thing and while I had completed up through Hard Mode Ifrit as a bard…  it took me a bit to remember what exactly I should be rotating through attack wise.

During the course of this run is when we started to remember just how enjoyable the dungeon content is in FFXIV.  Of all of the games I have played over the last few years, I think I have enjoyed these dungeons the most.  They seem to be the absolute perfect blend of challenge and reward and are beautifully done.  I am sure we will remember why we all faded away from this game, but at the moment all we are able to do is remember just how much fun we had.  Ultimately where things will either click or fall apart is if we can manage to find enough things to do to level our alternate jobs.  That is the point at which I started to lose interest.  I leveled one job through questing, and the second job through FATE grinding… and at that point I felt like I had exhausted all of the ways to level in that game.

The thing is Square has been quietly plugging away on this game in the year we have been gone, and as a result there is a ton of new content.  I just hope I can find some mix of it that makes the leveling process enjoyable.  There seem to be a ton of quality of life changes, like being able to repair gear to past 100% durability without actually switching to the profession needed to repair it.  Also while you are out harvesting nodes you can get treasure maps, which open up a new minigame of trying to find the treasure.  They seem to have finally added in some Gold Fountains to counteract the Gold Sinks.  The daily hunts for example will earn you a grand total of 7,000 gil pending you do not spend too much of it teleporting across the world in search of the next mobs.  In any case there seems to be a way to finally earn some money, instead of constantly being broke.  I have a feeling I will be mostly leveling through dungeons, as the overall community of the game seems to have been massively improved.

Blaugust Update

Over the last few days I have received quite a bit of interest in this whole Blaugust thing.  However along with this has been quite a bit of confusion over what exactly I mean by a new post a day.  Since this is coming from the gaming blogosphere, many folks are assuming that I mean it has to be a gaming post.  Additionally there has been some discussion in exactly I consider a post.  Wilhelm for example keeps a photo blog updated, and he wondered if this classified as a daily post for the purpose of the contest.  Now if you wrote a couple of paragraphs about the image, then totally this is a post…  if it is simply a bunch of pictures, then no sadly I have to say it doesn’t qualify.  I figured I would post some ground rules today.  I will be expanding on these further on the Blaugust Anook since that is the official headquarters for this initiative.

The Topic

Since this is the biggest point of questions, I figured I would get it out of the way.  You can write about anything you want to write about.  You can diverge from gaming in any fashion you like, and your blog doesn’t even have to be gaming related.  Liore for example was talking about making a gaming foodie blog, and that would totally count for the purpose of this event.  The idea is to get you used to writing on a schedule, and not so much dictating what you are writing about.  Inspiration can be an extremely fickle thing, and if you want for it…  there end up being massive lapses in your posts.  The idea here is make you realize that you don’t need the muse to crank out interesting posts.  If you allow yourself to, your personality with inhabit the writing and inspiration will find you mid paragraph.

The Guidelines

  1. Write a New Blog Post no less than 10 sentences in length.
  2. Include a link back to the Blaugust Initiative page
  3. Advertise the post on the Blaugust blog – you will be given permissions to do this
  4. If you Advertise the post via twitter, please include #Blaugust hashtag
  5. Over the course of the month, repeat this 31 times.
  6. ????
  7. Profit!

The Rewards

I will be keeping track of who has posted a post each day during the course of August.  On September 1st I will be holding a drawing for several prize packages.  Firstly I hope you like games… and want to acquire more of them, because basically that is what is going to happen here.  Over the course of a few years of the Humble Bundle series, I have accumulated a bunch of duplicate keys.  I can think of no better way to give away some of these, than to reward the hard work of participating in a challenge such as this.

– Grand Prize

I hope you follow me on Steam, because I will be picking a game off your Steam Wishlist and purchasing it for you.  In addition to this I will be letting you pick a game from my Humble Bundle surplus list as well.  For this prize specifically I will be looking for someone who has actually posted a post each individual day, rather than someone who has posted 31 posts in the month.  This prize should represent the truest form of the challenge.

– Three Also-Awesomes

Additionally I will be picking three individuals at random from the total pool of contestants to win the “Also-Awesome” award.  To quality for this you have to have started your posting on August 1st, and written a total of 31 posts over the course of the month.  I will be having these folks in order drawn pick 2 games a piece from my Humble Bundle surplus list.  I am varying the requirements here a bit, to allow someone to have missed a day here or there but posted a catch-up post to still be in the running for something.

– The Catch-Up Artist

Anyone who joins the initiative late, is going to be in the running for this one.  To quality you have to have joined after August 1st, but managed to catch up and still write a total of 31 posts in the month.  You an procrastinate however long you like, but I am expecting 31 well formed posts to get this one.  After the above prizes have been picked from my Humble Bundle surplus list, the winner of this prize gets to nab one of the games for themselves as well.  I promise the surplus list is big enough to support all of these people… and still allow them quite a bit of variety in the choices.

– All Participants

I will be crafting some sidebar badges and banners that can be affixed to your website showing the world that you won the Blaugust challenge.  Additionally you will be able to bask in the warm afterglow of knowing you accomplished something awesome.  Depending on the number of participants I reserve the right to make up a bunch of other awards along the way.

The Sign-up

While there has been quite a bit of interest, only a handful of you have actually joined the Blaugust nook.  For ease of maintenance on my part, I would really appreciate it if you all went out there and clicked the Join button.  This and the whole advertising on the nooks blog thing is going to help me account for all of the posts, and also turn around and advertise them myself easier.  I am trying to make this work but at the same time not make August a hellacious month for me.  I appreciate the desire to participate, and I appreciate everything you are doing to make my life easier as well.  As I said before I will be posting some prompts before the start of the initiative.  Right now I am shooting for 60, but that number might change.  I look forward to reading all of your entries during the month!

Hitbox is Beta

Changing Religion


I honestly do not remember when I first signed up for but it has been some time ago.  I have this habit of signing up for everything that comes out if for not other reason than to reserve the name “Belghast” on any given network.  I have belghast at for example but will likely never use that email for anything considering I am joined to the hip with google products.  In all honesty it was not until this week that I even considered using Hitbox for anything…  until oftentimes tastemaker Scopique mentioned in a post that he was planning on using it for his website in part because he was actually able to get the name Levelcapped.

So being a sometimes devoted member of the internet Zeitgeist I gave it another look.  It turns out that Hitbox has the single “killer feature” that I had been longing for from Twitch.  As part of the default interface you are able to organize into “teams”, which is a functionality locked away on twitch until you become a partner.  There is no way in hell I will ever have enough viewers to reach partner status on any network, let alone twitch.  That said I still wanted to be able to create a shared channel for all of the Alliance of Awesome streamers so that we could give that out as sort of a television channel to anyone who was curious what all was going on in a given evening.

The other “killer feature” is the ability to have a configurable delay.  By default everything on twitch is delayed by at least 30 seconds.  In practice if you are doing HD streaming… this delay tends to be considerably more.  Ultimately this delay was factored in for the purpose of competitive match play, but since I don’t really compete doing anything… it just becomes a pain in the ass to deal with when trying to respond to folks in chat.  I’m a carebear and so rarely doing anything where prior knowledge of what I am doing… would actually matter at all.  So while the stream is not actually instant either it is far more manageable, and probably something similar to the conditions that our oceanic gamer friends have to deal with on US servers.

Hitbox is Beta

hitbox-icon-green The problem with the switch to Hitbox is that Twitch has become so damned ubiquitous that it works with almost everything simply by default.  So while the livestreaming and video playback functionality work amazingly well, little things that I have come to just expect don’t function at all.  For example after playing with it, I can seem to find no way that actually embeds a video from hitbox into my blog, nor does the documented embed a stream seem to work either.  This would not be a huge deal since I try not to embed twitch either… but for the time being both their download your stream and export to youtube functionality also seems to be broken.  They mentioned a few days ago on the @hitboxliveHelp twitter account that they should have a fix tomorrow… but at this point that tomorrow was two days ago.

In a day and age when “Beta” has come to mean a highly polished public preview… it is both refreshing and frustrating at the same time to see that Hitbox in fact really uses beta in the appropriate sense of the word.  However none of us is really enough to scare me away from the service.  For starters it seems like there might be a better integration point between my favorite little social network that could Anook and Hitbox in the near future.  Also there are just so many things that are nicer for the streamer.  Built in polls, and contests and the whole popout dashboard is extremely all nice.  There are so many times that you have a few technical hurdles when you start up your stream, and having twitch spam your friends each time you start and stop OBS gets old.  Having a panel that automates the message for you when you are good and ready is awesome.  Additionally it seems to actually remember my channel title and the game I am playing, unlike with twitch when I seem to have to rename things half a dozen times each time I switch games.

The Results

All of this doesn’t really matter unless the results are nice.  I’ve streamed for roughly five hours now and a combination of three different games.  So far I think the end product has been excellent.  There was a little bit of tweaking in my OBS settings, but I think all of that is working nicely.   If you are curious check out some of the broadcasts below…  since you know I can’t export them to youtube or embed them directly yet.

I think overall the stream looks really good, or at least good enough to keep me using the service given all the other advantages.  The biggest thing for me is the ability to have the Alliance of Awesome team.  So if you are using Hitbox or want to use Hitbox and already a member of the Alliance of Awesome community…  let me know and I will throw you an invite to the team.

Blaugust Update

I am still very much working on a mega prompts post, that I will likely make a little closer to the event.  So far I have had a bit of interest in the proceedings and this makes me happy.  My goal is to have sixty or more prompts that folks can pick from when in need of a topic.  In part this is going to give me something to fall back on as well when I am having one of those blah mornings where I can’t think of anything to write.  One thing that I wanted to make sure folks knew about is the Blaugust Anook community.  If you are going to participate please pop out there and join the nook, as I am going to give folks elevated access to advertise their new posts out there.

The truth behind this initiative is a simple one.  Newbie Blogger Initiative is like this shot of adrenaline in the arm of the blogging community.  While it is going on everything is active and vibrant and regularly updated.  That said a few months after the proceedings… folks start to wane a bit.  My idea was to have Blaugust a few months after the initiative as a way of maybe kicking up the volume again.  For some of the folks who have responded thusfar, this seems to be doing exactly that.  At this point however I have no clue just how many people will be participating, but I am hopeful.

#HitBox #Blaugust

Blaugust is Coming

A New Challenger Awaits

A bit over a year ago I embarked on what I called the “grand experiment” and idea to force myself to blog something new each and every day.  Since then I’ve awoken each morning, and gone through the process of writing a brand new post.  At this point I have over four hundred thirty of these posts and I don’t intend to stop the momentum any time soon.  There are so many days when doing this is a struggle, but I feel like I am committed to something larger than myself.  There are many days the fact that I have gone so long without breaking the chain is the only thing that gives me the drive to finish a post.  Even when I feel like I have no inspiration at all, the act of sitting down and working through my ritual seems to cause a post to materialize in front of me.

This past month my wife decided to take on the challenge of posting something every day and she has gone through some of the same struggles I did starting out.  There are so many days I felt like I didn’t really have anything worth posting, or that anyone would be interested in reading.  It turns out that oddly enough I have this group of readers that are interested in me, and not so much what I happen to be reading about.  But watching her go through this struggle gave me an idea.  The Newbie Blogger initiative has been amazing and produces some great writers, and gives us a month to focus on promoting this new talent.  What I am suggesting is that we follow this initiative up with a challenge of sorts, our own version of NaNoWriMo in a way.

The idea is rather simple.  During the month of August I challenge you my blogging peers to take up the mantle of daily posts.  To win the contest, you must post one new entry each day.  Now personally I tend to view staged posts that are written in batch as cheating, to make things easier on the varied schedules this is totally fair game.  There are several of you out there that already post regularly… and that is awesome.  I totally hope each and every one of you will enter into the challenge, but what I am hoping even more is to spur the folks who post maybe once a week into producing content more regularly.  The media has said that blogging is dead… and I want us to prove to the world that it is very much alive and breathing.  Additionally my intent is to try and advertise as many of the daily bloggers as I can through my own blog and social media outlets.

Bonus Round

The act of blogging every day is a truly awesome thing…  but I want more from you.  More or less I am targeting the gaming blogosphere with this concept.  We are all very comfortable writing a post about this game or that, and generally not so comfortable writing about ourselves.  One of the big things that came out of my “Grand Experiment” has been a willingness to share my life with you all.  Trust me it was not the easiest thing to do, but as a bonus I challenge you all to try and do the same.  I am talking baby steps here and not expecting folks to do anything like my “Factoid February” right away.  While I appreciate good gaming content, ultimately I care about the person behind the screen and not the persona you develop.

As an additional effort I challenge you all to start being more personal.  If something happens of note in your life, even if it is not gaming related… share it in blog post form.  This really serves two purposes.  Firstly you are letting your readers behind the scenes into your life, and showing that you have the same struggles everyone has.  Secondly writing from your own life is a good way to solve the whole writers block issue that will hit you around the second week.  Each of us leads a far more interesting life than we think, but I admit I was scared to share too much of myself.  I thought I would see everyone that was reading my blog run screaming into the night.  Turns out that apparently folks actually liked it, and I have noticed a slow and steady increase in my readership since I started trying to share more of myself in each days post.

A Little Help Along the Way

While August is still a few weeks out, I wanted to get the word out so folks could “psyche” themselves up for this.  I will not however be throwing you all to the wolves and expecting you to complete this journey alone.  Right now I am working on all sorts of “fodder” to help you spur your creative juices.  My intent is to have a huge post or two of blog prompts so that when you are struggling to find something you want to write about… you can cherry pick one of those and create brilliance.  Additionally while I am already doing this…  we will be in essence embarking on this mission together.  As a community we will help each other stay true to the mission.

One of the most awesome things about NaNoWriMo was the support I got from the other members of the twitter blogger community.  I would have never reached the goal if not for the support of awesome people like MMOGC and BlueKae just to name a couple.  So while I am already doing this and have done it for a year now…  we are still in this together.  When you resolve to writing each and every day… there is a point at which it just magically becomes easier.  I feel like at this point I could sit down and knock out a few paragraphs on almost any subject if needed…  and that is a pretty awesome thing.  I’ve found this also help me in the working world, as I am never afraid to tackle a project charter or writing a large block of copy.  If you endeavor to join this adventure, I promise there will be a hand to hold in the process.

The Prizes

I am still working on the details here, but I want there to be something cool from participating.  At the very least you will have earned the right to post an “I Survived Blaugust 2014” trophy on your blog sidebar, but I want there to be something more as well.  My plan is to enter everyone that participates in a drawing for something larger.  I just have not determined what exactly that “larger” is and some of that will be determined by just how many people participate.  Ultimately I will come up with something cool, and will be keeping folks updated as we get closer to the August 1st start date.  My hope is that I am giving more than enough warning to let folks prepare for the challenge.


I threw together a quick Anook community for the Blaugust event because I figured it would be the easiest way to coordinate things.  Please pop over and join the nook!