Satisfaction of the Year

The Birth of a Community

I think this year more than any other we say what was previously an island of disconnected city states merge into a real community.  Last January I posted a rather grumpy piece lamenting the lack of community, and throughout the year you all have strived to prove me wrong.  I am not sure what exactly it was about this year in particular that seemed to draw everyone together, in part I think it was because this year was the year of multiple events, that I hope will repeat themselves this coming year.  Since we have reached the end of a pretty epic year of community, I thought it was a good time to reflect back upon what we have achieved.  There were individuals who say that blogging is dead, but I think wholeheartedly we have proved them wrong.

February – Birth of Alliance of Awesome

While not really an event in the truest sense, it was still a pretty significant event in the year for me.  In February of this year some events happened that ended up in the forming of a much larger gaming community to be known as the Alliance of Awesome.  With the launch of the Landmark alpha… we quickly realized that each of us needed to be in as many as seven different “guild” based server channels to be able to keep in contact with everyone playing the game… especially since friends lists simply did not exist at that point.  It was proposed that we found a much larger community made up of all of different parts.  This alliance of guilds would pool resources and eventually even a chat server.  While at the end of the year I realize that maybe some of the ideas didn’t work as well as we had hoped…  there are still more of us in almost daily contact than there are not.

The idea that there would always be a friendly Alliance of Awesome guild in whatever game we happened to be playing was something that has for the most part stayed true to the original intent.  The only part that didn’t quite work was trying to create an actual Alliance of Awesome branded guild in Wildstar.  I feel it is still best if we stay separate guilds, just ones collaborating in a larger sense.  The biggest change in this direction was moving to using the same Teamspeak server graciously hosted for us by the ever amazing Saia.  Some things have worked well, others not so much…. and other groups have faded away from the core.  At the end of the day I think this was a really positive move for the community as a whole, and anyone that wants to participate is still more than welcome.

May – Newbie Blogger Initiative 2014

This may we saw a return of the seminal blogging event that at least to some extent started all of the momentum.  Several years ago Sypster started this contest and last year I believe was the third year.  Essentially it is a month for the elder bloggers in our community to encourage folks to start their own new blog and join our community proper.  For this year the catalyst was Doone as has been for a coupe of years, but he was joined by an excellent cast of helpers in the forms of Izlain, J3w3l, ModeratePeril, and Joseph Skyrim.  It was a bit hard for me to find numbers this morning when I was pulling together this post but based on my best guestimates and this list, it seems like we had 45 new bloggers join the fray during the month of May.

I did a quick run through of all of those blogs and as close as I can tell out of that initial group of 45, at least 30 are still active…  and I judged activity by having any posts within November or December.  That gives us right at 66% of the participating blogs still alive and kicking today.  When you add to this that there are still a large percentage of blogs from past years up and running as well that graduate from being a newbie to a mentor…  this really is one of the best events to grow our community each year.  I am extremely proud to be a participant each year, and I am excited to see a new crop of bloggers arrive on my “Class of” blog roll.

August – Blaugust 2014

The idea behind Blaugust started on an absolute whim.  I did not want to lose the momentum we build each year with the Newbie Blogger Initiative.  While that event is going on, folks are posting hard and heavy… and then as it finished the posts start to taper off again.  The idea was simple enough, get some of the most seasoned veterans in our community to take up the challenge of posting something new each and every day like I do.  When I proposed this idea I thought maybe at most I would get five or six people that were willing to take up the banner.  However this absolutely developed a life of its own, and before I knew it I had 52 people signed up to participate. I have to say I was completely overwhelmed with the support I got from the community on this one… and for the most part my entire August became about nothing but keeping track of Blaugust.

What I was even more impressed by was the level of participation.  At the end of the month I had 50 that actually participated, and of those 28 actually had “won” the challenge and managed to post something each and every day.  The biggest frustration with the whole event was that I had not really planned very well, and keeping track of who posted when became a very manual process.  As a result this coming year I am going to have to engineer a different solution to make it less intensive on my part, and allow me to make the daily recap posts a bit easier.  I never intended for this process to be something that “new” bloggers partook of, and as a result we saw a marked decrease in posts after it… since most folks needed a break after running that marathon.

October – Bragtoberfest 2014


Bragtoberfest was the brainchild of Izlain from Me vs Myself and I and the Couch Podtatoes podcast.  During September there was the beginning of some pretty horrible stuff happening in the gaming community as a whole.  Bragtoberfest was Izlain’s way of combating that by trying to get back to the roots of gaming… playing to have fun.  The mission statement was simple:  Bragtoberfest aims to make it fun to be a gamer again. We all game, and most of us also either blog, stream, vlog or podcast about games as well. Why not combine the two into a month-long event? 

During the month of October there were several competitions bringing folks together for the purpose of competing in a game.  These ranged from Strife to Team Fortress 2 and everything in between.  Not being a super competitive gamer myself, I did not join in as much as I would have liked.  That said I felt like I supported the mission by helping to provide a few logos here and there. Additionally many of us gave exposure to the event with recap threads and announcements on our own blogs.  This morning as I was trying to pull together numbers for all of these things, I struggled to find firm numbers of participants.  That said I know it was well over 20 bloggers who joined in during the month of October.  Hopefully this one will happen again next year and like everything, we can grow upon it.  The Bragtoberfest tag on Izlain’s blog seems to be the best summary of the event as a whole.

October – Alliance of Awesome Extra Life Marathon

One of the best things to come out of Alliance of Awesome this year…  is the fact that we participated as a team in the Extra Life marathon.  This all started with a random conversation between Zelibeli and myself about how we had always wanted to participate in the Extra Life 25 hour of gaming event.  Both of us had not done so yet for the same reason… we questioned if we could actually manage to stream all 25 hours given our family lives.  With the birth of AofA we kicked around the idea of having a Relay style stream, where each of us took a 2-3 hour block and then tagged off to another stream.  This became a logistical problem since we were all using Twitch at the time, and you could not create a “team” unless you were at the partner level… and quite frankly none of us were popular enough to actually have that.

Thankfully along came Hitbox which offers the ability to create a team at the most basic membership… and we were off and running.  We created an Extra Life team… and not having a clue what kind of participation we would get, I set a very sober goal of $200 as a team.  We blew that goal completely out of the water, with a participation of 9 gamers…  we managed to reach $1728 which to me is an absolutely staggering amount.  My hope is this year we can be a bit more organized and maybe raise more by getting the awareness of what we are doing out there a bit more.  Additionally my hope is to find someone who is a twitch partner that is willing to get an Alliance of Awesome twitch team created for us.. since that will open the door for folks to stream from the current generation of consoles as well.

December – Bloggy Xmas

Finally we had one last event that wrapped up last week with Christmas.  My good friend Syl game to me with the idea of doing a sort of blogging advent calendar.  It seems there is a local tradition in her area where folks in the villages decorate the windows of homes and stores to represent a day of the advent calendar.  I started work on a logo, and she spruced it up by adding in the d-pad snowflakes and bam we had another event ready to run.  I think she originally intended to have one blogger per day, but just like with Blaugust she was a bit overwhelmed by the folks wanting to participate.  I tried to pull together some numbers this morning but it seems like for the 25 days of the event she had 45 participants, meaning most of the days had two different bloggers posting.

The overarching theme of the event was to write something about community, and I personally wrote a post about my need to keep growing my own communities by adopting awesome people.  For the full effect of the event you have to check out the Bloggy Xmas website that gave us a really awesome advent calendar layout for the months post.  My hope is that we will grow this to be an even bigger event next year.  The community focus seems fitting since this was a year of so many awesome events bringing the community together, all the while existing in a climate where there was so much negative being caused by other gamers.  I feel like our little community stood as a beacon for the fact that gamers could in fact get along, and not just get along but thrive.  I want to thank all of you out in the community who participated in any of the events, or just kept your own personal blog active throughout the year.  I feel we represent the best values our community has to offer, and I hope we can make next year even more amazing.

Months Behind but Loving It

Happy Bragtoberfest!

During the month of October Izlain and J3w3l of Couch Podtatoes are running a special event they are calling Bragtoberfest.  The idea is to share the fun you are having gaming with your friends.  You can check out all of the details on Izlain’s blog Me Vs Myself and I.  I thought it was fitting that on this fight October morning, that I do in fact have a handful of gaming achievements to “brag” about as it were.  The event however is not just for crowing about your gaming achievements, but instead sharing that magical feeling we all have while playing a game we are really into.  Over the past months there has been quite a bit of negativity either coming from or leveled against gamers.  Bragtoberfest is an opportunity to embrace the good and present a positive viewpoint of gamers having fun being gamers.

Months Behind but Loving It

ffxiv 2014-09-30 22-12-52-679 Back in July a large number of us that played Final Fantasy XIV at launch, returned to the game to give it another shot.  I was the first to come back thanks to a free weekend, and enjoyed it so much that I ended up roping a lot more of my friends to join me.  We played for roughly three months after launch and then for various reasons all wandered off into the next big game.  As such we never really made much progression at the time.  As a guild we had managed to take down Hard Mode Ifrit while working on the relic weapon chain, but that was literally as far as we had managed to get.  So coming back we have had this whirlwind of catching up, and experiencing content that is almost a year old at this point, but still very new at the same time.  Over the last several weeks on Tuesdays we have been pulling together an eight man raid team and working our way through Binding Coil of Bahamut.  At this point we have defeated the first four turns and had originally planned on focusing on turn five last night.

However last night we had one of the members missing, and were subbing in a player that was relatively new to the Final Fantasy XIV end game.  As such we opted to set our sights on a different target, the first of the Extreme modes…  Garuda.  Most of us had managed to get attuned for this fight and had been for quite some time, however there is just something about the Garuda fight that is terrifying.  For starters it has one of the most awesome and at the same time creepy introductions.  The normal mode Garuda fight kicked our ass so many times while trying to get folks through it around level 43 when you encounter it in the game.  All of this gave me pause when I thought about the difficulty of doing the fight on Extreme mode.

ffxiv 2014-09-30 22-14-16-200  One of the most interesting things about the Final Fantasy XIV endgame is that you have a fixed amount of time to make attempts.  For Garuda and most instances you have exactly 90 minutes to defeat the encounter before the game punts you from the instance and you have to start over from scratch.  For  the most part we all went into this fight last night without functional experience of how it works and learned on the fly as we went.  Each attempt we made adjustments to the strategy, shifting the targets between myself and Ashgar until we figured out an ideal mix of who needed to tank what where.  There are three phases to the fight, and the last two phases rotate back and forth between them until you defeat her.  Once we had managed to get through a single rotation of phase three we pretty much had the fight in our sights.  At that point we had roughly nine minutes to defeat the encounter as a whole.  We pushed through and managed to get it just in time, and as such finished a quest we all had sitting in our logs for some time allowing us to now move on to Extreme Mode Titan.

Flaming Axe of Doom

ffxiv 2014-09-30 22-20-55-837 While bragging about cool stuff, I managed to finish gathering my 1300 Tomestones of Soldiery and am now the proud owner of the awesome flaming axe Conquerer.  While I would love to be wielding a Bravura Novus instead, that quite honestly is still a good long ways off.  I am still slowly working my way through the 9 Animus books, and then after that I have to do the Novus grind… which involves collecting a bunch of Alexandrite and binding 75 pieces of Materia to my weapon.  This step is not only time consuming but also extremely expensive.  As such I have been stockpiling money and Materia as I go to hopefully be able to complete this step.  As far as the current Animus grind, I am 2 books into it and still have 7 more to go.  My good friend Cylladora however is down to two books left, so I am pumped to see her progressing so quickly.

All of this made me decide a few weeks back to go ahead and gather up the Soldiery “bookrocks” and get the slightly easier to get level 110 weapon.  The process for that is somewhat contorted as well but involves winning an Unidentified Allagan Tomestone from Syrcus tower or Second Coil of Bahamut.  You then take this and 10 Rowena’s Tokens and trade for a Weathered Conquerer which in its own right is a really nice level 100 weapon.  Each of the Tokens is sold for 130 Tomestones of Soldiery in Mor Dhona for a grand total of 1300.  You then take your Weathered weapon to Drake in Hyristmill and trade both it and a Sands of Time to him to receive the level 110 “unweathered” version.

This is all possible thanks to the fact that in patch 2.38 they started allowing Sands of Time to drop in Syrcus tower.  Since you can only win a single item per week in Syrcus, that means that I gave up on usable gear for the last two weeks to gather up the UAT and the Sands.  Similarly I had to make sure I capped my Tomestones of Soldier each week to make sure I could get to 1300 in time, since you can only early 450 a week.  I am damned happy to have a level 110 weapon, which is almost best in slot.  You can technically get ilevel 115 weapons now either through the Second Coil raid or through the completion of the Nexus step of the Relic weapon chain.  My goal is still to complete the Relic weapon, because I love the feel of the quest chain and the look of the eventual weapon.  However for the time being I can feel happy knowing that I am going to be able to generate plenty of threat with a weapon at least as good as anyone in our little raid group.

The Queens Bounty

Destiny_20141001065107 Monday night I pushed through to level 20 and started working on the Queen’s bounties in anticipation of trying to get gear from the event before it goes away at the end of this week.  Last night after the raid I talked a couple of friends into helping me out with making this happen.  The only problem is that as a fresh 20, I could not actually RUN the Queens Bounty Strike.  Thanks to Kodra and Shiana we pushed through a couple of strike missions and after a few lucky drops and some upgrades… I managed to get to 21 light which allowed me to queue for the Queens Bounty content.  So it was myself, a 24 and a 27 queueing for the content, and the game decided to give us all 24 mobs.  As such I finally begin to understand the rage that some of my friends have felt while grouping with higher level players than themselves.  Quite simply I could not actually land decent attacks on anything.  I was aiming straight for the head and making content, but just simply not making a dent in it with my level 18 blue hand cannon.

My friends assured me that this was not anything I was necessarily doing wrong but instead just a simple component of the mobs being a few light levels higher than me.  As such I tried my best to limp along through the content but spent a lot of time hugging the ground.  At the end of the mission I managed to get the chest piece drop, but at that point it was already well past time for bed.  My hope is to go back tonight and try for the helmet and maybe the sniper rifle.  I still have four more tokens left to go and I just picked up a few more easily bounties this morning.  Level disparity problems aside I am still digging the way this game feels.  While I am not sure I would ever complete the raid, I am definitely going to shoot for gearing up in full purple gear.  The biggest thing is I wish to god I could get a purple weapon drop.  That would at least make me feel less useless.  At the end of the night I was sitting at 22 just a single upgrade away from 23, so I am pretty damned happy with the results in any case.

#FFXIV #Garuda #Destiny

Cancelling Titan

Bragtoberfest 2014


This month Izlain and J3w3l of Couch Podtatoes are running an event for the gaming community.  The idea is to have an entire month of remembering the good things about gaming.  The last few months have been frustrating to be a gamer, and the word gamer itself has been drug through the mud a bit by some misguided individuals with other agendas…  and their willing or not so willing peons.  The idea is to get back to the roots of gaming… and just play awesome games for the fun of it.  I was brought into the equation to help out with some logo work, and I did a couple of them that you might see used during the event.  For a better description you can check out what Izlain posted on his blog Me Vs Myself and I.

We all know that the last few weeks have been a frustrating time to be a fan of video games. There are sections of the Internet and our society as a whole that don’t necessarily see things the way we do, and a huge push back against women, other minority groups, and the industry have stigmatized the word “gamer.” I want to take it back. I want us to remember why we started gaming in the first place. I want you to enjoy being a gamer, and to brag about your accomplishments in games, be it a high score shattered, a nice piece of loot earned, or your name at the top of a leaderboard. That bragging can take place however you see fit, be it via your blog, on a podcast, in a video, whatever you want. Let’s just get back to our roots as gamers.

Bragtoberfest aims to make it fun to be a gamer again. We all game, and most of us also either blog, stream, vlog or podcast about games as well. Why not combine the two into a month-long event?

If you are interested you should definitely check out the Bragtoberfest 2014 nook as that Is where the contest will be running out of.  There are four major events that Izlain and J3w3l are running, as well as a slew of prizes to be had.  More importantly this is an embracing of the good that is left in gaming, and the enjoyment each of us have that first time we boot up a new game.  Also to get some buzz going, don’t forget to mention #Bragtoberfest when you post about the events.

Goodbye Alpha

Trove 2014-09-22 23-56-16-632 Monday night on a whim I hooked my good friend Rae up with a key for the Trove Alpha, since she had shown some interest in the game.  So we spent the evening wandering around the game, and I wish to god I had been streaming it… because the running commentary of her and I “discovering” things had to be hilarious.  Trove is one of those games that I really enjoyed early on, but have simply not played of late.  Each time I do manage to boot it up the game has changed so massively since the last time that I almost felt overwhelmed to even begin to play it.  If nothing else the game has shown players just how in a constant state of flux most game development is.  Trove has broken some of the rules and for the most part uses Reddit entirely for its user forums, as well as communicating copious amounts of information back with the community about what it has done and intends to do.

As much fun as we had, Monday night was a little bittersweet.  It was only after logging out that night and checking into the Reddit yesterday that I realized that it was in fact the end of Alpha events that we were seeing.  So many awesome things were going on, mostly that people were throwing down these pinatas full of loot on the ground for us to combat.  We both managed to get amazing Pinata mounts… that leave a trail of rainbows and sprinkles as you move around.  Sadly all of this went away that night as the servers went down.  We will not be able to play again until Thursday when the beta officially begins… and I have to say right now I am feeming to play again.  In the past I had pretty much played by myself, but to be running around with someone else was an absolute blast.

Trove 2014-09-22 22-31-52-013 Right now we have tentative plans to wander around Thursday night leveling.  I plan on working on Knight since that tends to be my favorite, and at this point I am not sure if Rae will be a Gunslinger or a Faerie Trickster.  At least a small part of me is hoping that the new Neon Ninja class will be ready at the start of beta.  I have to say the game is so much more solid than at any point I have ever played it in the past.  The biggest improvement is just how content dense the various biomes now are.  Once upon a time there would be a single element in the biome that was worth finding and clearing, but we stumble across all sorts of points of interest, each with their own bosses and treasure chests to  be found.  Right now I have an Alliance of Awesome guild running, so if you are playing or plan on playing let me know and we can get you invited.

Cancelling Titan

projecttitan Yesterday during an interview with Mike Morhaime the website Polygon broke the news that apparently the mystery project Titan has officially been cancelled.  For those who are completely unfamiliar with the name Titan and the mystery surrounding it, you can check out this excellent post from Massively running down the short history of a game that doesn’t exist.  For me I guess it feels weird to know now that Blizzard does not have a new MMO up its sleeve, and makes me wonder if they are completely abandoning the MMO genre in general in favor of games that are frankly easier to manufacture content for.  Right now Hearthstone is by all reports doing amazingly well, and they have managed to find a mix of value in their micro transaction model so that it does not feel abusive to the players.  Similarly with the ramping up of Heroes of the Storm, we have them formally throwing their hat into the MOBA arena which at least for the games that have done it right, is also a cash cow.  The amount of effort that it takes to develop a new hero for example is so significantly less than it does an entire MMO expansion.

Statistic: Number of World of Warcraft subscribers from 1st quarter 2005 to 2nd quarter 2014 (in millions) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista
I feel like one of the things that most players do not understand is that World of Warcraft is following a very bell shaped decline.  Each time a new expansion is released there is a momentary bump, but the last one of these only raised the subscribers enough to cover the exodus at the tail end of the previous expansion before steadily declining again.  I am not trying to claim doom and gloom about World of Warcraft, but it feels like fact that the game has long since entered its golden years.  The positive is that both Everquest and Everquest 2 have enjoyed significant followings and stability long after the buzz died down.  In both cases they continue to churn out expansions happily, and for the small but extremely devoted fan base they are great places to be.  As such I more than expect that the same will be true for World of Warcraft.  I expect the game will likely taper off and flatten the curve a bit around 2 to 3 million players.  Looking at the number alone however, we can see that the game is at a level of subscribers that it has not been at since the sometime between the opening of AQ40 and the launch of Naxxramas in vanilla.

So I guess my question is this…  does this really mean that Blizzard as a company is moving away from the MMO model that they popularized?  Do they have another skunkworks project up there sleeves that they can surprise the player base with at a later date?  I realize talk about the decline of World of Warcraft makes a lot of fans nervous.  I am trying to do so with the least amount of hyperbole available, and in a way that is an non-incendiary as I can.  The truth is right now World of Warcraft still brings in a very significant amount of money.  As it ages however, that revenue stream keeps diminishing.  The question is, can they make enough money from micro transactions to replace the stability of the subscription dollar?  Will they be able to muster the same amount of fandom without an MMO to stir up the hysteria to eleven?  What does the future of Blizzard look like, and is it as dominant a force as it has been to date?

#ProjectTitan #Trove #Bragtoberfest