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 Anook.com 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

Playing Without Rules

This is another one of those mornings where I am sitting here struggling to find purpose… or at least something to write about.  After a few nights of lousy sleep I managed to get a pretty solid one last night.  The Ceiling Fan has essentially died in the bedroom, but yesterday I hooked up an oscillating fan and it was actually quite comfortable using it.  Oddly enough though, even with a good nights sleep I am just out of it this morning.

Guest Posts

I have to say I was shocked that both of my guest posters had topics ready for me yesterday.  I apparently fail miserably at the concept of a guest post, since most bloggers use them for days when they don’t actually want to post.  I kind of feel like that would be cheating this little experiment I have been on, to see if I can manage to post every single day for a year.  I fear for November, since I plan on doing NANOWRIO this year… and I am not sure how I will be able to write every night… and then still be able to come up with something worth saying in the morning.  You guys might just get a lot of status updates to my word count.

Ariad and I don’t always see eye to eye, but honestly he said a lot of things I would have said.  Ultimately my problem is not removing the Trinity persay… but that when you remove it… it has to be replaced with something.  In his post he did a great job and outlining how various games both digital and real all have roles that are played.  So if you want to remove what World of Warcraft essentially distilled those roles down to… you need to replace them with something else.  The absence of role based play essentially turns everything into a mindless deathmatch, which while fun for some time does not lend itself to engaging gameplay.

Playing Without Rules

stalwart_scarlet

Sevok has been a pet class in essentially every game I have ever played with him.  He pretty much personifies what I think of when I think about that type of player.  There was a pretty good debate that spilled out onto Google+ as a result of yesterdays posting.  Essentially when dealing with a pet class, I get frustrated because I would rather just do it myself instead of sending my minion in.  That along pretty much identifies me as NOT being a pet class person.  While I raided on a hunter in WoW during Vanilla… I tended to lose interest once they fixed the pets and we actually had to use them in combat.

The above shot is from a run through Scarlet Monastery House Stalwart did a few weeks after the launch of World of Warcraft.  Essentially we had two hunters, a shadow priest, a dps warrior and a mage.  We had no real “healer” and we used a combination of the two pets to tank…. additionally if you look above you can see that I was a survival tree “melee” hunter.  I am in fact the dwarf banging on the Abbot with the polearm.   Everything we were doing was “wrong” but we didn’t really care.

Why did we play this way?  Quite honestly because we didn’t know any better… we had yet to be told by the internet that everything we were doing was not effective.  Honestly I think that has been more to blame with the stagnation within the MMO market than anything else.  The “Elitist Jerks” of the world quantify and distill everything about the game world, and reduce it to a series of equations.  Math is solid and unyielding, and extremely hard to argue with…  but also pretty boring at times.  It seems like in EQ, DAoC, and the early days of WoW we were extremely willing to make bad decisions… just to see what the consequences would be.

So what if I was a melee hunter… the brunt of internet jokes.  I had fun doing it… I made it work… and through a mixture of stubbornness and creativity we were able to make things work.  Sure there was always a point at which it became difficult… but even once the golden path was deeply ingrained in me… we managed to do a Blackrock Depths run with 2 rogues and 3 hunters and finished it off without much issue.  Additionally our raid used to do all hunter Upper Blackrock Spire runs for fun.  When 10 hunters cast aimed shot at exactly the same time…  mobs pretty much just evaporate.

Flexibility of Roles

stalwart_scarlet2

Ultimately what I am saying is that while we were using sub optimal builds and class compositions we were able to get through the content by the use of our wits.  While we did not have the things that people prescribed as a “tank” or a “healer” we adapted through the use of what we had.  We still very much had someone playing the role of the main tank, and someone playing the role of the healer, but we were doing so in non-standard ways.  Ultimately this is the sort of thing I feel we need going forward.  The ability to blur the lines of what is the tank and healer, and allow multiple people to fulfill these roles in multiple ways.

Ultimately to me it is not the failing of the trinity or role based combat, but the failing that the designers have allowed games to get distilled down to the equation of “only one right answer”.  Having a Golden Path is fine, but quickly there becomes way too much social pressure to conform your character to the most optimal path.  I think that is why I have enjoyed playing Rift so much over the years, is that there are literally thousands of possible right paths out there, that can be tweaked and tailored to fit the exact preferences of a specific player.

Sure there are golden paths, but they seem to change on a weekly or monthly basis.  With the ability to have an extreme amount of prebuilt “roles” you can switch to it allows players to have both their experimental builds and their tried and tested builds and be able to swap back and forth between them freely.  On my warrior I totally have a 61 paragon and 61 champion tried and true dps build…  but I also have a number of Tanky builds that have different personal flavors to them that I am using to test various things out.

No Right Answer

EverQuest-Next-Golem

Ultimately I think this is the hope I have for Everquest Next and its implementation of Storybricks.  I feel as though there will NEVER be only one right answer.  That we the players will be able to tailor a solution that fits the skillsets we have available.  But I still feel as though role based gameplay is one of the tools in that toolkit to allow us to build those solutions.  I think as Ariad, Sevok, and myself were trying to point out.. that each of us as players brings with us a certain favored role based mentality.  My hope is that we can apply those ways of thinking towards new and complex challenges regardless of the character abilities we happen to currently have and come out with interesting gameplay as a result.

Flexibility of purpose and the ability to shift back and forth between what role a given player happens to be playing at the time completely seems like a viable way to deal with smarter mob AI.  As evidenced by all the comments the other day regarding my wanting not to lose tanking as a thing that is done in MMOs…  some of us have very technical definitions of what that role is.  Much of that is rooted in the construct of the “Taunt monkey”.  But as I tried to explain in the “Tank is” post… I am very flexible in what that definition means as it is applied to a given games mechanics.

My initial fear with Everquest Next was that they would be going with the “Everyone is DPS” solution that Guild Wars 2 used.  This was most definitely not the path to interesting gameplay, and more or less over the course of several discussions since the weekend I have arrived at a point where I believe that EQ Next will have much more meat on its bones than that.  It sounds as though they are building in roles to replace the trinity… but we just simply do not know what those roles will be or what exactly they will entail.  I really look forward at getting my hands on Landmark as it goes through the beta process.  I am hoping it will help to answer a number of questions.

Wrapping Up

It is that time again, and I need to be getting on the road.  I have managed to turn a day where I had no clue what to write about into another long ramble.  I cannot guarantee that anything I wrote is really worth reading… and is likely just me working out concepts in my own head… but my readers should be long used to that by now.  I hope you all have a great day, last night we had a fun guild night running around and closing rifts.  Was fairly relaxing and had a great time hanging out on mumble with Rowan, Psynister and Fynralyl.  Hopefully we can get some dungeons going before too much longer, even if I have to start playing my cleric so we have a healer.  I will be happy when 3.0 releases and rogues and warriors finally have a main healer.

A Pet Class is…

… Complicated

Well what isn’t, right?   This post was inspired by Bel’s post “A Tank is…”  My “thing” is pet classes, so naturally that’s what my “<x> is” post is going to be about.

We pet class nuts tend to be very loyal to the archetype.  Here’s a list of many of my main characters throughout the last 16 years of MMO playing: UO Tamer; AO Meta-Physicist and Engineer; EQ1 Necromancer, Magician, and Beastlord; SWG Creature Handler; EQ2 Necro and Conjuror; LOTRO Lore-master; WoW Hunter and Warlock; AoC Necromancer; WAR Squig Herder; the list goes on.  See where I’m going?  All pet classes!

I’ll talk about the history of pet classes in MMOs, issues that have been raised surrounding them, and things that pet class devotees look for in a game.

In The Beginning…

ultima_online

… there was Ultima Online.  UO was the first commercially noticed MMO, and so that’s where I begin my pet class history lesson.

UO isn’t a class-based game – your character advances by increasing skills up to a certain limit.  One skill in UO is “Animal Taming.”  This skill allows you to tame and thus control certain creatures in the world – from lowly chickens all the way to powerful dragons.   As you adventure with your pet, it gains skills just like you do.  In the past, if your pet died during your adventures, it was lost forever.  Now, however, powerful Tamers can resurrect fallen pets.

This sort of set an early standard for pet classes for me – the ability to choose your pet, by taming it yourself.  This standard, unfortunately didn’t get carried on, except for in one game.

That game was Star Wars Galaxies.  Before the “NGE” (aka game ruining fiasco), there was a class called “Creature Handler.”  This was very close to a UO Tamer – but better.  Creatures in the world had extremely varying stats, and the best CH’s had very powerful pets.  Additionally, another class called Bio-Engineer could custom-make pets using DNA obtained in the world.  A really accomplished CH had many powerful custom Bio-Engineered pets.  It was awesome!

Since then, options for pet customization have been limited.  In most games, your pet type is determined by your class.  Necromancers summon and control undead things, Hunters control animals and so on.

We’ve Got Issues

eqnecropetsOf course, many issues have been raised surrounding pet classes.  Most of them boil down to the belief that pet classes are overpowered.  This is because a pet class character has two “objects” in the world doing damage at once – the character itself, and the pet(s).

There have been many ways employed to ensure this overpowered state isn’t true.  Most of them center around the idea of either making the pet the main damage source, or making the character the main damage source.  WoW for example essentially made you choose between having powerful pets or being powerful yourself.

One way EQ1 ensured pet class balance was that pets were not as useful in large group content (raids).  This wasn’t intentional of course, but it did work.  Pet pathing was flaky at best, so having a pet during a raid could easily cause wipes if you weren’t extremely vigilant.  And pets “pushed” mobs too, sometimes causing them to get out of a good position.

Other balancing methods include making pets very weak in terms of hit points, or making pets only exist for a short period of time, requiring constant re-summoning.

What do we want?

wowhunter

I’ve been a part of quite a few pet class specific communities over the years, and that combined with my own pet class fervor has made me aware of the basic things pet class people want out of a game.

In general, we are damage players (DPS).  We use our pets and our spells or weapons to help kill monsters.  EQ1 has a single pet class that can fulfill either the DPS or the Tank role (in some content) – that class is the Beastlord (and it’s awesome when played with skill).  But in general, pet class people want to fill the DPS role.

We want to be useful.  If we can’t function well without our pets, make sure that group content is pet-friendly.  This is a basic need; if we can’t use the most fundamental part of our class in all content, sadness ensues.

We want to be able to choose pets, either via class choice, or via a “taming” mechanism.  Sure, a Necromancer is always going to have undead things as pets.  A “Hunter” type is going to have tamed animals as pets.  That’s cool.  But make sure there’s a choice!  Some people hate the idea of a Necromancer, and would always choose instead to have Elementals as pets, or animals, or similar.  Some people mainly only like Necromancer types.   The absolute best-case is having “set” pet classes like Necromancer, Magician, etc, and having a “Tamer” type for those that want to choose their pets.

My wife and I had a discussion once about my pet class fervor and her rogue-type fervor.  We decided it boils down to a personality thing.  Would you always prefer to “do things yourself?”  You’re probably not a pet class type. If you’d usually rather hire someone to do something, or have a servant do it… you’d probably like pet classes.  (But sometimes we like to do it ourselves too, so the character does need some power of its own.)

A Class Is…

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, partly because I haven’t had much that I can write about. Bel started the ball rolling with A Tank Is, and I thought I’d follow up with my own. I almost started with A Healer Is, or A Rogue Is, because people who know me would likely expect to see one of those (and probably be very surprised about the other), but I realized what was going on behind the scenes, as it were, and I thought I’d share here.

Indecision?

I’ve played a lot of classes through a lot of games. My friends, if they weren’t so nice, would probably call me indecisive or schizophrenic in the things I choose to play. I’ve been a thief (UO), an enchanter (EQ), a druid (EQ, WoW), a rogue (WoW, EQ2, Rift), a tank (WoW, Rift, SWTOR), a healer, a support, everything. It doesn’t always look like there’s a method to the madness, but I’ve realized, for me, what drives me to each thing I play.

A Class is Identity

Black Mages, http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Black_Mage_(Job)

When I pick a class, I’m picking an identity. I’m declaring to the world (or, well, the game) what kind of person I am, and how I interact with the people, places, and things around me. The industry term for this is “player fantasy”, and it drives a shockingly huge amount of inspiration, dedication, and attachment. It’s more than just the class that determines this, but a player’s class is a big part of it.

I look at the Black Mage above, and I see someone focused, someone intelligent and a bit mysterious, who needs no physical might to make his or her mark on the world. I like that. I want to be that. By comparison:

This is the rogue to me. The Prince of Persia isn’t incredibly strong, and doesn’t wear heavy armor, but he’s fast, smart, and tricky. He’ll win the fight with this big brute because he’s quicker and cleverer. I like it, for the same reasons I like the Black Mage—he wins with his brain.

Classes and Roles

I look at the two examples above, both near and dear to my heart, and something stands out. I like them both, for the same exact reasons, but they both do very different things. They both fulfill my player fantasy, but it’s divorced from my role. Bel will attest that I will cheerfully tank things, when there is a rogue-tank option. I quite enjoy it, but the important thing is that my player fantasy is fulfilled. I’m not a big, muscley meatshieldy plate-wearing type. I’m the quick, clever, faster-than-my-enemies type. If I need some additional protection, that’s going to come from my speed or my magic, not armor or straight burliness.

What I do isn’t necessarily tied to my player fantasy—I just want to be faster and smarter than my enemies, and sometimes trickier and sneaker too, if I can manage it. If that means I’m a sneaky, killy Assassin or a tanky, maneuverable Riftstalker or a clever, resourceful Enchanter, I’m accomplishing that goal; I’m getting to play out my fantasy.

A Class is a Function

teamfortress2

When I’m dropped into a new world and asked to represent myself, to make my character, I need to make informed decisions. Whether that’s a class, or a starting ability package, or a weapon of choice, or a vehicle, my initial choices tell me what I’m good at and what I’m able to do. It tells me what make me different from the people around me, and what I can do well.

In a lot of ways, it helps me know whether I will enjoy a game. If I pick a class that isn’t good at the things I like to do, and I try to play the way I’m used to playing, I’m probably going to be disappointed. I’ve played games where I’ve switched classes partway through and rediscovered a game I thought I didn’t like—I played a Magician in Everquest for months before I tried the Enchanter on a whim and realized that, while the Magician was okay, the Enchanter was far more fun and fulfilling to me.

Classes and the Trinity

Whenever the argument about “The Trinity” or other role-based systems in games comes up, the first thing I see is “there are never enough healers or tanks” and “no one likes to wait around”, or, the worst, “people don’t want to be forced to play something they don’t like”. There’s usually a call to “abolish the trinity”, and to let people do what they like.

I don’t have a fundamental problem with this viewpoint, but the most common solution I’ve seen – abolish roles entirely – isn’t the right one. The Trinity is the foundation of group-based play. Whether that’s the MMO-standard Tank/Healer/DPS, or the team positions in soccer, or football, or League of Legends, the roles provide a means with which the individual participants in the group can become, together, more than the sum of their parts. Role-based play, regardless of what those roles are, is at the forefront of nearly every deep team game, and even quite a few non-team games. Chesspieces play a variety of roles, dictated solely by movement, and the game of chess is built around both the strengths and the limitations of each piece; it forms a deeper game than if every piece were a Queen.

Making it Better

You can’t just rip out the foundation without building something in its place. It’s something we’ve seen tried in various places, and the resulting gameplay is frequently-to-always unsatisfying for the players who enjoy team-based play.

That being said, the aforementioned arguments aren’t invalid. Frequently there are too few tanks or healers, or supports, or clerics. I submit that “not enough tanks or healers” is a symptom, not the root of the problem. How many games allow only burly platewearers to tank? How many allow wizardly mages to tank?

In League of Legends, a common complaint is that no one ever wants to play support. Let’s analyze this: There are 115 champions in League. Of those, nine are listed as “Support” within the game, and 12 are listed by one of the top players of the game (here: http://blog.ibuypower.com/2013/08/chausters-conventional-support-rundown/). Somewhere less than 10% of the available champions are Support, and of them, half are spellcasting women. Tropes aside, if “spellcasting lady” isn’t your player fantasy, you’re SOL.

If you make a game where you satisfy a wide enough variety of player fantasies for all of your roles, I suspect you’ll see a good distribution of your roles. What this means, more than anything, is options. Don’t abolish the foundation, give many, many ways of fulfilling it. If I can be creative with how I fit into a team, it will be much more satisfying than playing something I don’t like just to fit into the team, or worse, not having the team at all.

It’s on the Designers

Hundreds of years of team-based games tells me this: don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. A team should become more than the sum of its parts, and whatever paradigm you come up with to accomplish this, that is the core.

Designers are in the position of fulfilling player fantasies, and making sure that the player fantasies they create satisfy the roles they make for their game, and are distributed enough to make sure enough options exist for every role. Let me play a mage tank, and a rogue healer, and a platewearing stealther. It’s what design is for—creativity.

Shaking the Toner

Good morning you happy hopefully rested people.  Last night was another toss and turn fest… because it seems as though our ceiling fan has broken, or at least is on its last leg.  As a result I slept on top of the covers all last night, some of it relatively unsuccessfully.  Here is hoping that I got enough sleep to prevent me from absolutely shutting down over the course of the day.  Tonight is guild night so hopefully I have the steam to lead us on a wild adventure.

Guest Contributors

Some time ago a good friend of mine started posting the occasional article on my blog under the name of Ariad.  However we did a pretty lousy job of messaging that the posts were coming from him and not me.  As a result I feel there was some confusion as he and I do not always see eye to eye.  We were talking yesterday and he is the Spock to my Captain Kirk.  As a result I have created the banners above to denote when a guest contributor is making a post.

Additionally another friend had shown interest in making the occasional post.  When I told him the Spock explanation above… he said that he was more like Khan.  In the same way his opinions will also not 100% align with what I am saying, but I feel a breadth of different opinions is a good thing.  I’ve known Sevok since the early days of Everquest 1 and have managed to keep up with him off and on through the various games I have played.  I look forward to seeing the posts they come up with, I know Sev is currently working on a spin on my “A Tank Is” post from the other day about his favorite role… the pet class.

The Grand Experiment

It has been 103 days since I started what I dubbed the “Grand Experiment” and began posting something every single morning regardless if I want to or not.  I have no real idea if the results have been a net positive, but I have been true to my cause and even when I was in a hotel room on vacation… I continued blogging each morning.  Yesterday a friend of mine Talyn of the Pumping Irony blog asked me a little bit about my morning routine.

Essentially he stated something I have heard from myself many times before.  That ultimately he felt like he just did not have that much time to post a blog post and as a result there are lapses between postings.  This pretty much explains all of the lags in my posting pattern since I started the blog back in April of 2009.  I would get into a pattern where I felt like I just did not have time to post, or that it came down to a choice between playing a game or posting.  Every time the blog lost out to me just logging in and playing something instead.

The Routine

When I started down this path I figured I had a bit of time each morning as I drank my coffee and attempted to wake up.  Previously I had been gaming a little bit to wake up, so I decided I would give that up and devote it to blogging.  Since Talyn was curious about the timeframe it took me every morning I thought I would go through my average morning, in case anyone else out there was curious as well.  My alarm goes off a 5:30 am and I get up and out of bed, making my way to the kitchen to fill the Keurig and turn it on.  I stumble back down the hall and jump in the shower.

While I am in the shower I try to begin thinking about what I am going to post that morning and continue doing so as I get dressed.  At roughly 6:00 am I go back to the kitchen… this time less of a stumble… to make a cup of coffee for myself and one for my wife as well.  After delivering the cup of coffee to the bedside table I am usually upstairs and sitting at my keyboard by 6:10-6:15.  Now begins the hard part.  Some mornings I know exactly what I am going to write about… others I don’t have a clue in the world. 

Shaking the Toner

If it is a writers block morning I try and flip through my RSS feed to see if anything arrived since I last read it that might start some thoughts percolating in my head.  The opening paragraph is ultimately the same in most of my blog posts… this is less for you guys and more for me.  This is my equivalent to the wind up before a pitch.  Starting words coming out onto the page often times unjams the printer in my brain and causes the topics to come spilling out.  Additionally the closing bit… is my way of turning off the faucet and allowing myself to transition from thinking about the blog to thinking about the work day ahead of me.

After lots of writing hackery and many trips to google image search and or launching a given game to collect screenshots… by about 6:30-6:45 I am wrapping up my post.  I give it a once over, add any links I feel I might need, add categories to the post… and finally hit publish.  I religiously use Microsoft Live Writer for my posts as it allows me to see visually how my post will look before I ever place it on the site.  Additionally it does a lot of niceties like managing the image uploads, has in client cropping and resizing and lets me do my alignment trickery.

Finally once the post has been made I advertise it on both Twitter and Google+.  Sure there are plugins that do this, and I could configure one and just make it happen automagically.  However I like to tailor my post each morning towards the content platform I am advertising it on.  This takes another 10-15 minutes depending on how many names I need to reference in the posts. I go downstairs, tell my wife that I love her and am heading out the door.  At this point it is between 7:00 and 7:15…  so after I jaunt over to QuikTrip for breakfast I get into the office between 7:30 and 7:45.  From the moment I wake up to the moment I leave the house is roughly an hour and a half.

Constraints Help

Talyn’s initial comment was “Holy crap you’re fast!”, but in truth… it is the time constraint that helps me be speedy in the morning.  When I do my weekend posts, they can take an hour and a half to two hours of just writing time.  The difference is.. on the weekends I have all the time in the world, so I do not feel rushed to get in and get things done.  However on the weekday mornings I know I have a finite amount of time that I can devote to each step.  While I have an extremely flexible report time, I personally refuse to abuse this too much.  I still end up as one of the first people into the office.  Ultimately our core hours that we MUST be there are 9-3, and as salaried employees we can carve out our 40 on either side of that fixed point.  I tend to work 7:30 to 4:30 most days, so I can blur that line a little bit and still be fine but I try never to absolutely violate it.

My Wife is Amazing

StarWarsHaul

Yesterday while I was at work, my wife was out with some friends hitting a bunch of “junk stores” for lack of a better term.  This was one of her last days of freedom before the start of the new school year and got roped into this adventure by another teacher friend.  I was ramping up for a meeting and a got a text saying “are there any Lego sets you are looking for?”.  My addiction to Lego has not really surfaced much on the blog yet, but I have always loved them.  Of late I have been picking up sets whenever I found them cheapish.  Apparently at one of the places they stopped they had a large number of sets that were marked down, and then had 20% discount applied on top of that.

An example… the Lego TIE Fighter is roughly $45 in the store, and they had it priced for $35… and then after the 20% discount the final price ended up a steal at $28.  After many texts back and forth with pictures of different sets, I expected her to maybe come home with a TIE Fighter and something else…  but instead she came home with this massive haul of sets.  She spent roughly $100 and got all of the sets pictured above… 3 sets for my niece and nephew that are from the “easy to build” line… and a second Lord of the Rings Gandalf Arrives set for a friend. 

It is not that my wife bought me Legos… it is that she saw them and immediately thought that I would want them.  Granted this is a two way streets… I cannot count the number of times I have picked up some random item for her classroom that I happened to stumble upon while shopping without her.  I just thought it was amazingly awesome that while out with friends, doing something completely out of the ordinary that she thought about me.  I guess this is why we have been a successful pair for over 15 years.  While I did not marry a gamer, I married an awesome nerd that “understands” my geek nature.

Wrapping Up

I need to get this wrapped up so I can get on the road.  I hope this satiated any curiosities about my process that folks might have had.  Additionally look for the first of the new round of guest posts to be happening in the next few days.  These will be in addition to my morning posts.  I don’t want to get out of the habit of writing each morning.  For those in House Stalwart, be thinking about what you want to accomplish tonight.  I am completely game for splitting into dungeon groups if we have a viable comp, running hunt rifts… or just doing random rifts and such to work on the guild quest.  I hope you all have a great day today, and that you accomplish whatever you need to.