Restless Weekend

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This weekend was a bit of an odd one, because at least for me it centered around recording our “Games of the Year” show on AggroChat.  This is generally speaking a huge ordeal given that our show is made up of six very different minded people.  Back during the days when we had four regular hosts it was less of a proceeding but now that we essentially have six people each picking three games a piece… that means we wind up talking about 18 games, which as it turns out divides neatly into two 9 image panels.  The above image is the first of these and serves as the backdrop for our normal show card of sorts, however with the text over it you can’t necessarily make out all of the images involved so I decided to post it here.  You can as always find the show on AggroChat or my method of choice for sheer simplicity of listening…  YouTube.  The reason why this largely dominated my weekend is because we ultimately recorded two podcasts that were both two hours long before I set down to edit them.  Post edits they both clock in around an hour and twenty minutes, which really is shocking given that I did not actually time anything out in an attempt to make them work as relative set pieces.  I guess however if you set out to record nine games per show… the end result comes out fairly evenly.  I did make an attempt to shuffle the deck in such a way as to put the games I thought we would most likely talk the longest about divided evenly among the shows.

So we recorded from 8 pm CST until just after midnight, and then I got up around 7:30 Sunday morning and edited until 12:30…  and as a result every other element of the weekend felt like it was shoved to one side or the other.  Of course all of this madness has a purpose since the double episode is timed perfectly to cover the absence of myself and Ashgar as we go to Pax South.  Now in theory Grace, Kodra, Tam and Thalen could record without me… but that would mean I had the forethought to have the mess that is our show in a state that I could easily hand over the reigns to an understudy.  I have not planned ahead that far, and while I do have a series of Audacity and Photoshop projects to speed up the process…  I am not sure if I could even properly explain what exactly I do each week.  It is my hope however that I managed to not only publish yesterday, but also schedule everything else to publish next Sunday while I am driving home from San Antonio.  Staging a publish to happen without me is always a fraught thing for me… because so rarely does it actually work as intended.  Even if it does… I am literally stressed beyond reason until I see the tweets show up in my timeline from the publish process actually doing its thing appropriately.  In the grand scheme of things however…  it is not the most important thing in the world… but it is important to me.

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As far as gaming went this weekend that was equally scattered.  I patched up Final Fantasy XIV and made it far enough to hit the first instance gate, before ultimately walking away.  Similarly I patched up Wildstar, created a Chua Warrior and played to around level seven before once again walking away like a bored child.  As far as gaming that managed to last for more than an hour…  we had World of Warcraft where I finally hit 35 points on my Protection Artifact and started pushing up Fury instead.  I have gotten back in the habit of logging in each day to do my Emissary quest because now there is also a potential legendary upgrade waiting at the end of the grind.  I started doing my Time Walking dungeons… but only managed to make it through the first one tanking it before once again wandering away.  The game that seemed to stick the hardest was Elder Scrolls Online where I completed a good chunk of Malabal Tor, a zone where I am already completely enthralled by the storyline…  even though it involves largely nothing but elves and their internal politics.  I’ve decided that the Bosmer are what it takes to make me really enjoy Elves.  I am really enjoying the whole lore regarding the Green Lady and the Silvenar, and I guess in truth that was an aspect of the lore that I had either forgotten or ignored in playing other Elder Scrolls games.  I even managed to have a few emotional gut punches last night, when I lost characters that I actually really liked during one quest chain.  In truth all I want to do right now is hide in my blanket cocoon on the couch and play more ESO, but that said I do want to at some point get a Mythic+ in for the week since I have a +5 Maw of Souls key.

Family We Choose

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On a day that could wind up being absolutely horrible for the future of our country, I find it important to talk about something good to offset the bad vibes.  If you really want to read an excellent worded post on the election, then I suggest you go read the heartfelt post by my friend Rowanblaze.  Past that my only admonishment to you is to get out and vote, because not voting is functionally the same thing as voting against your beliefs.  So now that I have said that… onward with the feel good piece.  For the most part I have resigned myself to being an MMO Gamer, because even though there are a plethora of single player games that I would love to be playing…  I always find them lacking when it comes to the human interaction that I crave.  Sure I occasionally hole up in skyrim or minecraft or some equally engrossing game to hide out from the world, but there will always be a point where I stick my head up and want to interact again.  Ultimately it is the people that really matter to me when it comes to gaming, and one of the interesting trappings that comes with the MMO is that you end up getting intimately aware of the folks you are playing with.  There are people that I am still in contact with that I played Diablo and Starcraft with in College, and even more that I met playing my first real MMO experience Everquest.

The group that has seemed to have the most permanence however are the folks I have raided with.  There is a core group of people that transitioned long ago from acquaintance, to guildie, to friend and eventually wound up in the inner most circle of family.  This is a group of people that I quite literally talk to every single day, even if none of us happen to be playing the same game at the same time.  The core of this group represents what is remaining intact from the very first raid group I was ever part of.  There are other members of course that I stay in contact regularly but, there is a smaller group that held together far more firmly.  Of the six regular members of AggroChat myself, Tamrielo, Kodra and Thalen all come from the same non-guild raiding community that sprung up on the Argent Dawn server in World of Warcraft.  Now Thalen is a bit of an edge case since he was technically in a competing raid… but there was a bunch of cross over between those two groups with various members of our group the Late Night Raiders, filling in with Last Horse the group he was part of and versa vice.  Ashgar is similarly linked to Tam and Kodra from their post LNR raiding, and to me starting at a time in history that I can’t even remember at this point.  Right now it honestly feels like Ashgar has just sort of always been there in my life.  Similarly I cannot tell you exactly when Grace joined our merry band, because once she arrived she also felt like she had always been there too.

Some time ago Tam came to me and asked if I thought folks would be cool with him commissioning portraits.  The catch was that these would be portraits not necessarily of a given character, or a given person… but this strange amalgam of how we represented ourselves and to some extent his mental image of us.  I of course thought this was an awesome idea, but then months passed and I had not heard anything about it.  I had no clue who he had commissioned and if it actually was still a thing, so I largely filed it away in the back of my brain as a “cool idea”.  Recently I myself decided that I wanted to commission our good friend Ammo to pick back up this project and at least do some matching portraits of the current Aggrochat cast and our regular alternates.  Ammo told me she was excited about the idea, but that she was working on another big commission so it might be awhile before she could get around to it.  Little did I know that the commission in question was the one I had heard so many months ago.  Tam made a huge production of the unveiling yesterday, and gathered us all together at the time to announce it.  To be truthful I am not sure any of us had a real clue what was going on, until we were presented with the above image.  For point of reference…  the above image left to right is Ashgar, Neph, Vexa, Grace, Gabri, Kodra, Tam, Me, Toadchild, Inky, Helkim, Sol and scouting ahead is Thalen.

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What is so phenomenal about this project is the sheer amount of tiny details that went into each and every portrait.  From the moment it was unveiled yesterday afternoon, I literally just kept pouring over the details and finding little things.  For example on Gabri the Cooking Mage’s Whisk Staff… there are all these tiny carrots at the bottom.  Ashgar similarly is this perfect amalgam of all of these things that we think of when it comes to him… the Earth Mage magic nature… with the shape shifting feral druid spirit behind him that he is just about to shift into.  The one that I cannot get over is the portrait of me however.  It is this juxtaposition of big dark heavily armored axe wielding warrior…  with the whole friend of the woodland creatures thing.  We decided that it is now canon that the woodland creatures helped me put on the armor in the same manner as Cinderella.  The birbs however have a second meaning in that they are all bluebirds…. the symbol of twitter which my friends are constantly poking fun at me over.  There is even the detail of the belt… because we have had all of these conversations about how I really liked the 90’s comic book style of having way too many belts on EVERYTHING.  I am sure to strangers, this is just a well rendered image… but to those of us in it… it absolutely captures the soul of every single person.  The only way this would have ever worked is because Tam supplied a ton of details… but also that Ammo knows each of us extremely well so was able to fuse the things he was telling her with the things she just inherently knew.  When it happened last night… I literally had the sudden desire to run around outside making random strangers look at just how awesome it was.  So there was no way we were getting past today’s post without talking about it.  I am so completely enamored with each and every portrait, that all I can really think to do is just say thanks to Tam and Ammo for making it happen.

Long Time Coming

Bug Squish

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

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

Legion Lock

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

Weekend Rusty

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Demon-Huntering

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

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

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

Petulence

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World Go Boom

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

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

Storming Draenor

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

Rubber Band Thief

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A Game of Fetch

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

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

Pandaria Is Maddening

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

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

Blog, August, Blaugust

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Pronunciation Guide

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

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

Raidy Bits

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

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

 

Happy Blaugust

Blaugust2016

Blaugust2016

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

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

The Participants

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

Daily Posts

Weekday Posts

Three Posts a Week

Some Other Schedule

As Time and Inspiration Allows

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

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

A Chill Blaugust

Blaugust2016

Blaugust2016

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

Blogging on a Schedule

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

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

Blaugust 2016

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

The Rules

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

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

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

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

Resources

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

Back to the Roots

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

Regularly Playing: June Edition

rift 2016-06-12 19-07-37-18

Back in May I decided to make a monthly ritual of “truing up” my “Regularly Playing” widget on the sidebar to more closely represent the games I quite literally was playing on regular rotation.  Given that it is that time again… here is the list of things for June.  I added a few new games into the mix and also removed a few more… even if one is really only temporary.  Doing the thing where I write a blurb about what I happened to be doing in each of them.

Rift

rift 2016-06-12 19-07-37-18

In a weird bit of nostalgia, I decided to come back to Rift and give it another push.  There has never really been a period of time when I have not actually at least dabbled in this game, but so many times I failed to gain traction.  This time around I somehow managed to push from 61 to 65 and have started on  this mad mission to raise all of my tradeskills.  Now having almost accomplished that I will be pushing into the Planetouched Wilds and giving it a real amount of effort.  On top of this I am focused heavily on my crafting dailies, which often times means I need to venture out into the world in search of Sarleaf and Thalasite.  With the shift of WoW to the Garrison for most of your farming needs… I had forgotten just how much I really did love going off and ore farming.  There is just something relaxing about wandering around a zone with a purpose, looking for the next ore pop and trying to get to it before anyone else notices.  It is this weird game within a game that actually seems to work well for me.  I spent many an hour flying circles around Icecrown or Sholazar Basin in Wrath… and now am loving doing the same thing for Gelboro Reef.  Largely I am focused on that zone since, firstly I know it pretty well… and secondly the mobs are low enough level that I can go afk as needed and make it back to the keyboard before something actually kills me.  I am certain that I could be farming ore while wandering around the Planetouched Wilds, but the mobs out there are truly brutal.  Whatever the reason… I am deeply invested in Rift and its community once more and loving it.

Destiny: The Taken King

RemotePlay 2016-06-06 08-59-10-15

While I have slowed down considerably in this game, there are still regularly sessions of it… namely because I have been trying to get fellow AggroChat member and good friend  of mine Grace settled in game.  Monday night we managed to get her to level 40, and pushed through the Taken King quest content… which means that there is an entirely new world waiting for her of endgame stuff.  With Iron Banner going on this weekend, I highly expect that the two of us will be working on that or at least attempting to show her the ropes of the event.  We also have several more steps in the recruit a friend process, but as we get her gear level up there it should get easier to do cooler stuff.  Other than that other games have taken priority over the last few weeks, namely with my return to active duty in FFXIV and running stuff in Rift.  Hopefully the Iron Banner will be a good event to get me back into focus and moving forward in Destiny once more.  I feel pretty disconnected, and I miss the Thursday night Challenge of Elders stuff horribly, I just had a few crazy weeks with the St Louis trip, and Kansas City trip… and a bunch of other random occurrences that knocked me out of my schedule.  Hopefully I can start to rebuild said schedule and get moving forward once more.

ArcheAge

ArcheAge 2016-06-27 06-11-47-14

In a similar fashion to Rift, I have suddenly become involved and attached to the ArcheAge community as well.  Right now I am largely focused on leveling, but at some point I plan on doing all the tradeskilly things in this game as well.  Last year the AggroChat crew made a serious push into this game, and while we faded into the background… I still found it extremely enjoyable.  Additionally like I said yesterday, many of the early toxic aspects of the community as a whole seem to be gone.  Right now I am trying to get back in tune with the game and try and remember how the hell to do half of the things.  On the positive as I grind away at questing I seem to keep getting really nice drops for weapons and armor…  however I remember that most of the best stuff I had was crafted.  I just happened to time my return to coincide with some welcome back campaign, and I keep accruing rewards into my inventory that at some point I will figure out how to use.  Mostly I would like to hit the level cap before worrying too much with them, but I believe some of them are xp bonuses that I might as well use now.  If you are actively playing I am Belglaive on the Tahyang server, but I am not sure what all it requires to actually friend someone in game.  I am not sure if cross server friends lists are a thing there like they are in Rift.

Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

ffxiv_dx11 2016-06-22 20-05-16-74

I spent most of the month deeply frustrated with this game, namely because I was sitting at what felt like an artificial gear cap and being prevented from progressing in the story.  Since then however I managed to get a Void Ark run with some friends and got over whatever anxiety I happened to have about tanking it.  As a result I am now sitting at 205 gear score, and bumping up against the Nidhogg trial in the story.  It is my hope that at some point this week I can get a few friends together and run this and hopefully complete the 3.3 patch story.  I am still enjoying the game, but I lack the drive to play it… that I have in say Rift or ArcheAge right now.  For at least the foreseeable future my activity in game is probably going to be limited to our Tuesday night activities, or the occasional expert or other event that I organize with friends.  I love playing this game… but right now I only seem to love playing it with a group of friends logged in at the same time.  It is still an amazing game, but it has shifted into the sort of role that World of Warcraft has been in the past… that game that I only played when there was an organized activity.

World of Warcraft

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This one admittedly is barely making the list, and keeping its space on my sidebar.  Right now I am occasionally logging in to run Garrisons and get my free gold, but not doing much more other than that.  There has been talk of myself, grace and a few others doing random old world content for transmoggy bits and honestly…  that right now is about all I am interesting in World of Warcraft as a whole.  I feel like I am in a “desperately waiting for the Legion pre-patch” mode.  Largely because I am tired of not having any bank space, and removing any of my outfits is simply not an option.  I am not joking when I say that right now the only important thing to me in this game… is looking cool with my collection of old raid gear littering my bank vault.  If the new transmog system were actually patched in… I would more than likely go through a flurry of activity as I once again do awesome old world content for cool threads.  However I quite literally have hit a point where I maybe have 15 bag slots total between inventory, bank and void storage…. so I simply cannot play Belghast anymore without risking removing something.  So instead… I run the occasional garrison mission as I alternate through my army of alts… and then log out once again.

Things Removed From List

Overwatch

Zero clue why on this one… but the game released and I just have had no desire to really play it.  I am amped about just how excited everyone else seems to be about this game, but honestly it feels like I am more interested in talking about the world and the characters… than actually playing it.  If the player versus bots game were more compelling I would likely play it more often, but right now it feels like to enjoy it I need a group of friend to play it.  Ironically I have a huge group of friends playing it… but I think I am going through a “quiet time” phase where I just want to piddle around on my own in games rather than do a lot of organized play.  The few nights I rode along with people… I lasted 3 to 4 games before feeling the need to run and hide again.  I am certain at some point I will once again get the Overwatch bug, but the truth is I am just not that into competitive games.

Diablo 3

Removing this one again temporarily because well…. the season is over.  I have accomplished everything I could ever hope to accomplish, and now is the quiet time until the next patch.  This will be returning once again as another season starts and we all go through the crazy happy madness that is a season launch.  For a bit I was still farming for pets and such, but with the addition of several games this got removed from the docket.  I still very much love this game and look forward to adding it back to the list, but for the moment we are in the off season and the game for me at least is dormant.