Blaugust Prep Week

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Welcome to Blaugust!!!

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This week begins what I am referring to as “Prep Week” the idea is to start things a little early and give time for folks in the community to give advice on how exactly to get started.  This might be technical advice in how to get that blog up and running, or more soft skills sort of advise like how to find your niche.  The whole idea being that we can help prepare bloggers to be ready to hit the ground running as soon as August 1st rolls around.  I have to say this initiative has already out lived any expectations that I might have had for it…  and up until today we had yet to actually start properly.

After allowing Blaugust to fall by the wayside I was not really sure what sort of response I would get from the community.  The truth is that last year of Blaugust was fairly anemic as well with me not doing much support of my own thing.  I was not sure if people still cared or still wanted to band together into a larger gathering of minds…  but the answer is apparently yes.  As of posting this the official spreadsheet where I am keeping track of participants has 54 blogs signed up.  It is my hope as the first Blaugust posts start rolling in that the number is going to keep incrementing upwards.

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At this point I have been plugging away at this nonsense for going on nine years… which to some makes me a veteran and to the eldest of our number…  a babe in the woods.  One of the things you are going to see with my blog is a lot of artwork by the amazing Ammo, and back at the seven year mark I commissioned her to do the above image of a bunch of my “Belghasts” from different games.  On the far side you have my Human Warrior in World of Warcraft, moving right my Blades/Shotgun character in The Secret World, next on the bottom my Bahmi Warrior from Rift and stacked on top of him my Exo Titan from Destiny, beside that my Imperial Dragon Knight from Elder Scrolls Online, and finally my Lalafell Warrior in Final Fantasy XIV aka Lalabel.  I’ve played a lot of characters over the years but none of them have been named “Aggronaut” which to some extent means that I failed at least a little bit in naming this blog, since I have been referred to as “Mr Aggronaut” more times than I can count when this blog is quoted.

The name of your blog is probably the single most important thing that you need to stick the landing on, because it becomes increasingly difficult to change once your site gets out in circulation.  I named this blog Tales of the Aggronaut because at the time my intent was for it to be a very niche blog…  World of Warcraft Warrior Tanking and Raiding blog.  The name Aggronaut being a play on Argonaut…  or in my mind one who navigates the Aggro… aka the number one role a tank performs in a party.  I am not sure however if anyone actually picked up on that, and instead expected a way more aggressive and angry blogging style than I have.  I wonder how many people I have turned off completely with them thinking the experience they would be getting was a rant blog.  In fact what I consider to be “me ranting” is apparently super tame in the global internet sense so I have a very ill fitting name for myself.

To make matters worse I carried this sin forward when we started our podcast…  not really knowing what to call it and instead just referring to it as AggroChat until it stuck.  Again there is the problem that if you hear a name like that, you expect it to be an aggressive podcast which it very much is not.  In fact there has been a few times when people have commented upon how very rarely do we actually say anything resembling a curse word.  Generally speaking “bullshit” is the worst thing we say and even then its only when describing some particularly egregious stuff and not actually that common place.  Basically all I am trying to say here is that I failed miserably in properly branding my blog and that you should probably not follow my example.  The cuter and more precious the name… the more likely its meaning is going to be completely lost on the bulk of your readership…  at least until someone points it out to them.

What’s In A Name

So ultimately what is the ideal name for a blog you might ask?  The truth is I don’t have a perfect answer because it is going to vary wildly between people.  In my experience the best blogs have short catchy names, that vaguely remind you of something…  but are also not so specific that they cannot be super malleable if the writer needs or wants to shift subjects.  The majority of us are going to be writing gaming blogs, and there will be an extreme tendency for us to name them based on some bit of a game we love…  or at least a gaming concept.  This can be a double edged sword but I thought I would spend some time picking on names of my fellow bloggers.  In truth I am not going to be saying anything bad, just talking about decisions that were made.

  • Levelcapped.com – This is the site that Scopique runs and I have to say I am super jealous of the title and domain associated with it.  Capping your level is a fairly generic construct at this point, but it is also universally understood especially now that even first person shooters generally have some sort of a leveling mechanic with its requisite end game.  It conveys a notion without limiting options for taking the blog in different directions.  He could for example decide to reboot it completely away from gaming and turn it into a personal blog in his quest to “level up” or something of the sort.
  • MMOQuests.com – This one is easy to pick on given that Stargrace no longer blogs using it and has instead adopted nomadicgamerseh.com as her new home.  First off… it is a great name…  if all you want to do is write about MMO Quests for the rest of your blogging career.  I have to feel like this is probably exactly why she made the jump to a more general blog title… in fact she says as much in a post.
  • Bio Break – I have always loved the title of this blog even though for years I rammed the two words together and Syp can be mildly particular about doing that.  The need to take a bio break… whatever that means to you and walk away from the screen is something universal in gaming be in an MMO where the verbiage was popularized or in a console game when you just need to hit pause and do something else for a moment.  Every game groks this concept and as a result it is insanely sticky branding and has the benefit of rolling off the tongue well.
  • Blessing of Kings – I’ve read this blog since my first days in the World of Warcraft blogging community and love it.  However the name is very specific to that game and will never really be seen as anything else than a World of Warcraft blog, and more particularly a Paladin blog.   Now I don’t think Rohan has any intent to blog about anything else, but I am just pointing out that the blog is pointed into a very specific corner and doesn’t have much of a way out of it.
  • Inventory Full – Another great blog that I read almost daily and another great title that is instantly relate-able to anyone who looks at it and has ever played a game with an inventory management system.  While very much an “MMO Blog” it doesn’t have to be by the title and scope.  It could in theory shift to be any sort of gaming blog or even a personal blog talking about a busy life where it feels like your “inventory” is always full.
  • MMO Gamer Chick – An amazing blog that has sadly gone silent over the years apart from re-syndicating the Battle Bards podcast.  The name tells you a very specific story that you should expect MMO Gaming Posts from a female perspective, and it is that first part that once again limits the longevity of options for the blog.  In the crush of the 2000s… MMO Gaming was the new hotness that we never thought would go into repose…  but alas the age exciting new MMOs has eclipsed making a title like this rough to keep interested in as a writer.
  • DragonChasers.com – Again another excellent title that works in a bunch of different ways.  You could take it literally and interpret as a raiding blog where the person talks about taking down bosses or “slaying internet dragons” in common parlance.  You could also interpret as a metaphor or any number of topics that are difficult to tackle, or simply turn it into a more personal blog.  The name gives you enough room to shift it as your own interests have shifted.

Ultimately I gave myself a short enough name that I have been able to change things up as needed and folks don’t generally remember the actual name of the blog, they just remember Aggronaut.com.  I am saying all of this because if you stick with this for any length of time, your interests are going to shift.  I started my life as a World of Warcraft Tanking and Raiding blog… and shifted into a Raiding and Guild Management blog, then eventually into a more general World of Warcraft blog.

From there I moved into Rift and lost most of my readers over night when I made the change, because being part of a very specific community often means the folks who are reading you…  are only interested in that very specific community.  Sure I got an influx of new readers from the Rift community, but it was a pretty traumatic shift for me personally to go through.  From there I shifted into a general MMO blog and now when the whole “blogging every day” thing happened shifted into a blog about me and my adventures both in game and in the real world with zero pretense of trying to have a higher purpose.

Effectively Tales of the Aggronaut has become an extremely obtusely named personal blog when something like Belghast.com that I do in fact own probably would have been better to use.  However at this point it feels like it is too late in the game to make a major shift like that given the search engine traction that I have after blogging for going on ten years with the same website.  So again I go back to the statement I made at the beginning of this lengthy diatribe…  your name is quite possibly the most decision you can make when it comes to a blog and it will for good or bad ultimately dictate what sort of blog it becomes.

Protecting Sanctuary

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Tomorrow is the official launch of Blaugust and I am pretty freaking excited about it.  I think last I checked we had something in the vicinity of 52 blogs signed up and I am hoping once the first topics start rolling in that number will keep incrementing upwards.  July 25th through July 31st I have dubbed the Blaugust Prep Week, and what you can see from me and hopefully the other mentors is a series of posts talking about how to get started.  These may range from technical discussions of WordPress vs Blogger vs Tumblr to more general discussions of picking a format for your blog or coming up with a name you won’t immediately outgrow.  For the participants however, they should view this as a time to stretch their legs a bit and prepare for the month ahead.  Get some of those early posts in so that you can sort out your own personal blogging rhythms.

Since we had a few more folks sign up I figure I should link their stuff here as well.

New Participants

Once again if you have not taken the time to sign up, please do so.  Considering we have all been there before deciding if we should be blogging at all…  I promise you can do this thing.  When you have signed up make sure you pop by the discord and come hang out as we chat about bloggery things.

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One of the weird disconnects thematically that I have in Elder Scrolls games has always been the Dark Brotherhood.  For the uninitiated, the Dark Brotherhood is a group of assassins that answer the call of the Night Mother.  Around the game world individuals perform a ritual known as the Black Sacrament that calls on the Night Mother with a very specific prayer “Sweet Mother, sweet Mother, send your child unto me, for the sins of the unworthy must be baptized in blood and fear.”  This prayer is heard by the Night Mother and relayed to the Listener of a specific sanctuary which then goes and seals the contract.  We as players traditionally carry out these contracts that involve taking the life of someone who has generally speaking wronged someone else.

So you would expect that from within the Dark Brotherhood everyone would effectively be blood thirsty assassins ready to kill at a moments notice.  While the last bit is true…  the Sanctuary has a very different feel on the inside.  The Dark Brotherhood represents some of the most weirdly sweet content in an Elder Scrolls game.  The members all take care of each other like a family, and when you return home the various other assassins are generally happy to see you.  There is something almost weirdly wholesome about the whole situation, and ultimately I think that is what makes the experience all the more unsettling.

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Ultimately every tale of the Dark Brotherhood tends to end in the same manner, and I am wondering if the tale told in Elder Scrolls Online will be the same.  There are several characters that I genuinely like…  like the Nord who sheltered a scared werewolf girl and adopted her as his sister.  Every game seems to have some characters that you just feel protective over…  in spite of the fact that they are legitimately cold blooded killers.  It is a bizarre juxtaposition that makes me completely uncertain how to feel about any of it…  but it is also one of those guilds that I always look forward to seeing the storyline.  It is progressing much slower than the Thieves Guild did, and I can’t say I am any better at getting a kill in without being noticed.  That said it doesn’t really seem to matter much in the grand scheme of things as I can simply hide out until the heat and my bounty clears.  The thieves guild and dark brotherhood skill lines are amazingly complimentary…  and my only complaint so far is that I cannot assassinate folks during the thieves guild dailies without triggering “being seen” and reducing my timer.

May the dread father guide your blade.

Traders Row

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This weekend the Discord was super active with folks talking about their blog and various related topics.  I am traditionally super bad at following any sort of social media or chats over the weekend.  I barely respond to instant message or text either because I am generally engaged in something that takes all of my attention, either that or running around.  This weekend we went out junking for a bit which was extremely fun, and got this amazing ice cream at a “from scratch” sort of place a town over.  I had English toffee and my wife had cotton candy and both were phenomenal to eat while we roamed around looking through the various junk shops.  I mean they are all labelled as “antiques” but really…  if it isn’t a junk shop I am not terribly interested in looking at it.

We had a few more people sign up for Blaugust which is awesome.  If you have not done this and are at all considering it… please fill out the form link and join us in this madness.  Onwards to the new blogs… one of which has yet to get complete set up but we are going to mention her anyways.

  • Alli – To Be Determined…  but think the name “The Parent Trope” was chosen via the discord this weekend.
  • Void – A Green Mushroom

One of my favorite things this year is seeing us spread out.  We’ve got several sign ups that listened to either the Massively OP Podcast or Geek to Geek and then I am seeing other interesting references showing some word of mouth from folks I am not sure if I even know who they are completely yet.  The other thing I find interesting is several of the comments are written in a way as though they think maybe I don’t know who they are.  If you are a long time reader of my blog and a regular favoriter or commenter regardless of the venue…  blog, twitter, wordpress reader…  I promise I know who you are and am super happy anytime I see you pop up in my notifications.

It isn’t often that I link my podcast from the weekend in my Monday morning post but maybe that is a thing I should do more often.  This weekend it is directly related to the sort of weekend I had, namely it is a show where we largely talk about Elder Scrolls Online and our recent renaissance with that game.  At this moment myself, Ash, Tam, Kodra, Void, Neph, Thalen and Lyle are playing it more or less in various states of “active”.  I believe ToadChild and Eliyon are also playing as well but I have not really seen them online…  either that or not as a name I would recognize them as.  We have a pair Miko and Uldane14 that seem to be leveling together in Morrowind because their levels stay synchronized but never respond to guild chat so not sure who they are.

One of the things you have to realize about House Stalwart in Elder Scrolls Online… is this represents the last great guild that I tried to build.  That is not to say that I have not done my fair share of recruiting for various guilds and continue to do so to this day.  Stalwart on ESO however was my last guild building experiment where I attempted to get all of the people who know me and all of the people they know together in one room…  and over night blossom into a guild of like 150 people at the launch of the game.  We had folks that I knew from various games I had played, folks who worked on said various games…  lots of members of the blogging and content creation community including Dulfy for a bit because we had bumped into each other during the alpha.  It was a massive thing and so long as folks were willing to abide by the three tenets they were welcome.

The only problem with that is there are a large number of people in the guild that I do not remember at all.  In fact there was at least one person I kicked recently that was the ex-husband of a good friend of mine who left her under some seemingly shady conditions.  When there is a situation like that I tend to punt the spouse as a precautionary measure just so at some point in the future there isn’t a moment when they are both online and forgot that they were both in that same guild.  Anyways this is not at all what I intended to be talking about this morning, but suffice to say there are a lot of people in the guild and since you can technically be in five guilds at once… not many have left.  I have two guild slots left, and in truth one of those could be easily pruned in a pinch because I think we only used it as a private extension of the guild bank.

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The thing I actually wanted to talk about this morning is how my opinion has shifted in relation to a topic from this game.  When it first rolled out I remember myself being extremely frustrated by their version of the Auction House system.  I had gotten used to games like World of Warcraft that had overarching global Auction House systems that allowed you to within moments search everything that was available for sale.  It felt extremely efficient, but in hindsight it also has lead to practices that I am not quite so down with like the various gold making schemes that involve playing the Auction House and looking for bargains.  This isn’t my jam… because I don’t really have that day trader instinct and as a result it always just seemed to unnaturally inflate the price of things making it harder for me to get what i wanted.  I remember receiving threatening messages in game from a bag making cartel when I dared to break their agreed upon price point and sold some bags for less to move them quickly.  I told them if they didn’t like it… buy my bags and relist them but otherwise I will do whatever the hell I want.

So for the uninitiated instead of an Auction House system, Elder Scrolls Online has a series of Guild Traders that are located throughout the world and in clusters that can be found in most towns.  I tend to personally refer to these areas as Traders Row and in most cases they are fairly close to the Wayshrine making it easy to pop over and check them.  Now each Trader is bid upon by various guilds in a blind bidding scheme for a fixed bid cycle, and then that guild is charged a weekly rate to maintain the guild store.  I have no real first hand experience of this other than one of my guilds regularly has an active trader somewhere in the world.  When your guild has a trader you have the ability to sell items on the guild store to anyone who happens across your trader and decides to open the inventory and purchase something.

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This has a lot of interesting side effects… namely that all traders are not created equal.  The traders that are in higher rent districts for lack of a better term…  areas of that have higher churn from the player base tend to have much higher prices.  So I am sure over in Summerset, the brand new expansion the prices of items on those traders would be artificially inflated to account for the fact that in order to win that trader… the blind bid that guild had to put up was likely extremely significant.  Now the inverse is true as well… if you find some trader in a backwater area that isn’t even a main city…  the items you find on that vendor are likely going to be extremely cheap.  This creates a cycle of being able to find bargains…  if you are willing to go do the leg work.  There is technically a search engine for items… but it isn’t very complete and requires that people be running an addon that updates the pricing.

Instead what I did on Friday night was spent roughly two hours popping around from town to town looking for deals.  I was ultimately trying to complete the Dwemer crafting set, but in the process I also completed the outlaw weapons and the rest of my mercenary armor pieces.  This process involved taking a way shrine to what I thought I remembered as one of the main towns in a region, making my way to the traders row and searching each of the vendors looking for any of the items I currently was hunting for.  What should have been tedium…  honestly felt pretty enjoyable.  Each region has its own feel and its own group of people that prefer to frequent it.  For example like I have talked about how Shornhelm is my home in this world…  there seems to be people that feel that way about almost every city.

Over the course of several trips to various guild traders, I found myself noticing a lot of the same names hanging out around them.  It feels like a trader may anchor a guild to a location and with it gives the world a tangible destination feel that has been lacking from other games.  The world is massive, but it also feels lived in…  populated with players who happen to prefer one area to another and go there to deal with their “upkeep”.  Just like I preferred Iron Forge for years… and later the Dwarven Quarter…  you can prefer Elden Root to Daggerfall and it is perfectly okay because there is nothing that you can get in one location or other other that makes one superior.  I guess that isn’t entirely fair… given that you need to go to a faction Capitol to get your Undaunted dailies but that really isn’t that big of a deal.

In a game with instant travel…  it has been interesting to see how many things are there to keep you connected to one location over another.

Blade of Woe

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First off with some business to attend to that is Blaugust related.  The very awesome Chestnut has been maintaining a twitter list of all of the folks participating in Blaugust 2018 that are on that platform.  Next up I was asked to participate in a couple of blogs, one with recording a promo that they could edit in and another actually sitting down and talking a bit about the event.  Those have both made their way into production as it were, and first off you have my promo that appears near the tail end of Geek to Geek Podcast with Void and Beej.  Next up I recorded a bit with Syp at the tail end of the Massively OP Podcast, but in both of these cases you should totally listen to the entire show because they are excellent.  I always enjoy the conversations that happen between Void and Beej and then  Syp and Bree as well so two shows always worth listening to.

Over the last few days I have not done the whole morning Blaugust updates in part because the sign ups had slowed down a bit.  However with the spots on the two podcasts we seem to have had an influx of new folks.  On the sheet I ask where folks heard about Blaugust, and so far one of my happiest moments is when I get a submission that says something other than the equivalent of “Bel Told Me” because that means we are spreading out and expanding our reach.  At this point we have 48 blogs signed up to participate and we still have some time before the festivities actually start…  I am cheating a bit with that number because technically one has not signed up but I know it is incoming.  If you are wanting a list of all of the participants and mentors I am keeping a google sheet with only the relevant information in it for folks to use on blogrolls and the like.

New Mentors

New Participants

As always though there is plenty of time to get started.  Pop over and fill out the sign up sheet to get registered, and then pop by the Discord to hang out with other Blaugustans.

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In gaming news, last night I started the Dark Brotherhood series of quests and so far they are pretty freaking cool.  This was always one of my favorite guilds in the Elder Scrolls games because I like the whole Sithis and the Night Mother thing going on as well as the fact that in spite of being a bunch of blood thirsty killers…  there is this interesting family dynamic happening.  This sanctuary is no different and there are some really cool things happening from the sounds of it, and I am interested to see how the events fold out this time.  The Dark Brotherhood quest lines tend to go in a specific direction…  as do the Thieves Guild to be honest.  The Elder Scrolls Online Thieves Guild was in fact a traditional Elder Scrolls Thieves Guild story…  so I have certain expectations of how things are about to go here as well.

I am not very far into the quest line and have only done a few contracts, but I am absolutely and completely down with how Blade of Woe has been implemented in this game.  I like that it just gives me an assassination ability instead of making me wield a freaking dagger.  I am not a stealthy character, but the truth is…  Dark Brotherhood is probably going to make me one because I am not sure how long I can pay the upkeep of constantly having a couple thousand gold in bounties on my head.  Now the first trait in the DB skill line seems to reduce the amount of bounty gained when someone witnesses a murder…  but regardless I need to be at least a little stealthy in my hits.

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I do not really like forced stealth mechanics, and my brand is more about charging into battle in a nonsensical manner and as a tank gathering up all that enemy hate.  This is not conducive to the Thieves Guild, but you can absolutely go in that direction with the Dark Brotherhood.  If you want to complete a mission by making sure there is 100% body count… then by all means that is a thing that can happen.  However it becomes painfully obvious that every one of those kills is going to cost you in the long run, with a very tangible bounty associated with it.  I came out of one mission with roughly 5500 gold in bounty on my head…  and while I could have waited awhile for that to drop I made my way to the nearest outlaws refuge and took care of it rather than be hassled by the guards.

Now that I have gotten slightly better at using Blade of Woe I am doing a better job of getting those kills in unnoticed and as a result reducing that gold footprint.  This game is teaching me to be stealthy and while it is weird for me to say it…  I am actually enjoying it more than I have in pretty much any other game.  I was extremely proud of myself the first time I got into a building unnoticed and back out without having to use one of the magical stealth baskets.  The mission I ran at the beginning of the night involved roaming around a palace and it mostly felt easy to go where I needed to go because I am starting to develop the reflexes needed to sneak about.  There is a certain muscle memory that I am developing that I have never really had in the past.  In other Elder Scrolls Games the only reason why I ever used sneak…  was to land a bow shot with the damage multiplier.  This time it feels like it allows me to move around freely and avoid entanglements I might not want to deal with.  All in all… still having a blast even though I was initially grumpy with the forced stealth.

Luck and Mini Bosses

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At this point we are up to 41 blogs signed up for Blaugust in one form or another, with a significant number of folks hanging out in the Discord just for the sake of fun that we may be able to sway one way or another.  I am super happy with this early participation, and in side conversations there are a bunch of folks on the fence trying to determine just how much they can afford to participate themselves this year.  In that always be plugging style of conversation…  if you are at all interested in starting up a blog now is the time to do it.  Pop on by the sign up form and let us know your information and we will do our best to support you through that early blogging experience.  This is of course also an open offer as well to folks who are currently blogging and just want to up their frequency of posting…  or really want to help mentor the next crew of bloggers.

Since I last posted updates there have been a few new entries and you can see the entire list in an easy to use google sheet that I have been maintaining.

New Mentors

New Participants

The official pre-week starts on July 25th so there is still plenty of time to get a blog up and running before the official August 1st start.

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There are times where I have the sort of luck that pisses my friends off.  For example I have pulled a couple of those ultra rare chase cards from Battle for Zenndikar and Kaladesh, just buying random single packs here and there.  Magic the Gathering just released its return to core sets with M19 and there are a bunch of interesting cards in it… namely a much needed reprint of Crucible of Worlds and brand new version of the classic legends era dragons.  Ultimately I would like to have a copy of each for eventual EDH brewing purposes, and as a result I picked up a fat pack on Friday in my post funeral travels.  Now a fat pack has 10 packs and seems to be for lack of a better term a partial piece of what would have normally been a full box.

They tend to be feast or famine, either you get the good end of the rare/mythic sheet or you don’t.  In this case I managed to pull 4 mythics out of those ten packs.  I took the above photo to show off everything that came out of that box, with the last two on the left side being just a couple of cool looking common foils.  I found it weird that I got a duplicate rare out of the batch so maybe they are doing the fat packs different than they have done before.  I was extremely excited that I managed to pull a Crucible of Worlds and at least two of the three color dragons.  Unfortunately I did not pull the big daddy of them all…  Nicol Bolas, the Ravager.  I still consider this an insanely lucky box, and walked away mighty happy with it.

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As far as the rest of the weekend… it was largely spent hanging out and playing some Elder Scrolls Online.  I have now officially finished the Orsinium content and wow… I am exceedingly impressed with the quality.  If that is at all representative of what I have to expect from the follow up releases, then I am going to be a very happy boy.  I’ve since started on the Thieves Guild which is the next content release in order…  having largely skipped Imperial City due to its PvEvP nature.  I did however spent a chunk of last night running around and collecting Skyshards out in Cyrodil..  I am sure frustrating someone who was there to try and take keeps and mile forts.  The only actual PVP I got into was being found by a roaming murderball of Ebonheart Pact players…  at which point my screen froze and I crashed out of the game only to come back very dead.

The most fun however was prior to that when I was roaming around in Coldharbor with Ashgar and Tamrielo doing the public dungeon there.  It all started simple enough…  the three of us on Voice Chat when Ash mentioned mostly to himself that he was going to ignore the Public Dungeon for now until he could come back with a group.  I said that I had not done the public dungeon there for the same reason and Tam chimed in that he had largely been avoiding any group content.  Before long the three of us were converging upon Ash’s location and doing the public dungeon which had two quests inside of it.  Additionally we realized that there were a bunch of optional bosses in various corners of the place and we set forth to take each and every one down earning us a conqueror achievement.

I kinda love that this game does not care at all about where a player is in the progression, and that you can pretty much just group in for whatever happens to be going on.  I abused this power to help Void get some crafting materials by porting myself to Windhelm and then letting him piggy back in on that to get the shrine there.  I love that this game has decided that horizontal progression is the way to go because it has allowed me to invest resources in a really nice set of gear knowing I won’t be upgrading it anytime soon.  I love that I can just do whatever happens to cross my path and still feel like I am moving towards a goal in the form of Champion points…  knowing that I am also adding progression to every single character as I go.  I am very happy with the current state of Elder Scrolls Online.

NPC Memories

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Once again I am going to lead off this morning with an update on the folks who have joined in the fun since my last post.  I have a sneaking suspicion that these will continue especially considering we have a bunch of folks in the Discord who have yet to actually fill out the sign-up form.  I am not officially counting someone until I have an entry in the sign up sheet from them.  Another thing that has happened is I was asked to record a quick demo for the for someone to mix into their podcast.  I am not sure if anyone else out there cares about such thing but I thought I would link it here.  I did find myself falling into radio announcer voice a bit but whatever…  I think it does a reasonable job of summarizing the event.

As far as the sign-ups we don’t have as many as we have had in past days.  I feel like this is going to probably slow down a bit and then pick back up just prior to the event starting around July 25th.

New Participants

I want to give an extra call out to RumorsMatrix who completely bucked the notion of WordPress vs Blogger and went off and created his own custom blogging software.  That is some awesome dedication and I highly suggest you check out [barely readable diary] because it is anything but.  I’ve had a few questions recently about the whole Mentor vs Participant thing largely because there were some in the community that were viewing Participant as the “newbie” role and didn’t necessarily feel like they were ready for the “mentor” title either.  Functionally this comes down to intent and less about who is new or not.

I’ve used the analogy of Blaugust as a Blogging Summer Camp, and in that concept the Mentors would effectively be the Camp Counselors.  As a mentor you should feel comfortable with other bloggers coming up to you and asking for advice or some form of assistance.  Participants on the other hand are folks who just want to join their blog into this nonsense and participate in the festival of blogging as a whole.  I do however intend to try and track a few metrics that were not in the form, namely folks for whom this is their first Blaugust, and folks who started a brand new blog for the initiative.  Ultimately if you just want to join in and have fun then Participant is likely the role for you.

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Last night I continued my journey in Elder Scrolls Online Orsinium DLC and knocked out a few more areas before ultimately getting pulled into a crisis at work.  You never want to hear the words “catastrophic failure” at 10 pm…  but we managed to get everything wrapped up by 11ish.  However it greatly cut into the flow of my evening and kept me from completing more than I otherwise would have.  The depth of this content continues to impress me as does the scale, and I keep thinking in the back of my head…  if all of these DLCs are this cool it might be a really long time before I chew through it.  It sounds as though the key differentiation between a DLC and an Expansion is the first is largely centered around a single zone and the later includes multiple areas.

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I am extremely thankful that I wound up finishing all three factions worth of content before starting any of the DLCs.  There were times I contemplated straying off that path but it is really paying off in spades.  During the original quest lines there are certain characters that stand out, and occasionally show back up multiple times during the course of the main story.  One of the interesting things is that if you have completed all three factions…  you end up getting recognized by characters that you have interacted with in all three campaigns.  For example Neramo is part of the original Daggerfall starting area of Stros M’Kai and when I bumped into him in Wrothgar he recalled our previous adventures.  Similarly you run into Rigurt the Brash a handful of times during the Ebonheart Pact story… and you can see how he is greeting me here.

Functionally this feels like the difference between starting Mass Effect with the first game and playing your way through all of them, each time importing your save game… and just starting with Mass Effect 3.  I am hoping this time commitment continues to pay off as we move forward through other DLC…  I did some googling and apparently at the least Neramo shows up a few more times in the future.  It is this level of scripting and quest detail that makes the game feel so good as people greet you differently based on your past experiences.  Sure it is an illusion and they are simply checking to see if this quest or that quest was completed, but it is a level of detail that is sorely missing in other games.  I still remember how painfully jarring it was when I encountered Alexstrasza in the Twilight Highlands after completing several arcs for her during Wrath of the Lich King saving Wyrmrest Temple…  and having her not remember my character in the least.

I have a huge backlog of Elder Scrolls Online content to get through and I am still greatly enjoying myself.

Wisdom of Kurog

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I guess we will start off this morning with more welcomes to the fold, given that we keep seeing a pretty steady trickle of folks signing up for this nonsense.  Last night I met with Syp and recorded a bit of an interview talking about Blaugust that I believe will eventually make its way into the MassivelyOP podcast.  I am super lucky to have so much support from folks like MassivelyOP in covering this event, and in the past it has been covered by other sites as well.  Given we are still a couple weeks away from the official launch I am super excited to see this much interest.  I’ve been doing some business sort of things, like updating my blog side bar and trying to sort out how I am going to do my blogroll.  For the moment however if you want the full and updated list of participants I have shared out a subset of the form data through google sheets.

On to the sign-ups from yesterday!

New Mentors

New Participants

All of this said… there is still plenty of time to sign up and join in the fun.  The official start isn’t until July 25th and even then what really matters is that you have your blog ready and in place to start on the challenge August 1st.  If you are interested swing by our sign up form and then join us over in the Blaugust Discord for shenanigans.   I will admit early on I was somewhat afraid we might have all Mentors and no Participants…  but right now we are running 68% participants and 32% mentors which seems like a pretty great mix to me.

Another business note… we have our first prizes that have been donated.  The first $30 USD/£20 GBP via Steam/Amazon to a random brand new blogger who started their blog for the first time as part of this initiative.  The second is $30 USD/£20 GBP via Steam/Amazon to a random Rainbow Diamond award winner.  As has happened in the past these tend to show up as the event rolls on and I will be making a master list of them all.  My intent is to create a list of them sorted by equivalent monetary value and draw names for each prize until the virtual “hat” is empty.

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On the gaming side…  I am still really enjoying my time in Wrothgar but also taking it very slowly.  I am essentially knocking two or so blips off my map every night.  That said I think I completed one of the major story arcs seeing as it involved helping out the King of the Orcs.  I was super happy because last night I got to tango with the followers of a Daedra which is always a good time for me personally.  ESO Belghast most definitely vanquishes all Daedric Princes…   however Skyrim Belghast usually makes a deal with them so he can get their super sweet and powerful weapon.  This is always a weird disconnect in my mind given how I fought Molag Bal here… but happy thumped people over the head with his mace in Skyrim.

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This might be my single favorite piece of dialog so far in Elder Scrolls Online and kinda encompasses everything it is to be an Orc.  I know that feel and can absolutely understand him being super excited.  I have a soft spot for the Orsimer because I have always loved the whole thing that they are effectively “corrupted elves”.  In practice they make really cool buildings and have been some really interesting characters to interact with.  I feel like if World of Warcraft Orcs were half as cool as the Orsimer I would have proudly been Horde, rather than being that faction that I largely care about because of Nubzy and Facepull.  They also have a freaking awesome armor and weapon style…  but one that never quite looks right on my Imperial character.  The first character I made in Alpha if I am remembering correctly was an Orsimer Templar so this DLC has been really fun for me to roam around in.

If they are all this cool…  I may stay glued to ESO for a very long time.

Mzindyne

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This is more than likely going to be a feature each morning as I post the new sign-ups to Blaugust.  If you are planning on participating please hit the Google Forms sign-up sheet so I can get you accounted for on the list.  Additionally swing by the Discord where we are all sorta coalescing in this middle ground between the announcement and the official start.  I’m super happy to see folks already talking about technical details a bit and helping point folks in the right direction on various topics.

New Mentors

New Blaugustans

We also have Ventium who has signed up but is still sorting out the blog which is fine because there is still plenty of time.  Ultimately that was the primary reason why I announced it a bit early and also gave a lead in week still in July so folks could have some time to seek help on getting the blog set up and ready to go for August 1st.  August is a bit of a special month for me… seeing as August 1st is also my wedding anniversary and this year is going to be twenty years.  Admittedly organizing the start of a blogging festival is not exactly romantic, but she runs her own Blaugust event many of the years among her Math Blogging community.

Side note…  I am hoping today to sort out the Blogroll to have a more permanent list of participants.  I think I agree with Syp in a conversation we had on Discord that the best way to clean up the Blogroll… is just to nuke it from orbit and start from scratch.

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I went to bed pretty early last night because my wife and I both turned to each other at nine-ish and said that we could go to bed at pretty much any time.  Prior to that however I spent my evening playing Elder Scrolls Online again, slowly working my way through the Orsinium content.  More specifically I spent a good deal of my time delving into a Dwemer ruin.  This was always my favorite part of Skyrim and quite honestly…  any game that lets me explore and underground civilization is pretty high on my list.  For example the Deep Roads sections of Dragons Age games are without a doubt my favorites…  much to the chagrin of players that completely hate that area.

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I have to say though the Dwemer ruin in the Wrothgar area has to be the coolest that I have seen in game yet.  It had an interesting puzzle associated with it and brand new dwarven mob types in the form of cute little sentry robots.  I love fighting dwarven stuff…  which again is something that most people hate to do for some reason.  I will purposefully go out of my way to fight the big Dwarven Centurions because I think they are just so damned cool.  ESO is a great game to get in… knock a few quests off and turn a few areas of the map to the completed icon state.  You feel a sense of accomplishment, but still have a sort of drop in and drop back out experience.

That said I know there are several big releases coming up that will probably distract me some.  You have Monster Hunter World for the PC on August 9th, and Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate for the Switch on August 28th.  Then you have the big one which is World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth on August 14th…  which I know I will play but I am not feeling any hype for as of yet.  There are a lot of directions that game is going that I am not sure if I can follow.  In my perfect world the Horde and Alliance would form a grand alliance that allows players to play freely with each other and go take on bigger badder monsters than the nonsense red versus blue crap.  An expansion that doubles down on the past is concerning to me, but I have yet to miss a launch of a WoW game…  so I fully expect to be logging in on the 14th and playing along with everyone else.

 

Cadwell’s Gold

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I thought I would start off with a brief Blaugust update since while we are still roughly 15 days away from the official kickoff… we already have a bunch of activity.  For those interested please take a moment and fill out the form that I am using for tracking this event.  Also we have a discord that is starting to become active that we have a good number of the participants in so far.  On day what… negative 16…  we had a bunch of people sign up and I fully expect before we will get the event rolling we will have even more sign up.  However I did want to take a quick moment to recognize all of the “first!” crew who signed up almost immediately.

Mentors (so far)

Blaugustans (aka participants so far)

Super huge thanks to all of these fine folks for signing their name on the dotted line…  or in our case a google form.  I did want to say a few more things about Blaugust.  This is a festival of blogging, but that could take a bunch of meanings.  If your thing is not writing a bunch of words about gaming then that is absolutely cool…  just do whatever works for you.  If you would prefer to do a travelogue sort of blog where you explore, take a bunch of pictures and then write a little bit about each of them…  then that is a really cool blog.  If you want to do some sort of creative en-devour and show off the things you created in the process… and talk a bit about what you were thinking or any challenges you had while creating it…  then that also is a really cool blog.

Say you want to instead challenge yourself to do a daily vlog or a daily twitch stream…  that you then paste links to in a blog form…  then that absolutely is also within the spirit of this festival.  Blaugust is about creating content and preferably getting yourself in the habit of doing it in a regular manner.  The idea is to turn the once a month blogger into a couple of times a week blogger giving us more content to consume and broadening our community.  A lot of the traditional blogging activity has moved from the dedicated blogs into the social media space…  which is an area we are finding we have no control over.  I feel like maybe it is time to start clawing those posts back to places you control and staking out a place for yourself on the internet.  There is still plenty of time to decide if you want to participant in this years running of Blaugust however.

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On to gaming talk… last night I accomplished something that has been my goal up until this point in Elder Scrolls Online.  I finished Cadwell’s Gold or as I have often referred to it..  New Game++.  For the uninitiated Elder Scrolls Online launched with three separate factions and an interesting mechanic that allows you to keep the gaming going by venturing forth into the other two factions after you finish the one you started in.  So as a Daggerfall Covenant player, my first “New Game” mode was to venture forth into the Aldmerri Dominion.  I stalled out in that area for a really long time… given that the game released four years ago.  Once beating that main story quest…  I achieved Cadwell’s Silver and moved forth into Ebonheart Pact, where I have been spending my time lately and wrapped up last night.

For my troubles I got a necklace that I will likely deconstruct… and a cosmetic helm that is Cadwell’s infamous “helmet”.  I am effectively “finished” with all of the content that was available at the release of Elder Scrolls Online…  effectively 150 levels worth of story.  By the time I beat it I was sitting at 285 champion points… which becomes the post game progression system.  I was really weird about the content in ESO because I wanted to beat the effective New Game++ before starting any of the DLC or expansion content.  Now I have accidentally done one of the Thieves Guild quests because I simply thought it was “just another quest” in Windhelm, however I have not properly dug into any of it…  that is until last night.

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I officially started Orsinium…  with my trusty helm equipped.  Firstly I have to say… if this is the scale of their DLC content… I am damned impressed and find myself wondering what in the hell their Expansions look like since they make the clear distinction between the two concepts.  Wrothgar is huge and so far the questing has been excellent since I have been looking forward to doing the deep dive into Orsimer culture.  The fact that Orcs in the Elder Scrolls setting… are “Elves Gone Wrong”…  has always appealed to me greatly given my general distaste for elves in most games.  That said I do love the Bosmer… and quite a bit of Dunmer culture as well…  so maybe it is just the Altmer aka High Elves that I ultimately have problem with.  The Thalmor in Skyrim are one of those things that I will go completely out of my way just to kill one walking down the road.

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If you have not gotten the impression yet…  I am freaking having a blast in this game and I am super glad E3 made me want to dig back into it.  Effectively prior to E3 I had been stalled out in Stonefalls…  which is not a good zone.  It doesn’t help that it is one of those zones we beat the shit out of in alpha and beta with focused testing…  so it just bores me to tears at this point.  However as soon as I managed to push my way through it…  the rest of Ebonheart Pact was charming and interesting and the gaming equivalent of a “page turner”.  Now I am almost giddy thinking about experiencing all of this expanded content that I have heard so much about.

 

 

Blaugust Reborn

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What Was Blaugust?

Back in April of 2013 I started this thing I referred to as the Grand Experiment, where I attempted to force myself to write something… anything every single day.  Prior to that I had been a very infrequent blogger to say the least, having an entire year pass between posts.  Any time I lapsed there would be this wall of pressure and anxiety that would build up that kept me from starting posting again, feeling like when I came back I needed to make some spectacular re-entry worthy of the length of time I had been gone.  The daily posting things did a lot for me and my confidence and also the level of my life I was willing to share with my readers.  For me personally… it was a good transformation and while I only kept with the daily posting for three years I have since settled into a more comfortable routine of only posting during the week days.

In 2014 I had already noticed a change in the way I wrote and how I felt about blogging in general and to some extent wanted to share that with the rest of the blogging community.  So in my infinite wisdom I decided to create an event where I challenged other bloggers to go one entire month without missing a post.  In my head I rammed together a bunch of sounds until I came up with Blaugust…  only to find out later that it was already a thing and that a bunch of Aussies had been doing a blogging festival thing for years.  My version however focused on the rigor of posting every single day and being super hard core about keeping track of who was and was not still in the race.  While entertaining this was really not healthy for the blogging community.

One of the side effects that I found is that many blogs that were started for Blaugust or were fledglings going into it…  went into massive periods of not posting anything at all as a sort of recovery period.  Similarly as the years went on those same blogs never really seemed to recover, and it is my fear that Blaugust wound up killing more blogs than it wound up helping.  Each year I tweaked the formula a bit until 2016 was my attempt at creating a kinder gentler Blaugust, and then last year I just couldn’t muster the oomph to make it happen at all and instead promoted something my friend Grace was trying.  I had this overall feeling that I harmed the community with the event, and this was only reinforced in my mind by the constantly shrinking pool of active bloggers.

What Was the Newbie Blogger Intiative?

The thing is… at the time of the inception of Blaugust it was just one of many events that the community did during the year.  The grand daddy of them all was the Newbie Blogger Initiative that ran most often during the month of May.  This was an idea originally spawned by Syp of Bio Break and he realized that game blogging was a thing that was on the decline, and the only way to keep it alive was to set out to “grow our own” as it were.  The first year was 2012 and had a flood of participation that you can see summarized here, but it helped more than anything to build a sense of community to the folks out here blogging as independent island nations floating in the internet.  There are lots of game blogging communities that gain cohesiveness through shared love of a specific product…  the World of Warcraft community for example has always been fairly tight knit and recursive.  However those of us nomads that jump around from game to game have never really had a similar family…  that is until NBI came along and crafted a sense of shared community.  Unfortunately the last running of NBI was also in 2016…  because quite honestly the tail end of 2016 and all of 2017 were extremely rough to struggle through.  There were events that happened in the real world and events that happened in gaming that caused people to fear for their own safety and sort of batten down the hatches.  All of this was an unfortunate blow to our already shrinking blogrolls.

What is Blaugust Reborn?

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The idea is simple…  lets take the best features of both Blaugust and the Newbie Blogger Intiative and sorta ram them together into one festival of blogging.  It isn’t necessarily that I feel like I am qualified to do this thing…  but it is something that someone needs to do.  Over the last few years those of us who are out here posting regularly has shrunk to a pretty small pool.  There was a time when I could never actually read down my blog roll, because by the time I got through with a day new posts were flooding in over the top of the dam.  Now I pretty regularly read down to the equivalent of “inbox zero” while taking pretty huge breaks between reading.  The world has changed and it isn’t as exciting to be out here blogging your thoughts and ideas the way it used to be, also there are a million other streams of information dividing our attention.  I still feel however that blogging creates a place for yourself in that stream if information and gives you a presence that cannot be taken away by “promoted posts” or “interest based sorting algorithms”.

So what I propose is a month of mildly structured posting and developing a strong mentorship community among those of us who are still out there doing it on a regular basis.  Lets help grow that next generation of bloggers and help them get started in a journey that honestly has meant more to me than I can adequately put into words.  I love feeling like I am part of something bigger than myself and I think we all do to some extent.  Let’s reignite the fires of this dwindling community and help to firmly affix the torch into the hands of a new generation of bloggers.  While gaming is very much in my wheel house… it isn’t even a game blogging festival but more one about creating a place for yourself and showing off whatever it is that you want to show the world.  You could create a blog to share your latest recipe creations or one to catalog your experiences as you start a new job.  You could share your awesome screenshots and write some notes about how you felt when you took it or what you were thinking at the time.  You could do your “daily blog” as a series of livestreams that you record and post later as a VOD or exported to YouTube.  The core concept is to create a community around the creation of new “stuff” and a sense of us all working together in the same shared space.

What About the Awards?

One of the things that has traditionally come with Blaugust is a series of made up awards that are granted to those who participant.  So far they have shaped up to look a little something like this…

  • Newbie Blogger Award – You did it, you created a new blog and by god we are going to sing your praises for doing it!
  • Bronze Award – You made at least 5 posts during the Month of August 2018.
  • Silver Award – You made at least 15 posts during the Month of August 2018, go you!
  • Gold Award – You made at least 25 posts during the Month of August 2018, you are a badass!
  • Rainbow Diamond Award – You did it, you posted every single day during the Month of August 2018 and deserve accolades.

Occasionally in the past various sponsors have mysteriously shown up during this event, and if that happens… awesome I will share the bounty.  If not I am going to make nifty blog sidebar thingys for each of the various award categories.

Mentorship

One of the keys to making this work is that we need a bunch of you amazing bloggers out there to sign up as mentors.  Ultimately I feel like mentors should have roughly two years of blogging experience under their belt to be able to gauge the ebbs and flows of content creation in front of a live studio audience.  This isn’t necessarily meant as a gate keeping mechanism, but I want any participant to feel like they can turn to any mentor for sage advice.  I sure as hell am not sure if I have anything resembling sage advice, but I have quite a bit of experience in dealing with the nonsense that comes up while trying to keep a regular publishing schedule.  The mentors will all be clearly marked as such in Discord since that tends to be the thing that ultimately replaced forums for the gaming community.  I will be doing my best to be hanging out there often myself to answer questions as they arise.

Structured Format

I mentioned this above that I wanted to attempt a bit of a structured format… which is of course optional but provides us some general content areas to focus on while the event is going on.  This also helps to revive another tradition that was Developer Appreciation Week and embed it as part of this larger blogging festival as well.  So right now the weeks look a little something like this.

  • July 25th – July 31st – Blaugust Prep Week – posts about the technical details of getting started in blogging.  Tutorials, advice, tips for naming your blog… that sort of stuff to get people ready to hit the ground on August 1st running.
  • August 1st – August 7th – Topic Brainstorming Week – posts about ideas for topics that the participants can then mine for the rest of the month.
  • August 8th – August 14th – Get to Know Each Other Week – hanging out and meeting other people in this new fledgling community and hopefully gaming together a bit!  Also highly support doing some sort of collaboration on shared topics!
  • August 15th – August 21st – Developer Appreciation Week – post about the things that you really appreciate in gaming or any other community… because chances are there is a developer or designer behind the things you love.
  • August 22nd – August 28th – Staying Motivated Week – tips and tricks that you might have to stay motivated and keep creating content against the tyranny of a blank screen.
  • August 29th – August 31st – The Final Stretch: Lessons Learned – as a way of getting us across the finish line, talk about some of the experienced you had during the month and maybe things you learned about yourself.

The Details

  • The sign up form for Blaugust Reborn 2018 can be found here
  • The invite link to the Blaugust Reborn Discord can be found here
  • When you share your content please use the hashtag #BlaugustReborn for tracking purposes
    • Also share your content in the “share-your-content” channel on Discord!
  • Mingle with your other Mentors and Participants
    • Maybe even use the “gaming-together” channel on Discord for play games together!
  • Have a great freaking August!