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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

 

Racing Snail

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Out of Advice

This month is of course the rescheduled Newbie Blogger Initiative… and I have been horrible at supporting it so far.  Normally I have filled my blog with various sundry related information about blogging, and if you really want you can probably still take some of that as completely valid.  I know this event works, but the problem is… at this point I just feel like I am out of advice to give without simply rehashing a bunch of old themes.  The truth is I really don’t know what I am doing, and while sometimes I put on the front that I do…  I spend the majority of my time winging it.  Sure before I wrote a single line on Aggronaut, I had planned a lot of stuff like the domain name and hosting provider, but that is not to say I didn’t have a much earlier not fit for public consumption blog on blogger.  Back then… I just started blogging, and it is I feel honestly good to just go make some mistakes on your own without the intervention of others.  My original blog was a semi-private ordeal talking about my life, my family, and all sorts of random events in large part surrounded on our sudden and bizarre desire to start camping.  I say camping… but what I really mean is hanging out at a lakeside resort in an RV.  It was real and snarky and sometimes raw… but it had a very specific audience of folks who actually knew me in real life.  Those people didn’t care about my gaming, and in most part would probably find it strange.

So when I created Aggronaut it was by purpose designed to be completely divorced from my real life.  The idea was I would have the real world blog for people who knew me… and then the other blog to talk about my passions.  That didn’t exactly work because I’ve found that while I can write in a mostly anonymous fashion talking about people and events from my real life setting…  I can’t exactly keep them out of my topics.  I’ve tried not to name names in my blog as a sort of “protect the innocent” fashion in part because my wife works in a very skittish profession.  I never wanted anything I might say to reflect badly upon her.  I would say that I probably filter myself a lot, but the truth is I really don’t have that many inflammatory opinions.  What I personally consider ranting about subject… I’ve often been told is just polite but impassioned discussion.  So as I sit down and try and thing of advice to give a budding blogger, I am really finding myself completely empty this year.  Just because I have been doing something longer, doesn’t mean I have any better grasp on how things should work.  I don’t know what I am doing… and it is perfectly okay to not know what you are doing.  I’ve somehow made that work for over seven years now, and I suppose I will continue to make it work for the foreseeable future.  I lack the ego however to tell you t hat my way is the correct way, because I know I don’t even know if it is right for me.  Next week I might get new information that makes me question everything about what I have done for the better part of this decade, and that is also okay.  Basically if you want to write…  just go write.

A Good Note

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Over the last few days I have become progressively more active in the Rift community.  There is something comfortable about coming back to this game, and I find myself obsessing with all of these little details.  The experience has been something akin to catching a movie on cable television that you have not seen at decades… and then having a sudden swell of feelings for how much you used to love that movie.  Coming back to Rift this time feels very much like dusting off a favorite tome and reading it again with new eyes.  There are some things I am coming to terms with, namely that unlike so many games… it is unlikely that I will find many of my closest friends interested in joining me.  As I have learned time and time again… Rift is not really their game and especially the AggroChat crew can rattle off a list of reasons why.  That said… it has always sorta been my game, and been something that I supported regardless if I was actually playing with it.  I’ve said time and time again that Rift is essentially all of the features I ever wanted in a video game compiled in one game… and they just keep adding more features as time goes on.  That said it is also a much harder game than I have grown accustomed to, and as a result for the last several years since the launch of Storm Legion I have struggled a bit to find my place in it.  I was extremely slow getting to level 60, and I am just now getting to 65, so the speed and difficulty of leveling was something I had a difficult time reconciling now that I am extremely used to the fast pace and ease of leveling in the “modern” mmo.  I’ve long said that my favorite time period in World of Warcraft was Wrath of the Lich King, and I’ve just realized that Rift is as though you stopped the clock in a time period before content started to get watered down to appeal to a wider audience.  That is not to say that Rift does not have a lot of solo-able features… but if you intend to play at the highest levels of the game you are going to need a group and dedication to your character.

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All of this aside I am in this position where I am really enjoying the depth of this game, and finding myself with this entire list of things that I want to accomplish.  One of the best parts of the game for me personally is the way that they have changed the wardrobe system.  Now when you pick up an item, you collect its appearance and can then assemble outfits out of these appearances without needing to fiddle with any of the actual loot.  The fact that there are also zero negatives like a gold sink associated with it, means I am constantly changing my wardrobes around, and I guess at times this is a positive.  Within the Rift forums and Discord there was a contest called “Planetouched Style”, the idea being that you assembled an outfit that represented a certain planar theme and then went out into the world and found a location that fit the theme to take a screenshot.  The first image was my entry, going for a sort of “Papa Legba” feel for it… and then finding an area out in Seratos that really shows off the deathyness.  Much to my shock… I apparently nabbed second place in the contest.  So I am now the proud owner of the 5th Anniversary edition racing snail…  completely with flames decorating the shell.  This goes nicely with my 4th Anniversary mount that I already spent damned near all of my time riding.  I am excited and humbled to somehow have managed to win, but it was a great note to end the day on yesterday.

 

Why Not Try Pax South?

This is going to be a bit of a frivolous topic, but I am writing it the night before posting.  Tomorrow I have to be up well before dawn to take my wife to the airport.  As a result I searched my thoughts for something worth writing about and landed on this discussion.  Today the PAX West tickets went on sale… or PAX Prime for those not yet with the program…  or just plain old PAX for those who have been living under a rock and missed the slow invasion of the show across the country and world.  These notoriously sell out almost instantly, and unless you happen to be watching the site at the exact second it goes live, there is no way you are likely getting tickets.  I have two friends who tried today… one of which practically lives for PAX…  and while they both made it into the queue within a very short amount of time, but the time I actually arrived at a screen which allowed them to purchase anything…  Sunday tickets were almost gone and Monday was in low availability.  This is kinda insane given that they have expanded the show to a fourth day and seemingly keep expanding it.  The problem is that more people want to go than are tickets available.  I am sure a good number of the tickets get snatched up by speculators, and others are buying trying to get as many as their friends in as they can.  I even found out that apparently folks have written scripts that are supposed to get them in the queue the second the page is published.

This same sort of madness goes on with Blizzcon but is magnified by the fact that they do several small batches of ticket sales, each of them selling out in a matter of minutes.  Whereas with Pax West there is a nearly instant queue, and it simply takes awhile for those folks to filter through it to the other end.  Still it seems that you had to get into the queue with the first few minutes to guarantee that you had any tickets to purchase.  This presents a huge problem for folks attending, because at least for me a huge part of why I am interested in PAX at all is to use it as a destination to meet up with friends from the internet that I may never actually see otherwise.  Just watching the reactions from folks attending both PAX and Blizzcon this seems to be the general consensus and the challenge is that it is nearly impossible to insure that all of your friends can actually attend.  I know among my friends they had a complicated system of trying to make sure they could cover all of the people needed for Blizzcon with everyone trying to fight through the queue, and talking over chat to arrange who was buying tickets for whom when someone actually made it through the queue.  Watching my friends today it seems like that is just about the only way to actually guarantee attending PAX West as well.

What I am presenting with this mornings post is another alternative.  If PAX Prime is not your native PAX location… meaning it is further than reasonable driving distance away from you…  might I suggest the alternative of PAX South?  Granted it happened in January and is still over six months away…  but I’ve been attending since its inception and I have to say it is a pretty great place to be.  This past year we had something like fifteen people running around in different numbers taking in all that the convention had to offer.  While I failed miserably at spending time with most of the people due to the sheer number, it was nonetheless awesome to get to see and hang out with everyone.  PAX South has this super chill vibe to it and has a lot of positives going for it, that might not be the case with West or even East.  The show is still very much in fledgling status, but the attendance was up quite a bit last year and expanded to a whole new area of the convention center in order to accommodate a significantly harder tabletop section.  While the show was missing several of the headliners that were there the first year…  such as Bioware or Gearbox…  the indie section seemed to expand massively.  What I liked about it was that I could pretty much lay hands on any of the devs attending, and get to talk to them face to face about the game they were showing off.  Several of them were extremely excited to be talking about this labor of love that they had been working on so long.

I’ve always gotten the impression that at the larger conventions, unless you are wearing a media badge it can be really hard to actually get face time with the various exhibitors.  That seems insanely easy to do at South.  It also seemed like it was extremely easy to talk to the various streamers and gaming personalities.  While that is not really my corner of the world, I spotted several dozen streamers that I recognized mingling out in the floor or tucked away in a corner always willing to stop and chat with fans.  This was absolutely the case the first year as well, because one of the members of my party wound up getting a bunch of autographs from several of the personalities.  It is my hope that the 2017 show can somehow pull together the best of the two years.  Year one had some bigger names, but year two had way more stuff… and significantly more people in attendance.  If this year they can convince several of the larger companies to show products, as well as keep the attendance on an upward trajectory I think there are going to be awesome things in the future.  My goal as always will be to meet and hang out with as many people as I can from my extended circles.

I know how frustrating it can be to not get tickets for that event you wanted.  I after all tried to get Pax Prime tickets last year, and after the frustrating debacle that it ultimately was didn’t even try this year.  South is my home PAX, and is a roughly nine hour drive for me.  I will likely attend it every year so long as they keep having them.  I’ve gotten the impression that there are others like me that consider it their PAX.  However for those really just wanting the PAX experience, without the hassle and overpriced after market tickets…  I highly suggest you give PAX South a go.  I will continue to trumpet it as the year goes on… or at least until they have sold out the passes.  Throughout this post I have linked to a series of YouTube videos put out about the South show, as I am sure a way to try and drum up interest.  I know this will be the last year in Penny Arcade’s contract with the Henry B. Gonzalez convention center.  I think there is enough interest in the con to warrant it continuing in one form or another, but it might end up moving to another city.  I’ve greatly enjoyed both years, and while I would love to have it in Dallas or Austin… just because they are significantly closer drives, I am more than willing to make the lengthy trek to San Antonio.  Essentially if you failed to get into West/Prime…  South might just be the convention you are looking for.

Letter to New Bloggers

NBI2016

A Newbie Month

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This is one of those mornings where I apparently forgot to set my alarm clock and am damned thankful that apparently I only woke up thirty minutes late.  So everything feels rushed and it is not exactly the proper mood for a contemplative post.  Today marks a few things… firstly it is my mothers birthday and I have already remembered to send her a text so she would have a message waiting on her when she wakes up.  I will of course follow up later with a proper phone call…  but I wanted to get that early strike in there first.  Secondly this is the beginning of the rescheduled Newbie Blogger Initiative month.  This is something I have participated in since 2013, and feel a sense of obligation each year to do so again.  The problem is that after all these years I am questioning if I have any fresh wisdom to give out to the participants.  Blogging is one of those things that while we can commune as a group…  there comes a point where you are sitting in front of the tyranny of the blank page and only you can push through it.  We all have mornings when thinking let alone blogging is a difficulty, and for me this is one of them.  However as per my own statement… I am going to push through and make something happen.

So You Want to Blog

It seems like almost every year I start the proceedings off with something along the lines of that paragraph.  The truth is, only you can really look inside of yourself and see if there is a blog there waiting to spring forth into the world.  For me personally… I guess I was always a blogger and just never quite realized it.  I was extremely prone to posting “big damned walls of text” in on any subject I happened to be passionate about.  Early on the topic of choice were the White Wolf World of Darkness role-playing books or the Palladium system.  Later it became games as I even started writing reviews of Saturn and Playstation games for a small emulation and general gaming website.  I really came into my own when it came to MMOs and I haunted the forums of pretty much all of the games I played be it Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, City of Heroes or eventually World of Warcraft.  I had this burning drive to talk about the things I was interested in and to share my ideas, and while a lot of my topics were fostering the community…  a lot of them were just talking about my experiences.

On the forums for the server I used to play on… I became one of the white hats that regular rode in to chastise the evil doers, but at the same time freely shared game advice if I had any to give.  If you have ever found yourself doing these things…  chances are you really do have a blog inside of you waiting to get out.  Now the real challenge is trying to direct that unfocused information into a meaningful form.  Many bloggers will tell you that the secret to success is to pick a niche and stick with it… and become the be all end all site to go to for that subject.  That is probably some absolute truth, but it is also something I was never terribly good at.  This blog after all launched as a “Warrior Tanking Blog” just about as niche as you can possibly get… but the problem is I felt like a fraud doing that.  I was no real expert in being a warrior, nor was I an expert in tanking.  Both were things that largely came naturally to me, and it was baffling for me to try and explain what was largely pure instinct.  So I took a step back and decided to refocus on Raiding… until I realized that I wasn’t a particularly brilliant raider either.  We did what we did to win and at our own pace, which isn’t exactly a sterling example of the craft.  As a result I kept setting up branding and then knocking them down… until I finally wound up with this simply being “my blog” without any other pretense, because “bel saying things” was a focus that I could actually stick with.

You’ll Need a Name

Ultimately where I am going with this… is that you are going to need a name to call your blog.  Some people have created perfectly brilliant names… that they quickly outgrow when they go through a similar digression like my own blog did.  I am lucky that “Tales of the Aggronaut” was fairly generic and that I could keep adapting it pretty easily to whatever I happened to be doing.  Aggronaut was my attempt at a clever name for a tank… and since I rarely don’t tank at least a little it has continued to work.  Other folks have created a perfectly lovely name for say a Warlock blog… only to find out later that playing a Warlock is not their primary calling in life and as a result they have to come up with something else.  Ultimately my advice I guess would be to come up with something that represents you the writer, and not necessarily the subject.  Clever names are awesome, but only so long as they actually are something that you feel comfortable sitting down and writing posts behind.  There are an awful lot of famous blogs out there… with completely boring or descriptive names.

I think most people envision brilliant branding of their website from the starting gate, but in truth you are probably better of just picking some minimal window dressing until you get a feel for where exactly you are going.  I maybe jumped into this whole concept with two feet hitting the ground in that I bought my domain name and had it completely set up and ready to go before I wrote a single post.  I guess that makes sense given that I write code for a living, but in truth you don’t need to do any of this quite yet.  Your best option is to simply lean on good ole WordPress.com or Blogger.com rather than to try and do the self hosting thing right out of the gate.  I lean heavily towards WordPress simply because you have a lot more options for if you decide to transition to self hosted at a later date.  Technically you can do the same thing with Blogger but the process is less seamless and from what I have read in “how to” articles way more hassle than the other option.  There is of course Tumblr as an option, but you are exposing yourself to a way more problematic community right out of the gate than I would suggest for any fledgling blogger.

You’ll Need Readers

Now for the hard part…  you’ve named yourself and set up a site…  now you need to hang out yours “open for business” sign and wait.  This is the part of the equation that can drive you completely insane when you realize that no one is actually reading what you are writing.  This is going to happen to everyone, but the positive of starting a blog during this month means that the other bloggers are going to at least help try and get you started.  Self promotion is one of those things that I am particularly bad at.  In theory you want to put your blog in front of as many eyeballs as you can, which means syndicating it to pretty much all of the available options.  I syndicate my posts each day to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Google Plus… and this is essentially like casting a net out into the water.  If you get a nibble more than likely folks will add your blog to their RSS feed and be done with it… and then you have a potential reader for life.  That is unless you do something so horrific as to cause them to go through the effort of actually removing a blog.  For me at least… once a blog makes it to my RSS feed I am pretty much going to read them forever.

The problem is… your stats will always seem insignificant.  You can drive yourself completely mad looking at them for too long when you watch as this post that you spent five minutes on got ten times the readers than that gem you spent several days on.  Amassing regular readers is a bit of a waiting game, but I will say that there are a few factors that seem to factor in.  Firstly you need to have some sort of a schedule.  Since taking my recent breaks my readership has gone to shit, but previously when I was doing the post every single day thing I had a fairly steady stream of readers each and every day.  Secondly you have to give them something interesting to read, and this can come from several different directions.  My personal theory is that if someone is going to read you for long one of two things are going to be happening.  Either you are posting such a wealth of information about a very specific subject as to turn yourself into the “resource” for that community, or they are sticking around because they care about you as a person.  I’ve tended to focus on the second part of that statement, and as a result have shared some super personal information with my readers.  It sometimes works, but ultimately you are going to have to figure out the points that work for you.  The problem with giving blogging advice is no two blogs are the same… nor do they even have the same goals.  We can throw information at you, but you will have to figure out which bits are relevant to you.

 

I wish you luck and look forward to reading your blog

Bel