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.

Understanding Hew’s Bane

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I’ve officially hit my first snag in Elder Scrolls Online since getting over the Stonefalls hump… and to be honest it is mostly my own damned fault.  I have been playing through the expansion content in the order it was released, which means after the amazing experience of Orsinium I immediately started work on the Thieves Guild content.  I approached it as though it were a fully realized expansion area, and I think this is where the issues arose.  I have been at times frustrated when it did not seem clear where the next quest in the sequence was after completing the previous one.  I thought this was just a quirk of the design and part and parcel with playing through what is effectively a clandestine group.  I would come back to base and there would be one or more notes for me to read, which would ultimately lead me to the next destination.

Now this has worked more or less because my play time has been limited the last few days, meaning I am not making a ton of progress in any given night.  I have also been doing the daily quests that involve recovering some artifact in a very tomb raider style, or stealthing your way through a dungeon to collect some items and then getting back out before the timer runs out.  Apparently the fact that I am doing this… and my recent slow progression has been masking something that I did not grasp at the first.  The Thieves Guild is not DLC content in the way Orsinium was where it is a self contained storyline and a bunch of supporting quests that ultimately weave themselves together into a fully realized brand new zone.  It is adding another guild to the game… much like the Mages Guild or the Fighters Guild…  and as a result it requires you to progress to a certain rank for you to get the next bit of quest.

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Last night was the first night that my sequence of running missions and daily content did not push me far enough to hit the next rank… and as a result unlock the next bit of the main story.  As a result I am starting to really rethink my process of playing through the content and it makes me feel like I should really be starting the Dark Brotherhood content as well.  Since that is also a new guild being added to the game, it is likely going to roll out its story in a very similar fashion meaning there might be lags between batches of content.  So I feel like tonight I will do my batch of things that I can do in Abah’s Landing and then move forward to the Dark Brotherhood content and see how far it will take me.  Ultimately if I hit stopping places in both guilds then there is always the Imperial City for me to give a shot, as I spent the other night roaming around Cyrodil trying to collect some of the Skyshards I was missing from there.

In truth as far as pure story content goes I guess the proper order would be… the first three faction chapters of the game based on your starting faction, then Orsinium, then Morrowind and finally Summerset.  I am not really sure how the Clockwork City works into the sequence of events.  I believe it is an offshoot from Morrowind and considering I don’t specifically have a quest starter for it yet, I may need to be progressed to a certain point before being able to start it.  Ultimately I should have been working on Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood while I was wrapping up Ebonheart Pact…  but I guess I will know this in the future as I alt.  Consider the Champion Point system, alting seems way more viable than I had originally thought.  There is also tons of content that we have not seen related to the dungeons, so we might need to set up a more formal dungeon night to start working through that.

Launches and Lurching

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Initially I had planned last night on poking my head in on various characters within Azeroth but like many I was greeted with a lot of this screen when I first got home.  It seemed like a combination of a couple of things… first being that there were apparently some rather nasty DDoS attacks going on with the hosting providers… and secondly this was a major patch in WoW.  I mean I’ve been going through this cycle since 2004 and this is far from the first time a major patch rendered the game unplayable for one reason or another.  Just the simple onslaught of a bunch of players coming back to do like I was planning is enough to take down servers.  I have no idea when it was fixed and when the servers came back up…  because I did what I have learned I need to do to keep from getting ragey…  I moved on to playing something else.

Though that said I heard that the community was particularly toxic to the BlizzardCS account last night.  There were apparently people calling for the firing of employees and all of that nonsense…  while those of us who have been through far worse launches sit back and eat our popcorn.  I think the reality is that Blizzard has spoiled us of late with a string of relatively smooth major patch cycles.  So as a result when folks see what I would consider a normal MMO patch rollout…  they lose their shit.  There have been times when I too was losing my shit… particularly during the relaunch of A Realm Reborn when you had to effectively stay logged in if you hoped to play the game at all.  In this scenario however I happily wandered off to play Elder Scrolls Online after a few rounds of attempts.

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So I have been working my way through the ESO content as it was originally released and after finishing Orsinium… that lead me down the path of the Thieve’s Guild.  Now I had accidentally already done the intro quest to this content because I quite legitimately thought it was just another quest in Windhelm.  That is one of the challenges you have coming back this far behind the curve is there are quests everywhere… and a good deal of them are trying to lead you off to start expansions and DLC without ever fully announcing that is their intent.  Sure I probably could have looked it up in the quest journal, but for the most part I find myself not using that at all while playing Elder Scrolls Online.

One of the challenges with Thieves Guild is the fact that it is more or less a stealthy expansion, and I Belghast…  am not a stealthy person.  I am one of those charge into the fight and taunt all the things type person…  and the thought of sneaking around in full plate seems hilarious to me.  That said I have tried my best to embrace this game play style because the content essentially forces you to do so.  Getting detected in a good deal of the missions means that you are going to get swarmed by city guards that you have no way of actually soloing.  Now thankfully it employs the Assassins Creed “instant hiding container” sort of thing, which allows you to evade attention at just the right moment.  Now unfortunately if you already have guard aggro you are going to have to wait a bit until the “heat meter” dies down before popping out and continuing the mission.

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Now it is not like I have never done a thieves guild in the past Elder Scrolls Online games…  in fact to my knowledge I have done them all since Oblivion.  The problem is in those older games there was always a path of “kill all the things” that got you through the quest as opposed to constantly sneaking your butt around.  For the most part however I have managed to do the quests as intended part from a few times when I killed someone instead of just not doing that.  While the gameplay is not my favorite thing in the world, I have to give the game credit for completely hooking me with the storyline.  This is in fact an Elder Scrolls Thieves Guild story…  which quite honestly tend to be some of the better written and more interesting guilds out there.

I am completely hooked on the characters and the story as it is deciphering due to my interactions.  It is part pirates, part heist, part Indiana Jones and a whole of fighting back against an oppressive evil empire…  all of which make for a really interesting sequence.  The way it plays out is interesting as well as there is no one constant thread that you follow but instead a sequence of what seems to be disconnected actions that ultimately weave their way into a main story quest.  I get the impression that I am reaching about the halfway point in the story as there was a major revelation last night, that seems like it will begin the end phase where I start narrowing down and working to righting the great wrong done to the guild.  I am completely hooked…  in spite of needing to creep about unbenefiting a warrior of my stature.

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.

 

 

Plate Dress

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You would think a work week with only two days in it would be a breeze to get through.  You would be wrong, or at least I am struggling with it.  There is something about being off work for five days in a row that really resets your mental clock.  While I had not deviated terribly in my sleep patterns…  I did deviate massively in my pants wearing patterns.  What is making this experience weirder is the fact that I represent the only management team member for my side of the office, and as a result I have people I don’t normally manage coming up to me and asking advice on issues.  However we push on because it is in fact Friday… the harbinger of another respite from work.  That said I know that come Monday morning everyone will be expecting the entire office to be firing on all cylinders so I am trying to take advantage of this lull in people actually being around the office to catch up on things.

On the blog front… I am working on some details for Monday where I talk about the return of Blaugust.  Yes that is right I am doing it again this year because I feel like the community needs something to rally around.  I do intend to shift things up a bit however and make it less about posting every single day and more an amalgam of the various events that we used to do as a community but have let slip by the wayside.  Expect a few elements of the Newbie Blogger Initiative to be thrown into the mix as well to broaden the sort of folks involved.  I will have charts and graphs and all measure of adult looking representations of my thoughts for Monday morning (I am only slightly kidding) but it isn’t quite ready for primetime yet.

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On the gaming front  I am still very much engaged with Elder Scrolls Online and looking forward to Update 19 that comes with the Wolfhunter DLC.  If I had to guess this will probably land sometime around Quake Con that is coming up August 9th through the 12th.  The main reason why I am super interested in this update is that apparently we are finally getting single line respecs…  only five years after asking for these in alpha.  I’ve always been way more into being a Hunter than a Werewolf or Vampire…  so the whole Van Helsing style outfit they are showing off is definitely in my wheelhouse.  Speaking of outfits however… I keep playing with the wardrobe system and creating my very own “plate dress” ensemble.  You can absolutely blame World of Warcraft and the Judgement set for hooking me on this appearance, but unfortunately at this moment the only skirt option I have available to me is one that is Daedric themed, so I am just sorta rolling with that appearance as a whole.

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I’ve been playing with some different combinations of pieces for the Arms and Shoulders…  the first image in this series is what I am currently wearing but I am thinking seriously of going back to this combination shown in the above image.  I think it blended better together and I dig the uncovered hands better than the various gloved options.  I also seem to have settled on running around with the adorable wolf cub as my companion as opposed to the wide variety of violent critters I also have access to.  At this point I am a few quest chains deep into The Rift and still loving the whole encountering people I interacted with in the past.  This time it was someone who dates back all the way to Bleakrock…  which makes me wonder if I had chosen differently in Bal Foyen if I would have had a different interaction.  I am guessing that would be the case, but I absolutely think I chose correctly this time around.

Anyways…  time to get to work.  Have a wonderful weekend and tune in Monday as I begin unrolling the nonsense that is to be this years Blaugust.

A Four Year Mission

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I realize this is a lot of images to link at the beginning of a blog post… but there is a good reason.  For the last four years playing Elder Scrolls Online I had a singular goal…  to see something in the live game that I have not seen since one of the last days of alpha.  I’ve talked about this before but I have been playing Elder Scrolls Online since February of 2013 when the first Friends and Family alphas began.  How I got in is because my good friend Tamrielo was one of the creators of a not insignificant amount of the quest content.  Every so often in Alpha we would be lead by him to go see something… that was a reference to one of us or one of our friends.  One of the final things I remember is running all of the way across the Ebonheart Pact area to The Rift….  and Nimalten to be specific to see an arrangement of NPCs in that town.  The date specifically was October 13th of 2013 as I have a stack of screenshots that I took at that time have have hoarded since.

Last night I managed to push my way through the Eastmarch storyline and upon zoning into the The Rift for the first time…  I couldn’t wait any longer and made a jaunt across zone to Nimalten to find what I had been waiting to see all of this time.  Granted every one of the NPCs made their way through a bit of a “Nordification” pass by the lore team, but enough survived that it is pretty obvious who they are if you know what you are looking at.  First up is my namesake aka Belgrod Sternblade (technically one of two namesakes that I know of) who has a throwaway line about his Stalwart Band of Mercenaries which is a reference to House Stalwart the guild I started in World of Warcraft back in 2004.  Next up is Waren the Wolf aka Warenwolf a long time friend of ours from the vanilla World of Warcraft days, phenomenal hunter and the target of my attempts to heal him with arrows in alpha.  Then we have Ashvorn Bear-Walker which is the slantwise namesake of Ashgar our perennial bear tank and general friend of anything that transforms into animal form.  Lastly we have Autrae Snow-Wing who is playing with her cat Dimi… that represent former AggroChat host Audrae and her then cat Dimitri.

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This might seem silly but for me personally…  being able to see these characters legitimately in the final release of the game means a lot to me.  It also allows me to take stupid photos like the one above with the two Belghast-kin together.  Of course the moment I finished doing this nonsense I ported back to the start of the zone because I want to experience it through the natural flow instead of just jumping ahead to this one town.  I’ve been having a complete blast playing Elder Scrolls Online over the last couple of weeks and really the game has evolved to a state where it pretty much has all of the things that I think I once complained about it not having.  It has a really excellent housing system that I have been collecting patterns for…  and still what I would consider the single best crafting system in any MMORPG.  While a little costly I am a fan of their cosmetic system implementation as well as the various costumes available through either crown crates or direct purchase on the store.  The fact that subscribing to the game gets me access to all of the Expansion and DLC content, a stack of crowns each time it renews, and a magical crafting bag that lets me loot everything and not worry about bag space…  is all a “plus” in my book.  The full list of features for a subscription goes a little something like this…

  • Access to all DLC game packs in the in-game Crown Store
  • Free crowns for the in-game Crown Store
  • Access to the Craft Bag
  • Double bank space
  • Bonuses to progression
  • Extra furniture space
  • Costume dyeing
  • Double Transmutation Crystals

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I am very much in my MMO happy place at the moment, and completely oblivious to pretty much anything else apart from the occasional game of Diablo 3.  I am super excited that soon…  in one zones time I will be starting the first of the DLC content for Elder Scrolls Online.  I have purposefully delayed starting literally anything that came out past the original game… because I wanted to have beaten all 150 levels worth of content that the original game had to offer.  For the uninitiated that starts with the 50 levels worth of content in your starting faction and works its way through Silver and Gold… the new game plus, and new game plus plus that sees you travelling via Cadwell to the other two factions.  Sure it is a little weird to be helping the Ebonheart Pact fight off the Covenant while rocking the Covenant Hero title…  but whatever I can hand wave that away.

The thing that makes me the happiest about Elder Scrolls Online is how indistinguishable it is for me personally from playing any other Elder Scrolls game at this point.  I love the story arcs for each of the zones that evolve as you work your way around and help the other people…  and the little payoffs when you meet up with a character you have already helped out once before.  The amount of scripting work that went into making sure that each NPC recognizes you from every time you have interacted with that NPC before has to be staggering.  The fact that the final main story quest usually involves weaving in a bunch of characters that you met in the zone and each of them commenting on how you helped them in the past, is just so damned great.  The only thing that would push it over the top is if they introduced some Bioware style companions with romance story arcs…  because seriously the core story itself is as good as anything I have seen in a Mass Effect or Dragon Age game.

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I have an extreme amount of emotional investment in this game, not just for the fact that there are characters named after me roaming its world…  but also for the fact that I feel like I helped shape it.  I was a very active member of the alpha community and supposedly one of the more active bug reporters.  I love that there is still a core of players out there in an alpha-only guild that I am part of that has been playing off and on since the days we first got into the servers and kept reporting bugged doors.  I love the fact that there is still a hidden area on the official forums that only those first few testers have access to, and while it isn’t terribly active… feels like a little secret clubhouse that a handful of us have access to.  Every time I step foot into Tamrielo in Elder Scrolls Online it feels like coming back home, and each time I forget why I left in the first place.  The truth is…  I am an easily distracted toddler and I am sure at some point some shiny object with cause me to shift my gaze elsewhere…  but for the moment I am loving every moment of roaming this place that is both so familiar to me but still so fresh to explore.