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.

Always a Blink

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That feel when you catch your character in a blink animation but don’t realize it until you go to post the picture.  Oh well..  you get sleepytime Belghast…  or maybe he is just frustrated that he has to kill another batch of cultists to close yet another anchor.  Last night I continued on with my journeys in Deshaan and wrapped up the main story.  There are still a few areas of the map that I have not explored and turned the black icon to white signifying that I have completed it.  So I fully expect to spend a night doing some basic mop of of quests but unfortunately that likely will not be tonight.  Tonight is the night I am meeting friends to play Magic the Gathering at a local restaurant…  that I am hoping is not terribly busy.  There is a group that meets there to play Dominos…  and I am hoping that it is going to be perfectly copacetic to sit there and play MTG.

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One of the weirdest things about Elder Scrolls Online is the way all of the screenshots end up being my character off to one side and then showing off what is happening in the background.  I mean I could take a shot of my backside…  but this always seemed like a better option to turn and face the virtual camera.  There is always the option of zooming in to first person and stowing my weapons to take a screenshot, but I rarely actually do that.  Instead I do this sorta selfie mode where I have my character to one side of the screen and a pretty picture going on in the background.  In a way it feels more touristy than the standard screenshot faire, like “here is me at this place” sort of feel that I dig.  So much of this game is about me wandering around and finding interesting sights… and because of that especially it just sorta fits.

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I have really enjoyed Deshaan as a zone goes with its main story arc, but I will say about the time I wrap up a zone…  I am more than ready to move on past it.  I honestly thought Eastmarch was next in the sequence but it seems like the quest chain is leading me to go start Shadowfen and check out some disturbance happening at Stormhold.  I am wondering if they shifted the order of things at some point or if I just don’t have a main story quest for the entirety of Eastmarch.  Whatever the case I need to sort out what my next destination will be, and I am still several steps away from The Rift where the Belghast namesake exists.  There is a driving force in me that wants to get past the Ebonheart content so that I can in good conscience start the DLC areas…  beginning with I believe Orsinium.  Still having an awful lot of fun and I guess my goal is to make a significant dent in the game before Battle for Azeroth inevitably and begrudgingly pulls me elsewhere.

Exploring Deshaan

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This is going to be a bit of a weird week for me personally, and as a result probably a weird week for the blog.  My wife has a friend in town for a conference and as a result it is causing us to vary our normal patterns…  and also as a result there is probably going to be significantly less gaming to talk about.  Now one major exception is that said friend is a Magic the Gathering player and tentatively Wednesday night we have plans to get together and play some casual decks for fun.  That will of course be probably something that I write about and I am going to attempt to take some “board state” photos as the matches go.  I have built up a box of four battle decks from card kingdom that are all themed and roughly the same power level thinking it would be a quick and easy drop in and play magic option.  The grand idea was to bring it up to work for some lunch time gaming, but it hasn’t actually happened yet.

Last night when we got home from Joe Momma’s one of our favorite downtown pizza places, I crashed on the sofa and played some Elder Scrolls Online.  I am essentially doing what I always do which is push into the corners of the map that I have yet to explore and complete whatever quests I happen across there.  I remember this game had a rather frosty reception… but in truth the longer it lives the less I can distinguish it from a normal numbered Elder Scrolls game.  I realize some players approached those games in vastly different ways than I did… but for me it was always about killing monsters, collecting loot, running quests…  and ABOVE ALL ELSE…  wandering around aimlessly and exploring the nooks and crannies of the map.  All of those game play styles are supported in ESO and as a result whenever I pick it back up it sorta feels like returning to an old friend.

One of my favorite parts about returning to the game is something that dates back to alpha.  The original alpha players were referred to as the Psijic Order, and on the official game forums there is still a hidden forum area that never got closed out from that area where we occasionally chat back and forth.  Similarly there was a guild formed on launch day made up of players from this same alpha pool and in truth it is one of the more active guilds that I have access to.  I am super thankful that after all of this time and all of my wandering away and back again that no one punted me from it.  I am deeply connected to this title because of my experiences testing it for so long, and I am happy to for some remnant of that early community that I still have access to.

I am cutting off the post short this morning as it is election day here in Oklahoma.  I am going to attempt to vote before work, and if you too are having a primary I highly suggest you drag your butt to the polls as well.

Shornhelm Resident

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When I play an MMO a curious thing seems to happen.  There will be one town or public area that I tend to gravitate towards.  In World of Warcraft that was Ironforge which makes sense given that was the location of the only Alliance Auction House for years.  However long after that fact I still visit it pretty often because as far as a city goes it just feels comfortable.  Even when I hang out in Stormwind as the later expansions have pushed us…  I tend to hang out in the Dwarven Quarter because again… it feels right for my character.  I am sure if you were to ask me to cobble together a roleplaying back story it would involve the fact that Belghast was a human living among Dwarves in Iron Forge as a sort of adopted son.

In Elder Scrolls online…  my home is Shornhelm located in the Rivenspire zone of Daggerfall Covenant.  While I chose to play an imperial for the bonuses…  in my mental canon I am from Shornhelm and grew up there.  It doesn’t hurt that I absolutely love the look of this town, but in truth what drew me to it in the first place was the ease of crafting.  There is a Wayshrine a few steps from the Smithy and Lumbermill and around the corner from that is the bank.  A few steps away is the entrance to the thieves guild, and the only thing that is inconvenient is the Enchanter for breaking down my enchants and jewelry.  All told it is just a simple and convenient way to get into town and do my business without needing to run all over the place.

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I spent the better part of the weekend playing Elder Scrolls Online chilling on the sofa.  At this point I have gone through at least half of Deshaan which appears to be a very large zone in the grand scheme of things.  Once I got past CP160 my overall champion rating doesn’t really seem to matter anymore but I believe I am somewhere around 230.  This is nothing compared to the players I see roaming around in their 700s.  One of the things I find interesting about this game is the fact that the champion system helps to buffer things…  but if you are not paying attention and get too much hate from too many targets… you still can pretty easily die.  I of course have Green Dragon Blood cheats which helps me recover from dumb things…  but it isn’t like I can reliably solo the zone mini boss type mobs yet.

I am still largely playing the same way I always have as a sword and shield dragon knight favoring stamina a bit, but in truth a fairly balanced character otherwise.   There are many builds that appear to be faster at killing things than mine, and I am sure I could swap stuff around to get to one of those.  However this one makes me happy and it involves me charging in… debuffing the target and then just wailing on them with my weapon.  I am perfectly fine with that style of gameplay.  Now were I dipping my toes into PVP I am sure I would quickly be confronted with my inadequacies.

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The system that I stumbled onto yesterday that I had never experienced before was the Outfit Station.  I have largely been wearing an disguise that I picked up from some crates since I really dig the whole platemail robes thing that the World of Warcraft paladins had going on.  As a result I have not really worried too much about what sort of gear I was wearing, but eventually wandered past a machine I had not seen before.  This allows you to change the appearance of every slot you are wearing and set three levels of color dye.  One of the things I deeply appreciate is that the same regions on every piece seem to be the same dye slot.  In both GW2 and Rift there are times where the primary item may represent the metal pieces…  but in other items it could be the secondary dye slot.  In ESO it seemed to be reliable that the first slot represented the metal bits, the second the highlights, and the third any underlayment.

Ultimately what this tells me is that I need a lot more dye pots, but I am not really sure how one gets those apart from buying them on the in game store when they are offering up a color scheme you like.  I cobbled together something I am largely okay with however.  That said…  the real win for the night was learning how to dye my disguise so that I could keep wearing my plate robes appearance but just change up the color scheme a bit.  I am having yet another renaissance with this game, and I am wondering how long it will last.  As my friend Squirrel said…  it will likely last right up until some other game catches my attention since I do tend to flit back and forth between every MMO I have ever played.  Really enjoying the story of Ebonheart Pact and it is so much more “me” than what was going on over in Aldmeri Dominion.

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One parting comment… if you are out there playing some ESO feel free to add me to your friends list.  If you friend @belghast it will do so at an account level, making it easier to track if I am on an alt.  The truth is however…  I don’t really play alts.

Champion and Stonefalls

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Last night I managed to do enough greater rifts to push my three gems of choice to level 35… which means I have now finished the second post chapter of Season 14.  I am now two steps into Destroyer where the challenges get harder as to the prize amounts.  I feel like this is a reasonable place to take a break since my often partner in crime in this Diablo nonsense is having to deal with some real world stuff.  I do however intend to keep running the occasional run to farm up some gold.  I am completely flat broke at this very moment… or at least 600k gold which FEELS flat broke in the Diablo 3 seasonal post game.  I spent a chunk of time transmuting gems for the purpose of trying to slot the best green gem into every item that would take one.

This will be essentially the last performance and damage output boost I can make that does not involving swapping item for item with an Ancient Legendary equivalent.  You can see on the profile of my seasonal character that I currently have four ancient legendaries…  but of those one doesn’t really count given that I am wearing nemesis bracers just for the purpose of burning through Rifts faster.  I’ve been spending all of my blood shards with Kadala on chest pieces in the random hope of getting an ancient version of the Marauders chest, but really at this point it is just picking a slot and grinding on it until luck rewards me for my futility.

I also need to determine what conquest I will plan on going with this season, or technically conquests if I intend to go deep enough in to get the extra bank slot.  The conquests available this season are…

  • Avarice – Complete a 50,000,000 gold streak while outside The Vault and the Inner Sanctum
  • Speed Demon – Complete a Nephalem Rift at Max level on Torment X or Higher within 2 minutes
  • Years of War – Reach Greater Rift Level 55 Solo with the full bonuses of Six of the Following Class Sets
  • Divinity – Reach Greater Rift Level 75 Solo
  • On A Good Day – Level three Legendary Gems to 65

Of those the two most obvious and probably easiest are Divinity and On A Good Day given that those sorta happen in the normal flow of the game.  Figuring out which third one I want to do is probably going to be the biggest issue.  Maybe Grace and I could get fast enough to do a T10 Rift together within 2 minutes, especially if we could find some more people to help us out and just sorta go in different directions during each level racking up kills. Avarice is all about building a specific set for it and then gathering up all of the trash in a specific area and trying to kill it all at once.  I guess I should be holding onto those gold boosting items just in case I want to go down that route.

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The other thing I did last night was run around in Elder Scrolls Online for a couple hours.  I gotta say this game is really gorgeous and even thought Stonefalls is probably the worst zone in the game (though Ashgar would probably fight me and claim that Alakir Desert is)…  it is still breathtakingly beautiful with its alien mushroom landscapes.  I am trying to push through this area because Stonefalls is really the major impediment for almost all of my attempts to level through the Ebonheart content.  As a reminder to my readers… I am stubborn as fuck when it comes to Elder Scrolls Online and am not willing to try any of the expansion content until I have beaten the original content.  That means I started off in Daggerfall and leveled all the way through those zones.  Then I entered the new game plus…  which was Aldmeri Dominion on the same character and have leveled through all of that.  Finally I am in the process of leveling my way through Ebonheart Pact at which point… I will happily begin gobbling up the expansions.

The primary reason behind this is that I know people who worked on this game and feel like I want to see every last bit of the original content.  There is a town in the Rift area in Ebonheart that has namesake characters for myself, Ashgar, Warenwolf, and Audrae…  and while I saw them during beta I want to see them legitimately with my main character.  I feel like maybe I am ready to buckle down and start pushing through the content and finally reach that goal I have been working on since 2014.  Ultimately Elder Scrolls Online is a game I have been playing off and on in one form or another since February of 2013, and the amount of effort that I put into beta testing probably stalled out my eventual post release progress.  That said I am deeply proud of being a member of the Psijic Order… what they called the alpha testers and proud of what this game has ultimately become.

Lantern Light

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Last night went absolutely nothing like I had originally intended.  The initial goal I had in mind was to go home and attempt to pull myself back into a mindset where I could play Final Fantasy XIV.  Instead I hit a few detours along the way the first of which being that shortly after I had finished doing all of the stuff that I need to do when I first get home…  the power went out.  Now I realize this is mostly an irrational fear, but the first thing that always goes through my head is…  did you pay the bill?  I am not sure exactly why I have this fear because we have never actually been disconnected from any utility, but it is still something that happens.  I was already in my “not suitable for public” clothing, but I did stumble outside long enough to notice that all of my neighbors were also lumbering around by flashlight.  I called in the outage and reported it through the menu driven system and then spent the next little bit trying to sort out how to see reported outages without logging into the damned electric company page with an account that I didn’t have.  There is a local facebook group that serves as the closest thing we have to a city wide “water cooler” and my second place was to go check there knowing that there would already be a thread of a hundred or so posts about whatever was going on.  The lights went out around 6 pm and if the group was to be believed the estimated time for the fix was 11:30 pm…  which meant it was about to be a really long night living by lantern light.  It was around this time that I remembered I had the Switch and grabbed it from my office settling into the sofa to play some games.  I had played some Super Mario Odyssey and was about ten minutes into the Octopath Traveler demo when the power was magically restored at roughly 8 pm.

From there I did all of those things I had been avoiding… like opening the fridge to get a drink and settled down to play some Final Fantasy XIV.  Upon logging in I got greeted by friends… roamed around Limsa Lominsa and then promptly logged out because I just did not have it in me to do the group activities I need to do in order to make any semblance of forward momentum.  Instead I popped into Elder Scrolls Online and continued work on Stonefalls.  This zone is like a giant immovable object for me and the sooner I get on the other side of it the better.  It has singlehandedly killed every attempt at playing an Ebonheart Pact character because even though it has gone through a ton of changes since alpha…  it still is not what I would call a good zone.  The weird shape and geometry of the zone makes everything a bigger chore than it should be.  Objectives that might look really close on the map instead require you to backtrack half the way across the zone to find the proper entrance into the region you need to go.  All of this is just the functional reasons…  but there is also the fact that it is bleak.  The quake color palette and the constant smokey haze and falling ash make it not exactly the most visually exciting place to be.  I did however feel like I made a bunch of progress in the zone last night and checked off a bunch of areas.  I am not even sure where I am in the zones main story quest, and if I could change one thing about Elder Scrolls online I would make it so that those primary quests required to move to the next area were somehow highlighted differently in a FFXIV style manner.

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The other thing on my radar is that at the time of taking this screenshot we were roughly 17 hours away from unlocking Monster Hunter World on the PS4.  Granted I have no actual intent of staying up until midnight to play this game, but I do plan on playing Friday night.  This is going to be my first real attempt at playing a Monster Hunter title while it is in the public zeitgeist and I am hoping that by doing so…  I will be able to grok what the fuck is going on.  I’ve attempted the PS Vita version and purchase Generations for the 3DS…  but largely chocked up a lot of my problems to the fact that I am just not much of a handheld gamer.  World however is coming to the PS4 which will allow me to play it on this nifty 43 inch 4k television (even though I don’t have a pro and can’t do the higher resolutions really) and my hope is it will be a much more compelling experience.  I’ve always thought this was the sort of game I could get into if I had the proper introduction, because the core loop of grind random stuff to make yourself stronger to take down big bad monsters is one that I can likely get behind.  I am hoping I can rely on those who have come before like Ashgar and Stormrazor to get me over the adjustment hump.  I am also super excited that Arekkz is devoting a series of videos to easing beginners in.  I most definitely need the assistance.  Needless to say I will be on the PS4 giving it a whirl tomorrow.

Saving Bleakrock

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Lets get this update out of the way.  I am still struggling quite a bit with this death flu bullshit that has been going around.  Here in my home state of Oklahoma there have been 45 deaths since the beginning of Flu Season, and I absolutely understand why.  I religiously take the Flu Shot each year when work offers it, but some of the estimates I have seen say it is only 10-15% effective against what is actually out in the wild.  Due to my case getting misdiagnosed as a sinus infection early on… it mean’t I lost that time window when something like Tamiflu would be useful.  Now I am having to just slog through it in an attempt to get to the other side.  This weekend things started feeling worse as it triggered my Asthma in a major way, and instead of podcasting Saturday night my wife was making a mercy run to Walgreens to pick up more medication that the on-call doctor prescribed.  This meant that Friday night I wound up having to take six Prednisone pills in one dose in an attempt to shock my system back to normal.  It is helping but going way slower than I would have liked, I am now starting day three of a dose pack and I am really hoping that today is the day that I start to feel more human again.  Most of the weekend I was in this mode where I felt fairly reasonable so long as I was sitting perfectly still and not doing much of anything.  The moment I would get up and attempt to do something simple like get a drink, or swap a load of laundry…  and it felt like I had just finished some epic uphill slog through the tundra.  I hate feeling useless, and I hate that this has continued to drag on as long as it has.  Since the only time I felt reasonable this weekend was sitting on the sofa snuggled into a blanket with my laptop…  that mean’t I spent most of my time playing games.  With the current state of World of Warcraft feeling fairly awful until they make what is going to inevitably be a balance and tuning pass on World Scaling…  I needed something else to hold my attention.  I am still playing quite a bit of Neverwinter, but for whatever reason that game feels best to me when played in short focused bursts.  It was around Friday that I started playing Elder Scrolls Online regularly and it managed to get its hooks into my psyche.

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I have been extremely stubborn in the way that I play Elder Scrolls Online.  For the uninitiated, the base game has a really cool feature of having a build in new game plus and plus plus modes. What that means is that as you beat your chosen faction’s content, you walk backwards around the ouroboros taking on the next faction in sequence while you play through all three.  I originally rolled as Daggerfall Covenant, which mean’t my new game plus faction is Aldmeri Dominion and then new game plus plus would be Ebonheart Pact.  Where we get into the stubborn part is that I refuse to play any of the “expansion” content aka Imperial City, Orsinium, Thieves Guild, Dark Brotherhood, Shadows of the Hist or Morrowind until I have completed all three of the original factions.  Of note each one of these factions is designed to be 50 levels of content and now we get into where I have stalled out…  it takes a very long time to work through the original game three times.  Aldmeri Dominion originally seemed like pure hell to me because of my severe distaste for all things elves…  and that faction has both the Altmer (High Elves) and the Bosmer (Wood Elves).  That said…  I do have a very deep soft spot for the often times completely feral cannibal Bosmer, and I have always loved the moon sugar imbibing Khajiit…  so I thought on those two elements alone I could probably make it through the content.  What I was not expecting however was to completely fall in love with the storyline featuring a bunch of elves and their weird struggles to hold together what apparently as a very unlikely alliance.  With elements of the Wild Hunt and crazy drug induced visions…  Aldmeri Dominion turned out to be a really excellent ride and I am sure Tam is pleased as hell with himself because I know he was responsible for at least some of the content.  This weekend I managed to finish up the main storyline in Reapers March, but I will admit there are a lot of side quests that I simply did not deal with over there that at some point I will probably revisit.  Ultimately I would love to 100% every one of the zones…  but that will take time and I did not want to burn myself out doing so.

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As a result last night I finally started Bleakrock Isle and Ebonheart Pact.  This is without a doubt the content that I tested most thoroughly over the course of the year or so that I was in various alpha and beta tests.  It was the content I could essentially do in my sleep…  along with Stros M’kai.  The funny thing is… time had clouded my memories and left me with vague idea for how the flow of the zone was supposed to go…  but left me struggling to remember how to get 100% of the refugees off the island.  I realize I could have easily skipped the intro area and moved straight on to Stonefalls, but in truth I have always found the intro areas to be extremely strong content.  I know they were a huge problem for players who wanted to log in and just start running amok, but for me personally… they were this great guided tour into the game.  That is one of the things I constantly find myself amazed by is just how damned good this game really is, and how relatively shunned it was by the broader Elder Scrolls community.  Each time I return I get immersed completely into the world and am right back where I left off mentally and wandering around completely interesting quests.  That honestly is a double edged sword because what ultimately causes me to wander away is that it is almost at times too immersive.  Much like playing the story in SWTOR I get engrossed in the game and have trouble doing anything else while playing it.  There is always more dialog to listen to and more quest chains to complete, and my ability to binge Netflix and play this game is largely a nonstarter.  If I want to Netflix… my game of choice is something like World of Warcraft that is so familiar and almost mind numbing that I can play it almost entirely with muscle reflexes.  Elder Scrolls is largely still a game about muscle reflex for me… but still one that I need to accurately read the tells that the mobs on screen are giving me to be able to react correctly to in order to stay alive.  I cannot simply blindly run around mashing buttons… or I will end up dead exceptionally fast for someone who has just shy of 200 champion points as of logging out last night.  I know I am probably playing less than optimally, but I have a build that works for me and feels reasonably well and I am afraid to dig too deeply into it past that.  Optimization is often times the path of misery for me and drains the fun out of the experience.  I do however need to perform a little resource to figure out exactly what the gear level breaks are and how soon I should be looking to upgrade out of my 160 CP gear into something else.

 

On The Mend

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I am mostly among the living.  Yesterday was a federal holiday here in the United States and with me being off work… it also mean’t that I largely treated it as part of the weekend for blogging purposes.  I am still fighting the same crud that I had last week, but it feels like at some point on Monday I turned the corner.  While I still have the vestiges of whatever bronchial mess has inflicted me, I am starting to feel better and less like an appendage of the couch and or bed depending upon the time table.  it truly was a miserable weekend and while I attempted to game I was not terribly successful at anything until yesterday.  I spent most of the break working on the Tauren Hunter who has now finished the Outland and is knee deep in Northrend just starting the Grizzly Hills area.  My hope is that when I ding 74 the bear spirit beast will be up and I can collect it for my pet.  Up until this point I am mostly running a Fel Corehound that I got from the Blasted Lands.  I took the Beast Mastery talent that allows your pets to shadow step… so it is entertaining watching him leap up on targets rapidly.  At this point however I can kill most mobs well before my beast even has time to interact with it…  which is the life of running full heirlooms.

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Sunday I indulged a really weird whim and decided to reinstall the Arc client and give Neverwinter a spin.  I’m on the PR feed still from Perfect Worlds and they are constantly putting out press releases about content releases to this game.  It got me wondering what the current state of matters is when I have literally not heard anyone talk about it in almost two years.  It turns out the game is in pretty great shape as far as actually logging in and playing it.  As far as doing its best to feel insidious from a loot box standpoint…  it is also working on winning some awards.  I don’t remember much about the game if I am being very serious, but you know that thing that we chastised Call of Duty WW2 for doing at the beginning of the year?  Where if you get a drop the game announces to the rest of the world what you just got?  That apparently happens in Neverwinter as most of my time spent in the central hub area was a constant stream of people getting loot drop rewards.  In the very short time I played yesterday I got somewhere around 25 loot crate drops from random stuff while doing quests.  Each one of these crates would require a key which runs roughly $1.25 each without any of the “buying in bulk” discounts applied.  Through the quests I wound up getting three free keys to open three sample crates and if the ones that drop in the wild are at all similar to what they gave us as “examples” for why we should buy into this system…  they were full of utter garbage.  If you can however do what I started doing and just vendoring the damn crates for a few copper each time you saw one drop…  and loot past the money grubbing nature of the game…  the core feedback loop is actually rather enjoyable.  I think when I logged in last night I was around 16 left over from my initial push around launch and I believe I logged out for the evening around 25/26ish.  During all of that time I enjoyed the core game quite a bit so long as I completely ignored the multiple currency cash shop nonsense.  If you can do the same then you too will probably enjoy yourself.

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Last completely random thing I did last night…  is patch up and log into Elder Scrolls Online.  This game is in fact the same as I remember it and still rather enjoyable.  The biggest problem I will have is trying to sort out exactly what I was doing when I was last playing.  I am still being insanely stubborn and wanting to finish all of the original three story arcs before doing any of the newer content.  As a result I believe I am somewhere in the middle of Malabal Tor during my Aldmerri Dominion play through.  From there I will at some point venture forth into Ebonheart where maybe just maybe I can play long enough to see the character that was inspired by me and some of the folks we play with.  I think the fact that I jumped around so much last night… but still managed to get a bunch of play in with each jump…  is probably proof that I am on the mend.  In truth a good chunk of this weekend was spend with me just staring blankly at things without really doing a lot of interaction.  There were several times that I would start up a YouTube video that would then cycle through a whole bunch of things before I even realized I was still watching something.  Now however I need to go warm up the car and prep myself to venture forth into the frozen tundra (for Oklahoma at least).  Tonight will likely either be more Neverwinter or ESO because I had a lot of fun playing both.