Relearning to Fight

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Nostalgia vs Reality

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I feel like I grew up at exactly the right time to be a fan of fighting games.  For the most part these were what consumed my High School game playing years, well apart from a healthy dose of pen and paper role-playing and miniatures.  I remember when the local Circle K got in the original Street Fighter back in middle school, my friend and I were completely enamored with it.  Sure we had played fighting games before, but there was just something different about this one.  Then when Street Fighter II started showing up in Arcades during early 1991… it was quite literally all we could talk about.  Electronic Gaming Monthly had become our bible, and when it released full move sheets for each character, my friend Wade and I practically memorized them.  We were set on course for a wild ride over the next several years, as a new game would come along and dethrone the previous king.  I spent so much money in the arcades playing Street Fighter II derivatives, Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury, Samurai Showdown, Mortal Kombat 1 and 2….  and finally culminating for me at least with Killer Instinct.  I went off to college…. got poor…  so I missed a whole generation of the early Tekken games, finally re-entering the fighting game world with Soul Edge in the basement of the university center.  I stayed engaged for most of the original Playstation and for the first bit of the Playstation 2…  and then thanks to my addiction to MMOs…  checked out of the scene once more.

From that point onwards I have tried to poke my head in, every now and then…  even purchasing the original release of Street Fighter IV on my fairly new Xbox 360.  There is still very much a will in me to play these games… but I have had to realize that I am not nearly as good as my nostalgia believes me to be.  Generally speaking I get my ass kicked and get it kicked extremely hard when I try and play anyone with much skill.  I also have completely killed any of those key callouses that we used to need to keep from getting a nasty case of “raw thumb”.  There is something about Street Fighter V however that has reinvigorated my desire to try and learn to play Fighting games once more.  At almost 40… I simply don’t have the reflexes to ever really be “great”, not that I ever was in the first place.  I could dominate an arcade cabinet for a few hours on a single quarter during my prime, but that part of me is just no longer around.  Gone is most of that competitive spirit, and instead I just want to have some fun playing a fighting game.  So much has been added to the genre since I last played, that it feels like I will be simply starting from scratch again.  We will have to see how long the drive stays with me, but as of right now I have every intent of sitting at home tonight and trying to remember how to play a Street Fighter game.  I ended up picking it up on PS4, so my PSN id is Belghast as is my Capcom fighter tag, though I don’t expect to play against anyone for a long while.  I wish I had ordered that Hori Fight Commander in preparation of this…. because I am not sure if I can get used to hitting shoulder buttons for heavy attacks.

Goodbye Grahtwood

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In other news… I have now finished the bulk of the quests in Grahtwood and am moving forward to Greenshade.  There are I am certain a few points of interest that I did not take care of while I was in Grahtwood, but a lot of them are simply going to wait for another level… and a fresh infusion of gear.  So many of the world bosses that I encountered were actually two separate boss mobs that interacted with each other.  I can absolutely whittle down one world boss, by simply out surviving it and self healing….  but when it comes to two at the same time my damage output is lacking.  So my hope is that when I hit Veteran 4 and can craft a whole new set of gear… that I will be able to return and kick their ass.  Right now I am largely wearing a crafted set of Veteran 1 gear… and at this point it is starting to feel a bit dated.  In other news I got this installed once again on my upstairs gaming rig, so my hope is to maybe start streaming some of my evening shenanigans.  I am not sure what it is about playing Elder Scrolls Online, but it very much feels like returning home.  Its like the world waited there quietly for me to return, and has thus far welcomed me back with open arms.  If you ever played this game in the past… you might take the bit to patch up your client and give it a shot.  I know a few people recently have restarted after not enjoying the beta testing at all… and are enjoying themselves.  The game certainly feels more polished now than it was at launch.

 

Magical Moose

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Luck and Friendship

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Over in World of Warcraft, there has been an item that has lovingly started to be referred to as the Friendship Moose…. and there are good reasons behind it.  The mount itself is pretty damned majestic, and makes me feel like Santa Claus when I ride it.  It comes from getting the Ahead of the Curve achievement for Heroic Archimonde….  well in truth Archi drops a quest but same basic difference.  The reason why it has become known as the friendship moose is the fact that there have been an extremely large number of people in the WoW Community who are going out of their way to try and get people the mount.  To the best of my knowledge it was originally @Thomicks that started the #FriendshipMoose hashtag, and then it kinda just went out of control from there.  I know @Zelse007 for example has been really knocking these out and as of last night he has gotten 639 Folks their moose.  I won’t lie that the thought of getting a spiffy mount is partially what drove me back into raiding in World of Warcraft recently, but more than anything it was to be able to hang out with Horde friends that I had never really raided with.  Quite honestly I never expected to get the Reins of the Grove Warden.

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The thing is…  I have some really amazing friends.  Earlier in the week I was pinged by Damai to see if I wanted to join in with his raid for a farm run.  The plan was to clear a bunch of bosses on Thursday and then pop in really quickly early in the evening on Saturday and take down Archimonde.  Generally speaking I cannot participate in this raid because it happens to coincide almost exactly with our podcast recording session.  However this time they planned on being in and out of the raid roughly two hours before our podcast was set to go.  I ultimately had to beg off on Thursday, because I kept going into uncontrollable coughing fits, but I was however able to attend yesterday….  which was good enough to get me a moose.  I was carried extremely hard last night, the above image is of me being the only dead member of the raid…. from when I tried to run my fixate to the edge and happened to run right in between two folks firing their lasers.  Not only did I walk away with a moose but I also picked up a couple of sweet upgrades, one of which is REALLY amazing for my special snowflake Gladiator spec [ Worldbreaker’s Resolve,  World Ender’s Gorget].  I gotta say I am happy beyond reason… because I absolutely thought this was far beyond my reach.  I want to give a special shout out to Damai, Errya, Pugnodeum, and the rest of the Praetorian Guard crew for dragging my but along.

No AggroChat

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So now that the warm and fuzzy bits are out of the way… I have to tell you that right now I am feeling like a complete and total failure.  Sure being the only person to die on Archimonde should have done that already, but this is something different.  We’ve been recording AggroChat for a little over two years now I believe, and during that time we have missed two episodes.  This week being the second episode, and for the most part…. this time is completely because of me.  While raiding last night, I was on listen only mode because I quite honestly had no voice to talk with.  Throughout the day yesterday, as it went on my voice kept getting weaker and weaker until the point where I simply became a squeaky whisper.  On top of this…  Tam is out of pocket this week, Grace is out of pocket this week… and yesterday was Kodra’s birthday…  leaving it up to Thalen and Ashgar to hold up an entire show.  As a result throughout the day we simply decided to call it, and I really hate the fact that it was my fault for doing just that.  This crud that I have picked up is driving me insane… I am so ready to be “better” but as the weeks go by it keeps dragging on.

I know last week when I went ahead and recorded… it was probably a bit of a set back.  Because prior to last weeks show I was feeling a bit better…. and then afterwards I was pretty much dead to the world for a few days.  What is killing me the most is that when I am in this condition I just don’t want to do much of anything.  As a result I have been focused heavily on Elder Scrolls Online, which is a game that I am largely playing by myself.  Sure there are a handful of awesome people playing with me like Ammo and Sol, but even then my interaction is mostly that of answering the sort of questions that new players have…. and not so much active grouping.  I can zone out and zone into the storyline… and as a result I am probably enjoying it more than I have since I first played alpha.  Part of me wants to at least push through the rest of the Aldmeri Dominion content before resigning the game to the back burner again.  Another big thing that I want to do at some point is pick up where I left off in SWTOR, and play through the Reven content that I never actually got around to doing.  I have this feeling at least in the near future that I am going to be focused on story games, less than I am going to be on raiding and grouping activities.  The Final Fantasy XIV 3.2 patch might change that, and in part I hope it does…. because I would love to feel the drive to play that game again.  However in the meantime I am going to quietly be piddling over here without my voice.

 

 

Team Akatosh

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Psijic Order

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Coming back to The Elder Scrolls Online has been this strange homecoming for me, in part because this is one of those games that I was part of something bigger than myself.  Everyone has that one world that they would love to see done up as an MMO.  It might be something from fiction like the setting of the Dune series, or something from a movie like Stargate…. but everyone I have ever known seems to have that one world that they would love to play in.  For me that world was Tamriel, because since Daggerfall I have been a huge fan of the Elder Scrolls series of games.  Granted I don’t date back nearly as far as some folks, but it is safe to say that I have spent multiple thousands of hours roaming aimlessly in the various Bethesda games.  On February 26th of 2013 I got the email that I had been longing to see since I first began trying to imagine other worlds to make these sort of games from.  I am not sure if I was in the literal first wave of invites, but I was there pretty early and that first four hour testing session went by so insanely fast.  I was completely hooked, and bursting with so much to talk about….  knowing that I would have to swallow it down because I wanted to do my best to honor not only the NDA but also the testing process.  This time I had one of my best friends reputation riding on the line, because not only did he get me in the testing process… but he was also responsible for building a lot of the quests I was experiencing.

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During the early days they fired up beta testing servers, and assigned different people to different teams based on specific traits about them.  I still for the life of me have no clue what Team Akatosh was, or what demographic we happened to represent.  It was pretty early discovered that the Mara team were made up of largely female gamers, and then there was I believe Stendarr that was largely made up of ESO purists.  Collectively we became known as the Psijic Order once the tests opened up further and started letting in new people.  We were essentially the “first wave” or as some have referred to it the “The 0.016% ” but I don’t even have a clue if that figure is correct or where it even came from.  I ground the hell out of this game, and never missed a single test that I can recall… and in every single case until the very end of the testing process… the tests were specific times.  I gleefully bug noted every single thing that I saw, and at one point it got back to me that Ashgar and myself were apparently in the top 1% of bug reporters…. something I am admittedly a little proud of.  The problem being that I got into testing in February of 2013… and the game launched in April of 2014…  which means I feverishly played it as a second job looking for flaws to report for roughly a year before the game actually launched.  When it launched…  based on the videos on my YouTube channel I streamed at least 45 hours of it.  I had simply burnt myself out on the game because I focused on it so seriously.

Brackenleaf’s Briars

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The awesome thing about coming back is that I am remembering the way I loved the game roughly three years ago when I first got that beta invite.  Things feel fresh and new, and the pace is perfect for me.  I can meander around aimlessly but still feel like I accomplished something at the end of the night.  What is cool is the fact that the Psijic Order still apparently exists, in both the private area on the official forums, and the guild that we formed on launch.  Over the last few days I have caught up with a few of these folks and it has been pretty cool knowing that someone stayed.  While at launch we had around 150 people…  until the other day there were only one or two of those that still poked their head in every now and then.  Since then I have gotten Ammo and Solaria into the game, and they seem to be enjoying it.  I have another friend that says he purchased it, since apparently you can now find it for around $20 and I will be meeting up with him to get a guild invite as well.  Last night I did a significant amount of house cleaning, namely that I demoted everyone to recruit and removed bank access, largely just as a safety precaution since 90% of the folks are not active.  The idea is as folks show up again, I will fix their permissions, but that allows those of us who are there to feel more safe sharing items in the guild bank.

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I realize the Aldmeri Dominion quests were the last to go into the game… and that when they were created it was a bit of an all hands on deck crunch time.  That said they are some really amazing quests.  There is a quest sequence that deals with Brackenleaf a giant living tree…. that looks suspiciously like the Great Deku Tree from Ocarina of Time.  The quest sequence involves protecting the tree from an enemy known as “The Outsider” and has some interesting plot points.  I have to say…. I have always loved the Bosmer and if I was going to be an elf I think that is absolutely who I would be.  I could absolutely live by the Green Pact, and eat nothing by tasty tasty animals.  Also really enjoying the interaction with the Bosmer leader of Elder Root and the haughty Altmer that he is forced to deal with.  I think the overall quest arc of Grahtwood is going to be pretty great to experience, so looking forward to pushing that forward a bit more.  As of last night I dinged Veteran Rank 3, and I have an unknown number of champion points.  I decided to go ahead and subscribe, and with that came a 10% experience boost… that was honestly immediately noticeable.  Namely it was noticeable on the Veteran Rank progression, and I doubt I would have hit Rank 3 last night were it not for the boost.  Essentially I mulled over the whole sub thing for a bit… and decided that the same amount of money could either go to outright buying some expansions…  or go to three months of subscription and at the same time give me 4500 in currency to spend elsewhere.  For the time being I went with the sub option because it just made more sense.

 

Old-Lady Suit

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Best Intentions

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I had psyched myself up yesterday to go off and do some raiding last night.  Some friends of friends had graciously offered to drag me along with them for the first part of Heroic Hellfire Citadel.  I thought to myself that this was an excellent opportunity, that could lead to gear and maybe even a moose at some point, so even though they raid PST, I figured I would make the good college try.  The problem being my body is still conspiring against me.  This is officially the sickest I have been in years, as we are now going on thirteen days for this crud.  Admittedly my wife had something super similar weeks before we went to PAX and while she got over the bulk of it… almost a month later she still has the constant cough.  The thing that is killing me at the moment is the sore throat, only exacerbated by the constant body shaking coughing fits and drainage.  So by the time the raid was starting around 9:30 my time…. I was already taking NyQuil and planning to slip into bed.  I politely begged off as best I could and if any of them are reading today… I sincerely thank them for the opportunity.  One which I kinda hope will still be available when I am not feeling like shit.

The problem I am in with Belghast is the fact that my item level is artificially low, because there are four pieces of gear that I simply cannot afford to get rid of.  I have the four piece normal Blackrock Foundry set, and every time I try and sim out swapping out of it for higher item level gear… it is a major dps loss.  The problem being that I am playing a special snowflake class that will be going away in Legion.  Gladiator just works strangely, and it feels like Blizzard inadvertently gave use the most perfect class set ever.  The two piece bonus is “Shield Slam has a 8% Chance to Automatically Cast Shield Charge” which is massive, and helps fill in those spots where I could not normally have Shield Charge up for the damage bonuses.  The four piece is essentially “Shield Charge increases the damage of Heroic Strike, Slam, and Revenge by an Additional 20%” which is the single best damage booster that I can get right now.  So I simply cannot abandon this set bonus, and the only real option right now would be to try and find a Mythic Blackrock group so I could get the Mythic four piece set.  Because of the way the Hellfire Dungeon set works… I can also squeeze in the two piece of that set giving me “Bonus Armor Increased by 145” which while not insane… is a decent dps boost since every point of armor translates to 2 attack power for Gladiator spec.  So needless to say I am stuck in a corner where my 686 gear score does not exactly equate to my performance…  but I don’t really have access to the upgrades that would actually help.  I mean as much as I hate to see it go, I totally see why Blizzard is getting rid of this special snowflake spec.  It is extremely hard to itemize for and gear for.

Madness and Cheese

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So after getting frustrated that there was very little I could do to improve my lot in life on my Warrior, I ended up logging over into Elder Scrolls Online for some nice and peaceful questing.  I actually managed to catch Solaria on at the same time, and I spent a little bit of time attempting to help her get started in crafting.  The only problem being that during prime time it seems like all of the ore is heavily farmed down.  Since I have the insane “see it from a distance” glow effect, I am wondering about dropping down to Betnikh and helping farm up a bunch of ore for her.  She decided to go with a Heavy Armor Two-Handed Templar…. which was one of my favorite paths from alpha testing.  It feels a little bit like a WoW Retribution Paladin in the burst damage department, and has some really high survival when running around questing.  It also greatly simplifies the crafting, since Blacksmith can literally make everything they would need to use from the weapon to the armor.  The problem there is Blacksmithing honestly seems to be the most useful profession, and as a result ore is always in high demand.  I could in theory just pass over a bunch of bars, but she really needs the skill-ups from refining the bars right now, so I would be better served just going out and farming ore for her.

One of the things I had forgotten about Elder Scrolls Online was just how well written the quests are.  I completed a sequence in Grahtwood where I ended up encountering my favorite of all Daedra… Sheogorath the Prince of Madness.  You never know if he is going to attack you… or offer you cheese…  and then attack you.  What makes this sequence so great is the fact that I have tangled with Sheogorath in the past of this game.  He remembers my interactions and even seems to comment based on my decisions….  in this completely unrelated quest line.  The amount of time that they put into making sure that the dialog trees had little gems like this, is just awesome… and I am still really impressed by them when I find them.  All of the content was designed knowing that your single character might be completing all three factions worth of it.  There is just something warm and fuzzy about playing this game…  and while at one point I was disappointed in it…  I think most of that was really just me trying to make it into something that it was not.  As a largely solo experience the game is exemplary, and honestly I look forward to trying to scramble enough people together to do a dungeon or two and see if that experience improved as well.  Cheese for everyone!

 

 

 

 

Maybe I Don’t Hate Elves?

The Thalmor

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Today I am feeling a bit more stable, and as a result going to attempt work.  I think I could probably use another day of rest, but in truth… yesterday I rescheduled meetings for today… and I don’t want to go through the hassle of trying to go in and reschedule them again.  My throat is still insanely sore from all of the coughing, and my eyes were matted shut this morning…  but in truth other than these things I am doing considerably better.  My eyes are actually clear again instead of the red irritated mess that they have been recently.  I also noticed that during the day yesterday apart from a bit of a nap… I actually felt like playing games again.  During most of the weekend… I honestly spent more time staring at the screen than I actually did doing anything.  I continued my journey into the Aldmeri Dominion campaign on my now Veteran Rank 2 character….  roughly half of the way to rank 3.  Throughout the course of the day I managed to work my way around the map unlocking pretty much everything but the handful of Dolmen like the one pictured above.  The problem with playing during what is normally work hours… is that there simply aren’t that many people around able to help you out.  While I can struggle through most world boss encounters thanks to the hax of Green Dragon Blood.  I have heard that it has technically been nerfed several times… but it is still enough of a self heal that I can struggle through most fights on my own.

The harsh realization I had while playing Aldmeri content is that maybe I don’t actually hate the High Elves or Aldmer as much as I though I did?  In past games I honestly went out of my way to kill the High Evles when I saw them… but I am coming to realize that these were the Thalmor, and not necessarily representative of the High Elves as a whole.  So pretty much all I was seeing was this extremist wing of the elves, that are just as horrible to their own people as they are to anyone else.  I mean I have always liked the Bosmer and their Green Pact…  I mean who doesn’t think Cannibal elves are awesome?  Then there are the Khajiit, and you have to be a horrible ass to not like them.  It is awesome seeing them in a light that is not as constant comic relief, even though they are absolutely right up there with the Argonians for most oppressed race of Tamriel.  So while I expected to like the occasional merchant and small folk in this campaign… I did not expect to really like the leaders.  The Canonreeves and Battlereeves have for the most part been awesome…. as has Queen Aywren herself.  I am actually enjoying helping them turn the tide in the battle against the Maormer and the Veiled Heritance.

Epic Battles

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Hands down the best part of the zone was the final fight for Firsthold.  During this sequence you have to actually breach a number of Oblivion gates, as you push into the Refuge of Dread and try and sever the ties of Mehrunes Dagon to our plane.  The irony is… were it any OTHER Elder Scrolls game… I would probably be completing the quests to HELP out Mehrunes Dagon because I would almost certainly be rewarded with a spiffy weapon.  Sadly I took zero screenshots while in the Refuge of Dread, so instead you are getting a random dungeon screenshot.  That is just how enthralled I was by that sequence of quests, that I kept wanting to move the story forward and get to the final culmination of the zone…. which itself was an equally epic battle.  What makes it even cooler is that immediately following the conclusion of Auridon… we are thrust into yet another epic sequence as we try and win back the town of Haven in Grahtwood from the Jackdaw Pirates who have taken it over.  I know it is going to shock Tam that I am saying that I actually kinda like the High Elves…  but I have to admit it.  Sure I like working for the Khajiit or Bosmer slightly better…. but the sad part is that we apparently only get to see the assholes in the form of the Thalmor when we are outside of the Summerset Isles.

All of this said… I still feel a much greater pull to the Daggerfall or Ebonheart Pact.  I do have to say I really am enjoying questing through the Aldmeri areas however, in part because this was the last content to go into the game… and also the content I spent the least amount of time playing.  I feel though that once I finish leveling through it… enough time might have passed for me to be able to enjoy the Ebonheart areas again.  Largely it is just the Stonefalls area that tends to drag on… and if I can ever make it through that area I will be perfectly fine because then I am mostly into undiscovered territory again.  I have to admit I am having a lot of fun, but I am mostly playing as a solo player.  If you too are playing ESO on the PC, feel free to throw a friend invite to @Belghast my root account.  It would be nice to at least have some folks to chat back and forth with while I am playing.  Since I still don’t have much of a voice, and it is actually somewhat painful to talk… I am avoiding voice chat like the plague.  Otherwise I would be sitting on our teamspeak server, and at least listening to the others as they are playing Warframe.  At some point soon I need to poke my head back into that game, but the mood just hasn’t hit me.  I also similarly need to play some more Destiny, but I have been spending most of my time downstairs on the couch and not near the PS4.  I have to say… it feels pretty good to have things to talk about… other than just how horrible it is to be sick.

 

Missing Adventure

Running its Course

I am sure at this point that you my wonderful readers are getting sick of reading about the adventures of Sick Bel.  I promise I am also getting tired of writing about them, because at this point I keep thinking that surely today is going to be that magically day where I start to feel amazingly better.  Pretty much the longest a virus will run is seven days, and at this point I started coming down with it last Sunday…. which would in theory make today the day things just start to improve drastically.  I am still fairly miserable, and last night I had another night of constantly interrupted sleep.  Around 7pm I went to bed, after taking some evening meds that knocked me out.  From there I ended up sleeping pretty solidly until around 11pm.  Well my wife woke me up twice about the stupid printer upstairs, but those little blips really didn’t effect my overall sleep.  After 11pm I wound up waking up every hour on the hour to adjust or get a drink.  So in theory I got more sleep than I am used to, but it was super fitful.

This morning I got ready like I was going to work, however I could quickly tell that it just was not going to happen.  I didn’t have a lot on my schedule today, so I felt like it would be better served to spend the day chilling out and napping as much as I could, with the hope that come tonight I will start to just be doing better all around.  I am taking what feels like a smorgasbord of over the counter meds to try and help with the symptoms.  The first line of defense is Mucinex Fast Max, followed up with an antihistamine, and huge doses of vitamin C.  This morning I am just worn out… but something already feels slightly different.  So here is hoping that by tonight I will be able to get a normal nights sleep.  The problem has been that honestly no position seemed comfortable at all, so I just ended up alternating through the bad choices.

Lapse in Gaming

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You can always tell how sick I am based on how well I can game.  That is always my happy place, and the activity I retreat to when I need to recuperate.  The problem is that yesterday and quite honestly the last several days….  I spent a lot of time booting games up but not really playing them much.  I mean I got this or that quest done in Elder Scrolls Online, or would pop into Diablo 3 and do a Greater Rift…. but each of those activities would wear me out to the point where I just needed to log out for awhile and do nothing.  So over the last few days I have spent an inordinate amount of time staring blankly at my laptop, and television at the same time…. not really paying full attention to either.  When in this state…. I really am not functional at all.  Which kinda sucks for the whole, writing a daily gaming blog thing.  I am hoping that today or tomorrow I will start to get back to normal so I can once again have adventures worth writing about.  Thanks to all of you for bearing with me while going through this mess.

 

Modding Tamriel

Struggling to Record

Last night was one of the worst ideas I have had in awhile.  I am still extremely sick, and for the most part don’t really have a proper speaking voice.  The problem being, that Saturday night is the night we record AggroChat.  This seemed to be an off week for most people.  Grace was busy, and Ashgar was being worked to death in the “on call” rotation.  The smart and adult thing to do would have been to simply apologize to our listeners and take a week off.  However I am hopelessly chained to this notion of not missing an episode… either in my daily blog posts or weekly podacsts.  I guess there is a part of me that is afraid that if I ever go by without making a post, that all of this will fall apart.   That people will go their own separate ways and whatever thing we have called AggroChat will just cease to exist.  I mean I am deathly afraid that if I miss a day of posting on this blog… that day will turn into six months before I start posting again.  So there was what I should have done…. and then what I did.  The end result is me today not really being able to talk, and afraid that I won’t be magically better by tomorrow morning for work.

The show itself went pretty well, I just felt like I struggled to try and maintain a voice that could actually be heard and understood.  Quite literally I sound like I am going through puberty, where my voice cracks and squeaks at uncontrollable times.  My vocal cords I guess have been ravaged by the congestion and the constant coughing.  To make matters worse yesterday my eyes started watering uncontrollably and are all bloodshot.  Basically I feel horrible, and will probably end up taking a sick day Monday as a result.  The worst part has been trying to get any rest in this state.  I’m taking NyQuil but it doesn’t seem to actually do much.  My night felt like it was perforated by getting up every hour on the hour to readjust myself.  I am hoping after staying up all day today I will be tired enough that I just simply collapse tonight and don’t much care what position happens to be comfortable.  I realize this is just a cold…. but my god is it one of the worst ones I have had.  I swear I have had the honest to god Flu and it has effected me less annoyingly.

Questing Auridon

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It wouldn’t be me if I went too terribly long without adding some interface addons into Elder Scrolls Online.  Right now I have Dustman, a mod that auto sells junk items and allows you to auto sell other items that you don’t really want, which is one of those things that I end up trying to find in any game I play.  I also have Lore Books and Skyshards that simply mark the location of any books or shards that you have yet to collect.  I also found a really cool mod called Undiscovered which marks areas that have some sort of a POI that you have yet to visit, which makes completing maps much easier.  The best of the mods however is the Minimap I am using which is ultimately something I complained about not having back in early testing.  I love the compass rose, but it doesn’t really replace the minimap… and I found myself spending too much time with my map open when I lacked the minimap.  Having this makes the overall experience of moving around the world so much more enjoyable for me, because quite frankly….  I have gotten used to always being able to see that top down view.  The only negatives are that most of the really awesome interface mods that I ran during the first days of the game…. seem to be long gone.  I guess I should probably check the non-curse sites just to make sure that they might not be still lurking out there.  I realize that I am essentially “Wow-ifying”  Elder Scrolls by adding these mods in…. but quite frankly I don’t care.  It makes my experience more enjoyable.

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The biggest improvement so far is that the Veteran system was replaced by the Champion system, and it finally feels like I am making forward momentum again.  I like that doing a few things here and there ends up earning me a point that I can spend on improving my character.  It also feels like they have put some serious polish in place, because in playing Friday night and most of the day yesterday… I really didn’t encounter any bugs.  All of the deeply scripted events went off without a hitch, and while I had gotten used to having to log in and out to get things to trigger during those first days of the game…. all of that seems to be a thing of the past.  The other really positive thing is that the community seems to be pretty cool.  I’ve gotten a lot of impromptu help, or folks asking if I wanted to join in for this world boss or that anchor.  I’ve not really seen anything that made me cringe, which is a huge plus given that there were plenty of cringe worthy happenings during those first months.  I am not sure how long I will remain playing the game, but I gotta say I am enjoying myself….  which is huge given the funk I have been in lately of not really knowing what to play.

 

 

 

Tamriel Revisted

eso 2016-02-06 08-17-07-61

Point Click

Yesterday I kept being reminded by co-workers of just how horrible I sounded, so after I finished with my critical meetings I took off and headed home around 12:30.  After eating a hastily grabbed lunch of convenience store pizza…  I collapsed on the sofa trying to force fluids while finding something comforting to watch.  I guess my version of comforting is a little different than most people, because I wound up watching the entire first season run of Rick and Morty.  Granted I have watched a lot of this show, but it turns out there were a handful of episodes that I missed when they originally aired.  Whatever this thing is that I caught down south, it is very much kicking my ass.  Blogging has been a real struggle because it is very difficult to string thoughts together into enough of a cohesive mass to make into a blog post.  It is my will along that I am committing fingers to keyboard and producing words… because I simply do not want the streak to stop.  I am a couple of months away from my official three year anniversary on the whole daily blogging thing, and the seventh anniversary of my blog.  So until I hit that at the very least, I will keep up doing the daily thing even if I have to struggle to make words happen.

Lately my crutch while sick has been Diablo 3, but I feel like I am running out of things I care to do right now.  I’ve gotten the seasonal rewards, but more than anything I am farming content in the hopes of getting the last few items I need to drop for the build I am working towards.  Clearing regular rifts and doing bounties is the sort of mindless interaction that works well when I am sick, but I am quickly reaching the point where I am questioning why I am bothering?  The other side mission has been to gear my monk, but once I found out from several folks that you only get one set of gear per season…. a lot of my gusto was lost.  I thought I would be able to go kill the bosses I needed to get my first set of gear, on my second character and be up and running and clearing content pretty quickly.  Alas that is very much not the case, and my best option is to ride along with Rae who is regularly clearing TX stuff… but honestly after being able to participate, going back to just having to pray to stay alive…  makes it pretty uninteresting.  Yesterday my big problem was the fact that I had a very needy game install going on in the background, that kept slowing down my teleportation to the point that the battle.net would disconnect me before actually ending up in zone with Rae.

Worst Install

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On a whim yesterday afternoon around 1 pm, I started installing The Elder Scrolls Online.  I guess I had forgotten just how painful the install process was, because it took until roughly 8 pm for it to finally complete.  During the last hour of that time I was pretty much unable to play anything else on my laptop.  The thing is… I have installed much larger games in far less time…. so I have to fault the launcher for just how painfully slow it was going.  I mean I say this as someone who was installing to a laptop that is using a AC Wireless card capable of 650 MB connection on a total internet connection that generally runs around 150 MB down.  I should have been able to completely saturate my pipe and had this game down in short order… but it took quite literally 7 hours to finally get installed.  Now for a good chunk of that time I was still playing Diablo 3 so that could have been slowing things down…  but the total download was tortuously slow.  The last hour or so it was thrashing my hard drive badly enough that I really could not do anything else functional on the machine, so I wound up mostly fiddling around on my phone while watching television.  The problem with ESO was that I honestly can’t remember why we stopped playing, other than the fact that one by one we just stopped until I was one of the last four or so people still active.  For me I guess the Veteran game system was so bloody boring because it felt like I was no longer making reasonable process.  I made it roughly two zones into the Aldmeri campaign, when finally my desire to keep playing petered out.

I guess recently I had been curious about what was going on in game, and they have done a few high profile DLC releases.  So around 8:30 last night I finally was able to log in and poke around.  Firstly I have to say I guess playing this game for roughly two years in testing…  means that I have some serious muscle memory going on.  While I had to reset all of my talent points, I can still for the most part remember exactly how I played it.  All of the little things like dodging, and blocking attacks…  came back without any effort and before long I was up and running and questing again.  I feel like maybe this is the speed of game that I need right now.  What I am struggling the most with in my current state is interacting with other human beings.  I have been pretty much oblivious to twitter and slack since coming back from Pax South, and as a result I am kinda cocooning in my own little world again.  Much like SWTOR…. ESO was a great single player game…  and as a result I found myself really enjoying questing around last night.  That is of course until the nyquil kicked in and I simply couldn’t hold my eyes open any longer.  I figure I will put in some more time today playing and maybe talk a bit about my experiences on AggroChat tonight.  That is of course if I have any voice left.  Right now my voice is pretty damned squeaky so I am thinking we might have to rely on someone else to do the bulk of the talking this evening.

 

 

Games I’m Not Playing

Too Many Games

Skyforge 2015-07-17 06-26-06-26 Right now I am suffering from a problem, in that there are just too many games that I want to be playing and simply not enough time in any combination of lifetimes to actually play them.  Last night I downloaded and installed Skyforge, and gave it a quick spin this morning… and as interesting as it seems I just don’t know when exactly I am going to fit it in.  For the first time in years I have been relatively monogamistic in my gaming, and with the dropping of World of Warcraft I pretty much have all of my focus on Final Fantasy XIV.  Last night I ran dungeons with the guild and after doing my hunts managed to push my Dragoon to 56.  As a result the desire to get that job to 60 is real, because I desperately want to be able to fill more than one roll when it comes to grouping.

By the same token I really would like to give some time to Skyforge so that I can give it a shot for free, before plunking down any money on it.  I watched a bit of the MMO Show stream the other day as Jabberant played the game and I have to admit it peaked my interests.  Playing this morning it feels like a better version of Neverwinter, because the janky control scheme of that game was always a major detractor.  So now I get to juggle competing desires and figure out how to spend my weekend.  So this morning I thought I would write about the games that I am wanting to play but just can’t seem to find adequate time to devote to them.

Star Wars the Old Republic

swtor 2013-08-13 23-38-38-65 I have this strong desire to go back and experience the storyline that I have not yet.  Essentially I have not really played my main in this game, a Jedi Guardian… since launch.  Each time I go back I always end up playing alts because I am finding it really hard to get back into the swing of playing a level 50 character.  I know there have been numerous expansions since launch, each with their own storyline content… and I am struggling to get back into the swing of doing it.  Instead I mostly spend time playing my Light Side Sith Warrior, who has been stuck in the hell hole of Balmorra for at least two years.  So one of my gaming regrets is that I have not figured out how to make progress on my main and see the Makeb and beyond storyline.  Additionally I have this nasty habit of paying for a month, and then playing one day and never returning to it.  I’ve gone through this sequence at least a half dozen times since we left this game.  The draw of Final Fantasy XIV is always too strong to keep me playing there for long.

Wildstar

WildStar64 2015-06-06 17-47-43-40 On my second attempt at playing this game I reached a point where I really was enjoying what I was doing.  In fact there was a stretch prior to the launch of Heavensward where I was playing this one more than just about any other game.  I have an awesome group of friends in this game and I love the Black Dagger Society guild that I am in.  I had a blast roaming around the zones and taking down world bosses with them on a few occasions.  For whatever reason however I am just not logging in right now.  Once again the draw of Final Fantasy XIV is too strong, and maybe I just love our guild there too much.  This is on the list of games I absolutely want to keep returning to, but I doubt I will until a bit more of the shiny has warn off from Heavensward.  Right now I am in this push to reach a point where I have multiple useful jobs to help people with, and I think until I get there I won’t be happy playing much else.

The Secret World

TheSecretWorld 2012-08-07 20-41-26-17 I am woefully behind in my Secret World content, because the last update I think I played was the whole “Last Train to Cairo” sequence.  I know there have been multiple updates since then but I am just not logging in and playing them.  There are problems I have with this game that preclude me from really digging into the end game content.  However I have loved all of the story mission content that I have played and I keep meaning to poke my head in and do them.  I’m a life time subscriber, and I should have tons of goodies waiting on me… but generally speaking what happens is I log in and buy a nifty new outfit… then log right back out.  Of all of my gaming regrets this is one of the strongest because I really would like to find a way to play this game in addition to whatever game I am “maining”.

ArcheAge

ARCHEAGE 2015-06-14 14-36-32-10 Just prior to the launch of Heavensward there were several of us on the AggroChat cast that had a brief love affair with this game.  I want to find a way to return to playing this game on a regular basis because I don’t feel like I have consumed all of the good that I can get from it.  This is the game that I was told once I reached level 30 I would be in forced pvp areas.  While we are playing on Tahyang the supposed roleplaying server, I am 38 and have yet to encounter even another enemy player.  There is a lot of great PVE content in this game, and we found the dungeons to be among some of the rougher we had experienced since say Dark Age of Camelot.  I’ve logged in a few times since the launch of Heavensward, but never for terribly long because I keep feeling like I really should be in FFXIV gearing or helping other people gear.  I still have things I want to do here, so I need to figure out a way to play it as well.

Skyforge

Skyforge 2015-07-17 06-07-54-37 I talked about this as the start of the blog post, but I really do want to spend some time getting to know this game.  At face value it didn’t seem like it was going to be anything I would be interested in.  However after playing a brief few minutes this morning I think I might dig it.  It is action combat that still feels like an MMO.  Honestly I put Neverwinter in that same category, however there the combat just felt forced and janky.  The proof will be in the pudding as to how the Paladin feels once I progress it a bit further.  I admit the whole “switch roles at any time” thing is a huge draw for me, after getting used to that in Final Fantasy XIV.  I doubt this would ever be a primary MMO for me, but it might be a fun weekend diversion.  Ultimately I keep looking for a solid secondary game to have the duality that I did with Final  Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft.  I have yet to find the game that seems like the perfect match, but who knows this might be it.

Elder Scrolls Online

eso 2015-03-16 23-59-44-25 The game that I least understand why I am not playing it… is The Elder Scrolls Online.  Everything about this game should be squarely in my wheelhouse considering the number of hours that I have spent playing games in the Elder Scrolls universe.  I have access to it both on PC and on PS4, and I had this idea that the console client would somehow revitalize my interest in the game.  The problem is… it hasn’t at all.  I feel like the problem I have with this game is that even though I have people moving around me… I feel like I am ultimately alone.  The other players are just a backdrop in part because I never see their names.  I think in part I am experiencing Beta regret, because after testing this game for a year there are previous incarnations of the game UI that I just enjoyed more.  If I could go back and play THOSE incarnations… I would probably be enjoying myself still.  When names over the top of mobs went away…  the world felt like it shrunk for me, and the game became more or less a single player experience.  I still would love to find a way to make this game that at one point I was so devoted to still feel enjoyable, but I just have not found it.

Last Best Hope

Bel Folks Stuff #7 – Late Night with Jaedia

Rift_FOXFOXFOXFOX I have been pretty horrible about keeping any semblance of a schedule with the Bel Folks Stuff podcast.  Some months I release early in the month, and others I barely squeak out an episode before the month finishes.  This month is definitely the later as with other events going on I struggled to find a good time for me to record this bonus podcast.  I am extremely thankful that when I found a time my good friend Jaedia was gracious enough to make it work.  What makes it even more special is the fact that Jae is recording rather late in the evening.  It seems she doesn’t actually sleep, and might be some kind of new fangled android or something?  Joking aside we had a lovely conversation about all sorts of random things.

Since both of us have suffered with depression and anxiety for years, we touch a bit on that.  We also of course talk about gaming and what we have been up to lately.  We also get into the rules of how long you have to live in Wales before you have to start calling yourself “Welsh”.  Jae is recently married so we talk a bit about the transition from living together to being “married” that we both went through.  Jae at one point had five different blogs so we talk about the depths of her insanity and ability to compartmentalize.  We also talk about the happy medium we have found with being a general interest blogger.  It was a fun show to record and I hope a fun show to listen to as a result.

[Download Episode Here]

Last Best Hope

WildStar64 2014-05-14 17-53-01-005 Almost since launch folks have been foretelling the Doom of Wildstar, and not for lack of good reason.  The game had extremely anemic launch numbers, and as was announced during the latest NC Soft earnings report its box sales had trickled to a slow drip.  The current rumor mill of Wildstar going free to play was really spurred on by the announcement of their Mystery Box promotion.  So yesterday when they announced that the game would be shifting to a free to play model, this should have surprised no one… not even the most die hard of pro-subscription Wildstar fans.  While some Wildstar players are tending to wallow in the doom and gloom that comes with these sort of statements, I tend to view this as a potential new lease on life.  For whatever reason gamers appetite for a monthly subscription is next to non-existent.  Even World of Warcraft recently introduced the Token system allowing players to convert in game gold for subscription time much in a similar way to Eve Online does.  This leaves the last pure bastion of the subscription game being Final Fantasy XIV… and I would not be shocked if we see them implementing some sort of gil to token system eventually.

I am not saying the age of the subscription is over, but I think the age of subscription being the only option just might be.  I personally prefer to pay a single monthly fee for “all you can eat” buffet access to the game.  Some players prefer to try and play the game for free regardless of the restrictions.  Others prefer to purchase features “À la carte” and quite frankly I think in the current gaming economy a game needs to support all three models in order for it to gain permanent traction.  Wildstar I feel suffered from the same issues that Elder Scrolls Online did… namely that it launched during an exceptionally tight window of viability.  Too many things were being released during too short of a window and it caused the players to flit gleefully between everything that was coming out.  I know I personally left Elder Scrolls Online to play Wildstar and left Wildstar to play Warlords of Draenor.  Sure I set down permanent roots in Final Fantasy XIV during that time as well…  but most players do not do a great job of juggling more than one game at a time.

Free to Play is Not Doom

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More games have converted to the Free to Play model than I care to keep track of, and in no case has it really signaled a lasting doom for the community.  If anything the opposite is true as a flood of new players come rushing into the community over a few months.  When a game releases as free to play it becomes the shiny new thing in the view finder of the player base, and for a period of time everything old is new again.  This is likely the phase of doom that most players are dreading, because it means that there will be more than a few “how I mine for fish” folks flooding into your gated community.  The thing is… this too shall pass.  Not all of these new people will stick around and find footing in the game, and often times the most heinous of players tend to be the most fickle as well.  Within six months you will have a more stable population filled with the people who really do intend to set down roots in your community and stick around awhile.  Many of those players will probably even convert to subscriptions, but simply didn’t want feeling like that was their only option.

The free to play model is ultimately a good thing for many games because if nothing else it lowers the barrier of entry for new players.  This makes it that much easier for you to be able to recruit people into the game to join you.  I know with Final Fantasy XIV once they opened the fourteen day trial accounts, it became all that much easier to get my friends to give the game a “second glance”.  This also means that probably every player that played at launch is going to fire the game back up and revisit their characters.  I personally found the game greatly improved when coming back recently and rerolling as an Exile.  I don’t regret my decision to come back, nor do I regret snapping up cheap boxed copies of the game for months of gametime and bonus items.  The game is really rather good, and my hope is that with me stepping out of World of Warcraft for awhile I can devote more time to playing it.  If you find yourself in a situation where you are surrounded by “doom and gloom” folks, my suggestion is that maybe you find a more friendly place to hang out.  Over the long haul this will be a good thing for a game  that was so desperately trying to avoid falling into a death spiral.