Ode to Cactuar

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Cactuar is a strange place and I love it.  This is of course the server a bunch of us play on in Final Fantasy XIV and compared to so many other game servers…  this one just seems to have a bizarre and friendly spirit to it.  There are a whole slew of us that have been practically living in Quarymill as we grind away at Palace of the Dead to level secondary classes and get a shot at tasty replica raid gear.  As a result Grace and myself happened to be milling around in town waiting for the festivities proper to begin that evening.  Grace pointed out that there were two people bouncing around on Big Chocobo mounts… and we both agreed something to the effect that we should both join in and make this happen.  So within moments of us joining the fray and bouncing around wildly on our giant chocos…  this happened.  Granted a few more guildies came over and joined in the fun but most of us this from just random people talking in /say as we bounced around happily.  This sort of thing is honestly an almost nightly occurrence on our server.  I cannot count how many times I have been in a major hub like this and a random pony party broke out, where everyone mounted up on their extreme primal mounts and started running around.  Sometimes it even evolves into a parade as we all run around throughout the zone.

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Cactuar is a weird place and I love it.  There are so many times I have had to step afk and typed /mdance before leaving…  and come back to a whole bunch of other strangers there with me also dancing the Manderville and somehow almost perfectly synced up with me.  I have so many people on my friends list because they had an amazing outfit and we just struck up a conversation, and we /wave madly at each other anytime we pass out in the world.  Argent Dawn the server I play on in World of Warcraft has always had its bizarre streaks, but more often than not there was an undertone of malice there.  In Final Fantasy XIV folks just seem to be interested in enjoying themselves far more than bringing other people down in the process.  I am sure Cactuar also has its dark underbelly, but generally speaking folks are friendly and more than willing to join in the silliness if given a chance.  It is funny how a server develops a certain culture, which is honestly the main reason why I question games that are essentially server-less.  I know our server “feels” different than a lot of the other larger servers, and I am never quite certain how that sort of thing develops.  I mean I guess it could simply be because our server mascot is a half man half cactus…  which doesn’t exactly evoke feelings of being hardcore and brutal.  Although… anyone who has ever fought a Cactuar knows the score as they fall over after a 10000 Needles attack.

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In other news I finally got to see the Sophia primal fight, as there were a bunch of us who had never done it.  I realize we are a few patch cycles behind on this one, but I have to say I really enjoyed it.  It was like all of the things happening with Leviathan…  but messaged far far better.  There are a lot of moving parts on the fight, but we largely winged it without having seen it and only the most vague description of the fight from those who had.  We single tanked it, and that role fell onto me…  since really I don’t have a well enough geared anything else to do big kid content on.  I had an awful lot of fun with the moving back and forth on the platform to avoid this ability or that… or the platform shift as the scales get out of balance.  We also did a one tank, one healer Ravana Extreme and that fight is still madness.  I would love to do that some more largely because I would really like to get my axe from there…  also of as a side note I would love to do some more Bismarck for the same reason.  I guess ultimately I really am a Warrior main, given that I didn’t swap at Heavensward and still have no plans to swap for Stormblood.  Of all of the gear I own… it is my Warrior gear that I end up enjoying the most.

Four Screenshots

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Last night was another fairly anxiety fraught night, and I simply didn’t feel capable of tanking a World of Warcraft progression raid.  I feel bad about it, but by the time I got home…  my mind was spent racing through all of the possible things that could fail today.  This is it.. the day we launch the new website and I am terrified.  In the grand scheme of things I know that we will deal with everything that comes down the pipe and triage issues as they arise.  However on the eve of the event I can’t stop thinking about all of the things that could go catastrophically wrong.  I need this to launch and I need it to go successful… because honestly I need a few days to simply fall apart.  I have been functionally working sick for over two weeks because I knew things had to get done.  Granted I have not been running a fever, so I didn’t think I was likely contagious… but that didn’t necessarily stop me from feeling downright miserable.  One thing I did do last night was get my little Random Shots project out on GitHub since Scopique mentioned I should do this thing.  Since I don’t really have a whole lot that I feel like talking about this morning, I am going to try one out of these random screenshot posts and see what happens.

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I have this weird relationship with Rift.  I love it or at least I really want to love it… but I have issues playing it.  I talked a little bit about my issues with combat over on Syp’s blog yesterday in the comment section, but another huge issue I have is that I simply cannot bring myself to purge things from my vault.  I love their housing system… but I also cannot seem to be bothered to actually spend time building a proper house.  However I have this long term desire to do so…  and because of that my vault is horrible.  With Nightmare Tide they introduced the Minion system and for months I logged in dutifully every day hoping to get housing caches with the thought of putting all of this cool stuff to work in building a really great dimension.  However what actually happened is it filled up both my vault and inventory with a bunch of items that I never could quite bring myself to part with.  I could bring myself to part with the deluge of crafting materials that my minions kept bringing back, but those housing items were just too rare feeling.  Sure most of them go on the auction house for a few silver….  but that doesn’t actually seem to alleviate the problem.  What I wish is that Rift had a housing system that worked similar to Wildstar in that you chuck items in a sort of housing inventory that you can then place items from.  I would happy wander the world collecting housing items, knowing that one day I might actually sit down and devote the hours to building a proper home.

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I had honestly forgotten about the events that happened during this screenshot.  Back in 2014 the Halloween event included the ability to transform into one of the various signature characters in the game.  There were a bunch of different clones running around in Uldah, and I wound up as Nanamo Ul Namo.  It was a lot of fun but largely was just an occasion to take funny photos… like there is one floating around of like nine Minfilia’s on a bench sitting beside one Merlwyb who is looking exasperated.   That is one of the really cool and frustrating things about Final Fantasy XIV is that each holiday event is unique and will never be repeated.  They sometimes put the rewards you could have earned on the cash shop for a pretty cheap price… but each year and each holiday offers something truly unique.  Over the years I have missed several, and there will always be a small bit of me that feels a slightly sense of loss over not getting to see whatever content that was.

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This is one of those screenshots where I know what it is and what it is showing… but can’t be terribly certain of the sequence of events.  Essentially I know that this is a beta test build of Elder Scrolls Online, during one of the most public test weekends and not one of the Psijic Order/Team Akatosh weekends.  The screenshot is somewhere in the middle of Stonefalls, because I spent so much time in Stonefalls.  By the time the game launched I was pretty sick of both the Daggerfall Covenant starter area and the Ebonheart Pact starter area.  The reason why I know it is a public beta client, is because there is no obnoxious watermark that says my email address over and over across the screen.  I still have plenty of alpha screenshots floating around that are watermarked to hell and back and this is obviously not one of them.  I also know this is not a live screenshot… in part because of the time stamp on the image and also because I have yet to make it to Ebonheart Pact on my main character.  The funny part about this shot is that I had been in alpha/beta testing on the game roughly a full year when we reached this point back in February of 2014.  I was an extremely dutiful tester, repeatedly reporting bugs every time I played.  To the best of my knowledge I never missed a weekend testing event, even if it simply meant that I popped in for a few hours somewhere during it.  It just seems shocking that in April we will be coming up on the third anniversary of the Elder Scrolls Online.

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This is a screenshot from one of the early alpha builds of Skysaga, a minecraftian sort of voxel building game.  The game had a really awesome style to it, in everything other than the character models… and their weird floating arms and legs that were detached from the torso bothered me.  I realize that was part style decision and part that they simply didn’t want to have to properly animate arms and legs.  I mean if it worked for Rayman… why not for a construction/exploration game?  I cannot really tell you why I checked out of this game, but I did… I think in part because it was the sort of experience that handheld you through the process of building by continually throwing new crafting achievements in front of you.  Then each time a new build was released… we would get wiped back to square one.  I am sure the game has changed massively given that this is a screenshot from February of 2015 and I am still actively getting emails talking about alpha builds of the game.  When I just checked the website they list that they are in Alpha 9… and this screenshot is from what I can only term as a 0 alpha build given the version number.  If you are still in alpha after two years…  something tells me you are using the nomenclature completely wrong.  If you are selling a product… you aren’t in alpha.  You are just in a buggy release mode.

Random Screenshots

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Last night didn’t go exactly as expected, largely because I did essentially zero gaming.  What happened instead is that I wound up installing Visual Studio community edition and tinking away all night at an idea I have had for awhile.  In order for it to make sense you are going to have to know a few things.  Firstly I take my game screenshots probably way more seriously than most people.  The theory is that since I have to summon a blog post every morning, and use screenshots to break up my blocks of text…  I need access to them quickly and at a moments notice.  Functionally I have thirty minutes to an hour to write every morning, so speed is of the essence.  As a result I have directory system out on 4 terabyte network attached storage drive, that first breaks games up into larger categories like MMORPG or FPS and eventually down into individual game directories.  Functionally feeding this beast would be madness were it not for the fact that I circumvent the screenshot routines of individual games, and dump every single screenshot I take into a “gameshots” directory.  I’ve tried a lot of different solutions and through them all.. the most reliable option has always been Fraps so I continue to use it…  in spite of how clunky it can be sometimes.  About once a month I clean these individual gameshot directories on my desktop and laptop and dump the images laying around into the directory structure on the network attached storage.  I still wish there was a direct way for me to connect into my PS4 screenshots over the network, but for the time being I have been using a second twitter account to export them without spamming my main twitter feed.

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The second piece of information that is going to be key… is that some time ago I had an idea for a post prompt for those days I am struggling to find any purpose.  The idea being to take a random screenshot or two and then write about whatever happened to be going on when I was taking them.  The challenge then becomes how does one grab a random screenshot when you have a multi-tier directory structure that includes over 13,000 files.  This seed was planted around Blaugust time last year but I never actually got around to building it.  For whatever reason last night I sat down while eating dinner… and knocked it out over the course of the evening.  It is still rather crude and doesn’t look amazing, but as the night went on I kept adding different features to it.  The functionality is pretty simple… you use the file picker to choose the directory you want to crawl for screenshots.  If you wanted sheer madness you could of course start at the root of C and crawl downwards, because I believe that would work given that I am using recursion to make the crawl.  When you click search it is going to go out and find any JPG or PNG files and dump them into a list, then after completion dump links to those files out below the progress bar.  You can of course click the links to preview what it brought back.  I tried to make it work with picture boxes but given the 1080p file sizes kept blowing up the memory allocation.  I might rewrite at some point in the future and dump the links into an in app web browser for display.  Sidenote…  the progress bar starts out as complete bullshit but as you run the app remembers how many files it found last time and bases it off of that.  One of the things you will know as a programmer is that progress bars in general…  are bullshit.

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At the moment when you hit search it brings back eight files and displays them as links.  At some point in the future I want to rework this process and use some sort of an object that is easier to add elements to on the fly, rather than a bunch of linklabels as I did last night… because I was lazy.  I would like to have a drop down that lets you choose from some values on how many files to return each search.  Right now I am caching the two directories and the number of files it found on its last run to the app.config, largely because I got tired of having to keep entering the same values each time I ran the application.  I am using app.config because I really don’t want to have to write things to the registry… and I am sure you don’t really want me to do that either.  The final feature to talk about is the save button, that attempts to copy any files found in the search to the directory you have chosen.  I say try because there are of course things that could go wrong along the process.  This morning when I ran it on a new machine for whatever reason it saved the files one directory up from my intended target.  I will have to sort that out and figure out why the behavior isn’t quite functioning as intended.  Whatever the case I’ve zipped up the current build and dropped it on my web host if anyone has a real burning desire to play with it.  It is a 7z file so you will need 7zip to deflate it… largely because I have an obsessive love for that utility.  If there is any demand I will probably throw it up on GitHub and start working off of that, since I don’t really have a great version control option at home.

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For those curious… the images I have been interweaving throughout this post were pulled using the random tool this morning.  Just like with any randomizer there are going to be sequences of things closely tied together.  This morning it returned:  Diablo 3, Everquest 2, Fallout 4, Final Fantasy XIV, Final Fantasy V, and three shots from World of Warcraft.  So if you are looking for shots from a bunch of different games you might need to spin the wheel more than once to see what shakes out.  I’ve run it before and everything that was chosen save for a couple files are from my Final Fantasy XIV directory.  Granted in my case… I have way more screenshots of WoW and FFXIV than pretty much anything else in the directory structure with FFXIV containing 3,071 files and WoW containing 1,462 files.  Though in theory the WoW Directory is not a true representation given that I have a bunch of files on Google Photos that predate the NAS idea.  I also have literally every hard drive I have ever used sitting in a stack, and I have as a weekend project at some point to crawl through them looking for old game screenshots to add to the collection.  Generally speaking I donate all of my computers to Goodwill, but before doing so I pull the hard drive… and you end up with a stack of 20-30 drives over the course of a couple decades.  Here is hoping that they still spin after all of this time.  Let me know if you end up playing with this and what your results are.

 

Provoking Stupidity

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I sat here this morning for a good thirty minutes contemplating not making a post today.  After the flurry of activity coming back from PAX, and still struggling with what whatever respiratory hell that continues to drag on after getting home…  I just feel completely drained of interesting things to talk about.  Right now I tend to play at least a little bit of three different games each night.  I’ve moved on from the Sahagin and am now focused on the Kobolds while doing dailies in Final Fantasy XIV.  In World of Warcraft, I am attempting to do my emissary cache chests, thought I saw the one from Nightfallen and “noped” the hell out of it last night.  I am not sure why but I am just done with Suramar as a whole, and nothing seems less exciting than venturing forth into that zone to track down four dots on the map and completing them.  I am not a huge fan of elves in general, and the fact that there is this giant pseudo stealth city in the middle of the zone…  kinda combines a bunch of things that I find miserable in one place.  After dealing with dailies in WoW and FFXIV I tend to log into The Elder Scrolls Online to push that story a little further, however right now it feels like I am mired in Malabal Tor and dead in the water.  The beginning of that zone was awesome, but I have reached this middle section largely focused on Elvish politics…  and man am I struggling to care.  However I am making progress, because I keep turning black symbols on my map into white symbols.

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Last night I did a little more than normal in Final Fantasy XIV as six of us all queued for Dun Scaith together.  This was my first time in the zone, and in fact I slowed down the party from queuing because I had to actually finish turning in my quests and watching the cut scenes post Weeping City.  It was a lot of fun, and reminded me quite a bit of the way the fights felt during Syrcus Tower.  There were a lot of “wipe the raid” mechanics but they all largely seemed messaged well, apart from the whole “stop doing anything” section of one of the fights.  Granted as a tank I could be dumb and stand in a certain amount of crap while learning the lay of the land.  I reluctantly ended up main tanking several of the bosses, because I kept pulling threat on the Dark Knight that was super serious about main tanking.  Generally speaking if I am tanking I go with the flow and if someone pulls a mob off me then “Gratz you get to tank now”.  However this Dark Knight did not subscribe to that philosophy because he kept provoking the boss back to him…  and then through simply doing my primary combo I would end up pulling the boss off of him again, which would in turn cause him to provoke the moment his cool down was up.  After a few rounds of this… I went deterrence and focused on trying to do as much damage as I could.  At which point… the Dark Knight died and I once again had the boss.  His party rezzed him…  and you know the very first thing he did?  Yup… he provoked the boss back onto him at which point I sort of wanted him to keep dying out of his sheer stupidity.

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After tanking Dun Scaith I just sort of faded into the background and played a bunch of other things.  The problem is right now… nothing is really completely clicking with me.  I seem to enjoy everything well enough, but just in very small bursts.  By 9 pm I was already starting to yawn, and by 10 pm I was in full zombie mode as I stumbled through the house trying to shut it down for the night.  Functionally I am probably just restless and sick, and been unable to really give myself the time needed to convalesce.  I’ve functionally had to work sick, because things have been too crazy not to.  I am looking forward to when the worst of this is past me, and I can take a few days off… or at least allow myself to completely fall apart rather than trying to keep myself going just well enough to remain functional.  The legitimate Flu has been going around at work, and I am hoping that I remain in this realm of respiratory hell… and don’t actually catch that one.  I took my shot, and it was the three way protection variety… so here is hoping that we don’t end up with strain four.

Chateau Belghast

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This weekend was a bizarre one.  We are still very much under the gun of a release date, and I attempted to do whatever I could to further that goal.  However for all of Saturday our building was without power, and I was instead on call just in case something went wrong.  The building power went down at 6:30 in the morning, and by the time we started recording AggroChat we had not yet gotten the all clear.  I was just hoping that things would cycle off of the generators as successfully as they did cycling onto them, and that I would not end up getting interrupted during the podcast.  Sunday was a mixed bag of work and doing all of the other things that we ultimately put off until Sunday like laundry and various errands.  The weekend as a whole wound up being a very random mix of games as I played whatever I could during the brief moments of downtime.  As you can see by the Chateau Belghast image above, I started fiddling around with Fallout 4 once again, and scrapped my old house and built this one instead.  The inside is largely unfurnished but I am digging the outside quite a bit.  It took me far longer than it should have to sort out how best to attempt centering the neon text, but in the grand scheme it seems to look okay.  The frustrating bit with their neon font is that is is in no way monospaced with the characters all varying pretty wildly in width.

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In Final Fantasy XIV I am still very much getting back in the swing of things, and have fallen into the pattern of doing Beast Tribe dailies.  In theory I started down this path because I wanted a reliable source of ventures for my retainers, so that I could keep sending out my gatherers on field exploration.  However I also really like mounts, and over the course of the last week or so I have been pushing up the Sahagin, not necessarily because I love the mount, but more because it was the next closest faction.  For a long period of time, it was the faction I was spending the rest of my daily allowance on while working on the Sylph.  Yesterday however I managed to push Sahagin across the finish line and now have my truly bizarre Sapsa mount to ride around on.  I figured what better place to take a picture of it than in the waters of The Mists, where the Free Company house is located.  Next up should be the Kobolds as once again…  they are the next closest given that I had been spending my extra ventures on them while working on the Sahagin.  I mean I know there are lots of other things I SHOULD be doing… but I just can’t bring myself to pug dungeons yet.  After a string of bad experiences with Palace of the Dead… I don’t much feel like pugging that one either.  The problem there is as we talked about on the podcast, is that if you fail…  you lose all progress gained which seems deeply punitive for a random group activity.

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Finally I spent a good amount of time this weekend playing Elder Scrolls online.  I failed to take any screenshots so instead you get an interior shot of my home.  I pushed forward the story line in Malabal Tor a bit, but the big problem with ESO is that I tend to wander wildly.  I find it extremely hard to stay focused and instead I wind up going after the next object on the horizon that looks interesting, and as a result never seem to end up getting my objectives accomplished.  There is always a fallen log to harvest, or an outcropping of ore to mine.  Whatever the case I find myself continuing to move steadily towards 160 champion levels, which is the current item cap.  Unfortunately I have a feeling this is probably going to change with Morrowind, but for the time being getting there.. and being able to craft a set of gear that will last me for a bit tends to be my focus.  The other thing that I am realizing is that 160 champion levels is just a drop in the bucket given that quite literally every build I find expects you to have at least four or five times that amount.  There is a part of me that wishes I had never actually faded away from this game, because at this very moment I am so impossibly behind the curve.  Then again I think that overwhelming amount of content is what has been drawing me there much in the same way as it did for A Realm Reborn until we caught up.  I know there is more to do than I have time to do it… and in some way that is insurance from ever really getting bored.

Groundhogs Day

Fair warning this is going to be a largely real world post.  There might accidentally be some gaming content but I can’t guarantee it at the start of this post.  I am still struggling to kick whatever junk I wound up with at Pax South, and the problem is it has been going on long enough that I am starting to fall into deep turtle mode.  For those not familiar with my personal verbiage, turtle mode is largely when I pull my head into my shell and forget the world exists.  The more stressed I am, the more likely I am to get stuck in my shell.  What frustrates me the most is that I don’t exactly want to be in this mode.  I had all of these plans to start streaming again, launch a second podcast… and when I stuck my head out I saw my shadow and went running back inside to hide.  I realize the title of this post was likely to confuse some folks because well…  the actual ground hogs day was in fact this month.  So there you go I tied up the reference in the first paragraph.  The prolonged illness part is a huge chunk of it, but so is the fact that work right now is sort of madness.  I am dealing with four different fires that sprung up over the last week, all of which are critical and all of which require immediate attention and have firm deadlines associated with them.  As a result when I get home I just sort of crash and crash hard.  Yesterday I talked about going to bed by 8, and last night I was asleep in my chair by 7:30-8ish and had moved to the bed by 9ish.  For some that might not seem strange but I am generally a barely able to fall asleep at midnight sort of person.  My body doesn’t seem to function at all if I get more than six hours of sleep in a given night.

Needless to say when I go into this mode it also makes me a flake.  Last night was for example the guild raid in WoW, and I simply could not do it.  I went back and forth on this point for awhile last night before simply surrendering to the fact that I would not be able to function even a minimal level as a tank, let alone the sort of tank they need for progression night.  I could not even be responsible for myself, let alone for an entire raid worth of people.  Knowing that is frustrating, because the will is in there…  but it is like the machine that is me cannot figure out how to sort its controls enough to actually function.  I hate that it seems like I have good weeks, where I am normal and functional… followed by several weeks of complete disarray and malfunction.  Part of it goes back to the whole “spoons” theory, in that right now I seem to have a super limited amount of spoons and my workplace is taking every last one of them to keep moving forward and existing.  Maybe things will calm down to the point once again where deadlines and critical issues are not looming so oppressively, but I feel horrible that I cannot seem to juggle both this world and the actual world that earns me a paycheck.  Of course I am going to spend my spoons on the side of the equation that keeps me in my home and my family safe and happy, but I swear I used to do a better job at keeping all of the plates spinning and in the air.

You my reader ultimately suffers in the balance as you have to deal with yet another “Malfunctioning Bel” post.  I ultimately write about my experiences good or bad, and when I am not actually experiencing anything interesting to talk about, I struggle to find things to post.  In theory I could simply skip a day, but part of me just wants to be brutally honest with my readers.  Tonight I am going to try and do the Thursday night Destiny thing again, which is as close to pure fun without any huge feelings of responsibility.  Jex and Squirrel have been carrying my worthless ass in that game for years now, and even when I fail they keep picking me right back up.  I had a talk last night with my wife, and she mentioned it is really like we are living in an alternate dimension, where all of the normal rules have been flipped upside down.  I guess in truth that is adding to the problems as well… it feels like everywhere I turn there is sheer and utter madness, and I need some stability in my life.  I’ve always been pretty good at compartmentalizing…  and so long as I have one area of my life that seems to be functioning normally I can shrug off a whole lot of chaos in the process.  The problem is…  I don’t really feel like I have that place right now.  My home life has been chaotic due to the whole needing to give up Luna for the good of her and our two elder cats.  My work is in a constant state of chaos, and has been for six months or so.  The gaming world is a self made chaos as I feel like I am pulled in a whole lot of different directions with different pools of friends playing different games.  Now the world as a whole is madness as each day I am treated to a new carnival of horrors thrust upon society by an administration that feels like is some cruel joke.  There is no safe place to stand in the maelstrom right now, and because of that…  I keep retreating inside hoping that someday when I poke my head out again the storm will have passed and we can feel some glimmer of happiness once more.

Post Pax

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trionpupLast night I finally got back to the real world after a detour into Paxville.  What I mean by that is that Thursday through Sunday I was hanging out in San Antonio for Pax South.  This marked the third year of attending for myself and the third year of the South branch of Pax as a whole.  The only problem with this whole situation is that in my haste to pack I forgot to grab my laptop.  This mean I was largely disconnected from the world during the entire show.  I had every intent of getting up Friday morning and knocking out a blog post… and while I could have commandeered my wife’s laptop…  I simply opted to roll with the whole disconnected thing.  Sure I had my phone but the first rule of Pax is that internet rarely works at all from the vicinity of the convention.  The first day we were coordinating over a slack channel, but that died during the evening… and from there we had to fall back on text messages that while slow eventually did arrive at their intended target.

I failed miserably at the whole meeting up with folks aspect this year…  that is if you were not already in the group of people that I had the ability to text message.  I know that MidahHiker was there, but it is sheer madness trying to find anyone in the crowd.  I also know WallSavvy from Tequila Mockingbird my Destiny Clan was around… but he spent most of his time hanging out at the Overwatch tournament which was this giant ball of humanity… that ended up so packed that they made folks give up their seating to cram more people into the giant mosh pit that was the audience.  I spent most of my time roaming around with Ashgar and Paragon… with occasional visits from Rae when she wasn’t off doing stuff with her brother or watching the Overwatch tourney herself.  I also managed to connect with the Cosplay duo of Maovis and Exale… who brought his wife and super chill baby to meet me while I was standing in the hour and a half long line for Dauntless.

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Speaking of lines…  lets talk about what I didn’t get to play.  The Nintendo Switch was the announcement that probably sold more tickets to Pax South than just about anything.  However quite literally… if you were standing in line to play Zelda Breath of the Wild…  then that was probably just about all you were going to do that day.  When I first got to the convention I managed to enter in a trajectory that took me past the Nintendo Booth and it was this swirling quagmire of humanity that I got stuck in for about fifteen minutes until I could chart a course through it.  Even on Friday the line reached out of the booth, around the corner and down two other booths lengths along a sheltered corner of the exhibition floor.  I mocked up an image from the convention floor layout to attempt to show the line…  it was double length next to the Nintendo Booth and then stretched along the entire length of the Nexon booth and was capped somewhere around the Rooster Teeth booth.  There was supposedly a shorter line for Mario Kart and ARMS but I did not even attempt it… because time slowed to a standstill anytime you were near the Nintendo area.  There were simply too many people for me to handle.

The show as a whole was significantly larger than the previous two years, with it moving into an entirely brand new area of the convention center.  The only negative there is that I could no longer get up above the floor and take cool aerial shots.  The weirdest part about this PAX experience is that the show as a whole consumes three floors of the convention center, with a fourth floor down at riverwalk level taken up usually by press appointment suites.  I never actually left the main floor, because there was more than enough there for me to do both Friday and Saturday.  I also spent a significant more time playing in the tabletop area this year than I had in past years.  The other new thing that happened this year is that I gave up on parking and took Lyft into the convention both days.  This made the whole experience so much more enjoyable because instead of getting up super early and trying to fight traffic in order to get one of the limited parking spots downtown… I chilled out in the hotel, ate a peaceful breakfast, and then hailed a rideshare.  There was never a point where I waited more than five minutes, and the ride in itself was no more than 10 minutes…. so within 15 minutes I could be on the show floor pretty reliably.  Three of the four trips were amazing… the final trip however the guy got lost a few times and wound up with a much bigger bill than I should have.  I talked to Lyft however and they almost instantly sent me a refund for part of the cost, which was pretty damned cool.  I am absolutely going this route in the future because it gives me the best of both worlds… easy access to the convention but a hotel with access to the various shopping areas for my wife to hang out in.

As far as the hotel goes… these images do not do it justice.  I am used to having a bedroom of sorts with a sitting room attached, but largely in one big open floorplan.  Instead of that we had literally three separate rooms.  The living room was way deeper than the photo shows and had recliner, sofa with pull out bed, television, extra dressers, and a relatively comfy desk with a ton of plugins available from the top.  The “kitchen” area was a full wet bar with cabinets below, sink, and microwave with a fully enclosed roomy bathroom to the left side of it.  The bedroom had your normal fare but what I noticed is… my wife could be listening to the television in the livingroom area and I could be watching something completely different without any bleedover.  They served a huge breakfast each morning where I largely chose sausage, eggs, breakfast potatos with country gravy.  My wife however had a wider mix of things.  They also served dinner each night so one night they had Taco fixings, and another night they apparently had something pasta oriented but I was not around for that one.  All in all it was a great trip… and the icing on the cake is that we realized the massive Half Priced Books Dallas flagship store is less than a block off the route that we take home making it super easy to stop in and hit that during the trip.  Over the next few days I plan on talking about individual games I played so I reserved today mostly as a sort of overview post.

Odd Remembrances

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I am taking a break from packing and cleaning to knock out a blog post while eating dinner.  I will of course embargo this so that it seems like I actually released it in the morning.  However we all know what is happening… that I am making my way to Pax South.  I have a whole bunch of anxiety about going to the convention once again, but in the grand scheme of things I think this will be a really good year.  For the last couple years there has been the stress of having to make press appointments and attempt to be the surrogate of a publication at the convention.  This time around I represent no one but myself… and of course the blog and podcast.  I will also once again have my good friend Ashgar to roam around with, which should be awesome as well.  I’ve made a pact to just go do things… rather than spend the entire convention walking around in circles looking for something to do like we managed to do last year.  Tomorrow will of course be spent driving, and I am hoping I can remember to pack everything that needs to be packed.  I made myself a Trello board in a vague attempt to keep track of things… and I already failed to get away from work with something so I am off to a grand start.

This is going to be a bit of an odd post, but earlier on twitter I happened to read a tweet from Matticus, to which a friend replied that he was “THEE Matticus”.  Instantly the above clip went through my head, and it is something that I have found myself mimicking throughout the years.  The problem being…  no one has a damned clue what I am referencing.  This is the point where I realize that the movies that were seemingly important to me growing up include some oddities.  There is of course Star Wars and Indiana Jones… but also a lot of movies that have not really stood up to the test of time.  Why they are special to me… is for an equally odd reason.  I grew up without cable television, in fact the first time I had cable was in 1996 when I moved away from home and got an apartment at college.  While I lived on the outskirts of my town… the cable refused to run down my driveway because it would have taken them just outside of the city limits.  As a result I largely existed with over the air television…  often watching excessive amounts of UHF stations because they seemed to have far more interesting broadcasting than the major networks.  The other salvation however was the VHS tape…  of which I had plenty both legitimate and with crudely scrawled labels on their spines.

One of my dads work buddies took it upon himself to help my predicament and it became a regular thing for us to send home a package of blank tapes, and at some point in the future receive a bundle of some of the most random movies.  These all consisted of whatever happened to be currently playing on HBO during the block of time when he was recording something, and as such there are weird streaks of movies that all came out in the same one or two year period that stick out in my mind.  The first of these is of course Romancing the Stone… which while an action flick probably would not have even made it on my radar were it not for the fact that it was one of the few action films we had, prior to the local video store closing the liquidating all of their movies.  Of note this is the point where I picked up Alien, Aliens, and Predator.  The truth is while I remember the plot well…  the only line that sticks out of the whole movie is the “zee joan wilder?”, and even then largely because my cousin and I thought it was hilarious to quote it.

Another one of these movies that holds a special place in my heart is My Science Project, which is admittedly a pretty forgettable 80s science fiction film.  It is this weird mix of a bunch of themes at the time crudely cemented together with a bad time travel plot line.  In truth it was the time travel aspect that I liked the most, and even to this day I have an silly enjoyment of anything Fisher Stevens is in.  Once again… this is not even a movie I probably would have rented but the fact that it mysteriously showed up on one of these recorded tapes meant that I watched it way more often than I probably should have.  Rental movies were sort of a special occasion type thing, at least until I got into the middle school era.  The first video rental place we had in town had a sort of shopping club buy in aspect to it, and the rentals were like $5 a piece…  which was madness for 1984.  I think the membership cost something silly like $100… but we had one even though we didn’t use it that often.  I had a bad habit of renting the same movies over and over…  like Ultraforce… which I was simply enamored with because of the flying motorcycle scene.  The 80s really were a strange time.

 

Derpest Dungeon

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Last night did not exactly go as intended, but it was a pretty great night nonetheless.  Originally I had hopes of getting a Mythic+ group together so that I could use my +5 Maw of Souls keystone.  That said I didn’t really exert a whole lot of effort in finding it either, and when I finally got settled in for the night after a bunch of idling there were only a handful of us on.  Instead I opted to work on my time walking dungeons in the hopes that I might get more of that tasty tasty Essence of Aman’Thul from the weekly quest.  When we got a group together it consisted of Rylacus and his son Tinoke who both still needed 2 dungeons… myself who needed 4 and then Bled and Phy just because they are awesome and love me enough to do a bunch of time walking dungeons.  In truth I had completely pug tanked one of the dungeons so I could have suffered through it if I had to, but I enjoy tanking for my friends way more than I enjoy tanking for strangers.  In any case we got to chit chat back and forth on Discord while doing the dungeons and that made the four go much faster.  I had hoped by the time we finished there might be more people around, so we could pull together that Mythic+ but alas that was not the case.  In truth I am guessing it was a good thing since a crisis arose while we were doing the Time Walking heroics.

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I hate printers, probably more than any piece of equipment ever.  They never seem to work as intended and always require an inordinate amount of fiddling.  One of the things you have to know is that many nights my wife can print as much as an entire ream of paper for her class.  When I am upstairs I am also at least in part the warden of the printer, and get yelled up at to fix issues when they arrise.  Now earlier in the evening she was printing perfectly fine… and then all of the sudden things stopped spooling entirely.  I tried my best to correctly diagnose the problem, but none of the rampant googling actually provided anything that was useful.  Of note… we have a massive workgroup printer that weighs about 200 lbs and is precariously connected to a machine that acts as a print server via parallel to usb cable.  It works 99% of the time but is just brittle enough to make me constantly uncertain of what might be causing the problem.  We tried a sequence of rebooting the laptop and rebooting the “server” to no luck.  She was able to hit file shares on the “server” without issue, but any time she tried to access the printer it said that it did not exist.  However I could print to that printer from any other computer on the network so the connection was still there and active.  Finally in my destination I started fiddling with home group settings, and changed her share settings because I was literally trying everything I could reasonably think of.  Instantly it was like something refreshed her machines permissions and she could suddenly see the printer and life was once again good.  Once again… let me express my undying hatred for printers.

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Apparently Tam had been trying to get a hold of me while deep in printer diagnosis hell.  Over the weekend I made a vague attempt to catch up on the Final Fantasy XIV content, but hit a both literal and figurative wall…  in the form of the Baelsar’s Wall instance.  I was not about to pug tank it… and it turns out apparently I couldn’t anyways because my item level is too low.  I am currently sitting at 220 but apparently need 230 to get there.  When I finally got patched up and logged in, Ash was needing to go to bed which left us with Tam and Kodra and seeing as I had not actually run any of the second half of the derpest dungeon, we opted to form a group for that.  I have to say… while I have struggled in the past to get in and have fun…  the deepest dungeon really hit the spot.  The deepest dungeon serves the purpose of being quite possibly the easiest way to get weapon upgrades, with a mini game system that I have talked about in the past that involves collecting “gear” and leveling both your weapon and armor to 30.  When you have collected 30 you can turn that in for a very solid 235 weapon which would be a sizable upgrade for me.  Now when I entered last night I was sitting at the point where I stopped playing last time… which was somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 weapon and 14 armor.  By the end of the night if I remember correctly I was sitting at 30 weapon and 28 armor… so pretty close to being able to collect my first weapon.  It seems like the 51-100 floors move your item levels considerably faster… either that or we simply got lucky.  To be honest, I had more fun in FFXIV last night than I have in a long time…  and the above screenshot is there to simply serve as a reminder to just how insane Cactuar is as a server.

[Edit] – I can’t re-title the post without breaking every link that I syndicated this morning.  That said I am finding out that “Derp” has some problematic roots and is a word that makes a lot of folks uncomfortable.  It’s not really a word that is of any importance to me so going to attempt to jettison it from my vocabulary.

The String is Life

This morning I am admittedly struggling to both stay awake and come up with anything to talk about.  I have one cat sleeping on the right side, and the other wanting me to play with her instead of write.  Personally I would rather join the right cat and return to slumber time.  I had one of those mornings where I woke up thirty minutes or so from the time my alarm was set to go off.  The problem being that it wasn’t one of those “wake up refreshed” moments, but instead a “please god let me roll over and go back to sleep” moments.  The cat on the left side however wants to play with her new toy.  I have talked about Kenzie and her playing fetch with rubber bands in the past…  but the game has changed.  Last week we had what was supposed to be a sizable ice storm, and in preparation for it I picked up a pair of snow/rain boots for my wife that look mostly like actual proper boots instead of the clunky things we grew up with.  They came bound together with a length of the white stretchy elastic cord…  and Kenzie has adopted this as her new purpose for being.  Much like the rubber band she wants us to throw if for her… which actually works so much better than the rubber band did because firstly it is easier to see, and secondly it has more weight to it and is easier to toss across the room.  She also looks absolutely adorable with this big loop of elastic hanging out of her mouth as she bounds back happily to return it to us.  We’ve tried taking pictures of this but she just moves too fast for the focus to hone in on her.

So while typing this post I am periodically having to throw the string down the hall outside of my office.  She returns it and eventually pesters me to the point that I have to throw it again.  All the while Allie looks so blissful sleeping on a blanket I keep folded neatly on my desk to make her a bed.  In truth I have two blankets on my desk and there are many nights where I will have a cat on either one snoozing while I play games.  The positive thing about the bit of elastic is that while she is obsessed with it, she is not actually bothering Allie our older cat.  The funny part about this whole thing is occasionally she doesn’t return to us at all… but instead will put it somewhere nearby but not quite within reach which I can only assume means she is tired of running for the moment.  Last night for example there was a period of time where she decided to lay on the string.  One side effect of this whole thing is that we have to get the string away from her before bedtime, because she will keep walking back and forth on top of us with the string hoping we will toss it for her.  As a result I have started the practice of sticking the string in my pocket before bedtime and then after we have showered and gotten dressed in the morning giving it back to her.  She surely knows what is happening but so far has not made too much of a fuss about it.

Luna on the other hand is a completely different proposition.  I still have to keep her separated from the other two cats, because she still charges after them whenever she sees them.  Breaking up the cats has lead to lots of wounds on our part, and even needing to take my wife to the ER for IV Antibiotics.  I have a set of four nasty bite marks on my lower calf that are only now starting to look normal.  I have another set on my hand that will likely always be visible scars.  Essentially we just need not to introduce them again, and we sorted out pretty early on that we would end up needing to find Luna a new home.  However that does not mean I am not spending a lot of time with her, because it has become a nightly ritual of closing off my office and bringing her in while I play Destiny.  What I don’t get though… is she sleeps on the exact same blankets that the other cats do… and seems not to even notice the fact that they HAVE to smell like the kitties she is constantly chasing after.  On a positive note however we maybe have a new home for Luna, but it is going to be one of those things that takes a little time.  Ultimately we wanted to find some place that she would feel happy and safe and be the only kitty.  Also I really wanted to find her a home where I could still find out details about her and see how she is doing.  When we ultimately have to give her up… it is going to break my heart because we have bonded.  However her living in my wife’s office and hanging out with me in mine for a few hours each evening… is not exactly a sustainable solution and is not fair to either of us.  She needs a place where she can chill out and snooze in whatever sunny patch she happens to favor that day… rather than being cooped up in a office.  Admittedly said office has a big ole sliding glass door and lots of blankets and chairs to sleep on…  but still not the optimal solution.  I am hoping talking about the potential home doesn’t jinx it.

The other big event happening in my life is that I am starting to stress massively about Pax South which happens next week.  I will be travelling on Thursday and then will be there Friday and Saturday, and driving back home on Sunday.  I talked about this on twitter with another user going through the same thing… but sometimes anxiety is like this brick wall that hits you from seemingly out of nowhere.  I know I will have fun, because I always do… and this year is going to be great given that I don’t have to feel like I am representing anyone other than myself.  The first two years I scheduled interviews and was in theory there to cover certain aspects of the con for another website.  The problem being that sort of focused what exactly I was looking for…  primarily trying to find anything MMO related.  Instead with me just representing myself and our podcast… I feel far more open to talk to anyone and everyone, which I know is something I could have done in the past but I guess it just feels different.  The problem there however is I have to now muster the emotional currency to get out and push myself out of my comfort zone, and actually pass out business cards and such.  I have a massive dose of imposter syndrome when it comes to all of this… because when I hear people talking about “content creators” and “influencers”, it never really feels like they are talking about me.  Content Creator has sort of become synonymous with Youtuber or Streamer…  and it always feels like no one is actually that interested in us Bloggers or Podcasters.  I mean sure I stream and upload videos occasionally… but my primary focus will always be this blog and the things that hang loosely off of it.  So instead I am mustering the strength to totally pretend like I am legit and try my best to push through and talk to all the people.