Finding the Forge

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bel-colorsFirst off I have to start this mornings post by talking about the surprise I got last night.  For awhile now I have had my friend AmmosArt working on a series of avatars to use for anything AggroChat related.  When I do the title cards it always somewhat bugs me that we don’t have a set of Avatars drawn by the same person, because I think that would end up looking a lot nicer.  As a result I commissioned her to create a set for the main cast, and we kicked it off with mine…  however I think she has a few of them waiting in the pipes as well.  Since I have “Fantasy Bel” thanks to the project that Tam started, and now “Realistic Bel” thanks to the prize commission from Faebelina I thought it would be kinda cool to have a “Sci-Fi Bel”.  So when she asked me what I wanted drawn for my AggroChat avatar I sent her this overly complex idea for me wearing a bunch of named armor pieces from Destiny.  Here she has expertly rendered that idea with me, a giant flaming Iron Lord axe, my Sunbreaker hammer and Nolandroid.  I could not be happier, and while she was concerned about how the fire effects would feel… I think they work amazingly well.  Thanks once again Ammo for taking mad ramblings and converting them into a picture format.  You should also check out some of her other works on her website or on her daily art tumblr.

I have to say… it is truly bizarre getting back to the task of blogging in the morning.  It is 6:23 and I have consumed my first cup of coffee and am trying to get on about the business of blogging like I know what the hell I am doing.  Today is a day I have been dreading because it means that I have to give up the comfort of my sofa blanket cocoon and venture forth into the cruel and now very chilly world.  Of note… I have been off work since Friday December 23rd.  So I have had two blissful weeks that have allowed me to get completely out of the habit of functioning on any sort of a schedule.  Those weeks have been shockingly busy with only a couple days where I could truly hang out dawn til dusk in my flannel pajama pants and pretend the world didn’t exist.  During that time we dealt with a handful of crisis that involved changing out a leaking faucet in our bathroom… and then ironically rushing some big air mover fans to my mother in law who had a major leak in her front bathroom.  In between that there were numerous Christmas celebrations, and an attempt to properly recognize my father’s birthday…  which also coincides with New Years day.  I have not even really gotten around to making some proper resolutions, and while I don’t really buy into them much, the New Year is a decent time to start new things.  At the moment however my mind has turned towards preparing for Pax South which is coming up in a few weeks.

The Forge Trick

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Yesterday I posted a mammoth Destiny guide of sorts that I had been meaning to create.  I have a number of friends in various stages of getting sucked into the game… and when I try and give them advice it often comes off as mad ramblings filled with a bunch of topics that they don’t quite understand yet.  The guide was my attempt at writing something for someone just getting started but also still focused on pushing through the light levels as quickly as possible.  As I said yesterday…  I failed to do 99% of the things mentioned in the guide but I am following a similar thought process on my Xbox One account since it is largely starting from zero.  One of the things I mentioned doing was Archon’s Forge… and you might of thought to yourself “But Bel, that is a Group Activity… how did you solo it?”.  Some time ago my friend Shadoes gave me some tips on how to reliably make Archon’s Forge spawn with a group in progress.  Firstly you have to understand how patrol zones in Destiny work in order to make this happen.  Each named area is essentially a match made zone that the game tries to pair you with other players also in that area.  However you usually zone in and out too fast for the game to effectively do this, so there are things you can do to force the game to match you up with other players.  Inside of the Archon’s Forge there is a path behind the forge that leads down to an area that a number of missions and patrols send you to, but is effectively open at all times.  You can see this path as the opening with the ride SIVA cables coming out of it in the above image.

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What I find works is to run down this tunnel to the next area, you will be able to tell you have transitioned by a title card coming up identifying that you have entered “The Warrens”.  From here I tend to kill the various splicer mobs that spawn in… which may include a handful of 2-4 Vandals, 2-4 Stealth Vandals, 2-4 Dregs… and potentially a Captain.  The mix varies slightly, but essentially I spend enough time in this area to clear out whatever happens to have spawned.  From there I slowly walk back up towards the Archon’s Forge, and for me personally it helps for me to crouch while walking just to force myself to slow down.  In Destiny I am so used to constantly sprinting that I find myself doing it without realizing it.  Essentially you are trying to give the game plenty of time for it to notice that you are entering an area with an event… and that it should match you up with additional people.

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If it works, you should hear the familiar Fallen Klaxon as you near the tunnel leading out of the area and into Archon’s Forge.  If you make it to the Forge without getting matched into an open world group…  then simply head back down to the Warrens and start the process over.  I would say 99% of the time by the moment I reach the top I hear the Klaxon and am up and running with a viable open world team doing Archon’s Forge.  The longest so far it has ever taken to get matched is three trips up and down the tunnel but your mileage may vary depending on the time of day you are trying and your platform.  I’ve not tried this on Xbox Live, but considering the person who tipped me off to this method plays there I am going to assume it works fine as well.  Basically doing this method is going to allow you to hop into the Plaguelands and farm the forge until your heart is content, just remember to keep going to orbit every so often to make sure you are not losing loot.  Your mailbox can only hold 20 items… and while it takes longer for your inventory to fill up now that greens turn immediately into materials…  it still happens frighteningly fast while doing the Forge.

Seven Years

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Interesting Journey

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It feels so immensely strange to be sitting down to write this post.  As of this morning it marks the seventh year of Tales of the Aggronaut.  I am not exactly sure why but seven years seems like a significantly more auspicious number than five or six or even eight.  Culturally we place a strange importance on the number seven as either lucky or magical, and I have to admit that I fall for this same trap myself.  As a web developer by trade, I started this blog with a purpose and had all of the trappings of a proper website.  One of those is of course Google Analytics integration, and I spent some time this morning going over the numbers before sitting down to write this post.  In the Seven years I have published 1260 posts, and they have been read a grand total of 235,304 times at the moment of pulling the stats.  Over the course of this blogs lifespan I’ve had 110,359 unique readers from 182 countries, and roughly 40% of them are return readers.  What I found shocking was that there are a little over 4000 of you out there that have read my blog more than 200 times.  As far as my readers go it seems that the bulk from from the United States as one would expect, but the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Australia also make up large chunks and round out the top five countries with France coming in a not too distant sixth.  The web developer in me was also curious to find out that the vast majority of my readers are using Google Chrome (go them!) with the next highest batch using Firefox (also good choice)…  and then unfortunately a large block are still using Internet Explorer and I was shocked that it actually beat out Safari.

The thing is…  these numbers are utterly meaningless because at the end of the day it still very much feels like I am a little kid pretending to make a newspaper or sitting in a cardboard box pretending to tell the news.  Every day I get up and make my post, and mentally I feel like I am talking to myself.  I have a hard time reconciling that there are people out there reading each and every day without fail.  I know there are mentally, because when I am late getting a post up… folks will come out of the woodwork to check on me.  However emotionally I cannot quite comprehend that I have people that are that interested in the boring things that I do each and every day.  I am not a terribly interesting person, and most of my life is spent going to work, trying to be a good husband, juggling family and friends… and attempting to get in as much game time as humanly possible.  The truth is I share a lot of my life with you my readers, and if I didn’t feel like I was talking to myself…  I am not sure if I would have the courage to say some of the things I have said.  I’ve shared my high points and my low points… and attempted to be honest with my struggles and frustrations.  The result has been more support from my friends and readers than I ever thought possible.  When am feeling down, you all reach out to me and lift me back up… and in truth you are a huge part of why I keep going each and every morning.

Evolution of the Aggronaut

I still look back on the early days of this blog and wonder what exactly caused me to start it in the first place.  I guess in truth I was always a blogger, I just didn’t realize it.  I was one of those folks that haunted game forums, and was prone to writing huge wall of text posts about this subject or that.  As to what prompted me to make the switch from forum goer to blogger, that one is a bit harder to nail down.  I know I was ultimately prompted to start thinking about it by WoW Insider and their focus on a single blog called The Wordy Warrior.  Since I was a Warrior trying to lead a raid, I felt a certain kinship with this blogger and that lead me to start my own “warrior blog”.  Aggronaut itself has gone through so many changes over the years.  It was originally a Warrior Tanking blog, and then shifted to a general warrior blog… to a raid leadership blog…  to a general World of Warcraft blog…  to a Rift blog…  until finally it was rebooted in its current form which is MY blog.  For so long I kept trying to make it into something more than just an open discussion I was having with my readers about whatever happened to be on my mind.  I was told that in order to be “successful” you had to find a niche and then exploit the shit out of that niche… and that never really did feel amazing.  The end result after all of this back and forth is that Tales of the Aggronaut is a blog about me and whatever the hell I happen to be doing.  If you are going to read me for long at all, you have to be interested in me as a person because I am not always going to be all that interesting.

The strangest thing to get used to over these years is that once you have made a post it often times develops a life of its own.  There have been many times I have written something and then someone came along behind me and got some other meaning from my post that I never intended or even thought about.  Sometimes this is good… and other times it just serves as fodder for someone else’s rant blog.  The one harsh reality is that the posts that become popular, are never the ones you actually thought were worth reading.  Looking back through my analytics…  here are the top five posts in the seven years of Aggronaut.  At least one of them completely makes me cringe these days.

Of those the only one I am actually proud of in any fashion is my GroupCraft series of posts.  The Keyboard Turning one I am actually actively embarrassed by largely because I don’t even recognize the “me” that wrote that post because I guess I have mellowed out significantly since I first started this blog.  However I feel like it would be dishonest to remove posts from the annals of time, so I leave them…  even the ones that make me cringe.  If nothing else this blog charts my evolution as a player and a decent human being.  However I admit that a lot of that evolution didn’t really start until I began my mad mission of blogging every single day.  In a few weeks it will mark the third anniversary of blogging every single day, and it is funny how I have gone from being one of the least prolific bloggers to being among the most.  In the first four years of my blog I made 148 posts…  in the last three years I made 1112 posts, so a huge difference.

Faces of Bel

Like I said in the start of this very long and probably self aggrandizing post…  seven feels like a special number.  For years I have joked that I really only play one character, and then try and recreate that character in every single game that I play.  I’ve even posted pictures of my various characters to drill home that point.  This got me thinking, and since I am really good friends with the amazing artist @Ammosart I decided I would try and commission her to create a special graphic to commemorate this occasion.  The idea was to have an image that showed off several of the “Faces of Bel” and I have to say I was completely blown away when I saw the end result.  She went above and beyond anything I could have hoped for, and now I will have to be tempted to have her create something for every anniversary…  if I can afford that.  I absolutely wanted this on a shirt, so at my suggestion she has throw it up on her t-shirt store.  I wanted every last penny of the proceeds to go to her, so instead of me creating a “Tales of the Aggronaut” store this seemed like the better option.  For I believe the first 72 hours it is only $14 and then after that they go up to the normal price of $20 and $22 for bigger sizes.  Once I finish writing this post I plan on ordering one for myself because I am so floored at just how well this turned out.  I am super thankful to have awesome friends like Ammo, that I can pester to do little side projects like this.

I feel like I need to wrap things up, because this post has gone on quite a bit longer than I thought it would.  I am very thankful to have all of you out there reading my words, and without you I am not sure I would have the strength to get up every single morning and commit text to page before I have finished my cup of coffee.  Through this blog and the awesome community of folks that I have met through the various social media accounts connected to it… I have forged a family that I will take with me for the rest of my life.  It doesn’t matter if we have only interacted one time…  you’ve left an impression on me and given me the will to keep going.  Sure there are mornings where I question myself why the hell I keep doing this, but all of you out there that ping me over twitter or slack or countess other methods…  give me that drive to keep moving forward.  I realize this post has sounded a little bit like a farewell at times, and I haven’t meant it to.  Seven is a magical and special number, but so is Thirteen…  so as I top the hill of this goal I set my sights on the next one.  Thank you for joining me in this journey, and hopefully we will have a lot more of them before I decide to call it quits.  Also side note… please take some time to tell @Ammosart just how damned amazing this image is!  I’ve had it for about a month now… and it has been pure hell to keep it under wraps because from the moment I got it I wanted to share it with the world!