69 Challengers

The Anook Thing

Blaugust is officially upon us, and with it comes a deluge of people posting to the Nook.  I just wanted to take a few moments to highlight a few things as far as that goes.  First off Lonrem made an awesome post on how to get the most out of posting on Anook.  Also of note the very awesome Green Mushroom aka Void has been creating forum posts each day to collect the various daily posts.  This is a pretty great idea as it makes it easy to read everything that has been happening for that day in one place.  While this is amazing idea I also highly suggest that you advertise your post separate from this forum thread.  The Anook Community prize is going to be solely based on how many hearts various posts get from the Anook Community as a whole.  Our forum is a great place for collaboration and communication with other Blaugustians, but the only people that will actually see it are people who are following the nook.

Basically you have two options to make a post see larger circulation.  You can either create a blog post on your profile page, which will allow you to attach images and keywords as well as associating it with a game.  This however takes some time, and feels a little repetitive when you are already writing a separate blog post.  What I tend to do however is to click through to the Blaugust Nook, and at the top of the screen is a box that says “Share What’s on Your Mind”.  Generally speaking I open this box, link to my blog post… write a quick blurb about the post and then associate it with a game.  This will create a post automagically shared with the Blaugust nook and also associated with the individual game nook.  From there if you so choose you can click the Megaphone icon to share it with any other nooks that you might think would be interesting.  My key problem generally is that I tend to write posts that cover multiple games… which makes it really hard to determine which to associate it with.

69 Challengers

At the time I am writing this Saturday morning… we currently have 69 Challengers.  As we went on through the month last year we picked up steam, so that at the end of the proceedings we had fifty people who had either participated or won the challenge.  I am completely blown away by the support I have seen thus far, and I am amped to see what the end of the month will see our numbers at.  I have to admit there was a period of time when I didn’t think I would do Blaugust again.  For some people it was this amazing experience, and others… it ended up causing them to take several month lags in their posting.  The last thing I wanted to do was contribute to bloggers…  not blogging.  However as we got closer to August this year more and more people asked me if I was running it again because they were really getting excited.  At this point… I am absolutely happy that I did because apparently this challenge strikes a primal chord with folks.  The happiest moment however is that I am watching it branch out of my little circle of blogger friends and helping to discover brand new circles that I didn’t even know about.  I think we are going to have really great things happen this month.  Now…  for the updated list of participants as of Day One.

Returning to Norrath

EverQuest2 2015-07-31 18-21-14-24 As I mentioned during the Games of the Week post, I plan on diving back into some of the games I am linking to as well.  I am mostly focusing on free to play games, that have no barrier of entry for folks to pop in.  That said however… as I delved back into Everquest II last night…  I had a barrier of entry.  It turns out that the time locked progression server Stormhold is for subscribers only, so for the moment… I am once again subscribing to EQ2.  This has always been one of those games that I have had rose colored lenses for, because I have this deep connection to Norrath.  In many ways it was my first MMO World, because in truth… Phantasy Star Online doesn’t really count when it comes to the whole “rich lore driven world” aspect.  It had been since March 2014 that I had poked my head into Everquest II, which is a bit of a long absence for me.  This is one of those games that I have tended to play every few months, and in spite of having it installed I really have not given it much loving.  I have to say…  maybe that was for a reason.

In many ways this game is a time capsule locked in a different graphical era.  I’ve never been a fan of the “new” models that they released in an attempt to sell the game in Asian markets, but I have to say the original models look extremely dated at this point.  It isn’t so much the models as the fact that they are animated so poorly as compared to modern titles.  I guess in the time I have been away I have gotten accustomed to the way the other worlds looked.  In truth this game ties back to a time when the fact that we were playing online at all… was miraculous and as a result we simply accepted that a lot of things didn’t look nearly as clean as the console counter parts because we were getting huge worlds to explore.  Another thing that nostalgia does is makes you look back upon experiences as better than they actually were.  I remember having all of these fond memories on the Isle of Refuge…  but unfortunately the act of playing through it again is something entirely different.  The later start zone experiences work so much better than the Isle, and I found the whole experience of leveling through it again to be cludgy and annoying.  Even worse was the transition to Freeport, because quite honestly I am not a big fan of the redone versions of Freeport and Qeynos.  I miss the small dungeon zones attached to Freeport as way of leveling through to 10 and being able to survive the commonlands.

For the time being I am running my Iksar Shadowknight just outside the gates of Freeport in the Commonlands, and I am able to take down level 9 and 10 mobs at level 6.  My working plan is to grind my way to 10 and then start questing in the commonlands proper again.  The problem being…  I just ran out of drive to make this happen last night.  I finally logged into Final Fantasy XIV and worked on my hunts there instead of continuing the leveling process.  Another thing I had forgotten, is just how slow the leveling curve in EQ2 used to be.  Getting to 10 is going to feel like a significant accomplishment, since I am not dual boxing this game the way many other people are.  Basically this time locked server experience is reminding me that you can never actually go back home.  You change and your home changes… and things are never quite the same.  I still had some fun poking my head into Norrath again, and if I can get over this hump I think I will enjoy myself again as an “off night” game when I am not feeling like much human interaction.  I have definitely been going through one of those slumps lately, where I am perfectly fine to chat with people over twitter but somehow grouping up and doing content together just seems to taxing.  I need to get past this however because I need desperately to cap Esoterics this week.

Blaugust Games of Week – Week 1

Pre-emptive Thank You

Yesterday I freaked a lot of people out by calling it the Blaugust Eve.  As I have explained on twitter, I was accounting for my amazing time travelling Aussie and Kiwi friends for whom… right now IS the start of Blaugust.  For the rest of us at the time of posting this we have a little more wiggle room before the festivities kick off.  I have to say last year was an insane ride for me, as much as it was for the contestants.  The intent was to run everything through the Blaugust Nook but that didn’t exactly happen, and it quite literally made my life hell.  I ended up spending a couple of hours a day trying to sort out who posted what when and in what time zone they were posting from…  and then the people who posted after midnight in their own time zone…  only served to add to the complication.  There were numerous times I tried to track down people on twitter or IM to ask if they meant X post to be on Y day or not.

This year it seems like most everyone has registered on the Nook which is going to help, but what is going to be even more important is advertising your daily posts there with the day number you are intending it to be.  On your side that is a small amount of work, but on my side that is saving me literally hours of scouring… and is hopefully going to allow me to actually read blogs during the course of the event.  As soon as things start I have to flip into book keeper mode, and while I might be “reading” posts I was not necessarily enjoying them last year because of all of the technical foibles.  So I am thanking you ahead of time for complying with the list of rules, because it is going to make my life not horrible over the next thirty one days.  I’ve been a fan of Anook for awhile, so much so apparently that yesterday someone thought I worked for them.  I just think they do a great job of giving me guild forum like functionality but also giving the ability to interact with other gamers.  I am amped this year about them sponsoring the Community Award, and we will ultimately sort out the specifics of that as the event goes on.

Games of the Week – Week 1

Yesterday we launched the writing prompts forum, and I thought it was pretty amazing that Void spent a good chunk of the day yesterday populating it with a bunch of ideas.  I plan on adding a new writing prompt to this post every day during the course of this event, but I wanted to go a little bit further.  Nothing makes more interesting posts than exploring a new game, or revisiting one that you have been fond of in the past.  As such I plan on highlighting three free to play games a week, with an attempt to mix up the styles a bit.  My hope is that if you are lacking inspiration, you can download and install one of these games and find plenty of things to write about.  Lets get on with the games!

Dirty Bomb – Nexon/Splash Damage

dirtybomb This is a game I played a bit in beta but have not really played much after it officially launched, and I am actually looking forward to playing it some more.  I have long been a huge fan of games by Splash Damage, and I spent many an hour playing Wolfenstein Enemy Territory.  Hell I even joined a competitive clan while playing it, but never really did much more than scrimmage other teams.  Splash Damage creates a shooter quite unlike anyone else makes, and they tend to focus on these complex objectives that require multiple classes of players to complete them.  I always focused on the “Engineer” archetype because it made the game play more enjoyable for me as it gave me a higher purpose.  I am not big into “death matching” but I loved rushing headlong into a firefight trying to stay alive long enough to build a bridge or repair a tank.  This game is the logical extension of Wolfenstein Enemy Territory, Quake Wars Enemy Territory and even to some extent the critical failure Brink.  I think I am one of the few people out there that wholeheartedly enjoyed Brink, and lately I have been feeling the itch to play some FPS action… and Dirty Bomb seems like it is going to fit that bill perfectly.

Download From SteamDownload From Nexon

Everquest II – Daybreak Games

EQ2_000008 I will always hold a special place in my heart for Norrath, the setting of the Everquest universe.  When World of Warcraft launched I was torn because part of me wanted to be playing Everquest II.  Instead I went where the bulk of my friends went, but continued to periodically visit the setting of EQ2 throughout the years.  It has some of the best world building I have seen in any game, and the scope of the zones just feel so massive compared to almost anything else on the market.  They innovated in so many ways, and had so many rich systems like one of the best Mentoring systems out there for the time.  As the years have ticked by the game has felt more and more like a dated relic, however there is a simple nostalgic charm to it that I still find appealing.  They seem to be banking on taking this nostalgia to market, as they have opened a time locked progression server allowing players to go back and experience the world as it was during the early days.  This is making me seriously consider re-rolling and starting fresh on this new server, but I have had so many other competing goals that I just have not done it yet.  My goal is this week to roll a character and check it out, but unfortunately that means I am going to have to buy a new character slot on my already loaded account.  If you are looking for a world loaded with inspiration… this is a good place to start.

Download From SteamDownload from Daybreak

Marvel Heroes 2015 – Gazillion

MH_SCREEN_042314_013 Another game that I really enjoy but find myself not playing a lot of right now is Marvel Heroes.  This game provides Diablo II style game play, with a rich class based system in the form of all of the different heroes that you can play.  One of the coolest features of this game is the way that the you pick your first hero to level.  The game allows you to play a long list of champions to level 10, and then you get to unlock one of them and take it all the way to level 60.  This gives you plenty of time to get a feel for how they each play and their different abilities.  I personally tend to be a Captain America player, but there are heroes that fit just about any imagined play style.  The other thing that I really appreciate is the way that for the most part, the game gives me a pathway to unlock the things that I might want without hiding it behind an overly painful grind.  Champions are purchased with Eternity Splinters which drop fairly frequently while doing content in the world.  One of the complaints I have seen from friends is that the game play is extremely easy, and this is absolutely the case while you are playing on normal mode.  However after defeating the main storyline you can ratchet up the difficulty  much in the same way as you can in Diablo 3.  This is absolutely a really fun game and the freemium nature is not egregious in any fashion, so if you want some old school Diablo game play with MOBA inspired style character design…  you might check this one out.

Download From SteamDownload From Gazillion

Daily Prompt

Since I more or less posted a series of games that I have some connection to, or would like to have a better connection with.  The writing prompt for the day is somewhat connected to that.

What game that you are not playing, do you still have a deeply nostalgic connection to and why?

Let us hear what game you keep returning to even if you aren’t really actively playing it… or likely will never play it with quite the same fervor.  For me personally that game is absolutely Everquest II, and I still hold a torch for it even though at this moment I have not really played it over the course of the last two years.

Twas Night Before Blaugust

It’s Almost Time

I know I have said this many times… but I have to say it again.  I am completely overwhelmed by the amount of support I have gotten for the path of madness known as Blaugust.  As of this morning when I compiled the list I will be posting shortly… we had 47 people signed up on the Blaugust Nook.  I absolutely suggest that you get out there and mingle with your fellow Blaugustians, because you are all embarking upon a mission together that will be challenging for many of you.  There is a shared spirit of struggle that binds us all, in our mission of creating thirty one days of content.  These events that we hold serve to galvanize our community, and create cohesion where it may or may not already exist.  More than anything however… this event is about tricking each and every one of you into realizing that you can in fact write content on a schedule.  Inspiration is a fickle muse…  but I am here to tell you that you don’t need her anyways!

The Blaugustians

Victor_Tour Without anymore rambling on my part… I introduce to you the challengers in the second running of the Blaugust games…  may the content ever be in your favor.

This is a pretty damned impressive group of blogs if I do say so myself.  During this years Blaugust I will be taking special note for the folks who also competed last year and will be coming up with some special recognition for repeat winners and survivors.  Remember it is not too late to join in the madness, and you can sign up on the Blaugust Nook thread at any point during the month and play catch up.  Lets make this the best Blaugust yet!

A First Prompt

What are you hoping to get out of Blaugust this year?

To make things a little easier on the Blaugustians I will be providing a writing prompt each day during the month of August in my morning posts.  These are of course completely optional, but if you find yourself stuck you can go to the writing prompt thread and hopefully find some ideas.  I highly suggest that we make the writing prompts a collaborative experience, and if you think of something good even if you are not going to use it yourself…  post it to the thread to help your fellow challengers.  I look forward to seeing all of the awesome stuff you fine folks create tomorrow.  I mentioned this yesterday but I also plan on suggesting some games of the week, in case you are struggling to find purpose.  Nothing creates content like your first time experiencing a new game, or even returning to a game you had forgotten about.  That said I don’t really want to roll these out today, but will instead include them in tomorrows post.

Anook Community Award

Prepping for Blaugust

At this point we are getting super close to the launch of Blaugust, and the sign ups keep coming on the Nook.  There is still time to sign up and be ready for the start of this exciting month.  Also remember there is zero penalty this year for starting late and catching up.  Last year my friend Tamrielo did something absolutely insane and wrote 31 really well formed posts in a 48 hour period.  While I would never suggest anyone do something like that, it is absolutely possible to start a week late and make up the missed progress.  Similarly I know folks will be attending Gamescom or Pax Prime during this month, so it is absolutely a good idea to stage the content ahead of time.  For the WordPress users out there I highly suggest you check out their pretty excellent mobile app (iOS, Android)  that gives you access to your blog on the go, and does a decent job of letting you compose a post on the go.

I tend to be a very pro WordPress person, but blogger is perfectly acceptible as well and while I have never used it there seems to be a mobile blogger client also (iOS, Android).  The primary reason why I tend to suggest WordPress is just that there is a path between WordPress.com free hosted service, and moving to a WordPress.org installation on your own custom hosting.  There are a number of guides out there to help this process along.  What I like so much about this is the fact that it lets someone get their feet wet and decide if this blogging thing is for them… before plunking down the money it takes to rent space on a web host and purchase a domain.  There are lots of people that never make the jump between COM to ORG, but it is nice that there is always that option if you want to do something with your blog that is not supported through the official channels.  There are also guides for going from Blogger to WordPress, but they tend to be far less straight forward.

Anook Community Award

Last night something really cool happened, namely that Lonrem the tirelessly working community manager of Anook.com posted an excellent “best practices” document on the Blaugust Nook.  If the document were not enough in helping people get the most out of their Anook experience… he also slipped a tidbit of information in down at the bottom.  For a few weeks now we had been talking about Anook wanting to sponsor some sort of award.  It was finally decided that the best way to have an Anook reward is to have the users of the website vote on their favorite posts.  Here are the basics of this award posted straight from his document.

I’ll also announce here that Anook is going to support Blaugust with a special prize! I’m going to tally up the Hearts that each blog post gets for each blogger (Blaugger?) and award the top blog with a game code. I’m going to see if I can round up other prizes from some of our friends and partners as well, no promises there! This does give a bit of an incentive to post regularly, start on the first of August, but also to share the link to your blog on Anook! If you’ve got any questions, let me know!

This is really awesome to have our first “real” sponsor…  because my pocket didn’t really count.  Last year when I started this, I decided to host the challenge off of Anook because it is a network that I love.  Lonrem singlehandedly won me over with his devotion, and the features basically keep me from ever having to build yet another custom SMF forum for anything.  So I fly the Anook banner on my stream and mention it on every AggroChat just because I love the site.  I am humbled that the site is returning some of that love and helping us get this challenge started in a bigger and better way this year.  I’ve had an idea through this contest of creating a games of the week where I suggest a handful of free to play games that folks play, and then write about their experience to help get those creative juices flowing.  While I might have been dreading the loss of my free time that Blaugust means…  I am absolutely getting pumped about how much more “real” this whole thing feels for 2015.

Surprise Alex

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-22 20-49-54-61 It is not uncommon for me to log in to Final Fantasy XIV in the evening and hear the all too familiar chime of a group invite before the game has completely loaded.  My guildies are used to ninjaing me into tanking all manner of things, and I assumed that it was yet another case of “daily expert”.  So I accepted the invite without thinking much about it, and found myself shocked when I saw the Alexander loading screen.  To make matters worse the ninja alex was turn 2, which is quite possibly the most frustrating thing for a tank to take on without having a second tank in there that they trust.  The problem being that pugs like to stack all of the mobs together, which makes it impossible for the tanks to effectively hold aggro on them.  What happens instead is that both tanks burn through all of their resources and the mobs spend the entire fight bouncing back and forth between them.  This would be fine and good if it were safe for a single tank to take them on… problem being that in the later phases you have to try and carefully split the damage to even it out.  All of the mobs on one tank is pretty much a certain wipe.

The positive of getting pulled into Alex like this however is that it took away my normal reluctance to such things, and as of last night I now have three of my four pieces of loot for the week.  All that is left is Turn 1, and quite honestly it is the least stressful for me to pug.  The tanks have clearly defined roles and for the most part they go fairly smoothly now that most people are pretty well geared.  At this point for that final item I want either a chain which would instantly give me a belt, or a pedal… which would also instantly give me an item because I have a second one in my inventory.  I have to say the way gearing works in Alex is a little maddening, but I feel that honestly it is their way of trying to delay people reaching level 190 geared.  With Esoterics in place, I can’t really see going for say the Alexander chest piece since it takes getting a lucky roll four weeks in a row on Turn 4.  My first Esoterics item of course will be the 200 weapon, because for a tank that is the single most useful upgrade.  After that I will probably assess my weakest pieces and go after what I need the most…  which is more than likely going to be my chest piece.  Of course in the mean time Square could do what they seem to always do… and change up the game by taking away loot restrictions.  That said I still think it is a little early in the patch for that to actually happen, and more than likely won’t be until 3.1.

Fifty Eight Singularity

Blaugust Update

Right now we are three days away from the beginning of Blaugust, and at this point I am happy with the pre-event response.  If my count is correct, we have 35 different people signed up to do the challenge, and as I remember last year we managed to pick up a bunch of people after the start.  This is a bit of a double edged sword for me at least, because while I am amped as hell to see all these fine folks participating…  I am also realizing that in three days time my casual reading of the internet is over.  I flip into stat keeper mode as I tabulate the posts that folks have made on which day to verify that at the end of the month they have in fact made their thirty one posts.

Blaugust is this strange dichotomy in that for most people it has nothing to do with the prizes that will be handed out at the end.  However since I am offering them as an additional carrot…  I feel like I have to perform my due diligence and keep track of everything.  So as we near the start of this event I am a mixture of anticipation and dread.  My hope is that everyone will include the day they are posting for in their post so that I can easily checkmark off a post on a given day.  I struggled so much trying to reconcile timezones last year, and folks proclivity for posting after midnight but meaning it for the previous day.  I remember Joseph Skyrim was amazingly awesome about always including what day he was posting for, which made the whole Australia thing so much easier.  I think in the coming days I will go back through the list of people who did it last year and determine just how many are repeat participants.  Just giving things a summary glance it certainly seems like there are many.

Finally Alex Four

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-22 21-39-55-23 I am just realizing that apparently yesterday… I did not actually have FRAPS running while playing Final Fantasy XIV.  So that means all of the times I thought I was taking a screenshot, I apparently was not.  As a result you are getting a screenshot from Turn 3 of Alexander instead of Turn 4 as I intended.  For the last several weeks I had been hoping to run Alexander will a full guild group, however last Wednesday we struggled a bit on Turn 2 and only managed to get through Turn 3 before running out of time.  Turn 4 is a huge deal, not necessarily because of the fight… but because the quest turn in at the end of it rewards a Gordian Bolt.  For a little over a week now I have been staring at my 170 ring and grimacing because it was my one sub 180 that I still had.  So the drive to get through Alexander Four was pretty strong for me, because it meant I would finally be able to replace that last ring with a shiny new 190 ring.

Yesterday afternoon I finally got the courage to pug it with zero guidance from the guild, and in truth it was not nearly as painful as I had expected.  Firstly the fourth turn is a blast and is one of the few fights where I find the off tank role far more enjoyable than the main tank.  There is a mechanic that works somewhat like C’Thun’s swallow mechanic from World of Warcraft, causing the off tank and another player to get sucked through a series of tubes into another room.  There you have to burn down a “Doll” add within a certain timeframe before getting pulled back into the main room again.  For me personally this meant rationing my cool downs so that I could survive, but also hoping and praying that I got a heal upon exiting…  because you literally get sucked in back to back if the dps is going too slowly.  There was a bard that each time I got paired with her, which is strange because you would think with all of the recent buffs that would have been a great choice to burn the add.  Anyways… it took about four attempts but we managed to get it.  I did both the main tank and off  tank roles, but like I said I absolutely prefer to off tank it simply because seeing my tiny Lalafell self go flying through the air is hilarious.

Fifty Eight Singularity

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-26 20-13-33-56

Yesterday I had a decision to make, and I think I hinted at it in my blog post (truth is I rarely remember what I write from day to day).  Essentially I could either grind out all of the esoterics I needed to cap, or instead I could work on my Dragoon.  In truth I split it down the middle and pushed my Esoterics a little higher, before ultimately retiring for the evening to work on the Dragoon.  I ran a course of three Vaults, and still am coming up short in experience to push across the finish line. As a result as I was starting to get more sluggish right before bed time, I decided to do my first Levequests of the expansion.  One of the strange things about Heavensward is that all Levequests come from an NPC in Foundation just up the ramp from the Aetheryte crystal.  This means that the game freaks out slightly when you attempt to accept the port after finishing one.  In the Dravinian Hinterlands it kept dropping me off at the Bigwest Shortstop instead of actually porting me back to the foundation.  This makes me think that the game initially intended there to be Levequest vendors in every zone, but ended up deciding that they wanted to try a centralized vendor in Foundation instead.

The problem being that Fifty Eight still seems like a hellaciously long level, even with the Armory Bonus firmly in place.  I did a grand total of six level 58 levequests, and each one barely made the xp bar move.  However I was able to whittle it down to just enough that I think by doing my hunts tonight I might actually be able to ding.`  The reason why I want 59 so badly is somewhat stupid…  mainly I am tired of the lance that I am using.  I think it looks ugly as shit… but for the single level I am using it… I cannot bring myself to spend the money to glamour it to something more enjoyable.  Especially when I know that I have a level 59 lance waiting on me.  It is at the very least giving me that added push to get the hell out of this level on onwards to the final push for 60.  I have also gotten a little sick of running the Vault.  It was awesome the first dozen times I was in there, but now the music is grating on my nerves.  I also simply think that the Library is a much more enjoyable dungeon, and does not have a death trap of a boss quite the same way as The Vault does.  I still find that final encounter in Vault to be the hardest in the leveling dungeons, and I feel sorry when I see a healer struggling to keep up with the massive room wide damage.  Hopefully tonight will see me dinging 59, and I can move on to more enjoyable pastures.

Begrudging Enjoyment

Even More Clarifications!

Starting to get really amped because two days in we have like two pages worth of signups on the forum thread.  Since I guess I am the grandmaster of ceremonies, I am getting random questions and have been doing my best to assuage fears.  When those questions seem general enough that someone else might have them… I have taken to dumping them in the intro to a morning blog post to help clarify for anyone else reading that might be interested.  One of the interesting questions that I had yesterday was if folks could mix things up a bit.  Since I am opening the door to vlogging, it was wondered if you could do a mix of the two.  The short answer is absolutely!  The long answer is just make sure you post your video embedded in a blog post, and advertise it on the Blaugust Nook with what day it was for, just to make my life less hell when it comes to tracking and tabulating this madness.

Next question is what happens if a given blogger is obligated to be posting every so often on another site?  Do they have to also post something new for that day on their personal blog?  The easy answer here is yes…  but with an asterisk.  If you are posting a bigger entry somewhere else, it is absolutely cool to post a stub on your own blog linking to the bigger post.  Just do a quick synopsis of the post and let folks click through if they want to read more about it.  This way you technically have your daily post, but also are linking to the article that you spent the bulk of your daily writing time working on.  This is maybe a strange case, but I know that several of our bloggers do the occasional long form article for another source.  The important thing is that we need it tracked through the Blaugust Nook so I can give you appropriate credit.

Night of Alex

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-22 21-41-38-05 Pretty much since its inception I have been helping out with the Wednesday night static in our free company.  Initially I had intended it to simply be something that I filled in on, but as I dropped my World of Warcraft raiding… I found that I had time to commit to it more seriously.  So presently with the Monday night crew we are working through Final Coil of Bahamut, and on Wednesday nights we have been working on Normal mode Alexander.  Last night we had every intention of getting through all four wings, but we struggled a bit with turn two due to some changes in how we were dealing with the adds.  As soon as we went back to the way we had previously defeated it, things clicked back into place and we pushed through it fairly easily.  That took us to turn three, a fight that I had not actually seen yet.  Thanks to the expert tutelage of Wulf or as “Wul” as his friends call him…  I was caught up to speed and after the second attempt it started to feel pretty natural.

From here it was just learning this particular dance and getting our dps up high enough to burn through it before we hit the hard enrage.  Right now that seems to be a problem in general with what we are trying to do.  We struggled with the dps check on Bismarck, and struggled again on turn three.  As a  Warrior I am personally swapping to Deliverance stance every single time I am not in the main tank role so I can push a little more dps and also trying to keep up Storm’s Eye as often as possible… largely when I don’t actually need the damage reduction effect of Storm’s Path.  If we can somehow solve the problems we are having on the DPS end however I think we are ready to rock higher content.  The dance part seems to come pretty naturally, however there were still several points last night where folks stood in damage that could have been avoided.  Part of this is learning, but part of this is trying desperately to avoid tunnel vision.

Begrudging Enjoyment

Skyforge 2015-07-22 22-22-05-86 I’ve gone through a strange evolution with SkyForge of having some vague interest, but finding the game play largely unsatisfying for my first few play sessions.  Now that I have unlocked the core abilities of the Paladin, I am actually finding it rather enjoyable.  I think this game suffers from what so many games suffer from…  rationing of abilities.  I know Final Fantasy XIV has this problem where most classes don’t really feel like they should until you are around level 40.  SkyForge for the most part has this problem until you have unlocked your base abilities.  Had I taken the time to really spend much time in the virtual matrix thing that lets you test every class, I would have realized that the rabbit hole was so much deeper than I was giving it credit for.  Another interesting side note… if you finish the training on a given class you unlock the ability to permanently use its class costume.

Skyforge 2015-07-22 23-22-31-75 I booted up SkyForge after the raid last night, with every intention of just poking my head in and then logging right out.  Instead I wound up unlocking three costumes and completing a really cool dungeon like mission on an island full of undead Virds.  With all of my abilities unlocked the fights started feel more purposeful in design, and less about simply repeating the same attack over and over.  There was a boss that required me to intersect one type of beam while avoiding taking the other… and actually dragging the boss into the path of it so that it would take the damage.  This felt fresh and enjoyable, so maybe I simply had not seen the “real” game yet.  This is ultimately the frustration of designs that doll out abilities one at a time, is that you can’t really see what the final result is going to be like until you have invested a serious amount of effort into the game.  Granted this game DID give me an avenue to see how a Paladin or Knight would play…  but I simply did not spend much time doing it.  Tonight I plan on trying to unlock a few more of these class costumes, so I can get a feel for how some of the other options play.  Right now this is shaping up to be an MMO with MOBA character design… and I think I dig this.

A Small Patch

Blaugust Clarifications

Yesterday I had a handful of questions about Blaugust that I thought I should address this morning, just in case anyone else had it.  Firstly it is absolutely okay to write content ahead of time and stage it to release over the course of the month.  With both Pax Prime and Gamescom happening during the month of August, this is more than likely going to cut into some writers schedules.  I know last year there were several folks doing great… and then they went to Gamescom and dropped off the face of the planet.  Being able to cover schedule irregularities is a necessary coping skill to deal with keeping a schedule.  While I personally prefer not to schedule posts ahead of time, quite literally everyone else does this.  So for the purpose of Blaugust this still absolutely counts towards your thirty one posts.

Another question that I had is whether or not it is cool to tell a story in thirty one parts.  This is also absolutely fine, and like I said yesterday this is a challenge about longevity and regularity…  not necessarily what you are writing about.  A prime example of this is during my NaNoWriMo run in 2013… I knew that I could not do it and blog at the same time.  So instead I just posted my nightly words each day as my blog post.  So over the course of the month I essentially broadcast the draft of my story to the world.  In the case of the person who asked me yesterday, they wanted to write the back story of their primary game character over the course of the month.  That seems completely valid, and at the same time something that would be extremely awesome.  The constraints of this contest are about producing thirty one posts during the month, and so long as those posts mean the constraints of the challenge you are doing just fine.

A Small Patch

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-22 06-32-08-08 I have a good friend Rylacus who is going to be starting Final Fantasy XIV soon.  Over the year plus I have been contiguously playing this game I have talked to him about the patching schedule.  I mentioned that about once a quarter we get a big patch, and usually more than once a month we get little minor patches.  The problem being that he had no real frame of reference as to what I meant by those two things.  Yesterday 3.0.5 was released and this is absolutely what I would call a “small patch” by FFXIV standards.  When I linked him the patch notes he was completely floored by the fact that we call that a minor patch.  A lot of things happened yesterday, not the least of which is the introduction of the Esoterics tier of Tomestones.  I keep thinking at some point they are going to run out of goofy names to call these, but they seem to have a limitless fount of them.  This allows players to purchase item level 200 items, and returns us to the state of the weekly tomestone cap of 450.  The weapons once again are priced just enough to force players to hit that cap three weeks in a row to get them.

Yesterday was also another significant moment for me and my Warrior as I finished upgrading all of my gear to level 180 (other than the Alexander ring that I should be getting tonight… ).  This means I am essentially “done” gearing with Law and can now start diverting that to my Dragoon who is roughly halfway to level 58.  I was reaching this point where running dungeons was not nearly as important for me as it had been in the past, and then bam… a small patch releases and once again I am infused with this desire to hit the dungeons every single day.  This time around Expert Roulette is going to be my key focus, and we have learned in the past that through running a single roulette every day for several days in a row.. you can cap your tomestones without doing anything terribly insane.  What I marvel at however is the timing of their content.  Quite literally just as we started slowing down our dungeon running fervor… they launched yet another tier of gear giving us even more reason to get excited about running dungeons again.  This game is absolutely phenomenal at figuring out the right mix of carrot and stick.

Final Coil

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-20 20-27-08-11 Another huge thing yesterday is that Savage Alexander opened and now the bleeding edge of Final Fantasy XIV raiders can throw themselves against that content.  As of this morning it seems like only a handful of free companies have defeated the first turn, and only one or two have managed to defeat the second.  So it seems like it will take folks a good deal of time to actually conquer this raid.  For our guild however, we are still very much in the gearing process and have yet to be able to field a reliable “normal” Alexander run on a regular basis.  What our Monday night group has been working on instead is finishing out the Final Coil of Bahamut.  I realize we are quite literally “months behind” as the saying goes, but I am still very much enjoying myself.  We managed to take down Turn 12 on Monday night and made what I feel is significant progress on Turn 13.  Ultimately it will probably take us a few more weeks, which is good… because we still only have one geared tank for the Monday raid.

As a result… I ended up solo tanking turn 13… which is quite possibly the most hectic thing I have done in a long time.  My world became entirely centered around making sure I had five stacks of wrath at the right moment… so I could hit Inner Beast plus another cooldown… in order to survive the tankbuster…  which of note means that it literally does enough damage to decimate my 25,000 hit points.  The worst timing however was on the pull when quite literally I was hitting my fifth ability and gaining my fifth stack of wrath… as the attack was casting that I needed Inner Beast for.  Needless to say that night stressed me the hell out… but hopefully we can down him soon.  I would love if the axe dropped, because it is super amazing looking.  What I really hope however is that we can finish gearing and start work on Bismarck Extreme, Ravana Extreme and Alexander for gear.

The Revenge of Blaugust

What is Blaugust?

A few years ago I started down this path of madness that I have referred to as my Grand Experiment, where I started blogging every single day.  It has been a grueling experience at times, but also something I would not trade for the world.  I learned a lot of things about myself because when you are writing that many posts… something interesting happens.  At some point in the process you break down the walls you are holding up between you and your readers and start being completely and often brutally honest with them.  I sit down at the keyboard each morning and share a chunk of myself, and this bond I have developed with my readers is something pretty special.  Last year I wanted to channel just a little bit of this with the rest of the blogosphere and started the Blaugust challenge.  The idea is simple… during the month of August blog something every single day.  If you succeed in thirty one days of posts… you are a Blaugust winner.

I had this idea that the only folks that would participate were seasoned bloggers.  You know folks like me with years of blogging under their belts.  The reality however is that a lot of new bloggers took up this banner as their own and produced some amazing stuff as a part of it.  As such Blaugust has become this strange event that allows a lot of folks to essentially rededicate themselves to the craft of writing.  After last year I was uncertain if I would be doing another one of these, but I was not so subtly urged by my readers that they were expecting it to happen once more.  Last year we had 28 Challenge Winners that managed to make it through the month without missing a post, and another 21 Challenge Survivors that participated in the contest.  I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of participation… but in the tradition of all internet things…  lets make this year even bigger.

The Topic

First off let me get this out of the way.  This contest is all about longevity and frequency and not necessarily about what you are writing.  The idea is to get folks in the habit of regular posting, so that after a month of posting every single day… they can settle into a more reasonable schedule after August and do regular posts a few times a week.  So as far as your blog goes… you can tell us whatever you feel like.  These can be game posts, post about some other hobby you are really interested in, or just posts about your life.  Somewhere along my path to madness I reached a point where I am essentially immune to writers block when it comes to Tales of the Aggronaut.  I can sit down at the keyboard and start writing without any preparation and within a paragraph a theme starts to form and I am up and running with a new blog post.  Inspiration is a fickle thing, and essentially I brute forced my way around it.  The plan is to make you realize that you don’t need some magical muse to crank out interesting posts.  Everything you say is already interesting so long as it is genuine and comes from your personality, and the rest is just simply taking notes.

The Guidelines

Last year… the month of August was a blur for me, and it was honestly hell for me to go through.  When you had as many people blogging as we did, a good chunk of my morning was spent tabulating who blogged and who didn’t.  Then when you factor in the international nature of this competition it was extremely hard to actually determine what day a given post was supposed to represent.  As such this year I am going to be quite a bit more strict on the guidelines, because I would really like to exit the month of August with at least some bit of my sanity intact.  I love you guys dearly… but I really need your help on this.

  1. Write a new blog post of no less than ten sentences in length.  This is essentially two large paragraphs and is a good solid minimum size.  If you are doing a screenshot/photo blog just make sure your description explaining what the image is all about fits this constraint.
  2. Include a link back to the 2015 Blaugust Initiative Page.  My hope is that this will allow other people to join in the challenge and play catch up.
  3. Advertise the post on the Blaugust Nook.  When you join the nook I will be elevating everyone to “Blogger” access to do this.  This is extremely key this year, because this is going to be how I log all posts, and if you do not do this you are not going to get proper credit.
  4. Either in the title of your post or the first heading inside of your actual post.. please denote which day this post is for.  Something like “Blaugust Day 21” just to make sure that I am giving everyone credit for the correct day, and this should help to stop the oddities of folks in vastly different time zones getting dumped into the wrong slot.
  5. If you advertise the post on social media, please include the #Blaugust hashtag.  Again we are trying to help spread the word and get folks to join in process… and at very least get folks reading the posts.
  6. Over the course of the month, write 31 posts.
  7. ????
  8. Profit!

The Vlogger Clause

Since this contest is far more about longevity and doing things on a schedule… I thought I would open it up to a slightly different audience this year.  Blogging is awesome, and I love it dearly… but Vlogging is also awesome.  Being willing to put yourself out there, and on camera…  on a regular basis is quite the daunting task.  As such I wanted to open this up to folks who are vlogging, and essentially allow them to count a daily vlog as a valid post for the month.  As such I am going to throw some loose requirements around it.

  1. Vlog must be at least five minutes in length.
  2. Include a link back to the 2015 Blaugust Initiative Page in your videos “dooblidoo” and mention the Blaugust initiative at least once during the video.
  3. Advertise the vlog post on the Blaugust Nook.  When you join the nook I will be elevating everyone to “Blogger” access to do this.  This is extremely key this year, because this is going to be how I log all posts, and if you do not do this you are not going to get proper credit.
  4. Inside the “dooblidoo” mention what day you are posting for.  Something like “Blaugust Day 21” just to make sure that I am giving everyone credit for the correct day, and this should help to stop the oddities of folks in vastly different time zones getting dumped into the wrong slot.
  5. If you advertise the post on social media, please include the #Blaugust hashtag.  Again we are trying to help spread the word and get folks to join in process… and at very least get folks reading the posts.
  6. Over the course of the month, write 31 posts.
  7. ????
  8. Profit!

Some Revisions

Last year I did some madness that I won’t be doing this year.  Essentially the deck was stacked against anyone who was not ready to go on day one.  Inevitably there were folks that started one or two days late, that got knocked out of the running for the big prize for not being there from day one.  I didn’t really feel like this was fair, because ultimately they put the same amount of effort in during the course of the event, it was just that they had to play catch up a bit.  As such I basically have three categories that I am going to be dividing people up into.

  • Challenge Winners – Anyone who makes thirty one blog posts during the month of August.  I will be tallying the Results on September 2nd as to allow for all possible time zone strangeness.
  • Challenge Survivors – Anyone who makes at least  fifteen blog posts during the month of August is going to be considered a “survivor”.
  • Challenge Participant – Anyone who did not quite make it to fifteen is still awesome in my book and deserves some recognition for showing up and joining in the fun.

The Rewards

As with last year I will be keeping track of these things in my big spreadsheet of blaugust, and at the end of the month on September 2nd I will be tabulating the results.  From the contest winners I will be doing a drawing for several prize packages.  I hope you enjoy games, and want to acquire more of them…  because that is what we are going to do.  Last year someone summed up the contest as “write awesome stuff and get games!”.  Over the course of the years I have acquired a bunch of spare game download keys, so I will be dipping into this grab bag of awesome to get some prizes for folks.  I will be using a secure dice roller to determine one Grand Prize winner and three additional prize winners from the pool of Contest winners.

  • Grand Prize!

    I hope you follow me on Steam, because I will be picking a game off of your Steam Wishlist and purchasing it for you.   Nice and simple.  If there is something you have been craving like a special store mount or something of the sort from your favorite MMO, we can probably work that in instead.

  • Three Also-Awesomes

    Additionally to a grand prize winner I will be picking three other individuals to get to choose something from the grab bag of awesome.  May the odds ever be in your favor… because once again I will be relying on the dice roller to determine who gets first picking order from the grab bag.

  • All Participants

    All participants are going to get sidebar badges to denote that they participated in Blaugust 2015 with special versions for the Survivors and Winners.

If there are any companies that would like to sweeten this pot, contact me because I would most certainly love to give everyone who participates in this contest something for doing this challenge.

The Sign-Up

In order to participate you need a few things.  Firstly you need go over to the forums on the Blaugust nook and post your intention to participate in this handy forum thread I have created.  This is going to help me prepare to start reading your posts during the month (if you are not already in my blog reader).  Then as the month goes on post your new entries to the Blaugust Nook so that you get proper credit for them.  The nook also serves as a jumping off place for the Blaugust community that builds up around this event.  Share your struggles and your victories, and lean on each other for ideas.  We are all in this together, and the hope is that at the end of the month each of us is stronger for the participation.  As always if you have any questions feel free to pop me a line on any of the many avenues that I leave available for folks to contact me.  Lets have an awesome August and a truly phenomenal Blaugust!

Blaugust is Coming

Goodbye NBI

nbimmogames-666x271

As of this morning the month of May is officially over and with it goes the Newbie Blogger Initiative for 2015.  I have some mixed feelings about the 2015 run, but in the important ways it seemed like a success.  The good folks at MMOGames had offered me the ability to highlight NBI specifically during my “bonanza” blogging round up.  The problem being there was a pretty massive falloff in the amount of blog content after the first two weeks.  I still highlighted the Talkback Challenges but found it quickly hard to make an entire post made up of nothing but Newbie Blogger Initiative content.  So I guess the question I am trying to answer is what specifically caused this cooling effect in the posts?  Generally speaking in past years if anything there is a ramping up with new people joining the initiative as the month goes on and folks having a burst of activity right towards the end.  That didn’t really happen this year.

That said any program that gets new people into blogging is a success in my book, and as I have said many times our community needs a constant fresh infusion of people willing to add their spin to the conversation.  Here is a relatively final list of the Class of 2015, so you should absolutely add these blogs to your blog reader and check in on their progress every now and then.

Blaugust is Coming

I’ve had a lot of questions and commentary asking me to do the Blaugust event again this year, and since I had been mostly coy about this…  as of this morning I am committing to making it happen once again.  For those who did not participate in the process last year, or were not around the blogosphere…  Blaugust is a festival of sorts devoted to the regular creation of blog content.  Above anything else I have become known for my mission of posting something every single day on my blog.  Granted there are lots of bloggers who do this and should be celebrated.  I know personally I saw a massive spike in my readership when my content deliver became for lack of a better word “predictable”.  The idea for Blaugust is simple…  post at least one post each day during the month of August.  That is thirty one days of posts, and if you win the competition you get the pride of being able to display one of our badges on your site showing you “won”.  Additionally last year we had various prizes to give away and I am sure that will be the case again this year.

The big thing that is going to have to change this year is I am going to have to wrap some tools around the process.  My life during the month of August revolved around making sure that everyone had gotten in their blog post each day.  Where this got squirrely was when I factored in our Aussie bloggers who were blogging from the future, and even our six hour offset European bloggers were a challenge to keep track of.  What is going to happen instead is that in order to participate you will need to submit each blog post through some sort of a form that is going to keep track of if you posted for a specific day.  This should help out some of the folks that would end up posting after midnight, when they really intended the post to count towards the previous day.  The important thing is the regular creation of content, not necessarily technically when you post it.  We have a two month reprieve, but I wanted to get notice out there that I would in fact be doing Blaugust yet again, so that folks could start psyching themselves up for the “marathon”.

Infernal Horsebirds

ffxiv 2015-05-31 01-04-49-51

This weekend I managed to push my crafters in Final Fantasy XIV to level 21, which gave them access to a whole new set of gear and allowed me to get rid of the other set I had been using.  I figured this was as good of a place to rest for a bit as any.  With only eighteen days until the head start I don’t figure there is a real chance that I will actually be able to push my crafters to 50.  With that in mind I opted to start working on my Rogue a bit this weekend.  For awhile now I have been torn as to which class to push next, and I have juggled both Monk and Ninja.  What finally pushed me over the edge to Ninja was when I managed to get the Malignant Mogknives to drop awhile back.  As such this weekend I managed to go from level 28 to almost level 34 which is not the fastest progress in the world but still acceptable.  I figure I will speed up significantly in a few levels when I can realistically start doing Coerthas for FATEs.

For the time being I am running FATEs in the Costa Del Sol region while queuing for whatever the max level dungeon happens to be.  Currently that is Brayflox Longstop which also gives me the opportunity to pick up the couple of pieces of the Infantry set I had been missing.  I have no idea if I will manage to push up Ninja to 50 before the expansion, or if I will return to Crafting madness, but in either case I certainly have plenty to do to keep me engage until things launch.  I really should devote a weekend day to the Post Moogle quests because I really do not think they would take that long.  I did not end up with as much play time this weekend as I thought I would, otherwise I probably would have done precisely that.  One of the things that I think is amazing is that as a Free Company we are still bringing in new people.  Sure it has slowed down from the initial burst of players, but over the weekend we added another five members or so through our extended networks.  This gives me hope for Heavensward and our ability to get things like the guild airship.  I am certainly excited about the prospects this expansion has for our group.

Satisfaction of the Year

The Birth of a Community

I think this year more than any other we say what was previously an island of disconnected city states merge into a real community.  Last January I posted a rather grumpy piece lamenting the lack of community, and throughout the year you all have strived to prove me wrong.  I am not sure what exactly it was about this year in particular that seemed to draw everyone together, in part I think it was because this year was the year of multiple events, that I hope will repeat themselves this coming year.  Since we have reached the end of a pretty epic year of community, I thought it was a good time to reflect back upon what we have achieved.  There were individuals who say that blogging is dead, but I think wholeheartedly we have proved them wrong.

February – Birth of Alliance of Awesome

While not really an event in the truest sense, it was still a pretty significant event in the year for me.  In February of this year some events happened that ended up in the forming of a much larger gaming community to be known as the Alliance of Awesome.  With the launch of the Landmark alpha… we quickly realized that each of us needed to be in as many as seven different “guild” based server channels to be able to keep in contact with everyone playing the game… especially since friends lists simply did not exist at that point.  It was proposed that we found a much larger community made up of all of different parts.  This alliance of guilds would pool resources and eventually even a chat server.  While at the end of the year I realize that maybe some of the ideas didn’t work as well as we had hoped…  there are still more of us in almost daily contact than there are not.

The idea that there would always be a friendly Alliance of Awesome guild in whatever game we happened to be playing was something that has for the most part stayed true to the original intent.  The only part that didn’t quite work was trying to create an actual Alliance of Awesome branded guild in Wildstar.  I feel it is still best if we stay separate guilds, just ones collaborating in a larger sense.  The biggest change in this direction was moving to using the same Teamspeak server graciously hosted for us by the ever amazing Saia.  Some things have worked well, others not so much…. and other groups have faded away from the core.  At the end of the day I think this was a really positive move for the community as a whole, and anyone that wants to participate is still more than welcome.

May – Newbie Blogger Initiative 2014

This may we saw a return of the seminal blogging event that at least to some extent started all of the momentum.  Several years ago Sypster started this contest and last year I believe was the third year.  Essentially it is a month for the elder bloggers in our community to encourage folks to start their own new blog and join our community proper.  For this year the catalyst was Doone as has been for a coupe of years, but he was joined by an excellent cast of helpers in the forms of Izlain, J3w3l, ModeratePeril, and Joseph Skyrim.  It was a bit hard for me to find numbers this morning when I was pulling together this post but based on my best guestimates and this list, it seems like we had 45 new bloggers join the fray during the month of May.

I did a quick run through of all of those blogs and as close as I can tell out of that initial group of 45, at least 30 are still active…  and I judged activity by having any posts within November or December.  That gives us right at 66% of the participating blogs still alive and kicking today.  When you add to this that there are still a large percentage of blogs from past years up and running as well that graduate from being a newbie to a mentor…  this really is one of the best events to grow our community each year.  I am extremely proud to be a participant each year, and I am excited to see a new crop of bloggers arrive on my “Class of” blog roll.

August – Blaugust 2014

The idea behind Blaugust started on an absolute whim.  I did not want to lose the momentum we build each year with the Newbie Blogger Initiative.  While that event is going on, folks are posting hard and heavy… and then as it finished the posts start to taper off again.  The idea was simple enough, get some of the most seasoned veterans in our community to take up the challenge of posting something new each and every day like I do.  When I proposed this idea I thought maybe at most I would get five or six people that were willing to take up the banner.  However this absolutely developed a life of its own, and before I knew it I had 52 people signed up to participate. I have to say I was completely overwhelmed with the support I got from the community on this one… and for the most part my entire August became about nothing but keeping track of Blaugust.

What I was even more impressed by was the level of participation.  At the end of the month I had 50 that actually participated, and of those 28 actually had “won” the challenge and managed to post something each and every day.  The biggest frustration with the whole event was that I had not really planned very well, and keeping track of who posted when became a very manual process.  As a result this coming year I am going to have to engineer a different solution to make it less intensive on my part, and allow me to make the daily recap posts a bit easier.  I never intended for this process to be something that “new” bloggers partook of, and as a result we saw a marked decrease in posts after it… since most folks needed a break after running that marathon.

October – Bragtoberfest 2014

bragtoberfest_spooky

Bragtoberfest was the brainchild of Izlain from Me vs Myself and I and the Couch Podtatoes podcast.  During September there was the beginning of some pretty horrible stuff happening in the gaming community as a whole.  Bragtoberfest was Izlain’s way of combating that by trying to get back to the roots of gaming… playing to have fun.  The mission statement was simple:  Bragtoberfest aims to make it fun to be a gamer again. We all game, and most of us also either blog, stream, vlog or podcast about games as well. Why not combine the two into a month-long event? 

During the month of October there were several competitions bringing folks together for the purpose of competing in a game.  These ranged from Strife to Team Fortress 2 and everything in between.  Not being a super competitive gamer myself, I did not join in as much as I would have liked.  That said I felt like I supported the mission by helping to provide a few logos here and there. Additionally many of us gave exposure to the event with recap threads and announcements on our own blogs.  This morning as I was trying to pull together numbers for all of these things, I struggled to find firm numbers of participants.  That said I know it was well over 20 bloggers who joined in during the month of October.  Hopefully this one will happen again next year and like everything, we can grow upon it.  The Bragtoberfest tag on Izlain’s blog seems to be the best summary of the event as a whole.

October – Alliance of Awesome Extra Life Marathon

One of the best things to come out of Alliance of Awesome this year…  is the fact that we participated as a team in the Extra Life marathon.  This all started with a random conversation between Zelibeli and myself about how we had always wanted to participate in the Extra Life 25 hour of gaming event.  Both of us had not done so yet for the same reason… we questioned if we could actually manage to stream all 25 hours given our family lives.  With the birth of AofA we kicked around the idea of having a Relay style stream, where each of us took a 2-3 hour block and then tagged off to another stream.  This became a logistical problem since we were all using Twitch at the time, and you could not create a “team” unless you were at the partner level… and quite frankly none of us were popular enough to actually have that.

Thankfully along came Hitbox which offers the ability to create a team at the most basic membership… and we were off and running.  We created an Extra Life team… and not having a clue what kind of participation we would get, I set a very sober goal of $200 as a team.  We blew that goal completely out of the water, with a participation of 9 gamers…  we managed to reach $1728 which to me is an absolutely staggering amount.  My hope is this year we can be a bit more organized and maybe raise more by getting the awareness of what we are doing out there a bit more.  Additionally my hope is to find someone who is a twitch partner that is willing to get an Alliance of Awesome twitch team created for us.. since that will open the door for folks to stream from the current generation of consoles as well.

December – Bloggy Xmas

Finally we had one last event that wrapped up last week with Christmas.  My good friend Syl game to me with the idea of doing a sort of blogging advent calendar.  It seems there is a local tradition in her area where folks in the villages decorate the windows of homes and stores to represent a day of the advent calendar.  I started work on a logo, and she spruced it up by adding in the d-pad snowflakes and bam we had another event ready to run.  I think she originally intended to have one blogger per day, but just like with Blaugust she was a bit overwhelmed by the folks wanting to participate.  I tried to pull together some numbers this morning but it seems like for the 25 days of the event she had 45 participants, meaning most of the days had two different bloggers posting.

The overarching theme of the event was to write something about community, and I personally wrote a post about my need to keep growing my own communities by adopting awesome people.  For the full effect of the event you have to check out the Bloggy Xmas website that gave us a really awesome advent calendar layout for the months post.  My hope is that we will grow this to be an even bigger event next year.  The community focus seems fitting since this was a year of so many awesome events bringing the community together, all the while existing in a climate where there was so much negative being caused by other gamers.  I feel like our little community stood as a beacon for the fact that gamers could in fact get along, and not just get along but thrive.  I want to thank all of you out in the community who participated in any of the events, or just kept your own personal blog active throughout the year.  I feel we represent the best values our community has to offer, and I hope we can make next year even more amazing.