A Path Not Taken

A Question Answered

I am getting a super late start today, or more so I am sitting down to write my blog post this morning later.  I dropped the dry cleaning off yesterday morning, and then shortly after decided I felt entirely too bad to exist in the real world.  So I went home and took breathing treatments throughout the day, in an attempt to convince my lungs to stop being assholes.  It has mostly worked, but this meant that I needed to get up relatively early this morning and go pick up the dry cleaning so we would have it for Monday morning.  I still have plenty of shirts in the closet to cycle through, but my wife had reached the limits of her wardrobe.

It seems like at least once a year a new social media technology is released, and the internet zeitgeist all flocks to it.  I generally sign up for these the moment they happen in an attempt to stake my claim flag and then they sit dormant for years until I finally decide that I want to start using it.  One of these is Anook, and I asked a very simple question last night on twitter.

image While I was expecting someone like Maeka who has been posting on the site for a good deal of time to chime in, I did not expect to be drawn into a length conversation with the Community Lead.  As you can see, we talked a lot and I started to buy into the vision.  The problem that they see it is that there are all these services, that you load up with content once… and then forget about.  Facebook is this way for me, I have a profile because I know that certain people would rather be notified of my content through that vehicle… but I don’t actually USE facebook.  I hate the service, I hate the way it feels, so I feel bad each time someone sees the content that somehow got set up to syndicate from twitter… and thinks I am actually using that as a means of communication.

I know going into this that Anook is not what I have been longing for.   I would love to have a gamer focused site that acts as a social glue for everything else I have content on.  A single point of syndication for G+, Twitter, Steam, Raptr, Battle.net, Glyph, Playstation Network, Xbox LIve…  whatever services I happen to have accounts on including my own blog and podcast.  I think this is a niche that if someone fills it, will be amazing.  What Anook is instead is trying to focus on creating a community with the ability to talk about disparate topics.  I see this as trying to be a social network, but almost from a guild website type of approach.  In the short time I am going to start populating it with my content, be it youtube vids, the podcast or my daily blog posts.

In the long term I could see maybe starting to try and use this for some of our other ventures like Stalwart Gaming or the Alliance of Awesome.  When I first signed up for the site at launch, it felt fairly primitive, and I really did not grasp the concept.  It just felt like Raptr or Steam without the nifty automation and game tracking functionality.  Now I can see what it is trying to be, and while I may not be 100% sold on it, I definitely appreciate their goals.  More than that I appreciate the kind of specialized attention this Community Lead gave me in trying to win me over to their vision.  Hell that along is going to make me loyal to the cause more than anything.  I will always reward amazing service with my patronage.

A Path Not Taken

This morning is going to be a bit “gaming lite” again, but with the hustle and bustle of the Newbie Blogger Initiative I’ve sat on a tale for a few days.  I wanted to make sure I got the posting underway proper before taking a lot of screen real estate for something personal.  My wife is a teacher, and this year her schedule aligned just right to allow her to attend the junior assembly.  This is one of those deals where someone inspiration comes and talks to the kids about the dangers of the world.  This is the sort of thing I as a teenager used to ignore, taking a sketch pad and doodling up in the bleachers instead of actually listening.  I am sure for some of the kids there this will definitely be the case.

As the speaker was introduced, my wife thought the name sounded familiar but shrugged it off.  Then he started talking about living in a town of 3500 in Northeastern Oklahoma.  At that point she started to wonder if maybe he lived in her hometown.  Finally when he started talking about his son… it hit her like a sack of bricks.  Growing up I was best friends with two other guys, and for the most part we were inseparable.  The man on the stage telling his story was one of those two boys father.  He had been almost a surrogate parent to me, as much time as I had spent over at their house throughout Middle School and most of High School.  When we first got together in College I was still telling stories about him and his son with fondness.

The thing is something changed along the way, and his son was getting into some pretty bad stuff.  Alcohol changed to Marijuana changed to Cocaine binges… and eventually I had heard he was even dabbling in Heroine… not that you can actually dabble in that.  Two things happened my junior year, one I started distancing myself from him… and two I got really sick.  The combination of the two ended up with me picking up some new friends, ones better for my well being… and while we had no falling out or anything… we just faded apart.  At some point after graduation we had managed to get back in contact.  He was running a record label out of Ohio, and prided himself in sending me lots of indie recordings of the bands he was working with.

Every so often he would call and we’d end up talking for a few hours.  When he moved back to town he got married, had a couple of kids and settled down as the director of an area Arts festival.  I thought that things were going pretty well for him, or at least on the surface he seemed to have gotten his shit together.  I visited him at least once at his office, and we went out to lunch, and then at our ten year reunion we of course hung out.  So it was with complete shock that a few years later I hear that he was not okay at all.  At some point the drugs had returned, and one day while driving home at lunch to get a fix he hit a special needs kid who had been riding his bike along a busy thoroughfare.  The report is that my friend didn’t even stop the car, and the cops followed him to his house an arrested him on the spot.

They say he was going fast enough when he hit the kid, he practically exploded.  They had to cremate him because there simply was not enough to bury.  So as my friends father was retelling this tale, my wife is sitting there in shock because she knows the other side of a lot of the tales he is telling.  She has this cold realization that had I not made a change and distanced myself… that it could have very well been me.  I hung in the same circles, but there was just a point where their behavior was getting a bit too risky for my tastes.  My friend deserves his fate, he did not get there over night, but over a course of multiple years of bad decisions.  However I feel horrible for his parents, because as parents go… they were awesome.  They were always so good to me, and treated me like another member of their family.

Once the assembly was over, my wife rushed up to the stage and introduced herself to his father, and apparently he just gave her a huge hug.  Then asked how I was doing and how things were in our lives.  He really was like another parent, and I feel like I need to get a hold of him.  He lost his son, in ways that he will never get him back, but maybe I can reach out and be a little closer to him and his wife.  They were always so good to me, that I want to be there for them however I can be.  So what makes the whole situation that much more odd, is that I was one of those kids who didn’t pay attention to this sort of thing.  I ignored more than my fair share of drug assembly, and ditched them whenever I could.  However I am living proof that changing the path you are going down can make all the difference in the world.  I could have easily been my friend, and that alone is pretty sobering.

Bangkorai is Huge

Screenshot_20140430_212918 Last night I spent most of the night streaming some Elder Scrolls Online gameplay.  Bangkorai is freakin huge.  Each time I feel like I might be nearing the end of the zone, I keep finding a pocket of stuff that I have missed. At this point I am extremely overleveled for the content at level 45, and the highest mob I have found at all has been 43.  This is a thing that keeps happening to me, I seem to move extremely slowly through content.  My whole general approach to Elder Scrolls Online is to kill every single thing in my way.  This means I probably kill far more badguys than the average gamer.  I have watched my friends play through content, and they go out of their way to skip combat.  This game gives you really good ways to skip combat in the form of “disguises”, however I NEVER use them.  The only time you will actually see me wearing one is when the quest literally cannot be completed without one.

A good chunk of the night was spent working on a series of quests in an occupied town.  I could have skipped almost all of the combat entirely by wearing the disguise.  However I ignored the fact that it was in my inventory and proceeded to lay waste to everything with a red diamond on it.  Which is a big funny considering my character is racially imperial… but apparently I like killing my own kin?  I am still enjoying the hell out of the game, and while I am super interest in ArcheAge I keep telling myself… to wait until I reach a point in Elder Scrolls Online where I am not quite so in love with it.  The game keeps giving me sufficient reason to log in every night and play, so until it stops doing that I will keep playing it.  ArcheAge will always be there when things start to get dull and I want to do some full on sandbox… however as time consuming as it seems based on the few streams I have watched…  maybe I am better off with Themebox or Sandpark.

Contest Entry


Watch live video from Belghast on TwitchTV
Toward the end of the night Rae pulled me over into Landmark.  She has been working on the big contest that they have going on and wanted some feedback on her building.  So far I think it looks pretty great, but this has been where she has spent all of her effort of late.  Personally I still have so much to do on my temple complex that I am almost mired in a building funk because of it.  Towards the end of the video I end up traipsing back into my own claim.   I am not really sure where I am as far as the game is concerned.  I like the game so much, but right now there is not something about it making me to want to log in regularly.  I think maybe once there is combat or something other than “Lego mode” I might feel more strongly about the game.  Quite truthfully lately I have enjoyed Trove more… and it is far more primitive.  The reason behind that seems to be that there is more to “do” in trove.  Definitely going to be active in the Landmark community, but right now past the initial rush of wanting to build something… there just isn’t much “stickyness” to the community.

#PathNotTaken #ANook #Landmark #ElderScrollsOnline #ESO

Savior of Glenumbra

Awkward Ex-Coworkers

spicychicken We are having some minor issues with my wife’s vehicle, so as a result I had to get up crazy early yesterday morning to drive her into work.  Crazy early because I still wanted to be able to blog like normal, and she generally leaves when I am about halfway done with my morning post.  As a result it made the entire day feel sluggish.  After work we made plans to go eat at one of my favorite restaurants near her workplace so I could get cheese tots and spicy chicken.  The above shot is what the dish looks like… I snapped a photo some time ago to brag on her for bringing it home to me one night.  We hung out and ate with another teacher friend of hers and it was a pretty awesome time…  until something happened to taint it.

We had been there for a little bit, and our order had not arrived when I noticed someone walk in that looked vaguely familiar.  While trying to place him I saw his wife walk in and immediately the combination of the two faces together snapped in my memory.  These were some ex-coworkers and while they were nice enough…  they came from a period of time when I was at the worst place I have ever worked.  To make it worse they are both extremely good friends with what I considered to be the boss from hell.  So it is not exactly the situation where I want to go over and “catch up”.  Thankfully they were with what looked like parents and too busy with their own conversations to notice me much.

I hate that anyone associated with that workplace is immediately flagged as an enemy in my head, and I am not really sure how to get past it.  Every place I have ever worked I have been the group rockstar, and the current environment is no less true…  although in my present situation we have three rockstars working on the same team.  This workplace however, from day one there was nothing I could ever do right.  The boss would loosely stub things out in a project website, with roughly a single sentence describing what needed to be done.

If I asked questions as to what the hell he meant by that…  I would catch hell for not taking initiative.  If I figured things out on my own, and just got the job done… I would catch hell for not doing it exactly like he wanted it to be done.  There was seriously a no win situation, and the two people that walked in represented that time period in my life.  Every time I see someone associated with that period I just want to scream how much of an asshole that guy was and how he made my life complete and total crap.  But instead I smile and nod and try my damnedest to ignore them and hope they walk away.

Savior of Glenumbra

Screenshot_20140404_220811 Last night we got home fairly late from meeting the friend for dinner, so by the time I made it upstairs it was almost eight.  At that point folks had already paired up into dungeon runs, so I opted to simply focus on finishing up the rest of Glenumbra.  I feel like I am moving super slow, because I simply cannot chew through the Elder Scrolls content as fast as others seem to be able to.  I have friends who have been “finished” with Glenumbra for some time, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they are nowhere near 100% on the zone… and quite truthfully as much time as I have spent there I seriously doubt I have gotten everything either.  I do have all of the icons on the map turned from black to white, and have gotten 100% of the skyshards… so I feel like it is “good enough” for me to move on.  Last night after finishing Crosswych I got the “Savior of Glenumbra” achievement.

Screenshot_20140404_220734 I have to say… Stormhaven means serious business.  I managed to get to level 18 in Glenumbra before moving on, but when I moved into Stormhaven that is supposed to be a 15+ zone I noticed everything hit considerably harder.  Granted this could be in part to the fact that I am still mostly wearing level 14 gear, since I need High Iron which cannot be found in Glenumbra.  More so I think that they have just ratcheted up the difficulty.  Instead of fighting random bandits, you are now fighting random daedra.  While they might not have the hitpoint pool…  Clanfear are Clanfear…  they all seem to be just as hard to kill.  The new zone is just as lovely, if not slightly more damaged by the conflict.  The screenshots are from the first town, which is a lovely little port just a ways inside of the zone line.  I look forward to meandering my way across the zone like I did in glenumbra.

I swear this game was designed specifically for me, because it is littered with things to find and interesting things to kill.  I love that crafting can be leveled without having ever crafted a single item.  I am constantly bringing back bags full of gear that I got from killing baddies, and through doing nothing but deconstruction I have managed to get Woodworking to 10, and Clothing to 9.  While I have been making plenty of blacksmithing items, I still have gotten most of my levels from deconstructing “found” things.  This is the only game system I have ever played that supported leveling crafting through mass slaughter.  I have to say I love it though, it lets me play the game the way I want to play it, and limit my time hovering over the forge.

Visiting a Friend

Landmark64 2014-04-05 09-02-04-73 This morning I saw a tweet from Scopique thanking me for reminding him to feed his claim in Landmark… which in turn reminded me to log in and feed my own.  As much as it might annoy me that we can only store five days worth of copper in our claim banks, it is in the very least forcing me to log in every few days to make sure I have it fully stocked.  Right now I am in a weird place with my own claim.  I need to go on another massive stone harvesting run, but I have not been able to bring myself to do so… because I would rather be playing Elder Scrolls Online.  For a few days however my friend Syl has said that I should pop by her claim and see the progress.  As a result I ended up with a pretty cool screenshot of the pair of us overlooking her claim.

Landmark64 2014-04-05 08-55-26-26 I hope she won’t be cross with me for posting a picture of her Inn “in progress”.  I have to say the interior is coming along extremely well.  I love the fireplace and the basin, and on a rack behind me is a really cool lance that she made from scratch.  I love the way the house is wrapped around the tree.  Makes me realize just how much work I need to do on my own.  I am really good at roughing out massive structures, but I always lack the drive to go back in later and do the fine detail work.  She however seems to excel at it, putting the finishing touches on rooms as she builds them.  Super impressed with what she has done so far, and hopefully at some point this weekend I will get the drive to log in and go on another massive stone farming expedition.  If nothing else was cool to pop over and see her claim for a bit before logging to work on this here blog post.  Is that blogception?

#ElderScrollsOnline #Landmark #Glenumbra #Stormhaven #ESO

Communal Harvesting

A Circus with Wi-Fi

While yesterday was considerably better than Wednesday, it was still pretty freakin stressful.  It just seems that after essentially five days out of the office so much crap has stacked up that I absolutely have to deal with.  I keep threatening to run away and join the circus, but I don’t think anyone really takes me seriously at this point.  Afterall I would have to find a circus with wi-fi and fiber…  because really satellite internet sucks.  My boss asked me what exactly I would do at the circus, and I guess probably the easiest role to play would be “bearded lady”.  All I would really have to do is cross dress… and I guess I could deal with that.

Yesterday I managed to get over 10,000 steps with my fitbit for the first time so that is a little bit of a personal goal met.  In part we only managed to do this because we spent most of the evening shopping for a refrigerator.  The problem being that our house has one of those damned annoying “over the fridge” cabinets.  This means that we have a fixed amount of space that we can slide one in.  Problem being that if the numbers are not lying horribly… everything is about half an inch too tall.  We think actually the fridge we are looking at will fit just right, but if not we might have to do some “day of arrival” modification to the cabinet.  I was going to try and doctor this with a dremel, but yesterday one of my friends suggested a hand planer.  The fridge is still mostly functional (except for ice cream) so I think we have a little bit of leeway.

Bigger Claim

Landmark64 2014-03-28 06-13-28-23 I made it home well before my wife last night as is usually the case, so I ended up popping upstairs to play some Landmark.  In truth I first tore apart my computer and installed a brand new Geforce 750 ti 2 gb superclocked card that arrived.  It dropped into the machine without any issue, other than a little bit of confusion windows 8.1 had when I first booted up.  However as I was re-downloading the geforce drivers it seemed to magically right itself, so I am guessing behind the scenes windows was doing something.  I love my wife dearly for not balking at me wanting to pick one of these up, but overall she is super supportive of my obsessions just as I am of hers.  She also got a care package full of jewelry yesterday, so she also got something nifty in the mail.

I have to say that if I thought Landmark looked amazing on Medium or High, it looks all the better on Ultra.  My early evening obsession was in getting the two claim extension flags crafted so I could expand my hold on Liberation/Shield.  With the help of my good friend Rae I managed to gather up enough Elemental Tin to craft two of these flags.  Thing is… while applying them I realized that the upkeep costs are not weekly like I assumed, but daily.  Before adding my additional claim flag the upkeep cost was 300 copper per 24 hour period.  Adding one claim flag doubled this.  So while I don’t really see a problem harvesting 600 copper per day (and you can keep a stockpile of 5 days worth on your claim), I am not sure if I really want to do 900 a day and add the second flag.  So right now I will just sit on that for the time being, and if a friend needs it to expand their claim I will mail it their way.

Communal Harvesting

Landmark64 2014-03-27 21-24-28-84 When I finally got home in the evening from our whirlwind tour of the various appliance stores in town, I sat down with the purpose of working on upgrading my tools.  However my friend Rae and my friend Lethbridge were already grouped together in search of the illusive “thistle seeds” that only come from a super rare desert tree with purple flowers.  One of the coolest features of the Closed Beta that was not in the previous Alpha incarnation (at least that I know of) is the way grouping works.  If you and I are grouped and in the same area… essentially you have to be in visual distance of each other…  when I harvest you get a copy of everything I loot, and when you harvest I get a copy of everything you loot.  What makes this awesome is that while someone is harvesting one node, you can pop over and harvest a completely different node and share the benefit.

I am not entirely sure if this is a “feature” or a bug, but Audrae was way more progressed than me tool wise.  She and I played early in the evening, and then two hours later when I got home from the fridge-go-round she was still playing.  During that time she had progressed to a tungsten pick, and as we wandered around the their two zone looking for these trees she was able to harvest… and therefore transfer a copy to us of much higher materials than we could ever do on our own.  Essentially this means you can leap frog your friends over hurdles by wandering around and harvesting with them.  So while at the time I could not harvest the tungsten and gold, I could do iron or stone or a tree and still be somewhat useful.  Towards the end of the evening I arrived with a lot of help at the same place she is in the progression:  Tungsten Pick and Gold Axe.

Currently we are tag teaming the harvesting of cobalt in trying to get those picks, as well as wandering around the “old growth” forest biome looking for the illusive “Ancient Rootstock”.  This then gets refined into Vital Heartwood which is used to craft the haft of the Cobalt Pick we now lust after.  At this point honestly we are mostly focusing on item progression, and at some point soon hopefully I will have compiled a stockpile of materials to begin rebuilding “Belgarde Keep”.  The new version will be considerably bigger as I have two claims to work with now, but for the most part I plan on using the same sort of construction. This means I am going to need millions and millions of stone, which luckily I am getting while I wander around the world harvesting other things.

Landmark64 2014-03-28 06-41-04-00

In the curious footnote department… I noticed that in closed beta the loading screen has now completely dropped the “Everquest Next” verbiage from the logo.  It is now identified as “Landmark” and so is the client itself.  I am wondering if this is an attempt to start trying to clear up the confusion of how this connects to Everquest Next as a whole?  They have been up front about their intention that this is a completely separate game, that will share tech with Next, but have its own objectives.  So I guess this is the beginning of trying to divorce the two brands in the minds of the players.

The Great Landrun

Joining the Circus

joiningthecircus I have decided, that after the day I had yesterday, I am going to run away and join the circus.  Not that I particularly want to be a part of the circus, and especially not since clowns have always freaked me the hell out.  It however seems like the proper thing to do when you’ve had a day as bad as the one I had yesterday.  Lets scan back through the annals of time to September 11th 2012, and “the event”.  I had just returned back to work from taking a few days off for the death of my Grandfather, when a gross overreaction to a security scan gone wrong changed my life for the worst.

Yesterday was my first day back after taking two days off for the death of my grandmother.  As I was travelling in I got a text from my boss making sure that I would be there.  When I got in, things were bad.  Seems as though a security scan gone wrong had locked up and was not essentially DDoSing our websites.  So I spent most of the morning dealing with trying to triage our servers as the scan completed.  Finally someone had to go in and force cancel the scan because it seems like things had hung up completely.  I ended up spending a good chunk of my afternoon dealing with the fallout.  Then on top of that we had a major GIS system release, that kept me there until after 5:30.  Which doesn’t seem very long until you realize that I generally work 7 to 4.

Basically I was already not in the best shape after losing my grandmother, and to walk back into this shit storm… was almost more than I could handle.  However I managed to soldier through and do the stuff that needed to be done to get through the day.  Apparently this is what happens when I lose a grandparent… the world plots to destroy me.  I feel like it is appropriate still to run away and join the circus.  That seems to be the thing you are supposed to do when you have had a phenomenally bad day like yesterday.  The only problem is it might be difficult to find a circus with wi-fi, so I guess I will just limp through the rest of this week and try really hard to recuperate this weekend.  To add some icing to this cake, it seems like we need to go refrigerator shopping.  While most of the food is still freezing well enough, we have reached the point where Ice Cream is no longer “icy”, but instead more yogurt like consistency.

The Great Landrun

Landmark64 2014-03-27 06-04-21-29 Yesterday afternoon Landmark reopened and we were greeted by a slew of new servers and some completely new island names.  Gone was my beloved Liberation/Pingo so I knew I would have to venture out and find someplace new to call home.  I spent a bit of time popping between the tier 1 zones until I settled upon Liberation/Shield.  Originally I thought I would only be in game long enough to stake my claim and then run off and play some Diablo 3.  I was apparently wrong.  It turns out that this time around we had to gather up enough materials to be able to craft our very own claim flags.  By the time I landed on the island I noticed that the claimable land was already shrinking… and while doing a lot of complaining over twitch… I proceeded to try and gather the mats to make my claim flag.

With the founders pick, it was actually rather simple.  The claim flag requires 7 elemental iron, 10 heartwood, and 10 sapphire.  Before I really knew what I was doing I had gathered up the iron and the heartwood and only needed to find some sapphire.  However a short run from the portal spire I managed to find a patch and get more than enough gems to finish my flag.  I zipped to the portal which now has not only a forge but a sawmill as well as a brand new mailbox.  I was shocked and amazed that I was able to make a claim within visual distance of the spire on Liberation/Shield.  I proceeded to faff around for the next thirty minutes clearing my claim to prepare to try and rebuild Belgarde Keep.

Grappling Hook Lust

After I ate some dinner I popped back in and started streaming again.  Granted like usual I am in with my friends on mumble and we are not necessarily talking about Landmark.  However before too long the all consuming mission of Rae and I was to get back our grappling hook.  Being able to zip around the map rocks, and NOT having it made me sad.  So I popped around the map looking for a machine capable of making the grappler.  Turns out it is the outfitters workbench that can craft it, and just southeast of the portal in Liberation/Shield has a really great claim.  Serac has apparently poured through the creation of some of the better machines, and will hopefully serve as a nice outpost close to me for building all the stuff I need to build.

While it took damned near all night to find 20 elemental tin… since surface tin seems to be a rarity, I did manage to cobble one together before I had to go to sleep.  The only problem… I had forgotten just how bad the Bronze Grappling hook sucked.  For starters the cord is insanely short, so you can only grapple very short distances.  On top of that it has always felt like it is far more random in its hook points than the later ones.  All of that said… any grappler is better than no grappler.  At least now I can dig my way into a hole with impunity, knowing that I can zip back up to the surface just by hitting E.

If any of the SOE folk are reading this… you guys should totally sneak me a prime grappler code under the table.  I still want to know how those things work as compared to the highest tier grappler I crafted in Alpha, which I believe was Viridium.  Another really amazing addition this time is the mailbox I mentioned earlier.  Throughout the night I mailed several sets of “claim flag mats” to various friends who did not have the luck to start the game with the Founders Pick.  With the massive run on land going on, I wanted to make sure most of them had the chance to claim a decent space while they were still available.  Now if you were an alpha player…  you are on your own since it is relatively simple to gather up the materials after getting in and seeing just how common Iron, Heartwood and Sapphire really are.

Comfort Gaming

Classy Defined

This morning I got up like I do most weekend mornings, and threw on enough clothing to make myself presentable.  Generally speaking I don’t shower until later in the day, so generally this means I have to throw on a skull cap to tame my hair that is sticking straight up.  In the winter this makes sense… in the summer not so much.  Honestly in the morning anytime I see someone in a skull cap or baseball cap… I pretty much assume they are doing precisely what I am doing.  As always I went to QuikTrip to gather up sustenance, and walked away with chocolate donut holes for the Mrs. and a jalapeño sausage roll for me.

While there… I saw the definition of classy.  This woman walked in, who looked like she was already three sheets to the wind.  What was she buying you ask?  Well she planted an “Olde English” 40 oz malt liquor on the counter.  Granted this is 8 am in the morning, most of the people in the place are buying donuts or juice or something more breakfast appropriate.  In addition she had a package of twinkies and asked the guy at the counter if he sold single swisher sweets.  After some fumbling around he found her a three pack, and I guess that was “close enough”.  So yeah… I guess that is how some people roll.  I am guessing this is not breakfast but a “night cap” of sorts.  Just not something I normally see in the neighborhood QuikTrip.

Comfort Gaming

I think I grieve differently than most.  Since the news of my grandmother, all I have really wanted to do is “turtle”…  aka pull my head inside my shell and forget that the world exists.  One of my chosen ways of doing this is to go off and play games that have always made me happy.  One of the games I always cycle back to eventually is Everquest 2.  It is like an old friend that I have spent so much time with, that I don’t even need to talk anymore… and I know that it understands me.  Yeah I am sure it is odd that I personify a game like that, but really EQ2 was a thing I did for “me” and no one else.  All the while raiding in WoW I would steal private time by logging into Norrath and wandering around aimlessly on my army of alts.

Just as a coincidence, right now my absolutely favorite event is going on in EQ2.  Once a year Chronoportals open up allowing players to revisit areas from the original Everquest.  Some of them are rather funny, like the Ancient Cyclops event in Sinking Sands.  Back in the day there were all sorts of “theories” for how you get the ancient cyclops to spawn.  Some of these involved killing all the madmen, spiders or mummies… and none of them really worked.  It was a fairly random chance that you would get him to spawn.  Why did players care? Well the Ancient Cyclops dropped the item needed to start the Journeyman Boots quest line, which of course provided the player with their own personal way of casting “Spirit of the Wolf”.  SoW Plx!

Basically they are a really awesome way of getting account bound gear for your alts.  I am not sure when I will actually level an alt again, but sooner or later I always seem to, and having these weapons and gear makes a bit difference.  On my Shadow Knight I am still using the sword that comes from the Lower Guk chronoportal event.  It is precisely the kind of mindless nostalgia that I need right now.  The above video has me running through several of the events, or at least the ones I could remember off the top of my head.  However if you are looking for a full listing, the place to check is Zam as always the amazing Cyliena does a great job as always with updates.

The Great Wipe

The end of Alpha is I believe next Wednesday morning, and the beginning of Closed Beta begins Wednesday afternoon/evening when the servers come back up.  What this means is everything we have created along the way… will be gone.  The only thing that will be kept are your characters, and the various entitlements like things that came from the trailblazer packs and things purchased from the store.  This means all of the claim data will be wiped.  I have a big mixed opinion about this.  I don’t mind the idea of losing the work I have done on my claim, but I really don’t like the idea of losing my claim in general.  I like my claim, I like where it is.  My frustration is that there will be a massive landrush Wednesday evening… which is going to suck.

My plan will be to try and get a spot similar to where I had it before on Liberation/Pingo, but if I cannot… who knows where I will end up.  Basically the acquisition of goods begins a new.  So that means we will have to go back to square one with only our extra special trailblazer axe to start and work our way through the gearing tiers again.  Here is hoping that with the addition of heartwood the grind for stuff is far less painful.  As a result I got in for a bit yesterday, but I didn’t really feel like doing much.  I made a few claims extension flags to see how well that worked, but really with everything going away, I don’t feel much like screwing with it.  I have a bit of my stuff templated, but really I found using super huge templates really awkward so I will probably build everything back from scratch.

The cool thing about closed beta is that each of us trailblazers are getting friend keys.  The notice from the other day says these are no longer going to be time limited keys… but instead permanent access to the beta from this point onwards.  I know a few people who wanted them, so I will be trying to hand mine out that way.  However there should be a lot of them up for grabs as I know a lot of people in the blogosphere who are Trailblazers.  My hope is that they pretty much limit the closed beta access to just the friend codes for a bit, at least until the great landrush is over.  My goal is to get another claim somewhere in a forested area and then start over from there.  I really liked being in the forest, especially since the later item grind ends up being wood, and not ore.

Technically Alpha

I Need an Off Switch

There are times I absolutely hate that my wife can sleep through almost anything, and get to sleep so easily.  There is this thing she does that drives me insane, where right before sleep she winds up my brain by revealing some tidbit of knowledge that my mind takes the next hour and a half to digest before it allows me to go to sleep.  Over the week we have had a really sick cat, and are treating her for her hyperthyroidism with a cream that I have to rub into her ear twice daily.  She is getting better, but doing so very very slowly, so I had planned on calling the vet this morning to see if she needs to be seen again.  Moments before my wife went into her nightly coma, she dropped the bombshell that she is not sure that “Little Shit” has been peeing.

Not only did this wake me up, but I went into a full blown panic attack playing the “what if her kidneys are shutting down game”.  There was absolutely nothing I could do to calm down and I was up half the night literally… I finally laid down around 2:00 and drifted off to sleep about thirty minutes later when “little shit” decided to join us in bed.  Her constant purring I guess clamed me down, because she “seemed fine”.  This morning one crisis was adverted when I saw her pee in a place she isn’t supposed to, and another one started when she vomited and there were little red spots in the mixture that looked suspiciously like blood.  All the while I am envious of the fact that my wife can sleep on command, and I end up fighting incessantly to get the few hours a night I end up getting.  There was one night this week, that I thought was a “normal sleep” and my fitbit told me I had 32 periods of restlessness throughout the course of the evening.

Woah We’re Halfway There

I guess that is a bit misleading since dinging level 30 is by no means halfway to 60 effort wise… but it is at least numerically!  Once again I engaged in leveling my Night Elf Mage while hanging out with friends on mumble.  These are starting to feel a bit like impromptu podcasts, since we end up talking about the days gaming news and various sundry bits of geeky information.  We seem to talk about everything other than the game I happen to be playing at the moment I am streaming.  Originally my intent was to stream some Landmark last night, however the servers did not come back up until the wee hours in the morning.  I know this because I also streamed some of that during my panic attack state to try and calm the hell down.

All in all as much as I hate to admit it, I am starting to like playing a mage.  I am beginning to feel more useful in dungeons now that I have some semblance of an AOE in the form of Cone of Cold.  It is still not my preferred method of game play, but I am not absolutely disliking the experience of pushing this character to 60.  Yesterday the Godmother of Faff herself, @AlternativeChat posted about a new contest of sorts.  The idea is with all the boosting going on, to level your way to 90 proudly with purpose.  While I am fully in support of this notion, I am not sure if I qualify for it.

I currently have 6 90s, 2 85+, 2 70+, and my baby mage that my intent was to push to 60 and boost the rest of the way to 90.  I feel like I have experienced the leveling content in World of Warcraft more times than most players.  So I don’t really feel any shame in using my free boost to jump the character class I am least likely to play to the finish line.  However I do feel that most of the folks who have never had a 90, and are using their boost to get there are missing something in the process.  Some of the quests you have to struggle through along the way become a shared cultural experience.  As much as I hate the “poop” quests of Burning Crusade, I like that I did them and shared in the same frustration as other players.  Maybe that is an odd thing to say, but there are very few moments that all players have experienced.  Anyways… you should definitely check out the post that sparked this discussion.

Like There is No Tomorrow

Also on the docket of last nights streaming, I decided to take a break from the mage after dinging 30 and play some Wildstar.  In truth, once again I checked to see if the Landmark servers were back up yet… and since they were not, I opted to play the thing with the most current NDA drop.  I have to say there are certain aspects of the game that are growing on me.  The “soldier” archetype and the quests associated have definitely nailed my personal style of game play.  Namely… explore the world and kill everything that gets in my path.  Once again the “impromptu podcast” aspect of my streams continued as we discussed lots of gaming tidbits.  I have literally considered stripping the audio from these videos and stitch them together into a podcast.

This is what nights on mumble are usually like, as we discuss more than just what we happen to be playing at any given time.  I still am not really used to hearing my own voice yet, but I will get over that.  As far as Wildstar goes… I cover this in the video, but after this weekend the Beta is significantly changing.  Up until this point I have had essentially 24/7 access to the servers, and feel like I have generally squandered that by not playing.  Once this change occurs I am honestly not sure what kind of access I will have.  I know preordering gives you something, but I do not believe that we will keep fulltime access unless we have a 32+ character when the transition happens.  Additionally I think those players will be unable to progress past level 17.  The whole scenario is rather complicated, and I am not sure yet if I really grasp it.  As the thread says, the only sign of a successful compromise is that no one is happy.

No Sleep Til…  Landmark!

I had attempted to sleep for about thirty minutes, and then I realized that I was on the verge of going full blown panic attack… I opted to get up for a bit to try and calm myself with the dulcet tones of gaming.  Generally speaking in the past when I have needed to relax like this I would play Minecraft, and since Landmark is my new Minecraft…  I was thankful the servers were back online.  I figured while I was running around anyways, I might as well stream some of it.  I didn’t broadcast the fact I was doing so, because really I did not intend to be entertaining or talkative.  What the video does show however is the inside of my claim and my latest project… completely redoing the dungeon.  I have to admit at this point… it had been a few weeks since I had played Landmark.

Essentially I had gone high center on some of the crafting requirements.  In order for me to get better machines and better tools it involved absolutely silly amounts of Burled Wood farming.  For those of you who need a refresher, Burled Wood was a rare drop from almost any tree.  You originally needed 100 to make a single Burled Wood plank, and then most of these extremely high end crafting machines and tools required 50 or more of these planks.  This was one of the worst RNG grinds you could imagine.  I simply reached a point where I could not bring myself to chop down the number of trees that it would need to get the things crafted that I wanted crafted.

Thankfully in yesterdays patch they completely turned this mechanic up on end.  Now when chopping down trees they drop a single guaranteed “Heartwood” drop, with a rare chance of dropping more than one at a time.  These are now the items needed to craft machinery and tools, and Burled Wood has been relegated to a “lesser” and also more reliable drop crafting material off of certain trees.  What this means is if you need 27 Heartwood, you know that you will have to farm a maximum of 27 trees to craft that item.  Even if you need 90 Heartwood…  still having a fixed point that you have to farm is so much better than relying entirely on luck to get the drops you need to complete your projects.  Thank you so much for taking this one back to the drawing board.

Technically Alpha

Play 2014-03-14 00-40-29-95 Another very exciting thing happened yesterday…  I received an invite to the Heroes of the Storm technical alpha.  One of the more interesting tidbits about this, is that there is apparently no NDA.  We can blog about it, stream it… do whatever we want, with the caveat that we treat it like the alpha that it is.  I am perfectly fine with this notion because I have been looking forward to “HotS” as it is lovingly referred to… for some time.  Essentially Heroes seems to be set up to fix one of the problems I have with League of Legends.  I am all about team play, and when I am playing as a team I only really care about the end objective… our win.  When I play shooters I tend to be heavily objective and role based shooters that focus on the win condition and not individual player stats.

So much of the way game play works in League seems to be counter intuitive to playing as a team.  Progression is almost solely based on personal performance, not performance of the team.  One of the most frustrating mechanics I have experienced is that of “last hitting”, and this concept is entirely gone from Heroes of the Storm.  Granted I don’t have a lot of first hand experience with the game play… since I did not realize I even HAD access to the Alpha until about 1 am in the full force of my panic attack.  I think I made it about halfway through the tutorial before I made another futile attempt to sleep.  So far everything feels like I expect it to, and the tutorial character of Raynor was rather fun to play.  I look forward to cracking this open and experiencing the content for real over the weekend.  I hope to stream some of it, but with the last beta weekend going on in Elder Scrolls Online… not sure how much of that will actually happen.

It’s Okay to Not Like Things

WoW Getting a Gatekeeper

Back in the beginning of January I crafted a post talking about how much I enjoyed The Gatekeeper encounter in The Secret World and how I felt it was a good thing to have in a game.  I extrapolated this further and said that World of Warcraft really needed a similar Gatekeeper mechanic.  At the time they had the proving grounds but they were universally ignored by players.  Based on a post from Watcher on the forums… it seems like Blizzard is thinking along these lines as well.  If I had to build a requirement for queuing for random heroics, I would have said that more than likely it would need Silver or better in the proving grounds in a specific role.  Turns out based on that post, it seems Blizzard was thinking the exact same thing.  Will this usher in a new area of better pugging?  Honestly I am not sure.

The biggest thing that I do like from the statement is that the requirement is apparently completely ignored with a prebuilt group.  This means you will still be able to carry your friends through the heroics to help gear them up.  Those friends will just have to meet the proving grounds on their own if they want to be turned loose out into the wild.  In the grand scheme of things this is just raising the bar on the heroics, but not really doing anything to fix the social causes for me not wanting to queue for them randomly.  Without a “social justice” system similar to that of League of Legends or Final Fantasy XIV people will still be as big of dicks as they are today.  It really is a catch 22…  folks complain that no tanks want to run randoms…  but when you do tank a random people generally treat you like shit.  I decided some time ago that it was a package of frustration I could deal without in my life.

Being Neighborly

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-22 10-08-41-17 I have slowed down greatly in my time spent in Landmark.  I am done with the bulk of the structural work on Belgarde Keep and now have begun some of the fine detail work.  In order to complete this I really need to finish upgrading all of my machines, and that means farming copious amounts of materials.  Namely mind numbingly farming burled wood.  Thankfully since I am on a forest island, I can pretty much just roam around in my “front yard” to find this, but it gets really boring at times.  As a result the bulk of my Landmark playtime is reserved for when I am watching netflix or something similar.  I’ve already begun joining the AoA channel like I talked about yesterday, but for the most part there has been nothing but radio silence.

Last night however I got to meet a person who was new to me.  Zarriya apparently is a longtime member of the Multiplaying community and friends with Zeli, so when she popped on we were both happy to have someone else to talk with as we built away.  Funny thing is, she was not on very long before she wanted to pop by my claim and see the work I had done.  It is wierd how this feels in a game like Landmark.  It almost feels like inviting someone over to your actual house.  I was a good ways off from my homestead so as I ventured back there she started on her way over as well.  This is one of the areas the game really needs improvement.  Firstly the friends list is not working, but even more so… we need an easier way to find each others claims.

I was impressed at how fast she found it off the /loc I gave her, because quite honestly… my brain does not function well on a coordinate grid system.  If I could do like EQ2 and set a waypoint to the coord I would be happy…. actually I don’t know if that is in game or not.  It just feels cool to have visitors in this game, since you have put so much work and effort into building your structures the way you want them.  Right now I am mostly working on the sub basement, which I intend to be a dungeon.  No proper keep can really go without one.  So to start I’ve built a series of equal sized cells.  Now I want to do some more open holding pens, but really to do that I need to gather up a lot of iron.  Still very much enjoying the game, but also really looking forward to having more systems in place.

It’s Okay to Not Like Things

A good friend of mine linked me this video yesterday and it seems relevant lately, with the whole force fed narrative of Wildstar vs Elder Scrolls.  While I like both of the authors of this article, the piece that MMORPG.com ran yesterday just feels like linkbait.  If you are a fan of the MMO genre and want more games to be developed…  we realistically need BOTH to succeed.  There have been so many big name MMO failures over recent years, and even if you do not play the game any longer.. it still hurts to see one close down.  The community is still reeling from the loss of Star Wars Galaxies, and similarly from City of Heroes. Both games had extremely vibrant and devoted communities, and both player bases are still trying to find a new home.

Similarly a certain segment of the population was being happily served by Warhammer Online, and Vanguard will have a similar player base abandoned when it closes down this year.  Losing ANY game is a horrible experience.  I will be honest… I like both Wildstar and The Elder Scrolls Online.  I think they are both interesting games.  The problem is I know for certain that I like one of them enough to pay a subscription fee, and the other one… I am not quite sure about.  As a huge supported of Elder Scrolls, it feels like around every corner is another person trying to… pardon the colloquialism “piss in my cheerios”.  So I do at times get defensive of ESO, because I think it is a really fun game.  That is not to say that that I don’t also begrudgingly enjoy Wildstar quite a bit.

Personally I would love to see both games do well and find their own little niche.  We need successful MMOs that are not named World of Warcraft.  If we don’t then this might be the last round of AAA MMOs we so for awhile, or at least ones that were designed without having a massive cash shop component in them from day one.  I still think the free to play MMO is alive and kicking, but the ones designed from day one to be free to play… feel money grubbing.  They feel like they want to nickel and dime you to death each time you play it.  SWTOR is one of those game I would love to be able to play periodically, but I just cannot stand playing it in their free to play mode.

I just wish I could get players past the tribalism of red versus blue.  I am a carebear at heart, and I just want us all to get along.  After all each of these games is a niche within a niche within a niche.  Gaming as a whole is still a relatively small community, and when we attack each other we only serve to alienate people who might be waiting in the wings considering joining in.  Right now the real decision if I play Wildstar will be based on launch timing.  Right now we have Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls coming out in March, and Elder Scrolls Online in April both of which I am deeply committed to.  I assume Warlords of Draenor will be a Christmas 2014 release since no word of the Friends and Family Alpha has leaked yet.  So if Wilstar releases during one of the lapses… I might give it a shot.

Not So Neighborly Bel

There is a bit of brutal irony in me talking about it feeling good to have a virtual neighborhood in Landmark.  We have lived in the same place for over sixteen years, and at this point we know exactly two neighbors.  I consider myself “on waving terms” with several more, but really we know the family to the south of us, and the family that has been mentioned so many times in other posts that previously lived across the street from us, but now lives about five houses down the block.  For the most part I like it this way.  While it may not come across as such in my posts, I am pretty deeply introverted, so after spending the day dealing with people… I just want to shut the doors and see no one by my wife until the next day.

The funny thing about it is… apparently I am known by my neighbors but not my wife.  In part this comes down to the fact that I get home about 4:30 when lots of other people are pulling into their houses, whereas my wife often times works late and doesn’t get home until 8ish some nights.  A few months back we had a few fires in our neighborhood.  Due to the extreme effect smoke has on me, my wife went out to investigate.  Upon meeting some of our neighbors they asked her if she was “new in the neighborhood”.  They apparently had never seen her and didn’t know she existed.  Maybe it is not normal to live somewhere as long as we have and not know the ins and outs of everyone in the neighborhood.  Thankfully the neighbor I write about so often… keeps track of everything going on and can keep us up to date on the intra-neighborhood politics.  For the most part where we live is a pretty quiet place made up of a mix of aging folks that bought the homes during the 80s, and working class families with young kids.

My brother in law used to have these massive impromptu block parties in his neighborhood, and while it was nice that he knew every single person…  it also felt fairly claustrophobic to me.  For me going to work each day and “acting normal” is extremely draining.  By the time I get home, I simply don’t want to have to care about the other people living around me.  Its awesome that they are there, and  are all relatively nice… but I don’t need to have any more people in my life that I have to interact with regularly.  I am more than happy to cocoon up on the couch with my laptop and a game and forget the people outside my door exist.  The irony is… that I end up playing multiplayer games.  I think the key there is that the interaction with other people is on my terms, and in the quantity that I desire when I desire it.  When someone rings our doorbell, or calls on the phone… it always feels like a horrible invasion of my personal space.  I guess I am just wired oddly.

Rails Are What You Make of Them

Going Off Script

eso 2014-02-17 13-54-30-89 There was a topic yesterday that started with Tobold’s post and wound up in a G+ comment stream.  While I believe Tobold’s comments about on rails gaming were initially about a certain game that is still under NDA with a space theme…  it eventually wound its way to Elder Scrolls Online.  To which I added the information I posted yesterday on my own blog, about the fact that the majority of quests are skippable, and that there are a very few that actually need to be completed to move to the next area.  But the root of the problem here I think is that after a decade of playing themeparks…  we have gotten extremely good at seeing rails.  Moreso I think we are so trained to stay inside of the lines that we are afraid to break out of the little protective cage the themeparks have built for us.

For the longest time I fought the “quest to level” construct and then over time I managed to get extremely good at mindlessly grinding them.  There was a time when I could take a character from 1-85 in less than seven days in World of Warcraft.  The problem is… this is a thing I do to level quickly, and not something that comes instinctual.  I am constantly deviating from the path, and poking my head into places I shouldn’t be.  If I have 10% to go to a level, my instincts are not to grind some quests, but instead to go kill some really high level mobs.  You can blame Everquest for this type of “go kill things” upbringing, and I am still happiest when mindlessly slaughtering bad guys.  So when I am out questing, skipping that bad guy for the sake of speed is not usually a thing that ever enters into my mind.

So when I was plunked down on Stros M’Kai in the Daggerfall Covenant for the very first time… I willfully and gleefully ignored the quests that were given to me.  I wandered off and explored the island, gathered some crafting bits, found lots of treasure chests and leveled happily oblivious to the fact that there was a rail.  Sure eventually I reined myself in and did a few quests, but the vast majority of that first couple hour play through was aimlessly exploring.  If I found a cave I poked my head in to see what was there.  The little voice in the back of our head that says “don’t go there yet, you will have a quest for it later” is something that we end up doing to ourselves.

Rails Are What You Make of Them

eso 2014-02-17 13-36-59-84 For the most part I would agree with Tobold’s assessment of that space game, but since so many people love it I continue trying to give it a second and a third and a fourth chance.  I went through this same thing with Guild Wars 2, I kept trying to see what people liked about it… because I honestly didn’t understand it.  Over the weekend I maybe landed at how to enjoy it.  Once I finished the tutorial, I went completely off the rails, wandering around aimlessly killing lots and lots of things and getting nifty bits in the process.  That mode of play made the game enjoyable for me.  Quests are a really good way to level, and I think they also do an excellent job of telling the story.  However something we have forgotten along the way is that they are mostly optional.

We can blame World of Warcraft for this to be honest, but not in the way you might think.  WoW brought quests out into the open, where they had always been something for insiders before.  In Everquest you went around /hail-ing every single mob you encountered because maybe just maybe they might have a quest for you.  In Dark Age of Camelot, you did the same thing trying to locate the “Kill Task” quest giver for a specific area.  City of Heroes gave you specific contacts you needed to talk to that acted as a hub for running future missions.  Finally World of Warcraft gave us the now ubiquitous golden exclamation point… taking complete all of the subtlety out of it.  Still… even in WoW it was not until Burning Crusade that I really started to lean on quests as the crutch that they are.  I got a good number of my levels by going off the beaten path and looking for neat things out in the world.

To some extent it is also the fault of games that have stopped giving us things to find just over the next ridge.  There should always be things just out of the way for us to go looking for, because this act reminds us that there is another way to play the game than just mindless questing.  This self directed fun is crucial, and is what ends up making a game stay fresh.  I tend to cycle through two modes of gameplay…  aimless wandering and mindelss questing.  I find both to be really enjoyable when I am in the right frame of mind.  I think this is why I can return to WoW all these times and still be happy with what it is.  That said I am constantly going off script in that game as well.  There are so many nooks and crannies that often lead to treasure or at least interesting things to kill.  Basically… these rails that we keep seeing, are something we’ve allowed ourselves to see.

Dungeons of Belgrade

BelgradeKeep_Update With all the talk of ESO lately, I am still very much playing Landmark on a daily basis.  Last night I got in and worked on Belgrade Keep for a bit.  I tweaked the exterior a bit adding supports to the first balcony and then building out an entirely new balcony from the top of the castle.  Additionally I added some more of my custom columns to the corners of the ramparts to tie the visual theme together, as well as adding some to the ground floor to mark the entrances to the ramp leading up to the keep and the entrance to the crafting undercroft.  I thought I was nearing a point where I needed to simply grind out the various accoutrements to decorate the keep.  I was completely wrong however.

I decided that Belgrade keep needed a proper dungeon, so I spent the majority of the night watching episodes of Arrow on Netflix and hollowing out the basement by hand with the remove tool.  One of the things I have noticed that removing large blocks of material with the select tool often ends up leaving weird fragments.  So I tend to do it manually simply because I like the results better.  After having spent hundreds of hours hollowing out tunnels branch mining for diamonds in Minecraft… I find I have an affinity for that sort of work.  The plan is to divide up the sub basement into cells, maybe with a torture area…  but that all depends on how creative I am.  I am curious if I have enough room for a second sub basement to be honest, because I can seemingly dig down further.

My Father the Builder

I really need to sit down and brainstorm out the rest of the month, because when I am not staring at a blank page I am full of ideas with factoids.  However when I sit down to write at 6 am, my mind is mush and devoid of any good ideas.  So today’s factoid is going to be a little odd, be warned.  I am not a terribly handy person, as in I am not a manly man builder type.  I can watch a youtube video and figure out most things, but I have a bit of a mental block about things that are mechanical.  In part I think it is because my father is so damned amazing at it.  I realize he grew up in an era when if you didn’t fix it yourself it stayed broken, and my grandfather was the king of tinkerers.  For me however, since I spent most of my childhood sick… I just simply was not exposed to it…  apart from getting to be the loyal “flashlight holder”.

At a young age I think I told myself I couldn’t do this.  There are things that are well in the realm of my mastery.  You give me a few boxes, scissors, magic markers and tape… and I will build for you a GI-Joe base that will make you weep.  However you dump a heap of mechanical bits on the table and I cannot see the same possibilities.  Growing up with a machinist for a father was a really interesting and awesome thing.  When I broke a wheel off one of my hot wheels… he would take it away to a magical land where it would come back with a shiny new wheel better than the previous.  He would take it over to work and machine out of scrap aluminum a wheel, then carefully wrap it in electrical tape for traction…finally carefully attaching it back to my hot wheel.  My father could make magic happen.

I just wish I appreciated it more at the time.  When Star Wars was all the rage, I wanted nothing more than the Death Star play set.  I did not grow up with a lot of money, so spending $100 on a cheap plastic and cardboard play set was really out of the question.  That Christmas instead my dad hand crafted me a Death Star that was far cooler than anything store bought ever could have been.  I am still not sure exactly how he built it, but he had some long screw running down the back of the unit with a crank up top. and a machined elevator that rode up and down on the screw.  So that I could crank my action figures up and down between the floors.  Now I appreciate just how ingenious it was, but probably at the time I wished I had the “real thing”.

As my father is getting older, I am starting to have to figure these things out on my own.  I know at some point he won’t be there to call for advice.  Someday I will have to learn the lessons he had to learn.  I admit it scares me, to think about a world where a master builder like my father doesn’t exist.  I don’t think he really knows how in awe of his abilities I am, and how much I wish I had his natural intuition for how things should go together.  I should really remedy that, but my father is a lot like me, and not really great at saying these sorts of things in person.  There are times I think that maybe he DID pass on his legacy to me, but that it just changed over the years.  I am good at computers and hacking around with software to get it to work the way I want it to work.  Then when I can’t find whatever it is that I am looking for, I know that I can crack open Visual Studio and build it myself.  So maybe just maybe I have some of that same magic too.

Married at the House of Vacuums

Belgarde Keep

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-14 06-11-05-53 Over the last two days there have been a couple of significant patches to Landmark.  You can check out the patch notes herehere for more information.  The most exciting of the changes is the fix to the way trees/plants/rocks kept respawning on our claims with no real way to remove them.  In previous shots of my forest keep the overall view had been obstructed by a couple of giant trees.  Now you can see a fairly clear view of the place.  I have given up on calling it a temple, because really it no longer looks anything at all like a temple.  Instead I have officially renamed it to “Belgarde Keep”.  Last night I spent quite a bit of work starting to flesh out the details.  You can see in this image that we now have the wooden posts sticking out from each floor as though they were coming from the ceiling beams.  Additionally I have started replacing my main columns with ones that include some inset stucco.

Another really cool thing of note last night is that with the patches Sapphire and Ruby have been more sane and rational to collect.  In fact if you are lucky you can now find surface spawn nodes.  Over the course of a couple of these nodes I managed to gather up more of each gem than I had gotten to date allowing me to finally craft the Indigo Pick.  Of course I got a rather crappy one on my first attempt, but all the excess sapphires allowed me to craft another cobalt pick, and after a little bit of farming tonight hopefully I will make a second shot at the Indigo.  While they have reduced the amount of burled wood you need slightly to convert from raw to the craftable material…  this still seems to be the bottleneck in almost everything that I want to craft.  I made another attempt at a better axe last night and managed to get one just slightly faster.

At this point my focus over the next few days is to attempt to get a better Indigo pick, gather the materials for upgraded machinery and continue to work on fine detail for the keep as a whole.  I need to start gathering the tier 5 resources but to be honest I am not even sure what they look like at this point.  Right now the biggest thing I am not quite happy with in my keep design is the single pillar that supports the balcony.  I expect now that the tree is out of the way I will rework that design feature extensively.  I might try a curved balcony, I have ideas in my head on what that would be to craft but not sure exactly yet now to go about it especially since I would need to curve both the railing and the flooring.

Toxic Love

Wow-64 2014-02-14 06-28-16-80 Earlier in the week I posted about the ongoing Love is in the Air event happening right now in World of Warcraft to coincide with Valentines Day.  I had pretty much ignored the event until the last few days because in general, I queue for the dungeon each day and I walk away each day with nothing but a stack of useless Love Tokens.  In past years I have queued faithfully each day only to somehow miss getting any of the pets and mounts.  So this year I was not any more expectant of something cool…  but since everyone else was doing it I felt I should probably start running them each day on all 6 of my 90s.

Giant-chu-chu Finally last night my streak of nothing changed… at least to some extent.  While I did not manage to get one of the mounts, I did however get the toxic wasteling pictured above.  I realize it is just a ball of slime, but I find it far cuter than the other oozeling that I have.  This is one of the newer models and minus the insane eyes… it kinda reminds me of a ChuChu from the Legend of Zelda series as pictured on the right.  At least I feel like this years queueing was not a complete and total waste.  While I would love to get the a Swift Lovebird I simply did not start the event soon enough to gather up the needed 250 tokens.

norexmanningday

I have to share this image really quickly that @ManaBrownies posted over on twitter yesterday of ALL THE LOVEBIRDS.  The thing that tickles me the most however is not the fact that you have multiple love birds and mini pet versions… but instead their guild name.  I love that name so much, and if you don’t get the reference…  which is probably likely since it is totally esoteric.  I suggest you watch Empire Records, which oddly enough is on the long list of favorite movies.

Married at the House of Vacuums

In honor of Valentines Day I have another related factoid.  My wife and I were Married at the House of Vacuums.  Before we get to that point I have to explain a bit about our wedding in general.  All we ever wanted was a very simple wedding.  In college when we began planning it, we pictured this simple outdoor wedding with just the immediate family.  However over time this plan morphed to nightmarish proportions.  My mother took ahold of the guest list and started wanting to add everything under the sun, including my fourth grade teacher.

Then there was the fact that an outdoor wedding was simply not good enough.  Since I grew up catholic, apparently you are not really married in the eyes of the church unless it happens inside of a catholic church.  So she wanted us to have two weddings… the real outdoor wedding and then another smaller service in a catholic church so we were “legitimate”.  I have never been really big on rules and regulations, and there was no way in hell I wanted to have two separate weddings just to make some religion happy.  Especially one that I do not abide by myself and have not been a member of since I had the freedom to choose my own path in life.  She was getting entirely too involved in the process and planning something neither of us wanted.

Finally there was the issue of who to walk my wife down the isle.  She is from a split household, one that split years after her birth.  So she had two complete households and as a result two fathers.  Her step dad was a quiet and unassuming man, and would do literally anything for her… often making excuses to plan a trip up to college to come see us for the silliest reasons.  Her biological father at that point in her life was not terribly engaged, and while I have come to love him… was very pushy and brash.  So her step father would have been quiet about it, but wounded for life if he did not get to walk her down the isle.  Whereas her biological father would have made a grand scene likely disowning us if he was not the one to walk her down the isle.

image We had set and unset the date many times, but as the three ring circus careened off in a direction we were not willing to go with it, we decided that we needed none of it.  All that mattered was that we were together, and as a result we opted to elope.  That conjures visions of romantically running away to some fabled location, but in truth we simply managed to run around town and gather all the necessary things to be legally married in one day.  We found a little marriage chapel in town, that had an opening the next day.  While we were not technically married at the House of Vacuums, the marriage chapel we went to was around the corner in the same strip mall.  My cousins and our best friend at the time stood up for us as witnesses, and we had a nice simple wedding service presided by a female minister that I cannot for the life of me remember the name of any longer.

Parts of our family, namely my mother was I am sure pissed at me for years over robbing her of her big day.  However like everything else in our lives we managed to get married “our way”.  My wife and I are both very non-conventional and pragmatic, so eloping to the House of Vacuums was simply “our way” of dealing with the challenges at hand.  There has not been a single day I regretted our decision, and now I have an interesting story to tell.  At the end of the day that is worth far more to me than having been crammed into a tuxedo and forced to go through a series of events we didn’t really want in the first place.  At one point her biological father offered us a large sum of money to elope… but he never actually made good on that promise.  I guess it was a good thing we did it because we wanted to.

The Mafioso’s Daughter

Weekly Routines

Wow-64 2014-02-11 23-20-48-41 With yesterday being server reset day in World of Warcraft, I opted to take a break from my Landmark madness to do my weekly boss farming for mounts.  Out of my stable of six level 90 characters, there are three that can solo Onyxia in a manner that makes me not want to pull out my hair.  The very first time I tried doing Ony as a Blood Deathknight for example it took at least 30 minutes of diseases/deathcoil/icy touch to finally bring her down to the ground.  However I have figured out that as Frost Deathknight, Retribution Paladin, and Enhancement Shaman I can make short work of her.  As a result every Tuesday it has become a thing, for me to run those three characters through the fight in an attempt to get the ever illusive reins of the onyxian drake.

Of course like expected the kills went quickly but I had no better luck than any of the previous weeks getting the drop.  It was at this point that I decided while I was farming content, I might as well take a few stabs at Kael’thas and his Ashes of Al’ar.  The funny thing is… I don’t even like that mount, but it has become a point of pride for me to farm one up.  So while I do at least one attempt every week, it is not like I would ever ride it.  So far I have managed to solo the instance as Blood and Frost Deathknight and as Retribution Paladin…  and I am wondering if I will be able to do it as Enhancement Shaman.  Of course once again this week nothing of any interest dropped.

Finally while I was wallowing in my bitterness I opted to run all six of my characters through the holiday event instance.  This year around it drops 480 necklaces, which unfortunately all of my characters have better.  However I did manage to pick up a tanky necklace upgrade for my Paladin.  Once again I am chasing a mount, but more than anything for total numbers… because there is no way in hell I would ever ride the Big Love Rocket around, but I would consider riding the Love Bird.  More than anything I would be after the handful of pets.  I normally don’t mess with the holiday events.  Once I completed my violet proto drake, I have mostly ignored them.  They are however pretty fast to run, since no queue last night lasted longer than 7 minutes as dps.

We Were Playing It Wrong

image Over the last few days I have been complaining about the lack of Sapphire and Ruby or at least the difficulty of gathering it up.  Yesterday I noticed the above tweet from Dave Georgeson, it seems like maybe we as a community was overlooking the intended way to get these.  I had piddled around early in the game with a +1 discovery ring and didn’t see much difference, but at the suggestion of the tweet I crafted the Assessor’s Band and managed to get a +4 one.  With it equipped alongside the existing +1 I am seeing a massive difference in the number of veins open to me as I wander through the world.  I am sure you have been through the frustrating case of seeing a huge vein in the distance, but when you get up there finally there is nothing there.  Well apparently that is what discovery is for.

 

After equipping the two rings, for the most part those veins stay in place as I get closer to them.  Additionally the discovery trait also seems to interact with how often I get the rare drop from each item.  This means I am getting more elementals, burled wood and as a result seeing more veins that have sapphire and ruby in them.  They are still frustratingly rare, but less so.  I did not play for extremely long last night, but I did manage to get a couple dozen gems of each type.  Supposedly we are getting a patch today or tomorrow that will fix the issues that have arisen with boulders and trees spawning again on claims, with no real way to remove them.  I am mostly waiting for this before I do much more building as I can’t really see my keep as a whole until I can remove some trees.

The Mafioso’s Daughter

Before I met my wonderful wife, there were plenty of missteps along the way.  Most of them are not really entertaining in any fashion, but one I always felt like I dodged a bullet with…  potentially literally.  While I was still attending a junior college I met a really nice ballet major attending a nearby college.  She seemed great, but early on I could tell that she was used to operating in a much higher tax bracket than I was.  It wasn’t anything major, but her expectations of what “going out” meant were far different than that of my small town upbringing.  After a few dates she pulled me aside and told me that she was starting to get serious about me…  but there was something I needed to know.

It turns out that her family was connected to the mafia.  She kind of brushed this off as no big deal or as something “I would get used to”.  Her father ran some large electronics store, and they lived down the street from the Gotti clan in Long Island.  We didn’t have Google back then, but over the course of a few online searches and some mapquest usage… it seemed like her story checked out.  I’m a boy scout literally…  I am not the type of person that “high crime” has ever appealed to.  While I love watching shows like Boardwalk Empire, I have never once romanticized that lifestyle.  It had become very clear over the course of the dates that she was “daddy’s little girl”, so I felt it was probably bad for my health if I did not let her down gently.

I did my best to be “less interesting” that I would hopefully make her lose interest in me, and over the course of a few weeks it worked.  I wanted no part of the “family business”, but at the same time I didn’t want to break her heart… and have mine shot in the process.  Sure I am probably over exaggerating the danger here, but it definitely freaked me the hell out.  Looking back now I can regale you with the tale of the time I dated the Mafioso’s Daughter, but when I was going through it, nothing about it seemed funny.  I doubt there was every a time where I would have just “gotten used to it”.  Thankfully not terribly long after that I met my awesome wife, and everything before is now just a humorous footnote.