Dead Rising in Desert

Finishing The Spire

Screenshot_20140416_220811 One of the things I love the most about Elder Scrolls Online is just how epic their zones feel.  Last night I finally wrapped up Rivenspire and I had literally working my way through the zone for over seven days of serious playtime.  At this point according to Raptr I have logged 113 hours of playtime at am just now level 36.  When is the last time a game has managed to offer that much gameplay for the same level?  I don’t want to embark upon spoilerdom but Rivenspire introduced me to a new cast of characters, with their own epic conflict.  Some of them I really liked, and hope to see again as the overall storyline progresses.  As I am writing this post I am listening the Castlevania: Syphony of the Night soundtrack, which seems fitting.  Rivenspire is a zone about a battle against evil vampire overlords, and somehow they made the entire experience feel fresh with a few interesting plot twists on the standard mythos.

What is even more awesome is in wrapping up the zone… you are left with a feeling of unease.  In Elder Scrolls Online you never quite “get the girl and save the kingdom”.  There are always uncomfortable consequences that arise from your sequence of choices… consequences that you know you will have to life with in later zones.  I am not at all at ease with the final decisions that lead to me finishing the Rivenspire.  I most definitely saved the day, but I wonder at what cost.  I fear what the ramifications will mean to the overall fate of Tamriel and Nirn as a whole.  In any case I get to say good buy to the brooding and moody Rivenspire for the time being, and venture forth into the blazing deserts of Alik’r at the personal favor of Queen Maraya.

Dead Rising In Desert

Screenshot_20140419_000750 Another thing that I have always loved about the Elder Scrolls franchise in general are the unique little quirks that all of the races have.  The Bosmer for example strictly abide to the green pact, which states that they cannot harm any plant life.  This has the interesting side effect of making them strict carnivores… and on occasion cannibals.  As we move into the deserts of Alik’r we find that a necromancer has raised an army against the capital city of Sentinel.  The problem is… for the Redguard they revere their ancestors so much that they believe it is sacrilege to strike down the risen dead.  This means as you arrive at the docks of Sentinel it is being overrun by Ra-Netu (zombies) and the Redguard are unwilling to defend themselves against the ravening horde.

As a foreigner you save the day by doing what they cannot and will not do… strike down their ancestors.  So far this has given the quests I have completed in the Sentinel area a “call to action” feel, like everything I am doing is all the more urgent.  It is a bit of a refreshing change from the otherwise meandering zones I have experienced.  I am sure once I have left the immediate sentinel area the aimless wandering will begin again.  In truth it already has a bit, I realized I had been killing zombies for 45 minutes at one point yesterday and had no clue at all what objective I was supposed to be doing.  I had a similar moment happily bouncing from assassin beetle to assassin beetle, so the zone is definitely prone to my random fits of bloodlust.

Potentially Lovely Day

Landmark64 2014-04-13 22-04-40-22 I need to wrap this up because it looks to be a lovely day out in the real world.  I was off work yesterday, and while I enjoy lazing around immensely… I didn’t get much walking in.  So hopefully today we can go out and do something that involves copious amount of walking to make up for the fact that I closed the day yesterday with only 2 dots on my fitbit.  My wife and I have both experienced this moment recently where we have hit a plateau, but have greatly increased our exercise.  I think we are essentially swapping fat for muscle, and that eventually we will begin to lose weight again.  At the very least I hope that is the case, I have noticed that I have a lot more definition in areas I didn’t really before, and I seem to still be losing inches by the fact that I keep having to synch my belts tighter.

I wanted to post a real quick reminder to pay your upkeeps in Landmark.  I just logged in really quickly to check on that while writing this post and found I was 9 hours from losing my claim.  I’ve had numerous friends who have lost their claims and have simply abandoned the game because of it.  I highly suggest you log in and check on it just to make sure you have plenty of copper to pay the fee.   I’ve put a ton of work into mine and roughly 600,000 stone so far and it would have been devastating to lose all of that.  Granted when you lose your claim they do template the entire structure, but I have had numerous issues trying to place a template that large, needless to say I managed to get a pretty choice spot in the world and I would hate to lose it.

#ElderScrollsOnline #ESO #RivenSpire #Alik’r #Landmark

Elder Scrolls Launch Day

Steampowered Sabbatical

Normally this morning you would have been reading about my misadventures playing a new to me game from my steam backlog.  However we are taking a week off from that feature, mainly because I knew I would be busy this morning with something else.  However we will get to that later, and the reasons why I got up at 5 am this morning to be prepared for it.  Instead today we are going to talk about a few games and the highlight of my day yesterday.  For awhile now I have been doing the “Bel Faffs About” thing where I stream a game as I play it, and invite people into my “Bel is Streaming” mumble channel.  The usual suspects are my guildies who come online and are entertaining so that I don’t have to.

Yesterday I got to hang out with some of my favorite people from twitter, namely @Gypsy_Syl, @NexusRangers, @GameByNight and after awhile the very awesome @TipaDaKnife.   I got to hang out the longest with Syl and it was a blast.  The only problem is I am so used to listening to her talk about video game music thanks to the amazing Battlebards podcast… it was a little weird to be talking about anything else.  Everyone was great and it made for a fun afternoon, even though after getting up at 4 am I was quite a little slap happy as the night went on.

Mithril or Bust

Landmark64 2014-03-29 17-44-37-40 Yesterday we played a lot of Landmark as we hung out, and the missions of the day were really two fold.  Firstly I wanted to try and finish my work on gathering the resources for the Mithril pick.  Currently this is the highest in progression you can go as far as mining, and thanks to the changes they made to the Founders Pick being able to harvest ANY tree… there is not a resource mining or wood that I cannot consume.  The other mission was to be able to craft the rest of the basic machines for my claim so that others can use them.  One of the odd things that was different from alpha is that there are both public and private machines.  The private machines are labelled as “Refining stations” and allow you to work resources at a progressively better rate, returning more finished materials than went into creating them.

Landmark64 2014-03-29 18-19-05-58 For some time now I have felt a little bit bad for grabbing such prime real estate, but not having done anything on it but clear the ground.  In the above screenshot you can see the foundation for Belgarde Keep from the spire, so it really is a very short run away.  The problem is as I progress through the crafting tiers I am in constant need of stone.  Yesterday at one point I decided to dig down in the desert for as long as I could and harvest as much stone as I could.  Unfortunately that happened to be exactly the same time @GameByNight decided to use the “teleport to friend” option.  I had been down there long enough that the ground above me was respawning leaving us essentially trapped underground.  Thankfully the evac to safety option works remarkably well.

Landmark64 2014-03-29 17-31-12-88 What you are seeing in the pictures represents roughly 350,000 stone worth of building.  I managed to gather 200k doing my “big dig” and poured another bit into it over the course of several trips.  Sometime soon I will have to do another one my grand harvesting missions and try and make some more progress.  Essentially I am building a greatly scaled up version of the building I created in alpha.  I am changing up the design significantly but not the overall building type.  I like big open air temple like spaces.  Essentially I am building much the same type of structures that I used to build in Minecraft.  The smooth tool and the ability to craft curved shapes is nice, but I really prefer straight and chiseled edges.

Elder Scrolls Launch Day

Watch live video from Belghast on TwitchTV
Last night I went to bed seriously early for me, after having gotten up at 4 am the day before.  I had heard rumor that the servers would be opening this morning for the Elder Scrolls Online slightly early, but was not certain that was going to be the case.  I ended up waking up about 4:45 and by the time I made coffee and got upstairs, there were a few other guildies also sitting on mumble waiting for things to open.  Sure enough a little bit after 5 am CST I was able to log in and create Belghast Sternblade for real.  Thing is… it did not take me terribly long on the character creator because I have created this character literally a dozen times now throughout a years worth of testing.  I am a simple person, and tend to create the same basic character in each game that I play.  So I managed to get in extremely quickly and create the guild long before anyone else logged in.

Watch live video from Belghast on TwitchTV
Since early this morning I have been hanging out in the “Bel is Streaming” channel as lots of other people have popped in to join me.  Honestly far too many to list here, but it has prove to be a really enjoyable and entertaining day.  I will be exporting the stream to youtube eventually but here I am posting the various twitch links.  If nothing else they are fun to open up and listen into our conversation in the background like it was a podcast.  I am for the most part live streaming all day long.  While this is a headstart, this is one of the smoothest launches I have participated in.  THis folks is why they had us stress test the hell out of stuff during the weekend betas, and every indication shows that they learned a lot of information.  The mega server tech seems to be holding up and scaling well.

Watch live video from Belghast on TwitchTV
Right now I am having a blast, so if you have access to the House Stalwart mumble server, pop by and say hi.  I plan on going right back to the game, that is open in the background and continuing my odyssey.  However I wanted to take a moment and make my post before it got any later in the day.  Hopefully you all are having as great of a weekend as I am.

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.

Micro Voxel Welding

Big Damned Beta Weekend

eso 2014-03-01 09-16-13-09 This weekend they seem to have completely opened the floodgates and then some as far as Elder Scrolls Online testing goes.  It seems like every person that signed up for beta before a certain point, got their invite this weekend.  In addition to that, pretty much everyone who has ever tested got a buddy key.  So essentially if you wanted to test the game, you should have gotten your chance this weekend.  Admittedly I was more than a bit disappointed to see we were testing on an old version of the client that did not include the changed introduction.  In fact it seems like everyone in the test was expecting to see the new and shiny progression.  However I love Stros and Betnihk so I am more than happy to play through them again.

I had all these plans of trying to play a caster, but when it came down to rolling one… I just could not bring myself to play one.  Instead I am playing “ole reliable” the build I have enjoyed the most up to this point.  Dragonknight + Sword and Board and honestly each time I roll one, I perfect my build order a little bit for the next time.  You would think I would get bored of playing the same basic character over and over, but instead it just makes me like it all the more.  Essentially I have arrived at a point where the very first ability I take is Puncture aka the taunt/armor debuff.  Essentially the first ability you place on your bar, means it is also going to be the first skill line you will have available for morphing later on.  Essentially my goal in doing this is to get to Ransack the morph of Puncture, which adds a new ability that increases my armor for 12 seconds every time I use it.  This makes the ability really good for survival and essentially my opening becomes a combo of Fiery Grip, Ransack…  then mostly basic attacks to burn it down the rest of the way.

I just like the feel of playing this specific build, it feels very much like I want a tank to feel.  I decided this weekend to cast aside my traditional human builds and go with a proud Orsimer.  Normally I rely on swords, but I decided to start crafting him maces… because smashing things seems more fitting an orc…. also I don’t like the orc racial “giant machete” sword graphic.  The guild is absolutely insane right now, when I logged in earlier to take a screenshot of my orc, we had 25 members and there are at least five more that have not accepted guild invites yet.  Doing pretty great for a beta guild.  If you are playing the game add @Belghast to your friends list, and pending we actually know each other… and you are okay with the Three Tenets…  I will get you into the guild.

Level 60 Monk Get

Diablo III 2014-03-01 09-20-11-35 I have to say my monk looks pretty badass.  I know eventually I will upgrade out of that sword, but once we get the ability to transmog with the expansion, I can totally see dual wielding that graphic.  Before the ESO beta weekend madness started, I managed with the help of Warenwolf to push the monk to 60.  Really I am happy just knowing I have a character at max level before the expansion,  but I can see playing it quite a bit more trying to get paragon levels.  Running around in our impromptu groups has really increased my enjoyment of the game… especially now that we are getting some decent loot.  It is funny how loot factors into my enjoyment so much, and in many ways the complete and total lack of meaningful loot is what killed my enjoyment of FFXIV once the questing was done.

We tried an experiment that didn’t really work yesterday as well.  While I was pushing my way to 60, we had a friend join us in level 60 content with his level 10 character.  We thought surely the catch up experience would be amazing, allowing him to fly through the levels.  Problem is… he was not alive long enough to really catch the benefit of the xp windfall.  Every mob seemed to make a beeline for him, and one-shot poor Banzai.  So after getting him three for four levels this way, we opted to switch to our own characters in the teens and play for real.  I had not really played my Barbarian much, but playing him I could not think about playing Olaf from League of Legends.  At one point I picked up a legendary leaf blade… to which we dubbed him “Growlaf” the plant defender.

Complete and total rabbit trail here… but we started talking about how amazing it would be to have a game like Diablo 3, that instead used the champions we have grown to love from League of Legends.  For awhile my friend has talked about how bad he wanted a PVE game set in the League universe… and really this seems like the ideal fit.  They really would not have to change the champions that much to make them work in a Diablo setting.  Additionally I have already noticed, that post League we all kinda play Diablo like we are laning in League.  We move like League players move, especially when we are kiting a bad guy away to try and separate it from the pack.  While I enjoy league from time to time, it is really the character design that I like, and not the game itself.  If they gave me those awesome characters in a setting like Diablo that I do actually enjoy… I would probably waste innumerable hours playing it.

Micro Voxel Welding

Watch live video from EQNLandmark on TwitchTV

Hopefully this embeds just fine.  I wanted to share this because I thought it was really cool.  In last Wednesday’s livestream Dave Georgeson showed off a really cool “glitch in the matrix” of sorts that players have figured out.  One of the interesting characteristics of the voxel engine that Everquest Next Landmark uses is that it tries to buffer between differences in two objects and naturally fill in the gaps.  This can be something really cool or something really frustrating depending on how you use it.  Out in the wild, players have been using this to stretch the boundaries of the engine and create something that has been dubbed the “micro voxel” or as Dave calls it in the livestream “pips”.

The idea is to take a single square voxel of the smallest available size and reduce it using the square smooth tool to get a smaller base size to build with.  Having a tiny square is not that cool, but what is cool is the behavior you get in the engine when you place two of these beside each other.  The engine draws the gap between creating a thin bar.  This can then be used to craft really interesting things.  In the video Dave Georgeson shows off a steampunky claim that he has created making metal ladders and metal grating in all sorts of shapes.  Where I find this extremely cool is what this means for player crafted furniture.  In the video he makes a few book cases and desk that looks far nicer than anything I have been able to craft so far.

It does seem like this takes a lot of trial and error… and copious amounts of patience.  However at some point I want to get in and start trying to make furniture for my keep.  The other really cool thing mentioned is that we will be getting the ability to add on to our claim in the next patch.  So at this point I am trying to figure out which direction I want to grow things.  I like building large structures, so I was already to a point where I was feeling extremely boxed in.  I could very easily grow my existing property out to four total claims.  This might be the kick I need to get back in and do more crafting.  I am currently hung on a point where I need to farm just truly silly amounts of burled wood to complete all the things I want to complete.

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 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.


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.