Bethesda Just Won E3

It is nights like last night that make me realize I am wired just a little bit weird.  Last night while the world seemingly was watching the season finale of Game of Thrones, I was tuned into the E3 2015 festivities over YouTube and eventually twitch.  It started early in the evening with the 2015 Nintendo World Championships, and concluded later with the phenomenal Bethesda Softworks showcase.  E3 is this miraculous time of bottled hope, that seems to pump up the heart of a gamer about what might be or at least what could be.  If you did not have a chance to watch it, I highly suggest you check out the Nintendo Championships.  It was equal parts charming, and thrilling… and when we finally got to the heads up match between the last two contestants I have to say I was literally tense for them.  The hoops that they were asked to jump through were just silly, and in the proud tradition of the Nintendo Championship… they were in fact forced to play a “game” they had never seen before.

Doom 4

doom_e3_2015_6_Unwilling_Caco The real excitement however started when the Bethesda showcase began.  When a game company shows off its wares at one of these shows, it is a rarity that there are so many different titles that I care about coming from the same place.  Doom will always hold a special place in my heart, because in theory it was the game that really sold me on the power of PC gaming.  I remember my parents getting so damned frustrated with me for tying up the phone lines as I dialed into a friends computer to play the game cooperatively.  I remember spending hundreds of hours creating my own levels and imagining what my own version of the game might bring.  I devotedly played the derivatives like Heretic and the oddball narrative spinoffs like Strife, because I literally could not get enough of the game.  The problem being that with Doom there also comes a lot of disappointment, and strange decisions like that god awful movie.

The problem is that ID Software for whatever reason lost its way.  The last Doom game shipped in August of 2004 and we have had to endure a decade of waiting.  There was this period of time where ID seemed to forget what made its games great in the first place, as it curiously focused instead on building more complex engines…  than creating interesting games.  That wait however is apparently nearing its end, because last night we got to see Doom 4 in all its glory, and I weep at the system I will need to have to play it in all its glory.  The game play I saw was this gorgeous carnal ballet of demons and zombies erupting into red volcanoes of gore and blood on the screen.  It seemed to capture everything that made Doom amazing, and strutted its stuff with a level of technical detail that I am just floored by.  What makes me even happier is it seems this time they did not forget that it was ultimately multiplayer that made the Doom franchise famous.  They showed off this awesome new tech that will maybe once again make level creation simple enough that anyone can pick up the map builder and start making awesome things.  The builder also seems to support the creation of game play modes themselves, so I am really hoping that we once again start to see some innovation from the community in moving the FPS genre forward.

Dishonored II

dishonored-the-brigmore-witches-wallpaper-2 If Doom was not enough, moments later the folks from Arkane Studios took the stage to talk about the leaked announcement of Dishonored 2.  Dishonored holds a special place in my heart because it is in theory a “stealth” game that I actually loved playing.  Granted this is because it allows you to play the game in a way that takes all sneaking about and stealth game play out of the mix.  The awesome thing is, it apparently also plays extremely enjoyably for the folks who do want to stealth about and have a zero body count.  It is one of the few games that both myself and Tamriello raved about when it was released, so quite honestly I was going to snatch up whatever game came from them next regardless of its hype.  All of that said it looks like the continuation of the original Dishonored game is going to be amazing.  One of the most interesting features of the first game is the interaction of the character Corvo Attano and his “charge” Emily Kaldwin.  As you play through the game, your actions effect the upbringing of Emily.  If you play the part of a bloodless hero she focuses on the good things in life, or if you are like me and go for 100% bodycount… she focuses on the death, destruction and carnage.

In Dishonored II the trailer shows us that dear Emily has apparently followed in your footsteps and takes up the role of righting wrongs at the point of a sword.  Ubisoft really needs to watch what Arkane is doing because they are fucking nailing it.  They are giving us both an awesome and interesting male lead, but an equally interesting female lead.  To make things even better it seems that they are apparently not just carbon copies of each other.  Both Emily and Corvo will have unique abilities and game play styles that will cause you to approach the level design slightly differently.  In theory this means that you have at least two fresh play through of the game, and four if you are trying to get a bloodless victory on each and a full body count victory as well.  Personally I am likely going to play through twice because there is no way I can somehow stomach playing through this game in a full on stealth fashion.  If my actions in the last game “raised”Emily… I would not want to meet her in a dark alley, because I am certain “my” Emily would be a brutal and heartless killing machine.

Fallout 4

fallout4tractor If all of the above was not awesome enough…  we all were waiting anxiously for more tidbits of news about the latest game in the Fallout franchise.  The Fallout fans out there were absolutely not disappointed, as the floodgates opened with information about the new game.  This game is apparently set in Boston as has been long rumored, and for the first time we get to see the world “before the bomb”.  They showed a few minutes of the character creation segment of the game, and the events leading up to being forced to go into Vault 111.  I am really happy with the way they are doing this, but one of the confusing parts about the demo was that people seemed to be excited that you can create a female Vault Dweller.  Far as I remember you have always been able to choose to create a female vault dweller, or at the very least you have been able to since the birth of the modern Fallout series with 3.  That confusion aside the new system looks great and I should be able to create a Vault Dweller I am happy with.  The world out there to explore looked phenomenal, and I got flashbacks to the moment I set foot of the vault into the Washington wasteland for the first time.

fallout4modweapons What was even more amazing however is when they started going into the systems.  Apparently this time around we are going to be able to fully mod out our weapons and our armor to create brand new items that don’t exist out in the world.  Each component is modular and changes the function of the items they are attached to, and while they spent a lot of time creating brutal versions of Laser and Plasma rifles…  all I could sit there and imagine were the awesome shotguns I would ultimately create.  This was not all of the awesome however, in that they showed this amazing modular housing system that was like the next version of what was made possible with the Skyrim Hearthfire system.  In the trailer they showed these insane bases that they had built using the system allowing us to essentially create our very own “Megaton”.  This is playing down my alley because I always spend so much time kitting out my player housing in the Fallout games, because it allows me to have a place to be a packrat.  After showing all of this goodness, to have me salivating… they did the ultimate mic drop.  Apparently this is all going to be available this November 10th.  I should probably give warning to everything that I know… because I will not be seen or heard from for at least a month.

Missing the Point

Now is where I am going to diverge from the full on “fanboyism” for a bit to comment on something I have seen said so many times.  I do not know who Fierydemise is, but the above comment was retweeted into my timeline.  I have no problem with this person, and my commentary isn’t really directed at them, but instead something I have seen for years.  When a traditional Bethesda “Fallout” or “Elder Scrolls” series game is released, there is a group of people that seem to go into them expecting a deeply tailored narrative experience.  Quite honestly if that is what you are looking for you might be missing the point.  These style of open world sandbox games are not really about being told a story, but instead giving you a launch pad and a creative engine for you to wander off and tell your own story through your interaction with the world.  I love them so much because they give me the freedom to enter a world without deep narrative shackles.  They don’t care one bit if I wander off in the opposite direction the in game indicator is telling me to go, and find my own experience out in the wasteland.

fallout4supermutant There are so many games out there that give you a very “on rails” narrative experience, and in each of them I try my damnedest to ignore it… and tell my own story.  I appreciate these games so much because I don’t have to ignore anything.  They give me little nuggets of story when I crave it, but also the insane hardcore explorer porn of going off and conquering an uncertain world.  It has been said that these games sacrifice fidelity for freedom of exploration, and I am completely fine with that.  I guess for me maybe it comes from cutting my teeth playing games in an era essentially “before stories”.  It also helps that I am far more combat drive in a game than story driven, and often times finding myself frustrated when getting bogged down in a series of cut scenes.  There have been so many times when I have waited for games to “open up” and let me “do my own thing”.  With Bethesda titles, I know the moment the character creation is over… that they are going to let me off my leash to go bounding madly into the distance and cause havoc.  These games are designed specifically for me, and people like me… and please don’t try and shackle them with deep narrative.

Sequels that were Better

Chris Pratt: Raptor Whisperer

PrattAndRaptors Yesterday I did something fairly uncharacteristic for me and took off a half day from work, just because I felt like it.  It was shortly after turning in the paperwork that I realized I should really use this opportunity to go see Jurassic World.  So I got my ticket for the 1 pm and settled into the theater expecting it to be largely empty.  I was completely wrong, the theater was absolutely packed, so I am guessing I was not the only person with this idea.  As far as the movie, I have to say I liked it quite a bit.  My initial review was not as good as the original, but better than the sequels, but shortly realized that it sounded like I didn’t like the movie.  I actually enjoyed the sequels quite a bit, just nowhere near as much as the original.  I remember seeing the original in the theater and being enthralled, and that kind of magic just can’t be captured again.

The movie was enjoyable, but mostly once things started going to shit.  The best moments in the movie involved Chris Pratt.  He has become this loveable goofball of an action hero, and in many ways he reminds me of he way Harrison Ford played a lot of his action roles.  The movie is kind of a big dumb action movie romp through dinosaur land, and I am perfectly fine with this.  There were a lot of call backs to the original movie, which played well for a nostalgia factor, but also gave certain aspects of the movie a “been there done that” feel.  It was well worth the $5 for the matinee ticket and hell it was probably worth a full priced ticket as well.  I have a feeling we will see a reboot of the franchise considering that they left things open in the end for sequels.  No one seems to make a one off movie anymore, they have to leave things open to make a desperate ploy for more money later in the form of a sequel.

Sequels that were Better

My initial reaction to Jurassic World being better than the original sequels got me thinking.  The concept of a sequel is such that we immediately expect it to be worse than the original.  So today I am going to delve into some direct sequels that worked surpassed the original games.  Now there are some ground rules here.  For example Castlevania Symphony of the Night is a sequel in theory to the original Castlevania…  problem being decades passed between those two games so it is a no brainer that SOTN surpasses the original.  The same is true for the original Zelda and Link to the Past.  It isn’t really fair to talk about those games, because they are not direct sequels and had a lot more to work with than the original did.  Similarly I am going to ignore games like Doom 2 and Wolfenstein Spear of Destiny…  because they are quite simply the original game with more features added onto it.  I feel like in order to declare something a sequel that surpassed the original, it needs to actually go past what the original game offered.  I am looking at you Fallout and Fallout 2…  because while I enjoyed the second game a lot, it probably should have just been an expansion pack since the engine was essentially the same.

Master of Orion II

moo2 I loved the original Master of Orion game, but when the sequel came out it just did everything better.  The graphics were higher fidelity, and you could delve into things at a much higher level of detail.  The game kept my favorite race the Silicoids and seemed to make them even more badass.  Additionally you had the ability to design your own ships, which gave me the fantasy fulfillment of rolling  into a star system with a death star and destroying it.  The game was far more evolutionary than revolutionary but it surpassed the original in a way that it completely took it off the map.  The funny thing is that this game still holds up, and I can still lose an entire afternoon playing it through the GOG galaxy client.

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest

simonsquest This is probably going to be the most controversial pick that I make, because people either seem to love this game or absolutely hate it.  For me it took a game that I already liked and simply made it matter more.  By the time this game came out I was already heavily leaning towards roleplaying games as my primary source of enjoyment.  Simon’s Quest took the Castlevania game that I loved and added a persistent component that let me improve over time as I explored the world.  Now there were moments in the gameplay where it was not terribly obvious how you should proceed, and these got frustrating apparently in tracking down a couple of draculas parts, but for me at least this is the game that really cemented “Metroidvania”.  It was part Castlevania, part Metroid and part Adventure of Link, and melded together in a way that I enjoyed immensely.  The critics at the time bashed it because it was not enough like the original Castlevania, and ultimately the third game in the series became more popular, but I still feel like Simon’s Quest was the best of the 8 bit Castlevania games.

Warcraft II

Warcraft II_2 When this game originally came out, I for the most part ignored it.  I thought Warcraft: Orcs vs Humans was a boring title, and in truth at the time I would have rather played Dune 2.  It was not until the first Battlechest existed that I finally gave this game a chance, and I spent the next three months obsessed with it.  The gameplay felt much more responsive and you had so many more options of things that you could build.  I’ve always been a base builder when playing an RTS and this game allowed me to go to stupid lengths to build impenetrable fortresses.  What really extended the life of the game past the original release however was the fact that you could download all of these user created maps in the form of “PUD” files, which in itself was a bit of a play on the Doom “WAD” file format.  After a few months I spent as much time designing new maps for the game as I did playing them.  Warcraft 3 really gets credited for the birth of World of Warcraft, but I think this is the game that made us first give a damn about the setting.

Assassins Creed II

AssassinsCreedII First off I have to admit that I am not really a fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise.  I have spent a bit of time piddling around in them but quite frankly they don’t offer the mad hack and slash game play that I really crave.  Ultimately the game is ruined the moment I need to stealth around and complete a mission.  The rest of the time I have a blast killing random guys on rooftops, but that pretty much is ignoring the thing that people seem to like about it the story.  I have to give this game credit however because when the first Assassin’s Creed game came out I played it on a friends console, and found the controls to be some of the most frustratingly cludgy things ever.  I pretty much ignored the game from that point on until at the urging of Tamrielo I finally gave the game a proper shot.  The second game improves on everything that was wrong with the first game and manages to make moving around the world feel natural.  If it weren’t for the fact that the game is largely about assassins that like to stealth about and attack from the shadows… I could probably enjoy it.  That said I have to give this title credit for eclipsing its predecessor and spawning the franchise proper.

Mass Effect 2

Mass-Effect-2-XBOX-360 Mass Effect 2 took all the bits that worked well in the original Mass Effect and then sanded down all of the bits that never worked that well.  The end result was the best game in the Mass Effect series as far as I am concerned.  The first game was okay, and upon going back and playing it I can appreciate it for what it was.  At the time however I just could not get into it.  The combat in that game was maddening at times, and felt like it wasn’t quite certain how to do turn based third person combat.  The second game however made it feel fun to duck behind objects and snipe things, in the same sort of way that Gears of War did.  The other thing that made the game amazing was the sheer scale of the number of characters you could ultimately recruit into your party.  I still think the Mass Effect series would make an amazing television show, that played out over the course of five or six seasons.  If I have to play one game in the series though, I will always return to playing ME2.  It still has the most enjoyable mission system, because I like the feel of going off on these smaller strikes rather than getting bogged down in the length on rails story missions.  I would seriously kill to have a game that was just a bunch of going off on random strikes forever, that was Mass Effect game play at its finest for me.

I Showed you Mine…

I just scratched the surface on sequels that ultimately trumped the original game.  Now that I have shown you mine, its time for you to show me yours.  What games did you feel outpaced the original, or what games did you not manage to get into the series until the second iteration.  I am curious what games you hold a torch for after all these years.  Not sure why I was feeling particularly nostalgic today, but ultimately I decided to just run with it.  I am hoping that this post spawns other posts or at least some comments below.

About League and HotS

“Last Hit” Builds Contention

HeroesOfTheStorm_x64 2014-12-02 22-35-45-233 Yesterday Heroes of the Storm officially launched around the world.  As a result there has been some gnashing of teeth lately discussing how HotS is essentially a “dumbed down” version of League of Legends.  The complaints I am seeing revolve around the lack of complexity in the individual champion builds, and the team focus rather than the single player focus.  All of these things I see instead as positives.  I have spent more than my fair share of money and time on League of Legends because I have a significant number of friends who really enjoy it.  It is one of those game experiences that I find enjoyable only when I am playing with and against friends.  When you put me out into the community as a whole, the toxic environment surrounding the non-ranked community is a massive turn off.  I have heard that as you move up through the ranks the community starts to get better and more professional, but I lack the desire to play that game or any game for that matter “competitively”.

The big problem I had with League was the fact that it felt like I was not only competing against the players on the other team, but also competing against my own team mates for resources.  The concept of last hitting feels so divisive that I am shocked it exists in any team based game.  The fact that a team mate can either purposefully or accidentally snipe the last hit on a minion and gain all of the gold just seems like a horribly selfish tactic to introduce into a supposedly “team focused” game.  While I feel like the higher tiers of competitive play more than likely focus on the team effort and winning games, the low tier players tend to focus entirely on making themselves look good.  The best way to that end result is to feed heavily in lane and go on a murder spree, which means the other player in that lane is going to be starved out of resources and won’t be able to help the team later in the game.  Essentially all I am saying is that I think the concept of the “last hit” breeds contention between team mates more than it ever supports positive play.

Item Build is Too Fiddly

HeroesOfTheStorm_x64 2014-12-02 21-54-34-025 While the first problem I have with the game I consider a fundamental design flaw, the second big problem I have with League of Legends is a “me” thing.  I detest the item build system, in part because it asks me to care far more about that game than I actually want to.  League is never going to be a game that I play on a serious level, but instead a game I play with my friends when they decide that they want to play it.  I want to play just good enough not to shoot my team mates in the foot.  The problem is doing the item build system well, requires you to have actually research your champion and what sorts of things they need.  What I want is a more universal path to “this item adds more awesomeness” so I struggle to find items to build that make sense for whoever I am playing.  Now on champions I have played a lot like Garen, WuKong or Darius I have finally figured out how I want to build each of them for my own play style.  The problem being this was something that happened over lots of trial and error.  Quite frankly I don’t want to have to devote the processing cycles to figure that out, I just want a sequence of choices that add some flavor but in which there is no real “wrong” choice.

Essentially the system I am describing is the system that Heroes of the Storm uses, and from the moment I saw it I immediately felt at home.  I know that I can make small tweaks to the way my Hero performs, but at the end of the day no single choice is going to make or break the game for me.  Essentially even if I just blind pick abilities to get back into the action there is nothing that I can do to screw it up.  Someone described it as MOBAs with training wheels, and I am completely fine with that.  Essentially the MOBA audience is already solidified around either League of Legends or DOTA 2, and there is nothing that will change the fact that those two audiences are extremely devoted to their chosen game.  I see Heroes of the Storm being the game for the rest of us, the folks that are mildly interested in MOBAs but simply don’t want to have to memorize the amount of information needed to play either of the other games effectively.  I still play League with friends but HotS is the only game I would consider solo-queuing in.

Champion Design

Volibear_0 The big area where I have to crown League the king however is in the area of Champion design.  They have managed to create this extremely malleable mythos that allows them to quite literally create a champion that can do ANYTHING and make it work thematically.  The reason why I keep returning to the game is to keep playing these new and interesting champion designs.  HotS I feel does a better job than most of the other competitors with making champions feel like fully fleshed out beings, but the key problem there lies in the fact that they can ONLY draw upon Blizzard characters.  League of Legends can create brand new characters on the fly without having to worry too much about them not fitting into the lore of their world, because said world is ridiculously open ended.  Right now every single champion in Heroes of the Storm has to fit into the Diablo, Warcraft or Starcraft universes.  Given time I can see them also adding in Overwatch, but even then those are very specific genres that they can draw on, whereas League tends to take inspiration for designs from other pop culture iconography.

Lucian for example is a blending of Morpheus from The Matrix and a Grammaton Cleric from Equilibrium.  Twisted Fate is absolutely Gambit from X-Men, and Draven is extremely influenced by Kraven the Hunter from Spiderman.  Volibear is absolutely Iorek Byrnison from the HIs Dark Materials trilogy.  League essentially has free reign for what they can adopt and adapt to fit into their world.  Granted in each case they have absolutely made the champion into their own thing, but that initial inspiration still sits there oh so thinly veiled.  Heroes of the Storm on the other hand is forced to eat its own, as it can only consume characters that are already in the existing Blizzard Intellectual Property Universe.  I feel the end result is going to always mean that League feels far more fresh and interesting, and HotS to some extent will always need to rehash nostalgia to inspire its player base to keep playing.  The positive is however that Blizzard players have proven time and time again to be deeply susceptible to fits of nostalgia.  I am happy that both games exist, but the only one I actively want to play on my own is Heroes of the Storm.

Don’t Believe Your Own Hype

Strange Dreams

Last night I failed miserably to attend the World of Warcraft raid.  For whatever reason I have not slept amazingly well this week, so by the time I got home yesterday I found myself incapable of sitting up straight in my office chair.  From there I attempted to game on the couch from my laptop, but before long was finding myself dozing off.  So around the 7:30 start time of our World of Warcraft raid I was ultimately taking a nap.  It looks like they put in ten solid tries on Blackhand without me, which is pretty awesome.  Hopefully this coming week we can manage to down him and take his candy.  I am not sure why I am apparently sleep deprived but after all the napping on the couch I still managed to sleep a fairly full nights sleep.  Admittedly I woke up several times during the night, but each time I was able to get right back to sleep without much issue.

I did have a really strange dream during the course of all these wake ups.  It was at some banquet for Blizzard Entertainment, and somehow had gotten chosen to say a few words.  When it came to me and I introduced who I was and what blog and podcast I am from…  there was a sheer look of horror from the stage.  It was like this overwhelming wave of “What is he doing here?” sweeping over the fine folks from Blizzard.  I proceeded to say a few words about my love of Blizzard and I am not really sure what happened next because I woke up.  However I do remember having this general feeling that I did not belong there.  The funny thing is…  that in order for the dream to function I would have to be well known, and this is something that I am not willing to accept.  I don’t think anyone at Blizzard has a clue who I am, let alone enough of a clue to be horrified that I would be speaking at their banquet.   I am just a guy that does a thing, and not terribly important for doing it.

Don’t Believe Your Own Hype

One of the interesting things about being a blogger or a podcaster is that you are forced into the often uncomfortable role of self promotion.  This aspect of blogging names my skin crawl because ultimately whether your like it or not, you are building a brand.  The brand is made up of you, the image you project of yourself and the content you create.  Most of us adopt a persona of sorts that we break out when it comes to interacting with the world and our readers.  For some of us that persona is really damned close to the real thing.  For me it is like a super hyped up and self confident version of myself, and the odd thing is that over time the REAL me has become more and more like the “Rockstar” me.  For the most part this is harmless, because “super” me probably is far more enjoyable to be around than the sulky and moody “actual” me that exists sometimes.  The problem is it is really damned easy to lose your sense of self on the internet.

In the decade or so I have been serious about socializing online, I have seen more than a few people lose themselves in their own hype.  They start to believe that they are legitimately famous and as such somehow separated from the “common” folk because of it.  If you ever find yourself with the strong desire to utter the phrase “Don’t you know who this is?” then chances are you have already gone off the deep end.  As strange as it sounds this is a constant fear of mine, that I will end up becoming one of those empty self promoting husks.  I spend most of my time trying to actively deny the fact that I have any sway over other human beings, and that I am ultimately just talking to myself.  The reality is somewhere between because apparently as much as I try and deny it the whole #BelEffect thing that I am cursed with is apparently a legitimate thing.

Find A Grounding Force

The reality is that on a daily basis I have somewhere between 500 and 1000 readers of this blog when you combine direct hits and folks that read it through an RSS reader.  I am by no means a large presence on the internet, but I do have a niche following.  I do everything in my power to forget that I actually have readers, largely because I am scared to death of turning into one of the people that I have been frustrated with in the past.  I just want to be me, doing the thing that I do… and sharing that thing with other people.  Essentially what has worked thus far is to surround myself with people that are not buying into my own hype in the least.  While my friends like to grief me with things like that hashtag or trying to claim I am some media personality… they are also the first people that would call me on my shit if I ever started to believe any of it.  More than anything the biggest grounding force in my life is my wife, who is not part of the gaming universe at all.

I realize this is a strange post as far as Newbie Blogger Initiative tips goes, because if you are just starting out you are in that phase where you are struggling to gain the courage every single day to post anything at all.  There comes a time however when those fears go away and you are able to interact freely.  I’ve tried my best to stay grounded and humble as this blog has grown from something a couple dozen people followed to the readership it has today.  The problem is that not everyone does, and I have watched this whole process go to folks heads.  I am no one special, and thanks to the support of my wife and friends…  it is my intent to keep it that way.  Self promotion is a necessary evil, and the “rockstar” version of my personality will more than likely always need to be there as a coping mechanism for the stress of dealing with other human beings.  It is my sincere hope that I can keep from falling into the trap of believing in my own hype.  It is also my hope that as you go through your own rollercoaster of success with your own blogging endeavors that you too can keep from believing your own hype.

Witcher 3 Impressions

Losing Time

witcher3 2015-05-20 19-43-32-94 Last night I had these plans of coming home, and hopping into Final Fantasy XIV and working on crafting once again while chatting away with my Free Company folk.  However when I got home absolutely none of that actually happened.  I had left the GOG Galaxy client up on my screen during the day, and when I sat down at my machine it was the first thing I saw.  I had fixed myself a sandwich and chips and I thought to myself…  I will just play Witcher for a bit while I eat dinner, and before my wife gets home.  It seems like moments later she had gotten home and was hollering up at me.  When I say it seems like moments, it quite literally feels like I had just sat down at the screen.  In reality about an hour passed between starting Witcher and taking a quick pause to see my wife off to church before returning to playing again.  Then next thing I know it…  my wife is back home and heading to bed and I have managed to lose another several hours.

To say the game is immersive is a bit of an understatement.  The last game that I can remember losing entire nights to was probably Skyim, and that is a fairly apt comparison at least on a few levels.    The funny thing is I have just now moved to the “second” area of the game.  I say area because while the game has open world aspects it is not exactly completely open world.  The first “zone” is called White Orchard and it is made up of this huge sprawling seamless area with lots of villages and locations to explore.  This gives it a traditional open world Elder Scrolls feel, the problem being that the entire location has a bounding border drawn around it.  While I have not pushed my luck when the game starts telling me to turn around…  I am imagining that there is some sort of “slaughterfish” like mechanic that you encounter.

Gorgeous Environment

witcher3 2015-05-20 19-07-30-38 The real triumph of the game is the environment, and just how real it feels to be roaming through.  What makes the game world so compelling is the fact that everywhere you look there is action going on.  Nothing is static, and the weather patterns effect every last blade of grass it feels.  The only problem with this is at times you feel like you are suffering from a bit of sensory overload.  Like I said yesterday once I started playing I pretty much hopped off the path immediately and this is very easy to do, and at the same time rewarding.  When they were pitching this game I remember them saying that it would take either 20 hours or 200 hours depending on your gameplay style and after finishing White Orchard I can see why this is.  The main storyline in the zone was relatively straight forward and only actually required me to complete a few quests to get through it.  However I spent the next four hours working on various treasure hunts and exploring the world.

The map system works very similar to Skyrim except that you have missions of interest that you have yet to explore marked as question marks.  Now these are not ALL the locations in the world, and there are a number of other “hidden” things that you can find wandering the countryside, however if you explore each question mark it seems like you will get most of the content you would care about.  That is ultimately what I spent my night doing was wandering around completing these question marks.  The game has a waypoint travel system that allows you to pop from road sign to road sign, and I used the hell out of this functionality allowing me to get close to the destination that I was looking for and either taking my horse the rest of the way or just wandering of foot.  Pretty much anytime I saw monsters on my minimap hud I dismounted and took them on.  After some gear and some levels things like the Drowners and packs of Wolves became trivial, but the big monsters were still insane especially anything that spawned near a “guarded treasure”.

The Story Is Good

witcher3 2015-05-20 21-52-48-37 The thing that I find most interesting is that the game manages to make the narrative just as interesting as the free form exploration.  There is some crazy shit going on in the world of the Witcher, and as this game is my first experience of that world I am trying to soak it all in.  The game does an awesome job of giving you just enough of a primer in the setting for things to make sense, but also is unapologetic at times for talking about things that you have NO clue what is going on.  There was a point in the game where I had to answer a series of questions, each of which I think represent choices that were made in earlier games.  Knowing nothing about the setting I made my choices and it was interesting to see just how they played out in that discussion.  I have a feeling that those choices will ultimately color what the final results of the game end up being.

There was talk at one point of them rebooting the earlier Witcher games using the Witcher 3 engine… and I really hope this happens.  The engine itself is extremely robust and I can see the modder community is going to have a ball with this game.  This might dethrone Skyrim in that department, pending the game itself is that extensible.  The best review that I can give the game is the fact that I had to pry myself away from it last night to go to sleep.  I alt tabbed and noticed it was 10:30 and realized that if I did not stop then… I would likely end up playing until after one in the morning.  The funny thing about this game is that it literally came out of left field for me.  I had no intent to purchase it, and am only now playing it because I got a free copy with my video card.  Now I am looking forward to playing through everything the game has to offer and will more than likely purchase the season pass so that I can play the DLC as it releases.  I keep harkening back to this, but I think if the game keeps up at this pace and level of quality that it might very well be that go to game like Skyrim for losing myself in the world.  The only fear I have is that since this is so narrative focused, I am not sure if it will have the same sort of universal replay-ability that the Elder Scrolls games have had for me.

Half Sleeping

AggroChat 57 – Preparing for Heavensward

Tonight we have Belghast, Ashgar, Tamrielo, Kodra and Thalen and once again we felt like we didn’t have much to talk about.  However once we dug in a little bit I noticed a trend.  Each of us was busy working on this item or that in relationship to Final Fantasy XIV each with our own goals that we have been trying to finish before the expansion.  Ashgar just finished his Nexus weapon after the length grind, and talks about how it compared up against other grinds he has completed.  Kodra talks about working on Turn 9 with two different raid groups and how he hopes we can get through it within the coming weeks.  I talk about my own quest which involves me descending into the dark madness that is crafting and slowly stair stepping each and every crafting class five levels at a time.

In addition to this there is some more Shadowrun talk as we each continue our play throughs.  Kodra goes into yet another dark place by playing some Demon Souls and talks about those experiences.  He and Tam spent a good deal of time this week watching the first season of Sword Art Online and we get into a discussion about that as well.  I talk about my experiences working on the Blackhand encounter in World of Warcraft, and we talk a bit about the lackluster numbers released by NCSoft regarding Wildstar sales.  Yet another night of varied topics here on AggroChat.

Automotive Struggles

It is now officially “weather season” here in Oklahoma and over the last few weeks we have been deluged in rain storms.  In fact we skipped Mother’s Day last weekend due to the fact that there was rampant flooding in the area of the state that our Mothers live in.  This meant this weekend we had to make up for that fact and venture out to see all three mothers.  Friday night we met my folks for dinner and chatted with them for a good while, and then Saturday we ventured to the northern part of the state to see my wife’s mothers.  The only problem with this notion is that there was the constant fear of bad weather hanging over the day.  The national weather service had used the term “life threatening” and “super cell” in relation to the storm that was supposed to be arriving that night.  To make matters more tense we opted to drive my wife’s Pontiac Torrent because it is more comfortable on long trips.  That said it has also been having some issues lately.

There is a point between second and third gear where it “chugs” for lack of a better term, or as my wife calls it “hiccups” while trying to change gears.  This seems to hit most often on inclines but over time it has gotten worse.  While driving north on the turnpike it happened again around 75 mph and this time had a corresponding check engine light.  I pulled over to the side of the turnpike and shut down completely, and upon powering back on everything seemed happy.  We were just outside of town, so we popped off and went to the local GMC dealer.  While the service department was not open, the shop foreman just happened to be working on his mothers car and was able to at least hook up the Torrent to the computer and tell us what was happening.  Turns out that the engine was misfiring and after some research there is a factory recall that we were never notified about.  He promised that our vehicle would not strand us, but instead it would just get horrible gas mileage until we got it taken care of.  Nonetheless with impending weather issues it made the rest of the day feel far more tense than it normally would have.

Half Sleeping

The national weather service originally predicted that a huge batch of Tornados would be hitting the Oklahoma City area around 3pm CST.  The storm however stalled out over the state and by the time we started up the podcast last night it still had not fully hit us.  The problem with a late night storm is that it pretty much destroys any semblance of sleep.  Today I am completely dragging ass because we did not get the “All Clear” until about 4:30 in the morning.  This means it was yet another night of sleeping with the television blaring the weather so that if something went horribly wrong over night we would hopefully hear it.  Sleeping while half paying attention to the television means you don’t actually get much rest.  I have a feeling I will be taking a nap at some point because right now I am struggling to get through my morning blogging routine, let alone do anything more productive.  The good news is that for the most part we made it through the storm unscathed.  The bad news is, that not every suburb in the Tulsa area can say the same thing.

The Broken Arrow area seems to have gotten hit the hardest from last night.  Earlier on the news they showed footage of what like the remains of a trailer part strewn along the country roads.  At that point the reporter was uncertain where exactly the debris was coming from, but there was a lot of it.  My hope is that everyone made it out alive.  It is always surreal to talk about Tornados because they are equal parts commonplace and revered here in Oklahoma.  Everyone knows someone who has been effected by one in the past, but at the same time… when you spend every spring dealing with the warnings it also seems “commonplace”.  For years I used to wonder how the folks on the west coast dealt with Earthquakes, but since we also have those…  I am guessing it is much the same.  When you are used to a natural disaster, it just becomes a bit less scary.  Right now it seems like most of the issues happening today are just massive flooding.  After years of drought, I had almost forgotten what “real” rain was like.  At this point all of the rivers are well over flood stage, but fortunately I don’t live in an area that actually floods.  Expect normal gaming blog posts to resume this week I hope, but today…  was all about the weather.

Back But Don’t Play

Supporting Kickstarter

wasteland2 This morning I am going to tackle the second talkback topic for the Newbie Blogger Initiative because it is actually one that has been on the hearts and minds of the AggroChat folks for the last few weeks.  For the April AggroChat Game Club game I chose Darkest Dungeon, and since then the topic of playing “unfinished” games has been somewhat of a recent discussion among us in private.  The fact that the game was unfinished caused numerous problems, not the least of which was the simple fact that we were never quite sure if this or that functionality was intended… or just unfinished.  So I feel like I was not able to give it a really solid testing, because I don’t know what might change between now and when the studio deems the game “finished”.  The prompt however for this talkback is pretty straight forward but my answer is going to be a bit more nuanced.

Early Access and Kickstarter – Do you support unfinished games?

So for the first part… yes I wholeheartedly support the backing of unfinished games.  I’ve backed more than I can count at this point through either Kickstarter or company specific initiatives.  I think Kickstarter is a pretty awesome thing, and it has caused a lot of things that I care about to see the light of day.  I’ve backed both software and physical merchandise projects through it, and have been relatively happy with pretty much every project I have ended up chipping in on.  Kickstarter does a lot of things, but the biggest one to me is that it allows me to vote with my dollar on what I think is going to be an idea worth making.  I rarely back very far into a given product tree, and the end result is me usually getting a cut price copy of the game at launch.  While many of these games offer a double platinum early access alpha program…  that is not so much what I am interested at least not any more.

Tired of Alphas

Once upon a time I wanted to be playing every single game I could get my hands on.  I reveled in the fact that I had alpha and beta tested most of the MMOs out there.  For a period of time this was something that was achievable because at any given moment there were a very limited number of Alpha and Beta test programs available.  Somewhere along the line I noticed that playing an Alpha seriously adversely effected my chances of staying with a game for very long after release.  In essence I would burn myself out playing the Alpha, so that when launch happened the game felt very old and tired to me.  The pinnacle of this problem happened for me with Elder Scrolls Online.  I seriously cared about the release of this game, and I took my Alpha testing duties seriously.  I was told at one point that I was in the top 1% of all bug reporters in the game, and every single time we played I spent most of my time reporting and re-reporting issues I saw.

The problem here is that I had been alpha and beta testing builds of this game for a good year before the game actually launched.  So while I only managed to play about three months after the launch of the title, in truth that was around 17 months of me actually playing the game.  Huge chunks of the content I had literally seen hundreds of times, and remembered each of the different incarnations.  The additional problem is I had trouble letting go of the past.  There were some changes made in that game that I considered “for the worse” and myself and many of the other early testers rather vehemently pined for the imagined “good ole days” of early alpha.  Memory is always an incomplete state, and what we remembered was this or that feature that stood out in an ocean of an otherwise broken game.  The final product was so much better than the one we were requesting they return to, but we got hung up on the minutiae of this or that feature that we missed.  Basically I learned that Alpha testing ultimately ruined my enjoyment of the final product… and it only took me twenty some years to wake up to this fact.

Back But Don’t Play

Ultimately I have a very nuanced stance on Kickstarter.  I am more than happy to donate money towards a cause that I believe in like the creation of a brand new Wasteland experience on the PC, or any of the other games I have backed that let me wallow in the nostalgia of my youth.  Generally speaking I now back just far enough into it to give myself a cut rate copy of the game at launch.  Then when I get said copy and any bonus trappings… it seats neatly in my Steam account until I am ready to play it.  I might boot it up periodically to check on its progress, but ultimately I am not going to start the game for real until I see that note from the developer talking about how the game has launched.  The problem is this also means I am phenomenally bad at tracking the progress of games on Kickstarter.  I almost always have a message that needs to be responded to about this or that game but this is what works for me.  It lets me feel like I am backing things that I believe in, but also gives me the piece of mind of not actually starting a game play session until the game is “finished”.

As far as other games that are in a permanent state of development like Minecraft…  once again my feelings are a bit more nuanced.  Paying to play an alpha does not really bother me, if the experience and the enjoyment itself is worth paying to play said alpha.  I got into Minecraft for example during its pre-beta days when you could pick up a copy for well under $10.  I have gotten easily $1000 worth of enjoyment out of that game.  Similarly while I don’t play them nearly as often I have gotten more than enough happiness out of both Trove and Landmark to recuperate any costs I might have put into them.  Ultimately backing an unfinished game, and playing said unfinished game is not an entirely bad idea… so long as you go into it with the thought process that you are playing something that isn’t quite done yet.  Early Access games are in essence paid betas, and if you can live with that… awesome…  if not wait for the release of the game.  I personally have found that the games I played heavily in Alpha and Beta get more enjoyable over time, and going back a year after launch I end up really enjoying myself.  So that is to say that the games I ruined through Alpha testing…  are not in a permanent state of ruined as evidenced by my recent travels into Guild Wars 2, Wildstar, and Star Wars the Old Republic.  Ultimately you have to figure out what works for you, and the amount or risk you are willing to take.  If I feel like I am going to care about a game, I try my best not to burn out before launch.

Finding Your Time

Writing Blocks

This morning I am trying to knock a post out quickly before “Rainmageddon” gets here.  While I don’t really believe it  the neighbor across the street said we are likely to get “ten inches” of rain during the course of the day.  That would be absolutely insane.  My wife’s theory however is that she just misheard and the news actually said “two inches”.  In any case starting at noon today we are likely not going to want to be out in the world.  This is awesome because it means I can binge on video games.  What is not so awesome is the fact that I need to get a post out quickly rather than my normal lazy Saturday and Sunday posting schedule.  So I have a video game soundtrack on to block out the world, and am in beast mode!  Sadly my beast mode is more like a sleepy kitten, but in any case…  I am making things happen!  For those curious I am listening to the State of Decay soundtrack that is available on Google Play.

Normally Storytime Saturday is the day when I tell you some tale about myself, and I try really hard to make it one I have not already told.  The problem there is that I have shared so many intimate details of my life with you all, and that I have zero recollection of what I say on any given day.  Hell there are days I get to work and I will see entire sections of a post that I don’t remember writing.  In the spirit of the Newbie Blogger Initiative this mornings “Storytime” is more than likely going to be a free form rambling mess as I share indiscriminant tips and tricks I have learned over the years.  The key to thriving as a blog is to be predictable in your posting schedule, and in order to make this happen it means you need to set aside specific blocks of time to write.  How big of a block of time depends entirely on the style of post you make.  When I write a post that requires lots of research those are usually done over the course of several days, with me keeping notes in a Google drive document.  My “normal” style of posting however takes anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour of me sitting down at the keyboard and physically writing it out.

Finding Your Time

When I launched this blog in 2009 I spent a lot of my lunch hours writing posts.  For the most part this worked great because it was a fixed block of time when I was not really doing anything else.  The problem is as work got busier, and I started actually going out for lunch… my noon writing block evaporated.  There were more than a few days when I was working on a problem that I could not set down long enough to write a post, and by the time whatever had been fixed… I was usually too drained mentally to produce something worth reading.  I wont say this was the reason behind some of my larger lapses but it was certainly a contributing factor.  When I started on my “Grand Experiment” I knew I was going to have to figure out something else to do.  I had gotten in the habit of going upstairs with my morning coffee and piddling around in a video game for thirty minutes to an hour before actually going into work.  This “boot up”  time greatly improved my cognitive ability by the time I got to work, so it was actually something that turned out to be pretty beneficial.

When finding your own block of time you have to evaluate your own schedule.  Where is a block that you are doing something every single day, or every few days…  that you could tweak a bit to turn that into a time to write your blog posts?  For me I happily sacrificed my morning game time in an effort to give myself a regular place to write words and things.  This however has been a double edged sword.  I literally cannot start my day without writing a blog post, and the days when I have to do something differently and stage the post the night before…  I feel like something is off the entire day.  I have incorporated this writing phase into my morning boot up routine and when it is missing, I am just not fully functional.  Additionally the problem of writing while you are not entirely awake means sometimes entire blocks of text don’t really make much sense.  Thankfully the frequency of my posting makes up for some of this.  When you are posting every single day, your readers cut you a lot more slack for having an “off day”.

Keep a Contract

The other nice fringe benefit of morning writing is that you feel like you have accomplished some thing.  No matter how south the rest of the day turns, you will have at least had a tiny victory that morning.  For years my wife has done something that I just did not understand until I looked at my own blogging.  When we clean the house we usually divide and conquer, meaning I take certain rooms and she takes certain rooms.  One of the rooms she always wants to do is the Bathroom and I have never understood why she tackles it first thing.  She has always said it made her feel like she had accomplished something, and I guess in a way gets those good vibe endorphins flowing making the rooms that are more painful a little easier to do.  I can definitely see this whole process working because I absolutely see these same kind of benefits with my own blog posts.  No matter how frustrating the rest of the day is… I at least accomplished writing another post and I continued the chain of daily postings by one more day.

Whatever your block or your schedule I think the absolute most important thing is to treat it like a contract.  It becomes extremely easy to give yourself an excuse for not writing one day, that turns into not writing for an entire month.  Before I ventured down the path of daily writing there were so many times when I told myself “I just am not feeling it” and let myself off the hook without writing a post.  Then as months went by of “not feeling it” it became harder to actually start the process again.  In order to keep a schedule you need a certain amount of rigor in your life, and a willingness to sacrifice other things to make sure the ball keeps moving forward.  I know this might sound like an odd statement, especially for something that we all consider a hobby.  The problem is you can’t really treat it like a hobby and achieve the predictable regularity that your readers will want.  In many was blogging is a second job, admittedly one you do out of love… but there still needs to be some constraints on your time.  At this point I have blogged every single day for over two years… so I have this pressure built up in NOT missing a single day.  I have motivation to keep going, and keep writing… and I think it is this motivation that you have to find for yourself.

Talkback Challenge 1

Avoiding a Topic

First off I have to say I am a huge proponent of the Newbie Blogger Initiative, and try my best to do whatever I can to support it.  Unfortunately I do a pretty bad job of actually participating in anything that is going on the forums.  This year I had told myself that I would try really hard to participate more and do more of the various writing prompts.  You know that whole “lead by example” type argument.  The problem is the very first topic is something that I find both repulsive and deeply scary at the same time.  Izlain seems to love to revel in controversial topics, and has recorded podcasts on various incendiary topics in the past, so I really should not be shocked this ended up as a writing prompt.

The aim of the Talkback Challenge is to engage new bloggers on a topic and provide contrasting views on that specific matter. It is also designed to encourage follow-up discussions and blog posts which further widen the level of interaction. The goal is to generate discussion on newbie blogs, raise their respective profile and share traffic. The NBI has run such activities for several years now and they have proven both informative and engaging. The opening topic for debate this time round is “how did GamerGate affect you”?

The prompt itself is pretty straight forward.  How were you effected by GamerGate, but the answer as always is far more nuanced.  I just finished writing my Bonanza post over on MMOGames and during the course of it I ran through all of the responses to this question that were available at the time of posting.  I was somehow bolstered by the fact that the majority of these posts seemed to have no real effect.  The problem is…  for those who were effected this is a really touchy subject.  The fact that someone actually wants to be talking about this makes me realize that in truth they were largely left unscathed.  All of this said, I am going to tackle this topic because I promised myself that I would actually do the writing prompts.

Talkback Challenge 1

GamerGate cycled through the community like nothing I had ever seen before.  It was swift and it was obnoxious…  and quickly moved into the realm of the really damned creepy.  Folks were using the tag without really understanding the consequences.  The claim of the movement is that GamerGate is “About Ethics in Journalism” but this claim has never really matched up to the effects seen in the community.  So much so that this has become a meme and filed away in the internet as yet another meaningless phrase.  What I saw instead was a lot of my friends getting really scared to speak their mind.  This hive mind of hatred seemed to be going after anyone who was “different” from what they saw as the cultural norm.  This meant that women and the lgbt community seemed to garner the brunt of the assault.  I talked to lots of friends who considered just stopping blogging because of the fear and paranoia that was rampant.

The problem is I am by nature not extremely combative.  You can make personal attacks against me and it really usually doesn’t phase me.  However when you take on my friends, and make them feel less than what they are…  then I start to get upset.  In the grand scheme of things I didn’t speak out as harshly as I probably should have on the subject.  I made a pretty general post about how I wish we would “Be Awesome Human Beings”.  Which drew the attention of a Gater that followed me and proceeded to try and argue with me about ethics in journalism in the comments.  I didn’t want to get drawn into his discussion and he kept trying to bring me back to his personal brand of right wing philosophy.  Ultimately I ended up un-following and blocking the person on twitter.  Within a few days of posting this relatively straight forward article, my blog came under fire of a DDoS.  At first I thought nothing about it, since hosting companies get denial of service attacks all of the time.  The thing is… it seemed to be targeted at ONLY the server cluster my blog was on.

Message Delivered

A short time after that my twitter handle appeared on a list of supposed “Social Justice Warriors” that were to be avoided.  Granted half of the people I know ended up on that same list, but while it was a point of pride… it also felt a bit like a veiled threat.  It felt very much like a list of people who “thought wrong” and should be targeted.  When you combine that with the DDoS I won’t like it freaked me out a bit.  I tried my best to exorcise my social networks of any Gamer Gate sympathizers, or at least the ones who were loudly supporting it… and I moved on with my life.  I tried my best to support those who were getting attacked, but I didn’t feel like I supported the other extreme either.  Ultimately I just wanted us all to get along and stop being assholes to each other.  That is the mission I have kept trying to move forward.  I am a tiny blue dot in a very read ocean, but I manage to get along with most of my friends, coworkers and neighbors because we respect each other not enough to try and jam our own personal philosophies down each others throats.

The problem is Gamer Gate has left me scarred.  When someone new follows me on social media the first thing I do is scan down through their posting history to make sure they are not somehow a GG leaner.  I don’t want to make people out to be the bogeyman of the internet, but I also don’t really want that sort of influence screwing up my relatively happy place.  I have tried my best to limit the about of negativity in my world.  It ultimately makes me a happier person, and GG and the vehemently Anti-GG communities both are something I can do without.  That said I am by no means trying to be neutral anymore.  I am not a supporter of the GamerGate community by any means, and the whole situation deeply saddens me.  I don’t want to be made to feel like shit for anything I do, from anyone.  So I am going to keep doing what I am doing, and keep enjoying the things I enjoy and try my damnedest to forget the negative forces still exist.  You cannot get me to believe like you do by yelling at me louder, and you cannot convince me of your point with circular logic.  Ultimately I hope the internet and gamers in particular mature and learn to make decisions on their own merit and not connected to some larger agenda.

Reluctant Blogger

My First Blog

nbimmogames-666x271 This mornings blog post is inspired by a conversation I saw yesterday between two friends about the starting of a new blog.  There are many people that have this strong desire to start a blog, but for whatever reason lack the confidence to push them over the edge to actually putting a plan in motion.  Some people are gifted with a clear vision for what they want to write about, and a firm purpose to make it all happen.  That unfortunately is not most of us.  Most of us have this burning desire to write, but are also strapped with crippling self doubt.  While I might look like I know what I am doing, I am here to tell you that every single day is a struggle to keep making content.  While I have been doing this for six years now, and been doing the every day thing for two…  I still don’t really know what I am doing on a regular basis.  I take each new day as it comes and try and figure out exactly what I should be doing in the process.

This morning I want to tell you a story about another blog.  I started Tales of the Aggronaut in 2009 with a firm purpose, and a vision for what I wanted it to be.  The thing is..  I never would have gotten to that point had another blog not existed.  Back in 2005 I stared a blogspot blog because I had this overwhelming desire to write.  The problem being that I didn’t really know what to write about.  I mostly wrote about my misadventures, and a little bit about the ins and outs of our family.  But early on I knew there was a big part of my life that I just wasn’t talking about… because I felt like no one would want to hear about it.  So my first blog was ultimately a failure because it didn’t really represent my gaming.  Additionally Tales of the Aggronaut I feel was an initial failure because it failed to represent more than just my gaming hobby.  What finally ended up working…  eight years later…  was a blending of both.  Lots of gaming, but still the freedom to talk about whatever else happened to be happening to me.

Reluctant Blogger

My first blog was a blog that hardly anyone read, because I lacked the self confidence to talk about it publically.  It was very much a private journal that I let the occasional person know about.  The folks that did read it seemed to like it, and urged me to do more, but in the back of my head there was always this nagging voice.  “There is nothing you have to say that isn’t already being said… and  being said better.”  This is the voice you have to ignore to be able to keep blogging, because it never really goes away.  There is not a single day when I don’t hear it still.  Every time I hit the publish button I have to hold my breath and close my eyes and click it… because even after doing this for all these years I still struggle to defeat my inner doubt.  It would be amazing if I could tell you that it just magically goes away, but I can at least say that over time it lessens.  The voice has less sway over me than it once did, which I guess is a step in the right direction.

You might say to yourself that you have nothing to say, and that others are saying it better…  but the act of you saying it makes it special and unique.  I could read fifty blog posts on exactly the same subject and each and every one would have some nugget that the others did not.  While we might be espousing the same ideas… each of us is adding our own experience to that mix.  Right now, before you start down this journey you might believe that you don’t have a voice worth hearing but I am telling you that you do.  Be honest with yourself, and write about the things you want to write about…  and somewhere in between your voice will trickle to the surface.  Blogging is not about being controversial or brilliant, but instead about being honest and letting the world see who you really are and what think.  This act of sharing is precious, and makes whatever it is that you choose to share more than worthy of our attention.  We are this culmination of our emotions, experiences, actions and thoughts wrapped up together making anything you have to say on any subject uniquely nuanced.

Lets Get Started

As I wrote to the Wayward Bloggers a few days ago, this morning I am writing to the Reluctant Bloggers.    I am addressing the folks that want to start a blog but for whatever reason are being held back from doing so.  If you are watching the Newbie Blogger Initiative and feel that tiny tug trying to get you to start your own epic blog, I ask you to hop down off the fence you are sitting on and get started.  The Newbie Blogger Initiative is the perfect time to get things in motion because you have an entire community waiting her ready to give you that hand up.  There are an almost overwhelming number of ways to get started.  Most people start with either a WordPress.com or a Blogger.com and go from there.  Blogger is without a doubt the easiest way to get started, but WordPress will make transitioning to a self hosted site in the future less of a hassle.  In either case, the act of getting something started is the important thing.  If these seem “too real” for you to get your feet wet, then I suggest starting a blog on Anook.com and seeing how things work for you.

Some people are gifted with the ability to start writing quality content from day one.  In my permission to suck post from last year I talk about the fact that I was not one of those people.  I struggled for a long time to find my format and to find my voice.  My blog itself has gone through so many transitions from WoW Blog, Rift Blog, to ultimately becoming a fairly game agnostic blog about me as a person and my gaming habit.  The truth is that you should expect to hate the first dozen posts you make within a years time.  Like I said there are the occasional folks that can crank out amazing stuff, but I personally would be happy never to see the first several years worth of posts on this blog.  The awesome thing about being human beings is that we are able to change and to adapt, and expect your blog and your writing to do the same.  Just like learning to ride a bike was wobbly at first, your blog will be a bit wobbly and that is okay.  You are doing something that you are going to get better at, and we as a community will be here to help you.  Now you simply have to get started.