Heroic Ogron

Bonding of House Noye

ffxiv_01012015_201417 When the 2.45 patch went into Final Fantasy XIV they added a nifty new feature called the Eternal Bond ceremony.  This allows players in game to get hitched in an instanced ceremony that they can invite all of their friends to.  I’ve talked about my friends Ayla and Joren Noye before, and they’ve made several appearances in photos at least on this blog.  So I was pumped when I received an in game mail message with a bunch if invites to their Eternal bonding ceremony.  For some reason I had it stuck in my head that it was at 5 pm my time, but when I logged in about 4 pm to prepare for the festivities I noticed the invite said 7 pm instead.  My heart sunk as I realized that it was going to conflict with my raid group in World of Warcraft.  Since neither were on, I sent my apologies and the spare invites back to them just in case they needed to hand out more copies.

ffxiv_01012015_200523 Thankfully Rae and Ashgar attended the ceremony from our free company, and Ash took lots of photos.  I have to say Squeenix did a really good job with this ceremony design.  I’ve seen similar “wedding” features built into other games but the look of this one is really magical.  I feel horrible that I missed it, but at least I was able to see it thanks to all the awesome screenshots.  I will have to give my apologies in person to Ayla and Joren…  but I think they actually read this blog as well.  So I am sorry that I missed the proceedings but it looked beautiful.  You both are really awesome individuals and are part of what make FFXIV a fun place to be.  Thanks for including me in the proceedings, just sucks that I could not attend.

Heroic Ogron

Wow-64 2015-01-01 20-37-12-25 In general this week of raiding has been a rough one.  All things considered we honestly probably should have just taken the week off.  That said we did manage to make significant progress.  While we struggled Tuesday night, we managed to get all of the bosses down that we had downed previously, opening up last night for trying something new all night long.  Since our DPS has increased significantly we set our sights on the Twin Ogron encounter, which other than the RNG elements is apparently not that much more difficult than Kargath.  RNG is specifically the problem… there were a few times where I took deaths to a horrible venn diagram of fire.. or the shield charge would go in the wrong direction.  All of these are in part because we were missing key individuals that normally play specific roles in this fight…  but we struggled through and managed.

After what felt like a dozen or so attempts we had that click moment when everything seemed to go perfectly.  The biggest frustration with the fight is always the fire.  While there are ways to mitigate the horribleness of the RNG by placing the bosses where we place them…  this still doesn’t take care of things 100% of the time.  The axes still go down in strange places, and the flames can pin players into a corner.  The problem is on heroic…  the fire is really really bad.  There was one point where I ended up having to take a double stack… popped enraged regeneration, shield wall, and last stand and STILL ended up dying to the fire.  I feel like this is going to be one of those fights that is never quite on “Farm” status, at least not on heroic.  Too much can go wrong in too short a period of time… dealing way the hell too much damage.  That said for a very rough week I am damned proud of the team for downing yet another heroic boss.

A Day of Huntering

Wow-64 2015-01-02 10-00-45-84 Other than raiding the majority of my day was spent playing Lodin my hunter, and working my way through the quest content.  This time around I had some very specific goals.  When I leveled my Deathknight I jumped every two levels to the next zone.  This time I am doing something similar, expect in two key zones…  firstly I wanted to make sure I had gained enough faction in Talador to get to Revered with the Exarch.  Now that I am moving into Spires of Arak, my goal there is also spend enough time to be able to hit Revered with the Arrakoa.  This way I can go to Ashran and purchase two trinkets to bring my overall gearscore up a bit.  This was something that I could not do on my Deathknight and ultimately I had to get trinkets from my Garrison to bring up my ilevel.  Remember my entire goal here is to be able to hit 615 as soon as I can so that I can queue for LFR and start getting access to easy epics.

The only real problem with skipping content is that you are also skipping followers that you can use in your garrison.  Lodin thankfully has quite a few, and it will be a bit before I build a barracks…  so for the time being I can only have 20.  Thankfully there are a couple of easy ones like Tormack and Blook that I can pick up along the way.  So far I am really enjoying playing Lodin but it is very hard to stay focused.  Every time I turn around I am killing beasts to farm leather… which I can ultimately do for hours.  This is a very faffy character, so it is hard to stay on task and keep pushing the questlines forward.  I guess that is in part why this character has appealed so much to me while playing around on break.  Since my life very much right now is all about faffing around…  it seems like the ideal pairing.  My hope is over the next couple of days I will manage to push through to 100 and finish the character off.  It will be nice to have access to a hunter since they are still doing so much damage.

The Gospel of Faff

The importance of pee

I just thought the sub heading would be humorous, but really it heralds some good news.  Yesterday my Grandmothers kidneys started working again.  Apparently when the body is dehydrated they completely shut off.  The body is all “nope!” no one can have any moisture at all.  This apparently was the last crucial step before she was mostly out of the woods.  She is still in pretty bad shape, but they have been waking her up periodically to make sure she is responsive.  They are keeping her mostly sedated however so she will sleep and rest.  All of the hospital staff have been impressed with just how much of a fighter she is.

So I want to thank all of you for your thoughts during the last few days.  This is the woman who at least gets half of the credit for raising me to be the person I am today.  I didn’t go to daycare, I went to Grandmas house, because she was local and available… and more importantly willing.  We’ve always known she is strong, but this whole episode just proved that to any shadow of a doubt.  So while we are not in the “all clear” yet, we are probably up to a 70% chance of her making it out of this little episode unscathed.  I am sure she will need some therapy after laying in bed for several days immobile.

The Gospel of Faff

This word has been in my vocabulary since I believe high school but I don’t really know how exactly I picked it up.  So when I encountered the Godmother of Faff, I latched onto it with both arms to represent a certain game play style.  However the more I use it, the more it seems to draw confusion among my friends.  Sometimes it gets misread with a certain “self flagellating” connotation, or if you are Scary you apparently read it as some kind of shorthand for flatulence.  So I thought I would spend a bit of time this morning clearing the air about all things faff.  Since this is essentially British slang, I felt we had to go to the official source…  the Oxford dictionary.

image So there is the definition, copied and pasted via greenshot from the oxford dictionary website.  The thing is…  this leads one to believe that it is a bad thing.  I tend to take a much more zen approach.  “Faffing about” is just another in a long line of words used to describe enjoyable but often purposeless activity.  I’ve used many versions of this over the years.  I’ve “piddled” and I’ve “dinked around” and occasionally “goofed off”.  I had a bit of an odd childhood, in that my mother to some extent lived vicariously through me.  She wanted me to do all the things she always wanted to do… but never could afford.  So as a small child I was drug through a series of activities like piano practice that I had no real interest in, but felt no less obligated to do.

As a result I felt like I never got to just be a kid, without purpose or direction.  When I was allowed that time I savored it.  Now as an adult, I am really cautious about anything that places undue burden on my “free” time.  While I feel like Godmother and I probably use the term “Faff” in different ways, our viewpoints are very complimentary.  For me “Faff” represents a play style of allowing myself to get lost in the minutiae of little things that happen along the way.  It is a freedom of not having to have a goal or a focal point for the evening.  That I have permission to log into a game and “mess around” for awhile without necessarily having a tangible reward at the end.

HDPlacard_BelFaffsAbout_720 So as I have begun to stream my game play when possible, I have brought this same idea there as well.  I am not doing something important or grand, but instead just doing what I always do.  I log into mumble, into a special channel called “Bel is Streaming” and then proceed about my normal business and what happens… happens.  Sometimes I do something really interesting, other times I just piddle around leveling.  Last night for example I recorded one of my normal Onyxia and Tempest Keep clear nights, where I run through characters through Onyxia and the two that can solo Tempest Keep all in search of mounts.  Sure there is purpose there, but it is not the kind of big overarching and soul crushing purpose that you feel forced to do it.  Before last night it had probably been three weeks since my last mount farm night… and I am perfectly okay with that.

As is the way with Faff

eso 2014-02-15 11-33-23-02 I had every intent last night to play some more Heroes of the Storm, however that simply did not happen.  Sometimes you get caught up in doing the things you are doing and next thing you know… it is bedtime.  Part of the “Gospel of Faff” is accepting that this is going to happen and being somewhat okay with it.  Some people thrive on goals, and lord knows I have a bunch of little ones.  But for me it is the journey that is so much more important than the destination.  I think in part that is why I have enjoyed The Elder Scrolls online so much.  The game presents before me a whole bunch of rabbit trails that I can get hopelessly lost following.  It is arranged in a way that keeps me from being able to “quest efficiently”.  WoW has made me really good at gathering a bunch of quests, and doing them all before returning to the hub to get more.

The freedom to wander around and get lost in the process of leveling is a really awesome thing.  While World of Warcraft is a really on-rails experience most of the time, I am trying to embrace ways to play it where the objectives don’t matter nearly as much as the journey.  This is far more about my mental state while playing, than what I am actually doing.  However I am trying really hard to always endulge the rabbit trails.  If my addon alerts me to a rare mob in the vicinity…  even if I am on my way to some important objective I try and pull myself from the path to try and track the foe down.  As a result I end up seeing things I may have never seen before in the process.  I had spent most of my time playing WoW trying to avoid the quagmire that is Kalimdor, and now I feel like I am trying to embrace it.

Faffing in the Fjord

Losing Time

It seems that no matter what I do to prepare for it, Daylight Savings time still kicks my ass every year.  This go round I purposefully started trying to get more sleep from about Thursday onwards, in an attempt to get used to the earlier bedtime.  Saturday night I even started referring to things based on EST instead of my normal CST time… to attempt to trick my brain into thinking that was normal.  So last night… I hoped above hope that my brain would be able to power down and go to sleep at a decent hour.  But instead there I lay in bed trying to get to sleep.  I ended up taking some nyquil and playing Bravely Default in bed until I fell asleep.

I am sure Daylight Savings time made sense when we were primarily an agrarian society, however I have no clue why it still exists.  Why do we as a country do this to ourselves each and every year.  To be honest I do like having a lot more sunshine in the evenings, but since that is the case why not stay offset an hour permanently instead of shifting back in the winter?  I mean the days are so short that it really doesn’t matter at all in November if we offset back or not.  For whatever reasons even falling back and gaining the hour still seems to screw with my internal systems.  I realize that bitching about it will do exactly nothing…  but it makes me feel better.

Faffing in the Fjord

So yesterday thanks to the time drain I was feeling a little bit out of sorts.  I got up like I do every Sunday morning and played through my Steampowered Sunday game pick for a few hours, then wrote my review of sorts over it.  This week was of course Brutal Legend, and if you were interested in winning your own copy… make sure you click the extremely obnoxious vote here button at the bottom of the review.  Once I got finished up with all of that silliness I began the massive chore of laundry for the week.  Actually in truth it had been a few weeks since we had done laundry, so I knew I needed something that I could walk away from and check on the loads periodically.  Generally speaking solo leveling fits the bill perfectly.  I am not sure exactly why, but I decided to fiddle with FFSplit and try and figure out this live streaming business.

Normally speaking I always end up leveling my characters through Northrend in Borean Tundra.  While it is extremely boring and grindy, it just seems quicker.  The zone itself is laid out in more of a hub and spoke pattern and you can progress your way through the zone without a ton of travel time.  However since I had not done so in a really long time… I opted to move my little dwarven Warlock to Howling Fjord.  A few hubs into the zone I remembered why I stopped doing this…  so much travel time.  I figured I would share my pain by streaming it so the world could see.  The above video is not terribly interesting, but is me spending my afternoon… or at least roughly two hours of it going through the paces of leveling a warlock in Howling Fjord.  You can watch me playing video games badly!

More than anything I used this as a way to test how well streaming directly to Twitch.tv works, and then using that to upload to Youtube.  So far so good, but I kept my microphone muted during this trial.  I was feeling fairly antisocial, but at some point soon I hope to livecast something meaningful.  I still need to figure out a good size to put my postage stamp video feed into the stream.  At this point I am juggling back and forth between 320 wide and 240 wide, but before I do this for real I want to pretty up my twitch stream a bit with some artwork.  Right now this is just stock FFsplit with no real alterations.  However credit goes to Scopique, who told me this would be a much easier way to record videos…  it just took me months and months to actually fiddle with it.

Belazon Lives!

Diablo III 2014-03-08 18-41-05-93 The other big thing to come from this weekend is that I managed to push my Barbarian to 60 in Diablo 3.  The irony of this is thanks to a certain drop, I have completely shifted focus in the way I play it.  Previously I had been all about dual wield and cleave, using rend to soak back up some health.  However it was either Friday or Saturday night that I got a truly amazing drop that caused me to completely change my build for it.  I ended up getting the level 59 version of the “Three Hundredth Spear” to drop, which buffs my throwing damage by 55% and my ancient spear damage by 59%.  So as a result I completely rearranged my abilities to be able to use this and now I am more of a hoplite build with spear and shield.  Funny how my pure melee class ended up turning into a ranged.

Overall it works extremely well, and I can throw out some truly silly damage on a boss fight.  At one point Saturday the trio shown above were working our way through the various bosses in the game, letting Ashgar get the achievement for killing them all wearing nothing but blues.  At this point I was using the Boulder Toss rune for Ancient Spear, and it was insane to watch the bosses health move significantly each time a boulder landed.  The only problem with this rune is that it changes the functionality of ancient spear significantly.  The thing I like the most about it is that it acts almost like a League of Legends skill shot, in that if you can line up a bunch of mobs in a “wave” you can burn through them quickly as your ancient spear will hit each of them in a row.

Diablo III 2014-03-08 22-42-21-30 I was never really a big fan of the Amazon in Diablo 2, but so far my Belazon build seems to be pretty enjoyable.  While on a “role”-bending trick, I decided to start a baby mage and attempt to go for the melee mage build.  While functional, it just doesn’t feel like a class I would really enjoy.  I don’t really like feeling like a glass cannon, and apart from a few shield abilities the class has really weak survival.  In my few minutes of playing with my friend Tibuant, I died several times… when I have maybe died twice in total on my Barbarian.  I think it might be a class that is enjoyable to solo on, because many of my deaths were simply because Tib and I were not really in sync while playing.  He would be off in one direction and I would be off in another, which always ended up with me getting swarmed.  I think until the Crusader actually gets unlocked I will mostly piddle around on my Monk and Barbarian attempting to get paragon levels.

Married at the House of Vacuums

Belgarde Keep

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

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

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

Toxic Love

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

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

norexmanningday

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

Married at the House of Vacuums

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

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

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

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

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

Me and My Tentacle

I Hate the NDA

Trove 2014-02-01 09-26-43-06I know you are thinking, “of course you hate them, you are a blogger” and to some extent yes that is the source of my frustration.  However more than that I feel like in the internet age they are defeatist.  We are in an age when people are actively ready to hand you their cash to participate in a pretty buggy experience.  Look at how popular the Steam Early access process has been to date, and just how many people are actively playing games that are not close to being launched yet.  I started playing Minecraft during really early beta and it was roughly two years before the game “officially” launched… all the while there was so much enjoyment to be had in the process of the alpha.  Each step of the way it was the constant stream of videos that got people pumped to be playing it.

At any given time I am in a number of alpha and beta testing processes for video games.  It has been a thing that I have done for years, and it seems like the more you test the more you get to test.  In the case of two of those I am amped and ready to be gushing about those games and posting cool info about them.  The problem is both of those are under pretty strict NDA processes.  They moment they lift however I will be off to the races with information in hand ready to post.  What the NDA seems to cause right now is an era of disinformation.  Folks who you assume are in testing can make comments like “I wouldn’t get your hopes up” here and there… without actually touching their NDA guidelines and cause a negative buzz for the game before it even launches.

The Open Model

The negative seems to stick with us more than the positive, and it seems like everyone knows someone who knows someone who doesn’t like this game or that game and is more than willing to give you their laundry list of reasons in private.  This I guess is why Trove has been so unbelievably refreshing.  The official forums are Reddit, and from day one we have been able to post whatever the hell we wanted about the game.  They know it is alpha, but they also are super transparent about the information.  Yesterday they released the Gunslinger class seen above, and sure it is buggy but it is damned cool seeing the first additional class in the game come to fruition.

Thing is… we’ve known this was coming for some time.  They have talked about it in the live streams, on reddit… posted various tidbits of information.  So the community that has sprung up around this game was ready and waiting with open arms to see this new class and the new batch of player created weapons that would spring out of it.  What this open model does is general some serious evangelism for your game, which is a good thing.  People what to play games that other people are having fun playing.  The above video is the entire reason why I started playing Minecraft.

Were it not for the X’s Adventures in Minecraft series of videos, I probably never would have gotten onto the Minecraft bandwagon at least not until EVERYONE was playing it.  There was something so simple about the game play I saw and infectious but only because the person doing the lets play videos was so open and engaging about what he was doing.  Games can really benefit from this simple grass roots support, and I feel like this is going to play a larger and larger role in getting folks into new games over time.  I am sure we are also entering the era of the video casting shill…  and we have seen a certain measure of that in the media recently with the payola scandal going on within the xbox one videocasters.  All of this said… I just feel like right now the NDA does more harm than good.  When a new game comes out, people crave information about it… and if the game company themselves won’t provide it, this is a great niche for the evangelists to fill.

Me and My Tentacle

Wow-64 2014-01-29 23-06-53-81 I admit it… I just wanted a reason to name this post something goofy.  Over in WoW I have spent a lot of time soloing old content for fun and profit.  Namely I have been seeking the pets and mounts that drop in older content.  I believe i spoke about my surprise that I could actually solo the Twin Emperors finally in AQ40 which had been the only road block from regularly soloing this instance.  When I took down C’Thun I got one of those items I had always wanted to get back when we were raiding.  The Vanquished Tentacle of C’Thun is a trinket that on use summons a Tentacle of C’Thun to come fight by your side for 30 seconds.  Even back in the day this was mostly a novelty item… since it was stationary and as a result really not that useful unless you were fighting a mob that stood completely still.  However how freakin cool is it to summon a tentacle on demand?

Another bit of madness I have engaged upon recently is trying to work my way through the Argent Tournament.  Look I know you are all saying… why did you not do that in Wrath?  Well I am bad at doing daily quest grinds…  I always have a million other things I would rather be doing than dailies.  So I piddled at them from time to time… but mostly I just hated the jousting mechanic.  Now however it seems like that mechanic can be cheesed by the fact that I am a well geared level 90.  Luckily I think I only have Gnomeregan and Darnasas left before I can get the tabard, which it is cool to have a port to Northrend.  However this is something I am doing mostly for the large number of pets and mounts you can get.  Not sure how super seriously I will take this, I doubt it will become a daily ritual like the Netherwing grind did.  Right now I have a lot of different games that I ant to be playing, but this is my next faction “goal”.

Sneaky McSneakybits

Persistent Stuff

Trove 2014-01-29 06-10-34-60 It has been quite a while since I last talked about Trove on my blog.  For a bit I had been recording regular segments of me exploring the world, then after roughly six of them I just stopped.  Namely this coincides with me getting super into World of Warcraft raiding for a bit.  I however have continued to explore the game each time they add a new build.  At this point it is hard to remember exactly what the state of the game was when I last talked about it.  Currently we have fully persistent cornerstones, and you can see mine on the right-hand side of the image above.  It is still very much a work in progress, but essentially I was trying to maximize the space available and still look like something I could pick out at a distance as “mine”.

Currently there are four levels above ground and two below ground, the first of which below has my workbench and block transmuter thingy.  One of the cool things that they added in within the last few patches is the ability for your crafting inventory to survive between server resets.  This means I finally have a real reason to mass harvest materials for use later, since I am not constantly losing everything each time a patch goes in.  My biggest wish however is that we could craft some weapons to replace the starter crap.  Each time the server resets I rush around trying to get decent enough weapons to leave the first tier zones.  In this present patch it feels like maybe they nerfed the drop rates a bit, as I slaughter a few dozen ladybugs and bees this morning and have gotten nothing at all but cubits… the crafting currency.

Another cool thing they are doing is replacing the in game weapon drops with ones created by players.  When you get an item, it now says who the weapon was created by.  It was pretty cool the other night when I got a nifty rapier drop and noticed it was created by a friend of mine CaptainCursor.  Since the community is relatively small at present, this adds a whole new level to the game since you are constantly running into things created by names you recognize.  You can check out the latest patch notes over on the Trove reddit.

Sneaky McSneakybits

rift 2014-01-29 06-31-43-93 Yeah I have no clue why I named this subsection and the blog post this…  brain does things sometimes.  Last night my most important mission was to finish leveling my rogue to 60, and consume all of the various loot boxes I had gathered up along the way.  At some point they made it so that you are guaranteed a lockbox of some sort from your weekly patron gift.  Since my warrior Belghast is already fairly well geared, or at least well enough to begin raiding…  I figured I would stockpile them to give my rogue a quick gear boost upon dinging.  Turns out it worked pretty well at doing just that.  Between the lockboxes and about 50 plat in select purchases I was able to get well past the 300 hit requirement for expert dungeons.  I did not however get to run one as we spent a good chunk of the evening out and about last night.

In theory the queue should go pretty fast since I am equally comfortable Barding it up as support or going dps as either my Marksman spec or my Nightblade primary dps one.  Going back and playing rift has made me realize just how much I love the Rift Rogue and truly dislike playing a WoW Rogue.  While I got Gloam to 90, and I am extremely happy I did so that I could do the living steel transmutes I needed to craft my Sky Golem…  I really don’t think he is going to get much play.  Quite simply put…  Belgarou my feral druid is a better rogue than my rogue is…  or is at least a more interesting one.   I have just come to realize I don’t really like the way rogues in wow play.  Not sure what it is about the play style but it just isn’t for me anymore, especially now that I feel other classes like Retribution Paladin do the rogue combo point thing better.

Ultimately my key frustration with WoW rogues is that combo points are built in the target instead of a buff that stacks on the rogue itself.  Warhammer Online got this right initially with the Witchhunter class, which was by all purposes a “better” rogue.  I realize at this point the combo points on target thing is tradition, but it simply does not work that well.  While saying the Rift rogue is better, is a bit disingenuous since it is essentially a wow rogue, hunter, druid, and a few other classes that don’t exist in wow rolled into one.  I think the main reason why it “works” better is that the combo point mechanism is on the rogue, not the mob.  This adds a bunch of interesting gameplay elements like building your combo points on the boss, and then using your combo dump to execute weaker encounters.  It is just at this point that the WoW rogue seems so much less interesting than the other “Rogue like” combo point classes.

Onyxia Mount Patrol

Wow-64 2014-01-29 06-49-55-23 After the time in Trove and Rift, I settled in for a little bit of Tuesday raid reset madness over in World of Warcraft.  For better or worse, there are several raids that I solo each week on multiple characters for an attempt at the various pets, tansmoggy bits, and every elusive mounts.  The start of each week tends to be me making the trek out to Dustwallow Marsh to beat up on Onyxia.  First off I have to bitch a little bit, because post Cataclysm they have made it a royal pain in the ass to get to Onyxia for Alliance players.  The fastest route I have figured out is fly straight south out of Stormwind, hop the boat at Booty Bay, and then fly to Dustwallow from there.  All of that involves flying across several zones and hoping that you happen to arrive at Booty Bay just in time to land on the boat.

Of course like normal she didn’t drop me a mount, or anything else of interest for that matter but at this point I can easily solo her as Retribution Paladin and Frost Deathknight, so I do this little interchange twice a week.  I need to cycle through some of my other characters and see if I can build a spec for them that can bring her out of the air in phase two.  I might be able to gather up enough timeless isle gear to make a passable Boomkin spec on my druid, and I think in theory I could probably do it on as Enhancement Shaman.  I do not think however that my Rogue or Warrior will be of much use in my quest for her mount.  I need to check with my friend Rylacus and see if he has any master tips for dropping her out of the air.  The one time I tried to do the fight as a Blood DK it literally took 30 minutes for my diseases/icy touch/deathcoil to do enough damage to get her back on the ground.

The highlight of the evening in WoW however was me flying over to Ahn’Qiraj on a whim.  Turns out that I now have enough physical damage to solo the Twin Emperors fight.  This had long been a stumbling block for me when it came to soloing AQ40.  The other big hurdle was viscidious, however since I dual wield frost… I simply switched my razorice enchanted one-hander to my main hand and that seemed to do the trick for shattering him.  Past that howling blast was more than enough frost damage to freeze the big blob.  I am still missing two pets from this place, so I can see adding it to the weekly faff farming rotation.  I did not really have time to do my BWL run on my paladin, I am still missing a few pieces of judgement… so I am sure over the next few days I will be getting that in.  Since the eggs are a pain in the ass on anyone other than my Deathknight, I generally grab a random person from the guild who needs transmoggy bits before venturing into the dungeon.  My hope is to find a time when Scarybooster can be online, and drag his butt through with them.

Veritech Pilots Unite!

Profundity is Gone

For those that followed me during the recent couple day bump of new readers…  I am rarely as cogent or pointed as those topics come off as.  Most of the time the Tales the Aggronaut spins are yarns of faffing about and doing scattered things in the games I play.  That is not to say that I won’t again be overcome with feels and post something dreadfully important, but most of the time I just ramble on about whatever is in my mind.  This is the side effect of my whole “blog every morning” crusade I embarked upon nearly a year ago.  So if you have a limited appetite for game ramblings, I apologize ahead of time.

My office right now is like a magma chamber, and I am not really sure how long I can keep up this mornings post before I wither and melt away.  The heating and air system in our house is pretty horrific, and for some reason there are two heat vents in my very small office.  As much as I have tried to block them off completely… the heat continues to radiate through the wall.  So the rushed feeling I am having is likely going to cause this to be one of my extra “special” mornings.  Right now all I can say is thank god it is the weekend… and even though I have to pull a wi-fi miracle out of my hat tomorrow…  I am ready to be done with work for the week.

Veritech Pilots Unite!

Wow-64 2014-01-23 16-27-11-42 One of the side projects that has been underway for roughly a month is the coordinating of my crafting cooldowns each day in order to eventually produce the amazing Sky Golem mount.  I realize I am way behind the times in getting it crafted, but hell it is news to me.  Last night I managed to make the last two components and then went on an absolutely giddy flight around the Vale.  I loves it so much in all of its mechanical glory.  I feel like a Veritech pilot from Macross/Robotech.  For the next few weeks every single character of mine will be zipping around on this goblin machination.  Then I am sure like always I will get bored and pick a new mount for a few weeks.

I have already set my sights on the next big crafting project.  I am a horrible engineer… or at least I have traditionally been a very poor one.  I never raised the bankroll to get my chopper back in Wrath, and during the expansions after I simply lost sight on it as a goal.  Now my intent is to farm up everything I can farm and then raise the required monetary commitment to craft one of these puppies.  Not that I think I will ever actually use it… I have so many cool ground mounts like the Fiery Warhorse’s Reins or Rein’s of the Swift Spectral Tiger that I am always anxious to break out when I am in a flight limited area.  I feel like getting a chopper is just one of those things I want to do moreso than really have a reason to do.

Blackwing Descent

Wow-64 2014-01-23 19-41-34-38Finally on the silly activities front, several of us were hanging out on mumble last night.  The question was posed… how many people would it take to clear the old raids, namely Blackwing Descent.  I surmised that we could probably limp by on three, 1 tank, 1 healer, 1 dps.  Next thing I know we are on our way to blackrock mountain and giving it a try.  Thing is… I remember nothing about this raid at all really.  Granted while we were doing it several things came back, but I had literally not see any content past the first two bosses.  I left WoW shortly after the launch of Cataclysm and at that point we had only managed to down Magmaw and Omnomitron (yes I know that isn’t the name).  So for the most part it was a completely new place for me.

We of course entered for the purest of faffing reasons…  the druid in our party wanted these shoulders for transmog.  I myself would not have minded getting an Ashkandi 2.0 to drop, simply because the fidelity of the weapon is so much higher than the one I keep in my bank for transmoggy goodness.  All in all the run went pretty smoothly.  We struggled a few times, including several attempts at Chimaeron just trying to figure out how to work the fight mechanics.  For whatever reason my purgatory talent seemed to be glitching out the key fight mechanic, so I popped outside real quick and summoned my vendor mount  and changed that talent. 

The trippy fight honestly was Nefarian because I was the only one to survive the initial flood everything in lava phase.  So for the most part I solo’d a good chunk of that fight, namely the swimming around the room in lava killing the guys on the platforms phase.  Then the monk healer and I duo’d the final kite him around the room phase.  Since it was a 10 man fight, we only had one battle rez, and as such it seemed like a better idea to rez the healer than the druid dps.  It was a fun night and I could see myself doing it again.  I am really hoping that we can mostly trio the rest of the content.  Funny enough we managed to get an achievement during the process without really intending to.  I really want to go off and do firelands so I can hopefully get my druid friend his fire kitty.

On Wings of Nether

Low Graphical Fidelity

Since this is a patch day that happened to start super early… aka 5 am my time… and I don’t wake up until 5:30 I will not be having any screenshots that are not recycled or otherwise blatantly borrowed.  Since I was off yesterday I simply did not think ahead.  For me at least it feels like Monday… even though it really is legitimately Tuesday.  Maybe this is the way my Aussie friends feel since they perpetually live in the future.  Today’s post is going to involve a whole lot of faffitude, so be prepared.

For those who have not been following the news of all that is faffing about…  you have potentially mentioned that @AlternativeChat has declared that 2014 is the “Year of Faff”.  Tales of the Aggronaut is one of the many blogs that now proudly sport the badge on our sidebars.  While I am proudly participating, for me at least 2013 will be the year of Faff in that it was the year that the Godmother of Faff brought the term front and center in the collective consciousness that is the “blogosphere”. 

Faff is a term that has been in my vocabulary for some time, and not always in an extremely positive context.  When my friends and I had to jump through a whole bunch of meaningless hoops to accomplish something it would often be described as a “whole lot of faffing about”.  What has changed during 2013 and the start of 2014 is that “Faff” has become a proper destination for the evening.  Realizing this has added greatly to the overall enjoyment of games like World of Warcraft that are so chock full of fluff that you cannot go more than a few in game feet without encountering something that could be worth achievement points or something that you have yet to collect.  If for no other reason, I salute @AlternativeChat for realigning our vocabulary and taking what used to be a negative and turning it very much into a positive.

On Wings of Nether

Netherdrake_choice_noPCOver the last few weeks I have been working feverishly each night on completing my Netherwing Dailies.  As I have said before for whatever reason, during the Burning Crusade this is a grind I never participated in.  In truth more than anything it is likely thanks to the fact that during Burning Crusade I lived in a perpetual state of broke.  As a raid tank, pretty much every spare gold I had went to my volumes of repair bills.  These repair bills have decreased greatly over the last few expansions, but back then it was not unheard of that I would rack up 100-200g in repairs a night, and in BC money that was quite the little fortune.  As a result I never really had the money to get my epic flight training, which was required to start the Netherwing quests in the first place.

To be truthful, I likely never would have gotten it were not for a contrived scheme to get me my epic training.  A friend of mine started a guild lottery, where we would send him raw materials and he would turn around and auction house the materials and pool it up to fund epic flying mounts for people.  The first one apparently was universally rigged, as everyone colluded behind the scenes to give it to me.  Thankfully through this welfare flying program we managed to buy at least a half dozen epic flying mounts, and I believe the final number was a bit closer to ten.  However this was pretty late in the expansion and I never ended up going out and starting this grind.  In part I was a bit slowed by the fact that my main at the time had no harvesting skill, and as such had no daily quest for turning in that.

War Bear Time

amani-war-bear Needless to say yesterday mid evening I managed to finish out exalted and got the On Wings of Nether achievement.  You get one mount free for completing the achievement, but I quickly flew out to Shadowmoon Valley and snatched up the other 5 for what now seems like the extremely cheap price of 180g.  This puts me I think a a half dozen mounts away from We’re Going to Need More Saddles.  There are so many farmed mounts that I am lacking, that I need to just buckle down and start farming away. Over the course of the weekend however I did manage to get one of these mounts that have elluded me.

Back in Burning Crusade we farmed more Karazhan than I really care to think about, but after we had used up all of the Medivh goodness, we set our sites on the newly released Zul’Aman.  Over the course of the expansion we got better and better at this dungeon, but never quite had the gear and strategy needed to get through a successful bear mount run.  We got really close a few times… I remember one time we were less than a minute away from the mount.  Something would always go wrong and fate conspired to keep me from my prize.  During Wrath of the Lich King, I really have no clue why but I never went back and attempted getting the mount.

When they redid the dungeon during Cataclysm, I was unfortunately not playing the game… so I completely missed my chance to get the mount legitimately again.  For fear that they might eventually simply do away with the mount I decided that I needed to set my sights on this mount and just get it over with.  I realize there are subtle differences between the mount you earned at 70 and the mount you can get today… but I don’t really care.  It is a big freaking bear with horns and spikey bits.  I will likely be proudly riding this mount around for awhile, as it has officially offset my Spectral Tiger as my normal mount of choice.  Now I just need to pick a new victim, and start working towards farming up that mount.  Starting to thing the Barons Charger is a likely candidate.

Date with Dragons

Feeding Tradeskills

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Last night was a prime night for faffing.  I started the evening by doing my semi-regular ghost iron farming run to feed my daily cooldowns on my blacksmith, engineer and transmuter.  I have figured out that it is just simply easier to farm up a bunch of ghost iron and then turn around the transmute it to trillium than trying to play the mining lottery to get equal amounts of black and white trillium.  In about 15-20 minutes I can farm up a big stack of ore and then funnel that off to each of the professions so I can do my daily crafts.  Right now I am funneling all these resources towards two things.  Firstly I am stockpiling materials so that I can make myself a Sky Golem, which when I saw it I knew I had to have one.

Secondly I am stockpiling the rare smithing material in order to make the tanky belt… the only problem is I have yet to unlock the tanky belt through the daily crafts.  As a result I have more than enough Balanced Trillium Ingot’s to make one, but I figure I can use items for all of my melee characters.  So this becomes a daily disappointment as I log in and craft an ingot only to see that I did not yet learn the Protector’s Trillium Waistguard.  I could craft the legs, but that would currently break up my four piece set bonus…  so that is not a thing I am willing to do just yet.

Date with Dragons

WoW-64 2014-01-15 06-45-23-84

Once I finished with my tradeskills I worked my way through the daily Netherwing quests.  Curently I am a good way into revered so here is hoping by the end of the week I will be zipping around on a new flight of Netherwing drakes.  Honestly I am mostly doing this for the fact that it adds 6 mounts to my grand total, and less that I actually think I will use one of the drakes.  Back in the day I never did the quest chain because I thought they looked goofy.  For whatever reason I cannot look at a Netherwing drake without thinking of a shark because of the way their nose is shaped.  Right now my absolute favorite dragon seems to be the one I picked up from Stonecore.  To be honest farming up the Vitreous Stone Drake was far easier than I could have imagined, since it drops on normal mode.

I finished off the night running Onyxia a few times, with no luck on getting that mount, and then popped into Blackwing Lair with a friend.  While I really like the blue judgment set that came from the opening of Wrath of the Lich King event… I would still like to own a full set of the original Judgment.  As a result I have been clearing Blackwing Lair weekly trying for the various visual pieces.  So far I only have the chest and shoulders, but that doesn’t leave that many visual pieces left, one of which I will hopefully get from Onyxia.  Mostly since my paladin is now a Dranei, and boots no longer show up…  I am mostly trying for the gloves.  While I got no judgment, I did manage to get my mage friend robes and shoulders for his set.

Zoning Out

I am guessing that I did not get a very good nights sleep last night, because as I sit here writing this mornings post I find myself constantly zoning out.  I can seem to only manage a paragraph before my mind starts wandering again.  As a result I think I am going to cut this off here a bit abruptly.  I am still feeling a bit under the weather and yesterday it felt like maybe I pushed myself a little too far.   I went through a flurry of activity when I got home, and crashed in my recliner shortly after and was pretty much useless the rest of the night.  I was offered spots on two different raids last night, and I ended up turning both down because I just didn’t feel like I could give vaguely close to my normal effort.  I feel like I made the right choice, but hopefully I did not put off the people who offered me a spot from future offerings.

Comfort Gaming

Tamiflu Chasers

Over the last several days I have talked about my own respiratory misery.  My focus over this time had been on somehow surviving through to Friday and not making a complete and total ass of myself during my presentation.  It seems that I was at least somewhat successful in that mission, however during all of this time I seem to have neglected the fact that my wife had been getting progressively worse.  It reached a head last night when at bedtime she was running a 101* temperature.  This morning she teetered back and forth on whether or not we should go to urgent care.

For those not familiar with the absolutely fucked up medical system here in the United States… Urgent Care is this weird beast that sits somewhere between your doctors office and the actual emergency room.  The idea is to create a construct that allows you to get after hours emergency style treatment for non-life-threatening ailments.  In the master plan the insurance providers tend to treat these like doctors office visits, and as such you only have to pay one neat co-pay.  The problem is… they are insanely deluged with patients.  Our local Urgent Care place opens at 9 am on Saturday, and we were there mere moments after opening… and the waiting room was already completely filled.

I dropped my wife off at her suggestion, and ran around running errands in the meantime.  We are both a bit concerned that I will catch something since firstly… I was born with a naturally weakened immune system, and secondly… that my lungs are already in a pretty severely compromised state.  I felt like an ass for her waiting alone, but she and I texted back and forth throughout the morning.  At roughly 10:30 I picked her up and she was brandishing a prescription for tamiflu.  She was in fact diagnosed with the real life full blown Flu, and unfortunately despite my yearly flu shot this puts me in a pretty bad place for likely catching it from her.

As a result I am in the process this morning of trying to get ahold of my own primary care physician to attempt to procure a preventative prescription for tamiflu as well.  Needless to say my morning did not go anywhere near planned and as a result I am finally sitting down to write a blog post.  With all the excitement I don’t really have a whole lot to say.  Or at least nothing more exciting than what has already transpired.

Comfort Gaming

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One of the best things I have discovered in the past year is the Alternative Chat podcast.  If you are not in fact already an avid listener you should make steps to rectify that.  In the latest episode the Godmother of Faff mentions a term that is so uniquely perfect, that I am shocked I had never heard it used before now.  “Comfort Gaming” is a concept that is very near and dear to my heart, but I never really had an adequate term for it.  There are so many gaming experiences that I can return to time and time again when I am in the need of some solace.  Here in Oklahoma we are big on “comfort food” with our heaping piles of mashed potatoes and white gravy and our chicken fried steak.  This same concept applied to gaming also makes sense.

I guess in a way WoW is my comfort gaming.  I spent so much time trying to move past the game, but in fighting it I was denying the fact that I really did enjoy it and the people who play it.  Sure there are so many games out there that do one thing or another so much better than the World of Warcraft.  Games like Rift are pinnacles of technical brilliance with their deep systems within systems.  However something just gets lost in the translation at times, and in all of my years of wandering between games I have found another game that fullfilled so many of the little high points I have looked for in a single package.  Playing wow, questing, farming, exploring, collecting transmoggy bits, soloing old world content… all feels comfy.

Crawling back into the game this time was like breaking out that worn out pair of jeans that just feels amazing.  There is nothing new under the sun in wow, and it is not exactly a pinnacle of innovation…  but what you have here is a really great mix of fun ways to spend your time.  I created my WoW Bucket list as a way to have something to fall back on when I got bored.  Thing is with the great number of people I have assembled in my guild… I have yet to really get bored enough to search on the list for some purpose.  Purpose seems to find me constantly in either helping someone else out or getting a wild whim that I want to follow.

So as I embrace the year of faff, I am also embracing “comfort gaming”.  WoW is by no means the only comfort game I have.  I find myself able to crawl back into the Fallout or Elder Scrolls worlds and get lost for an entire afternoon at a time.  Similarly I am deeply looking forward to the release of Elder Scrolls Online… because that universe is one I supremely love.  However saying that, I have no real intent to abandon the World of Warcraft.  It scratches an itch for me, and in part is that way because of the amazing people that are playing it.  While I could never play a game only for the people… the mixture of absolute fun activities and amazing folks makes the game as sticky as ever for me.