Blaugust Day 21 – Anti-Motivation and Other Things

Well. I guess instead of moaning about it on Twitter as I’ve been doing for the last half-hour, I might as well moan about my lack of motivation here — especially since my lack of motivation includes the lack of motivation to write a blog post, so complaining about my lack of motivation with my waffly skills should use up at least 200 words, by which time I’ll be 40% there. (There being the Blaugust 10-sentence, 2-paragraph, to-my-mind 500-words-ish rule of content requirement.)

Twitter has been no help at all — well, except for TAGN, who alone responded to my plea for help — and maybe MrC, who totally enabled my displacement activity.

gotnotmotivation

Apparently some people actually have lives and jobs and things to do on a cool and breezy Friday morning other than post a week’s worth of Tweets in an hour. Or provide a desperate blogger with post ideas. Or, better yet, write them for her.

OMG there it is! I should have found myself a guest blogger! That would have been such a cool thing to do for Blaugust, too! Curses.

In the spirit of carpe diem, does anyone want to do a guest post on an incredibly high-profile, Jon Stewart reads this, up-to-the-second, content-stuffed bloggy mountain of infinite delights? If so, apply to the Huffington Post. If you’d rather an obscure cavern of confusion, apply here.

You’ll get acclaim, pride, self-confidence and the absolute guarantee of no free T-Shirt ever. And you’ll be the first guest poster here. (And quite possibly the last.) (Despite the tone, this is a serious offer.)

[Okay, 238 words, only 262 to go. I can do this!!]

TAGN inspires, I perspire

Under the Drunder You Go

Drunder Prison-World may be the most awesome thing ever… It’s basically EQ2’s answer to Lord of the Flies or Escape from New York* with 8,000 Snake Plissken wannabes. You can read the whole post for yourselves, but the basic idea is that the biggest asshats in EQ2 will find their entire account banished to an exile server from which they may never escape, as determined by Customer Service GMs. People can also opt for a one-time, no-refund, one-way transfer to Drunder if they think they’re hard enough. People also have to have a paid subscription account to EQ2 for this, which is just kind of weird. Because the rest of the scheme is totally not weird.

Aside from the obvious issue of let’s-just-make-a-new-account-they’ll-never-know-it’s-me-bwahaha, which I assume they’ve thought of (no of course I haven’t read the entire thread, what am I, made of time?), and the inevitable whining that will ensue when people transfer over for a lark and are forcibly made to understand the meaning of the term “one-way only”, does this have a chance of working at all? My guess would be asshat players will either find a new account to be an asshat on, or will find a new game to be an asshat on; of course if they pick the latter it’s no longer the EQ2 staff’s bailiwick so problem solved.

At any rate it’s a new idea in an industry that always needs new ideas, and it could lead to some interesting server-ruleset variations if this experiment works. And if it removes the worst offenders that’s a good thing. Not that I have any idea who the worst offenders are or what they have to do to earn that dubious distinction. Even in EQ2, which is one game where I follow global channels, I don’t follow the global-global channel because it’s invariably full of over-sharers, eejits, or crashing bores who think they aren’t.

My favourite MMO mount

Hrm. All of them. Okay, probably this one — as the mount you can’t actually ride except for 10 seconds in a specific zone with a one-hour cooldown. (Can you say L-A-M-E?)

Shinri

I’m terribly boring when it comes to mounts. I like to get the weird and wonderful ones but when it comes to actually getting around I’m 100% utilitarian. They need to move without too much jerk, wobble or bounce (yes, the mounts), they need to not fill my entire screen (Pandaclysm dragon-mounts FTW), and they need to match my outfits — by which I usually mean my pets. So here’s my most common mount in WoW, which probably counts as my favourite.

winterspringers

A crafting profession memory!

That’s easy. All of them. I’m a crafter in games, it’s what I am as much as what I do, and any adventuring that happens (including levelling, in most games) is an incidental by-product. Most of my EQ2 characters are max-level crafters — or were an expansion or 2 ago — but haven’t made it out of the teens or twenties for adventuring. I had no less than three accounts for SWG back in the one-account/one-character days so that I could experience all the crafting professions. I pick games based on their crafting options — and yes, I’ve been disappointed many, many times. Which doesn’t mean I don’t play games where the crafting sucks (WoW is an obvious example), but it does feel sort of like playing with half a game. And so we segue neatly into…

Why is there so much Cheese in WoW?

Because cheese is awesome. Because cheese is better than cake and better than pie, as I have stated before (see the no free T-shirt link above if you really want linkage). Because a world without cheese might as well be a world without air. My glorious leader said so:

How do you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?

Yes, I’m French. What of it? You wanna take this to Drunder? EDIT — WordPress is either Francophile or Anti-French. It ate my DeGaulle caption. But since it was about cheese, maybe WordPress just really likes cheese. Thanks for spotting that TAGN!

– – – – – – – – – –

* I totally made that reference before I’d read TAGN’s post about it. GMTA or something.

Blaugust Day 19 – ARK: lazy blogging day pix

It’s my turn to claim that if a picture is worth 1000 words, you’re about to get way more than I should need to write in a single day. That’s because a) it’s already late in the day and the later it gets, the less I want to write and b) there’s only so many different ways I can say “…and a dinosaur killed me and devoured my corpse.”

I did do and learn a few things yesterday though, the first being that for all my maniacal crowing (here’s a reminder:)

quoting myself

the server options shockingly only affect server-based games and not single-player games.

Bummer.

The second was that telling literally the whole freaking world (well, Twitter), first thing in the morning, how you’re going to spend the entire day in a blissed-out gaming state is guara-fucking-teed to screw up said day.

Third: Setting up a server for myself and the spousal unit to play on wasn’t as easy as it looked, until I found better instructions and this handy-dandy utility: ARK Server Manager. Get it. Use it. I spent a couple of hours faffing around with firewall and router settings and didn’t even need to since it’ll do that for you. I was wrong. You DO have to open those ports on your router but the walkthrough you’re pointed to is excellent.

ARK server manager 2
Click for larger version

Just be sure to point your “Installation Location:” to your existing ARK install (generally SteamSteamAppscommonARK) and not some other folder — I thought it was asking for something else until I realised it was redownloading the whole bloody game (not on my internet connection, you don’t!). And if it doesn’t enter the required ports (orange boxes above), make sure those are entered.

The utility lets you set ALL the variables for the server and then some – the screenie below is just the first quarter of them.

ARK server manager
Click for larger version

Also, if you run your own server, know that it takes a while to get up and running — especially the first time. Mine currently takes about 2 minutes to get going but that’ll vary depending on your rig. Finally, if you find you’re getting timed out a lot once you’re playing on your server, set the client bandwidth to lower than epic — which you have to do from within the game since I assume it’s a local setting; worked like a charm for us.

Fourth: When you brag about how you’re going to play all day, you should know that there will be a patch. It’s a law of gaming. And lo, as soon as the server was set up, there was a patch.

And because I was running the server, my patch was corrupt. So here’s another thing about running a server: shut the server down before you patch. If you get a corruption, shut down the server and just let Steam run the validation; it’ll redo the patch and things will be fine. And if you have a decent internet connection you won’t have to get so mad that you have to clean a parrot cage (no, this is not a euphemism) just to channel your fury into something more constructive than whining on Twitter.

When I finally did get on it was kinda late in the day. The spousal unit and Ysh 3.0 spawned into South Zone 1 to see a brontosaurus happily clomping around crushing every tree in sight. Then we got repeatedly killed by a (to quote him) dildosaurus but was in fact a dilophosaur — yes, the same wee bastards that killed me before. He left to go watch TV but I persevered and have a few screenshots to prove it.

Turns out third time might be the charm — I did not get killed (after the first 3 times), I got revenge on the wee bastard, and I made a house!!11oneone!! There. You may now switch channels, the rest is just pix.

bronto invader
Not a dino you can easily push out of the way.
Note: do not light its foot on fire by mistake while demonstrating a torch to the SO

A quick note: Ysharros 3.0 does not have Thunder-butt, to quote @Wolfy. Men can be so judgy! Maybe just Minor Tremor Butt, because I refuse to make females who look like stick-figures with hot-air balloons stuck to their chests. (Only men make female characters like that in games, BTW.)

Take THAT, dildodocus!
Take THAT, dildodocus!
very very dark
This is what night is like without a torch or fire nearby
fire good
Fire good! And house half-built
ill cut you
If you get near my house I’ll CUT you!
house 1 done
House 1 done. And fancy Indy hat.

I promise I will write about something other than ARK tomorrow.

Maybe.

PS: See how what I’m playing right now fits really well into my Gaming To-Do List? That’s my 6% conscientiousness showing its true colours right there.

Blaugust Day 15 – Dying is Educational

In Project: Gorgon*, you get xp every time you die in a new and interesting way. Which, given the name of this blog, really means I should play this game from now until the end of time, or at least until I give up on the blog. Though in all honesty my corpses aren’t particularly stylish yet since I’m wearing the noob stuff you get just for showing up.

I did not get a play much in my first session — an hour or so — but that was fun nonetheless. Bhagpuss did a much more comprehensive and entertaining post about it a few days ago, and I find I agree with him on the humour though it seemed to tickle me a bit more than it did him. A lot of descriptions and dialogue snippets in Project: Garden are quite silly, but intentionally so, and I happen to be a big fan of silly things, silly people and silly places (Camelot, for instance).

My plan to log in at the crack of dawn this morning and PLAY ALL DAMN DAY BECAUSE I AM AN ADULT AND NOBODY CAN TELL ME OTHERWISE ON MY DAY OFF (and all caps makes me sound more mature)… did not work out. I was called on by that Real Life game again, and then, quite unexpectedly, I got sucked into a time loop where I ended up playing Loot & Legends for *coughcough* hours. (I think it’s only an iDevice thing right now.)

You have to understand, I’m new to this whole mobile games thing. I didn’t get a smartphone until last year, not from any Luddite leanings but because we lived in an area with no signal to speak of and why for should I spend $100+ a month for nothing? And I didn’t get a tablet till this year (I don’t count the Kindle, even the Fire), because reasons. Then I got an iPad and now I’m discovering what I’ve been missing, which is how to totally waste my life on things that want to suck my real-life money every second I play them.

I spent several years translating a number of these mobile games and, believe it or not, that’s a really good incentive to not play them much because you get to see the graspy underbelly even more clearly than while you’re playing them. But still, I had fun.

Anyway, I will be doing the Project: Gecko thing now, assuming an unexpected divine cartoon hand doesn’t reach down from above and make me do something else. It happens.

Gilliam_handVeering back to Project: Gumball**, I managed to die entertainingly twice (+100XP, yay!). This was after making an Elf, whose racial superskill seems to be sex-addiction and a strong preference for double-entendres, which I thought I could run with if and when I RP (or even talk to another player). Here she is.

Ysharros the Annoyed

Her name is Ysharros. I don’t know if there’s a friends list yet and I don’t even know how to speak in /say, but we can always gesture and grunt if we run into each other. And here she is dying the first time to a wolf so weak he could barely stand up. I’m pretty sure he died of starvation right after he killed me.

PG death 1I made it out of the tutorial cave (having picked up a couple of levels of Mycology skill in the process — see mushroom, will harvest) and to the nearest village. I have no idea if it has a name, but there were quite a few newbies there aside from me. I assume they were newbies because we were all wearing the freebie armour you get so that chickens don’t kill you. It’s very RED.

I almost got killed by some… psychic mantises? They were like mantises and they stunlocked me and almost chewed off my face before I managed to run away — and that was just one of the random houses in the village. After that I proceeded a little more cautiously and set the bar a great deal lower. I killed a couple of chickens (for feathers, to help out a local NPC), killed a couple of pigs (for snouts, ditto, which I didn’t get because I forgot you need the skinning skill, which you get by using a butchering knife, which I hasn’t bought), and killed a named pig whom I didn’t remember to immortalise in a screenie so we’re going to say he was called Mr. Snouty. He didn’t drop much of interest, certainly no pants yearning for the sea.

And that’s where I had to leave it. I’d be back there now if I didn’t have to write this blog post. Or play just one more round of Loot & Legends; I owe some troglodytes a rematch.

– – – – – – – – – –

* Can we please rename it Project: Gordon already? It’s all my fingers know how to type. Maybe I should set up auto-correct… but then, every time I write to my good buddy the Commish, I’ll call him Gorgon… sigh.

** This is almost as entertaining as getting Benedict Cumberbatch’s name wrong. If not as eye-candyish.

Blaugust Day 14 – Don't be a Jerk

TL;DR – Project Gorgon… no wait, we’ll do that tomorrow. Introvert vs extrovert: don’t be a dick. Oh hey, I should be fired (from MMORPG).

I sat down to post about Project: Gorgon, which I finally got round to trying out for an hour or so yesterday, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. I didn’t really get anything done other than being killed in a couple of interesting ways and trying to talk to a wolf who, shockingly, refused to respond in any way but by “Grrrr”.

As I was using my Google-fu to try and figure out where the game had put my screenshots, I saw that Twitter had some updates and clicked over to see this, from Aywren:

Click it. Watch the TED talk. Nod in agreement if introvert (vehemently in my case) or look bemused if extrovert.

And this scratched an old, old itch in my brain, one I still can’t reconcile and one which will presumably never change. Why is it that introverts can understand and empathise with extroverts, but the latter can’t seem to extend the same courtesy to us?

I’ve been here before. (I’m not going to add any other links because that post is dripping with them. The solo vs group introvert/extrovert debate has been going on since before some of you were born.)

Is it just a case of majority privilege? When white people — like me– in the West say we’re not aware of privilege, or when men say they’re not aware of it (especially white, anglo-saxon men), their saying they haven’t noticed something isn’t proof that it doesn’t exist. You may not have noticed that it’s raining but that doesn’t invalidate the fact that it is, actually, raining. (And don’t get me started on the fact versus opinion debate or we’ll be here all week.) Extroverts may not notice that pretty much everything around them is built for them, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Check out the TED talk, she’s much more eloquent about it than I am.

facts_huxleyI have no hard data but I’m pretty sure extroverts outnumber introverts*, just as group-type players outnumber solo-type players. And I will avoid the obvious fallacy of drawing a direct parallel between introvert and solo, and extrovert and group; even to me things aren’t that cut and dried. All the same, there are some definite parallels in terms of behaviour.

Extroverts tend to think everyone is like them — or if not, that they should be. My family has its fair share of both personality types, and it was my misfortune (and to be fair, my great good fortune) to be raised by a very extroverted mother. She claims to be an introvert but she recovers energy from being around people, which to me is one of the classic signs. She positively thrives on having people around. Me, I thrive madly for a very limited time, after which I become increasingly grumpy, bitchy, and anti-social. There comes a time when I have to physically get the hell away from everyone (or almost everyone) in order to feel like I can breathe again.

Point being, I get that my mother is like she is. I don’t tell her she needs to be more like me — I don’t even think it, because it’s pointless. She is what she is. There’s nothing wrong with being an extrovert.

And if that’s the case, why does it seem to be such a bad thing to be an introvert? Why does every last extrovert in the galaxy feel we introverts are somehow weird and mutated from the norm? My aunt (an introvert who spent her life pretending she was an extrovert and ended a bitter and angry woman) used to tell me literally ALL THE TIME to smile more. To look pretty. To smile. To not be so quiet. To not be in my corner. To smile…

spock-the-introvert-and-kirk-the-extrovert

To this day, being told to smile makes me want to punch something. Fortunately for the somethings I’m very conflict-avoidant and just punch myself mentally instead.

I’m generalising terribly here and I know it, but that’s because one can’t rant without drawing a few lines in the sand. So here are mine:

  • Extroverts: please, please try to understand (and empathise with) the fact that being around people, even people we love, is extremely exhausting for introverts. We are not like you. We should not have to be like you. If you desperately need other people, which I get that you do, then please find another extrovert to spend time with for a little while. Introverts are not closet extroverts who need to be dragged forcibly into the joy of in-your-face-ness.
  • Groupers: please try to understand that solo players often like to play by themselves, and respect that they do not have to justify this to you. Just because your playstyle is the majority one doesn’t mean we have to shoehorn ourselves into your mould. If you desperately need other people to play with, which I get that you do, then please find another grouper to spend time with for a little while. Just because solo players like to chat does not necessarily mean we’re frustrated groupers who just need to be taught how much better life would be if we could only learn to doublethink group all the time.
  • Introverts: please try to understand that extroverts aren’t really, literally, physically trying to suck the marrow from your soul. They can’t help being energetic around other people, it’s who they are. Understand that a little tact when needing alone-time can go a long way and that the OMFGGETTHEHELLAWAYFROMME! posture is the opposite of tact.
  • Solo players: please try to understand that groupers feel games are designed for them (you know, that MULTI- in MMO, because apparently ‘multi’ is synonymous with ‘always with others’) and that you are breaking the rules when you persist in wanting to play by yourself.

Okay fine, that last one was a bit obnoxious; but I am very, very tired of a battle that’s been going on for years. I will never surrender, which makes it even more exhausting. Being in a minority does not make it wrong to be me — because if that were true, then on a global scale that makes it wrong to be male. Yes, it’s that ridiculous. Or left-handed (which I also am). Come to think of it, being left-handed was seen as wrong until not so long ago – my left-handed mother had that hand tied behind her at school so that she could learn to write the ‘right’ way.

Being in the majority does not make you the only possible iteration of a thing. Being the ‘norm’ doesn’t mean that the non-norm is wrong, except possibly at the extremes of that case. Please bear that in mind next time you mentally castigate someone for being in your face, for not being in your face, and for wanting or not wanting to group.

– – – – – – – –

As a final aside, I found this while I was looking for an old MMORPG.com column I wrote on the solo/group subject. As the more astute among you will deduce, that’s my real name. Wait, no. It’s my pseudonym! Whoops.

BURN THE WITCH!
BURN THE WITCH!

The forum post itself doesn’t seem to be there anymore, which is a shame since I never saw that at the time — or maybe it’s a good thing. I didn’t read comments and forum posts over there because of the inanity and vitriol-quotient, so it’s probably for the best. But I sure did like to stir shit among the masses now and then. And no, I don’t really have Bruce Campbell’s chin — there is only one Bruce Campbell.

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* Though apparently not by as much as we introverts tend to think

 

Blaugust Day 13 – the Dreaded Doldrums

TL;DR – Much soul-searching as to why I’m ‘meh’ about games. Need people. Don’t want dungeons. Insoluble. Inconceivable!

I keep calling them that, but I think it’s more than the usual “I’d rather be outside reading a book” summer thing. I have a million games I could be playing and yet, as I have lamented more than once of late, I’m not really playing any of them. Not to any degree of involvement, anyway. Actually, when looking for posts to link in that previous sentence, I realised that those two “what shall I play?” posts were in fact not weeks, but rather months apart (January and July). Which means I’ve been feeling this ‘meh-ness’ about gaming for some time.

meh_catFirst I wondered if it might be that I’ve simply grown tired of MMOs or, *gasp* gaming in general. I still have fun playing Sims 4 now and then, though admittedly that’s not a particularly demanding game; but I don’t play for ‘demanding’ so that’s not an issue. I log into WoW more out of duty than any particular desire to do so, but I am paying a sub (and have been for the last 5 years – I might want to rethink that) so I might as well use it. I haven’t logged into EQ2 for almost a year now, even though I love that game. I check in on The Secret World now and then, but that game is demanding, specifically in a theory-crafting kind of way which doesn’t particularly motivate me. (More on TSW some other time.) I’m not logging in to SWGEmu much and if my vendors burn up, I’m not really bothered. Aside from those there’s The Repopulation, Shroud of the Avatar and Project: Gorgon, and that’s just all the MMOs I have I’m not playing. And I really want to play Project: Gorgon. I’ve backed the Kickstarter and all. But… meh.

And it’s MMOs I want to talk about in particular because I think I know what’s going on.

I don’t really have anyone to play with anymore.

It galls me vaguely to even say that. I’m an introvert. I’m perfectly happy in my own company. I don’t mind — in fact I very much enjoy — bimbling around by myself in games… provided there are other people to chat with. And there’s the rub. While I’m an introvert, I’m also a sociable player and I like to share the experience with people I know. Which means I’m not counting General Chat in any game as an acceptable alternative. Taking part in general chat is like bathing in a sewer — and not the clean, clearly lemon-scented sewers Baghpuss mentions.

Part of the problem is that I play odd hours. I’m not much of an evening player for one, and I’m in a weird time zone for another — 2 hours behind the US East Coast and an hour ahead of the West. (Granted I’m not playing from Australia or Thailand, which I’m sure presents even greater challenges.) I play during the day, which means I tend to interface most with Euro times — and that’s fine, when it works.

Another issue is that while I know eleventy-thousand gamers through Twitter, Facebook, blogging and just general gaming, we’re all playing different games — so even if they’re online when I’m online, chances are we’re not online in the same virtual world or server. And while I am acquainted with many, I don’t really know who they are in the various games; my occasional attempts to hook up with folks in games tend to fall flat because of issue 1 above.

Then there’s the fact that I am primarily a solo player. I did game with bloggers and e-friends at one point, and we even made guilds together, but because I am not particularly keen on the group thing, I don’t really fit in. So I slip out of touch. And then everyone moves on to another (usually different) game and/or stops playing, etc. etc. etc.

I’m beginning to think I’ll have to embrace the group thing in games. I don’t mind grouping at all (ask my SWG buds, if you can find them), but the primary purpose of grouping in most games is to run dungeons and I would really rather not. I’m certain I’ve explained why elsewhere but I can’t find a link, so in 10 words or less: dungeons = too much visual / auditory input for me. I’ve tried the whole desensitisation thing (thanks to friends who kept telling me that if I did lots of dungeons, I’d start to like them), I’ve tried running them with friends (helps because no PUGs, doesn’t help with the whole input-excess thing), I’ve tried running them in different games (and some are less bad, e.g. FFXIV, while some are awful, e.g. WoW). I’ve tried turning off the particles and turning down the sound, but then what exactly is the point? Oh, right — items.

GWdungeon
Makes my eyes bleed (From the GW2 forums)

I am not motivated by items. So the absolute primary reason to run dungeons, which is to obtain stuff so you can run the next dungeon and get even more stuff… just doesn’t matter to me. The only items I care about are my crafting tools, my housing deco, pets, and the occasional piece of clothing. And even then I’m not always motivated enough to get those that I’d crawl over broken glass to get them (i.e. do long & boring quest lines and/or dungeons).

So while I do occasionally run through dungeons by myself when I’m high enough to not get my ass kicked, it’s not something I make a habit of. And it’s not something that really floats my boat or rocks my world.

I have the uneasy feeling that what I really want — which is to be in an MMO for more than 2 months at a time, to have a couple of dozen folks I can hang out with, and to feel at home again in an MMO rather than like a visitor — may not be available to me right now.

Well then. I shall just have to stop whingeing, pull my socks up, and pick a game. Then *I* can be the one player that’s always there even when everyone else ups and wanders off.

Eenie-meenie-minney-mo… PROJECT: GORGON it is! On with the download! And if you decide to join me, chances are you’ll find me as Ysharros*.

– – – – – – – – – –

* Except in all the games where I’m Eloise or Heloise or Alouette or – yeah, whatevs.

Blaugust Day 11 – Mashup and Miscellany

So here we are, HA!s notwithstanding, combing the writing prompts forum thread for inspiration. I would like to shift some of the blame for being hoist by my own petard on the time of day I’ve had to do these posts, because I typically write much more easily in the mornings (which is itself odd as I’m not really a morning person). My mornings have been busy with that stupid Real Life game where you have to keep logging in to grind levels and dailies or you lose your damn mount, your house, and all your other phat lewt.

Anyway, I found enough there to spark a postlet. I am mashing up several prompts because I am a wild spirit and you cannot contain me with your writing prompts even as I use them as crutches! Ahem. Here we go. In no particular order…

5 things you don’t know about me

  1. I speak English, French and German. I also think, dream and sleep-talk in those languages. Apparently it is extremely weird to have your SO mutter in German in the middle of the night. (Presumably this would not be so weird if *my* SOs past and present spoke German.) As an aside, I like to give my D&D dwarves silly German-word names like Achtung and Ausweis Bitte. As another aside, I suspect only Japanese beats German for sounding like you’re yelling at someone when you’re probably romancing them. And finally, swearing sounds SO much more like you mean it when it’s in German. (I realise this is actually NOT a thing you don’t know about me if you’ve read the blog in the last couple of weeks. Sue me. I needed to warm up to the subject.)
  2. I knit and crochet and am not ashamed of either. So there. I have made 275 afghans and scarves and have finally screwed up my courage to tackle actual shaped garments. It’s Zen. It’s also occasionally incredibly annoying (patterns can be teh suq), but it’s mostly calming.
  3. I have an enduring addiction to anything made of paper (well, except papier-maché) — books, notebooks, pads, journals… — and anything used to write thereon. I have made herculean efforts to keep this in check over the past few decades because planet and eco and all that, but it’s — twitch — not easy. There’s something so tactile about paper and the act of writing on it… that and the fact that unless I write it down with a pen, it won’t go in my head or be retained. If I write a phone number down, I’ll remember it right away. If I enter it in my phone or computer, I will forget it instantly. I wonder if I’m too old to change that, but I don’t really care.
  4. I have visited nearly 20 countries and lived in 7. I wasn’t always too keen on it at the time (that UN-brat thing) but the older I get, the more grateful I am to have had the opportunity. Travel truly does broaden the mind.
  5. I am utterly impervious to deadpan. I am also rather gullible and I suspect the two are related. The spousal unit has taken to saying “BAZINGA” after every deadpan joke, just to make sure I actually get it, and it’s helping. As for gullible… I tend to take people at their word and, given how cynical I am about other things, I don’t really mind. I’d rather assume people are telling me the truth than assume they’re lying to me. That’s no way to live.
  6. I can’t count. BAZINGA.

A Stylish Selection of Past Posts

These are kind of random but I’m still happy with most of the posts I did in 2008-2011-ish. Actually I’m still happy with all my posts but the earlier ones actually had things to say rather than being “don’t shoot me for not posting” fluff items, which comprises most of what I’ve done in 2013-2015-ish. (Yes, you sharp-eyed reader, I missed 2012. That was the in-between year.)

Get your RP on III – Begone, Quests! (2009)

Frustrating /= Hardcore. Hardcore /= More Worthy (2011)

Why? – 2008 (As in, Why I play…)

Last But Not Least, Required Reading

And lo, I shall deliver the word from on high. In other words, I shall link to Raph Koster because whether you agree with him or not (and I do with a fervour that borders on the creepy), every gamer interested in the why and how of gaming and MMOs could do worse than read what he has to say. The links below relate primarily to SWG (Star Wars Galaxies) but they and the other articles in the series are relevant to MMO design on a much more general level. I’m sure I’ll get back to that someday because if MMOs have lost their way in the last decade (per my Anook AMA post) it’s by being less like SWG or even CoX and more like WOW. Both these articles are from earlier this year, so hardly obsolete.

Designing a Living Society in SWG, part one

Designing a Living Society in SWG, part two

Peace out. (I don’t usually say that but I had to end the post somehow.)

Blaugust Day 10 – Is Blaugust Driving My Traffic?

If I had Wilhelm’s airy lightness and ease with statistics, I would be backing up my thoughts with numbers. But I am not he (for which we are probably all suitably grateful), so instead I will speculate in a manner unsupported by facts and jump to conclusions like a drug-crazed llama.

crazy llamaIs Blaugust driving driving more traffic to my blog? Well, as I realised when I started this post, it’s probably my usual yes, and no. Unlike some (Mr. Murf, I’m looking at you) I haven’t exploded on the scene — even the Blaugust scene — with the force of a thousand suns. Which in his case is amply deserved since aside from posting well, he has also been devoting a great deal of time and effort to being a part of the Blaugust community.

For those not taking part — yes, there is definitely a community (as in, group of people) and a sense of community in this endeavour. It’s made up of some very energetic individuals who seem to manage to interface with everyone, some far more reticent individuals, and a pack somewhere in between that interacts with a fair few — but not necessarily all — the other Blaugustinians. I try to be in that last group but I still have at least a dozen blogs to add to my blogroll and limited amounts of energy to devote to it. I’m hoping others are making up for that apathy. Regardless, I certainly get the feeling that many of us are trying to achieve the same thing, that many of us are struggling with the same issues, and that shared effort does tend to make the load a little lighter to bear. The marathon runners’ version — only with blogs and asses in chairs.

And as with all communities, you tend to get out what you put in. Making a lot of effort to support, commend, encourage and engage with others unsurprisingly tends to get others to reciprocate. I’ve seen it myself — both in terms of others’ engagement with me but definitely in terms of my engagement with others — as I’ve attempted and mostly succeeded to follow Kanter’s suggested comment-a-day effort.

Mogwai
My Basenji, Mogwai, says OHAI NEW READERS! Tickle me?

I was here before Blaugust, and it’s possible the bump in my views could be due simply to the fact that I’m suddenly posting every day. It’s also very likely that it’s not, because most of the comments have been coming from Blaugustinians — but then my longer-time readers also know they don’t need to comment that often (no, it’s fine, my ego can take it! /hand-to-forehead). I had a great many more visitors when I was actually, you know, posting regularly, but there has still been a bump since we’ve gone from a few score random and/or pity and/or stalker views to many more score regular daily views.

So yes, Blaugust is driving my traffic, if only with the force of a brown dwarf, which I’m fine with. Too much traffic and I’d start getting worried and paranoid and mumble about needing to perform for the audience and how much I couldn’t care a whit about audiences and can’t you all go away?? <shifty-eyes>

It’ll be a lot more interesting to look at this in a month — first to see if I’ve continued posting at all (or whether Blaugust has made me run screaming for the hills), and second to see who sticks around. And before then, it will be interesting to see how we all fare as August winds on. I’m having a whole heap of trouble posting these last few days, but I suspect that’s due to my general gaming malaise, ennui, and other too-cool-for-school French words — when that passes and my energy returns, so will my ability to just blather on about games, gamers, and gaming in general.

I’m not a big fan of ending posts with questions but this one is obvious: How about you?

I’d certainly love to hear about other people’s traffic bumps or outright shot-out-of-a-cannon experiences in the short time we’ve been doing this. *I* have most certainly been reading more blogs and I make a point of visiting the actual site of at least half of the ones I read every day (since posts are collected for me in Feedly but don’t count as page views*) — which means I’ve been contributing to increasing other people’s traffic too, which feels kind of nice. It’s been a while since I read many blogs. This is exhausting, but fun.

– – – – – – – – – –

* Just because I don’t let my traffic drive me doesn’t mean I don’t watch it with interest, and I’m sure most everyone else doing Blaugust is aware of their traffic and any potential changes to some extent.

 

Blaugust Day 9 – The Gaming To Do List

A week or so ago, when A Green Mushroom (Void on Anook) posted literally eighteen-thousand writing prompts on the relevant Anook forum post, I read through them.

eighteen thousand writing prompts

“Ha!” I thought to myself, “I have a mind like an explosion in a gummy-bear factory, I never run out of things to write about, I’ll never need those. Ha!” (I like to Ha! I do it in real life too. Occasionally accompanied by a rapier flourish.* Ha!)

I also thought “Damn, that Green Mushroom chap has way too many ideas and way too much energy and is making the rest of us look very bad!” Then I thought, “Oh well, let’s— oooh look, shiny!!”

And now — as you might expect from the blatant telegraphing I just did — I am in fact casting about for things to write. Last weekend was easy (well, relatively-speaking) but I think that was coasting on the wave of OMG I’m really doing this enthusiasm. This weekend I’m more “Geez, again? Can’t I just play something? [whine] It’s national book lovers’ day, not national write said books day!” [Distant sound of Waaahmbulance siren.] “It’s SUNDAY!!”

This final argument has failed to sway my Rational Decision Maker and as of about 5 minutes ago** it has soundly beaten Instant Gratification Monkey*** (buy your own here and get your own damn name!) (yes of course I’m going to end up buying one, probably right after I finish this post, or somewhere in the middle if I can’t manage to get to the point) (and yes of course it’s perfectly fine to keep chaining parentheses like this; trust me, I’m a lit. major).

IGMonkey-1_1024x1024Where was I? Ah yes, here. I’m actually not taking one of AGM/Void’s prompts today but I have learned my lesson and now know that when I do — as I inevitably will — I shall do so with the requisite gratitude and humility. Today, however, I am going to fill out Izlain’s Gamer To-Do List.

As may be relatively evident from my amazing barely passable atrocious Conscientiousness score over at Quantic Foundry (a whopping 6%, which means basically ALL my friends in any grouping of 10 or so are more conscientious than me), I’m not much of one for being constrained by stuff I don’t want to do. Homer holds the upper hand in my subconscious probably 94% of the time. It’s a wonder I manage to finish showering and come out clean.

And the number of useless but hopefully entertaining tangents so far will amply demonstrate how little I actually want to be doing this list thing. I do not like lists. I do not like having to order my brain in coherent, sequential segments. Organising is hard. I’m creative, dammit! Which means I get to be messy, unfocused, messy, easily distracted, messy, occasionally brilliant, and messy. It does not mean lists.

Alison HendrixWhich is pure bullshit, of course. Lists are helpful. I don’t think I’ll ever be Alison Hendrix even if I spent the rest of my life in rehab for the terminally-disorganised procrastinator, but even I can aspire to a modicum of sense and structure in my life. Sometimes I’m so scattered it seems hard to keep a single thought at the front of my mind; I’m not sure if age is making that worse, or if meds are making that worse, or if it’s just one of those things that get bigger and more awful and more noticeable the more you look for them, but it’s a fact that I have real trouble focusing on things I don’t want to be doing. Probably, you know, because I don’t want to be doing them.

I’m not convinced that carefully structuring my entertainment time is going to work for me, not just for the reasons given above but simply because, ironically, I am as spontaneous in games as I am unspontaneous in life (there might have been a time when I was spontaneous but that was before anxiety and comfort zones — now my spontaneity is carefully-planned). There are few things I love more in games than seeing something on the horizon and taking off to see what it is, getting distracted halfway there by an abandoned [insert structure] and exploring that, only to get distracted halfway through that to read up on all the mythological and lore references… etc. etc. etc. (Much as I dislike questing in MMOs with the significant other, he probably hates questing with me for this very reason.)

So here is the damn list already. Chop-chop!

Ysharros’s Gaming To-Do List

1. Make a gaming to-do list. Okay, I’m kidding.

  1. Real number one. Play a Sims 4 legacy family to at least Generation 4.
    This is because my previous Legacy family made it to Gen 3, but I abandoned it amid much grumbling regarding twins/triplets, families who forgot all about each other between dinner and breakfast, and other sundry bugs that have since been fixed. I am currently playing the Stylish family (bien sûr) and have taken a million screenshots, but I haven’t written anything about it partly for fear of jinxing it and partly because starting it coincided with Blaugust and I didn’t reckon the new visitors would be much into the Sims 4. I might be wrong! If you’re a Sims 4 or Legacy challenge fan, previous legacy posts start here
  2. Check out Banished
    The first of a number of Steam games I bought and have never even fired up.
  3. Check out Torchlight II
    See #2 above
  4. Give Elite: Dangerous another shot
    As in, try to make it out of the space station (easy peasy!) and back to the landing pad (not so easy) and maybe even, you know, to somewhere else. No game in the last 25+ years has ever made me feel as incompetent and uncoordinated as E:D did. If that doesn’t work, shoot it in the virtual head.
  5. Get past the intro sequence in Dragon Age: Inquisition
    As you might by now have gathered, this year I have been mostly having problems playing the games I have bought. Games I know I’d like! What is wrong with me?!
  6. Check out Witcher 3
    By which I most likely mean Buy it and forget to play it. See above.
  7. Finish the Garrison Shipyard line/quests/whatever they are on at least one of my WoW characters.
    I’ve got 4 to choose from, 5 if I could be arsed to level the mage, so it’s not like I’m lacking for candidates. I just can’t muster any enthusiasm for WoW at the moment. Come to think of it, I can’t muster much enthusiasm for gaming in general, but that’s another topic for another time (probably this week since I’m definitely not the only Blaugustinian suffering from Summer ennui).
  8. The not gone and not forgotten list — Landmark, SWGEmu, EQ2, STO…
    I’ve played all of those apart from STO. I love SWG and EQ2… but I don’t want to play those either at the moment. At the very least I can schedule time to update them, which with my internet connection requires some actual scheduling.

That’s enough for now. I feel tired already just looking at it!

Last but not least:

We’re almost a third of the way there. Only 22 days to go. Take heart, fellow Blaugdignagians!

* Okay, not since my LARP days 20 years ago, but I have gone Ha! with a rapier. Everyone should do it at least once. Chandelier-swinging is on my bucket list.

** After watching an old Chopped, making an elaborate brunch, cleaning the kitchen, and futzing about on iPad games for a couple of hours…

*** Does he have a name? I think I’ll call mine Homer. You can think it’s a Simpsons reference but I swear it’s epic and Greek.

Blaugust Day 6.3 – The Burning Legiyawn

Let me admit right off the bat that for Reasons (life, fitness, not having a time machine) I haven’t read all the World of Warcraft expansion annoucement thingies yet, neither announcement nor comments. I did check out the new site — as in, I clicked the link kindly provided on Twitter — and my immediate reaction was:

Blizzard: You know, we’ve already done 5 expansions. How about we just go back to the first one and do it from another perspective?

Where I come from, that’s called Same Shit, Different Day.

And I find it hard to get all excited about demons — not the way WoW does them. They’re almost cuddly FFS, and we all know all the guys want a tame Succubus. Or better yet a gamer chick dressed as a tame succubus.

hotwarlockrednblacktmog

YAWN

On the bright side, WoW often makes me eat my words, so this might be the bestest, funnest, most superest expansion ever. I guess we’ll see.

 

Blaugust Day 6 – Anook AMA

Because Blaugust isn’t hard enough as it is, our friendly blogging taskmistress (aka Syl) decided a little extra sadism was appropriate so she started the Blaugust AMA thread over on Anook. Seeing that I’d get to ask TAGN a question I went for it, only to discover he’d already more than covered my question in his blog (curse you, Wilhelm!). Jaedia from Dragons & Whimsy then asked me a question and I had no choice but to meekly comply. So here we are.

Q: Do you feel as though MMOs have lost their way over time? Or are you excited for the future and the unique ideas that it brings?

A: Yes, and no. Yes, and no.

Okay, whew, that was easy! See you tomorrow!

Double-curses! I’m not meeting the length requirement! (Thank God there’s no ‘meaningful content’ requirement.) Surely I’ve done a post about this in the past!

/starts searching

/realises that searching archives from 5-6 years ago will take longer than actually posting

/goes back to posting

Do you feel as though MMOs have lost their way over time?

Yes, because they’re not at all like they used to be 10 or 15 years ago… And no, because change isn’t necessarily a bad thing — despite the way most gamers react to it. Games have changed quite a bit over the last decade: to name just one example, we’ve gone from super-simple combat interfaces (smash monster) to having eleventy-million buttons to hit (see EQ2-Exhibit_A) and back to having fewer buttons to hit. Because it turns out that having lots of things to do in combat is fun, but mashing buttons as an interpretation of that ‘things to do’ concept is actually un-fun.

hotbar_madness
Buffs and debuffs and HoTs oh no!

And no, because change is inevitable. For one thing MMO gamers are an incredibly opinionated and whiny lot (you wonderful people excepted of course, at least as far as whining goes) and we demand change all the time. Then we complain about the changes that were made. And when those changes are toned down (by developers who really ought to know better), we complain about the changes to the changes! But if no changes were ever made to games (I’d add an example but I can’t think of one) we’d complain about them being too static and… unchanging.

You know, I think the world needs another post on how MMO gamers are probably the most annoying people in the world. But not today.

As far as ‘losing their way’ goes… No, I don’t think so. The MMO industry is still really quite young, considering — I don’t know the insider stuff but I’d guesstimate we’ve had maybe 4-6 ‘real’ development generations for MMOs, if we can call them that, and that’s not a lot. Games aren’t made in a vacuum: studios and devs see what other studios and devs are doing, play what other studios are doing, like some of it and emulate it, don’t like some of it and try to correct it or make it better, and so on. We tend to forget that we’re still figuring out what makes a great MMO — and given the variety of playstyles, preferences and genre options I’m not sure there is such a thing as The One MMO to Rule Them All. World of Warcrack did a great job at the ‘One Size Fits All’ genre, but now we’re seeing that smaller, so-called ‘niche’ MMOs are not only doable but possibly a better option.SOTA

Do I miss the old-school MMOs? Of course. No game will ever be the same to me as my first MMO was. Asheron’s Call was weird, quirky, and amazeballs… but much of that comes from the fact that it was my first MMO. And because I had hours and hours to play back then. And because I was younger. And because MMOs weren’t as sophisticated (and neither were their players) nor as widespread as they are now and we didn’t have as much choice, so we were less picky. And because I met some of my best RL- and e-friends in that game, many of whom I still hang out with in person or online.

But I don’t think that means they’ve lost their way. If anything, I would contend that gamers have lost their way. And we won’t even touch the whole GamerGate thing which makes many of us hesitant to even use the G word anymore. (For the record, I come down hard on the side of the so-called SJW and if that bothers you so much you can’t get over it, feel free to read some other blog in your spare time.)

…or are you excited for the future and the unique ideas that it brings?

As for question 2, I’ve probably halfway answered that already. I am excited for the future of MMOs, though I hope there will be some re-adoption of old mechanics and ideas — in my case I’m desperate for a game that doesn’t offer much loot and depends almost entirely on a player-driven, player-crafted economy like SWG did in its early days. There are games in development that offer exactly that. Project Gorgon for one (I think – don’t shoot me if I’m wrong), whose current Kickstarter project has 17 days to go. I backed it because Eric & co of Elder Game have some design ideals that are very close to my heart. Camelot Unchained is another that I’m intrigued about. And then of course there’s Shroud of the Avatar, which I also backed last year and still can’t find the time to explore as much as I’d like. And if sci-fi is more your thing, there’s The Repopulation. [Note that those are all sandboxes. That’s my personal preference. I’m sure there are old-school less-sandboxy games in development as well.]

repop

I expect the future of MMOs will certainly include more mega-titles, because some companies can afford to make them (EA, Blizzard, Square Enix), but I think it will include a great many more ‘homebrew’ or ‘indie’ or, you know, normal-sized titles. And I suspect that the ‘niche’ games will be just as successful as their larger brethren, once the smaller studios find out how to plan, develop and publish them in a way that doesn’t bankrupt them or force them to expect unrealistic revenue. Crowd-funding is one option and it’s certainly worked for the tabletop and MMO projects I’ve backed (even if it took Project Gorgon three tries – we’re all learning as we go here).

If we add technology changes into the mix (Oculus, anyone?) we’re looking at an evolving sector with evolving players, evolving technologies and evolving platforms, and it’s a wonder MMOs today are still recognisably the same type of game as they were 15 years ago. I can’t wait to see what they’ll be like in 2030, assuming I’m still around.

Damn straight I intend to be an MMO-playing pensioner!