BlogNation

The Oracle Speaketh!

Sometimes, I get it right. Every once and awhile I go read an old post – this is normally because someone else read it and it got a hit and I try to see what lead them to that post. Here is the paragraph from what I wrote in 2008

A side thought to this is to change the MMO subscription model a bit while introducing leasing. Drop the “magical” $14.99 per month sub tag to a lower number, and start selling gold to your own players. That way everyone wins. People who want instant items without the lease (and the gold on hand) can buy it from the MMO company. The people who do, subsidise everyone’s subscription fee so the ones who don’t pay a smaller monthly fee. Company wins from increased revenues. Playerbase wins from decreased costs.

I wrote that way back in 2008. in this post, about a stupid idea about leasing items but hey, is that close enough to say ” I called it?”

Probably not. But for a brief moment it made me feel like writing here all of these years hasn’t been a complete waste. And yes, I barely remember writing it.

13 Reasons Why

I do not watch a lot of TV. I find I get interested in some shows and find them really well done, and get engaged in early seasons. Eventually, and pretty much always, writers on the show change, TV studios realize they have a hit and do everything they can to stretch out what might have been a 3 year planned show into a 5-8 year planned show for commercial purposes. In TV the longer a show goes the more the show provides revenue – and more often, the lower quality it becomes.  It is rare that I am gripped by a TV show. I currently only watch one regularly, a comedy (New Girl) which will have it’s final season next year. Besides that I watch sports or documentaries. I prefer to be engaged in my entertainment which is why I play video games.

I started watching 13 Reasons Why on a rainy day after I read about the controversy. If you haven’t heard of it the premise is simple: a high school girl kills herself but before doing so records 13 tape recordings. Each tape is about a person who helped push her towards this decision. The tapes were meant to be listened to in order by the people she put on the tapes – so the first person to receive the tapes was meant to listen to all 13, and then pass on the tapes to the person on tape two, who would listen to them all and then pass them on to the tape three subject person, and so on, until all 13 people heard all 13 tapes. The show is told through the perspective of Clay, who has a tape, as he listens and explores what happened. I am not going to give plot spoilers here directly but will be talking about general themes about it, briefly.

Through the first seven episodes I found it interesting and worth continuing. It was fascinating to read about experts and schools tear the show apart for glorifying suicide when I watched it from two very different perspectives. One was that of a parent and the show did not hide the the many “signs” of a struggling youth. It did it in a very clever way, through Hannah’s tapes (who we know from the outset did end up committing suicide) but also through Clay’s behavior as the tapes and their content change him, his habits, and actions. The viewer knows Clay isn’t suicidal but to a parent much of how he is acting is similar to that of Hannah in several regards. Just for very different reasons. It was an obvious way to show that warning signs might not be true – or they might.

The second way I watched the show was through the lens of my own High School experiences. I didn’t quite fit in any group but jumped in several at any given time. I always felt like an outsider because of that but also managed to fit in “enough” with wherever I happened to be at that moment. I was a good hockey player, so I fit in with the “jocks”. I was on the school computer programming team ,so I fit in with the nerds. I had a whole separate group of friends that I played PnP RPGs with so I fit in with the geeks. I was a skateboarder, so I fit in the ska-loving half head shaved skater kids. I was a social chameleon that fit in everywhere and no where at the same time.

I was very lonely. I empathized with Clay and felt like I understood how he felt. I also understood the different dynamics in tribal actions and thinking in High School. They existed in my days there too.

13 Reasons Why resonated with me – too much. Episodes 8 through 13 became more and more difficult to watch. I cried. A lot. I think it was just a challenge to watch as I have struggled with my own mental health issues for most of my life alone and in silence. The combined pressure of living the show through the eyes of my high school self and the fears and trauma of watching it as a parent of an eleven year old who may face these struggles as well was just too much. For me. I haven’t had a show make me feel, well, anything in so long that when it was done, and I was trying to pull myself back together I just let myself… be. For a little bit. Then I started thinking about the whole experience.

The show is good, and well acted. There are some plot points and moments where you (might) shake your head but they are few and far between. It is very consistent and engaging. I believe it is a good show to watch, especially if you have kids, because they are watching it. It is very popular among the teen crowds. Watch and understand it so you can talk about it. I also think that despite warnings from schools and suicide groups that this may encourage people to commit suicide I believe that the more kids that watch it the better – because it shows how sometimes little, daily interactions can tear someone down piece by piece until they feel they have no other option. It also tackles far larger and more serious interactions. Maybe it will make kids try a bit harder to be positive and engage their peers, instead of doing some of the things in the show that we know are happening in our schools everyday. Maybe it will make people better understand the impact their actions can have on other human beings – both big and small actions. It should raise awareness of  signs when someone is struggling – and if people are aware then that is the first step to getting help.

When I heard they were doing a sequel, a second season, I did get angry. There isn’t a second book. The characters were all honored to the source material and everything was tied up nicely. The only reason to do a sequel is money. The producers realized they have built these characters and connections and have a great setting for another young adult show – a more depressing version of 90210 and feel that needs to be fully exploited. I do not understand why viewers are not allowed to use their imagination on what comes next to completely close off what is most likely going to happen. It’s bullshit and cheapens how I was made to feel throughout the series. It cannot be better, it cannot get better. It can only get worse. I have never been so disappointed in a television show (and sequel announcement).  I will not watch it as I fear it will ruin the whole experience for me.

As angry as I am about the sequel announcement I do recommend the series and thank it for forcing me to take a closer look at myself, and outward to my friends and community.

Aha Moment, Diversity

I have always been sympathetic to ‘liberal’ social causes. First, I am Canadian and we have a supportive society with a distinct world view. We are just friendly people, for the most part, to use the stereotype. Most of this came from attending a liberal arts university that back in the 90’s was considered ‘gay friendly’. That is a pretty progressive label to have back in the 90’s. I came from a rural town in Canada and while homosexuality was very foreign to me I was in such an accepting and open minded environment that I learned quickly how normal and natural it was. It was even cool, in our little circle of friends and spheres of influences. There was still hate, and bigotry (there always is), but there was also hope and acceptance. Turns out my favorite uncle ended up being gay and hid it until he was able to move away from hick-town and go somewhere where he could fall in love openly and get married. . I use the term ‘hick’ as a term of endearment here. Very small town folk we were/are.

My general viewpoint on equality is that I unequivocally support the exact definition of the word in all societal senses, labels and freedoms even though I am an outsider to many of them. Religious equality (I do not participate in organized religious constructs, but I am spiritual in my own way) Gender equality (Women should be equally empowered. I am a man). Sexual equality (Love whoever you do, openly and without harm. I am cisgender) Racial equality (Humans are humans! I am white). I am an outsider because I embody the privileged, middle class, white cisgender male that is the root cause of what ails the world today (if you read the news). I could only be worse if I was a christian as well, I suspect. This is not my fault – it was the way I was born and brought up, I did not have the choice in this. Please do not judge me based on who I am and my skin color.

As much as a good natured, open minded and progressive cisgender white male that I strive to be I cannot draw from experiences when it comes to racism, or sexism, or most ‘-isms including the own privilege I enjoy. I know it exists, but my cisgender white friends and families are also as afraid of the future as our more diverse friends and families. They are scared about good work and providing for their families. The world is changing in many ways and most of it not good for middle and below home incomes, regardless of what color of skin you are or how you self-identify sexually.  I think no one really feels safe anymore. Not even the rich, because we common folk are coming to get them. (This is part of how I think a guy like Donald Trump gets elected, but another story, and I try to keep this blog politics free).

I try not to get on heavy topics here. I don’t write particularly well enough to ensure I am getting across what I am feeling so typically leave this space to  my gaming whims and child-like hobbies. Still, I do have a point coming up. And that point is that I finally had a moment where I understood how visible minorities have felt for some time about representation in games. Because it happened to me – finally.  The difference is that when I felt it it wasn’t a reflection of the struggles I have had in my real life, or a disappointing  ‘yet another time” I was made to feel small, or an outsider. It was an “A-ha!” moment. One of small triumph. Because I finally had what felt like a more honest and true understanding of the movement for more diversity in games that I have already supported in thought only. It was nice to be able to draw a direct experience to how that made me feel – so I could, for an instant,  and on a very safe level- have a small glimpse of understanding.

I am going to be clear here that I do not think it was wrong, and for me that didn’t matter – it was just a moment of realization and understanding. And because it is such a sensitive topic in general, as you can tell, I am really trying to be clear and cautious about how I present this, because I am petrified to have it come across the wrong way. One more table to set before sharing.

People who read here often understand by now that I am a terrible roleplayer. I do not roleplay. When I am engaged in a game (with a story for the most part) I insert myself into the story. I am not playing as Scott Ryder, I am a my real life counterpart, thrust into the situation by whatever backstory/justification I could think of. When I insert my present-day self into my games I find I can more deeply be moved by them and feel more closely to what is happening to my characters – because it is happening to me.

With that, and the rest of what I have written, in mind, Prey.

Screenshot Credit: The Verge (https://www.theverge.com/2017/2/15/14622050/prey-bethesda-softworks-arkane-studios-science-fiction-game-preview)

Having protagonists with clear Asian decent is progressive, right? I am unsure of how many First Person Shooter games that have. My immediate thought was “this was different – good for them!” and then I wondered how it would be accepted by the gaming community. And then it hit me:

“They don’t represent me. I don’t feel connected to those characters visually.”

That’s the AHA moment, as silly as it is. Those four words (They don’t represent me), probably felt by millions of non-white gamers over decades of being forced to play as white, male characters as the norm and I felt it for my first time. I haven’t even played the game and I doubt that racial selection of the Prey protagonist has any sort of real impact on the game either, but there is the realization that I understand it just a little bit more.

Funny to note I was afraid to write this post – silly, right? I spend so much time reading things on the internet that I felt that just presenting this thought could have negative consequences in this friendly little gaming space. Would people think I am racist because I feel those characters don’t represent me? Would they attack some of the phrases or words that I used? I don’t have much hope for the internet, of course. I do know that I am not perfect and am just a human being, trying to be cool to all other human beings, and learn and get better along the way.

I understand that people who are good at roleplaying might not understand this line of thought and relish the opportunity to be different people, sexes, aliens, etc. Any tips on how to build that comfort? I feel like I am missing out on huge opportunities. Even when I played PnP games in the good old days I stuck to male humans. Boring AF.

Where to Next?

With Andromeda fresh in the books as the most satisfying gaming experience I have had to date I have 3-5 years to kill before the sequel. Plenty of time to try other games. I’m just torn on where to go so I thought I would reach out to Blognation to see what hidden opportunities may be out there. The shortlist I had in mind (and open to a longer list) is the following

  • HORIZON ZERO DOWN – I have a PS4 and know this is a pretty darling game right now, and well reviewed by Blognation.
  • SWTOR – I only finished the main campaign and unsubbed at the first expansion due to ME:A coming out
  • LOTRO – I have had several stops and starts in this game, and I don’t think I’d want to sub it until I built up enough comfort level that I may actually stick around – is it playable if you aren’t subbed to it?
  • SQUAD – the spiritual successor to Project Reality and I havent played a FPS in quite some time (Destiny was the last, which is now unplayable due to impending-exansion-itis)
  • FFXIV – free to play until level 35 makes me feel like this may be my best chance to give this eastern MMO another try.
  • THE DIVISION – I have heard there have been a swathe of improvements – I only got to level 25
  • STEAM BACKLOG – Because apparently that is always a thing
  • EQ – I have been logging in and poking around here and there… not sure why.. but there is an itch!
  • OTHER – I am totally open to trying something new. Most of those ideas are going back somewhere.

If you have a suggestion, and it’s an MMO/Online game you are playing please leave the server name and/or your ID in the comments (or my email if you want to keep it private) so I can has friends in game too. I am a lost explorer looking for somewhere to find right now. My serial nature of gaming really only gives me space to focus on one at a time, and I just don’t have a clear cut number one right now. All seem like an OK idea.

And oh, just for fun, this popped up on my “you posted this 4 years ago” Facebook memories, and figured it would be worth a share for Friday giggles.

I Hacked My Own Blogroll

Well, that was a pain in the ass.

I loved my WP Social Blogroll plugin. It updated who and when blog posts were written from my links. Whenever I need a break from work, or whatnot, I can log into my site and see if any blogs I follow have written any updates. It was beautiful, easy, and magical.

It also wasn’t updated for four years but still worked – until WordPress did an update. Sure enough, finally broken. All of the “free” RSS blogroll plugins were years old and didn’t work. I did find one and managed to make it work, but it kept crashing my site and I lost a ton of traffic over a week away with it up. I googled like crazy to find an option, and preferably a free one. I write once or twice a week, and do not get any income from blogging so did not want to have to invest much, if any.

I finally found a RSS Aggregator that was up to date (cleverly named WP RSS Aggregator). There is a free version, but very limited. The downside is the sidebar widget is $25 per year. I didn’t really want to pay that based on use alone, so I had to make a new page with my RSS feed. You can see it in the tab above alongside my other pages (Blogs That Feed). I then got to thinking that while I didn’t have a native plugin widget for it, that perhaps there was a free plugin to turn a page into a widget – and sure enough, the cleverly named “Page to Widget” was there. I installed it, and poof – magic! I now have a working blogroll updater in the sidebar again.

Sure, it doesn’t look too pretty but it works. I’ll mess around with some settings and see what I can come up with on the visuals.

I was going to make a separate tab for my “Writers Resting In Paradise” section where I keep a list of blogs I used to follow but who no longer update as well. I like that list as a reminder of how many people blogged and the relationships I had built in the past, but I also liked it because if someone came back after a hiatus it would also update and let me know there was a new post. Kind of a (non?) creepy way to stalk people. Surely, my free/basic aggregator with pay for more options would have a way to categorize the RSS links – should be an easy, simple thing, right?

Turns out it is!

For $30 a year.

I’ll see if I can find a workaround, but for now, the WRIP list will be static.

Change of Plans

I am going on vacation (again, yes, lucky me) someplace warm again (Cuba)  to escape the cold, Canadian winter. Well, it’s mostly been mild here this winter for the most part but supposed to get a deep freeze next week which coincides with my escape that much better.

My plan was to finish off the Mass Effect series before the 20th which won’t happen now – I had to travel overseas on an emergency and just got back in time to go on vacation.

Trains, Planes, Automobiles, no Mass Effect. When I get back the new Mass Effect will be out and I am very much looking forward to that.

I am sure you missed me this past week and I know you will this week.  Have no fear, I will return and start posting again. With a tan.

Enjoy the week!

#NOGOODWAY

Today the #NOGOODWAY campaign launches.

Here is the video:

And the Facebook page, explaining it.

https://www.facebook.com/nogoodway

I find the video game community is particularly bad at using the R-word inappropriately, as part of everyday gaming language in forums, online, etc. I see it used too frequently. Which is why I am glad  I have a gaming based blog to support this initiative.

Changing Gears

Fixing I HAS PC

My web site has been loading like crap after I replaced my broken social blogroll links. I love that feature – it is one of my favorite things about having this blog, the quick, easy view of when my favorite blogs have been updated.  I have disabled it for now, and will start looking for a replacement. WP Social Blogroll was broken with a WP core update, and the RSS Blogroll Updater was crashing the quick loading of my site, plummeting my readers over the past two weeks by 50%. (I am certain that had nothing to do with the compelling content I share here…) So, here I am again, without a working “latest post” blog feeder widget. I will continue to scour the interwebs for one that works and doesn’t slow my site down to 1999 levels.

SWTOR out

I bought 60 days of sub in SWTOR when I realized how much fun I was having playing the game. It cost me $29.99 and had some other goodies, including both expansions and some level help items. Chapters 1-3 of the Jedi Knight story line was great – I really enjoyed it. I did the Interlude chapter (Ilum) and moved on to Chapter 4) (Makeb) and that is when the fatigue hit in. Spoiler free, I have saved the entire galaxy 4 or 5 times already (really, who is counting?) and not only is that exhausting but I can’t imagine doing it again. And again. My main goal was to get to max level and complete all of the story chapters but that was when I was really loving logging in. Once saving the galaxy (yet again) started feeling like a chore, I did the assessment. I am level 67 (of a possible 70). I have nine +25% XP boosters left (which last for 3 hours each), and judging by Google in order of what is left, I have the following:

  • Conflict with the Hutt Cartel
  • The Fall of Czerka
  • The Dread War Ends
  • Forged Alliances
  • Shadow of Revan
  • Rise of The Emperor
  • Knights of the Fallen Empire

Really… another Emperor? Won’t they just stay dead? Anyway – that is a lot of content and I don’t feel like they paced out the story very well. Too much, too big, too soon.  With my being so close to the cap and with so many +xp consumables I can easily walk away and take a break and return later with a lot of content to complete and no rushed timeline to complete it in. It was definitely worth the foray and I know I will go back to finish the adventure in time. I wish they spent more time focusing on fleshing out your team of characters and their relationships, rather than galaxy saving as the primary game mode. Where can you go from there to up the ante?

MASS EFFECT in

Mass Effect is my favorite gaming trilogy of all time. Mass Effect: Andromeda is but a few short weeks away and I am very excited for the title – heck, “pre-order” excited – which is something I don’t do often. Sure, I am not “take off days of work” excited, but to me that is just a bit crazy to begin with. In the spirit of reliving my joy in the game I decided to go back and play the original three. I do not have my copy of Mass Effect 1 anymore, my ME2 is on my bullshit banned EA account, but my ME3 is on my clean EA account. It is a mess. I decided to take a quick look at Origin to see if they had a three pack, or whatnot, for a reasonable price. It was a nice surprise.

First off, paying Origin $4.95 (per month, no month minimum) gets you 10% off any game you buy in Origin. The Mass Effect Andromeda pre-order that I want is $80 – right off the bat I saved money. Mass Effect 2 is free right now (that’s right, free on Origin – you don’t even have to be a paying member!) so go grab it. Arguably one of the best RPGs of all time. You just need a free Origin account.  Click on the digital deluxe version for some more free add-ons, because that is also free if you choose the option.( Did I mention free?) Lucky me as well, that Mass Effect 1 is in the EA Vault right now meaning you can play it for free (ahem) as a paid subscriber.

Things lined up nicely, I got the trilogy back, in one place, for $4.95.

All of my screenshots were corrupted (unfortunately!) something to do with the .bmp based format ME1 uses not storing the .raw data. I will try a better way to capture next play through. For 10 years old, I am quite impressed with how well it is holding up.  I do recall some of my old choices, and I am saddened to already know the outcome AND know that these choices have zero impact on the new installment – but I am enjoying revisiting my old friends and crew mates aboard the Normandy.

If you haven’t played the series, I highly recommend it.

Rescue Time

In my last post I talked about how Tuesdays were a fun day in Azeroth, and made some claims about my play time. Prior to that thought I had already installed “Rescue Time” on my laptop which logs all of your activities while actively using your laptop. I assumed that doing everything I had planned listed would take me around 10 hours a week. I was pretty close!

Yes there is no Sunday or Monday (which is because it wasn’t installed  at the time  and funny to see how big Tuesday is for me in game. The rest of the week it seems I spend between an hour to an hour and a half per day, which would but my weekly time (last week, anyway) at closer to 11.5 hours. I will also run it this week to have a look to see how accurate my guesstimate was.

As for the program that tracks this itself – it is free. It breaks down your productivity and gives you visibility on where you are spending your time while on your device. You can also install it on multiple devices to get your full aggregate. Think you check Instagram just a few minutes a day? This will break it down for you exactly. It doesn’t seem to measure idle time, so a program in the background that is not being worked on / read / used doesn’t count (I tested a few things to see. multiple windows in the background, Excel, Tableau, etc to gauge how it measures.)

They assure your privacy, whatever that means this day! (FBI if you are reading this, this is my gaming computer *mostly*, I promise I do more work on the other one!) Pretty big eye opener on where I spend my time on the computer – a few minutes checking something here and there adds up. It even tracks how much time you spend on websites. Outside of my post on Monday, I only spent 16 minutes 44 seconds on my own site the rest of the week. Mostly because I use it as a launching pad on my blog-roll updater to read my favourite posters when they write something new.

Oh, and not because it would affect you, but because you are probably just curious, for you know, your cousin or something…. by default it does not track anything on adult websites. Again, so I hear… I don’t even know what those are anyway. It was mentioned in some sort of pop-up window/option.  Figured you might want to know.

Blog Therapy – Cleaning out old Drafts (Part 4)

There’s a zen like state to it, I tell you. I originally titled these “Spring Cleaning!”, but it was never spring and there is a far more cathartic feel to these posts for me. Like letting go of the past. Or, getting really drunk and forgetting to go to work!

My other posts in this series are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

#Listmas – My Favourite Raiding Moments – (12/17/2014)

Murf (we miss you Murf! Come back to the interwebs! And by we, I mean, I, at least for sure.) had a hashtag of list style posts during the holiday season and encouraged others to do the same. Here is how far I got into detailing the raiding moments that stood out for me since I started them back in the 90s.

“Murf is making a list and checking it twice and as a OneNote fanatic, lists are in my wheelhouse. I work by lists, I do personal life by lists, I even shop with lists. So this December redux on last year’s initiative is something I am excited to do.

As an old raider who hasn’t raided since Burning Crusade (le sigh) I still have very fond raid moments. In the spirit of Listmas, I am going to list my top 5 memories. The irony is not lost that these are complete nostalgic memories, I am clearly an ex-raider and pulling an uncle Rico here, but hey, they are my memories!

I can throw this football right over them mountains…

Nothing screams “I am in hook line and sinker” with raiding than when good old Ragnaros pops up for the first time. The culmination of the 40 man raid didn’t disappoint with enough moving around, adds, and attacks to keep everyone engaged. I don’t even recall what items dropped when we got him down, but I will never forget that *feeling* of winning with a team. It was incredible…..”

I didn’t even finish my #5, Ragnaros. Most of these moments that I fondly remember had little to do with the bosses or mechanics, but the feeling of accomplishment (or failure) with a group of gamers I considered serious friends. Some still are on facebook, or what-not, but in the end, when you are spending 20+ hours per week with people – in person or online – you build connections. Those are mostly all gone now. Very similar to how I moved on from (most) of my High School friends too. While I wish I would finish this post the list style of it is far over and with Murf done bloggin’, I can safely send this one into the BlogVoid. Outcome: Au Revoir. En Permenance.

Experiences (2-26-2015)

This post draft, after reading and re-reading a few times, is a tad confusing.

“Corpse runs – awesome to experience but never want to experience again.

Farming Karnor’s Castle

Cobalt Boots -lost roll
Cobalt Gloves – lost roll
Locust Lustre-Won roll (Velm)
ES Vambraces – Won roll (Wildlotus)
ES Vambraces – Won roll (Drainc)
Howling Harpoon – Won roll (Roncor)
Singing steel gloves – Won roll (Lvis)

DAOC – keep fight, building rams, dying on the last boss

Going through the MMOtions – login do stuff, log out. Not much connections.

What we want vs what we can do. Even better:

What we want vs what we can handle.”

I didn’t give myself a lot to work with there, but reading the final couple of lines is in step with my current thought that the game I say/think I most want to play right now is one that wouldn’t be possible for me to commit to, so the ideal MMO is a dream. The first few parts (up to MMOtions) look like recollection of various experiences I had frequently during my MMO early days. I suspect I was going to build up that the things we remembered as being great (or important) are the same reasons that we wouldn’t (and don’t) play the same games anymore. Outcome: Confused and pointless, this one gets a big, hefty deleta-mundo.

Messing Around with WordPress Themes (2-27-2015)

Finally, a title I can work with!

“For some reason my blog has always been orange. Orange isn’t even a color I particularly love – however after 6 years at looking at an orange blog it just

Yes, that’s it. And yes, my blog is still orange. I do frequently play with blog themes but never really find one that I love enough to switch. So orange and simple it stays. (Is there a politician joke in there somewhere?) Outcome: Delete, and keep the same theme because change is bad.

Ending with n Losing Note (3-07-2015)

Spelling is not fun for me on this one, and it is another short and sweet starter that never went anywayer (I did that on purpose)

“Last game of the year, win/lose, wait to while year”

There are a few posts on here about my son and parenting, and I do recall when I started writing this one and why. He had just played his last game of the hockey season and they lost. He made the comment that now he has to wait until September to win again – which is six months of being a loser. (ok, that was a joke, that even sounded harsh to write!). I started thinking about how things end in many parts of life and what that does to how you think and feel about yourself. This had nothing to do about gaming and was firmly in the “Life” part of the “Life and Interwebs” tagline up top. Outcome: Too deep, bad spelling, not in the right mood/mindset to further explore.

Developer Appreciation Week (3-27-2015)

Finally, more than one line to work with to think back on what I was thinking at this time. Although the title makes that pretty simple already, Somewhat.

“http://ihavetouchedthesky.blogspot.ca/2015/03/axes-to-grind.html?showComment=1427478576313#c1626406155774811668

My post in support of developers is to become a better industry. Treat your people better. Care for them.

Link to past posts of shitty workings of publishers/layoffs

Talk about things we do in our business”

This post was a suggestion from I have Touched The Sky to write a post about Developer Appreciation week – instead of our normal grumbling and griping at game developers. My first line gives you a pretty good clue about how I feel about most gaming companies – how they churn and burn good people, eschew loyalty for short term gain, cut corners and generally under service customers. For the most part. I know that is more in Electronic Arts land (and I have some very specific posts bashing them!) but those are the things that stick out when I think of gaming companies. I know Valve is very opposite to that so credit should go where credit is do. Basically if it was any other type of industry they would be out of business. (Picture an Automobile company with that kind of track record..)

This post was going to explore both sides of previous posts (Valve’s employee manual is awesome, EA’s track record is not) here on I Has PC and truly wish we would vote with our wallets. Myself included. Which I somewhat do, but not enough to  make a difference. If there is a good game I want to play I pay for it, regardless of who made it. Maybe my New Years Resolution should be to Pirate games from developers I don’t align with. Outcome: Delete, DAW is long gone and I was too narrow focused on the bad there anyway. This is a happy place, for the most part. My happy place.

Five more Done!

Another five posts cleaned out of my Drafts folder, and well into 2015. I don’t have that many left and as mentioned at the top it feels really good to do, like cleaning out your garage. I have to stay vigilant or it will just get messy again. There are some further insights on things I have thought about and pieces of what I thought about them, that never made it to full post status. None of these ones will either. If you are keeping track (you aren’t) I am 1-20 for future post keeping.

Spring Cleaning – Blog Draft Posts Part 3

Continuing this series until I get rid of all of my blog drafts in one form or another – either to complete the post, or kill it outright. This is part three of this series with parts one and two linked right there.

Not Buying the New Console – 9/2/2014

The snippet I had written for this post was a beauty of a run on sentence.

“Why would I?   My PC has an X-box controller The games are better the mods are better No backward compatibility is just STUPID! Steam streaming onto big TV’s is supposed to be awesome. Why?What do you game on? Tablet? Share Surface Pro stories. and links. Consoles? Both? Why is there an advantage? RAzr blade”

At the time I was pretty serious about not getting a new console (I did, eventually, 30 days later…) because I was pretty incensed that they didn’t offer backward compatibility. For a platform built off of PC gaming for the most part this was an overt cash grab. I didn’t want to have to keep two machines plugged in or get rid of the old games that were still fun. Blue Ray players play DVDs. PC’s are extremely backward compatible. The X-Box was built by a PC company. None of this added up for me and I had, at that time, made up my mind that I wasn’t going to buy one. I did vote with my wallet and went PS4 instead this time. The truth of the matter is that gamepad games are much more fun with your kid than over a computer, and I didn’t want to invest the time and energy to hook up my PC in such a way that big screen gaming was possible. I also like to separate my work and gaming computers. Anyway, all relevant things I was going to put into that post (for the most part) was in this sentence. Outcome: Deleted. Just like my willpower.

I’m No the Only Dummy Complaining about Sales! – 9/10/2014

Steam as a platform lost my loyalty a long time ago and I finally found another post that discussed how gaming is ruining itself as a race to the bottom platform. I had been saying that for a long time, that there is zero incentive to buy a game full price because there is a near 100% certainty you will get it at a far lower rate just by being patient. Even a few weeks later sales start. I know there is some irony in complaining about getting something you want anyway at a lower rate, but I do believe that the industry should support good practices and these sales zergs have set a precedent we can’t go back from.

All I had in the body was a link to the article, which I will link here for funzies. Outcome: Delete faster than full price lasts.

Online Spaces – 10/04/2014

I had written a lot on this draft but never pulled it together. He is the text in it’s cut and paste entirety.

“A lot of good chatter about servers lately.

The purpose of servers in gaming seems to have outlived its use in the first place. From a programming perspective servers served a few functions:

  • Limit the number of players in a specific place – server and programming limitations had to be taken care of. Too many players in a place could be bad for lag and code. Server access limits are still the norm.
  • Contain specific and varied rulesets – PVP, PVP, RP of each (etc.)
  • Service specific timezones – EU, NA, EST, PST, MST – some even have specific language servers.

While these items also became pertinent to the gamer, and from a gamer’s perspective servers had other, specific uses:

  • Created a community identity – I’m on Whisperwind! Uldum is the best! etc. There are often bragging rights up for grabs =)
  • Interdependency between gamers – limited people in limited spaces create needs (items, grouping) and wants (socialization, company) based on the community
  • Potentially isolated  existing relationships (wrong, separate servers) – half of my old guild went to one server, the other half to a different one – for different reasons.

Some games are shifting from this model to the GW2 or soon to be WildStar, MegaServer. The Megaserver (from what I can tell) grows and shrinks as per demand through area instancing. It has some benefits such as allowing you to play with your friends regardless of what server they were originally on, but also takes away any sense or thought of interdepency, or identifying with any particular community. Is that important anymore anyway?

The MMO tag on games is to encourage playing with one another – the truth is, playing with strangers is rare. Most games don’t force grouping with strangers and while it is convenient for a shared goal it usually doesn’t lead to long term commitments. I am not all hyped on the “must be online and group friendly” standard in games where I am forced to play alongside strangers. The analogy I like to use is a concert. Going to concerts is fun

  • Going to a concert by yourself
  • GOing to a coffee shop by yourself
  • These are not social activities.
  • So why is going to an online game, by yourself, considered social?
  • What tools are games providing to you to actually socialize, not just be an anonymous member in the crowd?

http://bhagpuss.blogspot.co.uk/

Old Servers worked well – dependency, community.”

I think you get the gist. I should have fleshed out the concert analogy more – the point being that while you may be in the same space as 25,000 other people, and that is part of the draw, you are only really interacting with a select few. You see I linked to Bhagpuss because he was chiming in on the issue (as I recall, as well as Murf and the Aggronaut as linked) and I believe at some point I realized it had been discussed to death. Once you miss the timing of making a relevant post it is almost too late to be a part of the discussion. “Hey guys, I want to chip in here too” – except everyone else has already moved on and talking about something else already. Outcome: Deletamundo.

Why No Game? (Dr. Who) – 12/12/14

I am years behind on the new Dr. Who. Season 3 on Netflix. I don’t watch much TV. I go through spurts and I was working on catching up on the series, when it struck me there were no Dr. Who games. The text I started:

“In my mission to be a healthy gamer I have spoken here before of the strategic placement of my elliptical – in front of a 60” LED TV with both a PS4 and Xbox 360 in front of it. Some games are very challenging in this environment (Destiny, The Last of Us) and others are pretty mindless and simple (Diablo III). However, this perch is also from where I watch Netflix shows and for all of it’s faults, Netflix is good at catching up on TV series. I am currently on the last episode of the second season of the new series of Doctor Who (David Tennant) and as I was 6km into my “run”, watching Torchwood files, the thought struck me. Why hasn’t there been a Dr. Who game?

Turns out there was (is?) but at the time they only went to UK folk. Still, the question remained (although modified) – why wasn’t there a good Doctor Who game out there? So, enter my Google-fu and much like most things in the world, turns out there was a lot more behind Doctor Who games than I originally thought. Instead of rehashing the history, there is a good article linked right here from The Register.

I believe it would be a commercial success and the backdrop (infinite alternate universes) would fit in all sorts of great backdrops and game styles – the only one I can’t see one squeezing into is FPS. I have been familar with Dr. Who my entire life and there are many like me, and he is on a very popular new renaissance over the past 10 years as well.”

While a stretch to have other timelords around it is one of the universes where having a million Dr. Whos actually makes sense with all the parallel universes and time shenanigans going off. The truth of the matter is I believe there is no Dr. Who game because developers haven’t figured out how to monetize known properties in a non-combat setting type of game. I mean, Dr. Who Smash Bros style just wouldn’t cut it. Outcome: Go back in time and delete the original thought to make this post to begin with.

This is very therapeutic. Fun to revisit where my head was only a couple of years ago while I spring clean my back end. (Wait, wut?)

Make Me the Hero. Or Don’t.

Being a Hero

I am a happy, artifact weapon wielding druid. They look amazing. I feel amazing. The quest was decent to get them. I am on my way in Legion.

High 5 anyone?

… and all of that is ruined by the crowd of other druids in my class hall that look exactly the same. I know Blizzard is stuck in the early 2000’s of “gear envy” – whereas those awesome raiders would stand around in the centre of towns and regular players would gawk at them and only dream of obtaining the same gear, which made them then try harder and stay invested in the game. That is long gone. With Transmog, people are more likely to pick an old favourite set to look like than the new raid gear. With gear being even easier to obtain than ever, there is no gear envy. It’s a silly concept.

Almost as silly as telling me I am the sole person who can wield the Claws of Ursoc. And then have 20 other druids beside me also wielding them.

I actually like the savoir story. it works in WoW, it really does! What would work better is putting that phasing technology to good use. Let the class hall be my personal domain. Or at bare minimum, if other druids are going to be out there, make it so no one I see has the Claws of Ursoc. Much like a toggle to see a helm or cloak, there should be a toggle to show other artifact weapons. As WoW has shown over the years, ignorance is bliss. Let me be the hero. Make me believe it. At least put in some effort to the illusion. Grant the same to every other player, and in visual appearance at least you can feel like a true hero. Not the one being lied to.

Questy McQuesterton

Last night was fun for another reason as well – Couchon hit 1500 quests during the Artifact quest. I had no clue he was even close to that milestone (or even what that represents..) Is 1500 quests a lot on a character that skipped all of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor?

Here is to 1500 more! Wait… let me chew on that.

Maybe. Maybe not. This is a benefit to the Achievement side of things in MMOs when you do something you were not aware of. I have never spent much time Achievement hunting but my new acceptance of Casual is as Casual does may make me pay more attention.

Artifact Checking

My initial plan with Legion was focus on my main, grow and build out his story. Of course, right after getting my Artifact quest I became instantly curious as to what my only other level 100 (My Paladin) would have to experience to get her artifact. And then I started thinking about my next closest two, my level 90’s (Rogue and Hunter) if they were to level to get theirs as well. I could also get to 100 pretty quickly if I rolled a Demon Hunter, and I haven’t even touched my level 100 boost yet! And… here I go again. My alt-itis is already driving me to do things I hadn’t planned on doing. That is OK though – I am in no rush. This is a bad time for me for the sole fact that I want to sustain my sub through the token system and every new expansion resets the AH expectations, which I will need to play heavily. I already started by Rogue in Warlords.

So much content, so much time, so little focus. With no raiding expectations and nowhere to be at any specific time this could be the best expansion yet.

Also, no guild. That is sadface. Having a hard time connecting with old friends since I wasn’t a big fan of the Battle.Net tag thing when I was still playing. Any Blognation communities formed around the expansion?

 

Real Hot Mess

I’m struggling finding fun in gaming right now.

It is definitely not for a lack of trying, I have been buying games like crazy and giving them a good chance to hook me. I even made blog posts about it, to try and drum up some momentum to get into a game or two and strengthen that tie and enjoyment with some good old fashioned blog posts. It’s just not happening. I have been abandoning games at an alarming rate this year and am just not finding that groove. I am completely jealous and envious with Bhagpuss who continues to find enjoyment in the same spaces and am struggling with a hobby I am not getting enjoyment from and missing terribly at the same time. As you can probably tell, the quality and frequency of my blog posts has also deteriorated. The struggle is real.

Looking back at my 2016 to date and my positive gaming time:

  • Destiny (Heavy time): I was on a nice schedule of an hour a day. I have all 3 classes at top level (not top gear, since I do not raid) and since the content has dried up I stopped playing. There are expansions on the  horizon (and sequels!) and that is something to look forward to.
  • EQ Progression Servers(Heavy Time): I shot myself in the foot here as I did three characters to level 30 (and had so much fun doing it) but took a step back when I heard they were launching a no-box server. When that server finally launched, I had a hard time chewing through the first 10 levels for a fourth time. Daybreak also nerfed quest XP and XP gains in general, so it was extra painful (even with XP bought potions.) I couldn’t get a good start again and the servers I had abandoned were leveling ghost towns (all end game).
  • Pillars of Eternity (Completed): A good RPG but I admit that near the end I was rushing to finish, not explore.
  • X-COM 2 (Completed): Fun game, but hard to pick up DLC when you already saved the planet!
  • March of the Living Dead (completed with one character): Really enjoyed this title but like many indie experiences, there wasn’t much reason to replay through as the encounters became familiar and repeated.
  • Portal Knights (ongoing, its gaming time with my 11  year old. Infrequent but checks a lot of good boxes)
  • ….is that it? Really?

That is a lot of single player experiences outside of EQ. Sure, Destiny is online but not a chat/social platform at this stage (unless you include pointing and dancing.) Looking back at 2016 to date with my stops / starts:

  • The Division (40% done): I grabbed this for the PS4 (and also received a free copy with my new laptop) and finished half of the main storyline (which was intriguing enough
  • Fallout 4 (60% done): I’m not sure when or why I stopped playing F4. I remember actively enjoying it and then… done. Not sure when or why that changed.
  • Landmark (toe dip)
  • Rimworld (three solid days, and lost interest)

I have even started reloading MMOs on my gaming drive “just in case”. Last time I checked I had EQ2 (highest level 18) ready to go, EQ (highest level 55), TSW, (in Egypt), SWTOR (level 22) And just this weekend, WildStar.

WildStar is my new “give it a go”. I did something in WildStar I never do (play the “bad” side) and this weekend was a blast as I worked on weakening a local tribe that was capable of building very powerful weapons, which made the Dominion nervous. They do not want any new, strong enemies. The action combat does wear on me (I read an article where it was changed from tab targeting half way through development – bad move!) but the stories are fun. I do want to get a max level for the story aspect – both sides. This is another MMO that for me would be better as a single player game – although, I do like some of the early dungeons when the queues used to pop. I just wish WildStar took itself a bit more seriously, there would be a great story there if there was less joking around and less 4th wall breaking. I think it could prove a worthy distraction. With quarterly revenues up, but low (2M USD equivalent) I’m afraid the game may go away before I get a chance to learn more about the planet.

I am struggling with WoW as a tempting revisit. I didn’t play a single level in Warlords (I did buy it at 75% off) but my pocket cleric from EQ Testserver (Candarie) messaged me – “Come tank for me B (Braack). Just like old times.” Candarie is still a full time gamer and I am now on the other end of the spectrum. A few hours a week is lucky for me, which makes commitment to anything in gaming worlds hard to do. For the first time in my life I feel like a big hot mess in gaming. I miss it, I wish I could make more time for it in my life, but something else would have to give. I am not quite ready to sacrifice my wife, family, work, or health.

Yet.

Spring Cleaning – Old Post Drafts #2

Continuing my Spring Cleaning project – here is my second post as I go through my drafts folder and decide to keep (and finish) old post thoughts or delete them away. The first post in this series is here.

“I Don’t Use Steam Much Anymore” (8/7/2014)

Steam is that ultra convenient platform that I have had some bad experiences with. I go swathes of time without updating the service. This particular post outline had four bullet points and nothing more. They were:

  1. It doesn’t know my birthday – this always drives me crazy about Steam when I want to watch a video game video. It has my credit card information on file, that’s great for when I buy games, but god forbid it knows my birthday and allows me to watch any video that my birthday qualifies me for without having to re-input it. A basic quality of life change (that probably shouldn’t bother me as much as it does, but it does. Just one of those things.)
  2. They suck to deal with – I still recall the worst purchase experience of my life when I bought a game for $19.99 on one day, and it went 90% off the next day ($1.99) and Steam refused to credit me the difference. I didn’t even want money back, just a credit, and I’ll go buy another game with it (that would have cost more than $18). They refused. No other retailer would get away with that.
  3. It’s a race to the bottom pricing event – that does not build loyalty. Steam is to gaming as Subway is to food. It’s convenient. It’s always there. They both just charge cheaper and cheaper and give it away, and not necessarily getting better at it or making a product that is good for you.
  4. F@ck me. (yes, it said that. I have no clue what that means, or what kind of day I was having in August 2014, but that was my moment of clarity – so it seems.)

Outcome: Delete due to being same old same old. Steam will be that platform I’ll never reconcile with due to the past and what I feel it does to the market, but I also know I am in an extreme minority in that viewpoint. I will still use it when I see a good deal or feel like I have to, but I will never be a big fan.

“Payment Models – Analogies” (8/8/2014)

This post has been done to death and keeps coming around. The constant “what is best” (B2P, F2P, Subscription, Early Access, etc. etc.). I tried to simplify things by using analogies but some of them weren’t that great and the clarity and end to this debate we are all seeking to find was not going to be found in here anyway. I used a concert as B2P, a street performer as F2P, and social assistance / welfare for Subscription. All decent ones but analogies are so imperfect because they aren’t the actual things you are talking about. I think by now people just have their own personal comfort zones on each and no amount of debate of analogies (good or bad) will change that.

Outcome: Delete due to dead horse kicking. As much fun as that is.

“Half Full” (4/4/2014)

Check out these awesome notes on this post, in their full entirety (including punctuation and capitalization)

COol story – half full, half empty HAS BEER

Syp, Syl

Attitude of bloggers

I feel whiny

That’s it. I literally had to look at this for a while and think “WTF was I talking about…” and after thinking through it came to the clear and obvious conclusion that bloggers like Syp and Syl are just positive all around, half full kind of people. I love their “tone” of blogging.They can make their points clearly in a non-whining or condescending manner. I like that. Sometimes when I post ranty I feel/worry that I am just coming across like a whiny baby. Maybe that is due to people just generally being harder on themselves (by people, I mean me) but I am unsure – DO I come across whiny? I don’t even have a full grasp on my own blog’s “tone”. I think that is because I write in whatever kind of mood I am in at the time.Constructive criticism, not fishing for anything but the truth!

Many bloggers have their own tone – everyone knows Syncaine’s, etc. The good news is, regardless, that I mentioned beer in a post. I need more posts with beer. Outcome: Delete. And drink a beer.

“Is it September Already” (8/30/2014)

Well, according to that draft date, no. No it isn’t Isey.

The notes for this post were another piece of inspirational magic.

August Review

Stop me if you have heard this one before. A blogger that does a full and comprehensive month end review, what an amazing idea! Maybe I should do that!

Sarcasm aside, I love TAGN’s monthly review posts but he has the chops, pedigree, and consistency to make those posts awesome and fun to read. It’s a short history trip every month about his blog but also for gaming in general with the 5/10 year look backs. I was definitely inspired by him to think about doing a post like that and especially because it was on the heels of Blaugust (which I completed) so I actually had a lot to review for a change. It never did happen, of course. Also, like the late night cram the day before exams, I clearly wasn’t willing to put the necessary work in. He can keep that all to himself, quite safely. Outcome: Delete due to way too much work to do and now irrelevant.

“Swap Free to Play” (8/31/2014)

Look, I know I had a ton of posts started in August and very few of them fleshed out. This was mostly because of the daily Blaugust event you had to always be thinking of ideas to post about. I did, at least. I really enjoyed the event and it  fired me back up to blogging – if even just as a therapeutic method of getting through a long end of summer. Every once in a while I get completely inspired to try something new. There are so many creative people out in the interwebs and Blognation doing awesome parodies and videos and songs. I have no talent like that. I was an inspiring young rapper back in my white privileged middle class upbringing in small town Canada, so I do fancy myself a lyricist. I once linked (probably all dead links now) a bunch of video game related things to the lyrics of “Don’t Believe the Hype” by my all time favourite band Public Enemy (I am not even kidding. Chuck D was a visionary.) I am almost embarrassed that I desecrated that revolutionary track lyrics that way.

Again, a lot of thought put into this Blaugust draft.

Heyyy, hooy

Hip hop hooray song

Unlike others where I can claim the 5th (can Canadians do that?) and faux confusion about what the hell was I thinking, I do remember this one clearly. It was the beginning of a rap parody of Naughty By Nature’s “Hip Hop Hooray”. Which you should 100% know, but just in case:

So the basis of the parody was taking the lyrics and turning into how a poorly planned MMO launch would have to “Swap Free to Play, hoooo, heyyy, hoooo” Here is a snippet of the original:

You drew a picture of my morning
But you couldn’t make my day, Hey!
I’m rockin’ and you’re yawning
But you never look my way, Hey!
I’m lickin down you darlin’
In every single way, Hey!
Your funny flow is foreign
And a green card’s on the way!

to the video game themed

You spent 100 million

But you couldn’t make me pay, Hey!

Your built another wow clone

It plays exactly the same way, Hey!

You had 200 programmers cramming

And tomorrow is payday, Hey!

Your bank account is empty

There is no other way!

 

Swap Free to Play, heeey hooo heeeyy hooooo

Now picture a bunch of nerds in the video above jamming to that. Outcome: Deleting to save the world from that disaster.

I feel like deleting these old drafts instead of bringing them to fruition is some sort of public service.

Blognation, you are welcome.

Spring Cleaning: Old Post Drafts (Part 1)

All bloggers have a bunch of post drafts started that either get revisited and completed or sit in post purgatory, waiting to be further inspired or expanded. I hate letting those linger. I have a slew of them in my folder and for funzies decided to go through them and either finish them off or delete them. I have done a pretty solid job of not letting them hang around too much with the oldest one only backdated to 2014. For each I’ll list the title and the gist of the post depending on what I had in the body, and what I plan to do with it. The result will be a nice and tidy back end for I HAS PC. (Mind out of the gutter please)

“Stats Fun” (2/26/2014)

This entire post was in reference to one I read over at Kill Ten Rats that made my day – which in turn linked to an XCKD comic about germs. The basis was that in a world of seven billion people “one in a million” events happen seven thousand times a day. I found that very cool, and made a post saying that it was cool. That post had absolutely nothing to add to the conversation in any way, shape, or form and I didn’t complete it or continue it for that reason. That is why I am giving it the Outcome: delete here too. I didn’t even save the link on the draft, which is a shame, because I still remember how much I loved that post.

Here is a link to that comic though, Google found that easy. I sent it to a woman in my office who is a germophobe and a uses hand disinfectant often. She hates me now.

“Patent Trolls” (3/20/2014)

The entire body of the post was just a link to an article I read on the Economist about patent trolls that I must have felt strongly about one way or another, but I didn’t go beyond the link. I often email myself things as a reminder to think about them or revisit them and here is that same sort of style. I clearly wanted to do something with it, but didn’t, so now I am  Outcome:deleting it as a post that never was (or will be)

“WildStar – Over The Shoulder Shooter with RPG Elements?” (3/31/2014)

First off (to get it out of the way) yes, I know, it is called a 3rd person shooter. Someone corrected me on that on another blog recently – I do not know why I have a hard time remember that. The term always escapes me and I default to the less eloquent (yet truthful) “over the shoulder…” tag instead. I am working on it. This post started as a response to the first WildStar video I saw, and was yet again a look at gaming terminology and how it is inadequate. MMO, quite literally, is any game that is online with other people. There is no succinct or precise number accepted by the industry. “Massively” is not defined. In this post I explored that due to the action style of the videos I was watching for WildStar whether or not we could consider it more like Mass Effect than WoW as it definitely played more like it. I gave suggestions on some other, equally terrible acronyms such as MMO for marketers to use (for free!) such as:

  • LBOG (Lobby Based Online Game) – this would suit Diablo, Destiny, etc. quite well (and more accurate than MMO)
  • FPSRPG (First Person Shooter Role Playing Game – genre-bending! Great buzzwords for a marketing department)
  • OSORPG – I have NO CLUE what I meant by this one. Only Sometimes Online RPG? Hrmpf. Stumped here.

While the Outcome:delete here is obvious due to it being a bad post all around and the WildStar train has left the station, I do feel somewhat good that games like Destiny and The Division are showing that “MMOs” don’t need traditionally interconnected zones to be considered a world. I have argued for a while now that World of Warcraft could be better suited as a lobby based game and that I think it will end up there in a couple expansion cycles, once it is available on consoles. I feel more connected in the Destiny world than I have in a long time on Azeroth. I also, not oracle-like in that article said I would go play WildStar when it went F2P. It didn’t take a genius to call that at that time, trying to launch a hardcore sub game in a world of quality free-to-plays, even that early in its life cycle.

“MMO Connections” (3/31/2014)

I am a nostalgic fool to a fault. I get sad when I visit old places that have gaming meaning to me (in game) and even when I visit my old message boards from the EQ test days I get a lump in my throat. It’s odd, and probably unhealthy.  I can’t even really put my finger on it. My old WoW guild boards are gone, but they restarted them (only to see the guild look like it stopped raiding and growing, in “comfort mode” and they have new boards that I sometimes visit just to see who is there and what is going on. I felt so connected to so many people from my raiding days. I would literally spend 30-40+ hours a week with them – so yes, I miss them. I do have to let that all go sometime though. One a larger note, this is why I will probably never feel satisfied with any MMO again because I can’t dedicate that time ever again – and it is that kind of commitment that really makes a game special. I sorted out quite a while ago that it was me, not them that was the problem. (Them being MMOs). Anyway – back to the point, of which Nostalgia is strong.

This site, The Burial Grounds, was hosted and organized by an old guildmate of mine from DAOC. It was a great premise – when you were done your adventures with your online characters there were monuments for them. There are unique designs, banners, tombstones, everything, including where they lay (and shooting star backgrounds!). It also worked as a way to connect old gaming friends together as many people remember the character name more than the human being name (not judging). It was multi-game and I think a great, fun service. He stopped posting there in 2008 but I always thought it should be brought back to life as a great way for people to find old friends. Here is an example.

Due to my strong feelings about this, I am going to Outcome: Save and Finish this post at a later date. Maybe instead of waiting for someone else to retake up the mantle, I will!

“What Gets Measured Gets Done” (5/1/2014)

This was a post from WildStar beta where they rank your performance based off of stats. I lamented on a  I was 3rd in DPS (out of three), 1st in staying alive, and 2nd in healing. I received a bronze reward for this. It bothered me because I knew how hard healing was in Stonetalon Lair (at the time, in beta, anyway – when it was all hardcore) so on my action slots I took a heal over time ability to help take the pressure off of the healer on my rotation. This did make my DPS suffer a bit but I felt I should have been better rewarded by staying alive the best and also propping up the healer. Instead, the tunnel vision DPS guys get the glory. And the girls, apparently. I don’t even know if that mechanic is even measured in WildStar anymore and it isn’t like anyone is playing, right? I’m so sadface about WildStar – I really wanted to get through the main story line but it forces me to feel like I need to take Ritalin just to play longer than an hour. It is not working for me.The concept of measuring is still valid in MMOs in general, and has been debated to death and back to life again (post zombification?) and I have nothing new or exciting to add to that discussion in that post. Outcome: Delete due to relevance

There will be a few parts to this as an ongoing “feature” until I clean it all out. It is fun to look back before moving forward.

Spam Posts as a Measure of Popularity

All of my spam posts caught in my Askimet filter are about two games right now, split pretty much right down the middle.

Blade and Soul and Runescape.

Most of them are  about selling gold in those two games.

What does this mean? Is there really that big of a market for gold in either that it’s worth spamming about? Or is my blog specifically targeted to those two games because of things I post? (nothing about either, ever, that I recall)

Perhaps they are telling me that is where I need to be, or they are measuring some quality of those titles against my writing.

Outlook is bleak.

At least the Russians stopped harassing me.

 

Worst Enemies and Lists

Happy New Year!

I have been playing my same old boring games, but feel compelled to update briefly. This post is composed of two subject matters, and two lists!

Gaming List

  1. Fallout 4: I am 45 hours in and just went back to the main story line. I just did the Glowing Sea, as a point of reference for those who have finished the main story arc (I have no clue if that makes me close or far away..). It is so easy to get sidetracked in that game and I absolutely love exploring and following breadcrumbs. Still, that makes me feel like a terrible father as I do have an abducted son out there somewhere I should go find. Oh look! Meat sacks! What could possibly be in THAT building?
  2. EQ TLP: Cabby my Wizard is level 8 now and done Orc Hill, and about to enter Crushbone. I love the zen of grind in EQ. I still think I am going to unsubscribe for a bit. I hate feeling like I am not getting time in to justify a subscription, so it is one of those titles where I may sub for a month, take one off, go back, etc.
  3. WoW. Yes, WoW. 75% off Draenor made me buy that, but I haven’t resubbed. Add to that I actually had a good experience with a CSR from Blizzard (shocker!) and received 7 days free time. My wife goes away on a business trip next Tuesday which gives me 4 uninterrupted nights of gaming. I am going to go back to WoW to play in WoD. No clue who I am taking through, probably my Paladin so I can tank 5 mans. If 5 mans are still a thing. I wish Shaman were tanks..

Lifestyle List

Continuing with my “I has health” theme I am going to caution you on who will become your worst enemies if you decide to go down the path of living a healthier lifestyle. This list may be a little sad. This is in order from not so bad to absolute worse. Without further ado – my ‘Worst Enemies” list, from personal experience.

  1. Your friends. We all have them, those really fun, awesome friends. One of mine, who likes to drink 10+ beer a night on weekends is constantly and incessantly harassing me for only drinking three or four a night with him over the same time period. Three or four is actually a lot. I have learned self control. I like beer. I like friends. I just don’t feel the need to get out of control, completely plastered, and make an ass out of myself (and feel equally as terrible the next day.) Oh, I still have my benders – but I pick and choose those nights. I don’t want to do them regularly. Really special occasions, etc. You will have people who don’t want to change their lifestyle pick on you for changing yours. The answer to them: ” I don’t judge you for your lifestyle, don’t judge me for mine. We’re friends. I support that you like to cut loose. Support me that I want to tighten it up.” Worst case scenario: you make new friends that align more with your values. It shouldn’t have to come to this, and if it does, it is on them, not you.
  2. Your spouse/significant other. If you already have one, and they are comfortable with you and your life. I have had my wife (of all people) tell me she now finds me unattractive. I am too skinny. I care too much about what I eat (I drink wine and eat peanut butter cups daily!). I get up too early (and workout, then take the dogs out, then make breakfast for everyone, and lunch for school for my son, and coffee for her, all before she steps out of bed 2.5 hours later than me). Sounds like a pretty good deal. Still, to be fair, she has gained weight while I lost it – so she is probably trying to tear me down instead of build herself up because she isn’t happy with herself. You may face the same obstacle. The answer to them: “Let’s do this together. Just try a couple times a week with me. Start slow and see if you like it”. Worst case scenario: it is actually kind of scary to think that you have to choose between improving your personal health and lifestyle and someone you love. Divorce isn’t something that anyone wants to explore so you really need to find common ground. Just don’t sacrifice a long and healthy life to keep that.
  3. Yourself. Probably not a big surprise, but you are the one person who can most easily and efficiently stop you on your own journey. That is a sad truth. As Henry David Thorough once said “Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. what a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate.” Scary stuff to face against – yourself. The answer to you: “I will do my best and take small steps to get to the long term goal I want. I want to live a long and rewarding life. I choose to own my health and wellness.” Worst case scenario: You fall down and fail. Often. The best part is, you control whether you get back up or not.

The good news of all of this is that it gets easier. It really does. The negative voices get quieter as you surround yourself with people that now understand, or new people. Your body gets less sore with each effort. You get into a routine where being active is just as normal as eating and breathing. You just have to start and not give up.

Day One is Tomorrow

I last posted about how I am going to post more about my personal health journey and things I learned that worked for me. This is very fitting being New Years Eve today, with a whole host of resolutions to be made by a big chunk of the world to start tomorrow!

And most of them fail.

That is because a lot of the goals aren’t realistic, and besides, people don’t really want to do them, they just know that they should. When I was a smoker I tried quitting a dozen times. The first 11 I didn’t even really want to quit, but I knew that I should. So I’d say I was quitting, make it anywhere from a day to a month, and then do what I really wanted to do. I really wanted to smoke. It wasn’t until I truly wanted to quit smoking that I did – and deep down I knew it was time, and I was looking forward to stopping. I quit and never lit up again. I don’t even remember being a smoker now.

That is what happens during resolutions. People say what they think they want, or what they think other people want for them, and make that a goal. If you don’t feel it deep down in your core that you truly want to do something or make that change then don’t say that you will. Be honest with yourself.

All that being said, if you want to make healthy changes, here are my three  simplest tips:

  1. Start tomorrow. The next day is always Day One. You don’t need to plan for a year from now. You can set a longer term goal, sure, but really, just set a goal for the next day. That way when you slip up and “fail” a day (which you eventually will!) you just reset and go the next day. Some days I would wake up and plan on working out but didn’t have it in me and I would play video games instead. You have to let yourself have the room to enjoy the things you love, but don’t use them as an excuse to skip your goals.
  2. Wake up early. Even those times when I meant to work out and didn’t, I still got out of bed. I know that can be hard for a lot of late night gamers but I started waking up at 6am, then 5:30, and now 5:00 – and I still go to bed at the same time. When you are healthier you sleep better. I get 6.5 hours a night and it feels like I get 9 hours that I used to take. When the rest of the world is asleep your time is yours. No kids, no spouse, no work. That is your time to rise and shine.
  3. It’s the journey not the destination. You read about these huge changes that happen “overnight” but those are often years of dedication. Don’t get caught up in the end goal, get focused on the next day, Day One.

I am going to post by “before” and “after”. I didn’t take a proper before (honestly, I didn’t feel good enough to!) and before I do, I want to make one thing clear: I am a bit uncomfortable posting this (I always have been in my own skin) but also this is not to be vain or “look at me” – but it is just to show what small steps lead to. Besides, I don’t even care about how my body looks now – what I do care about is how I feel about myself now.

On the left I was 38, 230 lbs, smoked a pack a day. I did some sports like Hockey, but I’d play for an hour and then drink 4 beer and eat 2 pounds of chicken wings. (I still play hockey, and I still drink beer after the game.) On the left, I was incredibly unhappy with almost everything in my life. I was borderline depressed. I smoked first thing when I got up and last thing when I went to bed. I wasn’t attentive to my child. I was unhappy and self absorbed. I ate out a lot.

On the right, just a month ago, I am 41 and 180 pounds. I don’t smoke. I still love wine with dinner and beer with friends, but I eat better. I love cooking and make sure I have leftovers that I can take for lunch the next day to work so I don’t eat out. I eat healthy but delicious food. I actually like Broccoli.

The left to right transformation wasn’t overnight, it took three years, and I took small steps along the way.

First step (year one)  was to work on my diet and try to be more active. Just 2-3 times per week. That’s it. At that you aren’t going to see any big changes anytime soon and that isn’t the point – the point is to create new habits. Go out for an hour walk, get on a treadmill, elliptical, etc. Just make sure you start moving more often every week. Start finding good foods to eat that you like and cook with less butter and salt (less, not none!). Make small steps.

Second step (year two) was to increase the intensity and frequency of my workouts. Instead of cardio, I started doing HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) such as Insanity, etc. They lasted 45 minutes and I could barely finish them, but I did the best I could. I also started doing some weights (what I felt I could handle). I still had a sweet tooth but didn’t deny myself anything – I just made sure I balanced it with good workouts.

Third step (last 12 months), where I am at today, is a 5 day a week 45 minutes per day mid to heavy compound exercise routine, with hockey 2x a week (on top of it) AND I do cardio a couple times a week if I feel like it. Always under an hour. It doesn’t feel like work it is complete ME time. I get up at 5:00 am, have a coffee and read news, etc. until 5:30, and then work out until 6:30 – and my family doesn’t get up until 7:00 – 7:15. By then I have breakfast ready for everyone, lunches packed for school, dogs fed and taken out.

And I feel amazing.

My outlook on life has changed. I eat what I want when I want, including sweets and eating out, but I balance that with being active and eating healthy foods (that I now LOVE! – I never thought I could eat broccoli. now it is one of my favourites. It took a lot of time to get there.)

At times, especially end of year one and into year two I would get frustrated. I didn’t feel great. I didn’t look different. It took me a while to change my perspective that I’d have abs and pecs after light workouts and cardio. I’d beat up on myself when I became lazy or skipped workouts. I had the wrong perspective. I am really glad I stuck with it because at some point my perspective about everything changed and I realized I was doing this to be healthy, live a longer, more fulfilling life, and be happier – not to look like a fitness model. After that things became a lot easier. Getting up was easier. It became fun. It became routine, and once it was routine it became easy.

It took three years. You won’t change overnight and you won’t change on a resolution – but I promise you if start taking small steps you can get to where you want to be.

Day One is tomorrow.

I Has Happy Holidays!

Hi Everyone.

Just a quick note – I am on a beach right now not thinking about blogging, but spending time with my family and thinking about the world. There is so much unrealized potential and I hope as a global community we start treating each other the way we need to.  I wish nothing but the absolute best to you and your family, and I say that with the utmost sincerity. Lets all focus on being better people, and better to those around us. That small initiative will spread quite far and wide if everyone just treated everyone within ten feet of them with the respect and dignity human beings deserve.

Cheers my friends, both old and yet to be. May the upcoming year be the one step of many.

You don’t have to wear a cape to be somebody’s hero.

As Always,

Isey (Chris)

I HAS PC, Life and Interwebs

Where to Fit(bit) In!

Blogging has been a struggle as of late – I am playing four games, four of which are “out of date”, and I am plodding along at my own pace within them. I am not discovering anything new about these games (or myself playing them) and all of that adds up to the deeper questions of “where do I fit in” and “can I produce anything worth reading” in and for Blognation. High School all over again! Thankfully now that I am in my 40’s I do not have the care or worry about what other people think of me, because you get to that point in your life where you just realize you are what you are and you have what you have. This goes to most things physical, emotional, and spiritual at this stage. Perhaps that realization is enough to share and the young whipper snappers can appreciate that! Although there are far more persons with far more wise views on life in general, and as already mentioned, I am at peace with that.

Should I write about my EQ Wizard grinding CB again (for joy and levels), my level 16 max-charisma persona in Fallout 4 saving the wasteland (one cleared out building at a time), my new Ranger in Pillars of Eternity sorting out what it is he needs to sort out, or my Sword/Fist Templar plodding through Egypt in TSW? This is where my foreseeable gaming is taking me – I am enjoying each in the bite sizes I have and do not feel the need to venture into anything new. I am more likely to go in the other direction and go to older titles that are sitting installed.  This makes me a pretty terrible gaming commentator (writing style, grammar, and other generalities aside!) although I have still been poking my nose into other blogs to comment here and there. I love consuming community generated content.

So I am venturing into some newer territory and will be trying some posts on the ‘Life’ part of the tagline of the blog (‘Life and Interwebs’) and talk about things I have learned about health. Not just physical health, but mental and emotional as well. Oh, I’ll tie it into gaming where I can and where it makes sense, but Arywen noted once that gamers typically (or stereotypically?) tend to use their spare time to game instead of eating healthy and/or using their time to exercise. I am in the food industry (healthier for you fast casual) and have made health important in my life. Not above all else, but it is there as part of my life balance. And it wasn’t always that way.

in 2013 I was 230 pounds and smoked a pack a day. I loved smoking. I smoked the first thing when I woke up, and last thing before I went to bed. I was active in some sports (baseball and hockey) but those were largely leagues based around “beer” and camaraderie. Skate for an hour and then drink 4-6 beer and eat 2 lbs of chicken wings. The activities after the athletics not only completely negated the activity itself, but probably everything active for the entire day. I didn’t sleep well, I didn’t manage stress well, I didn’t eat well, and although I was a generally pleasant person to be around, I wasn’t really happy. I had a great job. I had a great kid. My wife and I weren’t really connected but we had a good life together. Things just fit out of balance.

Fast forward to today and I do an activity nearly every single day. I get up at 5:00am and exercise before the rest of my family gets up. I cook everyday, and make food that tastes amazing AND is healthy too. I am going to share a lot of my journey with you here, in bits and pieces and what I feel is relevant. Maybe it will inspire you to make small, positive changes in your life. Maybe you don’t care and are already completely happy with where you are in your life. I promise nothing here but to share my honesty on what I do and who I am, and how I feel it has benefited me. I am in the best place in my life, for the most part, and it has had a positive outlook on my stress, my relationships, my work, my free time, and overall, my outlook on life. I will share mindsets, workouts, heck, even recipes! Plus whatever good habits I think I have developed that are worth sharing. The main starting point is that it has been a long journey, I am far from perfect, but focus on it every day and feel like I moving in the right direction. I am not not a doctor or professional trainer, so take any advice through that lens.

Starting small here, and tying it back to the title, I bought a Fitbit. Not just for myself, but for my entire corporate team (45 of them). “Gamifying” health is one easy way to get gamers started. Fitbit has a clear set of daily goals (that you can set for your own pace) that is in simple format, and covers all aspects of basic health. Number of steps, glasses of water, calories burned, hours of sleep, number of floors climbed, daily activity minutes, and miles walked. It is on your phone or on a webpage and is just a constant, small reminder of some small but important things you should be doing everyday. The fun part has also been tracking how things I do affect my body. Here, for example, is one night when I played hockey (complete with a picture of me playing hockey, which Fitbit doesn’t do)

Now I am pretty sure the Fitbit slid over my taped wrist at that big drop off, but other than that is neat to see. Generating interest is part of generating habits – you get interested in a game and you play. So, as a motivator, the Fitbit has been a hit. Same for the team – you see people challenging each other and pushing each other to be more active. It has been fun to see. It will be even more interesting to see how long that effect lasts. I’ll still talk about gaming that feels right to talk about, and this isn’t a wholesale change in blog format or anything – just a newer focus I am going to play on some posts with in the new year. I have a vacation coming up (hot, island, far south!) but it will be fun to step into this just in time for everyone’s resolutions in the new year.

Santa Isn’t Real

Well, the cat is out of the bag.

Oh, not for me. I knew about that a long time ago. Give me some credit.

My 10 year old asked the big question last night as we were getting him ready for bed. He is in a grade 5/6 split class (due to Ontario regulations on class sizes it’s a weird setup this year – there are 4 split classes) and some of the grade 6 kids were letting other, younger kids in on the ‘scam’. I knew this question was coming eventually and had prepared myself somewhat for it. Instantly, after the question, I wanted to draw from my own experiences – how did I feel when i found out for the first time, and I couldn’t recall it at all. I have either completely suppressed the experience and it could/will come out in some devious personality quirk and/or moment of high stress and/or weakness, or it really wasn’t that eventful to me to begin with. I am hoping for the latter.

The conversation went pretty smooth. (using a lot of Sons and Dads in the language to clearly outline who is talking. We don’t talk to each other that way normally, just illustrative purposes!)

“Dad, is Santa real?”

“No, he isn’t.”

<cue tears bursting out>

“Son, its okay. I know this is hard to understand.” <hugs and fatherly comfort>

“Dad, I just feel so stupid. I used to get so excited when I got a Santa gift. It meant I was good to people and things and now I just feel so dumb”

“Son, it is important to realize the spirit of Christmas and why we do that to begin with. Maybe in the old days there really was a man who made and gave gifts out to all the good little kids, but what is important to live on is that we need to be good to one another, take care of your family, and appreciate each other. That is what the spirit of Santa is all about. And now that you know that.”

“Dad – you are telling me you would buy yourself gifts from Santa too, why would you do that?”

“It was to ensure you believed that Mom and Dad were good too.”

“Where did you hide everything Dad?”

“Not telling you son, we still use those spaces to hide other things. Surely you can see that one person, even magical, couldn’t do every single house in the world in a night, and that parents have to band together to make that happen. Magic still exists but often it is just in the way people treat one another positively.”

“What about the Easter Bunny Dad?”

“That’s me too. Kind of creepy to think there is a bunny running around our house when we are sleeping, no?”

“The Tooth Fairy came and left me $20 just last week….”

“That’s me too Son. And I didn’t have anything smaller. Trust me, I heard it from the other parents about that one too..”

And we sat and talked for a while about a whole host of topics around holidays and the things parents do to make them special for their kids. It was a really good conversation. I told him that every kid learns this at their own time and place and to try and keep it special for other kids until they learn from their parents. Some learn of this really young, some older, everyone has their own time frame. He knows there are kids on his hockey team that still do and decided that it was best to let them enjoy it while they could.

My son is also a bit of a smartass sometimes, and the next day when he was waiting for his bus outside of our house and I drove past him to go to work I put my window down, told him that I loved him and that I hoped he had an awesome day at school and that I would see him afterwards.

He replied:

“Thanks Santa”

gave a huge smile, and off I went.

Maybe he is going to turn out ok afterall.

Half Pregnant

They say you can’t be half pregnant.  This is what slows me down from blogging, the thought that you are either in or out. I’m on the line. It has been awhile since I have posted and like most excuses reasons, they are varied and plentiful. It was partly time, passion, focus, desire and gaming. The Pie chart would look like this:

I know. Fancy. I still read a lot of blogs but I used to dedicate some serious time to reading and writing. Hobbies are fun and all, but I found new ones that also took away my time. At one point I thought I would shutter the blog on my anniversary (August 27th, Happy 7th!) but that felt really melodramatic and over the top. Especially for something that I have loved so long. If I set it free I wasn’t so sure it would come back, and being a nostalgic fool that would be hard to handle.

I have really stepped up being healthy. I get up at 5:00 am everyday, have a coffee, read the news, and then work out. I track my progress and stay focused. I have lost a lot of bad weight and added good muscle weight. I also have been focusing a lot on my diet. I feel happier, healthier, stronger and more satisfied with how I feel. I think it might add years to my life. I still drink beer and eat bad food now and again, but it’s in balance. This does seriously cut into my gaming time as I used to play late night when my wife went to bed. With a 5:00 am wake up time, I know that time is better spent with the sleep I need. C’est la vie, something always has to give!

And yet here I am. A burning desire to belong to Blognation ™ and to write, and to game (and think about gaming). Here I am, half blog-pregnant.

But I have been gaming!

The Everquest TLP servers have been amazing. I finally stepped away after getting multiple toons into the 30s as there is a promise of a bot-free TLP coming around Christmas time. One character logged in at a time would really take away the distractions of having every named camp perma-camped by AFK mages. It is a big problem. Also, the single person running full raid teams. I am looking forward to really playing it again once they launch that server as interdependence and team play was key in the core experience. The best part about EQ TLP is that they did modernize grouping and looting, while retaining a lot of the magic. I just do not want to invest more time in characters that I will be leaving behind, and preserve much more of the core experience when I go back. They haven’t announced whether or not you can transfer there (guessing no) but if that announcement comes that you can I may continue a bit. Either way, strange to believe that my time in Everquest actually isn’t over after all these years – and in many ways it is the only place providing a satisfying MMO experience.

True to my word, I am playing WildStar again! I said I would go back when it went F2P and I am there. I am really enjoying the story line and even the 5 man adventures. I do plan to take one Exile and one Dominion to cap to experience the story. It is a fun, furiously-paced game and in many ways is EQ-opposite but a nice spacey distraction when I have 30 minutes to play. They have fixed a lot of what made that game less fun and it’s worth playing now that  you can do it at your own pace. I will be giving them some money soon, as I do like supporting games that provide me with fair entertainment for my time.

I also downloaded Project Reality 1.3, which is now a standalone product. I am hungry for a FPS experience and this one was the best one out there, so I am going back. The download just finished last night (all 6+ gigs) and really looking forward to carving out some time to play. It is another one of those games that really need you to dedicate distraction free and focused gaming to get the most out of (and give the most in). Project Reality has provided the best platform for  memorable FPS gaming and it’s gritty realistic and rewarding of patient game play (and team play) is completely different from the other options out there.

EQ tore me away from The Secret World and although I am only playing it for the single player experience, there is a lot left to enjoy there and I also recently updated it. I am still at the savage coast and a ton left there to explore as well.

Feels good to write and good to be back to pluck away at things.

History is Important

I appreciate learning the history of things. Often, I think this comes with age. It’s not enough to just live in moment amongst the new – a lot of amazing things have happened in our world. Learning about them is important. I travel quite a bit for work and pleasure and when I get an opportunity to learn about the origin of things I do. This sometimes runs contrary to my normal likes and dislikes. For example, on a recent trip to Nashville I did the Grand Ol Opry tour. I don’t even like country music. What I did like was learning about the history, joy, and importance of a single building that has been very important to country music. It was a couple hours very well spent. Hee Haw.

I find every time I open my mind to learning about the origins of something (anything really – from Steamwhistle to Tobasco Sauce to Mayan civilizations) I appreciate that thing more. Everything has an origin story and some capture and record it better than others. In the example above of Tobasco, they have a full time PHD historian tracking the efforts and actions of the founders of the brand and historical artifacts – of a hot sauce. It is actually a very cool story. Many do not have such care for the past and doing so  is a good thing in a ‘what have you done for me lately’ society.

So naturally, when Zubon posted about Dr. Bartle’s post I felt it important for me to also repost and link to it. I don’t normally repost a post linking another post but as menioned in the prior paragraphs history is important. History about something you genuinely have passion for feels even moreso. The passion I have for gaming is pretty much the main reason why I blog in the first place.

All of this is history that needs to be recorded. It’s just not right for pioneers to be forgotten merely because they didn’t make millions from it. There are games historians today who think that virtual worlds began with Ultima Online or (for bonus points!) Meridian 59. A hundred years from now, there may be young researchers who are arguing in their PhDs that World of Warcraft had something to do with it. I won’t care myself, of course, as I’ll be dead; I care right now that few people care right now, though.

Hopefully by sharing this other people will care.

I do, sir.