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.

Goalie Equipment and Mask Design

I am not sure if I have mentioned it here before, but I am a hockey goaltender. I spent my life playing the position and even now that I cracked the big four oh, I still play two to three times a week (in the winter). It’s fun exercise, allows me to still draw on my competitive nature, and overall, sit and have a beer with the guys a few times a week. Being a hockey goalie tends to come with certain expectations – one being that we are all crazy because we like vulcanized rubber hurdled in our direction at 100+ MPH (and we try to get in the way with it). I’ve had my own superstitions over the years and still dress left side first, every game. Heck, even my warm up stretches haven’t changed since I was sixteen years old. I can’t argue about there being screws loose. I mean, you have read some of my articles, haven’t you?

I have worn NHL pro level gear my entire hockey life. I was fortunate to have access to it. The gear that I have worn for the last eight years smells like it has been worn for eight years. Part of it is held together with duct and hockey tape. I have far outworn the lifetime of the gear but at the same time it just worked for me and of course had a lot of magic in it. Still, it’s time this year, with my 50/50 winnings from my fabled Les Habitants, I am replacing ALL of my gear. Although I am not playing pro level hockey I am still in two competitive leagues and I figured I will try to play for the rest of my life – so I am buying pro level gear, one more time. Part of me is really excited because the technology has changed so much – cross crease slides should be quicker and pucks should sting less (yes, the do hurt when hitting certain parts). So that is exciting. One change that will be REALLY weird for me is that in order to help increase scoring in the NHL a few years ago they made the maximum pad width 11″ – down from 12″. I am still using 12″ pads. From what I heard from my goalie brethren it actually increases agility by decreasing weight so it is a net benefit. Sorry for my ramble, I am guessing this isn’t nearly as exciting for you as it is for me.

Most of my gear (pads, glove, blocker) will be predominantly white. An optomistrist did a study and sorted out that white pads are harder to tell where the edges are for a shooter making a decision, and as such more pucks hit the pads. The stats on Marc Andre Fleury in white pads versus his yellow pads is astonishing! Still, I wanted a bit of color. My team colors are yellow, white and black so I opted for a simple white pad with black accent. Of course, to make it match, I did the same color pattern with glove and blocker. Below is what has been ordered.

Maybe you will recognize the design. Never a bad idea to duplicate the best goalie in the world, right?

It’s simple and fits my style. I am looking forward to stopping pucks with them. This leads to the big, fun question! My current mask is a custom 1999 Ed Cubberly. Ed used to make masks for such NHL greats as Mike Richter and Kirk McClean, but he has retired. My mask is heavy compared to the composite kevlar styles made today and with my mask needing repairs just to be safe, I decided it is time to upgrade that as well. To stick with my theme, I went with CCM.

The huge problem is, it’s all white. I need to get it painted. My last mask was actually worn in the NHL by a Carolina Hurricane and so I had those colors and styles. For this one I get to be creative! The thing is, I am not a very creative person by nature. Goalie masks are very personal and usually you have the graphics represent you (or the team you are playing for). I play for three separate teams, so the team angle doesn’t work. I could pick my favorite hockey team (the Habs) but they are red and blue as colors and that would clash pretty bad with my yellow and black gear and jerseys. So I am looking to BlogNation for inspiration and ideas! Here are some I would tack onto my idea board:

One of my favourite comic book characters, and as a solid piece of metal and strength could also easily represent “shutting the door” in net and stopping pucks. The yellow and X Men symbol would also fit nicely. Sticking with the superhero theme:

Gambit is another of my favorites, is pretty agile, and also can integrate the X-Men logo and theme. Not so sure about the pink though. Last but not least on the X-Men:

Yellow and dark blue/black, is an iconic Canadian superhero, and who doesn’t love wolverine? He is ranked third behind the two above however in terms of my superhero preference.

Other, non-superhero inspirations:

I love Calvin and Hobbes. My tatto is of Hobbes leaping accross my leg (as if he was to pounce on Calvin). I kind of like this face for the side of the mask as it is almost like a taunt to a player after a big save. My son thinks the following could look pretty cool:

The colors definitely fit the theme, but I was never a big transformers fan. Those are just color and theme inspirations, they wouldn’t be things decal’ed directly on. Here are some goalie masks in action to show the type of creativity that is done in this regard.

It’s pretty much an art form now.

So – do you have any ideas? Any preferences on the style board items I have shown? I would love to get some community opinions and thoughts!

Talkback Challenge #1 : How GamerGate Affected Me

I have mostly avoided participating in the major discussion threads surrounding #Gamergate for the sole reason that I find the internet a terrible place to have meaningful, open discussion on serious and important topics. I realize how silly that is as someone who blogs quite regularly and participates in a lot of blogs – perhaps I should rephrase. I find people intolerant of differences of opinions. Rightly or wrongly – it feels like when people are debating in written form it is for the sole purpose of proving they are right, or winning, versus learning, being open minded, moving the discussion forward in a positive and constructive manner, and sharing healthy discourse. I find pubs and beer is a much  better avenue for open, honest, and engaging debate. Still, I did touch upon my thoughts on it in two posts. One, captured it all quite perfectly through comedy on the Colbert Report:

My personal favourite moment is when Colbert compares the worry about what would happen to serious journalistic outlets such as Hollywood reporting (8:45) – TMZ, Entertainment tonight (etc.) if they too had ethics issues like Gaming journalism. I have missed that argument around all of the Gamergate “controversy” – most news sources we consume are pretty clear on their biases. It seems as though they are trying less to hide it, and at bare minimum the educated parts of society know the influences behind news reporting.

I love how comedy can often make more sense out of tough topics than serious discussion. I did write a more serious post about sensationalism in writing and shared what I feel the most simplest form of it all was – how it was trying to label me.

On that note on everything related to Gamergate I need to share a small part of what is important to me about it. And that is that I won’t be defined by labels. period. Being a gamer isn’t negative or positive anymore than being a man, or being black, or being a lesbian is negative or positive. Equating the word “gamer” to “misogynist” or “racist” or any negative connotation is entirely irresponsible. A gamer is someone who games, nothing more, nothing less. The label doesn’t mean who you are. Your actions – how you treat people and what you personally represent – does.

I have been very consistent with the viewpoint that the world doesn’t need big heroes, it really needs a lot (like, millions) of regular people just being a bit nicer to each other. That is how the human race can truly change the world. Celebrities have a fraction of the power as a community working together. Holding doors open, saying ‘Thank You’ to strangers, helping out locally, and being open minded and understanding that we are not going to agree on everything and be tolerant of other viewpoints. Especially when they aren’t harmful or endangering.

Izlain’s talkback challenge was to share how #Gamergate affected me, not how I wrote about it. And, the  truth is it did very little to nothing.  I followed it closely and read a lot of posts but I felt that a paragraph here or there on the topic couldn’t do it justice, or wouldn’t be complete enough, easily counter argued and/or picked apart. I also do not write essay style posts here as it is a very relaxed and conversational blog and I did not feel like having to defend myself or worry about “winning” the argument. All that being said it does not mean I am not sensitive to the issues and problems  and I do believe change is good in this industry – I constantly argue here that the gaming industry is incredibly immature – and that is scary for a multi-billion dollar business. What I worry about is gaming hasn’t even sorted out how to reward and support long term employment and stability for the industry, let alone tackle serious gender representation issues. I believe it will all come in time and people are right to fight to speed that up when they are really passionate about it. People are also right to fight to ensure freedom of speech is safe even if it isn’t the popular opinion.

Now, at this point, you could try and argue that by me not taking a big stand (either way) that I am making the problem worse, not better. And to that I say stop trying to win an argument on the internet. I live my life with a mind and heart on equality. I learned this when I went to a liberal arts university in Canada in the 90s – and the university was ‘famous’ for it’s gay and lesbian population. Not that percentage wise it was any higher than any other Canadian campus, but that they were more free to be open about their sexuality. It was common to see same sex couples holding hands around campus – and in the 90s, this wasn’t as common as it is today.  I learned a lot there as a young adult growing into manhood and one of the defining moments that I recall strongly was a “Take Back the Night” rally – where hundreds of women would march down the streets of the city to show they weren’t afraid – and wanted the freedom and safety to walk at night. Something so simple that many men take for granted. Being a young idealist at the time, I wanted to help out! I wanted to support this movement and show solidarity with my sisters. The only thing I was allowed to do to support?  Help clean up the next day. They didn’t want male participation. Men where the ones causing fear for women to walk at night for fear of sexual assault (or worse). This was a women only march. I was pretty mad at first. I am not the problem. I didn’t assault women – I was the help and support walking my female friends home so they were safe. I supported their cause and understood their fear – not from experience, but because I had a lot of women friends who would share their feelings with me. Even though I was the one walking them home at night to be safe, the fact that they needed a man to do that at all to feel safe was the core of the problem to begin with. I was disappointed in what I was being told but in the end I did what they asked of me and grabbed a broom. I learned that day that even though I personally wasn’t the problem I still represented it, and that if I pushed the issue and walked the streets with them I was still taking away the empowerment they so badly wanted (and deserved). So I did the next best thing I could. I helped clean up.

Ever since then I have lived my life trying to learn and be open and do the right thing. I didn’t fight for or against #Gamergate online because the battle was crazy and both sides often being completely intolerant and silly to each other. The signal to noise ratio of meaningful or constructive discussion was near impossible to find. So I hit “like” on the posts I read that I liked, and ignored the troll bait, stunts and senseless arguments that was also abundant. And throughout all of that reading continued to live my life as the best person I could to the human beings I came in contact with in my everyday life.

#Gamergate didn’t affect me, but it reminded me of how far we have to go as human beings to be good to one another.

Darkest Dungeon EP11- Revisiting the Crew

It’s been a while so figured I’d update you on all the excitement from team BlogNation in Darkest Dungeon. What have the kooky blog kids been up to?

60 weeks, that’s what! That is a lot of fun I have had in this game. Around 40 hours and counting, which is still longer than I have spent in any game this year. Yes, the year is still young.

Page one of my roster shows everyone at level 6. Level 6 is the current max level. It also shows the whole crew at level 5 armor and level 5 weapon as well. Things are going very well for teams 1A and 1B. How is the rest of the roster?

Young and healthy, for the most part. Since I was able to cycle two teams constantly I didn’t really focus on bringing up the third and fourth teams. I ended up adding Paris to the team as I needed one more healer to work on teams 2A and 2B.

A quick look at the Graveyard shows no new victims heroes. I said this in the final few episodes but once you get past level one the game changes from mayhem and many deaths to managing your crews smartly – and for good measure. The time and effort it takes to get someone to level 6 it would be really heartbreaking to lose them. Losing a level zero or one it’s just as easy to recruit fresh.

I am going to go through all the buildings you can upgrade. You can see here my Blacksmith is 100% upgraded – the three areas this improves is weapon, armor, and cost of upgrading each. Hence why my whole team is 5/5. This is one I focused on upgrading fast.

The Guild was also a quick upgrade for me – this improves your team’s fighting skills, and the Training Regimen decreases the cost. As you can see where I am at right now in terms of money ($142400) money is no object – but before the high level sixes I couldn’t afford to upgrade everyone AND provision missions, so money is an issue as you level.

Separation of Church and State doesn’t really exist here. Everything is updated to get maximum stress release and maximum slots. As characters get quirks it may limit where they can de-stress and it’s frustrating if you only have two Penance Hall slots but three characters that need it. Which leads us into the…

….Sanitarium. Which I am now focusing on (and using a lot – which is good to have a third and fourth team). The Sanitarium REMOVES negative quirks. All of these guys have 6-8 bad traits now, but I can actually remove them at one per Patient Ward slot per weak. I am in essence now breeding super soldiers, all benefits, no negatives. Unstoppable killing machines! Somewhat funny to see both Aywren and Isey in here (since last time we saw them they both were in the bar together. Upgrades are expensive here and I am working to unlocking the third slot.

Who DOESN’T want a fully stocked Bar, Casino, and Brothel in their estate? (Ok, no one has to admit to the last one, but still, the first two is party time enough, right?) Vegas has nothing on the BlogNation estate!

The Survivalist area upgrades camping skills and options for in dungeon breaks. Currently there are double camp missions available so these are becoming more and more important. I am just one upgrade away from maximizing this now.

I stopped updating the stagecoach because I haven’t had a need for new recruits. Even if people start dying, a choice of four is really solid. I know I will end up completing this eventually, but it is second last on my list. That is my completionist side talking there, there really is no reason to do it. Of course I’m already almost at the point when I have most upgraded and nothing to spend anything on, so might as well!

So far I have found the Nomad Wagon pretty useless. Any trinkets worse than Red (Ancestral) usually has more downside than upside. Still, once I have more money and full upgrades it may be worth seeing if upgrades give us better trinkets for the team. If your team members die you get the trinkets back (because you loot their bodies) but sometimes you lose these through other ways – such as, getting drunk and losing them. This has happened to me a few times. That being said there isn’t much focus on gear or stressing about it. You also find a lot of them in dungeons.

I am quickly running out of things to do. I have most of my buildings upgraded,  all the bosses beat, and only three classes NOT level 6 yet. I have pretty much beat all of the Caretaker Goals. He should stop looking so stressed out (or is he looking crazy there? Is that a grin?)

All of the available dungeons (Ruins, Warrens, and Weald) are maxed out at level 4. The Cove and Darkest Dungeon are still not unlocked. So, besides a few new levels on some low level characters and some building upgrades I am effectively “finished” this game until they release new parts or the full game.

This is one of the downsides of early access. While I will have way more game to play once it is fully released this hard and fake “stop” is making a couple things happen – one, is that I am not playing the game as it was meant to be played. I would assume the other dungeons would be released and I’d be into bigger and badder areas, putting my dungeoneers at risk and facing greater afflictions. Instead, because I am at a hard stop I am actually making my team stronger by removing additions/quirks, building a better support network, and maxing out everything possible. I suppose someone could do that in the full game as well but I wouldn’t naturally gravitate to that game play – I am only doing it because it is ‘forced’ upon me.

This game is also misleading – it starts off such a gong show with so many deaths and disposable characters – and that initially attracted me to it. It’s fun trudging through those first couple of levels with fresh meat, not sure if they will live or die. Now, of course, the game is just party management and there is very little risk – there was a bit of one when fighting the last hag, but she always was tough. Besides that it has been going through the motions. I am not sure if they planned to always have it so deadly or if the ramp up was part of the fun and the reward was long term characters. Still, it will be interesting to see how the tune encounters going forward and where the risk scale tips for high level characters.

My team will be ready and willing (they don’t really have a choice) when the next dungeon opens.

Liebster McLiebsterton Awards

Awards are awesome!  Especially ones that share more things about the blogging community. I had never heard of the Liebster award (so I had to google it) and here is how it typically goes:

  1. Post the award (check)
  2. Post 11 facts
  3. Answer the 11 questions
  4. Tag others – ask my own 11 questions!

I have never been tagged with this before but it will be a fun Friday post – and thanks to Izlain for the tag.

11 Facts About Isey: I can juggle. I am Canadian.  I’m love to cook! I love travelling. I can’t sing. I like camping and nature. I used to own bars and night clubs. I have Ankylosing Spondylitis. I love live sporting events. I play hockey (I am a goalie). I think the world can be a better place if people were just nicer to each other – even just a little bit.

On to Izlains Questions!

What’s your favorite video game character? 

For RPGs its Shepherd from Mass Effect Series. It was fun to play the hero over several years through a space Odyssey, even though the ending sucked. I actually cared about that world and the characters in it. I still have a special love for my Troll Warrior, Braack in EQ. His story isn’t technically over but playing him really opened up what is amazing about gaming and virtual worlds for me.

What’s your favorite soda? 

I don’t drink soda anymore! Not even in mixed drinks. I used to *LOVE* Coca Cola though. Boring as hell. Still, not to be on a soapbox, but I really focus on my health the past couple of years due to a diagnosis and it has really changed my life in so many good ways – getting in shape, eating well, feeling good.

Do you drink alcohol? What kinds? 

Yes. Depends on the ‘event’. Night out I start with a Bourbon Manhatten, then onto water and whiskey. Dinner out it’s a nice IPA beer, then onto wine. Sporting events just stick to the beer. I love scotch (neat) and all kinds of flavours. I became hooked on it after a trip to London. Still, the two big ones I drink the most are Bourbon Manhattens and various scotches. I am not a big drinker though, I tend to drink around events. I’m not the kind of person who comes home from work and cracks a beer, but if you invite me to a patio I’ll drink all afternoon with you!

Did you start a blog to showcase your writing, or just to vent? 

I spent so much time commenting on blogs that I decided it made sense for me to have my own space to share my thoughts. I sometimes wish I had teamed up with people to share a space, but here i am. I have struggled in the past with purpose and finding my voice and comfort zone. I fell pretty good about where I am and where my blog is right now.

If you had to choose, would you pick life-long love, or enough money to sustain you for life?

Money, and not because I am materialistic. I believe that love comes and goes in different stages and phases in your life. I’d use the money to travel more and meet more people – you can find a lot of love that way. Plus, experiences help you grow so much as a person – sure, those are always better with someone you love. Gah, hard question! I can write this so many ways =)

Beard, or no beard? (if you’re male, do you wear one, if you’re female, do you like them?)

No beard but I have serious beard envy. I just can’t grow one, it’s patchy and makes me look terrible. I can do a killer cop mustache though. But that doesn’t count.

What’s your favorite genre of music? 

I’m all over the map, but typically house/edm historically I ‘grew up’ in the PLUR rave scene in the 90s and that was my Woodstock. Was so much fun. I love classical music, rock too – all kinds of music as well. Depends on what I am doing and where I am! My music player is schizo and has everything from Nine Inch Nails (used to be my favourite) to Bach, to New Order, to Calvin Harris.

Your current boss fires you. Are you happy or sad? 

I’d be messed up because I am my own boss. That would be quite the stunt though! I do love my work. Firing myself would be interesting for sure =)

Why do you think I nominated you for this award?

Because you really, really like me? =) Kidding aside, because you know I love community things and this is one of those “getting to know the community” better – so you knew I would enjoy reading and writing these!

What’s your favorite TV show right now? 

New Girl. It’s hilariously written. Each cast member has their own thing going on but they play off of each other so well. I only watch two TV shows regularly – New Girl and The Good Wife. Besides that it is documentaries, food shows, and sports.

Who’s your celebrity crush?

T Swift. She is far too young for me but she is just so sweet, talented, and adorable. Women love being called adorable, right? Not in a creepy way, I promise. I admire her for her art and she puts in a lot of effort connecting with her fans.

My 11 Questions – keeping this light (and maybe a bit silly?)

  1. What is the last book you read? What did you learn from it?
  2. Favourite quote?
  3. Best Vacation Ever (either in the past, or one you want to do!)
  4. Favourite outdoor sport?
  5. What languages do you speak? If only one, what do you WISH you could speak?
  6. Do you vote?
  7. Where did your blogging alias come from?
  8. Laptop or Desktop for gaming?
  9. Your favourite trait about yourself?
  10. Favourite sports team?
  11. Are you ticklish? Where?

I am tagging the following 3 – if you have already been tagged, let me know! Some that I wanted to tag have been already so spreading the love through Blognation.

Bhagpuss, Inventory Full

Arcadius, House of Witches

Pam, Cannot be Tamed

Joseph Skyrim of JVT!


A Guild’s Life

I often enjoy how perspectives change. This is just a self evaluation, even on this blog. Back in 2008 when I started blogging I closely followed and often agreed with Wolfshead and Tesh when it came to virtual worlds and the opportunities that existed in our space to make games that had meaning. We were all very aligned on what was missing for games that lacked tangible impact on enjoyment and entertainment. This attitude and optimism stemmed from experiences I enjoyed in the frontier days of the MMO – before homogenization, before “casual” play and most importantly, before instanced content. Yes, WoW changed all of that, for better or for worse but that didn’t come out of thin air. I often discuss now that it’s not that I want the same games we had – the EQ  and DAOC experiences can never be replicated or repeated – but I really want that feeling again. The unbridled amazement, discovery, and joy that games once brought. Along the years I start realizing the true world building and discovery isn’t coming anytime soon in this genre and you learn to accept and quietly take what parts you can still glean and enjoy. This is when you enter your own nostalgic space and make the best of what you have.

I still visit my original EQ Guild forums (The Grove) and yes, I still have my login and password and still have access to guild only forums. I have 484 posts there. Few of us visit, and fewer still often. I stop by randomly once a month, see who has said hi for the most part, see what people are playing. That is tie that is 20 years old. I don’t even go to my high school reunions.

I was looking for my quit thread and couldn’t find it. The reason for doing so was that I think I vaguely recall blaming EQ for it’s harsh death penalties, separation of friends due to level disparities and content difficulty, requirement for hours of grind. (etc.) You know, all the things that have since been fixed but have eroded the communities with play within. It started as a small research assignment to see at what point and for what reason I had given up on EQ. At some point EZBOARDS was bought by YUKU and the search functionality is bad now (like – non functioning), and it has unregistered some of my posts but also has them tracked as mine. It is weird! I did find some nice gems I wrote 15 years ago that had things in it such as:

2001: when things started getting tough  “For me, I will remain a grover even if I am the last one left. I have played EQ since beta, and have never enjoyed my play time as much now. I owe a lot of this to Velm, who took me under his wing in oasis, and showed me truly how to enjoy the game. I just ran with it from there, some bumps along the way, of course, but all in all, I have never had more fun in any game.:” (I am still in the guild and the random times I have logged into the testserver the only player on from that guild)

2001: as things were falling apart “When we started losing people, everyone panicked, and we thought of solutions to ‘fix’ the guild. REcruit, do weekly raids, etc. etc. I was a big part of these conversations as well, I have to admit it. That is where we were wrong. It was never broken. Trying to fix it broke it more. I made a comment to an ex grover, now a part of another guild, that I am liking whats going on now.. people who dont want to be here are not. People who do, are. Its not based anymore on if we can do raids, get epics, etc.. those remaining are long resigned to realize that its just not gonna happen within ourselves, we have to go to others for that . What it is based off is people who like the tag, and each other, playing a ‘game’ and enjoying each others company. If you can handle that, stay and have fun with us. If not, go, enjoy your time, send me a tell sometime, and maybe I can see if I can get us killed somewhere sometime. Somewhere along the lines when the grove changed from a group of friends, to a raid/epic/uber group, is when it got lost. Its reverting back now. Im fine with that. I just dont know if anyone else is. For me? I will be in the grove until I am last member, or Griid /guilddisbands it. Or if Griid kicks me out. IF any of that happens, happens, I wont join another guild, because really, whats the point?”

A few years later when I popped in to say hi:

2005: “Troll. Very busy little troll =) I miss MMORPGs, well, not entirely, but I miss the way they *were*. I was thinking about the old Grove days, when I first was invited along, and those were fun, fun times. Reallly fun. I stuck with DAOC for a long time, Did COH, beta tested away (currently testing Matrix Online) but is it just me or are MMORPGs really dumbed down? I don’t know if it is just because it was my first, but for all of its downfalls, EQ really had some twisted sense of accomplishment and danger attached to it. Current games there feels like there isn’t any inherent “risk” factor, (no risk, no reward! =)”

I couldn’t find my quit thread. It was driving me nuts. Did I even write one?

What I did find was a lot of different quit threads. And they were heart wrenching to still read now. In a game like EQ if someone quit your guild it really felt like they were quitting your family. In a small, tight knit guild when you lose key people you lose the ability to do things. The actual capability of you to enjoy the game is now lessened. That is just crazy. There was also so much good support and friends talking about life. You can literally go through years and years of conversations there and see people start the game, join the community, their journey there as a guild member, the drama that happens, the good that happens and their goodbye when they leave. It is a very crazy historical perspective of some important and defining gaming years of my life. I spent hours pouring through threads with the initial sole purpose of finding a specific thread of my own but ended up reliving some really strong memories – both fond and upsetting.

Some fun threads revolved around new game launches and if people would participate and where they would be. No one was able to get back together in any way that resembled what we had. I am not an overly emotional person – especially when it comes to the past – but when there is an artifact like our guild boards preserved perfectly like that it feels like it is in real time and is still going. It still feels alive for the sole fact that it is there. I am thankful that it is but also don’t want to get stuck reliving a past that can’t possibly exist again. I just became completely drawn in reading those boards. A lot of this also has to do with the formative parts of my years and how I was growing as a human being at that time.  All of that rolls into one another to create a perfect storm of nostalgia and wonderment. And at the end of it all, I can’t help but think that if I put more into the communities that exist that I would get much more out of them.

For all the power of emotion and nostalgia that still rests there, I game with zero of those people now. The only one I even know who participates in BlogNation is Ozmandius at KTR but he hasn’t posted in a couple years and while we were both serial posters on the boards I was the one that left and we never really connected afterwards. This entire post organically grew from a little research to support some gaming events I have experienced that could never be duplicated in any world (which I am still going to write) and it took me to a place that I wasn’t quite prepared for. Still, it was an amazing personal journey through a group that defined my expectations for a virtual community and ruined most chances for any new game to live up to.

Pay Beta/Alpha

I often review old posts – it is a fun way to see what I was jabbering about back over half a decade (sounds so much longer when put that way). I was reviewing some old posts when I randomly came across this one:

Introduce a New Phase in the Development Cycle

The premise of the post was to encourage a new production phase, the Commercial Beta, because that was essentially the state we were getting games in anyway. I had less issue with it for being honest and reduced in price. While it has been debated to death as of late I was just curious to found I supported the idea before it was a “thing”.

This could be a big win/win. Developers win because they can acknowledge their product is still in beta phase (albeit Commercial Beta) and it will give a little more lax room for player expectations as it is properly termed. They also will start getting a revenue stream to continue making changes. Players win because they receive a fairer value for their dollar for buying an incomplete product and pay less while changes are done, and also give a hand in shaping a game (that they obviously like, paying to beta and all) to be better positioned in the market to attract and retain a good player base after official launch. It also benefits the players because developers will have to make noteworthy changes and fixes to keep the player base after they go to “Official Launch”.

So listen, I’m not saying that the slew of pay for alpha/beta state games (and/or early access) is my fault or anything, but I did call it back in 2009. And I didn’t call it to say that this step would fix the way games are made (or even improve the current system) all it was was a call for honesty from developers. These are the fun posts when  you throw out an idea like that and it ends up coming to fruition for whatever reasons (not related to actually reading my blog posts). And while I know some people think that paying for these early game states is bad for the industry I am loving the two early access games I am currently in (and playing the most) and eyeing up a third that really suits my style.

With all the current chatter around monetization (again) for me it comes down to the personal value I get from any particular title, paid for in a way I feel comfortable with, based on the return enjoyment I am investing in. That isn’t anything a marketing department can come to easy grips with – but it works for me. And that may be in a pre-commercial release state.

Sony Sells Everquest

I didn’t see this story making the rounds in BlogNation and probably due to the Massively and WoW Insider closing news – which I do want to address briefly. While said so much better by so many in our space, the loss of those reporting sources will be missed. I checked both frequently weekly. WoW Insider hit this blog with a linkback many years ago (June 2009) and it created a fun discussion. The link was about how many kids were born into our our WoW guild at the time.

Since the guild was formed at the beggining of Burning Crusade, we have had 12 kids born into guild members. Hell, that’s a solid 10 person raid group (with rotations, even). It’s a fun thought – a group of adult gamers grouped by an in game tag sharing parenting tips for newborns (after they read the Yogg-Saron strats, mind you)

That generated me a few hits and it was fun to be linked to by a major gaming news site. Other guilds chimed in on how many kids they had spawned and it was a fun little competition.

Massively also linked to me recently so it is nice when the big guys recognize us little guys – that is community building and I’d often see them do it to additional sites.

SOE will now be Daybreak Game Company – an interesting choice of words  that may tie the hopes of H1Z1 to the “new” studio. Mr. Smedley is the President of DGC and at least we can be certain of fun and interesting tweets for some time yet. The real positive news for the change is that the company can now produce games for the Xbox One platform, opening up a lot more opportunity in the console space.

“We will continue to focus on delivering exceptional games to players around the world, as well as bringing our portfolio to new platforms, fully embracing the multi-platform world in which we all live [emphasis added],” Daybreak president John Smedley said in a statement.

That same quote makes me wonder how much of their future is on multi-platform focused games as opposed to PC only (ie: MMOs) and like much of the announcement things will become more clear in time. Since the company is a private investment firm, not only were details not shared of the purchase but we won’t have quarterly earnings reports to look forward to over-scrutinize and read into. We will be at the whim of whatever their marketing departments decide to share with us (which isn’t that far from what we get from public firms otherwise).

Hopefully EQ and some of the legacy titles continue to get the investment into them that they return to the company. Again, will be very interesting to see.

2015 Digital Goals

I dislike resolutions because in the wrong mindset they can feel like impossible obstacles to overcome. There are a lot of standing jokes/memes out there surrounding impending resolution failures.

Nonetheless it is good to set goals as long as they are realistic. So here are mine.

1) Post 3x a week on average. I loved pushing myself for Blaugust daily posts but that is unrealistic for my non gaming personal and professional goals. 3x a week will keep my creative juices flowing and help me continue to improve as a writer.

2) Finish more games then I buy. I have already stopped buying bundles for most of 2014 and have set fun buying standards – such as no Steam purchase until 75%+ off (and that can come back and bite me in the butt). I have a slew of games at the 20-50% completed mark and they are good games I am interested in – I just lack gaming focus and discipline! Well, no more!

3) Fix my nagging blog issues. Pingbacks still don’t work (although I got one yesterday, oddly enough!) and right now I can only post to my site via the WordPress Android app. Not sure why. I need to get better at the technical side of the blog!

4) MMO more. I am going to continue working on TSW and SWTOR and I expect I will eventually end up in WoW to continue my journey with my 10 year old toons, but much like resolution #2 without focus and consisentcy I’m not getting as much out of my gaming.

Four is a good number for a nice easy percentage success rate at the end of the year and while none of these are exceptionally hard goals they will take some effort.

Do you set goals at New Years?


This post was originally started about 10 months ago – I found it deep in my “drafts” list (it is actually the oldest draft I have left). I sometimes resurrect these posts under my “Draft Necro” series because hey, not all posts deserve to rot away in draft folder hell. I typically preamble them in italics like this to explain why I started the post, and what happened. On this one, I read a developer interview and he used the word “I” so much I was pulling my hair out. That is what inspired the post! It sat in draft hell for so long because I couldn’t recall who I was reading about and lost the link to the article (normally I would email myself the link). So at the end of the day, I had a premise I wanted to share but no supporting material. In this final incantation of the post, I used myself getting a business award as the example, but it completely lost it’s video game slant. I really wanted to find that article because those who have read me for a long time know how I feel about “rockstar” developers and this smelled of that. Anyhow, the post ended up a lot weaker than I had wanted without the video game tie in so it sat… and sat. Now I am freeing it in all of it’s mediocrity!

I have a friend who is a consultant, and I recently saw him spoke at a convention. It was a smaller one, and a pretty “warm and cozy” environment. As he was talking about his past achievements to the group there was one word that kept coming up that I heard over and over, and it is the one word that sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me whenever a business person uses it. That word, is of course, “I”. Now, unless you are working in a true company of one and not enlisting the help of any individual or organization, then “I” is okay. But that is the only time it is okay. When he asked how his presentation came across I told him that he used “I” far too often and that leaders don’t use that word when talking about accomplishments. Business leaders only should use “I” when taking personal responsibility for an accountability or a mistake. It is also okay to use the word “I” when taking accountability for a mistake the team made that the leader was ultimately responsible for – that is also good leadership, showing that they will take the heat for a team member.

He understood and appreciated the sentiment. Nothing is more disappointing than hearing a business leader speak about his accomplishments when he has a team of 10s, 100s, or 1000s. Those people typically never use the better word, the truth, “we”.  “We” should be common tongue for people in business, things are never done on their own or in their own petri dish. It’s a big, interconnected world out there. They also tend to use the other “worse” word business people can use, “they”. I did my job, “they” didn’t do theirs. “I” and “they” are two words any aspiring entrepreneur should lose fast, or at least find the right and proper spaces to use.

The one problem  with all of this pronoun discussion is how genuine the leader is. Some corporate leaders are well trained and say “we” all the time, when deep down inside the honestly believe that the success of their 50 year old brand that has 10,000 employees is the decisions they personally make at breakfast. It is neat to try and read through the lines and see the egos behind companies and their successes. (Good to Great, by Jim Collins, talks a lot about “rockstar” CEOs and their effect on the companies they parachute into).  I was also curious if one could find patterns in people based on successes and outlooks. For example, before a launch, are the bigwigs saying “I, I, I” and during launch saying “we, we we,” and after things didn’t launch so smoothly say “they, they, they?” – I did a bunch of google fu and didn’t find that so was very happy. Either way, I spend a lot of team reading how people say things, not just what they say.

Moral of the post? Share the wins, be humble, be good to people. Everyone works hard – the “leader” always gets too much of the credit when things go well. This tends to be true in any type of group setting.

The Year That Was 2014

I normally don’t do these posts, but it was a very good year and I feel like sharing. I am going away to Europe for Christmas for two weeks and as I tie up my professional and family life here in Canada before next week there probably won’t be a lot of blogging or gaming for me for two weeks. Looking back is always fun before moving forward. I have really enjoyed the posts from other blogs I visit who revisit their guesses on things that would happen throughout the year – since I didn’t do that in 2013 I can only look back on the year I had at I has PC.

Non essential but fun things (stats) is that I had my second busiest year blogging in terms of visitors, and best since 2009. “Best” is a bad word there, because it doesn’t count for quality by any means, so a better word is probably “most” for terms of numbers. “Best” counts for the quality of visitors, as I have made a lot of new blogging friends this year and  a lot of links added, and regular new reads.

My 5 most viewed posts:

WildStar Pre-Order Sales Slump?
How to Lose a MMO Gamer in 10 Ways
WildStar’s Fast and Dramatic Decline
WildStar’s Slow and Undramatic Decline
EQN Landmark – 4 Extra Closed Beta Keys

Which I found a bit odd because I didn’t play or blog a lot about WildStar – although I had high hopes for it. So I must have hit a google SEO word sweet spot or something. All that being said, there are another 20 posts within 10% of those top posts in terms of views so I have a good “general” viewership for most topics.

I published 135 posts this year (including this one) which is a post every 2.70 days, also a high for me. A lot of those were through Blaugust but that also helped me find my blogging sweet spot and stride that I have been able to maintain since. I have been doing this a long time and with all the ups and downs, I really enjoyed being a part of the community extra this year.

My country viewership (in order) is:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • UK
  • Australia
  • France

Always fun to see the sprinkling of other countries in there as well, but good to see the motherland high on the list with a bunch of ex-colonies.

Going back over the posts by month, here is a quick synopsis:

January – I finally gave Turbine more of my money (I hadn’t since it was a subscription game!) and bought the Warden class. The one class I always wanted to play (something about fighters that use shields..) and many posts that month were about LOTRO and the fresh start. Favourite Post: A Dark Room. It was my favourite only because it was a really fun little game to play and captured my imagination.

February – LOTRO was short lived and February was all about Landmark. This game captured my Minecraft (I was an early adopter there) love with fancier graphics. I haven’t been back in a while, but I think I will dabble there again soon. Favourite post: I Still Can’t Build. I loved landmark for the exploration, but am a bad builder. I made a decent (by my standards) dragon head house and was proud to show it off. It is very amateur compared to what the community is pumping out though.

March – Nostalgia month as I tinkered back in Everquest since they had a birthday. I also mixed in Diablo III and more Landmark. I also started noticing Wildstar. Favourite March Post: My Influential 15. This was a fun trip looking back at the games that shaped what and how I play(ed) games. It was a great exercise and a lot of people ended up doing it. TAGN inspired!

April – April was all about revisiting and enjoying Everquest, while looking ahead to WildStar. The MMO itch was happening again! Highlight Post: WildStar Pre-Order Sales Slump. I knew something was up and my fears were founded at the launch and rapid playerbase decline of the game. I am still waiting to play it again once they drop they sub (or find a better payment method).

May – I was in beta for WildStar, dabbling a bit in Landmark. Highlight Post: Star Citizen – Seriously. I liked the post because I semi called out this project as a fundraising first project, not an actual game making project. In hindsight, as they continue to push to new fundraising heights without actually coding much, this could end up being the most expensive vaporware project in crowd-funded history. It could also cripple the system.

June – Chris “River” Cavelle, a fellow blogger, died in June. I still pop by his site sparingly out of habit. River – High Latency Life gets my post of the month for obvious reasons. Rest in peace my friend. Someone else has already bought his domain (that expired) but his page lives on at – but of course it is just a reminder of the words he shared with the world. It’s the only piece left his internet friends have of him.

July – Wow, I do not post much in the summer. I need to work on that! I was still playing WildStar but just about unsubbed at this point. Summer is for outside! And non-sub fee games. Anyway, post of the month is Dragon Age : The Birdcage as DA announced a fully gay (male) companion character. Good for Bioware for leading the charge on diversity in AAA gaming.

August was Blaugust month and the most posts I have done in this blog’s history. 32 posts in 31 days! I also won games and prizes (luck of the draw) but I found my blogging style and habits rejuvenated from the exercise. I know it burned out some bloggers as well, but everyone reacts differently. It was really hard to pick a highlight post for August but I ended deciding on selecting I HAS PC’s birthday post. I shared a lot of personal things there about my health and marriage, but also it was to celebrate still blogging after six years. I also quit playing WildStar this month, to no one’s surprise who read the blog.

September had me posting every other day and I was still in groove of things from Blaugust and Destiny had launched with much fanfare and an absolutely stupid and waste of a story, storyline. I coined the term Dinkelaged (to mean something bad) but really I was too hard on the fellow. He was just chasing the cash, and not even Ian McKellan could have done a good voiceover in such a bad story environment. It’s too bad as well, because Destiny was close to being something really, really special – a merge of MMO and FPS. Instead, they took the worst parts of the MMO (needless grinds) and put it into an otherwise solid FPS game. My favourite post of the month was making fun of that story by explaining exactly how it unfolds while you play in The Destiny Story.

October had me experiencing (and thoroughly enjoying) The Wolf Among Us. I am really looking forward to part two. My thirst for story is mostly quenched through TellTale Games, and I wish SWTOR had a story only option (I would pay for that.) My favourite October post was AAA Blog in which I question the self anointed AAA title – it shouldn’t exist unless there are parameters and an independent body. It’s an oft overused meaningless label. Unfortunately it is now part of our everyday vocabulary when it comes to gaming. It shouldn’t be.

November had me talking a bit about Warlords of Draenor but I was actually playing The Secret World. B2P is a great model for dipping toes in and such. I know I will be sucked back into Wow, but holding out for the new year. A lot of future posts to talk about there. My favourite post in November was A Sign the Apocalypse is Upon Us in which I lament that technology has even ruined the team sports photo. I know that is a pretty foreboding title for a team photo, but it’s perfectly true.

December is still going of course so not much to report here. I am going to Europe for the Christmas Holidays (not National Lampooning it) so I am not expecting a busy posting schedule. My favourite post of December is Not Threatening to Kill You About in which I threaten give Murf some love. A Merry Holiday post about death and internet dumbery, what could be better?

All in all I feel like I had a good blogging year. I made a point of frequently visiting other sites (and finding new ones!) and building my blogroll and making comments on other’s blogs. I like the interaction, its a nice break from work. I didn’t play nearly enough games or hours into games that I wanted to, but I plan on making some life changes in the New Year and making that happen. I currently work too much evenings and/or have mindless TV on. That time is much better spent on less-mindless vidya games.

Thanks for being a part of my 2014 journey, and looking forward to a healthy and fun 2015!

Worth Not Threatening to Kill You About

I don’t normally write about serious things but if this is the kind of things “free speech” is supposed to protect then the NRA is the most sensible organization in the USA.

Sorry to my USA friends who are NRA members. I just find them inflexible and not open minded for discussion, and that was the best comparison on ludicracy I could think of after reading the link. I grew up hunting with my Grandpa and am pro gun, for full disclosure, but also for sensible gun control. See, free speech in action!

This post has nothing to do with guns at all, either.  I have derailed my own thread.

For those who don’t want to click and read, the gist of the article is that the courts are discussing if death threats via social media are actually a crime, or if they are protected by free speech.

Not kidding. I get these kinds of discussions and debates aren’t as simple as I am trying to make it right now, but what happened to just being nice to one another?

Do we really need protection so people can cause fear in others, during a time where what is a real threat, and what is satire/perceived, may not be clear? We all know emails / texts are notorious for not conveying the message properly, but death threats in most forms are pretty clear on intent.

But if I said I want to Kill Murf *smiley face* because he is just a silly lil’ bugger than one can pretty much tell that I am kidding. Of course, if I were ever to say that I’d make sure there was no mistaking that no, I don’t really want to kill Murf (unless it is with kindness). (Editors note: I absolutely do not want to kill Murf)

If I were to make what seemed to be apparent and legitimate threats that made Murf fear for his well being, well, that should be illegal. And like most crimes with victims the tolerance of the victim should be taken into consideration. Murf could probably take a lot of twitter jabs from me knowing he is pretty safe since he is in Alabama and I in Canada – but a 20 year old female who didn’t know me may not feel so safe after a single death threat. Imagine, we have to measure the number and severity of death threats and whether they need to be enshrined okay under ‘Freedom of Speech’. The burden should lie with the person being stupid, not the person worried about the stupid person.

This will be interesting to follow. Yes there is probably a much deeper debate here to have, and probably not best done on a gaming blog, but I am going to end this piece with this:

Please, don’t threaten to kill one another, even if you are joking. There is no upside.

A Sign the Apocalypse is Upon Us

I just got back from my 10 day trip down under – 7 days in NZ and 3 in AUS. I love traveling and very fortunate that I get to travel for work – and my company is a fan of the Work-cation. The work-cation is a great concept – since the company is paying to fly you somewhere already, might as well take a couple extra days and experience where you are instead of rushing in and out. Glad to be back and not to be a sap, but I missed you.

I felt naked down under because Wifi is not free, not fast, and entirely inconvenient. Even my $250 a night hotel only had 15 minutes free and in the lobby only. Oh, you can pay for internet in your room but only if you have an Ethernet cable connection (direct only). Computers still have those?

Thankfully Starbucks is there but even then you only get an hour and when it runs out you have to buy another coffee or they won’t top you up.

We are spoiled in North America with free, unadulterated WiFi all over the place. My CITY has free wifi. In fact, I am writing this post at a city owned arena on my phone.

Life is rough.

I felt like I was in a third world WiFi country that was under attack by the Russians. I even started asking around if anyone knew J3w3l but was afraid she would think me an extraordinary stalker for traveling so far to borrow her Wifi.

And none of this has to do with the purpose of this blog post. The title of which I borrowed from Gregg Easterbrook at Tuesday Morning Quarterback who in many of his articles (not the one I linked) shares societal insights on why the Apocalypse truly must be coming. (He’s a fun read if you like smart people and fantasy football. He’s the Zubon of

So here is what happened this morning that makes me think it is indeed on its way. It’s picture day for my son’s hockey team. Usually that means getting to the rink an hour early, getting in full equipment (except helmets), lining the team up for a group photo, getting some individual shots (faux action, normally) then ordering a package with the team shot to remember the season it was, and also a bunch of actual hockey cards that are cool to hand out to friends and family. As you can imagine, it can sometimes be tough to get all the kids on time and lined up well in full gear. It takes some time and coordination. No fear, they have a new solution.


There was no team photo this year. Instead, They are going to build one from the individual shots. I am sure that will look perfectly natural.

Next, instead of playing real hockey they will just all login together and play NHL 15 three times a week. Driving to the rink is so inconvenient.

I Win Prizes and Give Suggestions

Short post and shout out to Contains Moderate Peril for their random number generator – I entered a contest there a while ago and ended up winning their autumn bundle.

The fun thing about that is I only entered because I am a fan of their site and podcast – so since I was there anyway consuming content, I thought why not throw my name into the ring? What are the chances? (pretty good, it seems!)

I love the blogging community and as such try to participate as much as possible. I try to add blogs to my blogroll frequently (even better now that I have the RSS updater up and running over there —–> ) I frequently comment on blogs, and even if i have nothing substantial to add I love it when there is a “like” button so I can still give them that digital toque-tip saying “hey – thanks for taking the time for creating this content”.

With that being said, I have three podcasts I am keeping current with and have been really enjoying for the past few months. All three are now part of TGEN but they weren’t when I first started listening to them. Now that they are part of that network it’s been fun to hear weekly themes and the way the different podcasts discuss and tackle similar issues. Anyway, here are the three:

Aggrochat from Tales from the Aggronaut

Contains Moderate Peril from the website named the same

Couch Podtatoes from Me Myself and I

I know all of them have other hosts and participants as well but that is through the source I found them, so giving them the link love.

I don’t have a ton of time to listen to podcasts but those are the three I manage to squeeze in every week – and I just wanted to share in case you were looking for something new to listen to. I feel that we are fortunate to be a part of a gaming community that creates great content and because I am thankful every once in a while I just want to reach out and say that thanks out loud in my own corner of the Interwebs.


Colbert Report on #GamerGate

So, this happened, in all its comedic glory.

True to Mr. Colbert’s humour and the vibe of the show (which I used to watch a lot) it is a great interview. Making light of serious things in a not-so-serious nature is the game of the show and it is done very well – worth the 10 minute clip – go watch!

My personal favourite moment is when Colbert compares the worry about what would happen to serious journalistic outlets such as Hollywood reporting (8:45) – TMZ, Entertainment tonight (etc.) if they too had ethics issues like Gaming journalism. I have missed that argument around all of the Gamergate “controversy” – most news sources we consume are pretty clear on their biases. It seems as though they are trying less to hide it, and at bare minimum the educated parts of society know the influences behind news reporting. We have known for years that most gaming news sources have walked a fine line in the past to make sure they can continue to exist after giving a “bad score” to the companies paying the bills. This is why a lot of us prefer peer reviews and independent bloggers as our information portals.

In the spirit of Canadian journalism I have to include Canadian content on this blog. Mr. Colbert is doing a twofer today.

Back in the Saddle

I was on a work trip to Louisiana last week (and ended up in New Orleans) and came back to Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend. Family is *still* in town so took an extra day off of work. The liver is recovering (and so is the blog). I started a bunch of posts last week but Louisiana was a lot busier than I had hoped =)

Just checking in to let you know I am alive, and thanks for calling the authorities to check in on me. I’ll get some posts out the door this week and dying to catch up with what is going on in Blognation.

I finished Wolf Among Us and looking at Red Dead Redemption  (another game I missed!) hence the title – can you recommend it?

Be back soon! Working through a  Turkey and real hangover.


I have stayed pretty uninvolved with the whole Gamergate discussion – my blog is shorter, off the cuff discussion pieces that don’t really lend well to the necessary thoroughness, research and thought level on such a challenging topic. I would be better sitting around a table drinking beer and discussing it then trying to put it into words (don’t worry – I am buying!). I am not even going to dig in deep here on it except to say the level of coverage and often intelligent discussion around the whole situation has been fascinating and educating to follow. Outside of major game releases and typical gaming news, has anything brought more attention or discussion forward? It has ignited passion, debate, taking a look at gaming “labels” and caused us to look internally at what the “Gamer” tag meant to us all, and if it was worth defending or not.

This article I really liked reading about it. It isn’t even about what was reported but the way it was reported. It is a well written piece about sensationalism and how things are reporting impact what is being reported in the first place. Sensationalism and profit motives to report in such a way.

To understand the impact of sensationalism one must examine examples of biased coverage that attempts to push a cultural agenda for moral advocacy, the nature of controversies in the media, the exploitative nature of trading objective journalism for a “profit motive”, and how sensational content can damage and ruin the reputation of those involved in a scandal.

The article goes on with those examples. It’s worth a read. I love news and understanding what is going on in the world is important – I think everyone needs to have an understanding of what is happening in the world beyond their own cities, provinces, or countries. I think it lends perspective that we live in a global society. There are wars waging around us while we worry about the price of a Starbucks Latte. I really believe in community and while important that you start with local, to truly believe in community I believe you have to go bigger than that. News reporting in general is profit driven. My favorite news source, The Economist, does a good job of being upfront and honest as a “liberal news source” and the reporting style rarely has a catchy headline – they are more concerned with reporting facts, providing solutions and commentary. It feels very honest and I turn to it weekly to get my dose of the world. I don’t take their articles or opinions word for word mind you – just that I have come to trust that they are pretty factual about the facts. Many aren’t.

Other sources, such as CNN (blue) and Fox (red) are political and social agenda platforms in their own rights. Fox says it is “fair and balanced” but everyone (with half a brain) knows it is fair to Republicans and balanced to the Christian right. CNN is clearly a democrat news source, but tend to be less obvious about their leanings than Fox. Both are dangerous as your only source. I have a friend who only does BBC news, because it’s not profit driven. They don’t cover enough North American sports for me to be a true source. (/grin).

Reporting on scandals is a lucrative enterprise that’s encouraged simply for its gains in profit. For many online-based mediums, more hits means more ad revenue, and that means more cash flow for the company or publication. This kind of ruthless take on generating views has some very real consequences, and is often a dual-edged sword.

Where I am going with all of this is asking you to be careful. There is a lot of information out there and it is easy to get caught up in. A lot of that information is meant to mislead you, is meant to persuade you, is meant to call you to action that may not be entirely based on truth. Just be aware – and be aware of your own biases and how that influences how and what you read from news sources. Hell, I struggle a lot with my initial opinion formed versus the one I get from solid debate amongst trusted sources. I never actually change my opinion – on anything. I afford myself the right to make a new opinion with provided with more – or better – information. I can be stubborn that way.

I have several posts not going to see the light of day (this week) but I did want to share the above part of all of this Gamergate – yes, there are issues. Yes, there is a discussion and meaningful debate to be had. No, don’t read one article from a particular source and quote it as right. There is too much at stake for the author who wrote it, the company that pays them and what you personally represent and stand for. Spread around the sources, try to find something balanced and fair, and then go for it.

On that note on everything related to Gamergate I need to share a small part of what is important to me about it. And that is that I won’t be defined by labels. period. Being a gamer isn’t negative or positive anymore than being a man, or being black, or being a lesbian is negative or positive. Equating the word “gamer” to “misogynist” or “racist” or any negative connotation is entirely irresponsible. A gamer is someone who games, nothing more, nothing less. The label doesn’t mean who you are. Your actions – how you treat people and what you personally represent – does.

On that note, I am supporting Bragtoberfest.

I game because it’s a hobby that I have made lifelong friendships with. I game, because there is an amazing, supportive community surrounding our games. I game because I have friends who write and talk about gaming. I game, and I support equal rights, I game, and I support several charity and community initiatives throughout the year (both with my time and money) and I game because it is fun. So I am a gamer, and proud of it. You should be too.


Post Blaugust Era – September Preview

Funny thing about habits is that you miss them when you aren’t doing them (I quit smoking over two years ago). That is the way I felt when I missed what would have been my 32nd consecutive post. Much like hitting the gym, a day of rest is a good idea now and again. OF course, my excuse was that I was on the road for work and by the time I got home and got my family ready for first day of school today, I was out of time AND energy. There are some fun, new changes coming to I HAS PC this month!


Ok, very late to the party here, but @ihaspc is now live and I have been adding folks that I follow and dipping my toes in there. I also put a feed on the widget bar over there. Any tips, let me know! I am big into facebook because that is an easy platform to manage (personally). Should be fun to learn a new social media platform and if you see me screwing something up, please laugh at me. And then tell me to correct it. But do the laughing part, because if you can’t laugh at me, who can you laugh at? Please add me, and suggest good people to follow!


Sure, it was by a randomized dice roll but if I didn’t have luck, what would I have? Although I have a small sidebar you see the proud Blaugust Championship graphic displayed at the top. Blaugust was awesome and while I won’t be posting 1 a days anymore, I am committing to three times a week minimum. Blaugust renewed my already solid passion for blogging and it’s stronger than ever. I enjoy posting more. I enjoy connecting with others in Blognation and Anook has been a really fun source and inspiration for posts and community building. So, thank you Belghast, for making our community that much better.


A friend of mine manages and he can’t sort out the linkback errors and issues (he is having it on his blog too) and much to my shock and surprise, is available and I snagged it. I am going to back up this site, move it to WordPress hosted, but keep the URL and just point it there – no exact timeline but expect it in the next week or so. I am not bailing on him as tech support I am bailing on the unfair expectation that my friend is supposed to be my tech support in the first place. He is a busy family man and I respect that more than the needs of this site. At least, once WordPress hosted, I can bug them for the proper support unashamedly. I *may* mess with the themes once it is WordPress hosted, so be warned. Maybe the site will actually look good.


Queued up for September – XCOM: Enemy Within, The Walking Dead 400 Miles AND Season 2, and I am going to MMO something. Either LOTRO, STO, EQ2, GW2, SWTOR or TSW. Yup, that is a long list, but I am going to commit to a month of MMO’ing and share it here. I’ll be asking for your help in deciding what title at some point soon.

Blaugust just felt like a warm up. September is going to be an awesome month!

[ignore this just testing something.]

I Has Blog Title

A fun and side product of Blaugust has been bloggers finding various topic-filling days and sharing them with one another. These community style posts are great – it’s part “getting to know you” and it is always fantastic to see the varied, differing and interesting viewpoints in and around BlogNation.

With a couple days left and a dozen or more draft posts on the go I don’t need this post to keep me chugging along, but I really LOVE the idea and think it is a lot of fun! Over at I Have Touched The Sky is one of those topics – a look at why that blog is named how it is, and a question to other bloggers on how they came up with their own blog names.

I’m biting.

When I was ready to start my blog the hardest part for me was finding a name. I spent hours and days thinking on what to name this future award winning blog – centre of the BlogNation universe and place of sharing, growth, and quiet contemplation. (*ahem*)

Back to reality – some of the obvious choices for me was using my online names and history – Braack (EQ/DAOC), Bleyzn (DAOC) or the more time-relevant Couchon (Wow) and some of their adventures. Couchon’s Couch. Braack’s Bachelor Pad. Again, all amazing selections – perfect for any young blogger trudging out on their own. Of I also tried to work in “Worlds” and “MMO” somewhere (and glad that I didn’t now as I like all gaming..) so it could have been Couchon’s Couch in Canada or Braack’s Bachelor Pad in Berlin. The more I type those the more I think I should make another blog..

Back to reality (again) – I hated internet memes and especially the LOLcats and everything around to do with stupidity and the internet (wipe that smirk off of your face, dear reader). The whole I CAN HAS and things that surrounded that internet dumbery (yes, I just made that word up – it fits!) I delivered my own dumbery and actually wrote down I HAS PC when asking my friend to find me a URL.

Surprisingly (*ahem*) it was available!

My friends laughed as I said it and honestly I was tired of thinking about it and just wanted to start writing – so I went with it. It was kind of like pulling the Bandaid off really fast by the end of it all. The “Life and Interwebs” tag came later as another homage to not taking things to seriously.

In the end I am happy with it – it is my own little corner of BlogNation and while I wish I had some sort of compelling or exciting story to share about my silly blog name – I think it reflects the blog, the relaxed nature of how I talk about things here, and the people who enjoy stopping by.

Happy Birthday to I Has PC! 6 Years Old!

Belated. It was yesterday. This is a nice reminder that I am terrible at birthdays!

August 27, 2008 was my first blog post ever. I can’t fully recall why I started blogging – I was spending a lot of time on various blogging sites and my comments kept getting longer and longer. I think I finally decided that it would be easier to write my own posts and link back instead of annoying the author of various sites with my incessant rambling and observations.

I didn’t think much on a style or theme and I just picked one and ran with it. Some of the old posts are fun to read through and I often link back to my old posts – mostly when there is an “I told you so” (WoW needing to link armor stats to role type – 2008! – which they are finally doing in Warlords of Draenor) or revisiting a viewpoint I had stated previously that I still felt relevant.

Sometimes when I go back and read posts I think there have been some really great ideas that would translate well into modern MMO land and other times I felt like I was just another blogger with the same feelings on the same old topics. I quickly found some circles of blogging friends and while many are gone now (Writers Resting In Paradise Blogroll to the right) many persist today. And as I find new sites and read new blogs, or people discover mine, I expand my blogroll. With my sports background and slant I call us BlogNation much like the Red Sox Nation or other groups that align around commonality. It hasn’t stuck anywhere else that I can tell, but I figure if I keep writing it maybe it will someday.

My style hasn’t changed too much. I am a pretty “conversational” blogger – I write as if we are having a pint at a bar. Throw out an idea or opinion and welcome a counter discussion. This is a fun way to blog because I always keep my mind open. Some would argue I write as if I had already had 10 pints at a bar. That has been known to happen as well.

I had two extended “vacations” from blogging – six months starting January 2011 in which I became very, very sick (lost over 60 pounds, night sweats, swollen glands, couldn’t stay awake for longer than a couple hours at a time) and had every symptom of lymphoma from a textbook. They spent months testing and digging (lymphadenectomy, bone marrow, you name it) and I was actually checked into a Cancer centre for weeks – except they didn’t find cancer. I was at infectious disease specialists, all sorts of specialists, no one found it out. And one day I just started feeling better again. They kept wanting to cut me open to dig around to find out what happened but I stopped letting them. That time was pretty scary, caused me to withdrawl a lot, but also to celebrate life a lot more in the end of it all. Nothing quite like being certain you are fighting for your life – even scarier when you don’t what you are fighting against. I found it hard to justify spending hours blogging when I didn’t know how much time I had left.

Could be why I have a soft spot for charity and people raising money for diseases and causes. Hell, a month ago, my entire team and partner network raised thousands of dollars at 1am in a bar (in 30 minutes) if I would shave my head – in the bar – so yes, of course I did. It is only hair and will grow back.

For the record, it is growing back terribly. Still worth it though.

My second vacation was when I was battling divorce. Gaming was an addiction for me in many ways – not that I couldn’t stop, but being unhappy in my marriage drove me to game more. She loves TV (I hate TV) I love games (she hates games) – so never common ground. We ended up finding common ground (pretty easy when you have an amazing kid) and our marriage has been great ever since. Something about the first 5 years that is the challenge, as there are curiosities if people can (and will) change. In the end letting people be who they are is critical to loving and understanding each other. I am not suggesting my advice to marriage counselors still though. It works for us!

My three personal favorite  posts:

1) Greatest Fantasy Movie Ever (2009)

In this one I attack the silly idea of healing by describing what the typical raid encounter would look like if it was a blockbuster movie. You don’t see Gandalf sitting in the back row during the battle casting heals on Legolas, do you? In it I suggest a better way (slower paced combat, blocking and dodging graphics) – its dumb that a 10′ sword goes through characters entire bodies. Hits should cause REAL damage, and instead of inflating numbers, having glances, misses, and dodges should make up the difference. I like to be immersed – swords and axes cutting through immobile toons doesn’t cut it. I want MMO combat to be more like MOVIE combat. When your sword goes through someone, that’s when the blood comes.

I linked back with a GREAT example from Batman: Arkham in a more recent post. The tech and will is there. This should be the next innovation in MMO combat. In that game you rarely get hit and when you do you feel the impact. It shows that with 10 mobs around you you can still have contact combat. Besides, in this hyper-world of ADD and circle strafing, slowing it down and having combat meaningful and impactful would be a great innovation.

2) Can the End Game be the Game? (2009)

I tackled how silly leveling is and how Wow is wasting resources on planned obsolescence content, and that if more resources were created for “max level”, repeatable content instead of one and done quests – there would be better, and more content, for all. I see a lot more agreement on this type of idea today – if your content doesn’t really start until the “end game”, why not start there in the first place?

3) The 6 Wheeled Car (2008)

This was my PVP slanted point about relative power. DAOC and WAR showed me the biggest fundamental flaw in PVP games – you have such ridiculously giant disparities in power between levels. A level 1 can’t even HIT a level 40 – that makes no sense (again, immersion.). So my idea here is to have levels multiplicative. So 40 level 1s could indeed be an EVEN match for a level 40 character. Or 4 level 10s or 2 level 20s. A level 40 is “god mode” in comparison to level 1s and that just feeds into my #2 post above – if your PVP character has to level 40 levels before being able to enjoy the game, why have levels so multiplicative? This alone ruins open world PVP. If you had relative power levels it could make open world PVP thrive.

Funny looking at that they are all old posts. I haven’t seen these concepts used in my modern day gaming yet but I still hold that they would be a welcome offering for gamers who like immersion and could enhance a current day MMO offering.

So 6 years. 325 posts (12 drafts) and 1144 user comments.

My blog isn’t that popular and I am fine with that. It has been a journey and I believe the journey is the destination and I never stressabout who is reading and how many comments there are. That part is is important for anyone who blogs or who wants to blog. I know I’ll be around for another 4 years (at least) doing this so I will have a 10 year anniversary. Health and life willing.

Looking  forward to more of this journey with you – and thank you for stopping by. I do enjoy the company.

Ice Bucket Challenge

A phenomenon is sweeping the world right now. Kids, adults, politicians, celebrities, baristas, judges, landscapers – hell, just about everyone – is dumping a bucket of ice water over their heads. After doing so, they nominate some friends to also dump ice water buckets over their heads (typically within 24 hours). All of this bucket dumping is for a good cause – it is to raise funds for ALS. The “rules” are if you didn’t dump a bucket you have to donate money instead. Most are donating AND dumping water. There are Instagrams, videos on Facebook, twitter – all over. Everywhere except Blaugust.

To date it has raised almost 90 million dollars. Not bad at all.

The story here is great – and it’s time to bring it to Blaugust.

First off – what is ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

I watched a YouTube video of someone recently diagnosed and it runs in his family. He shared how scared he was because typically you live 2-6 years after diagnosis. Here is that video – it is very powerful because it comes from someone with ALS. (You HAVE to watch past the 2 min mark. Skip past the male-bikini car wash if you must.)

There have been a lot of fun and interesting ones. Here is Leonardo DiCaprio (compliments of David Beckham) who adds in a social justice twist and challenges the CEOs of major gas companies AND the Prime Minister of Canada.

Patrick Stewart declines in the most fitting, sophisticated way that you would expect him to. At least he wrote a cheque (probably big!)

There have been a lot of “ice bucket fails” as they call them, but really, as long as the money is being donated who is to judge at a person’s skill of dumping ice cold water (or getting dumped on). They add some humor.

And some Epic ones – check out Paul Bisonette from the Phoenix Coyotes!

So I am even going to depart from my norm here. I am a pretty private when mixing my private life and my blogging life. I have always had a level of discomfort with my career and my hobby and in “my generation” it was (is) often unfairly looked down upon. So while I talk about my family here often I do post under a gaming name and tend to keep things as my “other life”. Anyway – I was challenged four or five times through my social circles and work, and even my entire family was challenged so we did it together (and had some fun with it).

That isn’t my normal hair – or outfit!

I challenge:

Wilhelm – The Ancient Gaming Noob

Bhagpuss – Inventory Full

Izlain – Me vs Myself and I


Belghast, father of Blaugust!

Remember – you don’t have to dump a bucket of ice water over your head if you choose to donate!

Bloggers are Old

One of the interesting observations about reading through the various “Influential 15s” that was circling around not too long ago and the more recent “21 Questions” in the past couple of weeks is that it really shows the age of most people blogging. We are an old bunch! The Starting computer/first game for the TOP 10 straw poll I pulled from the existing posts out there is as follows:

  1. Atari 2600 (11)
  2. Pre-home systems (arcade/pinball) (5)
  3. Original Nintendo (4)
  4. Sega Megadrive (3)
  5. Commodore 64 (3)
  6. Zx Spectrum (2)
  7. Apple 2e (2)
  8. Intellivision (1)
  9. Colecovision (1)
  10. Original PlayStation (1)

33 responses is about the same they do for Presidential polling right? While the one person had a PlayStation (which came out in 1994) the rest are all solidly pre 90s. So either Blogging is art (hah.. I called it art!) for the elderly gamer or we are just suckers for writing about lists of things. Perhaps both. Will there be a OneNote challenge for the next list?

me pondering my next post

This is not a “Blogging is dying” post by any means. I see a ton of activity and read and participate in a lot of blogs. I am just curious where the youth *are* on the net. IF they aren’t blogging, let me guess – they are on Twitter? YouTube? Podcasting? What medium is the up and coming space for the next generation of pundits that are talking about our favorite pastime?

Maybe they ARE blogging and I am just not in the blog-circle. I am genuinely curious of the thoughts and opinions of the gamer who only grew up with WoW, and want to know where to find it. Also, just socially, what would it take for the youngins to start and maintain a blog? I am curious if the groups that do the Newbie Blogger Initiative and other community building ideas are reaching the young or if its just not the way things are done anymore.

For the record, I am 40 years old. That may be young to some of you – I am just curious where the 20somethings are talking about their games and why they aren’t on my lawn.