Time to Loot Journal: September 2019

September was a month largely about returning to a sense of normalcy. The spectre of potential health issues being lifted and work returning to a more settled flow after the last round of restructuring being the primary drivers.

Asheron’s Call you won’t be surprised to learn, took much of my usual gaming time. Which ultimately ended up in quite a game-heavy month actually, taking time notably from both blog posting and watching shows.

Here’s to hoping this trend of normalcy carries on!

Also? It struck me recently just how close we are to the Christmas break. Ohhh Lordy, I cannot wait!

The Blog this Month

I published 15 posts in September, down 16 from last month. But last month was crazy. It was post-every-day-or-live-in-shame-forever-Blaugust. OK, no it wasn’t. I mean, it was Blaugust. But no-one was applying that kind of pressure.

In fact the experience of last month had me in a fairly weird and contradictory state of mind for a tiny bit. In my last journal I acknowledged what an absolute challenge it was to post every single day. And just how much it wasn’t for me. Just a couple of days later I had to acknowledge that I was still posting daily and that it may continue a while.

That state of madness was fleeting it appears, as I only kept it up until September 5th after which I returned to my much more regular cadence of posting 2-3 times a week. Although undoubtedly part of that drop off was due to Asheron’s Call coming in and taking over so much of my computer time (as you’ll see shortly). If not for that, would the cycle have continued?

Maybe!

In any case, 145 published posts (including this one) now reside on Time to Loot. Apparently this is already enough that I’m occasionally surprised to find one. Generally I do at least recall doing it when I see it again, but sometimes the specifics of the content within may as well have come from someone else. Hah.

Most Viewed Posts

  1. Transport Fever: Things I Wish I Knew When I Started
  2. Travel Down that Ol’ Town Road
  3. Heart of Rage: Tips for the Monitor
  4. Exploring the Intro to the Magician and Gunner Classes of Lost Ark
  5. Thrill of the Hunt

After vanishing completely from the top 5 last month, the Heart of Rage post is baaaa-aaack. I’m unsure if this is a legitimate resurgence in popularity though or whether it is simply a reflection of the lesser views this month as opposed to during August.

Either is possible, as I had 2x the views over the Blaugust event — but I also posted 2x the content.

Games this Month

RankGameHours% Gaming TimeChange
1Asheron’s Call71.749.9%New
2Borderlands 359.941.6%New
3Cube World4.53.1%New
4Remnant: From the Ashes2.61.8%↑2
5Batman: The Telltale Series1.91.3%New
6Mothergunship1.71.2%New
7World of Warcraft (Classic)1.61.1%↓3

Err. September saw a total of 143.8 gaming hours, up 68.1 hours from August. Asheron’s Call took almost my usual full gaming timing up on its own, and in fact until the Sunday just been — I had thought there would only be a handful of games on this month’s list overall.

Despite the giant leap in gaming time, overall active hours came down with 270.2 total hours. A reduction of 23.5 hours from August.

No days working from home this month, so the reduction in total hours was expected. Asheron’s Call creating a drive to play unlike any I’ve had in a while (on top of Borderlands 3, which I’ll get to soon) resulted in a huge increase in the typical proportion of time spent on gaming.

Or another way — a huge reduction in non-gaming time. I had felt that actually, I had to push a little harder than usual to come do a post. I just wanted to play more! MOOOORE!

Yep. So September saw gaming time making up 53.2% of active hours, up 27.4% from last month.

Asheron’s Call

So yeah. I spent a bit of time with AC this month. I’m still a tad amazed by just how much, especially after my opening experience was almost completely derailed by the changes made to the retail AC experience before it finally closed down in 2017.

Now? Well, I can hardly imagine not playing. How close I came to ‘missing out’ is mildly horrifying.

I’m still somewhat bemused too, by the fact that actively enjoying WoW Classic — to the point where I could see myself playing it for some weeks yet — is what ultimately signed its death warrant (for me) as it triggered the curiosity for a return to AC.

Borderlands 3

So yep. I indirectly bought Borderlands 3. I hadn’t intended to. Intention had been to wait for the exclusivity period to end. I haven’t dwelt on it extensively, but I have made it clear in the past I’m not a fan of Epic’s approach re: third party exclusives.

I knew too, that of every game I’d forgone on this principle so far — this would be the most uphill battle as my friend group was extremely excited and in no way willing to wait the further 6-months for it to come out more widely.

One friend in particular just wasn’t having a bar of it and ended up buying me a copy. In turn I couldn’t accept that — it wasn’t a matter of money to me, so I recompensed them for the purchase.

Since then I’ve been a little conflicted on how to approach it. You’ll note not only no review, but also not even so much of a mention of playing it til now. I think I’ll still hold off on going into detail until the exclusivity period is over, but in short?

It’s fun. Provided you enjoyed Borderlands previously, you’ll enjoy Borderlands 3 as well. It is a modernisation of everything that has come before — in movement, gunplay feel and loot generosity philosophies. Inexplicably, and frustratingly — I guess I should clarify that ‘everything’ is a bit misleading.

Intro videos with vendor logos and all cutscenes in the game are completely unskippable. You can get rid of the vendor logo videos by renaming or moving them out of the game file structure — but if you want to make a new character? Go make a cup of tea over the 5-minute intro sequence. It plays every time, with no way to bypass.

The voice acting is great, but the content… Is not. Especially following on the heels of Handsome Jack, the twins and their motivations in Borderlands 3 are just… Ugh. The story is something you get through in this title rather than actively enjoy. It’s a game carried solely on the strength of its moment-to-moment play.

Cube World

I mentioned my delight and surprise to see Cube World live on to see a full release after all not too long ago.

Well, here it is!

It is verrry different from what we played back in the original Alpha. Although it does still share that same sense of punishing difficulty out of the gate while you learn how you’re supposed to engage with the world.

Now though, rather than an XP grind to level your character — its a matter of finding gear. All your stats — including your health — are tied to the gear pieces you’re wearing. Gear comes in various quality grades as is fairly typical these days but it doesn’t quite end there.

Your gear quality is also a function of the zone it came from. I believe. I haven’t witnessed this first hand yet, as I’m still working through completion of the first region (they’re pretty big!). But how I understand it is that an ‘Epic’ item in the first region might only be considered a blue or even green when you move to a higher level region.

So there is a bit of a stepping-stone thing going on. Layer onto that the artifacts you can find from boats, to reins for riding your pets, to magic flutes which when used at certain points will see you lofted into the air like a Disney-princess by a flock of birds and many more besides and it has almost a metroidvania type feel to the proceedings as well.

I enjoyed it! I sat down to just ‘play a little’ and ended up playing a fair bit. Likely Cube World isn’t going to dislodge AC from my line-up any time soon, but I’m glad I took a look. :)

The Others

Poor Remnant. We were doing so well. I can’t recall if I mentioned already or not — but this was a title I was playing exclusively in co-op with my eldest son.

But like so often happens with our co-op endeavours, Fortnite and its various competitions gets in the way. *shakes fist*

As for WoW Classic — I mentioned that already up in the Asheron’s Call section. A victim of its own success in the truest way.

(Dinnerdinnerdinner) Batman! My youngest has wanted to watch me ‘play a Batman game’ for years, but has been a little young in my opinion for the content within. Turns out this one was no different, so I rather quickly decided to put it aside for after he was asleep.

But I’d started by then, so I finished the first episode and will likely play it through now as it was a great reminder of how much I enjoyed the earlier Walking Dead Telltale entries.

And then there was Mothergunship! This is something I picked up from the last humble monthly bundle and it is every bit as preposterous as I thought it would be — and then some. Some of the guns you can construct generate enough force that you can ‘fly’ with them. And this is on top of an already very generous multi-jump.

It’s a game that revels in being over the top — but it hits all the right notes with it to my mind, and might just be my favourite ‘time-killer’ style game at the moment.

Blaugust 2019 in the Rear View

I think Blaugust broke me. But in a rather odd and specific manner. You may recall, but a couple of times now, I’ve mentioned just how tired posting daily has left me. If there was one thing I was clear about after completing the challenge — it was that posting daily wasn’t for me. It grew my appreciation and awe to even greater levels for those that can, but man was I personally looking forward to a break.

But here I am. Still posting. Like a maaaadman.

And all indications so far are that it may continue. True enough, I had to fight myself into putting these thoughts down today. But that wasn’t to get myself writing — rather it was because there is another post I very much want to post instead. That post will keep though, my learnings from Blaugust may become a little less fresh if I keep pushing this out.

So here we go!

Posting every day isn’t for me.

Introduction to this post put aside for one moment — during Blaugust I appreciated the challenge aspect of posting every day. I’m proud and pleased I met the challenge, but it was a challenge.

It added a pressure to post that I had begun to think of as being above and beyond what a hobby-blog should entail. Worse, I wasn’t always happy with the quality of the content being produced while subjecting myself to the rigours of posting each and every day.

That’s the con side — on the pro side though, it has rather craftily created a habit. A habit of writing daily that — bringing the intro back in now — I apparently find at least a little difficult to break even though I consciously craved a break. Even a short one. A single day gap to mark the occasion of Blaugust being over, perhaps.

Blaugust also allowed me to experiment a little with my approach to writing posts. Sometimes by necessity on days where I knew my lunch break was it. Post something or don’t — but if I don’t I wasn’t going to get one that day. (Luckily that only happened once to that extreme, and I made it to publish.)

But if I have to post every day…

…Then writing a day ahead helps reduce the stress and anxiety of writing daily by a lot.

Before Blaugust I was very much a write-to-publish sort of guy. When I finished a post, I published a post. But doing that with a strict post-every-day schedule meant feeling like a silly Uni student who had left their assignment to the last night. Every day.

Writing today for tomorrow’s post though seemed to strike a good balance between keeping posts ‘fresh’, and relatively stress free in that even if I was unexpectedly unable to write that night I wasn’t going to miss a day. The current days post was done yesterday. It wouldn’t be ideal — but I could still catch-up the next day if I had to.

On the odd occasion I lost that lead it was much rougher, and fighting to get it back meant finding time to do two posts — one for the current day and one to get ahead again — but the piece of mind it brought was worth the effort.

Too Much Content!

At the very least, too much content for me to keep abreast of and comment as widely as I would like — particularly for our newer bloggers.

This was on some days every bit as concerning as simply keeping up with the content creation itself! I know there are amazing posts created this month that I simply did not see in the flurry of so much posting, on top of usual life commitments and work. I oft struggle even outside of Blaugust, so during when it went a couple of days without doing a thorough scan of the new posts I felt quite D: about it all.

For all that, again, some pro’s — some fantastic new bloggers emerged which I wish all the best and to continue on past the ‘event’ of Blaugust itself. I shan’t name them all (but take a look at the Blaugust 2019 page for that), but here a couple of my favourite new discoveries:

  • Where the Monsters Are by Quin
    Quin, while having a particular interest in Project 99, writes about a range of MMORPGs and experiences. It might not come as a surprise but I’m quite a fan of reflective posts, so his first Blaugust post on past bad behaviour struck a chord. (There is even still something of a response in my post backlog I may get to sooner or later.)
  • Everwake’s Internet Adventures by Everwake
    Everwake writes on Blogger, but I try not to hold it against him. ;) More seriously, Everwake is consistently amusing and an entertaining read. I am still waiting ever so patiently for Tuskarr the Boar Blog Mascot to hit a store near me though.

Planning is also not for me

I know. I was shocked too.

>.>

No-one buying? Well fine. I’ve kinda known for a long time I’m way more of a pantser than I am a planner. Nonetheless, in the lead-up to Blaugust I created a day planner and populated many of the slots with an intended post.

I filled 25 slots in fact, with an intended post. Of the 25 I only actually did 8 of them.

Finding a topic is not something I typically struggle with, so really I knew it was a wasted effort to run through the spreadsheet. Still, it helped a little as a calming exercise in the lead up. And to be fair, I did reference it fairly regularly.

Just that typically when I did, I wrinkled my nose, said ‘Nah’ and did something else anyway.

Next Year?

Get the day headstart up and running as soon as possible so that I’m not writing to the day for any longer than I must. At the latest, by the end of the first Blaugust 2020 weekend, I want that buffer in place.

I won’t try to plan as heavily, and I’ll recognise from the outset that the themed weeks (if they make a return) are more guide than gospel. I learnt this pretty early on thanks to conversation with others, but it did give me conniptions to start with!

In terms of keeping abreast of all the content going on… I really don’t know. I wonder whether it might be an idea for the Mentors at least to post an end of week wrap-up highlighting some of their favourite content from the week and why it was?

That’d be both educational AND allow some semblence of a catch-up. :D

Time to Loot Journal: Blaugust 2019

Wowser, eh? What. A. Ride. August was a month that started with hype halfway through July. The mission: Post every day throughout the month of August (or as near to as you can manage). I have no doubt Belghast will do a round-up when the timezones around the world catch-up.

As a challenge, I loved it but I’m so glad it’s over. It was, for me at least, an actual challenge. Posting every day is simply not something I could sustainably do. Even so, I’ve posted every day for thirty-six consecutive days1 now and I’m looking forward to the break! Or at least, the option to take a break. I can’t say for sure I won’t post again tomorrow. But it’d be different, with the pressure to do it turned off.

Then over the top of that, was all the health stuff. I had my endoscopy on August 2nd and a colonoscopy yesterday. Biopsies were taken from the endoscopy and all came back clear. No biopsy necessary from the colonoscopy and the doctor performing the procedure was satisfied that all was clear there, too.

This is all good news! Very good news. It leaves the mystery of why iron count is so low, but so far? Cancer doesn’t appear to be the answer. The proposal from here is that I get some iron supplements from my GP and try them for a time — see if it brings the count back up where it should be. Although even if it does, if a three month check-up on the bloods post-iron supplements sees the iron low again, I’ll be back in for the third procedure — to swallow a capsule camera thinger to investigate the small intestine as well.

But for now, there is a reprieve from procedures and the most likely spots given the other symptoms have been cleared. :)

The Blog this Month

Published 31 posts this month. Up from 13 from last month, which was already a high post count month for me.

This also means I hit my Blaugust goal of one a day! :D

As for totals, this will make for 129 published posts. This busts my previous record of 97 posts on Fun in Games. So I’m going to predict hitting 200 posts in Feb 2020. It will be interesting to see how far off that is if, as a result of Blaugust, my post pace shifts around again.

Also of note, was tagged into two (well, three actually — but I still have to respond to one! Sorry PizzaMaid!) of the social Q&A type things that go around. One of the responses even ended up as third most read post this month! The other though, was this one. I think these can certainly be a good bit of fun, but I’d be reluctant to start letting them run rampant around the place! xD

Most Viewed Posts

  1. Transport Fever: Things I Wish I Knew When I Started
  2. Age of Wonders: Planetfall Modernises TBS Multiplayer
  3. Finding a topic #2 & Real Neat Blog Award
  4. Lost Ark: Assassin Unleashed
  5. A Better MMO

The Age of Wonders: Planetfall post ranking so highly this month did initially surprise me a bit — it was mostly about recounting the story my friends and I went through discovered the advances to the save system made since AoW3.

But I suppose it was posted during the review hype cycle, and multiplayer is an element of hot interest. I expect this will be off the top 5 list entirely next month.

Games this Month

RankGameHours% Gaming TimeChange
1No Man’s Sky (Beyond Update)32.041.2%New
2Lost Ark10.413.4%No Change
3Age of Wonders: Planetfall9.812.5%New
4World of Warcraft Classic8.510.9%New
5Final Fantasy XIV7.19.2%↓4
6Remnant: From the Ashes5.77.3%New
7Warframe2.32.9% ↓2

August saw a total of 75.7 gaming hours, down 2.1 hours from July.

While not quite to the crazy peak of July, August saw 293.7 total active hours on the PC. This is down 23.5 hours from last month. Part driven by a few days working from home, but also no doubt a sign of the extra time put into posting to hit the Blaugust goal.

I had expected the total hours to drop fairly significantly again this month — but as noted, there was a few days working from home, on top of Blaugust itself keeping that figure high.

For August overall, this means gaming made up 25.8% of the active hours, up 1.4% from last month.

But…

The PC Only Problem

The tracking in the table above is all done via ManicTime2 meaning it is PC bound in what is picked up.

Most months tracking PC Only would be beyond fine. I hardly ever touch my consoles. This month however I’ve sunk perhaps 20 hours into Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

I thought about incorporating into the table, but ultimately decided to retain the PC Only accuracy, and call out examples like FE:TH as and when they happen, which isn’t terribly common.

No Man’s Sky

The Beyond Update is an amazing piece of work in its own right. If you check out that update page, it just goes on and on. If you had only heard about the headline features (VR and Expanded Multiplayer) you could be forgiven for thinking everyone was making much about nothing.

But for someone like me who hasn’t really touched the game since it’s 2016 state, the Beyond Update isn’t the entire story. Rather it is the compounding impact of a series of updates, each on their own with no power to bring me back for a look. Although speaking honestly, some of them I didn’t even know existed! Like this one — Visions — tagged as 1.75, or a ‘minor’ follow-up to The Abyss (which I had heard about at the time).

Where The Abyss looked to enhance the underwater experience and diversify the biomes down below, adding in new technology to explore — including a submersible exocraft, and underwater base building components — Visions focused itself above ground on planetary texture diversity and atmospheric conditions. The fact that previously planets had only a single texture the whole way around really hurt the experience for me, enough that I noted it in my original review of the title:

My original 2016 review of No Man’s Sky — now in need of quite an update.

Beyond gave No Man’s Sky a ‘2.0’ version, in reality I’d think it now in a 1.0 ready state. But it is at least, 1.0 ready. All of the issues I discussed in that review have been addressed to varying degrees. I hope work on the title continues to further add depth where needed though.

Either way, already I can say that it hasn’t gone down the Spore road, and that’s a great thing. ;)

Lost Ark

OK, after the near post-length commentary on NMS, this one is going to be super brief by comparison!

I’m going to remove it from the sidebar now, and uninstall! Trigger for this being my VPN subscription has expired and I don’t intend to resubscribe to it another month.

I feel at last I’ve had enough of a fill to tide me over until, if not an actual Western release, then at least a release a little more friendly to foreigners comes along. Then can actually play into the endgame and interact with the community without fear of being found out and reported!

Age of Wonders: Planetfall

Planetfall created a really strong first impression, but unlike Stellaris or even it’s direct predecessor, Age of Wonders 3, it hasn’t brought us back night after night (or at least Saturday after Saturday) to get more of it.

One of my best friends who was an absolute fiend for AoW3 and was by far the most excited of all of us for this one has touched it only a little after the first day or two’s flurry. When asked, there isn’t really anything negative about the title to speak of — it just didn’t possess more current pull than say, Warframe did for them at this time.

World of Warcraft Classic

I still don’t know how long WoW Classic will be a part of my gaming routine. I don’t expect to hit 60 or to raid on a schedule even if I do.

I’m almost approaching WoW Classic as less a gaming experience though and more of an archaeological dig. Although that’s not quite — that implies some sort of intent to approach it that way, when really it’s just how it has unfolded for me instead.

The memories it surfaces — good and bad — and the contrast between how veteran MMO players at the time of WoW’s launch viewed WoW then vs. how we see WoW Classic against the lens of today’s MMO’s (not just retail WoW, but FFXIV and essentially all others outside niche types like EVE) is fascinating.

Kaylriene’s On Sandboxes and Themeparks post placed launch state WoW into the Sandbox camp, something I disagreed with, although did think it was much further toward the ‘Sandbox’ end of the spectrum relative to retail today.

I still think that’s the case, but I’ve been shocked by just how much that is the case. It’s night and day, the story generation potential from Classic is just so, so high.

Final Fantasy XIV

I’m a Final Fantasy XIV raider now. >.>

I feel like the raw hour count for FFXIV undersells how much I actually got done in the game this month.

In terms of The Horrible Hundred, I beat Leviathan, then carried on far enough to also then do battle with Rahmuh after negotiations failed.

After that I went through and finished unlocking, and then running, each of the three wings of the Crystal Tower raid.

So only 7 hours? Huh. At first read that surprises me. Will next month be the month I finally break through the 100 and start Heavensward? I dunno! We’ll see. :)

The Others

The actual number of games played was significantly less this month, so only two to mention here this time!

Remnant: From the Ashes is a title that baffled me at first just how it was getting the extreme high rating that it was from Steam. When I was discussing it in the Blaugust Discord, it was sitting around 92% positive on Steam.

But from the critical reviews I had seen, and the Let’s Play I had been watching this seemed waaaaay too positive. I would have expected a 60-70% positive rating. If I hadn’t already Steam’s stats, I would have put some OK money down on a bet that it would be around the 70% mark, in fact.

While it may still get there, as the game isn’t without its issues there is a certain something to the control of Remnant which doesn’t come across even when watching a long form Let’s Play of the game. It’s a game that feels good to play. Much more so than watching the animation quality, variety of weaponry or other such things can possibly imply.

Skill Up has done a fantastic review on the game which helps articulate this very well. It is a long review but I recommend staying onboard until at least the section on difficulty talking about ‘accessible challenge’ that comes in at around 7m 18s. Even if the initial talk of similarities to Dark Souls puts you off, listen through this section!

Apparently I neglected to take any new screenshots of the Eidolon hunt though. D’oh.

Warframe was a bit of a random pop in. Jumped in to go on an Eidolon hunt in a friend group that was forming. But uh, by time we jumped in night only had about 14 minutes left. Whoops. We hadn’t quite destroyed the shield before the Eidolon was awl, ‘The sun cometh! I goeth! Cya later suckers!’

Ah well. :)

Staying Motivated

I’m tired.

Posting every day is 110% not for me. But going through the Blaugust experience has given me an even greater level of appreciation for those that do, or just about do.

I’m sort of stealing a bit from the ‘what I learned from Blaugust’ post next week with that. But it’s relevant because there have absolutely been days where I’ve wanted to drop out from the daily posting. I always told myself from the start, after all, that I may not end being able to adhere to the full extent of the challenge.

But speaking honestly, I’m still quite fearful of losing my motivation to continue here at all. It wouldn’t be without precedent, I’ve dropped blogs before. One of which was a whispered breath away from reaching 100 posts. I mentioned in that post that something feels different about this one — and that’s true. But Time to Loot is still only ~7 months old and I know I can be flighty. I talk about it with my gaming all the time.

So it has definitely been back in the mind that if I tell myself it’s OK to break from the Blaugust-post-a-day that it might be only a small hop, skip and a jump from there to conceding it’s OK to just call it quits again.

To hear Quin’s recent admission in many ways cemented that fear as a very real prospect. (And as an aside if I may — I’m so very thankful that Quin is sticking around, as a recent favourite blogger of mine.)

And with that preface, here’s some advice on staying motivated! … Yep! Alright, so you might want to just check back in a year or two to see whether it has been effective or not for even me, but here we go. ;)

Fields of Gold

The Advice

Identify what your Motivation even is

Do you know why you want to blog? Why you reaaaally want to do it? I talked about this a little in the lead up to Blaugust and the false start I had along the way to identifying my motivation.

That set of portal co-ordinates is, incidentally, my current home base in No Man’s Sky.

For me, the best motivation is one that doesn’t necessarily rely on other people. It isn’t metric driven, it isn’t for internet fame (as nice as it might be) or fortune (hah), it’s about creating an enduring record of what I get up to, discoveries made and games played.

I know I’ve missed out on this for the years already gone by, and at times this has been really unpleasant a realisation at just how much so.

Yours could be something similar, or entirely different. Just make sure it truly means something to you.

Visualise what your Success looks like

Do it frequently — but especially do it when you feel your motivation levels waning.

For me I picture myself 10 years out from now, reading my old posts like this one with a wry smile at how relatively naive I was and how much I still had to learn. You see — future me, in no small part from the introspective writing I’m occasionally given to *cough* — is a much more self-aware and -confident person.

For you this might mean being referenced by a favourite blogger in one of their posts, or having someone acknowledged you actually managed to change their mind on an issue you’re passionate about.

Whatever it is — picture it and keep working toward it.

Draw from the Community

If there’s one thing I’m thankful for — it is the supportive and awesome community we have in our little corner of the internet.

If you’re starting to lose steam, say so. Like Quin did earlier, and Sandrian just yesterday. Addressing it head on and talking through the feeling is often a fantastic way to draw out precisely what your roadblock is and get help from others that have been there.

Even if you’re brand spanking new and a post may not yet garner the responses you need — that’s OK, pop into the Blaugust Discord and talk to us. (It runs all year around, although is admittedly the most active around the event.)

There is energy to spare, so perhaps it will help.

Closing Thoughts

When your motivation falters, breaking the tyranny of the blank page is a huge part of righting the ship. Don’t let yourself get bogged down in fears of nothing to say. Writing about your game experiences is absolutely enough.

Realise instead that people come to see you as much as the things you say.

Break that blank page wide open and simply tell us (and maybe yourself in the process) about your dip. You’d be amazed how effective this simple act can be at times.

But, to further echo Bhagpuss in his reply to Sandrian — if nothing else works, put it aside for a moment. This isn’t a job, or an obligation. Take a break, with a mind to returning when it feels right. Maybe you need a week. A month. Hell, more. That’s OK.

We’re not going anywhere.


Almost entirely unrelated — but I wrote this post listening to the Ori and the Blind Forest soundtrack, after being reminded of it’s brilliance by Syp’s post including one of the tracks.

I’m quite a fan of the title in general.

I think this will only play a small sample of the 2:21 piece if you’re not signed in, but it’s more than worth a click through to Spotify to hear the full thing, with the build from the start!

This track really struck me as epitomising the feeling of staying motivated, so thought I’d include it. :)

No Man’s Sky Added

My gaming preferences are mysterious and ever shifting. Like a leaf upon the wind, one can never be too sure where they may land. … Which is to say, I’m very fickle and typically struggle to settle into any one title for any reasonable period of time.

Which let me tell you, can really make these games I’m playing posts a bit of a mission.

Often by the time I realise, “Yep — I’m playing this thing a fair bit” and reckon it might be an idea to add it to the sidebar, I grow suspicious of the fact that I will be done with it a day or two hence. Or that the act of officially recognising it might even somehow break the spell of game continuity.

But I’m going to risk it. I’m putting the cards out on the table and saying: Yep — I’m playing a boatload of No Man’s Sky at the moment. Not an outcome I expected when I first booted it up and tinkered around a bit. I didn’t really see much of a reason to consider it significantly improved over what I’d seen before.

Oh good. Doesn’t look like I’m on the menu today.

Turns out I was wrong. I’m glad I went back for a second look. I couldn’t even tell you now, only a few days on why I did though!

Not really any change otherwise this time around.

Changes to the Game List

Added

  • No Man’s Sky

Remaining

  • Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
  • Final Fantasy XIV

Nearly Removed

  • Lost Ark

Removed

  • None

My Lost Ark account is still functional, I check in every once and a while. But I’m trying really hard not to get too invested in my characters. The risk of being banned is still ever present and I can’t imagine the pain of that happening if I actually reach end game and make significant progress with it.

To such an extent I almost wish the ban hammer had already fallen.

I half expect to find some Night Elves hiding in the bushes here.

For all others interested — we’re told that an NA release is in the works, and it looks like Smilegate recently even put out job postings for an English localisation team. But the next step on this journey is the Russian release slated to go into open beta late this year.

That release is rumoured to have a native English language option. It’s also suggested that the Russian release will be far ‘safer’ for foreigners to play, with laxer restrictions than the Korean release.

So my plan is to hold off and wait for this release before getting too heavily involved. But… I can feel that I’m very close to getting my boat in Lost Ark, and I kinda want it. So we’ll see. ;)

Writing Comments vs. Posts

A line in Bhagpuss’ recent post on the subject of when to comment vs. when to turn it into a post and balancing the two, finally pushed me over the edge to sitting down and writing this out. Bhagpuss had noted in passing an observation that had been building in potential significance as a potential source of deeper insight into writing and my approach to writing.

In fact, in my experiment with writing this post — an undiscussed element of what I was looking at was how to capture some of the comment writing experience. Namely, as Bhagpuss said, “It takes me about five per cent of the time to write even a lengthy comment than it would to put a full post together.”

Writing a comment tends to just flow. Even long ones pour forth from thought to virtual-page. There is no second-guessing or rewriting of whole sections. They just… go.

Nyoooom. The speed of comment writing visualised.

Contrast this with writing posts, where rewrites occur haphazardly on the fly. I can jump at random back to the opening paragraph to touch it up five paragraphs into the work. Whole sentences will be wiped and rewritten in an attempt to make them ‘better’.

Best of all is when changing the structure of a sentence and then leaving artefacts of the previous structure behind. While not the source of 100% of the grammatical issues you’ll see in my posts — it’s probably right up there at 70-80% or more. I’m making a rather conscious effort with this post not to do any of the things I’m talking about while writing it, I should add. And it’s certainly speeding up the process, but it doesn’t quite feel natural yet.

And in fact, after the completion of that paragraph? I just noticed myself pausing to read back through what I had as a whole so far. This is very likely the cause of my editing and jumping around a post on the fly, actually. ;)

Another reason — and I just did this one now too, hah — is I’m very distraction prone. A comment in Discord, a random thought to google. You name it and I can break the flow, then necessitating finding my place again.

In any case. Back on track. I wonder how one might capture some of the efficiency and speed in comment writing. I think the difference in expectations between the two is a factor. Certainly in my mind, during the act of writing a comment it seems far more transient and throwaway — even though there have been times where what I’ve liked what I’ve put into a comment more than some posts!

Something that comes to mind here is a comment from Jeromai, about appreciating the ‘rawness’ of his writing. That over-preparation can end up diminishing his overall regard for a piece of his work.

Although really — it all comes back to the same conclusion as before. I need to get better at writing out complete first drafts before worrying about anything else. Just boom. Write. Turn the editor off. Tap some keys. Make some words. Maybe allow for some critical assessment at the end.

Comment writing proves to me this is possible. It’s just a matter of putting it into practice in a different, higher pressure context.

Something’s Different Here

The number of the day is 115. In that, this post is the 115th I’ve published here on Time to Loot. This makes it the most posts I’ve published on a single blog to date. Interestingly I thought this made Time to Loot by far my most published-to blog. When I started digging into it for this post, that turned out to be not entirely true.

Even though I was wrong about how close it was between one of my prior blogs and this one — it hasn’t shaken the feeling I have that something is different this time. Different better. That maybe I’ve found my forever-blog this time around.

My Ex-Blogs

  • Tank’n’Tree (Oct 2008 – Nov 2009, Unknown post count — I estimate ~30)
    Still has some content existing in the archive, but you need to scroll down to see any of it.
  • Fun in Games (Jun 2010 – Oct 2011, 97 posts)
  • Modicum of Gaming (May 2012 – Sep 2013, 16 posts)

I wonder if I knew at the time how close to 100 posts I was on Fun in Games. I feel like this is new information to me, but surely I must have?

Reading back over them now, it’s… I don’t even know that I have an adequate word for it. Some posts have stuck with me in memory across the years, others I recall fondly as old friends upon seeing them again. Still others again, it feels like I’m reading for the first time. I possess not even the dimmest memories of writing them.

For the most part — I enjoy my writing style from back then better. I wonder now if I’ll be able to recapture the vibrancy and sense of life found in the older posts.

But whether I can or not, the sense of lasting — of longer life — to this blog isn’t lessened. I’ve felt it for at least the last month or two, but couldn’t quite define what it was.

Until I realised I already had. In finding my ‘why‘ and grounding it on something a little bit less transient than ‘Blogs are cool, ergo I want one’ grants a sense of permanence I’ve never really had with a blog before. It was always top of mind that my interests could waver and change course at any moment.

And heck, who knows, I could be way off and that happens anyway.

No doubt someone will pull this out and show me should it. But I don’t think it will be necessary. By this stage of a blog for me I’ve typically hit my first break of a month or longer. The excitement turned to chore. A post feeling obligatory.

As I write this a little over the halfway mark of Blaugust, having lost the slight scheduled lead I had rolling for a while, I’m tired but no less motivated for that. I made sure to call out — mostly for my own benefit — at the start of August that I’d try to hit a post every day but that I wasn’t really expecting to and I wasn’t going to beat myself up too much if I didn’t.

I said it mostly as a ward against the risk of making posting here feel like a chore, like I’ve encountered in the past. But tired though I am — I’m in this. :D

Sunshine Blogger Award Nomination

Originally, this post was scheduled for tomorrow. I wanted to provide a little more spacing between this post and the last Q&A / tag post. I am fortunate though, that I prepared the answers for this one in advance. Because the post I had planned for today1… Well, I wasn’t able to complete it before bed time.

I thought about giving it the same experimental ‘Stream of Consciousness’ treatment that I gave yesterday’s Why Write About Games post, but it didn’t seem the right treatment for the subject matter.

So! With acknowledgement of this being so close in time to the last Q&A / tag post, I shall forgo a round of nominations and question raising of my own this time around.

Without further adieu — I was nominated by Frostilyte! (Thank-you!) and you can see their nomination post and questions answered here. Frosti has had a focus on review content but is branching out into more bloggy-style stuff too. Take a look! :)

Questions

You’ve become the leader of your country for a day. You have the power to make one item illegal for purchase for the rest of time. What do you choose and why?

Cigarettes, I think.

With the amount of harm they can cause which has at this stage been beyond proven, it in many respects amazes me that they are still for sale. It absolutely irks me the amount of ‘sin tax’ the Government puts on them ostensibly as a deterrent, but really as a revenue driver.

However I leave the ‘I think’ qualifier in there as the lessons of prohibition in the States would need to be more closely considered. Would such a move in actual fact only serve to further line the pockets of those willing to deal in drugs? How would the criminalisation of something once so widely accepted even work?

In short I’m under no illusion that it would be a simple matter.

You will receive five million dollars (USD), but for the next year you will always feel like you have to use the washroom and won’t be able to tell the difference between a false alarm and the real deal. Do you take the money? Why or why not?

Absolutely take the money.

Even if we assumed the absolute worst and ‘Not be able to tell the difference’ somehow extends beyond just the physical sensations to prohibiting the use of logic and reason as well. Even if we were to assume an even worse case that the use of adult diapers was prohibited essentially rendering you homebound.

Still take the money.

One could comfortably live off the interest without eating into the principal amount in that year, even with no further income. Assuming even an incredibly modest 2.40% p/a interest rate, you would accrue $120k on the principal.

You could go on sabbatical or career break for the 12 month period and return to the work force (if you wished) the following year.

You remove the existence of an entire genre from video games | film | music | anime | television (pick one). What genre do you ax out of existence and why?

OK, I typically get frustrated by non-answers to things like this — but here goes a bit of a non-answer.

I probably wouldn’t. Just because something isn’t for me doesn’t mean I want to get rid of it. At least not within the common realm of genres anyway.

If we were to extend this into being a slightly heavier question — which I’m reasonably sure wasn’t the intent — then if it was within my power to axe out of existence any exploitative material of unwilling participants I would do it in a heartbeat.

What superpower do you want to help solve your mundane everyday problems?

Telekinesis was the first that popped into my head. But there are so many ways a super power could help with mundane every day problems. Super speed. Future sight.

I think super speed would be my ultimate pick.

Many of us would like to go back in time to give our younger selves advice. Instead of doing that, what skill would you trick yourself into thinking you had so the younger you would actively pursue learning said skill?

Oh man. I’m not sure my younger self would work like that.

But for the sake of the question, assuming he did — Super Speed. … What? ;)

More seriously, how young are we talking? If quite, then likely a musical instrument. Although drawing, painting or more generally ‘visual art’ would be quite a close second.

But then there’s also writing. Maybe I could trick younger me into thinking I’d already become a published author and get him hard at work on that?

Toilet paper roll over, under, or pine cone?

Hol’upaminnit. Frosti — I can only assume we have a breakdown in communication here somewhere.

A- A- A pine cone?

One of these suckers?

Nuh-uh. No way. Not sure why even an option. One of those is never getting anywhere near my-

You know what, let’s just all agree that we’re not savages and the paper needs to go over. ;)

If you could take credit for any invention and have everyone believe that you indeed created it, what would you choose and why?

The wheel. The confusion would be priceless.

Or fire, for much the same reason.

Plus neither of those things steals credit from people still living or with close relatives still living.

Although I suppose there is a question here in just how far that belief ran and whether it could be utilised for a greater good. Hmm. Like, could I claim credit for a life saving drug of some kind, win the patent back and ensure it isn’t priced beyond the reach of people who need it?

What is your favourite beverage with alcohol in it? If you don’t drink booze, same question sans the alcohol.

I don’t drink a great deal — but when I do go out for the odd big night, at a certain point Espresso Martini’s become a feature. ;)

You wake up in a cold sweat. What a terrible nightmare. You were surrounded by that thing you have an irrational fear of. Then you hear a noise in the looming darkness. You turn on the lights. OH NO! IT WASN’T A DREAM!? What thing, that you have an irrational fear of, is in the room with you?

Oh hell. I actually don’t know.

There are a great many things I’m uncomfortable with irrationally, but not quite sure they extend fully into the realm of ‘fear’ since I will deal with them when necessary. This includes things like spiders and large insects of which when they trespass into our domain — I’m the designated remover.

Heights? But I’ve done sky diving and have bungee jumping on my pretend-I’m-a-tourist-in-my-own-country todo list.

Otherwise I think the things I’m afraid of a perfectly rational, thank-you very much. Hah. Armed intruders, for instance.

Without looking up the answer, which of the following headlines do you think is false and why?

  • Aspen man hires stuffed owl as his defense attorney
  • Man allegedly assaults homeless man over cheeseburger
  • Woman missing, since she got lost
  • Woman allegedly assaults sandwich maker over ‘Too Many Pickles’

I could absolutely believe any of these as being a real headline. I would hope that that man in Aspen only attempted to hire a stuffed owl as his defense attorney and so I wonder if that might be the fake one.

But I’m going to go with the ‘Woman missing, since she got lost’ option as it seems grammatically at least to be the least like a headline. Also from a logical perspective they probably wouldn’t have known what happened to the woman unless she was found again.

Still. It might be real. You have to let me know Frosti, you must! :D

You’ve decided to help combat the inevitable global climate change that will kill us all by eating vegetarian once a week. What is one new meal you’re excited to prepare and consume?

*makes a face*

Although honestly, I’m probably eating vegetarian at least once a week already. But once you put a label on it like that… *makes a face again*

I would say though pan fried couscous with feta (I assume this is allowed, since not full on vegan being requested) and raisins, alongside a helping of steamed vegetables such as broccoli and carrot.


Thank-you again very much for the nomination, Frostilyte, and for the questions that I know you put a lot of thought and effort into!

Seriously though, you have to say which headline was the fake one. Or wait, were they all real? All fake? xD

Given proximity to the last round of questions I’m not going to carry this one on unless there is a particular demand for more questions — I’m happy to oblige in that case. ;)