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

Mainstream Media on Games Might be Working

I didn’t think I was going to cover this one. Intended to ignore it completely, in fact. An experience yesterday changed my mind. Yesterday morning, the company I work for hosted a session of the ‘Online Gaming Wellbeing‘ workshop, run by the Learn with League division of Riot.

I didn’t really know what to expect from this workshop going in. I had been forwarded the invite only a day or so prior, so I hadn’t really dug into the detail yet.

I wondered whether they were going to try and get a bunch of corporates to play a game of League. Maybe then try draw some learnings from that. That would have been amusing, to say the least. (Also, I had already mentally dibsed going support. Leona, probably.)

I felt compelled to login again just to get a screenshot. Only felt up to ARAM though, as it has been aaaages since I played a ‘real’ game of League.

So I will admit, when I turned up there a definite sense of disappointment upon entering the venue and noting that it was not, in fact, set up in preparation for a mini-LAN party.

But the session was valuable and eye-opening even so.

The question of why we were here doing this session, in light of video games inspiring violence like the Christchurch massacre was brought up.

The question was given voice by a smart, intelligent person. Yet clearly the rhetoric in American mainstream media had done its job.

I was really surprised by this at the time although, in retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have been. The response it drew though was immediate.

Voiced in a near shout from another corner of the room, defying this and calling it out as untrue. I worried that this poor person was going to be left scarred by the encounter. For daring give voice to, what was to them, a legitimate and serious concern.

The hostility and derision in the room from those who in turn likely felt personally attacked by the question was palpable. But only for a moment thankfully. The room gentled almost immediately. I think there was a realisation that while perhaps not asked in the most tactful way, or with a good read of the room, it was a sincere worry.

There followed a brief discussion on the closer correlation between access to guns and gun violence. We talked to the lack of scientific evidence supporting the conclusions being espoused in the media. We also had someone in the room who had grown up in Japan. They testified from first-hand experience just how false the claim that Japan and similar cultures didn’t game was, or that it could even possibly therefore follow that the lack of gaming was the reason they had less gun violence.

Ultimately I don’t know whether we convinced the person who raised the question or not. We might have. The conversation certainly could have gone a lot worse given the knee-jerk reaction of a start it received. But the Riot host handled the situation with a surprising degree of grace. He allowed people to have their say on an extremely charged topic without allowing a total derailment of the workshop.

Battling Leviathan

Yep. An honest to God post about a game. I feel like it’s been a while! So I jumped back into Final Fantasy XIV last night, cracked my knuckles, and prepared to continue playing Courier Conversation Quest. (Yeah, I’m still working my way through the 2.x post-ARR content).

I must have stopped at a reasonable point last time around though. Because while there was certainly a fair share of this and running back and forth between the same areas, I actually got to fight some things. Sahagin mostly.

Sahagin? They’re basically Naga. They’re the dead things on the ground in this shot.

The storyline goes to lengths to remind you though, that you’re not necessarily defending the good guys in this battle. There is a lengthy discussion on the morality of the Limsa Lomasin admiralty in their having broken the truce first.

The Sahagin are in the process of summoning Leviathan in the hopes that their spawning grounds can be saved from the continuing encroachment of nearby settlements. The tensions had been building here for a while before it turned to out and out open hostilities again.

For all that, there are still civilians to consider who are not necessarily responsible for how things have unfolded. So you go in and save the day. Become the hero in one story, and undoubtedly a parent-slaying, land invading villain in another.

Anyway.

This all culminates in a raid / trial. Visually it’s a pretty good encounter. It has some mechanics, but I couldn’t really tell you what any of them do. The difficulty was tuned somewhere on a par — possibly even a bit under — the difficulty of a WoW LFR run, so they didn’t much matter. But given the necessity to PUG it to get through the storyline, I was more than OK with this.

There was a bit where Leviathan smashes down on one end of the platform you’re on at sea, sending all players hurtling down that way. Prior raid training suggests that whenever you’re forced to a certain place you should make every effort to vacate said place ASAP. So I did, and it looked like at least some of the others in the party did too. I couldn’t really say if anything bad happened to those who kept fighting from the spot they’d been unceremoniously dumped onto though.

Leviathan defeated once more in this cycle.

And so wraps up the end of the Patch 2.2 content. Just.. 2.3, 2.4, 2.5 and 2.55 to go.

If you hear any sobbing from out back, just ignore it — it’s nothing.

Separation of Self

This post has origins that predate this blog. It started with a conversation with a work colleague last year. A conversation that could only happen, I think, because we were removed from the context of our normal work environment.

It was on the drive to a weekend conference we were attending outside the city. One of the topics of conversation we wound our way around to was the company’s recent efforts at diversity and inclusion. More specifically, the concept of making it safe to bring your ‘whole self’ to work.

A worthy goal, we thought, but one destined to failure.

Years upon years of working in a corporate environment trains us how to act at work. How to present ourselves. How to talk. There is even an expected language of the environment that extends beyond simply the technical jargon specific to any given area.

These things all come together to create a persona. This persona is still ‘you’, but it’s ‘work you’. Home you is likely someone quite different. Then there’s out on the town with friends you. Who’s that guy?

We tried to determine what ‘whole self’ even meant, then. When different aspects of who you are, are so dependent on the people you’re interacting with at the time, is there ever anytime, anywhere, when you’re being your ‘whole self’? We didn’t think so.

I don’t recall if the parallel was drawn in this particular conversation or not — but separation of self is certainly true for us here on the Internet as well.

At best we show a subset of who we are, something I reflected on in a comment a little while ago now, when UltrViolet1 said the following:

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m very much adopting a “writing persona” when I write. I’m assuming a role. I’m setting aside “me” and stepping into the role of “the writer.” So the idea that anyone can get to know “me” through “my writing” strikes me somewhat discordantly.

UltrViolet (2019) — Staying Private in Public (Endgame Viable)

In my comment-reply to this at the time, I noted: “There are times I might endeavour to bring more of the ‘real me’ to the fore than usual, but it is a conscious effort and an exception to the norm.”

But in the context of UltrViolet’s post — this could be somewhat unclear. Unlike Ultr, or a streamer who puts on a persona, I don’t mean to say there is a role I consciously step into and adopt when I seat myself behind the keyboard to write one of these.

But like the work persona, or the home persona, or the out with friends persona — the Internet persona is contextual. And possesses significant differences from the others. For one, I tend to be more optimistic online. Not to say I’m all doom and gloom generally — but I’m more open to the idea of trusting and the general goodness of people online. I know. On the internet. Go figure.

In part I blame it being part of the job at work to identify how any given proposition might be gamed or abused.

I think online I’m also typically more open to discussing, well, things like this. Which now that I’m really thinking about it, I wonder if ‘Online me’ is at at least as true a reflection of self as the others?

Anywho. Boy have I wandered around this one. What I thought was the main topic of the post didn’t even end up being discussed!2 Maybe a follow-up post at some point would be in order. :)

Although next up I think simply has to be some gaming stuff of some sort. The itch to go back to tackling The Horrible Hundred in FFXIV might be rising again. Also?

They got me. They got my money early with the blasted name reservation. Well played Blizzard, well played.

Footnotes

  1. In turn triggered by a post by Roger Edwards
  2. I thought this would end up focusing more on separation of identity. I knew this other stuff would feature — just not that it would overtake the entire post.

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. ;)

Footnotes

  1. Well, ‘today’ by the time you see this post live.

Why Write About Games?

It’s been a while since I busted out an Anthem screenshot for anything, but I suppose it’s only fair given it is what brought me back to the blogging fold earlier this year. If you go alllll the way back to my initial ‘Hello!‘ post you can see the barely constrained (and ultimately undeserved) optimism I held for the game.

Initially, this blog had been envisioned as being Anthem only. I had a different domain registered and had started down the path of setting things up there.

I already knew in the back my mind that such a narrow path was a mistake. But with just how broken down my normally quite dense armour of jaded cynicism was, I was in no mood to listen. Fortunately, before I publicly unveiled anything I came to my senses and went with the compromise position you see before you today — Time to Loot.

One of these days I’m going to get around to doing the long overdue version 2.0 of my About page. But if you look there at the moment you can still see traces of the original vision there. I was going to be a useful site. Packed with guides and in-depth coverage of game systems and optimised builds.

While I have no aversion to that style of content and have done a few pieces of that nature, it turned out not to be what most excited me about coming back to game blogging again. What did most excite me came as an epiphany a month or so after my initial return.

It was far less about writing technical, practical material — and far more about keeping a personal history. A place to reflect on who I had been vs. where I will end up in the years to come, perhaps. Memory alone is a fickle beast, so having this sort of journal could be very enlightening.

I credit making this discovery of what motivates me to blog to Wilhelm. I read his about page and simply gasped when I realised that what he talked about was precisely what I wanted. Needed, possibly. That it should take someone else to spell it out though, in hindsight, is a little baffling. How many times had I lamented to myself at the loss of history, of connections?

Many. I’ve even run several blogs before, but all (clearly) lacked any sense of permanence. And so the connection between the blogging platform and this personal history wasn’t one I’d ever consciously made.

This isn’t my only reason. But it lies at the heart of it. For the others, you can actually jump over and read Kluwes’ post. He essentially wrote the rest of this post already. I agree with everything he included. :)


As a side note — I wrote this post a little differently than usual. Differently even than what I’d outlined in the changing approach to writing post. I was struggling to get words to the page for this one starting out, I’d write a paragraph and then delete, dissatisfied.

So! To bust through that wall I went full stream of consciousness, NaNo-mode ‘Sprint’ on it. Just started writing, banning myself from editing other than typos or grievous grammatical errors (that I saw, I make no promises that none remain)!

It turned out to be a very different post from how I first imagined it, but this might be a style I play around with a bit more in future. I think there might be something to it, especially for helping specifically with uncovering my own writer’s voice.

Why Do I Play Games?

This question has been percolating about my brain a bit of late. At least since mid-July in fact. Because The Gaming Diaries covered it then and I’d already been trying to work out just why it was — if games were truly an escape, or a way to relax — that my time spent with them fell through the floor when it might otherwise seem such an escape was so desperately needed.

With Blaugust 2019 officially into ‘Getting to know you’ week, it seems like the perfect time to tackle it.

I think when I left my comment on The Gaming Diaries’ post on the matter, I was looking at it a little too black and white. I don’t think the fact that I have a tendency to pull away from games during times of turmoil really invalidates the reasons I hold for playing them otherwise. Rather, I think there is a limit beyond which games shouldn’t be used as the answer.

A realisation that would have seen me in much greater stead had I realised it earlier in life, no doubt.

But I’m getting ahead of myself a little here — I’ll come back to this. First; what do I believe are the reasons I play games?

To De-stress, Decompress and Relax

I’m not an extrovert. I just play one on TV in day-to-day life. Work in particular.

It’s a necessary part of managing and being part of a functional team. But come time to go home, I’m very much ready for some recharge time. To let the issues of the day — whatever they happened to be — slough off into a corner somewhere to be forgotten for a while.

Of course there are family commitments as well so this isn’t always possible during the week. And I can manage that without going crazy pretty well.

But! My Sundays are sacred. No going out bar super special circumstances or emergencies. Not for any religious reasons — but rather for mental well being and ensuring I’ve properly recharged my social-energy batteries before Monday arrives.

Gaming is the main vehicle in which I achieve that recharge.

Social Connectivity

Seemingly in direct contradiction to the prior point — but my friends and I don’t get to visit each other in real life as frequently as we would otherwise like to these days.

We have children, partners, busy jobs and all that other carry on that comes with ‘adulting’.

God I miss some of the people I met in this game. (Asheron’s Call 1)

Instant online connectivity and the ability to share a hobby without spending 40+ minutes travel in either direction is a huge boon.

Over the years I’ve certainly changed my online social habits. And at least in the context of MMOs, I’ve become more and more closed off from creating new meaningful relationships. I now think this is in large part because I approach most games as a ‘BYO friends’.

The blogging community is sort of game-adjacent for the purposes of this discussion, but one enables the other and I’m incredibly thankful for that.

Occasionally, to be Challenged

Both Rakuno and TheRoyalFamily recently spoke to challenging games by and large not being for them.

I understand the point of view, and while I’m not overly keen to admit this — generally I’m in the same boat. I’d much rather the game provide me with the perception of being challenged than actually taking me out back for a swift kick up the backside.

Nooo! Not THIS much challenge! D: (Dark Souls 2: Ruin Sentinels)

Although if a game doesn’t offer even the slightest amount of resistance, then this can be a turn-off too. I ultimately stopped playing Ni No Kuni II for this reason. I believe they’ve since patched in a harder difficulty to address this, but for me at least — the damage is done.

Like Rakuno acknowledged though — there are exceptions. A couple of them we even have in common, namely the Dark Souls series and Monster Hunter: World. Both games quite happy to give you a rapid and repeated what-for. But when the right mood strikes, taking on this challenge — and ultimately beating it — is really quite the rush.

Circling Back Around to the ‘Limits’ of Gaming, then?

Where to start… I guess first, while this actually isn’t the ‘confessions’ style post I was inspired to do by Quin’s Museum of Bad Behaviour post, it could well do a good job of pretending to be. That post is still coming though.

You see, one of my prior blogs was called ‘Modicum of Gaming’. It was so named because some years before that blog, there was a time when I applied very little control to the hours I spent whiling away in some MMO or another. University — and everything else — for a time was taking a backseat, to say the least.

In fact it might be better to say we didn’t even occupy the same vehicle much of the time.

The idea for that blog came about when I happened to capture a random but powerful thought. ‘I don’t want my kids to ever game like I did.’ The follow-up thought for the blog then being to ensure the better balance I’d found was maintained over the long term.

Because that earlier sort of uncontrolled behaviour? That is what using games as an escape can look like.

Now I know, I know- most of the time ‘escape’ is simply being used as a stand in for ‘relax’, or not meant in any fashion more intense than the way one can ‘escape’ with a good book. And that’s fine. I think my brain understands this colloquial difference.

But to this day — seemingly unconsciously until I went through the effort of unpacking it all — there is a certain threshold of seriousness after which I don’t believe games are the right answer, even just for relaxation or temporary escape. Better in these circumstances to face it more directly, have the necessary discussions and get past it that way.

Perhaps I can call this a sign of maturity — in fact, I shall.

Looka’me, supes mature! ;)

Taking the Elementor Pro Plunge

Along with GeneratePress Premium. And er, OceanWP Premium. Look, I’m a little indecisive. It wasn’t that long ago after all, that I ran through the rigamarole of setting up OceanWP in what I thought was my liking.

More details below but the headline is: Changes ahoy again! And in fact, shortly after I publish this post, I’ll be flicking the site over into an out-of-the-box style of GeneratePress. Many of the plugins, hooks and Elementor previews for it require it to be the active theme to work with.

For posterity — the before shot (desktop).

I think it’s worth calling out though, that OceanWP even in it’s free version is an amazing theme. The flexibility it offers beats the pants off some of the other highly recommended Elementor (free or pro) friendly themes like Neve or Astra.

OceanWP lets you modify which order the Elementor hooks show up in, or whether they show up at all.

So why change theme entirely, rather than customise further?

Good question.

The answer being that OceanWP — possibly as a result of just how much flexibility it offers, and possibly entirely down to some quirk of my own site — has a few issues that I couldn’t easily seem to override or fix.

None of them on their own were deal breaking, but in combination they’ve got to me enough to retrigger taking a look around at what else is out there.

Example? Well, if you were a mobile or tablet user (or even just narrowed the horizontal width enough on desktop) the responsive version of the menu had the error text ‘undefined’ sitting below the menu options.

I also didn’t much like the fact that the main archive page used the tagline in such a huge title font. But configuration of how that appeared was tied to archive titles more generally. I looked into playing around with a CSS override, but of course it uses the same class descriptors as well (which makes sense given the configuration tie-in).

There were are few other smaller bits and pieces too, but the long and the short of it is — I’d still recommend OceanWP to someone looking for a great out-of-the-box free theme that ties in to the WordPress customiser to a frankly amazing degree.

So if you’re switching OFF OceanWP, why buy the premium edition?

Another good question!

The answer lies pretty much 100% in the Elementor extensions it provides. I did enable a bunch of the theme specific plugins too, to see if I might be able to work with OceanWP around some of the bugs and issues noted above with them.

But nooope. Turned most of them off again almost straight away. I have no doubt they’re useful for certain WP powered websites. Just… not mine.

So with having discovered that, I’ll need to make an assessment on whether or not it’s worth paying for to keep these extensions updated beyond the year. My prediction is: Probably not. But guess we’ll come back and revisit that later. ;)

And Elementor? Why go Pro?

The ThemeBuilder power of it, primarily.

The free version of Elementor lets you design fantastic standalone pages, and a few other bits and bobs. But Elementor Pro lets you go in and fully redesign how things like the Archive pages are put together. Search pages. Individual blog page templates. Headers. Footers.

Things that were previously tied 100% into a theme and you had no means of customising (beyond what the Theme allowed you to) without diving into the code.

If you’re curious.. Er. Here’s a 28m tutorial. This tutorial works from essentially a blank state, but Elementor friendly themes like OceanWP, GeneratePress, Astra, etc can be used to fill in the bits you don’t especially need or want to build by hand.

Jump to ~3m 30s if not interested in the grabbing and installing of the blank slate ‘Hello’ theme.

I had a bit of a play last night with a custom header. It’s an incredibly powerful tool, but one that I have a lot to learn about yet!

My first priority will be to configure what I can from GeneratePress alone, then it’ll be time to dive in here crack my knuckles a bit. :)

Final Note: None of this is necessary!

I just wanted to acknowledge this. Especially for any of our new joiners for Blaugust 2019.

As long as you’re not making your readers eyes bleed. As long as you’re not causing them strain by too small or too tightly packed text. As long as you’re not getting your readers lost on an unnavigable site…

Then all the rest of this is fluff. Don’t worry about it until you’re happy you’ve settled into a content creation rhythm which is comfortable for you. Or at all.

And if you do start poking around at custom themes and all that — there are plenty of utterly free options to look through first, including many of the ones I’ve mentioned today!

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