Blog Redesign, Polls and even Facebook

Blog Redesign

Depending on how you typically view Time to Loot, you may or may not be aware of a rather significant change in appearance since yesterday. Not just appearance, but function too. The archives now show excerpts with thumbnails rather than entire posts. Posts have hero images. I even flirted with the idea of infinite scroll for the index, but have since turned that off again. For now.

I was running the Genesis Framework and Magazine child-theme, a pair I bought access to waaaaaay back in the day for my old blogging efforts. There is a great deal to love about the Genesis Framework, some parts I’m already missing even — but even the newly released themes seem so… outdated.

Both are screenshots the main index page. But before entire posts were displayed, now using an excerpt display.
There are some differences shown in the ‘old’ from what was actually present though. e.g., the Social icons didn’t wrap (there was one less! More on that soon), and I had a ‘Featured Posts’ carousel.

I’m possibly far from done, but I’ve setup my new theme (OceanWP if you’re wondering) enough that I’m happy with it for the time being. It has been something of a revelation how many more components and areas of configuration it adds to the WordPress ‘customiser’ compared to the old Genesis themes though. To change typographic elements before I had to find their reference in the CSS files and edit by hand. Now it’s all menu driven!

I’ve been researching Divi and Elementor rather extensively. I’m talking multiple 2-3 hour videos of tutorials to see how things are constructed and end results. Answer so far? Inconclusive. Elementor does have a free basic version which is pretty powerful for pages, but adjusting how blog archives and posts work is locked into the Pro edition.

Both of them are more aimed at complete site design rather than ‘just’ a blog, so they’re very likely overkill for what I want… But… I haven’t quite shaken the desire to grab them entirely yet. ;)

Polls! As a Blog Reader…

…Do you like ‘Infinite Scrolling‘? How about Excerpts vs. Full Posts? Or do you not care how a blog presents on the web, because you use WP Reader, Feedly or some other off-site solution?

Those are the questions I pose, and I would love your input! Click through below to add your voice to the poll.

I’ll give this a few days or so then share the results for everyone. :)

Suddenly a Wild Facebook Appears

…I don’t yet know if it will be super effective.

I’m not expecting too much though, as I don’t plan on expending a lot of effort on it. I created the page, and linked the blog to it to auto-crosspost, but that’s it.

I’m also still a little uneasy that the page belongs to my actual Facebook account, being honest. But we’ll see how it goes. Twitter will still absolutely be my preferred social communication channel, and I could stand to be more active there as it is. ;)

If you’re curious though, the Facebook page is here!1.

I’ve followed a few other blogs that I could spot with Facebook pages, but I know I’ve missed people.

Probably a great many people. So let me know! :)

Footnotes

  1. Annoyingly, TimetoLoot and Naithin as usernames were already taken so I’ve gone with TimetoLootBlog

Current Games of Interest: July 2019

This one’s a little odd. Usually I have another game I’m adding when I do these posts. Not so this time. But I’ve been giving my games list on the sidebar the side-eye for a while. It is very much not accurate. Beyond even the point of thinking a game there might just hold out that little longer for a return.

Nope, they’re jumping straight into the ‘removed’ bucket this time!

Changes to the Game List

Added

  • None!

Remaining

  • Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
  • Final Fantasy XIV

Nearly Removed

  • None!

Removed

  • Nioh
  • Transport Fever

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey saw the last chapter of its second DLC release just this past week, so I’ve spent a little extra time getting acquainted again. I still have the final two chapters of the first DLC to play through too, so there is a bit of life left in this one yet! :D

Otherwise, with Final Fantasy XIV taking more of my gaming time again it isn’t too surprising that other things are dropping out. Although that is only a part reason.

In the last journal I talked about how Nioh had been put on hold earlier in the month to allow my eldest son to catch-up so we could play it together co-op. Welp; that never happened. I could carry on with it singleplayer, but the momentum has been broken.

Then all the way back in the May Journal I noted that I would likely put a premature end to the Chasing Truck Fever series. I allowed for the possibility of carrying on with it in a more typical post format. But uh, clearly that didn’t happen.

So away they go!

Starting The Horrible Hundred

The Moogles are coming! Run for the hills, the Moogles are coming! (One of my friends almost refused to engage in this, believing there was no such thing as a bad Moogle. Hah.)

Eeesh. So not too long ago I finished Final Fantasy XIV’s ‘A Realm Reborn’ (or 2.0) main story. I discovered that there were a hundred quests standing between me and the next expansion — Heavensward. Each of those quests can have multiple parts, too.

Since then I learnt this stretch has a name. ‘The Horrible Hundred’ is what the community lovingly refers to the ARR post-game content as. It’s a rite of passage. A trial to be passed to earn your way into the much nicer content that follows. *sigh* Yep. I recognise the sentiment. Right now in the thick of it, it’s enough to at least make me rethink the position. How I’ll feel on the other side of it with some time gone by? Hard to say. The rose-tinted glasses may come into full swing. ;)

Although if I’m being honest, I’ve been in a sort of middle space between pushing on and procrastinating. I’ve absolutely been playing more Final Fantasy, I didn’t go back to avoiding logging in. But I started working on unlocking a bunch of the level 50 dungeons and collecting a full set of Bard Ironworks gear (including the bow! Woo.)

The gear is significantly higher ilvl than what even the post-game quests are providing (ilvl 120 on the Ironworks, I’m being offered ilvl 70 otherwise). It makes the content amusingly easy for the time being and this does at least help speed it up.

Learnt to Love the Journey Yet?

Thinking on it, and the experiment I set myself to try appreciate more of the MMO experience — the low and mid-game experience in particular — instead of just pushing hard for the endgame I wouldn’t say has been a failure per se.

But I wouldn’t say it has been a resounding success yet either. I think the mere fact I was able to step off the train for a while to get gear and unlocks that I know to be completely unnecessary and serve no purpose toward the current endgame to be a positive indicator.

At the same time the drive to simply get through it all and reach the end hasn’t gone away. If anything it is increasing as that point gets closer. To be fair it’s not 100% about getting to the very end, a large part of it is also a drive to reach the new (and new to me) content… Still.

I guess it would be fair to say it’s still a work in progress. I’ve completed 20 / 100 of this quest chain, so another 80 in which to practice! (And of course the expansions to follow.)

The Witcher Netflix Teaser

Just a quick one today. Even though the Netflix series is based on the books rather than the games, I think it’d be fair to say the interest levels in The Witcher series are high.

If you’ve only played the games and are wondering where his other sword is — it’s on Roach. Equipping both swords simultaneously was a game convenience not core to the books!

Well there we go then. Still titled a teaser, but we have the first real trailer for Netflix’ The Witcher series. Although I suppose honestly, the ‘teaser’ descriptor does fit. It isn’t your typical spill-all Netflix trailer after all, so you can at least watch it without much fear of major spoilers.

But it also wasn’t enough to really create a clear picture for me on whether it will be amazing or utter crud. It could just sit right in the middle as an average show, but I’m not convinced that will necessarily be the case either! The budget seems to be there which is nice. But otherwise… Unsure!

Blaugust Reminder

If you haven’t yet signed up for Blaugust, go ahead and do it now! Sign-up is necessary for the event, but it’s a super quick and easy Google form.

So come along and get involved! :D

New Art! #2

So earlier in the month was the first reveal of work Alli1 had completed for me on commission. I promised more was on the way! Today, I deliver! … Well OK, OK, Alli delivers. Although actually Alli delivered earlier in the week. … Nope, not sure where I’m taking this, let’s move on. ;) Take a squiz!

The Warrior

First up is the Warrior profile pic! Alli couldn’t reuse too much of the base profile for this with the pose being so different to accommodate the sword and shield. I reaaaally love this one.

It’s sort of a throwback to when I almost exclusively tanked in MMOs. That is going back quite a ways indeed, as I switched to almost exclusively healing for quite a long time. Druid healing in particular. Although I did flirt with Priest for a single expansion of WoW.

Possibly there is something here too, for future art… Possibly…

The Ranger

Second is the Ranger. Fortunately, Alli was able to re-use much of the ‘base’ Naithin portrait, adding over the top quite a different look in costume and equipment.

This one is also sort of a throwback, as my oldest of old Naithin ‘characters’ in D&D and other roleplay was as a Ranger who primarily used a staff to fight with.

Right now my main MMO character is of course a Bard in Final Fantasy XIV. And Bards in FFXIV very much use a bow.

So… Possibly there is something here for future art also… :D

Also, the Site Banner!

Alli worked in the site logo to create a bit of a banner for me, too. Original concept had included the character art as well but the compositions didn’t quite look right at this sort of size.

Alli has been amazing to work with, so if you’re looking for any art of your own, I’d heartily recommend getting in touch with her!

The only real problem I have now is deciding which profile image to use. I’m quite enamored with each of the three options I now have, and I already have more that I’d be interested in having created! xD

Footnotes

  1. See more of her work here, too!

Blaugust 2019 is Coming!

So I don’t want to alarm anyone unduly, but August is almost here. Fricken August! I’ve clearly been too wrapped up in this current July business to really give it much thought. But there is cause for excitement, folks! The title of this post may’ve given it away to the astute readers. But in case you missed it:

Blaugust 2019 is coming! It’s almost here! Run around in circles flailing your hands in the air like you just don’t care! (But secretly you really do, because Wooooo!)

Ahem. Sorry. I missed it last year you see1, since I only came back to blogging in January. A mutual friend of Bel and I let me know about it though when I did, and I’ve been kinda excited for it ever since.

What is Blaugust?

Blaugust is the brainchild of Belghast, over at Tales of the Aggronaut — it started life as a challenge to bloggers to go a month posting each and every day for the month of August.

Over time it morphed, and last year settled into an amalgamation of events old and new. There is still the element of aiming for a post a day — but there are tiers of achievement below this too.

  • Newbie Blogger Award – You did it, you created a new blog and by god we are going to sing your praises for doing it!
  • Bronze Award – You made at least 5 posts during the Month of August 2019.
  • Silver Award – You made at least 15 posts during the Month of August 2019, go you!
  • Gold Award – You made at least 25 posts during the Month of August 2019, you are a badass!
  • Rainbow Diamond Award – You did it, you posted every single day during the Month of August 2019 and deserve accolades.

One of my favourite inclusions is the old2 ‘Newbie Blogger Initiative’ that used to be run by Syp of BioBreak quite some time ago, and you can see this reflected in the first tier. The NBI was all about encouraging those who had perhaps been reading along for a while to get involved with a blog of their own and to refresh the lifeblood of the blogger pool somewhat.

For full details on what this is all about, what other events have been rolled in, how to sign-up and how to jump on to the Blaugust Discord check out Bel’s post here. (Please do consider the Discord invite, by the way! While most of us come from a gaming background — it is a reasonably diverse crowd with authors, to gamers to tech writers, so come and be welcome!),

Additional Callouts! :D

I don’t know that I’ve actually acknowledged it here actually, but a few months ago I found essentially a whole other circle of gaming blogs. It was really quite the thing. Like discovering alien life in some respects. (Sorry! I mean this nicely, honest. xD)

So while I don’t yet know everyone, or even a great deal of the people in this new ring of gaming/geek blogs — I’d like to pass on a specific tag for this to Kim of Later Levels and Angie of Backlog Crusader. While tagging them specifically, please know that Blaugust is for everyone. Blaugust certainly has its origins in the gaming sphere, but is open to all types of blogs. So! If you happen to see my post on this and have any inclination to participate, please do! :D

Perhaps this will be of direct interest, or perhaps it might be to some of your readers — Blaugust is an amazing time to get involved with the blogging community more generally, and perhaps this is a great opportunity for making some gaps between our communities too!3

Belghast has even been kind enough to create a bit of a media kit to help out. :)

Footnotes

  1. I guess technically I missed it all the prior years, too.
  2. Very, veeery ooold.
  3. Seriously, this prospect excites me to no end.

Final Fantasy XIV Main Story Complete!

Final Fantasy XIV’s original (well, ‘A Realm Reborn’ original) main story quest is complete. What amazes me most is the quick turnaround I had from acknowledging the procrastination problem and just getting on and pushing through. By close of the same day I posted that, I was most of the way there. The day after (yesterday), I was done.

Since then I’ve been tottering around doing what I assume to be quests relevant when level 50 was the cap. Before the patches started dropping more MSQ to do. I’ve unlocked a half dozen or so hard mode or level 50 only dungeons. I think I might be working on attuning myself to one of the raids, even.

I’ve even done a mild (veerrry mild) farm of Allagan Tomestone of Poetics in order to get myself some of that sweet, sweet, ilvl 120 Ironworks Gear. I very much doubt I have to do this. But there is a slight fear in the back of my mind about the possibility of being gear gated on my way through the patch content toward accessing Heavensward. I haven’t gone hunting out any detail on this though, the most I’ve done is had a quick peek at the list of quests. And… Oh my. That is… quite a list indeed. A hundred of them it would seem. I mean — I haven’t counted. That’s just what the wiki says at the top.

And to think — then there is Heavensward. Then the Heavensward patches. Then Stormblood. Stormblood patches. Then, finally, will be able to play Shadowbringers. Content incidentally that was sort of foreshadowed in the closing chapter of the ARR MSQ. That’s some decent planning right there.

Getting Invested!

Despite just how far away getting to the current endgame is, I’ve started to change how I’m thinking about the game too. A change in how invested I am in mastery of my class. As a lowbie, I’m more than happy to muddle through on my own and make my own discoveries on how a class works.

It isn’t until closing in on the endgame that I typically want to get deep into the theorycrafting of it all. Really dive into the nitty gritty and answer questions like: Is DoT Snapshotting a thing? (Yes it is.) Am I right to prioritise Mage’s Ballad over Army’s Paeon? (Yes, but when I get my next song stance, that will become the new priority.) How does DoT refreshing work? (Full overwrite, any time remaining when you refresh is wiped — the damage is not added to the new DoT instance.) Should I use Raging Strikes before my DoTs to buff them, or after my DoTs to get more Direct Damage in? (Don’t know! I suspect the GCD requirements on getting both dots into the buff window might be too high, but! This could change when I get the ‘Iron Jaws’ shot which refreshes both dots and also refreshes the damage state. Also I’ll need to test this to be sure anyway, as I could be wrong fullstop — DoT damage is a reasonable portion of Bard damage after all.)

And plenty more besides. I am concerned though, that despite FFXIV being so well regarded at the moment? That there won’t be the same degree of theorycrafting done by community as I’m used to from WoW. That some questions I have I won’t be able to answer on my own due to lack of sim tools, etc.

Clearly people are making do and successfully clearing content. But it’s entirely possible not knowing these things will slowly but surely drive me craaaaaazzzyyyy. Crazy I tell you!

…Still, those are problems for another day. Procrastination by way of researching a thing as opposed to getting on and doing said thing is something I’m very skilled at. So I’m going to try my best to keep these questions at bay until such time the answers actually matter.

Health Scare vs. Final Fantasy XIV

After finishing the battle with Garuda — I completed my power rangers-esque set of coloured crystals. Woo!

Progress in Final Fantasy XIV has been slow. Fits and starts best describes it. Small bursts of energy and then fairly long patches of procrastination. Just getting myself to jump in and get started is the real challenge. Once I am in — I’m enjoying myself immensely. But this fact while known intellectually doesn’t seem to help much in getting me to login again time.

I’ve noted this seeming oddity about myself before. Where despite games often acting as a destressor — when things start getting ‘real’ my time falls away from them significantly. Last time (incidentally when I brought FFXIV back into the picture) it was about the goings on at work. Needing to let people go in a restructure is never easy.

Health Scare

This time around it’s health related. Although to be very clear — this is still very much in a state where it could be a minor thing. The sole symptom being a radiating pain when swallowing food.

At the better end of the spectrum (and thankfully, also the most likely) it is ulceration from acid reflux. At the other end of the spectrum it’s cancer. The original plan had been to give it time on medication to reduce the acid my stomach produces. But… After the blood test results were in, my doctor was no longer content to wait. So he has referred me for an endoscopy appointment to happen early next month for a look around.

I think it is that switch of the plans by the Dr which has brought home the worry on this. It is still just as likely to be a relative nothing, but yet still seems that much closer. Friday 2nd August is the date of the endoscopy — if the news is good I expect I’ll know on the day. If it’s less good I imagine there will still be a biopsy result to wait on. In any case… moving on for the moment!

Final Fantasy Progress

I’m level 45 as a Bard now, and have lost the benefit of the XP buff that allowed me to skip all side-quests up until now. As yet — I’ve still not had to touch a side quest, but the Main Story Quest level is quickly catching up to me, and this worries me greatly.

The moment it actually happens? Well… Elsweyr is out now. ;)

More seriously, as much as the ARR MSQ is maligned where I’m up to has actually been getting quite interesting. The change of scenery into the icy lands of Coerthas with a shift in tone to one of more political intrigue was a start. But then the story with the Garlean Empire which has been in the background for a while has come to a head in a fairly major way as well, and just it’s all on!

I just finished the fight with Garuda when I last went out, so I haven’t seen what our next mission will be yet in light of the aftermath there but I’m excited for it.

Now if I could just beat the gaming procrastination thing I have going on, it’d be great!1

Footnotes

  1. Also… Who ever would have expected to have games being the thing procrastinated?? In the past generally they have been the tool in the art of procrastinating other things!!
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