Humble Monthly: September 2019

Entering around round of Asheron’s Call mania, there’s a passing fair chance I’ll stop being tempted by every new shiny that passes my way. For a little while at least. Although on reflection, I have actually been fairly good at not impulse purchasing as much stuff as I might normally of late. The last thing I bought was Remnant: From the Ashes and before that… I don’t even know, but it’s been a while!1

Anywho — August’s headline titles are now here, Squad and Save the Spire. Squad I’ll be keeping for myself, but Save the Spire I already own so I can gift the copy to my son. :)

As for next headliner for October?

October Headline Title

Battletech

Recent reviews put the title at ‘Mixed’ on Steam — from people upset about bugs still existing a year post launch, to tabletop players unhappy with some of the translated elements. It probably also doesn’t help that the DLC has been particularly well received, either.

I kickstarted Battletech on the strength of the devs work on the Shadowrun RPGs and for my part I have no regrets. As someone not intimately familiar with the Battletech TTRPG, I found this variant to still offer a depth of customisation and tactics in play. After the initial weeks I never ran into any further crashes or gamestopper bugs — and I’ve picked this up to play a few times since it came out.

Perhaps best of all, it is incredibly moddable with unofficial expansions and total game overhauls being released. So if you haven’t picked this up yet and turn based tactics games fit within your wheelhouse then this is an easy recommend within the context of the Humble Monthly, even if you end up liking nothing else in the bundle.

But that’s probably a good thing — given it is the sole revealed headliner at this stage!

Revealed Titles

For a wonder, I only own one of these already — Distance. Distance might actually have been my first early access style purchase. If it isn’t, it’s right back there. As to what it is? Well… ‘Stunt Racer’ only begins to explain it. I mean… Your car can fly. But layer on top of that too an actually interesting story reminiscent of Tron, as you race deeper into the core of a corrupted system with weirder and weirder artifacts of this corruption appearing as you go.

At times it borders on the feeling of a horror (although there is nothing particularly scary about it — maybe better to say it is good at creating a sense of tension in both story and gameplay).

Of the others, I’d be most interested in trying out Mothergunship. It’s an FPS-roguelike basically, with the gimmick of the game being the crafting of the most preposterous multibarrel weapons you can imagine.

“Don’t worry recruit, sometimes life just takes a few tries.” xD

God’s Trigger could potentially be interesting too — it’s a top down ARPG style thing, where the story seems at least at surface level copied inspired by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens. You play as an angel and a demon out to stop the apocalypse by ending the four horsemen. (Who are bikers.) … Yep.

That aside, it does look like a potential spot of fun — but I just don’t think it’ll bust high enough up the list of things I want to play on the backlog to see the light of day any time soon.

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. :)

The Tomahawk Investment

I just spent a good few minutes debating with myself whether it was worth it or not to buy a level 4 white weapon for my Warrior from a vendor.

I was doing OK with my trusty Primitive Hatchet, paired with a slightly ‘borrowed’ Bent Large Shield. To be fair, the imp that was lugging it around previously has no further need of it. Or anything else for that matter.

Wait, does that make it better or worse? … Anywho.

Firmly in the pro column was any weapon I might look to purchase would be close to, if not over a 2x DPS increase.

Holding me back was that I have only 7 silver to my name. Purchasing this now would very likely see training skills be a problem in the very near future, as it costs a little over 5 silver.

And as I said… I was doing OK.

…But adds are scary. Generally even a single additional enemy will see me scurrying. And that hardly seems befitting of a proud Orcish Warrior.

Earlier, I was fighting the Kul Tirans at Tiragarde Keep. Rather than a sigh of annoyance at having to go into one of these barracks structures, it was an indrawn breath of ‘Aw shiz’. (And terror.) Adds are fearsome and fatal, and these places are rife with spots in which to grab more than you intend. Fortunately, while I’m far enough behind the curve now not to see the ‘line’ phenomena play out — there are at least enough other people running through that I made it in and out without incident. Even grouped on the top level for the Lieutenant kill. :)

Alright, so I’m buying one. Now to decide which one?

From a pure DPS perspective, the 2H Axe is a clear winner head and shoulders above my other two options — a Gladius or a Tomahawk. In this pre-normalisation world of WoW Classic, Rend, Thunderclap — basically any other off-GCD damage skill — scales off the weapon damage value without accounting for the swing speed. So slow and powerful is the order of the day.

But dangit, I feel squishy enough already and that’s while holding a shield.

The Gladius then starts looking appealing with a 5-11 damage range (2.10 sec attack speed) vs. the Tomahawk’s 4-9 damage (1.70 speed).

The Gladius is the choice I should probably make — given I’m not willing to go 2H yet — but… ORC! ORC WANT AXE! >:|

(Which is to say, I get +5 attack skill with Axe, I’ve already leveled the Axe skill, and I dislike missing swings.)

But my reason for recounting this story?

I think it highlights one of the best bits of coming back into WoW Classic. Which is, finding meaningful decisions even at very low level. My Warrior is currently level 7. I’m wearing at least as many grey items as I am white. Not a green in sight, yet.

This might sound like a horror story to some. Honestly, if I had this story recounted to me absent the first hand experience, I would have thought it a horror story too.

But it isn’t. Not yet at least.1 It is remarkably refreshing if anything. Before coming back to try this for myself, I was very much in the camp of viewing the creature comforts of WoW Retail being a purely good thing. I thought for the most part, people were deluding themselves about the ‘fun’ to be had in WoW’s original form. The main thing actually — less than the comforts — is that I strongly believe (and still do) that there have been much more entertaining versions of these classes to play over WoW’s history.

Not necessarily the BFA iterations (in fact, almost certainly not2) — and not necessarily the same expansion for each class. But I think most anyone would be hard pressed to deny this as true.

So I guess my wish now would be to see some alternate universe path of WoW land in our laps — where the decision making remains present. And yes, the difficulty (at least first time through) remains present. But then layer over this the best versions of the classes and specs we’ve seen so far. And if I may borrow one ‘creature comfort’ for this iteration of WoW, it would be Dual Spec if not the full respec anywhere any time we have today.

Although I should also point out — even this I’m not sure would keep me long term. In terms of WoW, I’m not sure anything would now.

Durotar! (And Instant Quest Text)

Right — first things first. If the slow unraveling of quest giver text is driving you nuts, there is a way to switch it to instant text. When I first saw the slow quest text last night it struck me as very out of place. Then, through the night I remembered. This was a thing I turned off in the past. Generally instantly upon logging in to a new character.

Esc -> Interface Options -> Display, turn on ‘Instant Quest Text’ and click ‘Okay’.

Secondly, I switched it up from Human to Orc. Originally I had planned on running through the Elwynn Forest chain — as it is the starting area I remember most fondly. But I’ve done a lot of alliance in my most recent retail WoW play and one of my longest persisting mains in the past was an Orc Warrior. So I thought it would be nice to change it up a bit, while still keeping a bit of that nostalgic feel for a place and thing I’d done before.

Plus, I also then remembered just how much I hate Westfall.

The Den (Orc & Troll Starting Camp)

I started the night full vanilla. That is to say — no mods of any kind. I thought that is how I’d keep things too, unless I started to raid (which I viewed as extremely unlikely).

For a starting character this was fine. There aren’t too many skills anyway, and bag management is simply around not picking up more unstackables than you’re willing to go back to sell for. And I have very little tolerance for going back to sell outside of aligning it to a round of quest hand-ins.

Beyond that, I was struck by a few things off the bat:

  • The kill / item required counts for quests were very high compared to retail.
  • There are no map indicators of any kind for quest locations out of the box.1
  • Actually reading the quest text is, as a result, far more important.

And I wonder if it is that last bullet that led the Blizzard devs of the time to default to the slow unraveling of quest text.

After the initial shock, from being so accustomed to not only MMORPGs, but all games now providing quest markers by default it took me a while to actually remember the experiences of doing this in the past.

I remember looking for Mankrik’s wife based on the description alone. I remember looking for items in the open-world dungeons by having to explore with hints alone.

I’m not convinced this is a better experience than having quest markers, but I’m also not convinced it isn’t. As I noted — it makes reading the quest information vital, and provides an aspect of puzzle solving otherwise absent. When I was heavily into Morrowind, I loved this aspect. I hated it when Oblivion brought in the quest and location markers. It felt as if a whole part of the game had been ripped out.

But then in the context of MMOs, I’m still, like it or not, a subscriber to the way of thought that the ‘real’ game starts at the end, and everything else is in-the-way-filler. I find it difficult to enjoy leveling for leveling’s sake.

Generally.

And I understand that if WoW Classic is to have any future for me, that mindset will need to adjust. I will admit too, that I received a small spike of joy at working out where Sarkoth was hiding without any outside assistance. It wasn’t a quest I remembered at all until I spied the plateau referenced in the quest text, triggering a dim and foggy voice of memory to say, ‘go right to get up’ — so I did and there he was.

Less fun though?

The Burning Blade Coven’s Den

It appears that no matter how many times I do this place, and swear to myself that next time I’ll remember the path — I don’t. Also add on top that I somehow let my quest hand ins get out of sync, and I found myself here one or two times more than was necessary.

It was also here that I asked myself, ‘Can I run safely all the way out?’

Turns out — yes, yes I can. I didn’t get dazed which struck me as odd. I remember there being a defense and attack skill interaction here, but I wouldn’t have thought my little bitty warrior sufficiently over their attack skill to warrant not getting dazed at all.

Hmm. *Goes to look it up*

Oh OK. That might explain it. It has to be a melee attack, and mostly the enemies in here are fireball casting imps. I must have been at least a little lucky with the Felstalkers.

In any case, many slaughtered pigs, slapped peons and selected apples later, the quests in this area dried up. I’d made it to level 5 — almost 6 — and was being sent on my way to Sen’jin Village.

It was also here that I decided I would throw some mods in after all. Mostly those recommended by Belghast in a recent post. The knowledge that ElvUI existed for Classic — the base UI for my retail play — was enough to tip me over.

After installing and spending a little time configuring, I turned to run from The Den. It had been my home for the past little while, so I waved.

Sen’jin Village

I had planned on playing through this section today as well… But the energy just wasn’t there, as I’m still rather on the sick side of things. It wasn’t just energy in facing WoW Classic, I didn’t play anything else either.

I ran myself over though, and picked up the quests. Now — these ones I remember a lot more vividly.

This is a portion of a much longer Tweet thread, that is well worth a read. (It took me a while to find it again! I was desperately searching through recent blog posts, convinced it was Kaylriene who had written on the topic.)

I may not be able to remember the exact location of everything on the isles off the coast from Sen’jin Village but I sure as hell remember the pain of exploring them as a newb. Densely packed, team AI mobs. Even going through it with my brother didn’t make it much ‘better’ from a very functional, play efficiency point of view.

But it created shared stories. And emotions. Ones which in the moment might have been frustration, sure — but also ultimately ones which ended in triumph.

I don’t know if WoW Classic will recapture much of this for me now or not. WoW wasn’t my first MMO which I certainly think to be a large factor.

But we’ll see how it goes. While I still completely expect to be done with WoW Classic before the end of my first subscription period — that time isn’t here yet. I plan to play more as energy allows.

Sick Nait is Sick

Eurgh. You know what isn’t remotely fun? Strep throat. Strep throat is not even a tiny bit fun. It came on really quickly on my drive home from work yesterday — zero to swallowing glass in only the time in transit. About an hour.

I was lucky though and managed to get in and see my Dr today. It hardly ever happens at my medical centre that you can make a same-day appointment! He prescribed some antibiotics which I filled and some pain relief which I initially didn’t. Boy was that a mistake. Turns out ‘swallowing glass’ was not the top level of this thing. Add in the dizziness and general lethargy and today has not been the most fun of days. Fortunately for me, my wife is lovely and after only a small amount of admonishment for not filling it in the first place — went to pick it up.

Sometimes when sick you can sort of manage to get some gaming in at least, and today would have been perfect for that, to get in with the crowd and experience the day 1 mad rush of WoW Classic. Just wasn’t up for it though. Particularly as the day wore on, it became more and more a bed day.

Now that I have some meds onboard and can stay out of bed for at least 30 minutes? I figured I’d at least take a look at the queues.

Urm… Turns out most of them have gone already.

Scrolling down reveals another couple of medium population servers and two high population servers.

Even while acknowledging that it is a week night, this really surprises me! I figured there would have been queues pretty much around the clock for the first day or two.

If you look at the Oceanic servers — in the prime of playtime as I write this, at about 8:20pm NZT — the three servers are split one a piece to Low, Medium and High.

Have people decided WoW Classic isn’t for them after all, this quickly?

Although even on a low-population server, I logged in to see dozens of people milling about at the start of Elwynn Forest. So it’s clearly not gone to ghost town levels yet, either.

I hadn’t really planned on playing until later in the week anywho. Friday this week I go in for my colonoscopy, and the preparation for that entails some time at home. I’m not entirely sure how this will get on with also being sick, but the Dr didn’t seem to be too worried about ability to keep the antibiotics onboard long enough. So… Should be fine?

Still — not the best time to get something else! The preparation was probably going to be miserable enough as it was. All going well though, this will be the end of it and the last check necessary!

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. :)

Detour from the Hundred

Last time I provided an update on propelling myself through the Horrible Hundred, Rakuno suggested that I take a look at the Crystal Tower raid when I got the chance. As it turned out, I’d already completed most of the attunement quest so, ‘Why not?’ I thought and trotted my way out to Mor Dhona.

I only had to collect one more piece of aethersand — this one wind aspected — for Cid to refine into tools to smash down the ancient barriers protecting the tower. As a refreshing change of pace from the Horrible Hundred, the actual ‘work’ part of this quest all took place within a single area with no real backtracking to speak of. Please Square, more of this.

These sentinels have stood guard over this place for an age. We understand very little of what is going on here or the technology inside. …. Let’s smash ’em!

Seriously, the critical thinking skills forced upon us our MMORPG characters often makes me shake my head in wonder.

The barriers in place here are deadly, and it is openly acknowledged that the sort of technology in here is well beyond our understanding. There is a talk on how disastrous it would be to have it fall into the wrong hands. So of course what we need to do is:

  • Take down all the protections we can find.
  • Allow someone who until very recently was a sworn enemy, to come in and look around.
  • Have no-one watch this person while we’re otherwise engaged.
  • Trust another pair we’ve never seen before but we know lied to us to also come in and poke around the place.
I have Monster Hunter World to thank for making me not look like a complete scrub on this fight.

Final Fantasy XIV is far from the only MMO (or hell, RPG full stop) guilty of this, but come onnnn.

Rakuno advised me not to look into spoilers for this place ahead of time, which turned out to be good advice. For as much as I mock the story points above — it is otherwise quite awesome. And I haven’t even yet reached the later parts of the story that will tie back to this.

Following in that vein, I’ll not be spoiling anything significant to the story of this place either.

The queue times were surprisingly good, even coming at this from a purely DPS class. Six to eight minutes on average, which is better than queuing for a dungeon much of the time. I’m unsure whether there is a Roulette for this, or whether it is simply a strong enough source of Allagan Tomes that people of higher levels are keen to do it regardless.

Visually, each wing of the raid looked neat. And despite being a continuation of the same storyline managed to have quite a distinct aesthetic from the part before.

This one — the many, many heads not withstanding — looked kinda nice. Shame we had to fight. But… Since you are now defeated… Loots?

No single part overstayed their welcome and were quite brief to finish. The tuning was again similar in feel to a WoW LFR, although perhaps slightly less forgiving. There are a healthy helping of one-shot mechanics which to the untrained eye can be difficult to immediately spot.

Although I laughed in joy at the King Behemoth fight, when it became clear that the crossover event with Monster Hunter World had put a version of the same mechanics into play. So when I saw the comets strike the ground, I knew what was coming next — and sure enough, not too much later in Meteor was cast. Thanks to seeing all this in an entirely different game and playstyle I was able to avoid looking like a scrub.

Hehe. Puns.

Although on the very next boss (and the final for this wing) I did manage to get hit by an extremely large, extremely visible telegraphed AoE though. Noticed it just a liiiiittle bit too late and couldn’t get clear and into the shielded zone in time.

I wasn’t the only one though and as it turned out, this boss gave me my one and only wipe experience for the day.

All in all, I’m glad Rakuno made the suggestion of checking this place out. And even more glad that I actually did so. I had started the day on The Horrible Hundred and had made some OK progress there too.

Not quite to the end of the 2.3 patch content — but close. I’d been sent on my way to parley with Rahmuh for peace. This didn’t… exactly work. But I felt better about this one even so, as compared to the battle with Leviathan.

There was another wave of exposition after this, but it was actually intriguing this time. There was additional insight offered into the Ascians for one.

Hmmm…

I’d say that I’m perhaps halfway — or almost halfway overall. If the story can continue with the pace and interest of the latter parts of 2.3, it might yet turn into something other than a slog.

When I first started playing this morning I started to seriously consider putting FFXIV away in favour of ESO again until the streamlining patch.

Today managed to win me back again, but we’ll see how it goes from here.