content top

Uh Oh #Wildstar

housing4I kind of wanted to leave this here for posterity, because in five years if someone comes looking for me, I wanted this to be my letter in a bottle.

Upon my return to Wildstar this weekend, I finally leveled my Aurin Esper to the point where she could get her housing plot. That’s a major milestone my my reckoning, because unlike some games which offer you land, you can actually use it.

Back when Widlstar first launched I liked housing OK. I upgraded my pre-order spaceship house to a better Chua model (for my original Chua Gunslinger) and added some interactive plots for mining and crafting and all that. But everything I had was pretty much eclectic when it came to decor. Anything that I got as a reward that was a housing item was placed, but not necessarily well placed. Overall, I liked housing, but wasn’t floored (!) by it.

Fast forward to now. When I unlocked housing I was extremely happy because at least I could get the XP buff board access, and because I had a lot of stuff in my bank that I needed to activate (side note: Carbine should allow us to “collect” housing items before we get the housing, because as of right now they clutter up inventory and we can’t do anything with them until we can actually use them).

So I got to my plot and it looked like the plot I remembered. I bought the Aurin house because Aurins would live in Aurin houses, and placed some of my crated items.

Then I looked at the shop and my face slid off my skull.

Now, I might be mistaken, but I swear that it used to be that you’d have to earn your decor for the most part. There was a shop even back then, but it focused mostly on “high level” items like housing styles, wallpaper, floors, plot plug-ins…that kind of thing.

I almost cried when I saw that they were selling items down to the friggin nail and screw* that you could buy outright for your dream plot setup. From the looks of things (I didn’t look for very long lest I succumb to madness), you can spend an unfathomable amount of (in game) cash buying elements that you need to construct a very specific setup as many amazing people do.

Being only a…eh…I think level 14 character, that’s pretty much out of reach…sort of. I mean, with that kind of freedom I have no idea what kind of theme I’d approach. But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and in this case that way is called C.R.E.D.D., which is Wildstar‘s “buy for real money, sell for in game money” vehicle. Right now a $20 C.R.E.D.D. purchase can net you 19 platinum, which is scores more cash than I’d earn at my current level. But that’s a market valuation, and a brief survey on Twitter suggested that once the game transitions to F2P and there’s an influx of penniless players, there won’t be enough people able to buy C.R.E.D.D. with in-game cash, so the price might take a nose-dive if there’s too much supply and not enough demand.

That’s why I spent the $20 to get a C.R.E.D.D. card this weekend because…you know…having cash on hand is always a good thing in case you need some supplies or…housing…stuff. Jussayinsall.

 

* Not really nails and screws. Those would be too small to see. But mostly everything else you’ll need to create awesome housing plots.

Read More

The Circle (of Game Selection) Life; Project Gorgon

The Circle (of Game Selection) Life

Being Old(tm), I am rarely able to sleep in past 6:30 AM, 7 if I’m exceedingly lucky. My usual routine on the weekends, then, is to try and make my way downstairs without waking anyone, which usually fails in spectacular fashion: my wife has a sixth sense, my dog wants to go outside and since he sleeps in my daughter’s room, his antics wake her up as well. No one usually follows me, though, since apparently I’m the only one who has trouble sleeping in the morning.

The upside is that I get some interrupted time to myself. I am generally a morning and night person, although knowing that I’ll be wide awake before the sun really makes an appearance kind of limits my willingness to stay up too late. Either time is fine by me, except in the morning I can start something and not have to worry about it stretching from minutes into hours of time spent.

This weekend I spent more time with Wildstar because I really don’t know why. Because is the best reason I can offer. I suppose it’s the impending free to play conversion. Also, I’m paying for it, as my year sub is finally reaching it’s conclusion. I’ve signed up for a recurring payment to capture as many F2P loyalty rewards as possible, although I technically “cancelled” my sub very early after having purchased that year’s sub, so I don’t know if that qualifies as “having been subscribed”. Knowing my luck, I suspect not.

What I didn’t play, and what I haven’t played recently, was Skyforge. Some folks would take that admission as carte blanche to pile on about how the game sucks and all that, but my reasons for not playing aren’t in any way tied to my overall feelings for the game. I figured that Skyforge is for me what Diablo III is for others: a jump-in, hack and slash game which really doesn’t require a whole lot of brain-related activity. But you’d think after my to-the-mat grudge match with the operators that I’d want to work the hell out of my Premium subscription. That bugs me, not taking advantage of it, but the pendulum has swung away from Skyforge and towards Wildstar it seems.

I’m still not 100% sure what triggers these seemingly arbitrary about-faces, especially when I’m wholeheartedly invested in a specific game yet stop playing it cold turkey. I suppose I could blame burnout for Skyforge, because I haven’t technically left it for a more recent title that’s exciting me this week. In thinking about it, switching back to a game I’d already left means more pain than gain: I had a tough time re-learning how to deal with Wildstar and there was an initial point where I wasn’t sure I’d actually feel comfortable playing again. That alone should have tempered my decision to return, but I stuck with it for whatever reason, and most of my time on Saturday was spent on Nexus.

Really, it’s not much of a surprise that this has happened. It’s how things work around here, and with a lot of my friends. It’s either burnout, or a rediscovering, or something new, or just seeing other people playing another game. The good thing about it is that every switch back to a game that results in a game being left behind is only a temporary situation which is a rule that proves itself.

Project Gorgon

ProjectGorgon_logoIn other news, Project Gorgon, the hard-luck MMO that failed at least two Kickstarter campaigns, completed it’s final campaign sometime over the weekend, raking in $74,000 out of a $20,000 goal. GG PG!

I don’t know what it is about PG that interest me. It’s old school. It’s graphics are nice, but not cutting edge. It’s unpolished. But it’s a game I always regret not spending time with. Considering it’s being made by two people, more or less, it’s got an insane amount of depth…like “I seriously need a guide written for this game, and won’t feel like a douche using it” kind of depth.

Several years ago I attended a panel on “the future of the MMO genre” at PAX East, helmed by representatives of AAA titles. Based on the lineup, I kind of felt that the answer to the question was going to be that AAA titles would continue to rule the roost (Curt Schilling was on the panel, so make of that what  you will), which made me want to take up the mic and ask them where they saw niche titles fitting into their New (Old) World Order?

I didn’t get to due to the crush of neckbeards but I think waiting it out was as good an answer as anything they would have given me. “Blessed are they that play the niche MMO, for they shall inherit the space”. I don’t see anyone actively chasing WoW any longer; if it happens, it happens, or at least it’s not trumpted or implied, and if anything, people are spreading out and adopting games that are anti-WoW or are more accepting of games that don’t follow WoW‘s single-minded formula of raid-gear-repeat. I’m hoping that Project Gorgon receives it’s due in users because Elder Game has busted their asses to keep going even through two failed Kickstarters, and have been actively developing it in between. It’s obvious that they have no intention of stopping, so I was glad to break my “no KS, no early access” rule because I think they really deserve it.

The “alpha” version is available now and free to anyone to try, so if you’re a fan of old-school MMOs like Everquest and Istaria and games of that era, you should give it a shot.

Read More

Selecting Blog Topics And Voice

There are as many reasons for blogging as there are insects on this planet. It’s a little creepier comparison than saying “stars in the sky”, but we also need to stand out from the crowd if we want people to come to our niche on the Internet when folks have so many blogs to choose from.

What we write is a factor of why we write. This is a blog devoted primarily to the hobby of video games, but also other geeky activities, so you’ll almost never find a post about finances or child raising or nutrition. While I like money, have a child of my own, and worry about what I eat, I don’t find those topics exciting enough to spend my time writing about them. My primary hobby is video games and other geeky stuff. I talk about it with other people. My social media circles are decided upon based on how their interests align with those hobbies. Talking about other things is often times like speaking a foreign language to me: I might recognize a few words here or there, but I can’t hold an entire conversation about them like I can if you want to discuss geekdom.

Choosing a topic that fits my interests is actually kind of difficult, though, because while I like talking about geeky stuff, my reasons for wanting to talk about it vary. When you really love something, you want to talk about it, and I see that a lot in posts other people provide on their own blogs. Sometimes I want to talk about something exciting I experienced, and sometimes I want to talk about something that makes me angry. Most of the time I wax poetic, which is a way of saying that most of my posts contain baseless assertions projected onto a greater population. Calling it “poetic license” avoids having to own up to writing “kinda bullshit”.

Despite blogging under different URLs for over fifteen years now, I still don’t feel that I have a voice of my own, or a kind of platform from which to speak. What’s my angle? I’ve decided that simply loving this hobby isn’t enough. Writing recaps of what I played always seemed like a cop out to me if I couldn’t extrapolate the run-down to some greater allegory on the state of the genre or something highfalutin like that. Why would anyone want to read about what I’ve done? There’s already a lot of contention around why someone would watch someone play a game instead of actually playing that game themselves, so reading about someone playing a game is better how?

What’s been my alternative? Praising and lambasting the community by turns worked out well for a while. I got a lot of compliments on my “come together” feel-good posts talking about how we need to buck up and “let the sun shine in” when faced with vile behavior of those who want to control the narrative of our community. I like writing those; I hope they lift someone’s spirits to read as much as they do mine to write, but if game recap posts are hybrid cars, then those feel good posts are the F350’s on the road, measuring fuel consumption in gallons per mile. I can’t just churn out variations on the “we can do it!” theme day after day. There’s only so many ways I can write what is essentially the same thing, and even with the greatest of efforts, not every day is a day where I’m feeling the love I want to spread. It gets tiring to write those posts and not feel like I’m trading on emotional manipulation, even though I believe in the reasons for making the attempt.

I certainly don’t want to get all negative. Rants are the lowest form of getting a point across, since all one has to do in order to post something like that is mash the keyboard with a forehead until unconscious. Liking things and admitting that you like them is hard compared to just shitting all over something, but where’s the fun in being negative? Seriously, where’s the fun when all you focus on are negatives in your hobby? After spending a lot of time trying to be upbeat, and seeing how little traction it garners, I find that it’s actually all too easy to be cynical and jaded. I don’t want to be That Kind of Blogger.

What I know I lack is conviction to work at blogging. I post a lot. Often twice a day. One might think I have a lot to say, and I guess I do, although it’s not always (read: rarely, judging from my stats) things people are interested in reading. I can tell you this: I do very little research (GASP! I know!) for my posts, and spend even less time editing them (DOUBLE GASP! Are you light headed yet?). My posts are all shot from the hip, written from top to bottom with an image tacked on and kicked out the door like a problem child on his 18th birthday. In my mind I like what I’ve written, and sometimes I go back and read my own posts weeks or months later and find things here or there that impress me, if I do say so myself. But it’s not myself I need to impress. It’s you. More importantly, it’s people who aren’t you, and who aren’t me. The people I don’t reach with the topics I currently choose and the voice I currently affect.

I need to figure out how to be a better blogger. I’m certainly not the best writer out there, although no one has come right out and called me on it. My topics don’t seem to resonate with many, at least not in the way I always hope they do. If they do, then people are internalizing their emotions and not sharing or commenting on the posts. I’m not going to get all down on myself and scream “why!?”, but I will just assume I need to do a better job of picking topics and approaching those topics in ways that attempt to generate more engagement in the hopes that doing so results in fewer drive-by readers.

Read More

Legendary Encounters: Alien Edition

20150815_125056

It’s that’s time again, kids, the time when I don’t really feel much like gaming. In a manner of speaking, it’s kind of good because that feeling of malaise that I get when I sit down with the intent of finding something to play often drives me away to do something else.

This time around it was to take my daughter shopping. She’s been piecing together elements for some Hetalia cosplay, and needed some kind of kerchief. We hit up a few dollar stores looking through their copious hair-product aisles, but didn’t find anything that met her exacting criteria. While we were out, though, we stopped by one of our FLGS (friendly local gaming stores) because I’d never been to this particular outlet, and left with a copy of Legendary Encounters: The Alien Deck Building Game.

I have the Marvel edition of LE and have played it exactly once. It’s fun, but extremely difficult. Being way more of an Alien fan than a Marvel fan, though, the Alien edition was always on my radar, but with the aforementioned malaise going on, I decided now was the time to jump.

We got the game home, and for the next hour and a half I cursed Upper Deck for being a bunch of myopic imbeciles. Like the Marvel edition, the Alien LE has hundreds of cards that represent different aspects of a story. In the case of Alien, there’s a strike deck which deals damage, a hatchery deck which represents the facehuggers, a barracks deck which represents characters you can recruit, a hive deck which represents the enemies you’ll encounter, and a few other decks with various purposes. The cards need to be divided up into these discreet piles, but UD made zero attempts to help you out in this regard. The cards were shuffled together in bundles bound by plastic sleeves, so my first order of business was to spread these cards out, read the microscopic text on the bottom of each card, and sort them appropriately. Thankfully UD had the foresight to provide cardboard dividers for when you the customer sort the cards according to the rules, so with proper vigilance you’ll never have to sort these things again.

IMG_20150815_131112

The game itself was tense. There’s four options for play, each following one of the four (current) Alien movies, and knowledge of the movies is not required to play, though I suppose you’ll get more personal benefit if you’re familiar with them. We played Alien and had three objectives: find the S.O.S. sources, lock down the ventilation shafts, and secure the airlock. We needed to complete objective one — find the S.O.S. — before we could move on to the second, and objectives are completed by slowly plowing through the hive deck. The hive represents the aliens, and at the start of each turn a new card comes off the hive deck and into play face-down, pushing previous hive cards across the play mat until they are revealed in the “combat zone”. If any aliens reach the combat zone, they start to deal damage, so we have to scan each location prior to the combat zone and hopefully take out what is reveled there before it progresses. That’s the elevator pitch version of the rules.

Despite the PITA of having to sort the cards, the game is not overly complex to learn. Learning to play effectively is where the fun lies. The game we played was just my daughter and me, and we were doing OK at the start. We had progressed through the first objective cards pretty quickly and had found one part of the two part S.O.S. when tragedy struck.

The hive can reveal alien eggs. These do not move from where they’re revealed, but if the hive gives up an event card, then whomever flipped that event card earns themselves a facehugger if there’s an egg on the board. That was me. I got hugged. The thing about the huggy is that anyone can kill it while it’s on a player, but if no one does and the turn order comes back around to the person being hugged, that huggy is discarded, and a chestburster card is shuffled into that player’s draw pile. When that player draws the ‘burster…game over, man. Game over. With a group of people there’s a lot of time to get un-hugged, but with two people, the luck of the draw dictates whether or not anyone will have an opportunity to take it out. My daughter could not take it out, and I lasted only another two turns before the ‘burster killed me.

I actually expected my daughter to stop there, since she’s been lukewarm on my previous attempts to introduce her into these more complex games, but she was determined. She plowed through the rest of the game like she was possessed by the ghost of (actual, not cloned) Ripley herself, completing objective one, then two, and starting objective three.

Objective three requires the airlock control card to be on the airlock space on the board because the overall goal of the first scenario (Alien) is to kill “the perfect organism”. And of course the only way to do it is to catch it in the airlock and blow it out into space (per Alien). That is an extremely narrow window of opportunity since all hive cards in the pipeline move at the start of each turn. Considering there was only one player, my daughter only had one chance to muster the amount of attack power needed to kill the alien in the airlock space.

She wasn’t able to do it. My daughter was disappointed, which made me happy not because she was upset, but because she had become invested in the game. She’s not overly competitive, but like me she tries very hard for a positive outcome and is let down when it doesn’t manifest despite a best effort. That she cared that she wasn’t able to win was a good sign that she liked the game enough to play it again later.

We played again with more people a few days after, and the results were disastrous. We couldn’t even kill the aliens before they reached the combat zone, which served as a good lesson in how to approach this game when contrasted to my daughter’s earlier and more successful rampage. Players need to work together to prevent the aliens from reaching the combat zone, need to assist one another whenever possible, and need to recruit characters every chance they can get (characters help boost play-options on your turn). When people aren’t working together, or when people have different goals or different approaches for how to reach a common goal, you will lose the game. It actually might be easier to play solo, though, which I’m going to try this evening.

Read More

Protheus The Jerk; Golem Arcana; Crossing the Streams

Protheus The Jerk

TT_ProtheusI’m still plowing through Skyforge, logging in at least once a day to take care of my minions (which saying so reminds me that I didn’t last night), but when I have time I am working through the story elements. From what I gather, a lot of people are running through open world zones which generally award different color Sparks and other currency needed to buy items on the market. I like the open zones a lot, but I haven’t gotten back to them unless a mission sends me there.

I had to head to Thais Temple for what I thought was another routine leg of the story mission. Thais Temple is amazingly beautiful in an already beautiful game; the designers put a lot of work into that instance. For the most part, the zone was relatively easy, filled mostly with khelps and naiads of various types. There were three stage bosses that really didn’t have any tricks to offer.

But it’s the last boss — Protheus — that’s probably the worst encounter I’ve run into in this game so far. Like a lot of the bosses, his circuit isn’t difficult to discern, but the weight of the encounter is just agonizing. Initially he hangs back and sends out khelps. Then Protheus comes out, defended by a shield, while he sends out more khelps. You can’t stand in one place because Protheus has a melee attack that will decimate anyone he targets, potentially one-shotting you unless you’ve got some shielding in effect. After the khelp are down, he drops the shield and you can take a whack at him, but he doesn’t stay vulnerable for very long.

I made it through the instance to this encounter, but had to leave since my wife came home from work and we had to deal with dinner, but even in the ten or so minutes I’d been engaged in this fight, I didn’t even manage to put a noticeable dent in this guy. I’m not entirely sure what the best strategy is for this. I might just spend some time in other zones earning sparks since I feel I’ve not spent enough time working through my Atlas and earning Prestige.

Golem Arcana

Golem Arcana is a board game that has you using a special stylus to interact with the board and figures. This stylus connects to a mobile or tablet device via BLE (Bluetooth low energy). The device is actually what’s in charge of organizing the game. It’s like a GM for the game rules, letting you know where you can move your figures, handling attacks, and keeping track of damage. I picked it up because I figured with the computerization of the rules it would be a game that’s quick to set up and easy to learn.

My weekend disaster with my HTC M7 and the upgrade to the Galaxy S6, however, has caused a snag. The S6 is listed on the game’s website as being a compatible device, but I haven’t been able to get the stylus to connect to the phone. The phone “sees” the stylus in the Bluetooth device listing, but the application itself cannot. BlueKae graciously offered to join a Hangout to help me work through the issues (as he’s a veteran Golem Arcana player), and while we were talking I tried connecting the stylus to my PC via a Bluetooth dongle. In this case, I could successfully register the stylus with the Bluetooth devices — but there’s no Windows version of the game software, so it was mostly a pointless exercise, except that I figured that since I could register with the PC, and could see the stylus on the phone, it was something about the phone or the GA software itself that wasn’t allowing the connection. I tried Bluestacks, an app that allows users to run Android apps on Windows, but Bluestacks doesn’t have Bluetooth support (despite the misleading name, which actually has nothing to do with what we’re talking about here).

As of right now, I’m not able to actually play Golem Arcana, although I was happy to see that a Twitter conversation about it was picked up by the official company account, and they said they’d let their tech folks know about it. I also posted to their forum in the off chance that someone might have some insight/might get raised internally. So even though I can’t really use the product, I’m happy to see that someone was listening (even if it was in a creepy, keyword alert kind of way).

Crossing the Streams

I’m a big supporter of Forge, the effortless streaming service, because it’s effortless. I like effortless, and I like the fact that I can use it to take screenshots and to pull out just the interesting bits of the stream for highlighting.

I’ve got this nagging in the back of my head that wants me to become more engaged with the community at large, but it’s hard to get started unless you have a large support network to help you pimp your projects to an even wider audience, and a willing cadre of folks who will actively hang out with you while you’re doing these things. Forge is kind of passive in that regard as people can stop by and watch live, but you don’t know they’re there (there’s no live interaction). Later, folks can check out your screenshots and highlight clips. It’s a nice system, but not terribly engaging.

I’ve started live streaming again beyond Forge, trying Hitbox and Twitch, and trying to get started at a predictable time every day (long about 4:30 or 5PM EDT). I’m of two minds on this. The first is that persistence is key. Always being somewhere, at the same time, maybe for about the same length of time, maybe with the same content, is a good way to show people that you’re serious about providing for their entertainment. With effort comes expectation, though, so setting up a schedule and graphics and a not-so-horrible layout for your streaming page only to not attract any eyeballs is kind of a bummer. But that’s where the second mind comes in. Why not? I mean, why not do it anyway? It’s like blogging. The best type of blogger is one who writes because they want to, because they feel like they have something to say. If no one reads it, well, that doesn’t change the author’s belief that he or she has something to say. So they keep writing, or in this case keep streaming, because at some point maybe someone will stop by and see what’s going on. That person may tell someone else, and they may tell other people, but even if it doesn’t grow like that (or at all), simply doing something that you were going to do anyway doesn’t cost any more than it would if you didn’t do it at all.

The only problem is that I can’t run OBS and Forge at the same time; they don’t play well together, and their combined might destroys my CPU (which isn’t a slouching piece of hardware, BTW). I have to choose one or the other, so recently I’ve been working Forgeless. I know that they’re working on getting live mic support set up in Forge, which will be a godsend because even if there’s no live chat, sometimes you just want to get some insight into what the streamer is thinking, or if they’re playing an unfamiliar game, why they’re doing what they’re doing. As much as I like Forge’s effortless streaming, I am looking forward to the mic update, and wouldn’t be averse to seeing some kind of “activity list” that could let the streamer know there’s people watching, or who is watching, so there could at least be some acknowledgement that there are people there.

Read More

The Slow Weekend

The only real gaming I was able to do this weekend was a little bit of the Guild Wars 2 expansion beta, and some Skyforge.

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns Beta Weekend

GW2-logoThe GW2 beta was something I told myself I wouldn’t do because A) I trust Anet to work things out, as I haven’t personally had any issues with GW2 sans expansion, and B) I didn’t want to ruin anything for myself later. But I’m kind of glad that I did jump in because I’m sensing a trend either with Anet, or with my ability to comprehend what the heck is going on.

I created a revenant character at level 80, but didn’t like it in the least. Deleting that guy, I created a level 80 ranger so I could get a taste of what post-80 would be like for my main character. I started off in the Silverwastes, an area I generally like because of the capture and hold mechanics of the various camps out there, and plowed through the zone until I got to the actual start of the expansion content that started with the whole business of the defeat of the Pact army and the defection of a good chunk of the Sylvari.

The actual starting zone for the expansion is well documented in screenshots and videos, and I assume that if you’re at all interested in the HoT expac you’re familiar with the new jungle setting. This is where I started to get lost, much like how I was constantly being turned around in Dry Top even without the sandstorms going on. I ended up in the tree village of the Itzel. There we had to tackle several zone missions like collecting grubs to feed the starving population. Unfortunately, it was bugged (no pun intended) and we couldn’t get the system to register more than 2/5 baskets filled. I then managed to find my way back to the jungle floor and saw that zone chat was going on about needing more people up on top of a mesa, so I swung my way up there to find a group of folks trying to take down a compliment of Mordremoth’s larger minions. Unfortunately, the spawn would never stop and the progress wasn’t kicking over, so folks kind of drifted away from another buggy system.

Yes, it’s beta, so I was A-OK with these things not working. I was confused, though, by the zone, which is entirely the fault of my crappy sense of direction. I also wasn’t sure how the Mastery system worked until I parsed it from the chat window. Post level 80, any XP you earn doesn’t go towards your level, but goes towards a zone mastery. The “level 81” mastery you get in the first zone is the basic gliding. As you level up through that zone, you unlock other aspects. However, when you move to another zone, I believe you have to start over again to unlock those individual masteries. I didn’t even get my gliding in the course of the weekend, so I’m not sure if I’m misunderstanding the zone differences, but I was glad I understood it, and got the lay of the land (so much as I did) before the expansion actually launches.

Skyforge

I didn’t spend a lot of time with Skyforge this weekend, though, mainly because I was out of the house most of the time. I am now in the cycle of “log in to deal with minions”, collecting their spoils and sending them out on new missions. It’s kind of a waste of the Premium time, though; I’ve just not had the time to put into it.

Errata

Saturday was a really nice day so we took the kayaks out to the Nashua River. It’s a fairly slow-moving river with sparse population along the banks and a whole lot of algae and other aquatic plant life. We were out for maybe two hours, but came home with some injuries: sunburns, a strained tendon in my elbow from hoisting the kayaks to the roof of our van, and a dead cell phone.

Even though we were out on the water, I didn’t want to be incommunicado should something terrible happen so I had put my phone in a zip lock bag and stowed it in the sorta-sealed-but-not-really hatch on my boat. When we got back to shore, my daughter noticed that the bag had some water in it, and that my phone was pretty soaked. Later, I couldn’t get the device to stay active; it would reboot itself constantly. I put it in a bag of rice when I got home and left it there overnight, but when I checked on it the next morning…nothing.

After our usual Sunday breakfast meeting with my father, we headed to the AT&T store and sat around for about an hour until our number came up. I had already been eyeballing the Galaxy S6, and when I related the situation to our sales rep Erin, she suggested the “active” edition, which has built in drop proofing, waterproofing, and all that. I opted to go that route, only to be told they were out. So I opted for the standard S6, but they were out of the 32GB. I don’t store things on my phone, so the 64GB was just overkill, and the additional $100 was just making it worse. But my wife said that so long as I don’t try and upgrade my phone before this contract is up, we might as we do it since I’d be phoneless otherwise, and we just can abide by that.

Sunday was spent rebuilding my mobile footprint, which despite the providers attempting to make things easy, is really just a slog. Some of my purchased apps weren’t registering as having been purchased, so I had to push them to the device from the website. I had to go through the unfamiliar settings UI to find the various bells and whistles that needed to be turned on or off (supposedly the S6 has abysmal battery life out of the box anyway). I had to log in to various services. Worst of all, I had to cancel and re-subscribe to different authenticators. Thankfully I have my Battle.net restoration codes, and both Anet (for GW2) and Carbine (for Wildstar) got back to me within hours of my filing tickets to have the authenticators removed. HOURSOn a SUNDAY EVENING.

At this point I think I’m back to operating strength, so it’s just a matter of learning how much performance I can get out of this phone before I have to schedule charging time.

Read More

What Am I Doing Here?

BeingLostA theme runs through my posts here at LC.com:

  • I have difficulty sticking with games long enough to finish them/reach the level cap
  • I’ve gone from a diehard soloist to someone who enjoys playing with others, but rarely does
  • I can’t join other people’s guilds because I have a hard time fitting into their existing cliques
  • Although I am fascinated by the behavior of the geek community, it also really annoys me

Dang, that’s a list of negatives. I really don’t like to be, or go out of my way to be, a negative person. When I’m at work, I think about how I’d rather be home playing something. I read about games of all kinds and get excited. I like the majority of people I follow on social media because they’re funny, smart, and good people. It’s just that when I get to the keyboard for these entries, I somehow gravitate towards the darker thoughts.

Where does this come from? I honestly have no good answer for that, and that bugs me because I like introspection and believe that I’m pretty good at it (if I do say so myself, and I do!). I also have no compunction against being open about myself. I guess in some ways we all have visions on how we’d like the world to work that are one part “how can I reshape things to benefit me?” and one part “how can I make people see the error of their ways (as I see them)?” I don’t think that thinking like this is something we necessarily do overtly or even maliciously, but as I do think that human beings are inherently selfish, I think we’re always going to be interested in trying to shape the world in our own images.

Seeing as how impossible it is to turn a ship with only a thread, and if a thread is all we have to work with, what’s the point of trying? Or better yet, what’s the point of sticking around once we realize that any attempts we are trying to make are futile? Raging against the machine has become an intramural spectator sport in the Internet Age, and I think that a lot of people enjoy being angry more than they’d enjoy receiving the outcome they’re supposed to be advocating for. Being angry makes other people angry; it’s like declaring that it’s open season on intelligent discussion, thereby lowering the bar so that everyone can participate. Being angry means no filters, letting people swear and insult and let their mouths (and fingers) run faster than common decency would otherwise allow. Anger generates page views and “interaction” in the comment sections. It strokes egos.

I try not to rage that hard, though. I’ve got more of a melancholy sense about this community and my own participation in it. On some days I’d be 100% happy to just pack everything up and walk away, if I had something else to walk to, but I don’t. Had I spent all my video game money on power tools or needlepoint, I’d be in a different place. But investment reaches a point where you can’t back down even when you really want to. On the other hand, I don’t really want to. I really enjoy what I get from video games. They’re escapist entertainment like books and movies, but with agency. They evoke and reward intelligence, skill, and determination. They showcase technology and it’s advances. In a lot of ways, they make me feel good about people, progress, and the future.

Except when they don’t, or when the community uses it’s focal points against itself. “Hell is other people” is a truism almost anywhere, especially in the geek community. It’s really easy to block it out, especially on social media where you can mute, unfollow, or block the most offensive — or just people who pissed you off that one time for no good reason. What’s hard is simply zipping it and not letting loose. For example, when the controversy du jour occurs and takes social media by storm, there’s an inevitable point at which we start seeing posts asking why more people aren’t outraged by the situation. I’d be willing to bet more people are outraged by the situation, but those people know that it’s pointless to wade in, guns blazing, because that doesn’t solve a damn thing, and in those controversies neither side is spotless in their beliefs or tactics. Some people just choose not to make the situation any worse over being seen waving a banner just to appease one side or the other.

What I consider the real let-down, though, is when I question what I’m getting out of my personal involvement. Everyone’s had times when they’ve sat down at the PC or on the couch with the intent to play something, only to find that they don’t want to play anything. When I start to notice an ongoing trend, though, that never extends beyond the thrill had in the discovery of a new product, I notice that there’s really no long-term tether beyond the reliance that there’s always going to be a steady stream of “new” to keep giving me that high. Maybe that’s why Steam Sales are so popular (aside from good old fashioned retail therapy), and why many folks in my circles are so flighty when it comes to picking a game to play. We’re either looking for something we seem destined never to find in the long run, or simply find it in the first hour of gameplay and rarely beyond that.

Sorting through the pros and cons of the situation is a zero sum outcome. I’ve got nothing better to do with my free time, and I do enjoy it when I’m in that zone. But there’s a lot about it that I don’t enjoy, and I don’t always enjoy what I do all the time. Sometimes I’m not able to do what I would like to do — play more with others, create my own game — and that’s depressing. Other times I allow myself to get caught up in hype for a new product because it just makes me happy to be part of something that other people are excited about. I think the fact that I am still here shows that I value the times of excitement and happiness more than the times of disgust and boredom.

Maybe there’s something to cling to in that. I do wish things were better. I wish the community was kinder, I wish folks were more receptive to others as individuals with their own goals and skills. I wish people would devalue anger and sarcasm as virtues and realize that we all like the things we like for reasons that a unique to us, and that that is an actual virtue. It makes very little sense to be at odds with one another when we’re virtually buried in opportunities to enjoy the situations in each other’s enthusiastic company. I also wish I could find the long term enjoyment beyond the thrill of learning something new. I wish I were more achievement oriented, in some ways, because I think that would be a good way to drive my engagement.

That’s a laundry list of wants. I guess that if I want to make some kind of change then I need to not end this on a down-note. The best we can do, and the most we can ask of others, is to give it a shot. I think we all want the same thing from ourselves and from our community, which is to have a good time, so we have to just keep on keepin’ on to find that silver lining, to find the fun, to not suffer the ignorant and the selfish, to agree to work together to be more inclusive, and to do all of this wherever and whenever we’re able.

Read More
content top