Blaugust and Chill

Zyngor | Thursday, August 04, 2016 1 Comment

Yippe, it's back! Blaugust has once again reared it presence upon the blogosphere. This time around, our mastermind Belghast has "loosened the reins" and is taking a much more casual approach to the month. It will not be an onslaught of daily postings (though you are certainly welcome to do so if that's your style), but rather a stress-free "Festival of Blogging on a Schedule," as Belghast puts it.

I respect the change he made to Blaugust this year, as I admittedly ended up falling into the same trap he discussed. My first year in Blaugust ended up as daily postings, and my second was more of an every other day thing (had something personal that came up that definitely had an impact on my frequency of blogging that year). However, once the month was over, it was like turning off a faucet. My posts (if any) the months after that would trickle in at a very slow pace, and eventually seem to dissipate.

That is to say, who knows what it'll be like once this month is over. Often I have the mentality that if I have nothing meaningful to say, I'll say nothing. I think this is why I love Twitter - you can say almost everything you need to say within the context of 140 characters. If you can't, there's usually a way to shorten it to fit the limits. If you can't, try again - get creative if you need to.

So this month, it'll be more of a celebration of me actually posting something and not leaving the blog stagnant. I believe I may have said I've got "some other schedule" set up for Blaugust. I suppose that schedule will really be "whenever I feel like posting." Hopefully it's more than this one post!

Keep calm and Blaugust on!

NBI 2016 - It's Fine

Zyngor | Monday, June 06, 2016 2 Comments

Well, apparently it's 2016, or so this laptop tells me. More importantly, apparently the Newbie Blogger Initiative (or NBI, as the hipster types call it) is unleashed upon the world once more. I've kept a semi-eye on its progress toward occurring this year - was it going to be celebrated or not? The Twitterverse is a tumultuous tide of thoughts and tomfoolery, which also includes plenty of gossip and goodness abound.

So I was elated to hear that the NBI 2016 was indeed to be celebrated and embraced. It's a good bunch of people helping other good bunches of people find their way in the world of blogging. Where to start, what to say, how to spread your auratic nature to others who may wish to check our that thing you do, oh oh. But was I personally going to sign up for this event? I felt that, as my last post was closer to the beginning of the year, I had once more slipped into the "wayward" nature of blogging. To me, I didn't really have anything deep or meaningful to say. As such, my writing mostly became the "microblogging" that is Twitter...and those glorious 140 characters kept me in check. And it was fine.

As such, I never stepped forward to join the ranks of other Mentors to personally assist individuals with their blog concepts and giving that "rah rah sis boom bah" to give them that push into the world of e-journaling. That being said, if you ever have questions or want to talk about blogging stuff (other than the technical aspects of paid hosting stuff - I have only ever blogged on free hosting places like Blogger, and had set up something on Wordpress but have not switched over as of yet), please feel free to ask here or on Twitter. If I miss your query here, I'd likely catch it on the Twittersphere as long as you @ me over there.

So far, I have caught a bit of the NBI blogging action, though I have remained silent so far in terms of commenting. I can't promise I will comment, but I also can't promise that I *won't* there. Two posts that have caught my eye for an obvious reason was over on Wolfy's and Mersault's blogs. Both spoke about taking breaks in blogging, and how it is perfectly fine to do so. Speaking from personal experiences, I completely agree.

According to the history on this blog, I wrote my first post February 2007. It kept on a fairly regular pace, then soon had one month breaks. Then three to four. After September 2009, it seems I ignored the blog for a little over half a year, then returned for two posts. Then WHAM back on break...for four years.

August 2014 started a whirlwind of posting for the month, as part of Belhast's Blaugust experiment. Somehow, I managed to post daily for the entire month, thus completing that challenge. For the next couple months, I was able to average maybe three to four posts a month - perhaps it was a result of possibly going overload on August, perhaps it was apathy. Going into 2015, it was looking to be a bleak and empty year for my blog - at least until May.

There, I took part in my first NBI, and managed to scrape up a respectable nine posts (at least, respectable on my part, considering my usual pace). After that, the pace dropped to zilch, until August 2016, where my second year taking part in Blaugust took its course. Partly due to a passing in the family, and all of the resulting traveling/etc, I decided early on I'd take it a bit easier than I had the previous year, and ended up posting roughly every other day (instead of the proposed daily). Since then, there have been one or two sporadic posts, roughly every other four months or so.

So there is my posting history since the inception of this blog. I basically crafted a roller coaster with my posting frequency - one that oftentimes seemed to have no passenger in the cart - and had its periods of unexciting lullness, mixed in with sporadic gut-busting climbs and drops. Now, I'm back on the chain lift, one taking me back upward. I guess we'll just have to see if it has some incredible inversions, corkscrews, and turns, or if it just drops to a flat end and fizzles out once more.

But you know what? As many times as I may have gone wayward with this blog, IT'S FINEIT'S FINEIT'S FINE. Do you want to only be blogging once a week, once a month, once a year? IT'S FINE. You wanna post daily? IT'S FINE (just look at Belghast). Post however often you want, and whenever you want. IT'S FINE. I swear. As long as you are doing it of your own free will, and are not under some oath or contract to be posting on a certain schdule, it's fine to post as you want, when you want. Don't be afraid that you must keep to a certain schedule, this is supposed to be something enjoyable to release some of those crafty words you got stuck in your cranium. Whether it's planned ahead, or some sporadic urge to post something suddenly hits you (even if it has been several months since you last posted), it's fine. Just start writing, keep saving your document, and when the feeling seems right to you, hit Publish.

Happy blogging, folks.

Minas Tirith - It's a Climb

Zyngor | Sunday, February 07, 2016 0 Comments
What's this strange sensation? A blog post? Oh, it must be some special community blog-a-thon month to incite this rare posting, right?


Just felt like doing one of these blog things, because, because. Anywho, it's been awhile, eh? Looks like my last post was talking about my foray into Guild Wars 2. Alas, I'm not sure I have even played that game since I last posted, but it remains as a back-up for those days that one of my more regular games is starting to feel a bit stagnant.

Most of my gaming time is currently being filled with Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO). I have (hopefully) finished transferring my characters around as part of the eventual server closures that I assume should reach its peak some time this year. The current controversy is revolved around server stability after Turbine's recent move of the server hardware from their space in Boston to a new locale in New Jersey. Things are still a bit touchy, with random bouts of lag and scattered game crashes here and there. I'm hopeful they'll gets things back in ship shape, or at least enough to keep the population from capsizing.

My current LOTRO characters can be found here. My primary characters with my Riddermark kin all moved to Landroval, while characters on other servers were moved around a bit to basically have presence on all US servers. These characters are all those that have the unlocks granted during a VIP time (class traits, stable, etc), though I am officially just a Premium scrub.

I was able to end up with at least one of every class on Landy (there are currently 10 classes), so I decided to take a note from Twitch streamer Arathaert and try out the 1000 Level Challenge. Even my English degree can decipher that means I gotta try and get to level 100 with each class. There was even a plugin created for this very task to make it easier to track. Now, there are plans for a 105 level cap raise this year, so I suppose it might need some tweaking once that hits. I am currently around 68% through the challenge - still have about 30-40 levels each on a Lore-Master & Warden, and pretty much all of a Beorning, Burglar, and Captain to go.

Arkenstone has definitely become a more visited server for me with the transfers. I now have not only The Academy kinship (these guys make a great podcast with topic-specific & newbie-friendly subjects from which to learn some handy stuff), but also Twitch streamer Bludborn's kin, Du Bekar.

Anywho, on to the goodies that came with the latest major patch, Update 17. This brought us the Old Anorien region, which includes everyone's favorite city of white, Minas Tirith.

Minas Tirith, one of the last bastions of hope for many, and a twisted maze of crowded streets, reckless children, and fat, lazy men man

For some silly reason, when I was first approaching the city, Speed 2: Cruise Control was the first thing that popped in my head. That is, the ending where (spoiler alert!) the cruise liner plows straight into a small Caribbean town. Somehow, that piece of the citadel that juts out at the top felt reminiscent - can't you tell I'm a bona fide Tolkien fan?

Guess which one is Minas Tirith. I dare ya.

Anyways, it is pretty neat that the city is laid out in the seven tiers as the lore dictates. For our convenience, there are both swift horses that can instantly transport you to the middle of the first six, as well as regular stable routes (swift and slow) to the same six tiers, scatted around in location a bit. While the streets are a bit cramped to travel about, definitely check out indoor locations when possible - they truly highlight the details shown in the city of Minas Tirith. Oh, and if you're a collector in the game, I'd take a browse through the Houses of Lore on the south side of the fifth tier (Sage's Tier).

[l-r] The Old Archives; throne room in the Tower of Ecthelion
Quest-wise, it might be a bit of a drag during your travels within the city. Definitely use the horse travels to your benefit, as you'll find yourself travelling here, there, and basically everywhere (and back to there, and twice back to here, and everywhere a couple extra times for good measure). I felt very relieved when I finally was told to leave the city and continue my questing outside the walls of Minas Tirith - the same way some feel leaving the confines of Moria. The epic is also a good time - no spoilers here! You'll find yourself trying out the two new epic battles - Defense of Minas Tirith, and Hammer of the Underworld, both of which are pretty solid battles that slightly raise the difficulty for a solo player to complete with a platinum rating (especially Hammer).

Along with the Old Anorien quest pack came some other tasty tidbits. Tier 10 crafting, Anorien, rolled out. They opted to automatically bestow all recipes (so far) for this tier, though the selections are pretty skimpy at this current time. Tailors, Metalsmiths, & Jewelers can all craft essence gear (3-slotted, with passives). More awesomely-er, most all crafting ingredients across all tiers now stack to 500 (up from 100)! Pack rats rejoice!

There were some other little bits of changes here and there. Something this, something that, something legendary imbue-y. But now, for something much more important - bastardized song lyrics to fit the mood for all MMO players out there!

(Sorry, but it goes to the tune of Miley Cyrus' The Climb. Deal with it)

Always gunna be another level,
Always gunna be another quest,
Always gunna be another end-game,
With some baddie we will have to best,
While some'll just rush to get there,
And others gunna take their sweet 'ol time,
It's the Grind.

A Newbie in Tyria

Zyngor | Wednesday, September 16, 2015 3 Comments
Unless you have been living under a gaming rock (in which case, hello, welcome to the Internet - cats to your left and chesticles on the right), you probably heard the news that the Guild Wars 2 's core game recently went free-to-play. Obviously, there are certain restrictions in place for free accounts, but there is plenty of entertainment to be had, and no losses (other than your time - then again, you probably have plenty of it if you're wasting time reading this) should you give it a try and decide it's not the game for you.

Because I'm a cheap thrifty feller, I decided to jump on the GW2 F2P bandwagon and download the game a couple days after the announcement (to avoid the initial onslaught of accounts). Now, I will say that anything I mention in this post really boils down to 2-3 sessions of playing the game thus far. It is totally possible that my opinions & thoughts will change as I roll forward, as is often the case with something as dynamic as the world of Tyria and MMOs in general.

Guild Wars 2 offers an interesting art style. It feels very much like an animated painting, brush strokes gently swaying many of its world/UI/cutscene decisions. I'd imagine the ArenaNet studio is really some coffee club/art studio setup, with the aroma of some hipster beverage and lots of finger snapping going about. I think the dynamic nature of this game definitely works toward its favor, allowing all the bold adventurers to cross the world of Tyria and explore all its nooks and crannies. You may be climbing a tricky vista one second, and battling a giant worm the next during one of the many sporadic events that constantly pop up around the maps.

Enjoy your time spent in the game's hubs, because you don't really need to see them much
The game is another to mix the boundaries between theme park and sandbox, as seems to be the direction for many MMOs these days. Whether you want to call it a "sandpark" or a "themebox," the general aimless direction of exploration questing is novel in keeping the players out in the world, rather than constantly returning to a fixed hub. Still, the flow of certain quest and defined class aspects attempt to tug you onto some rails. To me, I don't really care what side an MMO falls upon - it's what it has to offer for me that matters more.

Map completion? Jumping puzzles? Heck yeh! Because I am solo PvE-oriented, both of these aspects are probably what may keep me hooked onto occasionally playing GW2. After listening to the eloquent rascals of Burton and Scrooge speak about their thoughts on GW2, I feel like thus far I am echoing Brian's thoughts on the game. While I'm playing it, I seem to be having a decent time. However, it's not a game that I feel I must be playing when it comes to that magic hour to decide what I wanna waste my time doing. I'm sure that should I decide to spend more time in the game, I may draw my talons deeper into fanboi-ism. However, I have not shared any real memorable experiences with Guild Wars 2 so far.

I'm also curious as to what the later parts of the game hold for me. I figure it'll eventually become a battle to try and 100% map completion. I am not currently part of a guild, and PvP aspects of some "war" do not hold my interest one bit, so perhaps I'll be experiencing a warped version of what the developers set out for the players to accomplish. I do enjoy that the game feels so alive, with both players and NPCs (with whom I often confuse as being actual characters as they are often interacting with the world on the same level as real players).

If you are a free player deciding whether you'd like to try out the game, I'd say go for it. You may want to use wikis or some form of out-of-game source to guide you into the foray of GW2, as I felt like I was a bit short on many things and some panels are a bit confusing toward a new GW2 player. Heck, while you're at it, you might as well also check out this new GW2 podcast, Radio Free Tyria, featuring three awesome hosts, Cithryth, Ethelros, and Draculetta. Their aim is geared toward the casual player, and seem to have some good experience of the game under their belt if you have any questions.

Sometimes the game a-moo-ses me a bit.
So yeh, I'd say as a whole that while Guild Wars 2 may not become a staple in my gaming catalog, it seems like a pretty solid transition and good move for ArenaNet to offer the option of making the core game a free experience. They are hoping to hook you enough in the first large chunk to keep you wanting a second pizza expansion...woops did I throw pizza in there? So far, my Charr Engineer has made it to level 20, and I have yet to spend any of my 32 points in the Training tab because I apparently picked a whopper of a first class? If you enjoy typing in random letters and would like to add me in game, my handle is Zyngor.5907 (I don't expect to be playing too much or all the time, so don't rely on me being around all the time).

Below is a pretty nice video showing some new player tips, because I wanted to see what would happen if I embedded a video. Cheers!

Blaugust 2015 Season Finale

Zyngor | Monday, August 31, 2015 3 Comments
Thirty-one days of Blaugust on the web, 31 days of Blaugust. Take one down, pass it around, 30 days and one draft of Blaugust on the web!

So we arrive at the last day of August, and that means three things: the fall TV lineup is creeping right around the corner, I hope you scored some good cheap dime notebooks and slap bracelet rulers (pretty sure those things are making a comeback), and finally we no see Blaugust 2015 come to a close. One of these things is more difficult than the others to achieve total victory - spoiler alert - watching TV is potato fodder, and not even the masochistic rush of last-minute back-to-school-shopping defeats the determination and frenzy many bloggers endured to leave this month 31 daily blog posts richer.

After scoring that coveted 31 posts last year, I thought that maybe I should take a step back this time around. Fortunately, Belghast added a "Survivor" circle at the halfway point, allowing those with 15 posts to hold hands and at least say, "Well done us, well done." That being said, I still started off the month with daily postings and was not opposed to the dream of 31.

Unfortunately, I experienced a loss in the family on the 9th (and myself along with extended family had been spending several days prior with her in hospice), and so Blaugust immediately took a sidestep to more important matters. Once a bit of grieving and the formalities had passed, I felt it was okay to slip right back into the a better schedule for myself. At that point, I opted to do more of an "every other day" schedule with some spurts of daily posts to catch up to hitting 15 for the month.

And it was accomplished. And it was good. (this will make 16 for me)

I did my best to stop at some new blogs early on in the month. Because of the family departure, I've been spending the better part of this month out of town. As such, I've not been quite as able to peruse the number of blogs I would have liked this month, which I regret.

Will I participate in Blaugust in future years? Sure, as long as my entropic schedule allows, this is an enjoyable event to both participate and spectate other bloggers' journeys. Because I seem to go a bit wayward between events like these, something like Blaugust is a great way to spill my brain drippings over the keyboard and release a year of musings.

So to all my Blaugustians - thank you for making this year a great one! Thanks for the new friends on the Twittersphere, and I shall do my best to catch your posts thanks to the nature of social media and the almighty power of a blogroll.

Congrats to all of you - especially if you were able to post something every day. Even if you could only post half or less, the fun thing is that you posted something. While we can't all be Belghast, it sure is something to try and roleplay him for a month.

Lazy Weekend Edition

Zyngor | Saturday, August 29, 2015 1 Comment
Welcome to Blaugust Day 29, and at 15 posts this month, I'm only half outta my mind!

I've been a bit scramble-minded as to a topic I'd like to pursue, so I think I'll roll with one of them fancy multi-musings post today. At least I'll be able to surpass 140 characters an entry on this one, and get a couple odds-and-ends out of the way. I'll begin with a bit of Trove chat, move onto a tad on my LOTRO transfer experiences thus far, and finish up with a tidbit on my future F2P endeavors.

Trove Trekking 
I've been out of town for about a week now, slowly helping to organize my grandmother's apartment in preparation for cleaning things out. The extent of her computer gaming was essentially Facebook games, including several casino choices and Candy Crush/Criminal Case (she sure loved those C-titled games!). As such, her machine and Internet was never designed to be all that capable of much, let alone the time it'd take to download multiple gig titles (LOTRO is like 13g, plus the patch times).

I settled on setting up Glyph (Trion's loader) and Trove, as I figured it's not a huge download, plus the game runs pretty well on a lower-end machine. This was indeed a good idea, as I've been rather enjoying playing more of this game over the course of a month or so during my last couple trips here.

The new "/epicpose" command lets you catch some...interesting shots
After receiving a tip that they were offering a free class token awhile back, I aptly set up the game and chose the Ice Sage (ranged magic, staff user). Since then, I finally spent some of my Cubits (earnable store currency) and picked up the Shadow Hunter (bow user) and just recently, the Candy Barbarian. This latest addition plays much like the Knight, though he wields his sword dual style with a bit of frenzied sugar-coated sprinkles on top. By having a range of weapon types and characters leveling at once, I've been able to build my overall Mastery up to 37 or so, which unlocks some nice passive bonuses and goodies along the way. Trove is not really a game you have to take too seriously, as can be seen by many of the themes displayed in the biomes, so there's really no stress required here.

LOTRO Transfers
Though I haven't been able to be in game for a week or so, I've kept up best I can on the LOTRO transfer news as they work to consolidate servers by roughly the end of the year. I'm fine with letting Turbine take their time to iron out the hardware and services - gotta do what you gotta do to de-borkivize the stuffs. No sense getting in a huffy when we have no clear control of the timeline - it's something that's new for both players and developers.

I took a little time to physically write down all my characters' information on slips of paper, and made myself a table for where I'd like to make my moves to the remaining servers. My big move will be transporting my characters from my main kin on Riddermark (closing) to Landroval. I'll also be moving my couple of toons from Windfola (closing) to Arkenstone. However, I'd like to first move my Landy hunter to Gladden, and I'm thinking my Arken hunter to either Brandywine or Crickhollow. I'd be making these moves to try and avoid multiple classes and duplicate names on one given server.

I have a couple of other characters I'll be shuffling to other servers where my retinue is low, to spread things around a bit better. It'll take while to go through each character and make sure they are ready for their new respective home, but hopefully all is well in the end. It'll be exciting to maybe delve a bit more into group play, as I move to ultimately more populated worlds. This is a good move for the game as a whole, and should not be seen as one step closer to its death. I know all games eventually have to come to an end, but this is just another branch along LOTRO's long journey it has had, and should be an exciting one.

Free-to-play Hullabaloo
As a F2Paholic, I'm happy to hear about the recent option of free accounts in Guild Wars 2. From what I have seen, the restrictions seem fair to me and expected of what free accounts usually offer in such a case. Hopefully ArenaNet can do well to pull plenty of new players in, and excite them enough with the offerings to possibly become future paying accounts (and join in the fun with expansion Heart of Thorns).

I also look forward to what Wildstar F2P brings. From what I saw when the game was being hyped up for the original launch, it looks like a fun, quirky title, that loosely matches a RIFT style, but with a bit more action flair to combat. If it is offered for free players, the explorer path appeals to my sense of landscape probing, and was really the first thing I noticed when looking at an early article. It should hopefully fit nicely in my MMO stash, and I probably won't do much reading into it and just jump into the game like a blind lemming.

Have any thoughts on any of these mini topics, or just want to shoot the breeze? Share below!

D&D Alignment Quiz

Zyngor | Thursday, August 27, 2015 0 Comments
Welcome to Day 27 of Blaugust! This post represents my two weeks notice of posting thus far.

I was kinda scrambling for a topic today, but fortunately Twitter to the rescue! I saw a group of bloggers, starting from StarShadow and branching down to others like Aywren, Chestnut, and Tyrannodorkus, take an online alignment test to rank them on their D&D personality alignment. So I figured, what the heck, I'll do it too. I've probably taken several tests like these in the past, but I forgot what my results were, and I figured that depending on the site and the questions, the result might change.

So I took the test, which consists of 36 multiple choice questions (they are kinda written in a fantasy/medieval style, so you just have to try and modernize them in your head), hit submit, and my result was...

Lawful Neutral!

A lawful neutral character acts as law, tradition, or a personal code directs her. Order and organization are paramount to her. She may believe in personal order and live by a code or standard, or she may believe in order for all and favor a strong, organized government. The common phrase for lawful neutral is "true lawful." Lawful neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you are reliable and honorable without being a zealot.
--excerpted from the Player’s Handbook, Chapter 6

I was not all that surprised by the results - I expected to fall around the middle of the spectrum, and this was indeed the case. With some exceptions, the majority of my answers fell within the two middle options. I generally strive to make those around me happy within reason, which, in turn, makes me pleased that I'm able to help them when possible. As long as they aren't breaking the rules, I'm okay with them living their life as however pleases them.

I'm no hero, but I'm also no villain. I have my own code, and that is generally to be open and in partial agreement with both parties so that I can be able to facilitate on either side. By getting "in" on either side of the party, perhaps you can pick up some knowledge to help resolve the situation at hand.

Of course, I also tend to stay on the outside of things, and take opportunities like that if they are knocking at my doorstep. I do end up being a bit invisible by doing this, but then again, that's also part of my nature. I just try to be happy, strive to see the world as a happy place, and if there's something I can do to help in a situation (in my power) that doesn't necessarily make me the center of attention, I'm all for it.

Plus, the wiki page suggests that James Bond would fall under the same alignment, so I'm basically just sitting here, waiting for my drink (shaken, not stirred) and the bevy of babes to arrive. gor....Zyngor.