Luck and Mini Bosses

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At this point we are up to 41 blogs signed up for Blaugust in one form or another, with a significant number of folks hanging out in the Discord just for the sake of fun that we may be able to sway one way or another.  I am super happy with this early participation, and in side conversations there are a bunch of folks on the fence trying to determine just how much they can afford to participate themselves this year.  In that always be plugging style of conversation…  if you are at all interested in starting up a blog now is the time to do it.  Pop on by the sign up form and let us know your information and we will do our best to support you through that early blogging experience.  This is of course also an open offer as well to folks who are currently blogging and just want to up their frequency of posting…  or really want to help mentor the next crew of bloggers.

Since I last posted updates there have been a few new entries and you can see the entire list in an easy to use google sheet that I have been maintaining.

New Mentors

New Participants

The official pre-week starts on July 25th so there is still plenty of time to get a blog up and running before the official August 1st start.

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There are times where I have the sort of luck that pisses my friends off.  For example I have pulled a couple of those ultra rare chase cards from Battle for Zenndikar and Kaladesh, just buying random single packs here and there.  Magic the Gathering just released its return to core sets with M19 and there are a bunch of interesting cards in it… namely a much needed reprint of Crucible of Worlds and brand new version of the classic legends era dragons.  Ultimately I would like to have a copy of each for eventual EDH brewing purposes, and as a result I picked up a fat pack on Friday in my post funeral travels.  Now a fat pack has 10 packs and seems to be for lack of a better term a partial piece of what would have normally been a full box.

They tend to be feast or famine, either you get the good end of the rare/mythic sheet or you don’t.  In this case I managed to pull 4 mythics out of those ten packs.  I took the above photo to show off everything that came out of that box, with the last two on the left side being just a couple of cool looking common foils.  I found it weird that I got a duplicate rare out of the batch so maybe they are doing the fat packs different than they have done before.  I was extremely excited that I managed to pull a Crucible of Worlds and at least two of the three color dragons.  Unfortunately I did not pull the big daddy of them all…  Nicol Bolas, the Ravager.  I still consider this an insanely lucky box, and walked away mighty happy with it.

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As far as the rest of the weekend… it was largely spent hanging out and playing some Elder Scrolls Online.  I have now officially finished the Orsinium content and wow… I am exceedingly impressed with the quality.  If that is at all representative of what I have to expect from the follow up releases, then I am going to be a very happy boy.  I’ve since started on the Thieves Guild which is the next content release in order…  having largely skipped Imperial City due to its PvEvP nature.  I did however spent a chunk of last night running around and collecting Skyshards out in Cyrodil..  I am sure frustrating someone who was there to try and take keeps and mile forts.  The only actual PVP I got into was being found by a roaming murderball of Ebonheart Pact players…  at which point my screen froze and I crashed out of the game only to come back very dead.

The most fun however was prior to that when I was roaming around in Coldharbor with Ashgar and Tamrielo doing the public dungeon there.  It all started simple enough…  the three of us on Voice Chat when Ash mentioned mostly to himself that he was going to ignore the Public Dungeon for now until he could come back with a group.  I said that I had not done the public dungeon there for the same reason and Tam chimed in that he had largely been avoiding any group content.  Before long the three of us were converging upon Ash’s location and doing the public dungeon which had two quests inside of it.  Additionally we realized that there were a bunch of optional bosses in various corners of the place and we set forth to take each and every one down earning us a conqueror achievement.

I kinda love that this game does not care at all about where a player is in the progression, and that you can pretty much just group in for whatever happens to be going on.  I abused this power to help Void get some crafting materials by porting myself to Windhelm and then letting him piggy back in on that to get the shrine there.  I love that this game has decided that horizontal progression is the way to go because it has allowed me to invest resources in a really nice set of gear knowing I won’t be upgrading it anytime soon.  I love that I can just do whatever happens to cross my path and still feel like I am moving towards a goal in the form of Champion points…  knowing that I am also adding progression to every single character as I go.  I am very happy with the current state of Elder Scrolls Online.

NPC Memories

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Once again I am going to lead off this morning with an update on the folks who have joined in the fun since my last post.  I have a sneaking suspicion that these will continue especially considering we have a bunch of folks in the Discord who have yet to actually fill out the sign-up form.  I am not officially counting someone until I have an entry in the sign up sheet from them.  Another thing that has happened is I was asked to record a quick demo for the for someone to mix into their podcast.  I am not sure if anyone else out there cares about such thing but I thought I would link it here.  I did find myself falling into radio announcer voice a bit but whatever…  I think it does a reasonable job of summarizing the event.

As far as the sign-ups we don’t have as many as we have had in past days.  I feel like this is going to probably slow down a bit and then pick back up just prior to the event starting around July 25th.

New Participants

I want to give an extra call out to RumorsMatrix who completely bucked the notion of WordPress vs Blogger and went off and created his own custom blogging software.  That is some awesome dedication and I highly suggest you check out [barely readable diary] because it is anything but.  I’ve had a few questions recently about the whole Mentor vs Participant thing largely because there were some in the community that were viewing Participant as the “newbie” role and didn’t necessarily feel like they were ready for the “mentor” title either.  Functionally this comes down to intent and less about who is new or not.

I’ve used the analogy of Blaugust as a Blogging Summer Camp, and in that concept the Mentors would effectively be the Camp Counselors.  As a mentor you should feel comfortable with other bloggers coming up to you and asking for advice or some form of assistance.  Participants on the other hand are folks who just want to join their blog into this nonsense and participate in the festival of blogging as a whole.  I do however intend to try and track a few metrics that were not in the form, namely folks for whom this is their first Blaugust, and folks who started a brand new blog for the initiative.  Ultimately if you just want to join in and have fun then Participant is likely the role for you.

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Last night I continued my journey in Elder Scrolls Online Orsinium DLC and knocked out a few more areas before ultimately getting pulled into a crisis at work.  You never want to hear the words “catastrophic failure” at 10 pm…  but we managed to get everything wrapped up by 11ish.  However it greatly cut into the flow of my evening and kept me from completing more than I otherwise would have.  The depth of this content continues to impress me as does the scale, and I keep thinking in the back of my head…  if all of these DLCs are this cool it might be a really long time before I chew through it.  It sounds as though the key differentiation between a DLC and an Expansion is the first is largely centered around a single zone and the later includes multiple areas.

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I am extremely thankful that I wound up finishing all three factions worth of content before starting any of the DLCs.  There were times I contemplated straying off that path but it is really paying off in spades.  During the original quest lines there are certain characters that stand out, and occasionally show back up multiple times during the course of the main story.  One of the interesting things is that if you have completed all three factions…  you end up getting recognized by characters that you have interacted with in all three campaigns.  For example Neramo is part of the original Daggerfall starting area of Stros M’Kai and when I bumped into him in Wrothgar he recalled our previous adventures.  Similarly you run into Rigurt the Brash a handful of times during the Ebonheart Pact story… and you can see how he is greeting me here.

Functionally this feels like the difference between starting Mass Effect with the first game and playing your way through all of them, each time importing your save game… and just starting with Mass Effect 3.  I am hoping this time commitment continues to pay off as we move forward through other DLC…  I did some googling and apparently at the least Neramo shows up a few more times in the future.  It is this level of scripting and quest detail that makes the game feel so good as people greet you differently based on your past experiences.  Sure it is an illusion and they are simply checking to see if this quest or that quest was completed, but it is a level of detail that is sorely missing in other games.  I still remember how painfully jarring it was when I encountered Alexstrasza in the Twilight Highlands after completing several arcs for her during Wrath of the Lich King saving Wyrmrest Temple…  and having her not remember my character in the least.

I have a huge backlog of Elder Scrolls Online content to get through and I am still greatly enjoying myself.

Wisdom of Kurog

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I guess we will start off this morning with more welcomes to the fold, given that we keep seeing a pretty steady trickle of folks signing up for this nonsense.  Last night I met with Syp and recorded a bit of an interview talking about Blaugust that I believe will eventually make its way into the MassivelyOP podcast.  I am super lucky to have so much support from folks like MassivelyOP in covering this event, and in the past it has been covered by other sites as well.  Given we are still a couple weeks away from the official launch I am super excited to see this much interest.  I’ve been doing some business sort of things, like updating my blog side bar and trying to sort out how I am going to do my blogroll.  For the moment however if you want the full and updated list of participants I have shared out a subset of the form data through google sheets.

On to the sign-ups from yesterday!

New Mentors

New Participants

All of this said… there is still plenty of time to sign up and join in the fun.  The official start isn’t until July 25th and even then what really matters is that you have your blog ready and in place to start on the challenge August 1st.  If you are interested swing by our sign up form and then join us over in the Blaugust Discord for shenanigans.   I will admit early on I was somewhat afraid we might have all Mentors and no Participants…  but right now we are running 68% participants and 32% mentors which seems like a pretty great mix to me.

Another business note… we have our first prizes that have been donated.  The first $30 USD/£20 GBP via Steam/Amazon to a random brand new blogger who started their blog for the first time as part of this initiative.  The second is $30 USD/£20 GBP via Steam/Amazon to a random Rainbow Diamond award winner.  As has happened in the past these tend to show up as the event rolls on and I will be making a master list of them all.  My intent is to create a list of them sorted by equivalent monetary value and draw names for each prize until the virtual “hat” is empty.

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On the gaming side…  I am still really enjoying my time in Wrothgar but also taking it very slowly.  I am essentially knocking two or so blips off my map every night.  That said I think I completed one of the major story arcs seeing as it involved helping out the King of the Orcs.  I was super happy because last night I got to tango with the followers of a Daedra which is always a good time for me personally.  ESO Belghast most definitely vanquishes all Daedric Princes…   however Skyrim Belghast usually makes a deal with them so he can get their super sweet and powerful weapon.  This is always a weird disconnect in my mind given how I fought Molag Bal here… but happy thumped people over the head with his mace in Skyrim.

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This might be my single favorite piece of dialog so far in Elder Scrolls Online and kinda encompasses everything it is to be an Orc.  I know that feel and can absolutely understand him being super excited.  I have a soft spot for the Orsimer because I have always loved the whole thing that they are effectively “corrupted elves”.  In practice they make really cool buildings and have been some really interesting characters to interact with.  I feel like if World of Warcraft Orcs were half as cool as the Orsimer I would have proudly been Horde, rather than being that faction that I largely care about because of Nubzy and Facepull.  They also have a freaking awesome armor and weapon style…  but one that never quite looks right on my Imperial character.  The first character I made in Alpha if I am remembering correctly was an Orsimer Templar so this DLC has been really fun for me to roam around in.

If they are all this cool…  I may stay glued to ESO for a very long time.

Mzindyne

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This is more than likely going to be a feature each morning as I post the new sign-ups to Blaugust.  If you are planning on participating please hit the Google Forms sign-up sheet so I can get you accounted for on the list.  Additionally swing by the Discord where we are all sorta coalescing in this middle ground between the announcement and the official start.  I’m super happy to see folks already talking about technical details a bit and helping point folks in the right direction on various topics.

New Mentors

New Blaugustans

We also have Ventium who has signed up but is still sorting out the blog which is fine because there is still plenty of time.  Ultimately that was the primary reason why I announced it a bit early and also gave a lead in week still in July so folks could have some time to seek help on getting the blog set up and ready to go for August 1st.  August is a bit of a special month for me… seeing as August 1st is also my wedding anniversary and this year is going to be twenty years.  Admittedly organizing the start of a blogging festival is not exactly romantic, but she runs her own Blaugust event many of the years among her Math Blogging community.

Side note…  I am hoping today to sort out the Blogroll to have a more permanent list of participants.  I think I agree with Syp in a conversation we had on Discord that the best way to clean up the Blogroll… is just to nuke it from orbit and start from scratch.

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I went to bed pretty early last night because my wife and I both turned to each other at nine-ish and said that we could go to bed at pretty much any time.  Prior to that however I spent my evening playing Elder Scrolls Online again, slowly working my way through the Orsinium content.  More specifically I spent a good deal of my time delving into a Dwemer ruin.  This was always my favorite part of Skyrim and quite honestly…  any game that lets me explore and underground civilization is pretty high on my list.  For example the Deep Roads sections of Dragons Age games are without a doubt my favorites…  much to the chagrin of players that completely hate that area.

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I have to say though the Dwemer ruin in the Wrothgar area has to be the coolest that I have seen in game yet.  It had an interesting puzzle associated with it and brand new dwarven mob types in the form of cute little sentry robots.  I love fighting dwarven stuff…  which again is something that most people hate to do for some reason.  I will purposefully go out of my way to fight the big Dwarven Centurions because I think they are just so damned cool.  ESO is a great game to get in… knock a few quests off and turn a few areas of the map to the completed icon state.  You feel a sense of accomplishment, but still have a sort of drop in and drop back out experience.

That said I know there are several big releases coming up that will probably distract me some.  You have Monster Hunter World for the PC on August 9th, and Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate for the Switch on August 28th.  Then you have the big one which is World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth on August 14th…  which I know I will play but I am not feeling any hype for as of yet.  There are a lot of directions that game is going that I am not sure if I can follow.  In my perfect world the Horde and Alliance would form a grand alliance that allows players to play freely with each other and go take on bigger badder monsters than the nonsense red versus blue crap.  An expansion that doubles down on the past is concerning to me, but I have yet to miss a launch of a WoW game…  so I fully expect to be logging in on the 14th and playing along with everyone else.

 

Cadwell’s Gold

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I thought I would start off with a brief Blaugust update since while we are still roughly 15 days away from the official kickoff… we already have a bunch of activity.  For those interested please take a moment and fill out the form that I am using for tracking this event.  Also we have a discord that is starting to become active that we have a good number of the participants in so far.  On day what… negative 16…  we had a bunch of people sign up and I fully expect before we will get the event rolling we will have even more sign up.  However I did want to take a quick moment to recognize all of the “first!” crew who signed up almost immediately.

Mentors (so far)

Blaugustans (aka participants so far)

Super huge thanks to all of these fine folks for signing their name on the dotted line…  or in our case a google form.  I did want to say a few more things about Blaugust.  This is a festival of blogging, but that could take a bunch of meanings.  If your thing is not writing a bunch of words about gaming then that is absolutely cool…  just do whatever works for you.  If you would prefer to do a travelogue sort of blog where you explore, take a bunch of pictures and then write a little bit about each of them…  then that is a really cool blog.  If you want to do some sort of creative en-devour and show off the things you created in the process… and talk a bit about what you were thinking or any challenges you had while creating it…  then that also is a really cool blog.

Say you want to instead challenge yourself to do a daily vlog or a daily twitch stream…  that you then paste links to in a blog form…  then that absolutely is also within the spirit of this festival.  Blaugust is about creating content and preferably getting yourself in the habit of doing it in a regular manner.  The idea is to turn the once a month blogger into a couple of times a week blogger giving us more content to consume and broadening our community.  A lot of the traditional blogging activity has moved from the dedicated blogs into the social media space…  which is an area we are finding we have no control over.  I feel like maybe it is time to start clawing those posts back to places you control and staking out a place for yourself on the internet.  There is still plenty of time to decide if you want to participant in this years running of Blaugust however.

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On to gaming talk… last night I accomplished something that has been my goal up until this point in Elder Scrolls Online.  I finished Cadwell’s Gold or as I have often referred to it..  New Game++.  For the uninitiated Elder Scrolls Online launched with three separate factions and an interesting mechanic that allows you to keep the gaming going by venturing forth into the other two factions after you finish the one you started in.  So as a Daggerfall Covenant player, my first “New Game” mode was to venture forth into the Aldmerri Dominion.  I stalled out in that area for a really long time… given that the game released four years ago.  Once beating that main story quest…  I achieved Cadwell’s Silver and moved forth into Ebonheart Pact, where I have been spending my time lately and wrapped up last night.

For my troubles I got a necklace that I will likely deconstruct… and a cosmetic helm that is Cadwell’s infamous “helmet”.  I am effectively “finished” with all of the content that was available at the release of Elder Scrolls Online…  effectively 150 levels worth of story.  By the time I beat it I was sitting at 285 champion points… which becomes the post game progression system.  I was really weird about the content in ESO because I wanted to beat the effective New Game++ before starting any of the DLC or expansion content.  Now I have accidentally done one of the Thieves Guild quests because I simply thought it was “just another quest” in Windhelm, however I have not properly dug into any of it…  that is until last night.

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I officially started Orsinium…  with my trusty helm equipped.  Firstly I have to say… if this is the scale of their DLC content… I am damned impressed and find myself wondering what in the hell their Expansions look like since they make the clear distinction between the two concepts.  Wrothgar is huge and so far the questing has been excellent since I have been looking forward to doing the deep dive into Orsimer culture.  The fact that Orcs in the Elder Scrolls setting… are “Elves Gone Wrong”…  has always appealed to me greatly given my general distaste for elves in most games.  That said I do love the Bosmer… and quite a bit of Dunmer culture as well…  so maybe it is just the Altmer aka High Elves that I ultimately have problem with.  The Thalmor in Skyrim are one of those things that I will go completely out of my way just to kill one walking down the road.

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If you have not gotten the impression yet…  I am freaking having a blast in this game and I am super glad E3 made me want to dig back into it.  Effectively prior to E3 I had been stalled out in Stonefalls…  which is not a good zone.  It doesn’t help that it is one of those zones we beat the shit out of in alpha and beta with focused testing…  so it just bores me to tears at this point.  However as soon as I managed to push my way through it…  the rest of Ebonheart Pact was charming and interesting and the gaming equivalent of a “page turner”.  Now I am almost giddy thinking about experiencing all of this expanded content that I have heard so much about.

 

 

Blaugust Reborn

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What Was Blaugust?

Back in April of 2013 I started this thing I referred to as the Grand Experiment, where I attempted to force myself to write something… anything every single day.  Prior to that I had been a very infrequent blogger to say the least, having an entire year pass between posts.  Any time I lapsed there would be this wall of pressure and anxiety that would build up that kept me from starting posting again, feeling like when I came back I needed to make some spectacular re-entry worthy of the length of time I had been gone.  The daily posting things did a lot for me and my confidence and also the level of my life I was willing to share with my readers.  For me personally… it was a good transformation and while I only kept with the daily posting for three years I have since settled into a more comfortable routine of only posting during the week days.

In 2014 I had already noticed a change in the way I wrote and how I felt about blogging in general and to some extent wanted to share that with the rest of the blogging community.  So in my infinite wisdom I decided to create an event where I challenged other bloggers to go one entire month without missing a post.  In my head I rammed together a bunch of sounds until I came up with Blaugust…  only to find out later that it was already a thing and that a bunch of Aussies had been doing a blogging festival thing for years.  My version however focused on the rigor of posting every single day and being super hard core about keeping track of who was and was not still in the race.  While entertaining this was really not healthy for the blogging community.

One of the side effects that I found is that many blogs that were started for Blaugust or were fledglings going into it…  went into massive periods of not posting anything at all as a sort of recovery period.  Similarly as the years went on those same blogs never really seemed to recover, and it is my fear that Blaugust wound up killing more blogs than it wound up helping.  Each year I tweaked the formula a bit until 2016 was my attempt at creating a kinder gentler Blaugust, and then last year I just couldn’t muster the oomph to make it happen at all and instead promoted something my friend Grace was trying.  I had this overall feeling that I harmed the community with the event, and this was only reinforced in my mind by the constantly shrinking pool of active bloggers.

What Was the Newbie Blogger Intiative?

The thing is… at the time of the inception of Blaugust it was just one of many events that the community did during the year.  The grand daddy of them all was the Newbie Blogger Initiative that ran most often during the month of May.  This was an idea originally spawned by Syp of Bio Break and he realized that game blogging was a thing that was on the decline, and the only way to keep it alive was to set out to “grow our own” as it were.  The first year was 2012 and had a flood of participation that you can see summarized here, but it helped more than anything to build a sense of community to the folks out here blogging as independent island nations floating in the internet.  There are lots of game blogging communities that gain cohesiveness through shared love of a specific product…  the World of Warcraft community for example has always been fairly tight knit and recursive.  However those of us nomads that jump around from game to game have never really had a similar family…  that is until NBI came along and crafted a sense of shared community.  Unfortunately the last running of NBI was also in 2016…  because quite honestly the tail end of 2016 and all of 2017 were extremely rough to struggle through.  There were events that happened in the real world and events that happened in gaming that caused people to fear for their own safety and sort of batten down the hatches.  All of this was an unfortunate blow to our already shrinking blogrolls.

What is Blaugust Reborn?

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The idea is simple…  lets take the best features of both Blaugust and the Newbie Blogger Intiative and sorta ram them together into one festival of blogging.  It isn’t necessarily that I feel like I am qualified to do this thing…  but it is something that someone needs to do.  Over the last few years those of us who are out here posting regularly has shrunk to a pretty small pool.  There was a time when I could never actually read down my blog roll, because by the time I got through with a day new posts were flooding in over the top of the dam.  Now I pretty regularly read down to the equivalent of “inbox zero” while taking pretty huge breaks between reading.  The world has changed and it isn’t as exciting to be out here blogging your thoughts and ideas the way it used to be, also there are a million other streams of information dividing our attention.  I still feel however that blogging creates a place for yourself in that stream if information and gives you a presence that cannot be taken away by “promoted posts” or “interest based sorting algorithms”.

So what I propose is a month of mildly structured posting and developing a strong mentorship community among those of us who are still out there doing it on a regular basis.  Lets help grow that next generation of bloggers and help them get started in a journey that honestly has meant more to me than I can adequately put into words.  I love feeling like I am part of something bigger than myself and I think we all do to some extent.  Let’s reignite the fires of this dwindling community and help to firmly affix the torch into the hands of a new generation of bloggers.  While gaming is very much in my wheel house… it isn’t even a game blogging festival but more one about creating a place for yourself and showing off whatever it is that you want to show the world.  You could create a blog to share your latest recipe creations or one to catalog your experiences as you start a new job.  You could share your awesome screenshots and write some notes about how you felt when you took it or what you were thinking at the time.  You could do your “daily blog” as a series of livestreams that you record and post later as a VOD or exported to YouTube.  The core concept is to create a community around the creation of new “stuff” and a sense of us all working together in the same shared space.

What About the Awards?

One of the things that has traditionally come with Blaugust is a series of made up awards that are granted to those who participant.  So far they have shaped up to look a little something like this…

  • Newbie Blogger Award – You did it, you created a new blog and by god we are going to sing your praises for doing it!
  • Bronze Award – You made at least 5 posts during the Month of August 2018.
  • Silver Award – You made at least 15 posts during the Month of August 2018, go you!
  • Gold Award – You made at least 25 posts during the Month of August 2018, you are a badass!
  • Rainbow Diamond Award – You did it, you posted every single day during the Month of August 2018 and deserve accolades.

Occasionally in the past various sponsors have mysteriously shown up during this event, and if that happens… awesome I will share the bounty.  If not I am going to make nifty blog sidebar thingys for each of the various award categories.

Mentorship

One of the keys to making this work is that we need a bunch of you amazing bloggers out there to sign up as mentors.  Ultimately I feel like mentors should have roughly two years of blogging experience under their belt to be able to gauge the ebbs and flows of content creation in front of a live studio audience.  This isn’t necessarily meant as a gate keeping mechanism, but I want any participant to feel like they can turn to any mentor for sage advice.  I sure as hell am not sure if I have anything resembling sage advice, but I have quite a bit of experience in dealing with the nonsense that comes up while trying to keep a regular publishing schedule.  The mentors will all be clearly marked as such in Discord since that tends to be the thing that ultimately replaced forums for the gaming community.  I will be doing my best to be hanging out there often myself to answer questions as they arise.

Structured Format

I mentioned this above that I wanted to attempt a bit of a structured format… which is of course optional but provides us some general content areas to focus on while the event is going on.  This also helps to revive another tradition that was Developer Appreciation Week and embed it as part of this larger blogging festival as well.  So right now the weeks look a little something like this.

  • July 25th – July 31st – Blaugust Prep Week – posts about the technical details of getting started in blogging.  Tutorials, advice, tips for naming your blog… that sort of stuff to get people ready to hit the ground on August 1st running.
  • August 1st – August 7th – Topic Brainstorming Week – posts about ideas for topics that the participants can then mine for the rest of the month.
  • August 8th – August 14th – Get to Know Each Other Week – hanging out and meeting other people in this new fledgling community and hopefully gaming together a bit!  Also highly support doing some sort of collaboration on shared topics!
  • August 15th – August 21st – Developer Appreciation Week – post about the things that you really appreciate in gaming or any other community… because chances are there is a developer or designer behind the things you love.
  • August 22nd – August 28th – Staying Motivated Week – tips and tricks that you might have to stay motivated and keep creating content against the tyranny of a blank screen.
  • August 29th – August 31st – The Final Stretch: Lessons Learned – as a way of getting us across the finish line, talk about some of the experienced you had during the month and maybe things you learned about yourself.

The Details

  • The sign up form for Blaugust Reborn 2018 can be found here
  • The invite link to the Blaugust Reborn Discord can be found here
  • When you share your content please use the hashtag #BlaugustReborn for tracking purposes
    • Also share your content in the “share-your-content” channel on Discord!
  • Mingle with your other Mentors and Participants
    • Maybe even use the “gaming-together” channel on Discord for play games together!
  • Have a great freaking August!

 

 

 

Plate Dress

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You would think a work week with only two days in it would be a breeze to get through.  You would be wrong, or at least I am struggling with it.  There is something about being off work for five days in a row that really resets your mental clock.  While I had not deviated terribly in my sleep patterns…  I did deviate massively in my pants wearing patterns.  What is making this experience weirder is the fact that I represent the only management team member for my side of the office, and as a result I have people I don’t normally manage coming up to me and asking advice on issues.  However we push on because it is in fact Friday… the harbinger of another respite from work.  That said I know that come Monday morning everyone will be expecting the entire office to be firing on all cylinders so I am trying to take advantage of this lull in people actually being around the office to catch up on things.

On the blog front… I am working on some details for Monday where I talk about the return of Blaugust.  Yes that is right I am doing it again this year because I feel like the community needs something to rally around.  I do intend to shift things up a bit however and make it less about posting every single day and more an amalgam of the various events that we used to do as a community but have let slip by the wayside.  Expect a few elements of the Newbie Blogger Initiative to be thrown into the mix as well to broaden the sort of folks involved.  I will have charts and graphs and all measure of adult looking representations of my thoughts for Monday morning (I am only slightly kidding) but it isn’t quite ready for primetime yet.

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On the gaming front  I am still very much engaged with Elder Scrolls Online and looking forward to Update 19 that comes with the Wolfhunter DLC.  If I had to guess this will probably land sometime around Quake Con that is coming up August 9th through the 12th.  The main reason why I am super interested in this update is that apparently we are finally getting single line respecs…  only five years after asking for these in alpha.  I’ve always been way more into being a Hunter than a Werewolf or Vampire…  so the whole Van Helsing style outfit they are showing off is definitely in my wheelhouse.  Speaking of outfits however… I keep playing with the wardrobe system and creating my very own “plate dress” ensemble.  You can absolutely blame World of Warcraft and the Judgement set for hooking me on this appearance, but unfortunately at this moment the only skirt option I have available to me is one that is Daedric themed, so I am just sorta rolling with that appearance as a whole.

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I’ve been playing with some different combinations of pieces for the Arms and Shoulders…  the first image in this series is what I am currently wearing but I am thinking seriously of going back to this combination shown in the above image.  I think it blended better together and I dig the uncovered hands better than the various gloved options.  I also seem to have settled on running around with the adorable wolf cub as my companion as opposed to the wide variety of violent critters I also have access to.  At this point I am a few quest chains deep into The Rift and still loving the whole encountering people I interacted with in the past.  This time it was someone who dates back all the way to Bleakrock…  which makes me wonder if I had chosen differently in Bal Foyen if I would have had a different interaction.  I am guessing that would be the case, but I absolutely think I chose correctly this time around.

Anyways…  time to get to work.  Have a wonderful weekend and tune in Monday as I begin unrolling the nonsense that is to be this years Blaugust.

A Four Year Mission

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I realize this is a lot of images to link at the beginning of a blog post… but there is a good reason.  For the last four years playing Elder Scrolls Online I had a singular goal…  to see something in the live game that I have not seen since one of the last days of alpha.  I’ve talked about this before but I have been playing Elder Scrolls Online since February of 2013 when the first Friends and Family alphas began.  How I got in is because my good friend Tamrielo was one of the creators of a not insignificant amount of the quest content.  Every so often in Alpha we would be lead by him to go see something… that was a reference to one of us or one of our friends.  One of the final things I remember is running all of the way across the Ebonheart Pact area to The Rift….  and Nimalten to be specific to see an arrangement of NPCs in that town.  The date specifically was October 13th of 2013 as I have a stack of screenshots that I took at that time have have hoarded since.

Last night I managed to push my way through the Eastmarch storyline and upon zoning into the The Rift for the first time…  I couldn’t wait any longer and made a jaunt across zone to Nimalten to find what I had been waiting to see all of this time.  Granted every one of the NPCs made their way through a bit of a “Nordification” pass by the lore team, but enough survived that it is pretty obvious who they are if you know what you are looking at.  First up is my namesake aka Belgrod Sternblade (technically one of two namesakes that I know of) who has a throwaway line about his Stalwart Band of Mercenaries which is a reference to House Stalwart the guild I started in World of Warcraft back in 2004.  Next up is Waren the Wolf aka Warenwolf a long time friend of ours from the vanilla World of Warcraft days, phenomenal hunter and the target of my attempts to heal him with arrows in alpha.  Then we have Ashvorn Bear-Walker which is the slantwise namesake of Ashgar our perennial bear tank and general friend of anything that transforms into animal form.  Lastly we have Autrae Snow-Wing who is playing with her cat Dimi… that represent former AggroChat host Audrae and her then cat Dimitri.

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This might seem silly but for me personally…  being able to see these characters legitimately in the final release of the game means a lot to me.  It also allows me to take stupid photos like the one above with the two Belghast-kin together.  Of course the moment I finished doing this nonsense I ported back to the start of the zone because I want to experience it through the natural flow instead of just jumping ahead to this one town.  I’ve been having a complete blast playing Elder Scrolls Online over the last couple of weeks and really the game has evolved to a state where it pretty much has all of the things that I think I once complained about it not having.  It has a really excellent housing system that I have been collecting patterns for…  and still what I would consider the single best crafting system in any MMORPG.  While a little costly I am a fan of their cosmetic system implementation as well as the various costumes available through either crown crates or direct purchase on the store.  The fact that subscribing to the game gets me access to all of the Expansion and DLC content, a stack of crowns each time it renews, and a magical crafting bag that lets me loot everything and not worry about bag space…  is all a “plus” in my book.  The full list of features for a subscription goes a little something like this…

  • Access to all DLC game packs in the in-game Crown Store
  • Free crowns for the in-game Crown Store
  • Access to the Craft Bag
  • Double bank space
  • Bonuses to progression
  • Extra furniture space
  • Costume dyeing
  • Double Transmutation Crystals

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I am very much in my MMO happy place at the moment, and completely oblivious to pretty much anything else apart from the occasional game of Diablo 3.  I am super excited that soon…  in one zones time I will be starting the first of the DLC content for Elder Scrolls Online.  I have purposefully delayed starting literally anything that came out past the original game… because I wanted to have beaten all 150 levels worth of content that the original game had to offer.  For the uninitiated that starts with the 50 levels worth of content in your starting faction and works its way through Silver and Gold… the new game plus, and new game plus plus that sees you travelling via Cadwell to the other two factions.  Sure it is a little weird to be helping the Ebonheart Pact fight off the Covenant while rocking the Covenant Hero title…  but whatever I can hand wave that away.

The thing that makes me the happiest about Elder Scrolls Online is how indistinguishable it is for me personally from playing any other Elder Scrolls game at this point.  I love the story arcs for each of the zones that evolve as you work your way around and help the other people…  and the little payoffs when you meet up with a character you have already helped out once before.  The amount of scripting work that went into making sure that each NPC recognizes you from every time you have interacted with that NPC before has to be staggering.  The fact that the final main story quest usually involves weaving in a bunch of characters that you met in the zone and each of them commenting on how you helped them in the past, is just so damned great.  The only thing that would push it over the top is if they introduced some Bioware style companions with romance story arcs…  because seriously the core story itself is as good as anything I have seen in a Mass Effect or Dragon Age game.

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I have an extreme amount of emotional investment in this game, not just for the fact that there are characters named after me roaming its world…  but also for the fact that I feel like I helped shape it.  I was a very active member of the alpha community and supposedly one of the more active bug reporters.  I love that there is still a core of players out there in an alpha-only guild that I am part of that has been playing off and on since the days we first got into the servers and kept reporting bugged doors.  I love the fact that there is still a hidden area on the official forums that only those first few testers have access to, and while it isn’t terribly active… feels like a little secret clubhouse that a handful of us have access to.  Every time I step foot into Tamrielo in Elder Scrolls Online it feels like coming back home, and each time I forget why I left in the first place.  The truth is…  I am an easily distracted toddler and I am sure at some point some shiny object with cause me to shift my gaze elsewhere…  but for the moment I am loving every moment of roaming this place that is both so familiar to me but still so fresh to explore.

Hot Shower and Tall Toilet

I flat out lied yesterday morning.  No blog post ever happened because it was one hell of a weird day.  First off I did not sleep hardly at all Sunday night.  I am not sure what was up but I spent most of my night tossing and turning and staring at the clock as it kept ticking up towards our 5:30 wake up time.  Then Kenzie our oft times asshole cat woke us up around 5… because apparently she was afraid we would over sleep?  I took Monday and Tuesday off this week to combine it with Wednesday that we were getting for the 4th of July.  This has given me a five day weekend… and it has been glorious.  Now when I originally took the time off it was as the suggestion of my boss… given that it was shaping up that I was going to be the only manager in the office Thursday and Friday.

There was nothing really planned at all, but my wife decided to take this opportunity for me being off to schedule a bunch of things that otherwise needed to happen.  So as it went yesterday we had an appointment at 8 am, 10 am and 11 am…  originally just to give estimates but some scope creep happened.  Some time ago… around the 13th of February we had an issue where we had NO hot water at all.  You can read that post if you want more details but the long and short of it is…  our Hot Water Heater had a manufacture date of 1977…  making it one year younger than me.  Hot Water Heaters are in theory not supposed to last forty years… and as a result ours was full of a sediment made largely of calcium deposits that were getting sucked up with the hot water and clogging all of our delivery points.

So we knew at some point we would need to get all of that fixed but the estimate our Air Conditioning company that also does plumbing gave us…  was pretty painful.  They laid out three options for us and all of them involved a certain amount of work to “bring it up to code” which in truth is something we just had to take them at their word.  Back in February we managed to remove the clog from the shower which restored functionality and allowed us to kick the hot water heater replacement down the road a bit.  So yesterday we had intended to get a second estimate from a local business, and instead had a bit of scope creep.

Home ownership is largely a long string of things that annoy you about your house.  One of these was the fact that in our main downstairs bathroom we had a shorter than normal toilet.  You have to understand that I am 6’4″ and a good deal of that height is in my legs… making less than comfortable to use said toilet over the last almost twenty years.  The other problem is that toilet never really flushed amazingly well and took 15 minutes for the huge tank to fill between uses.  However like so many things with a home… you just sorta live with it until you reach a critical break point.  While we were dealing with the hot water heater we asked for an estimate to get that replaced with a taller toilet… and apparently what I was really wanting was an ADA compliant toilet which is roughly 18 inches tall instead of the 15 we currently had.

Essentially the estimate we got for the hot water heater and the toilet…  installed and ready to go was less than the lowest estimate we got from before.  The guy had time to do it yesterday so we went ahead and made it happen…  and now I have the toilet I have always wanted.  It is going to take some getting used to given this feels a lot taller than our previous one…  and the fact that the person who flipped our home did not remove the tank to the toilet and just painted around the old one… meaning we have some ancient wallpaper now showing.  That will be handled during a future frantic weekend but for the moment I am supremely happy… and given that at the last minute I had to dip into my birthday money because the amount the guy told us to pull out of the bank was a little off…  we are calling this my birthday present instead of our anniversary gift.

I am guessing we will call the Hot Water Heater the Anniversary gift and my god… the shower was glorious this morning.  I guess I did not realize how far gone the 40 year old one was… because we have been taking showers for some time with the knob all of the way to the hot side.  I damned near burned myself this morning because the new unit works significantly better.  The water pressure though… that is the big difference and while I had to take the shower head off and fish out some bits of calcification with tweezers…  once reassembled the end result was phenomenal.  It really is the little things that make you happy in life.

This has been an insane weekend of doing stuff…  that saw us disposing of a bunch of things that had been sitting around taking up space including the 250 lb HP Laserjet 5si office printer that we were originally trying to find a good home for.  We now know what it is going to take to remodel the bathroom as well so we can start planning accordingly.  We’ve spent much of the extended weekend talking about all of the things we can do that are just cosmetic that will improve our opinion of rooms like the kitchen.  Unfortunately this has meant not a ton of gaming, but if I have to sacrifice of that to use the bathroom comfortably and have a hot shower…  then it seems like a perfectly acceptable sacrifice for now.

Digital Manners

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I did not have the best night of sleep ever last night, but I managed.  It started off with startling awake because just as I was on the brink of falling to sleep…  I swear I heard someone trying to open the front door or more importantly the screen door.  I of course had to go check it out…  because occasionally the wind causes that noise but I found no signs of anything.  Basically I assume that I dreamt it, and was some sort of subconscious manifestation of anxiety or some such.  I say this because my wife has had the same thing happen to her and after investigating found that nothing was actually up, so either someone is fucking with us…  or more likely we are just anxious about something and our brains are being assholes.  That said… I do have a fairly crazy neighbor but I went through the lockdown cycle again and make sure all doors were safely locked before finally going off to sleep.

Another random thing I want to talk about this morning is how I have an overwhelming desire to personify technology.  I blame this on seeing 2001 a space odyssey at a fairly tender age and being fascinated by HAL 9000.  The ultimate irony here is that I NEVER talk to my devices be it OK Google, Alexa, Siri, Bixby, Cortana or whatever other digital voice assistants there happen to be out there.  I would like to think this is pragmatism rearing its head in that I can type a sentence roughly four times faster than I can actually speak it.  However I find myself talking to Google instead of doing the thing that the programmer in me knows is proper and stating my question in order of importance.  So instead of saying “Elder Scrolls Online” + “Museum Pieces” I usually type something like “What are museum pieces used for in ESO?”.

I often make random comments on social media without any context.  Last night was one of those moments where I said the above statement, and came up with a bunch of forum posts talking about them and in almost every single one of them there was a person who took the time to say “it’s not that hard you just” perform some action.  A player was asking a very similar question… on a forum… and they told him it wasn’t that hard you should just google it.  Later on another player was stating that they could not find the slots that they were supposed to go into in the Orsinium museum (answers my question)…  and again someone shot back “it’s not that hard you just” then push the action key.  I’ve seen these comments for years… surrounding gaming or programming or any other sort of cloistered geekdom where one person feels the need to assert their intellectual girth upon another person by making them feel like the question that they are asking is beneath them.   This is one of the many reasons the gaming community that like it or not we are all part of… has a bad rap for being assholes.

Diminishing the questions of another person, or pedantically correcting someone when they are off by a few degrees but you completely understood what they were meaning…  is a dick move.  That said I know I have been guilty of both of these in the past, but the truth is every one of us has done a banquet of items that are range from extremely cringe worthy to toxic and offensive as hell.  I have my past and you have yours as well, but the only way we move forward and evolve is by constantly editing our actions to adopt a stance that leaves less of a negative impact in our wake.  I am a different person than I was ten years ago… and honestly a different person than I was last year and that is okay… it isn’t wishy-washyness but instead the constant and natural process of growing as a person.  If you find yourself attacking or correcting others… or just generally shitposting out of boredom…  you may want to take a serious look at your own motivations and determine if this is the person you want to be forever.

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Chances are you are not acting like the person Mr. Rogers knew you could be.  I don’t use this meme lightly because in truth…  Mr Rogers was almost like a third parent to me as a small kid.  I would sit on the floor enthralled and watch each episode as I got home from school.  Mr Rogers and the entire land of make believe crew were my friends, and I would like to think a lot of the simple lessons that he was trying to teach us… rubbed off on me at least a little bit.  No one can realistically live up to being someone as pure and good as Fred Rogers or Bob Ross or Levar Burton…  but we can try.  As to why I decided to devote a post to this today…  instead of any other day when I happen across some frustrating interactions coming from the gaming sphere…  I have no clue.  Sometimes you just wake up and make a post because it is what is in your head and you cannot really dislodge it.

Last night it was likely a combination of the interaction I saw and then stumbling across the above video while I was playing ESO upstairs.  Which in itself is deeply influenced by the general feeling of loss and nostalgia that I have been feeling surrounding the closing of Toys R Us.  Now you get an emotional post to read this morning…  gratz.  Side note…  Thumper from Bambi was apparently also a major influence on me because I have tried really hard to follow the logic of his father…  If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.  I regularly fail to live up to all of these role models… but the intent is there always nagging me to be a better person.