What’s going on?

Blapril ended a few weeks ago, and I never wrote a closing post. Why?

Well, sadly, real life comes first and I’m having some job issues right now.

Job situation

Given that our activity was considered essential during COVID times (the company I work for provides IT solutions to other companies), we didn’t have to close down when the alarm started. We just kept working from home, as we were doing the previous days as a precaution. But the reality is stubborn: some of our clients are still working, even if at slower rates, some of them are closed waiting to this situation to improve, and some of them had just closed definitely. All of this, of course, made a dent on my employer’s finances.

And suddenly, the bomb dropped. The boss called a multiconference and told us that the situation was not sustainable and I may lose my job in the following days.

Now, being essential is playing against us, because we can’t get the special treatment that both companies and workers in trouble are getting from the state due to the COVID. We have to go by the usual rules, which are more strict and expensive.

I spent a few days just trying to find alternatives and running the numbers: How much money do I have? How much I’m getting as severance? How much I’ve accumulated on public unemployment? Which expenses should I cut right now? Which ones could I cut if the times come? What can I do to find a job now? How long can I sustain like this?

Finally, we got to an intermediate solution. Unless the authorities rule against it (improbable) the company is declaring an “ERTE”: both I and another coworker are going to work half time. That means that my salary is cut in half, too, but I get to complement it with half unemployment. This probably would go for as long as six months. After that, it will depend on the company situation. It may come back to normal, or definitely getting fired but, at least, it would be 6 months later, and only having consumed 3 months of unemployment.

So… what about games?ear saver

It happened to me at other times and is no different this time. When things come hard, I don’t feel like gaming. I suddenly stopped for a few days and, as I was having a clearer picture of how things were, I’ve started playing more, but just offline games. I don’t feel like playing together with other people. So, I came back to Animal Crossing and I’ve started Persona 5, too.

Another hobby that I’ve restarted with a lot of energy is 3D printing. My machine was just accumulating dust, so I took it, cleaned it, oiled it, and set it up back in working status. I keep bouncing between printing ear savers and some silly things. Maybe I should be more serious about doing only useful things but… right now I need to do something fun for me, too.

Ok, then… blogging?

As I was writing before, Blapril ended. I failed at my self-imposed goal of 15 posts but that’s OK. It seems clear that 1 or 2 posts a week is a more realistic goal for me.

Massive thanks to Belghast for making it possible time after time, and to everyone who participated in it.

I still think that these events have a net positive impact. I came back, wrote a few posts, interacted with other bloggers, and had fun in the process. It’s true that this time the numbers may be lower than on past Blaugust editions but we should take into consideration the short time we had between the announcement and the beginning of the event. Also, being hard times, some people didn’t feel like participating and that’s OK.

About the future… Right now, writing a blog about MMO’s without playing online doesn’t make a lot of sense.

But, instead of closing it, I am going to try to broaden its scope. I am going to write about games in general, and probably about other hobbies too. Be it 3D printing, movies, music…

Maybe in time, I will refocus it more specifically, or maybe not. But the blog is still alive, I want to keep writing in English and I hope I’ll be able to find the theme to keep this working.

April summary and May gaming goals

A weird month comes to an end, the first full month at home. I’ve been 50 days confined at home, the first 4 days voluntarily as a precaution, and then 46 by the alarm decree.

And that means, of course, that my routine has changed. I have been gaming a bit more, but not as much as I expected at first. After an initial rush during the first week or so, I’ve toned down. I spend more time reading, watching videos, or just sitting on the couch.


April gaming summary

I’ve been part of the Animal Crossing: New Horizons crowd, and I’m certainly enjoying it. I wasn’t so sure about this game when it was announced, but as confinement came, I thought that this could be a game for this “Take 10-30 minutes of mindless gaming and let it go” moments, and that is exactly how I play it. I haven’t finished my home, haven’t got a concert yet, but I am enjoying grabbing it a couple of times a day (or none in a few days) and just collecting fruits, talking with the neighbors, or just buying clothes. Obviously they hadn’t planned it like that, but the timing was perfect for Nintendo.

On the MMO front, I’ve been wandering from game to game without making my mind about which one to make my main game.

I restarted on Uncharted Waters and was having fun for a few days, but the grind became too much too soon. I’ll come back, but not now.

I’ve devoted a couple of sessions to Guild Wars 2, but… I don’t know what I have with this game. I like it, but I can only play it for 3 or 4 days before I want something different. Back to the fridge.

Given that there was a bonus XP campaign, I went back to WoW to level a new char. My first rogue. Didn’t get to level 30.

I bought Project Gorgon in February, and I have it installed. I’m thinking about playing it, but I haven’t felt like that yet.

And finally, I reactivated my FFXIV account. I have a level 80 White Mage (healer) and ~70 Black Mage (DPS). So, obviously, I switched to my level 23 Marauder (tank). After a couple of minutes reading the skill tooltips, I launched my Leveling Roulette and did a Copperbell Mines run. It went… eeeemh… we didn’t wipe (that’s something, isn’t it?). Seriously, it wasn’t the perfect run I would like, but it wasn’t catastrophic, either. Especially being the first run for the healer, and me coming back to the game just that day. Nobody died and we got to the end.

My May Gaming Goals

  • I think I’m sticking with FFXIV for the moment as my main MMO game. I plan to level the tank up to level 50 via dungeons. When I feel like playing solo, there is still a lot to do in the gathering and crafting fronts.
  • I will try to get into a guild too. Preferably a Spanish-speaking guild, because oral English is still a bit stressful for me and I don’t feel like putting the effort right now.
  • Of course, I’ll keep playing Animal Crossing. No goal here beyond play and enjoy it.
  • I’m going to try taking more screenshots. I always end up launching games while I’m posting because I can’t find a single screenshot, and I would prefer to just browse among the ones I’ve taken while playing.
  • Assuming I’m going to play some other game, because only 2 may be boring, I am debating between Project Gorgon and The Outer Worlds.
  • And, finally, about blogging… I’ve been writing less than my goal from April, so I don’t want to become too ambitious. I will try to get two posts each week. That would make 8 post during May, but if I get to 6, I would consider the goal acomplished.

Gaming with friends in the 90’s

Walking the nostalgia path tends to raise good vibes, although sometimes it makes me feel old when I surprise me thinking “How far times have changed…”. It remembers me of my grandfather saying things like that.

But it’s true: The times they are A changing.

Today, (and especially in this COVID-19 days) when we play “together” with friends, we are each on their own home, sharing voice or video and playing over our own devices via the Internet. But back in the ’80s and ’90s, we didn’t have the chance. Playing together meant going to the same place and playing on the same computer or console.

Well, we also had the chance of going out of home and spend on the arcade machines. I remember playing countless hours (and pesetas) of Tetris, Double Dragon, or Bomberman.

But at home, we started with some different kinds of game parties. Even if the chronology of the games is not exactly like this, we were moving from one to another as we were growing up. Certainly, we can still play some hot-seat or a soccer match even today, but not frequently.

1.- Hot seat games

Games where you would play a whole game each other (sometimes only one life each one), and then compare scores (or not, just for fun).I remember doing this on:

  • TetrisTetris screenshot
  • Bubble Bobble
  • Blues Brothers
  • Titus the Fox
  • Prince of Persia
  • 4D Sports Driving (aka Stunts).

2.- Multiplayer games

Games where more than one (usually two) people could play at the same time, one against the other.

  • Italy 90 (soccer)Super off road screenshot
  • Super Off-Road
  • California Games (and II, and Winter/Summer Games)
  • Street Fighter ¿II?
  • Worms

But as we were growing up, we were playing more cooperatively and began playing one next to the other, taking turns on the keyboard, with the other(s) giving tips, finding solutions…

3.- Single-player games, multiple players

  • The Lost VikingsSupaplex screenshot
  • Lemmings (and 2, and Christmas…).
  • Supaplex

And finally, we got ourselves into the golden age of graphic adventures. We could play them the same as these last games, sitting around one mouse and keyboard, but when we were back at our homes, we could playback up to the same point and try to push the story further. Being the one who solved THAT puzzle was amazing. We could even keep playing on days we wouldn’t see each other at home, because we could exchange tips at school or by phone. In some kind of sense, we were already playing together in the distance, even if we didn’t have modems yet.

4.- Graphical Adventures

  • Maniac MansionLoom screenshot
  • The Secret of Monkey Island saga
  • King Quest saga
  • The Legend of Kyrandia
  • Loom (OMG, using music to cast spells, what a weird and marvelous piece of art).

Out of the list, I remember our first “LAN parties”. We didn’t even have a LAN. Imagine carrying your heavy as hell CPU and a CRT monitor to a friend’s house. Before you are old enough to drive so… walking. Once there, you start soldering some cables to make a Serial or Parallel connection between your friend’s computer and yours and… DOOM!

We weren’t too good at soldering, but the cables would usually work for one or two sessions before we needed to start fixing the soldering points.

As the ’90 were fading, we began to get our modems, most of us left our hometown to study, and things changed a lot. But the memories are there, we had good times playing together and most of us keep hanging out now and then.



Quarantined board games

Last week, as I was checking #Blapril2020 posts, I came across one about Online boardgames on MMO Juggler‘s blog.

We sometimes enjoy some board games with a group of friends that live nearby. They are not especially computer savy, but I decided to check with them about the possibility of trying something like that. We got with a series of limitations, so I had to try and find some specific game and software that was suitable for this group.

  • Spanish translated or easy enough to play without understanding the text.
  • Suitable for a 10 years old kid.
  • No need for webcams on the PC’s (as not everybody had one).
  • No need to install software on all computers.

In order to comply with the third and fourth points, I decided that the easiest way would be to use AnyDesk (or any other VNC software) to share my computer with them. Then we will take turns on the mouse/keyboard. That would also reduce the number of games available. We could not play any game where you will keep secret cards or objects, because everybody could see everything: It’s hard to bluff in poker if everybody can see your cards.

After trying different options, I opted for the easiest one. I had Carcassonne from some Epic games free offer, and we’ve all played it before, on physical, so I installed it, played a few rounds against the AI in order to check the controls and set a date with everybody to play.

Carcassonne board

The setting was: 6 people distributed on 3 different homes, so 3 computers (mine playing the game and the other 2 remotely controlling my mouse/keyboard) and 3 phones on a video call. We decided to play as teams (one team per home) instead of individuals, but it could have worked either way. Having the video call from the phones was a substitute for the webcams. Being people not used to play online, being able to see each other’s faces (and not only voices) was important to help them feel together.

In retrospect, I think that using the official Carcassonne instead of an adaptation to some boardgame software was a good idea. Even if I didn’t own the expansions for the official game, making the game a bit less interesting. The easier controls, the game handling what moves were illegal, and keeping the score was good. These days, everybody is used to click, double click or drag and drop, it’s intuitive. But having to remember a lot of keys for different actions would have been in the path of enjoying the game, and that was the goal. To enjoy an evening “together”.

Testing the (Uncharted) Waters again

Sometimes I like to play some less known MMOs, and one that I played for a while was Uncharted Waters. The premise is that you are an adventurer during the discoveries era. So you start as a captain in one of the European powers and gradually gain a reputation, either in combat, trade or exploration; usually a mix of them. You level the three branches independently and tons of skills on top of that. It becomes really grindy but, having so many different activities, you can mix and match to avoid boredom.

During years, playing only a few days each time I got myself to a pretty decent spot. Not even close to the “endgame” level, but I had my own colony, permits across al Europe, Asia, Africa and parts of America, some decent skills… and then, the game was sold to a different publisher and all the progress was lost. Maybe active players got to transfer their characters or got some kind of compensation package, but I didn’t. I wasn’t playing at the moment and, if some email was sent to warn me, I missed it. So, when I tried to come back and found myself without my character, decided that I was done with the game.

(Goes to black. Transitions to present time)

Right now, the game loop of this game is precisely what I want. I can set a course and travel semi-AFK for a few minutes, or I can mindlessly grind a skill. So here I am, slowly leveling my Spanish captain.

Char info
Here I was, at the academy

It seems that they are still adding content, but I see less active players than the other times I played. there are lots of AFK players on the big cities, but across the sea, not as many ships as I remembered. Maybe they are on higher level zones, mind you, I’ve barely traveled to Africa yet, but even high-level traders tend to come back to Europe, and I don’t see a lot of them. But even if the game may not be long-term viable, I’m enjoying it right now, and that’s enough for me.

Right now, I am at levels 14 (adventurer), 13 (merchant) and 7 (maritime). I own port permits across all Europe, Far East, and the western Africa coast, and my main focus is on improving fame to get permits to go to Asia when the sailing times really start to become long. The game comes as a rate of 1 real-time minute per 1 day in-game sailing time.

Disguised character
Disguised to visit Beirut

They keep coming! Real Neat Blogger Award

It seems this week this chain awards have taken the (mostly empty) streets and are running around wild.

Thank you very much to Solarayo, from Ace Asunder, who nominated me (and every other Blapril participant).

Award ribbon

The rules are similar to other awards:

  • Display the award logo
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to their site
  • Answer the questions of the one who nominated you
  • Nominate 7 – 10 bloggers
  • Ask them 7 questions

Let’s begin with the questions:

1.- Do you ever listen to video game soundtracks outside of gaming sessions? If so, which ones?

I’ve listened to soundtracks a few times, but you could probably count them with your fingers, as background music while working. This is something that started recently, this year. From the top of my head I’ve done this with Elder Scrolls Online and Final Fantasy XIV. And sometimes, when I go to bed, I play some Battle Bards chapter, with Syp, Steff, and Syl.

2.- What’s a game that you loved growing up, but find it harder to enjoy now whether due to a change in tastes or now outdated mechanics and graphics?

In general, I would say early (and not so early) 3D games tend to age worse than 2D games. For me, there are a lot of games that suffer from this, but I will go with Grand Theft Auto 3. I remember playing it daily when it was “the thing”. A couple of years ago, I got a discounted GTA pack on Steam and when I launched the game, keyboard controls were really clunky. On top of that, I could not get a controller to work with it. So I uninstalled it before finishing the tutorial mission.

3.- Which game console do you feel has the greatest library of titles to choose from?

That’s a tricky one question for me. As a child, I grew up with computers (Spectrum first and PC later), and I bought myself my first console when I was already an adult. PC is my main gaming device. I’ve played SNES, Gameboy, and Playstation with friends, but not a lot. My biggest console game library is for the Switch, followed by the 2DS, but this second one has a trick, I include my girlfriend’s DS collection on it.

4.- Name a video game character that has made a positive impact in your life?

There are a lot of them, but I will go with Guybrush Threepwood. I remember fondly the graphical adventure era. Full summers playing adventures with a close friend, discovering puzzles step by step, before the Internet was available. And from that era, I remember Monkey Island 1 and 2 especially.

5.- If you could sit down to a conversation with any fictional character(book, movie, or game) who would it be and where would this conversation occur?

Maybe Commander Shepard from Mass Effect? (S)he spends three full games dealing with the biggest dangers you can imagine, fighting politics with other humans and aliens, and at the end of the third game, has to make probably the hardest decision that you could make, facing some godlike power and responsibility, and at that point (s)he is alone.

6.- If you could travel to any video game location for a hard-earned vacation, where would you go?

Right now, I would go to my Animal Crossing island. Fresh air, without deadlines on payments, no COVID, friends living around…

7.-Quarantine Question: What’s your go-to movie or tv show?

I don’t exactly have a go-to show, but we are currently watching Carnival Row, as we finished Season 1 of Ozark. We are basically using these days to make a dent on our streaming backlog.

As Solarayo already tagged everybody in the Blaugust list, I’m not going to tag anybody, but I will contribute a few questions, so if some other blogger wants to answer them, consider yourself tagged.

1.- What is the first game you remember yourself playing?

2.- What is your go-to party game when you gather with other people?

3.- What kind of game/book/movie would you like to create?

4.- If you could time travel, what moment in history would you like to visit? And would you stay indefinitely?

5.- If you could meet a famous person (past or present) who would you like to meet? What would you ask (or tell) him/her?

6.- Controller or keyboard/mouse? Why?

7.- Assuming you have the money, time and chance… where in the world would you go for your next holidays?


Versatile Blogger Award Ribbon

The Versatile Blogger Award

Thank you very much to Endalia (Princess in a Castle), also known as Tessa (Narratess) for nominating me for this award. It’s the first time I end in one of these chains, but as I am writing this post, I’ve found myself tagged for another one, the Real Neat Blogger Award, that will go in another post.

As far as I know, this award is meant for bloggers that write about different topics or use different media for it. I assume I will belong to the first category.

Versatile Blogger Award Ribbon

Rules of the Versatile Blogger Award

If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award.

  •  Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  •  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.


Soooooo, five things about me:

  • My mom was born on International Worker’s Day, my dad on International Women’s Day, but I did it on the anniversary of the fascist rising against the republic here in Spain. That rising resulted in a 3 years-long civil war and 40 years of dictatorship. The joke runs on the family that I chose the date on purpose, just to say “NO” to my parents. Disclaimer: I am as far from fascist ideas as anyone can be.
  • My first contact with computers was when I was about 5 or 6 years. My parents got a ZX Spectrum (16Kb of RAM). That was my first experience with computer games and I also did my first steps on programming with that computer. They still have it at home, even if they don’t use it anymore.
  • I am left-handed.
  • I started learning the piano as a small kid but abandoned a couple of years later against my parent’s will.
  • As a teenager I decided to learn guitar, but was ashamed of telling my parents because of the piano event so, for some time, I was using my dad’s guitar only when I was alone at home. Eventually, I told them.
  • I was the bassist of an unknown rock band with 3 other friends. We called the band “La 105” (room 105), as we were rehearsing on an old closed hotel. During the band life, we also used a greenhouse and a mechanical workshop, but the name remained unchanged. That was more than 20 years ago, but we are still friends.
  • During my twenties (actually from 20 to 25) I got to work and live in the three provinces that form my region (Aragón).

The Nominees

Like other nominees, I think that 15 new names are a bit too much. I will go with only 5. All of them are participants in Blapril 2020.


A few ideas for new Blapril participants

Blapril is here, and even if I’m not a Mentor, I’ve decided to try and give some ideas to the new participants. This is not a “must-do” list, but a “thinks that I do/use and you might try”. Maybe they will work for you, maybe they spark some derived ideas or maybe they don’t make any service to you. Now, in no particular order, here is my list:


  • Create a list of future posts, and organize them in a calendar: It can be on paper, online… whatever works for you. I don’t stick to it, exactly. I’ve created my Blapril calendar just a couple of days ago, and this post wasn’t there, but it’s useful to me. It’s something I can reach out when needed and helps me think about a cadence. Something in the line of “In two days I want to write about old-school games, I could use these 10 free minutes I have now to make a list of games that come to my mind”.
  • Read other blogs regularly: I am an early-bird, so I usually have some spare time while having breakfast, especially now that I am working from home. So I launch an RSS reader on my phone and check other related blogs. I also bookmark some posts that spark something. Maybe they are writing about something that inspires me another post, maybe they teach me something new… I also read non-related blogs, news… a lot of things, and sometimes inspiration comes from unexpected places (a work phone-call, even!), but related blogs tend to be the main source.
  • Comment on other people’s blogs: This is something that I don’t do a lot. It feels like I should interact more frequently with other writers and it’s one of my goals currently. Don’t be me, do better. It pays off to all the involved parties in the long run.
  • Stop messing with the blog (theme, plugins…) and write. I’m guilty of this one, too. Having a nice page it’s important. Faster load times, safer spam protection, backups… You can spend the whole Blapril fixing things and you’ll never end. I’ve forced myself to stop doing that. I won’t let me touch a thing unless I’ve written and published a post that day.
  • Try not to be too hard on yourself. Maybe you are writing less than you expected, or maybe you’re not satisfied with “that” post quality… Try to improve, of course, you want to do it well, but this is a process, it’s going to get better over time. And it’s a hobby, too. We are doing it because we want to and it should be fun, or it won’t be.

And, given that everybody online loves cat’s pictures, here is a dog.

a dog
Original picture from Martine Auvray

Blapril 2020 logo

Hello Blapril, my old friend

New year, new reality, and a new post. Specifically a “coming back” post (again) .

This time, it’s a come back for Blapril. Given that this blog started because I decided to join Blaugust (back in 2018), it feels like a double comeback.

Blapril (formerly known as Blaugust) is a blogging event promoted by Belghast. The basic idea is to have a month full of posts (ideally one post a day). This is a coordinated effort, including multiple blogs, where more experienced people reach out and help the newer both with the tecnical parts and with the writing. It promotes a lot of interactions between different blogs and pushes each one creativity.

Coming back during an event might help me write more. It certainly did the first time, as my main trouble is deciding what to say. I always fall in the “this is not interesting enough” trap, but Belghast provides us with temathic weeks, and people keep launching post ideas on discord. On top of that, yesterday and this morning, I’ve been brainstorming a bit and got up to 15 post ideas. I will probably discard some of those during the event, but I think the Silver award is achievable this time. On my first try I got a Bronze one, it would be nice to get to the next step.

In this new confinement situation the world is living, my particular bubble is relatively confortable. We don’t have any new health issues, I’ve been working from home for the last two and a half weeks, and my SO is still on paid medical leave. Seen how hard this is hitting other people, we can’t complain.

Our president announced yesterday that coming week all non essential work will be halted for two weeks (at least). My job is non essential (I’m an software developer on a services company) but some of my clients are on essential areas. That means that until later today when the decree details are published we wont know if I will keep doing my job or not. No matter what (at least for this two weeks), salaries will keep coming, and hours will be recovered (or free days reduced) during the year to compensate the companies.

Keep yourselves safe, people. Stay at home, do some exercise and reach to your close people (by phone or online). Step up (or come back to) your indoors hobbies and find the new routines that keep your minds working.