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.

Nine months later, we got… a new post

It’s been a long time since I wrote here and, of course, a lot of things happened during the last nine months.

We tried to get Mrs. Sisen into games. Per her request, we started with Dragon Age Inquisition. As Jeromai predicted in the comments of my previous post, the control schema was the biggest issue. We tried on PS4, thinking that using a controller would be easier than keyboard+mouse, but even that was too much.

After some off-time, we are back with a mix of Super Mario Party (Switch), some point and click games on the DS and a bit of Final Fantasy 7 on the good old PlayStation, and it seems to be working much better.

As for me, I’ve barely played any online games during these months. Between hospital visits, caring for here at home and going to work, I didn’t have the time or energy. I bought us a Switch, and that’s been basically my go-to gaming. Just take it and play anywhere, suspend it any moment and take it back when you want have been great characteristics.

Now, as treatment has ended and medical results seem good, I am slowly mixing some PC gaming, and turning my head into MMOs again.

Blaugust came and went. I was tempted to come back for it this year but decided against it. Nonetheless, I’ve been following it, updated my OPML, and found some new blogs to follow. Congratulations to all the participants and thank you for all the joy you provided me (and others).

Choosing a 1st timer MMO

“I want you to introduce me to one of your online games”.

This phrase came from my SO. She have never played an MMO and barely played any computer/console game at all.

Keyboard
WASD

My first though was… “Ok. We will do this on weekend. Most probably she is not going to get hooked by it and the idea will just die there, so I will try my best, but it’s probably nothing too important”.

But the reality is what it is. In the following months, she is going to have a lot of free time. She will be at home and, for the most part of the day, alone. So finding something fun to do on top of her other hobbies may be a good idea.

Even if I think that she should be the one making the decision about what game to try, everything in the genre is really alien to her, so I’m trying to help her choose one based on her tastes. She tends to favor medieval/magical fantasy over sci-fi, definitely PVE oriented and (as every first-timer) worried about doing wrong in group content.

On top of that, as far as possible, I would prefer a game I already own or one that lets us run a trial (or F2P) so we can try a few games before deciding and buying/subscribing.

Let’s try to find a good game to fit with those qualities.

  1. The first idea that came to my mind: Lord of the Rings Online. With the Legendary servers launching recently, there is going to be a lot of people on early levels. The story can be soloed easily, and we can duo in the evening when I am at home. But sadly, she don’t like Lord of the Rings.
  2. Given that she struggles a bit with English, I suggested World of Warcraft or Guild Wars 2, both translated to Spanish and both with local servers. Even if she enjoyed the Warcraft movie far more than I did, she didn’t look too keen to go into Azeroth.
  3. One day, as I was browsing some blogs, her eye caught a Final Fantasy XIV screenshot and asked about the game. I did my best to explain about the FF lore without spoilers and she said that would be cool to try. The only “negative” I find in FFXIV is the mandatory dungeons to progress with the main story. And that led me to…

What if “online” is not a requisite?

Sure, being able to play together is a plus. And being online might help her not feel alone for long hours. But, at the same time, going into gaming via MMO’s could be disheartening, if you end in some toxic community that tends to “attack noobs” instead of “helping the newbies”. What if we seek for (offline) RPGs? The doors open to Dragon Age or The Witcher series, Divinity: Original Sin, other Final Fantasy titles…

Once there, I wonder… Why RPGs? What about strategy, adventure, puzzle games? What about some classics?

I anticipate that this weekend I’m going to reinstall, try and talk a lot about different games. I won’t probably play myself more than a few minutes but it’s going to be a hell of a ride on different genres, settings, eras… and hopefully, we will find THAT game that clicks and introduces her to this vast and amazing world.

2018 closure

As I anticipated on the previous post, this December I’ve barely played anything. My SO is having serious health issues that led to surgery and we’ve spent most of the time at the hospital. She’s back at home now, and slowly recovering, as a positive note.

Talking about the whole year and back on topic, the game I’ve been more focussed it’s been EVE Online. I came back to the game in September 2017 and after struggling a bit with the new meta, jump fatigue and a few other changes, I got to a confortable routine of knowing (aproximatelly) how to fund myself again and what to do in fleets (either gigantic TiDi fights or the ocasional fast roaming fleet).


Tjörnin – Reykjavik pond

In April I went (for the first time) to the EVE Fanfest and took the chance to be for 8 days traveling around Iceland (or a part of it). I came back in love with both the land and the people. During Fanfest I managed to put faces to some alliance mates and other players and, of course, was overhyped about what was coming next to the game. The whole trip was financially hard for me but, in the end, it was worth it.

Part of the TEST Alliance delegation at Fanfest

August came and the Blaugust with it, which led me to start this blog. After about 8 years without writing, and in English for the first time. During September, we went on a Holidays trip to Malta and bassicaly abandoned it, but since October I’m writing again (even if not as regularily as I would like).

There’s been a handful of other MMO’s for me this year. I’ve been playing Final Fantasy XIV, Star Trek Online, Guild Wars 2, Everquest, or Lord of the Rings Online. I haven’t been particularly immersed on any of them this year, with the possible exception of Lotro, where I joined a couple of days after the Legendary servers launched, but I had to stop playing because of RL issues. If I can, I still want to come back and be ready for Moria before it arrives.

2019 expectations

As I said, I want to come back to Lotro Legendary and keep up the pace with the expansions as they launch.

As I’ve read good things about the new SWTOR expansion I will probably come back, at least for the story (probably not for the end game).

Of course, nostalgia will hit again and I will try the WoW classic when it comes. I don’t know if I will be there in the long term, but… I will enjoy the ride for the first weeks.

Out of the MMO bubble, in the PS4, I’ve barely played Red Dead Redemption 2 yet, but I was having fun with it, and I intend to try Spiderman too.

Finally, I’ve been thinking about another blog (not gaming related, and written in Spanish), but I will not commit to it unless I feel satisfied with how often I write here, which currently I am not.

Have a Happy new year!

Fireworks – Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Monthly recap

I knew that November was going to be a slow month on gaming, but as always reality came to crash plans and I’ve had even less time available than expected.

  • EVE Online: I’ve barely logged in EVE. I’ve managed to squish 3 fleet ops this month and zero mining.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: I decided to cancel my subscription knowing that I was not going to play.
  • Lord of the Rings Online: This is the only game I’ve committed a significant amount of time this month. I have a level 23 Warden with Master Journeyman in all 3 crafting skills and a couple of level~8 alters (mostly for crafting and banking).

I’m not going to commit to any goal for December. It seems that it’s going to be a crazy month and I have absolutely no clue about how much free time I’m going to have or how tired I’ll be when I have it.

Probably I’m going to hit Winter/Holydays events on some games (Star Trek Online, EVE, Lord of the Rings…).

Out of my “personal bubble”, this month Warframe Wildstar has closed its servers. I tried to play that game three times and never got too far (about level 10?), it wasn’t for me, but MMO’s closing is sad no matter what.

On the other side, Fallout 76 launched. I don’t think it’s for me, either. I enjoy Fallout games as single player games, but I don’t see myself out there sharing the experience with other people. Nonetheless, it’s good to have new games around, even if they are not 100% “pure” MMO’s.

(Off)slaught

CCP has released “The Onslaught” patch for EVE Online on November the 14th.

Among all the small fixes and balance adjustments, it’s coming with novelties in four big areas:

  1. PVE: A new iteration on the Triglavian sites (introduced last summer) that will allow a small 3 people frigate fleet to join forces and cooperate cleaning a deadspace pocket. Also, for solo cruiser pilots, there is an optional PVP branch with (potentially) better rewards. It looks good, but… I’m not into PVE in this particular game. I just do the bare minimum to keep my wallet on the black side, so… not for me.
  2. UI: The Activity Tracker. As far as I understand, it’s used to measure how much time you put in doing a different kind of things. E-peen measurement? I’ll pass on that. They also added the “EVE search”. A search bar that will try to find a term into “anything” (characters, corporations, alliances, skills, ships, objects…). It can be useful, sometimes, but it can also overwhelm you with tons of unrelated results.
  3. New ships: Two new (triglavian) ships: destroyer and battlecruiser. As with the previous battleship, they seem to be useful in some circumstances but they will probably be scarce and expensive (due to the difficulty on being produced), so they won’t get a place on any doctrine in the near future.
  4. New structures: As one of the final steps in getting rid of the POS system, they’ve added 3 new Upwell structures: a cyno beacon, a cyno jammer, and a jump gate. The first two basically substitute their old counterparts with some adjustments on the timers. But the jump gate is not just a new “jump bridge”. It opens the possibility of joining with a gate owned by a different entity (hello blue-donut), can be used by capital ships and doesn’t generate jump fatigue (hello 2007, I’m back!!).

I’m impressed by the amount of changes that comes with this patch. I think most of them are good changes, can’t see anything wrong (I’m on the fence about the jump fatigue on the jump gates, we’ll see). But I don’t feel like logging in to try it.

I’m not saying goodbye to the game (not yet, at least), but this patch (even thinking that it’s good) has put me a bit off. Maybe I’m just becoming a bittervet?

Middle Earth tribulations

Standing Stone announced a “Legendary” server for Lord of the Rings Online that is supposed to launch during this month in two days.

It’s not exactly a classic server, but something more in line with Everquest progression servers. It will launch with all the new races and classes and modern mechanics but limited to level 50 and pre-Moria zones. In theory, the subsequent expansions will be progressively unlocked every 4 months.

Dwarf Guardian

The idea is that all the server population can progress at a similar pace. You will not be alone trying to do a low-level instance, the economy (crafting, gathering…) is capped too, bells, whistles, pink unicorns…

I joined LOTRO when it became Free to Play. It’s never been my main game, but I’ve been in and out of it for a few years. The result is that I have a few chars in the 30’s-40’s bracket and one Guardian in the 60’s.

The last expansion that I bought was Riders of Rohan (mounted combat sounded soooooo good!) but I’ve never actually played it.

And here I am, considering a come-back in the Legendary server.

With any re-start comes choosing  race, class, crafting…

Given that guardian and burglar are the two classes that I’ve spent most of my time with, I’m passing in both of them for now. After playing just a few minutes with each old alter, I have now reduced the choices to minstrel, champion or warden.

Burglar

About the race, it will (up to some point) come limited from the class. I’m not a huge fan of the hobbit models, but the lore…

Of course, after choosing a class and race, I should study the virtues and focus on some of them. That would’ve been ideal but with the server coming out in just two days and without having decided yet… It’s probably not happening in time.

The server comes up on Thursday. Given that I can’t play this weekend, I’m going to focus on choosing a class/race combo, loging-in on the first day (assuming the queue/stability allows me) and make sure I can create the char/reserve the name. Next week is when probably I will actually start playing. I may even create 2 or 3 chars to ensure my names and sleep over the choice during the weekend.

November goals

Even if it’s a bit late for a monthly post, the previous one became out on the 6th of October so I am “technically” in time. I mean, obviously not, but I am going to concede myself that.

Looking back to the October goals, it’s been a bit mixed.

Rorqual
  • EVE Online: About the weekly fleets I’m more than delivered. Even if I have barely seen any combat, because there was nobody defending, I showed there. The logistic wing on an uncontested structure bash is as fun as mining in High-sec, but… Talking about mining… I’ve barely mined with the Rorqual: Less than 1 billion ISK during October. Probably I shouldn’t have bought it.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: I completed both goals within the first half of the month. It seems I overestimated the amount of grind in leveling gathering, or it’s been reduced at some point. So Herbalism and Mining are 50+ and fishing is 30+ now.
  • Guild Wars 2: As predicted, I’ve focused on 2 of the 3 games so, even if I’ve logged in a couple of times, I am still far from 80.

After closing October, let’s go with November.

This month is going to be scarce about online gaming time. I have 3 full weekends out of town, so I am basically restricted to my short evening sessions during weekdays. On top of that, Red Dead Redemption 2 is here and I plan to expend time with it.

I will stick to the same idea this month of having goals on three different games, assuming than probably I am going to focus on two of them and neglect another.

  • EVE Online: Once again, one fleet a week is the bare minimum I’ll stick to. I still want to mine-back the money I’ve spent in the Rorqual. We will see…
  • Lord of the Rings Online: My top level in this game is around 65. With the legendary server announced to launch this month, it will be a good chance to restart with a lot of other low-level players. Depending on the final date for launch, the goal will be different, of course, but I think that getting to ~20 should be fine. If I remember correctly is when you can get the first group instances.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Black Mage to 70 (from 67) and progressing the post-expansion MSQ.