World of Lovecraft

We entered an underground cave where the fish-people had set up a military facility.  They patrolled back and forth as we waited patiently out of sight.  One by one, we jumped into the water and frantically swam as sharp fish teeth pierced our skin.  We were after the treasure and equipment the that was held by those running of the facility.  With sword in hand, we cut our way through our enemies.  It was a typical Tuesday night.

I was a healer and I was dam good at it.  So good, that when a newcomer came along and outperformed me, I took notice.  He had just joined the guild and I was watching him.  Watching him because I wanted to CRUSH him.  Did I mention I’m a bit competitive?  This is just what I needed to push me to be better.

Several years before I ever met my husband in person, we played a game called World of Warcraft.  We played together off and on as we would drive in and out of the game.  It was one of those online friends that you always got along with and was always down for a dungeon run.  It wasn’t until I was fresh off a long term relationship that meeting him ever occurred to me.  We had known each other for years and years but this was brand new experience for both of us.

Early into our courtship we sat down and played against each other in Halo. It started with me kicking his butt and as he got used to the controls…ended with me throwing the controller at his head. I HATE losing.  I love that he’s competitive but I also love that we now solely play cooperative games together.  Less things get broken this way.

It was a whirlwind romance of weekend visits, wine and video games.  He lived about an hour away from me and at this time I was a college student, working two jobs so we fit in time when we could.  Most Saturdays I would have to work a 7 hour shift and would come home to find him eating taco bell, pugging a raid on my computer.  I know that gaming is a major turn off for a lot of women, but for me it an absolute necessity in a partner.  The last thing I needed in my life was the guy I was with whining about how much time I spent on the computer.

Do you remember that newcomer that seriously put me in my place?  If you guess that I was talking about my future husband, you’re right!  Much later I’ll learn that he had just picked up the class that he was playing and that he barely knew what he was doing!  After 5 years of marriage we are still going strong.  Those that play together, stay together 🙂

Ikea, a Gamer’s Best Friend? Yea, I think so.

We have the good fortune of having an Ikea warehouse close to our house.  Anytime that we have had something specific in mind for a piece of furniture we look everywhere for options.  Most of the pieces that would work for us tended to be expensive.  Enter Ikea!  A cheap, modular furniture super hero.  Being a small family, we tend to be easy on our furniture which gives the inexpensive Ikea furniture a long life.  I also own a power drill which is necessary for any type of assembly.

Of me and my husband, I am the more handy.  I’ve installed a wall mounted tv, replaced the ice maker in our freezer and have put together countless desktop PCs.  Furniture is not much different.

I had a vision for my computer desk and shopped for months before I threw my hands in the air.  There were no good options for what I wanted to make.  I needed something clean and modern that was also ergonomic, I was getting neck pain from looking down at my monitors all day.  Looking for answers on the internet I found Ikea Hackers and found exactly what I was looking for.  Not long after I was building my desk and creating the simple, minimalist look that I wanted.

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My husband has been playing on a small glass top desk for many years and talking about updating his set up.  After settling on a design idea it took almost a year to pull the trigger.  We took a trip to the store and picked up the pieces to make the hub’s dream desk.  A month later the boxes are still sitting unopened and driving me nuts, which in retrospect may have been by design.  I was fed up!  If I get something new I want it set up right away and it was just sitting in a box looking ugly in my house!  One evening while he was working on something outside of our computer room I started clearing off his desk and carry it down stairs.  I emptied the first box of a zillion pieces onto the floor and got to work.

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Later when he comes into the room I look up to him and say “the fastest way we can do this is if you take that box in the other room and start putting that piece together.  It will probably take 30 minutes.”  One hour later…we have most of the desk put together with just a few finishing touches needed.

It wasn’t until the weekend when I found myself staring at the mounting bracket spread out along the floor.  The hubs was in the next room taking a nap and I got to work.  I haven’t mounted a monitor before but I’ve done a wall mounted TV.  This was similar and the directions were good.

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We also found this LED sticky tape lighting which was a total impulse buy.  I ran this along the back edge and down the side of the desk.  The light will either scroll through the color spectrum or you can freeze it on a specific color.

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It was a long process, mostly of the pieces sitting in boxes in the hallway, but we finally have a new desk!  Just in time for BFA!  At least we got it done before our upcoming MMO bingefest!

Getting Pumped for Battle for Azeroth (BFA)

I am so incredibly excited, I don’t know what to do with myself.  I love new expansions and new games for the opportunity of a clean slate.  It’s the best time to learn a new game when everyone else is learning it as well.  Its a much better experience than joining a 5 player dungeon group just be scolded or worst, kicked, just because you didn’t understand the mechanics of a fight.  Its a time when everything is fresh and shiny and new.  Even my mage that I have had since the end of classic World of Warcraft is exciting to play again.  She feels familiar yet different, more powerful as she has enhanced her ability over the past twelve years.

I’m excited not for all of the changes and new content of the game but because this is the first time in 4 years that I’m getting my guild into a new MMO.  We are hitting the ground running and I am leading the way.

We are a smaller group of about 10 people and we will be able to do the normal and heroic versions of the large group content with this many.  It is my hope that we can grow enough to do the harder content but it will be difficult with the light schedule that we are playing on.  I know the type of player I am.  I know the type of players my guild tends to attract.  We will want to do more once we have completed the easy stuff.  We will want to do the hardest content in the game.

I’m excited to be leading a guild again.  Never have I felt more driven to succeed as when I am holding the reigns.  BFA – we are ready for you!

 

To Stream or not to Stream

I have the basic streaming set up and have occasionally streamed our raids, mostly just so other people in my guild can see what the heck is going on.  Lately I’ve debating putting more time into streaming…start using a camera and get some art on my twitch page.  One thing that holds me back is the amount of trolling that female gamers seem to get.  I would not be your typical popular female streamer with loads of make up and pink hair (although I am a big fan of Pokket) it’s just not my style.  I look like…well a mom!  And I’m proud of who I am.  Is being a streamer really for people like me?  Would anyone want to watch someone with no makeup?

I’ve been thinking about what I, personally, would get out of streaming.  Streaming is mainly thought of a way to create entertainment and make some money.  What if I don’t care if I make a dime and don’t want to put out anything that is not authentically me?  What would I get out of it then?

My dad is a creative streamer and has been doing it since earlier this year.  He really  enjoys the social aspect of streaming and has an active chat room most nights that he’s on and will talk about the projects that he’s working on.  He loves to educate and make recommendations for what type of projects that he’s been using.

I think what draws me to it is learning how the whole thing works.  I find a lot of joy in learning new things and being able to use what I learn to do some cool things.  Maybe I’ll go through the motions of setting everything up and making it look nice.  I’m so curious about this whole world of streaming and I want to know more about it from all angles.

 

 

Burning of the World Tree

My tip this morning when I logged on my Demon Hunter said to “Smile early and often.”  I took this advice to heart…until the flames rose.

I wanted to see the events that lead up to the destruction of two of my most loved major cities.

Silva received a summons from Anduin Wryon, the King of Stormwind.  The Horde is marching on Silithis in order to seize Azerite.  As she was about to leave, Mathias Shaw the leader of SI:7 runs in to inform us that we have been tricked and that the Horde was marching to Astrannar.

When Silva entered Astranaar she finds Captain Delaryn Summermoon standing over the corpse of Captain Alennah Starsong.  The smell of smoke and blood fills the air as she walks through the aftermath of the Horde’s deceit. Silva has the solemn duty of honoring the fallen soldiers and ensuring that their spirits find peace.  The Assassins still lurk in the city, she smiles as the bloodlust floods her body and she sinks her warglaive into the chest of the undead deviate.

The wisps quickly leave Astrannar as if on a mission.  Where is Malfurion?  Silva follows the trail left by the wisps and finds an empowered Malfurion facing off against Lady Sylvanas who is ready to charge.  A wall of wisp energy blocks her way and burns those horde who dare to walk forward.  “We must protect the Wild!”  Malfurion declares. 

Captain Delaryn Summermoon approaches Malfurion and Silva with a new report.  The Banshee Queen has established her forces at Soram’gar Outpost.  Malfurion fears that she is after the World Tree.  He plans to stay back as a distraction and has asked Silva to help.  Silva sends the druids to defend the Grove of the Ancients, she also takes care of the Furbog threat that they were seeing to.

The Goblins have sent in a Monstrous Shredder to cause chaos in the Grove of the Ancients.  Silva decimates the monstrocity and ensurse the safety of the grove.

Captain Delaryn Summermoon needs help to sabotage the Horde Demolishes.  They sneak through the Horde camp with great stealth and plant bombs under each of the siege weapons.  They make their way through the camp, incapacitating those that get in the way, rescue those that cry for help.

Azerite?  Here in the Dark Shore?  Perhaps Malfurion was wrong about Sylvanas’s intentions.  She was here for valuble resources that we were unaware of.  The Azerite lay shattered all around, Silva begins to collect it.  Better in our hands than in the Horde’s.  She hear the satisfying crunch of goblin bones under the force of her blades.  

Malfurion’s voice calls out to fall back further north.  The Goblins and Orc are overwelming our forces!  Anger boils as Silva suffers a blow to her shoulder. She charges forward with a fury but is quickly snatch up by an elder sentient tree.  “Let us crush our foe together, little one.” The tree leaps in the air landing on a shocked orc, crushing his ribs in the process.  

The Horde far outnumber us and we must fall back again.  Malfurion calls for us to regroup in Darnassus.  Silva laid eyes on the majestic city for the first time.  She took in the ancient intricacies of the construction.  These were a people that took great pride in creating a strong but beautiful home.  But, these are desperate times and we must gather what is left of our forces.  Silva seeks out Malfurion for orders and hears a cry “FOR THE HORDE”  Malfurion is stunned by this turn, as the Horde has done the unexpected once more.  They have scaled the mountains and were coming down from the north.

Malfurion and Sylvanas face off.  Surafang leaps behind Malfurion and strikes him down.  Sylvanas is pleased by this and instructs Surafang to kill Malfurion as she heads to Darnassus.  Silva is frozen for fear that the orc will finish the job is she approaches.

A breeze catches Silva’s hair and tangles it in a wisp of smoke.  She looks to the horizon to see the molten glow of fire.  It’s now clear that azerite wasn’t the only thing that Sylvanas was after.  What did the destruction of the world tree do?  Would this weaken the druid’s connection with the Emerald Dream?  Would it sever it?  Only time would tell. 

Dusting off the raiding boots

I took a long break from raiding starting in 2014 after a stint in a game that broke my spirit when it came to running a raiding guild.  This game was called Wildstar and it promised to be a hard core raiders dream.  It turned out that people didn’t stick with the raiding for one reason or another and our guild imploded leaving us a loss for what to do.  I can’t blame my extended hiatus from gaming solely on this experience.  Shortly after we stop playing together I was expecting my first child.  I won’t lie, pregnancy kicked my ass.  I spent a lot of time with my feet elevated playing tablet games.  As in a ton of Hearthstone.  Of course the first year of my daughter’s life proved difficult to get on the computer for anything longer nap time.  I picked up one of those games that I always find myself returning to, Star Wars Galaxies.  I mostly wanted to chat with people so I rolled an entertainer and watched the chat scroll as my character danced poorly for warriors preparing for the hunt.  Since the leveling part of this class could be done while I was AFK (Away from keyboard) I felt like I was progressing without having to be present the entire time.

And this was my gaming life for a while.  Of course I picked up the Legion expansion of WoW and had a blast for several months playing casually. I played through the revival of Secret World Legends.  I was enjoying the content but missed my friends and without friends to play with, an MMO soon loses its appeal.

Last year I found myself in the hospital and my husband brought the laptop with an old MMO installed.  To my delight the wi-fi worked well and I got to work leveling my character.  For 3 days, I played my heart out in this game and found a renewed sense of excitement that I haven’t felt for a long time.  The hubby and I got to level cap and started to build up our characters making them stronger each day.  When it came time to do the large scale content with groups of 25 people, I didn’t hesitate.  I wanted to raid again!

Keeping your players engaged

Burnout and boredom are real killers in a game.  I once tracked our member turnover and found in the worst of times that we would lose about 20% of our members per month.  There were a lot of things working against us.  The raid content was completed and most of the members have done the fights at least 30 times, some of them had done it a lot more than that on alternate or alt characters.  We were a guild primarily focused on raiding which are large group content and normally the hardest group content in MMOs.  When the raids stopped being exciting we had to find ways to keep our guild members happy and engaged.

Good ol’ raid/character progression is one of my favorite ways to play a game and keep everyone engaged.  We were rewarded with better armor and weapons each time we killed the bosses, which also made the fights easier. Every week we get a little bit better through repetition and we complete things a little bit quicker.  This allows time to learn the new encounters and eventually we experienced the thrill of a fresh kill.  Of course this only occurs in a time with new content that we haven’t completed.

Sometimes I didn’t have to do much to keep players engaged because everyone would self entertain.  We always played with competitive people that wanted to do the best that they could and beat the next best player on those damage meters.  For those not familiar with damage meters it is a ranking of who does the best on any given fight.  This would lead to individuals spending their time researching ways to better play their class, grind for that item that would result in a small increase in productivity and lastly taking more risks in a fight to squeeze out that extra small amount of damage.  Sometimes all that stood between you and the next person was one more spell being completed.

In the weeks prior to a big game release we once had A Great Level One Race, which was a type of event that I always remember fondly.  We all create brand new characters and gather together in a giant group.  We had everyone start in one place and gave them a finish line. We offered up a pretty substantial prize for the winner, so even if you had no interest in playing the silly game that we created, that prize encouraged you to give it a try.  We all twittered on our voice chat while we raced for the prize.  There was only a little bit of cheating.  It was a great time.

Testing the new content before it was released to the public was another great way for us to bond.  If there was new large scale content available for the players to try out I made sure that we were there.  I would send messages to the developers and offer up our services for testing to make sure that if they needed people to test, that our names would come up. It was such a thrill to be part of an exclusive group that got to check out content and offer our opinions and expertise as gamers to the creators of the games that we loved.

This week we decided to do a little extra tracking as we worked through a raid that we have just completed the week before.  It took us a total of 4.7 hours to complete the whole thing, this week we decided to use that as a bench mark and work on shaving minutes off of that time.  I had this plan to do things differently.  Maybe clear non boss mobs more quickly, time before a boss encounter could be shaved down to 5 seconds from 10. When we can see ourselves improving each week it keep us motivated to keep the momentum going.

Guild Meetings are one of my favorite ways to keep up with players, especially if you are planning on playing something that has yet to launch.  I don’t schedule our meetings past 30 minutes.  The goal is to get people talking to eachother and hopefully creating friendships and bonds with others in the group. After all we are here to have fun.

What activities keeps you playing with your guild?