Brackish Waters

how my gaming and life coalesce.

September in review

Taking one out of Wilhelm’s book, here’s a look at the past month of my gaming, blogging, and RL.

Happenings in the blogroll
Its been a great month in the blogroll and a lot has been going on.

  • Amber Night took a trip over to the Wood and has some excellent news in her personal life.
  • Darren put out a great couple of episodes of Shut Up. We’re Talking! despite another check on his ability to keep a female co-host. Don’t worry Darren, shes out there somewhere for you.
  • Rao at Gestalt seems to have dug himself out of his gaming slump by choosing to return to EQ2. Wish I had started on the same server as you Rao as we could have used another great player in out trio.
  • Adele took a leave of absence from her co-hosting to take a new RL job. Go over and wish her the best of luck!
  • Cuppy’s new job seems to be getting much busier with their recent release of MetaPlace.
  • Jaye got bitten by the podcast bug and made more than one appearance this month.
  • Keen and Graev put out, in my opinion, their best podcast yet. Consoles, MMOs, and the blogging community are all covered in their bi-weekly show.
  • P0tsh0t tipped us off to Luke Duke’s appearance in LotRO and continues his journey to lift the veil of anonymity in MMOs and out our well known celebrities.
  • Bildo got a new tablet and is putting out more episodes of his comic. Let him know what you think.
  • Cameron got engaged and is also tempting the rough waters of Vanguard.
  • Pixiestyx gave an update on the state of the theoretical MMO and took some time off.
  • Wife Aggro gives us some updated posts about his WoW adventuring and also an excellent article about being an effective guild leader.
  • Troy blasted us with more episodes of his Voyages of Vanguard and EQual Perspectives. Rumor is he is actually a bionic-man engineered by SOE after a freak accident with one of their server squirrels. Be thankful we have him.
  • Seth and Rage are back in full swing and have released episode 30 of their show. Gratz on 30 guys!
  • Tobold made a balanced and comprehensive overview of three of the major crafting systems out there and convinced me to take another chance with this sphere of gameplay.

RL musings
My son has yet to let me actually build anything with his new cache of wooden blocks.
Playing a female character in MMOs may no longer be advantageous. I don’t know how I will maintain my standing as a great player now. /sarcasm
Podcasts are almost as enjoyable to be in as they are to listen to.
The barrier between RL and the blog-o-sphere is smaller than I thought.

Gaming goodness
I’m taking a brief departure from Middle Earth and dipping my lore hungry brain in the world of Norrath. So far my decision to do this has been one of the better choices I have made and the community within Antonia Bayle has been a welcome change of maturity. I had planned on waiting for Kendricke to finish his discussion on deities before making my decision on which path to follow, but the temptation to dive right in got the best of me. If you want to explore a world that epitomizes the spirit of lore driven content and offers its heroes multiple routes for advancement, be sure to check out Everquest 2.

I had hoped to take part in the testing of Pirates of the Burning Sea but the authorization process seems to take a bit longer than I had thought. I hope that everyone in the beta is doing their best to give Flying Labs as much information as possible and going over every inch of that game. Remember, if you are in a beta – Test the game!

Stats and links
It seems my brief post on Haudh Iarchith has been drawing a lot of eyes from the local search engines. If anyone has a good walk through on this LotRO dungeon, forward them along and I’ll tag some linkage to the end for those weary adventurers.
Brent posted links to a couple of my recent articles and drew some great traffic to the site. Thanks Brent.

Overall, an interesting and eventful month for everyone. Didn’t September used to be the most dreaded month of the year? Maybe that was just high school.

September 30, 2007 Posted by | Blog-o-sphere, monthly recap, RL | | 2 Comments

It doesn’t matter if you feel good

In the most recent podcast over at EQ2 Daily, they discuss the implementation of the new Appearance tab to the character equipment window. After hitting level 20 just over the weekend and reaching 19 as a Metalsmith, I finally get to take advantage of this new and very cool toy.

I was a little disappointed when I first started crafting because I didn’t actually start until I had reached Freeport and was well into the early teens. Even now with my crafting level almost equal to that of my adventuring level, I find I still don’t want to use anything that I can create. I’m looking into the Transmuting and armor add-ons that I can make now, but even with those included it still doesn’t seem a good trade off for the gear I get when doing quests.

The problem with the quested gear is that if you travel around and do various quests, you begin to look like a motley equipped fool. The Appearance tab fixes all of this and I love it.

You be the judge.

EQ2 Appearance tab EQ2 Appearance tab 2
Before                After

The Appearance tab is an awesome addition to the game and I think SOE did it right by adding this. I hope to see this function in more games to come as I have thrown out hundreds of great looking items in other games that I would have loved to wear and show off to other people. Developers who make great models should get their chance to show off their stuff instead of being tossed in with the NPC vendor trash.

Recently, I have passed a lot of people in the city who just look cool. Not because they raided hours and hours for the gear they are showing, but because they took the time and put together some great combinations of outfits. Antonia Bayle could probably win the best looking server award.  I wonder if there is a Miss Norrath pageant I don’t know about.

September 26, 2007 Posted by | Adventure Journal, EQ2 | | 4 Comments

Everquest 2 and my crafting introduction

I had told myself that I needed a break from crafting after a recent stint in another MMO, but when I decided to give Everquest 2 a try so did I decide to go back to the world of crafting. I had heard that I could craft a lot of different items early in the game and that the system itself was complicated enough to keep you interested but not overwhelming. A big thanks to my son here for getting sick and keeping me home from work last week as I am now a level 18 Outfitter.

I am choosing to truncate this post because I have a feeling its going to be fairly large and I don’t want it wallpapering the front page of the blog. More available after the link.
Continue reading

September 24, 2007 Posted by | Adventure Journal, Crafting, EQ2 | , , | 4 Comments

Site changes and two year molars

You can thank my son and his daycare for the writeup I am in the process of putting togetherHappy Tooth this morning.  It would seem that his two year molars are coming in a bit early and with those a nice little fever.  When he gets sick like this we just try to keep him calm and full of fluids with a heavy dose of napping and Disney shows.  Because of this I was able to spend a lot of time playing EQ2 and I got fairly deep into the crafting.  Expect a decent writeup of the 1-18 experience later today or early tomorrow morning.

Also, if you stop by the site rather than getting your feed through a RSS reader, you might notice I changed the theme of the site.  I had originally wanted a theme that supported the three column layout, but for some reason didn’t see this one before.  I think its a nice change and I like how it plots my Bio page on the right.  I would expect some things to evolve in the coming week as I get more time to spend looking at it.  Eventually I would like to get my own domain and hosting but for now I can’t argue with the pricing at WordPress.

September 24, 2007 Posted by | RL | 4 Comments

The woeful cry of the Unsubscribe button

For the past three weeks I have been playing LotRO and EQ2 in tandem and on Sunday I was forced to make a decision between the two. My month long trial of Everquest 2 had come to an end and my recurring bill to Turbine was set to post to my account on Monday morning. A tough decision indeed and one that has come up much to often over the last year.

It was clear to me that our group was losing interest in Middle Earth over a week ago, but I really didn’t want to confront it as I had invested a large amount of time into my character there and still had a lot to do in terms of the story-line quests. We are all in our mid to high 40’s and have experienced a majority of the content and have also had a boatload of fun doing it. Yes, there are still areas like Carn Dum and the rest of Helegrod to explore, but maybe its because the horizon is so clear on what to expect that we have lost the will to continue. The feeling of “more of the same” is a contagious sentiment and in an effort to prevent it from spreading among us, we almost subconsciously stopped playing together for about a week.

When I make a decision to unsubscribe from a MMO its always about the money. Its really never about the game, because if I was either financially independent or the game itself had no recurring fee I would continue to keep the game on my hard-drive. Even some games that are in the perceived worst of state when released can change, and I really wish I could support them while they go through that evolution.

One of the largest of such changes is that of Everquest 2. While I have no prior experience to judge this progression, there is the consistent din that travels the internet always referring to EQ2 as an example of what SOE can do and may possibly do again with Vanguard. I have written a small amount about my travels so far in this world and I plan on doing more as I have I have not only chosen to continue playing in EQ2, but I also managedEQ2_HolyTrinity to drag along the rest of the holy trinity.

So, my goals have changed a little as of now in EQ2. What was once a singular expedition into the lore of Faydwer and beyond, has evolved into something similar to that of Troy’s podcast – EQual Perspectives. My two companions are big Everquest 1 veterans and I am now the noob under their wing. I still have yet to realize what I have got myself into by convincing them to return to the EQ world, but I believe I got a nice taste of it last night. The two of them went on about some zone-chasing-thingamabob that murdered 200 children and had them up for two weeks while they waited in line for a chance to camp it and retrieve the Boots of Shit Kicking. Something along those lines, I don’t know.

When those Everquest 1 people start reminiscing, I have found it best to just let em get it all out and then offer cocoa after they have finished. Better results with the kind that has marshmallows too.

I still plan on returning to LotRO (famous last words) as my wife was still having a good time there and so are a couple of my friends. I was in a great guild, so if you play on the Firefoot server and are looking for a nice group, be sure to check them out. There are alsoHI_1 atleast two more articles I have written that I have been putting off, one being our last run on Sunday through Haudh Iarchith.

I have enjoyed my time there, and in retrospect, I am not too upset about leaving. I had a lot of fun and did more quests than I can imagine. I was a bit burnt out on the Lord of the Rings lore even before I bought the game and yet they did a remarkable job in dragging me back in and making me feel like this was the Middle Earth that Tolkien had described. I say, “Well done!” to Turbine.

Tempt me, and I may be back sooner than you think.

September 19, 2007 Posted by | Adventure Journal, EQ2, LOTRO, Rants, Vanguard | 2 Comments

The brackish waters of blogging and press

The topic that Darren started last week is still one of general interest to many on the web including myself. Its hard to express how I truly feel about the topic during the podcast, because I was there to not only give my view but also take part in an exchange that can go in multiple directions at any moment. I will however attempt to do so now.

It is my opinion that Bloggers occupy a unique area of the press that is still being defined. Just the fact that we are talking about it is a sign that it still has no classification. Its hard to place bloggers in this mold when each is unique and the word press brings to mind so many definitions.

I said this before and I’ll say it again:
Recognition does not only come from within, but from others.

This is why I believe wilhelm was on the right track.
So if I chose to become an active and up-to-date blog of everything that has to do with the race of hobbits in Lord of the Rings:Online, I probably could. I could publish everything I discover in the game and cross-link this to know publications about the lore and then go into theory as to why Turbine left out table dancing as an emote and gather a large following from the community. Wouldn’t this then classify me as press in the eyes of my audience? Sure, but it will take a bit more before I might be acknowledged by Turbine or Tolkien Enterprises.

The initial question and reason it was asked (I believe) was that of why some bloggers may not receive special passes or treatment when they are believed, by the general blog-o-sphere, to be worthy of such merit.

I think the problem lies in our ability to be unpredictable and also anonymous.

If we choose to remain anonymous, I would wager that we would be less inclined to receive official accolade for anything we do or write about. Tobold believes that this is one of our strengths. I agree. That is, unless the intention of the blogger is to become part of the press we are talking about. A blogger can pine to these developers til the cows come home, but if we are not meeting their standards then the efforts are wasted.

It is my belief that the game companies will not take a chance by going with an anonymous writer, no matter how much of a following we have. If we show ourselves as we really are, we bring in true accountability. This is especially pertinent and can be particularly dangerous if we happen to be blogging about the same field in which we are employed. Firings, lawsuits, and defamation have all happened to bloggers who chose not to remain anonymous. Maybe not in the gaming world, but certainly across the internet. It appears to be a tough line to walk.

Even if we are known, we can still be very unpredictable. We could disappear for two weeks and have no repercussion except that of the stats for our blog. Our readers may understand if we put up a “sorry for /afk” message on our return, but this could really never happen with a news or official press site.

But really, could a blog about hobbits ever be known officially as press? Yes. Especially if Turbine chose to use that blog to talk to the hobbit “community”. If Turbine acknowledged them, gave them information for their players, and in doing so allowed the blog to become a source for official information about hobbits, it would definitely become a niche press blog.

Vanguard did this with their official fan-sites before the acquisition by SOE. All new information came through the mouth of these sites. They weren’t Gamespy or MMORPG.com but approved sites by Sigil and listed on their front page. The process to become a part of this affiliation required items like no gold selling banners, a good track record for stability, and a good design and layout.*  These standards are probably no different than the ones that some companies have before they decide to acknowledge the work of a blogger.

Brandon over at MMOGaming wrote:

Bloggers are the new word of mouth. They are “word of mouth 2.0.” They combine the greatest marketing influence of all, our friends, with the ability to still reach thousands upon thousands of people with the message.

This is our strength.  If you choose to use this to reach the goal of becoming part of the gaming press, then I wish the best for you.

* There may be more to this but I never ran a site or actually applied for this status. This is what I remember to be the major qualifications at the time.

September 18, 2007 Posted by | Blog-o-sphere, Rants | 3 Comments

1-800-RAID-WOW

On the most recent episode of Shut Up We’re Talking, there was a conversation about the possibility of players being able to contract work out to companies outside of the game for in-game services.  Raid leaders, guild managers, tour guides, and personal trainers were all talked about here and I can’t help but think of the good and the bad that would come with something like this.

Raid Leaders
This more than any of the four scenarios mentioned above, would be the most beneficial to small guilds who wish to experience the more difficult content of today’s MMOs.  What a guild lacking the actual manpower to do the run, a professional outside service with dedicated crew and players could provide.
The Good

  • Players would simply need to provide the needed currency and time available for content, the contracted companies would bring along all needed expendables.
  • Companies could offer additional benefits like guild pictures, movies and even T-Shirts.
  • Reviews based on prior experiences would likely be available on the net and guilds would have a good idea of who to trust and who not to trust.
  • Various levels of service.  Private runs and Semi-privates raids could allow for a variety of costs to choose from.  Also, prerequisite runs could also be arranged for players needing keys and certain restrictions lifted before the raid was started.

The Bad

  • The sheer amount of instances and raid content spanning a lot of the more common games would put pressure on these companies to meet the demand that would be there. Pricing and participation may vary, see server for details.
  • Flat rate or hourly fees?  Could that person in your guild that has gone afk so many times before now actually be costing your guild money?
  • Guarantees would be hard to nail down.  The goal and expectations of the event would have to be agreed upon before transferring any money or agreeing to any contract.

The Ugly

  • If a service like this was sanctioned by the publishers and developers of these games, and real world currency was the method of payment, I can’t see any way that the gold farmers wouldn’t want to get into this.  They would have more of a problem with this as they have a bigger barrier to overcome with some of their future customers, speaking their language.

I plan on talking a bit more about the other three services later this week, but my work load today needs some definite attention.  I will say this though, I can’t see a service like this being available to players unless the developers/publishers of the game are the ones providing the service or in some agreement with these outside companies.  Either way, that is beyond my scope of knowledge.

September 17, 2007 Posted by | Brainstorms, Rants | 3 Comments

Shut Up. I talked on Episode #9

This weekend I was invited to sit down with Darren, Brent and Troy for the most recent episode of Shut up. We’re Talking.  It was a great experience as I have developed a greater respect for these guys and all of the podcasters out there.  It takes a great amount of work to put together shows like these and probably large amounts of alcoholic beverages as well.

Here are the show notes:

Shut Up! We’re Talking #9

– Introductions
– Listener mail/What we’re playing
– 1-800-MMO-SERVICES
– Are Bloggers Press?
– Family Aggro…disspell please
– Help Wanted
– Non-Beta-Tester, umm, testing.
– Blog of the Week

It was nice to have Troy stop by mid show and take the place of Theresa (Flying Labs CM) as I have been a fan of both his shows since they released.  They are all great guys and if you haven’t heard their shows yet, stop by www.virginworlds.com and click on the podcast link at the top.  Brent hosts the Virgin Worlds podcast and runs the entire site, Troy is the host of Voyages of Vanguard and also EQual Perspectives.  Take a listen and leave your comments for them, because they always want to hear from the listeners.

I have about 4 days worth of content for the blog waiting to be written, so stop on by or watch your reader for some information about EQ2 and my entire post about Darren’s Are Bloggers Press post last week.

September 17, 2007 Posted by | Blog-o-sphere | 8 Comments

Four crying out loud…

Im actually quite excited about this as its my first meme and I think it kind of makes it all official now that I’m here. So, I’m gonna procrastinate this order at work a bit more and crank out this list of four right now.

Four jobs I have had in my life (not including current job):

  1. Dog Groomer – (washing dogs is fun! not rly)
  2. Photography Lab Assistant – (work study)
  3. Pizza Delivery – (made some ridiculous bank here)
  4. Software Etc – (now Gamestop, EB or whatever. I got to play games for free though)

Four Movies I have watched over and over:

  1. Band of Brothers – (HBO series)
  2. Shaun of the Dead – (its campy and about zombies!)
  3. Veggie Tales – (because my son enjoys it)
  4. Underworld – (Its Kate Beckinsale)

Four places I have lived:

  1. Cambridge, Massachusetts – (Nice part of Boston)
  2. Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts – (Not nice part of Boston)
  3. Portland, Maine – (Nice city in southern Maine)
  4. Auburn, Maine – (Houses are pretty cheap here)

Four Shows I love to watch:

  1. South Park – (those guys will rip into absolutely anyone)
  2. Heroes – (one of the only shows I watch on TV)
  3. Firefly – (canceled unfortunately)
  4. CSI – (its gruesome and its grissom)

Four Places I have been on vacation:

  1. England
  2. Badlands
  3. Grand Canyon
  4. Montreal

Four of my favorite foods:

  1. English Muffins – (nooks and crannies)
  2. Bacon – (American, not Canadian)
  3. Steak Tips – (preferably wrapped in bacon and dipped in Horseradish sauce)
  4. Pork Tenderloin – (someone check my heart please)

Four favorite drinks:

  1. Hoegaarden – (White Beer)
  2. Allagash – (White Beer)
  3. Mountain Dew – (liquid crack)
  4. Orange Juice – (its like drinking the sun)

Four places I would rather be right now:

  1. At my home computer
  2. Reading an AARP magazine – (cuz that would mean I’m retired)
  3. Havasu Falls – (awesome place in the Grand Canyon)
  4. Playing Pirates of the Burning Sea – (release I mean, I just want this to come out!)

And I pass the torch on to…

Oh you poor souls.

  1. Rao – Gestalt Mind
  2. Joe Alex* –Average Joe
  3. Fred – MMOExplorer
  4. Heather – Errant Dreams

Thanks to p0tsh0t and Kevin for throwing this my way. If these things are supposed to be about self discovery then ill just say one thing: I’m going to lunch.

*DOH!

September 13, 2007 Posted by | meme | 7 Comments

I’ll show you awkward

So in keeping with the tradition of spreading around the random personality tests that crop up from time to time on everyone’s blog, Ill post my results.

Two comments:
Math is Hard
I bent my wookie

NerdTests.com says I'm a Dorky High Nerd. What are you? Click here!

September 12, 2007 Posted by | Rants, RL | Leave a comment