Brackish Waters

how my gaming and life coalesce.

Keeping it real

Brenden over at Another Here has a new article up about podfading and how it upsets him to see any podcast or blog drop off in activity and die out.  What I found really interesting was Brent’s comment about Tobold, a veteran to the blog community.

Everyone knows their work, but do you feel like you know Tobold? Even after 1000 posts, he is still a disembodied (silent)voice in the blogosphere and readers have no idea of what he is all about, as a person. If he started podcasting, that would change overnight.

I’ve only been reading Tobold’s blog for about 6 months and while I understand his point of views on a lot of things and find him to be a really great writer and full of opinion, I really don’t know him.  Should I expect more?

While I have been somewhat open about myself here and some of my personal life, I really haven’t divulged much.  “About Me” pages sometimes have a bit about the person and why they have this section of the Internet reserved for themselves but more often then not they are just a spot for people to lay out the justification for the site and a quick reference about what people can expect if they decide to come back.

I think the reason I haven’t dropped a post about myself is because I think it would possibly do more harm than good.  Maybe by taking a moment here to write down some of the key points that I believe are a real part of me, those that visit here may find some affinity to my musings and also my goals.

Feel free to jump ahead to the disgusting quote of the month.

I’m not a developer or a code monkey.  I don’t have a job in the industry or in a field even remotely connected to gaming.  At times I wish I did but I think I like my life at the moment.  I play games almost every night and waste atleast 2 hours a day at work reading and writing about them.  On top of that, I’m being considered for a promotion this month and that is the only thing that has kept me from posting/reading as much as I would like.  Its like a scene from Office Space with the exception that the fax machine loves me and I’m in the process courting the rest of theTyler Durden terminals at the company.  One can do a lot with an overabundance of printers and outdated scanners, if one was so inclined.

I admire a lot of people but the person that stands out as of late is J.K.Rowling. Anyone who can encourage that many children to read is an inspiration to me.  I would love to be able to create something as powerful as that someday but I think my lack of education may hamper that prospect.  I only did small stints in college and graduated from a high school that had a larger ratio of animals to students.

I left school after I met my wife and the two of us decided to move to a more “rural” location in Maine.  We didn’t get as far into the woods as I had originally intended us to go because there are just some things I can not live without, Internet being one of them.  I’m lucky enough that I pay for a house (banks like deeds) that isn’t sucking the life out of me every month and somehow manages to keep me warm and dry.  I’m still hoping that some old loon back in the 1900’s left a cash box in the wall or floors but I don’t have the energy to look for it.

Random Stuff:

  • I hate having to feed my body every night but I love eating good food.  We have the longer lasting lightbulb, can we work on the longer lasting sirloin now?
  • I like small cars but I hate maintaining anything about the automobile.
  • I hate flying but I see no way getting around this as I plan on going to my first game conference in 2008, still have no clue which one.
  • I only look at the pictures in manuals.
  • I haven’t read as many books as I should have yet I live within a half a mile of a library and my bus stop in high school was the first library in the nation.  Go figure.
  • I’m a good father but would make a really bad godfather. (not like the movie)
  • I found religion once.  I was told it wasn’t a real religion so now I’m lost again I guess.
  • I love playing board games but I am the worst loser ever.
  • I spend, at a minimum, 1 hour every night lying in bed before I fall asleep.
  • I roll my own cigarettes and continue to smoke even though I know its bad for me.
  • I don’t like being drunk but I love Baileys in coffee or hot chocolate on a winter morning.
  • If I won anything more than$50,000 dollars I would leave my job tomorrow.
  • If I won anything less than $50,000 dollars I would have a kick ass contest on this blog.
  • …. and I would subscribe to VirginWorlds.
  • If I won a dollar, I would by a Twix and eat them both.
  • If I could play any game right now it would probably be Call of Duty 4.  I need a better video card apparently.  (Damn you Shader 3.0!)

And now for this month’s Disgusting Quote:
“Well when I get to Hell I’m going to miggs the Devil.”
“No way man, you’d end up in the Pit of Miggs’n!”

I told you it was disgusting.
I love my office.

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November 28, 2007 Posted by | Blog-o-sphere, RL | 13 Comments

Massive Trivia

SuccubusThe guys over at Channel Massive have a new Holiday Contest going on now that offers a great chance to snag one of the two biggest titles coming out in 2008.  If you are a listener of the show it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out the answer and I’m not going to drop any hints here.  😛

The topic itself and their latest release is a bit on the mature side so it may not be safe for work unless you listen with headphones.  You have been warned.

November 19, 2007 Posted by | Blog-o-sphere | | 2 Comments

A look back at October

Continuing with the new month end tradition of my blog wrap-up, lets take a look at October and see how scary a month it truly was.

Blog-o-sphere

  • Alex over at Average Joe decided it was best for the time being to take a break from blogging and focus more on real life commitments. Come back soon man!
  • Clockwork Gamer added Xeavn to the mix of writers there and opened up a new section devoted to some upcoming guides for Everquest 2.
  • Cuppycake and many others faced the fires of California and it looks okay for all.
  • Orange Box is the new crack.
  • Grouchy makes the move to a private domain. Mood change not guaranteed.
  • Rao makes me wish I had vacation time left over.
  • Heartless creates a Steam community and does a great writeup on TF2.
  • Many of my fellow bloggers have found either the dull-drums I had or simply the need for something new and have landed in the world of Everquest 2.
  • Wilhelm gets the Hulk inside of him free at last!
  • Bildo put out chapter 1, 2, & 3 of a great story that I highly recommend to anyone who likes the fantasy setting. The world sounds very cool. Ask him about Hellgate:London too.
  • Damiano dinged One this week and has some stats up at his blog. My traffic epeen just shrunk considerably smaller.
  • Some crap about a cake.
  • PvtHudson posted an epic article about MMO burnout, please read it as I care about all of you and I am waiting for the Blog-o-sphere guild to form.

Overall Blog-o-sphere morale: Temporarily satisfied.
Podcasting

  • Virgin Worlds hit the 2 year mark this month. Still my favorite site.
  • Channel Massive put out a new show that has a great round table on addiction.
  • Darren finally gets Grimwell on the show and manages to keep everyone on topic.
  • Tabulacast has launched over at VW and he sent me some linkage on my TR review. Thanks Sean. (I listen b/c he has a cool name)

Brackish News
I really think I forgot to post something about this at the beginning of the month but I made a second appearance on Darrens SUWT. What can I say, he promised me a bottle of Baileys and winter was around the corner.

I finally got iTunes this week. I had planned on writing a whole article about it but its a pretty bland topic and its not something I really wanted to do. Now that I have it, the hold is beginning to take place and I’m thinking about re-re-formatting my iPod back the original software. It seems Rockbox doesn’t like iTunes either.

My gaming has funneled down to me only playing EQ2 in my spare time and even still I have only reached level 39 as a Berserker and 35 as an Armorsmith. I guess thats pretty good as the wife is still sleeping in the same room and the boy is still porky and happy. Gotta balance out the life systems too!

With iTunes now on my PC, my list of shows is growing and I hope to update the right here with my top ten. There are many like EQ2’sDay, EpicDolls (WoW), and GameOver that make me wish I was sleepless like the marines in X-Files.

New Links

Top Search Engine Terms
human seducing games – I want no part of this.
veggietales mmog – I want every part of this.
animated person recycling in action – I don’t even know what this is, Soylent Green?

Forgive me if I missed any new linkage or important events that happened.

November 1, 2007 Posted by | Blog-o-sphere, monthly recap | 5 Comments

Cuppycake Pumpkin Carving Contest!

Be sure to get your submissions in to Cuppy before the deadline!  If nothing else, do this so you can be sure to beat me.  I carve like crap and I even put down 2008 instead of 2007 in my submission.  I haven’t received the virtual bitch slap but I think its coming.

Here are the details if you have yet to see this:

There will be three different categories available:

Scariest Pumpkin

Funniest Pumpkin

Gaming Related Pumpkin

The winner of each category will get a $25 gift code (via email) to JINX.com.

Rules:

  • Anyone is able to participate! Devs, players, press, etc.!
  • You must take two pictures of your pumpkin and there must be a piece of paper in only ONE of them (not photoshopped on) saying “CuppyContest 2007″ in the picture. I need to make sure that the pumpkins are actually yours and not stolen from the net =)
  • You must email the picture to me at cuppycontest at gmail dot com NOT post it in the comments of this post!
  • Please also include in the body of the email a few sentences about what award you are submitting for (Scary, Funny, or Gaming), what is depicted on your pumpkin and how long it took you to make it! =)
  • You are not allowed to post the picture of your pumpkin on your blog until after the contest is over. Secrecy!
  • The cutoff date is October 29th. The winner will be decided by a panel of judges who will not know the creators of the pumpkins.
  • The winners will be announced on Halloween, October 31st. I will be displaying ALL the pumpkins that were submitted.

 

October 22, 2007 Posted by | Blog-o-sphere | Leave a comment

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

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

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