Blade of Woe

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First off with some business to attend to that is Blaugust related.  The very awesome Chestnut has been maintaining a twitter list of all of the folks participating in Blaugust 2018 that are on that platform.  Next up I was asked to participate in a couple of blogs, one with recording a promo that they could edit in and another actually sitting down and talking a bit about the event.  Those have both made their way into production as it were, and first off you have my promo that appears near the tail end of Geek to Geek Podcast with Void and Beej.  Next up I recorded a bit with Syp at the tail end of the Massively OP Podcast, but in both of these cases you should totally listen to the entire show because they are excellent.  I always enjoy the conversations that happen between Void and Beej and then  Syp and Bree as well so two shows always worth listening to.

Over the last few days I have not done the whole morning Blaugust updates in part because the sign ups had slowed down a bit.  However with the spots on the two podcasts we seem to have had an influx of new folks.  On the sheet I ask where folks heard about Blaugust, and so far one of my happiest moments is when I get a submission that says something other than the equivalent of “Bel Told Me” because that means we are spreading out and expanding our reach.  At this point we have 48 blogs signed up to participate and we still have some time before the festivities actually start…  I am cheating a bit with that number because technically one has not signed up but I know it is incoming.  If you are wanting a list of all of the participants and mentors I am keeping a google sheet with only the relevant information in it for folks to use on blogrolls and the like.

New Mentors

New Participants

As always though there is plenty of time to get started.  Pop over and fill out the sign up sheet to get registered, and then pop by the Discord to hang out with other Blaugustans.

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In gaming news, last night I started the Dark Brotherhood series of quests and so far they are pretty freaking cool.  This was always one of my favorite guilds in the Elder Scrolls games because I like the whole Sithis and the Night Mother thing going on as well as the fact that in spite of being a bunch of blood thirsty killers…  there is this interesting family dynamic happening.  This sanctuary is no different and there are some really cool things happening from the sounds of it, and I am interested to see how the events fold out this time.  The Dark Brotherhood quest lines tend to go in a specific direction…  as do the Thieves Guild to be honest.  The Elder Scrolls Online Thieves Guild was in fact a traditional Elder Scrolls Thieves Guild story…  so I have certain expectations of how things are about to go here as well.

I am not very far into the quest line and have only done a few contracts, but I am absolutely and completely down with how Blade of Woe has been implemented in this game.  I like that it just gives me an assassination ability instead of making me wield a freaking dagger.  I am not a stealthy character, but the truth is…  Dark Brotherhood is probably going to make me one because I am not sure how long I can pay the upkeep of constantly having a couple thousand gold in bounties on my head.  Now the first trait in the DB skill line seems to reduce the amount of bounty gained when someone witnesses a murder…  but regardless I need to be at least a little stealthy in my hits.

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I do not really like forced stealth mechanics, and my brand is more about charging into battle in a nonsensical manner and as a tank gathering up all that enemy hate.  This is not conducive to the Thieves Guild, but you can absolutely go in that direction with the Dark Brotherhood.  If you want to complete a mission by making sure there is 100% body count… then by all means that is a thing that can happen.  However it becomes painfully obvious that every one of those kills is going to cost you in the long run, with a very tangible bounty associated with it.  I came out of one mission with roughly 5500 gold in bounty on my head…  and while I could have waited awhile for that to drop I made my way to the nearest outlaws refuge and took care of it rather than be hassled by the guards.

Now that I have gotten slightly better at using Blade of Woe I am doing a better job of getting those kills in unnoticed and as a result reducing that gold footprint.  This game is teaching me to be stealthy and while it is weird for me to say it…  I am actually enjoying it more than I have in pretty much any other game.  I was extremely proud of myself the first time I got into a building unnoticed and back out without having to use one of the magical stealth baskets.  The mission I ran at the beginning of the night involved roaming around a palace and it mostly felt easy to go where I needed to go because I am starting to develop the reflexes needed to sneak about.  There is a certain muscle memory that I am developing that I have never really had in the past.  In other Elder Scrolls Games the only reason why I ever used sneak…  was to land a bow shot with the damage multiplier.  This time it feels like it allows me to move around freely and avoid entanglements I might not want to deal with.  All in all… still having a blast even though I was initially grumpy with the forced stealth.

Understanding Hew’s Bane

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I’ve officially hit my first snag in Elder Scrolls Online since getting over the Stonefalls hump… and to be honest it is mostly my own damned fault.  I have been playing through the expansion content in the order it was released, which means after the amazing experience of Orsinium I immediately started work on the Thieves Guild content.  I approached it as though it were a fully realized expansion area, and I think this is where the issues arose.  I have been at times frustrated when it did not seem clear where the next quest in the sequence was after completing the previous one.  I thought this was just a quirk of the design and part and parcel with playing through what is effectively a clandestine group.  I would come back to base and there would be one or more notes for me to read, which would ultimately lead me to the next destination.

Now this has worked more or less because my play time has been limited the last few days, meaning I am not making a ton of progress in any given night.  I have also been doing the daily quests that involve recovering some artifact in a very tomb raider style, or stealthing your way through a dungeon to collect some items and then getting back out before the timer runs out.  Apparently the fact that I am doing this… and my recent slow progression has been masking something that I did not grasp at the first.  The Thieves Guild is not DLC content in the way Orsinium was where it is a self contained storyline and a bunch of supporting quests that ultimately weave themselves together into a fully realized brand new zone.  It is adding another guild to the game… much like the Mages Guild or the Fighters Guild…  and as a result it requires you to progress to a certain rank for you to get the next bit of quest.

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Last night was the first night that my sequence of running missions and daily content did not push me far enough to hit the next rank… and as a result unlock the next bit of the main story.  As a result I am starting to really rethink my process of playing through the content and it makes me feel like I should really be starting the Dark Brotherhood content as well.  Since that is also a new guild being added to the game, it is likely going to roll out its story in a very similar fashion meaning there might be lags between batches of content.  So I feel like tonight I will do my batch of things that I can do in Abah’s Landing and then move forward to the Dark Brotherhood content and see how far it will take me.  Ultimately if I hit stopping places in both guilds then there is always the Imperial City for me to give a shot, as I spent the other night roaming around Cyrodil trying to collect some of the Skyshards I was missing from there.

In truth as far as pure story content goes I guess the proper order would be… the first three faction chapters of the game based on your starting faction, then Orsinium, then Morrowind and finally Summerset.  I am not really sure how the Clockwork City works into the sequence of events.  I believe it is an offshoot from Morrowind and considering I don’t specifically have a quest starter for it yet, I may need to be progressed to a certain point before being able to start it.  Ultimately I should have been working on Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood while I was wrapping up Ebonheart Pact…  but I guess I will know this in the future as I alt.  Consider the Champion Point system, alting seems way more viable than I had originally thought.  There is also tons of content that we have not seen related to the dungeons, so we might need to set up a more formal dungeon night to start working through that.

Launches and Lurching

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Initially I had planned last night on poking my head in on various characters within Azeroth but like many I was greeted with a lot of this screen when I first got home.  It seemed like a combination of a couple of things… first being that there were apparently some rather nasty DDoS attacks going on with the hosting providers… and secondly this was a major patch in WoW.  I mean I’ve been going through this cycle since 2004 and this is far from the first time a major patch rendered the game unplayable for one reason or another.  Just the simple onslaught of a bunch of players coming back to do like I was planning is enough to take down servers.  I have no idea when it was fixed and when the servers came back up…  because I did what I have learned I need to do to keep from getting ragey…  I moved on to playing something else.

Though that said I heard that the community was particularly toxic to the BlizzardCS account last night.  There were apparently people calling for the firing of employees and all of that nonsense…  while those of us who have been through far worse launches sit back and eat our popcorn.  I think the reality is that Blizzard has spoiled us of late with a string of relatively smooth major patch cycles.  So as a result when folks see what I would consider a normal MMO patch rollout…  they lose their shit.  There have been times when I too was losing my shit… particularly during the relaunch of A Realm Reborn when you had to effectively stay logged in if you hoped to play the game at all.  In this scenario however I happily wandered off to play Elder Scrolls Online after a few rounds of attempts.

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So I have been working my way through the ESO content as it was originally released and after finishing Orsinium… that lead me down the path of the Thieve’s Guild.  Now I had accidentally already done the intro quest to this content because I quite legitimately thought it was just another quest in Windhelm.  That is one of the challenges you have coming back this far behind the curve is there are quests everywhere… and a good deal of them are trying to lead you off to start expansions and DLC without ever fully announcing that is their intent.  Sure I probably could have looked it up in the quest journal, but for the most part I find myself not using that at all while playing Elder Scrolls Online.

One of the challenges with Thieves Guild is the fact that it is more or less a stealthy expansion, and I Belghast…  am not a stealthy person.  I am one of those charge into the fight and taunt all the things type person…  and the thought of sneaking around in full plate seems hilarious to me.  That said I have tried my best to embrace this game play style because the content essentially forces you to do so.  Getting detected in a good deal of the missions means that you are going to get swarmed by city guards that you have no way of actually soloing.  Now thankfully it employs the Assassins Creed “instant hiding container” sort of thing, which allows you to evade attention at just the right moment.  Now unfortunately if you already have guard aggro you are going to have to wait a bit until the “heat meter” dies down before popping out and continuing the mission.

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Now it is not like I have never done a thieves guild in the past Elder Scrolls Online games…  in fact to my knowledge I have done them all since Oblivion.  The problem is in those older games there was always a path of “kill all the things” that got you through the quest as opposed to constantly sneaking your butt around.  For the most part however I have managed to do the quests as intended part from a few times when I killed someone instead of just not doing that.  While the gameplay is not my favorite thing in the world, I have to give the game credit for completely hooking me with the storyline.  This is in fact an Elder Scrolls Thieves Guild story…  which quite honestly tend to be some of the better written and more interesting guilds out there.

I am completely hooked on the characters and the story as it is deciphering due to my interactions.  It is part pirates, part heist, part Indiana Jones and a whole of fighting back against an oppressive evil empire…  all of which make for a really interesting sequence.  The way it plays out is interesting as well as there is no one constant thread that you follow but instead a sequence of what seems to be disconnected actions that ultimately weave their way into a main story quest.  I get the impression that I am reaching about the halfway point in the story as there was a major revelation last night, that seems like it will begin the end phase where I start narrowing down and working to righting the great wrong done to the guild.  I am completely hooked…  in spite of needing to creep about unbenefiting a warrior of my stature.

Not Prepared

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Last night I logged in a bunch of characters in a failed attempt to prepare for the impending apocalypse that is sure to come with today’s patch.  What I mean by that is the 7.0 patch nerfed the prices of a bunch of the garrison missions as well as the sales prices of a ton of the associated nonsense that comes with that sort of thing.  So last night I logged in and collected any gold missions I had waiting to be collected since I had not logged into WoW in a few weeks…  and sold all of the items used to upgrade followers that I had in my inventory.  While the servers are still up and running at this very moment the patching process has already started to our clients, and by the time I come home there will be a whole new era of World of Warcraft started.  I am still not entirely sure how I feel about this.

I don’t mean this post to sound as hyperbolic as I am sure it will come off as, but Legion was sort of a tipping point for me in many ways.  Blizzard showed me how good a design could feel that didn’t focus on the red versus blue nonsense but instead dug down hard into the class story-line and creating situations where all of us…  Horde and Alliance worked together to solve issues.  While I didn’t stick with it for the long haul, Legion is probably my new favorite expansion for World of Warcraft replacing the previous…  Wrath of the Lich King.  I had hope that we would see a new shining era of working together to fight the bigger baddies in the world, but instead what we got was a doubling down on the infighting and bullshit, and a path that looks to be setting up both Jaina and Sylvanas on a possible path towards becoming raid bosses.

My dream for World of Warcraft is a time when I can sit down and play with both my Horde and Alliance friends together, and this expansion seems to be putting a final nail in that concept.  As a result my interest in this game has never been at a lower point, and were it not for twitter and people talking about the 8.0 patch constantly I probably would not have known it was a thing.  While a lot of my friends were in a flurry of activity trying to finish out their mage tower challenges, attempting to beat all of them before they went away…  I find myself in a situation where I never did a single one.  The last expansion saw me going into it with one of every class Alliance side at maximum level…  this expansion sees me going into it with 2 warriors, 2 deathknights, a demon hunter and a paladin.

This expansion also sees me planning on switching my allegiance and “maining” horde this time around.  It is going to be a weird ride when in less than a month now the expansion launches.  I have deeply mixed feelings about my future with this game.  I’ve heard the “its world of warcraft, not world of peacecraft” nonsense so many times it makes me want to punch people through the internet.  I used to keep going because I had this nexus of hope deep down inside of me that someday somehow things would change and the faction wall would fall and I could finally unite both groups of friends living on either side of that chasm.  That hope has died, and with it a lot of the reasons why I kept playing the game.  That said I know I will give Battle for Azeroth a shot and probably even find myself enjoying certain aspects of it.  However the hope has mostly been replaced with Dread as I watch this Warbringers series seeming to make good on that concern that we might be losing one more more powerful characters to a Raid someday.

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After patching my addons and logging into a bunch of characters…  and then the requisite amount of “oh look its bel” and answering a series of messages…  I eventually retreated back into my comfy space that is Elder Scrolls Online.  I sorta knew that I could only log in so many characters before someone noticed my presence and started trying to interact.  I mean this is more of a thing on the Alliance side where I have been gone far longer.  On Horde side I am mostly greeted with a “hi bel” since I tend to darken those doors fairly often.  House Stalwart was the guild that I built on the day the servers opened in World of Warcraft and for a long time it was my home.  However the game has changed and with it the guild has changed as a necessity to keep folks active and happy.  I don’t begrudge anything that Elnore, Rylacus or now Kylana did to keep things up and running and the tweaks they made to stay viable.

That said House Stalwart feels like returning to the small town you grew up in, years after leaving it…  and while the folks are friendly all you can notice is the things that have changed and the names that are no longer there.  That guild and the Alliance side of the house are fundamentally different now, and quite honestly are different from when the Legion expansion rolled out and I went through my last period of heavy activity and raiding.  To say active and relevant you have to be a guild in constant motion, whereas the older I get the more I seem to want things to stay the same.  As it stands, though I created it…  I identify more with Greysky Armada our FFXIV guild than I do with House Stalwart these days.  While the Elder Scrolls Online guild bears that name it bears way more connection to Greysky and the AggroChat community than it ever did the original World of Warcraft one.

I think ultimately so much has changed in my life and inside of me since 2004 when the doors opened to Azeroth.  What used to feel like family now feels like a foreign country.  I can’t really blame the game or the players…  it is me that changed because I kept leaving with increasing frequency to go elsewhere.  I remember my first “WoW Tourist” jaunt happened about six months after release, before I had even made it to level 60 on a single character.  A bunch of my friends went off to play Everquest 2 with the group of folks who didn’t follow us into World of Warcraft but instead chose that path.  I remember doing this again for Warhammer Online and quite frankly every major MMO release seemed to pull me away from Warcraft for a period of time…  until those periods of time got longer than my actual time playing the game.

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While this image is greatly outdated at this point… you can see this constant string of orange squares at the top to represent time spent playing World of Warcraft.  The only problem with that is it is a lie, and a lot of those interactions are time spent subscribed and poking my head back in for a night here or there and not large blocks of dedicated time.  I left the game during the early days of the Cataclysm expansion prior to the first patch, and in truth I never fully returned to feeling the same way about it as I did back then.  Sure I have come back with each expansion and usually become active again just prior to a new patch…  but that orange bar is evidence of a lot of time spent moonlighting in World of Warcraft but not actually playing it as my primary game.  I have some deeply complicated feelings about my inability to let go of the past and just move on, and a lot of those feelings have come to a head recently as I stare down the barrel of this expansion.

Sorry for what probably ended up being a bummer of a post, but occasionally I cannot predict the post that will come forth from my fingertips on a given morning.

Luck and Mini Bosses

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At this point we are up to 41 blogs signed up for Blaugust in one form or another, with a significant number of folks hanging out in the Discord just for the sake of fun that we may be able to sway one way or another.  I am super happy with this early participation, and in side conversations there are a bunch of folks on the fence trying to determine just how much they can afford to participate themselves this year.  In that always be plugging style of conversation…  if you are at all interested in starting up a blog now is the time to do it.  Pop on by the sign up form and let us know your information and we will do our best to support you through that early blogging experience.  This is of course also an open offer as well to folks who are currently blogging and just want to up their frequency of posting…  or really want to help mentor the next crew of bloggers.

Since I last posted updates there have been a few new entries and you can see the entire list in an easy to use google sheet that I have been maintaining.

New Mentors

New Participants

The official pre-week starts on July 25th so there is still plenty of time to get a blog up and running before the official August 1st start.

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There are times where I have the sort of luck that pisses my friends off.  For example I have pulled a couple of those ultra rare chase cards from Battle for Zenndikar and Kaladesh, just buying random single packs here and there.  Magic the Gathering just released its return to core sets with M19 and there are a bunch of interesting cards in it… namely a much needed reprint of Crucible of Worlds and brand new version of the classic legends era dragons.  Ultimately I would like to have a copy of each for eventual EDH brewing purposes, and as a result I picked up a fat pack on Friday in my post funeral travels.  Now a fat pack has 10 packs and seems to be for lack of a better term a partial piece of what would have normally been a full box.

They tend to be feast or famine, either you get the good end of the rare/mythic sheet or you don’t.  In this case I managed to pull 4 mythics out of those ten packs.  I took the above photo to show off everything that came out of that box, with the last two on the left side being just a couple of cool looking common foils.  I found it weird that I got a duplicate rare out of the batch so maybe they are doing the fat packs different than they have done before.  I was extremely excited that I managed to pull a Crucible of Worlds and at least two of the three color dragons.  Unfortunately I did not pull the big daddy of them all…  Nicol Bolas, the Ravager.  I still consider this an insanely lucky box, and walked away mighty happy with it.

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As far as the rest of the weekend… it was largely spent hanging out and playing some Elder Scrolls Online.  I have now officially finished the Orsinium content and wow… I am exceedingly impressed with the quality.  If that is at all representative of what I have to expect from the follow up releases, then I am going to be a very happy boy.  I’ve since started on the Thieves Guild which is the next content release in order…  having largely skipped Imperial City due to its PvEvP nature.  I did however spent a chunk of last night running around and collecting Skyshards out in Cyrodil..  I am sure frustrating someone who was there to try and take keeps and mile forts.  The only actual PVP I got into was being found by a roaming murderball of Ebonheart Pact players…  at which point my screen froze and I crashed out of the game only to come back very dead.

The most fun however was prior to that when I was roaming around in Coldharbor with Ashgar and Tamrielo doing the public dungeon there.  It all started simple enough…  the three of us on Voice Chat when Ash mentioned mostly to himself that he was going to ignore the Public Dungeon for now until he could come back with a group.  I said that I had not done the public dungeon there for the same reason and Tam chimed in that he had largely been avoiding any group content.  Before long the three of us were converging upon Ash’s location and doing the public dungeon which had two quests inside of it.  Additionally we realized that there were a bunch of optional bosses in various corners of the place and we set forth to take each and every one down earning us a conqueror achievement.

I kinda love that this game does not care at all about where a player is in the progression, and that you can pretty much just group in for whatever happens to be going on.  I abused this power to help Void get some crafting materials by porting myself to Windhelm and then letting him piggy back in on that to get the shrine there.  I love that this game has decided that horizontal progression is the way to go because it has allowed me to invest resources in a really nice set of gear knowing I won’t be upgrading it anytime soon.  I love that I can just do whatever happens to cross my path and still feel like I am moving towards a goal in the form of Champion points…  knowing that I am also adding progression to every single character as I go.  I am very happy with the current state of Elder Scrolls Online.

NPC Memories

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Once again I am going to lead off this morning with an update on the folks who have joined in the fun since my last post.  I have a sneaking suspicion that these will continue especially considering we have a bunch of folks in the Discord who have yet to actually fill out the sign-up form.  I am not officially counting someone until I have an entry in the sign up sheet from them.  Another thing that has happened is I was asked to record a quick demo for the for someone to mix into their podcast.  I am not sure if anyone else out there cares about such thing but I thought I would link it here.  I did find myself falling into radio announcer voice a bit but whatever…  I think it does a reasonable job of summarizing the event.

As far as the sign-ups we don’t have as many as we have had in past days.  I feel like this is going to probably slow down a bit and then pick back up just prior to the event starting around July 25th.

New Participants

I want to give an extra call out to RumorsMatrix who completely bucked the notion of WordPress vs Blogger and went off and created his own custom blogging software.  That is some awesome dedication and I highly suggest you check out [barely readable diary] because it is anything but.  I’ve had a few questions recently about the whole Mentor vs Participant thing largely because there were some in the community that were viewing Participant as the “newbie” role and didn’t necessarily feel like they were ready for the “mentor” title either.  Functionally this comes down to intent and less about who is new or not.

I’ve used the analogy of Blaugust as a Blogging Summer Camp, and in that concept the Mentors would effectively be the Camp Counselors.  As a mentor you should feel comfortable with other bloggers coming up to you and asking for advice or some form of assistance.  Participants on the other hand are folks who just want to join their blog into this nonsense and participate in the festival of blogging as a whole.  I do however intend to try and track a few metrics that were not in the form, namely folks for whom this is their first Blaugust, and folks who started a brand new blog for the initiative.  Ultimately if you just want to join in and have fun then Participant is likely the role for you.

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Last night I continued my journey in Elder Scrolls Online Orsinium DLC and knocked out a few more areas before ultimately getting pulled into a crisis at work.  You never want to hear the words “catastrophic failure” at 10 pm…  but we managed to get everything wrapped up by 11ish.  However it greatly cut into the flow of my evening and kept me from completing more than I otherwise would have.  The depth of this content continues to impress me as does the scale, and I keep thinking in the back of my head…  if all of these DLCs are this cool it might be a really long time before I chew through it.  It sounds as though the key differentiation between a DLC and an Expansion is the first is largely centered around a single zone and the later includes multiple areas.

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I am extremely thankful that I wound up finishing all three factions worth of content before starting any of the DLCs.  There were times I contemplated straying off that path but it is really paying off in spades.  During the original quest lines there are certain characters that stand out, and occasionally show back up multiple times during the course of the main story.  One of the interesting things is that if you have completed all three factions…  you end up getting recognized by characters that you have interacted with in all three campaigns.  For example Neramo is part of the original Daggerfall starting area of Stros M’Kai and when I bumped into him in Wrothgar he recalled our previous adventures.  Similarly you run into Rigurt the Brash a handful of times during the Ebonheart Pact story… and you can see how he is greeting me here.

Functionally this feels like the difference between starting Mass Effect with the first game and playing your way through all of them, each time importing your save game… and just starting with Mass Effect 3.  I am hoping this time commitment continues to pay off as we move forward through other DLC…  I did some googling and apparently at the least Neramo shows up a few more times in the future.  It is this level of scripting and quest detail that makes the game feel so good as people greet you differently based on your past experiences.  Sure it is an illusion and they are simply checking to see if this quest or that quest was completed, but it is a level of detail that is sorely missing in other games.  I still remember how painfully jarring it was when I encountered Alexstrasza in the Twilight Highlands after completing several arcs for her during Wrath of the Lich King saving Wyrmrest Temple…  and having her not remember my character in the least.

I have a huge backlog of Elder Scrolls Online content to get through and I am still greatly enjoying myself.

Wisdom of Kurog

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I guess we will start off this morning with more welcomes to the fold, given that we keep seeing a pretty steady trickle of folks signing up for this nonsense.  Last night I met with Syp and recorded a bit of an interview talking about Blaugust that I believe will eventually make its way into the MassivelyOP podcast.  I am super lucky to have so much support from folks like MassivelyOP in covering this event, and in the past it has been covered by other sites as well.  Given we are still a couple weeks away from the official launch I am super excited to see this much interest.  I’ve been doing some business sort of things, like updating my blog side bar and trying to sort out how I am going to do my blogroll.  For the moment however if you want the full and updated list of participants I have shared out a subset of the form data through google sheets.

On to the sign-ups from yesterday!

New Mentors

New Participants

All of this said… there is still plenty of time to sign up and join in the fun.  The official start isn’t until July 25th and even then what really matters is that you have your blog ready and in place to start on the challenge August 1st.  If you are interested swing by our sign up form and then join us over in the Blaugust Discord for shenanigans.   I will admit early on I was somewhat afraid we might have all Mentors and no Participants…  but right now we are running 68% participants and 32% mentors which seems like a pretty great mix to me.

Another business note… we have our first prizes that have been donated.  The first $30 USD/£20 GBP via Steam/Amazon to a random brand new blogger who started their blog for the first time as part of this initiative.  The second is $30 USD/£20 GBP via Steam/Amazon to a random Rainbow Diamond award winner.  As has happened in the past these tend to show up as the event rolls on and I will be making a master list of them all.  My intent is to create a list of them sorted by equivalent monetary value and draw names for each prize until the virtual “hat” is empty.

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On the gaming side…  I am still really enjoying my time in Wrothgar but also taking it very slowly.  I am essentially knocking two or so blips off my map every night.  That said I think I completed one of the major story arcs seeing as it involved helping out the King of the Orcs.  I was super happy because last night I got to tango with the followers of a Daedra which is always a good time for me personally.  ESO Belghast most definitely vanquishes all Daedric Princes…   however Skyrim Belghast usually makes a deal with them so he can get their super sweet and powerful weapon.  This is always a weird disconnect in my mind given how I fought Molag Bal here… but happy thumped people over the head with his mace in Skyrim.

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This might be my single favorite piece of dialog so far in Elder Scrolls Online and kinda encompasses everything it is to be an Orc.  I know that feel and can absolutely understand him being super excited.  I have a soft spot for the Orsimer because I have always loved the whole thing that they are effectively “corrupted elves”.  In practice they make really cool buildings and have been some really interesting characters to interact with.  I feel like if World of Warcraft Orcs were half as cool as the Orsimer I would have proudly been Horde, rather than being that faction that I largely care about because of Nubzy and Facepull.  They also have a freaking awesome armor and weapon style…  but one that never quite looks right on my Imperial character.  The first character I made in Alpha if I am remembering correctly was an Orsimer Templar so this DLC has been really fun for me to roam around in.

If they are all this cool…  I may stay glued to ESO for a very long time.

Mzindyne

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This is more than likely going to be a feature each morning as I post the new sign-ups to Blaugust.  If you are planning on participating please hit the Google Forms sign-up sheet so I can get you accounted for on the list.  Additionally swing by the Discord where we are all sorta coalescing in this middle ground between the announcement and the official start.  I’m super happy to see folks already talking about technical details a bit and helping point folks in the right direction on various topics.

New Mentors

New Blaugustans

We also have Ventium who has signed up but is still sorting out the blog which is fine because there is still plenty of time.  Ultimately that was the primary reason why I announced it a bit early and also gave a lead in week still in July so folks could have some time to seek help on getting the blog set up and ready to go for August 1st.  August is a bit of a special month for me… seeing as August 1st is also my wedding anniversary and this year is going to be twenty years.  Admittedly organizing the start of a blogging festival is not exactly romantic, but she runs her own Blaugust event many of the years among her Math Blogging community.

Side note…  I am hoping today to sort out the Blogroll to have a more permanent list of participants.  I think I agree with Syp in a conversation we had on Discord that the best way to clean up the Blogroll… is just to nuke it from orbit and start from scratch.

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I went to bed pretty early last night because my wife and I both turned to each other at nine-ish and said that we could go to bed at pretty much any time.  Prior to that however I spent my evening playing Elder Scrolls Online again, slowly working my way through the Orsinium content.  More specifically I spent a good deal of my time delving into a Dwemer ruin.  This was always my favorite part of Skyrim and quite honestly…  any game that lets me explore and underground civilization is pretty high on my list.  For example the Deep Roads sections of Dragons Age games are without a doubt my favorites…  much to the chagrin of players that completely hate that area.

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I have to say though the Dwemer ruin in the Wrothgar area has to be the coolest that I have seen in game yet.  It had an interesting puzzle associated with it and brand new dwarven mob types in the form of cute little sentry robots.  I love fighting dwarven stuff…  which again is something that most people hate to do for some reason.  I will purposefully go out of my way to fight the big Dwarven Centurions because I think they are just so damned cool.  ESO is a great game to get in… knock a few quests off and turn a few areas of the map to the completed icon state.  You feel a sense of accomplishment, but still have a sort of drop in and drop back out experience.

That said I know there are several big releases coming up that will probably distract me some.  You have Monster Hunter World for the PC on August 9th, and Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate for the Switch on August 28th.  Then you have the big one which is World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth on August 14th…  which I know I will play but I am not feeling any hype for as of yet.  There are a lot of directions that game is going that I am not sure if I can follow.  In my perfect world the Horde and Alliance would form a grand alliance that allows players to play freely with each other and go take on bigger badder monsters than the nonsense red versus blue crap.  An expansion that doubles down on the past is concerning to me, but I have yet to miss a launch of a WoW game…  so I fully expect to be logging in on the 14th and playing along with everyone else.

 

Cadwell’s Gold

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I thought I would start off with a brief Blaugust update since while we are still roughly 15 days away from the official kickoff… we already have a bunch of activity.  For those interested please take a moment and fill out the form that I am using for tracking this event.  Also we have a discord that is starting to become active that we have a good number of the participants in so far.  On day what… negative 16…  we had a bunch of people sign up and I fully expect before we will get the event rolling we will have even more sign up.  However I did want to take a quick moment to recognize all of the “first!” crew who signed up almost immediately.

Mentors (so far)

Blaugustans (aka participants so far)

Super huge thanks to all of these fine folks for signing their name on the dotted line…  or in our case a google form.  I did want to say a few more things about Blaugust.  This is a festival of blogging, but that could take a bunch of meanings.  If your thing is not writing a bunch of words about gaming then that is absolutely cool…  just do whatever works for you.  If you would prefer to do a travelogue sort of blog where you explore, take a bunch of pictures and then write a little bit about each of them…  then that is a really cool blog.  If you want to do some sort of creative en-devour and show off the things you created in the process… and talk a bit about what you were thinking or any challenges you had while creating it…  then that also is a really cool blog.

Say you want to instead challenge yourself to do a daily vlog or a daily twitch stream…  that you then paste links to in a blog form…  then that absolutely is also within the spirit of this festival.  Blaugust is about creating content and preferably getting yourself in the habit of doing it in a regular manner.  The idea is to turn the once a month blogger into a couple of times a week blogger giving us more content to consume and broadening our community.  A lot of the traditional blogging activity has moved from the dedicated blogs into the social media space…  which is an area we are finding we have no control over.  I feel like maybe it is time to start clawing those posts back to places you control and staking out a place for yourself on the internet.  There is still plenty of time to decide if you want to participant in this years running of Blaugust however.

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On to gaming talk… last night I accomplished something that has been my goal up until this point in Elder Scrolls Online.  I finished Cadwell’s Gold or as I have often referred to it..  New Game++.  For the uninitiated Elder Scrolls Online launched with three separate factions and an interesting mechanic that allows you to keep the gaming going by venturing forth into the other two factions after you finish the one you started in.  So as a Daggerfall Covenant player, my first “New Game” mode was to venture forth into the Aldmerri Dominion.  I stalled out in that area for a really long time… given that the game released four years ago.  Once beating that main story quest…  I achieved Cadwell’s Silver and moved forth into Ebonheart Pact, where I have been spending my time lately and wrapped up last night.

For my troubles I got a necklace that I will likely deconstruct… and a cosmetic helm that is Cadwell’s infamous “helmet”.  I am effectively “finished” with all of the content that was available at the release of Elder Scrolls Online…  effectively 150 levels worth of story.  By the time I beat it I was sitting at 285 champion points… which becomes the post game progression system.  I was really weird about the content in ESO because I wanted to beat the effective New Game++ before starting any of the DLC or expansion content.  Now I have accidentally done one of the Thieves Guild quests because I simply thought it was “just another quest” in Windhelm, however I have not properly dug into any of it…  that is until last night.

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I officially started Orsinium…  with my trusty helm equipped.  Firstly I have to say… if this is the scale of their DLC content… I am damned impressed and find myself wondering what in the hell their Expansions look like since they make the clear distinction between the two concepts.  Wrothgar is huge and so far the questing has been excellent since I have been looking forward to doing the deep dive into Orsimer culture.  The fact that Orcs in the Elder Scrolls setting… are “Elves Gone Wrong”…  has always appealed to me greatly given my general distaste for elves in most games.  That said I do love the Bosmer… and quite a bit of Dunmer culture as well…  so maybe it is just the Altmer aka High Elves that I ultimately have problem with.  The Thalmor in Skyrim are one of those things that I will go completely out of my way just to kill one walking down the road.

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If you have not gotten the impression yet…  I am freaking having a blast in this game and I am super glad E3 made me want to dig back into it.  Effectively prior to E3 I had been stalled out in Stonefalls…  which is not a good zone.  It doesn’t help that it is one of those zones we beat the shit out of in alpha and beta with focused testing…  so it just bores me to tears at this point.  However as soon as I managed to push my way through it…  the rest of Ebonheart Pact was charming and interesting and the gaming equivalent of a “page turner”.  Now I am almost giddy thinking about experiencing all of this expanded content that I have heard so much about.

 

 

Blaugust Reborn

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What Was Blaugust?

Back in April of 2013 I started this thing I referred to as the Grand Experiment, where I attempted to force myself to write something… anything every single day.  Prior to that I had been a very infrequent blogger to say the least, having an entire year pass between posts.  Any time I lapsed there would be this wall of pressure and anxiety that would build up that kept me from starting posting again, feeling like when I came back I needed to make some spectacular re-entry worthy of the length of time I had been gone.  The daily posting things did a lot for me and my confidence and also the level of my life I was willing to share with my readers.  For me personally… it was a good transformation and while I only kept with the daily posting for three years I have since settled into a more comfortable routine of only posting during the week days.

In 2014 I had already noticed a change in the way I wrote and how I felt about blogging in general and to some extent wanted to share that with the rest of the blogging community.  So in my infinite wisdom I decided to create an event where I challenged other bloggers to go one entire month without missing a post.  In my head I rammed together a bunch of sounds until I came up with Blaugust…  only to find out later that it was already a thing and that a bunch of Aussies had been doing a blogging festival thing for years.  My version however focused on the rigor of posting every single day and being super hard core about keeping track of who was and was not still in the race.  While entertaining this was really not healthy for the blogging community.

One of the side effects that I found is that many blogs that were started for Blaugust or were fledglings going into it…  went into massive periods of not posting anything at all as a sort of recovery period.  Similarly as the years went on those same blogs never really seemed to recover, and it is my fear that Blaugust wound up killing more blogs than it wound up helping.  Each year I tweaked the formula a bit until 2016 was my attempt at creating a kinder gentler Blaugust, and then last year I just couldn’t muster the oomph to make it happen at all and instead promoted something my friend Grace was trying.  I had this overall feeling that I harmed the community with the event, and this was only reinforced in my mind by the constantly shrinking pool of active bloggers.

What Was the Newbie Blogger Intiative?

The thing is… at the time of the inception of Blaugust it was just one of many events that the community did during the year.  The grand daddy of them all was the Newbie Blogger Initiative that ran most often during the month of May.  This was an idea originally spawned by Syp of Bio Break and he realized that game blogging was a thing that was on the decline, and the only way to keep it alive was to set out to “grow our own” as it were.  The first year was 2012 and had a flood of participation that you can see summarized here, but it helped more than anything to build a sense of community to the folks out here blogging as independent island nations floating in the internet.  There are lots of game blogging communities that gain cohesiveness through shared love of a specific product…  the World of Warcraft community for example has always been fairly tight knit and recursive.  However those of us nomads that jump around from game to game have never really had a similar family…  that is until NBI came along and crafted a sense of shared community.  Unfortunately the last running of NBI was also in 2016…  because quite honestly the tail end of 2016 and all of 2017 were extremely rough to struggle through.  There were events that happened in the real world and events that happened in gaming that caused people to fear for their own safety and sort of batten down the hatches.  All of this was an unfortunate blow to our already shrinking blogrolls.

What is Blaugust Reborn?

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The idea is simple…  lets take the best features of both Blaugust and the Newbie Blogger Intiative and sorta ram them together into one festival of blogging.  It isn’t necessarily that I feel like I am qualified to do this thing…  but it is something that someone needs to do.  Over the last few years those of us who are out here posting regularly has shrunk to a pretty small pool.  There was a time when I could never actually read down my blog roll, because by the time I got through with a day new posts were flooding in over the top of the dam.  Now I pretty regularly read down to the equivalent of “inbox zero” while taking pretty huge breaks between reading.  The world has changed and it isn’t as exciting to be out here blogging your thoughts and ideas the way it used to be, also there are a million other streams of information dividing our attention.  I still feel however that blogging creates a place for yourself in that stream if information and gives you a presence that cannot be taken away by “promoted posts” or “interest based sorting algorithms”.

So what I propose is a month of mildly structured posting and developing a strong mentorship community among those of us who are still out there doing it on a regular basis.  Lets help grow that next generation of bloggers and help them get started in a journey that honestly has meant more to me than I can adequately put into words.  I love feeling like I am part of something bigger than myself and I think we all do to some extent.  Let’s reignite the fires of this dwindling community and help to firmly affix the torch into the hands of a new generation of bloggers.  While gaming is very much in my wheel house… it isn’t even a game blogging festival but more one about creating a place for yourself and showing off whatever it is that you want to show the world.  You could create a blog to share your latest recipe creations or one to catalog your experiences as you start a new job.  You could share your awesome screenshots and write some notes about how you felt when you took it or what you were thinking at the time.  You could do your “daily blog” as a series of livestreams that you record and post later as a VOD or exported to YouTube.  The core concept is to create a community around the creation of new “stuff” and a sense of us all working together in the same shared space.

What About the Awards?

One of the things that has traditionally come with Blaugust is a series of made up awards that are granted to those who participant.  So far they have shaped up to look a little something like this…

  • Newbie Blogger Award – You did it, you created a new blog and by god we are going to sing your praises for doing it!
  • Bronze Award – You made at least 5 posts during the Month of August 2018.
  • Silver Award – You made at least 15 posts during the Month of August 2018, go you!
  • Gold Award – You made at least 25 posts during the Month of August 2018, you are a badass!
  • Rainbow Diamond Award – You did it, you posted every single day during the Month of August 2018 and deserve accolades.

Occasionally in the past various sponsors have mysteriously shown up during this event, and if that happens… awesome I will share the bounty.  If not I am going to make nifty blog sidebar thingys for each of the various award categories.

Mentorship

One of the keys to making this work is that we need a bunch of you amazing bloggers out there to sign up as mentors.  Ultimately I feel like mentors should have roughly two years of blogging experience under their belt to be able to gauge the ebbs and flows of content creation in front of a live studio audience.  This isn’t necessarily meant as a gate keeping mechanism, but I want any participant to feel like they can turn to any mentor for sage advice.  I sure as hell am not sure if I have anything resembling sage advice, but I have quite a bit of experience in dealing with the nonsense that comes up while trying to keep a regular publishing schedule.  The mentors will all be clearly marked as such in Discord since that tends to be the thing that ultimately replaced forums for the gaming community.  I will be doing my best to be hanging out there often myself to answer questions as they arise.

Structured Format

I mentioned this above that I wanted to attempt a bit of a structured format… which is of course optional but provides us some general content areas to focus on while the event is going on.  This also helps to revive another tradition that was Developer Appreciation Week and embed it as part of this larger blogging festival as well.  So right now the weeks look a little something like this.

  • July 25th – July 31st – Blaugust Prep Week – posts about the technical details of getting started in blogging.  Tutorials, advice, tips for naming your blog… that sort of stuff to get people ready to hit the ground on August 1st running.
  • August 1st – August 7th – Topic Brainstorming Week – posts about ideas for topics that the participants can then mine for the rest of the month.
  • August 8th – August 14th – Get to Know Each Other Week – hanging out and meeting other people in this new fledgling community and hopefully gaming together a bit!  Also highly support doing some sort of collaboration on shared topics!
  • August 15th – August 21st – Developer Appreciation Week – post about the things that you really appreciate in gaming or any other community… because chances are there is a developer or designer behind the things you love.
  • August 22nd – August 28th – Staying Motivated Week – tips and tricks that you might have to stay motivated and keep creating content against the tyranny of a blank screen.
  • August 29th – August 31st – The Final Stretch: Lessons Learned – as a way of getting us across the finish line, talk about some of the experienced you had during the month and maybe things you learned about yourself.

The Details

  • The sign up form for Blaugust Reborn 2018 can be found here
  • The invite link to the Blaugust Reborn Discord can be found here
  • When you share your content please use the hashtag #BlaugustReborn for tracking purposes
    • Also share your content in the “share-your-content” channel on Discord!
  • Mingle with your other Mentors and Participants
    • Maybe even use the “gaming-together” channel on Discord for play games together!
  • Have a great freaking August!