Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my meandering, muddled mind.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Epic Speeder Giveaway

I hesitate to publicize this, since I am entered myself, but Ravanel Griffon, proprietor of the Ravalation blog, is holding a SWTOR speeder giveaway. Head on over there if you play the game and are interested in that sweet ride. She's also got a second contest exclusive to members of The Red Eclipse server, so if you have characters residing there, you have two chances to win phat l00tz.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Serial Mono-game-y

This post started out as something else, then I realized it pretty effectively answered Jaedia's Talkback Challenge.

The Original RowanblazeWhile I did play video games growing up, they were not common in my house. Nor did I get involved in D&D or other roleplaying games, even though I was mildly interested in the idea. However I did (and still do) have a vivid imagination, fueled by a love of reading and (at least as a kid) plenty of opportunity to play outside with friends in a LARPy sort of way (though not with nearly so many rules) (or costuming). These traits and experiences sowed the seeds of my future gamer-ness.

Syp posted last week about having a bit of envy toward MMOers who can devote themselves to a single game. This was me for the longest time after subscribing to World of Warcraft, and mostly before I started this blog. To this day, WoW has been the MMORPG I've played the most for the longest, to the almost complete exclusion of any other game at the time. There are a few factors that led to this. It was the first MMO I'd ever played, starting in 2006. The fact that it is a monthly subscription meant that the thought of playing anything else made me feel I would be wasting money, and time. Lastly, because this period closely followed my divorce and I was not prepared to be out in the dating arena, I spent the vast majority of my leisure time retreating into the vibrant realm of Azeroth.

Starship Captain Rowan Starblanket
As you may guess, the factors that led me to branch out into other MMOs were a direct counterpoint to the reasons I played WoW so heavily in the first place. The year 2009 marked my re-entry into a serious romantic relationship, the first since my divorce. I was spending less time playing WoW, even though my girlfriend of the time humored me and dabbled a bit in the game herself. Then, my account got hacked in January of 2010; just after I had begun blogging, as a matter of fact. Granted that I got just about all my stuff back later, the hack still made me realize just how ephemeral progress in an MMO can be. I was much less attached to WoW after that, more willing to try something else. Along came Star Trek Online less than a month later, themed on one of my favorite IPs growing up. The chance to be a Starship Captain was too tempting to resist in my state of disillusionment with Blizzard. My exposure to the larger gaming community through my blog led to yet another purchase, LOTRO, in late March, also marking the first time I labeled myself a gamer.

Chicco and Versteckt
Unlike that girlfriend who simply humored me and my hobby, Scooter actively and enthusiastically participates in MMOs with me. Her gamer resume is also far deeper, including a regular D&D group in her youth. We are one of many gamer couples and families.

While I have tried to play more than one game at a time, one has always come to dominate my play, either through being subscription-based (back to my value-for-money mentality) or simply being the new shiny. That has played out repeatedly in the years since WoW. I have returned occasionally to games, played them for a while, then moved on to another. SWTOR is simply my latest return and "main squeeze." Despite my initial reluctance, I am enjoying it. I just got my first stronghold, more on that tomorrow.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Credibility

On Sunday, Scott Rankin (whom you may know as @mylin1 on Twitter) commented on my Mental Energy post that "any interesting message that could have been looked at, discussed and even added insight into blogging that he had is lost under a wall of hate."

For once, a "cute" Norwegian Troll
I'm not sure if Scott meant the hate of the original troll or the backlash. But assuming he meant the troll, I agree. I know a lot of people are of the opinion that if someone has a valid point buried in a wall of hate, we should still listen. After all, to do otherwise would be a form of "shoot the messenger." However, that takes a lot of mental energy I think most of us do not care to expend in such a way. Excuse my French, but we don't need to dig into a pile of shit prospecting for gold. It is the duty of the messenger to deliver salient points of the message with as little extraneous information as possible, lest the fluff be construed as the essence of the message.

From my point of view, the noise of the vitriol drowns out any bits of reason that may be contained in the message. It has to do with credibility. Anything you say that reduces your credibility will interfere with the message you may be trying to convey.

I work as a technical instructor. Credibility is everything, and if one or more students perceives that I or a colleague is giving out mistaken information or are not confident in our delivery, they will often decide we don't know what we're talking about, even if 95 percent of what we're saying is accurate. When that happens, we've lost the students, even if they're still sitting in the classroom.

A reporter shouldn't be the news subject.
Looking at a different context, the reporter Brian Williams was caught lying about his experiences covering the war in Iraq, and it has cost him the anchor position on NBC's Nightly News show. (Now, there's a real journalistic ethics issue, right there, and no need to smear some some person with patently false rumors about whom they may or may not have slept with.) Mr. Williams' reputation—and therefore, his credibility—has been ruined by just a single lie (repeated).

Someone spewing vitriol on the Internet has very little credibility in my book. They are showing disrespect for their peers, and rather than arguing their point on the merits thereof, they throw out ad hominem attacks. There's no way to know if they really believe in the issue they are supposedly championing and are simply unable to argue it effectively; or if any truth or valid point is simply being made in an attempt to legitimize their hate. And really, does it even matter?
~~~
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Weekend in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Valerija, the Innocent Sith
This weekend was a fairly productive one at the "Blaze" household. My lovely bride had work to do, and I helped my daughter move stuff out of her dorm at the end of her semester. Luckily, we also had time to spend in SWTOR. While Scooter was at work, I started a new Sith Inquisitor. More about her later. (With apologies to Galactrix, since I was frequently interrupted for extended periods due to meatspace activities, I didn't run my new Juggernaut.)

After a discussion on Twitter, I installed FRAPS video capturing software because apparently the SWTOR client doesn't take screenshots during the cutscenes, something I had not remembered from my time in the game at launch. That, combined with me actually remembering to upload a a few shots last night, means I have some decent pictures today.
Awesome shot. I want to get an even better one, if I can convince Scooter to go through the Heroic one more time.
Scooter and I are working through Taris on our Trooper and Smuggler. While enjoyable separately, I think the various stories going on in SWTOR are a bit disjointed, and that can get distracting. Granted, figuring out how or why a smuggler and trooper would be hanging out together in the first place might be difficult to do, and it would be even worse if Bioware had tried to account for even more combinations of characters. Imagine running a regular group as a bunch of troopers in a squad, though; or a Jedi and some clones (to borrow from a different era). The possibilities are endless, but the resources of the software developers are not.
Achillea 'Splains the Sitch
I have a certain concept going for Lieutenant Achillea Sunsage. I've gone completely with light-side choices, which puts Achillea at odds with her military superiors on a regular basis. She's bit idealistic, generally respectful of authority, but possesses a healthy skepticism toward both her chain of command and the Senate. Being a U.S. Army veteran, I am bit put out by some of the vibe (and light/dark choices) of the Trooper story. Do the folks at BioWare really think that's what the military is like? On the other hand, maybe I am just as idealistic as Achillea is.
I like that helmet on you, Korso. It hides your face.
Scooter's Captain Harllie Sunfleur is the nicest Gunslinger you'll ever meet. Sure, she's not above getting paid, but she always does the right thing. And she's generally very polite.

Despite the 12x XP incentivizing a quick run through just the main stories, we are taking our time with the planet quests. We are just about done with Taris, I think, but have already far out-leveled the zone. With the appropriate level mods in our orange gear, this makes running through most of the bad guys an easy breeze. I did have to remember how to heal—or more specifically, that I was supposed to heal at all—during the Heroic +4 quest.
"It's like looking in a mirror."
When I got to the end of the first chapter of the Sith Inquisitor story with my Assassin, Tollkirsche, I thought that the events of the story would fit better for a female player character. After spending some time running TK through the end of the second chapter this past Saturday, I couldn't resist the urge to start another one, this time as a Sorceror. Taking the female thing a bit further, I decided to make her resemble as closely as possible her own mentor, Darth Zash, with one notable exception. Young Valerija is the curvy body type 4 instead of Zash's type 2. One day I'll create a truly despicable Dark Side character (TK is only mostly evil), but yesterday was not the day. Valerija is pure goodness wrapped up in an electrical storm. She was even respectful to the slug Harken. I know it's not an original idea, having a "good" Sith. But I find the idea amuses me. I want to rush TK through to the end, so I can then create a Sith Pureblood Jedi (another perverse idea). But I will probably take my time on each planet with Valerija.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Sense of Community

In April of 2012, Justin Olivetti, aka Syp of Bio Break and MassivelyOP fame, contacted me hoping that I would support a new initiative to help inspire (mostly) MMO gamers to take up blogging as a hobby. The idea was to create a welcoming environment for people to "dip their toes in the water" with a ready-made audience, advice, and encouragement. I, of course, was not the only "veteran" blogger Syp contacted, and we had a great first run. Some of the folks from the class of 2012 are still going strong, having posted within the past week. They're even contributing advice of their own to NBI2015.

I've enjoyed "getting to know" quite few of the bloggers from the various iterations of NBI, as they've shared not only their love of gaming, but a bit of themselves and their lives. Their personal struggles. Their personal triumphs. As Belghast has pointed out, people often become regular readers because they come to care about the blogger as a person. I firmly believe that best readers of blogs are also bloggers themselves. That is, your biggest fans will likely be posting a bit of themselves somewhere in their own corner of the internet. And that's how a community is formed.

Jeromai of Why I Game posted this link about trolls in the commentary on my recent post. The key, I think, is to counter the desires of the troll. Do not engage them on their turf (a major reason I did not directly link) or your own (that's what moderation is for). Put another way, you would not permit that sort of behavior in your house, and your blog is your house on the internet. Nor would you frequent the residence of another if you were being treated that way. John Scalzi also posted this week about not engaging bullies, online or otherwise. The inventor of the "Mallet of Loving Correction" has plenty of experience dealing with trolls. Which is to say, he doesn't.

Apparently, from its inception, NBI has been the target of trolls claiming that it was part of some conspiracy of political correctness. I think one need look no further than the current stewards of the Initiative to know that is not the case. However, the NBI is, rightfully, an inclusive place, where people of all stripes and political persuasions can come together and discuss their mutual enthusiasm for games. The only real requirement is that we have respect for one another as people. Because gamers are not one monolithic race, gender, orientation or creed; and neither are the subset that choose blog about it.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.