Back again.

It’s been a while, four years actually, since my last post celebrating the end of my seventh year on the blog. Obviously my plans at the time to set a writing reminder and do one or two posts a week didn’t succeed.

What started as one of my normal slow gaps turned into a January where I didn’t have much to say about the last years games or upcoming games and just went on from there. Not just with the blog either but my time on Twitter dropped off in the last few years too. I’d find myself browsing Reddit much more often when I had some time to kill. Eventually I started using Instagram a bit as well, but it seemed like any time I would check in on Twitter that were a lot of conversations going on that I didn’t have anything to contribute to or were over hours before I was reading them.

MMO’s have always been one of the primary drivers for getting me to write, and were the reason why I started the blog in the first place. So once my interest in MMO’s dwindled to logging into Star Trek Online occasionally, the main driver for me to go online and write was gone. There’s such a time commitment required and getting back up to speed in an MMO after an absence often seems like learning a new game, that I’d never play for long.

So, why am I back now?

I’ve started to write posts like this two or three times over the last four years, but I always came up with some excuse and put it off. Recently I’ve been back on Twitter more and feeling more engaged in the online conversations. I’ve also gotten into flying quadcopters over the last ten months, and I’ve been wanting to write about my experience of getting into that hobby. It’s not the kind of thing that fits into a tweet no matter what the character limit is up to now.

The other big motivator was my original site host was acquired by a company I try to avoid, and my hosting plan was coming up for renewal. So I needed to decide if it was time to just shut the site down or I should put the effort into finding a new host and migrating the site over.

Of course, it remains to be seen how it goes, but I have some ideas already and I’m hoping I can capitalize on my productive bursts to get a buffer of posts scheduled. Since I’m primarily planning to write about my adventures in FPV drones, I can work ahead as much as I’d like.

Seven!

Today marks the end of the seventh year of the blog. I say this every year, but it’s crazy to me that the blog is still around after so long. Of course just like last year, my posting has been sparse outside of Blaugust, so the blog is really barely around. I’m at the point now where it’s nice to have an outlet when I need one, but I don’t feel guilty when I look at the site and see it’s been four months since I wrote anything.

I’m not saying that I expect to fall silent until next year though. I’ve got a weekday reminder to write something set on my phone and that has worked more often than it hasn’t in September. My hope and my goal is to keep that up with two or more posts a week depending on what I’m doing and how much I have to say. If nothing else I expect to have regular KSP mission reports.

Thanks to everyone who’s stopped by to read or comment, I’m looking forward to seeing what the next year brings.

Six years.

Wow, I can’t believe that I’ve been blogging for six years. I don’t stop to appreciate it much, but even though I don’t blog regularly in any sense of the word, I need to cut myself a little slack for maintaining a blog for six years, no matter how sporadically I post. And it’s definitely been sparse outside of Blaugust. Speaking of, I haven’t kept up with the “post every day” thing, but I hadn’t intended to anyway. I have been getting one or two in a week though which has been great. After looking at my archives, I don’t think I’ve been this motivated to post since 2011.

Anyway, I wanted to send out a big “Thank you!” to everyone who stops by to read and comment. Onward to year seven!

Year five?!

This has been, by far, the roughest year for me with blogging. I’ve been on a hiatus of sorts since April and only last week really started to feel the need to start writing here again. Really I don’t feel like I’ve missed too much as far as topics or news. It seems like it’s been a really quiet year overall for MMOs. Not that I’ve really been playing them anyway. I had a brief stint with Defiance before I got burned out on the clunky UI and severe lack of any social environment in the game. I also spent quite a bit of time with Star Trek Online this year, Cryptic did extremely well with their Romulan expansion, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t actually like Romulans much. No, what I’ve been spending most of my time playing this year has been Minecraft, specifically modded Minecraft. I mentioned back in April that I’ve found the Feed the Beast mod pack and since then have move on to customizing my own mod pack.

Anyway, I want to thank anyone that’s still stopping by to see if I’ve gotten off my lazy butt to write, and hopefully you’ll be hearing more from me for the rest of the year. It’s best not to make any promises, but I will say that I’ve finally managed to get into Dwarf Fortress after many failed attempts and that it’s unique among the single player games I’ve experienced in that it makes me want to write about the events that happen in the game. Beyond that, I’ve recently dropped back into Champions Online for more than a brief check in, so you all might finally see origin stories for a few more of my heroes like what I did for the Silver Hunter.

Thanks for reading.

Four years, almost missed it.

On Friday as I was leaving work, I looked at the calendar on my phone to see if anything was planned for the weekend and saw that Sunday was my blog’s anniversary. I nearly missed it.

I hadn’t realized that it’s been almost exactly a month since my last post, but I guess it’s not that surprising to anyone who follows me on Twitter. Things usually get quiet around here when I’m in the obsessive honeymoon stage of a game affair. For most of the past four weeks that’s been Guild Wars 2, but the last few days have also seen Torchlight 2 take up some of my game time.

I keep intending to sit down and write up all of the notes I’ve been taking while playing GW2 but I always end up playing instead, which is a bit of a review in itself. Obviously I need to work more on easing up on the self-editing.

Anyway, thanks to everyone that’s stuck around over the last twelve months to read my ramblings and leave comments. Even after four years I always get excited when I see an email saying there’s a new comment.

Wow, three years.

Today marks three years of blogging!

I have to say, I never expected to still be writing this long. I hoped I would be, but I don’t think I actually believed it. I’ve lost count of the number of abandoned writing project I’ve started over the years and despite my best intentions, a part of me didn’t expect this endeavor to be any different.

Like I did last year, I wanted to mention a few numbers (for my own reference later on if no other reason). I’ve published 309 posts and 1,724 comments (doubling last years numbers for both). My Red Dead Redemption post is still the most popular post on the site by a ridiculous margin (7,674 hits versus 1,170 for a Minecraft post) and I wish I knew why. My final hit count for 2010 was 21,939 (up from the YTD of 12,284 on last year’s anniversary), and 2011 has already busted that at 23,177.

Not bad for someone who vacillates between daily rambles to sporadic rants.

I wanted to send out a special “Thank you!” to the people who stop by regularly an leave comments: MMOGamerchick, Yeebo,  Anjin, Longasc, xXJayDuBXx,  Tesh, and Rowan. While the recognition is nice, it’s the chance to engage in conversations that I really enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

Mostly Dead

Well not now, but Monday I did feel mostly dead.

I was on a good run with posts two weeks ago, and then nothing. Well last week I was playing Rift much more than was healthy for me. This week, I’d intended to start on Monday with a Rift update and cover a couple of topics that had been festering in my imagination, but a little bought with food poisoning put a stop to that.

With out going into the gross details, I want to say that my perception of the seriousness of food poisoning has changed drastically. I’d always thought it was along the lines of a rough night in the bathroom (washroom for you Canadians) similar to what happens when you drink three pints too many. Well that’s part of it, I woke up at 2:30 am on Monday morning and didn’t spent a miserable 4 hours. What I wasn’t expecting was the way it sapped my strength and stamina for days afterward. I was hit a lot harder than my wife was, but we were both laid up all day on Monday napping off and on. Even now days later, I’m planning to go to bed early, which is entirely out of character for me. My usual bedtime is 12:30 or 1 am. Last night I went to bed at 10. Food poisoning is vicious and much more serious than I ever gave it credit for being.

Thankfully, my son’s been picky about food over the last week and he didn’t eat the chicken that made my wife and I so sick, so at least we didn’t have a miserable two year old to contend with as well.

Looking Forward to 2011 – Console/PC

I debated just tacking this onto the end of my 2011 MMOs post, since it could be condensed down to:

Mass Effect 3! Mass Effect 3! Minecraft! Minecraft!

But that feels a bit lazy and January is way too early for me to give into laziness, that’s what March is for.

Console Games

There’s only two games I’m excited to play on the Xbox 360 this coming year:

  • Mass Effect 3
  • Batman: Arkham City

Do I really need to explain why? Fine.

Mass Effect 3

Bioware has shown marked improvement in the game-play from 1 to 2, I can only imagine 3 with be even better. Honestly, I’m not sure how though, the mining mini-game was really the only part that was below excellent.

The story, characters, and dialogue have been consistently good through out the first two games, despite my concerns based on the way Mass Effect 2 was marketed. It will be shocking if they somehow manage to drop the ball for the finale.

Batman: Arkham City

It’s the rare superhero game that really recreate the experience of being an iconic hero from the comics. Besides Batman: Arkham Asylum only Spider-man 2 and Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction come to mind. I’m very interested to see if Rocksteady Studios can pull off a sequel. Will they be able to improve on the combat and the detective mode issues without losing the magic from the first game?

PC Games

I’m sure I missed one or two, but this was all I had in my wish-lists on Steam and Amazon.

Minecraft

Obviously there’s going to be a lot happening with Minecraft this year. Notch’s company, Mojang, is up and running, he’s got developers and an artist helping out now, and he’s got big plans. While I’m excited to see Notch does this year with all the resources at his disposal, to be totally honest, I’ve already gotten more than my $14 worth.

Portal 2

I hate puzzle games and platformers, yes even Mario Bros. I loved Portal though. The game did an excellent job of training you on how to solve the puzzles in the game and the difficulty curve always managed to challenge me without causing my to break my keyboard. I’ve been on a complete media blackout regarding this game, all I know is that it’s scheduled for 2011 and I want it.

Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 2 – Retribution & Warhammer 40k: Space Marine

An expansion for DoW2 and a 40k shooter are both due out this year. I loved the single player game for DoW2 but it took a while before I really started to like the multi-player mode, mostly I just missed the base building. Still, I’m very excited to get to play my favorite race from DoW1, the Imperial Guard.

The shooter, Space Marine, looks interesting and given Relic and THQ’s track record with DoW 1 and 2, I’m definitely going to give it a shot. I’m assuming I’ll get the PC version, but there is an Xbox 360 version scheduled as well.

Looking Forward to 2011 – MMOs

This will be an interesting year.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

A lot of hopes have been pinned on this game. Some people’s expectations for TOR are so high, that I don’t see how the game can match them. So there will┬ábe a lot of disappointed people when the game launches. I myself have been trying to stay away from the news and hype for the game as much as I could for most of the year.

It’s Star Wars so I know I’m going to get it and give it a shot for the first month. It’s basically KotOR 3 (only this time finished unlike 2) so I’m sure I’ll play through at least one or two of the storyline (probably light-side Jedi of some flavor and a Smuggler), but I’m also not expecting to still be playing this game in December. This is basically a single-player game with a subscription fee, it’s something I’m not particularly excited about money-wise, but it is Star Wars so what can I say.

Rift

For the longest time I had trouble differentiating between this game and Tera Online, so I’m glad that they’ve changed their name.

Unlike TOR, Rift was not an instant buy for me. I didn’t have any interest until I started see some of the news and videos about their rift system for dynamic PvE content.

I’ve been in a few of the semi-closed beta events and gotten a chance to experience the new system. It is quite a bit of fun, and in several ways rifts could be considered a more dynamic version of Warhammer public quests. The game is an evolutionary mix of WoW’s and Warhammer’s game designs with a touch of Aion’s graphical style. In short, it doesn’t break the DIKU mold common to MMOs, but it is fun.

Like TOR , I don’t foresee this being a long-term subscription for me. LotRO has been my main fantasy game for years now, and I expect that to continue, but who knows. A lot can happen in twelve months.

Guild Wars 2

Here’s the short version: excited for the game, hesitant about NCSoft.

The original Guild Wars has a lot of faithful fans, but I’m not one of them. I bought the game when it released and I’ve played it off an on over the years, but never for very long. Primarily, I think, because of the focus on private over public instancing and the number of invisible walls in the outdoor maps, the game’s just never clicked with me. So it’s been exciting to me to see that ArenaNet is addressing both of those issues in Guild Wars 2.

NCSoft though has me worried. They’ve had some real problems with their security in the last year, and their customer support hasn’t been much better. Hopefully they get their act together before GW2 launches.

MMO Wish-list

If my personal predictions turn out correct I won’t really be playing any of the new 2011 MMOs all year. Come December, I’m expecting that my core games will still be: Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, and Champions.

Star Trek Online

Of all the MMOs I currently play, this is the one I’m the most happy with. Cryptic’s made a lot of improvements in the eleven months since the game launched, and I like a lot of the plans that I’ve heard Daniel Stahl talk about for the game.

Some of these are things that Cryptic has talked about and some are, but here’s some of the changes (both small and large) that I’d like to see happen this year.

  • Ship-wide uniforms. It’s a real pain right now to keep my bridge officer’s uniforms consistent, and there’s no to customize crewman uniforms for when walking around the spacious hallways of my ship.
  • Speaking of spacious, there’s got to be someway to bring the scale of the interior maps down at least a little bit.
  • Allow bridge officers to have multiple uniform slots just like command officers do.
  • Improve the save/load functionality in the tailor so that uniform saves are easier to distinguish from one another.
  • Make the pop-up dialog that occurs when crossing zone borders optional. I’d like to be able to leave Sol and set a course for DS9 and not have to keep an eye on the ship to approve warping from one Sector Block to the next.
  • Ability to disable ships rather than destroy them. Even if it’s only a cosmetic change where enemies pull some kind of emergency warp. It wouldn’t even have to happen all the time, but incorporating disabling ships in some fashion into the combat system would make the game feel just a bit more Trek-like.
  • Change the ground combat system to something cover-based. I would love to see Cryptic borrow some design decisions from Bioware’s Mass Effect 2 and make STO’s ground combat more about moving from cover to cover rather than standing still out in the open and depending on personal shields. Tweaking melee combat so that it’s not a Benny Hill kite-fest would be good too.
  • Keep doing the Featured Episodes! Taking a month off here and there is fine, after all TV does too, but I’d love to see a commitment from Cryptic that this is a permanent feature of the game.

Champions Online

Even with my interest trailing off in the second half of 2010, I do enjoy hopping into the game from time to time and heroing about. Of course I’m a bit concerned about how the F2P switch will turn out, but I’m not worried about the same over-commercialization happening that happened with LotRO.

First, Cryptic already has a store interface in the game and it’s not nearly as prominent as Turbine’s is.

Second, there’s no way to earn Cryptic Points in the game (or there wasn’t last time I checked), so there won’t be an annoying pop-up message anytime I finish a Perk or Adventure Pack reminding me about the store.

Third, a little commercialism fits pretty well into the Champions setting. I’m also don’t have emotional ties to the Champions property that go back to my childhood.

So aside from seeing how the F2P change works out, all I want from Cryptic’s Champions team is more. More new zones. More new mission. More new costume pieces.

A few new levels wouldn’t hurt either.

Lord of the Rings Online

Last year with LotRO was a real roller-coaster for me. A one-two punch of little to no content updates and way too much marketing of the store.

My hope is that this year Turbine turns things around, and given recent interviews where they claim to have tripled their revenues, they really have no excuse not to.

  • There needs to be a configuration option to turn off the store buttons and TP alerts. I don’t care if I’ve earned another 10 Turbine Points. I may care if I can buy a consumable to speed up crafting sometime, but I usually don’t and I’d rather not be reminded of it every time I open the crafting panel.
  • Regular content updates. They don’t have to be large and I actually prefer that Turbine keep them small and frequent rather than dropping a single large one half-way through the year.
  • Expanded cosmetic system: more costume slots, the ability to bring one’s cloak hood up or down without switching cloaks, and cosmetic weapons.
  • A total revamp of the legendary item system. Drop the lottery aspects and make LI’s work more like a person’s skirmish soldier.
  • For the love of Tolkien, find someone to make some decent hats.

I’ve always felt the Turbine did a good job of staying close to the spirit of Tolkien’s lore even if they had to bend the letter of it to fit the MMO genre, but the commercialism that’s invaded the game since it went free-to-play has gotten out of control.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed, Turbine, don’t let me down.