Write what you like to read

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It’s brainstorming week for and I figured I should write something on the topic. Though take this advice with a grain of salt, I am far from a consistent, everflowing source of content.

One of the major benefits of participating in Blaugust, it forces you to flex those brainstorming muscles Brainstorming is a skill that gets better with practice. You can look for content everywhere and you get better at spotting things that will make a good blog post. It’s also an active endeavor. You can’t sit around waiting for the next great idea to come to you. Otherwise, you end up with months between your posts or no posts at all.

Now, on to my one brainstorming tip:

Write what you enjoy reading.

Whenever I’m looking for something to write about I look to my feed and see what I enjoyed reading that day/week/month and use that as a jumping point. It could be a topic that interested me, a news item I have an opinion on or trying out a new post or writing style. I find that certain topics circulate around the blogosphere with different bloggers expounding on it in a given week. You’ll even see a lot of bloggers get into the same game all around the same time as they read posts from others.

I like to read game diary-style posts hence those make up a lot of the posts here. Sometimes there’s a topic that really interests me and I just have to add my two cents. Rarer are the times I have a new idea I’d like to discuss but it does happen. I make sure to keep track of all of it one way or another. I use the usual tools like Evernote and WordPress drafts when I’m out and about. But, my favorite tool for brainstorming is my waterproof note pad. I’m a cliche, my best ideas come to me in the shower.

 

 

 

 

That Second Screen Life

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I’ve been having a little debate with myself for months. Do I want a second monitor? Yes. Do I need a second monitor? Well, it’d be nice. What would you even do with it? Oh you know, stuff….

For the longest time, I wanted a 27″ monitor but that would look weird with the 24″ so I’d have to buy 2. It turns out I don’t have the desk space or the funds to buy 2 nice ones. So I settled on getting another 24″ monitor and a VESA mount for the same price as a low end 27″. This was Sunday night.

Fast forward to Monday. I forgot Amazon Prime has that whole 1-day shipping thing now and was quite surprised when I got a notification that they were both delivered. Now I live in an apartment complex. This is important because Amazon delivered it to my door, in its original packaging. The thing practically screamed, “I’m an expensive electronic come get me”. I would very much like to know how Amazon decides what gets delivered to my door and what gets delivered to the apartment office where someone has to sign for it. I mean I’ve had to sign for socks before Amazon, freaking socks. But this monitor, Nah leave at the door it’ll be fine.

 

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This is the best before picture I had. Plus a kitty! Oreo, say hi to all the nice readers.

 

Anyways, I spent an hour and a half last night setting up the mount and managing all my cables. I took the opportunity to clean off my desk, clean the area around my desk, and vacuum places that haven’t been vacuumed in a while. After all was said and done, it looked a lot nicer than it had before.

I got it all set up just in time to play some Trove with Jay. We ended up streaminig, which isn’t something we’ve done for a while. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the second screen definitely had some allure for streaming. Also, I can have Evernote open while I play games and take notes for future blog posts, see it’s totally necessary.

I am very much in the new toy phase with this purchase. I haven’t had an upgrade for my PC since I built it in early 2017 so it was time.

Now that it’s all set up and I’ve used it for a bit all I can say is…I might need a third.

For those curious, I purchased a second 24″ Asus VE248 monitor with  Vivo Dual Monitor Stand.

 

Backlogged: The Last Door- Season 2

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The Last Door: Season 2 took me longer to finish than the first season both in hours played and the time I took between each episode. Season 1 grabbed me and didn’t let go, the story was interesting with each episode leaving me with such a good cliff hanger I just had to know what happened. Plus, it was the first point and click game I’ve played in a while so the novelty also had a strong pull on my playtime. Season 2 on the other hand, had a good story but wasn’t nearly as compelling and I spread it out over a few weeks. It took me 7 hours in total to get through all 4 chapters. There were a few achievements I missed so there is more content there if I ever went back for a second playthrough.

I chose to both games of the series through Steam but they are also available on mobile devices.

Story

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I was a bit worried when season 2 was not a direct continuation from season 1. This season has us following Dr. Wakefield, Jeremiah Devitt’s psychologist as tries to unravel the mystery of where his patient’s disappearance. He consults with his colleague, Dr. Kaufmann, who has more knowledge about the occult circumstances of Devitt’s disappearance.

Episode 3 was by far my favorite. The setting, Elis Mor, was amazing. This was an island with weird rituals, creepy residents, and an ominous deep hole where a monster supposedly slept.

Gameplay

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Much like season 1, the gameplay in The Last Door – Season 2 does not get too in the way of the story. The puzzles aren’t easy but with a little thought, they can be solved fairly quickly. I did find myself running between rooms and areas frequently as I had missed a small detail or had a new idea for a solution.

I liked the inclusion of multiple areas and a map this time around. Each episode in the first game

When it comes to gameplay, Episode 2 was my favorite. It was filled with riddles and made me feel smart when I could figure them out without looking up a guide. Thanks for stroking my ego!

Episode 3 was by far the hardest for me. I will admit to looking up the solution for a particular part but that was only after a half-hour of running around trying objects with different things. I forgot that objects can be used with people as well. To be fair though, I probably wouldn’t have ended up figuring this out on my own and I wanted to keep progressing in the story.

Sound

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The Last Door would be a much less exciting experience without the fantastic soundtrack and sound design. I’m not usually paying enough attention to the sound for it to matter in most games but The Last Door does everything right in this category. There are intense moments that are heightened by the sound. The sound is also the only way for this game to really deliver jumps scares, which it does sparingly but in the right places.

Graphics

The art style The Game Kitchen chose for The Last Door works in a way I didn’t think it would. The low resolution actually makes some of the monsters and settings creepier. You can’t tell exactly what they are but your mind fills in the rest. I find that this works very well for this style of game.

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Final Thoughts

I found this season creepier overall than the first game but the story and mystery weren’t quite as compelling for me. The season did bring some nice changes from Season 1 in terms of gameplay. The story did start to get a little fuzzy towards the end of Episode 4 but I wasn’t disappointed in the ending. It was as close to closure as you can get with this type of story. A good thing too since there are no plans for a third season.

So if you’re looking for a horror game with a great story I cannot recommend The Last Door enough.

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Why Read Video Game Blogs?

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I’ve been reading game blogs longer than I’ve been writing one. I don’t quite remember how I found this corner of the internet but once I found it I didn’t want to leave. As inactive as this blog may be at times, I have never stopped reading others’ blogs. It’s become part of my daily routine to catch up with the blogs I follow over breakfast or on a lunch break. It’s as much as part of my life as gaming is.

But why read game blogs?

Well if you’re reading this you already know why you read these types of blogs. So rather…Why do I find myself reading game blogs?

I could easily watch a streamer or a youtube video. You’d get the whole picture of what a game is and how it plays. I’ve never been one to consume video content on the internet. I never have understood how someone could binge youtube videos or tune into streams every day. For me, video content is inconvenient and doesn’t fit into my life. Written content, however, I can read in the bits of time I have throughout the day.

The main reason I’ve stuck to reading game blogs though is that they impart the sense of fun. And isn’t that what video games are supposed to be? My favorite posts to read are in the “this is what I did today in X game” style. I will read posts about games I’ve never played and I get excited because the author is excited. What helps with this is that as game bloggers we leave the boring stuff out. We can gloss over a grind in a sentence or two and talk about the interesting things. Blogs stoke my imagination. I don’t see exactly what the game is but what the game is to the writer.

If anything, reading blogs enhances the hobby for me. More than game news or editorials from established sites. I like experiences and ideas from people like me, the players and consumers of the content. So if you’re ever wondering, is anyone actually going to read this? Is anyone out there? I’m probably there and I’m sure many others are too.

 

 

Blaugust Gaming Goals

This arguably is the most important month of the year to have some goals. Something to guide me over the course of the month. Something that I will probably largely ignore and see how much I’ve actually done in September when we do this all again. No, but seriously I like these posts, I like reading these posts from other people, and I like writing these posts.

So without further ado: August Gaming Goals!

FFXIV

I’m subbed up until August 14th I believe. In that time I would like to get into Heavensward and see some of the stories before deciding to resub or not.

Backlog

I’m aiming to beat 2 recently acquired games from my backlog this month. The first is The Last Door- Season 2 which I’m already halfway through. No, it’s not cheating…The other I haven’t decided on yet. I’m leaning torn between Agarest: Generations of War and Valkyria Chronicles. I’ll see what I feel like playing once I’m dome with The Last Door.

Blaugust

I have an ideal goal of posting all 31 days of August. I have a more solid and probably more attainable goal of posting more than I did last year in the month of August. I’m also trying to comment more and participate more in the community this year. Y’all are awesome bloggers but I am very much a lurker at heart.

Generating Ideas

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Part of the reason I enjoy participating in Blaugust is that it forces me to think more. What you’ll generally see here are posts about my game time, what my thoughts are on games I’ve finished. I like writing these because their easy and because there the kind of posts I like to read the most from other blogs. The challenge with writing these kinds of posts every day for an event is that there are some days I just don’t play anything. For these occasions I find myself struggling to come up with something to write about. Last year I actually suprised myself with some of the ideas I came up with.

This year I’m trying to think about these ideas ahead of time. I used to be able to read about games and think about game-related topics a lot more. I was a security guard for 2 years and there was a lot of downtime. Getting a new job this last year has given me a lot less time to immerse myself in gaming news and editorials. And since I’ve been blogging a lot less, I haven’t really thought too much about the bigger ideas.

As cliche as it is, my best brainstorming sessions happen in the shower. I actually have a waterproof notepad that I recently found again. That thing is going back where it belongs. So many post ideas have been outlined in there. I redownloaded Evernote as well. I used to use it all the time but when I got a new phone I never redownloaded it. Evernote has been great in the past when I suddenly get an idea and I’m out and about. Last but not least, challenging myself to post every day is also a challenge to generate more things to actually write about. We’ll see how it goes.

To anyone out there who would like to share, how do you come up with your topics when you post?

Prepping for Blaugust

 

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Today starts the beginning of Blaugust prep week. No doubt you’ve seen many posts this month about the blogging event that is Blaugust. It’s that special time of year when new bloggers burst onto the scene, seasoned bloggers give out their sage advice, and bloggers like me dust of their blog and get inspired again. Our feeds so full of posts there’s hardly enough time to read them!

As I’ve said a lot of times here, I like the idea of blogging, I get excited when I think about writing posts. I constantly think about what I could write about when I’m playing something. But when it comes time to write my execution falls very, very, short. Every year I say I’m going to remedy it and every year I have this conversation with myself.

They say that writing every day makes you a better writer. Makes sense. They say you need to develop a habit of writing to the point where it feels wrong not to write. Also makes sense. So this year I’m going to listen to that advice!

Last year I dove into Blaugust with a passion and zeal that would not be tempered. I got up every day and I wrote and I surprised myself with some of the things I came up with to write about. That lasted all of two weeks maybe not even. But I learned something very important, writing every day actually does make you more likely to write. And then I promptly forgot about that and didn’t post until January.

I’ve actually started to try and write every day since the beginning of July. I’m not totally consistent yet but I’m getting better at making time to write something up. You may have noticed there’s been a lot more activity here. I’m also finding that writing in advance leads to a lot more consistency with posts. I even wrote this one a whole 4 days in advance.

So, plans for Blaugust: I’m challenging myself to write and post more than I did last Blaugust, so more than 16 posts. The ultimate goal is to post all 31 days I will admit the quality of the posts will be…different but maybe even in a good way. After that, the goal is to post with less frequency but more consistently.

On a less self-gratifying note, Good luck everyone participating! I look forward to reading as many posts as I can!

 

 

 

 

The End of Blaugust

 

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I had a lot of fun this month participating in Blaugust this year. I did fall off the wagon hard in the last week and a half but those first couple weeks were awesome. I think I managed to post for 2 weeks straight, something I’ve never done before. Towards the end of the month, I ran out of steam and other things got in the way as life got busy.

I wanted to reflect on this month and this exercise as a whole. Those first 2 weeks I noticed a change in how I approached blogging and how I felt about blogging. It was the first time in 2 years where I felt like I was a blogger instead of a guy with a blog. I was constantly coming up with new ideas of things to write about. It felt great. And you know what else feels great? More than doubling my posts this year. Total of 16 posts this month as of this post.

Then there was the inevitable lapse and then the complete lapse of the last week or so. Part of that was because I just couldn’t figure out a good writing schedule. For the first half, I was getting up a half hour early to write. That worked for a little while but eventually, I was just so tired in the mornings I couldn’t bring myself to write much of anything. So now I have to find a new time to write. I think it’s really just a matter of blocking out the time to write and just writing. I’ve come to realize over this month that I enjoy writing a ton.

I also want to take advantage of the weekends more to schedule out some posts. There were a couple lazy Sunday mornings where I sat on my balcony with my laptop and coffee and just wrote for a few hours. I should do that more before the weather gets cold.

As of right now, I can’t really say if I can commit to a posting schedule. I do know that posting every day is not for me. But I do want to find a nice balance where I can get that “I’m a blogger” feeling again.

I’ve so enjoyed reading everyone’s’ posts every day. I can’t wait to read more. This event really seems to have infused just a little more activity into the game blogosphere

2,185 Days Later

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2,185 days or 5.98 years. That’s how long it took me to get to the end of the Guild Wars 2 core personal story. I don’t know if that’s dedication or stubbornness. Towards the end, it felt a lot like stubbornness.

My problem with Guild Wars 2 is that I keep creating new characters but a few months ago I finally settled on a thief and I’ve taken him all the way through. I finished up the last story mission, Victory or Death, Saturday afternoon and now I can reflect on the story as a whole.

The first act was good with my character’s backstory, I liked the Durmahnd Priory part but as soon as they all formed the Pact I was no longer interested. It was less of a story and more of let’s go run these specific errands before we take down the big, bad, dragon. I really didn’t care for it but I was determined to see it through and finally get out of core Tyria.

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Some of the later missions were just plain annoying. Like the part where we were flying to Zhaitan’s lair on the airship and had to fight giant’s and dragons. I felt like I was too squishy as a thief to take out a lot of the spawning enemies and even though I had a bunch of allies on the airship, they didn’t want to help unless I was dead. And I was dead a lot during that mission. It also took me a while to understand what the heck I was supposed to so. Which was man the cannons and shoot until things spawned and then clear them out.

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The final mission, Victory or Death was done about as well as it could have been. It felt like an epic battle and I liked taking out Zhaitan with airship cannons rather than my character slapping him with a staff over and over. The cut scenes were pretty cool too. Destiny’s Edge showed back up after disappearing for half the game. I swear if I didn’t run a dungeon and figure out that’s where they all went I would have forgotten about them all together. I’ll have to get around to running all of the dungeons to get their story someday.

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What I did like were the Orr zones. They were desolate and weird but also strangely beautiful. I will definitely be visiting them later and fully explore them. I wanted to get the personal story out of the way so I was in a bit of a rush going from green star to green star. The Source of Orr is one of my favorite missions of the personal story. There is a part when fighting an Eye of Zhaitan where all of the sounds cuts out and is replaced by a nice piano solo. It gave the battle a calm, serene, and almost sad feel.

For as forgettable as the last act of the story was I’m glad I played it. It was fun leveling through the zones and seeing new places. after starting characters over an over again, I’ve seen the same things a hundred times. Buton this playthrough I actually got to see content I’ve never seen before. I’m looking forward to playing the living world season 2 and then moving into the first expansion with my thief. I think I’ll stick with him for a good long while. I’m kind of attached.

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My 5 Favorite Podcast

It turns out it’s hard to write a game blog when you haven’t played any games. It’s busy season at work which has meant a lot of overtime and very little free time. It also turns out that taking one day off from writing turns into 4 days off. I’ll have to remember that one. So this Friday I’ll be channeling my inner Buzzfeed to bring you 5 of my favorite podcasts. I’ve been listening to a lot of those lately.

I’m always looking for more to listen to so if you have any suggestions let me know!

5. Myths and Legends

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Each week, Jason Weiser, tell folklre stories from around the world and throughout history. He puts his own spin on the stories and injects a lot of sarcastic humor which I appretiate. Each episode is around 35 minutes and at the end always features a creature of the week. I’ve always wanted to hear weird folk lore stories from around the owrld and learn about mythical creatures s this is the perfect combination.

4. Hello From the Magic Tavern

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This is an entirely improvised show about a man who falls into a portal behind a burger king to the mystical land of Foon. Instead of trying to get out he decides to host a podcast where he interviews new guests each week. He’s joined by two co-hosts, a rather inept wizard and a talking badger. I didn’t realize how much I liked improv until I listened to this. Sometimes the story can get way off tangent and some of the most rediculous things can come up in their banter. It’s a long running show that started in 2015 and is still releasing weekley. It’s perfect if you have a lot of tie and need something to binge. Each episode is about a half hour.

3. Lore

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Every 2 weeks, Aaron Mahnke, digs up paranormal stories from history. It’s a little bit like Myths and Legends but with a more historical bent. If you like ghost stories and weird stories from history this is a perfect podcast. It also features great original piano scores. It’s spawned an Amazon Prime show and a few books but this is one of my favorite podcasts.

2. Massively OP Podcast

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No surprise here that one of my top podcasts is Massively OP Podcast. I’ve been listening to this since the old Massively that was. It got me through a lot of boring days at my previous jobs. Justin and Bree do a great job about being informative and entertaining about the MMO industry.

1.Mission to Zyxx

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Mission to Zyxx is another improv podcast though it is heavily edited it still manages to feel very improvised. I love the production value on every episode complete with sound effects and voice effects.  It’s a sci fi podcast entered around of a crew of ambassadors in the backwaters of space. The cast is amazing and their guests are always fantastic. There’s not an episode that didn’t have me laughing.

I discovered it one night when looking for something to listen to while playing Elite Dangerous. That night I think I binged half a season. I’ve listened to it a couple ties over while waiting for the next season to come out. Now that we’re on season two, Wednesdays are my new favorite day of the week.