Well, the blog break wasn’t exactly intentional, but I have to admit it was a pretty refreshing change this month to not feel beholden to writing another post, or indeed, to end up locked in the same habitual cycle of logging in every night to GW2 to faithfully play for 3+ hours and then heading off to bed.
What’s the story there, you may ask?
It was a curious set of coincidences adding up to surprise revelations.
You may recall that I’d previously fallen into a GW2 routine of attending TTS raids every evening, which tend to occupy one’s time from 6.30 – 9.00pm, depending on how early I felt I could attend.
(In truth, I usually missed Karka Queen and Teq most of the time and only stood by for Wurm, having developed a habit of consuming dinner while watching the Dog Whisperer from 6.35-7.35pm. 8.10pm was my local gathering time for Wurm, so sneak in the daily in the half hour in between, done by 9pm, then do whatever else I felt like until bedtime.)
That I can recite the timings sight unseen might suggest how structured and habitual my gaming schedule had become.
On a whim, I decided to make collecting an entire set of Scientific weapon skins my new ‘chase’ goal.
This broke the “attend TTS raid for lack of anything better to do” habit, and replaced it with new and novel (if obsessive) behavior of seeking out gold-earning tactics.
I get drops of Black Lion Salvage Kits faster than I can use them up. Surely there was something I could do with them? There’s the old standard trick of buy stuff off the TP, salvage it, sell the sigil or rune for a profit. But exactly which was profitable?
I ended up in a fun few days of Excel experimentation, trying to figure out how to pull from various trading post APIs (and settled on an on-demand if manual method of getting the JSON direct and converting to CSV for use in Excel, giving me more up to date info than the delayed half hour of GW2spidy) and create formulas for calculating profit.
Turns out, those niches are pretty well-covered by people a little more dedicated than I at playing with spreadsheets, and the profits per BLSK weren’t exactly mind-blowing at the level I was willing to trade at.
There was dungeon-running for gold, which I managed for a couple days before my nature just up and rebelled at the whole grouping thing.
There was sitting on the World Boss bus for rares/ectos… which led to some more novel experimentation with the GW2 Personal Assistant Overlay. Turned out quite handy, if you like that sort of constant UI feedback and had some hours to kill in GW2, making a boss timer worth it.
There was running around being a node miner/harvester while listening to music, watching Youtube videos or movies in the other screen – which I’m really partial to, and started paying more attention to waypoints with clumps of nodes in the vicinity that I could harvest and then waypoint off to some other destination.
Silverwastes chest train? Yup, did that.
Kill things for T6 drops? Did that too.
I even did the whole karma into crab-grabbin’ gloves into linen/wool for gold.
Generally, given the time I had to play, I was earning some 10-20g on the weekdays and more on the weekends, and was gradually and methodically able to afford a scientific skin every 5-7 days or so.
Then, ArenaNet threw a spanner in the works when they released their -next- Black Lion skin set some two weeks after, raising the price of the scientific skins to 3 tickets.
For a brief space of time (turned out to be one more week or so, before a patch fixed it,) there was still one particular NPC vendor in the Lion’s Arch area selling scientific skins at 1 ticket.
That promoted a bit of a rush of prices skyrocketing, and I ended up pulling out all the ticket scraps I had saved up to get one or two more skins instead of paying the astronomical prices.
(I also threw some of the 4000 gems from the Heart of Thorns CE into buying 25 Black Lion Chests for the fun of opening them. No lucky ticket, but enough scraps to make up one ticket.)
Then it was a slow grind to accumulate more gold and wait for skin prices to dip a little before pulling out practically ALL my banked gold (and selling off a spare stack of ectos or two, thanks to prices rising from the new gambler NPC) for buy orders.
And I -still- hadn’t finished the collection and had about 7 more skins to go, meaning there was nothing for it but to grind for more gold and stick to the schedule of a skin a week, while hoping prices didn’t soar out of reach, now that the skins were officially 3 tickets.
Talk about a voluntary grindstone I’d shouldered… for “fun.”
Some time in Week 1 of July, I encountered one of those pep talks about efficient setting of goals and was encouraged to put down on paper some work and personal goals.
One of those personal goals was naturally my structured/calendared plan for earning the remainder of those scientific skins.
The other has been nagging at me since time immemorial. There are piles of stuff around the house that have been in existence for a decade (or two) that need to be sorted, cleaned, decisions made on what to do with them, be it figure out a place to keep them, or somehow preserve their memories/essence and then let the physical object go.
Side by side, it was kinda obvious that the piles had been left there because I’d been happy to procrastinate on them and blow all my time escaping into gaming instead. (Why wouldn’t I? Gaming’s a lot happier an activity than mucking around with moldy objects.)
In fact, if you offered me 70-100 bucks to clean up the piles, I’d probably go “Ehh… that doesn’t seem like large enough a sum to undertake such an effort. Handymen and contractors are paid more to do simpler stuff.” (Some of those piles could probably be filmed as a lesser version of those found in Hoarders TV shows.)
It then occurred to me that it was a very curious thing that I was reluctant (yet sorely tempted) to spend the same objective 70-100 (USD 70 = SGD100) bucks on GW2 gems, and convert them into gold and just buy the remaining skins off the TP that way.
Some twisted form of equivalency just sat around in my mind going “Hey, you’re not supposed to spend $100 a month on a single game! You can buy a collector’s edition game at launch price for that kind of sum!”
Yet my obsessive motivation was such that I was throwing a good 3+ hours every day into the chase for skins, earning essentially a pittance in gold. Economists might talk about “opportunity cost” at this point in time.
A blinding revelation then hit me.
I wanted the skins really really badly. So badly that I was willing to move mountains for them.
That intense, obsessive motivation and three hours every night could be channeled into something else constructive, like finally working on those piles I’d been trying to ignore.
All I had to do, was demarcate clearing one area as being worth USD$10, that area $10, another area $20 and so on.
For a working adult, that’s essentially pocket money and not exactly motivating in an objective sense (eh, it’s worth a movie night, look at that highly intimidating pile to clear, nah…) but translated in terms my current OCD could understand… “IT’S A SHINY SCIENTIFIC SKIN, IT WILL FAST TRACK FINISHING YOUR COLLECTION.”
Suddenly, I had all the motivation in the world.
It just took mentally linking a cheesy reward that my weird self somehow valued so highly.
So for two or three weeks, gaming time suddenly became cleaning time.
GW2 time dropped off to the bare minimum for dailies. Blogging didn’t even make it on the priority list.
I finished digitizing the music CD collection. Case finally closed on that.
Clothes closet decluttered.
In certain parts of the house, the floor has actually become visible.
Digitizing the book collection is winding up to be a slower grind than the entire scientific skin collection, but significant progress has been made.
One bookshelf has been cleared, and has been replaced with a display case. The Rytlock statue from the GW2 CE has finally found a home, after being chucked unceremoniously under the printer table for the past… oh, several years?
It’s not complete, by any means, but some major portions have been addressed.
All for the low low price of a hundred dollars promised to oneself to spend on something normally deemed too frivolous to fritter away on.
If only I’d realized this brain trick sooner.
A curious but beneficial side-effect was that it broke a number of routine habits (ie. GW2 all night long, blogging) and has encouraged a re-examination of goals and priorities and the creation of new projects.
I’m in my third year of supporting the Reaper Bones Kickstarter and I haven’t painted a single one yet. (Admittedly, some still look good in white, like accidentally gigantic Kaladrax.)
I’ve been meaning to try other games like Trove, Warframe, Skyforge, Path of Exile’s new expansion, and so on.
The declutter project still has subsequent parts 2 and 3 and more, though I’ll probably tackle those at a more dialed-back, less laser-focused pace.
And I’ll likely squeeze in a bit of time to pick up blogging again.