I Couldn’t Be Happier…

Yeah, I’m aware I haven’t posted regularly on this blog for what seems like a phenomenonally long time by now.

Truth is, I feel like I’ve been struggling with routines over the past few months.

There are set things I do every day at specific timings. I do them, I get them done, I even enjoy doing some of them when I’m doing them.. and then after that, I’m left feeling a little… empty, with just a niggling worry in the back of my mind that I’ve left other things to fester because I don’t have sufficient hours in the day to prioritize doing them.

My whole life right now feels like one repeated routine after another.

I wake up. I engage in assorted morning rituals of toothbrushing and breakfasting and getting changed to go to work. I go to work.

I return home. I watch a TV show. I have dinner. I spend 30-90 minutes in GW2 depending on how much energy I feel I have, usually completing the daily cycle or attending Triple Trouble or visiting my home instance or crafting up time-limited materials or harvesting nodes in a set, regular pattern. I spend another 30 odd minutes in Trove filling up the daily star bar playing through one set of repeated dungeons or another.

Somewhen between this, I’ve been trying to squash in a regular habit of exercising for 15-30 minutes, preferably multi-tasking it in between game routines.

If I have any time or energy remaining, I squeeze in another hour or so of playing another game, usually something new on Steam or Minecraft. (Blogging, what’s that?)

I go to sleep. Repeat 6-8 hours later until the weekend.

This is undoubtedly a comfort to people who enjoy a highly structured existence, but personally, I feel like I’m a few degrees away from climbing the walls or gnawing off my arm.

Except that seems like too much trouble, so better to continue in my zombie-like cycle of drudgery and rinse and repeat… *brain melts*

I’m not exactly sure -why- either. I’m not 100% certain that it’s routines or lack of change to be blaming. It -could- simply be that there’s a lack of challenge or lack of anything new or novel that prompts learning or adapting that I’m craving subconsciously.

(Except that I -have- taken up a new exercise hobby, though I only have time to pay attention to it on the weekends, so it’s slow progress there. Too slow, sometimes, leading to impatience.)

It’s not that I haven’t been purposefully trying to incorporate something new or challenging in what I’ve been doing lately.

  • I spent 3-4 days playing Technobabylon, after nabbing it when it went on Steam sale. (Great game if you like sci-fi cyberpunk, by the way. Wadjet Eye makes very enjoyable adventure games with interesting characters and a solid enough story.)
  • I finished the “reach fractals level 50” challenge some time in the first week of October. (After which, all my motivation for doing further fractals evaporated like ice in a volcano and I stopped.)
  • I’ve broken routine now and then to have nights out and have a tasty dinner at a nice restaurant with others.
  • I even managed to rearrange my GW2 inventory to some degree, making space in my bank to accomodate the anticipated need to swap Ascended gear sets between characters, come the expansion.
  • I made a very simple pen and paper template for noting down trait builds, and a half-baked plan for accumulating more Ascended gear, after anticpating that I might have to swap characters between direct damage zerker, condi damage sinister, and maybe support/healing or tanky or control (been thinking about zealots or settler or nomad stats.)
  • I bought some RPG ebooks from Bundle of Holding, plus have a collection of nonfiction ebooks that are ready to be read whenever.
  • I picked up Tales from the Borderlands just the other day and was quite entertained playing through three-quarters of the first episode.

I’m slowly learning that I only like stuff from Telltale Games whose themes resonate with me. The comedic cynical corporate/cowboy cel-shaded theme is faithful to the Borderlands franchise and I’m enjoying it a great degree more than the hopeless quasi-realism nihilism of Walking Dead.

(Mysterious/supernatural/superpowered noir detective atmosphere of Fables? YES. MOAR PLS. No-win political/sexist brutality of Game of Thrones? Likely to be a no, unless on 75% off someday.)

Somehow, despite all this, I still feel vaguely… stuck and aimless.

Like I’m going in circles.

One cycle after another.

The scary thing is, when I ask myself, “Well, if you’re not happy, then what -do- you want? If you tell me, we can fix it and add it as a goal to strive toward.”

The answer comes back, “I dunno. I don’t really -want- anything right now. I’m happy, I guess? I’m content?”

Drives me nuts, I tell you.

Life is okay right now, but weirdly, I don’t seem to be (entirely) okay with that.

Nothing else to report for the moment. Maybe that’ll change when Heart of Thorns releases.

Or maybe I just can’t muster the energy to care about minor things like that when it’s just a game that I’m choosing to play, like any other.

(eg. It’s distinctly obvious that there’s going to be a move towards Ascended gear being the new baseline. Presumably there will be more opportunities to receive it as a reward in the coming days.

I can’t quite summon up any passion to either complain or comment, I just feel more like shrugging and shutting up and making my Ascended gear and continuing with playing the game until I one day get tired of it.)

We Interrupt This Program… Due to Technical Issues…

Surprising as it may seem, this round of blog silence isn’t exactly due to it being Slacktember after Blaugust (well, maybe, just a little) but mostly due to a sudden and urgent need to diagnose an intermittently disconnecting Internet connection.

For the last couple of days, the connection has taken it upon itself to cheerfully break for the space of 1-2 seconds, before reconnecting, at frequent yet irregular intervals ranging from pretty durned often in the space of a half-hour to once every hour or two.

In essence, it appears artfully calculated to drive me up the wall as it’ll give me problems when playing games and then promptly vanish (but not entirely) while trying to troubleshoot and nail down the culprit.

Needless to say, the past week’s GW2 game time has been less than satisfactory since disconnecting for two seconds is long enough to break the client’s connection and cause me to fall off maps – including organised Triple Trouble and Teq maps -, not to mention somewhat aggravating to dc from a fractal run and then relog and zone back in dead and be forced to beg your party to get out of combat for a sec so that you can respawn and rejoin them.

Ditto Trove, because it’s really annoying to lag with awful ping prior to a dc while mid-fight with a boss and realize that the boss is going to sucker punch you into next Tuesday while your latency is in the 1000ms-3000ms range (that extra digit is not a typo, mind you) or be midway through a challenge and dc right off the map, knowing you’ll log back in and the group doing the challenge is miles away and/or you’ve lost enough time reconnecting to make the challenge impossible to complete before the time limit is up.

So the past few days have been filled with a series of swapping between the Intel and Killer NIC ethernet adapters on my computer, deinstalling and updating drivers, deactivating antiviruses with real-time protection, going into safe mode with networking and physically changing various LAN cables in a colossal attempt to determine the root cause of the intermittent disconnections.

Fortunately, before I got to the stage of trying to unroll meters-long ethernet cable to directly connect my computer to the cable modem, I ended back down a previously researched avenue of overheating routers causing intermittent internet.

This has been a point of contention between me and another family member; said family member maintaining that the router’s position in the house is perfectly fine and that it is at a perfectly acceptable temperature, while I lightly touch the top of the router and point out that the surface feels just a bit shy of a boiled kettle of water that has cooled down sufficiently to touch, but not sufficiently that the water inside can be considered “lukewarm” yet.

Since the poor abused router has already been moved out of a shoe closet some time ago (after one of those little familial wars regarding optimal router temperatures conflicting with aesthetics), there are, unfortunately, limitations to where it can be moved. (Basically, it’s not.)

Its current home is in one corner of a room that is only intermittently air-conditioned (depending on if a family member is inside or no.)

Now, if you consider that our ambient air temperature in this tropical country can reach up to 33°C, as opposed to that of a temperate country usual temperature ranges when it’s not in the middle of summer, and that the router is essentially sitting in a pocket of still air in the corner of the room, and that it has to deal with a network where every family member has a desktop or laptop PC, a cell phone that connects wirelessly and several tablet devices, a smart TV and a small, personal NAS, well…

It’s unfortunate that I lack an easy way to objectively measure the temperature of whatever is going on inside the router. Nothing like evidence to solidly win a family argument, eh? Ha.

Short of starting a screaming match by absconding with a fan that is not “supposed” to be placed in an unsightly position, aka aimed directly at the router, I hit upon making off with a less used device – a bargain-priced laptop cooler belonging to another family member less likely to make a fuss, and sliding that under the router.

It’s not the best cooler out there, I’m sure, but at least it’s actively cooled and has a fan that can (sort of) move a little air around.

After a day, I note that the router is noticeably cooler, having dropped to a temperature that can now be considered “lukewarm” by touch.

Best of all, since doing that, I haven’t had a single dropped connection (*touch wood*) and only one heart-stopping incident of horrible ping during a GW2 Mordrem invasion event… which amazingly managed to hold the connection through about five seconds of lag, something that would have previously been impossible, I’m sure.

Hopefully, my guess as to the source of the problem was the right guess, and this state of affairs continues…  (Note to self: Buy a better laptop cooler, if so.)

As for the Mordrem invasion in GW2, the current hooha around rewards strikes me as a little bit of an overreaction to an event that seems cobbled together for just a little fun with veterans and newbies…

…but then I have to admit that my judgment is a little colored by actually receiving a reward the first time (aka not bugged) and then opening the Scarlet’s box/bag/thing to receive an Enameled Jungle dye – which I unfortunately wasn’t daring enough to sell for 64 gold at the time. Ah well. (I used it, after logging in the next day and seeing prices had fallen to 30 odd gold.)

…plus not actually needing any of the higher priced rewards/skins, that would require an insane amount of bloom grinding. (Minis? Check. Toxic skins? Already bought with gems. Scarlet skins? Bought with gems. Thoughtless potions and what not? Already taking up room in my inventory from the last time around.)

I intend to attend an event or two a day over this weekend and be fine with whatever I get from that.

Personally, I suspect that the costs are meant to be high enough to not devalue the rewards – because, you know, some of those skins were worth $5 USD when I bought them the first go around… while I have no issues with letting other people enjoy them after I’ve already had the opportunity to use them, and applaud them also being alternatively available through in-game earning, I would feel a little bit of cost/effort disparity if people could just attend one invasion and then voila, buy up all the skins just like that.

Possibly, some of the stress is from it being such a time-limited event.

I’d personally have no issues if the event just continued on to October 23, and then people who wanted all the stuff could slowly and steadily earn them until the expansion launched. (Bonus: cheaper dyes and minis, yay!)

Well, whatever, we’ll see whatever Anet adjusts next and go with that.

Such is the advantage of having all the stuff I want already. *phew*

Blaugust Day 31: What Next?

And so we reach the end of August, after attempting 31 posts in 31 days.

We sort of cheated a little at the end, but well, producing walls of text has never really been a problem of mine.

(Producing wall of texts someone else might want to read, now, that’s a little trickier.)

Finding the time to sit down and devote an hour or two to  production of said wall of text, plus a picture or two, that’s harder.

I’d call the Blaugust challenge a success, as it managed to kickstart my blogging habit after a lazy July, and produced a number of blogs that I’ll be keeping track of, even after the month ends.

It’s been a pleasure jumping onto the madness train with a whole bunch of the blogging community.

To-do list wise, we got through about half of the items, and most of the important ones, which I’m quite happy about.

Trove has found itself a handy niche for the moment. I’m quite content to log on daily, fill the star bar for cubits, catch a challenge if I happen to be online for it.

The Tomb Raiser is level 32 or thereabouts. He can juuust about solo U5 dungeons if I’m willing to fight a little harder (ie. wait for energy to recharge and keep holding down the spam AoE button, rinse and repeat 4-5 times.) If I’m feeling lazy, then I’ll stroll through something a little easier in difficulty.

The remaining Trove goals are rather medium-term in nature. I’m working on a Sky Portal, solo, which means accumulating a fairly insane amount of resources that would be much easier to get if I had.. say, 5 or 10 members contributing a portion of the resources each. It mostly means I collect a little each day, stuff it in the bank and try to do more on the bonus days, and basically wait until the magic number is reached.

There’s always fishing for more ancient scales. Which usually means it’s TV show watching time in the other screen first, and fishing second.

Leveling up the Tomb Raiser’s gear any further would mean requiring a lot more flux currency than I can easily get my hands on, which usually means just wait for the hourly challenges and do those for some flux. Very.. time-limited. Working on it, but not in any hurry.

And there’s faffing about on other alts trying to level them up to 20, if I get bored of the above.

I still haven’t quite resolved where I stand on Guild Wars 2 at the moment.

Readers may have noticed that I haven’t bothered to make any mention of the front-page news announcement that GW2 is now… erm, what’s the correct phrase… “play for free” or whatever.

To me, it’s a total non-issue.

It’s too late complaining about the quality of the community. GW2 was going for 10 bucks for a long period, and I’ve noticed mapchat take a turn for the less-polite or patient, in comparison with the quality of the launch day chats.

Basically, politeness is a victim of popular success. The more popular GW2 becomes, the more people jump into the game, the higher proportion of people you will find that have been accustomed to certain speech patterns in WoW or LoL or other similar games and will act in a similar fashion in GW2, having never been fully immersed into the culture yet.

Add on a good dose of veteran impatience and the tendency of people to ape common frames of thought and a certain meta/elitist segregation that seems to have been occurring dungeon-wise (I watched with some bemusement today as someone gave a ranger a lame excuse for a fractals 10 and kicked him from the party – ranger had 3k AP, not exactly a noob – I did not join the vote kick, but I said nothing either, because I just wanted the damn daily done and didn’t want to get kicked before or during the event), and you will find some deterioration of friendliness, free or no free.

I see a great deal of players being all welcoming and social on Reddit, and I presume, in the game as well. Which is great for both them and the newbies – they get “new content” in the sense of having new people to play with / teach / help, and the newbies get that helping hand as well, and may both purchase the game and stick with it.

Which works for me, I’m not really “mentor” material most of the time, being all grouchy hermit and stuff, but hey, increasing game population means increase in all types of players and hopefully, increased participation in all the game modes I enjoy.

On a more personal level, I spent most of the day trying to work out what I was feeling and thinking about the whole “raids” bruhaha.

One thing I do know is that I’m getting increasingly tired of essentially being a martyr on someone else’s behalf, especially when they don’t seem to appreciate it anyway. Of being told I’m making much ado about nothing.

In other words, here I am, trying to be concerned about the really casual GW2 players who almost never see things like organized WvW or organized Teq or organized Triple Trouble or even organized guild missions, and keep obsessing about keeping barriers of entry low and for them to be on a relatively equal playing field so that they -can- join in, when they want to, and I generally find that most of the bloggers who profess this way of playing just seem to have “accepted” that they’ll never do it, period, so the whole activity just doesn’t exist for them, full stop.

It makes me just a little bit mad, this attitude of what-seems-to-me to be “learned helplessness.” The “I could never do it, so therefore I won’t even try” sort of acceptance.

On the other hand, I find the dismissive attitude of the self-proclaimed elitists annoying as well.

It’s really tempting and easy to segregate yourself into groups of people who think like you and play like you. It seems that -both- extremes are quite happy to indulge in this separation, as shown in a little Reddit flowchart that has been making the rounds lately – “In zerk? Go hang with zerk groups. Non-zerk? Go hang with non-zerk groups. Conclusion: everybody happy.”

Supposedly. Except that I note that the non-zerk groups have a tendency to not form, or take hours to complete, be comprised of more unsure players, etc.

To quote another Redditor, I feel like I’m basically undergoing a certain amount of “cognitive dissonance” here, because… let me fess up:

I’m generally lazy. I like my groups smooth and efficient and optimal. I like getting what I’m aiming for, when I group up, fast and painless. Unless it’s the weekend and I’m in a really good benevolent mood, I don’t have time to spend 3 hours teaching a bunch of people I’ll probably never see again how not to suck, in order for me to get what I want.

Given very little push, I am quite happy to fall back into old obsessive hardcore patterns and think elitist thoughts. With the right motivation, I’ll do whatever is needed to fall within the 10% who can do whatever it is I want to do, and who gives a fuck about the 90% who can’t, right? It’s not like most of them even -want- to. If they’re not even willing to help themselves, why should -I- care?

(You will note, all the “them” speech. Segregation. Division. Not community.)

Then I stop and I wonder if I should really let myself go down that road of thought. I’m not sure if I’d like the person that comes out the other end.

I suppose there is a certain amount of real world correlation and history at work. Singapore’s education system has always been “meritocracy”-based – which, during the time I grew up – mostly meant doing well at academic grades at an early age. If you scored top marks, you got shoved into the through-trains, labeled with really positive labels, and woe betide those that didn’t. They got the opposite treatment, pretty much.

It hasn’t been till the last decade or two that the very slow oil tanker has been steering in other directions, realizing that “merit” could be defined very differently (including musical, artistic and athletic merit, besides academic) and doing their best to recognize those with different strengths, as well as giving those who didn’t do well academically other possible and potential pathways to progress their education and careers (giving them the opportunity to possibly even overtake the supposed ‘elite’ once in the working world.)

The other thing the education system has been slowly attempting to do, through thick layers of bureaucracy, is to tweak policy for those who have somehow “fallen through the cracks” and don’t quite fit into neatly labeled categories.

The latest governmental propaganda is basically an exhortation to keep social consciousness in view, to have a heart, and contribute to the community, “No Singaporean left behind,” and so on.

I’m basically caught between being a pragmatic bastard and an ideal of someone better than that.

And I honestly don’t know which way I’ll go.

Is it at all possible to be an egalitarian hardcore raider?

Or do elitist thoughts and segregation away from the hoi polloi come as part of the territory?

(I’ll be frank, I won’t do a PUG Teq, when a TTS Teq is so much more enjoyable and efficient and equally available.

And there was a time when I just couldn’t be bothered rezzing anyone in the Silverwastes because they jolly well ought to waypoint back instead of just laying there dead and expecting someone to risk dying to peel them off the floor… especially when they die again in the next ten seconds that follow.

I’m feeling a bit more bleeding heart after a month away from GW2 and go for a rez, though it’s mostly to test myself and build quick reactions for future “challenging group content” than harboring any actual concern for the person or any expectation that the person will stay upright. Elitist? Probably.)

If I keep playing GW2, I will mostly likely do my best to get into and stay in a successful, regular, organized raid team.

(Unless it so happens that timezones and schedules are really restrictive and there’s no way I can wrangle something that fits.)

There’s no way I can ignore a mountain that is plonked down in front of me.

Not sure it’s worth it, really. But beyond the temptation of Legendary armor, there will be the basic fact that it is content I haven’t seen or played, and therefore must attempt until it is conquered (or I fall screaming off the mountain.)

I have no idea what’s going to come out at the other end. Burnout, drama, frustration, or just a bad case of elitist prick-ism?

Well. *deep breath* I guess we’ll find out.