GW2: Fractals of Silence and Skill (Or Lack Thereof)

FoOoooO, quaggan is gift-wrapped!

I’m hoping to mark the end of my fractal journey for the time being by this week or the next.

At the start of September, I was fractal level 25ish with 26 AR (after goodness knows how many years) and not terribly motivated to go any further.

Eh, some gold, some fractal relics, lots of blues and greens, the odd yellow or orange, pretty much everything to be salvaged since most of the stats that turn up in fractals – Magi, Cavalier, Soldier – are odd, to say the least. Plus Ascended rings that take up slot space (I am constitutionally incapable of throwing -anything- away in an MMO) and the rare rare chance that something pretty might drop.

Oh, and the same content ad nauseam, alongside questionable PUGs – since I lack that mythical beast known as a stable, organized group within my timezone who can deal with my schedule (or lack of it.)

For the hell of it, in a similar vein to my self-imposed “collect all the Scientific skins” challenge, I decided to try to get to fractals 50 before the expansion hit, with its vaunted fractals revamp that would both make the leveling curve easier and slope it upward ever higher to 100.

After all, it is both satisfying to be able to say “been there, done that” as well as be among that rare opposite breed of player who can play the so-called ‘most difficult’ content in GW2 and yet not be an eager raid fanatic.

We’re a few days away from the end of September now, and I’m officially at fractal level 45 tonight.

It’s a little bit trickier to rise further in levels via LFG PUG, given the number of highly aggravating mistlock instabilities that make it daunting to open an instance at one’s current level.

Essentially, I’m sitting around waiting on the largesse of someone else who has already reached fractal level 50 to start their group and jump in… assuming they haven’t already hit their quota of PS warriors and are busily demanding eles and guardians, or conversely, in a more haphazardly not-at-all meta compliant group, hoping that the party won’t give up and fragment from one or two players just up and quitting the group one fractal in, because they didn’t like the chaos/inexperience on display or took umbrage at the ranger or necro in the party or something.

In any case, it’s been an eye-opening experience.

If there’s two things I’ve learned from my fractal journey, it’s these:

  1. Other people are not super-skillful gods of competency. There’s no need to be deathly afraid of them, or conversely, looking like a right idiot in front of them.
  2. I am not a super-skillful god of competency. There is always more I can be learning and improving on incrementally, as long as I keep an open mind, stay observant as to what’s still lacking, and am patient with myself.

Where 1) is concerned, I’ve feel like I’ve seen it all at this point.

I’ve seen people fall off the Uncategorized fractal simply from mistimed jumps, not a harpy knockback; fail miserably at running wisps in the Swamp (guilty); get smashed by Jade Maw tentacles or fall over consistently from failing to pick up crystals; completely fail at either kiting Mai Trin or managing the cannon phase without panicking like a headless chicken; mess up on really idealistic plans to output sufficient dps to take down Molten Berserker, Grawl Shaman or Subject Six in one go; splatter all over the Thaumanova fractal trying to manage the heat room or shield room; totally screw up the dredge fractal buttons or kiting the last boss from lack of communication, unsoweiter.

What might rather surprise those who haven’t been there is the capacity of practically all of these groups to pick themselves up (even if they have to peel themselves off the floor multiple times after a total party wipe or log out to repair and return) and -eventually- complete the fractal.

The only kind of fractal group I’ve seen fail is the kind where one person gives up and leaves in silence, followed by one or two more… at which point I’m left staring at one or two more people left in my party and think “fuck it, I don’t want to organize this” and leave wordlessly as well.

That’s generally a failure to communicate, pretty much.

It seems to be the oddly damning sin of most PUGs – silence.

Everybody barely says anything and just kinda hopes that everyone knows what they’re doing. If carnage results, then a slightly better group will start to produce one sentence communication, and a bad group just ups and disappears right there.

On this front, the higher level fractal produces better odds that more people generally know what they’re doing, more or less, though there are a few difficult encounters that can start to reveal flaws in that assumption – most memorably in the Snowblind fractal, where certain groups end up throwing one’s bodies over and over at the elemental source while total party wiping the instant someone accidentally aggros one too many ice elementals while 40-60% of the group either doesn’t know what to do about them or decides they will keep pewpewing the elemental source instead.

Granted, the way that encounter is set up, it becomes almost quite impossible to have a lengthy discussion because you’re either getting chill debuffed, chased by really nasty Svanir, constantly knocked down by the elemental source once you run out of stability, struggling to light the fire before the debuff kills everybody, desperately trying to roll out of one-hit KO ice elemental shards, and so on.

(Yes, there are a few safe zones where one can stand in the fire’s warmth and not aggro anything and swap skills, but really, if your team lacks teamwork and communication to begin with, d’ya really think they can manage that?)

Compare and contrast this with the fractal level 10 I attempted one day, mostly in the hopes of getting a quick daily speedily done, where it became rather obvious that the somewhat cute and somewhat pathetic guardian in our party, who only had 740+ AP, was an inexperienced newbie with no AR worth speaking of.

Not merely because he kept falling off every last Cliffside obstacle – entirely likely that he’d never seen the wind blowing statues or the little exploding knockback thingmajigs before – but also due to his tendency to instantly melt in 4-5 ticks when an agony pulse hit while the other four people remained upright and untouched.

He said nothing about being new, or indeed, anything at all, possibly due to the fear of being kicked for his inexperience or noobness.

It did, however, leave me feeling somewhat uncomfortable and uncertain how best to help.

The group kind of just “selfishly” ran to each stage of the fractal and sat there waiting for the straggler(s) to catch up, though the two who seemed to have the most clue (ie. me and another person, probably the one who started the party) took care/charge of the hammer and we did, more or less, wait for the guy to finally catch up before progressing on to the next stage.

Everything in silence.

Granted, it is hard to know just -how- to help. It’s not like I could portal him past anything, he has to press keys in the proper sequence and timing in order to get past the obstacle, the only thing I could do is either give him swiftness or cure his conditions (not useful in this situation) and/or advise him to take his time getting the timing down and/or suggest swapping in a skill with stability.

As for the AR problem, well, it’s blatantly an artificial stat barrier meant to produce vertical progression grind (one reason why I never bothered much with fractals before this either.)

With something as ‘meta’ as this, it’s really hard to know just what to say or do. It ultimately boils down on each player to have done their research beforehand, figured out just exactly how much AR they need before stepping into the ‘correct’ level fractal, which is, objectively a -weird- expectation that a player would have scrutinized the wiki and/or stepped into the fractal portal to have this all explained to them via NPC beforehand… especially when you think the first way a player is likely to encounter the fractals is via a LFG party, especially when a daily tells them to do a level 1-10 fractal. (Granted, the guy was optimistic jumping straight away into level 10.)

Anyhow, the discomfort was mostly mitigated by the fact that fractals 10 is really quite easy, so we just brute forced our way through most of it and ‘carried’ the slightly more clueless individuals through. Only way they’ll learn in the end, via experiencing it, right?

Which segues me to point 2), in that as the fractal levels rise, the failure of others to ‘carry’ me, or cover for my own lack of mastery, has essentially forced me into getting better.

(Mostly through encountering a really disastrous situation, and post-fractal, asking myself what I could have done to not contribute to that.)

After sneaking by many many fractals without really learning the jumps in the Swamp by either not running the wisp. or helping only with the closest ones and brute-forcing most of them, somewhere in the 30s, I decided it was time to solo roll a Swamp fractal and practice some of the wisp runs under the tutelage of ample referencing of

I’m happy to report that I can actually take on the spider one now without triggering a million baby spiders (by virtue of *duh* jumping on the rocks without eggs nearby) and can deal with all the near ones with full confidence, having memorized a reliable jump path that will work even if the nearest gates are closed.

(Previously, one just used to run and pray that one got lucky.)

The far ones are still tricky, mostly due to my continual inability to distinguish traps from ground (bulky charr is bulky and clumsy) and tendency to run right into the mossman or fail the jumps, but well, there’s always room for more practice later.

I’ve at least memorized the far northwestern one, whose path seems somewhat easy and clear cut, even if my practical implementation leaves something to be desired in between trying to dodge one-hit-kill skelk, traps and getting tangled in-combat and failing jumps as a result.

The one real take-home from actually attempting some of these runs is that I’ve realized it behooves me – if not actually running – to amble on by to support the person running far with swiftness and condition clears and so on, rather than sit like a lump of lard at the logs and hope for others to magically reach the stumps with the wisps without my help.

Ditto the heat room in the Thaumanova fractal. Most of the time, someone much better practiced at it volunteers to take it on and I see neither sight nor sound of the encounter.

In one particularly memorable fractal group, it turned out that -none- of us knew how to do the heat room very well at all. Since it was an over-40s group, doing it was compulsory.

Rather fortunately, I had previously scanned through that fractal on to learn a few tips for just how it might be possible for my class to manage it (not to mention, what the hell it was all about and how the mechanisms worked) and suggested to the group that we may as well collect and use all the cooling rods first, before attempting it as the final thing.

This was done, and all of us had ample time and opportunity to actually -practice- the room (for once) since the whole group decided to throw themselves at it in the hopes that -somebody- would make it.

After my share of failed theory and implementation, I eventually hit on a personal working combination of stacking swiftness through warhorn and banner, Bull’s Rush (thank you,, Rampage’s number 3 rush, falling over and hitting 4 to regain a bit of health while waiting for vengeance 3, hitting that and powering through the rest of the way, amidst double dodging, spamming 1 and generally cursing Asian latency when it comes to needing to physically spam a button.

While I’m still not going to be the first to volunteer to solo that darned room, I no longer feel completely helpless regarding it. If no one else can do it better, I can at least give it a shot and probably get by.

If anything, I think my fractals journey has suggested that it’s unrealistic to get uptight about ‘the perfect run.’

Is it nice if it happens? Yes. I’ve had super-smooth runs where everyone knows how to use ice bows and strips defiance for near absolutely frozen statues, the dps is phenomenal, and the whole fractals sequence is over in 40 minutes or thereabouts. Countable on one hand though.

I’ve had just as many runs or more where mistakes happen, people screw up somewhere, and no one says anything, just picks people up or peels themselves off the floor, and the team completes regardless.

And I’ve had the odd completely baffling run when there are 3 elementalists and myself in the party and we can only reach about 15 might stacks maximum because not a single elementalist even lays out a fire field for me to blast or use a banner in, let alone appears to know how to stack blasts for might… or conjures an ice bow, and I’m *cough* guiltily not strictly 100% meta compliant either because *cough* have you SEEN the price of those runes of Strength, and was using the then-cheap Pack runes as a not-great substitute… except now they’re not exactly cheap either, leaving me at an impasse where runes are concerned. To leave in or replace? (WHEN OH WHEN CAN WE SWAP RUNES LIKE IN PVP, SHEESH.)

Still completed, despite me being disturbed to the point of re-scrutinizing my runes to figure out what was going on, and having a serious rethink re: whether I really should put in Strength runes some day and/or reviewing my food choices to see if something else can make up for that. The thought of using up food worth 40-100+ silver per PUG run is somewhat cringe-worthy though. (I think, where I’m concerned, there are practical limits beyond the holy grail of theoretical optimisation some folks say we should be seeking.)

I think I’ve learned that the unpredictability of a fractals run can be fairly interesting and enjoyable, if looked upon with an open mindset, and preferably more staggered out to every few days or once a week after this mad rush to 50 ends.

I’ve come to the realization that many many people running fractals are absolutely where I am – still in the process of learning to get better – and so there is very little reason to feel inferior or afraid – what’s the worst that can happen, really? The party disintegrates or you get kicked by some strangers whom you’ll never see again. A bit of time wasted. Group up with the next band of strangers that comes along and have a fresh start. Try not to repeat the same mistakes of the past.

Eventually, progress gets made.

I don’t know, I find it quite hard to wrap my mind around this associated concept of “prestige” and “showing off one’s skill in an arrogant manner” that some people relate to ‘difficult content.’

My interpretation of most skillful performances tends to be that heaps of patience and lots of practice went on behind the scenes, and what we see on display is persistence finally paying off.

If anything, I should think going through the difficult learning and mastery process would make one more humble.

Imo, the loudest braggarts, quick to find fault with others, are often not the most skilled.

Blaugust Day 3: A Great Many Trove Firsts

It’s amazing how much you get done after writing things down.

Here’s what happened in Trove in two days:

  • Tried a Shadow Arena (Uber 2) for the first time, solo, and won (albeit with some fancy-footwork tactics)
  • Bought an Elysian Flask from the store using cubits (zero real money spent so far)
  • Leveled a Tomb Raiser class to lvl 10 and thoroughly enjoyed it
  • Gained Mastery Level 20 and got my first set of free neophyte wings
  • Leveled ringcrafting to 250
  • Obtained 3500 cubits (just 500 shy of a store-bought raptor mount, one more day should do it)
  • Fished approximately a hundred times
  • Decided I could spare 600 glim to buy the cheapest and lowliest (but functional) boat to tide me over while collecting more resources for the nicer models
  • Found a Treasure Isles merchant selling buddybot soultraps and bought a few
  • Found a Treasure Isles merchant selling cat soultraps and bought a few (popping a rare Prowling Shadow ally on the 5th try! And then popping another while buying a few more for the hell of it, trying to collect the common rarity allies.)

What’s left on the list is get a mount, gardening, fish a lot more, and then it’s time to find new grindy goals (of which, Trove has plenty, never fear.)

Apparently, as apology for a spate of crashes and extended maintenance downtime (every time this happens in some other game, I remember that ArenaNet’s back end team is fucking amazing for creating a game that almost never goes down and never has regular weekly maintenance,) Trove offered up a free class coin and a bunch of cubits to each player that logged on that weekend as an olive branch.

Works for me.

I leapt at the chance to purchase the newest and most expensive class, the Tomb Raiser, for the wonderful price of free.

I’d been eyeing it for its reputation as a really good soloing class.

It didn’t disappoint when I put it through its early paces.

Left mouse button was a basic magic attack, and right mouse button called up a dinky little bone minion that fought monsters for you.


Its passive attracted little deep purple ‘souls’ that orbited the Tomb Raiser. Each was a charge for summoning one of those itty bitty bone minions. Souls are regained over time, or when something dies, creating a snowball effect of an increasing swarm of minions that tilts the battle towards victory.

I had visions of the City of Heroes’ mastermind all over again, and it’s done even better in Trove, as the minions can do a respectable amount of damage, along with ‘tank’ by holding aggro / body blocking.


Skill 1 converted the basic attack into an AoE effect, and gives you 90% damage resistance, allowing the Tomb Raiser to dive into his minion swarm and AoE burn enemies down while healing his minions with the same skill. Drawback: it ends when you run out of energy.

Skill 2 gathers up all your existing minions and makes them form up into one giant bone goliath, Devastator-like.


I was already chuckling to see the three-headed monstrosity that I’d gathered from the three minions I had out, just about my height or the height of the boss. (Three souls, right?)

Then some chance spamming of itty bitty minions gave me 5 or 6 out at one time (killing stuff returns a soul charge back, yeah?) and I hit button 2 for the hell of it.



Omg, I’d created a MONSTER.

And it was MINE.

It engaged the boss, towering over it and me, and cheerfully swiped the boss into oblivion with a few hits.

You may picture me in full-on maniacal laughter at this point as I thought “Best Mastermind/Summoner Class Ever! I am so leveling this for keeps!”

(And yes, you can create further itty bitty minions while this monstrosity is following you too. So much <3 <3 <3 for the skeletal horde.)

Creates tanks, does damage, doesn’t have to get into melee if it doesn’t want to, I can see why the Tomb Raiser is considered a really good soloing class.

Deciding what to do with the free bonus cubits was a lot harder.

I eyed the store raptor for a long time, before deciding being a little faster mounted could wait, and picked up the Elysian Jug I’d also been eyeing. The default Elysian Flask heals 40% health and has 8 charges.  The store-bought Elysian Jug heals 100% health for the same number of charges.

This might be an arguable case of paying-for-power, except there are two ways to obtain it: credits, earned via a real money exchange, or cubits, earned via playing over time (doing dailies, leveling higher up in Masteries, etc.), so it becomes more a case of paying for convenience or to circumvent a time-limited grind.

The flask options are also pretty interesting in terms of lateral choices available. You can also pick up an Elysian Bandolier, which heals 20% health, but has 18 charges. Good for those that like to spam, and apparently for those that want to frequently trigger accompanying emblem flasks that also provide various buffs. There’s a Balanced Elysian Flask version that heals 40% but has more capacity, and the lazy man’s Death-Defying Vial that heals 30% health, with 10 charges, but does so automatically when low on health – good for those that tend to die with half their flasks unconsumed because they forgot or couldn’t use them in time, I guess.

In this case, I’m still too broke to think about buying Emblems, and all I really want at the moment is more effective health to prolong my characters’ survival.

A 100% health recharge flask does that very well, as long as you have nerves of steel and dare to drop to a sliver of hp remaining before quaffing.

I’d taken my highest level Knight (16, +2 from two pieces of Shadow gear) out to do his daily Star Bar and was ambling around comfortably in a Uber-Level 2 Adventure World. (He was within the level range to go to U3, but I found it a little slow going with the current gear he had, and dropped to U2 for something better paced.)

Then I saw it.

A Shadow Arena.

The second I’d seen in my Trove play so far.

Entering the first was a moot point, as I hadn’t earned enough Shadow Fragments to create a Shadow Key yet. But the second… well, I had enough for ONE key.

Did I dare? Test out if I could solo it? Something meant for 8 people? At Uber-Level 2? (I mean, oughta try soloing a U1 first, no?)

Oh, what the hell, I was more nervous about grouping with unknowns to enter an unknown place, than just wandering in myself into said unknown place to see what it was like and get my expectations set properly.

So I made the key, opened the portal and stepped in.


A hasty scan of a wiki revealed something about 5 waves of monsters, with one -big- bad being the 5th wave.

The first wave wasn’t so bad, a lot of small monsters, just back away a lot and kite and keep AoE cleaving with my knightly sword. Spam flasks and my elite heal when my health dropped.

Ditto the second and third.

It started becoming obvious somewhere around wave 3-4 that I was running out of full-heal flasks at too fast a rate.

Dammit, and I still had a giant boss monster to go on wave 5. Was I screwed?

With one flask left on Wave 4, I knew I had to come up with another strategy. Stat.

There was to be no climbing, every last surface was spiked, and I heartily doubted that this arena would let you place blocks. I couldn’t stop anyway, the mobs would catch up and knock my health bar into next week.

And just like that, I realized my only hope. I -couldn’t- stop. I had to kite. Big big circles so that the melee mobs couldn’t touch me.


To buy time.

Because I had a pretty damn high health regeneration rate, and every second that a mob wasn’t hitting me was pulsing my health bar back up to full.

Plus, my elite was cycling off cooldown, and this is an elite that heals you to full AND gives you 7 seconds of 75% resistance to duke it out with something.

That’s 7 seconds of dps that I can swipe away at the monsters, before legging it around the mulberry bush in the arena again.

Wave 4 down.

Wave 5 came up, still one flask left for emergencies, time to -really- make this strategy work.

There were a couple heart-stopping moments when I realized the big bad also shot out purple energy balls when one got too far from it (like you might when you’re kiting it in a giant circle), but desperation is the mother of invention and I did my best to triple jump every time I heard it make a strange coughing noise that seemed to herald a ranged attack, and pretty much every other time too since jumping would likely put me out of range of a chance attack.

It got close a few times and flung me into the spiked walls, taking off huge chunks of health, but knights have that really high regen and health pool, so it was a mad scramble to get up and run rings around him again.

Every time my elite came up, I’d dive back into the fray, get a few hits in while it knocked off almost all my health, sprung the elite, then got 10 or so hits in relatively safety, before breaking away before my resistance shield came down.


Eventually, VICTORY.

Completing the little tutorial pop-up quest that had been hanging around for umpteen levels never felt so good. Completely achieved under my own power. Fragments earned painstakingly, boss solo’ed and killed.

It was pretty obvious though that more gear would improve performance on this front… like an actually useful ally, emblems, better stats and what not. (Sighs, such are the vagaries of vertical progression games.)

But it was still damned satisfying that good movement and tactics and the action combat allowed me to get away with something like this, slow going it might be.

The next day was work on the to-do list day.

Trove’s systems are really elegant in their simplicity, while still remaining interconnected.

Finishing the leveling of ringcrafting required 1100 shapestone ore.

I mostly did it super-casually, stopping to mine any purple ore cubes I saw, in between traveling from one lair or dungeon to another.

If I stumbled across a procedurally-generated mine/tunnel/cavern glistening with ores, I threw aside the “Destination: Lair” plan in favor of chasing after one shiny vein or another.

Now and then, one would organically end up mining together with some other players, speeding up the proccess, before just as organically (a la GW2) separating and going our own ways.


Yet, it is possible to be even more optimal or organized for even greater benefit, if so motivated. See this Strip Miners Reddit thread, where whole groups of people apparently teleport to one location, throw a bunch of bombs for the quickest mining possible, and all reap the benefits. (Each bomb costs about 10 shapestone ore to make, so it’s a bit prohibitive to use when solo mining shapestone, imo.)

After crafting the rings, it is amusing to see that the rings turn up in boxes that you open to see what randomly generated stats turn up. This, of course, is a sneaky way of getting players used to the feeling of opening lockboxes, even if these particular lockboxes are entirely generated from in-game resources.

They sure are shiny when tossed on the floor like that though.


Then I went fishing. Lots of fishing.

Realizing that I probably ought to collect the lowliest boat and ugly ragged sails anyway for the sake of completing the collection and earning mastery points (all those interconnected systems), I decided not to be cheap and spent the 600 glim to buy the really basic dinghy / raft thing.

Since I had it, I might as well go sailing around the Treasure Isles for a while, right?

Then I stumbled into the merchants. The first sold Buddybot soultraps, which were not the cat soultraps that I wanted, but eh, it was only 300 glim for an ally, and when you have a grand total of zero of them, any lockbox containing an ally is a win, right?

I bought a couple. Got a few cute bot allies, some that reduced damage taken, some that increased physical damage. Oh well, didn’t seem too bad. Better than Diggsy the mole, which only increases mining speed.

Some more sailing later, I found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The cat soultrap merchant.


Eh, it wasn’t as if I had that much glim left to try my luck, but what the hell, I bought 5 and thought I might get a few common cat allies.


On the fifth lockbox, this popped out, nearly causing me to hyperventilate.

THE Prowling Shadow ally that was supposed to give really good lifesteal and be great for Knights and Dracolytes for effectively bolstering their health.

After spending only 1500 glim.

That seemed ridiculously fortunate for a ‘Rare’ drop.

Ironically, I decided to buy 10 more lockboxes because I wanted to see what other cats I might be able to add to my collection, and after being dismayed at some seven repeats, and oh, one uncommon skeletal cat, -another- Prowling Shadow dropped out.


I tucked it into the bank for now, awaiting the day I get brave enough to figure out how to use the trading system / trading post and *ugh* manually trade. (Something I’ve always loathed and never did in Guild Wars 1, and only did once -super-nervously- in Path of Exile.)

Of course, I couldn’t resist taking a dive into Uber-3 after that, with a Prowling Shadow out, and could immediately feel a pretty solid difference in Knightly survival.

Soon, it’ll be time to collect enough resources to make an Uber-4 portal and then figure out just how much more I need to buff out my gear to handle that.

It presumably gets grindier and grindier from here on out, but I do have alt classes to amuse myself leveling with, and I’m not really racing with anybody regarding gear progression. As a secondary game, it’s more of a “let’s play every day for an hour or two, accumulate whatever progress is possible, and we’ll see what we can manage to achieve in 2-3 months from now.”

Assuming I don’t get distracted by something newer and shinier.

This post was brought to you by the letter B for Belghast and Blaugust, and the number 3.

Blaugust Day 2: The (Very Optimistic) To-Do List

It’s past noon on a Sunday and I’m finally feeling somewhat human again after some intensive sleep and a warm lunch in my belly.

I managed to finish a scan-through of all the blogs that posted on Day 1 of Blaugust, and wow, I am not envying Belghast‘s self-inflicted job over the next 30 days to keep it all organized.

Anyhow, there’s gaming I want to get around to, but first, a blog post to satisfy Day 2.

I’m going to use Izlain’s good idea of creating a gamer to-do list to provide some focus for the rest of the month.

My personal rules are going to be a little less strict or structured: I’m likely to shuffle things around, add and remove at will, and my mind has no idea what ‘reasonable size’ even means. :)

Mostly, it’s just to have a list of stuff-I-might-want-to-do for me to refer to, when I’m trying to figure out what I want to do next.

So here we go:

  • Watch the Dota 2 International (3- 8 August, so this week.)

My optimistic dreams of learning Dota 2 to a sufficiently decent level didn’t quite materialize, stalling at the limited pool of 20 heroes, but I enjoy watching the spectacle anyway. I’ll just watch at my basic level of understanding and pick up stuff from the commentary. Still enjoyable, even if I can’t appreciate every last nuance.

  • Play the GW2 Beta Weekend (7 – 10 August)

The beta weekend announcement also includes some nice thought-provoking questions asking for specific feedback that might turn out great as prompts for a blog post. Two birds with one stone, hoorah. We’ll see how it goes, though.

It looks like it’ll mostly be the same content as the first two sneak peeks, and I found it very hard to write much about it because it felt then like more of the same. Which wasn’t -bad-, it was comfortable, familiar, a little bit grindy, but neither was it blow-your-socks-off-spectacular either. It felt like, okay, we’ve had Dry Top, we’ve had Silverwastes, and now Verdant Brink is the next continuation of that. Right. It’s (more or less) playable. I get where you’re going with this. I guess… it’s all right, it’s acceptable, no strong reactions either way.

  • Seriously attack the hobby room with a GTD-based cleaning effort (7 – 10 August)

Not quite game-related, but I’ve been on a declutter kick, and that’s something I’ve earmarked for the long extended holiday weekend. It’ll be nice to find a carrot to reward a serious effort at this, but I’ve been feeling quite content and satisfied after finishing the scientific skin collection in GW2. I just kinda want to build up some gold reserve again, is all.

Perhaps I might either think about a dreamthistle skin (not the whole damn collection though, shudders) or maybe allow myself to spend some money in Trove.

GTD (just google it), by the way, is the system that best works for me when decluttering. Collect everything by yanking it all out into a pile. Process it a piece at a time, figuring out what it is and what should be done with it. Organize it into categories for storing in its proper place (decide on a place if it doesn’t have on) or associate a next action/project to be done with it (scan it, donate it, whatever). I’m definitely still working on the Review and Do steps though. Not quite gotten the total hang of those yet.

  • Scan at least a book a day for the month of August.

As mentioned, my declutter project wasn’t quite done, even after three focused weeks of effort.


This pile is one of those still-to-dos. They’re still in decently good condition, but I have to accept that a) I just don’t have the space to keep so many books any more, b) I’m not likely to pull them out to read or re-read them, now that I’m hooked on an iPad and find reading on a computer screen not stressful at all, and c) that they -will- grow mold and fungus over the next ten years in my climate, making it less and less likely that b) will ever happen.

Solution: Ditch the paper, keep the knowledge digitally.

Depending on just how sentimental and unable to detach from your possessions you are, it might be possible to get by with a camera documenting memories of your stuff, but given the number of books I own (the pile is, like, just one shelf), plus loose papers and business cards, receipts, bills, letters and other assorted junk, I invested in the Fujitsu Scansnap series years ago and swear by them.

I own the S1500 model, now replaced by the newer-and-improved ix500, which is a workhorse of a scanner with an auto-document feeder. Books that I care little about preserving, I slice the pages off the spine and let the faithful scanner nom it up and spit it back out in PDF form. The software is pretty decent, with an AABBY Finereader variant for the Scansnap for OCR, and comes with Adobe Acrobat.

This year, I couldn’t resist the SV600, which fills in for the gaps that the previous scanner can’t handle. Namely, stuff larger than A4 sizes and books that you want to scan non-destructively.

Personally, I find it a little slower, in the sense that the manual flipping of pages becomes the scanning bottleneck because a human can’t turn pages as fast as the scanner can scan, and the resolution and accuracy can be a bit more iffy and take up more human processing time tweaking settings pre- and post-scan (there’s a lot of neat software tricks for straightening booklet scans, removing fingers, etc. but you have to go in as a human and adjust little dots one at a time to tell the computer what to do, so stuff slows down.)

But it really fills in the gaps that the first scanner just couldn’t handle, and between the two of them and a digital camera, it gives me no excuses tools-wise for not being able to digitize anything.

Only my procrastination and easy distractibility stands in the way.

So, taking advantage of Blaugust, that pile is slightly over 30-40 books (some of them pretty small), and I’m aiming to scan at least one a day (preferably more on the weekends just in case I run out of time on the weekdays) to go along with my blog post per day. Probably try to get the small ones first.

  • Goals for Trove
    • Level ringcrafting (I’m at 206, gotta get to 250. It requires mining ridiculous amounts of shapestone ore, 1100, at last count.)
    • Level gardening (Just crossed the 50 mark, I suspect it also requires an absurd amount of shapestone or sunflower whatsits.)
    • Get a better mount (Still using Slow Sebastian with the 70 mountspeed, normal mounts are 90 speed. I’m eyeing the store raptor, which requires the daily earning of cubits – obtainable in-game, and/or something fun from the Treasure Isles traders, which require an insane amount of glim, which I don’t have, but might earn fishing.)
    • Fish (which increases glim, and one needs to fish up 5 rare fish for ancient scales to upgrade one’s fishing pole. There seems to be an approximately 1% chance to catch a rare, which means 1 in 100 lures or so. Bit of a time suck, so do this while watching stuff in the other screen. Good thing there are going to be quite a few Dota 2 matches on the to-do list too.)
    • Get an ally (I’m not entirely sure on all the different ways yet, but I have my eye on the Prowling Shadow, which reputedly makes performance better with a whole lot of lifesteal, and that is apparently a rare drop from buying cat soultraps (aka lockboxes) at 300 glim each. That’s a -lot- of fishing for glim.)
    • Get boat (Finding those Treasure Isles traders is probably going to involve a lot of running around on the seas. One of these would help. No idea how to quite get one yet either. Gotta look it up. I suspect it’s also going to need glim, or some rare fishing resources.)
    • Plus the usual run around, fight stuff, get xp, do dailies, level to max level 20, play alts, the works.
  • Goals for GW2
    • Finish the new LA jumping puzzle (guiltily, I haven’t really bothered with it much. I might just look up a video and follow it, it just doesn’t seem to scratch an explorer itch because I don’t even know where one should be aiming towards and there are a whole lot of things that look like they could be jumped on, but don’t quite turn out that way when you try.)
    • Finish Dry Top badges and the llama hunt (never quite got around to the Challenger Cliffs completion)
    • Finish Silverwastes badges (I’m missing one or two normal ones and many many golden ones)
    • Finish the last undone jumping puzzle in my achievements tab (can’t remember what it is, but I know there’s one more I never got around to doing)
    • Finish the Ebonhawke achievements (the book reading and the poster things)
    • Possibly tidy up alt inventories again
    • Open all the champion bags I’ve been chucking in the bank with the low level alt
    • Maybe sort out my bank
    • Slowly build up gold reserves cleaned out from the crazy scientific skin chase
  • Watch Indie Game: The Movie

This comes in completely from left-field, but I was just scrolling through my Steam games list and realize that it was there. Possibly came bundled with some Humble Bundle or other, or something.

I watched Free 2 Play, the Dota 2 documentary, and didn’t feel like I wasted my time watching it, even if it’s mostly spectacle and fluff. I just kinda liked the idea that games have gotten serious enough, or at least part of the mainstream enough, to have documentaries made about them. So, why not? It’s like watching those “making of” movie clips, not exactly full of substance, but just a brief, polished look at some behind-the-scenes or production aspects.

Anyway, I need some easy goals for the tough days too.

  • Other Games I May or May Not Get Around to Playing, But Have Been Thinking About Trying or Re-Visiting
    • AI War
    • Astebreed
    • Cinemaware: Anthology
    • Dishonoured
    • Don’t Starve
    • Evolve
    • Gone Home
    • Hate: Plus
    • Her Story
    • How to Survive
    • Injustice: Gods Among Us
    • In Verbis Virtus
    • Minecraft (with all those lovely mods)
    • Path of Exile (the Awakening expansion)
    • Poker Night 2
    • Puzzle Pirates
    • Puzzle Quest
    • Realm of the Mad God (it may have deproved, there was some bruhaha around the cash shop around the time I stopped playing)
    • Skyforge
    • Spacechem
    • Spiral Knights (I really liked this game, but geographical latency issues were a killer)
    • Strike Suit Zero
    • Tales of Maj’Eyal
    • Talos Principle
    • The Banner Saga
    • The Blackwell Legacy
    • The Dig
    • The Stanley Parable (I played the free version, got the paid one in a bundle)
    • Terraria
    • Warframe (tried,  not super-impressed, may give it one more go before writing a ‘first impressions’ piece, or just chucking it entirely)

Yeah, well, I’m optimistic. What can I say. Getting the first four done will already make me very happy. We’ll see how far we get on the rest.