Tag Archives: Blaugust

Promptapalooza and a Quote of the Day

It is August, which means it should be Blaugust, but since we effectively did that in April (which was Blapril), Belghast decided, based on some feedback, that encouraging people to post every day for another month might be too taxing on some.  So, instead, we have Promptapalooza, where each of the participants gets a writing prompt to drive a post.

August means some sort of Blaugust

Yesterday was Everwake’s turn, which involved rituals.  You should go and take a look. Today it is my turn, and my prompt is:

  • What is a favorite Quote/s, and tell us why

This seems like a bespoke prompt for me as somebody who has a blog category devoted to quotes.  (Reminder: If you click on that link, you need to scroll down as this post will appear first, being the latest post about quotes.)

And I certainly have a lot of quotes to choose from, ranging from some Smed classics (there is a whole Smed tag to look at) to Chris Roberts and optimism of developers to Derek Smart and his own influence to some Gevlon staples to perennial developer complaints and F2P discussions and prescient quotes about the genre so on.  Lots of things to work with.

But I am going to go with a quote that I have used before but has never quite made it to the Quote of the Day status.

Being an elf doesn’t make you turn off the rational economic calculator part of your brain.

Edward Castronova

Dr. Castronova is known in our circles for his study of virtual worlds… though “synthetic worlds” seems to be the vogue term at the moment… and their economies, often covered by his posts at Terra Nova and on his own blog, both of which has been pretty quiet for some time now.  He has written a lot of interesting, thought provoking, and occasionally wildly optimistic things about video games over the years, but I like this one the best.

I like it best because it explains a lot of player behavior.

We will tend to do things in order to maximize our progress, however we choose to measure it. There are always exceptions, but that tends to be the way of things.  We will work towards the things we are focused on and do the things that reward us in the ways that we most desire.  Currency, kill board stats, battleground achievements, levels, whatever is our prime motivator, that is where we put our efforts, and we will focus on this things that most optimize the best results for us.

Why do the immortal god-like capsuleers of New Eden shoot NPCs in anomalies?  It is the easiest way to earn ISK, which is the foundation needed for other activities.  Why did we rush off to do battle grounds in Warhammer Online?  That was the fastest way to level up to get into the “good” content, the city raids and such.

The problem is that we live in this world and not the world of our games, and are driven by the desires and needs and goal we have here and not by what our character, elf, orc, capsuleer, or otherwise, might find as their own motivation if we were able to give them life and consciousness.

So it goes.

Next on the list for Promptapalooze is Stignite at The Friendly Necromancer.  Go visit their site tomorrow to see which prompt they got for the event.

Others taking a crack at this prompt:

Blaugust Promptapalooza Arrives

August is here, which usually brings with it the Blaugust festival of blogging event.

However, as I mentioned at the tail end of yesterday’s post, we already did Blaugust back in April… Blapril… because everybody was home, pandemic, free time, blah blah blah.  And not everybody is up to doing an event like that two times a year.  So, instead, we will be having the Blaugust Promptapalooza.

August means some sort of Blaugust

The plan, which is laid out in detail by Belghast, is to have a chain of posts, each connecting back to the previous blog that posted and linking out to the next one on the list.  A set of writing prompts were handed out to those who raised their hand over on the Blaugust Discord, but those were optional.  If you didn’t like what you were issued, you could go with something else.  And, if you saw one you liked you could jump right in and write about it as well.  The prompt list is linked from Belghast’s post.

I happened to get one that fit in with me, so ran with it.  I’ve already written it and it will hit later this week.

The list of blogs currently participating, and the dates of their posts are:

You can see me tucked in there on the 5th of the month.

So look for this coming to a blog near you in August.

The Labors of Blapril

April is over, more than two weeks gone at this point… not sure how that happen so fast… and with it went Blapril, which encompassed the book end weeks before and after April.  So it is probably time to sum that up and move on.  Belghast already has his event summary up, so I am lagging behind as usual.

The Blapril went

For the six week run that was Blapril I managed to post 43 times, which adds up to once a day with one additional post.  That was more than enough to qualify me for the rainbow award, which went to people who posted 31 times during the event.

The Rainbow Award

Out of the 48 people who participated in Blaugust in some way, 20 of us made it to the 31 post mark, with Bhagpuss topping the list with 48 posts.

There were clearly some of the usual suspects on that list, myself included, who post regularly, if not daily, most of the time anyway.  But there were also some who pushed themselves to get in that many posts.

While most of my own posts were just me rambling on in the navel gazing way to which I have become accustomed, I did spend a bit of time focused on Blapril topics.

That, for me, is a lot of posts for this sort of event.  I tent to wander off on my own.

As for lessons learned… I think there is something to be said about how the pandemic is affecting us all in different ways.  Blapril was very much a reaction to the strange days we find ourselves in and, while some things seem to be close to universal… how oddly long March felt and yet how fast time has seemed to go by since gets echoed a lot… we’re all in out own little worlds with our own special problems.  As I pointed out in my post on motivation, I am actually busier than usual and that working from home all the time, sitting at my desk there all day, has actually diminished my gaming and writing time as, by the end of the day, I want to get up and go somewhere else.

So my drafts folder has filled up with post ideas and starting paragraphs, but actually finding the time and motivation to finish a post has been difficult some days.  Some bigger posts have been lingering, waiting for me to get back to them while I crank out some shorter items, often at the last minute.  It is one of those things that I wouldn’t be surprised if nobody else noticed a change, but I see it.

The sameness of the days and the new at home all the time routine bleeds into the sameness of the games I generally play, leading to a desire to break routines.  But routines are also the structure that keeps me going some days.  So there was no doubt some good and bad in the extra bit of pressure that Blapril brought.  But some people found it too much, and I can understand that.

So it sounds like Blaugust will be different this year based on feedback.  Some ideas are being bounced around and I fear that July and the gateway to Blaugust will be upon us before we know it.

But for now we celebrate Blapril and all of those who joined in.  The official final list of blogs:

I think for Blaugust I will put my other blog on the list.  It could use a bit more traffic and screen shot posts count these days.

My Top Five Most Viewed Posts Year by Year

Something of a follow-on to last Saturday’s post about the top five most viewed posts over the life of the blog.  Something of a Blapril thing in this last moment of the official Blapril season.

The Blapril commeth

I started looking at this as I was writing the last post, but decided to hold it as a separate entry, in part because that post was long enough already but also because I think this imparts different information.

The top five posts over the life of the blog is burdened by the inertia of past years.  As I noted, four of the top five have been in the top five for most of the life of the blog.  They were:

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark

But looking at the top five post in a given year, I think that might give a better look at what was going on in a given year as opposed to what got crazy views for any given year.  So lets go back and see what was popular in past years:

2006 – The Blog Begins

  1. EVEMon 1.1.4 Released
  2. EVEMon 1.1.6 Released
  3. Portal to the Commonlands
  4. PowerColor Radeon x1950 AGP Review
  5. Five Features Blizzard Should Steal From EverQuest II

This was the chaos era of the blog where I hadn’t decided really what to blog about, so was all over the map.  I was playing EVE Online and had discovered EVE Mon.  That “review” is just a link to a review at a site that no longer exits and which the Wayback Machine seems to have lost.  As for the five features, I might choose a few different ones now.

2007 – The First Full Year

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. PowerColor Radeon x1950 AGP Review
  3. Tabula Rasa Beta Forum Access!
  4. x1950 AGP vs ATi2dvag
  5. Rejected Arasai Character Model

There is the first appearance of the top all time post.  More about that video card, which I apparently bought.  Tabula Rasa beta forums?  And that last one was linked in an EverQuest II news update on the official site.  That was back when somebody thought blogs mattered I guess.

2008 – Settling In

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  3. EVE Online – The Tutorial
  4. 2008 MMORPG Progdictionations
  5. Is There Hope for a Science Fiction MMORPG?

And now the top two all time and one contender are on the list.  My first annual predictions post.  See, that post was popular at some point before I beat it to death!  And a bit of serious writing about SciFi and why putting a fantasy skin on it isn’t working.  I should go revisit that as I would argue we’re still not there yet.

2009 – Pokemon Posts Show Up

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  3. Shaymin Event at Toys R Us
  4. Regigigas Event at Toys R Us
  5. Rotom Secret Key Event

The top two abide while Pokemon event posts gain the favor of Google.  Remember those download events?  Remember Toy R Us?

2010 – Chang in the Wind

  1. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  2. Arceus Event Annouced!
  3. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  4. Heroic Deadmines!
  5. Pokewalker Yellow Forest WiFi Event

The guild name generator is finally down the list a bit, though agents in EVE Online are still a pain to find.  More Pokemon events and the promise of a heroic version of the Deadmines for Cataclysm.  A pity it didn’t live up to the original.

2011 – MOAR Pokemons

  1. First Pokemon Black and White Download Event – Victini
  2. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  3. Download Mythical Celebi at GameStop
  4. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  5. Shiny Pokemon Events Coming to GameStop in January

So yeah, Pokemon was a thing.  It is years like this that I wonder if I should write more about Pokemon, not so much for page views as because apparently people want to read about it.  Did I actually have a Pokemon following here, and has it died off due to lack of posts?  Also, the agent finder showed up in EVE Online, so that post fell off.

2012 – The Peak

  1. Diablo III vs. Torchlight II – A Matter of Details
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  4. World of Warcraft Magazine – Issue 2
  5. Hulkageddon V: Unholy Union – Coming Soon

The blog is as popular as it is ever going to be.  The Civ II post shows up, but it was that Diablo III vs Torchlight II post that seemed to piss people off.  Then the leading Pokemon post of all time, followed by the Official World of Warcraft Magazine.  I have all five issues still plus the apology pets for shutting it down.  And Hulkageddon.  That hasn’t been a thing for a long time.

2013 – Google Turns Its Back

  1. April Fools at Blizzard – 2013
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. 6VDT-H – The Biggest Battle in EVE History Ends the War in Fountain
  4. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  5. Type 59 Being Pulled from the World of Tanks Store

That April Fools post is still the single largest day for page views on the blog.  The Fountain War ended with a huge battle while the two competing SWG emulators were being cautious about letting you just download the client.  And then there was World of Tanks and the Type 59.  I get a link to that post from the WoT forums every once in a while to this day.

2014 – Insta Levels Become a Thing

  1. The Mighty Insta-90 Question – Which Class to Boost?
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. Blizzard Isn’t Giving You a Free Copy of Warlords of Draenor
  4. Level 85 in EverQuest… Now What?
  5. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!

Warlords of Draenor hype and insta levels were being discussed.  That EverQuest post still gets a bit of traction now and then because it still isn’t obvious what you should do or where you should go when you do boost up.

2015 – Decline Sets In

  1. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  2. The Mighty Insta-90 Question – Which Class to Boost?
  3. LOTRO and the Great Server Merge
  4. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  5. Level 85 in EverQuest… Now What?

When four of the top five posts for one year are from past years, that is a sign that things are headed down hill for your traffic.

2016 – Even WoW is in Decline Now

  1. WoW and the Case for Subscription Numbers
  2. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  3. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  4. Executive Outcomes Leaves The Imperium
  5. Pre-Ordering WoW Legion at a Discount

That was the summer of Blizzard’s discontent, when Warlords of Draenor popularity collapsed and they decided they would never speak of subscription numbers again.  There was some hope in Legion and you can see some nostalgia influence as Alamo, a post from 2009, makes its first appearance in the top five.

2017 – Pokemon Revival

  1. April Fools at Blizzard 2017 – Not Much to Talk About
  2. From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. Where the Hell is that EverQuest Successor Already?
  5. Pokemon Lycanroc event at GameStop

Write about Pokemon, get page views.  This seems to be a thing.  Also the eternal question about another EverQuest was alive.

2018 – April Fools Remains an Anchor

  1. April Fools at Blizzard 2018 is Mostly Just World of Warcraft
  2. From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. Burn Jita Back for 2018
  5. Rumors of Future Daybreak Projects and the End of EverQuest

April Fools tops the list again, but how long will it remain popular?  Not much longer if Blizz continues to waver on the idea.  Burn Jita was a thing, as was that Daybreak rumors post on Reddit that said they were going to stop development on EQ and EQII.  While that didn’t come to pass, there is some truth in the idea that the team would have to stop working on them to even come close to having the resources to make a new MMORPG.

2019 – Nostalgia Rules

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  3. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  4. April Fools at Blizzard 2019 is Pretty Much No Fools
  5. What Should EverQuest 3 Even Look Like?

A ten year old post about a silly item from the old WoW forums tops the list.  Nostalgia is a thing.  People were also interested in how many people played EVE Online, finding a warm ocean in Minecraft, and some meager April Fools.  Once again though, going on about the future of the EverQuest franchise made the list.  There might be something in that… I mean, besides the obvious nostalgia factor.

Lessons?

I suppose you can say that I should write more about Pokemon, April Fools, and the future of the EverQuest franchise.

You might also wonder how the top all time post only made the cut for five out of thirteen years.  But the years it did make it, those were big years for page views and it was way out in front for a lot of those years.

Also, as page views decline older posts that Google likes tend to dominate the top five.  I thought about doing the top ten for each year because that tends to bring in a few more posts from the given year, but that would just make the post much longer and would break from the whole “Top 5” idea that was going on.

As for 2020, Alamo is out in front already, followed by the search for a warm ocean in Minecraft.  The only thing new there is April Fools of course, and it is in fifth position as April Fools really fell down this year.  I suppose a world wide pandemic will do that.

A Flawed Profile in Gamer Motivation

Another set of shared posts started in the Blapril Discord channel around the Nick Yee/Quadratic Foundry gamer motivation profile quiz, and I was going to simply give it a pass.  After all, I had done that back in 2015 and then again as part of Blaugust last year.

But then I read the post from Bhagpuss on the whole thing and decided that I needed to take the quiz again right then and there if only to prove a point or two.  So I opened up a fresh Chrome session in privacy mode and ran off to take the quiz.  I already have a profile there but didn’t want to be tainted by anything I had done in the past.

One quiz later and the results were mine.  I am “Aggressive, Spontaneous, Gregarious, and Grounded” according to my answers.

My profile summary graph – May 2020

Just eight months back during Blaugust I was “Calm, Driven, Gregarious, and Grounded,” and had this chart.

My profile summary graph – August 2019

And about four years earlier, back in June 2015, I was “Calm, Spontaneous, and Grounded,” according to my answers, with the following graph.

My profile summary graph – June 2015

I guess there is a common theme in “grounded,” though that may be due to wearing a static strap while taking the quiz.  You cannot be too careful!

So what is going on here?  Is the quiz garbage?  Am I a liar, and an inconsistent one at that?

Maybe some of both?

That the quiz is garbage isn’t a hill I am willing to die on.  But I will stick with the idea that the quiz, like much in the realm of the social sciences, is trying to measure complex things via simple parameters.

And while I am demonstrably an unreliable narrator when I speak of my own motivations, I would contend that is because said motivations are not simple, but are often complicated, interdependent, and contextual.

So when I get a question like this about story absent any sort of context, there isn’t really any clear choice.

How important is this to me?

In a lot of games it isn’t important, or it is something that is organic to the game and develops over time.  There isn’t a whole lot of story in RimWorld or Civilzation V or Minecraft other than what you make.

In other games, like EverQuest II, there is a lot of rich story going on that I tend to skip pass.  I am at the quest giver saying, “Cool story bro, but just tell me who you need killed already.”  I honestly cannot tell you any of the big story arcs for any of the expansions in any but the most simple terms, if at all.

I am a little better in World of Warcraft, where I can at least tell you the major plot line of most of the expansions, but I still tend to read the quest objectives on the way rather than listening to any NPC tales.  Just give me the damn quest Anduin!

But in a game like Diablo III I am all about the story, which is part of why the post story seasons don’t do much for me.  Slaughter and levels upon levels and piles of gold don’t mean much as the context in which the really mattered has passed.

So if I am playing a Civ game, it is not important, if I am playing Diablo III it is extremely important, and if I am playing WoW or LOTRO is is somewhat important.  So what is my answer supposed to be then?  As with a lot of questions I went for the middle ground, which you can interpret as a shoulder shrug and append the phrase, “I guess” to the end.

And that is how I felt about a lot of the quiz.  Absent the anchor of a specific situation, my answer is always going to feel uncertain.  It is like asking me how important strawberries are to me.  I like strawberries, and they seem essential if we’re talking about a strawberry shortcake or strawberries and cream, but maybe less so if we’re talking about nuclear proliferation or civil rights.

It is thus easy to argue yourself into the position that everything on the list is not important at all.  Nobody is going to die if the storyline of your game is insufficiently elaborate.

Without context the questions are meaningless, and the quiz is no fun if you you just wet blanket the whole thing, so what happens to me is that I start to think of context where the thing in question is more or less important to me.

But those are all thoughts of the moment, and if I took the quiz in another two weeks I bet I would come up with a different set of contexts that would alter my answers.  I took the quiz less than an hour ago and, as an example, I cannot remember what came to my mine around this question regarding being an agent of chaos.

Not an Agent of KAOS

Right now I can come up with context that get me to any of the response options, but I cannot even recall the answer I gave, which at least implies I did not weigh it heavily.  It was very much in the moment.  And given that the only common thread in my three results is being “grounded,” which sounds like the opposite of being an agent of chaos, I almost feel like there should be a slider for how serious an answer should be taken.

I think the only thing I picked as extremely important was about explosions and blowing things up, which was probably my most visceral response.  But I don’t know how much of an indicator it really is.  Blowing things up for me tends to apply mostly to EVE Online or maybe Minecraft when I have some dynamite.

At the end of the quiz, once you get your score, you can then go to the game recommendations page.  My theory is that if you have answered all the questions correctly… yeah, what does that even mean… the recommendation results should include at least a few games you know and like in the top results.  According to the site, the results are based on the favorite games of the 1,000 people whose answers were closest to your own, so it gets around the whole “is the quiz even valid” and gets straight to “garbage in, garbage out” for results.

For the last two sets of answers I got the following recommendations:

Balanced (2020 / 2019):

  1. Elite: Dangerous / No Man’s Sky
  2. Borderlands 3 / FTL: Faster Than Light
  3. Factorio / ARK: Survival Evolved
  4. Subnautica / Factorio
  5. Fallout Shelter / Cities: Skylines
  6. Kerbal Space Program / Subnautica
  7. Portal (series) / Terraria
  8. Civilization (series) / Portal (series)
  9. Rise of the Tomb Raider / RuneScape
  10. Half-Life 2 / The Sims (series)

Not completely off the mark I suppose.  I own a bunch of those games, and certainly Civilization would make the cut and I guess RuneScape is an MMORPG, but there is nothing on the list I am playing a lot of lately.

“Balanced” refers to the relative popularity of a given title in people’s lists overall.  You can also see just “Popular” games or you can open it up to “Niche” games.  Going with “Popular” makes the list less likely for me. The Fallout series dominates as individual titles.

Going with “Niche” does get my Lord of the Rings Online on one list, and RimWorld makes the other, but it puts Cookie Clicker at the top of one of them and WTF is that doing on any list of mine?

Now I am curious to know what answers would get me to EVE Online or World of Warcraft as a top ten recommendation, even in the “Niche” category.  I want to reverse engineer this, to figure out which buttons I need to click to get an answer that matches a game I am currently playing and then evaluate whether those answers really fit me, even if it is only in the context of a specific game.

All of which seems to make this quiz and its results a good conversation piece or a starting point for some self-reflection, but it doesn’t seem to provide anything that one might qualify as a solid answer

Anyway, if you want to see the results and responses from other bloggers, Jeromai over at Why I Game has the list of links you are looking for.

My Top Five Most Viewed Posts

As tends to happen with blogger events, topics come up and become memes within the event with bloggers picking up the topic and running with it.  For Blapril the latest relates to some talk about blog traffic, namely the top five most viewed posts.

The Blapril commeth

Blapril is still live through the coming week, and I still have one more post about it, but I figured I could jump in on this idea as well.

Well, technically, I have already jumped in on this idea in the past.  The annual commemoration of the founding of the blog sees me post all sorts of meaningless information about the blog, including the most viewed posts over the life of the blog.  It is when I bare all the stats.  The last time around was for the 13th anniversary which hit last September.

At that time the top five posts for all time were:

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark

That has actually changed slightly over the past seven months.  The same five posts are at the top, with the order being adjusted.

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator – 65,769 views
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit – 55,530 views
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID! – 42,962 views
  4. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online – 40,210 views
  5. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark – 36,188 views

The first post is from August 2007 and was perhaps the first headline of mine that Google grabbed onto, boosting it to the top back then, with enough traffic to sustain it.  The post is also the quintessential example of low effort, high popularity having taken about a minute to crank out the not quite 150 words that surrounded the link to the actual guild name generator.

The second is another Google special, as people to this day still type in searches asking about running Civilization II on 64-bit.  Even though it is from 2011, the info in that post is actually still applicable, as it works with Win10 as well.  And it no doubt says something about how solid Civ II was that I still get traffic on this today, 24 years after it launched.  At least this was a post I put some actual work into.

Then there is the Alamo post, which I put together on a whim back in 2009 because Meclin used to love that Alamo forum post.  This one was a slower burn and is the one on the list that doesn’t rely on Google search results.  Instead, it is one of those things where one person uses a search engine to find it, then posts it somewhere on Reddit, and the traffic comes from that.  With the coming of WoW Classic and the related nostalgia, this post has been getting a lot of Reddit links and I expect it will one day top the all time list.  While I put some effort into putting together this post, it was basically copying somebody else’s work to preserve it.

How to Find an Agent in EVE Online was very popular for a stretch and actually represented some work I put in to help the EVE Online community.  It was popular back in 2007 when I wrote it because finding an agent was, like so many things in the game, an absurdly difficult thing to do.  CCP eventually made this better with a “Find Agents” button that brought up an easy to use (in EVE terms at least) search window… and then they made it a bit worse with The Agency interface, but it is still not as bad as it once was.  This post gets almost no traffic now and has been falling down the list as time goes on.

Then there is a Pokemon post.  If I expanded to the top 50, there would be a lot of Pokemon posts on the list like this one, that related to specific events happening in specific versions of the series.  Google loved my Pokemon posts and sent a lot of people here for them.  They were often short lived.  This one related only to Pokemon Black & White, which again puts the post back in 2011.  But for a brief flash they were quite popular.  If you wanted make a blog to just get a lot of traffic you could do a lot worse than covering Pokemon related news.

The most recent post on that list is from October of 2011.  They have an advantage in that was also a time when the blog was still getting more popular as time went along, things peaking in early 2013, at which point Google made some changes to their search results that directly impacted blogs.  So those posts were in at the peak time and have had longevity on their side.

This made me wonder what the top posts were back then, so I went back to some of my old annual posts to get the all time tops from past years, just to see how that top five evolved.

Back in 2009, three years into the blog, there were already two of the current five on the list:

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  3. Shaymin Event at Toys R Us
  4. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  5. What Is A “Tank” In EVE?

Also there is a Pokemon event post.  And the Blackrock Spire post remained pretty popular over the years, as it currently sits at 11th place on the all time list.

At the four year mark the top two remained solid:

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  3. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  4. Five LEGO Video Game Titles I Want
  5. Is There Hope for a Science Fiction MMORPG?

At five years, which puts us in 2011, we have three of the current top five:

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  3. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  4. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  5. Fighting Blood Elf Porn

With 2012 and six years of blogging, four of the current top five are now present:

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  3. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  4. EVE Online – The Tutorial
  5. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit

In 2013, with the peak of the blog having passed, the top five actually includes a post from that year:

April 1, 2013 remains the best ever day for page views on the blog.  It has all been down hill from there.

At year eight and the start of the decline, still just four of the current top five.

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  4. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  5. First Pokemon Black and White Download Event – Victini

But there are two Pokemon even posts on the list.  See.

Nine years in things are still running along with the same top four, but there was enough Blizzard April Fools nostalgia to push the 2013 post back into the top five:

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  4. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  5. April Fools at Blizzard – 2013

That same list holds true for 2016 and the ten year anniversary, so I won’t post it again.  But the fifth entry, the Alamo post, is finally in the top ten, hitting 8th position.

The list is again the same for 2017, and the Alamo post is down at 10th spot.  Something must come along to give it a boost… like maybe the announcement two months later of WoW Classic.  November 2017 see it get 5,200 page views.

In 2018 the list changes just a bit as a Pokemon post gets a revival.  But Alamo is now in 6th position and closing.

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  4. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  5. First Pokemon Black and White Download Event – Victini

Which brings us to the 2019 list, which I posted way up the page, and the current top five.

Basically inertia and Google have kept four posts in the top five all time since 2012.  And, honestly, I do not see the current top five list changing any time soon.  The next post in line, the Victini post, which gets a sudden bump in traffic any time Nintendo mentions that Pokemon, sits in sixth place and about 3,000 page views behind.  Then there is a whole clump of posts about 5,000 page views back from it, which seems like a pretty difficult gap to bridge given the decline in traffic.

It isn’t impossible.  The most viewed posts for the last couple of years have clocked in at around 12,000.  But this year looks like it will fall short of that… except for Alamo.  WoW Classic nostalgia and posts to Reddit keep driving that post up.  It has nearly 12,000 page views already this year, about 10x the Blizzard April Fools post for this year, which fell flatter than usual.  If that keeps going it might go up another spot.  But beyond that, I think I am stuck with this top five for a long time to come.

Others who have taken part in this post topic:

Seeing that last one, I considered doing a bottom five as well.  However, WP.com will only show me the top 499 posts and, closing in on the 5,500 post mark here, that only lets me see the top 10% of posts.  So the top five will have to do.

I am glad now that I spent the time every year compiling these lists, though in reviewing them the seem a bit wonky at times.  That Victini post shows up and disappears.  I suspect that WP.com wasn’t fetching the full list at times.  But overall it lets me track the trends.

April in Review

The Site

April is usually a big month for page views.  The Blizzard April Fools post usually gives me a boost in search engine traffic for a day or two.

Googly eyes at the hero select screen in Overwatch was the big item

August generally sees a boost in page views as well due to Blaugust.  So turning that into Blapril ought to have been a double whammy.

The Blapril commeth

And I suppose I did get a boost from the both.  Traffic was up noticeably from March, this month being the most active for page views since last September when WoW Classic traffic was driving people here.  But it was down from last April, which was down from the April before, and so on.  My peak page view date is April 1, 2013, and it has been a slow decline ever since.  Even the pandemic and stay at home orders can’t make blogs popular again.  But I persist.  If I wrote for page views I wouldn’t write how I do currently.  Sometimes it is better to quietly write what you want than to write to seek attention.

One Year Ago

April Fools, once a grand tradition at Blizzard, was pretty sparse.

Google Plus went away.

The Minecraft Village & Pillage update landed.

CCP loudly announced the removal and banning of CSM13 member Brisc Rubal.  And then in what I described as the “nightmare scenario,” CCP hedged, promising to investigate further.  And then they exonerated Brisc and restored him apologizing for all the trouble. A disastrous example of “measure once, cut twice” by CCP.  And Brisc didn’t get his reputation back.  I still see people who think he must have been guilty and somehow worked a deal or threatened to sue in order to get CCP to back down.

CCP also announced the CSM14 election timeline.  Brisc opted to stay away from that.  And the April update brought capital nerfs, especially for the Rorqual.  Hilmar was starting on something about player retention.  And CCP unveiled the Katia Sai monument in Saisio.

Actually out in space myself in EVE Online, I was flying with Liberty Squad as we visited The Spire for a fight over a Sotiyo as well as busting some other structures and setting some timers.  There was also an op from Delve to Lonetrek and another Reavers Race.

NantWorks handed H1Z1… or Z1 Battle Royaleback to Daybreak, having failed to make a go of the challenge of reviving the game.

I reviewed a bit of the coverage the EverQuest 20th anniversary got.  There was also some changes to the Selo progression server, which reflected on what players wanted versus what Daybreak was offering.

I was also playing World of Warcraft, binging on pet battles and catching some new pets.  We got some news about the approaching update, which would unlock flying in Battle for Azeroth.  That promoted me to get the first part of the pathfinder achievement done.  I also got my first alt to level 120, though he hadn’t even been to Zandalar or Kul’Tiras.  Pet battles will do ya.

And I came up with a guide to criticizing games you do not like.

Five Years Ago

As ever, it was April Fools at Blizzard and elsewhere.

Elsewhere, EA was still selling lots of Sims titles, but were cutting online games like Need for Speed: World.

In what I thought must be an April Fools joke, Daybreak said they were not going to do any more expansions for EverQuest II.  Instead it was going to be DLC like the Rum Cellar.  A rum idea if ever there was one.  Likewise, though EverQuest was getting a new progression server, it seemed like it was the end of the road for expansions in old Norrath.  Also, that logo, totally not stolen.

Of course, why would you even need an official progression server, since Daybreak declared Project 1999 totally legit.

And speaking of rum ideas from Daybreak, they were also pushing people off of their forums and on to Reddit.  How were they going to lock threads and delete posts there?

CCP was talking about ship skins in EVE Online, in hopes of finally finding the right formula for the Mosaic expansion.

In New Eden the war was still going in Delve, including a big fight at ZXB-VC, while the Reavers were doing their work in Querious.  Not only that, but we were also decked out in our spiffy new jackets… well, some of us were.  I was trying to be in both fronts of the war. The Reavers front was the place to be though.

The Imperium was declared, with Max Singularity VI as our spiritual leader.  Also, Karma Fleet was launched and Xenuria got in and was a Goon for like ten minutes!  How crazy was that?   I’m sure that will never happen again.  Right? [Narrator: Xenuria has been in KarmaFleet since August of 2015.]

Blizzard’s WoW Token idea went live, and the US regional version immediately dropped below the opening price.  It recovered and went up eventually, but it took a while.  They also had a beta for the StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void expansion for which I was not prepared.

The instance group was doing Auchindoun and Skyreach in Draenor… after which we were fresh out of dungeons until we all hit 100.  After that I was leveling up some characters and complaining about little things in WoW.

Meanwhile, the war of the rings in Lord of the Rings Online was dragging out into its eighth year.  Is this Mordor or Afghanistan?

While we’re there, Guild Wars turned ten.

And there was this Liebster thing, which feels like it happened a lot further back than it did.

Ten Years Ago

Video games as art?  Did we flay Roger Ebert enough over that?

Turbine was purchased by Warner Brothers Home Entertainment.  No word on a Harry Potter MMO as yet, though we did get LEGO Harry Potter.

Crimson Leaf Games brought out their rework of Megawars III / Stellar Emperor.  1986 style online game play at a much cheaper price.

SOE announced a new subscription plan for EQII, the EQII Passport.  Framed by at least one person as “1/3 the price for 1/10 the access” it surely must have been the right plan for somebody.

And speaking of paying for games, I wondered where Facebook credits were headed.  They seemed like a bad deal for games relative to paying companies like Zynga directly.  Despite speculation that they would be the ONLY currency allowed on Facebook, that has still not to come to pass.

And while talking about Facebook games, I couldn’t bring myself to play Mafia Wars, so I secured a deposition about the game from a friend.

In EVE Online somebody was trying to blackmail Gaff’s corp.  This was an out of game threat though.

Blizzard introduced the Celestial Steed (aka the sparkle pony or the greed steed) to the Blizzard Store.  Blog reactions were mixed, but the queue to buy the mount on day one got 140,000 transactions deep.  That is a lot of horsies, which meant they were everywhere in the game pretty soon.  The Lil’ XT companion pet that was introduced at the same time also made its own mark on the world… until Blizzard toned it down.

The instance group was in WoW still, playing horde characters on the Lightninghoof RP-PvP server.  We we working on Dire Maul, attempting a successful tribute run after having run around Blackrock Depths.

Since the instance group was getting close to finishing up the classic WoW dungeon and wondering if we should press through the Burning Crusade content (as short as it passes), we started exploring other games as possible alternatives.  This lead us to try out Runes of Magic for a bit.

There was April Fool’s.  I had a contest while Blizzard went over the top, as used to be the case.

And, finally, the cruelest 2010 April Fool’s tease, the iPad arcade stand.  On the bright side, while it started as a tease, it ended up becoming a real thing.

Fifteen Years Ago

Guild Wars: Prophecies launched, with ArenaNet going with a “buy the box, play for free” business model for its new MMO, though they wouldn’t call it one at the time.

Twenty Years Ago

The first expansion for EverQuest, The Ruins of Kunark, launches.  We got ten more levels, new races, and a new continent to explore.

Nintendo sold its 100 millionth GameBoy/GameBoy Color.  That total eventually passes 118 million units sold, only tapering off with the arrival of the GameBoy Advance a year later.

Sony announced that the PlayStation 2, which launched the month before, was so sophisticated that the Ministry of Trade would place export controls on it as it could be used for military applications.

Most Viewed Posts in April

  1. April Fools at Blizzard 2020 is Centered on Overwatch
  2. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  3. The Hunt Goes Live in New Eden with New Implants
  4. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  5. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  6. New Servers and Server Merges and More with the EverQuest Anniversary
  7. I Fly a Titan At Last
  8. CCP Launches a Surgical Strike on New Eden
  9. WoW Tokens Five Years Later
  10. CCP Quietly Starts a New Login Campaign in EVE Online
  11. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  12. My Actual First Computer vs My First Real Computer

Search Terms of the Month

“world of warcraft” “subscriptions” “2020”
[“sorry” “just” “MAUs” “now”]

is dragonvale dead
[It is dead to me]

sto game sexiest female uniforms in the game
[It is Star Trek]

eve online apparel account wide
[No. In fact, it has to be in your current station to use.\

Game Time from ManicTime

I played, or at least logged into, more games in April than in March, with the time break down looking like this:

  1. WoW Classic – 38.49%
  2. EVE Online – 25.29%
  3. World of Warcraft – 12.57%
  4. RimWorld – 8.91%
  5. EverQuest – 7.45%
  6. Pokemon Sword – 4.89%
  7. EverQuest II – 1.98%
  8. LOTRO – 0.42%

WoW Classic remained the top choice, though not by the long margin it was last month.  I go into the reasons below, but overall I spent less time playing games in April than I did in March as well, which I mentioned in a post earlier this week about motivation.

EVE Online

I did get out and on a few ops at the start of the month, though even the tempo of ops has slackened with the changes that CCP applied mid-month.  Super carriers being more vulnerable means that they don’t undock, so there are fewer to save and/or blow up.

EverQuest

I am not really “playing” EverQuest in anything like the traditional sense.  I have been messing around with the Overseer feature instead.  It does, as some have noted, seem to have more in common with a phone game than an MMORPG, but they gave it just enough depth and progression to keep me logging in every day.

EverQuest II

I am really not playing this, not even the version of the Overseer they have.  Darkpaw updated the feature, actually giving it a bit of progression.  But it still lacks what depth the EverQuest version has, seeming to be more of a magic prize machine rather than a game.  Oh well.  I also used my level 110 trade and adventure boosts on a new character, and then haven’t played them.  But they are geared up.

Lord of the Rings Online

I patched this up and logged in for a short bit.. I was certainly in for a lot less time than the patch process took.  The patcher hs never been a strong suit of the game.  I was primarily interested in purchasing the Minas Morgul expansion with my LOTRO points, SSG having said it would be available in the online store come March.  Here it is, the day before May and it is not yet available.

Pokemon Go

I hit level 39 at last just a couple of days ago.  That sounds like I am almost 98% through the leveling game, but since the gap between 39 and 40 is five million points, or 25% of the total points to level cap, I suppose I am only 75% of the way there.

Level: 39 (2% of the way to level 40)
Pokedex status: 531 (+5) caught, 560 (+4) seen
Pokemon I want: Lucario, which is tough because I never any in the wild.
Current buddy: Servine

Pokemon Sword

I did play a bit of this, though not as much as I intended.  As a game on the Switch Lite, it is something I can play away from my desk, where I now spend all day for work.  However, I need a kind of quiet place to focus.  I used to go play on the couch when nobody else was home, but we rarely achieve the state of “nobody else home” these days.  Still, I made it through the sixth gym.

RimWorld

I thought I was going to play a lot more of this in April.  It is, in its way, a pretty good game to play while you listen to an audio book or a podcast or whatever, and I am pro multitasking in that way.  And I did play some.  Just not as much as I thought.  Part of that was just not feeling like playing anything, but the fact that RimWorld suffers from the classic mid-game problem added to my lack of play time as well.

World of Warcraft

I did actually play some retail WoW this past month.  As I posted, I unlocked flight in Battle for Azeroth.  And with flying now available on all my alts as well as the 100% xp boost that will be available until the Shadowlands expansion hits, I have been tempted to play more.  I did work on a Horde alt some, but I am not really invested yet.

WoW Classic

As with most of the past six months, WoW Classic continues to top the play time chart.  But it also has the biggest month over month drop in time played.  It has a double whammy in that not only to I sort of have to stoke myself up to log in and play, I also have to figure out what I want to do as my prime alts, who are all in the around level 40 trough where quests ramp up faster than you do.  It wasn’t so bad with my hunter, as it is easy to just grind mobs with him, especially if I can skin them as well.  But my pally… he is sitting at 40 and I now remember why my pally back in vanilla seemed stuck at 40 forever.  The instance group is carrying on, but on the whole we’re not logged in nearly as much.

Coming Up

Another month.  Isn’t that enough?  So tired.

Well, there is the Blapril roundup for sure.  One last time to link out to everybody.  If history is any guide, the title of that post will be The Labors of Blapril.

There are some EverQuest bits and pieces coming up.  I’ll probably get to that tomorrow.  I also want to write something further about the Overseer feature.

There are updates and such for EVE Online expected as well.  Maybe that rather dry login campaign will wrap up and be replaced with something a bit more engaging.

In World of Warcraft Classic it seems likely that the instance group will enter Zul’Farrak.  It is also possible that I will hit level 50 with at least one character next month as well.  Maybe I’ll even figure out where to go with my level 40 paladin.

I am still tempted by the double xp in retail WoW now that I have unlocked flying.  I could maybe get my blood elf paladin to level 120 without much effort beyond seeing the story on that side of the game.

What else is coming up… Mother’s Day and Memorial Day in the US…the Activision-Blizzard Q1 earnings call… and probably a few other things I am forgetting.  Oh, another month of stay at home here as they have apparently have been under counting cases where I live.  Apparently in suburbia we just die at home and don’t tell anybody.

Blapril and Staying Motivated

We are now into week five of Blapril and week seven of staying home in my part of the country.

The Blapril commeth

This week’s topic is about motivation and keeping it going.

  • March 29th – April 4th – Blapril Prep Week
  • April 5th – April 11th – Topic Brainstorming Week
  • April 12th – April 18th – Getting to Know You Week
  • April 19th – April 25th – Developer/Creator Appreciation Week
  • April 26th – May 2nd – Staying Motivated Week
  • May 3rd – May 9th – Lessons Learned Week

And never was there a more on point topic to my mind.  Motivation is leaking out of me.  I feel tired all the time.  Were it not for some of the structure I have around my writing I might very well be blog fading.

And I feel a bit guilty about feeling like that.  Like a few other bloggers, I feel like I am one of the luckier ones in this season of pandemic.  I still have my job, I can do it from home fairly reliably, nobody in my family has caught the plague so far, and we have a sufficient supply of toilet paper and other essentials to carry on.

So what is the problem?

Even I, a pretty dedicated homebody, am starting to feel a bit of cabin fever.  This is not help by the fact that my wife’s job is essentially on hold, being on commission and all, and the school district is pretending to do “remote learning” which totals up to about 3 hours out of my daughter’s week, so the two of them… the outgoing pair in this house… are really feeling confined by this “stay at home” situation.  My daughter especially, being 18, a senior in high school, with a job, money, and a car at her disposal, she was really on her way to a fantastic senior year.

Now it is all shut down.  Stay at home, no prom, no grad night, no parties, no graduation, and it is feeling really unfair to her.  And that doesn’t even get to college starting.  She is dying to go away to school (and to get away from us, for which I cannot blame her) but, while the school is whistling a happy tune about everything being normal by the end of August, there is still a great deal of uncertainty as to how this will really play out.  So she is on edge and doesn’t have enough meaningful or fun things to occupy her, which also goes for my wife, so they end up clashing.  Even the cats are on edge.  They know something is wrong.

Meanwhile, I am very busy.  My company is very much in demand right now and there is a push to move features along faster to support our customers.  Working from home isn’t new to me, but I spend most of my work time at the office where I have a nice desktop machine with a big monitor.  I generally plan my weeks around getting stuff done at the office and doing follow ups and admin work at home.  But now I am always home, have more work, and everything at home takes me about 20% longer to do because my work laptop is dinky and I am prone to interruptions.

And in the midst of this I keep hearing about all the stuff I should be doing with copious amounts of free time I should have now.  Shakespeare invented calculus and Newton wrote Hamlet during plagues and all that.  Even at work HR has been filling my inbox with all sorts of suggestions about to use all these extra hours I am alleged to have.  So I am starting to feel like I must be missing something as I feel like I have less free time, not more.

So I am at my desk at home from when I get up until the afternoon begins to wane.  It isn’t a lot more time than I would spend normally, if you count the hour round trip that was my commute, but the commute was kind of down time, a step away into my car to listen to an audio book as I rolled home.  And after spending that much time at my desk, the urge to then stay there and play video games or write a blog post is pretty weak.  I want to get up and go somewhere else.

There is a pool of time in my day that goes towards video games and blogging, and that pool has grown more shallow, and mostly at the cost of gaming.  The joy of ManicTime tracking my time is that I see I’ve spent about half of the time playing as I did last month, the March of forever.

That eventually starts to impact my writing.  As I wrote about five years back, the two are intertwined, to the extent that one might speculate as to whether I game to blog or blog to game.  If I game less then there is less to feed my blogging and then I spend more time sifting for topics and putting something together which reinforces the cycle.

Meanwhile time seems to be speeding up.  March seemed to last forever, and we were only stuck at home for half of it, while April seems to have zipped on by.  Or at least the free time I can find seems to be moving at top speed, weekends slipping past in a blink.

This is about the point where I have dug myself deep enough into a hole that I should start telling you about how I got out.  A pity I don’t have a pithy line or easy strategy to share.  In fact, all I’ve got is that I find I have to buckle down and force myself to have some fun to relax.

I can still find a bit of peace, some relaxation, so escape, if I press through and actually play a game for a while.  There is this real reluctance to even both, a barrier of sorts that I have to get around or I’ll just sit there at my computer and look at the launch icons for WoW or EVE Online or Steam and then start reading the news or Twitter or, god forbid, Facebook.

If I can find a reason to log in, a mission, a goal, an op to go on, or something else I can immerse myself in, I can still find that bit of escape, the refreshment of not worrying about the present.  It can be like a splash of cold water on a warm afternoon. But, like everything else these days, it seems to require more effort than it should.

I am not sure that will help motivate anybody, but at least I am able to say that it is possible to find distraction, though you might have to try harder than usual.

Maybe reading another blog will be motivating, so I should link out to the Blapril participant list again.

To the Series Born

There is a bit of a topic trend going on for Blapril, started by Krikket, where people name their top four or five favorite video game series.

The Blapril commeth

This is week four, which has its own topic, but since I haven’t come up with anything else I took “series appreciation” as falling under the “developer/creator appreciation” umbrella and decided I should run with it.

  • March 29th – April 4th – Blapril Prep Week
  • April 5th – April 11th – Topic Brainstorming Week
  • April 12th – April 18th – Getting to Know You Week
  • April 19th – April 25th – Developer/Creator Appreciation Week
  • April 26th – May 2nd – Staying Motivated Week
  • May 3rd – May 9th – Lessons Learned Week

Looking at video game series seems pretty reasonable.  In the last decade or so especially the large video game publishers have gone all in on series and sequels for games, eschewing much new in favor of a reliable return on investment that churning out annual change ups on standard formula has proven to bring.

So I started thinking about which series I might put on a list… and I sort of ran into a bit of a wall.  This is different than, say, picking my 15 most influential games.

Part of that was I immediately put bounds around the possible answers.  It is just what I do out of habit.  First, to my mind, a “series” requires there to be three or more games.  So as much as I may have enjoyed  Defense Grid and Defense Grid 2, they are only a game and its sequel and not really a series.  And that along knocks off a lot of possible entries listed over on Wikipedia.

I also felt that unless I had played a substantial and representative number of titles in a series… arbitrarily I figured I needed at least half to cover… I couldn’t really count that series as a favorite.  Playing only Need for Speed: World or Dirt 3 does not really give me enough to make a claim on either series.  I can say I love Mario Kart, but I only ever played Mario Kart 64, Double Dash, and that version on the DS.  I never even bought the Wii version!  Can I really complain about the blue shell if that is all I have experienced?

Likewise, although I had played four of the nine games in the Ultima series, those were the first four games of a series that expanded quite a bit from humble origins.  I enjoyed Ultima III the best out of what I played, which probably means I am not down with the series as a whole.

I did wonder for a bit if MMORPG expansions ought to count.  Is EverQuest one game, or a series of 27 games churned out over 21 years?  But I decided that way lay madness and discarded the idea. (Also, how many expansions would I have had to have played to be legit in counting EverQuest?  More than I have I am sure.)

This would have been much easier if I had been a big console gamer.  Or a sports focused gamer.  There are so many series there.  But as an online and/or MMO gamer, series haven’t been a huge thing for me and, as I have noted here in the past, I have been playing online games since 1986.

So what series of games had I played enough of to meet my own criteria?

Cilivization This series of games came up on a some lists and I am good here.  I have owned I-VI and a couple of the side games in the series, like Alpha Centauri.  I played the hell out of the original, the first sequel, and the fifth entry, along with Alpha Centauri.

Pokemon Or at least the main line Pokemon RPG titles.  I think I am covered on that, having played every title on the DS/3DS handheld series as well as Pokemon Sword on the Switch.  I even played two of the GameBoy Advance titled back on my original DS Lite, because it had the GBA cartridge slot.  And I played the re-release of Pokemon Blue on the 3DS and have the blog post to prove it.  I’ve even played Pokemon Ranger and a couple of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon titles.

Age of Empires – The RTS winner here, though of the three core games I was only really a fan of Age of Empires II – The Age of Kings.  That was the pinnacle of the series to my mind, though I owned and played all three.  The original was a bit rough and unbalanced and the third seemed like Ensemble had lost its way.  But I have Age of Empires II in my Steam library.

Diablo –  There are three games there, so meets the bar for a series and I have owned and played all three games plus their expansions… multiple copies of a the first two even.  I owned a copy of Diablo II and the expansion for both home and work because we could play games on the work network after hours back around the turn of the century.  Those days are long gone, but if Blizzard made a credible Diablo II remaster I would throw money at my computer screen.

LEGO Star Wars – I thought I was done when I hit four series, and then this run of games finally popped up into my conscious thought.  There are six titles and we own four of them… more if you count the combo edition that reworked and repacked the first two games when Traveler’s Tales got the vibe right on the series.

And that’s it.

By my own criteria I cannot really come up any more, though at least I made it to five.  I can declare these as my five favorite series by virtue of being the only five.  I imagine if I rack my brain I can probably shake out one or two more… but it would be stuff from the 90s, things long forgotten.

Oddly, I have the games listed in the order to which the series came to mind, which corresponds roughly to a the descending order for both how much time I have spent playing them AND how I would probably rank them.  Seems natural enough.

Others who have posted their lists, some of whom felt less self-constrained than I:

Road Trip with Mojo Nixon

We are into the third week of Blapril here and my weekly posts about it are coming later and later in the week.  I may have to work on that.

The Blapril commeth

This week is getting to know you week.

  • March 29th – April 4th – Blapril Prep Week
  • April 5th – April 11th – Topic Brainstorming Week
  • April 12th – April 18th – Getting to Know You Week
  • April 19th – April 25th – Developer/Creator Appreciation Week
  • April 26th – May 2nd – Staying Motivated Week
  • May 3rd – May 9th – Lessons Learned Week

As with so many things, I am perhaps a bit skeptical that there is anything I can write here that would end up with anybody reading this “knowing” me very well at all.  I can recite biographic facts, dates and times of specific events, games I’ve player, colors I favor, religious beliefs, or my astrological sign and leave you no more the wiser as to who I am really.

And that leaves aside the deeper philosophical question of who we really are in any case.  Do I even know me?  Who am I really?

I get annoyed when I go to family gatherings and my siblings seem so keen to dwell in the past.  Specifically, nothing that happened after high school ever seems to come up.  Not that I am against living in the past.  This blog is, in a way, a shrine to the past.  We are, it seems a product of the past, just the sum total of our experiences existing in that razor thin sense of the present.  It isn’t that they go to the past, but they pick such a mundane part of the past to bring up.

So rather than something formulaic or statistical, I am going to tell a story about a past event that popped into my mind earlier this week.  It was sparked by Mojo Nixon.  I saw somebody asking, “Where the hell’s my money?” online about the stimulus checks we’re alleged to be getting some day, which just happens to be the title of a Mojo Nixon song.  So I brought that up in iTunes (you can listen to it here on YouTube if you so wish) and started listening to it and the rest of the tracks on the Frenzy album.  And that sent me back to when I first heard one of his songs.

It was the summer of 1987.  Or maybe 1988.  Bill and Tony and I were headed south out of Silicon Valley… that name was still fresh and meaningful back then… towards LA for the Crossroads of the West Gun Show.  It took place at the Panoma fair grounds and was the largest guns, militaria, antiques, and collectables show west of the Rockies at the time.  The event was absolutely huge, spread out over multiple event halls, and my friend Bill was (and remains) a big military collectables guy, so was headed to the show to scout items, make deals, and meet potential sources.

I think I had some vacation time handy, so went along.  I am not sure how Tony got invited, or who Tony really was other than being some sort of Armenian royalty whose family fled the place when the Bolsheviks took over.  He had a Russified Caucasian last name, put in for gas, and was good company, so he was welcome enough.

For some reason I ended up driving us down to LA.  I had a fairly new Mazda 626 which had a decent stereo and a cassette deck… the idea of a CD player in a car was at the luxury end of the market, if at all at that point… and we were pushing various tapes in the deck as we made our way south.  I didn’t have a lot in the car.  I think we went through the Repo Man sound track, but  I tended to listen to books on tape in the car on long rides, which were fairly common as my girlfriend at the time was going to Chico State, a four hour drive north from home.

Tony had a tape though.  He had Bill put it in the stereo and Mojo Nixon came pouring out of the speakers with I Hate Banks.  I had never heard him… or heard of him… before, but for three twenty somethings on the road in the middle of nowhere it was about the perfect sound track.  I don’t think we played another tape on the trip.

Interstate 5 is four and six lanes of blacktop through the middle of nowhere for most of its run through California, interrupted only by a bad smell as you pass by Harris Ranch.  So a loud sound track is appreciated.  We rolled on through the summer heat, windows down, yelling along with Mojo.

It wasn’t until we hit LA that we ran into traffic.  The fairgrounds are off of the 10 in LA, which is a major artery in the congestion that is LA.  I seem to recall seeing my first car pool lane on that trip, down there on the 10, or maybe on the 210, which required three people per car to use.  There were three of us, so on we went.

We stayed at a Best Western near the fairgrounds.  I still have a postcard from it.  We checked in, put our stuff in the room, and went out into LA for the evening.  I have almost no memory of that evening, not due to drink but just the fading of time.  I do recall, however, that we wandered into a record store where I found a copy of Back from Samoa by the Angry Samoans on CD, which I purchased and still have.  There is maybe 20 minutes of music tops on that CD.  Short songs were the punk thing.

The next day we got up early and headed to the show.  This is also a bit of a blur, though I recall going by the booth that had on display a Walther PP pistol owned by Heinrich Himmler.  I am not sure it was even for sale, but it was the center piece of somebody’s booth.

We spent a lot of time digging through displays of wings and badges.  Bill’s current passion was pilot wings and he could spot the good from the bad.  This was at a time when a lot of WWII stuff was becoming collectible and, thus, valuable.  Things that were laying in heaps into the 70s were suddenly becoming interesting as the 50th anniversary of the start of the war approached.

The problem is, a lot of the stuff is faked up.  Less so back then, but it was still pretty common.  Now the odds of anything you run across being authentic are pretty small, but Bill was an expert at spotting anomalies that marked fakes or at least put authenticity in doubt.  And he had a nose for the real deal.  So we spent the day deep in the minutiae of the collectors, occasionally stopping to goggle at some big item, but mostly talking to dealers with wings, badges, and patches.  And Bill found some deals.  He always did.  I remember going over to his apartment one day and finding it full of WWI British uniforms.  RFC tunics with wings in golden thread and uniforms of various regiments with ribbons and buttons shined bright, and uniform caps to go with them all.  He’d gotten them at some auction and they were all about the house as he sorted them and found buyers.

After the show shut down we went back to the room for a rest.  I then went out to meet up with somebody I knew through Air Warrior and hang out.  We nerded about the game for a while and I flew a bit on his account, which is where I twitched to some of the differences in the clients.  One of the controversies of the game, which Kesmai denied for ages, was that aircraft on the Mac client were not as powerful as those on the IBM PC and clients which derived from it, being the Atari ST and Amiga versions.  But playing on his IBM machine it was immediately obvious to me that the planes were noticeably more powerful.  Later it came out that the method for calculating engine horsepower was much more generous on that code base and it eventually was fixed.  But those of us who flew on the Mac felt validated when the news finally came out, not to mention a little superior, having often held our own even when the deck was stacked against us.

I headed back to the motel at about 2am, which back up in Silicon Valley would have meant having the highway to myself.  But LA, even then, was busy around the clock and the freeway, while not rush hour full, was still packed like it was maybe a Saturday afternoon.

When I got back to the motel room it was clear that something had transpired while I was away.  To start with, Tony’s clothes were in the pool, as were all the screens from the windows of our room, and maybe those from a couple of other rooms.  I knew ours were in there because all the windows were open and all the screens were missing.  There was a bunch of paper in the toilet… not toilet paper, but note paper…, the bathroom window was cracked, and the bathroom door had apparently been kicked in as the door jamb was split.   Tony was lying on the floor under the little coffee table that was in our room while Bill was bundled up in the comforter from the bed laying across the foot of it.  He was there because the top half of the bed was wet.

To this day I do not know what they got up to while I was away.  There were some empty beer cans, some of which were also floating in the pool, but not enough to explain wild behavior.  I got Tony up and we fished his stuff and the screens and what not out of the pool and tried to put the room back in some sort of order.  Then I found a dry pillow and a corner of the room and got some sleep myself.

The next morning we got up kind of early… youth knows no end of energy… and quietly checked out of the motel and headed north, stopping at the traditional last point in LA, In-N-Out Burger.

Now there is an In-N-Out Burger a few miles from my house, but back then the last one was off the freeway by Magic Mountain and Knotts Berry Farm and it was the usual routine to stop and eat there on the way home.  So we got out and had our double-doubles or whatever.  It is hard to say what the real draw of the place is, save for simplicity of menu and quality of product and service.  I might pick Five Guys some of the time, given a choice, but In-N-Out can be damn good when you’re in a mood for it.

We ate up and walked out to the parking lot where I put the key in the lock of my blue Mazda 626 2-door and got in, Bill in the passenger seat and Tony in the back.  At that point there was a car alarm going off and Tony, still a bit blurry from the night before, asked if the child’s booster seat had been there on the trip down.

We were in the wrong car.

My Mazda was parked three spots further down the row.  But my key let us into the closer one, or seemed to.  It might have been left unlocked, due to it being equiped with a car alarm, which was what I had been hearing.  It was surprisingly muted from within the car, but as we unassed the wrong car it seemed very loud.

Oddly, this was not the only time I ended up with the wrong car in LA.  My girlfriend and I were down there a year or two later.  I drove her down to LAX because her year of study abroad was departing from there and not up north.  We stayed the night and the next day I went to go put her luggage in the trunk and, when I opened it up there was a huge bouquet of flowers in there, which sent her into tears.  That quickly stopped when I announced we had the wrong car and moved to one in the next aisle which had my stuff in the trunk and no flowers.

Back at In-N-Out we quickly made our way to the correct car and left as quickly as we could, heading north for home once more.  Mojo Nixon once again blared from the speakers as we headed through the central valley heat, zipping along at well beyond the newly posted 65 MPH speed limit.

All of which came bubbling back up into my conscious thought as I listened to Mojo Nixon sing Where the Hell’s My Money earlier this week.  Listening to his music… and I think I own most all of his albums… brings me back to a youthful state of mind full or irreverence and lacking in much of the responsibility that weighs on me today.

So do you know me any better after that?  What if I told you I took that quiz and my top match was Frodo Baggins?  Any better? Probably not.

All of that seems like an eternity ago and very recent at the same instant.  Time is strange, memory is flawed, and in that the past is all we really are.

Being a California child, automobiles enter into many of my youthful tales.  Other car stories I’ve written about here:

The “Bill” in the latter of those two is the same “Bill” in this story.  I might have to record another tale or two involving him.  Maybe our Friday the 13th adventure.  But that is for another time.