Of Obsessions

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In Search of Trays

I could start this post off with a grumpy rant about changes to a game that I found out about over the weekend.  However that would just end up creating a general down point for the coming week, so instead I am opting to try my best and push it out of my mind.  Instead I am going to focus on the fun that I had this weekend and the positive points.  The weekend also involved quite a bit of chasing wild geese, which in itself was a little interesting.  My wife is of course a teacher, and over the summer she does what I figure most teachers do…  obsess about the upcoming school year.  For the last several years Target has had some multi colored trays that serve well as hand in baskets, but unfortunately the last set became brittle after sitting in the incoming sun for an entire year.  So one of the things we have been watching for is them to start stocking them once again, and while we were in Kansas City we found two of the six colors, but did not end up picking them up because we assumed they too would be plentiful in our area.  That however was not the case and this past week over lunch I went to check a few Targets, ultimately finding none.  Saturday we wound up at our own local store and they happened to have four colors, allowing us to pick up most of a set.

The challenge with the Target dollar spot… is that every teacher ultimately stocks their classroom with the stuff located in it.  That meant that we had a very limited window to be able to get the last two colors of trays.  So Sunday after my wife got back from church we went roaming around the Tulsa metro area hitting quite literally every single Target store looking for a yellow and a purple tray.  Fairly early on we found the yellow tray, but it was not until the very last store we went to that we managed to find purple.  Ironically it was at the last store… the one furthest away from us…  that they happened to have all six colors in one place.  Had we reversed the order it would have likely been the one closest to us that had all six.  As I commented this weekend on twitter, this is the life of a Teacher’s spouse.  I cannot count the number of times we have made such trips hunting for this specific item or that…  be it office supply stores, dollar stores or in this case a Target.  Over the years I’ve spent many an hour sifting through disheveled bins of stuff looking for that one item that matches whatever other item we happened to be looking for.  The sheer dedication that the average teacher has is just phenomenal, and even more so is the rapid sharing of tips that happens when you get two together.  In Kansas City we rolled into the Target dollar spot and found the obvious signs of other teachers… and before we knew it folks were sharing tips on best ways to clean white boards or where you could find this or that item at a better deal.  Long story short… we managed to complete the set of bins which marks this mission off the list…  which I am certain will only be replaced by a dozen other similar adventures before school starts back up in a month and a half.

Of Artifice

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As far as gaming goes I spent the bulk of my weekend running around in Rift, shifting back and forth between several different activities.  Out in Twilight Highlands there was a limited time event called Arclight Ascendancy that allows players to run a couple of quests to get a currency… that can ultimately be saved up to purchase an Arclight Rider or Lifter mount.  At some point I have apparently completed this event… either that or some account entitlement gave me a slew of currency.  Essentially this event allows you to slowly gather the currency needed to purchase what would normally be a store only mount.  In the past I have participated in similar events for the Budgie mounts, and in the grand scheme of things these are not intended to be completed in a single pass but instead over the course of multiple events.  The interesting thing about them however is that one of the daily quests requires you to mentor down to within the 25-30 level range to accomplish it.  As far as that goes Rift’s implementation of that system is probably the best I have seen because you simply right click your name and choose a new level… and then bam you are functioning at that level without having to give up any of your abilities.  The other thing that I am enjoying about doing the quests is that it puts me back in Twilight Highlands and Scarlet Gorge on a daily basis… two zones that I absolutely loved from Telara.

The other big thing that I worked on this weekend was leveling my Artificer skill.  This is of course slowly bankrupting me, but nonetheless I still felt the desire to keep pushing forward.  I spent many an hour this weekend roaming around Gelboro Reef doing quests that I never finished out there… and farming up Thalasite ore and Sarleaf that would ultimately be converted into fuel to feed the fires of industry.  Yesterday evening I managed to push ahead and get to the current level cap of 450.  Now will I actually do anything with that level other than daily crafting quests?  I honestly am not sure… I’ve never had a max level artificer before now.  At this point in the cycle I doubt there is anything I can craft that is not better than the gear I can get from a combination of weekly patron chests and instant adventures/experts.  However having a whole slew of crafters means that I can rapid-fire through the crafting dailies and get patterns quickly.  I need to some time researching what if anything I can craft that is a damage upgrade… or more importantly a hit upgrade.  Now that I have finished with another crafting obsession I really need to get back into the process of digging into the Planetouched Wilds.  That area is huge and full of all manner of weekly quest opportunities, and I have barely scratched the surface.



MMOs and Steam Sale


The Sale is Here


It is that time once again, for the Steam summer sale… one of two major sales that seem to happen each year on the Steam platform.  Over the years however it has changed significantly.  The first one I actually participated in was just a bunch of bundles, that allowed you to get the entire game library of a specific company for insane discounts.  I remembered I picked up the entire THQ library at the time including something silly like 40 games for $30 dollars.  As the years have gone by the sale has morphed multiple times, often times incorporating mini-games into it, and even saw the introduction of the trading card product.  The other thing that has changed… is that the discounts are nowhere near as insane as they once were, but instead the same basic price throughout the entire week.  So instead of catching a four hour window of a game being 75% off, it might simply be 50% the entire duration of the sale.  I guess this is both positive and negative, in that those flash sales inspired a ton of impulse buying…  but also a ton of frustration in that if you didn’t happen to be watching the site at 3 am you maybe missed that one game you really wanted to pick up.  Instead now it is just a good time to pick up those games that you had on your wish list, but for one reason or another never got around to picking up.  Last night for example I picked up The Witness and Firewatch, because both are games we have kicked around as possible AggroChat game club titles in the future.  Neither were really things I was in a rush to pick up, but I might as well catch a bit of a break in doing so.

How About MMOs?

Over the last several years a good number of MMORPGs have filtered their way onto the Steam library as a method of expanding their base, so while you won’t find Star Wars the Old Republic, or any of the Blizzard products because they are locked behind their own digital distribution systems…  you will find a good number of other games.  I thought I would poke my head around this morning and see what kind of deals are out there for those who heavily favor MMOs like myself.  The result is a pretty mixed bag, and to be honest I just clicked on some of the games that interest me.  There are likely deals out there for titles that I have never even heard of because Steam has been the great equalizer in expanding this genre.  Additionally the term MMO has become utterly meaningless… which means you have everything from a MOBA, an Area Shooter, a Creative Building Game, and traditionally MMORPGs all sharing the same generic banner these days.

Final Fantasy XIV

I figured I would start this off with what I consider to be one of the better deals.  Final Fantasy XIV is a huge game, and right now you are able to pick it up for half off the already fairly low starting price these days.  You can pick up the base game for $9.99 and the Heavensward expansion for $19.99.  The collectors edition version of the game is also available but you are only going to get a %20 break there.

Elder Scrolls Online

A similarly good deal is ESO which offers both the base game and the Imperial Edition at 50% off currently.  The thing that I did find surprising however is that none of the DLC is actually sold through steam, which means you will have to watch the Crown Store if you want a break on those.  The way to skirt all of the DLC issues is to of course subscribe, and still with only the base game you have a bunch of play time there.  You can pick up the vanilla version for $19.99, but I would highly suggest just going ahead and grabbing the $29.99 Imperial Edition because it has enough perks to make it worth the little bit extra.


Warframe is of course a free to play title, and you can grab it from Steam at any point you like and start playing.  However at some point you are going to want to spend some money, and in our brief experience playing the game… the Steam bundles seem to be a phenomenal deal.  There always seemed to be some little perk that pushed them ahead of what you could get for the same amount of money from the in game cash shop.  During the summer sale all of these bundles are 50% off making them even better deals.  Generally speaking you get some in game currency, a bunch of really nice weapon and armor mods… and then some boosts which I never actually used.  Well worth checking out if you play Warframe.

The Secret World

The Secret World has morphed payment models over the years and is now a “Buy to Play” title, which the base game being extremely cheap, and every few months them releasing a new “Issue” that includes new content.  I ended up getting in on the ground floor of this game and purchased a lifetime subscription account, and as a result there is honestly no reason for me to ever buy anything else.  That has been a double edged sword for Funcom, because it got them quite a few big purchases in the beginning… but a good number of the most devoted players these days are also Lifetimers so not really adding much cash flow to the product.  All of this said… this game goes on sale rather frequently and each time I make a big production of spreading the word because it is a really amazing game.  It has some of the best storytelling I have experiences in any MMO full stop.  Right now you can pick up the base game for roughly $10 and the Ultimate edition that includes a ton of the Issue based DLC content for $20.  If you do not own this game stop what you are doing and buy it now… that is all.



Wildstar has been down its own rocky road lately, and it is pretty new to the steam platform.  As a result there are a lot of the offerings that are not participating in the summer sale.  However if you missed out on the madness that was purchasing cheap retail boxes of the game to turn them in for subscription time and bonus goodies…  then I highly suggest you check out the Cute and Cuddly pack.  This includes both the Glitterkitty Hoverboard and the Snarflyx mount… and several other things.  The discount is only 20% but right now Wildstar needs your love so if you are at all interested check the bundle out.

Eve Online

I have tried to play EVE and it just doesn’t click with me.  It is the best asteroid mining simulator ever created, but I can never seem to break myself out of doing just that.  It is one of those games that is extremely interesting to read about, but just not that interest for me to actually play.  Once upon a time I was supposed to write a four part article series on this game, but I failed miserably to get past part two.  All of that said… if you are an EVE player there are some extremely interesting deals during the Steam summer game.  The base game is 75% off and the premium edition %50 off…  but in addition since this game requires an active subscription steam apparently sells those too.  It is hard to tell if those subs are actually on sale, or if they are just showing you the traditional “buy 12 months” discount.  In any case it is not a bad time to buy into the game if you have always wanted to give it a shot.


Rift is another one of those games that has seen wild mood swings in the payment model department, however as it currently stands the game is entirely free… with a few caveats.  Each time they add new content as in zones and dungeons and systems… those are completely free and you can go from level 1 to the currently cap of 65 without spending a dime on the game.  They do however offer you a plethora of methods for giving them money for little incidental things.  Where the DLC packs come in is that you enter the game with a base set of souls, and over time they have released a new set with Storm Legion, Nightmare Tides, the recent Ascended Pack and entirely new class with the Planetouched Wilds.  These are not included in the base game and have to be added on piecemeal, and this is largely the sort of thing that is being offered on Steam.  There is also the grand daddy of all DLC packs the Rift Ultimate edition that packages up and includes everything you can get from the other packs.  During the Summer Sale these are all 25% off, so its a good time to catch up on whatever souls you might be missing like the new Ascended Pack which is currently $26.24.


There are also a bunch of games that are not participating at all, like the Perfect World titles Neverwinter Nights and Star Trek online for example.  While Rift and Trove are participating, ArcheAge does not appear to be.  Basically this morning I wrote this post because at least for me personally… I rarely think of using the Steam sale as a way of catching up on my MMO content that I might have neglected.  For those who only have the base game of Final Fantasy XIV for example… right now is a damned fine time to pick up Heavensward even if you have not gotten to that point in the story.  Similarly like I said above if you were going to pick up various souls packs from Rift, you might as well do them now at a cost break.  The Steam tagging system is often times a pretty horrible thing, but you might check out the Massively Multiplayer tag because it shows most of the deals that I was talking about above and much more.  MMOs are kinda the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to gaming, and all of them you will be playing for months and potentially years ahead.  It is well worth checking out during the madness that is the Steam sale.

Getting Unstuck

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It has been an up and down week for kickstarter games.  Namely I am talking about just how bad Mighty No. 9 has been received.  I own this on the PS4, and while the gameplay itself is not too horrible…  the biggest problem that I have is that it feels like an odd throwback to the GameCube.  Which I guess makes sense given that the game has released on a silly number of systems including the 3DS, which makes me think that quite simply all console versions…  are the 3DS version.  The saddest part about this is at various points during its development cycle the game looked really good, but the end result is this lifeless mess of flat color.  Now earlier in the day I had commented that this whole debacle over the “Not-Megaman” game made me extremely concerned about “Not-Castlevania” which is my not so subtle jab at the fact that so many of these kick-started games are simply recreations of whatever game made the developer famous in the first place.  Almost as summoned from the abyss… I got an email with a key to the E3 version of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, which I didn’t even remember being part of the funding level I backed the game at.

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It was a little late and I only played the demo long enough to get up to the first boss… I failed miserably at even coming close to defeating it namely because I entered the fight after a lot of backtracking.  There are certain things that work extremely well, then there are others that I was largely confused about.  The primary point of confusion is that for whatever reason I could not seem to get the game to do jump attacks… which are of course a staple of the Castlevania gameplay.  I was playing on my PS4 controller which I happened to have hooked up at the time to my PC, and notoriously it tends to map things oddly, so I might give it a shot with the defacto Xbox 360 controller.  As far as every other aspect of gameplay…  this is very much the spiritual successor to Symphony of the Night, but done with cell shaded 3D models instead of 2D pixel art.  It works, and it works well.. and gives you the feeling of the Castlevania art style.  The game has some really strange creatures that you end up fighting, which is cool and something vastly different from the standard zombies and werewolves and vampires oh my genre.  I am assuming that the demo leaves off after the boss fight that is pictured above, but nonetheless I am really happy to see this game at least appears to be still on the rails.

Catching Up

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Last night I got drug into Final Fantasy XIV by Ash and Grace… and admittedly they didn’t have to pull too terribly hard.  Largely they wanted to run some Void Ark, which is the thing that I needed to do to get caught up in gear levels.  I am not sure why this was such an impassible obstacle mentally for me, because I had some serious anxiety about solo queuing for it.  Memu had made an offer to help me out, but we failed miserably at coordinating a time to run it together…  mostly because I fell into a Rift shaped hope and wasn’t around all that often over the last week.  In any case all of my concerns were essentially for naught, because Void Ark is extremely easy…. but unfortunately not the gear bonanza I had hoped it would be.  Over the course of the night I ran the Ark three times, two times with Ash and Grace and one time by myself later after getting back from a walk.  In all of those boss kills I managed to get two pieces of gear… only one of which actually replacing a slot I had something lower in.  I did however get plenty of Esoterics which allowed me to keep upgrading jewelry until a combination of the that and the Mhachi Farthings pushed me over the item level 200 barrier.

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Ultimately I am probably going to keep running this place until I run out of slots to upgrade, and even then…. it is still a decent source of gear to help pull my Dragoon up in item level.  I guess I am officially off high center, and soon I can pick back up the quest chain and at least be expert viable once more.  My hope is that tonight, I can get together with Grace and run the new dungeons who now also needs them since she too broke the 200 barrier last night.  I feel better about the game in so many ways considering how frustrating it was to hit this gear wall in the questing.  I guess in truth this is something that never happened to me during 2.0, or at least once we got back and started really moving forward.  We were always just good enough to keep pushing into the next set of dungeons, but at the same time I was also spending a ton more time grinding out tomestones to make sure I was the best possible tank I could be at all times.  That is the piece that has been missing, because I really have not been able to push myself to do that the way I once was.  As our little rag tag Tuesday night group is contemplating doing more “Real” content I guess that will start to matter significantly more in the coming weeks and months.  Time to get over the hump and gear up a bit, and for the moment Void Ark seems like an easy place to do just that.

Tech Triage

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Last night went a bit off the rails early on.  Traditionally I participate in the Final Fantasy XIV pony farm night on Tuesdays, and every since I showed up and won two mounts on my return…  I have felt committed to be there and help more folks get theirs.  However last night something else happened that precluded that obligation.  When I got home sitting on the coffee table was my shiny new GTX 980 graphics card.  I managed to make it through dinner successfully, but as soon as that was over I was upstairs tearing into my case to install it.  First however I had to clean said case out… it is shocking just how damned dusty a computer can get so I had to drag my vacuum upstairs.  I could have of course done the canned air thing, but firstly it would have choked me up horribly and secondly…  said dust would just eventually end up right back inside the computer case.  So for a period of time that was probably way shorter than it seemed I meticulously cleaned off the vans and interior surfaces of the case with the vacuum wand.

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I get the card seated and tightened into place, and the only real frustration was the two 8 pin connectors.  My power supply doesn’t actually have 8 pins… but instead it has six pin connectors with this little two pin that you sort of wedge in beside it.  Trying to guide two different connectors in at the same time is extremely maddening but with some effort I finished the job, all the while anxious to boot things up and see purty graphics.  Now this is the point where things start to spin out of control.  Firstly I am bad at doing windows updates… and in rebooting my computer I had a whole slew of them apparently queued up to install and thanks to the glory of Windows 10 you don’t really get a reprieve.  You reboot your computer for any reason and by god they are going to take that moment of weakness to install every fucking thing under the sun.  After a sequence of three or four reboots, Windows decided to do two things that were maddening.  Firstly it decided to uninstall the lovely Nvidia drivers that should have worked just fine since I was going from a 960 to a 980… and instead installing its completely useless stock driver.  Secondly after a sequence of reboots I loaded into a game… and quickly realized I had no audio.

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Some time ago I purchased an Asus Xonar DG audio card, and I really have enjoyed it.  It sounds significantly nicer than the default Realtek on-board audio, with the only negative being that on my current motherboard it is sandwiched right up against the video card.  Windows jettisoned the drivers, and I didn’t even get a little angry “no audio device found” message when it tried to load the tray icon tool.  The tray icon tool for the Xonar drivers was simply gone.  I guess in the grand scheme of things this probably makes sense, because the Xonar drivers I was running were some unified third party drivers that fix the faults in the card that the default Asus drivers still seem to have.  In any case… I had no audio…  which is the point at which I start trying to configure my damned onboard card once more.  This of course took another series of reboots… the first being that I didn’t remember what the hell the MSI bios hotkey was.  The second being me actually managing to mash the delete key at the right time to enter the bios, and finally the third being to install the damned drivers.  Life was more or less peachy, until I once again began fiddling to try and make the on-board sound, sound considerably less horrible.

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I started this process around 6 pm, and finally got to a point where I could start playing something around 9:30 pm.  This is always what happens when you decide to open up your case and do quite literally anything.  One thing leads to another, which leads to a desperate sequence of events… which finally leads to success but several hours past when you expected.  I hopped on Teamspeak to sort out if the audio was set up properly and thankfully both Ashgar and Tam were there to help me test.  Then I did what you do anytime you upgrade literally anything in your machine….  you start launching every game you have installed to tweak the settings.  The new card does not of course make everything magically better.  I still have a woefully outdated Motherboard and Processor, which I will have to address at some point, however I have more than enough graphics card to be able to run damned near anything I care to throw at it.  The fun thing I learned last night is that Nvidia Experience is woefully confused as to what my system can actually run.  I’ve often used their optimization as a baseline to then go in and further tweak until things are a good mix of pretty and performance.  However thanks to the outdated CPU it just sort of throws its hands up and chooses low at times.  Whereas pretty much everything I have thrown at it since last night has been able to bump on up to ultra settings regardless of the outdated processor.

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So that is my fun evening and I have peppered the post with various screenshots taken in the games I loaded up… and happened to think to take a screen shot.  I am sure I will likely tweak each of them further, and also try flipping various games to Dynamic Super Resolution which seems to work awesome now, when it only barely worked before.  Huge apologies to my friends in FFXIV, but thankfully I did warn them that it was a possibility yesterday.  Hopefully everything went off over there without a hitch and I will join them next week like normal.  In the meantime… I am probably going to continue spending the next several days… launching games and logging out of them just to see what the difference is.  I am also wondering if somehow when I installed the Video card… if I managed to unseat the audio card.  I will probably give that a shot tonight, but I made that realization way too late in the evening for me to venture back inside of my case that night.

Scrap Collector

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The Wastelands

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The Rift resurgence continues and this time around I find myself working on tradeskills.  Every so often I find myself stuck in a loop, that winds up with me leveling one thing like mad.  The focus currently is pushing as many trade-skills up as I can manage…  and honestly afford.  I went into this little mission with roughly 1600 platinum, and as of last night I had dropped under 500.  Please not this is just on reagent costs and pattern training costs, as I have been going out into the wild to gather materials on a pretty regular basis.  The above image was taken on one of these many trips, this time to find Rhenium nodes in the Steppes of Infinity.  I am not sure if this is even the best place to look for these, but I figured the highest level zone in Storm Legion would probably have the highest chance of these nodes.  Currently I am working on Artificer which as of last night is I believe sitting at 360 of 450, but thankfully it was one of my lowest trades.  When the game went free to play, one of the things that I spent a bunch of my “free” currency on was adding tradeskill unlocks to my main.  The goal is to eventually turn Belghast into an omnicrafter, which is a term that is common in FFXIV but not possible in most games.  Currently my trade-skill load-out looks a little something like this…

  • Armorsmith – 450
  • Butchering – 450
  • Foraging – 450
  • Mining – 450
  • Outfitter – 450
  • Runecrafter – 450
  • Weaponsmith – 450
  • Dream Weaver – 390
  • Fishing – 375
  • Survival – 375
  • Artificer – 370

So like I said Artificer is the lowest of my skills or at least the last of my “make gear” skills so I have been focusing on it.  Fishing and Survival hopefully I will be able to level in tandem as I have done in the past.  Dream Weaver I probably have more than enough material to start pushing it up there in level given that I salvage every single artifact that I get that I already have…. which at this point is a considerable number.  The worst part of the artificer grind right now is trying to acquire gemstones which is namely why I am out in the Steppes farming Rhenium for those every so lucrative Heavy gem nodes.  The only problem I foresee however is that a some point soon I am simply going to run out of money, probably long before I actually hit the goal of leveling all of these things.  I am also lacking one tradeskill on this character, and that is Apothecary the one I have never actually successfully leveled on any character.  At some point I will end up picking up one more tradeskill unlock and start working on that, but I think that will ultimately happen at a later date.  The only real disappointment so far is that apparently this awesome 38 Slot Cosmic Bag pattern that I picked up can only be crafted with a drop from Tier 3 raid bosses, with no other way to acquire it.  That is a bit of a kick in the pants…. but hopefully they will add it to the cash shop or something at a later date.

Low Key Activity

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I think that after coming back from our whirlwind birthday weekend… I have just needed something super chill to do and crafting became that activity.  The biggest problem is that if I keep on this course I am going to ultimately bankrupt myself.  Tonight is going to be a night of fiddling with my desktop upstairs, because in theory I should have a shiny new graphics card to install.  If I can manage to get that done in time I will probably end up participating in the FFXIV pony farm and miscellaneous activity night.  If I do not get finished with machine upgrades until after the start time, I will likely just piddle around in Rift.  I need to get back to doing some Intrepid Adventures because it turns out that they are still a pretty damned good source of upgrades.  I also need to get some more Expert dungeons in, as in a perfect world I would do at least seven a week so that I get all of my currency bonuses.  As far as raiding goes I am still up in the air as to what I want to do there.  There are supposedly a good number of pick up raids, and I would love to see some of the content at least once… namely the new Comet of Ahnkhet raid.  I would also love to get some of those bag reagents to craft up a few 38 slotters… but I would imagine that even now those items are in high demand.  I wish they dropped form the Mind of Madness bosses in Intrepid Adventure, but as I have not seen one yet… I would assume that is not something that happens.  For sheer gear acquisition Hammerknell seems way faster for getting cache drops, but then again that could simply be that people are just more used to those encounters.

At some point I also want to begin leveling my rogue, but in the past my key reason for doing this… was to have a bag maker.  Since going all omnicraftery that reason went out the door so ultimately I need to find a spec that I can really enjoy.  I somehow down the “grandpa build ” is still as effective as it once was for soloing content.  For doing Instant Adventures I am currently running around as Marksman, because standing back and plinking tends to require less focus than getting up close and personal with the mob encounters.  Similarly at some point I do want to level a character on the European servers, and I have gotten my Zaviel character up to 22.  Right now I am largely just opening patron caches on him every day in the hopes of getting extra loyalty, but at some point I want to start pushing him in levels again.  At some point I left the tracks and entered the Instant Adventure zone and it is unlikely that I will ever return to proper leveling with quests on that guy.  The IA is a bit of a trap… in that the experience you gain seems so much faster than anything you can get while questing…  but as a result it ends up with you being severely under-geared for your level.  It also make sure that your tradeskills are woefully behind, and at some point I will have to go on a gathering binge to even begin to catch up.  In any case…  its been a little over a week now since my return to Rift and I am still finding so many of the things compelling.  Even more so I have dove back into the community and am hanging my hat on discord, so if you have any interest in Rift I highly suggest you check it out as well.


HPB Tourism


Forty On Internet


This weekend was an extremely interesting one for a whole bunch of reasons.  Firstly instead of my wife flying home from her week grading AP exams in Kansas City I decided to go up and meet her.  KC is only a 3 1/2 hour drive, and the roads are great…  albeit travelling across Kansas is a boring mess with both spotty cell phone and radio coverage.  While travelling I played this game called “find the radio station with the least static”.  I have not joined the realm of paid radio, because around Tulsa I prefer to listen to our NPR station.  Once I got close to the KC Metro I thankfully found one located in Topeka that seemed to come in just fine, which oddly turned into a Classical Station in the metro proper.  I took a half day Friday and after piddling around the house and doing a few last minute chores I managed to leave around 2:30 which put me pulling into the hotel around 6 pm.  Firstly I have to say that we had never stayed in a Drury Inn before, but it is definitely a hotel chain I would be interested in within the near future.  Not that I partook of it but they offered a free dinner buffet each evening from 5pm to 7pm coupled with happy hour at the same time.  We did however hit up the free breakfast Saturday morning which consisted of biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage patties and a plethora of pastry options.  It seemed like a shame that quite literally we just slept there the one night, but I think when we go to Pax South next year we might see where the Drury Inn locations are in that town because it was pretty spiffy.

The other big thing that happened on Saturday other than running around Kansas City was the fact that I turned Forty.  Having a birthday on the internet is a really interesting thing and as we roamed around town, each time I stopped to check my phone I had another deluge of well wishers.  I cannot say enough how much I appreciate this, because wow it was just overwhelming in a good way.  There are times you wonder if you have much effect on other people, and then there are other times where they completely collapse upon you with feels.  This was one of the later times, and I thought about a proper way to represent this feeling on the blog but failed miserably.  The good is the warm fuzzies I felt all day long… the bad was the fact that my phone battery died at some point during the day before we got home from all the notifications.  Turning Forty feels so damned strange because in truth I don’t feel that much different than I did in my 20s.  I am maybe a little slower to anger, maybe a little less impulsive… but overall I think I am the same “Bel” I have always been.  The internet has been a strange equalizer, because I don’t feel nearly as out of touch as I thought my dad was when he turned Forty.  It feels like I am still very much on the first wave of memes, before they enter the public conscious.  The one place I feel like I am lagging behind horribly is in music, but namely because I don’t listen to a lot of it anymore.  I stumble onto new music via YouTube or google music, but I am not actively engaged in the indie scene the way I once was.



I would say that you could tell our ages by our activities, but then again we aren’t really do anything we have not always done.  When it comes to wandering around a town we have a pecking order of priorities.  The number one being hitting old bookstores, and namely finding out if a town has any Half Price Books locations.  It is extremely hard to describe this store to the uninitiated.  To call it a used book store is a bit of an understatement, and to call it anything else…  well I lack the proper words.  Essentially it is the best bookstore chain my wife and I have ever found, and namely because of the breadth of material they have within them…  that and the extremely high turnover rate.  We could easily hit the same HPB every single week and keep finding new stuff.  I personally go there for the SciFi, RPG, Comics and Software sections…  all of which are generally amazing, and my wife goes there for teaching materials which are also amazing. Then there are all of the little neat incidentals that they have like Doctor Who memorabilia, LEGO stuff, and a random assortment of cool action figures and other geek accouterments.  The highlight for me will always be the pen and paper section because I am constantly looking for gems.  When we were in St Louis I found a copy of the unofficial Headhunter expansion for Rifts, which I picked up because it was extremely cheap and also pretty.

This time around I mostly window shopped finding a neat Menzoberanzan boxed set, that was sadly incomplete missing several maps…  and an original “Cthulhu” version of the Deities and Demigods book.  The last bit would have been something I picked up… were it not $75.  It was cool but not that price tag worth of cool.  The thing I was a big shocked about was the lack of Palladium stuff, which makes me wonder if that system never really caught on in KC… or if it caught on so much that no one ever sold their books.  My friends however lacked onto the GURPS books when I tweeted out the pictures, which is a system that always seemed interesting but I never really got into.  I figured I only had room for a single one size fits all pen and paper system in my life, and I went down the Palladium route.  The truth is… we go to a lot of HPB locations.  There are none in the Tulsa area, but several times a year we head down the turnpike to Oklahoma City just to hit the three locations there.  We’ve been to most of the Half Price Book locations in the Dallas area, including the giant flag ship store downtown.  In addition to that we have been to Kansas City, St Louis MO, Every Location on the way to San Antonio TX, Madison WI, and if we make it to any of the other towns where they exist… you can bet we will go there as well.  Other than HPB I hit up a Micro Center…. which was way smaller than the St Louis store, and a few Targets and Toys R Us looking for the new Destiny Megablocks that are supposedly now out in the wild.  Then there was of course a trip to IKEA to try and find the one thing that was out of stock when we were in St Louis.  It was a great day and according to my Pebble Time we wound up walking around 14,000 steps.

The Homefront


On the home front, all of the animals missed my wife… and when she has not been outside partaking of the back patio… she has had two or three of them surrounding her.  On the flower front I regret to say that the heat claimed our first victim.  We had this hybrid mini petunia plant that was a mix of red and white flowers.  Several weeks ago when we were in St Louis the heat and potentially the change in watering habits claimed the red flower from that pot.  The white one however seemed to be holding on, and we had removed the dead red plant hoping that it would be able to spread out and claim the extra area for its own.  Life was going peachy until this week when the extreme temperatures had a serious effect on the plant.  When we got home Saturday night it was pretty crispy, and while I am still watering it hoping that maybe it will spring back… we’ve replaced it for the time being with the above pictured plant.  The greenhouse around the corner from our house is currently having a 20%-50% off sale on all plants, so we took that as a good sign that we should go ahead and replace it with something else.  So far it is happy, but the blue plant has only actually been seated in our back yard for less than 24 hours.  Like always I have no real clue what the plants are by name other than the made up names that I end up calling them.  My neighbors probably think I am absolutely insane because I talk to them while I water them.  I treat my flowers the same way I treat my other pets…. which might be odd or insane but screw it… it makes me happy.

All in all it was a great weekend, and I am thankful that I took today off to recuperate before heading back to work.  Other than the above… I have been spending a lot of time in Rift but that is a story for another day.  Thanks again for all of the Birthday wishes.  Each and every one of you out there are amazing and I am thankful to have you in my life.

The True Endgame


Wardrobe System


Last night I had a marvelously relaxing evening working on “endgame content” in Rift.  By that I mean the true end game of any MMO… and that is wearing interesting outfits.  There are so many different cosmetic systems out there, but I have to say that in my personal experience Rift has hands down the best one.  How the system works is you have a tab on your character screen labelled Wardrobe, and at the bottom are a number of alternate outfits that you can save.  By default you get one free wardrobe slot, and then up to four can be purchased using platinum, with the second tab costing 10, third costing 50 and fourth costing 100.  If I remember correctly the loyalty system has a number of unlocks that come with various ranks in that, gained through either subscribing as a patron or spending money on the in game shop.  Up to sixty total wardrobe slots can be unlocked however through the cash shop currency, and each of them costs 144 credits which if you base that on the conversion rate for the $19.99 and if my math is anywhere near correct that is roughly 90 cents a slot.  What makes the system so special is that the game saves appearance and dye information at an account level, and simply looting an item into your inventory saves the appearance.  You don’t even need to equip an item to save its appearance, which means if you get a sweet bind in equip item that you are not going to use…  you can sell it and still have saved its appearance data.  Dyes work a little strange in that they are mostly unlocked through cash shop currency… however I believe you have some of the basic colors unlocked for free.  The individual unlocks are at tiers of pricing and are either 90, 270 or 450.  As I am writing this I am realizing that all of my information may be slightly off given that I have the patron discount applied to pretty much everything.  Essentially if you really want a color it isn’t terribly cost prohibitive to get it, however I wish their dyes worked like Wildstar in that they were drops out in the world and not something you simply purchased.


What makes the Wardrobe system so special to me is that for every single wardrobe tab you can save an appearance that you choose from all of the appearances you have collected, a primary and secondary dye color… and even toggle whether or not you want to display that particular slot.  What I love the most however is that you can save an appearance for two one handed weapons, a two handed weapon, a ranged weapon and a shield with every single slot.  That means when you are running around in this outfit and you switch specs to something that uses a sword and board, or something that dual wields… you don’t have jarring change in appearance, nor do you have the odd feeling of running around and fighting with a shield but it still shows your two handed weapon.  When you pick up any item, or look at an item in the crafting or auction pane you see a little note that tells you if you have collected the appearance for it yet.   What makes collecting gear so damned fun for me at least is that they have created this tab called “Appearance Sets” that tells which pieces you are missing from each set.  For the completionists there are a number of achievements tied to the collection of various sets as well.  I have lots of singlets and partial sets but you can see that as of last night I have completed 30 of 323 available item sets.  The only thing that I wish it showed… was where you could actually get that specific appearance item be it crafting or drops.  That said the Rift team gets amazing marks for me in the way this system works and feels to use.  What makes everything better… is that you can use ANY gear type on ANY character…. so I can have my plate wearing warrior in robes, or my mage sitting in full plate.

Bolstering the Sets


So when I say last night that I spent the entire evening working on the true Endgame… what I mean is that I have been on this crafting kick.  Another feature that I love about Rift is that I can pretty much make one character do every single crafting profession in the game.  Granted this is cost prohibitive when it comes to credits, but when the free to play system launched they gave long time subscribers a pretty massive cash shop payout.  This allowed me to add everything but Apothecary and Outfitter to my primary Bahmi Warrior main.  At some point I would love to add those professions as well just so I can have a true omni-crafter in this game and to streamline the creation of items.  I have a max level outfitter on my Rogue, so last night I had to spend a good deal of time swapping items back and forth for the creation of fabric bolts.  Over the last week as I have been out in the world picking up max level crafting materials, I have been spending some time at the end of the evening pushing up my tradeskills and at this point I have several of them at the 450 max or pretty close to it.  This is the point where my brain goes a little off the track here, and shifts goals on me.  When they put in the Item Appearance system, I was a little disappointed because so many of the items left to collect were things that I had in my grubby little hands at one point.  Now I saved the items that really mattered to me, but wound up scrapping the vast majority of the items I handled over the years.  I always had it in the back of my mind that at some point I would start running old world dungeons and crafting old world items to help bolster my appearance collection.


So last night while watching The Expanse through the Syfy Roku app… I started in Freemarch and worked my way through the various zones of the Old World collecting ore, wood, leather and cloth and then taking it back to either Meridian or Tempest Keep and crafting item sets.  By the point I had shut down for the evening I had made my way through to Titanium and had crafted the Plate and Chain armor sets for each… as well as the armor bundles that were available at various points.  At some point I will follow up and do the same with weapons, but there are far more items to craft there… or at least it certainly feels that way.  I suppose at some point I will go do the same with my Rogue and collect the various cloth and leather sets, but since I am a pretty plate and chain focused person those weren’t nearly as important to me.  The truth is since this system went in during Storm Legion if I remember correctly, I have most of the post Old World craft-able sets already saved, so that leaves me with Carmintium left to craft of the easy sets.  At some point I would like to purchase the rest of the alloy metal sets like Steel and the rest of the Orichalcum set… but those involve farming up a bunch of crafting marks to purchase the patterns.  In the end I had a blast and knocked out a bunch of those things that I have always said I wanted to do.  I love the crafting system in this game because it is just intricate enough to keep my focus… and not a maddening mini-game that requires me tending it as I craft things.  I like systems that make the acquisition of raw materials the challenge, not the assembly of those things.

Racing Snail

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Out of Advice

This month is of course the rescheduled Newbie Blogger Initiative… and I have been horrible at supporting it so far.  Normally I have filled my blog with various sundry related information about blogging, and if you really want you can probably still take some of that as completely valid.  I know this event works, but the problem is… at this point I just feel like I am out of advice to give without simply rehashing a bunch of old themes.  The truth is I really don’t know what I am doing, and while sometimes I put on the front that I do…  I spend the majority of my time winging it.  Sure before I wrote a single line on Aggronaut, I had planned a lot of stuff like the domain name and hosting provider, but that is not to say I didn’t have a much earlier not fit for public consumption blog on blogger.  Back then… I just started blogging, and it is I feel honestly good to just go make some mistakes on your own without the intervention of others.  My original blog was a semi-private ordeal talking about my life, my family, and all sorts of random events in large part surrounded on our sudden and bizarre desire to start camping.  I say camping… but what I really mean is hanging out at a lakeside resort in an RV.  It was real and snarky and sometimes raw… but it had a very specific audience of folks who actually knew me in real life.  Those people didn’t care about my gaming, and in most part would probably find it strange.

So when I created Aggronaut it was by purpose designed to be completely divorced from my real life.  The idea was I would have the real world blog for people who knew me… and then the other blog to talk about my passions.  That didn’t exactly work because I’ve found that while I can write in a mostly anonymous fashion talking about people and events from my real life setting…  I can’t exactly keep them out of my topics.  I’ve tried not to name names in my blog as a sort of “protect the innocent” fashion in part because my wife works in a very skittish profession.  I never wanted anything I might say to reflect badly upon her.  I would say that I probably filter myself a lot, but the truth is I really don’t have that many inflammatory opinions.  What I personally consider ranting about subject… I’ve often been told is just polite but impassioned discussion.  So as I sit down and try and thing of advice to give a budding blogger, I am really finding myself completely empty this year.  Just because I have been doing something longer, doesn’t mean I have any better grasp on how things should work.  I don’t know what I am doing… and it is perfectly okay to not know what you are doing.  I’ve somehow made that work for over seven years now, and I suppose I will continue to make it work for the foreseeable future.  I lack the ego however to tell you t hat my way is the correct way, because I know I don’t even know if it is right for me.  Next week I might get new information that makes me question everything about what I have done for the better part of this decade, and that is also okay.  Basically if you want to write…  just go write.

A Good Note


Over the last few days I have become progressively more active in the Rift community.  There is something comfortable about coming back to this game, and I find myself obsessing with all of these little details.  The experience has been something akin to catching a movie on cable television that you have not seen at decades… and then having a sudden swell of feelings for how much you used to love that movie.  Coming back to Rift this time feels very much like dusting off a favorite tome and reading it again with new eyes.  There are some things I am coming to terms with, namely that unlike so many games… it is unlikely that I will find many of my closest friends interested in joining me.  As I have learned time and time again… Rift is not really their game and especially the AggroChat crew can rattle off a list of reasons why.  That said… it has always sorta been my game, and been something that I supported regardless if I was actually playing with it.  I’ve said time and time again that Rift is essentially all of the features I ever wanted in a video game compiled in one game… and they just keep adding more features as time goes on.  That said it is also a much harder game than I have grown accustomed to, and as a result for the last several years since the launch of Storm Legion I have struggled a bit to find my place in it.  I was extremely slow getting to level 60, and I am just now getting to 65, so the speed and difficulty of leveling was something I had a difficult time reconciling now that I am extremely used to the fast pace and ease of leveling in the “modern” mmo.  I’ve long said that my favorite time period in World of Warcraft was Wrath of the Lich King, and I’ve just realized that Rift is as though you stopped the clock in a time period before content started to get watered down to appeal to a wider audience.  That is not to say that Rift does not have a lot of solo-able features… but if you intend to play at the highest levels of the game you are going to need a group and dedication to your character.

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All of this aside I am in this position where I am really enjoying the depth of this game, and finding myself with this entire list of things that I want to accomplish.  One of the best parts of the game for me personally is the way that they have changed the wardrobe system.  Now when you pick up an item, you collect its appearance and can then assemble outfits out of these appearances without needing to fiddle with any of the actual loot.  The fact that there are also zero negatives like a gold sink associated with it, means I am constantly changing my wardrobes around, and I guess at times this is a positive.  Within the Rift forums and Discord there was a contest called “Planetouched Style”, the idea being that you assembled an outfit that represented a certain planar theme and then went out into the world and found a location that fit the theme to take a screenshot.  The first image was my entry, going for a sort of “Papa Legba” feel for it… and then finding an area out in Seratos that really shows off the deathyness.  Much to my shock… I apparently nabbed second place in the contest.  So I am now the proud owner of the 5th Anniversary edition racing snail…  completely with flames decorating the shell.  This goes nicely with my 4th Anniversary mount that I already spent damned near all of my time riding.  I am excited and humbled to somehow have managed to win, but it was a great note to end the day on yesterday.


Making Fetch Happen

A Down Year

Normally at this time on my blog I have lots of things to talk about regarding the E3 proceedings.  I have been watching like I always do and have managed to catch Bethesda, Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft, and the PC Gaming show.  I missed the Nintendo show but have caught most of the trailers that might be important to me on YouTube.  There is just an overwhelming feeling of blah this year when it comes to the shows.  There isn’t a whole lot new that I didn’t already at least know was in the works.  There were no shock announcements, and even the ones that were supposed to be…  like the Hideo Kojima creepy dude with tiny baby dripping oil on a beach game where just the end of a logical conclusion.  We knew in no circumstances was he going to stay out of the game after the whole Konami break up, and I assumed that even though PT/Silent Hill fell through that he and Norman Reedus would work together on something.  Basically it feels like all of the secrets were either foregone conclusions or something we heard about months ago.  Maybe if I read fewer gaming news sites, or watched fewer YouTube videos I would feel differently about the proceedings this year.  It just all feels like an off year to me, with a bunch of predictable games and a very few things that make me extremely excited.  In past years I could declare a clear winner but in truth…  while I lean heavily towards the games that appeared at the Bethesda show, both Microsoft and Sony seemed to create similarly mediocre experiences.

I think the big problem for me with this show is that I am not that interested in Virtual Reality as a whole.  As I have said before this is a technology that has been “within five years” of mass adoption my entire life.  There is always a new peddler of these dreams, and while I think that probably we are the closest we have ever been… I just can’t seem to muster any excitement about it.  Namely my problem is the massive price point, and realizing that quite honestly I would rather spend that money elsewhere.  Currently the cheapest offering is the $399 Playstation VR, and it is going to offer a sub par graphical experience so that it can keep the hardware costs down.  The HTC Vive so far seems to be coming out of the show the clear winner, with games like Fallout 4 already being announced for that platform.  It seems like the Occulus Rift is behind the eight ball in so many ways right now, with the production problems… and kickstarter folks still not having gotten their units.  They also lack a solid 3D controller design, which the Vive already has locked down pretty tightly.  Were I single… I would probably be all over this, but as a husband who already feels guilty for isolating himself in a game…  spending over $1000 on computer upgrades to give myself an experience that is even MORE isolating just doesn’t seem like something that is going to happen.  However it seems like the majority of folks are really excited about these prospects so time will see if they can bring down the cost of entry enough to reach mass market saturation.

The Best of Shows

As far as games I am looking forward to… after the recent play through of Dishonored I am extremely looking forward to the sequel.  That game was phenomenal and it looks like they are taking the sequel in some interesting directions with having split characters you can play with completely different tool sets.  I am looking forward to the Skyrim remaster, and am extremely  pumped that they are giving it to PC users for free pending we had the game and all of the available dlc…  which I do.  Now a game that I am surprised I am into… is Let it Die for the PS4.  I am largely over the whole gore thing…  but it has this almost silent hill feel to it as you start with nothing at all and have to kill baddies to gather up weapons and armor as you try and climb a tower.  The premise is kinda dumb admittedly, but I watched some game play of it on one of the live stream shows and it looked interesting.  Horizon Zero Dawn once again showed well, and I am looking forward to seeing this game launch.  That said I think it would be a title I would enjoy playing more on the PC than on the PS4 but time will tell.  Recore also showed well once again, and this time I am pumped that they announced that it would be coming to Windows 10…  giving me even less reason to care about an Xbox One.  The highlight of any show was likely the announcement of State of Decay 2, because the game is finally adding multiplayer support.

From Nintendo I am all about the look and feel and game play of the new Legend of Zelda game and I am thankful that I went ahead and picked up that Wii U.  Then of course there are the disappointments.   We all go into the Bethesda conference hoping for an Elder Scrolls VI announcement, even though I doubted that would be the case given that last year they launched Fallout 4 and are still working their way through the expansions.  I still really don’t know much more about Mass Effect Andromeda than I did going into the show, which is frustrating.  I’ve technically seen more of the game thanks to the trailer, but I really don’t know much knew.  Then there are all the games that we didn’t see… like Beyond Good and Evil 2 that has been on again and off again for a decade.  I guess the problem is that other than State of Decay 2… I really didn’t have any “Hell Yeah!” moments during the show.  There was nothing I was seeing that excited me so much as to make me day dream about playing the game I was just seeing.  I guess it makes sense… we are just far enough into a console cycle for things to start to feel visually samey… and not far enough for folks to have really mastered the art of pushing this generation to its limits.  The problem there being that with the talk of increasing console resources…  it makes me wonder if we will ever reach that point with this generation.  Consoles seem to be treading upon the realm of PC gaming… where the experience becomes extremely variable based upon how much money you throw at the problem, and I am not entirely certain that is a good thing.

Trailer Dump

Now for a bunch of trailers that I happened to like this time around…

High Center

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Gear Barrier

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For months I struggled to find meaning in MMORPGs and wrote about my feelings a little over a month ago.  Then something changed, and I am not exactly sure how or when it did.  Now I am suddenly finding myself caring an awful lot… and even more than that thinking about what I am going to be doing that evening.  The only problem is… I have found myself struggling nonetheless.  Life was going rather peachy in Final Fantasy XIV that is…  until I started trying to catch up in the patch content.  Last week they released 3.3 patch content and I happily quested my way through both the tail end of 3.2 and 3.3 until I hit a road block.  That road block being that in order to do the first dungeon introduced by the new content… I have to be sitting at 200 item level.  Now when I took a break several months ago I was sitting at 190 item level and that was just about as good as was humanly possible to get at the time, or more so as good as you could get without the really painful grind.  Upon coming back I have been having a blast farming ponies with the guild and slowly working my way through the relic weapon quest.  I’ve also attempted to keep running experts but failed miserably at doing them on a regular basis.

The end result is that I have managed to pull my item level up to 195 but 200 still feels like it is a very very long ways off.  One of the problems is in the past when they have introduced a new item cap like this to continue the quest, the previous set of dungeons provided gear that was of sufficient level to breach it.  However the last set of dungeons in this case only dropped 195 level gear, which were upgrades in a few slots but in no way good enough to bring me up to fighting levels.  The answer of course is to run Void Ark over and over until my eyes bleed, however I find myself struggling to do that when I don’t have anyone else to run it with.  Tuesday is the night we run group content as a free company, and on that night the guild is active as can be.  The only problem is the rest of the week it is a ghost town.  So I struggle to push myself to do activities with strangers, which is going to be a common theme in this post.  My entire time in MMO gaming I have always had this wonderful social support structure, from the moment I set foot in Everquest to modern times.  If I needed something done there was always a ready supply of friends that I could pester to come do it with me.  When I am missing that I am finding that I don’t exactly know how to function.

Social Barrier

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This brings us to game two that I am struggling with.  Over the weekend in a fit of nostalgia and such I dove head first into Rift and am having a really great time.  I’ve started participating in the Rift discord community, and picked the brains of several friends as to all of the things that I should be doing now that I am back.  The item that kept getting mentioned is that I really should start working on the weekly quests out in the Planetouched Wilds area.  So being a dutiful follower of instructions I wound my way through the quest content and hit a big stubborn wall.  There was a quest on top of Lantern Hook that involved killing a bunch of mobs essentially before they killed me, and quite frankly I was overwhelmed.  I tried it in a few different specs before eventually asking for some help.  The only problem is by that time in the Discord community, everyone was busy doing their own thing and not watching chat…  so I got nothing but crickets.  The challenge with Rift is that it is not that I have minimal social structure in that game like the way I do in Final Fantasy XIV…  it is that I suddenly have none at all.  Over the years all of that structure has eroded to where I am left with just one single channel that once or twice a night has another person in it with me.  The majority of the time when I say hello to said other person in the channel I get no response telling me… that it probably scrolled by so fast on their screen that they didn’t even notice it.

Rift does a great job of providing a ton of things that I could be doing solo, but unfortunately there are still times where I absolutely need other people to do content.  What I ultimately did was start watching the level 65 channel until I saw someone that seemed nice enough and that was playing on the same server as me.  I pushed myself so far out of my comfort zone and asked them for help…  to which I was shot down.  However I politely thanked them anyways, and about thirty minutes later while I was still sitting there struggling to figure out a way to do the quest by myself…  I got a message from them again saying that they were finished with their raid and that they could come help me.  So massive thanks to Domasca from Faeblight for assisting with the quest and pushing me past that obstacle.  I continued on about my business and finished another set of quests only to return back to Lantern Hook to be handed yet another quest that I had no way of soloing.  It was at this point I gave up for the night and went to bed, frustrated.  Basically I am already standing on a precipice with this game and have a handful of choices in front of me.  Either I can start rebuilding my social network within Rift a single player at a time, and in doing so force myself into anxiety ridden territory.  I can research specs and try and find that one magical spec that lets me solo silly hard content like I have done in the past.  Then of course there is always the option to just quit the game again… which is the one that I am trying to avoid as hard as I can.  Rift is this wonderful throwback to an era in MMO gaming that I miss greatly… the only problem is that era is one when you needed lots and lots of active friends to support you through all the random things you needed to accomplish.  So in truth… I need to figure out how to meet new people in this extremely well established and already stratified community.