Goodbye Pops

There are four reasons I like having a new/good gaming computer.

First, gaming is a way to recharge. Like reading, it is typically something that I do alone, and that energizes me.

Second, I enjoy gaining mastery of a system or process. I like figuring out how a game works and becoming skilled at it.

Third, I like having a good computer because it means more time gaming and less time waiting for things to load, or dealing with things crashing. I’m going to have a lot less free time soon, and I don’t want what little gaming time I have to be spent in frustration.

And fourth, it gives me a way to connect with people and have fun with them that isn’t super exhausting. Even when I’m playing with people, there’s enough distance (probably due to a lack of body language) that it doesn’t require as much of me.

I love playing games with people online. I like multiplayer role-playing games in particular, and I like being able to support my teammates and help them succeed. A few years ago, I joined an amazing guild that spans numerous games and is filled with people I enjoy gaming with. The guild’s credo means that everyone is generally kind, supportive, and mature.

Pops was in the guild before me. He has been in Gaiscioch for as long as Gaiscioch has been on my radar. To me, he embodied the guild’s principles. He was kind, patient, funny, and great to hang out with. Admittedly, he could be brusque and a real jackass sometimes… but it was because he cared. He legitimately cared, and he didn’t want to mince words or dance around any subject because he didn’t have time. Instead, he pushed people to be better to themselves and to each other, and he was… good. He was a good guy.

He passed away earlier this week, and we had an in-game memorial for him earlier today. We sat around a campfire and took turns sharing memories and thoughts about Pops.

I haven’t been to a funeral in a few years, but I’ve been to a fair number, and I’ve had a lot of people in my life die. I think that Pops is the first online friend that I have gone through this with. I didn’t know that he had a terminal illness, but Fog shared that Pops told him when he joined the guild. Pops literally lived every day as if it was his last, because it was supposed to be. He lived 6 years longer than the doctors said he would.

Because our guild is so large and diverse, it isn’t uncommon for guild members to die. But Pops was the first that I played with regularly. I’ll miss hearing him on Discord and playing with him. The world is a bit dimmer without him.

I will miss him.

Getting a new laptop

Thanks to April picking up a teaching gig at Drury in addition to her regular job, we can afford for me to get a new laptop, and I’m pretty stoked. I started to share about it on Google+ and wanted to link to a blog post explaining why this is such an exciting thing for me, but a quick search of my blog demonstrated that I haven’t written about it, so it seemed like a post was in order.

Continue reading

Review of the Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend

Though we were out of town to attend a wedding at the end of last week, I did get some time with Guild Wars 2 (GW2) on Saturday and Sunday. This was a weekend beta event for people who had either pre-ordered the game or gotten a beta key through some other method (I was able to pick up a few at PAX East), but even so the game ran great. There was some downtime on Saturday 2-3 hours, but Arena.net got it fixed relatively quickly and overall performance was very good.

That said, while there are a few things I liked a lot about Guild Wars 2, there are a number of areas where I felt it was pretty poor. Let’s start with the good.

Continue reading

Vanity: How my hatred of a character’s appearance made me hate a game

When I played SWTOR in beta, my favourite character was an Imperial Agent (not pictured). I was a cyborg with a cool implant just above my left eye, which made it look like I always had an eyebrow raised. Combined with a smooth voice, devilish charm, and shrewd initiative, I felt like a mix between James Bond and Spock.

So when the game launched, I tried to recreate that character. Unfortunately, my preferred implant was missing and cyborgs were stuck with these ugly red eye piece things. I made a human instead and decided to go with the same overall look, less the implant.

I ended up a baby-faced pretty boy, and I hated it.

Continue reading

YADnDW (Yet Another DnD Wiki)

My D&D group is experimenting with Google Wave to plan between sessions, and one of them requested a wiki. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while… or, rather, I’ve been thinking about writing the stories down. The campaign is going really, really well and the story as it has developed thus far is really cool. Unfortunately, I have this block when writing stories down that are already done. One of my favourite things about writing is exploration: I want to start a story and see where it goes, finding out what the characters will do as they encounter new and different situations. Writing something where I already know everything is boring.

Logically, I know that I have to write these things and practice them to become a better writer, it’s just hard. I’d like to say that working on this wiki will help me get into it, at least in regards to fantasy fiction, but this isn’t the first D&D wiki I’ve started. The previous one was about three years ago, and after loading a tremendous amount of game rule data in, I abandoned it. The new one will be focused on setting and story rather than rules, but in some ways that makes it even harder to develop.

With buy-in from my players and their growing interest, though, I’ve got more motivation than I did before. It’s the same premise as exists behind blogging: the knowledge that there’s an audience helps keep me going.

Curious to see how it’s developing? Check out the Chronicles.

The Writer’s Circle

Last Friday, April and I attended a reading at Borders here in Springfield. She had been invited to read a couple of poems out of the Moon City Review, a publication by Missouri State University in which she was featured last year, so we went and joined the sizable crowd as the MSU Concert Chorale sang some renaissance period songs and the readers were queued up. After the singing was complete, the first poet began his reading.

I had a class with this young man several years ago, and as he read about a road trip, I recognized some of the names and assumed they were our fellow class mates with whom he had become friends. We were all in the same poetry classes, two semesters in a row, and if I had continued down that road we may very well have become friends. A culture and a clique was formed there, but I was diverted and went elsewhere.

With a touch of a melancholy I thought about What Might Have Been. Until recently, I was a double major in Religious Studies and Creative Writing, but I dropped the latter down to a minor to graduate sooner. I don’t know that I even have a 3.0 GPA in RS–last I checked, it was a high 2, but it has been a while so it might have risen. I have a 4.0 in CW, though, and while the English department is well known for grade inflation, I feel like I have earned that grade. I honestly have enjoyed almost all of my English classes, and Creative Writing is probably where I should have spent my time.

In light of my recent academic travails, though, I thought through that path to its logical conclusion. Would I have been happy if I had pursued that degree more fully, focused on that instead of getting a job, and been in the same place academically as this young man (preparing to finish my masters degree)?

As I shared with April later, a large part of what I sought there was the community, and I am relatively confident I would have found it lacking. Not that they aren’t nice people–I like every one of the advanced Creative Writing/English students I’ve met–but there’s that pesky religion thing. It is difficult to connect deeply with a group of atheists/agnostics, and it seems that the upper echelons of academia are often inundated with such.

As Jennie observed about the graduate program in art at Wichita State, where she studied for two semesters, Christianity and work inspired by Christ wasn’t exactly welcome. She was often at odds with her peers and professors, and I would have found the same at Missouri State. It wouldn’t have led to negative relationships, just shallow ones, and that is unacceptable to me.

Perhaps I am mistaken in this perception, but it seems that the majority of the people with whom I communicate solely via the Internet are likewise non-religious, and I suspect when they view my site they consider me completely looney. I’m currently becoming even more overt about my beliefs, and I fear people’s judgment to some extent. If I were in an advanced writing program, and wrote and communicated vulnerably and honestly, I wonder what the reaction would be.

Would I have been happy pursuing that education more fully? Yes, probably, because it would have kept me writing and helped me become a better writer. As I listened to the final short story being read, a wonderful piece with descriptive language I doubt I will ever be able to match, I recognized that there were heights I would likely never reach. There was a path somewhere back there I choose to not take, and there is no going back in this life.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t cut cross country now and begin struggling for my own sake. What I need more than anything is practice. And if the degree program is inaccessible to me now (as it most assuredly is for a variety of reasons), that will not prevent me from writing. If a community of writers is part of my future goals and desires, a piece of paper will not prevent me from beginning to form one.

It will not be the same as it might have been, but what will be will be. We won’t have a future if we don’t make it, if we sit around watching TV and pining for what might have been. Instead, we must cut down the trees, stoke the fires, and begin building the future we so desire.