Diary of an Extra Life Participant

October 19, evening – Preparations! Download any game I might want to play, make sure the streaming software is working, load up on healthy snacks. Go to bed early feeling smug about being an awesome adult who properly prepares for things.

October 20, 4:30am – Fire alarm! It’s just a false alarm but it takes two hours for the noise to stop and the cats to calm down and for me to fall back asleep. So much for smug preparation.

7:45am – IT’S GO TIME. Shower, pot of coffee, let’s play some games.

8:00am – But wait, what to play? Something soothing, not too complicated or loud. Sounds like it’s time to make a Panda monk! Apple Cider came by the Twitch stream to keep me company and give insider tips. I got to about level 8 over the course of a couple of hours. The Pandaria starting zones are very pretty and the quests were fun, plus I quite like the lady panda models. I also enjoyed the gender non-specific conversations with Ji Firepaw.

10:00am – Get another cup of coffee, and realize I don’t know what to play next. Something new-to-me, and with a little more action.. Ooh, Assassin’s Creed II, as highly recommended by Arolaide. I had no idea that there was a modern day framework for the story, and the art style of the game is awesome. I also helpfully stream me making faces and failing to jump over a box for 10 minutes. God bless the constant connectivity of our internet generation.

12:30pm – Quick healthy lunch and time for some RIFT. Someone in Twitch chat reminds me that there are “only” 20 more hours to go. Goodness.

3:00pm – Off to an appointment with Trion Community Manager Elrar to tour some of the shiny awesomeness in RIFT’s Storm Legion expansion beta. I locally record the whole the whole tour and end up with a 350gb video file. Everything looked amazing and Elrar was super nice. This was my first time doing something like this, and I tried to ask smart questions instead of just my usual things like, “Why is your game so awesome?” and “Do you remember taking a photo with me at PAX because that was the coolest?”

4:15pm – Tour over and now it’s back to the live RIFT servers to finish off the special Extra Life Corgi rifts. A non-RIFT guildie asks in Twitch chat what we’re doing. “We are running around the world opening events to see if they’re full of corgi dogs.”. I feel that this summarizes quite nicely why people both love and hate MMOs.

7:00pm – I am now “Grim Mercredi of House Fluffington”! I feel I have accomplished something with my day. I quickly cooked up some healthy hot food for dinner. We have enough friends around to do a group game, so it’s off to Dungeon Defenders! This game is the best thing ever with 4 players — it’s first person, team-based tower defense. We blow through the boss that stomped us last time and keep playing until another boss stomps us.

9:30pm – The East Cost folks who have been hanging around providing support start to apologetically head off to bed. I curse them good naturedly. Someone says in chat, “Only 11 hours left!” and I tell them to stop saying that. I love video games but 11 more hours seems almost insurmountable. Clearly I need to spice things up a bit so it’s time for some Bioshock, which I’ve never played. Unsurprisingly, it’s gorgeous and terrifying. I smack stuff around with a pipe wrench for a while until the first Big Daddy encounter kills me.

11pm – Maaaaaaybe it’s time for something a little more peaceful and a little less likely to terrify me. Sounds like it’s time for.. FTL! This turned out to be both a good and a bad decision. FTL is super fun, if a little unforgiving, and has a nice retro mellow vibe. However, it’s also low on action and full of tiny text which makes it not that much fun for people to watch.

11:30pm – Give up on streaming FTL, but fortunately That Angry Dwarf saves the day with a stream of the first chapter of The Walking Dead. I was expecting TWD to be more of a traditional action game, but in fact it is a gorgeous story-driven experience. It was extremely intense to play, apparently, but quite cinematic to watch while I repeatedly kill all my crew in FTL. (Oops, did I open the podbay doors again?)

Midnight – “Only 8 more hours!” Oh god shut up.

1:30am – Snack time again. I go and ponder my choices. Celery sticks, salads, frozen spinach, peanuts. Okay seriously, why did I buy all this healthy crap?! Who am I kidding? Bloody hell. I run to the corner store and buy a handful of chocolate bars.

3:00am – Even the West Coast crowd has gone to bed now. That Angry Dwarf breaks out I Wanna Be The Guy Gaiden on the stream while I play some more Assassin’s Creed 2. I think I’ve decided that Ezio is really cute, and video game characters are not usually my thing. For some reason I write that down as a crucial revelation I should bring up on the podcast later.

~ Unknown time ~ – I seriously do not remember what I was playing. I mean, I played something. Possibly many things. I can’t really account for my time though. I think at one point I booted up the Trion Extra Life livestream and remarked that they looked even more exhausted than I felt. I’m alternating ciders in between cups of coffee.

6:00am – The Easties start waking up. My attention span is getting shorter and shorter, and the next two hours (“Only 2 more hours!”) consist of a ton of games that I can only manage to play for 20 minutes a piece, including The Wonderful End of the World, Audiosurf, and Glitch. I also boot up RIFT and stare at the login screen blankly for a few minutes before I decide I don’t want to play it more today.

7:30am – I have been saving Tropico 4 as my emergency game, because it’s one of the few genres of games (city builders) that I literally COULD play for 8 hours without thinking about it. It is definitely time to break it out. I am tired, frazzled, and the sun is coming up.

7:35am – Nope, not even Tropico 4 can save me now. I leave it running and just put my head down on my desk for 15 minutes.

7:50am – “ONLY 10 MORE MINUTES” I shout in Twitch chat. What have I become?

8:00am – Is it over? Did we survive? I actually have to tell That Angry Dwarf to stop playing CS:GO so we can record the podcast and go to bed. Recording the podcast at 8am seemed like a great idea a week ago and seems like a very bad idea now, but it works out.

9:15am – Sleep time go. Overall I played way fewer games than I anticipated. Also, one thinks that gaming is pretty low impact, but it requires paying attention and using twitch movement or solving brain puzzles and starts to add up over a few hours. ThatAngryDwarf and I raised $650 for sick kids, and had a great time doing it. I’ll be back next year.. but not before then. And next year, I’m buying candy.

Keep your gamification out of my reading, and Extra Life stuff!

I’m crazy about achievements in MMOs. When I was a serious business WoW player I never met an achievement I didn’t like, and now as a more casual RIFTer I still make an effort to keep an eye on the achievement panel.

The other day I upgraded my e-reader’s firmware and discovered that in the update it gained an achievement system. And surprisingly I hate it. Like, I am actively annoyed every time one pops up. I got an achievement the other day for completing 20% of a book and it’s like.. really? It seems so patronizing and gamey that I would totally roll back the update if I could simply for that reason.

I’m not sure what the lesson is here except apparently achievements aren’t good in everything. If something is its own reward, like reading a good book, then adding overly encouraging gamification systems seems cheesy and unnecessary.


It’s Extra Life Marathon weekend! From 8am Pacific time on Saturday morning until 8am Sunday morning I’ll be playing games and along with ThatAngryDwarf streaming everything to our Twitch TV channel. What am I going to be playing? ALL THE GAMES.

Okay, seriously, expect to see some RIFT, WoW, Mass Effect, Tropico 4, Bioshock, Amnesia, The Walking Dead, and a whole lot more. I’m also getting a guided tour of the Storm Legion beta on Saturday afternoon, and I will make puppy dog eyes and see if Trion will let me stream any of it.

My point is that you should come on by the Twitch channel chat this weekend and help me stay awake. :) We’re also going to be recording the next episode of Cat Context podcast immediately after the marathon, so look forward to weirdness.

Are you streaming your Extra Life gaming this weekend? Let me know about your channel! Want to donate? My donation page is here and all proceeds go to the BC Children’s Hospital.

A Return to My Storm Legion Bucket List

A Return to My Storm Legion Bucket List

emberislehat A Return to My Storm Legion Bucket List

Right now is a good time to be a RIFT player. Beta tests for the expansion are in progress and we’ll be playing it for real in 26 days. Trion has been doing live streams every week to talk about the new content and releasing some awesome videos (did you see that Dimensions trailer?!). Today marks the arrival of Patch 1.11, or the “oh my god what happened to all my buttons” patch that introduces all the expansion changes to existing classes.

Two months ago I wrote a Storm Legion Bucket List, and now seems like a good time to review how I’m doing.

1. Finish levelling my professionsPartially Complete

I’ve got my one crafting skill, Artificing, up to the maximum level of 300 and started hoarding crafting tokens for the expansion. Foraging and mining are coming along at about level 225 each, while I still haven’t touched Fishing and Survival. We’ll see…

2. Run all the dungeons and chroniclesAlmost Complete

The chronicles are all complete, as are all but one dungeon on expert mode. Thanks to pugs and guild alliances I’ve also killed bosses in two different 20-man raids (RoS and HK for those in the know) and finished the 10-man Guilded Prophecy. I am honestly feeling pretty good about how much I’ve seen of Vanilla RIFT’s group and raid content, particularly considering how casual I am.

3. Faction rewards and cosmetic gearMeh

My patience for faction grinding wore out faster than I anticipated, although to be fair one can slowly eek out reputation simply by playing the game thanks to rifts and events and crafting quests. I did make a concerted effort to complete all four major events in Ember Isle for the utterly amazing achievement hat, pictured at the start of this post. (Hat screenshot from MMO2Go.) Ember Isle events are actually super fun all on their own, with multiple waves of tasks like closing 8 rifts or defending waypoints, and the hat is clearly awe-inspiring.

4. Finish the Saga questlinesPartially Complete

I completed the Water Saga chain, giving Mercredi a crocodile mount and some sweet titles. I’ve been kind of slacking on the Fire Saga and the Cult Saga, as I know the rewards aren’t that compelling at the moment. I’ve added completing the Ember Isle story quest chain to my list just because I’d like to catch up on all the old world lore before the expansion.

5. Make some platComplete

You may be asking yourself at this point, “okay, so what HAVE you been doing in RIFT, Liore?” and the answer would be squeezing every drop of content out of the Autumn Harvest Festival, which ended on October 11th. That included taking advantage of all the artifact farming to both bolster my own collection and to sell on the auction house. And sell they did — I went from about 300 platinum to 1300 just from artifact sales. I’m starting to liquidate my bank in anticipation of the expansion, so that should help too.

Huh. I was feeling a bit of pre-expansion malaise setting in before writing this list, but now I’m pretty invigorated again! It’s easy to start thinking that with an expansion a few short weeks away one’s actions no longer matter, but in fact there appears to still be plenty for me to do and accomplish before November 13th.

Let me end this Bucket List update as I did my last one: with a screenshot of an awesome new mount, this time the Spectral Najmok from the Autumn Harvest Festival.

holiaymount A Return to My Storm Legion Bucket List

Cat Context Podcast: Extra Life Mini-sode and Giveaway!

Want a beta key for Smite, Planetside 2, or the next RIFT Storm Legion beta weekend? OKAY. Just give us a comment or question that we can read on next week’s podcast! You can post your question below or email podcast@lioreblog.com. Make sure you include your email (which we will keep private, of course) and next week we’ll randomly pick one person to get the beta key of their choice.

Strange things are afoot at the Cat Context Podcast! We’re adding some permanent hosts — Arolaide from dragonsworn.net and Ellyndrial from thatangrydwarf.com are joining the team — and changing around how we record. (Bear with us while we learn how2sound.) Unfortunately Aro was unavailable this week, so Elly and I got together and created a mini-sode about the Extra Life Gaming Marathon.

Next week thousands of gamers will be playing for 24 hours to collect donations for their local Children’s Hospital, including myself and Elly. Extra Life is a great charity, so if you can please consider fundraising or donating! Of course we’ll be spending all 24 hours on our Twitch.tv channel playing things like RIFT, The Walking Dead, and I Wanna Be The Guy, and there might even be some PAX swag giveaways.

Some links you might be interested in after listening:

* The Extra Life donation pages for Liore and Ellyndrial
* About Extra Life
* Our Twitch TV page, where we’ll be streaming the fun.


(Don’t forget to leave 5 stars!)

The 2010 Real ID Debacle: being right is awesome

As some of you may personally remember, back in the summer of 2010 Blizzard tried to switch their World of Warcraft forums over to a “Real ID” system, where accounts would get tied to real, actual names that we players would use as our sole identifier. There was a huge backlash that eventually derailed the plan, but as I recall a fair percentage of the media coverage didn’t see the problem with crossing the streams between players’ real life and their orc.

Take, as an example, this quotation from a pretty dumbass article in TechCrunch about the whole thing:

Do you really think [the internet] is going to get away with harassing people who post on the new forums, a common complaint I’ve seen? “Now people will annoy me in real life!” That sounds like a one-way ticket to a lawsuit, courtesy of Activision Blizzard. Just because your name is “out there” doesn’t mean people are allowed to threaten you. Surely you recognize this?

Let’s fast forward just over two years, shall we?

“In Colleen’s online fantasy world, she gets away with crude, vicious and violent comments like the ones below. Maine needs a State Senator that lives in the real world, not in Colleen’s fantasy world.”

Oh yeah, dumbass article writers, no one would ever get harassed in real life because their real name was associated with a WoW character. I bet the Blizzard Activision law team is just raring to go on this one, too.

Of course Ms. Lachowicz chose to not remain a completely anonymous player (not that that means she deserves this nonsense), but isn’t it fortunate that the rest of us weren’t forced to make the same choice? Hindsight is 20/20, as they say, and occasionally extremely satisfying.

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