Ugh why did I decide to try blogging every day in the month of August?! It’s only the 5th and I’m already running out of steam.
For lots to read and even some inspiration for posts, I recommend checking out the Blaugust hashtag on Twitter.
Anyway, I’m finally pushing to hit level 50 this week in WildStar (more on that later) which for me means grinding Battlegrounds in between running instances.
Although MMO PvP has kind of a chequered history, I’ve always really enjoyed it, particularly as a healer. I healed in the glory days of Terren Mill / South Shore battles, I’ve healed through hundreds of instances of every battleground in WoW, and I levelled two characters to 50 in RIFT entirely through instanced PvP healing.
So naturally when I started doing PvP in WildStar I joined as a healer and.. I hate it. Switching to DPS increased my enjoyment exponentially.
The first problem might be my class. Esper is a really strong healer but can be pretty stationery. We don’t have a ton of options for AOE healing (Reverie being the obvious spell) and while I have Soothe on my bars for healing on the go in BGs I still haven’t quite got the hang of using it.
I also find that my heals are pretty unimpressive overall in PvP. Even when I stop and spend the full 1.5 seconds to cast Mind Over Body (a big single target heal) on someone the results are underwhelming. I suspect this is because even though I’m wearing my Support Power gear I have no PvP Power stats, but honestly it’s kind of lame to need a lot of specialized PvP gear at level 47. Healing so far has just not been very satisfying.
It may also just be the way WildStar PvP works. The “action combat” system means that people are running around a lot more, which makes heals with a small area of effect more difficult to aim. And while the new Sabotage BG has players clumping up, the more frequently-played Walatiki Temple usually sees players spread all over the darn place.
Also, Exiles never win. Okay, okay, I know that people said for years that Alliance never wins in WoW and we all know that was mostly confirmation bias but this time it’s real, everyone! In like 25 games I have won… exactly one.
Okay, that might be a small sample size, but it’s still a bummer.
I loved, loved, loved PvP healing in RIFT in particular, and hopefully I have more fun in the WildStar BGs once I get 50 and/or get more PvP gear.
Twitter, I need new tv shows, preferably with a few seasons out. Any suggestions what's hot and sexy atm?
— Syl (@Gypsy_Syl) August 4, 2014
Thanks to Syl for inadvertently stumbling on a topic for me to write about in today’s Blaugust entry!
Okay, the three best complete seasons of a television show ever as decided entirely by me:
1) Season 4 of Breaking Bad
Sorry to start out with a softball, but it would be silly to avoid the best just because it’s also popular. Season 4 of Breaking Bad delivered in a serious way on almost every promise made in the first three seasons. Walt and Jesse were given the space to grow as characters (remember The Fly?) while there was still plenty of edge-of-your-seat action. And that ending! I’ll never think of fried chicken joints the same way again.
(Video has spoilers up through season 3, but just an official trailer for 4.)
2) Season 3 of Big Love
Big Love is one of my favorite shows ever. It had a knack for mixing really complicated and nuanced characters with somewhat ridiculous prime time soap plots, a combination that I find irresistible. Season 3 is where the show hit its stride, in my opinion. You know enough about all of the characters to feel invested in their collective fates, and the plot started throwing good and bad events at them as fast as possible. It was rare for an episode to end without my jaw dropping, and that’s unusual for me.
The show was great all the way through all of its five seasons, including the ending, so I guess I’m basically saying you should watch Big Love.
(Video has light spoilers up through season 2, but just an official trailer for 3.)
3) Season 1 of Survivor
Children, let me tell you a story about a magical time when there was no such thing as “reality television”. One day this unassuming TV show appeared out of nowhere — a show where regular people were shipped to a desert island and filmed for 24 hours a day while they did weird challenges to survive and voted to kick each other out. And it.. was.. mind-blowing! We were all buying Colleen’s brown bikini and talking about how stupid Dr. Sean’s “alphabetical” voting strategy was. (How did you not realize that everyone would vote out Jenna, Dr. Sean. HOW?!) Everyone was divided on who they wanted to win, and I was rooting with all my might for Rich, the clever butthead who basically pioneered the idea of forming a secret alliance on reality shows.
Unfortunately I think it would be impossible to recreate how great that first season was, and seasons 1 and 2 of Survivor in particular are why we have so many horrible reality shows today, but man, it was pretty damn awesome at the time.
(This is the opening credits for season 1. Oh man, nostalgia flashbacks.)
Okay, enough blogging, back to using my day off to grind the final few levels in WildStar!
The July season ended in Hearthstone early Friday morning and I had a final rank of 18, which is just fine with me. For some reason I feel compelled to up my game though, and I’d love to see something more like rank 15 in August. To that end I’ve been working on a variety of decks and I finally managed to kill Faerlina, my first successful Heroic Naxx boss, so I feel like I might be making some skill progress. (I used a cheap homage to egg zoo.)
Otherwise not much time to play games this week unfortunately, although I did run the tower defense Adventure in WildStar a few times with friends.
I wrote a somewhat contentious blog post earlier this week (more on that later!) and there were some interesting posts on similar topics, including one from Syl on Your Last MMO Ever and the Troubles of Aging Together and one by Cuppy who Refuses to Believe that MMOs are Dead.
In non-game writing, Arthur Chu has been on an essay bender this week with two great pieces for the Daily Beast on The Case Against Cards Against Humanity and Justine Tunney, Neoreactionaries, and the New 1%.
No new recipes this week, but I did finally get to sample the Peach and Lemon Thyme Freezer Jam I made last weekend and it is honestly pretty amazing. I got the flavor idea from this recipe but I did mine differently: mash about 8 skinned, pitted peaches with a potato masher. Add a few squirts of lemon juice (fresh is preferred), 3/4 cup white sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, a package of freezer jam pectin, and roughly two tablespoons of chopped fresh thyme leaves. Done!
Freezer jam is totally the best thing to make in the summer because you never have to turn on your stove.
I know I linked a Dark Souls playthrough last week but this one deserved special mention because it’s done by folks from my favorite gaming podcast, Crate and Crowbar.
Jesse Cox and Jirard from The Completionist play indie platformer hit, Shovel Knight.
My guild is currently holding a Hearthstone tournament and one of the first showdowns was between frequent Spelunky streamer Kinch and Cat Context co-host Ellyndrial.
In non-game things I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy yesterday, and man that movie is fun. I think in retrospect I probably enjoyed it even more than The Avengers! I liked the goofball underdog vibe, and the world-building in Guardians was really good. There are plenty of aliens and panoramic space scenes, plus dogfights with spaceships make excellent use of modern 3D technology.
This week on Herding Cats I did a quick post about the new Plague Wing in Hearthstone and some tools to make podcast editing with Audacity even faster. We also released episode 56 of Cat Context, which was mostly abut Destiny and Hearthstone, and I wrote a cranky post about how I feel MMOs and I may be going our separate ways.
There were a lot of really great comments for that post from folks who both agreed and disagreed with what I was saying, but one of my favorites was by Ocho, who said in part:
“Awwww. I feel you. The genre has absolutely changed, so much so that, and I hate to say it, it’s possible that what you are feeling is that the target audience itself has changed, and you are no longer a part of that target. And that’s okay. Things evolve, decades pass. MMO monogamists are becoming more and more an endangered species.”
I think his point is very true, and one that I should take to heart. Sometimes things you like just change into something you don’t like as much. It’s the nature of time.
My cat thinks I should stop taking so many selfies:
My Jam for the week is Disco 2000 by Pulp! This is one of my most favorite songs ever, and I just realized it’s almost 20 years old ahhhhhhh.
Meanwhile on Twitter I made a callout for MMO podcast owners that I want to repeat out here — get in touch if you’re not on that page and you’d like to be!
MMO(ish) podcast owners, this page gets mad Google traffic & I want to send it to you! Give me links and blurbs! http://t.co/E2Wps3xdnt
— Jessica Cook (@Liores) July 31, 2014
Why am I posting on a Saturday?! What is happening?!
Oh right, it’s Blaugust, the evil scheme concocted by Belghast where bloggers try to post every day in August. I initially wasn’t going to participate, and I’m still not sure I’ll complete it, but I’ve had a bit of creative doldrums lately so… eh, let’s give it a shot.
Anyway, other people have asked me about this topic in the past and so here is my list of Audacity plugins and features that will vastly improve your quality of life as a podcast editor. These things combined have easily taken up to 3 hours off of my editing process, which is pretty significant.
Chris’s Dynamic Compressor
In the past I’ve talked about just using Levelator for drag-and-drop post-processing, but a few months ago I switched to Chris’s Dynamic Compressor and I’ve been very pleased with the change. Levelator is great but kind of a blunt tool — this compressor plugin is much more flexible and does a better job in my opinion. You will probably want to play around to find the right settings for your voices, and you still want to run the Audacity Normalizer filter too.
Nyquist Noise Gate
Discovering the existence of noise gates was a revelation for my editing. No more highlighting and silencing background noise! Just highlight part of the track with background sound and run the plugin on the “analyse” setting. Take the number it gives you and run it over the whole track. Voila, low level noise is now silence. Which works well with…
Props to Belghast for pointing this out on Twitter. Truncate Silence is a standard effect for Audacity that I never bothered exploring until recently and boy, was I wrong. This effect compresses silences that are a set length or longer. Run it over all your tracks at once to keep conversation moving along and automatically remove any trace of those “so I have nothing to say now” moments.
Sync Lock Tracks
This feature is under the Tracks menu in Audacity and is amazing for multi-person shows. Once you’ve got everyone’s voice tracks lined up, activate this feature and never worry again about messing up the sync during editing.
Elly and Aro both played the Destiny beta this past weekend, and they both seemed to have a good time. Aro thinks the game is beautiful but is not sold on it being console-only for a few reasons, while Elly is fully on board and ready for some shooting fun with friends. Meanwhile skeptic Liore is skeptical — Destiny may be fun, but it is actually an MMO?
Liore has been getting back into Hearthstone to enjoy the arrival of the Curse of Nexxramas patch. She and Elly give their impressions of the first wing, share a bit of Naxx boss strategy, and talk again about how viable Hearthstone is in a world of CCGs.
Also, Aro talks about the neat indie game SteamWorld Dig! Elly remembers that couch co-op is super fun! Liore is playing Kim Kardashian Hollywood and she’s only a tiny bit sorry!
Like to watch? This podcast has a livestreamed video version:
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* The IMDB listing for Destiny.
* Paste Magazine on Kim Kardashian Hollywood and the Price of Fame
* Official website for SteamWorld Dig
* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years