Friday, January 29, 2010

LOTRO and the computer genius..

I have a feeling this is going to be a mammoth post, so go grab a cuppa and settle in. I have sooo much to tell you.. [Gather round children, the old man’s going to tell a story – Ed].

I finally got my graphics problem sorted out. I’m a bit of an air head when it comes to fixing computers, so what I usually do is keep notes so I can track what I have done and what changes I have made. That way I don’t forget what I have tried and can eventually eliminate resolutions I have tried to sort the problem. I thought I would share my notes with you so you can see how I got on fixing it. Apologies for the crappy scribble on the notes. They obviously were meant just for my use, and I can read them ok. Hopefully you can too. I used small note pad paper so have numbered each bit in the top right hand corner so you can read them in order. [If you can be bothered with the ramblings of a madman of course – Ed]


Scribblings of an IT specialist

So, what did I think of LOTRO? Well, I have played it before on release for about 4 days only. So I had completed the tutorial parts and done a little bit extra previously. To be honest though, I really didn’t remember anything so it was all pretty much fresh and exciting stuff!

Let’s start at the beginning. I rolled a Hunter from Rohan (Man). He’s called Caedluuf. So I started in the town of Archet and following a nice introduction that saw me assist a Halfling and a Ranger to escape some brigands I witnessed a crazy cut scene where Amdir the Ranger confronts a Black Rider. From the start little things like that help grab me in an MMO. I knew straight away (even though I had been previously told) that the ongoing plotline would be interesting and more importantly interactive, with me being able to witness key encounters and developments in the story it made it all the more immersive.

Oh, one other thing I forgot to mention was how the fear from such NPC mobs like a Nazgul effect your toon. The graphical effects of when you have this incredible fear are really great, it adds to the atmosphere incredibly. Turn the lights off, it’s really cool.

So after completing this short introduction I was duly deposited in the town of Archet, where I was met by my brother on his Loremaster Ghryff ( I think I got the spelling correct). He kindly helped me through some of the little foibles of Lotro, something I will mention later. Thanks for your help with this Bro, your insights were pretty darn useful. Cheers man.

This is where the gaming gets a little bit like other MMOs. Basically you are given tasks and a plotline and have to complete these to progress in experience. I liked the fact that I wasn’t just told to “Go and kill X of these”. Yes, I was told to go do some killing, but there was always a reason given and one that clearly linked with the plot. Because of this I didn’t feel like I was doing the normal, ‘gather 10 of these’ or ‘kill 10 of these’ for no reason. It made the experience a whole lot more worthwhile and something you wanted to be involved in. Then whilst you are going around completing the general quests given, you could also indulge in the plotline quest, which eventually led you to an instance to get out of the newby area. This was really fun! I could only enter the instance solo, so I had to disband from my Fellowhip (group for all you EQ2 followers), then headed on in. I had to help the to defend Archet from the brigands, who following a bit too much campfire bromance had obviously decided that Archet would be their revenge for me kicking their arses earlier. I only took me 5 minutes to go through and kill the brigands, but it was still a lot of fun.

One thing I did notice and something my Bro pointed out to me was that if you hear NPCs talking to each other, or indeed themselves, especially where you are supposed to get quests or possibly hand them in, in that area, it is well worth taking a couple mins to stop and listen to what they are saying. Some of the content given by NPCs is certainly interesting and I have a sneaky suspicion that later the information may prove useful with the main plotline.

A few other things my Bro helped me with was the options setup. For example you have to go in to the combat tab to make sure the correct box is ticked that will enable you to target through other toons etc. Also, little things like how to adjust your hotbars [They are not called Hotbars in LOTRO – Ed], how to use the UI and so on. All the things that after playing the same MMO for 5 years, you start to take for granted. I made a few other adjustments. Like when I wanted to look in my bags the key was ‘I’ for Inventory. When I wanted to look at my toon and his equipment, it is ‘C’ for Character. So I changed my bags to ‘B’ like in EQ2 and my Character to ‘I’, again like EQ2 and what I am used to. I feel there will be a hundred little adjustments like that until I ‘m fully happy with my UI setup. And that’s before I pick which UI I want to use.

So, that’s where I am at. Level 7 and progressing nice and steady (I’m in no rush to level, just to learn the game!). I’m hopefully going to be heading back in to Middle Earth tonight, and I’ll let you know how I get on.  Hopefully Jahf will be joining me at some point in game also :)

Last night saw me raid ToMC in EQ2 with the Fraternity. We ploughed through without much trouble and after just a couple of wipes killed Xebnok. So we went through to do it all again after an instance reset and again had no problems until we hit Xebnok again. We didn’t get him the second time, but I honestly think that was down to a bit of lack of focus. It was late, I know I was very tired and wasn’t concentrating as much as I should have been doing, and if just a few others in the raid felt like me and couldn’t give it their all (I tried but did actually fall asleep at one point), [Adurj has neglected to tell you he has actually been quite ill and is not recovered yet. – Ed] then I can understand why we failed the second time. I know it wasn’t the ability to do the mob, we have that down. It was just silly mistakes that cost us, and I reckon honestly that was down to lack of concentration. I did win my T4c boots from Thet, which was nice. So I now have two of the T4 set and the lovely bonus that ‘percussion of stone’ no longer costs me a concentration spot. Which is also nice.

After I had finished raiding and after a refreshing brew, it was time to log on to Blacke and finally go see what this Grender fella looked like who is a threat and a terror to Kelethin. And here he is, although he didn’t last very long, I must say. Anyhow, not the most fearsome of hairy legged goat folk.

The Grender. Terrifying.

Until next time,

Be well.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Grender bender

Last night didn’t quite turn out how I’d expected. I had built myself up to a frenzy of anticipation during the day [Really? Frenzy? – Ed], ready to sort out my graphics problems and finally get LOTRO running without crashes. But as these things usually do, I decided being a lazy ass watching TV with Ema was a much better prospect. We watched ‘Danny Dyers Toughest Towns’ or whatever it is called followed by a few episodes of ‘Worlds most amazing videos’ type of programs. Nothing ground breaking, but nice relaxing fun. Part of the reason aside from the riveting TV, was that I needed to supervise the drying of my motorbike leathers by the fire. It’s been raining here pretty much solidly for 3 days and of course I ride to work on my motorbike, so each day sees me drying out leathers, failing, then the next morning wincing as I put on damp leathers. It’s all very pleasant.

After TV last night I spent a couple of hours playing Blacke seeing as EQ2 doesn’t seem to freeze at the moment. I had great fun investigating the menace known as the ‘Grender’. I haven’t even seen the thing yet but the way the dialogue is building this creature up, I expect it to rival the best Hollywood monster creation. I had better be crying with fear when I see the thing (if I ever get to). I actually think it is just going to be a large Goblin. I guess we’ll see later on.

Levelling Blacke is going wonderfully slowly with my bar set to 75% AA / 25% EXP and I currently have 3 or 4 AAs and am only 33% into level 11. I have a feeling this slow levelling may get a bit tedious after a while, but as I am enjoying it especially as it means I am not out levelling quests all the time, there is plenty to do and I really get the feeling that I am exploring the content thoroughly. It’s creating a feeling of achievement and satisfaction I haven’t had for a while in EQ2, aside from the harder raid content of course.

One thing I have noticed, is the amount of toons I see wandering around that are green to me, then in a heartbeat they wander past in fully fabled T8. Ok, well that’s an exaggeration but I think you know what I mean. I’m not letting that sway me to level faster though. I’m enjoying the pace and actually have a bit of an evil side as I watch their twinked souls running around. When I see folks like that I quietly tell myself that at level 80 with 120AAs they are going to struggle. I know that because I have been there plenty of times myself. That’s why doing it this way is a bit of a novel idea for me, but really enjoyable and it should pay off handsomely in the end.

I’ll be back tomorrow to give you an update on my ‘mazing computer mendy skillage [You really are a dork. I bet you a fiver that you mess it up even more – Ed] and then hopefully give you some insight in to my journey in to Middle Earth. Hopefully my buddy Jahf [SHOUT OUT to Jahf - Ed] may be joining me in LOTRO, although he's on the other side of the pond and LOTRO has different client for US and EU players. Hopefully we'll be able to sort something out. Until then,

Be well.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


It’s been an unusually long time since I have posted. Mainly due to family life, a crazy work schedule and computer problems at home. Yes, yes I know I could have posted from work, but I really have been busy, honest.

Anyhow, so what’s been happening? Well, a welcome return to Ed, welcome back home matey, glad to see your flights weren’t delayed and the fact that you lost your baggage sucks. Really. No, it does. For sure. *grin*. [It’s you who has to have the image of me sitting in my underpants editing your work pal – Ed]. Aside from the welcome return of our friend, I have been trying for the last few days to get LOTRO running. A few hiccups met me along the way, but a bit of tenacity sorts that out. So finally, last night I ran the game and sit back to create my new toon then the computer freezes. Just freezes. A kind of buzzing sound, then the freeze. Ctrl+Alt+del won’t work, the cursor won’t even move, Alt+Tab are useless, so I have to do a hard reboot. Tried again, and the same problem, over and over.

I have been having this problem ever since I decided to ditch the crappy onboard ATI card and installed a new Nvidia. I guess I must not have disabled the onboard one fully or correctly, coz this keeps happening. At first it would only freeze when I ran two windows at once and one of them had graphical content. For example, for the last week or so I have not been able to run EQ2 and ACT at the same time because I get the freeze [o...m...g. I bet that’s been killing you. I know you’re a parse junkie – Ed]. But this time, it froze with just LOTRO running and nothing else. It was in full screen mode and there were no other issues. So I guess tonight it is time to take the Nvidia out, properly disable the onboard ATI, then start all over again. It’ll be a pain, but hopefully worth it.

So, onto the other big question I can hear bubbling in your minds. Why LOTRO? It kind of was spurred on from a few conversations with my brother. For a while I have been wanting to give LOTRO a go again {I played on release for a couple of weeks} but have been so embroiled in EQ2 that I knew I wouldn’t have the time. As you have probably guessed since the arrival of Blacke in EQ2 I have been looking for some new stimulus to help me enjoy the game some more again. And it’s been working, I am really enjoying EQ2 when I play Blacke. But, it just so happened my Bro and I were having a chat , both on the phone and back when I saw him at Christmas and he was telling me all about the latest developments in LOTRO. It was during the latest conversation that I realised that my Bro has quit EQ2 for a huge amount of time now and has been well into LOTRO. I also realised that his is the opinion I value the most {especially concerning all things compy} and the one that is most like mine [strange that. You being brothers and all – Ed]. So I kind of got to thinking, if it has kept my Bros interest for so long, I just know it will keep why am I not playing it?? So I am. Trying.

Toon wise I have decided to have a Hunter, probably a man from Rohan. I am a big fan of DPS classes and normally end up having one or two on my books. Plus I know until I get into the game and get some experience I won’t really know what I will like playing and everyone has to start somewhere. I think when I first tried the game I had a Hobbit burglar. I only played him until level 13 way back when though, and have decided to start a fresh. If LOTRO is anything like EQ2 then it will be quite a different game from when it was first released so I am sure I will be on a steep learning curve. But that’s a huge amount of the fun for me. I love exploring new games and finding my way through both the rule sets and the content is great fun.

But before I do all that, I really need to get compy working and all healthy again. I’ll let you know how I get on with that. There are bound to be a few tears along the way.. [you BIG girls blouse – Ed].

Oh, and before I forget, thanks to my Bro for all your help with this over the last few days. Appreciate your help man.

Be well.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rossi kicks off 2010

It seems like Rossi has had a very busy start to the year promoting Yamaha racing in Dehli a couple of weekends ago at India’s largest motor show. Meeting over 1000 fans and Indian Mega movie star Jon Abraham, Rossi commented that he had a great time and that he hopes one day MotoGP can head to India.

If that wasn’t enough excitement, Vale has spent the last couple of days testing for the Ferrari Formula1 Team at the Catalunya Track, Spain. Initially Rossi’s lap times were hindered by weather and technical problems with the car. By the end of the testing session and 68 laps Rossi had plummeted his lap time to 1m25s just 5 seconds off the World Champion Jenson Buttons 2009 pole position time at the same track.

Rossi on wet tyres. 2010 Catalunya Ferrari test.

Stating he was happy with the test Rossi went on to say “We had some problems with the track when it was wet, but in the afternoon on slicks we recorded some good times because the track was drying out.”

This is the sixth test Vale has had in a Ferrari F1 car, yet the MotoGP World Champion still has a huge passion for rallying and has always said that if he moved from 2 wheels to 4, it would be in that direction.

Good luck Vale. Not that you need it!

Be well.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blacke Wednesday

I’m really enjoying playing Blacke. Aside from the fact I like Rangers I think the thing I am most enjoying is the way I am immersing myself in EQ2. It’s been a long time since I actually ‘enjoyed’ playing the game and not just going through the motions. I really do enjoy spending time with my guildies on my 80 toons, but that’s the company, not necessarily the game that fuels that fun. But now I seem to be finding enjoyment in the game again, which is nice. My rules mentioned here seem to be working out really well for me and are stimulating the interest in the game I thought I had forgotten.

Blacke has spent the last couple of days exploring and starting the questlines from the Sapling Spur outpost having finished the starter lines from the Nursery and Shroom caves. And he is still only level 10! I have set the exp/AA bar to 75% AA, 25% adventure experience. It seems to be working out well with my plans. I am levelling slowly enough to at least keep all of my quest journal in the blue and to ensure I get to indulge in all of the quests available without skipping them because I have outlevelled the content.

My quest to group as much as I can has been fruitless so far, but I guess that is to be expected at level 10. I did ask a warden (lev 10) if we could group who seemed to be popping up everywhere I was and completing the same quests. Unfortunately I was ignored so I tried again only to be told “I’ll be 25th by the end of today, haven’t time to grp. Sry. GL”. I suppose that’s to be expected considering the normality of the rush to 80. I did actually see the same toon returning to Kelethin later. I was still level 10 and they were 17th. Seems their prediction may have been correct. Previously that would have got my back up. Simply because using my old mindset my reaction would have been akin to “How dare they level faster than me!” But now, I can casually wave goodbye to those who pass me and carry on with my own story and goal for immersion. It certainly is a stress free way of playing the game.

I will need to keep up to date with my harvesting/forestry/mining etc, especially if I want to gather enough raw materials to have level 12 then 22 armour crafted for him. That’s not a big deal though and I am finding that with the relaxed playing style I have adopted it seems to come quite easily. In view of that I have also decided to begin woodworking to assist with arrow usage. When Shahlai was a Ranger (levels 72 to 80), that is the one thing that used to get on my nerves, the cost of arrows, so hopefully I can negate that issue by keeping up to speed on woodworking. I figured that although I do not enjoy crafting in EQ2 that if I could at least keep my crafting level within two or three levels of my adventure level then the process would be fairly painless with no mad rush later on to catch up. If I can get him to level 10 crafting, which of course I will, I then plan on gaining a crafter level every time I level in adventure mode. That way I will never get out of synch.

Well, I am going to give it a go trying to get a group again tonight, maybe even a duo to get that fun rolling along nicely. Aside from that I am simply going to continue to explore and complete quests, do a bit of harvesting, probably some crafting too. Oh, I just remembered. One of the things I am doing is instead of picking up a quests from an NPC then going into click-fest mode without reading the long dialogue simply to get to the ‘accept quest’ part, is reading the storylines thoroughly. I have always intended to do this, but it’s not easy when you have limited time online and the NPC has decided to pour their heart out to you. However, that was the old way of playing. The rush rush to 80 mindset. Now that I’m in a different state of mind over how I approach the game, I am finding very interesting and rewarding actually following the dialogue and spending the time reading it. It has really amazed me how much thought has gone in to most of the quests, even the short quick ones and some of them are indeed quite captivating and funny. So, I’m looking forward to more of the same tonight.

A quick mention from Ed, who sent me a text message yesterday. Here it is;

“Posts are crappy-bland-boring w/o my input. Say Hi to all 4 me. Idiot – Ed”

Nice to know he’s still compassionate as ever. Please rush back home Ed. *bird*

Be well.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Back to Basics

*Note* Ed is away on holiday for a few days, so you are stuck with my ramblings and no funny or insulting comments made at my expense. I am sure he will rectify this on his return.

It’s been quite strange over the last few weeks. I have had the interest to play EQ2, but when I log in I find myself effectively ‘kicking my heels’ for something to do. It has got that bad that recently I have pretty much only logged on to raid. I know that I still have a huge amount left to do, especially on Adurj, like gaining more alternative advancement points. I mean I need those bad. Real bad. It’s getting a little embarrassing that the folks who 4 weeks ago were asking me if I have Battle Cry, and my reply was that I was nearly there, just a few more AA to go. Well the other night whilst raiding, unfortunately I had to give the same answer because I haven’t done anything at all on Adurj apart from raid. Then there are the collections I still need to get ready for the expansion, the harvesting skills I need to progress and my shard stash needs replenishing, and I still need more T4.

So with so much left to do how come I log on with Adurj, or indeed any of my kitted 80’s and find myself just killing time? I know my old crew no longer play, they haven’t for some time. So there is not the constant grouping I used to experience when Konador, Daltieri, Kael, Aurale, Ema and I used to get together way back when. Because of this and the fact I rarely get any tells anymore from most of the people I used to group with regularly due to their quitting or moving elsewhere for the time being. Yes I could go out and just do pick up groups, there is no problem with that at all and I usually end up having quite a bit of fun. So what is it? Why can I not gain any enthusiasm for chasing down my goals on Adurj and actually doing something constructive with him? Well, I think I may have found part of the answer.

I’m bored with the end game. I think it’s as simple as that. There is some raid content I haven’t experienced in TSO and also Trak in RoK and a few instances that I haven’t really visited regularly, such as PoF, Guk3. But I don’t really have any inclination to. It’s an important distinction though. I am bored stupid with end game stuff. But the game doesn’t bore me. It still has so much fun left to offer and actually quite a lot of content I have never ever experienced.

So, I made a decision. Why not spend some time indulging in the content that I still find fun and distinctly under explored in my previous races from 1 to 50/60/70/80 depending on the expansion at the time. So that’s what I am doing. I have of course run level 1 to top tier quite a few times with 6 level 80s and a whole hoard of toons from 55 to 80. The difference is with the majority of these, is that they have been power levelled. Not in a hardcore way, but each of those toons have been boxed at some point with another toon of higher level to help squish mobs and achieve a fairly rapid ascension. So this time I have decided to do it a little differently. Here are my ‘rules’ that I will employ with the playing of my new toon;

• No boxing or outside help including funding from any of my other toons

• Help can be given by crafting items for my new toon using alts, as long as my toon harvested the materials

• I will group as often as I can and not solo to 80

• I will make a real effort to experience level relevant game content that I have not experienced before, or rarely experienced (for example I have never visited half of the small quest related instances in Antonica, have never fully completed the peacock or prismatic timelines, or the claymore for that matter)

• I will roleplay as much as I can and as much as the group allows to heighten the immersive nature of the game

• I will when required level lock to ensure my alternative achievement stays in touch with my level progression and I don’t suffer the annoying trying to catch up at later levels

• I will not set myself goals for levelling like I usually do. It happens when it happens

• I will not use quest helpers unless I have been stuck on a quest for more than 2 days.

I am sure there will be a few more as I get further into playing my new toon, but as it stands that’s it so far. So that’s what I’m going to do. In fact I have started. Last night I created Blacke. A Half Elven Ranger based out of Kelethin. I chose Kelethin as I have dabbled in starting toons there, but never actually stuck with any of them past about level 5. As such I haven’t got involved in hardly any of those quest lines. Blacke is currently only level 8 even though I spent a fair amount of time on him. The reason? Well I have been taking my time, enjoying the game and the content as much as I can. I explored the Shroom caves for the first time last night and really had some fun sneaking around and getting lost. I have pretty much finished the quest lines available in the nursery area of G Fay, so tonight I think it’s time to finish the last few in the caves then to venture out in to the big wide world of Greater Fay.

It may all sound a bit lame to tough cookie top end players, but I’m having fun and am quite excited about all of the content I’m going to experience and new friends I will make along the way. It’s good to get back to your roots.

Be well.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Carbon dating..

This is a little off topic for my normal blogs. I recently became aware of a new type of vehicle being developed and produced and being a bit of a car / bike nut and for other obvious reasons [eh? wha..? - Ed] I decided to let you folks know about it. Some of you guys already will have seen this in the news a while ago.

One question many many law enforcement officers ask themselves "Why does every other service have a dedicated specialised vehicle...apart from us?"..

Well no longer, check out this baby! A purpose built Police Patrol Vehicle.

What a machine! The guys at Carbon Motors (mostly ex-law enforcement) have got together to design and build this amazing beast. And  it's about time. Too long cops around the world have had to manage with sub standard vehicles (apart from some of our SWAT stuff) and now the tide has turned.

This baby can withstand a collision from the rear of 75mph. It is designed to leap kerbs, has chemical and radiation sensors, a special 'holding cell', head up display, stealth mode...and so so much more.

All the very best to you guys at Carbon Motors. I sincerely wish you the best with the sale of your vehicle and congratulations for making our law enforcement officers safer and better equiped to protect and serve.

Be well.

[Stoopids Adurj forgot to give you the link to Carbon Motors it is! - Ed]

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Passing time, is easy.  I'm for living life.

The Rule Breakers Handbook.

I had a trip down memory lane the other day. I was helping set some timers in PotAO with my buddy raiders when I received a very strange /tell. All it said was “Fansy was a Pansy”. I found out who it was from. Turned out to be an old friend I used to play EQ1 (and EQ2) with who noticed I was playing a bard and thought the comment would be funny, seeing as we both followed Fansys antics back in the day. I wonder how many of you reading this recognise the name? I’m hoping quite a few of you who used to play EQ1.

It got me to hunting down Fansy material again, which can be found here. For those who don’t know who Fansy is, or should I say ‘was’, well, I am not sure how to describe him. Some, ok a lot of people who do remember Fansy, especially those who played on the Sullon Zek server will remember him as a tyrant trouble maker. Must have been darn annoying having ole Fansy around. For those who didn’t play on Sullon Zeks ‘no rules’ server, like myself, Fansy was a bit of a hero. Ok, not a hero in the common sense of the word, or mebbe any sense of the word. But he certainly was a lot of fun. Check out that link above and see for yourself. Reading it you may get an insight in to what a childish mind I have. [You? Never! – Ed]

The thing about Fansy and many of the antics to be found at is that I am sure quite a few will find them immensely annoying and perhaps a little puerile. I am not one of those who get all worked up about stuff like that. If I get ‘ganked’ or hassled I just move along or move toon. I’m not going to waste my energy fighting something like that because for one, it can be pretty darn funny and two because the person at the other end is a person too and they feel they are having fun. It’s nice to have fun. For example, remember the Noms on AB server? Sooooo many got all riled up over that. Some really took offence and thought the connotation was sexual. I think it was just a bit of fun. It’s not so tough to ignore stuff like that. I don’t mean /ignore, I mean use your adult brain and just ignore it. But as usual, too many complaints meant it was good bye Nom Nom Nom. A shame. Whoever the noms were, I wish you well.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not an advocate of ruining other peoples game time. But I do appreciate some off the wall comedy and I kinda admire those who grab life by the balls and just say “F*** it!” [steady there sunshine! And I never knew you were a trouble maker– Ed] There are much deeper psychological reasons why people oppose such fun from taking place, some of the reasons are actually quite justified, but I cannot get away from the fact that so often in life we see thousands of sheep doing the 9-5 and plodding on day to day. I think Ferris said it best “Life moves pretty fast and if you don’t stop and take a look around once in a while, you might just miss it”, or something like that.

Try doing something off the wall today. Start a conversation with a stranger, be the new Fansy, hide your bosses desk, put food colouring in your works water supply, walk with a limp, finish every sentence with ‘Yo Diggety’, whenever walking away from a conversation moonwalk backwards into the distance. My personal choice today was to refer to my boss [Your boss? You’re supposed to be super high up and responsible yeself man *cries* - Ed], yes even to his face as the ‘Governor Boss Man Hoss Man’ and finished off with a slap on the shoulder and “Yo Slidin playah?”.

It went something like this...“Consider it done Governor Boss Man Hoss Man *shoulder slap* Yo Slidin playah? *added finger wiggle as I walk away*”.

Went down a storm I can tell you. Yes. My boss now thinks I am an idiot. Nothing he didn't know already.

Be well.

Friday, January 8, 2010

If an 8 year old can understand this..

Raiding. Hardcore raiding. It’s a strange creature. If you want top end gear you pretty much have to participate in it. And raids at that level require a degree of various different talents. You need to be a lot more than just a little competent in playing your toon. You need to have the ability to listen and digest the information given to you. You have to be able to focus. You need to be able to play without any other distractions.

Now, there are other things you have to be able to do, one of which is being able to take criticism and advice. You will get nowhere if you throw your teddy out the cot when someone makes a suggestion to you or happens to tell you that you are doing something wrong. The key with this one is using this particular skill alongside the listening skill. If you have done something wrong, then once you have listened how to do it right, that should be it. The same problem should not arise again. Unless of course the information supplied to you is incorrect.

This is where your raid leaders skills come in. If they are particularly unskilled in certain areas, they can still get the job done, but with what I consider less flair and less support from the raid force. You see, a raid will respond to a raid leader like they do to any leader. And leadership takes skill and talent. Yes a raid leader requires all the skill of a raid attendee, but also some more on top. Key of which in my eyes are communication skills.

The level of these communication skills is tempered by other factors. Is the person who normally has good communication skills someone who stresses out over tough situations? If so, they will do fine as a raid leader as long as everything is going to plan. Wipe a few times and you’ll see the type of person emerge that I am talking about. Those that lose it, or become agitated then transfer that emotion to others because of their lack of skills at people management. That’s when as a raid leader you begin to lose your audience. If your audience was a unit in the military, then yes you may well get the same responses when shouting them down as you would when explaining something politely and with manners. But for the most part raids are not made up from all military personnel and there is no better way of losing your raids attention, focus, interest and willingness to achieve.

You see, I have mentioned this before. Behaviour breeds behaviour. If you start getting wound up, stressed, irritated then these emotions will inevitably transfer to your raid force. I have been on the receiving end of this type of leadership. Both in game and in real life. I’m not one who throws my teddy out the cot or whines and complains. I try to take it on the chin and actually digest what I have been told when I am doing something wrong. Then try to put it right. But if I am on the receiving end of ‘attitude’, my response becomes one of indifference. I still try my hardest and alter what I was doing wrong, but I end up having a completely different outlook on what I am doing. I end up losing interest and passion for what I am doing. I simply start to not care about the result.

It’s a strange thing. I have been in a paramilitary organisation and there I had no problem whatsoever being hollered at, told I am useless, to pull my finger out, I’m the king of fail. Thing is in that situation, probably because the stakes are a lot higher (pretty much life and death every time) I buckle down, determined to do it right, focus with intensity, anything to get the required end result. But with a game it’s different. No one will die [do you not know the meaning of ‘wipe’?!? – Ed], no one will suffer a life changing injury or mental stress if it goes wrong. All that is lost is some time from your life. Yes, that may be annoying but we all waste time every day doing something or other. I sit and watch TV adverts when I could be making a cup of tea, or doing my taxes. Wasted time, we all have it.

So the stakes are a lot lower and that means to me that when someone who treats the raid as the be all and end all and transfers their angst on to you, I become all “OK, I’ll do it right, but I ain’t really bothered anymore”. Not to the Vicky Pollard extent. Like I said, my teddys do not come out the cot and I do not sit on my chair staring at the screen raving “Bovvered? Am ah bovvered? Look at mah face, bovvered?”. But I certainly become less interested in the outcome and usually start thinking about what else I could be doing.

Seems a shame just because an individual cannot mind their manners or deal with stress. The bigger shame is that in being like that you are losing out on the one thing that online gaming can give you that can be of real use in the real world. People skills. The ability to mix with others to come out of your shell and to communicate.  Effectively.

When I used to lead raids, I like to think that all of my raiders were happy chappies, who enjoyed my style of leadership. And the thing is, we were successful. Very. With the force we had we achieved a hell of a lot. And I never lost my cuddlies out of my sleeping arrangements. Not once. Maybe if any who read this that used to raid with me can confirm or deny this? I'd like to know how it was for you guys. Leave a comment by clicking on the 'Jibberjabbers' section below ;)

The world takes different strokes for different folks and it would be a crying shame if we were all alike. But there is a reason why being polite and having manners is so important in society. That’s because aside from the pleasantness and relaxing atmosphere it creates, it actually really works.

Something my 8 year old has cottoned on to already. I know when she’s being polite she usually wants something. Even if it’s only a nice polite conversation back. But in the main it’s usually a sweetie or chocolate. But she’s 8. And she understands it.

Be well.

[Disclaimer: Adurj would probably like to point out in the interest of not being conducive to creating further stress in his readers who may believe this post is about them, then they’ll get all arsey and react in an emotional way..that this post is definitely not about a specific person or situation. Yes he raided last night. No he didn’t mention to me if this post relates to that raid. I suspect it doesn’t though as he told me he had a lot of fun. But I do know he is a boring twat and thinks a fair amount about morals and manners etc. So it was probably just something on his mind. Probably. – Ed]

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Let it Snow

Looks like we made it back from the UK just in time! All over the UK it seems there are huge problems with the amount of snow falling. Now it seems like it’s been 2 days of pretty much nonstop snow and freezing temperatures. All forms of travel arrangements are flying out the window with trains, buses, flights all being cancelled to some degree. I was reading some news on the subject and in the comment section was a post from a fella in Alaska, telling my country folk to “enjoy the light dusting” [the cheeky beggar! – Ed].

A similar question seems to be asked a fair amount and kind of in line with that comment, “Why does Britain come to a standstill when there is more than a day or two of snow?” Seems like a silly question to me. It’s because we aren’t prepared for it! /doh. In my mind there is only so much preparation to make for such circumstances, when it takes up usually only a few days a year. If you were responsible for governmental funds, could you justify spending a huge amount on something that in all probability and something that is historically proven not likely to happen? That’s why the UK is so unprepared. Because money is the main factor and convincing your boss to buy an extra 1 million quids worth of rock salt ‘just in case’, probably won’t wash very well.

So, to Alaskakiddo, you live where it snows for 99% of your year, that’s why your government is prepared. We don’t, so we are not. Simplez.

As much as I’m glad we managed to make it back to Spain in time before the bad weather stopped us, I really do miss the UK in the snow. As you can see from the few snaps here, it really is a fantastically beautiful place when dusted [clever. Like it. I see what you did there – Ed] and I am so so glad we got a chance to experience the snow when we visited at Christmas, albeit a lot less of the stuff. It was especially great that the kids could enjoy it. As you can imagine, living virtually on the beach on the Mediterranean, we don’t get much snow.


Near Castle Ring, Staffordshire.

Hawkshead, Lake District

Game wise, I have only spent one evening online properly this week. Mainly due to the problem mentioned in my previous post of wifey having quit playing. Which means my play time is down by default. The time I did spend online was mainly on EQ2 and I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary or new. What I did do was help Irja and his dirgey out a little bit in The Cove of Decay last night when Octogoron needed his tentacles trimming some. That was a quick 10 minute job, so spent the rest of the time on Voltaan, messing around and cleaning out his bags with a bit of tinkering thrown in. Oh, the other night I did manage to get online for a quick 30 mins to help out clearing the trash from ToMC and YiS ready for tonights raid fun. I’m looking forward to tonights raid. Not really for the content or loot, as it is stuff I have done before and gained most of the drops I need. But because I love hanging round with a bunch of people and achieving stuff. Especially when amongst friends. It’s great fun. Kinda a social thing for me. So anyhow, raiding tonight then I think I should prepare a battle plan for the weekend to try and boost my AA a bit.

Other than that I have been spending a bit of time on ‘Midnight Club Los Angeles’ on my PS3 which I must say is great fun. I know the game is a little dated now, but I love the old Midnight Club series of games. That and Need for Speed are probably two of my fave driving genre games. I have probably only accumulated about 5 or 6 hours on the game so far, but I already have 4 cars and one motorbike and a burgeoning reputation in career mode. It's turning out to be a real nice time filler game.

Right-o. Time for some lunch. Good luck to all my relatives and friends in the UK. I hope the weather doesn't cause you folks too many problems and I'm thinking of you guys.

Be well.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The 2010 Connection

The holiday season craziness is now at an end. Well for my family anyhow. We had an amazing holiday period, especially with our trip back to the UK and seeing my family. No one does Christmas like your mother ;) Tonight is ‘Three Kings’ in Spain, the day that they celebrate Christmas so I am expecting to be kept awake until the early hours by rowdy Spaniards. It’s kind of a nice festival, they have with a huge parade in all the towns/villages/cities where the Three Kings throw presents and sweets to all the children lining the parade route. I might take the kids out to see it and join in, but that depends on the weather because we have been having some pretty hefty electrical storms here recently.

Talking of the electrical storms, I can’t believe living in a supposedly modern western country that nearly every time we have an electrical storm we can pretty much guarantee losing our power to the house. Not normally a problem I guess if you are prepared for it, unless you have kids or play an online MMO! I’ve lost count on how many groups this week since I have been back that I have dropped out of half way through due to power cuts. A right royal pain. The worse thing is that you just know everyone will think you have /quit when you don’t come back. I just hope our power companies performance hasn’t affected my reputation this week [You have a reputation? Is it the one I am thinking of?- Ed].

Since we got back from the UK I haven’t really done too much online really. For a few reasons really. Firstly because every time I seem to get my teeth in to something in game I lose power to the house. OK, so that hasn’t happened every time, but enough times to really get on my nerves. Secondly because Emarald my wife has cut down her playing time by like 95%, so by default that means my play time has been cut down also. It’s strange to think that when Ema was a full time player [she was on it a damn sight more than you!- Ed] that she did not mind me spending time in game. But now she has all but quit the game, there is a strange sadness in her voice when she asks me to watch TV with her or a film and I reply that I am going online. Not that she would ever tell me I can’t, she’s not like that. But Ema is a master at coercion :) So I usually end up watching TV and hanging with her. No bad thing at all seeing as she’s my best mate and we have such a great laugh together, but I still miss coming online as much. I’m hoping that the new expansion will bring Ema back online. Thirdly, I feel like I am just treading water until the expansion comes out. The extra wait from the normal November release date has been tough I think on quite a few people. I have certainly noticed a change in population in my in game circles and the general consensus is that they are waiting for the expansion.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have a huge amount to do in game before the expansion is released, but I am not so sure I will get all of my goals achieved. I am still looking at a long way to go with AA, now standing at 165 points on Adurj. I am pretty sure that will not magically turn in to 200 AA any time soon. I am not unduly concerned though. I have played EQ2 since release and for every single expansion I have been ‘behind’ on what I wanted to achieve before release date. In fact only with the TSO release was I already at max level when the date came around. So taking that in to account I’m actually much better prepared than I was for all the other expansions [always looking on the bright side huh? Still failing though eh? – Ed].

I’m still reading McMafia by the way. About ¾ way through now. It’s taking me a while because I seemed to have picked up the last three books in Salvatore’s Drizzt Do’Urden series and got distracted. I do so love Salvatore’s work on Drizzt. Not always the most amazing prose in the world but the characterisation of the people in his stories is amazing and it is what draws me in. I simply must know what has happened to all my favourites! (Bruenor has to be my number one. I’ve had a soft spot for dwarvern warriors ever since my D&D days). So anyhow, that’s why I have fallen behind on Glenny’s McMafia. It’s actually still a great read [just not as good as your little fantasy world huh?- Ed] and is a real eye opener to anyone who hasn’t had much involvement in the world of organised crime. It is worth reading just to open your eyes up to what some of our fellow human beings go through and have to suffer at the hand of others. It’s also a good read just to prove to the reader that not all Hollywood films are too far from the mark. It really is a glamorous and deadly dangerous world and much more a part of your everyday life than you might think. Let me clarify that with a bit of insider info for you. I know this as part of my work and nothing to do with the book, but did you know that organised crime (collectively) is estimated to be the third biggest industry by turnover after agriculture and oil, with an annual turnover in the region of $3.5 trillion? It’s estimated that if you include interest from savings (yes criminals save too) that the number could be upwards of $8.5 trillion. Digest those numbers for a while then tell me your life has no way touched the world of organised crime. Ever downloaded a pirated song or film? I think you know what I’m getting at.

Even the criminals we see as being independent, such as Madoff who we can see as a career criminal but one that perhaps didn’t operate as part of a group but on his own with maybe some help from his family members/friends. But if there was no outside influence on the profits Madoff was making, I really can’t see how the government cannot track his money. They can track your mobile phone calls. But not Madoffs billions. I’m not talking conspiracy here, but you can bet your bottom dollar that his money is sitting somewhere completely safe. And by safe I mean somewhere in Israel. All supposition of course with no proof whatsoever. BUT, remember, our governments can take a photo of you sitting on the bench reading the newspaper and effectively read over your shoulder...from space. But they can’t track Madoffs billions. Organised crime is a big part of our everyday lives, even though most do not realise it. Reading Glennys ‘McMafia’ is worth a read just to set your mind straight on that.

Well, I have waffled on enough in my first blog of 2010. I guess I’ll catch you soon. Happy New Year to you and yours. I hope 2010 brings you all that you desire. As long as it’s legal :P

Be well,