It’s not unexpected (to me) that I’ve been away from blogging for a while. Of all my non essential duties in life, sadly it’s one of the first to get the ‘heave-ho’ for a while if things get busy for me. It’s simple really. I can’t shirk on time with my family and my other hobbies (like spending time with Ema, and gaming) takes up the little spare time I get at home and when work is busy, there is no chance to do anything other than that. But by the same fact I actually get a little frustrated if I cannot find the time to post. I guess I have got used to, over the years, being able to vent my frustrations, share my funny stories, or simply just to type and empty the mind, and when that conduit is taken away from me, I think poor Ema get’s it in the ear as I discuss my thoughts with her instead. So, without further ado, in the interest of giving Ema a break from my ramblings, here are some updates.
I’ve been playing EQ2 pretty relentlessly when I get spare time. I’ve continued raiding and Volts equipment is not starting to look something like it should be. There’s some pretty large and important gaps though, such as my leg and head pieces. The leg pieces mob goes down at least once a week for us, and yet I still am waiting to be lucky enough to see them drop (always seem to be mage and scout legs when we kill Proto-Exarch Finnrdag) and when it has dropped I have never won the roll. As of yet the only head piece mob I have killed is in the x2 and I’ve only ever seen the fighter head piece drop once. Yes I lost that roll too. Aside from my unlucky rolls on those, I really have been doing quite well with drops. Fully fabled apart from my Legendary BP, with only two armour pieces to upgrade and a charm slot. So I’m pretty pleased.
I’ve been enjoying raiding too. It’s not just been about the gathering of equipment. It’s been really nice hammering away at tougher content again and working as part of a larger team. I’ve certainly been getting plenty of chances to do that too, as I seem to have been utilised as the Off-Tank quite a bit. I’ve been pretty pleased with how that’s gone. Of course, when you are in a raid with some nice dps, it’s not always easy grabbing aggro on adds when you need to, but I think it’s being going OK. On some mobs where there are just a silly amount of adds, that doesn’t always go to plan, but usually we have at least another brawler with us nowadays and they are nicely picking up the errant beggars who seem to get away from me. Our Monks dps was nice last night, especially seeing as they only returned to raiding with us a few weeks ago. For the first two zones, I was about 10k higher than they were on dps, whilst I was off-tanking too, but in the last zone, they switched our Monk to the caster group and his dps was really really sweet. Out dps’ing me by 35k at one point. It was nice to see. They have obviously found a real sweet spot there and it would be nice to see that continue to make our force all the better.
Although I have been enjoying the raiding, it has driven home a point to me though. This dawned on me a couple of weeks ago whilst raiding and we were sat around listening to strats and waiting for the pull. I realised that no matter how the strats change or the look of the raid zones or the graphics of the mobs we are fighting, essentially, it’s the same as when I first started to raid in anger back in Kingdom of Sky expansion. Now, as I am approaching 40 years old, I’m allowed to do some reassessments and have the occasional mid-life crisis, and it really did dawn on me that I have been doing this stuff for a long time now and I’ve really not moved forward. In real life my work is going well and I seem to be impressing my bosses and gaining notice from the industry in general, but sometimes progression in your work life isn’t enough. I’m not ready to quit raiding and EQ2 just yet, but I reckon it’s going to be on the horizon in the interest of moving forward and not stagnating.
In other EQ2 news, I have been playing a bit more with my Bro Merecraft recently, and although not up to our previous quota, as my niece and her sleep patterns settle (awww), we seem to get a bit more time to hunt together. The last few sessions we have had we have been hammering out some of his old HQs. We polished off ‘The Symbol in the Flesh’ in Loping Plains area and also have done the ‘A Thorn of Old’, the Wyrmslayer questline. That one was quite a bit of fun actually. For any who haven’t done this quest it ends with several Dragons that you have to kill. One is a heroic only, Sothis in The Halls of Fate, but the other two are epic x4s. Harla Dar in The Temple of Scale (although this didn’t stop us spending 20 mins looking for him in Sanctum of Scaleborn at my insistance!) and Lord Vyemm in the Labaratory of Lord Vyemm. We really had a lot of fun duo’ing those (with Volt mentored to 82), especially Labs. Most of the mobs were grey to us until we hit the second half of the zone, and then they were only green. None of the mobs gave us any trouble really. To the point of when we were killing Vyemm, we thought we had leashed his buddy the Slavering Alzid (or something like that), and only when Vyemm was dead did we realise the add had been stuck in the wall the whole time pummelling me. It made that little of a dent, we didn’t even notice him. So that kinda gives you an idea how easy it was. It was really weird though. I recall coming through with a whole raid force (this was the first raid zone I ever completed) and needing to hit around 15 – 20 k dps to be successful. It did seem a little strange to be going through mentored and sill duo’ing the mobs and with just two of us hitting more than treble the amount of dps our whole raid used to do. How times move on eh?
The other night Merecraft dinged 83 and it dawned on me that for him to be levelling above 80, it meant he would have access to the Sundered Frontier zones.(cannot for the life of me understand why it took me so long to realise). We previously thought he only had up to TSO expansion wise. I was pretty made up about this discovery, because for me SF is a great expansion with a really fun set of quests that lead through the 80’s nicely up to 90th level. It’s my fave expansion after Kunark, so to get the chance to be running through the quest lines again will be great. I have only ever taken two toons through this expansion, and that’s Voltaan and Adurj Le’Bard. Back then I had decided to ditch my many many alts (I had 6 at 80) in favour of concentrating on just one or two. So unlike Kunark which I have done a gazillion times, it will be nice to help out in SF and Stonebrunt.
I’m still undecided whether to buy the expansion ‘Age of Discovery’ when it comes out or not. I am starting to think about winding my game time down to nothing. SW:ToR is on the horizon and I know my Bro will be well engrossed in that, and if he likes it, he may never return to Norrath. My Bro being in-game was one major contributory factor for me sticking around. Then on top of that there is the déjà vu feeling I mentioned above when raiding, and I’m starting to wonder what I’m actually achieving here, or if I’m just stagnating. No decisions have to be made yet though. I’ve given myself an after Christmas review period, and I’ll see how I feel then. SW:ToR will have been out for a few weeks and I’ll be able to see what effect that has on my time in EQ2. In the mean time, it’s just more of the same old same old.
For other gaming fun I am still power sliding my way through Dirt2. I’ve now reached level 41 and scarily, 47 hours worth of play time. I’m sure that’s nothing compared to some, but that’s a quite a bit to be spending on a driving game, even though it is one of my fave genres. I really enjoy the differences in Dirt2. The fact that you can switch between races and then tournaments, depending on what style of racing is taking your fancy that day. The fact that you get to use some historic rallying cars is fantastic fun. I remember watching Tony Pond in 1985/6 drive the Group B Metro 6R4 round Trentham Gardens during the Lombard RAC rally (British leg of the World Rally Championship). Being able to race one, then watch the replays was so much fun. Likewise with the Ford Escort RS and the Ford RS200. I really like the definite difference between the types of car. Try a different car in the events of the same ilk and sometimes the difference is startling, but lot’s of fun. For example, try accelerating hard whilst in a turn in your Escort (rear wheel drive) and you’ll be seeing trees and bushes. Try it in one of the Suburus and your gliding round the turn with perfection. Totally different driving styles. I guess that’s why I like it. You truly have to adapt and use all your skills to win in the varying races/classes.
One thing that seems a bit of a pain is the fact you do seem to be re-visiting the same tracks over and over. Admittedly, there is quite a few of them spread all over the globe, but it doesn’t seem to take too long before you know your way around the varying tracks, forward and reverse. I’d like a bit more variation for the tracks, but to be honest I guess it’s just like any other ‘non-circuit’ racing. The WRC are well used to visiting the same stages every year. Some are changed of course, but the stages do remain fairly similar. So, it’s probably gaming meets real life there. I’m still really really enjoying the game though, and seem to have plenty left to do. Not sure how many hours worth, but there is still a nice chunk of greyed out Tournaments / Races / Challenges to get my teeth in to.
Finally, a quick mention for MotoGP. Casey Stoner won the MotoGP World Championship yesterday with two races in hand. He won it on his 26th birthday (man I wish I had been doing that at 26!) and at his home race. His performance all year has been legendary, rivalled only with the skill of Jorge Lorenzo really. I guess Pedrosa, Dovi also. But whatever the competition, Caseys year has simply been electrifying. His talent is amazing and to be honest he has the skill to join the top two of all time (including my hero Rossi) and maybe, if time is there for him, to surpass them. So, congratulations to Casey Stoner...and a quick comment. I know you get your nay sayers (and I’m not your biggest fan..a bit too serious for me) but stop trying to justify yourself. He made a comment after the race stating that previously he had received criticism for his 2007 World Championship win and that this one couldn’t be challenged as there were three other people on the same bike, so he won it fair and square. But I don’t see it as that at all. He had the best package. The most important part of the best package is the rider. You won this Championship and the last one in 2007 fair and square. Do not justify it, simply bask in it Casey. You are now one of only four other riders in the history of motorcycle racing to win a World Championship on two different manufacturers motorcycles. First Ducati in 2007, then Honda in 2011. It’s a very exclusive club, and you are now in it! Congratulations Mr Stoner, to you and your team for a well deserved Championship win. Now get MotoGP back as exciting as Moto2 or BSB and we’ll all be winners.
Finally, finally...condolences to the family and team of British born Dan Wheldon, Indy racer in the US, following a fatal race incident during the last race of the season at the Las Vegas 300. Dan took the win in May of the legendary Indy 500, for the second time. Great racer and if the reports from the paddock over the last few years are anything to go by, a true gent. R.I.P Mr Wheldon.