World of Warcraft: Dark tidings and glad news

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I’m the third prettiest thing in this picture!

Whew. I think I can breathe easier. After having some panic over hitting 110 and not really knowing what to do, where to go, and what to prioritize, a little reading and research helped clear that up nicely. If I have a list, a plan of attack and can tackle things one at a time, I can overcome nearly anything. It’s the “DO ALL AT ONCE!” assault that sends me into paralysis.

I think the quests would have led me to where I needed to go in the end, it’s just that I hate wasting time that should’ve been spent more wisely. I’ve had so many experiences in MMOs when I finally discover that there’s some activity that I should have done every day for months now, and I was simply too ignorant to do it. Time lost can never be recovered.

So here is my to do list as it stands:

  • Work on Suramar quests and unlock friendly with Nightfallen
  • Complete Stormheim
  • Get dailies going
  • Finish class hall campaign
  • Consider starting up my Druid in Legion
  • Gear up (dungeons, class set)
  • Professions to cap: Engineering, Cooking, Archaeology
  • Work on flying achievement
  • Artifact research, order hall advancement, artifact leveling, etc.
  • Make money! (My sub is paid through the end of the year, so hopefully by Christmas I’ll be able to figure out some way to rake in enough to pay for WoW tokens in the new year.)

That seems doable. I hate feeling the pull between wanting to just slowly experience all of the zone quests for the first time and wanting to get to a point where I’ve unlocked the world quests and have a character that could actually do group content that isn’t just standard dungeons.

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Val’sharah is over, at least. Wasn’t a bad zone at all, and I loved how there was a bit of Gilneas content at the end. It was a pity that this part was really truncated, but still… great to see the people and buildings even for a short while.

Taking the advice of many others, I’m not going to rush into my final leveling zone (Stormheim) for now, but rather have moved onto Suramar to do a little rep work and unlocking of things that need to be unlocked. It’ll all be there, so I’m not stressing it (or at least putting on a brave face). It certainly helps that, for an endgame zone, Suramar is pretty darn beautiful. No annoying jungles, lava fields, or blackened skies of death here. Sure, there are Elf junkies everywhere, but I get to kill a lot of them and that pleases me greatly.

Also, I have an agent on the ground:

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Yessss… kill them all, my friend. Make them pay for their arrogance and illogical ears.

I’m really hoping to start clawing my way up to respectable item levels soon. Level 110 isn’t a cake walk; I’ve had a few fights where I died horribly, and that as a Death Knight. I do have an 810 helm from the order hall quest and just received an RNG upgrade on a cloak that turned it into an 825. Good start, at least.

Hey, remember when 720 was all hot stuff? Good times, man. Good times.

My only complaint so far is that dungeons — at least from the few I’ve run — have been overly long and not that lucrative. I do need to make the rounds to all of them, but often they end up being 45 minute slogs that only cough up a handful of pocket change for an awful lot of work.

A look at all of Chrono Trigger’s endings

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After months of playing Chrono Trigger in little fits, mostly whilst stationary biking, I finally finished up my second full playthrough the other day (the first being done as a teen in 1995). I promised myself that I would wait until I was fully done with the game to both talk about it and examine its multiple endings.

While there are some issues that keep it from being completely polished and perfect in today’s gaming climate, Chrono Trigger is definitely one of the best older console RPGs to revisit and enjoy today. There’s just so much to like about it: The graphics, the personality, the time travel plot, the music, the party combinations (and attacks), the little easter eggs, and the boss battles. I love that this is a game that starts out by easing you into the world by enjoying a festival — and yet uses that festival in numerous ways to advance the plot later on.

I really enjoyed this second playthrough, even though it wasn’t redone for retina graphics and the controls can be fiddly (especially in a few sections). The game was pretty good about keeping my save games over the span of months, and I rarely got lost or confused about where to go next.

My main complaint is that the last third of the game feels a lot less focused and clever as the first two-thirds. The twists and turns and revelations of the front half of the game in particular keep you playing almost nonstop, eager to see what happens next. By the end, I was feeling a lot of “meh,” especially when the game opened up for more sidequests and exploration.

I was kind of surprised to discover that my memories of this being a long RPG couldn’t be further from the truth. I clocked a full playthrough in about 15 hours, which is downright paltry for an RPG. Yet it feels huge, and I suppose one of the greatest things in its favor is the game’s multiple endings.

You see, if you beat the game in a certain way (mainly by going through a long endgame dungeon), you’ll unlock the New Game+ mode. Chrono Trigger was one of the first, if not the first, video game to do something like this. New Game+ allowed you to challenge the final boss Lavos at several junctions, and depending on when you beat him, you’d unlock a different ending. So New Game+ became an awesome way to replay the game, since you could keep interrupting the regular journey for side trips to the end.

I’ve never seen all of the 13 or so endings, and another promise I made to myself is that I’d wait until I beat the game to load the endings video up on YouTube and watch them (I don’t have the time/patience right now to unlock them naturally in the game). It amazes me that all of the endings combined make up an hour of epilogue. That’s pretty cool — and there’s never been a game quite like this (even its sequel, which was good in its own right).

Retro Reprise Episode 3: Space Quest

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What do you get when you take a space janitor and throw him into head-imploding danger? He dies, an awful lot — but it’s pretty funny when he does! In this episode of Retro Reprise, Syp takes a journey through the Space Quest series and its decidedly quirky soundtrack.

Episode 3: Space Quest (show page, direct download)

  • Intro
  • “Introduction” from Space Quest
  • “Auto-Nav Button” from Space Quest
  • “The Skimmer” from Space Quest
  • “Droids B Us” from Space Quest
  • “Main Theme” from Space Quest III
  • “Fester’s World of Wonders” from Space Quest III
  • “Astro Chicken” from Space Quest III
  • “Let’s Shop!” from Space Quest IV
  • “Skate-o-Rama” from Space Quest IV
  • “Introduction” from Space Quest V
  • “Starcon Academy” from Space Quest V
  • “Soylent Jingle” from Space Quest VI
  • “Mission Complete” from Space Quest VI
  • Outro

World of Warcraft: Level 110 and feeling overwhelmed

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AHH! ORBITAL STRIKE UPON MY PERSON!

Oh wait, that’s just me leveling up to 110, three weeks into the expansion. So yeah, I finally hit the cap the other night while questing through Val’shara. I won’t lie — it’s a good feeling. Oh, I’m still behind in so many ways, but it’s like some pressure has been lifted now that I have at least one level 110 in my character roster.

And I don’t want this to be construed as complaining, because there’s nothing worse than getting to the end of content and getting bored, but I’m pretty overwhelmed at everything to do right now. I have scads of quests that go everywhere, and I don’t know where to focus. Class order hall? Finish up this zone? Scoot over to Suramar?

I don’t mind having a lot to do, but this being all new to me, I want to sort it out and come up with a plan of attack. A priority list, so to speak. I should probably do a little homework of “what to do when you hit level 110” so I’m using my time wisely. I know that no matter what, I will finish up Val’shara and then Stormheim. Need to, anyway, for reputation and exploration and the like. It’s nice to get the extra gold from quests, and the fact that all of this is still new for me means that I can be in it for the story and scenery as much as the quest rewards.

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Just a sea lion in a shower, nothing to see here. Wait, there’s LOTS to see here.

Even with an 110, I don’t feel the urge to pull out alts. For one thing, I have yet to establish a good source of order hall resources. People say world quests, but that’s not going to happen for me for a while, so right now about all of the resources I get come from finding treasures and fighting rare mobs on the map. I keep running out of resources because of this and can’t run missions half of the time. It gets really bad if I haven’t had time to play WoW, as is the case as of late. Being very busy and very tired is a toxic combination for gaming.

Val’shara as a zone has been… enjoyable, I guess? It’s certainly pretty, although navigating can sometimes be a little annoying. Reminds me of the early Elf zones of the game, with lots of steeper-than-expected hills and dense foliage. Without spoiling anything, I can say that the writers certainly aren’t pulling punches on putting the good guys in bad situations — and even killing off a figure or two. Of course, in the case of Val’shara, it mostly has to do with druids and Elves and hippie-nature stuff, so I’m a little less invested than I would be elsewhere. I’d imagine if you’re a lore wizard, your head would be exploding during these quests.

Quest for Glory III: Removing the disguise

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(This is part of my journey going checking out Quest for Glory III: Wages of War. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

Still dithering around Tarna. Truth be told, feeling a little bored of this whole scene. Can we move the plot along here?

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I go back to the bazaar once the sun goes down and have a heart-to-heart with the thief. He’s truly in a bad way: Declared without honor, nobody will give him the time of day, employ him, allow him to shop, house him, or anything. He’s essentially broke and homeless and stuck in the city as long as the threat of war keeps the caravans away.

I give him some dried jerky. #makingadifference

survivor

Speaking of dried jerky, meet Khatib here. He was the leader of the peace mission to the Leopardmen and is now the only survivor. His story, fragmented as it is, is pretty strange. He was attacked by something with claws that wanted his soul, but he was saved by Rakeesh’s daughter. He came to his senses covered in blood and wallowing in a river, where the locals called him a demon.

I’m just going to call it here (without any prior knowledge of this game’s storyline) and say that he was transformed into some sort of demonic beast that killed everyone. Bad guy by proxy right here.

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Hippy apothecary gives me a couple of dispel potions for “free,” even though I supplied all of the rare ingredients. He’s still pining after Julanar, which is totally healthy. I mean, what would you say about someone who is in “love” with a girl who (a) he’s never met, (b) only heard about in stories and dreams, and (c) is technically a tree?

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Because Quest for Glory is both an adventure game and an RPG, there are twice as many avenues for narrative advancement triggers. Sometimes you only need to have a certain item or talk to someone, but other times the game leans on its stats as thresholds for you to pass. So apparently my throwing skill needs to be a LOT higher before the story advances, and thus I spent a good half-hour doing nothing but throwing spears, retrieving spears, and sleeping off the exhaustion from doing this.

uhura

It took so long, in fact, that when Uhura popped in from out of nowhere, I was so deep in a spear-throwing trance that I was actually startled. ARGH! Where’d you come from, warrior woman?

She challenged me to a contest, and while I thought I did well, the game gave her the win and she left. So… does that mean we’re not advancing the plot? Do I have to do this again? I JUST WANT TO GET PAST THIS PART OF THE GAME.

leopard

Oh! I guess that did something, because now there’s a prisoner in the cage back there. Makes me wonder what the long-term thinking is with prisoners in this village, because that’s not a very well-protected cage.

cage

I threw one of my two precious bottles of dispel potion on the Leopardman and… lo and behold, it turned into a rather attractive lady posing for a swimsuit calendar. So the Leopardmen are just normal tribesmen with a transformer setting? Sure, why not.

I wait until nightfall to go talk to Uhura about chained heat there, and she says that now that the prisoner looks like an attractive girl, there’s no more talk of savagely beating her. Um… yay for progress? Now there’s just talk of who is going to marry her. So, no talk about letting her go or something? Just straight to marriage? OK then.

marriage

For those who learn from video games, here’s how you get a wife according to Quest for Glory 3:

  1. Find a prisoner
  2. Throw a beaker of chemicals in her face
  3. Buy her like property
  4. Woo her
  5. Set her free and hope for the best

You can’t see me, but my eyebrows are so high right now.

Quest for Glory III: Tarnashed reputation

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(This is part of my journey going checking out Quest for Glory III: Wages of War. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

Woo! Nothing like having a corrupt save file and being forced to backtrack over the past hour of play! Yay me! Yay for this game! (and it’s the second time this has happened with QFG3, so I’m starting to get more paranoid about my saves)

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At least I have all of these amusing sign posts to keep me entertained as I trek back to Tarna through four screens of jungle. Again.

After a good while and plenty of reloads, I make it back to Tarna, stumble into my bed, and hope that I don’t die from giant ant poison. With the dawning of a new day, I embark on perhaps my most important mission of all…

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Flirting with the waitress. WHAT. I am a single prince and I’m three games into this series without a single date so far. The centaur girl from the first game and the money changer from the second weren’t biting at royalty, so why not Cleopatra here? DO NOT JUDGE ME.

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Since I have the gem of the guardian, I’m finally able to turn in a quest to the tippy-top temple (as I call it). Apparently my soul is to be weighed against the Feather of Truth, and if you think that the devs were grasping at narrative straws here, you are absolutely right. Nothing conjures up the concept of truth like a feather, after all!

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I get conked out after drinking something in the temple and enter this weird screensaver trance. During this section, I’m repeatedly asked to pick symbols and then answer an ethical dilemma. I’m sincerely tempted to go with the jerk answers, but hey, I’m a paladin now, so I guess I have to make an effort.

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Surprisingly, “Stab them all and become a supervillain” isn’t on the list of answers. I’m curious why.

Ultimately, the feather finds me worthy (of… something) and I wake back up in my room in the inn, wondering if they drew on my face with magic marker and took embarrassing pictures while I was unconscious.

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Back at the apothecary, the hippie is still obsessed with the tree-woman from Quest for Glory 2. Dude, if you love her so much, why don’t you buy that game? It’s pretty cheap these days, I got all five in a bundle.

I trade in a whole bunch of stuff that I’ve been collecting from my travels in exchange for some healing potions and the promise of a dispel potion… later. Yeah, this guy just screams “fly by night operator.”

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Out in the bazaar, the disgraced thief from Act One accosts me and asks me to meet him at night. You see, boys and girls, when a shady convicted criminal asks you to meet up in the dead of the night, you should always say yes and never, ever tell anyone where you are going or who you are seeing. That’s just common sense.

Also, now I have “Call Me” stuck in my head after that greeting. Thanks thiefie.

Syp’s four-point organizational system

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As fall gets rolling here, I’m finally feeling as if my new(ish) organization system is starting to click into place. It’s been a process trying to figure out how to best balance all of my goals, daily activities, kids’ schedules, projects, and whatnot, and after some experimentation and refinement, I’ve come upon a system that works pretty well for me.

I call it Syp’s Four-Point system, because I use four elements to help structure my day.

Point One: Routine

Routine isn’t actually bad — If every day was completely different, my life would be chaos and I’d spend most of my time trying to adjust to whatever was happening. Instead, I rely on a personal routine from wake up to bedtime that takes care of most mundane or repeatable tasks. Exercise, writing, going here, going there, family time, play time, most of what I do outside of work is handled by the capital-R Routine.

Sure, some days veer off from that, and that’s OK, but this keeps me on track.

Point Two: Evernote

As I mentioned before, I use Evernote’s synced notepad between computers and my phone to track dates. Basically, anything further out than a week gets put into here, including important dates, reminders to do something on particular dates, tasks that repeat on a monthly or biweekly schedule, reminders to get my wife flowers/notes, notes about interesting things happening on a date, and so on. Sometimes this contains to-do items, particularly when they’re important. I check this when I first wake up to make sure I’m not forgetting something about the day and then update it as need be.

Right now, my Evernote calendar stretches through next June, to give you an idea of how far out I’ve been scheduling dates.

Point Three: My work task list

So I’ve always had a list of to-do items at work next to my computer, but it never seemed to go well. It was just a big lump of chores and I’d procrastinate on about half of them, kicking the can to the next week.

It’s a small change, but now at the start of my church week (Sunday), I make a list of every day through Friday and then assign tasks to specific days. This way I can spread out the harder or more time-consuming tasks and remind myself to make progress on some work projects. It’s kind of like my quest log, in MMO parlance, and it’s been working so very well for me thus far. I’ve stopped making excuses about tasks and gotten invested in wiping clean a slate for that day before I leave.

Point Four: Phone reminders

My phone helps me when it comes to sending myself reminders on the spot (“set a reminder for 6:30 p.m., put screwdriver kit in the car”) and in setting recurring alarms so that I don’t forget to pick up the kids from school (we have kids in two schools right now, each on different schedules). I know it sounds silly, but this helps a lot when I’m talking to someone and they ask me to do something, and I can just take my phone out and set a reminder right then and there so I don’t forget later on.

This all may sound cumbersome or overly complex, but it actually isn’t. I’ve been kicking butt and getting stuff done over the past two months because of it, and I enjoy not feeling like I’m forgetting something, or falling behind, or scrambling at the last minute. Just wanted to share it with you.

And if you’re looking for other ideas for personal organization, Liore has a few words she’d like to say about bullet journaling (I tried it and it was too time-consuming for me, but it could be great for you!).