Thursday, 25 June 2009

back to "A to B to A to bed" *

A couple of weeks ago, Lee visited Queensland for a week or so, splitting time between relatives in Brisbane, Mullumbimby and Toowoomba. When she went back to Canberra, I went with her, taking a week or so off work to recover some energy and see how Lee lives in the day-to-day.

It was a great holiday. I caught up with Greg at ANU (Greg visited our team in Rennes for a few months), I saw a crappy hollywood movie matinee, I checked out the national gallery and new portrait gallery. I went to question time, saw an MP cry, and heard Tanner tell People Skills to "stay in the car and bark at strangers". I ate really well - Lee had her cooking chops on full exhibit, despite not cooking chops. I managed to go to two of her footy games and two training sessions, including helping out with goal umpiring, training drills, being a runner and even calling some substitutions at one point. I also, importantly, got to catch up with lots of family - Liz, Mike, Dave, Marg, Toby, Tom, Joe, Leonie, Daisy and Tess (in rough order of age).

Its almost a shame to be back, but it had to end.

* "A to B to A to bed" is a lyric from The Idea, a song on the latest Guild League album Speak Up, which has some great stuff in it. I love how evocative such a rhythmic phrase is off the workaday grind; its yet another reason to deeply mourn the passing of Tali White from songwriter to schoolteacher).

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

A year in the life

It has now been a year and two weeks since I started playing Age of Conan. I don't think I've mentioned it here before. Although I have put a lot of time into the game, I suspect its not something most of my readers would care about.

I started playing with Paul and Julie - the choice to play on a PvP (player versus player) server - Bloodspire - rather than a PvE (player versus environment) server was theirs. Left to my own devices, I likely would have chosen PvE, although I don't really regret the decision much. Ali joined us for a very short while, but she found the personalities of PvP a little hard to bear - understandable, there were then, and there remain, a lot of players who are immature in their communications and in the way they play the game.

My main toon (and still my only toon to reach the level cap) is Danlara, a Cimmerian guardian. I chose to play a tank because my previous MMO experience (in WoW) had been as a healer, so I thought I would try the other essential (in my opinion) group PvE role. My only other toon is a (as of last night) level 79 barbarian named Rokito.

The thing I have enjoyed most about the game has been the people I have played with. We started with our own guild, Hashhashin (or something like that), which was fine while we were levelling up our toons to the level cap (80). When we approached the cap, we merged into a guild called Wake of Fury, with a bunch of other (mainly) Australians. WoF dipped their toes into raiding in late October, and despite not really having the numbers, it went well.

I had a break over Christmas, and when I came back near the end of January, I found that Wake of Fury was doing weekend raids with a US guild called Immortal. I enjoyed these, and started having a significant role in the raids as one of the main tanks. Near the end of February, guilds started abandoning the server we were on because of falling population, in favour of the more populated Tyrrany and Cimmeria servers. Immortal was one of the last to leave, and Wake of Fury decided to follow them to Cimmeria, rather than be left as the only guild on Bloodspire.

When we arrived on Cimmeria, we merged with Immortal to briefly form Immortal Fury, which quickly reverted to the name Immortal. I became their main tank (with first dibs on guardian gear), and we were raiding tier 1 fairly comfortably. One weekend, though, Immortal quite suddenly fell apart, and the oceanic members (including those of us that had come from WoF) all moved across to the main Oceanic guild on Cimmeria, Primal Fury.

Primal Fury had recently absorbed the Acadians guild, and we fairly quickly moved up to easily completing the tier 1 raids and attempting the tier 2 raids. After 6 weeks or so (in April) we had 3 tier 2 bosses on farm, and had downed 3 more tier 2 bosses (leaving just 3 to go). However, a bunch of the most experience players, including the guild officers and raid leaders, moved to other guilds, or tired of the game and returned to playing other games. There were a couple of weeks where numbers were well down, and it looked like the guild might fold. A couple of weeks ago, I and another ex-WoF guy stepped up to lead some tier 1 raids with the remaining members and a few new raiders. The raids went well, and with the new members (and a few returning members), in the last week we have downed all but one of the bosses we had previously. I now find myself an officer in the guild, and frequently involved in forming and leading raids, and it is gratifying to be able to help new people come to grips with raiding.

I am really happy with the guild I'm in. Wake of Fury had great people, but was too small. Immortal had the size, but raided at inconvenient times for me, and had some members who were sometimes a bit too precious. Primal Fury, though, has mature people whose (virtual) company I enjoy, and in numbers that make all of the (PvE) endgame content available to us.

The server, too, is a step-up from Bloodspire. Being a PVP-RP server, and because the game has been around a while, there are a lot fewer adolescent ("zOmg, I wtfpwned you, n00b!") morons running around. Being a non-Oceanic server, we aren't able to participate much in mass-PvP sieges (the siege windows are during Australian workdays), and the combination of latency and battlekeep buffs (and IMHO some exploiting) prevents us from competing with the top guilds in PvP. I'm not really a PvP fan though, so I don't feel like I'm missing much.

I will now return you to regularly scheduled programming talking about sport and my other, less geeky, day-to-day banalities.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

no voice

Today, as Sunday and yesterday, I am hoarse.

The damage was done on Friday night at the Brisbane-Carlton game at the Gabba, taken by Carlton by 6 points despite a 4th quarter comback by the Lions. It was the worst-umpired game of football I can recall seeing. I harbour no conspiracy theories. The umpires had the worst game I can recall seeing, generally allowing far too many free kicks to go uncalled, and making those that they did call inconsistent and alarming to supporters. I am biased, but the opinion of neutrals that I've read echoes my opinion that Brisbane (with 8 free kicks against 16 for Carlton) had much the worse of the inconsistency.

That the Lions lost by only one straight kick makes it more vexing. I'm not sure whether the Lions deserved to win - they played a poor first half characterised by hesitancy coming out of defence (where they were missing their 3 tallest and best defenders), and did not kick especially straight when it counted. However, in my opinion the result was, in no small measure, decided by the umpires' decisions, more than by the endeavours of either team.

I shouted at the men in green all night, but to no end other than the altered tone of my voice this week.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Now is the autumn of our discount tent

Autumn at middle ridge, originally uploaded by jsteel.

I really needed a weekend away. On Friday I penned a draft blog entry bemoaning my work situation (which may yet see the light of day depending on how this week goes). I left work a little early and jumped on a bus to Toowoomba. The service was poor, departing a half hour late and arriving more than an hour late, leaving me hungry and tired. Fortunately, the weekend that followed was idea for taking my mind of things.

On Saturday morning Dad and I had 18 holes at Borneo Barracks. The scores were tied after 18 holes, courtesy of an 18th on which both Dad and I hit great approaches to manage matching pars and post twin 94s. In the afternoon we went down to Dad's new local course (he joined last week) to squeeze in 11 holes before the light and fatigue beat us. I hit the ball better in the afternoon, and managed +9 through 9 holes, meeting my aim of bogey golf.

Sunday was bushwalking. Mum and Dad's club had a navigation day, so we convoyed to the mystery location south of Toowoomba. There we were given a map and a set of coordinates/instructions/requirements. We walked a loop of the property through fairly untamed grazing land, stopping at each of the checkpoints. We were accompanied by Naomi and Claude, who were along for the first time (as was I, I guess), having recently arrived to work on a defence-type project at Oakey. The company was good, the weather was good, and the lantana, although present in abundance, did not cut deep.

We left slightly early, in order to get me to my bus, which delivered me back to Brisbane, leaving on time and arriving early. I felt much refreshed for the sojourn.