Sunday, February 26, 2017
First, I've been having PC problems the past several weeks. I have new laptop inbound from Dell that will become my main box, though the shipping from Dell's webstore seems to take an incredibly long time (yes, welcome to a society where instant gratification runs rampant). In the meantime, neither my 2009-era desktop nor this slowly-dying laptop are up to the task of anything besides web browsing and random commenting. I've known this laptop has been having hardware issues (in particular the charge jack is completely borked) but held off in buying the replacement laptop until after we got back from a midwinter vacation.
I'll admit that I had all but forgotten about EVE until my main accounts subscription kicked over for another 6 months of time. To be honest, if I'd known it was about to expire, I'd have maybe not let it bill.
This may or may not be my last post here. I'm pushing a year since I would consider EVE to be my 'main' time diversion, and in the past 6 months it's slid off my top 3 or maybe my top 5 list of ways to unwind each night.
There are several ways to wrap up a blog. The easiest is to just post as if you're coming back tomorrow and then never do. This results in a blog that's like that scene from Aliens where the space marines wander through the colonist's office space to find everything as if it had been left 5 minutes ago, including half eaten donuts, only the wind is howling and the roof is leaking and you KNOW that it's been far longer since anyone has touched that cup of coffee. I'd really rather not do that, but as I said it's the easiest.
The second way is to ragequit and erupt in a manifesto of ranty nonesense. This serves as an emotional unload, as someone tries to validate their conflicted feelings about the game. Some might even be seeking to take players with them to help them feel vindicated in their rage. But usually nobody says "You're right, this game sucks and CCP are dolts and I'm coming with you." Instead, the response is an obligatory "can I have your stuff?"
And I'm really not angry with CCP, although I am disappointed that resources were diverted away from having a compelling PVE experience. CCP has done what they think is best for their survival. Meanwhile my life and my interests have diverged from their vision. I'm no longer their target audience, and truthfully, haven't been for awhile. And I'm ok with that.
The third major way to end a blog is a goodbye post, which in a way is what I'm writing now. There's neither heat nor rant included, it's just an acknowledgement that the venue has run its course and it's time to pack it in. I've avoided this kind of post for awhile, because I really don't know when the EVE bug will bite me again and my time in New Eden will spiral back up to peak levels. And really, as I work around the house the idea for a stray post does strike me. I work out the theme in my head, and then when I sit down to write the result is maybe half a dozen sentences and I save it as a draft. I'd like to think that I'll resurrect these ideas for a series of non-EVE content.
And so instead of saying "goodbye" I'll wrap this post with two such drafts.
Let's talk about Kingdom Death next. The Kickstarter ended back in January, and in the final hours it went a little crazy, finally knocking Exploding Kittens off to become the #1 funded boardgame on kickstarter. It continued to climb; when the dust settled it was just short of $12.4M in pledges.
Over the course of the campaign, I began following things very closely; it became part of my evening ritual to lurk on the KS comments, re-post useful links/summaries, and try to help people find information. A little community sprang up based in the KS comments, and I felt very much included.
When the campaign ended, most of the community burst like a balloon and vanished, and I think I went though a little period of mourning. This past week the pledge manager went active, and It's been a reunion of sorts as people reappear to process their individual pledges. The initial flurry of activity is now over and things are returning to minimal activity. Delivery on the campaign runs through 2020 or 2021, so maybe I should get used to this feast and famine cycle.
Real Life Stuff
I'm coming up on 20 years in "Industry." I've seen and done more than a few things. I've watched other people repeat the same mistakes, and I've repeated a few of my own. While everything has been going wonderfully at the 'new' office ('new' is in quotes because it's already coming up on 18mo since my arrival), the amount of crazy has been slowly ramping up. I was brought in, in part, to help put some sanity into the weekly work flow, and I'm beginning to realize that I maybe can't be successful. This office is always going to be crazy; it's just the nature of the beast.
I've started having conversations about my next assignment and career advancement. I'm doing well. Some may want to fast track me to areas of more responsibility. But while I like the idea of better pay, more stability (my current assignment is sort of at the whims of my boss' boss - if she moves on, I'm perhaps at risk), and more overall influence in the organization, there's a seed of doubt.
About 10 years ago, in another company, I got fast tracked. I was the best candidate for the job at the time, but it was still premature for me. The organization I was in had a few Sr. Leaders swap out and the replacements were just simply a bag of assholes. So here I am, new in the job, dealing with vast amounts of pressure from topside. Within 6 months, it started affecting me physically. My weight ballooned, my blood pressure was up, I was irritable and short tempered at home, and had a couple of meltdowns in the office. I eventually quit and went to another company, and it took me about 2 years to detox from that experience.
I would hope to never repeat that cycle. I'm older and wiser and would never do that again, right?
In late January, we took our midwinter vacation to the Caribbean. It was one of those trips where we unplugged and turned the volume knob of the outside world way, way down. No internets, no phones. We were away from major news sources, and for one blissful week didn't hear anything about the politics back home. We didn't have any social media screaming for attention. WhatsApp was silent. I was completely disconnected from the office. The only days that mattered were Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow. Everything else became a blur.
In all the trips we've taken over the years, the times that we have disconnected from everything to this extent can be counted on one hand.
It was very, very nice.
I returned to the office and things didn't feel quite the same. The crisis du jour didn't matter as much. Others had filled the gaps that I left while I was out. There was less load on me. I savored that feeling, and took it with me as I met with people for my mid-year career planning sessions.
What I realized is that I've got about 15 years before my earliest retirement date. Its in my nature to want to help, and I think I've got a reasonable talent for organizing teams and programs. But I need to be careful that I don't become unbalanced; that I give up workload when I take on new, that I stay selective in my future assignments, and I don't get trapped in a position where I can't be successful.
Saturday, December 24, 2016
The frigid cold, sleet, and ice has relented, at least for a few days, which will make our holiday road trip a little more enjoyable. As much as I like a White Christmas, it's really no fun to drive in the stuff.
So, be safe, don't eat too much candy, if you drink - don't drive. Otherwise, fly it like you stole it and have a fabulous time.
While I'm typing, I'll add a few bullet points. Bullet points are cool.
- The Kingdom Death campaign will wrap in 14 days. The next week will be slow, but it managed to top $8.35M this week. It looks like it may topple Exploding Kittens from the #1 board game slot.
- I have a few days off next week and hope to get some miniatures painted, some WoW played, and will hopefully bounce around EVE a bit killing Sanshas.
- The Man in the High Castle is on my list of streaming for the break. Season2 was added to Amazon Prime, and we've made it to e4 so far. I think it's moving better than S1 and I really liked S1. My advice is to read the Wiki entry on the book so that you can better understand some of the backstory, and heck, taking a Wiki-dive into WW2 history isn't a bad idea either.
- The Expanse returns in February. Read the books, watch the show. 'nuff said.
Sunday, December 18, 2016
Likewise, this Fall and the Holiday season (or the Holidaze as I call it) has been much more sane. I've posted a lot about last Fall's schedule - we were home only a couple weekends between Labor Day and Thanksgiving in 2015. We were on the road a ton, I started the new job, and the period from late August through January was just an eye burning blitz of highways and airports.
This year we strategically declined several invitations, consolidated our vacation plans into a single trip, and for the most part have been home. With winter finally settling upon us, I'm relatively caught up on yard work at the 10 acres, we've burnt a lot of wood in the fireplace, streamed some classic Christmas movies on Amazon Prime, and actually enjoyed our property. I'm far more relaxed and far less stressed than this time last year.
For the past couple weeks, I've been consumed by the spectacle of the Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5 kickstarter. It grows a healthy bit each day, and may go through $8M today with almost 3 weeks remaining. It will probably flatline through the holidays but still has potential to knock off Exploding Kittens as the #1 KS board game before it wraps.
Specific to the Kickstarter, there's a little mini-community that's sprung up, with heroes and villians/trolls. It's an interesting petri dish to watch develop. For the most part it's a positive vibe - there's a cadre of volunteers that answers questions in the comments as people pass through - while the KD Staff do what they can, with almost 100k comments logged it's impossible for them to answer everything.
There are a handful of very well done fan pages (see Vibrant Lantern and Dobby's Pledge Helper) and google doc pages that help explain exactly what's going on, because the KS campaign is so vast that it's easy to get overwhelmed.
This next week promises to see a lot of activity - the founder has promised to reveal all the remaining Expansion content, but then he's taking a break between Christmas and New Years (and I don't blame him). Then after the holiday lull, I expect the final week to be a bit nuts.
One of the more interesting evolutions is the group of guys trying to min/max their pledges. Early in the kickstarter, folks started generating lists of content to try to figure out the "best" pledge level. They developed elaborate google doc spreadsheets to estimate each pledge level's value based on MSRP, and then cross referenced that against addons that offer "Gamer's Content" vs. visual/cosmetic only perks. Some of the higher pledges include mostly cosmetic perks, so early on, some of the groupthink/peer pressure was that these pledges didn't add value for "real gamers." People started dropping these higher pledges as "not worth it" even though there was really no reason to finalize your pledge until the last day or three of the campaign.
But, two things:
1. Not all of the content was revealed. All of the min/max nerding was premature.
2. Although the higher pledges were limited in availability, the KD staff continued to open more spots, so guys felt comfortable dropping out. But - the saturation point hit and the staff stopped adding more spots.
As more content became revealed, and more hints about remaining content were dropped, it became apparent that the initial analysis was way-the-fuck-off and now guys that dropped want back in. Replacement pledge levels have been added at a significant $$ increase, so now the same pledge that they dropped costs more. Oops.
Anyway, I'll wrap this post here. One of the things that's been on my mind is that Kingdom Death has a lot of parallels to EVE, i.e. the same reasons EVE appeals to me are the same reasons KD does. In a future post I may explore that idea bit more. But for now I need more coffee.
Saturday, December 10, 2016
|My current EVE career. In stasis, awaiting a resurrection and a splitting headache.|
We toured the show floor repeatedly, and there was one booth that stopped me in my tracks early on day 1. I don't say that figuratively. I actually stopped in the aisle, blocked traffic, and gawked.
|KD:M Box Cover|
I could hear my visa card buzzing in my wallet. Abavus didn't know what this was, but he wanted it.
There's a parallel between KD:M and CCP:EVE that only occurred to me this week - what stopped me on the floor at GenCon was how gorgeous the game was. The figures, cards, board, packaging - all done in a style that EVE players might find familiar. CCP's branding has always been very intentional, minimal/clean, and very very consistent (even to the level of detail of how their offices are decorated). KD:M had a very similar feel -- artful but practical, and done with an amount of talent and care not present in any other product on a very crowded GenCon floor. KD:M is described as a "Labor of Love" by its creator, and I believe that. He's poured his soul into this, and it shows.
Secondly, the content of KD:M is visceral, dark, and gritty. And intended for mature audiences. Just like EVE.
Here's why: The second kickstarter for KD:M is currently underway. It's becoming a big deal.
As I type, it's north of $7.3M pledged. For a 4-person company that is self-publishing a boutique game without any corporate overlords, centralized distributors, etc. that's a big damn number. It's the #8 kickstarter ever by size, and #2 in the tabletop games category (Exploding Kittens being #1 at $8.7M).
The stats of the campaign is impressive: they blew past the first edition's kickstarter within a few hours of the start and had a first 48 hours that was simply nuts. Even if you're not a board gamer, it'll maybe interesting to watch how the next 4 weeks unfolds. And right now everyone is talking about what a huge success this is, but nobody has really thought through what the longer term implications for the gaming market might be. There are implications to assumptions regarding distribution channels, expected art quality, expected figure detail. And certainly, there are some old assumptions about 'mature' content not selling well that this seems to be balking. I don't think I'm overhyping it by saying this the kind of thing that's going to send shockwaves through the industry.
PS: I am, of course, pledged into the KS and will be adding KD:M to our shelf.
Saturday, December 3, 2016
Life doesn't suck.
But this blog has been in desperate need of updating for a long time. And for that I apologize.
Reality is: I've not been playing EVE much. And by "not much" you should interpret that as I may very well have a pair of accounts with empty skill queues and I kind of don't care. Maybe the min/max nerd in me should, but that's the truth of the situation.
I've been busy. Very busy. I could type a lot about work being hectic, or family being demanding, or a half dozen other "real life" excuses, and all would be true stories. But those are cliched excuses for not writing, and you deserve better.
But for the sake of completeness, let's get the obvious out of the way: work has been mega-busy. My boss, the guy that sought out and hired me a little over a year ago, transferred up and out of our area back in May, and in his absence myself and 2 others have been backfilling him. His replacement was only named in October, and in the nigh-6month interim I was taking on tasks 2 pay grades above me. Great exposure, great experience, but no additional pay. But it was a peek behind the iron curtain between "executive" and mortal, and these are dividends I'll reap later. Count on it.
On the PC, I've been playing WoW. Yes, the evil Warcraft. The latest expansion (Legion) struck a chord with me, and for the most part it's been the best gaming experience since Wrath launched. I picked up my old main (a Warrior that I ran from 2005 through mid-Cataclysm) and have him sitting on a pretty good set of gear and have been abusing the raidfinder and world quest system. It's not EVE-level of complexity, but it's accessible in the time that I have available each night.
I gave up Overwatch. It was fun, but gave me headaches. I'm happier for dropping it. I likewise don't play Hearthstone any more.
I'd like to revisit Guild Wars 2, but haven't made the attempt yet. I bought the expansion but actually never played it.
And EVE. I followed the EVE Vegas updates and try to keep up on news. To be honest, I'm disappointed that the Drifter storyline hasn't advanced. So much momentum was initiated with Caroline's Star, and Burners, and the promise of advanced AI making its way to the average mission runner. So much opportunity squandered. I'm not bitter, but to be blunt, I've consumed the available content and need a refresh before I can think about venturing back. Nostalgia may drive me to fire up the Golem and go bash some lvl4s, but feelings of nostalgia are sated quickly. I have little interest in Alpha accounts, revamped NPE, and such. But that's where CCP is deciding they need to invest.
And that's fine. The game needs customers to continue. I'm not challenging the decision, but I am perhaps a casualty of their approach (although technically I'm still a paying customer, so maybe the joke's on me).
I'll sign off with a happier note - tabletop games and miniatures. I meant to post a GenCon update and never got around to it. We attended for our 3rd year this past August and had a blast. I spent a LOT of money at the Flying Frog booth. In spare moments, I've been painting Shadows of Brimstone miniatures and we've been playing through the content as I've had it painted up. I still have a lot of painting to go.
I'm a dude in his early 40s that enjoys table top games. Oh no, I must be a nerd.
Meanwhile, Flying Frog did another Kickstarter for their 3rd core set. I went all in and spent more nerd money; I have an absurd amount of miniatures and expansion packs inbound whenever the guys at FF can deliver.
And a few minutes ago, I chose to support Kingdom Death's 1.5 Kickstarter. This was a game I fell in love with at this year's GenCon. The KS is currently at $6.6M and climbing - a runaway success. The miniatures are insane and the game looks challenging and fun. Back in August at GenCon, I kept steering Mrs. Durden back to their booth even though the core game was sold out. I just wanted to look at the miniatures and lurk while the demo games played. It's got some adult themes (i.e. "boobies") but the entire game is simply saturated with the same grittiness and darkness that draws me back to EVE year after year.
Thanks to the port wine I'm drinking, I also spent too much money on the KS than I should, but I can always amend the pledge level once I sober up. I'm going to have to figure out a better storage/display option for this stuff.
Enjoy Christmas. Enjoy the winter chills and the icicles and snowball fights and snow days. Fall and Winter is the absolute best time of year. Enjoy it.
And in the immortal words of Bill and Ted, be Excellent to one another.
Friday, October 28, 2016
As I mentioned below, I'm not in Las Vegas this weekend, and that pains me quite a bit. Sure, we'll be on the road next weekend for our competing vacation option (which I am excited about) but THIS weekend I should be out west talking about nerd things.
So, for everyone that's out there, please enjoy the event. Hang out at Holsteins as much as you can afford, and come home safely after.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
- I'm not currently active in EVE. I'm still a paying customer, but for all practical purposes I'm on a hiatus. I don't see that changing until cooler weather sets in, and until then it is what it is. I've weathered worse storms and still came back, I expect this will be no different.
- I won't be at EVE Vegas. This isn't related to #1; the decision was made when I was still very active. We had such a great time last year that I'd still love to attend, even if not entirely active in the game. But, we had 3 potential vacations in the window of a 2 week period and opted to spend our vacation time (and airfare budget) on a different option. In particular, I owe a particular someone a large adult milkshake at Holstein's (Cosmo) and it pains me to not deliver.
- Work is ok, but busy. Life is generally otherwise pretty okay. As I've mentioned before, life for the past 12-18mo have been so weirdly stressful that I'm trying to figure out what the new normal is.
- I had to give up Overwatch. It was giving me headaches and I believe was affecting my sleep patterns. I find that I haven't missed it.
- I see PVE in the current conversation. I haven't delved into the details, but I think in general ANY conversation about PVE is a positive thing.