The Ever Busy Burro (and the fun of Guild Wars 2)

They seek him here… they seek him there… all a bit daft really because he’s at work! Ah work, such an evil mistress… my work is super busy right now and that has left me little time to play anything and next to no time to blog, which is lucky because I’ve had nothing to blog about because I’ve not been playing… The Circle of Liiiife!

Still, little time play is not no time to play and I have been dipping in and out of Tyria when I can and I can confirm that I’m as in love with this game today and I was the first day I played it. God Almighty it’s good! I mean, really, really good. Just fun and more fun stuck together and decorated with fun! So much to tell you though, where do I start?

First off I’m now at level cap (80) and still haven’t finished the personal story with my main (I’m still only playing him) and it’s still bloody good fun! Halloween has come and gone and was a total blast (the first holiday event I’ve actually enjoyed and got good gear out of!) and now The Lost Shores expansion is upon us – it’s a good time to start playing if you haven’t yet 🙂

On the missing of Guild Wars 2…

Still in Canada, still living my Tyrian lives vicariously though the blogs of others (thanks to Ama for keeping me sane with tales of her increasing insanity :-D) and I find that every day my desire to play this game that 12 months ago I hadn’t even heard of grows stronger & stronger.

Damn you Arenanet, you lovely buggers you. Damn you & roll on my return flight! Hmmm, is it bad to be more worried about a plane crash because I’ll never get to play a computer game rather than the associated loss of wife & children?

A 100% lack of Burro-y goodness…

Hi folks, I’m coming to you live(ish) from somewhere near Toronto which should go someway to explaining the silence of this blog. That and my increasingly busy schedule at work and the added family time that a new young gazelleling has brought. Frankly it’s a wonder I have time to write even this short post (which, in truth, has been stopped & restarted several times).

I’ll be back in the UK on the 28th (missing all the early access to and, in all probability, the first day of Guild Wars 2) but then my work ramps up another notch so I can’t see me having time to post here got a while. Still, I’ll be on Twitter a bit & in Tyria so I’m not going anywhere, just going quiet here for a bit.

See you in Lion’s Arch!

Work stops play… (well, blogging about play)

Sorry for the silence but work has ramped up a lot of late so I’ve not had much time to blog about Sal’s brilliant ArcheoExpo11 in SL or all my many adventures in LOTRO. Normal service will be resumed once I get The Man off my back. Fight the System, man!

“For the Heck of it.”

I love this. Full stop. No more. That’s it. I just love it. “For the heck of it.” Good man.

Limiting News

As above, so below.

I found that over the last 2 or 3 years I’ve enjoyed SL more when not reading the main blogs about it, the ones that really go deep into it, pull it apart or build it up. You know the ones.  You know the people. Anyhoo, in doing so I have, as I say, enjoyed SL more. Sure I’ve had flip outs and rants about stuff  (bastard group IMs being my current blood-boiling, see-red, killkillkill thing) but on the whole I’ve been happier.

Well recently over here in the UK there was a strike by journalists at the BBC. As I pretty much will only watch or listen to BBC news this meant I didn’t get any news beyond the basic headlines for a day. Instead the corporation put on repeats of comedies or documentaries and interviews. And do you know what? That day I was happier. Not by a little bit, but by a lot.

I realised that just as in SL, all the shouting and arguing that went on in the world, all the shit I have zero control over, was just eating away at my soul. I didn’t even notice, it just slowly happened. So I’ve stopped. And I’m not going back.

Sure, I still like to know what’s going on in the world – it’s handy to know that there’s a big cold front heading our way. It’s sensible to know that Korea might start lobbing nukes about. It’s my duty to know that a small boy so terribly let down by our social care system will lead to lessons being learnt. But what can I do about them? I can’t stop the weather being such a bastard, I certainly can’t influence North Korea to stop behaving like dicks and I can’t build a time machine and go back to save Peter Connelly (although I fucking well wish I could). The facts remain that the weather is shit, North Korea could start WW3 and even thinking about Baby P makes me cry*.

In the end, all that an overload of news gives me is a terrible sense of fear and inadequacy. Fuck that. In exactly the same way I don’t read Prok as it made me start to hate SL, I’m cutting the news down to a bare minimum so I stop hating RL. And do you know what?

It’s working.

* I can’t help it – I just think of how small and vulnerable my boy was at that age… fucking animals.

The Sound of Hell…

I love the randomness of the interwebz – I was looking for the correct spelling of Tsarina and ended up watching a video of a gatling gun making a sound I only ever imagined the Devil himself could make – this is a seriously horrific sound! I’m not even going to imagine what bullets the length of my hand would do any poor bastard on the receiving end, but if I was ever unlucky enough to hear this sound in RL I’d probably crap myself!

p.s. the route was Tsarina > video about the huge Tsar nuke > video of a daisy cutter bomb > scary gun!

p.p.s. Apparently if you *don’t* hear the gun roaring it’s because the huge bullets killed you first. Blimey.

Shock! Twitter Fan now likes SL

You may remember a wee storm back in June when Chris Abraham, a marketing wotsit, said that Twitter was better than SL. Now I know and you know this is like comparing TXTing/SMSing some friends and flying to America to spend a week with family. Yes both are social networking, but hardly comprable I’d argue.

Well I saw on NWM today that the same guy now likes SL and his blog post about it is a really interesting read, especially the parts about what puts people off. True we all know the reasons – loneliness, empty sims, the old “what do I do?” question – but the real question behind those is that if WE know that and HE knows that, why hasn’t LL fixed it yet?

Anyhoo, read his post and leave him your thoughts – I know you are a civil and thoughtful lot so you’ll be able to share some good stuff with him and hopefully show others that SL isn’t all talking cocks and griefing.

p.s. After I’d posted this it occurced to me I’d never read Chris’ orginal post, only the New World Notes post about it. I wish I hadn’t – his reply to OpenSource Oobscure was rather horrible. Pointing out the typos is just mean – escpecially when a bit of research would tell you that Opensource is not an English speaker.

p.p.s. Here is my comment to him:

Hi there – I found your post through New World Notes and enjoyed it a lot. I remember the Twitter vs SL stuff and thought at the time that something had been lost in translation as they just can’t really be compared, so I’m glad you came back and saw what SL has to offer.

Let me say up front that SL will not be for everyone – I love it yet my wife tried it and thought “Meh” and left. The hardware needs and the steep, steep learning curve are more than enough to put off casual passers-by, but even so a surprising amount of them do stay so there must be something in it.

I don’t see the technical & learning curve issues getting better anytime soon, either – they were there when I started in Nov 06 and they were there when it was beta in 03 so I don’t see why they won’t be with us for some time to come. Having said that, it’s not rocket surgery either – yes the controls can be awkward, but they still work better than some FPS games I’ve played in the last year.

No, what I think puts people off is a combination of concept and something you put your finger on (and I’ve ranted about many times over the years and covered on my blog as recently as this week), loneliness.

Loneliness is easier than concept to explain so I’ll start there. SL is big, really big (I’ll avoid slipping into a Douglas Adams impression) but the number of people online at anyone time isn’t. Well it is – 70,000 people is not small change – but in terms of entering the world and expecting it to be as populated as a real world city, well it never happens. There are places where people congregate and it is to these places that newbies need to head, but not all such places are equal and some won’t help a confused newbie become an addicted oldbie. Still, there are dedicated centres that help, teach and develop newbies and give them their first taste of friendship and community in SL. I only wish I’d have known about them when I started as it would have save many weeks of wandering around, feeling lonely and simply ‘not getting it’.

Now, by concept I mean the age old question we SLers get asked (and have asked ourselves more than once) “What is SL for? What do I do there?” In some ways this is tied into loneliness. In real life, if you move to a strange, new city where you know no one then one of the ways you start building contacts by joining hobby groups to meet like minded folk. Second Life is no different. My advice to newbies is to go and grab SL with both hands – if you want to build something, join one of the hundreds of free classes and build. Whatever you want to do, there are people in SL doing it or wanting to do it with you.

A common comment I get as an SLer from non-SLers is that they have enough fun in their first life and therefore don’t need a second one. My simple answer to this is that my SL is not a replacement for my first one (I have a family, friends, job, mortgage, social life and hobbies) but rather just another aspect of it. SL to me is just another hobby – an amazing hobby that allows me tremendous creative freedom and has allowed me to make some brilliant friends, but a hobby nonetheless. It’s fun and that’s how I will always strive to enjoy it.

Oh, and before I go, I’d like to just mention the other aspect of SL that captures people attention and colours their perceptions: sex. Yes people come into SL to have sex with other people (although, technically it’s not sex is it. I’m fairly sure you two people in the same room at the same time for that). Why people are surprised is beyond me, people have been using every new technology to fornicate since the invention of cave paintings. But it would be wrong to think that a rampant ball of sex awaits around every corner waiting to pounce upon newbies and have its wicked way with them. I’ve had more propositions in RL over the last three years than I have in SL and in both the easiest way to avoid being ‘sexed’ is simply not do it (sigh, I know you’ll be heartbroken ladies, but I’m taken in RL).

So, there you go – my guide to SL. Give it a go, join a good newbie-helping group, find something you want to do and go for it. And don’t believe everything you read in the papers. That last one is good for non-SL stories too.

HeadBurro Antfarm.
Currently having a great time in Steelhead, a steampunk style Oregon town set in the 1880s.

Is it ME or I or ONE?

I’m not a writer and I slept through large chunks of school so I’m happy to admit my spelling is crap and I love spell checkers. WordPress (i.e. where this blog is) have a lovely spellchecker built in, but from today I can also have it checking my grammar and style too – just like Word does but without having all the shitty MS formatting to clean up – yay!

By ‘eck but I love WordPress!

The Twittering Masses

A nice hattip over in NWN from Opensource Obscure led me to a-thinking about my twittering habits & how they affect my SL life.

First off let me tell you that splitting off my RL tweets from my SL tweets by opening a seperate RL account was both the best and worst thing I’ve done to my SL account. The best because it saved my SL friends from reading all my day-to-day rubbish and profane language use, but the worst because it pretty killed off my SL account. You see it turns out I tweet about RL most of the time – work, family, food, TV, the usual bollocks that most folks on twitter do and most folks not on twitter scoff at us for. My poor old SL account was overnight reduced to a signposting service for my blog (Hey! I’ve added a post here!) that I robbed even further when I then split off all my other various in-world personalities and gave them twitter accounts too so all their tweets bypassed my first account as well.

Still, what this has done, as I said, is save my followers from too much me by spreading the signal and noise load across my accounts so followers who want to know about TSMGO but not about hbahimself and couldn’t care a tinker’s cuss about the RL me can do just that. I’m like the Subway of twitter, me 🙂

The signal to noise ratio is important in twitter as anyone who has tried to catch up over breakfast will know. The sheer number of tweets to trawl through can be daunting, and that’s before you try to sort out the interesting ones from the shite. Ye Gods! I manage this by grouping – I simply bung all my incoming RL or SL tweets into a folder marked, unsurprisingly, SL or RL and then never-to-rarely look at them. A select few I have copied into a third folder and those I look at – this keeps my reading and replying time down to a minimum. It’s not to say the ones I never-to-rarely look at are crap, it’s just a line has to be drawn somewhere (Hey! I don’t get paid for this IT shite like Hamlet you know 😀 ). For instance, look at the prolific @Doubledown_InSL – he passes on some great info and links, but often tweets so many at once it floods my phone and I can’t take the infodump. Now other folks out there will love this sheer thwack of data, but I prefer to read less tweets than that and find myself thumbing past great swathes of them in one go. Why follow these folks, you may ask – good question! Sometimes it’s out of a sense of polite duty, sometimes it’s laziness, sometimes it’s because they carry good stuff but I simply can’t take every tweet they send out on board – whatever the reason, most followers are sent to the RL or SL folder until I know a) do I like them, b) do they flood me and if the answers are YES & NO then they come back out for my ongoing enjoyment.

You may think that’s a shitty way to treat folks. Ah well. Have a cup of tea and a sit down and forget about it. After all, it’s only bloody twitter and not anything important you know.