Happy Friday – August 24 Edition

Or I should call it “I’m really tired” edition. I only have three links and a video today because I forgot about this after a long day of work, cooking dinner, and playing WoW.

Pregnant people, don’t let others tell you what you can’t do. (Except your doctor or midwife.) Non-pregnant folks, don’t tell pregnant people what they can’t do.

I love the idea of the tiny project challenge because little projects are so doable! Tiny projects can also build up into big projects.

Upcoming MMO Crowfall’s concept art makes me giddy. Here’s some in action:

I’m not sure I’d want to watch concept art videos on a huge outdoor screen. Or maybe I would? Either way, when my son’s older I love the idea of outdoor movie night. Here’s how to make your own screen.

Cover image from Crowfall, which might turn out to be the prettiest MMO ever.

Video Game Motivation

Yesterday I talked about motivations for blogging, today I’m talking about motivations for gaming. I’ve taken the Bartle test (I’m an Explorer) and the Quantic Foundry Motivation Profile (I’m Calm, Spontaneous, Relaxed, Deeply Immersed, and Creative!). Given my results and my own experiences, I’ve come up with a list of my own motivations for gaming.

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While I’d place them both high, I’m surprised Creativity surpassed Immersion.

Exploration

When I’m playing video games I like to be surprised. One of my favorite gaming moments was playing Don’t Starve. If you’re not familiar, it’s a survival game with stylized graphics and a creepy atmosphere. I didn’t expect it to be my cup of tea, but a friend raved about it and it was on sale for five dollars. I hadn’t gotten very far and was exploring when I came across a chest. I opened it and it suddenly became winter, but inside was a bunch of treasures to help me survive the season. Woah! My reaction was “Holy crap, what is happening?”

Exploration for exploration’s sake doesn’t do it for me. I need a reason to explore. In Don’t Starve, if you don’t explore and collect things you need, you’ll die. The reason might be that you’re trapped in a giant virtual maze and need to find the way out. Or perhaps you’re looking for clues to solve a mystery.

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Photo by Fineas Anton on Unsplash.

Story

I love a good story. I like reading them, hearing them, writing them, but most of all playing them. Here’s another gaming moment. I was playing Dragon Age: Origins for the first time. I didn’t know what to expect from the game, but I met the character Alistair and he was sarcastic and funny. I thought to myself, “This character is awesome! I hope he sticks around for a while!” You know what ruins a good story in a video game? Bioware clearly forgot: Pointless. Side. Quests.

I have yet to find a game that successfully blends story and exploration. The closest I can think of us Skyrim, but I had to force myself out of a “I have this list of quests and I must go do them” mindset to enjoy that game. Firewatch comes to mind. I remember moments where I felt like I was exploring, but the game was linear. Myst perhaps; but I don’t remember the story of Myst. I remember the puzzles. I used to want this: a game where you explored and it told a story. I’ve begun to think that every game that tries this fails. I’d rather have one or the other.

Creativity

The Sims 3 is my favorite Sims. I like the creation part of the Sims games: outfits, houses, public places, etc. The Sims 3 let you be meticulous about design elements with the create-a-style tool. It broke my heart when it wasn’t in The Sims 4. (I’ve still been playing 4 because the graphics are so pretty.) I haven’t really found another game that scratches my creative itch.

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I was so into having all my wood styles match. Image from The Sims Wiki.

Strategy

This is where the programmer in me comes out: I like to solve puzzles. I like to figure out the best way to win. I’m not into making spreadsheets to determine the best stats for my WoW character. I prefer trial and error: If I do this, will I get more points? What does this weapon do and is it effective for my play style? My favorite way to find out is to try it.

What motivates you to play video games?

Strategy is why I’ve been playing Civ 6, but if you want to know why I often quit halfway through the game and start over, look back to Exploration. Cover image from the very beginning of one of my games. What’s out there?

Why I’m [Still] Blogging

Three weeks ago I started this blog. I was flush with ideas. The blog concept had been slowly cooking inside my head for months before and Blaugust got me to take it out of the oven. It was finally ready to be shared. While my posting frequency has waned since the beginning, I’m still here. I have more to say. I’m not going anywhere.

The theme Blaugust this week is Staying Motivated, so I thought I’d explore my motivations for starting and continuing this blog. The main focus of this blog is parenting  in the digital age. I think other parents and I share some common fears about how different technology is now from when we were kids. I want to address some of those. I want to talk about how having an identity as a gamer can mesh with having an identity as a parent.

I want to thank everyone who has commented on and liked my posts so far. It says to me that people are here for what I’m saying, that it has value, and that I should keep doing this. Thank you!

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via Mochimochi Land

I also have more personal reasons for blogging. I can practice my writing in small doses. I’ve been working on a new novel and writing it always feels daunting. It’s just the beginning of something huge. There are emotions to process. Many times I want to write, but I’m not in the right headspace to work on the novel. Blog posts are a perfect bite-sized chunk of writing that I can finish and put out there in an instant.

Back when I blogged anonymously about my life, blogging was an excuse for me to go out and experience things. My motto was: “Bad decisions make great blog posts.”

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It’s true, though. Mug on Etsy.

Eventually I grew up a little and the internet became less anonymous and I started writing in a paper journal instead. Even though it made my hand cramp up, I continued it until just after my son was born. I’d been writing just before going to sleep and when I had a newborn, I just wanted to crash.

I wanted an outlet again, and I thought long and hard about what kind of blog to create. I’m too messy for a lifestyle blog, so eventually I settled on “nerdy parenting blog.” I think this should motivate me to get out, more, too, but in a different way. Such as, I’ve never been to a nerdy sort of con. I’ve been to hacker cons and programming conferences, but those are different. I’d like to go to one, and maybe bring my son. Perhaps he and I should check out Free Comic Book Day. There must be other nerdy events out there for kids! This might help get me out, when I’d rather just be an introvert and stay home.

My final motivation is also for my kid. I want him to know that there’s more to me than my job and being a mom. I’m also a writer, a gamer, and a nerd. Even if he ends up being more of a jock, I want him to know this side of me. And for that to happen, I need to embrace it myself.

I write in my paper journal every now and again that my son isn’t a newborn anymore. The hand cramping keeps me from doing it more. Cover photo by Easton Oliver on Unsplash.

Reading, Playing, Writing, Doing – August 19 Edition

It’s the end of one week and the beginning of another. Here’s what I’ve been up to this past week.

Reading

I finished Spinning Silver and added a brief review on Goodreads, then picked Song of Achilles back up. I loved the book at first, but now that they’re at war I’ve found it less interesting.

Next on my list are these two books. I actually bought paper copies, so I took a #bookstagram photo:

Playing

I think I may have just ended my Civ 6 addiction. As in, just now. I was playing away and thought I’d switch governments. I thought we could handle 3 days of anarchy. We could not handle three days of anarchy. Now America is ahead. Darn you, Teddy!

My fiancé has gotten more into WoW than me. He’s been leveling up a new character from the beginning during nap time while I’ve been trying to take over the world. We hit 112 on our mains last night.

Writing

I decided I want to write some short stories. The trouble is, I’m stuck when it comes to short story ideas. Short stories have constraints that can be both helpful and bang-your-head-against-the-wall inducing. I picked up Damn Good Story because I wanted to improve my writing of short stories in particular, but I couldn’t find a short story-centric book that looked good. I love Chuck Wendig’s blog so I thought I’d give his book a try.

Doing

Several months ago I started going to Physical Therapy because of related problems in my neck and left hand. It was keeping me awake and hindering my knitting. My therapist discharged me earlier this week and I can knit again! I’m starting a hat for my mom. I finished the swatch yesterday:

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My swatch sitting on my sticker covered laptop. It’s Malabrigo Rios in Chamaleon.

Next I need to cast on but the Long Tail Tubular Cast On is giving me trouble. You have to finish all the stitches in one go and it requires attention. It’s not mistake-friendly at all. I have the hang of the mechanics but mess up the pattern. I’m hoping to get it done before bedtime tonight.

Do you knit or crochet? Friend me on Ravelry!

I’ve got some reading to catch up on! Cover photo by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash.

Happy Friday – August 17 Edition

It’s Friday! Here’s the list of lucious links for the week, starting off with this recipe for Greek Shrimp Saganaki. My coworker posted it in our cooking slack channel and it’s all my mouth can think about.

Now that your appetite is wet, feast on this: 10 minute salmon sandwiches. Seafood for an appetizer and dessert? I’ll eat it.

I think I must be hungry and that’s why I just want to post recipe links, so let’s move* along. My fiancé and I are obsessed with watching House Hunters. We know it’s fake and we love to criticize the couples. We even made up a drinking game, which I should post sometime. I’ve always wondered what it would be like for the realtors on the show.

I’m still obsessed with Civ 6 and excited to hear about upcoming Tropico 6. I used to play the original, but then never tried any of the sequels. Is it time? It doesn’t look like it will be out for a while so I may be done with my Civ 6 playing by then.

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Prettier than the original.

Speaking of islands, I think I found my dream job. Now to get my family on board.

If you’re a parent, your kids play Fortnite, and you have and Android phone, watch out: there’s malware on Android. It’s disguised as the mobile version of the game.

Cover photo by Mohamed Thasneem on Unsplash. I wish I could spend my weekend there!

* I know, I am the best at dad jokes.

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Video Game Lessons Learned

#VideoGameLessonsLearned is trending on twitter. Since it’s twitter, some of them are repugnant. But some of them are awesome. Here are a few of my favorites:

Last time my fiancé and I were playing WoW, he asked me, “Why am I burning?”

Treasure for sure.

See, video games can be inspirational.

For real life these are called “tutorials” or “instructions” and they’re magic: you read them and gain knowledge.

Here’s one for parents:

The only saved games I have from when I was a kid are on a CD that requires a Mac from the 90s to run. I think I’m safe on this one.

Finally, mine:

If video games taught me anything, it’s that you should stuff your pack with everything you can until you become encumbered. Even then, you might need that old coffee maker. Better hold onto it and walk slowly.

What have you learned from video games?

Cover image from The Longest Journey, a game in my top 5.

Battle for Azeroth First Impressions

The fiancé and I logged in to play Battle For Azeroth after the toddler went to bed. I have a rather strict sleep schedule: I need to be ready to go to sleep by 11pm and I need to read for at least a half hour before that. There’s no skipping reading. If I don’t read, I can’t fall asleep. Thus we only played for an hour and a half.

On Alliance, Battle for Azeroth takes you to Kul Tiras’s capital city, Boralus. Boralus has a sea port vibe, and there’s a lot of stairs and levels. Because the minimap doesn’t tell you what level a quest item is on, we kept getting lost. Much of our hour and a half was spent wandering around Boralus like lost puppies trying to find quest-relatded NPCs. Fiancé has a moderately decent sense of direction,  If we can’t fly, can we at least have a flat capitol city?

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I dig the vibe.

We decided to head for Stormsong Valley first because it looked the prettiest. I mean, look at it!

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After about ten minutes getting into the quest chain there, it was time for me to get ready for bed. I’ve always been a slow leveler, and I don’t think the latest expansion will be any different. With the way the quests have been so far, I think it will be an enjoyable ride. I’m interested in seeing it from the Horde side.

All images from Blizzard Entertainment. If you want me to take them down, Bliz, just ask nicely.

 

Sims Features I Want in Real Life

Money Cheat

You create your Sim family and purchase them a one-bedroom, poorly decorated house. You give them entry level jobs. They had to work, do their jobs, get promotions, and eventually you can update the house…

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In my dream world, you’d type “motherlode” up into the ether and a cat would come by with $50k for you.

Yeah, right. You create your family and without hesitation, pop in the money cheat. Now they’re rich and you move them to the biggest and create them the your amazing fancy dream house. I can’t imagine playing The Sims without the money cheat. Sure, I’ve played some families with limited means and tried out the legacy challenge, but it’s way more fun building houses with indoor swimming pools.

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You think Sims get to live in the downtown penthouse with basketball court thanks to hard work and determination? Yeah, right!

Then I send them to work anyway because they can only swim in their indoor pool so many times before it gets boring.

Instant Employment

You want a job? Just go on your computer and get an entry level job in the field of your choice. Your requirements for a promotion are clearly laid out. No applications and cover letters, no “it’s who you know, not what you know”, and no office politics.

Bonehilda

Bonehilda is a skeletal butler that your sims could purchase and the only buyable item in the game that stood out to me when . She came with expansion packs for Sims 1 and 3. She was the best thing in the Sims 3 Supernatural pack, which I otherwise found rather mediocre. Unlike human butlers, she doesn’t have regular human needs. If you buy multiple Bonehildas, they’ll team up and work together. If they run out of things to do, they’ll train your dog. How awesome is that?

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There’s one other buyable item: I remember Sims 3 had a teleporter. Since teleportation is my hypothetical superpower of choice, I’d take the device.

Click to Redecorate

Tired of blue walls? Click! Now they’re purple! Drag and drop a giant painting on the wall. Replace your sofa with just a few mouse clicks. Even if you pay for painting, furniture delivery, and art installation in real life, you still have to wait for the professionals. In the Sims, you can try a different decor style every day.

Change your Look

In real life if you decide you want to loose weight, you usually have to follow a diet and exercise plan. It’s hard. It takes a long time. It’s difficult to maintain. In the Sims, all you have to do is exercise a few times and boom, you’ve lost weight. If you want to gain weight, that’s easy, too. Just eat when you’re already full a couple times and off you go.

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3 hours on the rock climbing treadmill and you’re good to go!

Changing your hair is easier, too. A major hair change in real life requires a trip to the salon. In the Sims, you just need a trip to your nearest mirror.

Talk to Strangers

Making friends as a grown up in real life is hard. Making friends in the Sims is easy. Step 1, go to a public location and chat up some strangers. They won’t find this strange at all. They’ll be happy to stand and talk to you until one of you needs to use the bathroom. Step two, tell a lot of jokes. Funny interactions boost relationships. You can go from complete strangers to friends in one or two days. Then you have to maintain the friendship, which is a lot more like real life: spending time with the other person.

Sim life would be pretty awesome. But it would also take you about a half hour to go to the bathroom. It’s way easier to set fires in your kitchen. Ghosts and vampires are real. I like being able to cook more than 5-20 different dishes. I’ll take real life for now, but if someone could come up with a way that I can redecorate my house by clicking and dragging my mouse, that would be awesome. I’d have my art hanging on the walls instead of just leaning up against them.

Question: If you grew and butchered a cow plant, would the meat be vegetarian?

Cover image from the Sims 4 Outdoor Retreat pack. I want to go to there.

 

Reading, Playing, Writing, Doing – August 12 Edition

Unlike last week, this has been a busy week with work, kid stuff, and other responsibilities. I’m impressed that I managed to get some reading and gaming in this week. Notice that I didn’t mention writing.

Reading

I noticed Naomi Novik had a new book out. I’d loved Uprooted and Spinning Silver appeared to be in the same vein. I put Song of Achilles on hold to read it.

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Spinning Silver has a slower pace than Uprooted but I’m still enjoying it. I love Miryam. This is good, because I put a book about sled dogs on hold to read Song of Achilles and I put down Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers on hold to read that. I want to finish Starship Troopers someday but I’ll probably have to at least skim what I already read because I can’t remember what happened. The sled dog book belongs to a friend; I’m sure she’d like it back if she hasn’t forgotten it exists.

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“Hey Alli. Finish the sled dogs book!” Photo by Jérémy Stenuit on Unsplash.

Playing

The fiancé and I have been playing World of Warcraft together. We did the new Siege of Lordaeron content last night, but his computer crashed during it and he had to reboot. I’m finding warrior-ing difficult because you can’t just stand there and blast things. You have to move around and my character constantly yells at me that we don’t have a target. Bosses are fun, but the lesser mobs die too quickly when 7 other players are fighting them.

Otherwise it’s been Civ 6 all the time. I finished (lost) my game as Gilgamesh and started a new one as Tomyris. I wanted to play more aggressively.

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I’m about to kick Arabia’s butt. Until Egypt and Russia declare war on me, too.

Now all the Civs think I’m a warmonger and dislike me, except for Brazil. I managed to sweet talk Brazil into a friendship. Next I want to start a long game with a huge map and only 3 other civilizations.

Writing

Even my blogging suffered from my business last week. This week may be busy as well, with work, physical therapy, a meetup, and wedding plans. With writing blog posts, I can write a little and feel accomplished. The novel is harder.

Doing

Saturday morning two of my cousins took our engagement photos. They were more family photos since we included Indy. He did not want to cooperate. He’d only met the cousins a few times and I don’t think he remembered them. He’s been in a defiant stage and wants to say no to everything. I think we got a few good ones. When we were done, after Indy avoided my cousins the whole time, Indy decided he wanted to go home with them. He held their hands out to their cars. Okay, kid.

Much of Spinning Silver takes place in a frozen world, similar to the one in the cover photo. Photo by Jaanus Jagomägi on Unsplash.

 

Happy Friday – August 10 Edition

This is going to be a short one. It has been a week. My son’s daycare is closing, meaning most of my free time has been spent scrambling to find a new one. Work’s been extra busy for both me and my fiancé, and all I want to do is play Civ 6.

The Best Ted Talks for Moms Parents – I updated the title, because why just moms? I like TED talks because they’re short little bursts of information. You don’t need 40 minutes to set aside to watch. You don’t even need to watch; I often just listen. Perfect for moms parents.

Everyone is talking about the Space Force logo options. Personally I like the “Mars Awaits” one because I’d like to get off this planet, now.

Blogging with voice recording software sounds like a neat idea but I’m not sure how much I’d like to turn a giant blob of text into something coherent. Maybe it would work for novel writing!

Thank goodness it’s Friday.

Mars: I want to go to there. Cover photo by NASA on Unsplash.