Tag: Blaugust

Life Beyond Multiple Sclerosis

I don’t do a lot of real life posts, but this one has been in the works for a while now, so I figured there was no better time to hit that publish button than on the last day of Blaugust. It’s been a heck of a month.

For those that don’t know, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis earlier this year. It’s an autoimmune disease that shows itself through a whole lot of different ways, basically no two people are alike, and that makes it hard to diagnose. For me personally, I have the type that goes away for a bit and lures you into thinking that everything is OK, and then randomly things are very not OK. I had some of the symptoms for years, but thought “oh I’m just getting older” and thought they were normal.

It started with pain in my hands and feet. Gaming some days is almost impossible. I had a bunch of tests and bloodwork done to see if there was any inflammation and there was not. All my tests come back clear which is what makes getting an MS diagnosis so much more frustrating. The pain in my feet is worse in the mornings after sleeping, or after any length of time not moving. It’s bad enough that I have to have support to walk around my house for a bit. A lot of the time I cannot control my hands properly, it makes things like opening containers, holding cups, and other mundane tasks very difficult. I can’t prepare meals easily, I can’t use a knife, and I struggle to do the basics. Since these symptoms are not ALL of the time, but only when I relapse, I thought I might be making them up in my head.

This year cognitive issues started. I often ‘lose’ my words right in the middle of talking. I have short term memory issues where I forget what I ate for dinner even though it has only been a few hours. I get frustrated when I can’t think of a word for something that I’ve said a million times in the past.

I also started getting vision problems. On relapse days/weeks my vision blurs, I see a white haze around everything, and it looks like the house is filled with smoke. My eyes will bother me, feeling tight or heavy. I started writing down all of these things, when they would happen, and tracking them. Sometimes I’m good for a month or two, then symptoms will come back for a few weeks, and then they’ll vanish again.

To say MS is frustrating is an understatement. It’s so hard to explain to people (including doctors) what is wrong when you can’t SHOW them. That’s the main reason why I started writing symptoms down – so I would have SOMETHING to show the doctors besides me saying “well, sometimes I forget my words, sometimes I have pains, sometimes this sometimes that, but not all the time…” Anyway. I’ve had to adjust my life and make some changes. I am a lot slower than I used to be at everything. Walking. Cooking. Gaming. I need a lot of sleep and rest. I need to recognize when my body simple can’t handle any more. I need to be gentle with myself. On the plus side, it is NOT a death sentence. On the downside, it IS (at the time of this post at least) a life sentence. There are medications and things to help slow down progression but there is no cure (yet). It hinders my ability to do very basic things, like drive. On bad MS days I have difficulty taking care of my kids alone. I can’t lift them up, or play outside with them. I always have to tell them to be careful around me. Living in an isolated post makes it even more difficult. It’s frustrating and annoying – but it hasn’t stopped me. It has just slowed me down.

Any way. Why write about all of this? Just to hopefully let someone out there know that you are not alone. That things go on, that you’ll go on, and it will be OK. Maybe not right away, but eventually I found my groove and even though things are really difficult they are manageable. I’m a billion times thankful for all of the support I DO have, and I’m grateful for those days where everything goes ‘OK’ instead of brilliant. Keep trying. Keep pushing forward.

Lessons Learned

It’s just about time to wrap up another Blaugust – and it’s been a great one. I have all sorts of amazing sites to read (I tend to refresh the ones I follow during this event and discover new and amazing blogs) and I managed to keep up to the best of my abilities (I say to the best of my abilities because I post date things to fill in missed days and I don’t see anything wrong with that). This week the topic was ‘lessons learned’ – and I’ve learned my fair share of them over the years.

The main one I learned is that you care more about what other people think of your blog / content than anyone else does. What I mean by this is I used to stress that the few sponsored posts I get would affect my site and I worried that I’d lose readers, and I was concerned that my audience would leave (what little I had) and all sorts of negatives. Turns out, none of that was true, and none of it mattered. I do accept sponsored posts from time to time, it helps pay for my hosting and in good years it gave me a bit extra to put towards game subscriptions or whatever other cost I had. Aside from people asking if I had been hacked or asking if I knew I had sponsored posts, it didn’t change much of anything. I know not everyone agrees with putting ads up on their blog, but for me it’s something I no longer stress about at all. I will always be more invested in my site than anyone else, and that’s probably how it should be. Stop worrying so much about what everyone else thinks / says / does and just focus on how you conduct yourself – be true to yourself, whether that’s monetizing your blog or not.

I learned that being consistent with content is more important than what you’re blogging about, and you will find your people.

I learned that people will like what they like. That means if I spend 3 hours putting a carefully cultivated post together – chances are the post that took me 5 minutes will get more traction. I try not to care about that too much these days, but it used to really bother me.

I learned that I don’t need a different blog to encompass all of my interests, but instead I make use of categories, tags, and other tools to separate everything. Maintaining a blog can be quite a task, and when I was first writing I thought that I had to keep everything in its own little section. I still feel that way, but I can do that within the total writing space instead of creating an entirely new one. This helps me keep consistent, and shows that I’m more than just abcxyz thing. Sure, I’m a gamer, but I also knit, and I spin yarn, and I have other interests. There’s no shame in that and it took me a long time to learn that it’s OK to expand my blog to showcase those other interests.

If you’re looking to blog, it’s never too late to start. If you’ve ever wanted to there are free tools out there to help you get started, and even if you don’t stick with it at least you gave it a try. I hope my posts have given a little bit of insight, and if not, welp, that’s OK too.

Black Desert Online (Remastered)

I bought a copy of Black Desert Online when it released, which I think was back in 2016 – and I played it for a month (maybe?) and I got to level 18 and then I forgot about it. That’s pretty much how it goes with me and games. I finish very few, I stick with even fewer. Anyway, back in January I heard that you needed to migrate any old accounts over to Pearl Abyss or they’d wipe your characters. It was a big debacle even though I wasn’t actually playing at the time and I probably didn’t really need to migrate my level 18 sorcerer over.

Of course I did, and then promptly forgot about the game, again. Some of that isn’t my fault, seeing as I have 5mb/s download speeds a game like BDO (41 gigs give or take) takes me an incredibly long time to download. Their launcher also doesn’t let me set the speed of the download, which means I have to wait until the house is asleep and not using the internet in order to download anything. This is why I prefer to download things on steam, where I can set the speed so that it’s a rate that doesn’t actually interrupt the family using anything but still lets me download 24/7. Anyway.

After almost a week of downloading during the nights / evenings, I managed to get the entire game. I logged in – and I’m COMPLETELY overwhelmed and lost, more so than with ‘regular’ games because this one is pretty far out of my comfort zone. The only thing I could remember from when I played last is that you can fish while AFK.

So that’s what I did. I filled up my bags with useless level 1 fish and I stood there admiring the beautiful game while I played but didn’t play at all. I decided it would probably be best if I looked up some videos on how to play, and maybe starting over wouldn’t be too bad of an idea, either. They do have a bunch of very nice returning player / new player servers that are meant to get you caught up, so I created a guardian on one of the ‘season’ servers, and we’ll see if I can get into it at all. I certainly wouldn’t hold your breath, but stranger things have happened.

Happy gaming, no matter where you find yourself!

Happy Birthday GW2

Every fall I wander back to GW2, and it’s not looking any different this year. I love that they’re giving us an opportunity to unlock missed season adventures, including the Icebrood Saga. I picked it up on my main account, but still want to unlock it on my second account. The team has a ton of goodies lined up for the year, and I hope GW2 gets the attention it deserves. It’s still one of my favourite games to play. Happy 9th anniversary!

Developer Appreciation (Late)

Over the years I’ve done a few appreciation posts, from community managers to developers – and as my gaming years have rounded out I’ve come to appreciate so much more that it would be absolutely impossible to put it all into a single post so I’m going to go about things a bit different. First, I know that last week (August 18th-24th) was actually the scheduled blaugust DAW but I got my weeks confused and so now I’m trying to make up for it. Appreciation is appreciation, right?

I have always prided myself on being able to criticize a game or aspects of a game while remaining calm and reasonable. I understand that gamers are a passionate bunch, and that passion can be both beneficial and detrimental to the game and the people working on it. I think that developers are (typically) quite open to listening to their audience, even if they can’t actively implement everything everyone wants – but when the audience passes over a certain threshold it becomes more difficult to listen to them, and then we get a group of ‘loud minority’ that seem to take over. I know, I’ve been there.

One of my jobs when I was working for NCSoft was to take the information/reactions from the players every single time there was an update or a change, and compile it into a neat and tidy list for those higher up to read. Every public observation from reddit, facebook, twitter, the forums, gaming sites, I read every comment. I did my best to absorb as much generic information and feedback as I could, and then present it up the line so that they would be able to “see” how people were reacting.

The problem is in a lot of cases, the satisfied are not posting about it at those locations. They’re in game, enjoying the content. It’s such a biased and tiny little percentage of players that the information was always going to be slanted. Everything had to be taken with a grain of salt. Everything had to be debated internally.

There is so.much. that goes on behind the scenes that players never see, and even though you might think that no one is talking about a particular aspect or that no one notices abc thing is broken – trust me, it has been discussed. If a change happens, there’s a reason. Sure, sometimes changes go through that don’t have a lot of insight and may be a bad decision (after all, developers are people too) but that doesn’t mean zero discussion goes on about it. That being said, every games company is different and I can only speak about my own personal experiences.

For this game developer appreciation I want to include EVERYONE who works on video games, in almost any capacity (I’m not so fond of the people at the top, but that’s my bias). You have an oftentimes thankless job. Players change, the world changes, and you’re expected to keep up and change too – and people don’t LIKE change, so there’s always going to be someone out there angry who directs that anger at you. On the plus side, yay, they’re passionate about your game, you helped foster that – on the downside, yikes, they’re passionate because of a video game, and that can sometimes be a scary thing. I tend to keep pretty quiet about game mechanics and issues I have in games these days and focus on the positive because I know just how difficult things can be, and because I know that there are already a bunch of voices out there talking about the negative aspects, so why not be one of the positive ones. Chances are if I can’t say anything positive about your game, then I’m not playing it.

We appreciate you developers! Keep doing what you’re doing.

Fall, Blogging, and Comforts

In my neck of the woods, the temperature is almost at the freezing mark, geese are flying South, and I know that snow is just around the corner (in case you’ve forgotten I only have three months of the year without snow, June, July, August. The rest typically have a little or a LOT of snow). Seasons showcase my gaming habits VERY well. Every single time this fall weather comes, I start getting nostalgic for my ‘usual’ games. Hence the screenshot above that shows off Wurm Online. My ultimate favourite MMO. In the stand alone version of the game I have over 5,000 hours logged (thanks steam) and I can’t even begin to imagine the hours I must have in the base MMO version of the game. I have 12 characters, three of those are premium right now. I have two deeds that span across the newer steam-released servers and the old school servers. I’ve met some incredible people through this game that I remain friends with to this day, and it’s probably the first MMO that I played for me, and not because everyone else was playing it (in fact these days maybe only one or two people I know still play it, no one else likes it any more for a variety of reasons).

It also explains why I subscribed to FFXIV. A game that I love for so many reasons, but can’t actively devote the time to playing right this second. It’s a busy time of year for my husband and that means I’m with the kids 24/7 (no childcare where we’re at). I’m incredibly excited about the expansion coming out in a few months, but I’m not even at the part of the story I need to be. I go in with big ideas about catching up, but I don’t know if that’s feasible. I do want to remind people who are also trying to catch up that there are pay options to skip the first few expansion MSQ if that’s more to your liking. It won’t let you do that with the current / final expansion, but you can pay for both levels and MSQ unlocks in the shop.

Let’s talk about that a second. It’s obviously an option that is not for everyone, and not everyone is comfortable with doing that – but it doesn’t HURT anyone, and so if someone else has chosen to go that rout I really wish the community would rally behind them and appreciate that they’re playing at all instead of begrudging them for the fact that they skipped content. Not everyone plays the same, not everyone has the same time allowance, and allowing people to skip the MSQ on older content lets more people in the door and that is good!

Now what does all of this have to do with blogging?

Blogging for me, is comforting. This year I’ve made an effort into writing every single day, or at least posting an article up every single day and I’m really happy and proud about that. When my kids were born I found myself learning how to balance everything and I knew some things would have to take a step back especially if it was a particularly difficult week. Blaugust has been a great reminder on reassessing the balance in my life, and making time for the things I love – and that includes writing. While I still have to work on the community aspect and making time for that, it’s a start. I think each year I participate I learn a little bit more, I grow more appreciation, and I discover some amazing blogs while doing it.

It’s OK to do what’s comfortable – but there’s also something to be said for pushing yourself a bit, and growing. Whether it’s as a gamer, or a writer, or some other aspect.

Happy gaming, no matter where you find yourself!

Just a Girl and her Fat Cat

It was too beautiful not to take a picture of. Lately all I’ve had time for is harvesting, I’ve been trying to get those timed nodes that pop up every so often so I can complete my mining log book. Why? Well, why not! It’s relaxing, to say the least. I’ve also made some good coin selling the materials. I know I could hang onto them and turn them into something then sell that something, but for now this is a nice easy way of generating a little income.

Happy gaming, no matter where you find yourself!

Let’s Harvest

I often log into an MMO not to actually do anything in particular, but just to enjoy the fact that there are other ‘people’ around. I spend a lot of time with my kids (in fact, all of my time is spent with my kids) and I need some sort of extra interaction or I just want to watch conversations float by without really being a part of them. Harvesting in FFXIV is the perfect addition to this. I’ve been going through my log book and completing harvests one at a time, marking them off of my list. I use this in conjunction with FFXIV TeamCraft which I absolutely adore.

It will display a map, and even create routes for you to travel to collect the resources that you haven’t collected yet. I’m hoping to put these items on the auction house, or even just give them to my retainer and then craft with them and put THOSE items on the market. One of the super handy features of FFXIV TeamCraft is that it will take the items you have, and tell you what recipes you can make (and even tell you which recipes are missing only one or two components to make something).

I also need to complete the DoH/DoL jobs that I’ve been neglecting. The only one I’ve completed is mining, and that was ages ago. Once again I’m in awe of all the things ‘to do’ in game, and I love that there are so many options, be they crafting, harvesting, adventuring, or something else.

Happy gaming, no matter where you find yourself!

The Sims 4 Legacy: 3

Velours Legacy had to start looking for a partner in life – after all the whole point to a legacy play through is having 10 generations of one family line. She tried to make friends with the grocery delivery person but they were not interested in anything other than delivering her food. So she went to the local gnome tavern (as one does) and made friends with everyone she could.

Eventually her and a gentleman hooked up, and she got pregnant! She wasn’t actually interested in getting married though, so she broke up with him and decided to raise the baby on her own (which also didn’t last long, Velours has some pretty strong feelings for Ulrike Faust, a lady who belongs to the Renegades club).

With her boyfriend out of the picture I’d like to say that Velours focused on what was important in life, her unborn child and maybe her job – but no, she spent all of her money buying an animal shed and then a llama named tiny.

Velours was about to give birth and had absolutely nothing prepared, and no money to do so but she did have a llama, what more does a person need.

Bluebell was born, a little girl who was very easy to care for. The house also got a few improvements as Velours got a few promotions in her job as a paint brush cleaner. They almost have a fully functional kitchen, a bathroom, and TWO bedrooms (one for her, and of course one for Bluebell). Tiny is thriving, and Velours has harvested some of the fleece for yarn! Knitting is most certainly on the agenda. One generation down, 9 more to go! Hopefully Bluebell is able to live a happy and carefree life. So far things have remained pretty calm, I don’t expect they’ll stay that way.

Self Discovery and Kindness

I consider myself to be a kind person. Not a perfect person, but kind. I have a lot of empathy. I like to think I actively work to make a difference in the lives of a select few others. This isn’t intended to be a boast but more like an explanation as to why a game like ‘Kind Words’ appeals to people like me. It came across my feed this morning as “games people like you play” and there was a sale going on for it. The game is ‘older’ having been released back in 2019, but with the pandemic and all sorts of world craziness going on, I can see the appeal.

It’s less game play and more community orientated. You can write letters to people, anonymously, and people can respond. You get stickers, a little room to hang out in, and decorations. There’s music. At the time of writing this I haven’t actually played so I’m not able to give actual gameplay experience but I read reviews that bring up some good points.

Games like this are not a replacement for therapy. There are some people out there writing about very serious issues that need a professional to help them with. That can make the game seem very heavy, reading actual letters from people that are absolutely heartbreaking. The inability to actually help more than responding with kind words is something a few players spoke about – especially if you’re a fixer (someone who likes to fix problems). You might find this sort of gameplay distressful.

Then there’s the fact that this is the internet. While there IS a community surrounding Kind Words, there’s also trolls and children and people responding inappropriately (you can report) or responding with ‘i love you’ and stuff like this. That doesn’t mean there’s no value in the game, but that you need to be aware and take it all with a grain of salt.

I think the fact that we live in a time period where games like this exist at all, is wonderful. There are so many options to do good out there, and I appreciated the reminder that sometimes all it takes is a few kind words.

That’s not a substitution for doing greater good, either. It’s just one small thing that takes a few minutes where you can make a difference in someone else’ life. Or maybe someone can make a difference in yours if you’re having a bad day.

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