2019: The Year I Spent With Mom

Happy New Year to you! I hope you enjoyed the holidays and the new year has been good to you thus far.

This year marks a few major milestones in my life: 10 years since I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, 25 years since my daughter was born (my son is nearing 30 years old! 😲), and 30 years since my husband and I met.

2020 will also birth new beginnings: if all goes as planned, my husband and I will start a business together. I’ve been unemployed for one year and four months now. If I’m returning to work, I’d much rather run my own rat race. My husband and I have talked for years about running our own business and I very much hope this works out.

The past year is not at all how I expected a year off from work would have happened. All in all, and at my currently narrow perspective as the benefit of time has yet to provide an eagle eye view, I think 2019 will go down in my history as The Year I Spent With Mom and I’m very grateful for that.

Since October 2018, I saw my Mom about once a month. A weekend one month, the next month for a week, and 2–3 weeks some months. I’ve spent more time with her in the past year than the previous 5 years combined… maybe more.

My time with her gifted me with an internal reconciling and acceptance of my relationship with her—past, present, and future. My “mother issues” are healed and she has no idea, nor will she ever. In mid-December her neurologist said she has moderate Alzheimer’s Dementia. Regardless the diagnosis, she never would understand that I had “mother issues.”

Had I been working this past year, there is absolutely no way I would be in a better place with her and able to help and support her in the way that I now can.

Here are a few highlights from walks we took in December. Please excuse the poor quality of the duck photos; they were taken at 10x zoom. Mom loved those ducks!

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Taz’dingo!

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Woop! There it is! And here is a quick post in celebration.

I reached exalted last night and finished the Allied Race quest today. Sadly, I wasn’t made an honorary Zanchuli Council member. But the new one is in good hands! And boy does it feel really good to have completed this!

I’m glad I had the Tauren heritage armor set on hand—it was perfect for this epic occasion!

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I’d like you to meet Zen’Ijira!

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Her name is Zen (a Zandali prefix that means druid) + Ijira (derived from Ijiraat—shape shifters from Inuit mythology).

She kinda looks like my Darkspear druid! They both have purply skin with green hair.

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Here’s Zen’Ijira meeting her queen for the first time.

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I like how Talanji handled Sylvanus… and tells the new Allied Race character that Zandalar comes above all else. Zen’Ijira can get behind that.

Zandalar Forever!

Nearly Exalted with Zandalari

On my journey to exalted with the Zandalari, I check wowhead.com to see if I’ve missed any quests and lo and behold, there’s this whole Shadow Hunter series involving Vol’jin. YES! So I start that chain. I wore my Darkspear costume while assisting Talanji and Master Gadrin in escorting my favorite Warchief’s remains to a final resting place amongst the kings.

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The next step after this is a dungeon. Sigh. I haven’t ran a dungeon with other people in about two years, maybe more. So I sit on this for two weeks and finally get up the courage to queue. I read up on the tactics for Atal’dazar in the dungeon guide and go for it.

HOLY MOLY AND WTF?!?! That was a normal dungeon? We wiped on the first boss, Rezan. Got him on the second try and only one death the rest of the run. It was nuts. I used my feral regrowth on everyone at least once; many times on the tank.

A frost mage 100 item levels below me out-dpsed me. I do not belong in dungeons! Well, probably not as dps. Actually, probably not as melee dps. Ranged dps is better because I can see more of what’s going on. But I’m a healer at heart and I’m always looking at health bars.

With the ridiculous levels of mobility in this dungeon, I’d often find myself not hitting anything after glancing at health bars. Oops! The pack/boss moved… so much moving! I failed 13 GTFO alerts. No kidding! There was so much stuff to GTFO of! 23 were high—I’m not sure what that means. Sounds like more failing. I was the only person on that recount report.

I’m not sure I want to do that again.

Once we downed the final boss, I double checked my achievement to be sure it wasn’t a heroic. Nope. That was normal. Yikes! After everyone left, I donned my Darkspear costume and placed Vol’jin’s urn.

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All right. All right. I see you Bwonsamdi. Sure, I’ll meet you in your lair. But before I do, I need to run off to the Darkmoon Faire to get a reputation buff in preparation for this quest line. Y’see, I’ve been doing everything I can to earn the exaltation of the Zandalari and by my estimation I should reach my goal once I complete this quest line.

La dee da… hearth to Spirits Be With You, fly to the Great Seal, take the Thunder Bluff portal, off to the fair, spin around the merry go round, hearth to Dalaran, take the Orgrimmar portal, take the Zuldazar portal, fly to Nazrim, mount up and go see Bwonsamdi about Vol’jin’s spirit.

And that was it. Wait. What? That was it? Wowhead says there are more Shadow Hunter quests. Do I need to pick it up with someone else? Surely the game would have some clues for continuing this series.

Sigh. Time to Google.

The quest series picks back up with Bwonsamdi in Zuldazar. This disjointedness seems unnecessary, but OK then.

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Yay! I got to see Vol’jin! And then, boo! The next quest is in a raid. I can’t imagine what LFR is like if that is what a normal dungeon is like. What the heck happened to dungeons while I was not running them?

To be fair, that was just one dungeon. Maybe others aren’t this bad? But humans typically associate one bad experience to all the things from whatever it was they badly experienced. This is Psych 101. Why is making players feel bad an acceptable outcome?

Dungeons don’t have to be something players dread. I’ve done a few in FFXIV—you have to for the main quest—and they feel much better and more accessible. Anyhow, that’s a whole ‘nother topic for another post.

Light is at the end of the tunnel!

I’m at 90.9% exalted with the Zandalari. I don’t know if I’ll try LFR or not. I really want to complete this quest line but unlocking this Allied Race is painful and not at all enjoyable. I’m human. I prefer to avoid pain.

Unlocking the Nightborne was a much better experience. In addition to world quests and missions, there was a beautiful story line that gave Nightborne reputation. Are those content creators no longer at Blizzard? Not once did I have to step foot into a dungeon or raid, or even rely on outside sources to know what I’m supposed to do next.

Technically, I don’t HAVE to run group content for Zandalari rep. It’s merely out of desperation for sources other than limited world quests that grant pitiful amounts of rep—the missions, when they pop, are decent—that has me feeling like I am required to do things I don’t want to do. And now I have the added anxiety of expecting LFR to be 10x worse than a normal dungeon. This feels very bad to me. Earning Nightborne rep did not feel bad.

Back to the bright side!

With the Darkmoon Faire in town, I may reach exalted this weekend. And when I do, I better get a seat on the Zanchuli Council.

Wish me luck!

Black Desert Online 2020 Calendar Contest Screenshot Submissions

Black Desert Online (BDO) holds an annual calendar contest for players to have a chance at their seasonal screenshots be included in next year’s calendar. Players can submit up to three screenshots in each seasonal category: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Halloween, and Winter. BDO staff then chooses one from each player’s set and that one will be voted on by other players. Check out the 2019 winners.

To help players with submissions—or new players like me who didn’t know about this annual contest and who haven’t been taking screenshots with it in mind throughout the year—BDO changes the season in game for a few days. Once the Halloween decorations are taken down, cherry blossom trees are added for spring, then tulips for summer, autumn leaves for fall, and rain changes to snow for winter. That means for winter you have to either chase the snow or stay put and hope it will eventually snow on your chosen photo shoot location.

BDO’s screenshot tool is, well, it’s a tool in and of itself. It takes some practice to learn the controls, and then even more practice to use them in a way that gets good results. It can be time consuming, especially for n00bs like me. The hardest part is selecting three images from the hundreds taken for each season!

I’ve learned a lot these past few weeks and even started using Ansel—just yesterday, in fact! There’s a lot you can do—the 360° feature is super fun—and I can’t wait to try it in other games. Disclaimer: outside editing isn’t allowed for this contest, so none of my submissions were taken using Ansel.

So, with that lengthy preamble out of the way, these are my submissions. I missed Spring because I was grinding Zandalari reputation while the Darkmoon Faire was in town. 😁

Enjoy!

Summer

Autumn

Halloween

Winter

How an Archdruid Kills Onu

A recent “Know Your Lore” article—A personal anxiety about Shadowlands—got me thinking about how I play World of Warcraft. As discussed in my Preparing for Shadowlands post, I basically do things “for the sake of it.”

Matthew Rossi, author of the “Know Your Lore” article, and many other players stopped playing Horde in Battle for Azeroth. So why is my Tauren Druid (Aubari) attacking other druids, fellow Cenarian Circle members, in Darkshore?

Guys, I made her attack Onu. I even hesitated. I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed that I hesitated and went through with it. I turned my Tauren Druid into one of those Horde members that does things because they are told.

For me, these tweets perfectly describe how I felt coming from Legion.

Why, indeed. Why would Archdruid Aubari have anything to do with the burning of Teldrassil, going back and warring in Darkshore, and killing an Ancient of Lore?

So. Along the theme of cleaning up my account in preparation for Shadowlands, I think the why for my characters is important. Taking a character inventory was a great start. But even now as I play Battle for Azeroth, what can I do to move away from a “for the sake of it” style of play to one that is more meaningful?

This 5-minute video explains the importance of starting with why, and how it differs from starting with what. If you are interested in the full TED Talk, you can watch it here.

Playing in BfA I am focused on what, then how, and why is nowhere to be found.

  • What = unlock Zandalari
  • How = do what Wowhead’s Battle for Azeroth Attunements says

What I haven’t considered is the cost to my character’s why. For Aubari, a servant of nature, is helping Sylvanas turn people undead and robbing them of their afterlife (I’m assuming) worth an alliance with the Zandalari?

If I go down this path, won’t I then be creating a new set of potentially prohibitive rules for myself? But isn’t that what a roleplay game is? I think I’d rather play the game with character specific limitations than as a digital reward/achievement system with a “do all the things” approach.

Something comes to mind, from a comment made by Kamalia regarding older vs. newer characters. Like her, I have stories in my head for newer characters while my older characters were just played “for the sake of it.” My connection to my older characters is derived from play time, not through an affinity for their story.

Aubari is my oldest character (she started as a Night Elf in 2004). Without a personal story, she—and any character for that matter, even myself as the player—can easily succumb to a minion mindset. Go there, do this, and oh yeah, for the Horde!

But… why?

Ignoring why leads to an Archdruid killing Onu.

Preparing for Shadowlands: Taking Inventory

I watched the BlizzCon 2019 opening ceremony with Elloa and her followers on Twitch. It was a far better experience than watching it alone. Several days later what stands out most for me is the Diablo IV cinematic (that team should be making movies) and enhanced character customization—FINALLY!!!!

Separating eye color from face options… I mean, it’s not really something to celebrate in 2019 as so many other games have had a separate eye color feature in character creation for years. I’m simply pleased that Blizzard finally recognized character customization is important enough to enhance.

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I was on a bank alt named Accountbound who—you guessed it!—only holds account-bound items: gear tokens for all armor types that range in levels from 90–110 and various account bound reputation tokens, most of them dropped by the Zandalari Warbringers. Will these types of things have their gear requirements lowered when the level cap is reduced for players?

This got me thinking about preparing for Shadowlands and ways I could clean up my account. I thought it might be a good idea to take inventory of the mess I’ve created over the years. Are you ready for this?

WoW Retail Character Inventory

I have 60 characters across 12 servers:

  • 10 are on a free-to-play sub-account
    • 2 of these are guild inviters… for guilds with myself as the only active player
  • 9 are class trials who are extremely super-casually farming the Zandalari Warbringers
  • 5 are bankers

That leaves 36 actual characters of which 13 are Alliance, 23 are Horde, and:

  • 1 is level 120 (Horde)
  • 1 is 112 (Alliance)
  • 2 are 110 and have not stepped foot in BfA
  • 17 are 60–103
  • 15 are below level 45
    • 6 of these are level 20; either a new Allied race or I keep at 20 to play when I’m not subbed
    • 5 of these are below level 10
      • 2 of them are name savers

Diving into which classes I have, let’s first remove all those 20 and below because with Allied Races level 20 is the new level one. That leaves us with 24 characters. Of those, I have:

  • 6 Death Knights
  • 2 Demon Hunters
  • 4 Druids
  • 2 Hunters
  • 1 Mage
  • 0 Monks
  • 1 Paladin
  • 1 Priest
  • 2 Rogues
  • 1 Shaman
  • 2 Warlocks
  • 2 Warriors

There’s a lot of baggage here! Some characters—mostly the Death Knights—exist because they were created to play with family who started on other servers. Guess what? They don’t play anymore.

Clearly, my long-time goal of having one of each class on Alliance and on Horde hasn’t panned out. There are several boosted characters I don’t play who were boosted for professions I don’t use. I’m not going to get into professions. Just know there are only one alchemist and one engineer and they are not on the same character.

I suspect this mess is a result of shifting focus several times over the years. It started as one main for Alliance (Druid) and one for Horde (Hunter), then one for each profession, then one of each race/class with the rarest combinations (e.g., dwarf rogue), and now one of each armor type.

It seems to me that the purpose of this style of play is “for the sake of it.” I think this mess is also indicative of my tendency to start but not finish things, in games and life. Had I not performed this task of inventorying my characters, I may not have recognized these patterns. Perhaps this history of disconnected play style has contributed to my disinterest in playing the game.

And now I must question, is my desire to unlock the Zandalari and Kul Tirans only “for the sake of it?” I’ll have to think about this. They have druids… but other than my main level 120 druid, I have only leveled one other druid beyond 80. Although, I did have all those mental restrictions (one race/class, one for each armor type, etc.).

While leveling another druid those mental restrictions would nag in the back of my mind, eventually convincing me to get back to whichever “for the sake of it” attempt I was working on.

What if I disregarded them and ONLY played druids?

Interesting!

There’s plenty of races who can be druids now. Oh, that reminds me: pretty please Blizzard, make this a playable druid?

While I’m not yet ready to make any big decisions and continue to ponder this new possibility, there are smaller things I can do now. I think I’ll start by cleaning out Accountbound’s banks and bags.

October Gaming Update

Oh my word! It’s been more than a month since my last post. I didn’t realize that much time had passed.

I must apologize for my inconsistent content. I don’t focus on one subject/topic and may come across as being all over the place. It’s probably because I am. I often publish posts declaring intentions of doing x, y, or, z in this game or that game… or even in my life (flashback to the “getting healthy” and “photo-a-day” post series that fizzled out) and either never do them or change my mind… a lot.

So with Warcraft Classic, what I intended to do and shared here in the blog isn’t what has actually transpired. I have found myself playing my original Night Elf druid, the one I lost when Blizzard updated character models and who no longer exists in retail.

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Just today, she completed the quest to learn aquatic form. I spent a lot of time swimming around continents exploring in Vanilla. Swimming around the top of Kalimdor—from Darkshore—is how I discovered Azshara back then!

I’m leveling her without a care for what’s best. She’s a caster—a nature mage!—and a tailor so she can make her own gear, and bags. She picks herbs and flowers in the wild and sends them to a rogue alchemist-in-training.

It’s really nice revisiting how Azeroth was before the cataclysm. Arriving at the intact Auberdine and talking with the very much alive Gwennyth Bly’Leggonde feels like coming home.

I’m doing other things in Classic, but not sharing them yet in case I might change my mind!

In retail, I updated my Lady Worgen.

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I also obtained the Tauren heritage armor set. I haven’t applied it yet, so not screenshots of Aubari wearing the set. I do love being able to summon my spirit guide! I only wish it would stay around a while longer.

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I even made another attempt at working toward getting the Zandalari as an Allied Race. I thought I was working on the Tides of Vengeance requirement but it turned out to be Ready for War. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m so confused about what I should be doing. Having to look up guides to know what to do is ridiculous. What am I missing in game? I feel dumb that I can’t figure it out on my own and I get overwhelmed, frustrated, and lose interest.

As retail is—to me—more of a to do list type experience, an IN GAME checklist type interface that shows you how to progress toward a specific goal and where you are as you progress would help. Or maybe it’s there and I’ve missed it? Or maybe…

too old - Kimmy

I’ll figure it out eventually and get around to unlocking Zandalari. Especially with the Shadowlands expansion coming and those glorious new character customization options! Did you see those? Unlocking Allied Races is a good thing to work on between now and then. As is cleaning up my account.

I’m working on a post about that, so stay tuned!

In Black Desert Online, I’m taking a break from creating characters. Primarily because I don’t want to use a value pack, a 30-day “buff” that increases your xp gains and allows you to customize your character, among other things. If I have a value pack running, I’ll feel obliged to play so I don’t waste it.

If you aren’t following me on Instagram or Twitter, here are a few from my recent Tamer class set. As it turns out, they are all elfkin! The left side is in character creation and the right is in game. They can look different in game, so I like to show them side by side.

Click/tap on the image to learn about their names, and for more pics.

Ducks In A Row Collage Tamer Niobe

Ducks In A Row Collage Tamer Aziza

Ducks In A Row Collage Tamer Parisa

Ducks In A Row Collage Tamer Titania