Computer Woes

After a morning spent trying to troubleshoot some serious computer issues, it looks like my graphics card dropped a big loaf this morning. I am a bit distressed – but the thing is lifetime guaranteed. Spoke to an EVGA rep this morning and got an RMA number, so I should have a replacement sent out relatively quickly.

The bad news is that I’m out of business as far as gaming goes until probably the middle of next week. Not offline – there’s Mrs. Ardwulf’s computer plus the laptop that I’m using right now, both sturdily connected to the series of tubes.

I’m installing the EVE client right now – this machine ran the old classic client well enough to mine in hi-sec, so I’m hoping that it’ll fare well enough on the new client to at least get in and change skills over at minimum. Champions is likely down for the count until I get the main computer running again.

UPDATE: Confirmed that the video card is bricked. It’s off to EVGA via UPS, and I’m down for all meaningful gaming until what will probably be late next week at the earliest. The laptop runs the new EVE client… poorly. I can get in to switch skills out, though.

Progress Proceeds

For those who did not notice the tweet, I am officially unemployed. Job search is underway; I have little doubt that I will find something by early August at the latest, although it might not be something ideal.

The July 4 holiday involved large quantites of bratwurst. I like bratwurst.

In the world of World of Warcraft, a couple of milestones have been hit: Hippomenes and Atelanta (Mrs. Ardwulf and my Night Elf Druids) hit level 40 after much procrastination. And Hrishnak hit level 50.

Hippomenes and Atelanta made a point of doing the Fire Festival quests. Alas, these are set up in such a way that you can only get so far unless you’re level 70ish or higher. But we did get the Flames of the Eastern Kingdoms and Flames of Kalimdor achievments through great effort (including death-walking through Timbermaw Hold,) and managed to snatch Horde flames from Undercity and Thunder Bluff as well, the latter of which was murderously difficult.

We also ran a couple rounds of Arathi Basin; Mrs. Ardwulf is not into PvP but was tempted by the shiny rewards, which are relatively easy to get if you only want one or two of them. We didn’t get very far (both rounds ended in abject defeat for the Alliance,) but may try again at some point.

Hrishnak, my solo Orc Hunter, is now at 52 and is rollicking right along. To my surprise, there was very little training to be done at 50. To my utter lack of surprise, the Hunter quest chain that opens up at that level ends in Sunken Temple, which I didn’t want to bother to do for the rewards available. I’ve been doing the Fire Festival quests (really, just honoring the Horde fires and putting out the Alliance ones,) as I’m in those areas, but the net amount of experiemnce gain from them has been fairly substantial. I didn’t go after the achievements – I judged getting into Winterspring to be not worth the effort, even though I’m of about the right level to do it the ‘honest’ way.

And I saw the inside of Blackrock Mountain for the first time – not the instances, of course, but the open-world part of it. At some point (i. e. at 80,) I’ll hit up the dungeons as well.

Status Report

We found a new apartment over the weekend, in Columbus. It is very nice and a great deal cheaper than where we’re living now, along with terrific amenities which we do not currently enjoy, namely a swimming pool, clubhouse and fitness center (which my fat ass desperately needs.)

The job hunt has begun in earnest. No real traction yet, but I have every confidence that I will land something pretty quickly, and I will in any event keep pressing hard.

More than anything else, it’s a lot of stress. Everything is going to be just fine, but it’s hard sometimes to not get angry or depressed. This big change in location and lifestyle is contributing to this effect.

I’ll have MMO talk later today.

Employment Woes

I’ve been informed today that my contract will “almost certainly not” be extended. This has hapenned before, of course, only for a reversal to happen in the 11th hour, but I am sure it’s for real this time. So expect to hear about our coming relocation and search for employment in this space over the next few weeks, intersprersed with the MMO talk.

If things get so dire that I have to cut out MMO costs, then, hell, there’s always Guild Wars and Runes of Magic, neither of which I’ve given the attention they’re deserved, and, soon, D&D Online.

Meanwhile, in what is becoming something of a neccessary catharsis over the last few weeks, Hrishnak reached level 42, moving on to the Badlands.

New Worlds to Conquer

It certainly looks as though I will soon be among the unemployed, followed swiftly thereafter by joining the ranks of the underemployed. Fear not, though – we will be fine. It does mean we have to relocate, but that’s OK – we were planning and preparing to do so anyway, and this just shifts the timetable ahead a bit. And it gives me the opportunity to go back to school full-time, which I’m planning to do in the fall.

This does mean, however, that my gaming hobby is likely to take a hit, at least in the short term. But I have weeks ahead on the SOE titles that are already paid for, and some time left in WoW, and WAR and CoH time cards yet to blow, so I won’t lack for stuff to do by any conceivable measure. Even after that, there’s always Guild Wars, and very soon, DDO, that are free to play, along with others.

Speaking of which, DDO’s free-to-play deal is in Beta right now, so you can’t just jump right in yet. I signed up for it last night. I think the whole thing is potentially very exciting. I’ve long felt that DDO is an underappreciated game, at the same time saddled with a business model that didn’t fit all that well. Going with something more like Guild Wars’ arrangement, and with the recent addition of Hirelings to the game alleviating the absolute necessity to find PC groups, makes a ton of sense.

I said in the past that I would jump on DDO in a heartbeat if it were free to play, and I meant that. Turbine said that there was some marketing money to push DDO again once the move is made, and I think that along with the new model could really revitalize the title. I will be watching its Xfire numbers very closely.

Last night I took note of my stockpile of harvestables and characters. It occurred to me that EQ2 is pretty much the only MMO in which I have actually enjoy crafting as a dimension of the game in its own right. It’s not as easy as the crafting in WoW in a way, but in another light it’s easier, because the way crafting interrelates with harvesting is much more straightforward. And the process of tradeskilling in EQ2 tends to result in goods that are actually useful, if not to you, then to others who’ll buy the stuff off the broker. And the process itself in interactive enough to keep me engaged, but not so fussy that I tend to end up with piles of slag at the end.

After shuffling some inventory around, spending a half hour or so harvesting Tier 2 stuff in Antonica, and dropping maybe 10 gold on the broker to fill in the gaps, I ran my 7th-level Illusionist with no tradeskill experience up to level 20, selecting Tailoring as her field. This becomes my fourth crafter to hit Tier 3. I would like to get the rest that high as well, and everybody out of tier 1 in adventuring level as well (which shouldn’t take very long,) so that I can finally stop hoarding Tier 1 components once and for all.

Most of my characters are in adventuring tier 2 at this point, all but one on Antonia Bayle, a server I’m loathe to abandon because I have a Tier 6 adventurer there along with (now) four tier 3 tradeskillers, and a pretty large stockpile of harvestable components.

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A Worry

As folks who keep up with the news know, much of the American automotive industry is shutting down for part or all of the summer. At my place of employment, this means we’re shut down – and thus laid off – next week, and probably at least one more week in June or July. My status as a contractor means no work, no pay.

But it isn’t all bad. We have some kind of festivity planned for some point during this coming weekend. I plan to spend at least one full day in a frenzy of WoW. My Math class, which is now not only scheduled but paid in full, starts on Wednesday. And on Thursday Mrs. Ardwulf and I head down to Columbus (about two hours away,) to visit Ohio State University , where I’ve made an appointment to talk to a counselor about both reinstatement and the classes I’ll need to take at community college. We plan to try to get in a visit to Columbus State if there’s time, and there should be, but I need to talk to the folks at Ohio State first, so I know what I’ll need to take.

There is, of course, some anxiety inherent to the process. How do I know Ohio State won’t tell me to get lost, given a very spotty academic history? (I’m looking at the transcript now, and trust me, it’s not a pretty story.) The visit, in part, is to get me some assurance that I do in fact have some chance at reinstatement.

If nothing else, though, I do know that I will be able to handle the material, at least at the undergraduate level. I expect to need some help at least part of the way, especially with the math side of things, but that’s okay. I’m pretty sure that last time around it didn’t even occur to me to get some of the math help that virtually every college offers – and it would have helped, as math was the thing I choked on the worst, despite considerable native talent in that area.

I do not neccessarily expect Ohio State to say “absolutely not,” (although I do expect them to set conditions – but they’ll probably be the same conditions I’ve decided to meet myself,) but I need to be prepared in case they do, since Ohio State tends to be selective in who they admit. Then again, I got in once, and I’ll be applying for reinstatement rather than as a new student, and that distinction may prove important.

Still, I need a plan B, since I plan to go back to school regardless of where that works out to be. I hadn’t given much thought to the prospect of being turned down flat until today.

Wish me luck.

Moving Forward

I pushed Frogwood the Undead Priest up to level 9 last night. As seems to be the case now for any mana-using class I’m playing other than the Paladin, mana supply is the biggest issue. I should eventually be able to correct this via Int gear and spec, but right now I’m kind of frustrated by it.

I went to upgrade my Tailoring, and was reminded that you need level 10 to get the second train of any real crafting skill. Oddly, this hasn’t come up very often. I ought to be able to get him to level 10 pretty easily, but I’m trying to take best advantage of rest XP – which means that the next character on the slate is going to be my long-unplayed Blood Elf Rogue.

I’m also trying to stick to a new rule of no sitting on my corpulent ass before 9 PM, in an effort to stay a little more active. I figure two hours a day of WoW and internet surfing is plenty. Woven into this goal is the fact that I’ve registered for a math class – one of several semi-remedial classes I will need to take – at Cuyahoga Commmunity College. The summer term starts next week, so once that happens I can pretty much count on playing much less, at least during the week.

I predict great difficulty catching up on the math. I’m sure I can do it, but I’m in the process of arranging for some tutoring help on that front. I will end up with something like three years of Calculus and post-Calculus math, so I’d better be comfortable with it.

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Clear Skies 2, Visitors, and More Horde Play

Clear Skies 2 is wall-to-wall awesome. I watched it last night after busting my behind to get our place fixed up for the visitors (Mrs. Ardwulf’s out-of-town relatives) who’ll be staying with us from tomorrow through the weekend. It’s even more ambitious than the first installment and has the same great dialogue and action, and even a big space battle. I can’t wait to see episode 3.

In other business, I played some on Hrishnak, mostly doing some running-around quests and completing the chains that lead to the Wailing Caverns quests. In the process I hit level 19. After playing quite a bit on higher-level characters, I’m annoyed by not haviong either a mount of some kind of speed buff, but that changes with Aspect of the Cheetah at level 20.

I’ve also switched from gun to bow, because I like the aesthetic better for an Orc, and I’m doing the Engineer Hunter thing Alliance-side. I’m going to switch to Skinning/Leatherworking as well, which will change my plans for a couple of other characters, which is okay – none of them have gotten very far.

I probably won’t get much solid play in tonight, although I’d like to get my new Warlock out of the Valley of Trials and into Razor Hill, just so I can efficiently mail stuff between every character – there’s a lot of herbs and gems cluttering up Hrishnak’s bags and bank right now, plus some ore.

Offtopic News

In other, totally unrelated news, it’s my 38th birthday today. You kids get off my lawn.

Also, this is Mrs. Ardwulf’s last week of classes – she graduates, with Honors, from Cleveland State on the 16th, about which she’s thrilled.

Our longstanding arrangement is that when she’s finished and can get a job, I’ll go back to college and get my degree. A plan to accomplish this is just staring to solidify, but it looks like we’ll be reloacting some 150 miles southish to Columbus, where I can get started at the local community college and move on to Ohio State, which offers the program that I want to pursue (Astronomy,) as well as a good grad program in that field.

I will be blogging the academic journey, of course, but I’ll do it in a different space. More to come on that front when details actually begin to materialize.

Still With Us: Dave Arneson (1947-)

The initial news was apparently NOT correct – Dave Arneson is indeed still with us, although he is very ill.

I should have waited for independent confirmation, but the word seemed authoritative and the source credible.

Best wishes to Arneson – who has now defeated death at least once.