We returned yesterday after an excellent, meandering trip that took us through Portugal's Alentejo region into Spain's Extremadura and South Eastern Andalusia. Mostly we were revisiting places we'd been before but there were plenty of new experiences sprinkled in.
We slept two nights in a tree museum, trudged through the sandy streets of a town that might have come from the Old West and looked down on the clouds from a castle that seemed to be floating in the air. We played no MMOs at all but every day something led one or other of us to comment that we seemed to be living inside one.
WiFi connectivity in hotels has improved immensely and there are whole city squares and parks offering good, free access. We could easily have gamed and I certainly could have kept up with my Feedly feed and even posted a time or three. We did none of that.
For all I've written enthusiastically about devices that can bring internet access to the palm of your hand and the ever-increasing feasibility of playing full-fat MMOs on the go, I find that, in practice, mostly I don't want to. In the daytime we preferred to read or just sit and watch the world going by and after dark, well, we mostly did the same.
We took a case of DVDs but in the end the only one we watched was the 1983 BBC TV series Johnny Jarvis, which Mrs Bhagpuss had never seen and which I had seen only once, when it was originally broadcast, but had never forgotten. Like the author of the linked post I had to resort to a website of dubious provenance to get hold of a copy of this criminally neglected gem in the BBC's archive. I remembered it being brilliant and it turned out to be even better than I recalled. Sometimes rose-tinted glasses see truly after all.
I read the third and fourth of Robin Stevens' Wells and Wong novels, a series intended by its publisher for the "9-12 year old" category but which, like much of the best writing for that age group, is equally suited to an adult readership. Also just about perfect for holiday reading.
After that I moved on to a book I've been meaning to read for a decade or so - Donna Tartt's first novel The Secret History. For some reason I read Tartt's second novel, The Little Friend, before her hugely celebrated debut. I absolutely loved The Little Friend, to the degree that I delayed reading the supposedly superior earlier book, concerned that it might either overshadow its successor or disappoint in comparison.
It did neither. Each is almost exactly as brilliant, compelling, engrossing and delicious as the other. Tartt could really not be any more firmly in my wheelhouse as a writer, so why it's taken me this long to get two-thirds of the way through her very sparse back catalog is a mystery. Next up, The Goldfinch. I'll try to get to that one in less than the ten years it took her to write it.
The Secret History has some unexpected fantastical elements. It reminded me in places of The Secret World. It also made me wish that gaming in general and MMOs in particular had more texture, more variety, more reach. I often wish TSW could have been more of a commercial success than it was. I don't think launching two months before GW2 did it any favors although it was probably the combat that really held it back.
Walking through the sandy streets of El Rocio, past hitching rails and signs in Spanish reading "No Parking - Reserved for Horsemen", I wondered yet again, where are our MMO Westerns? Reading Donna Tartt and Robin Stevens, I asked myself why are there no murder mystery, private detective or police procedural MMOs?
Why, indeed, do so many pegs on which entire popular culture sub-genres have hung for decades going into centuries now, stand empty and unused in online gaming? I do hope EverJane does well, even though I can't imagine I'll ever play it seriously. We need, we deserve, a lot more than just an endless parade of Elves, Zombies, Pirates and Spaceships.
For all that I enjoyed a whole week with no MMO action and no gaming news, though, within half an hour of dumping my bag in the hall I was logged in and working through more than 200 Massively OP squibs before plunging into the scores and scores of blog posts I'd missed. If these are the dying embers of blog nation thank heavens I wasn't around to feel the heat of the full blaze.
After a couple of hours clearing those decks it was back to GW2- once I'd reset all our accounts. Every time I switch the Router off, as I do if we go away, it generates a new IP address that ANet finds suspicious and requires me to authorize. I wish every MMO was as diligent.
Halloween is in full flow and apparently farming is even more of a thing than in previous years, Merry Mike O'Brien taking a much dimmer view of Diminishing Returns than Colin Johanson ever did. I did some of that for a while but I've never been mad keen on Halloween. I'll wait for Wintersday for my farming sessions.
This weekend I plan to get started on the ToSpeak As A Dragon quest in EQ2. Feldon at EQ2Wire has an extremely useful guide on how to get ready for the coming expansion and one of the essentials appears to be That Quest, which I've managed to avoid for the last decade or so.
There appears to be a surprising amount of homework required for Kunark Ascending. There are also some disturbing comments in the EQ2Wire thread concerning the current commercial viability of EQ2, referring to rumors that the game could even be "in danger of sunsetting". I'd be surprised if things were that dire but I'm also not entirely sure that the current focus on making things more hardcore and less alt-friendly are well advised.
Whatever the truth of the finances, there's an expansion on the way and that's always cause for celebration. I've pre-ordered mine and now I'm off to prepare for it. It's good to be back.