Friday, January 1, 2021

Cheers, Then...

This is the time when everyone and their cute lil' puppy puts up 2020 review and 2021 prediction posts but I'm way too disorganized for the former and as for the latter I agree with Wilhelm: "... it isn’t like the world will change dramatically tomorrow, or the next day, or on January 20th, or whenever". Or to put it another way, the world has a nasty habit of changing dramatically at any moment, individually or collectively. It does it all the time and it can keep doing it as often as it damn well likes and there's precious little any of us can do about it, so why make a big deal when a number rolls over?

One thing I can predict with some confidence about the incoming year is that I'll have more time to post, at least over the next month or two. Also more time to play video games, listen to music, watch tv shows and movies and generally give myself things to post about

I was more than half expecting to be spending January at home under a national lockdown or, failing that, at least a regional one, but that didn't happen (yet). As I write, the bookstore where I work is still able to keep the doors open, although it's one of the few in the chain that is, what with most of the country closed to non-essential trading and all.

No, what did happen was that I got a phone call yesterday telling me I was going back on furlough. For anyone not up to speed the way we do things here on this increasingy isolated and plague-ridden island, "furlough" means the government subsidises your employers to the tune of up to 80% of your wages on the understanding they won't cut you loose to trouble the unemployment statistics at least for the time being. 

Who you lookin' at, four-arms? Okay, that doesn't really work...


For a younger person, who might reasonably calculate that the virus represents a personal risk that could be borne and for whom the monthly paycheck barely covers living expenses, this would be unwelcome news. In my position, closing in on retirement and having some moderate resources to fall back on, being told I don't have to come into the center of town three days a week to spend eight hours a day mingling with the general public during a pandemic, when my age alone already puts me squarely in the mid-range of at-risk categories is hardly something to complain about. The manager who called me thanked me for taking the news so stoically but really I should have been thanking her.

How long I'll be at home is anyone's guess. The current version of the scheme is scheduled to last through the end of April but my rustication is going to depend entirely on how much business there is and therefore how much work to be done. If promises about the vaccine roll-out are kept, things could look very different by Easter but promises are promises. We'll see. I do know I'll feel a lot happier about going back once I've had the vaccine, so here's hoping.

Prospects for the blog and for gaming look more predictable and indeed more positive. During the long lockdown last spring and my subsequent summer furlough the weather was largely warm and sunny. I spent a lot of time walking, gardening and doing up the house. Even so I managed to post close to daily for six consecutive months. This time it's freezing cold and likely to stay that way for weeks so you'd think I'd be able to do even better. 

2020 saw the highest number of posts here since the blog began. I was kind of hoping to crack three hundred but in the end I capped out at two-hundred and ninety-three, beating the existing record by forty-three posts. Since that record was set the previous year, when I racked up a nice, round two-fifty as I spent most of my time at home either recovering from being in hospital or on chemo, I think it's safe to say this blog prospers from either myself or the world spending time in what Marwood calls the arena of the unwell. On balance I'd vote for fewer posts if that's what it takes to pad the count but you make your lemonade with the fruit they throw at you, I guess.

Looking forward to what games I might be playing or writing about I imagine things will drift along on the same broad currents. There should be weeks left yet in the EverQuest II expansion Reign of Shadows. I've finished both the adventure and tradeskill signature lines on my berserker/weaponsmith but I'll almost certainly take the necromancer through the adventure line and the sage, alchemist and probably the carpenter through the tradeskill, which is relatively short and easy to repeat. 

After that there are four more adventure classes I could do but more likely I'll make up my mind on what I want my Vah Shir to be and concentrate on that. I'm sitting on several boosts to 100 and 110 so I'll almost certainly skip the first century of levels. I did those fairly recently on my fury and I also have my dirge over on Kaladim should I feel like re-re-re-exploring some older zones.

Seriously, dude? Has no-one ever heard of a trigger warning?


I'll keep logging in to EverQuest to set my Overseer quests and collect the rewards before transferring them onto my other account to sell offline in the Bazaar. I'm making a lot of money for that ten minute daily commitment. Now I'm furloughed I might even find the time to browse the Bazaar and see what I can spend it on.

In Guild Wars 2 I'll undoubtedly continue doing dailies on two accounts every day. That's why they call them dailies. I'll check out the Living Story updates as they appear but other than the two or three hours it takes to run through the storyline each time I probably won't stick around. 

World vs World, on the other hand, remains a drop-in option I pick up at least once or twice a week. In a weird way the game mode seems to have reached some kind of stable plateau. It's a long way below the heights of popularity it once enjoyed but far above the bottomless abyss it looked set to fall into just a year or two back. Plenty of big fights and a surprisng number of people still taking the scoring system sufficiently seriously for things not to seem parodically pointless as was the case not so long ago.

I haven't unsubscribed from World of Warcraft yet. I keep thinking I ought to because literally all I do is log in my dwarf hunter to do garrison stuff. If he amasses enough hexweave cloth to make a bag he makes a bag. If he's run out of sumptuous fur he goes out and slaughters mobs until he has a hundred or so. Other than that I don't do anything. It hardly seems worth paying ten pounds a month for.

Who I'm making the bags for is also a question I ask myself frequently, along with why I'm bothering. I could clearly make the gold to buy the same bags at the auction house a great deal faster than I can get the resources to craft them but you end up doing these things in the name of "playing" the game, somehow.

Yeah, I really don't recall inviting you guys over...


With the extra furlough time, though, I'm thinking I might actually get back to levelling my vulpera hunter and generally exploring and adventuring again. That would certainly make keeping the subscription worthwhile so immediate cancellation is looking less likely than it was. If this goes on I might even buy Shadowlands. I like a lot of what I've been reading about how it plays.

I'm keeping an eye on FHX, the Ferentus revival. I really enjoyed the short time I spent there and I'd relish another short beta run. I have several other ongoing development projects in my sights, any of which might make itself available at some point, in which case you'll read about it here. And there are always the dozens of older mmorpgs I've played and will most likely play again, albeit never for long. Might write about those if I play them or I might not.

As far as major prospects for long-term future mmorpg involvement go I can think of four or five but the only ones I would expect to see open their doors to the general public in 2021 are New World, which I have on pre-order, and Crowfall, which I don't currently plan to buy, although if there's a free option, as they originally suggested there would be, I'd be bound to take a look. I don't see either Ashes of Creation or Pantheon, the two I'm really interested in, coming to anything substantial this year. I'd love to be proved wrong.

Outside the mmo genre I'm steadily working my way through the Blackwell Chronicles. I've finished Legacy, Unbound and Conversion and I've just started Deception. After that there's only Epiphany to go. I'm going to save my powder until I get to the very end because there's an intriguing meta-plot developing and I suspect any conclusions I draw before I get to the end of the whole sequence could prove to be unreliable. 

Read the body language, guys.


No doubt there will be a few free games from Amazon Prime to talk about and I'm minded to buy a title or two on Steam. I vacillated for a while over Disco Elysium when it was on sale but I wasn't convinced I had the time for it. Now I might. It's 40% off for another four days. I'm still thinking.

The music posts will keep coming. Sorry about that . (Sorry not sorry). I haven't done any themed ones for quite a while. I fancy getting back to those. Must be some more animals I can pit against each other in a musical cage fight. I keep getting ideas for themes but then I forget them just as fast. I might have to start writing them down.

I'd also like to sprinkle in some media posts, by which I mostly mean tv shows, although some book reviews could be a welcome addition to the repertoire here. I've seen a couple of shows I haven't noticed anyone mention so I might share something on those. I've really benefitted from tv-watching recommendations (and warnings) on blogs I read so I think even the odd throwaway comment can have value.

As must be painfully obvious though, I don't really do much in the way of planning. I tend to open up the blog and start typing and whatever comes, comes. I imagine that will be the main theme of 2021 here - me waffling about my latest obsession or fancy, usually at inordinate length.

In the end what I'd really like from 2021 is the opportunity to keep on doing what I've been doing so far. There have been times when that seemed like a stretch and looked at a certain way it still does. Here's wishing us all a year ahead we'll find we can enjoy, somehow, and if we can't manage to enjoy it then at least let's all get through it together so we can try again in twelve months time.

These days even that seems like a lot to ask but if you don't ask...


  1. Well, we're both still here (as well as Wilhelm), so at least that's predictable....

    I'll have to actually go back and check, but I don't think I've ever done a "year in review" or a "predictions" post for the New Year's holiday. Not that I've not wanted to, but more along the lines of "hell if I know what's going to happen". After 2020, I was just happy I didn't see the Death Star rising in the east on December 31st.

    1. I enjoy reading other people's predictions and I especially enjoy the follow-ups where they compare them with what actually happened. I'd quite like to do my own but it would require way more forward-planning than I'm willing to put in.

  2. I used to read your blog religiously, as well as Wilhelm's and Syp's blogs, then somehow fell out of the habit. So happy to find you still blogging and still playing EQ2! I will be sure to stop by more often. Happy 2021!


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