Elf In Real Life: The Importance Of Mindfulness

hypnosis graphicLast week I was served an inedible sandwich at Wendy’s. The horror. I took it back and complained, and I was given an edible sandwich–but not what I ordered, and zero apology.

My first-ever tablet (Samsung Tab 4) was delivered Thursday, and the UPS guy dropped it hard on the concrete. It still works, but I could hear the loud splat through the door.

Last week I also realized GoDaddy cut my website storage from 100GB down to 10GB without telling me–barely more then I’m currently using. Meanwhile, my plan and their advertising says I should get 100GB.

I called and complained, but they said my plan was outdated, and I needed to upgrade and pay more. They already raised my domain rates by like 50% in the last few years. I’m leaving and going to a competitor, obviously.

Can you imagine if your cable provider cut your TV channels by 90% suddenly, or your internet speed by 90%, and when you called to complain they said – oh, your plan is outdated, and you need to upgrade to get your channels back? Are you serious, GoDaddy?

Yes, serious about profit and exploiting their market position just like Apple, whose gross margin on their phones is a whooping 40%.

Syp at Biobreak recently wrote a scathing post about elves and their elitist, snooty attitudes in LotRO, but why wouldn’t they be irritated when a big group of stinky, hairy humans goes trampling the ferns in Great River, cutting down trees, making a lot of noise, and killing all the animals so they can eat twice as much as they really need?

So the topic of this post is mindfulness. I’m guilty of mindlessness and callousness just like anyone, but serving bad sandwiches, dropping my new tablet on concrete, and sneak-raising my rates while cutting my services 90% isn’t acceptable. First world problems are hard on elves.

Mindfulness is defined as “the intentional, accepting and non-judgemental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment“, which can be trained by meditational practices derived from Buddhist anapanasati.

Mindfulness is an essential element of Buddhist practice, which means it’s super-important for cutting through illusions and being compassionate. It’s also super-important to be mindful of human impact on the environment, in terms of destruction and over-population.

I really need to meditate, but this week I’ve been lazy and resorted to programming my brain instead, using hypnosis. So I would recommend this wonderful hypnosis video if you want to be more like an elf.

And who doesn’t want to be more like an elf? That’s self-evident!

Kim Carmen Walsh sounds a ton like Galadriel (at least to my ‘merican ears – maybe someone should recruit her for voice over), which makes her hypnosis videos even more magical. In addition to the below self-help video, her video Hypnotherapy For Relaxation And Mindfulness also helped me a lot during my kidney stone suffering last summer.

So good luck, and may your ears turn pointy before you reach enlightenment.

Weekly Wyrm: Feb. 21, 2015

Last week I wound up Rift for a while. I have a raid-ready set of gear. I joined a large guild full of really nice people. I also successfully healed several expert dungeons as a Chloromancer for the guild group. They said I was really good!

Those were all of my goals. It’s time to focus on the novels. In recent weeks, I polished off ten years of work on my first two manuscripts. My second book is even better than the first, I think. I brought in more thoughtfulness and philosophy. It’s up to the readers to give the final verdict.

Now I’m trying to finish my third book so I can publish the trilogy all at once. I can’t publish only the first two because the second book throws such a tragic ending and cliff-hanger in the reader’s lap. It’s The Empire Strikes Back on crack.

The third book resolves the main romance arc (not the overall main story arc, which ends in my manuscript for book five, concerning vampires), and also addresses big questions in my head about love and desire.

Is it a good idea to hold love above all things? What sorts of love exist, and how can fictional characters be properly tortured by these sorts of love? Fiction writers are sadists at heart.

I shy away from too much horror. It’s a fantasy, after all. I don’t like books to be too depressing. We have real life for that. We also have old school, when things were more grim, when we had plagues, wars, and fires that destroyed entire sections of cities.

Actually, my books have a stereotypical world-ending plague, lots of fires, and the greatest war of all, the one between good and evil, so never mind.

On that topic, I’m also wanting to get back to the elven spiritual path. I want to read poetry and spend more time in the woods. I’m house sitting out near the mountains in a few weeks. I might have to take a few long walks.

The motivation to make this post was to try Tumblr’s new “EMBED” feature for HTML and Javascript. Surely this can’t possibly work on this free WordPress blog, but if it does, then the GIF files will show below. The question in this kitty’s head is: Why hasn’t anyone done a cats and dogs MMO? Would it be so much more boring than pirates and wizards? You heard it first here on Kitty Kitty.

(Ok, it looks like they give you a link if the script fails. So there you go. As if boys needed more encouragement to act like animals.)


Wayback Massively

massively.com homageMassively tweeted tonight for the last time, which is really depressing.

The best MMO news site on the internet (for me personally) is closing down due to AOL cost-cutting.

Massively has been my most-visited site for years aside from maybe CNN.

A lot of bloggers are doing eulogies, so the lazy kitty is getting off the bed to do this using the Wayback Machine.

I’ll interpret my findings like an internet archaeologist. The internet is a pile of death and bones. Let’s sift through them.

June 14, 2004

Massively in 2004 was just a gleam in AOL’s eye, as shown in the image above. AOL was a great sky god. (Click the dates to see the actual archived Massively pages.)

November 2, 2007

After three years of pregnancy, the internet goddess gave birth to Massively in the fall of 2007. Massively was reporting on a LotRO Lorebook entry for the Ents, LotRO having been launched the previous spring. The internet data for 2007 is broken and partly missing, but Tabula Rasa was apparently a popular religious cult during that ancient time of those primitive peoples.

February 12, 2009

Two years later, the young Massively is all grown up, mature and blooming with a plethora of colorful advertising. Warhammer Online was still a thing. Down at the bottom of the page, we see the proud logo of “AOL GAMES”.

February 8, 2011

In the late winter of 2011, Warhammer and City of Heroes are still alive. They will soon be doomed, but a new hope will be born. This new great MMO, at first called “Rift: Planes of Telara”, but later changed to just “Rift”, entered the open beta stage. Soon Rift would be born from the womb of Trion, an interstellar goddess of immense power and beauty, in the heat and flowery blush of spring.

The Present Day

And we all know the rest. Eventually in the year 2015, the great sky god AOL betrayed its child, Massively, and killed it. The End.

Weekly Wyrm ~ The Case Of The Missing Muppet Bait

paladin kitty rift screenshotThis week I played the stock market again more than Rift.

Imagine a 24/7 live national cable channel dedicated to favorite MMORPG. The channel features panels of expert commentators and pro players chatting endlessly about the latest patch, the best ways to make money crafting, or the newest builds for PvP or raiding.

That’s CNBC. The stock market is the game, and I’ve watched the channel 5-6 hours a day this week. Yesterday Alibaba, China’s biggest company, made a slew of negative headlines, sending its stock and that of Yahoo (Alibaba’s biggest stakeholder) plummeting.

A commentator (Dan Nathan) today called Alibaba “muppet bait”, meaning a hot new investment vehicle that lures lots of less savvy investors and “dumb money” to buy it, while the professionals are selling.

This is a rather wild accusation in this kitty’s opinion, but maybe I’m bitter because I was one of those muppets. No, not so much.

I could go on for several more paragraphs on this, but the point is that Rift’s patch 3:1 “Storm At Sea” went live yesterday, and it’s got a little bit of everything – except muppet bait.

Sure, there are a few hardly-noticeable buttons on the minion panel for shuffling cards (unlike LotRO’s more aggressive UI store-festooning). There is also the Molten Thresher mount and a few new cool items for your personal housing: bank access and a raid combat dummy.

But overall, there is just a ton of good, free stuff, including a new challenging Chronicle that mirrors the T1 raid, complete with nail-biting boss battles – but in solo/duo mode. I can’t wait to jump in and play this.

Sometimes you feel like a muppet in a Free-To-Play MMO. Sometimes you don’t, and this is one of those times. I’m taking this as a good sign for the continued health of Rift on the downside of the Nightmare Tide financial cycle. I hope Elder Scrolls going F2P doesn’t hurt Rift.

This week I haven’t played quite so much, but I’m leveling my rogue alt a little bit, and I put together a cheap outfit using auction house items and some tangerine dye, which I crafted using my savant Apothecary skills. It’s an arcane paladin look, crossed with a tabby cat. Or maybe a tiger.

I also finally got an awesome dungeon drop: a purple healing trinket! This is the trinket that shoots beams of light to your party and raid to heal them while the combat is raging. I’ve always wanted to feel this special and healy, and now I do!

So thanks Trion for a great patch and for keeping it classy. Happy gaming, whatever you’re playing!

Rift: Patch 3.1 Twitch Livestream Summary + More Writing Criticism

Just when I thought I was breaking from Rift, today I logged back in, and I’m running dungeons.

In the past, I would be taking a break from an MMO now, so this is a testament to Rift’s endgame allure.

Today I found out in the forums that mages can slot heavier armors in their wardrobes, which wasn’t true originally. I’m going for an Aribeth look (image at the left), and I can even transform my staff into a two-handed sword in Rift using a transfig bauble.

Aribeth is from Neverwinter Nights (2002), which was a good example of Bioware’s use of strong characters both to tell their story and to market their game. Aribeth is an elven paladin, which makes her beautiful, noble, and perfect – at least by any standard that accepts plate armor as elven attire (full image here).

Blizzard also understands the importance of characters, which is how they built one of the most successful and popular new games of 2014–Hearthstone.

Characters > All

Any good fiction writer will tell you. I have six Rift boxes on my living room floor right now (60-day time cards bought on fire sale from Best Buy). All of the boxes show a defiant Asha Catari on the front.

Where is Asha Catari in the game now? What characters in Rift are the beloved, heroic leaders?

There are big differences between WoW’s success and Rift’s success, and this is echoed in the use of characters. The first two sentences of the Warlords of Draenor advertising blurb are all about characters and factions:

The Iron Horde must be stopped. Garrosh Hellscream has escaped to the past and united with his father Grommash, fierce leader of Warsong clan.

There is also a goal statement (stop the Iron Horde) and a story. Rift has weaker characters and factions, so they focus on setting to market their Nightmare Tide expansion, not characters. Here are the first two sentences of the Rift expansion advertising blurb:

The currents of fate hasten through Telara, sweeping you toward the Infinity Gate – and the abyssal realm that waits beyond. From colossal glaciers to cities that curl under ceiling-seas, the Plane of Water is home to the living dreams of sleeping beings.

Setting is a solid, commendable strategy, especially for Rift’s unique appeal, but characters are more important than setting. The Nightmare Tide blurb concedes that Rift has no characters worth mentioning, and it’s a mistake.

And today, Rift announced patch 3.1, Storm At Sea. In the third paragraph, the writer employs the phrase “lays in waiting”, which is not a phrase in any civilized English. Try googling it. You can’t.

Patch 3.1: The Livestream: Chronicle And Lots Of Goodness

Yesterday afternoon, I watched the Rift official livestream. Daglar and company talked about Rift to an audience of at least 880 viewers at one point, and here are the kitty’s takeaways.

3.1 will feature a new raid, a new island, and a new Chronicle, the Rhen of Fate. The new chronicle is a two-person instance that allows non-raiders to see the current T1 raid from a story perspective, which until now has only been seen by raiders. This is a truly fabulous design by Trion, and I already have a sidekick lined up to run this one.

Daglar strongly reinforced the concept of just “gear” in the livestream, not PvE or PvP gear, even when the other Rift devs kept slipping with their verbiage.

The Rift devs want to make sure that everyone in the game has some sort of progression path going forward, and you aren’t stopped with nigh-impossibility if you can’t participate in raids. The goal is for something to always be waiting for you if you keep playing, no matter what your playstyle.

Daglar said the mentality of (raid or just go away) really needed to die even in products he’s seen in the distant past, and seems committed to this inclusive focus in Rift.

Most things in the second gear tier may soon be reduced in cost to upgrade based on player feedback. This includes crafting upgrades and the PvP gear route. So I’m personally holding off on any upgrades for now.

Daglar also commented that directly selling items in the Rift store is less profitable than lock boxes. The Trion number crunching shows lock boxes are more profitable. On the other hand, the Black Dire Riding Squirrel was a lockbox item last year, and it just showed up in the store this week. So who knows.

That’s all for this week. Happy gaming!


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