As a momument to my indecisiveness

Behold I'm am switching Blogs yet again; Frantically improvising is now going to reside on the Wordpress servers. Believe it or not there is a good reason, I've used Wordpress before and it gives me infinitely more freedom when it comes to my layout and design which is very, very important to me. So, here's looking at you Blogger. Check out the new site here.


A life of adventure

I’ve lived most of my life with video games. My first system was the classic gateway drug of the NES which was given to me by a friend when I was 8(ish). I gleefully pounded mushrooms as Mario and did my best to exterminate the population of water foul in Duck Hunt. Thing was… I wasn’t incredibly good. I had a one hour time limit imposed by the (perceived) tyrannical standards of my parents. I never made it past the first Bowser fight in Mario without using the warp pipes and that damned dog laughed at my pitiful attempts at avian genocide. Amazingly though, I had fun. It didn’t matter that I only saw the first level of Mario because It was enough. It was a magical experience every time I picked up the controller and dove back into the mushroom kingdom.

My next system was the Super Nintendo (fondly known as the SNES). I was older and my motor skills had been honed. Donkey Kong Country was my fare of choice and is was the first game I ever actually beat. It was a long hard fight full of hardship and toil but there was no sweeter release than when I stomped King K. Rule on his warship in the final encounter. This was a new experience for me and it was amazing. I had beaten the game for the first time in my gaming career and I went back and played that game over and over again. Extracting the same amount of joy from it as the first time I played through.

If the first two systems I owned were gateway drugs then the Nintendo 64 was pure crack. The Ocarina of Time and then Majora’s Mask devoured every free moment I had. I gladly gave it, pouring my life into extracting every secret the games held. Spending hours trying to pull off some bizarre trick a friend’s friends’ friend had heard about from his second cousin that gave link the ability to fly or shoot lasers from his bow.

I suppose I should explain something at this point. This was the era before my introduction to the internet. I was young and the internet was this etherial concept. It wasn’t something normal people used (or so my social group thought). We relied on hearsay and little printouts containing cheat codes of dubious origin. So folded and creased that the extrication of the numerals from their pages required a near ritualistic ceremony of infinite care. I remember at one point obtaining one such printout that detailed in full the obtaining of the second photo album in Harvest Moon 64, “Oh my GOD! Could it be?” I spent hours driving my avatar to obscene feats of farming prowess only to find nearly fifty in-game hours later that it was all just a cruel lie. But (and here’s the point of this particular paragraph) I still had fun. True, is was crushing to find that my dreams of hidden content were just that, dreams, but the Harvest Moon incident was just another in a long line of dead end game exploits I had run across. That was all part of the experience. I was an explorer and games weren’t constrained worlds, they were realms for adventure where anything could hide untold treasures just waiting to be unlocked.

Which FINALLY brings me to the point of this rambling monologue. About a month ago I tore through the first few levels of a rental game I had picked up over the weekend. Due to circumstances I wasn’t going to be able to finish the game and I was pretty upset. Not because I wanted to see the end of the story but because I wasn’t getting the recognition on my gamertag that I had, in fact, finished the game. This got me thinking. Looking back on the last few years I realized that games just weren’t as fun as they used to be. I can’t place the particular shatterpoint in my mind but at some point the destination became infinitely more important than the journey. I pursued endgame and final achievements. The finely crafted worlds of the games flew by in this chaotic blur and looking back over the past few years I can only remember a few of the multitude of completions my gamerscore reflects. This opposed to the exquisite detail with which I recall every one of my early gaming experiences. The feeling of adventure was gone, I wasn’t exploring, I was conquering, riding across the digital landscape like some sort of Ghengis Khan. I had lost sight of the reason why I started doing this in the first place; for fun. Maybe the way in which I play video games wasn’t the most profound catalyst for this kind of realization, I’m not going to call this a radical, life-changing event but it is, if nothing else, another thing to make me stop and ponder. If this loss of focus could have happened with something as simple as the way I game, then might it have seeped into the way I operate in other areas?



Well it finally happened. In a rare few nights of... slightly reduced homework load (aka slightly increased procrastination tendencies) I hit 70 on my paladin Dristan. I hoped to feel soaring emotions of elation and pride but strangely it just feels like the time I hit 30 back in Tarren Mill.

My family was down for our annual merrymaking and after the first few hours of semi-enthusiastic catching up I was quite ready to escape into whatever secluded hole I could find. WoW was the drug of choice for the occasion. I fired up my laptop and dove into leveling Dristan (without my girlfriends character which.. lead to a can of worms we shall not discus). He was at 23(ish) and I had three days. Easy. After two days and about about a thousand yetis were slain I dinged 30. It was great; I buzzed over to Undercity and mounted up. I could move fast now! But then it hit, that feeling of emptiness at the top. I had reached my goal and now all I had to look forward to was hitting lv.58 and going to outland... great... that meant only 28 levels to go.

It wore off eventually of course and when I finally got back in the groove (around lv.40) everything was good again. I drove and fought for the XP and eventually dinged lv.58... Then it happened again. Once more I could muster very little gusto for the next long haul but I blazed through it and finally reached my current level. Pre-Wraith level cap. I can finally fly (in outland... when I have a few thousand gold to spare...) and I have some awesome new spells to take to the frozen wastes.

It still looms though. The next 10 level crawl. By lv.76 I'll be going full at it again and closing in fast on the mythical lv.80. Then comes the ultimate question... what happens when I hit cap?


Of Raids, DCs and prolific swearing.

I sit in Blackrock spire... alone... The crumpled bodies of dragon whelplings lie around me in great piles and as I look askance at the corpse of a great dragonguard I begin to wonder... Will I get back to the group before the hordes of whelplings respawn? I warily lay a sharpening stone to my sword and watch with growing worry as hundreds of dragon eggs appear before my eyes.

For the past 30 minuites I've been hurling acerbic comments in the direction of Blizzard's servers and spamming my login at the World of Warcraft welcome screen. Now that's I've finally gotten in i'm just sitting here waiting to be picked up by an eighty who will run me deeper into the raid to meet back up with my party.

This time does give me a rare opportunity to reflect on my relationship with this crack-like game. It started, like most dubious ventures, on a dark night. It was the launch of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. I was heading down across the Georgia line with my girlfriend to buy it at the only midnight launch in the area (we don't exactly live in a cultural hub). She had been a long time player of the game and I had been a long time watcher. As a gamer and an aspiring game journalist I had been interested in this worldwide phenomenon for quite a while but had never been brave enough to venture into dark waters of an MMO. I really have her to thank (or blame, your choice) for getting me into it. WoW basically became an extended date for us. I rolled a Retribution Paladin and she a Mage, a classic combo. I took the aggro, wading in with my gleaming sword in hand and the battle cry of the Sin'Dorei on my lips as she blasted our foes into tiny magical bits.

I had not fully grasped the allure and power of MMOs. This wasn't just a world where overweight nerds in their basements lived out their fantasies of being a warrior charging into battle with maul swinging... this was a world where overweight nerds in their basements lived out their fantasies of being a warrior charging into battle alongside soccer-moms who lived out their fantasy of being a badass mage tossing fireballs into the middle of a horde of teaming orcs. People liked this... experience because it was a release. People read books to escape from reality, this let them take it to a whole new level. No wonder Blizzard is hauling in the equivalent cash of a summer blockbuster every month from their 12,000,000 customers.

When I game I get into it. I become that character, I invest a part of myself in the story of that game. This worked for my purposes as I would find a game, spend every spare hour I had working towards it's completion and then step away feeling like I was coming up for air. Thankful for the experience but glad to be done. Evil had been defeated and I was free to live my life once more.

Enter WoW.

This was a game that had infinite possibilities. It had depth, it had mountains of lore hidden amongst the crannies of it's vast landscape, it challenged me to climb a mountain to the level cap of 80 from the humble beginning of my Paladin at lv1. And what did it promise me at the end? A proud "job well done" as it handed me my life back? Alas no, it offered more opportunities. Daily quests, rep grinds, and raid after raid. Then, when those got too easy and took less than five hours, I get to tackle heroic raids. The fabled status of lv80 was only the beginning... god help me. I realized that this was the only game I had ever played that I felt the need to control, to restrict. I don’t know if this is entirely at the feet of WoW or if this is the first signs of this Mat-uri’-ty thing people keep telling me about...

What I do know is that I’m finally back with my group and I have some bosses to down. We’ll kill them all and take their shit. For the Horde!


Once more... With feeling!

I always have trouble when I start a new blog (yes I've started enough of them that this has become a common question). Where do I go with it? What will the tone be? What in god's name will I write about? I've done the personal blog thing, the straight-laced tech journal which dissolved (or was elevated depending on your taste) into the sarcastic tech commentary blog and now I'm staring at a frighteningly blank page with this one. So I feel that this initial post has much weight, as if it will be the deciding factor in weather or not this becomes a blog that I continue to post on for the foreseeable future or yet another endeavor that falls to the wayside and gets lost in the deep recesses of the internet like so many others. So my plan, such as it is, with this blog is… to have no plan (genius I know). To simply write about things that catch my interest and things that I’m currently doing. I feel the need to write and this seems to be the best medium for it.

I’m a geek at my core, I was obsessed with computers and video games by the age of 11 and I would gladly go to war against anyone who dared to besmirch the name of Nintendo or it’s adjuncts. My obsession has been slowly refined over the years, reaching it’s peak about 6 months ago when I was sure that gaming journalism was my one true calling. Unfortunately that fell through after I spent a month designing my wordpress blog game-vector.com, found that I couldn’t get it listed with google and promoting it was going to be a long uphill battle. I applied to a few sites but got no responses effectively killing my initiative in that particular arena. Now here I am once more starting up in hopes of it turning out better. I think the problem is that I enjoy writing but lack the hardheaded determination to keep writing when I fail to get feedback. Pageviews are nice and all but until people actually start talking back and adding opinions it doesn’t have the dynamism that I long for in discussion. As anyone who knows me will tell you I positively revel in debate and conflict (though surprisingly could never get into the forum troll scene). Attacking my views or opinions is a sure way to spark my interest in you. A freak of nature? Maybe. But life certainly doesn’t get boring.

My resolve with this particular venture is to write something every day be it small or grandiose. Most of it will likely treat on geeky subjects. Between bizarre experiences in World of Warcraft, the tech industry with it’s many ridiculous news snippets and my first Dungeons and Dragons campaign that I’m planning to DM in the coming weeks I should have ample material.