New year, old hobbies

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Hey, this thing still works.  Crazy!

So I’ve been playing, well, far too much EQ.  Normally I would have burned out by now, to be honest – I don’t seem to be able to stick with any MMO for more than a month or two, even if it features bunnyzerkers, and EQ doesn’t have bunnyzerkers.  In fact, it pretty much still has the same really terrible models from 2001.  They’ve added some new armor looks, which only took a decade or so, but the overall game is still downright ugly.

What’s kept me interested is running into a bunch of people who are obsessed – and any MMO lends itself to obsession – in a very particular way.  Specifically, they’re obsessed with playing through the game from the beginning, beating every encounter in era-appropriate equipment, at an appropriate level for the encounter, and only advancing to the next expansion (And Everquest has had 20 expansions, don’t forget) only when they have finished an expansion.  They are very hard core about following these rules, which is exactly the sort of environment I like being part of.

I was a pretty dedicated player up until EQ’s 10th expansion, but drifted in and out of the game afterwards.  I joined this particular bunch just as they were starting the content from the 12th expansion, got to see all of that, and we’re only a couple of encounters away from finishing the 13th expansion.

So I guess that’s still one expansion’s worth of content that I’m missing, but that was a particularly awful era for the game so I won’t feel bad about it.

One great thing about this particular sort of guild is that there’s much less drama.  Normally raiding comes with feuding over loot drops and ranting about which items you “deserved” but were cheated of and herp derp derp derp.

There’s really no point to that in a progression guild, because any of the gear we get from raids is stuff that’s been obsoleted by newer expansions.  The only reason to loot anything is because you are prohibited by rules from wearing anything newer, so you are intentionally choosing to limit yourself.  It’s amazing how much more fun this makes the game.

Things are also a little lower stress because, since this is older content, there’s more details available online about the encounters.  It’s rare that you get complete writeups, and the old truism that execution trumps strategy most definitely applies, but it’s nice to hit a stumbling block on an encounter and be able to look up how other people did it six years ago while it was current content.

So that’s most of what I’ve been up to.  Playing an MMO with extensive house rules designed to make it harder for ourselves.

I’ve started being able to break away a little bit since I’m doing the office Biggest Loser competition again.  I won last year by dropping from 240 to 195, and then down again to roughly 180 by myself after the competition ended.  189 is the break-even point for a “normal” weight for my height, as an aside.

In September, I made a intentional decision to not worry about what I was eating until after the holidays, so I went back up to 195.  Not too bad – I’m not growing out of any clothes – but I’d like to get back down to 180 and the structure of the competition helps with that.

This means that I’m spending a fair bit of time on the exercise bike, which gets me away from the computer, and I’m using this as an excuse to catch up on some anime from the last couple of years.  Right now I’m watching Beyond the Barrier, charitably described as Yet Another High Schoolers Fighting Supernatural Beasties anime, and I’m finding it to be surprisingly fresh despite all the baggage you’d expect to come with a show in that genre.  There’s no “perfectly normal Japanese schoolgirl accidentally stumbles into a mysterious supernatural world” about it – all of the characters are, well, they’re entirely aware of the existence of the supernatural world and the associated beasties and having a massive chewbacca-looking thing run through the halls of your high school is Just Another Tuesday And We’d Best Get On Killing That Now So We Can Get Back To Math Class sort of event.  The majority of their classmates are blissfully unaware of the supernatural and that’s OK because we don’t really need to know much about them.

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