Leveling & Gearing

Lately, I have had a renewed motivation to play World of Warcraft, yet with the next expansion knocking around the corner the primary forms of content I tend to participate in are in a somewhat of a cooldown period and consequently I've ended up doing some leveling and gearing of new characters, most recently a rogue.

It's actually been kind of amazing to see how quickly it is possible to level at the moment, even barring aside all of the "cheesy" things one can do and just going for the pretty straightforward path toward max level, though to be fair we did do some trickery with party sync since we had a couple of people that were a bit behind so that enabled us to douple-dip into the bonus objectives in Warlords of Draenor that remain one of the more ridiculously quick means of leveling in that range and allowed us to basically completely skip leveling in Legion.

As for gearing, well that's a bit more interesting, since we took something of an "expansion launch" approach to the whole thing where we ended up just gearing through dungeons as opposed to the usual fare of having some guildies help us out with mythic+ keys, and while the progress has naturally consequently been quite a lot slower, it's been quite fun dragging it all out a bit and having a longer span of time where I have a reason and motivation to play a new character. It does also present more of an opportunity to get to know the class and spec in a more appropriate environment, which hopefully means that once Shadowlands launches—or more accurately, the pre-patch hits—I'll be a lot more prepared for the class changes that come with it.

Speaking of Shadowlands, one of the reasons I decided to do some leveling was rather unsurprisingly preparation for the new expansion, since I am hoping this time around will be somewhat more conducive to actually playing several characters on a reasonable enough level without too much of the grindy things that has bogged down creating several characters in the past couple of expansions, and from what I can gather from other sources, this is indeed the case.

One of the other considerations for a new character was simply the opportunity to explore playing damage dealers a bit more again, since I usually tend to mostly stick with healers and even more so mostly tend to just stick with my priest for most types of content, so getting to explore more parts of the game once again was a welcome change in these times where there doesn't really seem to be all that much to do in-game. It really also helped that rogue is a class (like hunter) that I've been interested in playing more for a long time and actually did dabble in back in Warlords of Draenor, and having the time once again to get to know the class better in anticipation of new content has been a treat, sneaking around is a lot of fun.

That reminds me, so far I've mostly been playing Outlaw since it seemed to be the most sensible spec for leveling as much of it was done in dungeons and the spec seems to have the most AoE available to it, but truly go for that sneaky feeling it does not so maybe I need to take another look at the other two specs, Subtlety in particular since it feels like that might be the spec that fits my idea of a rogue the best. To be fair, going all pirate especially after having rewatched all of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies recently has also had a rather nice feel to it, so I truly haven't minded playing the spec, especially since I've mostly been ignoring its biggest drawback: the randomness with the rolls. Trying to get better at the spec though, does mean I need to start considering those rolls more so maybe my enjoyment of it will change in the near future.

Creativity

I'm noticing a certain pattern in my desires lately—writing, playing D&D, small forays into creating some digital art, more programming—and they all end up being outlets for me to in some form be creative and well, actually create something. This realisation doesn't come as a complete surprise since these are all things I've wanted to be good at for a long time yet kind of always felt I wasn't good enough to do, a common dilemma it feels for aspiring artists, but it still feels a bit interesting and somewhat scary to potentially start thinking of myself as a "creative type"—whatever that means in the end.

It's also putting me face to face with my difficulties with, well difficulties and the failure that will inevitably rise from those and that one has to push past. I'm noticing a certain trend in myself of getting really excited about the concept of something, spending a small amount of time getting a very rough familiarity with that concept and then the surface level knowledge within an area—recent example being digital art—and after it gets difficult and I need to start actually practicing and refining my skill I kind of give up. I get the sense that anything for which I don't notice something of a natural talent for, I subconciously categorize as too difficult and give up on it without giving myself the time to actually learn the subject at hand. Maybe it's the age old thing of "everyone wants to know a foreign language/how to play an instrument/paint but nobody wants to learn how to do those things" at work, but at the same time in the realm of actual language learning I am doing somewhat well so obviously with the right conditions the capability and persistence from my part exists I just need to figure out how to channel it into other things.

In addition to this, also touching on the subject of motivation which I've discussed in other posts, I'm finding it a bit difficult at times to actually refine the concepts and ideas when it comes to things like D&D that I am already working on and are ongoing. Now I've mentioned it before that I have often felt that I was somewhat underprepared when going into our sessions and that had caused some level of anxiety for me going into those games, and though that anxiety has definitely lessened and I'm much more eager to get back to playing I still have the problem of having some very loose ideas where it is all going to go forward yet not really taking the time and doing the research necessary to actually feed those ideas until they are more solid as well as being able to present them properly.

Now in this instance there are of course a couple of caveats, namely that overpreparing can actually be somewhat harmful since in the medium in question telling the story is a group activity and if I try to prepare and solidify and predict too many things I might end up railroading the players to an unecessary degree which I don't think is fun—I want to have the opportunity to be very surprised during our sessions too—and secondly, from the presentation standpoint, I'm actually doing well and don't need the extra pressure and anxiety I'm causing myself, even if a desire to improve isn't a bad thing either.

This all also becomes painfully obvious to me with my dream to write a novel, where I got really excited about the start, the initial concept, the rough sketch, yet I haven't even managed to actually put a paragraph on (virtual) paper yet and actually started writing. I haven't even started fleshing out those concepts, coming up with the world, the story or the goals, all I have so far is the start of a story. Now, to be fair, that is the general approach I take to e.g. these blogposts, where I have some very rough idea of what I want to write about and then flesh it all out as I go along and don't look back, but I don't think this is a sensible approach for the more longer form writing that a novel would be, possibly still appropriate for a short story or the like. Though, perhaps, why actually not? Why can't I just start writing and discover the story myself as I go along, exploring the world I am creating while I am creating it? Editing is something very doable, if at a later date something doesn't fit it can be removed or adapted, and then if nothing else it served as inspiration for what was to come. Why am I expecting myself to basically write the whole story out before actually, well, writing it? I don't really need all of those tools that generally are there to make the writing process more efficient since I'm doing it really for nobody's benefit but my own, so the pace of it all doesn't matter in the least. I mean, I do hope to actually be done with it at some point, but that still a lot longer than even the slowest writing process I could conjure up would take for the task I have in mind.

So, I guess, even in this case, the thing keeping me from even getting started is the fear of not finishing it or it not being what I hope or dream it would be, either to me or others. Yet at the same time, if I keep so vehemently refusing to take those risks and actually working on things I want to see get done, none of those things will with certainty become what I want them to become, I'm not even giving my ideas the chance to flourish if I don't execute on them. Maybe writing all of this down, once more, is a step towards actually starting to realize more of my ideas?

Misc

Fun tools as a motivator

I stumbled upon a new Youtuber recently, Sara Dietschy and while watching one of her videos where she was going over one productivity tool or another she mentioned how the tool being more fun than the one she had previously used had positively affected her efficiacy in actually using that tool which ended up resonating with me quite well since I could look back at me switching over to Ghost from WordPress and notice myself actually being much more motivated to sit down and write something in the past few weeks than I have been in a long time.

Now, to be fair, this could just be coincidence and I seem to remember there being a similar effect when I originally switched over to WordPress but it's still something that makes a lot of sense to me especially as I'm rather curious about different tools and their application in the first place which is why I tend to do these experiments like testing different browsers or operating systems.

It has also gotten me thinking about how I could use this to overcome some of those motivation problems I've discussed previously especially since it feels like at the moment I actually do have several projects I'd like to get started on but during the rare times I actually sit down to work on them my interest in actually progressing fades really quickly at the slightest hurdle. I mean, looking at the kinds of problems I'm facing this kind of "hack" feels unlikely to actually have any long lasting effects but the mere act of actually getting started on and finishing several projects might be what ends up leading to the kind of self-improvement that will result in more lasting change so it feels like a worthwile avenue to at least explore a little bit—especially, as noted, in the light of the small success I've had with it in the moment in the realm of blogging.

The problem, then becomes, actually figuring out what my pain points when starting these different projects are and how I would go about solving those or making the tools I use to create these project more fun to use, yet looking at some of the problems I'm facing the tools really aren't a problem since I do already enjoy using them to a degree, it's more the challenges I'm facing or the projects I'm embarking on that are focused on bringing perhaps a more long term sort of gratification which I'm unused to working with.

A good example of this, is I have a website for watching movies together with friends that I've built and I want to do something of a refactoring in the code and add a few features—namely short clips as previews of the movie as well as customizing the video player a bit from the standard controls provided by browsers. Yet when I got started on doing this today and yesterday I could barely get started with the whole thing before I ended up frustrated I suppose at the seeming lack of progress along with the list of tasks still ahead of me even though I had a pretty clear vision of what to do. Maybe exactly that is the problem, that once I have the vision of what to do and how to do it, the project stops being exciting and just becomes a matter of actually implementing what I've already thought out and that just feels boring and not something I want to engage with, yet I know from experience that things are rarely as straightforward as they seem and there is almost always something lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce and actually present and interesting challenge to solve.

But maybe that's the other problem, I just want the thing to work and not actually have to do the work of getting there, especially if there are hidden roadblocks on the way, and maybe the solution to both of these problems is learning to internalize and remember the joy I have felt previously when finally solving those problems so that they go from being demotivators to being motivators in the long run.

What I am also noticing, writing all of this and thinking back at it, is another factor and that is time, namely the times that I have actually set aside a block of time in order to accomplish something are the times where I have been more successful in getting those things done as opposed to the times where I somewhat spontaneously get motivated to start doing something. So it might be that all I need is to actually unplug a bit so I don't have the fear of distraction running in the back of my mind and set aside times where I decide that this is the time I try to solve this problem.

Misc

Ghost

I spent a bunch of time getting WordPress into a state where I could run it headless and then just a short while after I decide to switch over to Ghost anyway because it just ended up feeling like the slicker solution I guess. There were some things that annoyed me with the WordPress setup to be fair, chief among them the fact that all the images hosted there were getting copied over on each deploy which felt very wasteful even if it wasn't time I spent actively waiting for the task to complete since it was done automatically in the background and Ghost seemed to have the more straightforward integrations to get the images hosted on some other platform so that they didn't need to be part of the deploy process.

Beyond that, the writing process is largely similar, if perhaps a bit cleaner of a default editing view in Ghost than WordPress though that is easily enough configurable for it to not really be that big of a difference. The separation of the admin/publishing side and the published website itself is also more clear in Ghost, which means setting up the whole thing for headless operation was considerably smoother than it was with WordPress which somehow makes me trust the whole thing a bit more even if I personally didn't run into any problems with WordPress or the setup really. To be fair, I am now slightly less reliant on any sort of plugins which is a boon in itself, since while they are one of the greatest strengths of WordPress they are also the source of many of its problems which makes me a tad more confident that the current setup will be easier to maintain than the previous one if only marginally.

This change of backend however, has also had me thinking about potentially changing the frontend as well, since one of the primary reasons I went with Eleventy originally was the fact that I could copy over the images from the backend during the deploy but as that is no longer necessary with them hosted off-site I might end up using one of the other static site generators I looked into but discarded due to them lacking this functionality. I'm especially curious about this since during my experimentation Gridsome and to a lesser degree Nuxt really caught my eye since I have had some previous experience building sites with Vue and being able to bring that familiarity in to this as well would be a nice bonus, along with their rendering fanciness really contributing to making the site actually feel a bit snappier which to me is one of the main points of using a headless instead of traditional CMS in the first place.

That project is still ongoing however, so I'll have to update the state of it at a later date if I actually do end up switching, since to be fair for the most part Eleventy is doing its job in a nice and quick manner and there is no real need to switch—though I am ever the tinkerer, never quite satisified with every detail and always curious to test new things so that probably ends up being the primary reason I decide to test something different in the future.

CMS

Motivation

I'm recently noticing that now that I am no longer spending my days playing RPGs since I finished Pillars of Eternity and stopped playing Pathfinder, my general mood is somewhat more down that it was in the weeks prior. It feels like it's related to my, shall we say, revelation at the end of playing those games, namely that I am still somewhat in the search of purpose to my life and now that I'm done with playing those games those feelings of aimlessness are surfacing again.

All of this then unfortunately affects other things poorly, things that I want to get done but may not necessarily feel are core to myself. Examples of this being, my recent difficulties preparing "properly" for our D&D sessions, and while that all ended up going well I still constantly have the feeling that I should be doing more. It is to be fair probably only extra pressure that I am putting on myself completely unecessarily, but it is still something that I end up thinking about.

Another thing it affects at the moment is initiating or accepting invitations to participate in activites that I do enjoy, at the moment the example being mythic+ where I at the moment would have the opportunity to participate somewhat more often but find myself having to convice myself to accept the invitation even though I know that I enjoy the activity which is a somewhat frustrating feeling. I also ended up not participating in the raid tests on 6th and 7th, though to be fair on the 6th it was more down to the servers not being available at the start but on the 7th I just needed a break from people and consequently ended up participating in neither the raidtest nor the achievement run that were planned for the day.

In the middle of all of this, I'm also considering starting my own personal NaNoWriMo, since I'm not sure I want to wait that long nor am I sure that I actually want to do it quite as intensely as the real deal, so more of a personal writing sprint or goal than actually anything to do with that event but anyway. Yet two things are somewhat hindering this, primarily as noted the feeling of lack of motivation to actually get started, which I think is then amplified through a fear that I won't make it, especially if I were to try and follow the goals of the actual event which then ends up demoralizing me before I even get started, which to be fair probably is a bigger part of the whole lacking motivation thing, fear of failure. Maybe it's all even intertwined, in that my fear of failure leads to being fearful of caring about things which leads to not having many things which are important to me which leads to me not having a force driving me forwards? If that all is the case, what are my next steps towards working to rectify this problem and how do I intend to solve it? That I do not yet know, but I think coming closer to identifying it is the first step in being able to actually solve it.

Misc