Friday, February 5, 2016

Life's kicking me in the head

No, I'm not dead. Nor have I abandoned EQ2.

Life has been kicking me in the head recently. There's a lot going on that's keeping me away.

My brother got engaged and is getting married this year, so there's wedding mania. He's on the opposite coast, but is having a reception on this coast. Since he's in med school and his fiancée is working (she's an RN) while finishing up her BSN, they don't have the time to do the research. That means that we're his eyes and hands setting it up. From taste testing restaurants looking for caterers to choosing a venue, we're it.

A family member's kidney disease has progressed to the point where dialysis begins next month, and a kidney transplant is in the cards. This means I'm working hard on getting back in shape so that if my kidney is a match, I can donate (and getting in shape is tough when your health is less than stellar!).

And my own health hasn't been great these past six months. I've been diagnosed with some other things that I won't get into now, which means I'm wrestling with more than just migraines these days. Plus my migraines have shifted into high gear. I won't even get into the insomnia.

To be completely honest, I can't handle the stress of being Jazabelle on top of everything else. EQ2 used to be my escape. Unfortunately, as Jazabelle, I'm often the tech support of the Homeshow community. If it has to do with housing, I probably have the answer, and people know that. It's not as bad as it used to be--I can log in and sometimes go a few hours without someone sending me a tell with a question. But I can't predict when that's going to be. Right now, I don't have the energy to answer questions, troubleshoot problems, and give housing advice.

Add in the fact that in EQ2 I run a guild, and the stress goes through the roof. Rosaphina has been doing an amazing job of keeping up on guild admin. However, every time I log in, there's at least an hour of admin to tackle. Despite the fact that Rosa is my right hand, there's always someone who'd rather talk to the guild leader rather than "just" an officer.

Stress is a huge migraine trigger for me. With everything else that's going on in my life, EQ2 is the straw that breaks this camel's back. Until now, I hadn't taken any sort of break from EQ2 for the past five or six years.

All of this is a really long-winded way of saying, "I haven't left EQ2, but I'm on hiatus until further notice." If there's an EQ2 emergency (such as someone stealing the materials from our crafting depot. Again), I'm around. Rosaphina knows how to reach me, and email always goes through. But for the day to day stuff, I've taken a step back.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Real Life AFK finally over!

  So my real life AFK took longer than expected. First, I went on vacation. Then I went on vacation again, this time to see my brother across the country. Then I came home and spent some time with the Beau. And then I went down with a migraine.

  Two months after I went AFK, I'm finally back!

  There are a lot of things I have coming up in the near future:

  • Checking up and confirming with the few people who didn't let me know they'd gotten their prizes to find out whether they did or if there was a miscommunication.
  • Catching up on guild admin.
  • Doing the limited time in-game event.
  • City fest!
  • Running guild events.
  • Catching up on an Everfrost commission.
  • Catching up on a Qeynosian Riverfront Property purchase.
  • Catching up on a tower commission.
  • Finishing up the NotD maze (Cogworts Laboratories) for this year.
  • Opening up the NotD maze (Cogworts Laboratories) to participants.
  You may notice that I'm not including video tutorials of the layout editor on my list. This is because JesDyr is working on a new version of the layout editor, and I can't justify spending the time it would take on new tutorials when I'll just have to redo them in the near future.

  However, you can still request tutorials for me to do once the new editor comes out. So if you have tutorial requests, feel free to post here.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

I am AFK 7/31 - 8/10

  Jazabelle will be away from the keyboard from July 31st to August 10th.

  While I will have some internet access, it won't be regular, and most of will probably be through my phone.

  If you need to reach me, ping me on Facebook (not a good way, I check it maybe once every few days when not at the computer), send me an email (jazabelle dot wraeth at gmail dot com), prod me via Hangouts (same info as email), or wait until I get back. Please try to keep the prodding to true emergencies. While I'm happy to chat, I will have some real life *gasp* stuff to attend to, so chatting will not be easy.

  Happy decorating!


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Trials and Tribulations

I've been sitting on this post for a while, letting it percolate in the back of my head. It started off as a general essay regarding disabilities and gaming. In the interest of transparency, I scrapped all that. Instead, this is a post about the player of Jazabelle, what drives her, and what stops her.

This post really defines "oversharing," so if you don't care to read in depth about me, my physical challenges, and what drives me to do what I do for the Everquest II and Homeshow communities, skip this post.

If you are curious about all that, you can visit the link to my interview for Gamer of the Month in November 2012 (the original interview disappeared when Daybreak took down the Station Blog). Some of the information is out of date, since it's from 2012. But the bulk of the important information is still relevant, including my drive for doing the things I do in EQ2.

If you don't want to read the interview, that's fine. I'll be repeating a lot of the things I said.

So, hi.

This is the person behind the keyboard.

I am the player of Jazabelle, a character on the Antonia Bayle server. I run the guild Homes and Tomes, and have been playing Everquest II since late 2005.

I am sometimes absent from Everquest II for days, weeks, or months at a time. This is because I suffer from chronic debilitating intractable migraines. Breaking it down into layman's terms, chronic means that I suffer more than fifteen headaches a month over at least a three month period. In my case, I am a "chronic daily headache" (transformed migraine) sufferer--every single day, I have a migraine of some intensity or other. Debilitating means of course that I suffer migraines that are strong enough in strength to cause me to be bedridden at times. At least ten times a month, I am forced to spend at least a few hours in bed due to the migraines. And intractable means that no medication so far has been able to control the pain (aside from seriously heavy duty painkillers, but who wants to live their life in an addicted haze of extra strength percocet?).

My migraines are triggered by more things than I like to think about. Weather? Check. Stress? Check. Food? Check. Hormones? Check. Scents? Check. Lights? Check. Sounds? Check. Heat? Got that covered. Exercise? You betcha! If it can possibly trigger a migraine, it does. And for extra fun, I have a ton of allergies. But instead of expressing themselves with hives, a runny nose, or itchy eyes, I.... get a migraine (and my joints hurt. That's known as "allergic arthritis"). So really, I have a migraine of some level or another all the time.

Interested in seeing what that looks like? Here's a Facebook post from April 2014, with a copy of the pain diary I keep. And if you're curious, yes, April 2015 was even worse than April 2014 (which was worse than April 2013).

As you may suspect, this means that I am in the not-so-enviable position of being unable to maintain a traditional 9-to-5 job. What this also means is that I am constantly looking for ways to focus my attention outside of my own body, to ignore the pain for a little while. For the most part, that is Everquest II. Sometimes the pain is bad enough that I can't sit up or concentrate, and I wind up not logging into Everquest II for several days, until it dies down enough to manage. Other times, even though the pain isn't that bad, the nausea and vertigo are so bad, I can't remain vertical.

To make things worse, I have other health problems. Recently, I was diagnosed with a cervical spine degeneration, a herniated cervical disc, and spinal canal (cervical) stenosis. The C7 nerve root in my neck pinched twice in under three months, with pain so bad, extra strength percocet barely took me from wanting to kill myself to "only" wanting to cut my neck, shoulder, and arm off. That was when the doctor ordered a ton of tests. I'm now up to seven times in eight months that the pinched nerve has acted up, and during the (on average) two weeks when the pain is really really bad, I can't sit at a computer for more than a few minutes at a time. Nearly half my life since the diagnosis has been lost to the pinched nerve.

These are the results from the MRI I had done in March. Based on that, and the needle EMG study my doctor did, he believes I'll need surgery in the next few years. I'm hoping I can make do with cervical epidurals. For the curious: neural foraminal narrowing.

Add in a host of other health issues, and my attendance in game can get sticky.

(Yes, I'm undergoing treatment for all of my health issues. No, so far the treatments aren't helping for most of them. If you have suggestions, I'm all ears, but don't assume your "magic bullet" treatment will help me, and don't tell me I "only" need to do XYZ in order to fix all my problems. So far, every single magic bullet medication, process, or procedure has failed. I'm willing to try almost anything, and will usually proceed with a treatment for several months at a time to get an accurate idea if it's working or not. Most of the time, the answer is "no.")

Ongoing health concerns. Yes, there are a lot of them. Yes, some of them have been blocked out. No, they aren't your business. Actually, none of them are, but since I'm writing this post...

When I do make it in to Everquest II, I do my best to have fun. I focus on helping people. I answer questions in Homeshow, I offer suggestions for items, I tour homes and give opinions. Making others happy makes me happy. Helping others helps me to forget for a little while what I'm dealing with.

I also run contests. Every few months, I try to run a different contest, while doing my best to make sure they don't overlap Norrathian holidays.

Of course, spotty attendance means that sometimes things don't go quite as I expect them. Granting prizes this last time around especially, has been difficult. Some days I dragged myself out of bed (with a migraine of pain level 10 out of 10) to grant gifts, then stumbled back to bed. Sometimes, I can't even manage that much.

The previous contest was the first time I'd decided to grant prizes to everyone who participated. I wasn't prepared for the number of people who entered, nor for the fact that every person who chose a prize tended to choose multiple items so as to use their full allotment of DBC.

Add in the fact that cross-server prize gifting wasn't working, which meant I had to create a character on each server in order to send the prizes. Gifting two prizes a day can take anywhere from half an hour to an hour of my time, depending on load times, the marketplace (sometimes I have to relog a few times to get it to work), and other factors.

Had I been able to log in every day to grant prizes, sending the two prizes per day without fail, it still would have taken me over three weeks to grant prizes.

The good news is that I've learned from my Retreats of the Rulers gaffe. For the Sacred Spaces contest, I'm making sure that I'm not one of the prize givers (besides which, I'll have used up all of my DBC--9500 worth of it--on the Retreats of the Rulers contest). I'm making sure that contestants are limited to one prize each, so that there are fewer prizes to give out. And I made sure not to set a date for when I expected to have the prizes granted (when I set the date for the Retreats of the Rulers prize granting, I'd completely forgotten that there was a 2 gifted items per day limit). People will get their prizes, but I'm not about to tell them, "You will receive your prize by X date!" Finally, people's participation prizes will be given to them as soon as they complete their Sacred Space. Hopefully that means that by the time the judging is complete, only the three winners will need to have their prizes given.

But I've drifted off topic.

I don't run contests for me. To be honest, I seriously dislike the stress of contests. (I love the spreadsheets, though.) It isn't fun for me. I don't get anything out of contest or events, except the happiness of knowing that other people enjoyed the contest. In fact, I give way more than I get. I give time, I give energy, I give my precious few upright hours, and I give DBC or other prizes.

Some people might say that I "get" fame out of it. To them, I point out that even before I began running contests, I was known in the Homeshow channel for being able to explain the layout editor to people, and for the houses I built. Besides, "fame" in a game isn't really worth the paper it's printed on (get it? It's not printed on paper! Hah hah hah!). It doesn't get you anything. Yes, people send you tells. A lot of the time, they're nice tells. I love receiving nice tells, and I've met plenty of my good friends that way.

The rest of the time it's, "Come do this for me!" Or, "Hey, you're good at decorating. I have this empty house that you can decorate. I won't even charge you for it, because I know how much you love decorating. I'm doing you a favor by giving you a space to decorate!" (Yes, I really do get tells like that. Yes, I'm still polite to these people, because they obviously don't know or understand how much work decorating is.)

The fact that a few developers know who I am means absolutely nothing. They don't treat me any differently than other players. In fact, the only difference between me and other players is that they might share a post of one of my contests without me having to ask them to. Might.

To be honest though, I'm an asocial (Asocial, guys. Asocial, not antisocial. There's a difference. Look it up) introvert, who prefers her own company. If I could be a hermit with an infinite library of books, I'd probably wander off, book in hand, and never look back.

So why then do I talk in Homeshow, am I relentlessly cheerful there, and why do I do things that bring me into the limelight if I hate it so much?

It's simple.

I might prefer to keep to myself, but I still like making people happy. Contests and events make people happy, and there aren't enough people running them.

With that said...

What makes people happier, me keeping to myself, or me answering the questions that no one else seems to be able to answer? Me keeping to myself, or me running contests because so few other people seem willing to do so (Especially contests open to all servers, so that the quieter servers don't get left behind)? Me keeping to myself, or me being bubbly and cheerful in the channel to try and make other people smile?

I know which options I think make people happier.

What drives the player of Jazabelle to be the person she is in Everquest II?

Well, the "tl;dr" answer is:

A desire to distract herself from her pain, while making other people as happy as she can make them. If that means a little bit of extra discomfort on her part, at least she knows she made someone smile!

Rendering Lag (Homeshow reply)

Mary the Prophetess asked on the Homeshow forums:
Greetings all.
As I understand it, rendering lag is a function of the distance an object is from the zone in location. Is this true for both the horizontal and vertical axis?
Also, do the number of objects placed affect rendering or just the distance from the zone in? If I were to place, (hypothetically), 1200 floor tiles in stacks around the zone in, would it have any effect on the rendering speed, or is the rendering speed strictly a function of distance from the zone in. and not of number of items?
If building in the breakout area of a huge zone, such as the Hua Mein Retreat, what can be done to reduce rendering times?
Is player lag inside a house, (moving, etc), a function strictly of the item count. or does the distance from zone in *also* increase the lag a player may experience?
I tend to push the limits on my houses to the max, and any suggestions on ways to reduce rendering times and player lag without impacting item count are very important to me. I also worry about the stability of massive homes and crashes that visitors might experience especially if they have a relatively modest rig.
Thanks ahead of time for your suggestions and advice.

Haohmaru of Daybreak responded with:
There are 2 things that cause the noticable lag/loads people see in homes/halls. Well, there are other factors but these are the 2 biggies most of the time. 
Texture diversity which directly equates to memory usage. The more textures (and geometry but that's far less an issue) used by unique items, the more memory is needed. The more memory needed, the more loading/unloading going on and the hitching that occurs even when you don't 'see' items in front of you. You will try and load any items within your view distance even if above/below you with no direct view. Items farther away use less texture memory unless a copy of the item is also close to you. It's constantly balancing those assets which leads to performance hits.
Item density which equates to rendering performance. If you have 1000 items in your view, it has to setup all of those to be rendered each frame. If you have lights/etc, it gets costlier. Even if the item is 'cheap' (few textures or copies of a select few items all over, like tiles) it takes time to set the items up to be rendered. So even if they are memory-friendly, it can still hurt performance if the quantity in view is crazy.

Unfortunately, there's little we can do to mitigate this since it's a completely user controlled experience. We've always said that players are a homes worst enemy One of the things we often suggest though when homes start to cap out is for players to lower their texture quality while in dense homes (better yet - before entering). Obviously the trade off is aesthetics (which pains me to suggest this) but generally, every step lower in texture resolution (say from Maximum to High) should lower memory usage by almost half, possibly more, sometimes less. If that doesn't do much, then it's more an issue of items-in-view and the only suggestion at that point is to thin out dense pockets which is certainly not a popular solution. I tour homes and watch a lot of crazy tour videos. It's insane what the community continues to come up with so I'd love nothing more than to remove all caps and let everyone go even crazier with their designs, but I'm not sure a computer exists that would allow that yet
I also took a moment to chime in with the following:

As Haohmaru already addressed the actual lag portion of your question, let me take a stab at the rendering lag issue. (And if any devs want to step in and correct any misconceptions I may have about how things work, that's encouraged! Everything I'm about to type is from observation and personal experience, not insider knowledge )

"Rendering lag" is the time that it takes for items to populate on your screen after you appear in a location (as you know, just reiterating for anyone reading who doesn't understand what's being discussed). The further items are from where you are in the world, the more likely it is that you'll run into rendering lag.

Contrary to popular belief, distance from your current location and number of items are the only things that matters with rendering lag. If items are 500 units away from you or 5000 units away from you, when you teleport into the middle of those items, it will take the same amount of time to load on your screen. The more items there are, the more time it will take, but the distance doesn't matter once it's out of your rendering distance from your point of origin. 500 or 5000, if you couldn't see it when you originally zoned in, it's going to take the same amount of time to render.

Rendering lag is actually not connected solely to zone in location--if you zone into a house zone and teleport to the decorations, and encounter rendering lag, then log out and log back in to the decorated portion of the zone, you will log in instantly, with all decor already in place on your screen.

Rendering lag is due to teleporting to items that are outside your character's rendering distance. It doesn't matter if you're starting from the zone entrance and teleporting to a location 10000 units away, or if you're starting from a location 10000 units away, and teleporting to a location at the zone in. If the location you're moving to is outside of your rendering distance, and you appear there instantly, you're going to experience rendering lag. Yes, it's less once you've been to a location in a zone once, and are heading back there, but it still happens.

I've found that sometimes it's actually faster to zone into a house, teleport to the decor, then /camp back to my character (a total time of less than a minute, rather than the longer load time of sitting and waiting for everything to appear on screen).

There isn't really a way to minimize rendering lag. The only thing that will "fix" it is to build the home inside a character's rendering distance from when they zone into a house. Even that depends on player settings, however. If a player has a low rendering distance, a low level of detail bias, and a low spell effects distance, not all of your home may load even if they're standing directly inside of it. Most players' computers can handle high enough settings these days that that shouldn't be an issue, but I have seen it occur.

Mary the Prophetess said: “As I understand it, rendering lag is a function of the distance an object is from the zone in location. Is this true for both the horizontal and vertical axis?”
It doesn't matter if that distance is horizontal or vertical; your visibility is a sphere around your character, so a horizontal or a vertical distance are treated the same.
Mary the Prophetess said: “Also, do the number of objects placed affect rendering or just the distance from the zone in? If I were to place, (hypothetically), 1200 floor tiles in stacks around the zone in, would it have any effect on the rendering speed, or is the rendering speed strictly a function of distance from the zone in. and not of number of items?”
I briefly touched on this earlier. The number of objects placed do affect rendering time, and while they affect zone in time, it isn't a big deal (30 seconds as opposed to 20 seconds, for example).

If you were to place 1200 floor tiles in stacks around the zone in, a player might experience a slightly longer zone in time, but it wouldn't be truly detrimental. I have a home with 1200 floor tiles in one room, and the zone in time isn't noticeably different from a home that's a bit more spread out. Most homes' items are all within a player's rendering distance from zone in (unless it's a breakout or custom build, which I covered above).

As Haohmaru mentioned though, texture diversity is a big one. If you had 1200 floor tiles, and you split those tiles among every type of tile in the game, it would take more zoning time and cause more lag than if you used 1200 floor tiles of one type. In fact, that's one reason I built my cathedral out of as few different textures as possible--the limited number of textures means that it's easier for a lower end computer to render without lag (of the rendering and movement varieties).

Haohmaru said: “You will try and load any items within your view distance even if above/below you with no direct view. Items farther away use less texture memory unless a copy of the item is also close to you. It's constantly balancing those assets which leads to performance hits.” 
 This. This this this this this! Keep this in mind when decorating.

Mary the Prophetess said: “If building in the breakout area of a huge zone, such as the Hua Mein Retreat, what can be done to reduce rendering times?”
When building in something like the Hua Mein, the only suggestion I can offer is to build the bulk of your home within rendering distance of the entrance, and to ensure that there are plenty of points throughout the zone for players to stop and explore. If you ensure that each "exploration point" is within view distance of the next one, this will allow the following exploration point to load on a players' screen while they're occupied with the current one. It isn't a perfect fix, but it does prevent the player from noticing the rendering lag that's occurring, as they slowly move from one point to the next, and each further point renders.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Cathedral of Our Lady

Server: Antonia Bayle
Homeowner: Jazabelle
City: Freeport
Address: Secluded Sanctum
Leaderboard: Massive Homes
Name: The Cathedral of Our Lady

To begin with, yes, I built a cathedral to my character. No, I'm not that conceited. However, my character sees nothing wrong with people wanting to build a cathedral to worship her. After all, in roleplay, please remember that you are not your character! I play a vampire. That doesn't mean I'm going to run around drinking human blood. By the same token, things that my character finds normal, I find really creepy. If someone built a cathedral to me, I'd be outta there! Besides, the cathedral isn't a physical place in Norrath, according to the roleplay.

Anyway, back to the cathedral.

The view from the organ loft.

Three years ago, on March 30, 2012, I posted about the cathedral I built for Dolthaic in EQ2 on the Antonia Bayle server. It's still on the Leaderboards, under the Hall of Fame, though it's drifted a few pages back.

The build was a ton of fun (and took me over a year to complete, since I paused right after starting, to wait for building blocks to come out, though it only took me 5 days to build), but there were a lot of things I'd wished I could do differently.

For one, because of load times and the zone that Dolthaic chose, the Cathedral of Innoruuk could not be any longer than it was--any longer, and visitors would have to wait for the ground around them to load.

Second, I wasn't able to put in all of the details I'd originally envisioned, because at that point, building blocks counted towards the house item count, rather than having their own item count.

Third, this was my first ever home built with building blocks. I made it up as I went along, and hadn't learned a lot of the tricks that I've since discovered or been taught.

Finally, this was a cathedral owned by someone else. It wasn't my home, so the final opinion on things went to Dolthaic. If I liked one style, and he liked another, I went with what he preferred, since I was building to his tastes.

Fast forward three years. I have three years of experience working with building blocks. We have a whole new bunch of zones to choose from to decorate in. We have three years of new items. And for the past four years, I've been roleplaying that a cathedral is beneath Jazabelle's rose bush in her garden, and have been itching to build the zone that I see in my head every time I RP it.

"Beneath" is perhaps too simple a term to describe it. Jazabelle is a vampire. She inspires lavish devotion in her household via a combination of vampiric magic and pure coercion (yes, she's a coercer). Her household's cult-like worship of her has created a sort of mass hallucination centered around the rose bush, and the supposed cathedral beneath it.

This book at the entrance describes how you got here. think. Maybe.

The vestibule, with the stoup in the left corner. A very simple room. Be sure to read the book!
The Cathedral of Our Lady is the result of that mass hallucination. When members of her household "visit the Cathedral," this zone is what they see.

Of course, it isn't just a mass hallucination. There's a magical component. Because of the years Jazabelle has spent feeding this one particular rose bush a rather ...interesting... diet...

The book of readings on the lectern. Yes, they're all this creepy.

...the rose bush is now a semi-sentient entity that craves blood. Also, it has thorns. Did I mention it has thorns? Be careful around the vines in the cathedral...

Since building blocks and items now have a separate count, I figured that I could go crazy in my cathedral, satisfying my desire to build things the way I envisioned them the first time.

As I said before, Dolthaic's cathedral was limited by how far away from the entrance point of the zone the teleport pad could be. Because this cathedral was built directly in the zone of the Secluded Sanctum, I didn't have to worry about teleport pads and loading times. Plus teleport pads annoy me. I know they're useful sometimes, but if I can create a zone that doesn't need to use them, I'd rather do that.

So I chose a zone where I wouldn't have to have a teleport pad.

Lefthand aisle with climbing vines. The rose bush has influence even here!
The sound of the fireplaces that I used for the base of the windows in Dolthaic's cathedral always irritated me. However, I couldn't think of anything else to use at that time, and I liked how they looked. So I left them.

When I built my cathedral, I tried to use fireplaces. Unfortunately, while I'd used 12 in Dolthaic's cathedral, I wound up using 44 in mine. 12 was bad. 44 was enough to send me to a mental institute. So I switched 'em to something else.

View of the altar and high altar.
The window frames were a touch of genius on Iosabella's part. I commissioned her to do a baptistery for the cathedral after seeing the wonderful job she did on Dolthaic's baptistery. (In fact, I commissioned her even before she'd finished his, because I liked it so much!) She's been working on the baptistery while I've been working on the cathedral, trying to match my style of build.

I ran in to visit the baptistery while she was working on it, and saw that she'd created an awesome gold frame around the windows she was working on. That meant that I immediately ran back to the cathedral to add gold frames to all of my windows. It took 76 copies of Rallos' Blessing and 135 copies of Conquering the Wastes to make those lovely borders.

Closeup view of the high altar, with a strangely familiar icon.
When it came time to do the interior decor, from the high altar, to the lectern, to the pipe organ, I was stumped. In Dolthaic's cathedral, I'd used building blocks almost exclusively on all of those items, and they were nice, but not ornate enough for what I wanted with this cathedral. We'd had all sorts of new items added, and so many of them were ornate, I knew I could find something to build things out of!

Which is when I remembered the High Keep furniture. Two ornate chests, four bookcases, five chests, and an ornate chair later (plus an emerald stained glass window, a house actor of Jaz, a rose, six eucalyptus candle sticks, and six candles ringed by roses), I had a high altar to be proud of!

View from the altar, looking back at the choir and organ loft.
The first time I saw the High Keep Long Bench, I knew I wanted to use it in whatever cathedral I built. However, the cream seating didn't go with the predominantly red-and-stone look of the cathedral. So I covered the cushions with burgundy spuncloth throw cushions. Better!

The pipe organ and choir.
And the pipe organ. Oh, the pipe organ. I spent longer on the pipe organ than I did on any other piece in the zone. It took me 16 hours (2 8 hour days) to build the pipe organ. In contrast, it took me FIVE days to build the entire zone, and five days to fill in all the zone details. One sixth of my entire decorating time was spent on the pipe organ!

Dolthaic's cathedral took me five days total to do.

This one took me 12 days, spread out over a month.

Dolthaic's cathedral will always have a place in my heart, because it was the first cathedral I built (and possibly the first player built cathedral in EQ2, I'm not sure). However, this cathedral is uniquely mine in a way that his never was. My voice had the final say over every detail (well, and the first say, the second say, and every other say in between).

This wasn't my second cathedral build, though! I tried two other times to build the cathedral. The first time was just a few months after I finished Dolthaic's. The second time was mid-2013, and I tried to build the Crimson Cathedral. It didn't work out.

Here, have a Facebook album of all of the iterations of The Cathedral of Our Lady, starting on April 22nd, 2015.

And the full manifest of what it took to make the cathedral (minus the prestige housing portals):

a long stone corner counter35
a repaired piano2
Black Marble Stair5
Black Marble Tile28
Block of Fancy Fulginate152
Book of Hate1
burgundy spuncloth throw cushion184
Candle Ringed by Red Roses50
Captive Audience1
Cerulean Calm Bottle1
Chalice of the Spurned1
Chipped Freeport Celebration Cup1
Coin of Winning8
Conquering the Wastes135
Crawling Captive3
Crimson Stained Glass Square60
Dangling Skull Collection5
Decorative Vines89
Doomed Ettin Skull10
emerald stained glass oval1
erudin screen78
eucalyptus candlestick6
Golden Wash Basin1
Half Block of Adamantine10
Half Dozen Roses in a Smooth Vase49
Hedge Seeds6
Hewn Stone Counter17
High Keep Bar Stool2
High Keep Bookcase3
High Keep Chest47
High Keep Dining Chair15
High Keep End Table3
High Keep Long Bench24
High Keep Long Chandelier10
High Keep Low Bookcase4
High Keep Ornate Chair5
High Keep Ornate Chest7
High Keep Settle1
House Actor21
Large Circular High Keep Rug1
Long High Keep Runner2
Magic Door to the Guild Hall1
Narrow Divider of Fancy Fulginate246
Navigated Travels1
Ornate Shadowed Stone Bookcase170
Pile of Coin Square8
Plain Gorowyn Door2
plain sumac tile8
Qeynos Sign1
Quel'ule Notebook3
Rack of Love Potions25
Railing of Sumac1
Rallos' Blessing76
Red Roses Blooming with Love18
Sacrificial Dagger of Fear1
Seeping Shadow1
Shackled Elf Skeleton1
Shackled Human Skeleton2
Shards of the Scorned1
Short Column of Adamantine91
Simple Antonican-Style Guild Tapestry2
Single Red Rose10
Single Red Rose37
Square Cage1
Stair of Fancy Fulginate3
Stair of Redwood3
Stair of Sumac4
Stony Lichen Square3
Strewn Scarlet Petals12
Tall Column of Adamantine390
Tall Divider of Fancy Fulginate166
Trophy: Fang of Ichor1
Wicker Demijohn1
Woven Reed Bowl2
Zlandicar's Heart1

This cathedral has been a labor of love, and something I couldn't have finished without the help of my guild mates. Thank you to everyone who stopped by to help me error check, to give me ideas when I was stuck, and to the Creepy Crew who hung around for several hours, watching me decorate (you know who you are!). Also, to Iosabella for scaring the hell out of me by logging in on top of me more than once, and for those gorgeous, gorgeous window frames. And Blazewolf, thank you for pushing me to add those final finishing touches to the choir risers. I like them 1000x better now.

Danyella of Freeport was the first person I ever saw to use the High Keep chairs as door frames. Thank you for letting me use that lovely idea. It's perfect!

Of course, this entire cathedral wouldn't exist if Dolthaic hadn't commissioned me to make the first one back in 2011. Thanks, Dolthaic!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Decorating and Streaming

I've had people in the past ask me if they could watch me decorate.

It seems like a strange request to me (honestly, there isn't much to see other than me running around like a madperson while items appear and disappear in front of you), but I've always said, "Sure!"

Last night, I decided I'd try streaming what I was doing. That way, people could not only see what was going on in the game, but also what's going on on my end with the layout editor.

This morning, in a fit of perfectionism, I went at it again to see if I could make it better.

I'm still not sure how interesting this is to people, but when I asked in Homeshow if people would be interested in watching, a few people said yes. And I'm all about pleasing other people.

It doesn't take me much extra effort to stream while I decorate--just boot it up and then go at it. However, the first two videos I've done don't have any voice explanations of what I'm doing (or explanations, period). I'm working up to that. I hate my voice, and I tend to remain totally silent while gaming, so talking while decorating in order to explain my thought processes and what I'm doing will take getting used to.

Anyway, have the first two videos:

Attempt #2 at streaming. Thank you Troy for helping me figure out how to make the transition between the layout editor and the game seamless and automatic (and for giving me the idea to frame the editor so that it looks fancy!).