Happy Australia Day 2015!

To celebrate having survived the first of several days around 38°C (that’s just over 100 for those still stuck with Farenheit), I want to wish all Aussies and non-Aussies alike a Happy Australia Day :-)

For a bit of fun, here are two very contrasting funny bits. The first is about how cold it gets in Norway, the second about how hot it gets in Australia.

Norwegian weather

+15°C / 59°F
This is as warm as it gets in Norway, so we’ll start here. People in Spain wear winter-coats and gloves. The Norwegians are out in the sun, getting a tan.

+10°C / 50°F
The French are trying in vain to start their central heating. The Norwegians plant flowers in their gardens.

+5°C / 41°F
Italian cars won’t start. The Norwegians are cruising in cabriolets.

0°C / 32°F
Distilled water freezes. The water in Oslo Fjord gets a little thicker.

-5°C / 23°F
People in California almost freeze to death. The Norwegians have their final barbecue before winter.

-10°C / 14°F
The Brits start the heat in their houses. The Norwegians start using long sleeves.

-20°C / -4°F
The Aussies flee from Mallorca. The Norwegians end their Midsummer celebrations. Autumn is here.

-30°C / -22°F
People in Greece die from the cold and disappear from the face of the earth. The Norwegians start drying their laundry indoors.

-40°C / -40°F
Paris start cracking in the cold. The Norwegians stand in line at the hotdog stands.

-50°C / -58°F
Polar bears start evacuating the North Pole. The Norwegian army postpones their winter survival training awaiting real winter weather.

-70°C / -94°F
The false Santa moves south. The Norwegian army goes out on winter survival training.

-183°C / -297.4°F
Microbes in food don’t survive. The Norwegian cows complain that the farmers’ hands are cold.

-273°C / -459.4°F
ALL atom-based movement halts. The Norwegians start saying “Faen, it’s cold outside today.”

-300°C / -508°F
Hell freezes over, Norway wins the Eurovision Song Contest.

Australian summer

You know it’s hot in Australia when:

1) The best parking spot is determined by shade, not distance.
2) Hot water comes out of both taps.
3) You learn that a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron.
4) The temperature drops below 32 degrees C and you feel chilly.
5) You know that in January and February it only takes two fingers to steer a car.
6) You discover you can get sunburnt through your windscreen.
7) You develop a fear of metal door handles.
8) You break into a sweat the instant you step outside at 7am.
9) Your biggest bicycle accident fear is: “What if I get knocked out and end up lying on the road, getting cooked?”
10) You realise that asphalt has a liquid state.
11) Farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to prevent them from laying hard boiled eggs.
12) The trees are whistling for dogs.
13) While walking back barefoot to your car from any event, you do a tightrope act on the white lines in the car park.
14) You catch a cold from having the aircon on full blast all night long.
15) You realise that Westfield Shopping Centres aren’t just Shopping Centres – they are temples where we worship Air Conditioning.
16) Sticking your head in the freezer and taking deep breaths is considered normal.
17) A cup full of ice is considered a great snack.
18) A black-out is life threatening because your aircon and your fans no longer work.
19) No one cares if you walk around with no shoes on.
20) You keep everything in the fridge, including potatoes, bread and clothing.
21) People have enough left over beer cans to make a boat and compete in a regatta.
22) The effort of towelling yourself off after a shower means you need another shower right away.
23) You will wait patiently until the day it starts raining to go on a run.
24) You worry your ceiling fan is spinning so fast it will fly off and kill you.
25) You laugh because this list is so accurate.

Skyworks on Australia Day in Perth, Western Australia

Perth Skyworks: half an hour of awesome fireworks, synchronised to music broadcast on radio. #LoveThisCity

Happy Australia Day, and loads of fun to all those heading down to the Perth foreshore or to King’s Park for tonight’s Skyworks (the biggest in Australia!).

Can’t… blog… in… zone

Ok, quick break from writing, just long enough to say…

… Sorry, the main part of my mind is somewhere completely different right now.

… I’m making good progress with my last couple of chapters.

… Thanks heaps, Thomas, I’ll get around to that blog post when I have a chance (that is, when it doesn’t mean breaking out of the Zone), and will reply to that email. Just… not right now. (You’ll notice lots of 3-dot ellipses, though!)

… Another great picture my wife took that sort of fits the topic:

In The Zone

My attention is probably somewhere completely different right now…

… No, it’s not the Twilight Zone. (But thanks for your concern.)

… Your blog visit is very important to us. The next available Amos will be with your comment… er, later. Probably. Gotta go!

Fearing agents’/editors’ pet peeves

I just came across Thomas Weaver’s great post on Thinking to myself – or not that raised an interesting point about sometimes having circumstances where you need to dare to break some of the “rules” that seem to be so important to literary agents and editors.

Reading the beginning of the post, where Thomas explains the redundancy of adding “to oneself” after “thought”, at first I thought to m— I mean, I just, er, thought, “Heh, silly noob mistakes.” (Then I ran off and searched my manuscript for occurrences of “to herself”, “to himself”, and “to myself”.)

But seriously in all seriousness(*), I find it scary that agents/editors seem to have all these semi-undocumented pet peeves and the poor sods who submit their hard work and may commit one or two of them (which may soon be me!), despite the fact that these faux pas are easily corrected easy to correct, may never hear back from them nor ever find out what they did wrong.

(*) See what I did there? I avoided triggering someone’s pet peeve against adverbs (against which I’ve ranted previously) by using an adverbial phrase. Same thing, really (except it’s less succinct), but strangely enough, the same people that really mind adverbs don’t seem to mind adverbial phrases. Hypocritical of them, I know, I know… but they seem to “make” the rules.

I hope that there are more “reasonable” agents and editors out there than I realise (despite the fact that I understand how they came to be that way; I’m sure some of the things they have to read are just… shockingly bad). Because I’ll be running that gauntlet soon(ish). #amwriting

Wise Old Tree

Even this Wise Old Tree doesn’t know all the pet peeves that need to be avoided. (Oh, fine, I admit it – the tree doesn’t really have anything to do with this post’s topic. I just wanted to sneak another one of my wife’s great photos into my blog. Sue me.)

Does anyone have (or know of) a list of these types of pet peeves, or unwritten rules, for authors to avoid? And please don’t point me to the Turkey City Lexicon – in my opinion, that’s just common sense mixed with “never do this!” overreactions to serial-pattern-abusers.

New year, new theme

I believe…!

(*clears throat and climbs up on his soapbox, manifesto in one hand, microphone in the other*)

I believe...

… that there are a few things I need to say at the start of the new year, 2015.

General

  • … that people who wonder about the meaning of life either don’t have kids or don’t pay enough attention to them.
  • … that love, humour and hope are the three main ingredients for happiness.
  • … in happy endings in real life. (In stories, they sometimes make me cringe, though. Even if I did silently hope for them.)
  • … in the importance of people being able to talk to each other… non-electronically.
  • … that you don’t need to drink alcohol in order to have fun.
  • … that smoking should be outlawed except for people willing to wear a permanently sealed-off helmet, and that the influence of tobacco lobbyists and the like are despicable. We all know what it does… why is it still around?
  • … that America and the UK need to stop hanging on to their confusing versions of the imperial system of units and finally go metric (your medical and military people are doing it… no, not with each other, I mean they use the metric system). Also, the US need to stop insisting on formatting dates with the middle value followed by the smallest value followed by the largest value. WTF? Oh, while you’re at it, guys, fix where punctuation goes on quotes that are less than a “complete sentence”.
  • … that bullies are almost always cowards too weak to stop doing to others something similar to what’s been done to them.
  • … that the most wonderful sound in the whole wide world is that of my kids laughing uncontrollably.
  • … that I’m the luckiest guy alive because my awesome wife, best friend and soulmate gets me and loves me including all my faults.

Politics

  • … that religious extremism of any sort makes this world a darker place, and that the rest of the world should take heed of how Australia handled her first real encounter with it. #IllRideWithYou
  • … that Australia needs to get rid of its current village idiot, climate-change-denying leader to start moving in the right direction again. We’re the joke of the world, being pretty much the only country in the world that is moving away from actively doing something about global warming, and it’s a friggin’ disgrace.

Software

  • … that OSS (open-source software) is the way to go wherever there’s a choice.
  • … that DRM (digital rights management) is wrong.
  • … that I couldn’t live without some of my favourite pieces of software (sounds like a future blog topic to me!).
  • … that installing a piece of software on my PC or an app on my phone doesn’t give it the right to do things like collect data about me without my explicit agreement, to not give me a choice of when it can dial home or check for updates, or to access any information on my system it doesn’t absolutely need to function. Worst offenders being companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe, but also increasingly “do-no-evil” Google. (I love Cyanogen!)
  • … that it’s a crying shame that Smalltalk isn’t more widely used as a programming language (try Pharo and Seaside if you like to tinker, you won’t want to go back).
  • … that I am fully within my rights, when I see an email from someone that ends with “sent from my iPhone” to add to my own response, “Sent from my 64GB/3G Snapdragon 801 2.5GHz Quadcore OnePlus One with Cyanogen 11S that kicks your iPhone’s arse (and costs less than half as much)”.

Work (in IT)

  • … that programmers shouldn’t have to wear business clothes.
  • … that software architects should have the guts to recommend the right software for the job, not based on which sales reps can throw more money at decision-making board members who still believe that more expensive must mean better.
  • … that IT recruiters are right up there with lawyers and other blood suckers. The fact that they charge between 10% and 40% (or even more) on top of a developer’s rates without really knowing anything beyond buzz words is just appalling.

Blogging

  • … that I should take the time to blog a bit more. (Yeah, like that’ll happen. *sigh*)
  • … that there are too many good, honest blogs out there to read – how I wish I had more time to invest in being a good follower!
  • … that following another blog without really being interested in what it’s about, i.e. just to get them to follow you back, is akin to lying. Thanks to all those who do occasionally read my humble scribblings, and I hope to find more time to read all your blogs. (I _am_ interested in those I follow! I just roll my eyes whenever someone new follows me whose blog is about “making money by blogging” or the like.) For now, though, my aim is simply to have (not necessarily build) a platform while I focus on writing my book. Building my platform will come later, when I have more time for that sort of thing….
  • … that WordPress is great, but they should finally accept that I like the “old” stats page better and stop asking me to vote in their silly survey every time I load it.
  • … that WordPress needs to finally find a way to fix the “invalid certificate” bug that causes security errors. I keep forgetting that certain things only work in certain browsers because of it, and that it sometimes causes my “likes” of other blogs to be lost. Not cool!

Writing

  • … that I’ve had enough of distopian future stories whose premise I don’t buy, or whose premise I buy, but they then make ridiculous assumptions about human nature that I just can’t swallow (might be another future blog post).
  • … that everyone should take grammar seriously. Not just grandpa. All jokes aside, don’t let our language decay because people have to fit everything into 140 characters. Do your part, write things out, learn how it’s done right without needing a spell checker, and gently educate those who fall short. Or, like, mercilessly correct them, or… whatever.
  • … that my story is worth telling.
  • … that 2015 will be the year I finally finish my story. Watch this space. #amwriting

Conclusion

  • … that you should all have a Happy New Year! All the best for 2015 (and beyond).
  • … that it’s about time I stepped off this soap box. Ahem. Sorry for ranting, but occasionally it’s nice to get this sort of stuff off my chest. Now somebody give me a hand getting down, it’s higher than it looks. Huh? What do you mean, the microphone wasn’t on?!?

YAMCBP (Yet Another Merry Christmas Blog Post)

Just logged in and saw a few nice “Merry Christmas” blog posts, and, at the risk of being very unoriginal, thought I’d hop on the bandwagon.

So, a very quick but jolly

Merry Christmas

to everyone around the world from sunny Perth, Australia.

‘Tis the Season to be… Writing

Oh yeah… holidays! Time off from work! Time to finally write more than a few disjointed hours per week! I can’t tell you how much I’ve been looking forward to this.

Santa Writes

Image shamelessly merged from two free-to-modify images of Santa and a feather pen. No, I didn’t add the weird jester doll.

Admittedly, there’s also that little thing called Christmas to get through, but that will be so much easier this year… because all my kids are now old enough to know. We’ve kept the magic alive as long as we could; this year, all three of them will be in on the magic. Maybe that’ll take some of the excitement out of it, but I think it should still be fun. Just in a different way.

I finally found the time earlier this week to post a topic I’d been working on for a while (the GuildWars 2 bounties post; just taking, picking, cropping, uploading and inserting all those screenshots took forever), and may get around to posting on one or two other non-writing ones I’ve been meaning to do, but I do want to get back to the reason I created this blog in the first place, i.e. my own writing.

If I don’t quite finish writing the ending to my work-in-progress before I have to go back to work, I’m hoping to at least get close. Then, next year may find me writing about going through the long, boring, exciting, depressing, scary process of eventually submitting my work. Reading up on potential agencies to submit to, writing/honing my query letter, agonising over picking the sample chapters to submit, and so on. Wish me luck! :-)

But first, I have to get there, and write my ending. I’ve only got a rough outline thus far, but at least I now have a chunk of time to dedicate to it. (I hope.) Also, I have to complete my timeline (nearly done!) so that I can make sure that everything is logical and coherent. Not such an easy task in the fantasy genre and in my tropical setting, where I need to know exactly when the rainy season needs to kick in so that it all makes sense.

Oh, plus I need to get over this nasty chest cold I’ve caught… I think it’s been around a year and a half since I’ve had a real cold or the flu, so maybe I was overdue. All this coughing is exhausting, but you don’t need that much (physical) energy to sit and write.

And that’s exactly what I intend to do.

A heartfelt “thanks” to anyone who ever read my blog, I’ve learned heaps this year (not least of which was to adjust my expectations time-wise of what’s involved in blogging) and look forward to blogging more next year. And an even bigger “thank you” to my wonderful wife (she reads my blog and my scribblings) for putting up with me sitting in front of my computer for large chunks of my “spare” time and for supporting me in my crazy dream all the way!

Merry Christmas (or Happy Holiday Season or whatever you prefer…) to all writers. Oh, fine, to all non-writers as well.

How to do GW2 Guild Bounties as a small guild

And now for something completely different. One of my (previously mentioned) guilty pleasures is playing the best MMO out there, Guild Wars 2. If you don’t know what that is, I’d encourage you to find out. Unlike most other MMOs (massively multiplayer online games), it’s the kind where you pay once for the game (a modest US$40, or even less when it’s on special… you can’t really go wrong), and that’s it. No monthly fees, no need to buy things with real money to get ahead beyond a certain point. (Yes, you can buy stuff with real money if you want, but it’s mostly for cosmetic or convenience items, nothing that’ll give you an advantage in-game over other players.)

There's much to love in the game of Guild Wars 2.

There’s much to love in the game of Guild Wars 2, from the beautiful artwork to the cooperative gameplay, from the scaling system and dynamic events to the constantly evolving “Living Story”.

One of the best ways to build up your guild is to learn to do Guild Bounties, both the Training variety and the real thing. Successfully completing a Guild Bounty Training event earns your guild a nice 3,000 reputation, while doing a regular Guild Bounty will earn participating guild members two Guild Commendations, two rare or better items, and 50 silver for defeating a single bounty NPC (non-player character), and on top of that will earn the guild some Guild Merits for capturing all bounty targets (two for the easiest tier; there are harder ones but I won’t cover those here).

So what’s a Guild Bounty about?

Funny you should ask. There are certain unsavoury characters in the game for whose capture the authorities offer the rewards mentioned above. They are typically hard to track down, and once found, take a while to defeat (i.e. capture), often with their own particular mechanics to figure out. Bounties are meant to challenge guilds to work together to overcome such adversaries within a limited amount of time. You can do bounties with large guilds of over 50 players, but many people aren’t aware that it’s not all that hard to do with only 3-4 active people in your guild, if you know what you’re doing.

Your guild doesn't have to be big to take down bounty targets, such as Big Mayana here.

Your guild doesn’t have to be big to take down bounty targets, such as Big Mayana here.

Let’s take a look at the steps required to start doing Bounty Training events so your guild can build up the reputation to build bigger and better things. You can use bounties to start earning guild merits, but no merits are required to unlock them, only guild “reputation” (a.k.a. “influence”, or just “rep”).

The essentials to get started

Well, a guild, for starters. Look up “Guild Registrar” on the wiki to find out how to create one of your own. Once you have one, you need to research “Art of War” to level 5, which will take quite a bit of time and effort to unlock:

  • Level 1 requires 500 rep and takes 16h to build.
  • Level 2 requires 1,000 rep and takes 32h to build.
  • Level 3 requires 5,000 rep and takes 3 days to build.
  • Level 4 requires 10,000 rep and takes 4 days to build.
  • Level 5 requires 20,000 rep and takes 1 week to build.
You can have up to 10 of these built, if you have some spare rep, pop them on the build queue.

You can have up to 10 of these built, so if you have some spare rep, pop them on the build queue.

All up, that’s 36,500 rep and a total build time of 16 days – probably more, since you won’t be able to queue the next level until you’ve built the one before.

Once you have access to bounties, build training ones for 300 rep, or real ones for 200. Both have a build time of 72 hours.

The other thing you need is to find a little time when at least 3 guild members are ready to go bounty hunting.

Some nice-to-haves to succeed

  • Ideally, you’ll want characters with 100% map completion, or at least a few waypoints in each of the bounty areas (also see table below). Some bounties are in high-level zones, so you’ll want level 80 characters for the most part. You don’t all need to have ascended equipment, but you probably don’t want to be running around in “green” armour, either. I’d recommend exotic, or at least rare, equipment.
  • Have some nourishment ready to boost your stats a little… every bit helps. Personally, I prefer something like Mango Pies (cheap to buy or make) to help keep you alive longer – you should expect to die… lots, especially as you’re still figuring out each target’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Open Dulfy’s bounty guide and be somewhat familiar with each of the bounty targets (at least glance over their descriptions to know what to expect, you don’t have long to figure out the mechanics once you track them down).
  • If your guild is doing this for the first time, it will be very difficult unless you’re able to communicate efficiently. If you’re not physically in the same location, try to find some sort of VoiP software you can use (each member will need a headset), be that TeamSpeak, Mumble, Google Hangouts, ooVoo, C3… or whatever you prefer. Yes, there’s one obvious client I’m not mentioning. For a reason.
  • I’d recommend having everyone start in Lion’s Arch, firstly because it’s relatively central and you may have to travel quite far, and secondly because you can make sure no guild members are busy fighting things. You probably already know that you can get there quite quickly (and without paying for waypoints) by stepping into the PvP Lobby from anywhere and heading through the Asuran gate almost directly ahead.

Relative difficulty of each bounty

Found Half-Baked Komali!

Some targets are easier to find than others

Not all bounties were created equal, at least not when you’re considering it from the perspective of a small guild still learning how to do them. If you’re a big guild, or have few members but they’re all familiar with doing bounties, ignore the ratings in the following table – it’s meant for small, not-so-experienced guilds and is, of course, a completely subjective difficulty rating of how hard I think the target is to a) track down and b) take down, with 1 being quite simple, and 5 being quite tricky.

The links will take you directly to the corresponding section of Dulfy’s bounty guide (in a new tab); look through the zones to make sure you have at least a couple of waypoints in each (16 areas for 18 possible targets) near where the target could be. The order is the same as on the wiki and on Dulfy.

Bounty Target Area Rating Notes
2-Mult Timberline Falls 2, 5 A big golem is not that hard to spot, and the path is long but not so complicated. However, the fight mechanics make this one of the toughest targets.
Ander “Wildman” Westward Southsun Cove 4, 3 Finding this one involves a fair bit of luck, since the introduction of megaservers means that some veteran karkas (he’s inside one of them) can get killed by karka farming zergs before you get there. Once you have him, he’s not that hard to kill, unless other vets join in. Take down the talking karka first, then Ander when he pops out… can take a while.
Big Mayana Sparkfly Fen 2, 5 Go around kicking “suspicious trees” and hope she pops out… we’ve found this to happen relatively quickly. Once she appears, try surviving while pulling her towards the nearest waypoint until the rest of the team arrives. She jumps around like crazy, is hard to hit for long, and swallows people in range (skills 1-5 will have one “kick” skill, hit that as soon as you see it, avoid the other four. You’ll get spit out with low health or go straight to downed. She’s very tough for small guilds.
Bookworm Bwikki Lornar’s Pass 3, 3 A long path, but not so hard to spot. As long as you know not to attack when he has Frost Aura, it’s not that difficult. Bring plenty of condition removal, as you won’t do damage while chilled (he chills lots…)
Brekkabek Harathi Hinterlands 1, 2 One of the easiest bounties. A short path (check the southern loop first) and not too hard to take down. The only thing making this slightly more difficult is that there are spots on the path with no nearby waypoints.
Crusader Michiele Sparkfly Fen 4, 2 Her path is quite long, and with Sparkfly’s uneven terrain she can be easy to miss if you don’t know the path. She’s not that difficult to take down, though.
“Deputy” Brooke Snowden Drifts 4, 2 Also not so hard to take down, but the path is quite long and the mountainous terrain doesn’t help.
Devious Teesa Frostgorge Sound 4, 3 Her path through the caves in the south-west of Frostgorge is the trickiest bit; out in the open she’s easier to spot. We’ve always found it easiest to use ranged weapons, going toe-to-toe can be detrimental to your health. Bring condition removal and be prepared to die/waypoint as often as it takes.
Diplomat Tarban Brisban Wildlands 3, 2 Another long path, but mostly not so hard to spot. Goes down without too much effort (compared to some).
Bounty Target Area Rating Notes
Inside Big Mayana

Swallowed by Big Mayana… hit the right skill to kick your way out (in this case, 5, but it changes quickly)

Bounty Target Area Rating Notes
Half-Baked Komali Mount Maelstrom 3, 3 The path is easier than it looks, but there are some long stretches without nearby waypoints. Average difficulty for the capture.
Poobadoo Kessex Hills 1, 1 Easiest bounty, if you ask me. Very short path and not hard to capture. If you don’t like underwater combat, wait until he emerges from the water, which in both cases is near a waypoint anyway.
Prisoner 1141 Iron Marches 4, 4 The only reason I didn’t rate finding her a “5” is that she’s quite fast, and several of the possible paths combine along one stretch (left side of the map). Having one player patrol this stretch while others check the remaining paths could be beneficial. Trigger the bounty while running alongside her, she doesn’t hold still. Bring speedbuffs and skills that immobilise, cripple, chill, etc. – anything to slow her down, especially near waypoints. The fight isn’t that difficult, but you’ll be running most of the time.
Shaman Arderus Fireheart Rise 3, 4 Much of his route is in areas where he’s easy to spot, though there are some tricky bits. One or two should melee him when he’s busy scorching someone else; when he turns his nasty flamethrower on you, dodge away and use ranged weapons.
Short-Fuse Felix Diessa Plateau 3, 2 Like the rain in Spain, he stays mainly in the plains, so he’s relatively straightforward to spot despite the long path. Alternate melee and ranged combat, avoid the bombs and he’s not that tough.
Sotzz the Scallywag Gendarran Fields 3, 2 Despite apparently over 300 possible locations (check “suspicious” barrels), we’ve always found that Sotzz will be found in one of them within a reasonable time. As long as you remember to bring “push” skills to get him out of the booze field he creates, he’ll go down quite quickly.
Tricksy Trekksa Blazeridge Steppes 5, 2 Finding her is the difficult bit. Not because she “disguises” herself as a Wind Rider, Cow, Moa, or Pig (she still has that sheriff-star above her head to identify her), but because the path is very convoluted along difficult terrain. Keeping an eye on where you are on the map as well as the map of her path (even if you have a second monitor) while trying to spot her is frustratingly difficult. Once you do find her, though, she doesn’t put up too much of a fight.
Trillia Midwell Fields of Ruin 1, 2 Another one of the easier ones, the path is pretty easy to follow. The fight mechanics aren’t too tricky either.
Yanonka the Rat-Wrangler Fields of Ruin 3, 5 Check “suspicious” rats wherever you spot them (I’ve found the map of those spots to be quite inaccurate). The reason the fight is so difficult is because the little pet rats that spawn all around Yanonka are… vicious. And nasty. Using single-target attacks and no AoE attacks isn’t as easy as it may sound until you’ve tried it. Concentrate attacks exclusively on Yanonka; you do not want to accidentally hit one of her pet rats. I’m pretty sure they hold grudges even after you die and waypoint back. The terrain can be your ally if you find a spot where she can’t easily reach you with melee attacks.
Bounty Target Area Rating Notes
Suspicious Barrel

If a barrel (or rat, or tree) looks this suspicious… interact with it to check whether it might be hiding the bounty target.

What to expect, and in what order

Let’s take a bounty training as an example; the real bounties are the same thing, just with more than one target within the 15 minute time limit.

Triggering the bounty

First, when everyone is ready, a guild member with sufficient privileges (the leader or an officer, for instance) needs to kick off the bounty training by hitting the “Activate” button, located on your guild window, third tab down (the up arrow for upgrades), under “Current Upgrades”.

Some bounties built and ready to trigger.

Some bounties built and ready to trigger.

Once it’s been triggered, you should see the following notification in your chat window:

ChatBountyHuntTrainingHasBegun

When the Bounty Training is triggered (from the guild window), a 15-minute bounty timer begins.

Also, the active target (random each time) and how much time is left will show up on the last tab of the guild screen:

Komali triggered

The guild window, showing the name of the bounty target (Half-baked Komali in this case) and the amount of time left to get it done.

Note that the number of seconds will be truncated, so “14m” could be “14:59″, i.e. right after it’s triggered. (Also, note the 14k influence on the top right of the screenshot, a few moments after successful completion, that should go up.)

On your marks… Location, location, location

At this point, you’ll want to make sure the guild members all go to different spots on the target map. (One guild member should ask on map chat whether anyone has seen the target.)

Most bounty targets have a path; look at the arrows on the map image on Dulfy’s guide and go the other way. The arrows show you which way the targets typically travel; by going in the opposite direction, you’ll increase your chances of spotting them. Three of the bounties have suspicious trees/rats/barrels to search, and the one in Southsun requires you to look for Veteran Karkas and find one that’s “talking” (because the target is stuck inside). Either way, communicate to let each other know where you’re going or which area you’ve already covered.

“Found him!”

Komali, ready to trigger

Found Half-Baked Komali! Other team members are just arriving, so we’re only waiting for Komali to get closer to a waypoint before triggering the bounty.

The moment someone in the guild spots the target, let everyone know so they can stop looking and come join you. Announce it via VoiP and link the nearest waypoint in party chat or guild chat (shift-click on the waypoint in the mini-map on the bottom right or on the main map), plus any important information, such as whether the target is north of the waypoint, heading towards it, etc. Tagging up can help if you’re a commander; it’ll make the location easier for other guild members to find (especially if they’re not in the same party), plus it might attract others to help you out.

When to trigger

Don’t always trigger the bounty right away. Unless of course it’s not your choice; when someone find the right suspicious tree/rat/barrel, the bounty is triggered automatically. But if you have a choice, consider the following:

  • How much time is left on the bounty timer? If you’re under time pressure, you may not have much of a choice.
  • How far away are the other guild members? If you have the time, let them get close.
  • How far away is the nearest waypoint? The closer, the better, because, as a small guild with few people for your target to, er, target, you should expect to get downed and die a time or two.

When you’re happy about the timing and location, chat to the bounty NPC to trigger the event timer.

Teesa - Starting the Bounty

The dialogue to trigger the bounty, in this case for Devious Teesa. Note the nearby waypoint, and that we’ve already “called target” on her.

When the Bounty Target is triggered (either by talking to the target or automatically), a second, separate, 7-minute bounty event timer begins.

Beat the two timers

The two separate timers can be a source of confusion for some people.

  • You have a 15-minute window in which to complete the whole bounty (or bounty training); the countdown for this bounty timer can be seen on the guild window.
  • You have a 7-minute window in which to capture a single bounty target; the countdown for this bounty event timer can be seen on the right of your screen like any other event.

If either of these two timers runs out, the bounty hunt fails and the guild does not get its reward (though, if you’ve already captured the first of multiple targets, participants will have received their individual rewards). If you find the target of a bounty training and trigger the event within 8 minutes, you don’t have to worry about the bounty timer, just the bounty event timer. Any later than 8 minutes, and the event timer can be misleading, so make sure everyone in the guild is aware of that.

Komali, two seconds in

Two seconds after triggering the bounty event for Komali (the inset on the right side shows the event timer).

In our case with Half-Baked Komali, we took quite long to find him, so both timers were getting uncomfortably close to running out…

Komali, under 2m to go

Less than two minutes left to take down Komali! On both timers! (Kids, unless you have to, don’t try checking-the-guild-window-while-in-combat at home…)

… but we made it. Barely. :-)

Komali - Just in time

Captured Komali with 11 seconds left… phew!

A few seconds after you capture your target, the chat log will show this notification:

Chat: Bounty Hunt complete

Yay! Bounty Hunt complete.

The guild window will update to show that you have gained 3,000 influence. Time to trigger the next one! (Though there’s not much point in doing more than one full Bounty per week, as you can only get the reward once a week, you can do Bounty Training hunts over and over to build your influence.)

Teesa Bounty triggered and 3k rep more

One bounty done (3k more reputation), and we’ve already triggered the next one…

The “cage” is what you want to see

And because I missed the screenshot of when we captured Komali, here’s the one for Teesa:

Bounty success cage

This is the “cage” you want to see; it’ll show up after you’ve successfully captured a bounty target. (Don’t feel sorry for her, she’s all cute and innocent now…)

And, on the right of your screen, something like this should appear:

Bounty success notification

The notification that the event has been successful. Yeah, 82 copper… pfft. But you’re not in it for the money.

The stuff you don’t want to see

Teesa - defeated, waypointing

If you’re defeated, waypoint back quickly to keep the target in combat.

Downed against Teesa

Down, but not out. When downed, attack if you’re in range rather than healing yourself; faster death means you can waypoint back sooner.

Here are a couple of screenshots from a little earlier that you probably don’t want to see… with our guild members dead (or mostly dead), hurry and waypoint, then run back to engage the target again before they’re out of combat and go back to full health. Try to always have one party member keep the target in combat. When a party member is downed, especially if you’re close to a waypoint, don’t waste time ressing them.

Summary of tips to successfully completing a bounty

Here’s the Reader’s Digest version if you can’t remember all of the above (or were just too distracted by all the lovely screenshots):

  • As mentioned above (but I’ll say it again) make sure everyone is ready when the bounty is kicked off:
    • Each participant should already have either party chat (for 5 or fewer participants) or guild chat (for more than 5) open at this point
    • Everyone should be in LA, or in a location where they won’t suddenly be in combat
    • Remember to eat food/nutrients with at least 15 minutes remaining on the duration
    • VoiP should be active
    • Everyone should have the Dulfy bounty guide ready, ideally on a second monitor
  • When you enter the area, ask on map chat for people who might have seen the target. If they haven’t, the more helpful ones may still let you know if they spot the target later on.
  • Communicate well and spread out; go to different waypoints.
  • Run the opposite way to the target’s path.
  • Ignore all other mobs while searching.
  • Once the target has been found:
    • Link the nearest waypoint in party chat or guild chat
    • “Call target” on the bounty target
    • Tag up if you can
    • If necessary (and if time allows), wait until the target is near a waypoint before triggering
    • Use this time to change weapons/skills as necessary (condition removal, cc, etc.)
  • Keep an eye on and be aware of both the bounty timer and the bounty event timer.
  • Sometimes, attacking nearby mobs when you’re low on health can help to rally you when you’re downed.
  • Downed party members should attack while in range; don’t self-heal or ressurrect each other (unless you’re far from waypoints).
  • When you’re all-the-way-dead, waypoint and run back to where the action is as far as you can.
  • Don’t forget to repair your armour afterwards! ;-)
Teesa - started with a bang

May your guild bounties go off with a bang!

That’s all, folks

I hope some smaller guilds will find this guide useful, if you do, or if you spot any errors, have suggestions for improvements, etc., please let me know in the comments below. See you in Tyria, and enjoy Wintersday, which should start soon!

Excitement building about building excitement

The reason I’ve been slacking off with my blog-writing lately is that I haven’t been slacking off with my book-writing. It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally finished the major rewrite of the section I was, er, rewriting.

I’ve written about what had happened and what I was planning to do a while ago in The Road So Far, from finishing a manuscript to early rejections to planning to do a huge revamp of my work, and now I’m done with what I set out to do. I’ve completely transformed the story while keeping core aspects of it, constructed a “story around the story” that I think works quite well, brought in a bunch of new characters to join the reader in discovering the main storyline, woven together the pre-existing threads with new threads and the threads around them, and I think it helps to give the whole thing a sense of building up to something.

It’s taken me a fair while (I have a family, a day job, and hobbies…), and to some extent it’s been frustrating because I had to slow down from my normal “just let it happen in my head” style of writing and think more about how all the individual threads interact and make sure that the story as a whole is cohesive, that some bits don’t contradict others and that the timeline is consistent from all perspectives. I even went to the trouble of using a mind-mapping tool to plan out my timeline visually for myself, with all the little occurrences noted of where a character may say something happened “three days ago” or was planning to do something “in three days” to make sure it all matches up with what’s in my head and what everyone else says. A very different aspect to writing than what I’m used to, but it’s been an interesting exercise, and most likely one I’ll have to repeat as the series progresses beyond Book 1 (which I’m hoping it will).

Of course, as I’ve read through it all multiple times to make sure all the little details are lined up, I’ve also let my inner editor run amok and did lots of reviewing, correcting, and polishing.

I think I’d even be willing to let some people read what I’ve got so far… which is both exciting and scary.

Now that I’m done with all the “weaving”, I get to finally go back to really writing because it still needs an ending to round off the first book (much, much more material in the series is still spooking around in my head, and I’ve got over 150k words from one character’s first-person perspective already written that I can use/adapt/weave into the main story when the first book is ready to send off… hey, it’s epic fantasy). I’ve got some ideas of how it’s going to go, but the details will grow like an independent organism writhing in the back of my mind while I try to keep up with putting it down on paper screen.

At a little over 70k words, the story should need about 15-25k more to give the reader an ending that will hopefully offer some explanations, some excitement, tie up some threads while leaving others dangling to be woven into Book 2, and leave her with an aftertaste of, “Hey, that was a great story set in an interesting world. I’m looking forward to visiting again and finding out what happens there next.”

Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy!

Excitement ahead! (Image: Wikimedia Commons.)

The end is so close I can smell it! I look forward to seeing where the story will take me.

Thanks for the reviews!

There have been two very nice reviews of Nicholas C. Rossis‘ short story collection, The Power of Six (Plus One), which includes one of my short stories.

So I thought I’d point them out and thank the respective authors for their time reading and reviewing this anthology. I hear from Nicholas that his book went to #1 (so what if it’s in an “obscure subcategory”, as he puts it… details, schmetails ;-) ), so congrats to him on that achievement!

T. J. Hapney

The first one was from T. J. Hapney, who summarises and reviews each of the seven short stories, saying that “each story is designed to make you think outside of the box regarding how we perceive things, which I really enjoy and found it to be a bargain for under $1″. She concludes that “this was a fun read, especially for those who enjoy short stories”, giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

Here’s what she had to say about my contribution, Big Bang:

Big Bang by Amos M. Carpenter was an interesting story along the same line of those that Nicholas Rossis did in this collection. I really enjoyed reading Big Bang. It was definitely a different and witty way to look at how life in the universe may have begun. I found the story interesting and the writing style complemented Mr. Rossis’ so that the story did not seem out-of-place.

http://tjhapney.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/book-review-the-power-of-six-by-nicholas-c-rossis/

Thanks for the kind words, TJ!

Daniel J. Dombrowski

Daniel’s review is also very flattering, likewise summarising his thoughts on each separate short story. From someone who “grew up reading Asimov” and later “fell in love with the voluminous short fiction of Philip K. Dick”, I consider his positive words to be very encouraging.

The Power of Six […] will appeal most to readers who have already read and enjoy short fiction from the masters of days gone by. […] This is a solid collection of stories worthy of your time and money (a scant $.99) regardless of your genre inclinations.

http://thirtythirdstreet.com/2014/10/ebook-review-power-six-nicholas-rossis-nicholas_rossis/

Thank you, Daniel, for the detailed review.

Back to it

And now… for (most of) the rest of this Saturday, I’m going back to working on my book. Yay! :-)

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