Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Blaugust Promptapalooza: Posting when there's nothing to post about

This year's Blaugust is taking the form of a more relaxed drop-in style with a daily prompt, after the main annual blogging festival was brought forward to April. I haven't really been engaging in the whole thing, but today's the day that my name came out of the hat, so I guess I'd better give it the good old college try. Luckily, my prompt isn't something I feel like I'm going to struggle to talk about:

With the pandemic, we are going through an unprecedented time. In what ways has this shared global event impacted your content creation?

A quick glance over at the sidebar makes the short answer to this one painfully obvious. With a whole nine posts with April, including four Civ VI session reports, it's pretty clear that the whole pandemic situation hasn't exactly done wonders for my creative output here at the Leaflocker. But I have quiet months at the Leaflocker all the time, nine posts in months without blogging festivals isn't that far off the usual.

When I zoom out a little and start to look at other creative engagement, though, things become a little clearer. It's one thing to not actually be putting to many words to paper, but to even get to that stage, one needs to be engaging with new and interesting ideas. For me, creative input is the thing that drives creative output, and at the moment I'm just struggling to engage with anything much.

The seemingly eternal librarystack of doom
Take reading, for example. I borrowed five diverse and interesting books from my local library back in March. I have successfully read one and and half-way through another two. Let's call it two books in five months, for someone who reads a book in a day or two when in the right mood, that's a clear indication that something isn't quite right. Somehow, scrolling the old social media feeds has become a significant proportion of my reading, and that just ain't right either! Is it really a surprise that there's not a lot of inspiration for writing happening?

Or gaming. The blog is often full of thoughts I've had about new experiences, but for the last few months I've been on a steady diet of old reliables, spending all of my ludicrous amounts of gaming time on CounterStrike and Mahjong and reinstalling and murdering my way through Hitman again. I feel like I'm getting a lot better at all of these things as I play about with some of the nuances, but incremental improvements in better crosshair placement don't make for good fodder for blog posts, and it hasn't translated into making any progress in my long-planned Battle for Wesnoth campaigns, either.

I think something is very wrong at 24-across

Or crosswords. I've been enjoying doing crosswords each and every day since the beginning of the lockdown, really getting in the swing of them and noticing my solving times considerably improve (in no small part due to having the help of smarter and better-informed friends, but still), but this feels like a little bit of a rut, too, and it certainly isn't driving crossword creation, which has been completely stagnant despite the hours spent staring at blank pages.

Thankfully, I'm only employed for a casual ten hours a week at the moment, as with work just as with everything else, actually engaging on a deep enough level to make meaningful progress has been a real challenge. If I was still trying to do a full-time job I'm pretty sure I'd have had a meltdown by now.

So there you have it, this global event isn't doing a whole lot for me and I can't say I really know what to do to get out of this funk just at the moment. But for now there's a gap in the rain so I'm going to go for a walk and see if I can't find some inspiration somewhere out there.

On deck for tomorrow's prompt is Telwyn over at GamingSF, do drop on by and find out what some of those whose creativity has been less adversely affected by this whole thing have been up to.

Sunday, 16 August 2020

Long Live the Queen! Turns 291-300

There hasn't been much going on here at the Leaflocker of late, with a general dearth of creativity and lack of the ability to focus hitting pretty hard in recent months. This is the first August that we hasn't seen a bump in output around here for years, but despite three or four partial drafts and a clean new blogger interface update, I just haven't been able to get into it. Despite the good work being done by Belghast and the gang with the Promptpalooza alternative Blaugust event, here on the Leaflocker, it's just been.... crickets (and not the good kind!)

But then, on the Blaugust discord channel, I was summoned by.... Krikket.
The Thin Red Line
It's just a couple of days short of two months ago that I last checked in on the Kingdom of England (yes, we may have developed Flight but we're still holding on to the Monarchy) in the communal game of Civ VI that I've been taking part of since April, and during my period of inattention we've gone to war, liberated three cities from the Sumerians, and brokered peace all over again. The world is now back in a state of alert watchfulness, and I missed the whole thing!
Time for a call for prayer
If Krikket's trademark move is messing around in boats or boat-adjacent activities, mine is certainly spending all of my fellow leader's hand earned currency on knick-knacks, so I quickly blew our country's accumulated stockpile of Faith points on a small army of Buddhist Prophets and Missionaries to combat Brazil's wave of incoming Catholic zealots, as well as on rushing the employment of a Great General, Sir John Monash, who provides a small rank increase to a unit but more importantly provided an additional envoy in Preslav, returning the city state to the protection of the Empire.
We've got this Diplomacy thing in the pouch
While we're on the topic of City States, I also devoted a few spare envoys we had lying around to gaining control of Stockholm, giving us some sweet scientific bonuses. If there's one big difference that I notice between this difficulty an the higher ones, it's gotta be just how easy it is to dominate the game diplomatically, allowing for a kind of blanket approach that just isn't feasible on 'hard mode'. I can more or less hold my old at Civ VI these days at anything less than the top couple of difficulty modes, but trying to hold on to more than one or maybe two city states is generally beyond me.
We've been driving around...
Having apparently learnt nothing from losing the eastern half of their empire, the Sumerians have sent a Settler unit (in it's fancy campervan) out to rebuild on our borders again. I'm not very keen for that, but unfortunately modern Settlers have better movement skills, so my previous herding tricks don't seem to be working. I could capture the Settler, I suppose, but war with the already crippled Gilgamesh doesn't really seem worthwhile at this point.
Don't tempt us, Pedro
I did get a notification for the possibility of a war against a more attractive opponent, though. Our technological advantage over the Brazilians has opened up the possibility of declaring a Colonial War against Pedro, and while I'm not in a position to explore this avenue further right now, since all our units are still on the western front, taking out the Brazilians would not only gain us some excellent looking cities in the North but also prevent the never-ending flood of missionaries getting in the way of converting the world to the wonders of Buddhism.
The Walrus did beseech
All this talk of war has gotten Teddy all upset, though, and he's decided to try to exhort a little cash. Since this is a pretty small amount of money for us and because I'm generally a friendly guy, I was a little tempted, but the United States has a comically small army so they really have no way to back up their threats, even if they are currently leading the world technologically. We might end up having to gun Teddy down in order to win an eventual scientific victory, so I'm content to let him be upset with us in the hopes that he eventually declares a war that can't he's got no hopes of winning.
Burning out a fuse up here alone
With the development of Rocketry we can start building our three Spaceports in order to start constructing the Mars Colony that we need to establish in order to win ourselves a scientific victory. I start up the first in Stoke-on-Trent immediately under the careful eyes of the boffins at Oxford University, but spaceports require a truly insane amount of production for a city that's not exactly an industrial powerhouse. I also purchase a worker to try to grind a little more production out of the hexes around the city in order to speed up the process a little bit, but as it is it might be my turn again before we see the first space flight out of Stoke.
All the decent campsites have already been taken
Having failed to block that Sumerian settler, I eventually settle (heh) for camping the hexes that would have provided it a viable location. Guess you're going to have to look elsewhere if you want to grow, Gilgamesh!
Hong Kong looming out of the mist
Finishing off the Natural History civic gave us the extra envoys we needed to gain suzerainity of Yerevan, but just as I was getting ready to celebrate being overlord of the whole Earth, Yerevan's superior map knowledge revealed the previously unknown city State of Hong Kong nestled between Teddy Roosevelt and Gilgamesh. How they managed to keep it from us for so long I'm not exactly sure, but we are going to have to work a little harder if we're going to tick of that goal of being the undisputed diplomatic masters of the universe.
The site of one of the ancient battles of the fabled Galloping Arrows?
Natural History also gives us access to the Antiquity sites, one of my favourite aspects of Civ VI and a key part of every successful cultural victory that I've ever managed. Since Victoria has a bonus for Archeology making her museums insanely powerful this could be a pretty good route for us to go down, but the investment of production into museums and archeologists could be a tough ask when our resources are already committed to the Space Race.

I guess I'll find out if we picked one or the other or decided to try for both next time I get made Prime Minister. For now, it's over to the Rambling Redshirt once again.