Blaugust – The Story So Far (Blaugust #27)

Blaugust is nearing its end, with only four days to go after today, and I’m really starting to feel it. It’s been a wonderful journey, and here are a few of the highlights and lowlights of this year’s Blaugust.

highlights

  • I met a ton of gaming and geeky bloggers that I had never met before, and now have a lot more blogs on my reading list!
  • I made much more of an effort to comment on blog entries, which made me feel more engaged with the blogging community. I’ve always felt like gaming blogging had very few people in its community compared to other blogging genres but now I see I was just looking in all the wrong places!
  • My creativity bone has well and truly been stimulated. Making an effort to blog every day has actually encouraged me to continue working on the novel I want to publish one day (hopefully sooner rather than later) and I’ve started making some major progress on it!

lowlights

  • Not specifically related to Blaugust, obviously, but I got sick at about week two and it really killed my productivity for a few days. It made blogging very difficult, let alone anything else I needed to do.
  • I think I missed a total of four days throughout Blaugust, due to illness mostly, but over the past weekend I missed a day as I often blog in the evenings, and on Saturday I streamed for longer than normal and was so tired I just went straight to bed.
  • I feel like I should have a specific topic to talk about during Blaugust, and that they should be somewhat general. For that reason, I’ve put off doing a first impressions review of a game I’d like to share, because it doesn’t feel like a Blaugust topic. Even though I know Blaugust is just about posting every day!

All in all, it’s been a wonderful event this year, and I was much more productive than last year. I feel like I could do any challenge that comes my way now. So NaNoWriMo this year? Totally going to tackle it!

I’d like to take this somewhat premature opportunity to thank Bel for organising this, and for keeping everyone motivated throughout the challenge! And thank you to all the wonderful people I’ve met while taking part.

What’s your journey through Blaugust been like? Any highlights or lowlights for you?

How to Survive Blaugust (Blaugust #7)

psycheplays_blaugust15-day-7_how-to-survive-blaugustImage source: FreeImages.com

Now that we’re one week into Blaugust, I think everyone is starting to realise that while it’s very rewarding, there is an inherent challenge in posting on your blog every day, especially when you’re not used to it. For example, I try to blog about two to three times per week, so this is a big step up for me!

With that in mind, here are five of my own tips on how to survive Blaugust and make it rewarding for you!

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The difficulty of variety game blogging (Blaugust #1)

psycheplays_blaugust15-day1_video-game-bloggingImage source: #1 | #2 | #3*
What’s that clicking sound going off like a machine gun in the distance? Why, it’s the sound of 69 (or possibly more, at this stage!) keyboards typing away furiously, as Blaugust is upon us! I’ve decided to take part in the Blaugust daily blogging challenge this year, as I did last year — though I know that I will struggle to stick to it — because I know it’s good for my writing muscles. I also recently read that it’s good for you to write creatively about anything that is on your mind at least once a day, so I hope this will help me!

So, to the topic of this post. I have been blogging about games in one way or another since I started playing Final Fantasy XI in 2008, thanks to my friend Tilly at TillyKay.com getting me into the habit. I’d always written a diary or journal of some form, either physical or online, so it made sense to progress naturally into sharing my gaming adventures.

Since then, I have blogged about Warhammer: Age of ReckoningAion, and briefly about RIFT. I dabbled in EVE blogging as well. However, about a year or two ago I wanted a more general nerdy blog, and the first of three blogs was born. I’ve since settled on Psyche Plays and plan to stay here, but it is not without its challenges. 

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Psyche Plays Has Had a Makeover!

Sorry for the lack of updates lately (I feel like I’m always apologising for that, whoops!) and also for the text-only post, however as you can see hopefully, Psyche Plays has had a little bit of a makeover!

Some of you may already know, but in May, Google changed the way search engines rank websites based on how mobile-friendly they are, due to the increasing numbers of people doing most of their browsing on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. This has been dubbed Mobilegeddon by some people, amusingly!

My poor blog wasn’t very mobile-friendly, in fact I would hazard a guess that it wasn’t mobile-friendly at all. As such, I have picked up a lovely new layout by LightMorangoShop on Etsy and am busy tweaking it, but for now I’m pretty happy with the way things look!

So please, pardon the dust while I mess around with everything. I promise I will make more of an effort to post now that I feel a bit more comfortable in my own space!

Short Hiatus (October 2014)

Short Hiatus: October 2014
Image source: WeHeartIt

I know I’ve been around very little lately, and I want to apologise for that! I have been getting back into my streaming schedule and, in turn, blogging has taken a backseat which it shouldn’t be. To anyone who still reads this, I’m very sorry, but I am taking a brief hiatus from all (read: most) things internet. This means online games (except for FC events in FFXIV), streaming, blogging and to a smaller extent social media. So I will only be in FFXIV for FC events (my FC knows this), there will be limited blogging updates and no streams, and while I’ll still be around on social media, I will be there a little less. There are a few reasons for this:

» I have so many singleplayer games I want to work on and enjoy. A lot of online games have been frustrating me lately and I want to enjoy myself, so I will be working on Dragon Age: Origins then the DLC and Dragon Age II in advance of the third game coming out.

» I need a little break from social media with all of the negativity going around in the wider gaming community, to prevent myself getting involved! And also for my own sanity.

» I will be visiting my family for a few days because I haven’t seen them in months (since before I did all that travelling a little while ago!) and I really miss them, so I need a little bit of time just to spend with them.

However, starting the week of Halloween on Monday 27th October I will be back and ready to play all the scary games! I will try to do some small scary streams (specific days will be announced on my Twitter in advance) during the week but the real event will be on Halloween itself, Friday 31st October, where I’m thinking of maybe doing either a 12-hour stream or at the very least a late-nighter starting at around 8:00PM Irish time. I will play spooky games or games with a Halloweeny theme, and will start either Alien: Isolation or The Evil Within, depending on which I’ve got my hands on!

The rest of that week, I am off work and will be able to dedicate more time to blogging and streaming, so expect to see the launch of a Minecraft server for friends and regulars, as well as some more spooky and funtimes streams during the week. I may even try to do one in costume! If I can think of a costume…

So I apologise for the brief hiatus, but I really do need a little break. I promise to be back the week leading up to Halloween though, my favourite holiday of the whole year! I hope you’ll be able to celebrate with me.

Why I heal

Most people have a really profound reason behind their choice of role in an MMO — or, indeed, in any game — especially when it comes to healing or tanking. I am often a healer in MMOs, and fellow healers always seem to have had this in their history, something that’s just always been the case. Their go-to class, perhaps. But for me? It’s not really how it works.

My first ever class in an RPG-esque game was a Paladin in Neverwinter Nights. I played her with a greatsword and a focus on smacking things in the face, which means later I decided Fighter made more sense. In fact, T and I played NWN together a lot, and we always had our two iconic Fighters in fullplate with greatswords, and a huge roleplaying backstory behind them. It wasn’t until I played Final Fantasy XI that I began healing, and even then it wasn’t entirely by choice. I wanted to play a Dark Knight. I wanted to play melee DPS. All of my friends also, sadly, wanted to play melee DPS (even specifically picking Dark Knight) and that messed with our static party, so I decided to take the hit and play something different. I tried tanking and it didn’t feel the same, so I went with healing instead.

Ever since then, I’ve dabbled in DPS classes every time I start out in an MMO, only to end up ultimately switching to a healer for the “good of the party”. My current MMO, Final Fantasy XIV, is no different. I started out as an Archer with intentions of playing a Bard and going support-DPS, especially because I’d always admired my friend’s Bard in FFXI and while they’re pretty different, I thought it’d be fun. It was! And I even tried to play Arcanist into Summoner, but we had so many DPS players in my first Free Company that it made sense to switch. Since I wasn’t fond of the idea of tanking, I went with White Mage, and it’s kinda stuck ever since, with me switching out to DPS with my other static when I play with them.

To say I heal out of pure necessity would be a lie, however. One thing I think a lot of healers, and even tanks, have in common is that we like to feel needed, or like we’re making a really positive impact on the party. And that’s what keeps me coming back to healing. I feel important, and I feel like my role is necessary. Most of all, I feel challenged, and that’s what makes it all the more interesting.

#Blaugust
Header courtesy of Belghast of Aggronaut.com.

Interested in taking part in Blaugust?

Check out the Nook on Anook, or Belghast’s post on the Gospel of Blaugust and get started! You don’t have to write a gaming blog, and your posts don’t have to be about gaming to participate. So come along and join the fun!

Blaugust Day 7: Non-Specific Game Blogging

Blaugust Day 7: Non-Specific Game Blogging, can get lonely!

Belghast over at The Aggronaut mentioned in his most recent Blaugust post that non-specific game blogging isn’t a huge thing and doesn’t have much of a community, and this is something that I identify with a lot as it’s always been a concern of mine.

I started public blogging years ago, and I focused specifically on Final Fantasy XI. I was never a particularly well-known blogger in the FFXI community but a friend of mine was, and it always inspired me to see so many people engaging with one another. That’s what motivated me to get involved with blogging more actively, and so I continued the tradition into Aion where I became a little better known. I tried a few different MMOs and blogged about them, but I realised that I am not a one-game gamer. I play a wide variety of games; MMOs, RPGs, FPS…the list could go on for a rather long time. And so I realised that I was always going to want to talk about multiple games, which is what made me want to start a general gaming blog like this.

I was always concerned that talking about so many different games would mean no one would be interested in reading on a regular basis, because people wanted to read about the games they were interested in. They didn’t want to read about my interests, or the games they had no intention of playing! Why would they want to read my little blog? Along with that, I noticed that there are tons of gamers who write about their experiences in specific games, but very few who interact on a regular basis and talk about all the games they play. I was worried that I wouldn’t find a “home” in a community because I wasn’t focused.

Blaugust has shown me that there’s a lot of people out there who play games the way I do, and even more importantly, who talk about games in the same way I do. And that’s really encouraging! I hope that I’ll be able to talk to these people more often, and we can form our own community. Maybe I can even reform #GamerGathering, the Twitter chat I tried to get started but that ultimately fell on its face a bit as we only had a few people interested in the chat!

#Blaugust
Header courtesy of Belghast of Aggronaut.com.

Interested in taking part in Blaugust?

Check out the Nook on Anook, or Belghast’s post on the Gospel of Blaugust and get started! You don’t have to write a gaming blog, and your posts don’t have to be about gaming to participate. So come along and join the fun!

Blaugust Day 5: Games as experiences

#Blaugust
Header courtesy of Belghast of Aggronaut.com.

I heard of a little thing called Blaugust, and I just had to participate considering so many great gaming bloggers seem to be taking part, and I’ve been able to discover a few new blogs through just reading up on it today! But, since it’s already Day 5 and I’ve missed a few days, I will be catching up with a few different topics today, to make up for my laziness over the weekend. My chosen topic is “Games as experiences”, which is something I feel very strongly about. Let’s get started, shall we?

My earliest gaming experience

Blaugust Day 5: My earliest gaming experience in Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis.

I very barely remember my dad bringing home my Nintendo, but something I do remember is the feeling of excitement. I still get that same feeling every time I think back to my NES. My first video game was Duck Hunt, with the light-gun and everything! I was only about five, and I played every single day. I also played a lot of Super Mario and Top Gun. But, while that was my first foray into the gaming world, my earliest gaming experience (which is different!) is sitting on my bed, room still in darkness as it was the middle of winter and the sun hadn’t come up yet, early one morning before school. I couldn’t have been older than seven or eight. I was playing Sonic The Hedgehog.

I had the weirdest separation anxiety as a child, and I hated going to school more than almost anything. Playing Sonic every morning for half an hour before school (read: before my mother caught me and told me to hurry up and get dressed) made me feel better. It made me feel like, no matter what, these characters I’d become attached to would be there waiting for me when I got home. And somehow, that made everything okay.

The first time a game made me really “feel”

Blaugust Day 5: The first game to make me feel was probably Mass Effect 3.

I’m a very emotional person. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m quite sensitive, quick to tear up, and I become very emotionally invested in fandom. Not quite to the extent that some people do, but I was very attached to my shows and the characters within, and have always enjoyed crying at a sad or happy part in a movie or show. Games generally didn’t affect me in this way, until quite recently.

I’d read about BioWare wanting to make games like Mass Effect make people really “feel” something. I was barely impacted by this initially, even up until the end of the second game, but for some reason Mass Effect 3 ruined me emotionally! Without spoiling anything specifically for those of you who haven’t played, one character was at risk and I managed to save him. Even though I saved him, seeing him running towards the ship, safe and alive, made me burst into ugly tears. I proceeded to cry about four times in the next hour during that game. It may have had its problems, and its ending may have needed some work, but the story was told well and the attachment I’d built to the characters over the trilogy really made some of the things that happened just plain hurt.

I also still remember bawling my eyes out at a recent game, Gone Home. The game took me completely by surprise, and I remember being a total mess when I completed it one rainy Sunday afternoon. Check out my full review of Gone Home, but be warned there are spoilers aplenty!

My favourite offline gaming memory

By “offline” here I mean in-person, off the computer. I’d say most of us have some experiences of the gaming world offline in this sense, and for me this came in the form of a LAN gaming centre. The centre I used to attend as a teenager and later worked in, GAME THE WORLD, had so many different memories and experiences that it’s hard to pick just one. It is, by itself, one of my favourite memories. I met so many people there, including my fiancé, and it had a massive impact on my social life as a teenager. Instead of underage drinking and experimenting with drugs on the beach with people I went to school with, I was hanging out with gamers at a gaming centre, playing games and having fun.

My favourite offline gaming memory, if I had to choose one, was our Halloween party at one of the centres. This was now coming up on seven or eight years ago now, which is shocking! But we all came, dressed in silly outfits, and played games all night together. We played both online and offline games and pranked people who had fallen asleep. I remember stumbling back into my fiancé’s house at ridiculous-o’clock in the morning, mind still buzzing with memories of the dude who dressed as a school girl, make-up and all, and the teddybear who’d had a mob boss hold a toy gun to his head at 4:00am, and falling asleep in a heap on the floor. I still miss those gaming centres, and the people I met there.

Interested in taking part in Blaugust?

Check out the Nook on Anook, or Belghast’s post on the Gospel of Blaugust and get started! You don’t have to write a gaming blog, and your posts don’t have to be about gaming to participate. So come along and join the fun!

A thought on veteran rewards

A thought on veteran rewards.The lovely Zuu over at Zuulzilla.com made an interesting comment in a conversation we were having on Twitter the other day, as you can see over to the right. Zuu doesn’t believe players who have played longer than others should receive special treatment through veteran rewards. The reason I find this interesting is that I personally think veteran rewards are a nice boost, a way of saying thank you perhaps. I hadn’t considered that it would actually reinforce the “timecore” aspect I had mentioned in my recent Just Sayin’ post on Hardcore vs Casual play.

I’ve seen veteran rewards as a method of thanking players for subscribing, perhaps through exclusive mounts, pets or other benefits after a few months. Everyone will receive them as long as they subscribe for that period of time. But there are other methods out there, such as giving characters bonuses based on how long they’ve been around.

So I turn the question to you guys — do you think veteran rewards are a good idea, or terrible? In what instances have you seen them before?

Check out Zuu’s blog, and you can also find her over on Twitter!

Getting in the festive spirit with The Christmas Tag!

The Christmas Tag, courtesy of HelloElla.co.uk!

Ella over at Hello Ella has started a lovely Christmas tag. I’m one of those types who absolutely adores Christmas. I do think the world has gone a bit batty with Christmas decorations up before Halloween has even finished, but as soon as it hits 1st December I am well and truly in the festive mood! I’ve decided to take part to motivate myself to get my shopping done, and have tagged a few of you lovelies to join in. Feel free to participate if I didn’t tag you too, I’d love to see what you’ve written!

What time of the year do you start your Christmas shopping?
I always say I’ll start around June/July, but I generally start in November and end up getting pretty frantic by Christmas Eve when I usually have a few bits and bobs that still need buying…For shame!

Do you have any festive recipes for food or drink you limit solely to the Christmas season to share?
I am the worst cook in the world, but I do have some festive foods I limit solely for the Christmas season! Namely a strong cheese with smoked bacon in it that I get at the Christmas markets in Belfast every year. However, my mum makes ginger wine every year which is absolutely delicious. Pity I don’t know how to do it myself!

Tell me how Christmas goes down in your home.
I travel up north to spend Christmas with my family. Every year, I get ridiculously excited on Christmas Eve and go to bed early. My sister still believes in Santa, which means I get to believe in Santa and get Santa presents too. Every year my dad (who also gets ridiculously excited) and I wake up at 6:00am (no earlier, no later, mind) and wake my mum and my sister. We sneak downstairs and open presents, then have a nap after marvelling at the lovely gifts Santa brought. I absolutely adore it.

Do you have any Christmas traditions?
Every year my parents pretend Santa might not have come yet. Every. Year. Since I can remember. We also have a mini-Christmas breakfast with fried turkey, ham and stuffing and well-buttered toast, as well as a big glass of milk. Don’t judge me, it’s ridiculously delicious! We visit my grandparents in the early afternoon then return home for a feast together. Christmas Eve, however, is spent with my fiancé’s family, and Boxing Day is when he comes to mine. Then we return back to our apartment to have a good ol’ few days of gaming before work starts up again. When I was younger, we always went to visit all my dad’s family to give out presents, but nowadays we only visit one or two households.

Do you have a favourite festive coffee?
I’m a gingerbread lover, for sure! Though I usually lament the loss of pumpkin spice, as it reminds me of Christmas for some reason.

What’s your favourite Christmas song?
Shamefully, All I Want for Christmas is You. What can I say, my dad got me listening to it as a child!

What do you do on Christmas Eve?
It starts with visiting my fiancé’s family, playing board games, and eating a big roast beef dinner. Then I come home and watch Independence Day or Gremlins with my dad, listen to my sister try to convince my parents to let her open a present, then go to bed early. Gotta be asleep when Santa comes!

What’s your Christmas wrapping strategy? Do you have a strategy?
I’m awful at wrapping. I just sort of wing it. But it’s really important to me to have matching paper, preferably in black and silver! I also help my dad because he’s utterly useless at wrapping. So we struggle through together, tape attached to faces and tangled in hair, and potentially injuring ourselves with scissors.

What’s your dream gift this year?
Unicorn My super dream not-going-to-happen gift is a new Kindle. Maybe a Paper White or Fire. But that’s not going to happen. My parents have a knack for knowing exactly what I want and need though, so I’m not worried! They always get me lovely, thoughtful gifts.

Describe your Christmas tree. How tall? Real or artificial? How is it decorated?
We have a tiny artificial, stylish black tree at the apartment, decorated very simply with white fairy lights and silver tinsel. One year my fiancé, who hates Christmas for whatever reason, made a giant tinsel heart and put it over my PC monitor. I was so delighted! Back home, my parents have a lovely big artificial tree, usually decorated tastefully with metallic baubles and tinsel.

Do you decorate just the tree or other areas of your house e.g. windows, bannisters?
Usually I’m lazy, but this year I foresee fairy lights everywhere! Back home I usually use a smaller tree in my bedroom.

What do you wear to Christmas parties and what do you wear on Christmas day?
The only party I go to is my work Christmas party, and it’s usually a fun outing so it’s not practical to dress up! One year we went iceskating and had a meal in a log cabin style arrangement, so it was wooly jumpers, thick trousers, and a big thick coat. For Christmas Day, I generally wear something new I’ve received. I’m quite a boring sort when it comes to clothing, I just love oversized sweaters and cosy scarves.

Tagging: Yuna, Tilly, and Heather, as well as anyone else who would like to do it. Please let me know if you do, I’d love to read it!

Remember to make sure to check out Ella’s blog, and let her know if you participate by tweeting her!

Stop bullying

Trigger warning: bullying/abuse.

After reading Wil Wheaton’s blog post on bullying, I wanted to share my own story. It’s quite long, so apologies in advance.

I was bullied as a teenager. It wasn’t physical. I didn’t come home from school with bruises, no one smashed my nose, no one pulled on my hair or kicked mud in my face. I’ve experienced the physical stuff as well, but this was, in some ways, worse for me to experience, because it was people I considered friends who turned on me.

I wasn’t a bad kid. I told a few white lies, mostly in relation to my fiancé because my parents didn’t approve of me hanging out with him as he was a little older than me. But I always appreciated the fact that my parents gave me a lot of freedom. They were strict about some things, like being home on time (very, very strict!) but in general, they were open. They talked to me honestly about anything I wanted to know, they let me watch 18+ movies with them, supervised, and they let me drink alcohol as long as I was in the house. If I went out to an event where alcohol was being served, I was told I could have two alcoholic drinks of my choice, and only as long as I stayed with a responsible friend. Because of this, I had no desire to go behind their backs.

Unfortunately, my “friends” didn’t have parents who were so open-minded, or so trusting. They weren’t allowed to drink alcohol, and while they were able to stay out pretty much as late as they wanted, each freedom they were afforded made them want to push the boundaries further. Where I respected my parents’ rules, they wanted to see how far they could go before a punishment would come in. Their parents would simply shout at them, or ground them. Mine would be disappointed in me, and I didn’t want that.

Because of that, my “friends” started drinking at 14 or 15. In fact, they started drinking in public, down at the beach near my house. They invited me almost every time, and every single time I politely declined, letting them know that I would just head home, or spend time with my then-boyfriend. Sadly, my boyfriend also started hanging out with them at the beach, and I was left alone more often than not. I didn’t mind; I had games to play, a family who were fun to hang out with, and I still had one or two friends who didn’t partake in the drinking fest at the beach. I heard stories of them experimenting with drugs (which I’m not interested in), and heard rumours that I won’t repeat. I didn’t feel like I was missing out, I thought I could continue hanging out with them when they weren’t drinking.

But the problem was they didn’t want me to continue hanging out with them, especially not if I wasn’t drinking. They started excluding me, purposefully changing plans at the last minute so I couldn’t attend, and spreading rumours behind my back. I was hurt, but continued trying to enjoy myself like I always had. One night, we were all hanging out at a friend’s house. She was pretty neutral as she’d been travelling before this all started, so I felt comfortable. I borrowed one girl’s phone to play a game, and she got a text message while I was playing with it that said, “Kirsty’s really annoying me. Let’s make her walk home alone tonight and see if something bad happens to her.” I felt sick. I know that they weren’t planning on hurting me, but both of these girls were people I trusted, people I’d been friends with. People I honestly believed liked me. I lived far enough away that a walk home in the dark was frightening, and usually we’d all walk each other home in a group. I handed back her phone and left early.

All of this seems pretty tame, but after that, things escalated.

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Final Fantasy XIV post round-up

My FFXIV: ARR character, Sirantha, exploring Toto Rak!

For those of you who don’t know, I keep a specific Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn blog to follow my kitty’s antics across Eorzea called Psyche Plays FFXIV. Each week on a Saturday I will post a Final Fantasy XIV post round-up so anyone not actively following my FFXIV blog can check out any of the posts I’ve made over there, or any other relevant stuff I’ve done!

» Dungeon Guide: Sastasha – I wrote a short guide for the first dungeon in FFXIV: ARR, and will continue to do so for all other dungeons!

» PUG’ing all day long – a short rant about my pick-up group woes.

» My FFXIV: ARR review on The Arcade – I got a writing gig with The Arcade and voiced my thoughts on my new favourite MMORPG.

I’ll be keeping that blog up to date with any specific in-game content, so I hope you enjoy your read! Thanks for checking it out.

Is this thing on?!

Hello! My name is Kirsty, though I’m probably better known by my online gaming alias, Psyche. I was having trouble with my previous blog title not feeling “me” enough (and the fact that people called me “Peace” as my former blog was “PeaceLoveGaming” didn’t help) and wanted to integrate my gaming alias that I’ve been using for over 10 years somehow. Since my hosting package was expiring and my previous webhost was abismal, I decided to take the plunge and start fresh. It wasn’t easy; I worked hard on my former blog, but it felt like I needed to do it.

So here we are, on Psyche Plays! I will talk about my gaming exploits, writing adventures, and any other geeky or fangirly things that come to mind. Take heed, this will be a geeky blog. I will not refrain from gushing about video games. I have moved away from calling gaming a hobby and started calling it a lifestyle, and I stand by that choice. I do work in the games industry, after all!

That’s not to say I won’t talk about my personal life from time to time, but this is primarily a geeky, gaming blog. If you’re interested in reading about my adventures in Final Fantasy XIV, I will be starting a separate subdomain for that in the very near future. The link will be on the top navigation bar!

I hope you enjoy your stay!