Lalafell Rescue Squad

Rubber Snake Attack

Instead of coming home and gaming like normal last night, I actually went out and did something sociable with actual living and breathing people!  I know it is a shock to the system to fathom the ramifications of that statement.  Several months ago a group from work attended the live RiffTrax showing of the Matthew Broderick Godzilla and it was an absolute blast.  I have been a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 since college, and RiffTrax is essentially the same folks doing the same sort of thing…  without the robots and a guy trapped on a space station construct.  During that they previewed the next movie and at that point we decided that we had to attend again so we could see Anaconda…  a movie that I did not remember being as cheesy as it actually was.  Thankfully we learned a lot from the first time, and arrived at the theater considerably earlier.  Last time none of us actually got to sit together, but instead ended up having to pair up to get us all seated.  Last night we at dinner at a restaurant in the same parking lot as the theater so we were able to walk over and got there well before they even opened up seating.

Anaconda…  was seriously worse of a movie than I remember, and even at the time I thought the snake looked nothing like an actual snake.  The cast was disturbingly “star studded” for as bad of a train wreck as it ended up being.  You had Jon Voight, Eric Stoltz, Owen Wilson, Ice Cube and I believe this was the movie debut of Jennifer Lopez.  At the very least it was before I was actually aware of who she was, as I don’t think she had released her first album yet.  There were just so many cheesy things about the movie… like the fact that every single time that we see J-Lo on screen it is apparently super cold in the Amazon because they make a point of lingering on some massive nippledge going on.  Aside from the snake being horrible…  it looked like they recycled a ton of footage.  The Rifftrax guys pointed out a moment near the end of the movie where the waterfall is going backwards…  as they quite literally just reversed a shot from earlier in the movie.  Similarly they seem to keep passing the exact same snake idol a half dozen times.

I did not however attend to watch the movie, but instead listen to the RiffTrax crew tear it apart.  The Godzilla show was great but this one took it to all new levels.  In fact I would have to say this is probably going to go down as one of their better performances.  There was just so much to make fun of in this movie, and the fact that it had both J-Lo and IceCube in it…  basically gave them free reign to mix in lots jokes about their careers as a whole.  This is starting to become a regular thing that we do as a group.  They previewed the next show coming up December 4th which is a strange rendition of Santa Claus from the 50s.  The trailer bits they showed looked absolutely insane…  Santa Claus in space…  fighting and army of dancing devils.  Hopefully we can once again muster the troops and go as a group.  Not sure we get much “team building” done, but it is a really fun time nonetheless.

Lalafell Rescue Squad

ffxiv 2014-10-30 21-57-36-339 This RiffTrax overall seemed a bit shorter than the last one, and as a result I ended up getting back home at a decent hour.  I decided to pop into Final Fantasty XIV for a bit and see what all was happening.  After milling around a bit in the housing district a few of us pulled together a run for the new Sunken Temple of Qarn Hard mode.  This was one of those dungeons that we avoided like the plague because of its frustrating “one shot death” mechanics, so I think as a whole we were at the least concerned when we saw it would end up as a hard mode.  Thankfully the mechanics are not that cheap this time around.  Not to spoil this for anyone, but there are no bees this time around.  What is there instead is a continuation of the original story.  When we cleared the dungeon the first time, it apparently made the place safe enough for groups of adventurers to begin exploring it.  However a group of tomb robbers triggered yet another trap, and you are going there at the bidding of a brother who wishes you to go rescue his sister.  Adorable Lalafell needing rescuing…  that sounds like as noble cause as any…  my people need me.

ffxiv 2014-10-30 22-28-29-285 I am not as geared as I could be, but I am no slouch overall.  The bare minimum for the dungeon is ilevel 80 and I went in there last night with 103.  Overall I think I was managing the damage pretty well, but it definitely put our healer through a workout.  I think in part he was just used to healing Paladins with their significantly smaller health pools.  With group buffs I was over 10,000 hit points, and a comparable Paladin would be around 6,000.  So when the final boss hit me for 2,000 it really didn’t feel that significant, however with a paladin that would be 1/3rd of their available health pool.  I think Tams complaint was that it felt like his heals weren’t doing much, but that is primarily because a percentage of my health bar is quite a bit more hit points than a percentage of someone else’s health bar.  In any case we made it through the dungeon without any wipes and only I believe a single death.  The content is hard enough to be challenging, but not so hard that it becomes punishing.  I feel like Pharo Sirius is still a rougher dungeon than this one for example.

ffxiv 2014-10-30 22-39-49-231 At the end of the day we finished the run, beat the big bad end boss and saved the adorable Lalafell Adventerer.  I feel like it was a good way to end an already awesome night.  One of my favorite things about the new dungeons is that they drop these tokens that can then be turned in for any ilevel 90 class piece of armor.  So while they did in fact remove these from the Tombstone and Hunt vendors, you can still get the gear.  The fact that they shifted it to  a token system means the mobs have a more shallow loot table, and as a result each individual piece is more useful.  I feel like I will enjoy picking up a level 90 set way more by running these three new dungeons than I ever would by simply grinding tombstones or hunts until I had the necessary currency.  This is fine and dandy for experienced players, but I still feel like this patch and its changes made it significantly harder for a brand new player to gear up.  Granted maybe they did that on purpose, so players would have to spend a bit more time running dungeons before leap-frogging into end game content.

Dimension Goodies a Plenty

rift 2014-10-31 06-55-10-080 With all the Final Fantasy XIV goodness, I am still playing some Rift Nightmare Tide… it has just taken a back seat.  At the very least I am logging in a few times a day to make sure my minions are running the 8 hour long missions.  These reward some crazy stuff, and so far as a result of all of my minion missions I have literally three 28 slot bags full of nothing but dimension stuff.  At some point I need to sift through it all and see what I can actually use.  You get a pretty broad mix of things from basic building blocks to intricate items like the Infernal Dawn Cannon.  The 8 hour long dimension missions have a chance of rewarding these chests that each have half a dozen items in them…  so it feels like buying those grab bags off the store.  I really like the Rift dimensions system for player housing, so at some point I really should work on building a proper home.

Rift is more than likely going to be a weekend game for me as I do laundry and watch stuff off netflix or the DVR.  The pace works well there and the fact that I can pop to the guild dimension when I afk, and return exactly to the point where I last left off is a really nice feature.  The content in Nightmare Tide is significantly more enjoyable for me than Storm Legion was.  At some point soon I want to try out one of the new dungeons.  I dinged 61, so have made some forward momentum, but still have not really touched even half of Goboro Reef.  While there may only be three new zones, each of the zones is absolutely massive in scale.  I’ve not actually done any of the instant adventures, mostly because it seems like an excessive amount of area to try and cover rapidly.  In any case I am still enjoying the game, but just playing it as a side venture with Final Fantasy XIV being my primary focus.

#RiffTrax #FFXIV #Rift

Bribing Good Behavior

Better Community

ffxiv 2014-10-28 20-17-28-489 Yesterday I posted this picture and said that the person dancing with Sagacyte and I was a friend of his.  Turns out that apparently this was not the case.  The way she waved and immediately started dancing with us, made me think that she must have known him.   So yeah… complete and total stranger came over and started interacting and now she is another person on my friends list.  I guess I shouldn’t be shocked since this sort of thing happens all the time.  There is a community spirit that infuses Final Fantasy XIV, and I am still not entirely used to just how prevalent it is.  There are lots of quests that involve you walking into an area and a bunch of mobs spawn on top of you.  The mobs that actually belong to you are marked but you can help out with any of them.  It is a rare occasion that someone will move on after their mobs are dead and not help you kill yours.  There was this one tank the other night that I swear “tanked” five sets of these mobs as new people walked into the spawning area.

ffxiv 2014-09-14 22-10-19-484 This sort of thing is absolutely commonplace now, but the strange thing is…  it wasn’t.  What is strange about Final Fantasy XIV is that my friends and I played this game seriously at launch for roughly three months.  Then we wandered off to do other things, and upon returning were shocked and amazed at how much the community had improved.  At launch it felt like every other MMO, with folks doing the same kind of selfish actions that are so common place in other games.  Running a random dungeon, likely meant that you would have one person complaining that you were pulling to slow, and another person complaining that the dps wasn’t somehow good enough…  even though there are no meters for that.  Basically the community had the same rampant asshatery that we’ve all experienced in “modern mmos”.  Upon returning however we found that this negative element was almost completely gone.  Sure you will encounter an abusive player every so often, but the community as a whole seems to have done a drastic turn around.

Bribing Good Behavior

GoldenMagitechArmor One thing that we noticed quickly that had been added to the game since we last played was the player commendation system.  What makes the system interesting is that at the end of every duty, each player gets a single commendation that they can award to another player from that group.  Now normally when a game has a system like this, you can queue exclusively with guild members or friends and cheat the system.  However in this case you cannot reward commendations to your guildies, but have to instead use it on a stranger.  The other half of this equation is that you are rewarded both your giving commendations, and greatly rewarded for receiving them.  Each week there is a challenge log entry for handing out commendations that gives the player a bit of experience and some gil.  As far as the receiving side they have set up a system of increasing rewards for 10, 50, 100, 300 and 500 player commendations.  The final reward is the golden colored Magitech armor that you see in the above screenshot… something that pretty much everyone I know universally wants.

What has happened as a result is that players are actively trying to win commendations while in dungeon runs.  As a whole they are far easier to work with, and more willing to stop and explain mechanics if you simply speak up and let them know you are new to a fight.  In fact I have seen entire raid groups come to a grinding halt just to explain the mechanics of a fight to a new player.  Often times another player will mentor the newer player through what they actually need to pay attention to on a given fight.  The only thing I have seen much frustration really is when a group wipes because a player didn’t understand the mechanics… and didn’t speak up about it at the beginning of the run.  This leads players to be more willing to speak up about things that confuse them, or things they are having issues with… which then get solved as a group.  Admittedly there is some content that is the equivalent of WoW’s LFR… but even then inside each individual team there is usually some camaraderie as the run goes on.

Rewarding Communication

ffxiv 2014-09-30 22-14-09-885 I have long been one of those individuals who have stated that the addition of the dungeon finder to World of Warcraft made the game a significantly worse place.  Sure it made getting groups easier, but it changed the way we ran dungeons permanently.  The “push a button, get a group” nature of the tool had a ton of unforeseen consequences, the worst of which is it dehumanized your interaction with other players.  Instead of people that you had to communicate with in order to get a group in the first place…  they became roles that enabled you to get your loot Piñata at the end and nothing more.  The first thing to go with the dungeon finder was discussion in dungeons other than screaming at other players for not living up to some set of standards.  Folks stopped talking while running dungeons, and most players just kept their head down and tried to make it through the dungeon all the while trying not to be called in the carpet for being “bad”.  It was during this era that I stopped running with strangers, because every time the experience was just so damned maddening.

ffxiv 2014-09-30 22-15-09-573 With Final Fantasy, I restarted the game a few weeks ahead of the bulk of my friends…  meaning my only option was to do random dungeons or either do no dungeons at all.  The first thing I noticed when I set foot into a dungeon was that players greeted each other, and once that happened the communication started flowing again.  Players seemed more willing to talk about what was going on with fights, what they needed help with… and even things completely unrelated to the current dungeon run.  Granted all of this might be some elaborate act in an attempt to earn player commendations…  and being the friendliest in the group usually earns you at least one…  but whatever the cause it is a drastic improvement over the standard MMO environment.  I think we have a case of “fake it until you make it” going on here, where players might start out faking a friendly attitude, but over time of doing this over and over… something changes inside you.  I find myself not getting upset at the mistakes of other players, and not dwelling on what went wrong… but focusing more on what needs to happen for things to go right.

Positive Leadership

I am not sure if I can account all of the positive changes simply to the player commendation system.  I feel like the more aggressive players that make up the early MMO rush have moved on from the  game, leaving behind only players that are really dedicated to the Final Fantasy franchise for one reason or another.  Additionally the way that the developers of this game interact with the fans is just completely different.  I’ve talked about this before, especially in relation to the way the game developers at Blizzcon interact with their fans.  It often times feels like they are living out some rockstar fantasy up on stage, and there is always a tinge of condescension when they answer fans.  Watching Fan Festival on the other hand… was like watching one big fan talking to a bunch of other big fans.  One of my friends commented that Yoshi-P seems to treat us more like investors in his vision, than customers.  Another friend chimed in and said that it was almost like he was this super benevolent guild leader.  In any case the difference in interaction shows, and trickles down to the player base as well.

So I think all of these little things add up to an atmosphere that rewards the player for being helpful and showing community spirit.  So much in this game cannot be accomplished without other players, and the constant fiddling and tweaking with systems always seems to air on the side of supporting collaborative play rather than competition for resources.  Granted Final Fantasy XI and XIV 1.0 had really interesting communities, and to some extent the XIV 2.0 and beyond community is standing on their shoulders.  Even in the midst of all the rogue zergy nature going on with the release of a new class…  players are still far more polite about everything than they were at launch.  At this point I don’t care if they essentially have bribed us into being nice passive team players, the end result adds up to a very positive player experience.  It had been a really long time since I had felt a sense of pride in a game community, and I am damned proud to be a Final Fantasy XIV player and even prouder to be a member of the ever amazing Cactuar server community.  For years Azeroth was my home base as I wandered out to explore other games, but I think at this point that new title belongs to Eorzea.  There is so much awesome stuff coming down the pipe, and I cannot wait to experience it all.

#FFXIV #FinalFantasy

Roguepocalypse

Awesome Overload

ffxiv 2014-10-29 06-03-04-614 Yesterday was seriously one of the hardest days to get through I have experienced in a very long time.  When I troddled off to work the Final Fantasy XIV servers were up and back from maintenance, and as I worked all day long I would see little tid bits of information here and there about just how great this patch ended up being.  For the uninitiated yesterday was the release of Patch 2.4 “Dreams of Ice” which introduced a ton of new content, not the least of which is the Shiva primal encounter that the patch is named for.  It is truly staggering to think about the amount of content that has been released for this game since launch.  Roughly every quarter players get a major patch the size of 2.4, that generally introduces 1 to 2 new primal fights, 3 new hard mode dungeons, new main story quest chain, new Hildebrand story chain, new gear, new glamour bits, new hair styles and in this one they even introduced a brand new class and job combination in the Rogue and Ninja.  On top of that we seem to see at least one minor content patch each month, the last one added personal housing so still no slouch content wise.

So when you contrast that with other games that can go six months to an year without any new content, it is phenomenal.  This patch however is not with its controversies.  Up until this point everything that has been available in game has either been earned doing in game things, or through subscription rewards.  The game has some pretty insane subscription rewards that include tons of interesting mounts, pets and cosmetic items.  This patch however introduced the cash shop, and they sprinkled a few really awesome items on it, not the least of which is the Slepnir mount you can see me on in the above picture.  There is so much gnashing of teeth over the fact that this mount is $24, and the mini-pets on the store are $5 each.  At this point however a cosmetic shop just seems like the status quo.  One of the more interesting things they are doing with it is that each year there are unique rewards for completing holiday events.  To allow players to get previous items they are putting the older items up on the cash shop for a minimal fee.  Thankfully I have managed to pick up most of the holiday items I might want, but it is nice knowing that I could potentially get the items I missed during the Christmas events.

Focused Gameplay

ffxiv 2014-10-28 20-17-28-489 Though out the day yesterday I thought about just what I would try and tackle that night when I got home.  My focus was going to be on unlocking the three new hard mode dungeons so I could be ready to run them as the rest of my free company became available.  I could always queue for the dungeon finder and take my chances with strangers, but I would really rather experience this content fresh with a guild group.  There is something awesome about having to reason your way through the fights for the first time as a team, even if you fail to make the 90 minute timer.  Even with my laser focus…  there are certain things any proper Lalafell must do.  While wandering around Uldah I bumped into Sagacyte Luxaloix and before I knew it we were dancing the manderville as is Lala tradition.  Moments later we were joined by a friend of his Lirrianna Darkholme and there in the middle of the streets of Uldah we had an impromptu Lalafell dance party.  We were all very busy, but traditions must be observed and social graces administered.

ffxiv 2014-10-28 18-37-58-424 For those looking into unlocking the new content, there is an excellent blog post from a Lalafell blogger I just stumbled onto this morning talking about the start of each of the new content items.  After we finished with our customary dance party, I went on about my business of unlocking the dungeons.  Both Sastasha Hard and Sunken Temple of Qarn Hard were relatively simple to unlock, with fairly straight forward go and talk to this guy then go to the dungeon style quests that start in Mor Dhona.  For Snowcloak however it is yet another quest tied deeply into the main storyline.  So I set forth beginning that chain and two and a half hours I had reached a point where I was standing at the gates of the new Snowcloak dungeon.  When they put in new story content… they put in a lot of story content.  This however is what makes the game so damned phenominal, is that they keep moving the story forward and giving you a reason to care about the characters you meet.  As a friend said last night, it is not so much that your character is the “big damned hero” but more that your character is the social glue that keeps all of the good guys working together.  You are the one person they trust due to past interactions, and the lubricant to make things happen when something goes wrong.

Roguepocalpyse

ffxiv 2014-10-28 21-43-30-728 I did not actually intend to start a rogue last night, but I ended up picking up a new quest in Limsa Lominsa near the Aetheryte crystal that just happened to lead me to the guild.  I figured while I was there what was the harm of going ahead and unlocking the class.  The server has quite literally gone insane for Rogues and Ninjas.  The above photo is a scene from inside the Rogues guild in Limsa Lominsa, and there are even more folks milling around outside of the place.  The Fisherman’s Guild port has never seen this much activity ever, and really the guild does a pretty piss poor job of disguising itself with all these people swarming around it.  So while I picked up the Rogue I had no plans to level it until I got bored waiting around on a group to happen.  Last night myself, Tam and Ash hatched a plan to make the guild some money that we could stockpile for our guild airship.  Wanderers Palace is the bottleneck for the Relic weapon quest, in that you need a bloody weapon component to craft the precursor weapon for the entire quest chain.  For most classes these are common enough that you can pick up a high quality version of the weapon for 20-30k gil and just be on your way.

ffxiv 2014-10-29 06-31-26-080 This means that all of these newly minted rogues will need one eventually so that they can start down the Relic quest chain.  As you can see there are only two currently available on the Cactuar market system and they are holding steadily at 300k gil each.  The finished weapons are holding steadily at 500k gil a piece and both are in high demand.  So we thought we could run Wanderers Palace a few times and if nothing else stockpile some blades for the guild, and at best pick up a bunch to sell on the market while the demand is high.  We struggled to find a fourth, as there were a handful of folks available… but they all appeared to be either AFK or in a duty already.  So while we waited around for something to happen… I decided to start working on the rogue.  Overall the class is really damned fun to play, and in part it is the animations that make it so enjoyable.  You feel like a whirlwind of death as pretty much every attack is some sort of a spin move.  Additionally the way you hold your daggers… makes me actually kinda like wielding daggers.   They feel brutal and swift, instead of awkward stabby weapons like daggers feel in so many games.

ffxiv 2014-10-28 21-29-55-532

ffxiv 2014-10-28 22-50-01-227  The only problem is that everyone is playing a rogue.  This is what every fate looks like practically anywhere in the game right now.  An army of rogues, their chocobos and a blinding flurry of circular slashes as far as the eye can see.  As the second shot shows, some rogues have taken to putting Flash on their bar and run around gathering up all of the fate mobs while the rest of us hopelessly chase after them trying to do as much contribution as possible.  I remember fates feeling like this at launch, and in reality it is like we have returned to that post launch period at least a bit.  Additionally there are a ton of folks out there doing the fates as well trying to farm their Atma pieces, and it seems that the drop rates are in fact reasonable now.  I’ve heard tales of folks completing a full set of atmas in a single evening, but I still feel you need to be lucky to make that happen.  While I don’t so much care about my rogue, I plan on riding the FATE gravy train with my monk to see just how many levels I can squeeze out.

Broken Roulette

crazydutyqueue The influx of rogues has lead to some serious madness.  I have not actually tried to queue as one, but I saw this tweeted awhile back with someone being stuck in the queue for over 120 minutes.  DPS queues previously were 15 to 20 minutes on my server, and the low level roulette queues last night were reporting around an hour.  Thankfully none of this madness has hit Syrcus Tower yet, as my dragoon queue there was still near instant last night.  I feel like non-ninja dps will have a better shot at getting into dungeons, especially ranged dps since the game tries to match a ranged and a melee for each four man team.  In any case if you have a tank or a healer that you plan on leveling, right now is the ideal time to do it.  You will get instant queues and probably get the extreme gratitude of the ninjas inside the instance who have been waiting anxiously to do a dungeon.  This reminds me of the way Ifrit and Titan were shortly after launch.  My friend Tam used to queue doing “community service” as he called it.  One time he ran into a poor black mage who had been sitting waiting on Ifrit for 3 1/2 hours.  I am not sure if I will do it tonight, but I plan on working on my White Mage to help with the influx of folks queuing for things.

#FFXIV #Rogue #Ninja

Heavensward Job Speculation

Final Fantasy Downtime

samurai_rumor Yesterday the world mourned as we were unable to play Final Fantasy XIV.  While technically at this very moment the servers should be up, I am pretending that they are not so that I don’t get horribly sidetracked this morning.  While locked out of the game yesterday, it lead many of us to start speculating about what the classes and jobs that have yet to be identified might be for the Heavensward expansion.  Right now there have been extremely scant confirmed details.  The Dark Knight being the only class that is 100% verified and confirmed by the Square Enix.  However during the events of Las Vegas there was a moment when maybe the Samurai was confirmed.  As Soken scrolled around on screen looking for a specific track to play, he scrolled past a folder labeled “Samurai”.

So while this isn’t a confirmation by any case it has caused a lot of folks to assume this is the next class.  Since Dark Knight is a tank, would this maybe make Samurai a DPS?  In any case I plan on playing one whatever it ends up being.  There is a thread out on Reddit trying to collect various tidbits of information that Yoshi-P has said during official statements.  While this thread predates the Las Vegas Fan Fest, there is still a lot of interesting information in it.  Primarily the confirmation that there would be at least one gun glass, and that it would not be the gun classes that we would expect.  What I think is meant by that is that there is been a Corsairs guild in Limsa Lominsa for ages, it just isn’t labelled as such formally.  Since Merlwyb herself is a Corsair, it has always been assumed that this would be an early expansion class.  I feel like Yoshi-P is specifically saying this isn’t the case.

The Agent

Yoshi007 So if not the Musketeer/Corsair class then the question becomes what exactly will the gun job be.  During the London Fan Fest Yoshi-P took the stage wearing a really awesome Black Mage outfit, however as soon as he stripped down out of the top part of it… he was wearing a black and gold 007 t-shirt.  Then he pantomimed the traditional Bond opening sequence with a finger gun seen above.  Normally I would think… this is Yoshi… he does all sorts of interesting things, this is pretty much the standard fare.  However in Las Vegas the Dark Knight job that was eventually conformed in London… was first introduced with a Batman t-shirt.  So this leaves us with what exactly is this job he is trying to tell us.  Turns out there is in fact a job from one of the Tactics series games called “The Agent” that is apparently exclusive to that games “Cid” character.  In fact the analogy pretty much fits Bond perfectly, considering the Agent is described essentially as a womanizing spy.

The Machinist

MustadioThere however is a significant contingency that seems to believe that Yoshi might have already told us what the gun class would be.  During an interview with MMORPG.com they asked him what his favorite class that is not currently in Final Fantasy XIV.  He gave two specific answers, the first being Dark Knight which was confirmed in London.  The second one he announced is the Machinist, specifically the version coming from Final Fantasy Tactics.  This is traditionally a ranged attacker class, so it could very easily be this gun based class folks are assuming it would be.  The version of this class that I am most familiar with is Edgar from Final Fantasy VI, and in that version he wields a wide variety of ranged contraptions, each of which giving him a different unique attack.  Having not played much of the Tactics games, mostly because the game play style never really clicked with me…  I am not sure exactly how this differs.  It would be cool to have a traditional engineer type class, that fights using gadgets.  Oddly enough the FFXI Puppet Master class is apparently considered a Machinist according to the wiki, and that is already a class that I would dig seeing in FFXIV.

The Chemist

Another possibility would be the Chemist, as it is one of the few traditional Final Fantasy “healer” jobs that exist but are not already in game.  There is a precedent for being a gun class apparently.  While I do not know which game this came from, the Wiki lists them as being able to equip guns in at least one game.  Hoping that someone can fill in these details in the comments below as to which game they actually used guns.  In any case even if this is not a gun glass I think it is a pretty strong candidate for a healer.  They would present a unique healing style that isn’t already in the game, and could even do something similar to what they are doing with Ninjutsu to support the “mix” gameplay style from previous games.  What if you had a series of commands that represented “ingredients” and then you had a mix command that you pressed afterwards.  The combat effect would be based on which three ingredients you combined.  Sure this would make for a strange healing style, but you could give them really strong heal over time capabilities to make up for and buffer the fiddly nature of mixing just the right potion in the heat of battle.  I think this would be a really interesting game play style for someone looking for a class with an exceptionally high skill cap.

Blue Mage

One of the things that screams Final Fantasy to me is the more interesting classes.  Every game has the holy trinity of Tank, Healer  and Melee/Range DPS.  Final Fantasy however has traditionally had some exceptionally nuanced classes that blur these lines.  For me at least the king of the “odd” classes is the Blue Mage, in its various forms.  This apparently is another class that there is at least some precedent for being a gun class, based on past games.  However even if this never makes it in as a gun class… I still want the class in the game badly.  In part because I know this would make a good friend of mine exceptionally happy… and we would likely never find it playing any other job.  The Blue Mage game play style would be extremely difficult as compared to the traditional MMO tropes… but I feel like it would be something interesting to add in with a series of intricate quests similar to the “Egi” quests needed to learn the various “lore” spells.  I could see getting pulled into a series of dungeon encounters to be able to learn things like “Doom” that are traditionally in their spell list.  I could also see it playing out far more organically and you have to actually learn your spells through running dungeons and defeating encounters.  In any case I think it would be an extremely interesting addition.

Berserker

Last bit of speculation this morning is one that seems like an absolute no brainer.  In Final Fantasy V the Berserker had the ability to Equip Axes, which made them the almost natural choice for these weapons that most job could not use.  As a DPS job, this makes them an ideal fit to be paired with the Marauder class and represent their DPS job, much the same way as Scholar and Summoner currently come from the Arcanist class.  I have no clue if we will see this happen during the Heavensward expansion, but I think at some point each of the classes will end up getting a second job.  It seems like a no brainer to make this happen, since most of the abilities in the marauder class could easily support the Berserker.  The only question is how exactly would the game play work.  I seriously doubt that they would try and replicate the weird glitchy “berserk” game play where the character just kind of goes off on its own making poor life decisions and getting the party killed.  Instead I feel like it would be a traditional melee dps option, something they are of no shortage of currently.  if nothing else I think this is a thing that is going to happen sooner or later, and I would welcoming having another class that uses all of the badass looking two handed axes.

Heavensward Job Speculation

Something to remember when reading this…  everything but the Dark Knight is pure speculation.  Yoshi-P is notoriously poor at keeping secrets, so I feel like he has already given us a bunch of information to figure out what sorts of classes and jobs we will see for the expansion.  I also feel over the coming Live Letters he will start leaking more details, and hopefully between all of this we will start to be able to piece together what the final line-up is going to look like.  I don’t think we will get much more confirmation however until the December 20-21 Tokyo Fan Fest.  There are a ton of jobs that I would love to see in FFXIV.  Mostly I feel like we have the strong core classes already in place, and would love for them to start adding in more of the trademarked Final Fantasy “quirk”.  There are a ton of jobs that can be inspiration from decades of games, in any case I feel like we will have lots of interesting options this spring.  Now I need to wrap this up and get to work… so I can rush home after work and play Patch 2.4.

New Kind of Creepy

Extra Life Hangover

Yesterday was a really strange day for me.  In part I am simply not used to staying up as late as I ended up doing for my leg of the marathon.  When it came time for me to get offline and got to sleep around 2:30 in the morning my time, I found that I couldn’t do it.  I tossed and turned trying to calm back down enough to actually sleep.  It might have been the monster I had about midnight, or it might have just been the adrenaline of having streamed, but in whatever case it took me until probably 3:30 to finally sleep.  When I got back up around 9:30 that morning I was feeling groggy as hell, but also feeling like I should attempt to get up and around for the day.  Everything about the day just felt “off”.  By the time I got out of the house to get breakfast, they were out of sausage rolls.

I generally edit AggroChat Saturday night and upload it, so instead I had to do all of that yesterday morning.  By the time I posted my blog post it was around 1:30 in the afternoon.  I started laundry and attempted to chill out playing some Rift, but it seemed before I even turned around that it was time for Walking Dead, and ultimately bedtime.  It felt like the day was going in fast forward, or I was stuck in slow motion one of the two.  I cannot imagine how yesterday must have felt for the folks who actually did do the entire 25 hours themselves.  I feel like I am extremely old at this point, because there was a time not too long ago that staying up til 3:30 in the morning would not have had this sort of massive negative effect.  Hell there were many times while playing WoW that I did just this for one reason or another.  All of this makes me all the more impressed for everyone who managed to complete the entire thing.

New Kind of Creepy

rift 2014-10-27 06-23-52-745 One of the things that Rift has excelled at over the years is introducing extremely creepy gameplay elements into the MMO genre.  Sure Ct’hun was a giant eyeball with tentacles…  but it never felt unsettling.  So much of the things that you end up fighting against in Rift just feel wrong somehow.  Storm Legion for example had all of these strange machinations that looked to be knitted out of mismatched piles of flesh.  Even the agents of Crucia in their gleaming storm trooper armor… felt somehow unnatural.  So when we move to the Nightmare Tide expansion you see this landscape that should be friendly.  Full of pinks, blues and greens in all manner of pastel tones that should signal something relaxing…  but trust me that just makes it all the more creepy.  Especially as you hear these disembodied siren songs echo across the zone that remind you of the mermaids song from Harry Potter gone horribly wrong.

The storyline of this expansion once again involves multiple threats forcing their way into our world.  One of the threats is familiar, the forces of Maelforge are draining the Plane of Water and invading it.  As you wander around Goboro Reef you encounter their devastation as large sections of the realm are already dry, and you help the inhabitants deal with the consequences.  This however is just the most obvious threat.  There is an undercurrent of madness as well as you start to encounter the Akvan, nightmares taken shape and form.  They follow the dark god Demogos who appears to be the embodiment of the nightmare.  This expansion seems to be taking us past the bloodstorm and into something more sinister, making the players realize that the dragons were far from the worst threat we had to face.

Wandering with Style

rift 2014-10-26 20-39-03-28 The gameplay style seems to have improved greatly over Storm Legion.  While they have still stayed far removed from the very quest hub based leveling of the first 50 levels, the replacement this time around feels far less grindy than it did in Storm Legion.  All of the Carnage quests have been reduced in number it seems, so instead of having to kill 10 to 20 of a thing, we now only have to kill 4  to 8 to get completion.  Right now my focus has not necessarily been on quest completion but on exploration.  Goboro Reef is huge, and is full of little nooks and crannies where all sorts of interesting things are hidden.  I went up into a fissure under water, that originally I thought might have just been a place where the terrain didn’t quite match.  Instead I found that it was very much a purposeful gap, because at the end of it I found a treasure chest of sorts, in the form of a lost clutch.

I like that the zones allow me to wander about without feeling like I have to be focused on this thing or that thing.  My focus right now is on getting as much Thalasite as I  can, since I have so many tradeskills to level that all require large amounts of it.  Thankfully it is fairly plentiful on the reef, but you often times have to leave the immediate clear path to find it.  Often times you have to leave dry land and go swimming into the walls of water to snake your way up onto platforms where the ore sits.  This is the process I am enjoying, the slower pace of discovery that makes this an enjoyable game to play while going through my most recent netflix binges.  Yesterday I wandered around the zone while finishing up the second season of American Horror  Story, and I found the whole experience enjoyable… both in the game and in the show.

Addicted to Minions

rift 2014-10-27 06-17-35-954 Part of what is making the piddling so damned enjoyable is the introduction of the Minions mini-game.  In essence this works similar to Crew Missions in Star Trek or Crew Skills in Star Wars the Old Republic.  You collect these cards, that represent creatures that you can then send out on missions.  You start with a single mission slot available, but you can unlock additional slots through the spending of credits.  As you can see here on the right hand side of the screen I currently have five minions going at the same time.  Each mission takes a fixed amount of time, and costs a certain amount of stamina which is the number shown with the little lightning bolt like icon on the left side of the mission and minion cards.  I am uncertain how fast stamina is recovered, but generally speaking I have been able to keep sending out minions while I play.  When a mission is completed a little demon head icon appears in your notification pane, next to the time.

Right now I have encountered four basic kinds of missions.  The first kind rewards some form of crafting material, and there are multiple flavors of these “Hunting” or “Harvesting” missions.  Certain minions have icons on them relating to one of these skills, and if you match a minion with a mission card you have a better chance of success.  Similarly there are Diplomacy missions that return items that give you notoriety with the various factions in the game.  Some of the missions are searches for Artifacts, and I have had one of these reward as many as a dozen different artifacts from any manner of zones in the game.  My personal favorite are the dimension missions, because they reward random dimension goodies, that can be anything from simple building blocks to actual dimension keys.  There is another type that is called Assassination, but I have not actually encountered these, so not sure what exactly they reward.

So as I quest around and hunt for ore I keep sending my pack of critters out on missions, and every few minutes I get rewarded with all sorts of random goodies.  One of the things about me is that I love RNG elements, especially ones that have a potentially awesome payout.  I love sending out my retainers in FFXIV on ventures because of the random and interesting things they bring back.  Minions are like this on steroids, because the payoff can be extreme.  There are 1 minute, 5 minute, 15 minute, 8 hour and 10 hour missions that I have encountered so far.  The 10 hour missions require that you either spend adventurine or credits as well as the normal minion stamina cost.  Right now I don’t have a clue how to get adventurine other than the small amount that I have gotten from purchasing the expansion, or buying a minion starter kit.  In any case this definitely fuels my “Faff” and gives every little bit of aimless wandering more purpose, because I am letting my minions go find goodies for me.  I really hope the minion game ends up getting added to the mobile application.

#Rift #ExtraLife

Extra Life Results

AggroChat #28 – Server Nightmares and Spycraft

Last night we recorded another episode of the AggroChat podcast, which is something that was a bit up in the air a few weeks back.  Because of all of the excitement going on with Extra Life streams and Team Alliance of Awesome… I had wondered at one point if we should just skip the week.  Thankfully we had plenty of stuff to talk about and the normal cast of characters were all in attendance.  Last night we were joined by Ashgar, Kodra, Rae and Tam as we discuss all sorts of stuff going on.  It was a weird lead up for me, since I was out and about all day long, and didn’t really have much time to catch up on the news until right before we started recording.

We talked about the latest round of FFXIV announcements coming out of the London Fanfest.  Unfortunately the announcement that we got in Vegas of the Job information coming in London… was a bit of a tease.  We also talk about what we are looking forward to Tuesday when the 2.4 patch lands.  I talk about my experiences with Rift Nightmare Tide launch and the fairly catastrophic server rollback that caused me to loose essentially one entire days worth of playtime and a bunch of other stuff that came with that.  Tam and Kodra talk about their experiences playing Civilization Beyond Earth as a co-operative team.  Finally Rae fills us in on some of the craziness that is happening in the post season League.  It seems like there is a ton of “horse trading” going on as players are swapping teams left and right.

Extra Life Results

teamallianceofawesome_progress I have to say I am really damned proud of Team Alliance of Awesome.  We opted to do the 25 hour marathon relay style where each of us would pass the baton to the next leg of the stream.  I personally chose to take the 11pm EST to 3am EST slot thinking I could just stay up after we record the podcast and push through it.  I did however take a nap in preparation but I have to thank all of the folks that showed up during the middle of the night to cheer me on.  You guys kept me awake and responsive.  During that last hour after Pazz logged out of voice chat I got more than a tiny bit quiet.  All told we had 9 total participants and as you can see from the image on the right side we raised $1728 for the Extra Life charity.  So I want to thank everyone that participated by taking a leg of the stream, and everyone who tuned in to cheer us on.  It was an awesome experience and I am hoping next year we can maybe even make it bigger somehow.  I know as we neared go time folks came out of the woodwork wanting to participate but we had already assigned all of the slots.

One of the things that I thought was awesome was just how varied the group was in what all they streamed.  Sure there were a few games that got duplicated but there was a ton of variety from Single Player to MMOs to even Classic Console games.  There seemed to be a little bit for everyone.  I know Ashgar even managed to completely beat the Kirby game he was playing during his stream, which is pretty awesome.  I originally planned on playing The Secret World, Trove, FFXIV and Destiny… but I ended up mixing that up a bit.  I started off rolling a brand new Illuminati character in The Secret World, but having not played in awhile I did not make it terribly far into the game before I hit the hour threshold where I had intended to swap games.  After that I popped into FFXIV and threw myself at the Mercy of the Duty Roulette, healing an Ifrit and a Tam-Tara Deep Croft run.  After another hour had passed I flipped over to Rift and spent the rest of the night working my way through Goboro Reef in the Nightmare Tide content.  After two hours of play I managed to finally get back to roughly the same place I was before the server rollback the other day.

The folks I am immensely proud of though are the individuals who took it upon themselves to do the entire 25 hour stream.  For me I found four hours late at night a challenge, but I know Braxwolf, Stargrace and Liore all took it upon themselves to do the entire stream.  So seriously raise your hands and give all the folks that managed to complete the full 25 hour marathon a huge round of applause.  This is an awesome cause and it was great to actually be part of it this year.  Like I said before I am hoping to maybe do a better job of assigning slots and getting as many folks participating as we can next year around.  For the most part I believe the covered all 25 hours of the marathon, and some streams ran a bit long but it was awesome to have multiple folks streaming at the same time.  I really like the team construct in Hitbox, and I just wish Twitch would extend that functionality to mere mortals instead of having it walled up behind being a partner.  I will never have the kind of numbers needed to become a partner in any site…  but it is awesome to still be able to have a team of friends streaming.  You can watch my entire 4 1/2 hours of streaming in the embedded video above.

Valdis Story

Valdis_Story_AC 2014-10-21 19-07-09-303 This morning I am cheating a bit with my Steampowered Sunday game, in part because I started playing this last week.  I have gotten in the habit of picking up almost every Humble Bundle package that comes out, because I know sooner or later I will want to play one of the games in it.  Ashgar actually tipped me off to this game, because of the horribly long name I mostly ignored it when I noticed it in the bundle.  However he thought I would definitely be interested in it as it is a Metroidvania of a sort.  More so than a Metroidvania, it is very much a game in the feel of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night… and if you have been around my blog for very long you will recognize that as most likely my favorite game.  I own copies on the PSP, Vita, PS3 and even still have my original Playstation disc around here even though I don’t actually have a functional PSX any longer.

Valdis_Story_AC 2014-10-21 19-05-02-951 You have a series of characters to choose but initially your only options are Wyatt a emo haired youth with a big sword (see cloud) or Reina a female monk that is labeled for “advanced” players.  I of course went for the guy with the big sword…  because slashing things with a big sword is fun.  At some point I plan on going back through and trying out Reina, especially since during Wyatts play through of the game you encounter her early on… and she seems like a badass.  The storyline of the game is a little odd.  You are in a world where heaven and hell have both come to the material plain to duke it out for the surface.  As one of the last remaining humans you seem to have the ability to use the attacks of either side.  There is a lot of this that I don’t quite understand yet, but the devils are reddish hue and the angels tend to have blue color palettes.

Valdis_Story_AC 2014-10-21 19-11-40-387 The story doesn’t really matter much to me to be honest.  Why I am playing this game is that mechanically it is really fun.  You wander about and collect new abilities that open up new areas to explore just like the traditional Metroidvania style.  For example one of the first abilities you get is a wall jump, allowing you to explore new areas and reach places that you haven’t been before.  Today during my stream I managed to find a new ability that allowed me to erect a pillar of ice, allowing me to jump on it to reach areas I couldn’t before.  If you are used to Metroidvanias none of this will seem out of the ordinary.  There is a basic crafting system that allows you to upgrade your gear in towns, and that aspect actually reminds me a bit of Simon’s Quest the second Castlevania game.

This is the sort of game that you either really like Metroidvania games or you dislike them.   You can check out my entire stream from this morning above.  I play the area between two towns and end up fighting two bosses… both of which I barely made it through.  The boss fights are fairly tough in part because often times the environment conspires against you.  The first boss I made it through I literally have no clue quite how I did it.  In part I feel like I just lucked into that one.  The second boss was difficult because the floor was icy, and the wind would blow you to the side making it super hard to stay on the platforms and time the jumps to avoid the ice beams.  In any case it is worth a look.  The game is pretty much $15 wherever you go for it and available DRM free through the developer or on Steam.  Good game, and I play on playing it some more… I just wish I had it on the Vita to be honest.  This seems like the perfect type of game to play before falling asleep.

Catastrophic Rollback

Extra Life is Go!

aofa_banner_trans This morning team alliance of awesome has been streaming for awhile by the time I write this post.  This means the Extra Life marathon has been kicked off and the thunderbirds are go!  So I highly suggest you tune into the Alliance of Awesome team and see how all is streaming.  I personally won’t be coming on until significantly later in the day where I plan on playing a brand new Secret World character named “Belstream” on the Arcadia server.  I’ve gone through the character creation already and am sitting at the very start of the New York zone.  I went Illuminati this time, because with all of the “conspiracy” floating around in the gaming community it seemed rather fitting.  The Secret World is one of those games that I love but don’t end up playing all that often.  I am a lifetime subscriber, and I still consider that money well spent.

One of the interesting challenges today is trying to fit in the recording of a podcast around the various stream times.  Kodra and Hiddenwings stream before our normal recording time, and I stream almost immediately following it.  I will be going from 11pm EST to 3am EST, and then after me is I believe Scarybooster and then finally Cav will be finishing off the entire process.  From what I understand both Stargrace and Braxwolf intend to do the entire 25 hours…  so during a lot of the stream there will be multiple channels on Team AofA that you can be watching.  When I last tuned in, Stargrace was streaming some Divinity Original Sin, so you should see a wide variety of titles today.  I personally am mostly going to stream MMOs.  I had originally planned on streaming some Destiny, but with my current frustration with the game that probably isn’t the best idea.  Maybe going to substitute in some Rift Nightmare Tide if it is behaving.

Catastrophic Rollback

rift 2014-10-24 23-19-33-340 The last few days I have been sick, as I said in my blog my lungs pretty much betrayed me.  As a result I spent a lot of time sitting on the couch poking around in Rift Nightmare Tide.  Over the course of Thursday I watched one and a half seasons of American Horror Story, made it about half way through 60 and made some significant progress on several different tradeskills, finally crafting myself a nice set of blue weapons.  Then something bad happened.  When I was working on my blog post yesterday the Faeblight server was completely offline, and while I thought this was odd I just went on with my business of writing a normal blog post.  Later in the day on twitter I heard that Laethys, Faeblight and Wolfsbane were all offline and that there had been something that happened to the hardware for that server cluster.  When I got home the server was back online, and I logged into my character only to notice that I had lost an entire days worth of play time.  My character was sitting back at 1% experience into 60… pretty much the point at which you normally zone into the zone.

A thread on the forums confirmed the issue, that there had indeed been a rollback.  The goofy thing is it seems to be an uneven rollback.  I have all of my Planar Attunement experience gained, as well as all of my Minion experience.   My character however was completely rolled back, including the fact that I no longer had the spec or macros that I set the day before when I started to level the character.  The biggest problem is… I spent a lot of platinum training various skills… and all of THAT seemed to be missing like I had in fact trained the skills but had nothing to show for it.  As an IT professional I have had things like this happen to me too.  A backup is only as good as the time you need to restore it… and it is often times impossible to tell if a backup is actually going to work correctly.  Having been in the shoes of these folks before myself…  I feel generally horrible for the stress that they are going through.  Supposedly Faeblight is hit the worst and they are having to manually go back through logs to try and figure out what all was actually lost.

rift 2014-10-24 20-43-08-161 I can take this with a grain of salt, knowing that sooner or later Trion is going to make things right for me.  They always have in the past, and I have a feeling they will during this time.  I mean this is probably the most catastrophic rollback I have experienced since the ill fated launch of Horizons back in 2003.  Unfortunately rollbacks were something that happened during those days, so we accepted it at face value and moved on.  Rollbacks these days however are almost unheard of, and as a result the players on the forums are out for blood.  There are some players who had power leveled themselves to 65 and maxed out several of their tradeskills… and all of that effort was completely lost.  I am super thankful I have been playing the expansion extremely casually at this point.  All of this said I am certain that Trion will make things right in the end, the biggest frustration for me was setting back up all of my hotbars and my new spec again.

ArcheAge Update

archeage 2014-10-13 06-17-56-723 I have not been playing much of late, especially with all of the other games on my plate.  However I felt like I needed to post an update.  I have been pretty down on ArcheAge as a game from my pretty horrific experiences with the Alpha/Beta community.  In part I think a lot of those early players were Streamers and did horrific things to other players to entertain their audiences.  I can remember one incident where I had to cross a bay in a rowboat, and folks were lined up trying to capsize and subsequently drown us as all of the little newbies tried to cross the open water.  Coming back and playing on the Naima server at launch…  I have to say I have not experienced any of this non-combat griefing.  I have gone afk in town numerous times, and have not found myself pushed out into a bunch of mobs and dead on the ground…  this was something that happened constantly in alpha.

The game is still compelling, but I have yet to actually make it to the contested zone levels this time around.  I am still in my early 20s, but I hope to make a push at some point to see just how the open pvp areas feel.  If the early game is any indication, maybe the production player base is more reasonable than the barbaric alpha playerbase was.  I can deal with danger, and I can deal with the possibility of death…  what I could not deal with was the constant jackassery that I experienced in the alpha community.  This is still not my primary game, especially with all of the exciting things happening in FFXIV this week, and the launch of Rift Nightmare Tide.  However I still have a large number of friends playing the game, and it has been nice to pop my head in and talk to people I have not seen in years.  Unfortunately the guild I was planning on joining imploded this week, and has been replaced by another one.  So I will have to make the necessary inroads to get invites there.  Also unfortunately it seems they might not be as casual friendly, which would be unfortunate… because for each of the serious players I know playing the game, they have a couple of not so serious friends that are also playing with them.

#ExtraLife #Rift #ArcheAge

Bel Folks Stuff Debut

An Evening With Syl

cropped-belfolksstuff_banner A few weeks back I talked about a new kind of podcast I was planning on doing.  Where I grab one of the very interesting members of our community and chat with them a bit.  Somewhat of an informal interview podcast.  Thankfully everyone I have talked to about this idea thought it was cool and has been willing to volunteer for the process.  Since my friend @Gypsy_Syl and I have notoriously struggled to find time to actually hang out together on voice chat, I figured it would be awesome to start this entire process with her.  Thankfully she graciously accepted and last Sunday at noon my time which was 7 pm her time… we sat down to record a show.  I am really pleased with how it turned out, and while I still feel like I am absolutely “winging it” I can see how this is going to work with other “Folks” as well.

Right now the plan is to do this as a semi-monthly show, because quite honestly with daily blogging and weekly podcasting with AggroChat, I don’t feel like I can really add much more to my schedule.  Naming a thing is always the hardest part, after some time I landed on more of a statement of what the show was… than an actual name.  “Bel Talks To Interesting Folks About Really Important Stuff That They Enjoy Doing”.  This however was way too long to be the title of anything… so I just shortened it to “Bel Folks Stuff”.  It’s quirky I know, but I figure the folks that will be listening won’t care much about the title… but will instead be tuning in to listen to someone from our community talking about stuff that they enjoy.  So please tune in and enjoy “An Evening With Syl” the very first episode.

Gobbie-Boom

ffxiv 2014-10-24 06-14-29-107 Last night I spent most of the night working on my Monk, trying to push him ever higher in level.  I was happy the other night to graduate from Totorak to Haukke Manor as it is a considerably more enjoyable dungeon.  My friend Ashgar likes to refer to Totorak as “The Thousand Yawns of Total-Nap”.  For me, I don’t mind the dungeon that bad but it does definitely seem to drag on, especially in that section where you keep having to bust poison balloons and move through the green sludge.  Last night however I got to move into one of my favorite dungeons…  Brayflox’s Longstop.  The reason why I like Brayflox is simple…  it has some really awesome sets that come out of it.  While tanking the place I had managed to gather up a full set of Cavalry, and while healing I had managed to gather up most of a full set of Battle Mage.  However every time I ran the place, either Infantry did not drop… or someone else was with me that wanted it far more.

As you can see from the above picture, last night I managed to get the Infantry Chest to drop.  So far I only have legs, hat and chest…  but I figure I will be running a lot more Brayflox.  One of the things that I didn’t really cover in my guide is that every night I always do at least one completely random dungeon run.  This is worth a massive amount of xp even if you end up getting one of the primals… that normally rewards next to no experience.  After that I tend to just queue for whatever the highest level dungeon I can run happens to be… especially if I am playing DPS.  Nothing sucks worse than wading through a thirty minute dps queue, only to end up getting Ifrit.  So I expect over the next few days to queue up for Brayflox, and then run FATEs while waiting on the roulette to pop.  The only thing I wish is that you could queue with your chocobo out, because this greatly lowers my survival in FATEs to have to run without him.

Using My Boost

rift 2014-10-23 06-27-53-875 This morning Faeblight appears to be down, so I can’t actually log into the game and take any proper screenshots.  As a result you get a shot of my menagerie of characters.  This is fitting because in reality I was going to talk to the boost to level 60.  As you can see I have a whole slew of characters that I could have used this on.  Mostly I struggled with a choice between boosting Belgrenth my Dwarven Mage, or Belgaroth my Bahmi Cleric.  Belgrenth is still stuck down in his 20s, but overall I enjoy questing on him because the launch content feels better to play than the Storm Legion content.  Belgaroth however I had just started the Storm Legion slog with, and felt like I was making no real progress.  So did I go for maximum number of free levels… or did I go for helping me skip the content I wanted to skip on an otherwise really enjoyable character.

As I am sure you can tell from my lead up… I ended up using it on the cleric because skipping Storm Legion sounded like an awesome deal.  Unfortunately I didn’t really have a good use for the free boost to 375 crafting, so I ended up spending it on survival…  something that I struggled to level on my other characters.  If I had been thinking really I would have used it on fishing… because as time goes that one seems to take significantly longer to level.  The other big news from yesterday is that I think I figured out a pretty decent leveling build for Belghast.  All of the warrior builds I was using when I last played have seemed to have gotten nerfed significantly.  Once upon a time I could farm things with impunity and keep myself at nearly full health.  Those days were long gone as upon starting the Nightmare Tide content it was a struggle just to stay alive.

I landed upon a thread on the official forums by a guy named Inny proposing his leveling spec for 3.0.  You can check out the full magelo build here but essentially it is a 42 Warlord, 34 Champion, 0 Liberator build.  So far it seems to be working pretty well, and the combination of a few minor heals and the combination of Weapon Defense and No Permission to Die allow me to stay alive in most situations.  No Permission to Die need some really specific timing to make it work, as it heals you to 50% if you receive a killing blow in the time that the buff is up.  The biggest boost to my survival was crafting a new set of weapons.  Thankfully it was pretty easy to gather up the materials to do that, but unfortunately I have pretty much burnt through all of my available platinum on tradeskills.  Hopefully that will start to regenerate as I quest, so I can do the same for Armorsmithing as I did for weaponsmithing.  All in all the content is enjoyable, or at least significantly less grindy feeling than the Storm Legion content was.

A Real Monk

Being Sickly Sucks

My life story is pretty simple, and can be pretty much summed up by my body repeatedly betraying me.  I was born with a primary immune system issue, which is far from “boy in the bubble” territory, but mostly means I have a “lazy” immune system.  Essentially all of my antibodies and defense mechanisms hang out saying “these guys aren’t so bad” until finally one of these foreign actors torches the place, and forces them to fight back and repel whatever bad things invaded my body.  Throwing a sucker punch into the works I have some pretty severe asthma and allergies.  More often than not what starts as allergies or an undefended against cold ends up triggering the asthma and locking me down.

Right now my lungs are betraying me and since yesterday afternoon have been struggling to breathe.  I am doing the normal “take breathing treatments every few hours” thing, which is helping but just considerably slower than I would like it to.  By the time I went to bed last night I was actually feeling almost human.  Waking up this morning however my body seems to have rebelled against me once more.  At this point I am uncertain if this is just a cold or something deeper, but in any case the initial treatment is the same, rest and medication.  I am so ready for nanites to exist, I will gladly embrace our robot overlords if they bring with them the ability to fix my dumb malfunctioning body.  Maybe I can have like cool cybernetic parts too…  in the future I will totally be Adam Jensen.

Nightmare Tides

rift 2014-10-23 06-28-58-988 I was reminded yesterday by my friend RowanBlaze that it was the launch day for Nightmare Tides.  I managed to get in for a bit but didn’t stick around terribly long for a number of reasons.  The first was that the servers were really populated, like can’t engage a single mob without having a swarm of players on it with you.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, because it means that the expansion as a whole seems to be pretty well received.  The second was that after spending about thirty minutes doing “bag maintenance” and removing all of the old Storm Legion quests from my log, I honestly just felt drained.  I was afterall not feeling amazing in the first place, and when you combine this with the fact that the once awesome build that Pkudude helped me find in the first place isn’t quite as awesome as it once was…  I just lacked the oomph to go out onto the forums and find whatever it is that the latest leveling build happens to be.

rift 2014-10-23 06-30-17-828 The thing I did mess around with however is the new Minions system.  So far I am a fan, other than I have no clue how to actually earn adventurine.  The idea is that Minions are mini-pets with a purpose.  My biggest disappoint is that not all mini-pets are minions… and not all minions are mini-pets.  This aspect of the system is deeply confusing and they would have been far better serviced if they had simply done what Blizzard did and assign attributes to ALL existing mini-pets.  That aside it is a fun little mini-game where you send your pet out on missions.  The more missions you run the better xp it gains… and I would assume at some point you start to unlock more dangerous missions as a result.  I got a nice jellyfish minion as part of my preorder (that also happens to double as an in game companion) but there are a number of basic mini-pets that you can pick up for 1 plat each.  The other way you can obtain them is either by buying randomized packs… or by spending the Nightmare Tides zone currency on individual ones.

rift 2014-10-23 06-30-33-676 Admittedly I have been doing a pretty poor job of keeping track on the progress of this expansion.  An awesome reader of mine hooked me up early on with beta access, and I spent quite a bit of time poking around the first zone.  I did not however delve too deep into the systems because I wanted to spoil the experience as little as possible.  Mostly I was trying to decide if I wanted to pre-order or not, and I enjoyed myself enough to throw some more money Trion’s way.  Now I am trying to figure out all the things I happened to miss.  If nothing else Minions are an interesting diversion to the leveling process as the user interface has made it super simple to hop in and out of the Minion screen, notifying you when your current missions is complete in the same place the dungeon finder tools show up.  Since I am essentially done with Destiny for the time being, I might end up streaming some Nightmare Tides leveling this weekend during the Extra-Life marathon.

A Real Monk

ffxiv 2014-10-23 06-54-15-200 The bulk of my evening I spent watching television and working on leveling my Pugilist in Final Fantasy XIV.  I have this crazy goal of reaching 50 on all combat and crafting classes by the Spring 2015 release of Heavensward, and for some reason of late I have hung on working on the pugilist.  I think in part because this is my last Disciple of War class to level…  at least until next week when the Rogue/Ninja is released.  For the longest time I just could not get into the pugilist, but lately I feel like I have finally gotten into the “rhythm” of playing it… or what everyone refers to as “the dance”.  When I was working up my guide I declared Monk being less positional dependant than the Dragoon… and in a way this is absolutely true.  Monk attacks will still land and qualify for the next step in a combo regardless of where you are in relation to the target.  Dragoons on the other hand, the combo will not continue unless the attack was performed from the right position.

Saying that however leaves out the fact that a monk that is NOT doing positional attacks… is a monk that is completely ineffective and might as well just be auto attacking.  There seems to be a massive damage output difference between keeping up all of your stacks and dancing around the target to just standing there and beating on it from one place.  The thing I like the most about the monk so far is that the position attacks seem to be eaiser to land that for the dragoon.  The Dragoon attacks have a lot of lead up time to the attack, and notoriously your tank is going to twitch the target at exactly the wrong moment… making it so that Heavy Thrust for example doesn’t land.  With a monk this never seems to happen… or at the very least it is not as crippling of an event as you can still continue going to your next attack.  If you miss a Heavy Thrust… you have to Heavy Thrust again… until finally one lands.

So I am happy to finally get what people like about playing the Monk.  Last night I ran a really horrible Halatali for my daily roulette.  If you are a Gladiator tank out there, please for the love of god do not use Riot Blade.  We tried to explain to this tank three for four times exactly what he needed to do to hold aggro.  However he almost willfully ignored us.  At one point I actually voted to abandon the party after one of our dps bailed on us.  Unfortunately the NEW dps didn’t understand why we were trying to abandon party and voted it down.  After that I ran a few instances of Totorak and a few of Haukke after I graduated up into that dungeon.  Finally near the end of the night I dinged 30 and was able to complete my monk quest.  Now I am no longer a pugilist but a proper monk, and finally have some decent AOE capabilities.  Actually looking forward to finishing leveling this job and getting it geared out.

#FFXIV #Rift #NightmareTides

Wish I Was Proud

Fatigued and Forlorn

My wife and I have very different online circles.  She is super hardcore into mathematics, and I pretty much only following gaming folk.  As such we don’t actually follow each other on twitter, since there really is very little overlap between our communities.  The math conference that I helped out with over the summer has lead to a bit of overlap, but it is still super minimal.  The other day she hollered into my office at me “What is your gamers gate shit doing in my feed?”.  Sure enough the madness that has infected what used to be my happy place, had spread over into other communities.  These were not folks choosing sides in the battle…  they were folks shocked and dismayed at the death threats and hatred being directed towards women.  Once again reinforcing a very negative stereotype against our community, one that I feel we have fought really hard to get past.

I’m 38 and have been a gamer my entire life.  There are things that I have done through gaming that I am extremely proud of.  I am proud of the days of trying to make 25 people that have no tangible connection to one another work as a well oiled machine… or at least an oiled enough one to take down a boss.  I am proud of the community that I built from the ground up that over the course of its existence has housed literally thousands of “stalwart” gamers.  I am proud of the blog that I have built, and my two podcasts (one of which has yet to see the light of day).  I am proud of the events like Blaugust and the Newbie Blogger Initiative that I have been involved in.  I am proud to know so many awesome people, some of which have actually transitioned into my day to day life… or that I have hired because of their awesome non-gaming abilities.  All of these things took lots of effort to make happen and were all pretty cool things that I SHOULD feel proud of.

Wish I Was Proud

The problem is I can only feel proud of these within certain “safe” circles because the world as a whole still sees us as basement dwelling troglodytes.  The problem is… as much time as we have spent trying to change this image with really awesome things like Extra-Life…  Gamers Gate is proving them completely right.  It is proving to the world that we are not quite ready to crawl out of the primordial ooze of our basements, not quite ready to exist in normal society yet.  Chris Kluwe spun up a pretty incendiary rant yesterday about how the whole situation pisses him off, and I feel everything that he is saying…  I just wish he had chosen to write the article without the same sort of aggressive language that I expect from the GG folks.  Ultimately that article itself somewhat proves we are not quite ready to pull ourselves up out of the muck.

While I work for one of the coolest bosses in the world, I am still part of a society that seems gaming as an aberration.  I live in flyover country, and here gaming is still viewed as something “kids do”.  We were inching closer and closer to being able to get people to understand that going home and raiding with our friends is no different than going out to a bar with theirs.  We had reached a point where just maybe folks were starting to understand that waiting in line for a video game release is no different than waiting in line for a midnight showing of the latest movie.  Our culture was slowly grafting itself to the mainstream… and this was a good thing for those of us still dependent upon the mainstream for our livelihood.  Every day that Gamers Gate exists, and makes the press about their impotent “movement” and the harassers that freely associate with it…  is a day that chips away at the progress we have made towards being “normal”.

Tried to be Neutral

I honestly did not sit down this morning and intend to write this post.  Sometimes you sit down at the keyboard and and your words develop a life of their own.  I started out this GG madness trying to stay in the middle, and remain supportive to those who needed supporting, but unaligned to either Gamers Gate or the Anti-Gamers Gate camps.  The events pretty much made this an impossibility as the assault on the already under represented sections of our community continued.  The thing is… the longer this went on the more it pushed me into the Anti-GG camp.  So much so that I have systematically pruned my social media of anyone supporting it.  The problem is…  there is just as much negativity going on against it as well.  Over the last year and a half I have worked seriously to limit the amount of negative feedback I keep in my loop.  Its not that I am trying to be a Pollyanna or anything…  I just find it healthier to dwell upon the good things, and avoid the bad ones.

The problem is I don’t feel like I can avoid Gamers Gate, because it has become so attached to every part of this community that I love.  It is like this disease that has spread, and I am uncertain how exactly to cut it from these limbs without sacrificing the things I care about in the process.  Ultimately I just want it to go away, and I want the hatred and the fighting to stop.  I want people to treat each other with basic human decency.  Because really at the end of the day that should be a basic thing.  Since the golden rule of “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself” is woven into every single religion and culture on our planet… you would think that it shouldn’t have to keep being explained.  There is nothing that can be salvaged at this point from Gamers Gate.  The media has spoken, and they have rightly chosen to focus on the real harm to actual lives that is being done with this “movement”.  It is time for it to go away, or it might literally succeed in destroying the games we love.