Sea of Spell Effects

Good morning you happy people of the interwebs.  Yes that is right… the top greeting block is back with a vengeance.  I had been trying to wean myself off of it, because really the top block and wrapping up blocks are both crutches.  However this morning I feel all groggy and discombobulated and I am crawling back to the greeting block like a warm blanket of sanity.  This morning I feel somewhat like Frankenstein as I move around the house through my routine much like a reanimated corpse.  Additionally I have a cat that keeps trying to help me write this…  and she really is not taking no for an answer.

Sea of Spell Effects

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Essentially by resurrecting the greeting block, I am delaying the inevitable… which is that I don’t really have much to talk about this morning.  It is not that I didn’t do a lot yesterday gaming wise, because I totally did.  First off I got up, blogged, cleaned up the house, changed the ferret cage, ferret playpen, and scrounged for food…  only finally then settling down to play some FFXIV… all before noon I might add.  So I feel like my morning was super productive, and this honestly lead way into an afternoon of productivity in game as well.  At the point at which I blogged yesterday morning, I had just hit 30 on my Archer and completed the Bard quest chain.

Yesterday I decided to continue working on my Bard because quite frankly… I have been enjoying it far more than I have my Dragoon.  First off… for those not familiar with the FFXIV bard class… it is quite likely the least bardy of all bards I have ever played.  It is essentially a bad-assed ranged class that just happens to have songs they can play every now and then to add a group buff.  The way the songs work in FFXIV is they consume mana while they are up, in order to give your group some sort of a regeneration of defensive buff.  The first of these makes you every healers best friend, because you can play mana song.

Since at any given time yesterday we essentially lacked the perfect combination of characters online to do much of anything productive…  I ended up getting into FATE groups and leveling at a shocking pace.  The second character really does go so much faster.  I started the day at 30 in Costa Del Sol and ended the day at 40 in Coerthas Highlands… just about to switch over to Mor Dhona.  Before I know it, I will be 45 and decked out in part of a suit of amazing gear.  At this point since I am making a lot of progress, I figure I will finish leveling the bard before I play anything else.  I was the second 50 in the guild, so I am essentially playing a waiting game as folks catch up.

My rush to level a DPS is in part because our most stable group of players that are online on the time seems to be two tanks, one dps and one healer.  So with me being able to switch hit to a dps… this gives me a lot more flexibility for making a viable group happen.  At many times last night, had I a DPS we could have gone off and run Aurum Vale for fun and profit.  However instead there was no real viable way to make a two tank party work.  Though…. quite frankly this is something we probably should try with one of the warriors just not throwing up defiance and pretending to dps.  I wonder if the dpsy warrior will strip aggro even if they are not using defiance…  I guess this is something we should try to see how well it works.

Free 85

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I believe that tomorrow is the day that existing subscribers in Everquest 2 receive a free Heroic Character.  Essentially a “Heroic Character” is something they are adding to the store that allows you to create an instant level 85 character with 280 aa points… the needed amount to start on the newest content in the game.  For awhile they have offered 280 aa catch up baubles that came with the last expansion, but they are taking this one step further and letting you create a level 85 character from scratch, or take an existing character and level it up.  At this point I am slightly torn on how I feel about this.

On one hand, there is no way in hell I will miss this opportunity to create something and apply some miracle grow for free.  I figure I will use it to push my little Ratonga Swashbuckler up to 85, I had intended to use the 280 aa catch up bauble anyways on that character.  I have always struggled to level any DPS characters in EQ2, so he was my attempt at doing that… since Swashbucklers tend to be a more sturdy dps.  Even though I already have him at around level 55, I have stalled out because I simply hate not having flight.  After a point you get tired of grinding tradeskills to 85 just so you can use wings on your characters.  If they offered some form of a flight license on the store I would have snapped one up in a heartbeat.

The other hand I really dislike the way this feels.  Essentially it feels as though they are saying that all content before level 85 is just not important anymore.  They have made so many strides to improve the leveling process and while there are still some dead spots that never got reworked… the whole thing overall flows nicely.  I just hate the whole leveling without flight thing.  But as several friends pointed out… this is not really for me… someone who has time to level a character from 1-85.  This is for my friends who have not been able to stick with any game that long… it lets them catch one character up to within a few levels of their friends and jump starts them into doing fun content already.

Try Before You Buy

I think the neatest thing that this is adding into the EQ2 experience is a “Try before you buy” concept.  Essentially you will be able to create a new level 85 character, with gear and 100 AA points, and play them until level 86 to get a feel for whether or not you like the character.  This is extremely key since so many EQ2 classes do not really come into their own until you have a bunch of levels behind you.  For the most part all character play similarly from level 1-10 but it is not until the 40-50 range that most of them really come into their own as truly unique experiences.  Being able to jump start a character and see if you like how they feel at level 85, should give players a better way of gauging if they like what their class will become.

There is nothing more frustrating than having spent many hours leveling a character that you ultimately decide you don’t really like.  From what it sounds like in the FAQ you can play this character indefinitely until you hit 86… then it becomes progression locked.  To prevent problems that this might cause, it is for the most part locked out of all public channels.  It can’t sent tells, or trade, or do any of the things that might let a malicious player annoy others in the game world.  Upon deciding to purchase the character you get a number of perks.

  • A set of Level 85 weapons
  • Level 85 jewelry
  • Level 85 armor
  • 20 Food and Drink
  • Ammunition for Fighter and Scout Ranged Weapons
  • 6 24-slot bags
  • Variety of Potions
  • A Pegasus Mount
  • Renaming potion for your character (Upgraded or Purchased Heroic Characters only), just in case!

Now comes the bad part… this process is rather pricey.  To create a new 85 character or upgrade an existing one… it is 3500 station cash.  While there are various dodges and ways to get station cash cheaper… at face value this is $35 of cold hard cash spent to instant level a character.  Essentially I feel like this is going to completely destroy the current Grey Market of Power-levelers… and quite frankly this is probably going to have really positive effects on the community.  Right now almost all of the major public dungeons are rife with characters zipping through the corridors and pulling everything in sight… making it extremely difficult to complete any quests.  Each time I have had to do the Sanctum of the Scale it has been a mind numbingly frustrating process because I simply could not get the spawns I needed.

I guess if it is perfectly fine for World of Warcraft to give you a free level 80 character for coming back to the game… then I can’t really say much against being able to create a level 85 in EQ2.  Both games are extremely aged, and anything that keeps players playing them… and allows their friends to play with them… is likely going to be a positive in the long run.  Now I am just trying to decide if I want to level an Assassin or Ranger from scratch, or to boost up my little Swashbuckler.  I want a viable dps class so I feel like I should probably do a bit of research to determine which class I should settle in on.  Part of me wants to go in a completely different direction and level a warden, since I miss access to my melee warden from my second account.

Wrapping Up

It is that time again, and once more I have squandered a perfectly good blog post by talking about nothing.  I have a lot of things to get done today, so here is hoping I can remain focused and power through them.  Tonight I hope to get my Bard up to 45 so I can get the majority of my ancestral armor.  At that point I can start helping out in various dungeons like Dzemael Darkhold, and eventually Aurum Vale.  I hope you all have a great day, and it is the beginning of a really awesome week.

Zombie Infestations

Black Helicopters

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This morning is a bizarre morning here in Tulsa.  I woke up groggily to the sounds of my wife taking a shower, which was essentially a signal to myself that I needed to get up as well.  So I rolled out of bed, showered, threw on some clothing and stepped outside with the purpose of getting some food.  What greeted me was this eerie fogscape that felt like it was straight out of The Secret World.  The sun was up already, which is usually the death of any fog in the area, but this fog seemed to be persisting.

By the time I had gotten to QuikTrip for my normal morning breakfast of a sausage roll…  it almost seemed like it was getting worse.  As I pulled in, I noticed that the building was ringed in Crows, with a little semi-circle of them gathered on the grass.  This definitely did not help the odd feeling…  and the last thing I wanted to do was go step into the middle of the semi-circle.  Pretty sure if I had a Revenant would have spawned… and I had left my shotgun at home.  So I made it home safely, and nothing really far from the norm happened… but the world definitely feels like it would be flooded with Draugr.

Zombie Infestations

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Yesterday I played quite a bit more State of Decay, and since Marcus was in a tired state, I had to switch things up and break out Maya Torres.  One of my biggest frustrations with this game and Dead Island as well is the whole “melee weapons break” construct.  I have always been a melee centric player, and tend to gravitate playing someone I can beat shit down with.  As a result when you throw me into an open world game… I tend to gravitate towards the melee weapons.  One one exception to this is the fallout franchise…  where I tend to stick with the combat shotgun indefinitely.

So as a result of this fetish of mine…  my entire gaming experience seems to be a search for new melee weapons.  This is not really kosher when it comes to the flow of State of Decay.  Immediately you think… open world game… explore all the things and gather up the loot.  While this is a viable play mechanic…  the world is not a static thing.  There is a whole meta game going on behind the scenes of trying to keep the morale of your survivors up and protect them from the badness outside the church gates.  In my search for things to beat zombies with… I noticed a series of messages showing up announcing that such and such location was infested.

I didn’t think much about this at first… but the infestation kept spreading to a new location.  Once there got to be three infestations up… my survivors started to lose morale.  So I had to go on a mission of cleaning out each of the houses.  This was not the easiest task in the world… because each and every one had a half dozen to a dozen zombies in it… and at least one or two of the red eyed “super” zombies.  Each time I cleared out an infestation I got back the lost morale and then some.

I Do Bad Things

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The coding of State of Decay is frustratingly brilliant at times.  The rule we have learned from watching the various zombie movies… is that while zombie eyesight is pure shit… their hearing is pretty amazing.  Gunshots draw more zombies to investigate the noise… and this mechanic annoyingly well.  Essentially if you decide to go out guns a blazing… you will have to fight an endless string of zombies.  I know eventually you can attach a muzzle suppressor to dampen the noise but I have yet to find one… or figure out how to do it.  The above shot is the beginning of my foolish attempt to shred a horde of zombies.

During the gameplay there will be roaming hordes of zombies that will wander around town and have the potential of attacking your base.  There was one heading up the road towards home… and I got radio’d about it while out and about.  I finally managed to kill enough that I could run into the safety of the base…. which kept them from spawning more.  Yes I know I am abusing the shit out of that mechanic…  but I was running out of ammunition by the time I had taken down a handful of them.  I got a huge morale bonus for taking out a zombie horde, but it greatly hurt my ammo stock and weapon durability doing it.

The biggest problem I have with gunplay in State of Decay… is that I still suck at aiming a weapon with a controller.  I feel like I will be far more confident sniping zombies in the head… once the mouse and keyboard controls are available.  Right now SoD PC is a direct port of the xbox version, and as a result there are some goofy graphical glitches at times and you have to rely entirely upon your controller.  The gameplay mechanics work well for a controller, and the game performs a smooth 60 fps for me at max graphics.

Bard is Born

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Yesterday I also played quite a bit of Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn.  Since I got my main to 50… and I am the second in the guild to do so…  I figured I would work on my Bard a bit as the others caught up.  I managed to take it from 26 to 33, and at level 30 I completed the sequence of quests to pick up the Bard job.  The odd thing about it… there is very little change in the way the class feels between Archer and Bard.  With the Warrior and the Dragoon… in both cases I picked up a massive quality of life ability, whereas with the bard you pick up an ability that makes you more attractive to other players…. but not much of anything you can really use yourself.

It feels as though the players have congealed at the upper levels, and as a result the lower level FATE grind spots have become more sane.  I had quite a bit of fun in Costa Del Sol doing the various fates there and managed to get extremely good contribution which has pushed me up in level quite a bit.  If I play this morning I will likely go back to Costa and work on getting to 35 so I can do Sunken Temple.  I think we have a back of guild members that are at that level.  I know Lethbridge still needs Haukke which I can do with him now… that was my ulterior motive for leveling yesterday.

Additionally I really need to work on my pugilist to get him caught up with archer.  That way I can get rid of a ton of low level leather gear without fear of it being needed by someone else.  The inventory management meta game has become a real thing for me, with both of my retainers almost completely full… and my gear store hovering around 20 per slot.  I need to push up all my melee classes so that I can free up room by deconstructing it.  I am still having quite a bit of fun with the game, but I am really hoping they open up some questing options in the upcoming patches.

Wrapping up

Well it is that time, and I need to wrap this up.  I really need to clean the house because it is a pit… and I think it is adversely effecting the moods of both myself and my wife.  Also it would be nice to start the work week with a clean house, and anything I do today will save me scrambling Monday night to gather the trash.  I hope you all have had a great weekend, and I hope that the start of the week is equally great.

Darkside of Eorzea

Ancestral Armor

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This morning is a relatively horrendous day here in Oklahoma.  It has been alternating between no rain and torrential downpours and with both the temperature has dropped quite a bit.  Enough so that I had to go put on socks and find a fuzzy blanket to crawl under.  This is to be expected since this is of course the first weekend of the Tulsa State Fair.  Essentially every year during the fair, the temperature drops from shorts weather to jacket weather in the matter of an afternoon.  This is just the way the rhythm of nature goes here in Oklahoma.

Additionally today is the very first Tulsa Mini-Maker Faire.  Yesterday was another first for Oklahoma… we had our first web development conference that I attended.  We had representatives from WordPress, GitHub, Etsy, Mozilla and a cool local javascript games company.  I only managed to attend the first half of the conference because we had a minor catastrohy at work that I had to come back and fix.  However what I DID attend was pretty awesome and it is extremely cool that Tulsa has become the “cool” city in Oklahoma or at least the one with the thriving art and technology scene.

When I got home that night I started the grind to 50 on my Warrior in FFXIV.  I say grind… because literally after 49 I had no quests left to do to get me any experience.  I will address that problem a bit later, but first check out the awesome picture above.  Upon reaching 50 I was able to do a rather difficult quest and claim the chest piece to match the rest of the gear I got at 45.  Honestly it feels like cruel and unusual punishment to have to walk around for five levels looking like a clown… but I guess it is to make you appreciate the chest piece all the more when you finally get it.

Darkside of Eorzea

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As I said above… I had NO quests at all available from the beginning of 49 until I dinged 50.  This meant one thing… FATE grinding.  Essentially this is how you have to level all characters past your first.  Leve quests reward almost insignificant experience and actually killing mobs to level is grossly inefficient after about level 10.  So the end result is players roaming around in large parties tackling FATEs in one of a handful of zones.  The 45-50 FATE grind is out in Northern Thanalan and while there are multiple FATEs that spawn out there… everyone is essentially waiting on a specific one to spawn.

The above image is taken by a friend of mine from a Dark Devices fate group.  It is the biggest piece of fuckery I have seen in a video game in a long while.  Essentially DD as it is known, should be a really cool four part FATE, but players have figured out that they can delay the first part and instead grind a literally endless stream of instant spawn cultists.  The result is that players will form up in full parties and AOE the shit out of everything that is spawning, soaking up xp from the kills for 14 of the 15 minute fate timer.  At roughly 1-2 minutes from failing the FATE, a group of players usually breaks away and kills the 8 or so named mobs needed to close out the event.

The problem with this whole scenario is that firstly… it is a hack…  the developers I am sure never expected players to abuse the fate in this way.  Secondly the problem is it favors only classes that have a strong spammable AOE.  So essentially any melee class is screwed because they simply cannot keep up with their one AOE attack (if they even have that) due to the TP restrictions.  The Black Mage of course is the king of the fate with their endless spammable Ice based attacks.  The problem is… last night we had roughly 100 players in the same space trying to fight over the same mobs.

If you are in the right group it can be as much of half a level… pending you get the majority of the spawns and get gold on all four fates.  If you are NOT in the right group… or not in a party at all… it becomes this massively frustrating experience.  Each time they patch, I hope and pray they break this fate so it is no longer the grindy bullshit that it is today.  I wanted to hit 50, so I joined a group and rode along for the experience using whatever AOE I could throw out with overpower and occasionally a steel cyclone.  Quite frankly… I would not have hit 50 last night had I not managed to get into two good groups for this fate.

Asian Grindfest

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For as much positive vibes as I have thrown the direction of this game over the last few weeks, and all the efforts they have made to westernize it… there is still a pretty egregious Asian grindfest lurking below the covers.  You essentially have just barely enough quests available to you as a player to level a single class from 1 to 50.  In truth there were numerous spots where I had to resort to FATE grinding because the quests just were not enough to push me to the next level where I could continue the main storyline.   Additionally I have run more than my fair share of dungeons along the way… so I do not believe a player could quest their way from 1 to 50 without some sort of augmentation.

The problem lies that one of the best aspects of this game is the ability to play multiple classes on the same character.  This means that if you spend all your quests on one class to level it… you will be left with nothing but FATEs and Leves to level your other characters.  Getting from 1-15 is relatively easy, you can hit 10 within 30 minutes and it takes about an hour more to get 10-15.  The 15-20 and each additional 5 levels after that, the speed slows down massively.  The only way to combat this is to grind FATEs.  After about 20 doing leves offers you a truly insignificant amount of experience, and since those are limited on the total number you can have…  it is almost not worth doing them.

I fear that players will be dropping off like flies unless Square can provide some other questing opportunities.  They could do this one of many ways.  Firstly I would uncap the Leves… these are extremely fun and it seems silly to limit players to only doing a handful of these a day.  Next they need to increase both the xp and monetary rewards from them… because after about 25 both are grossly insufficient.  Lastly they simply need more quests…  there are far too few of them out in the world, and the xp gained from simply killing mobs outright is laughable.  The only reason why dark devices works like it works… is you start getting 150% multiplier from every single kill your group gets…. and you literally get thousands of kills during that time.

The game is extremely good in some aspects, but in other aspects the design is a confusing mess.  It feels at times like the designers really did not know what they were doing.  There is still the problem of how a level 50 player will earn money.  I see tons of money sinks… but zero money fountains.  They need to get the 2.1 patch out as soon as possible so that they can address some of the gaping holes in their games design.  Ultimately whether or not they fix this… will determine how long I play the game.

Wrapping Up

I think I am going to wrap the post up here… this is the first truly negative post I have made about FFXIV since the days when I was not really sure if I was getting into it or not.  There are some glaring problems, so hopefully they will address them in the same way they have addressed the infrastructure issues.  I can tell the game was not really made for a western sensibility, so here is hoping they will understand that the west is the key to their continued succeed as we have the larger number of wallets ready to give them subscription bankroll.  Hoping that the day clears up soon and we can go out and do something.  Hopefully your weekend is going awesome and not being rained out like ours.

Early Access Zombies

Minor Renovations

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Awhile back I decided to change out the Raptr widget I had embedded in my sidebar that showed the last few things I had played, to something more manual.  I have always loved the feeling of the Steam library grid view, with its cool little preview images.  So for my “Now Playing” section I strived to create something similar feeling.  I think for the most part it works, but it is now a much more manual process as I have to create an image and then add it to my sidebar.  I feel however that the results are worth it.

I had been wanting to do something different with my blogroll for a bit, but I was not really sure what I wanted to do.  I am a very visual person, and even though I read most of the blogs in my RSS reader, I still think of them based on their visual appearance.  The idea I came up with was making similar preview images for all of the blogs on my blogroll to give potential readers a flavor of the blog before even clicking through.  I still have several more blogs to add to it, but I think the end result is really nice.  Once again it is a much more manual process as I have to take time to create an image for each blog before I add them.

Blogrolls are one of those things that people tend to ignore in their own blogs, but for me it is a resource for someone to find other good voices.  As a result I like to take care in trying to make sure my blogroll represents what I am actually reading.  When pouring over this small change I did notice that a large number of the blogs on my roll were just not posting anymore.  As a result I have pruned the list quite a bit, and will add to it as I notice people starting back up.  Additionally I added a new section for “Gamecasts” since it is a mix of video casts and podcasts.  I still need to add quite a few things to this list but it is a solid start.

Console Diablo

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Recently I downloaded Diablo 3 again and gave it a spin trying to get back into the game.  While I found elements of it enjoyable I also remembered all the things that frustrated me about it.  I have come to the point where I just cannot stand the “click to move” mechanic.  It just “feels wrong” for lack of a better term.  I think in many ways this is the one thing holding me back from truly loving league of legends… I just can’t stand the control mechanics.  When I heard Diablo 3 was coming to the consoles, I was initially not all that excited…  but the other day I noticed that a PS3 demo existed.  I figured what the heck, no better way to test and see if I like it.

It appears that all of my problems with the game stemmed in some way from the horrendous control scheme.  With a controller, the game felt fresh and new and extremely enjoyable.  Granted I only played a little bit the other night, and only had access to the Barbarian, but I had a blast.  It made me remember just how much fun I used to have with Diablo in the first place.  I am not sure if I am quite ready to shell over 60 bucks for the game on the console… but I can see myself picking it up sooner or later.

What I really want however if for them to patch in controller support for the PC version.  This is the version that has the characters I want to play, and the friends I want to play with.  I have a perfectly amazing XBOX 360 controller hooked to my PC that I use with more console friendly games.  Essentially everything about the game was better with a controller.  It is like they took so much more thought and planning into the user interface design as a whole.  So please Blizzard… patch in controller support at least when you release the expansion.  It makes everything about your game feel better.

Early Access Zombies

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Back on September 20th Undead Labs released their extremely awesome open world zombie survival game… State of Decay as part of the Steam Early Access program.  I picked it up shortly after but did not really have a chance to play it until last night.  If you remember when this came out on the XBLA I raved about it for a long while, but really have not played it as much as I would like.  One of the problems I have playing consoles is that it disconnects me from my group of friends.  There is a large circle of us that hang out on mumble every night, and I have yet to find a really viable option for hanging out and chatting on mumble while playing the consoles in the loft.

Last night I happily fired up Mumble and then popped into the game.  It feels as though the overall gameplay experience has tightened quite a bit.  The Early Access candidate is in essence a beta test, and Undead Labs wants to make sure players know this while playing the PC release.  Currently the client only has support for a controller, but they plan on eventually adding in mouse and keyboard support.  Quite honestly I would rather they do this than half ass it like some of the other console ports like Force Unleashed.

The game is super responsive, and I can run it comfortably on maximum resolution making the client look so much nicer than the XBOX 360 one I was used to.  I really hope they add in multiplayer co-op.  This game just screams for it, because exploring this world with your friends would be so much more enjoyable than doing so with what are essentially scripted bots.  I have no idea how long the game will be in this “beta” state on the PC, but everything about the title is at least as good as the XBLA client.  So I would not hesitate suggesting the game to anyone.  If you like zombies and you like fallout style open world exploration… this game is for you.

Wrapping Up

Well I need to wrap this up and get up and around.  I have a conference to attend today, and also need to make a trip to the cleaners… so I need to give myself as much wiggle room for finishing getting ready as I can.  I hope you all have an excellent weekend.  Ours looks like it is going to be super rainy.  For those curious, my mom is recovering well and I am not sure if I mentioned this or not… but so is Lethbridge.  Spoke with him last night and he is in a lot of pain after his surgery but doing okayish.  He was in FFXIV for a bit last night playing the game one handed… which I guess is a good thing that a g600 can do.

Human Chop-Shop

Steam Machines

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Now is the point at which Valve loses me.  I am all about making Linux a viable gaming platform with AAA titles running in and out of it.  That sounded awesome, because for what I use my home machine for… it seems silly to try and justify the cost of a windows operating system.  All I have really wanted to awhile was an easy way to play windows games under Linux… and I know Wine has existed for years… but it is far too fiddly and unreliable for my tastes.  Yesterday apparently they started making the second part of their big announcement… that there would in fact be “Steam Machines”.

As I said above, this is the point where I stop giving a shit.  This does in fact seem like a battle for the living room… and currently as many others have suggested… gamers can totally play in our living rooms already.  I guess I don’t really see there is a market for a PC platform for console gamers.  Folks who prefer to play on consoles prefer to play on consoles…  folks who prefer to play on PCs prefer to play on PCs.  While there is cross over between the two, I have never once heard a console gamer say “man I really wish I had a consolized PC”, nor have I really heard that from a PC gamer either.  I will have to see how the rest of the announcements shake out, but all I was interesting in was the operating system… not another hardware platform.

Human Chop-Shop

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Yesterday was a truly bizarre day.  I went to work like normal, but had plans to go to the Oklahoma Surgical Hospital over lunch to sit with my mother who was having outpatient surgery there.  I am not sure what exactly I was expecting, but I guess I was expecting a traditional hospital.  What I was presented with was more akin to a place that rents out booths for surgeons much like a hair dresser does.  Granted I know nothing about their business model, but they did not seem to be outwardly affiliated with any of the hospital chains.  They appeared to be some odd neutral party where people come to get operated on and then leave.

Essentially the entire place consisted of a huge waiting room where you wait with the person who will get operated on moments from now.  Eventually they bring them back into what looks like an emergency room, with little curtain drawn stalls.  At this point they get the patient into a hospital gown, hooked to an IV, and given a nifty little medical bracelet system.  The above picture is the one my mom had on her… I asked the nurse what it would take to get a few more “bangles”.  The purple one is apparently latex allergy… so I told mom we needed to work on that one for next time.  She said that she had no desire to “collect them all”.

I had all intent of staying over my lunch break and then going back to work for my 1:30 staff meeting.  That however did not quite work out, as Moms surgery kept getting pushed back and they did not take her for surgery until around 3:15.  All the while she kept getting more and more nervous.  I am thankful that I have a truly phenomenal boss, because all I had to do was text him to let him know I would not be in that afternoon and the reasoning why.  My sticking around was an attempt to try and keep Mom as calm as possible, but I am not really sure how well it worked.  She would be fine and then all the sudden her little hands would go to fidgeting and you could tell she wanted to run away screaming.

When they finally took her away I left and asked Dad to text me when he heard something.  Apparently she was in recovery until around 5:30, so was pretty slow coming around fully from the anesthesia.  I talked to her around 6:30 on her way home, she was doing okay and in decent spirits.  I am guessing today she will hurt like hell.  Essentially years ago she had an operation where they removed some cancerous spots from her nose and replaced the skin with a big graft.  Over time they have realized the margins were not as clear as they thought… so they were coming back today to try and trim a bit more off the tip and get the rest of it before it grew any more.  Her surgeon has been with her through numerous cancer surgeries and is likely the reason I still have a Mom… so we all expect the best.

Deforestation

Tuesday evening before bed we noticed that the thermostat in our house was way higher than it should be.  Over the summer months we keep the temperature at a stable 74*,  but Tuesday night it was sitting at 79* and the day had not really been that hot.  During the summer months and those 100+ degree days, the thermostat has a bit of trouble keeping up.. but it rarely gets above 76* before cooling back down.  Our big fear was that the unit had frozen up… as this had happened a handful of times throughout the years.  Sure enough upon going outside I saw the all too familiar sheathe of ice encasing the pipes going from the outside unit to the unit upstairs.

We turned off the air completely last night, giving it time to thaw over night and during the day.  So when the surgery took far longer than I had expected and I ended up taking a half day… I ran home to do battle with the AC unit.  Our unit came with our house and at this point is over thirty years old.  We have been told multiple times by the company we use to service the unit, that they simply do not make a unit as well built as the one we currently have… and that their advice is to literally run it until it ceases to run any longer.  However as we enter into each summer season… we have fears in the back of our head that it will be the last for the unit.

There are several things that can cause a unit to freeze up like that, but the main two are being low on Freon or having the air intake blocked somehow.  Essentially my plan was to hose off the unit outside to remove any grass clippings or left over cottonwood, and change the filter inside just to make sure it had a nice clean air intake system.  We don’t really get outside much, we tend to scurry around like rats doing whatever needs to be done when it needs to be done.  We hire a neighbor kid to do our lawn, so quite honestly it has been an entire season since I had been around on the side of our house where the AC unit is.

When I got around there… I was greeted with a crazy sight.  Essentially all he rain we have gotten has caused the tree next to the AC unit to go into absolute miracle grow style overdrive.  There were limbs everywhere… and essentially one entire side of the unit was blocked by growth.  Additionally at some point birds had dropped some blackberries or something similar from the air… and two little bushes had started growing as well.  So over the next hour and a half or so I proceeded to go to town with a cheap pair of clippers and took off all of the limbs blocking the unit while trying my best to keep from making the tree as a whole look scalped.

Additionally it had been a pain in the ass to get through the back gate for awhile, as the tree had grown a bunch of little offshoot branches that were hanging low.  I trimmed all of these back a bit so that it is still sufficiently shaded, but now a 6’4” or taller adult can comfortably walk under them.  While I was at it… I went into the backyard and did various other gardening tasks that had needed to be done.  Somewhere we have picked up a patch of ivy along the side of our house… and while it is pretty to look at… it was causing a huge mess as it had grown in and around the tools in my tool rack.  So I spent awhile untangling that mess and adding it to the green waste pile.

We are essentially horrible stewards of our lawn.  I love the concept of having a lawn, but have no real desire to ever go out and experience it.  The older I get the more light sensitive I have become… so as a result my perfect scenario is a dark room with nothing but the light of a monitor.   Outdoors is pretty much the exact opposite of that.  Long story short…  after the deforestation and changing the filter for good measure… I was able to turn on the AC unit and it has been working like a champ.  I feel horrible for not noticing the virtual kudzu that was the tree…  but like I said… we don’t go out into our yard much.

Wrapping Up

Well it is once again that time… and I have wasted another bit of your morning and mine rambling on at length.  I had a tidbit about Diablo 3 that I was going to try and weave in… but other things seemed more pressing.  Someday I will have that subsection… I just know it.  I hope you all have a great day, and I hope mine is super productive.  I have a lot of things to get done before Friday.  Our department is going out to a local dev conference, so that should be enjoyable.  Just have to think of someplace good to go for lunch.

In Gaben We Trust

Steam OS

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I feel like I am late to the party when it comes to talking about this announcement.  Yesterday seemed to be the big day of it spreading out onto various blogs both professional and private.  At this very moment… I am not really sure what to think about it.  Admittedly I am a PC developer, I write code for Microsoft products, I play games that run under windows, and I have never found a reasonable replacement for Photoshop.  All of those things mean I am pretty much chained to windows as a platform goes.  The biggest of those however is the fact that it is a pain in the ass to get my games running under Wine in Linux.

While the Microsoft developer portion will likely never go away anytime soon, being able to reliably play all the games I want under Linux would make me likely kick windows to the curb as a home operating system, at least on my main gaming machine.  The problem is… steam has literally thousands of games in its catalog… but only roughly 200 of them run on Linux.  The vast majority of those are small indie titles, that are fun, but not the meat that the PC gamer is looking for.  So the real challenge will be for Valve to get major developers to support their Steam OS on an even playing field with the consoles.

Good For Linux

Linux has always been an extreme niche community.  The problem with Linux as a whole is the freedom of choice that is a positive for the serious user, is a massive negative to broad based adoption.  Too much choice confuses the average consumer, and vendors don’t like not having a clear winner they can invest money in.  Old fights like Gnome vs KDE and Ubuntu vs Redhat etc have always stunted the growth potential of what otherwise is an extremely mature operating system, more than ready for primetime.

While Linux has floundered at becoming a viable desktop operating system for the majority of America, I feel like a gaming machine is a niche it CAN conquer.  Windows 8 licenses start at $100 and go up from there.  I know no gamer that would not be willing to switch to a free operating system, and spend that hundred dollars elsewhere on games or gaming stuff.  If I could get the games I want to play, running reliably and without fiddling under a Linux based operating system… I would kick windows to the curb without a second thought.

Ultimately I am going to have to find a replacement for Photoshop as it is… so that piece is no longer the hurdle it once was.  With Adobe switching to a monthly subscription fee, that is just too much bullshit for me to deal with on a regular basis just to be able to comfortably make images.  I am not making any money from Photoshop, and therefor I just cannot justify the cost.  I have always had access to it through my work machine, so I have always kept my home version a few releases behind the curve.  But with the licensing mess for the foreseeable future, it is making Gimp and namely GimpShop that much more appealing.

In Gaben We Trust

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Basically steam has done this miraculous thing as far as I am concerned.  They have gotten me to not only tolerate… but LOVE DRM.  If I have a choice to buy something through steam, or through a secondary retailer like green man gaming that provides a steam code… I will always do it.  I like having my entire games library organized in one spot, that is easy to download and play whenever I feel like it from each of my machines.  Valve and Steam have absolutely won me over with dirt cheap pricing and truly epic sales.  So while I mostly abuse their sales… when it does come time for a title to be released that I care enough about to pay full price… I will almost always gravitate to buying it through them.

Right now if ANYONE can bring enough gravitas behind Linux gaming… it would be Steam.  They have the best chance to make this work, because they provide what every games company has to have to make a new operating system work… a prebuilt retail outlet.  You can say whatever you want about Steam, but I feel like they are doing far more good for the gamers than they are doing harm.  I know publishers really do not like dealing with them… Origin is the evidence of EA breaking out on their own to avoid the “Steam Cut”.  However I really don’t see any of these splinter groups making enough of a dent to be worthy of jumping ship.  Everyone universally hates Origin, as much as they seem to love Steam.

What This Means

If anyone can make Linux gaming viable, it will be Gaben, and as a result I am cautiously optimistic about this.  A lot of the posts yesterday keyed in on the whole concept of bringing steam to the living room.  For me that is not the significance here, and not really something I would want to do anyways.  The majority of the reason why I don’t play consoles more than I do is because it is chained to a television, and not something I can do either on my gaming rig upstairs or my laptop.  Sure there will be the occasional gamer that wants to hook up a steam box and play PC games like they used to play console games.  That is totally cool and awesome that it might be a reality.

For me however this is about unshackling PC gaming from the “Windows Tax”.  I would say probably 95% of what I use my PCs at home falls into one of two categories.  Firstly there is gaming, and up until now that has been entirely a windows based activity.  Secondly there is using web based technologies…  these are 100% platform agnostic, and if Steam OS has Chrome I can pretty much do anything I would ever care to do here.  I no longer use a traditional word processor and have converted to Google Drive for everything I do for myself.  I use Live Writer to do my blog, but there are numerous really solid Linux packages that do the same thing.  So if the gaming worked awesome on Linux… I would have nothing left chaining me to the windows operating system.  As far as running visual studio, I could always Virtual Machine that… or just remote desktop into my work machine.

Wrapping Up

I need to wrap things up and get on the road, but at this point we really don’t know many details other than the fact that something called Steam OS exists.  There are supposedly three more big announcements waiting in the wings regarding this.  Right now I am cautiously optimistic, but if this turns out to be nothing but a set top box… I will ultimately give zero fucks.  I am hoping for a viable windows gaming replacement.  Anyways…. I hope you all have a great day ahead of you.  My mother is having surgery today, so hopefully that will go extremely well.

Return of NBI

Return of NBI

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One of the coolest initiatives that I can recall in the gaming blogosphere is returning, and this time the torch has been passed from Sypster of Biobreak to Contains Moderate Peril and T.R. Red Skies.  As a result they are asking for new bloggers and sponsors to sign up and be counted over on the newly relaunched NBI Forums.  You can check out the official announcement here… but the bulk of it is as follows.

Whether you’re a vlogger, blogger, podcaster, artist or whatever …if you own a blog dedicated to video games, the Newbie Blogger Initiative 2 needs your support! A great number of bloggers supported the Initiative last year and we are calling on you again to participate as well as imploring new bloggers to snatch this opportunity as well. The goals of the NBI are simple:  Find, visit, and promote new video game bloggers.  Create a friendly network of support.  Increase survival of new bloggers. (This is a new area of focus this year!)

I participated in the program as a sponsor blog last year and it was a great upwelling of community support.  I look forward to seeing what all comes out of it this time.  Back in May, Wilhelm did a post running down who all had survived the year.  We had 110 start new blogs during the program and a year later 30 had survived.  So as the above statement says… the focus this year is to find ways to help bloggers keep up with the blogging.  This rings true especially for me… who has embarked on this whole post something each morning madness.

Signing Up

Once again I will be signing up as a sponsor blog, but quite frankly I still feel like a babe in the woods when it comes to blogging.  I shared a number of more technical topics last year, since that tends to be the end of the thing I am best at.  This year… I will likely share some of my experiences after setting down this daily blogging path.  I still think this is one of the most awesome community sponsored events we have, and while we did not keep many of the voices that started the process, I think it is a start in the right direction.

You can see a run down of the posts I made last year by following my newbie blogger initiative category link.  Additionally I made a post awhile back called Infertile Ground where I talked about how the gaming blogosphere lacks a real sense of cohesiveness.  Maybe during this years NBI, we can start to work on that as well.  During the last round, I added pretty much every blogger that had twitter to my personal feed, and while many of them dropped off the face of the planet… quite a few have become constant fixtures in my scroll.  Hopefully this year can do the same, and build our blogosphere into a more tight knit community.

Wrapping Up

Really don’t have a lot more to say this morning, so I am honestly using the NBI announcement as a bit of a crutch.  I ran a truly silly amount of low level dungeons last night for various guild members, and then wrapped the night up by doing a bit of questing.  My Warrior is almost 47 now, which still seems a long ways off from 50… but I am starting to pay attention to all the things I need to do once I reach cap.  Hopefully all of you out there have a great day, and that the week as a whole is turning out to be a good one.

Unfunny Dead

Vegetative State

World-War-Z

After our day of random running about on Saturday, I spent most of yesterday hanging out on the sofa and catching up on movies that I had meant to watch.  It takes an act of congress to get me into a movie theatre…  I have a thing with large crowds and a completely and total lack of enjoyment of them.  So most of the time I prefer to just wait until something is available either through on demand or to the home market in general.  Among the movies I watched was World War Z as hinted at by the tower of zombies image above.  I have to say despite all the negative press about the movie I actually rather enjoyed it.

Sure there were many super sensationalist shots like the ant like zombie tower…  but for the most part it was one of the most intense zombie movies I have seen since 28 days later.  I am a heretic, while I own World War Z the novel… I have not made it terribly far into it.  So I can’t really appreciate just how bad a movie this was (or at least that is what I keep hearing).  What was there was something I enjoyed watching.  Granted I have never been a huge fan of track star / parkour zombies…  but it does generate some intense viewing.  At the end of the day I greatly prefer Walking Dead…  but this was fun as well.

Unfunny Dead

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Another film that I had wanted to watch but never got around to… was the 2013 remake of Evil Dead.  A little preface leading into this…  I love the previous Evil Dead movies.  However this is primarily because I love Bruce Campbell as Ash.  He is the perfect blend of smart ass and campy super hero for my personal tastes… and if you have never watched My Name is Bruce… I highly suggest you Netflix that.  I went into this movie knowing that the end result of this reboot would essentially destroy everything I loved about the movie.  Ultimately I was fine with this… I wanted to see what the new version was anyways.  If you have not see the movie, be warned I am going to spoil various things.

I feel like the characters in this movie… could have done with a SINGLE play session of Call of Cthulhu pen and paper.  If you find a book, that is wrapped in barbed wire and left on an altar of sorts…  the last thing you EVER want to do is clip the barbed wire.  If you by some strange compulsion to you decided to clip the barbed wire… and found that the cover was made from what looks to be human flesh… for the love of god do not open it.  If for some strange reason…  you then opened the book and saw all sorts of dire warnings… for the love of fucking god do not read ANYTHING THAT IS SCRATCHED OUT ALOUD.  Essentially after the first ten minute I had already decided that the characters deserved whatever they got.

I feel like Cabin in the Woods was a so much more enjoyable version of this movie.  After the first few minutes I spent most of my time trying to figure out which single person would survive.  Ultimately that was the big surprise that I did not see coming.  The one who survives essentially throws all horror movie cannon to the four winds, which is I guess something.  The trailers billed this as the “most terrifying film you will ever experience”…  to which I assume they just had a ridiculously low bar to measure this against.  It was neither terrifying nor particularly scary other than the fact that it had near silent dialog… and blaringly loud sound effects.  So at the end of the day it might have frightened my ear drums.

Big Horns

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300px-Warrior_concept_artThe highlight of the day was taking my Warrior in FFXIV to 45 and completing that class quest.  One of the really awesome things is that at level 45 you get a full set of relic gear minus the chest piece.  Within moments your character turns from looking essentially the same as anyone else of your gear type… to looking like all of the character artwork for your job.  For me I get to start inching my way towards looking like the badass on the right.  Another cool feature is that finally I have a helm that you can use the /visor command on.  The above image is with the visor snapped down.

Now begins the slow climb to 50, but at the same time I have a bunch of other classes that I want to level.  I feel like I would probably be better served pushing the Warrior to 50, and then using the xp bonus on all of the other classes I level.  However right now we have a large number of guild members staggered in level.  As they need dungeons I am usually at the vanguard of folks offering to go along with whatever alternate class fits the level range.  Quickly becoming my secondary is the Archer, and I managed to get it to 25 this weekend with numerous dungeon runs.  I think bard will more than likely be the next job I pick up.

Sword and Bored

Additionally I worked on my Gladiator a bit over the weekend.  I managed to push it up to 25 and have it read to tank Toto-rak if anyone needs it.  I really want to be a Paladin eventually, because I would like to have both Warrior and Paladin maxed out so I can choose which tank class best fits the encounters we are facing.  I feel I do a good job at playing the class, and I rarely have the threat problems inherit with the class in general.  The problem is… Gladiator is just not a fun class for me.  Compared to the Marauder it is just a boring class with nothing much interesting going on other than spamming savage blade and occasionally stunning something.  I wish I had leveled it first…  because Marauder would have been a breath of fresh air compared to it.

I really don’t feel much pressure to level a gladiator however, because we have at least two players coming quickly through the ranks that have chosen that as their main focus.  Ultimately if we as a guild encounter things that require the paladin abilities, we will at least have access to them as a class.  I feel like I am probably better spent pushing up my Dragoon to 50 or getting Archer to Bard and running it to 50.  Being able to play a high level dps in additional to a high level tank seems more beneficial.  I still feel like eventually I will level most of the classes, but I feel like I have put a pretty massive dent in them so far.

You can check out my character on the lodestone… but the summary is…

  • Warrior – 45
  • Dragoon – 32
  • Gladiator – 25
  • Archer – 25
  • Pugilist – 20
  • Thaumaturgist – 6

Essentially I am working on pushing up all of the disciple of war classes so that I can turn the lower tiers of gear into materia and clear out some inventory space.  Once I get the archer to 30, I will likely start working on the pugilist to push it up.  I can’t really see playing Pugilist/Monk as a main class, since it is even more positional than the lancer… but it is fun to play around on it.  I have to say though that they are completely screwed when it comes to fates.  They have no viable AOE early on, and no ranged attack to tag mobs with…  so essentially you just have to spam attacks on whatever you can come in contact with.  In the world of Quick Nock, Overpower, and Ice 2… you are just screwed for contribution.

Wrapping Up

Well I need to get downstairs, feed the animals, pack up my laptop and get on the road.  This weekend overall was an extremely relaxing one.  Combining watching movies and working on classes in FFXIV I really enjoyed myself.  The one thing I have enjoyed about FFXIV more than anything at this point is the grouping.  There are several touchstone moments in the game that require a group to get past, and as a result everyone is always ready to do more grouping.  The fact that they scale you automatically, and give you decent experience for your own level is a huge plus.  I hope you all have a great week ahead of you, and that you get accomplished whatever needs to be accomplished.

Garuda Sucks

Casey Jones?

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I was extremely slow starting this morning, continuing to fall back asleep from 7 am til roughly 9 am.  When I finally got up and around I did what I do every morning, and ran off to forage for food.  Generally I run to QuikTrip for sausage rolls, which is a gas station chain based in Tulsa.  If you do not have the miracle that is QuikTrip… you won’t really understand how gas station food can be that amazing.  On the way back into the neighborhood I saw two young boys, one chasing the other.  I could see he had something in his hands, and as I drove closer I noticed it was a rubber katana and a golf club.  My immediate thought was… whoa is that kid playing Casey Jones?

I think of the Turtles as being a figment of my childhood, as I can remember buying the original indie black and white comics, and the first series of playmates toys where all the turtles had trademarked red bandanas.  But the longer I thought about it… the more I realized that sure enough that kid COULD be playing Casey Jones.  The TMNT franchise has been rebooted every few years to a point where kids of almost any age could easily recognize everyone’s OTHER favorite psychopath with a hockey mask. 

As a tween I thought Casey Jones was the coolest, some kind of cross between a ninja and the punisher (another favorite character of mine).  Likely the two boys were just fighting with whatever they happened to have their hands on.  I remember my friend and I used to sword fight with baseball bats.  That was when I learned that a wooden bat can pretty much cleave an aluminum bat in two…. but that is a tale for another day.  Seeing the two kids running around like that made me super nostalgic.  I remember my cousin and I went through a phase where we went NOWHERE AT ALL without a slingshot and a bag of rocks.  Granted I grew up in the country… so that was entirely reasonable given that I have used said slingshot to thump a bull and get him to go the other way.

Tokyo Game Show and FFXIV

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This week the Tokyo Game Show has been going on, and unlike the various western game conferences it has been pretty closed door to the public… or at least closed door to anyone who does not have a fluent understanding of Japanese.  Luckily Dual Shockers has posted a pretty good write up of the various 2.1 announcements for Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn.  The awesome part is… there is a TON of content expected to release for the first patch.  So far the items that have been confirmed…  Good King Moogle Mog primal fight.  New extreme modes for Ifrit, Titan and Garuda…  and after doing normal mode Garuda last night, I don’t want to see what Hard mode looks like… let alone Extreme mode.

Additionally they are adding player housing for each of the three grand companies, daily beast quests, and treasure hunting mode…  neither of those two I understand but they both sound extremely enticing.  Additionally they are adding a pvp arena system at Wolfs Den, one completely new dungeon, and two new hardmode dungeons with new boss strategies.  They also announced that there would be limited time free transfers to a server of your choice in October, to help join together the various people that were split up by the server caps.  Finally later this year they announced that there would be cross over events with Dragon Quest X and Final Fantasy XI both of which appear to reward unique pets for FFXIV.

That is a lot of goodness, but I have not heard a timeframe for 2.1.  Considering I have yet to cap out, and I have an army of alternate specs to level…  I am sure I can hold on the current content for awhile.  I have always loved the art style of the Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest games… so I am looking forward to collecting the cute little golem pet.  Here is hoping they do this as a duty… and not some random spawning fate.  The whole random drop pet/mount thing has not really worked out too well for any of us in Rift, and most of us have not collected more than one color of Hellbug.

Garuda Sucks

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Both Ifrit and Titan were extremely enjoyable encounters.  They introduced us to the concept of a primal fight, and I believe eased us into the difficulty of the encounters.  In both cases there was this one thing you had to watch, and if you did it… you pretty much won.  As various guild members have gotten up in level I have looked forward to tanking or dpsing these encounters to get them through.  They are both extremely fun fights to participate in.  Last night we took on Garuda… the third primal encounter… and I have to say no one will be looking forward to repeating this one.

The problem is… I am trying to think of ways to explain how big of an increase in difficulty the fight was from the other two without really spoiling the fight OR the other two.  We have tried really hard to go into every fight cold and figure things out on our own.  This of course has meant a lot of deaths as we figured out just what the mechanics were doing.  I think we had somewhere less than ten deaths last night… but not sure just how far from that number we were.  We latched onto one of the central concepts of the fight extremely fast.  As Tam said… this is not our first rodeo… so if a fight gives you a thing to hide behind… chances are they want you to hide behind it at some point.

The big problem that I saw was the sheer amount of damage I was taking as the tank.  The various people in the know have all said that they wait until they have completed their 45 class quest to do this fight, since that fight rewards you every piece of an armor set but the chest piece.  Additionally I could have outfitted myself in at least a full set of the level 45 heavy mithril armor set… which self buffed gives me about 300 more hitpoints from what I did the encounter with. 

Being the stubborn bastards that we are, we pulled and pushed and prodded on the encounter until we finally beat it.  I just have to say though… this is the hardest fight to date… filled with “all manner of fuckery” as Tam commented last night.  I have so much fear and loathing about what the various hard mode version of the primal fights could bring, especially considering how close a call making it through normal Garuda was for us.

Wrapping Up

Well time for me to finish this up and get on with the day.  I am sure I will be logging into FFXIV to hang out with the guild, maybe even venturing into Rift to try and finish up 58.  Yesterday we did a lot of running around town, so I think today for the most part will be a stay at home day.  We have to go out this afternoon to meet someone to buy my wife another Miche shell.  For those not familiar with this concept… it is a weird purse with changeable appearances.  My wife has suddenly become enthralled by them… and since she is always so damned good about my Lego expenditures… I figure it is only fair that I am cool about her growing collection of purses.

Eight Man

Invasion of Fuzzy

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Last night when I got home my mind was entirely on getting everything done so I could go participate in the game that must not be named.  As a result I rushed inside, changed the ferret cage, started dinner etc without really being super observant.  So by the time my wife got home, I was completely oblivious when she asked “what is up with all those fuzzy worms?”.  I threw back on my sandals and went outside and sure enough… we were being invaded by dozens of large black furry caterpillars.  They were climbing all over the garage door in groups of up to a half dozen or so.  Seeing my photo this morning reminded me to do some research. 

Turns out these are Walnut Caterpillars, and they normally forage for food in September/October in the south central region of the United States.  The odd thing is… we have no Walnut/Pecan trees which are the only things they eat.  So at first I was wondering why exactly they decided to try and find food in my front yard… then shortly thereafter I remembered…  over the summer months I helped a neighbor haul out sections of a large tree.  I am wondering if it was a Walnut, and by chopping it down he starved out these little guys.  They could be desperately foraging trying to find any food source in the area… which lead them to spill out into my front yard.  It is odd how cute and both creepy the experience of seeing them roam around my garage door was.

Stone Vigil

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Lately I have been piddling big time in Final Fantasy XIV in an effort to let some of the new crop of players catch up a bit.  As a result I have been leveling both the pugilist and archer quite a bit, and yesterday for awhile I focused on the gladiator and managed to get it to 25.  However since the game that must not be named was not really cooperating… I noticed we had just the right number of people on for the next dungeon Stone Vigil.  I had been hung up in the main storyline until I completed this dungeon, as had Rae so it would be good to get past it so we can continue on.  As I have said before, every so often the game locks you at a story element and you will not receive further quests until you have completed it.

For going into the dungeon relatively cold… it could have gone a lot worse… however it also could have gone a lot better.  There was one complete group wipe, and then another time that we lost me and Dallian our black mage.  However the only times we actually struggled were on the completely egregious trash pulls.  We managed to oneshot every boss in the dungeon so I can console myself with that thought, when I think about the rougher spots.  It feels like the trash difficulty ramped up significantly.  I don’t want to give any spoilers that you cannot already see from the dungeon preview video…  but let me tell you… dragons are assholes in the Final Fantasy world.

Eight Man

ffxiv 2013-09-20 22-56-30-11

The game has a series of encounters called Guildhests, that essentially try and teach players how to function in larger grouping dynamics.  They educate the players in how to get out of bad things, how to focus fire the worst targets… various necessarily lessons that they will need to participate in larger dungeons.  There are two hests every 5 levels after level 10, and they provide a ton of experience the first time you complete them.  This is something I had almost completely ignored until recently, when the guild made a concerted effort to try and catch everyone up on them.  The reasoning… the second level 40 hest… is the first 8 man content you can encounter.

Most of the dungeons and hests we had run, were 4 man groups… otherwise known as a Light Party in Final Fantasy lingo.  The basic group composition is 1 tank, 1 healer, and 2 dps.  These are pretty simple to fill and get started.  Eight mans on the other hand have a comp that is essentially two light partys… 2 tanks, 2 healers, 4 dps.  The problem with two tank encounters generally is that you have a “main” tank, and an “off” tank.  As we went into this scenario I think both myself and Ashgar the other tank were really hoping that was not going to be the case here.

Much to our enjoyment the encounter was balanced in a way so that one tank was constantly tagging off between a fighting a boss and gathering trash role.  Essentially we got attack from both sides at the same time forcing us to split up into two parties to handle the encounter.  There was a lot of shifting of resources back and forth as the dps burned down one encounter while the next tank gathered up and got solid aggro on the next incoming encounter.  I loved the synergy of the fight and the way that both tanks and both healers had to work in unison to cover each other.  If that was any evidence of what the 8 man raids will look like, I think I am really going to like endgame content in this game.

Wrapping Up

I have to say the more I get into Final Fantasy, the more I am enjoying it.  I went into this with an overwhelming meh feeling, but the longer I play it the more it has sunk its hooks into me.  The leveling of alternate specs needs some work, as once you run out of quests you pretty much just have to grind fates…. but I feel they are working on this.  I hate to say it but this is a game that could definitely benefit from daily quests other than the leves.  I know this sounds odd coming from my post yesterday about game jumping, but I really hope this is a game we can stick with for awhile.  I am really enjoying myself.  I hope you all have a great weekend, and that you get accomplished whatever you need to.