All that I really wanted to do when I got home was to log into my computer and play some Final Fantasy XIV. Unfortunately my computer seemed to conspire against me. Everything seemed happy when I first got home and I had just queued for duty roulette and begun working on a FATE when something odd happened. The screen froze and turned black, and then moments later I was rebooting. Now I am notorious for ignoring windows updates, and I know in Windows 8 there will reach a point where it simply will not let you ignore them. Sure enough upon reboot it was installing new software, so I thought that maybe all that had happened is that I reached that threshold.
So I went ahead and booted up my machine and logged into windows. Everything seemed just fine, nothing really seemed out of the ordinary until I booted into Final Fantasy XIV again and then boom… the same thing. I thought for a bit that maybe it was my video card driver update that I applied last night, so upon rebooting I proceeded to roll back that driver. Upon booting into the game again… this time a brown screen then a black screen and then everything powers off. The thing is that the video card never actually felt hot when I reached back and felt the air vent on it. My initial thought was that the video card was just toast, which is disturbing because it was only a few months old.
As a test I swapped out to an older card and sure enough the machine booted right up. Unfortunately however upon firing up a game I was back at the black screen cycle. It was then that I noticed something. I took the side panel off my case and watched it boot up, and the fan on the processor heatsink was not moving at all. So I am guessing at some point it died, and potentially for awhile it was working intermittently. Processor overheating would in theory cause all of the things that I was experiencing. Here is hoping that there has been no permanent damage to it. A heatsink/fan combo is a relatively cheap thing to replace, so I ordered a new potentially better one from Amazon and it should be here Friday. Until then I guess I will be gaming on the laptop exclusively.
Now other than my computer having a meltdown and throwing me into stress mode, there was some awesome that managed to happen yesterday. We added a new child to our family, and unfortunately she moves so damned fast that this is the only picture I have managed to snap since bringing her home. Thankfully the folks we got her from gave us a far better picture of her. However as you can see she apparently loves the ferrets. She has kept returning to the playpen to play with them through the bars. They seem completely enthralled by her as well, and moments after snapping this albeit blurry photo of her and Shiloh she also woke up Bellatrix and they were both following her every move. Being a kitten however she is rarely in one place for too terribly long.
We thought for a bit about a name and tried multiple characters from Harry Potter as well as Firefly, before finally settling on Kenzi. She seems far more like that character than any other so far. She is fearless and daring, and a little bit shifty at times. Not to mention the whole dark hair thing works well also. Kenzi was my favorite character from Lost Girl and really the only reason why I enjoyed that show for as long as I did. So I feel like the name is fitting. Right now she is batting my fingers as I type this and trying to hop up on the keyboard. While I think it is absolutely adorable… I need to finish this post up so I can get on to work. Here is hoping the ferrets wake up and steal back her attention.
So after writing my blog post she decided to crawl up on my shoulder. I am officially in love, not that I wasn’t already. I have always wanted a shoulder cat to hang out with me while I game. Now she is curled up under the lapboard that my laptop is on grooming herself, but she spent a good long while on my shoulder. This is totally going to work out… we just have to somehow figure out a way to stop the nibbling. She seems to like to attack my beard and bite it right now. Which is adorable, but will eventually get to be frustrating and potentially painful.
For the last week or so I have been spending most of my evenings playing Final Fantasy XIV on the Cactuar server. I have to say I am starting to fall in love with the sense of community there, and on the entire Aether data center as well. Thanks to my time in wow and just how toxic that environment can be… I have been extremely gunshy about branching out and playing with people I did not already know. I’ve always been willing to group with my guild and their friends, but I had zero interest in poking my head out into the larger world. Quite frankly when I had done this in the past, I dealt with so much abuse as a tank that I had no interest in ever attempting it again. The problem is this negative attitude towards pugging carried forward into every game from that point on. The moment someone wanted to do something, and we did not have the requisite number of people I would immediately remove myself from the equation. This means I’ve spent an awful lot of time sitting around in games waiting for the magical number of people to log in so we could go do something fun.
Coming back to Final Fantasy XIV however I did so without much of my support structure. For most of this past week I have been the only person online at night in my guild, and as a result I finally decided to brave the Duty Roulette. This essentially is a random dungeon system that picks from any dungeon available to you. The awesome thing however is that for leveling, you gain experience as though the mobs were your level not the level you have been scaled down to. I went into this with the plan to attempt to be more social, so I started talking to the group the moment the instances started. Funny thing is…. other people talked back, and in very positive ways. Instead of running the dungeon in silence we started to banter back and forth much like grouping used to feel like during my Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot days.
So what caused this magical environment to appear in the face of so many games with toxic grouping environments? I honestly think it is two fold. Firstly at this point the only people who are playing Final Fantasy XIV are the players who are in it for the long haul, the players who are devoted too the franchise and willing to weather whatever storms might arise. There is a sense of general camaraderie that I have not seen in many games, and I think it comes from a shared struggle. I expected the servers to feel dead with the initial drop off of players after launch, but in reality while there are fewer overall players, they are just more focused in specific areas. While you cannot go to any zone and run FATEs, the zones where you can… are extremely active.
The other part I think is a weird little system that Squaresoft put into the game. Similar to league of legends, at the end of each dungeon or guildhest you can “commend” a player for their actions. You only get one single commendation per dungeon run, so it forces you to think long and hard about who best deserved it. Now there are some pretty significant rewards for having racked up a large number of these. This I think causes players to want to seem friendly, and through the course of pretending to be… they end up actually being cordial. I expected that the commendations would be almost exclusively reserved for the tanks and the healers, but it turns out that apparently I have made some appreciated contributions as well. At this point I am sitting around 25 commendations, and there is rarely a duty or hest that I don’t walk out with at least one. So apparently my banter, combined with the fact that I try my damnedest to interrupt everything as a DPS… is appreciated and matters.
I feel like Final Fantasy XIV is this strange time capsule where players have returned to the kinds of values that I used to appreciate so much while playing the games that existed before World of Warcraft. While I have not poked my head out into the raid community yet, I find it really impressive that I am playing on a server that has actual community events. This game feels like a crazy throwback… and I am loving it so far. It seems like somehow we managed to actually pick the right server to be playing on all those months ago when we picked the server name simply out of our love of the cactuar. The server even keeps track of the spawn times of hunt mobs, keeping a google doc to record when one last spawned and was killed. Granted the other day when I looked it had gotten a bit out of date, but just the fact that the server cares enough to create something like that is pretty awesome. I think the next thing for me is to try and find some social linkshells and meld into the broader community more.
Tomorrow is the official beginning of the Blaugust initiative, and as promised I will not leave you hanging. I will be posting a series of writing prompts each day to help turn the wheels and get your creative juices flowing. Please note of course that you do not have to write about any of the prompts I post. I am just trying to provide inspiration if it happens to be lacking.
- What was the first game that made you “feel” something. I am talking about the first game that invoked a real human emotional response be it fear, love, outrage… we’ve all had it happen and I am curious about your first time.
- What is your favorite boss encounter in any game and why. What makes that encounter stand out in your mind and what can be learned from it.
- If you were an NPC in a video game, what type of NPC would you be.