Wishes for the Next Year

Failed Futurism

bttf2 Over the last few days I have made a few posts recounting some of the positives and negatives of the last year.  Today I want to place my eyes forward towards the next year and what I hope it might bring.  One of the problems with futurism is that generally speaking it is always going to be wrong.  2015 was the year that Marty McFly went forward to in Back to the Future 2, and that movie made a ton of guesses about what the future would look like, most of them being completely wrong.  That said we are at least getting a form of a hoverboard next year, granted we will have to pave the streets in conductive metal for it to actually work properly however.  The thing I find funny is how no work of futurism ever seems to get just how incrementally fashion evolves, because I doubt any of us are going to start wearing chokers made of bullets or a darth vader breastplate.  Instead of futurism I am going to focus on my hopes for the year to come.

Gamers Stop Being Assholes

While yesterday I spent my post reveling in just how awesome my gaming community was over the past year, the larger community has not really been an awesome place to be.  Our very small niche of a community has figured out more or less how to exist in a relative state of harmony.  Outside the gated community however, things are pretty much in a constant state of martial law.  My hope is that this year gamers can figure out that it is cool to have lots of people playing in their sandbox, that may or may not look the same or want the same thing as them.  Diversity only serves to make things more interesting, because really as we learned during the 90s…  just how many doom clones can we really stomach?  At the very least I would love that gamers would stop endangering the lives of others with their misguided crusades.  We are all here, we all play games…  lets enjoy that fact and quit trying to claim this person or that person isn’t as much of a “real” gamer as you are.

More so than all of this… I would really love it if my natural instinct when confronted with having to play with a group of strangers is not to clench my sphincter and prepare for the worst.   I would love to be able to approach grouping with random players the way that I used to before I started turning off every public channel in any game I was playing.  There is a great post from Liore summing up a lot of these feelings of dread.  Mostly I feel like a lot of gamers have forgotten why we started playing games in the first place…  not for the competition, or not to be the best at something… but because we used to honestly have fun doing it.  I have tried really hard to embrace this spirit of fun and positivity, but you can only be told “you fucking suck” so many times by a random stranger before you stop trying to interact with anyone that is not already connected to you.  I’ve branched out and made a lot of friends, more than I can possibly list…  but for the most part when I play a new game, I shut off all the public channels and hang out with people I already knew before going into it.  This year… I would love this to change.

Settling Down for Awhile

Wow-64 2014-12-30 20-19-36-17 For years I have been searching for something, a magical spark that seems to have been missing for me in MMO games.   Over the last several years I have tried extremely hard to make this game or that game my new home.  I tried to make Rift work, and tried to forcibly bring all of my friends along on that journey with me.  I tried to do the same with Final Fantasy XIV, and Wildstar, and Star Wars the Old Republic, and The Elder Scrolls Online.  In order for that spark to exist two things need to be there…  firstly there needs to be tons of things for me to do, and an insane amount of goals and sub goals to keep my mind busy and engaged.  Secondly there needs to be a solid and thriving community to keep me engaged socially.  This past year I found that spark, but in two different places… both of which appeal to slightly different sides of me.  As a result I am splitting time between raiding in Final Fantasy XIV on Mondays and World of Warcraft on Tuesdays and Thursdays… and occasionally Wednesday fun runs.

ffxiv 2014-12-16 06-40-03-38 So far this mix works extremely well for me.  There are things I like about both games, and I like the freedom of being able to flip back and forth between them at will.  Right now I am spending the bulk of my time in Azeroth, but I think that is a counter reaction to the fact that I spent the last three months exclusively engaged in Eorzea.  I feel no less connected to one when I am spending time in the other.  I am playing both games and I am happy to be doing it.  My hope for this year is that by the  time we reach next December that I will still be playing both games happily.  I am in amazing raid groups in both, and the content is keeping me engaged in ways that I feel like only one game would not be able to satisfy.  I have a feeling that when new content is released in one, I will shift to mostly playing it…  and versa vicea.  My hope is that I have found a combination that works for me… and I can settle down for a long while here.  I’ve gotten tired of the constant game jumping and want some stability for awhile.

Personal Projects

2014 saw me getting involved in a bunch of projects other than the Tales of the Aggronaut blog.  I kept up my rigor of daily posts and in April I celebrated both my 5th anniversary as a blog, and my first year of daily posting.  This coming April I will be able to celebrate a second year of daily posting and another year as a blog.  My hope is throughout all of 2015 I will be able to keep up this daily posting thing.  This past year also saw the launch of the AggroChat podcast along with my friends Rae, Ashgar, Kodra, Tamrielo and sometimes participants Dallian and Raven.  Over the course of the first season we recorded 37 episodes of Aggrochat, and I think that is pretty damned solid.  We made it over a lot of the awkward hurdles, especially considering I knew absolutely nothing about making a podcast before we started.  Those first few episodes are mighty painful to listen to at this point, and I am sure after another year the entire first season will feel the same.  We are anything but professional, but we have a large enough following that I feel like we must be doing something right.

This year also saw me start a fledgling experimental podcast called “Bel Folks Stuff”.  So far three folks have been gracious enough to have a conversation about “stuff” with me, and I am thinking overall it works pretty well.  The podcast has a much smaller footprint as a whole, but I am okay with that.  In January I have another individual lined up for another conversation, and hopefully another in February.  Basically this is just an excuse to have a  conversation with friends and push the record button while doing so.  Other than this there is another thing looming on the horizon that should be exciting for 2015, but I don’t really want to talk about it much until I am ready to announce it.  Essentially my hope is that 2015 will be as awesome of a year for my side projects as this year has been.  I could not do this without all the awesome people supporting me, and the constant help of my friends who always seem to be willing to follow me down whatever rabbit hole I fall into.  Thanks to you all for taking this journey with me… I may not know what the next day will bring…  but I know I will always have you along with me.

Satisfaction of the Year

The Birth of a Community

I think this year more than any other we say what was previously an island of disconnected city states merge into a real community.  Last January I posted a rather grumpy piece lamenting the lack of community, and throughout the year you all have strived to prove me wrong.  I am not sure what exactly it was about this year in particular that seemed to draw everyone together, in part I think it was because this year was the year of multiple events, that I hope will repeat themselves this coming year.  Since we have reached the end of a pretty epic year of community, I thought it was a good time to reflect back upon what we have achieved.  There were individuals who say that blogging is dead, but I think wholeheartedly we have proved them wrong.

February – Birth of Alliance of Awesome

While not really an event in the truest sense, it was still a pretty significant event in the year for me.  In February of this year some events happened that ended up in the forming of a much larger gaming community to be known as the Alliance of Awesome.  With the launch of the Landmark alpha… we quickly realized that each of us needed to be in as many as seven different “guild” based server channels to be able to keep in contact with everyone playing the game… especially since friends lists simply did not exist at that point.  It was proposed that we found a much larger community made up of all of different parts.  This alliance of guilds would pool resources and eventually even a chat server.  While at the end of the year I realize that maybe some of the ideas didn’t work as well as we had hoped…  there are still more of us in almost daily contact than there are not.

The idea that there would always be a friendly Alliance of Awesome guild in whatever game we happened to be playing was something that has for the most part stayed true to the original intent.  The only part that didn’t quite work was trying to create an actual Alliance of Awesome branded guild in Wildstar.  I feel it is still best if we stay separate guilds, just ones collaborating in a larger sense.  The biggest change in this direction was moving to using the same Teamspeak server graciously hosted for us by the ever amazing Saia.  Some things have worked well, others not so much…. and other groups have faded away from the core.  At the end of the day I think this was a really positive move for the community as a whole, and anyone that wants to participate is still more than welcome.

May – Newbie Blogger Initiative 2014

This may we saw a return of the seminal blogging event that at least to some extent started all of the momentum.  Several years ago Sypster started this contest and last year I believe was the third year.  Essentially it is a month for the elder bloggers in our community to encourage folks to start their own new blog and join our community proper.  For this year the catalyst was Doone as has been for a coupe of years, but he was joined by an excellent cast of helpers in the forms of Izlain, J3w3l, ModeratePeril, and Joseph Skyrim.  It was a bit hard for me to find numbers this morning when I was pulling together this post but based on my best guestimates and this list, it seems like we had 45 new bloggers join the fray during the month of May.

I did a quick run through of all of those blogs and as close as I can tell out of that initial group of 45, at least 30 are still active…  and I judged activity by having any posts within November or December.  That gives us right at 66% of the participating blogs still alive and kicking today.  When you add to this that there are still a large percentage of blogs from past years up and running as well that graduate from being a newbie to a mentor…  this really is one of the best events to grow our community each year.  I am extremely proud to be a participant each year, and I am excited to see a new crop of bloggers arrive on my “Class of” blog roll.

August – Blaugust 2014

The idea behind Blaugust started on an absolute whim.  I did not want to lose the momentum we build each year with the Newbie Blogger Initiative.  While that event is going on, folks are posting hard and heavy… and then as it finished the posts start to taper off again.  The idea was simple enough, get some of the most seasoned veterans in our community to take up the challenge of posting something new each and every day like I do.  When I proposed this idea I thought maybe at most I would get five or six people that were willing to take up the banner.  However this absolutely developed a life of its own, and before I knew it I had 52 people signed up to participate. I have to say I was completely overwhelmed with the support I got from the community on this one… and for the most part my entire August became about nothing but keeping track of Blaugust.

What I was even more impressed by was the level of participation.  At the end of the month I had 50 that actually participated, and of those 28 actually had “won” the challenge and managed to post something each and every day.  The biggest frustration with the whole event was that I had not really planned very well, and keeping track of who posted when became a very manual process.  As a result this coming year I am going to have to engineer a different solution to make it less intensive on my part, and allow me to make the daily recap posts a bit easier.  I never intended for this process to be something that “new” bloggers partook of, and as a result we saw a marked decrease in posts after it… since most folks needed a break after running that marathon.

October – Bragtoberfest 2014

bragtoberfest_spooky

Bragtoberfest was the brainchild of Izlain from Me vs Myself and I and the Couch Podtatoes podcast.  During September there was the beginning of some pretty horrible stuff happening in the gaming community as a whole.  Bragtoberfest was Izlain’s way of combating that by trying to get back to the roots of gaming… playing to have fun.  The mission statement was simple:  Bragtoberfest aims to make it fun to be a gamer again. We all game, and most of us also either blog, stream, vlog or podcast about games as well. Why not combine the two into a month-long event? 

During the month of October there were several competitions bringing folks together for the purpose of competing in a game.  These ranged from Strife to Team Fortress 2 and everything in between.  Not being a super competitive gamer myself, I did not join in as much as I would have liked.  That said I felt like I supported the mission by helping to provide a few logos here and there. Additionally many of us gave exposure to the event with recap threads and announcements on our own blogs.  This morning as I was trying to pull together numbers for all of these things, I struggled to find firm numbers of participants.  That said I know it was well over 20 bloggers who joined in during the month of October.  Hopefully this one will happen again next year and like everything, we can grow upon it.  The Bragtoberfest tag on Izlain’s blog seems to be the best summary of the event as a whole.

October – Alliance of Awesome Extra Life Marathon

One of the best things to come out of Alliance of Awesome this year…  is the fact that we participated as a team in the Extra Life marathon.  This all started with a random conversation between Zelibeli and myself about how we had always wanted to participate in the Extra Life 25 hour of gaming event.  Both of us had not done so yet for the same reason… we questioned if we could actually manage to stream all 25 hours given our family lives.  With the birth of AofA we kicked around the idea of having a Relay style stream, where each of us took a 2-3 hour block and then tagged off to another stream.  This became a logistical problem since we were all using Twitch at the time, and you could not create a “team” unless you were at the partner level… and quite frankly none of us were popular enough to actually have that.

Thankfully along came Hitbox which offers the ability to create a team at the most basic membership… and we were off and running.  We created an Extra Life team… and not having a clue what kind of participation we would get, I set a very sober goal of $200 as a team.  We blew that goal completely out of the water, with a participation of 9 gamers…  we managed to reach $1728 which to me is an absolutely staggering amount.  My hope is this year we can be a bit more organized and maybe raise more by getting the awareness of what we are doing out there a bit more.  Additionally my hope is to find someone who is a twitch partner that is willing to get an Alliance of Awesome twitch team created for us.. since that will open the door for folks to stream from the current generation of consoles as well.

December – Bloggy Xmas

Finally we had one last event that wrapped up last week with Christmas.  My good friend Syl game to me with the idea of doing a sort of blogging advent calendar.  It seems there is a local tradition in her area where folks in the villages decorate the windows of homes and stores to represent a day of the advent calendar.  I started work on a logo, and she spruced it up by adding in the d-pad snowflakes and bam we had another event ready to run.  I think she originally intended to have one blogger per day, but just like with Blaugust she was a bit overwhelmed by the folks wanting to participate.  I tried to pull together some numbers this morning but it seems like for the 25 days of the event she had 45 participants, meaning most of the days had two different bloggers posting.

The overarching theme of the event was to write something about community, and I personally wrote a post about my need to keep growing my own communities by adopting awesome people.  For the full effect of the event you have to check out the Bloggy Xmas website that gave us a really awesome advent calendar layout for the months post.  My hope is that we will grow this to be an even bigger event next year.  The community focus seems fitting since this was a year of so many awesome events bringing the community together, all the while existing in a climate where there was so much negative being caused by other gamers.  I feel like our little community stood as a beacon for the fact that gamers could in fact get along, and not just get along but thrive.  I want to thank all of you out in the community who participated in any of the events, or just kept your own personal blog active throughout the year.  I feel we represent the best values our community has to offer, and I hope we can make next year even more amazing.

Disappointment of the Year

Elder Scrolls Online

eso 2014-07-14 21-46-45-167 Since we are drawing close to the end of the year, I feel like it is probably time to start making sweeping posts to summarize my feelings about the year.  The one today is a bit of a touchy one for me, but I feel like I still need to make it.  Mostly I feel like by posting the “bad” one first it will be like ripping off a band aid and I can end the year on a more positive note.  As such lets get on with the ripping and talk about my biggest disappointment of the year.  For that dubious honor we have to give it to Elder Scrolls Online, and during the rest of this post I intend to explain myself a bit more.  I feel like in part this is a case of extremely high expectations that were impossible to meet.  When I first heard about this game, it was the end of an extremely long session of subterfuge where my friend who was in fact working on the game refused to give us any information about what he was actually working on.  He kept us in the dark until the official announcement, but given we knew who he worked for… and the fact that it seemed like it was a fantasy based game he was working on…  many of us had put two and two together and gotten four.

When the friends and family alpha started, I was lucky enough to be in that first wave.  From tell of the community team I was among the top 1% of bug note reporters, and I never stopped doing it.  I took it up like a mantle to try and help Zenimax create the best game possible.  The problem is the direction of the game kept veering into a place I thought was going to be bad for the game.  We gave copious amounts of feedback on the forum, most of which seemed to be unheeded.  The early UI was a glorious thing, that felt just about perfect.  It let me set up the game work the way I wanted it to, and could see all the players swarming around me.  The problem is things took a turn towards deep minimalism that never quite worked.  Even in alpha the game developed this “alone in a crowd” feel that never quite was remedied.  By the time the game was launched I had been playing it for roughly a year at that point, and retread the early content more times than I can count through constant character resets.

What Went Wrong

eso 2014-05-09 18-41-57-458 I feel the games Achilles heel is that it became entirely too hard to group with your friends.  For starters because of the super minimalistic user interface it was impossible to identify the people you knew when they were roaming around the world with you.  You could of course form a group, but the group size was rather limited to only four players.  I have way more than four friends that I wanted to be able to keep tabs on in the world around me.  The Mega Server was a triumph of stability but it also destroyed the quaint familiarity that a server infrastructure has.  On a traditional server when you go to the blacksmithing trainer…  you see the same people there day in and day out.  After awhile you end up striking up a conversation with someone sharing the forge… because after all you are doing the same thing over and over.  This sort of interaction was completely absent.  Every person in the world is a nameless faceless entity, and as such the only ties you really make are through public chat channels or the folks you brought into the game with you.

Functionally it became extremely difficult to group with people at all since there was a very tight range in which you could gain experience together.  I believe it was something like a four level difference meant you were just running it and not going to get any benefit from it.  This meant that unless you were leveling in a strict duo that was not going to play other than as a pair… it became nearly impossible to try and stay in sync with other players.  We mentioned this numerous times during the testing process, that the game was badly in need of a mentoring system.  It seemed since they had the tech to “bolster” players to 50 for the purpose of pvp content, that surely they could do the reverse and make it work for dungeons.  So far the best game I have played that does this is FFXIV in that it auto lowers your level to that of the dungeon when you zone in.  Content remains evergreen, and this game was definitely in need of something like this because it had really great group content…  that was completely inaccessible because getting in that level sweet spot was difficult.

Alone in a Crowd

eso 2014-05-19 20-58-37-802 The biggest problem that we personally had was the fact that we had folks of all level ranges wanting to do content together.  That meant that our only option at all was to go out into Cyrodil.  The problem with this is that most of us wanted to play this game because of its amazing PVE storyline…  but Cyrodil became the consolation prize that I simply got tired of opening.  I am not a PVP player in my heart, and while there is plenty to do out there that does not involve PVP…  it is not that engaging.  The big problem is that we would bring 20+ people out into Cyrodil with on or maybe two of us actually being veteran rank players.  When we encountered actual PVP… a single VR2 player could easily take down 20 folks faux leveled up to 50.  The veteran levels just made too much of a disparity between survival of the level 50 folks and the non 50 folks making it sheer futility to do anything out in Cyrodil other than Skyshard farming…. and there really is a finite amount of that you can do.

The answer to the enigma of the game seemed to be to rush through the PVE content solo, because it was nearly impossible to try and actually do on level content with your friends.  Then maybe just maybe at level 50 you could actually participate in content together again…  but only then if you did all of the content for your faction and manages to “beat” the game allowing you to progress into the Veteran ranks.  This was too long range of an outlook for most of the people we brought into the game.  At launch House Stalwart had over 100 players of different play styles and differing amounts of play time.  The one constant was that the majority of us were social gamers… knowing each other from existing guilds or social media.  We wanted to group up and experience content together, and this was just something we could not do.  Within a month our numbers had dwindled down to about 20… and by the time Wildstar launched the guild was almost completely empty.

What Went Right

belgrodsternblade This game is a pinnacle for me of quest content.  The story is amazing and they managed to make it feel exactly like playing an Elder Scrolls Game for me.  I felt like I was in the same settings that I have known and loved over the years.  In testing I got to experience all of the starter zones, and each of them had a unique feel but at the same time felt like you were very much in Tamriel.  There was a loving attention to detail that you just don’t see in most games.  There are still several quests that I will remember and hold up against any quest content out there.  I loved the “single player” experience of the game and I managed to get through all of the Daggerfall campaign and part of the way through the Aldmeri Dominion.  All of it made me want to keep playing, and were it not for the launch of Wildstar I probably would have kept playing it.  The problem was that I just didn’t feel like I had anyone to play with.. and it became increasingly harder to justify a subscription fee for what was in essence a single player game to me.

In spite of me declaring that Elder Scrolls Online was my biggest disappointment of the year…  I still feel like I parted with this game on good terms.  The disappointment comes from the fact that I had really hoped this game would be the new permanent home for me, when I have so desperately wanted a game that I would want to play for more than a few months at a time.  I have longed for the next “WoW” not in terms of feature set, but in terms of gravity and ability to keep players stuck in its orbit.  Elder Scrolls Online sadly was not that game, and likely never will be.  That said I absolutely intend on playing it again when it comes out on the console and transferring my characters over to it.  This game from the start felt like a game that would be better served with a controller, and I look forward to being able to play it remotely through my Vita on my PS4.  I will always have love in my heart for this game…  I just stopped wanting to play it.  I felt like I beat the game, and will return again when there are new experiences to be had.

Old Friends

AggroChat #37  – Games of the Year: Part Two

Last night I uploaded the second half of our Games of the Year broadcast, finishing out our pseudo countdown with the game that four of us voted for.  However while that might have been the game of the year through consensus, it just did not feel quite right to declare an official game of the year for a podcast with so many disparate voices.  As a result each of us gave our own game of the year, and you will have to listen through the podcast to see what my pick wound up being.  I have to say we had an interesting round of discussions about this one and I hope we end up doing this as a yearly thing.  With the end of the year closes what I am calling “Season 1” of the podcast.  I only started classifying things by season because there was a place for that in the ID tag within Audacity, and I figured what the hell… might as well.

With the new year will bring a new season, and at this point I am not quite sure what it will look like.  Right now we have a cast made of of myself, Ashgar, Kodra, Rae, Raven and Tamrielo but I sincerely doubt that most shows will have all six of us.  That seems like a rather large group to podcast with, but hopefully we can muster four to five of us on any given night.  The biggest regret for season one is that we had Tam has a pretty constant part of the show but we never actually updated the logo to include his chibi…  even though he has had one for quite awhile.  Ultimately I figure we should get Rae to draw up a Raven chibi as well just to have it at the ready.  I would love to revamp our homepage a bit to have bios about each of the podcasters.  I would also love to bring back in Dallian on occasion, who filled in quite regularly as this podcast was getting off the ground but we have not had to tag in for awhile.  Hopefully you enjoy this second part of our Games of the Year show.

Old Friends

waitingfornaxx Yesterday I had an excellent surprise when I saw what character a good friend of mine was playing.  She has favored the horde for some time, and when her guild over on another server went belly up I sponsored hr membership to the guild horde side that I have my alts in the Bloodmoon Chosen.  While it sucked to have her over on the other side of the faction wall, it made me happy that she at least had a good home.  Yesterday however on a whim it seems she decided to play her hunter AIlah.  The above picture is of me and Ailah waiting for the Naxxramas 1.0 raid to start one night, to my left is Saracell another good friend, and hanging out in the background I realized was Vexa.  The Late Night Raiders Hunters were an especially close knit family, and there is not a single one of them that I still do not talk to regularly.  Ailah however was one of the founding members of House Stalwart, and for the most part my right hand woman back then when it came to guild organizational things.

Like happens so many times she became the mommy of two awesome boys, and lost a good chunk of her disposable play time.  I always enjoy seeing her on when she has the time to play, especially now that she seems to be interested in her hunter again.  Thankfully I had been playing Lodin my hunter, so that I could give some basic knowledge about how hunters work these days.  It seemed like she had not actually been touched since vanilla because she was wearing all of the same gear we raided in…  for the most part everything you see in this picture.  I hooked her up with a crafted set of gear that will hopefully ease her transition into Northrend, and some quick advise with at least how I have my bars, talents and glyphs set up.  Thankfully huntering is super easy so I am sure she has picked it up quickly.  I have to say it was an awesome surprise to see an old friend show up like that, and hopefully she will be around more often.  I doubt she will ever have time for raiding and such, but will be nice to run the occasional dungeon together.

Bad At Casters

Wow-64 2014-12-28 09-44-58-50 I have traditionally been horrible at playing casters, that said the warlock feels familiar enough hat this point that it would likely be my caster of choice.  While I knew I would never end up leveling a mage, so I used my free boost to 90…  the Warlock on the other hand I actually enjoy leveling.  He has been sitting at level 75 for quite some time however, so when Ailah started working on the Northrend content I grabbed him to hang out with her for a bit, since he was the only character in the level range.  It took me a bit to get used to the controls again, because warlocking feels nothing like huntering, and that is the pet class I have been playing most recently.  The only problem with leveling these days is that you really don’t need to use any of your abilities, since things die so quickly.  I still have yet to figure out how the whole demonic transformation business works and how best to trigger it.  I know it is a thing I can do every so often, but the mechanics behind it are still pretty opaque since things die so insanely quickly.

At some point I really want to finish leveling my Warlock to at least 90.  I feel like it might be a caster I would actually enjoy playing, since the Mage is most definitely not that.  My biggest problem with the mage is how weak it feels.  I hate playing classes that cannot take a hit, so this is why I tend to play Discipline priest over shadow… because the shielding ability gives that class some serious survival.  Similarly I like Demonology Warlock because the pet is nice and sturdy and can keep me alive through almost anything.  When I say I hate “finger wigglers”, I guess you can more correctly narrow it down to me simply hating the “glass cannon” archetype.  I favor survival over damage any day, which might be why I almost always level in tank mode regardless of the class.  That is one thing I would love to see them add to the warlock, a caster tank mode since they get called on to tank things already in certain circumstances.

Serial Entertainment

Altism Required

WoWScrnShot_122614_092957 Yesterday I made  statement on twitter about how much I appreciated how good the overall pacing of Warlords of Draenor has been.  This is especially evident as I quite literally played my 7th character through the Tanaan Jungle sequence, and I am still not bored with it.  The pacing of the content has these moments where you are “called to action” and moments allowing you to chill out and faff about for awhile.  Granted the entire system is riddled with moments of faff, but I enjoyed the fact that these were built in when following the main story arc as well.  Most of my friends agreed with me, but one in particular chimed in stating that they had run out of things to do in the expansion. It seems they don’t play alts, and don’t consider playing alts to be “content”.  I can totally get where they are coming from, because if I only played a single character I would be bored as hell already.  I feel however that alting is the only way an MMO becomes playable past that originally one to three month burst.

We as a whole are content locusts.  We swoop in and gorge ourselves on the content and then get frustrated when the companies cannot churn out enough content to satiate our voracious appetites.  I’ve heard reports that the folks building SWTOR truly believed they had six months worth of content ready for the players at launch… and it took me exactly two weeks to have played through all it on my first character, and I felt like I kept a rather sedate pace.  The sad truth of MMO gaming is that no company will ever be able to churn out content fast enough for the most dedicated of players.  Guild Wars 2 has come the closest with their living story campaign, but all of that was essentially disposable content that evaporated when the next chunk went in.  I feel like Alting and ease of alting is really the only salvation for keeping players in a game for more than a few months.

Serial Entertainment

WoWScrnShot_122514_195851 I feel like the issue with MMO content is that we tend to view things in terms of an expansion rather than a constant gradual progression.  The expansion cycle for the most part needs to be abolished, and instead steal something that tell tale games does exceptionally well.  I feel like episodic gaming might hold the key to salvation for the MMO genre.  What players really want is something new and exciting to do every month, and major progression of the main story every few months.  Right now there is exactly on game giving us this, and that is Final Fantasy XIV.  More or less since launch it has released a major patch every three months and a minor patch every month.  This has not been an exact thing but it has worked out to be roughly those intervals.  Essentially there is always something major looming on the horizon for players to “please look forward to”.  Then in the meantime there are little quality of life things going on so that it feels like you are still moving forward even if you are not quite to the next major mile marker.

The thing is… even in Final Fantasy XIV Alting is a big part of the game play.  They however disguise this fact with the job system.  The problem with Alting in most games is that when you are playing your alts you have essentially been forced to abandon all progress made on your main character.  I feel like Blizzard realized this was a problem early on, and started making various things account wide like mounts and pets.  The problem is their model simply was not designed for everything to be handled at an account based level.  Final Fantasy XIV on the other hand was designed from the ground up to be a single character game.  With that one character you can learn every single job out there and every profession as well.  This gives that one character infinite replayability.  Want to be a healer… then switch to your healer job, need to tank…  switch to your tank job.

Same Problem Exists

ffxiv 2014-12-22 21-15-57-96 Where the job system breaks down however is similarly… there just is not enough quest content to go around.  You have enough quests to get one, maybe two jobs to 50 before you have exhausted all that is available to you.  They are constantly putting in new storyline for the level 50 characters to play through, but there is nothing new available for players to level new jobs with.  There are of course job related quests every 5 levels… but the time between is spent grinding in one way or another. Essentially to level jobs once you have finished with your quests you are left with either chain running dungeons, grinding fates or grinding levequests.  All of which are tolerable, but none of which are actually all that enjoyable.  So we are back to the classic MMO conundrum of needing more quest content than is available, the problem specifically being here that we need low to mid level quests.

So while I feel like treating an MMO as though it were a television show is a good idea… the problem is that you not only need to expand the top end content… you also need to keep adding stuff for players to do in the middle.  Alts are not a perfect solution, but they are the solution that seems to work for me in order to keep me engaged with a game.  Ultimately there is a point where I feel like I have leveled everything that I care to level…  but that buys me more time in the game than I would were I simply sticking to a single character.  I always have these grand sweeping ideas like that I want to level “one of everything” but I never quite make that goal.  Ultimately there are some things that I just don’t enjoy…  as evidenced by my string of casters never actually making it to the level cap.  I don’t consider alting “content” persay, but it is a patch that keeps me engaged in the world and I am willing to employ it as a way of staving off boredom.

Lodin Lives

Tradition to Skip

As completely charming as Christmas Eve ended up being…  yesterday ended up being very strange.  Granted the entire day wasn’t that odd, given that we got up super early to drive an hour to open presents with our great niece and nephew.  When trying to determine what we would get them for Christmas, my wife and I talked about our favorite parts of Christmas morning.  In both cases we remembered being super excited about what all had been crammed into our stockings.  I remember pulling out one magical thing after another that Santa had left for me.  So instead of a big gift, we opted to make them custom stockings jammed full of little treasures.  The funny thing is that the item that seemed the biggest hit was this little wall clinger octopus that we both remembered from our childhood.  You threw it up on a slick surface and it wriggled down slowly.  My nephew spent the better part of the morning throwing it up on the sliding glass door and watching as it jiggled its way down the door.

So I have to say that part of the morning was absolutely adorable, but from there we took a detour into strange land.  We went to Christmas lunch with a branch of the family that we don’t spend a ton of time with.  In part this was a good excuse to see the brand new child of our niece, and deliver our baby gift to them.  When we first accepted the invitation we had no really planned on doing the early morning thing, so we thought it might be the only time we would see my wife’s mother.  Honestly “our” family was kooky but just fine, it was when a bunch of people that must have been neighbors showed up that things cranked up to 11 on the strangeometer.  This large bear of a woman came in and upon seeing the baby asked the following question verbatim… “you feeding that baby titty milk?”.  My wife and I turned to look at each other… surely we did not actually hear what we thought we heard, but sure enough yup that is precisely what she said.

Moments later another woman came crawling in on the floor.   At first I had zero clue why this woman was butt scooting across the floor, but a bit later we found out that she had a wheel chair, but she just didn’t like to use it.  Thankfully at this point we had eaten, and we figured it was safe to slowly make our escape.  The new additions to the group all seemed exceedingly sauced, and reeked of booze.  I still don’t have a firm understanding in my head of who exactly they were, but in any case they made our normally insane family look normal for a moment or two.  So while this year has been a year of creating new traditions… I am not sure if that is one we will keep.  I really enjoyed the early morning with the kids, because Christmas needs kids to rekindle the magic each year, but I think we will skip the lunch.

Rejiggered Gladiator

WoWScrnShot_122614_093152 Overall I have been pretty disappointed with my raid performance as a Gladiator, so over the last few days I have set about to tweak some things.  The largest change is that I am giving up on the Heavy Repercussions talent.  In order to make that talent work, you absolutely have to get 2 Shield Slams in during a Shield Charge buff.  I found it frustrating to try and cram them in, and often times fate conspired against me to only actually get one in.  In many ways it reminded me of just how unforgiving the Unholy Deathknight rotation was back during the Icecrown days, and if you missed the timing your dps went to shit.  Now I am moving to what seems to be the more reliable and more common Unyielding Strikes talent, and as such I have to rejigger my priorities a bit.  Additionally I fiddled with my glyphs and talents a bit after looking at some warriors that were parsing well in Highmaul.

Noxxic has been a bit wonky in the past with some of their guides, but based on the high parses I have seen they seem to match up pretty closely.  I seemed to be taking a lot of the “wrong” talents, the biggest of which was I was previously taking Bladestorm which seems to have limited use in raiding, but instead should have been taking Bloodbath which is a 1 minute cooldown damage cooldown, something that protection is sorely missing.  Even though I have already run LFR, I am more than likely going to run the first part today so I can see what my damage looks like against The Butcher fight.  My hope is that all of the tweaks I made will give me a more stable damage curve, and keep me from lagging behind the way I have been in overall raid damage.

Lodin Lives

WoWScrnShot_122614_095054 Those who have been reading my blog awhile will know the tale of Lodin the Hunter, the character that I never actually intended to be my raiding main back in Vanilla.  Well with the recent round of hunter changes I have once again become interested in playing him, and quite honestly have been really enjoying it.  Last night I entered Draenor on Lodin and for the first time since Burning Crusade he is actually caught up and doing relevant content.  I never actually managed to level him to 70 back then, and during Pandaria managed to catch him up from 68 to 85, then finally with the launch of Draenor pushed him up to 90.  I used my spare engineering bits to knock him out a pretty sweet epic rifle that I am looking forward to him being able to use when he dings 91.  I’ve been spending quite a bit of time over this break hanging out on my laptop, and the hunter play style fits that perfectly.

Last night before the melatonin finally kicked in I managed to make it roughly halfway through the introduction sequence in Tanaan Jungle, and as soon as I finish writing this blog post and do my “Wizard Chores” as my guildies call the Garrison dailies… I am going to start working on him again.  I seriously would not mind him being my 3rd 100 of the expansion.  It feels fitting considering I am back playing Belghast, that I also dust off Lodin.  Since this is by nature a nostalgia ridden expansion, it only seems right to wallow in said nostalgia with some of my oldest characters.  I look forward to LFR with the Lone Wolf talent, but in the mean time I want to catch more awesome pets because lord knows Draenor has some awesome looking ones.  I am shocked an amazed that I am still having as much fun playing Warlords as I am, so hopefully it continues to last.

Making New Traditions

A Rough Year

I went into this holiday season expecting it to be one of the worst ones.  Over the years one by one the traditions that came with Thanksgiving and Christmas had faded away.  Each time a grandparent, sibling or parent passed away we lost a location to go to.  While when we first got married we used to complain about the sheer number of houses we had to try and hit each year during the holiday season, it is significantly worse when you realize there is no one left to serve as an anchor and hold folks together.  There was a time when we would hit three houses on Christmas Eve and three to four houses on Christmas Day, the entire process leaving us drained and grumpy.

This year my Grandmother passed away, the last of these houses left so as we looked forward to the holiday season it was seeming extremely bleak.  It has been hard to watch these households just evaporate once the matriarch passed away.  It makes me feel like a real ass every time I rolled my eyes or sighed a bit too loudly at the thought of having the run the gauntlet of houses.  Ultimately Christmas is a time to spend with your family, and as your family shrinks the holiday feels less meaningful.  Thankfully I am pleased to say that so far the holiday season this year has been excellent.

Making New Traditions

If nothing else this year has been one of forging new bonds and making new traditions.  I know I wrote over Thanksgiving about the excellent dinner we had with my cousin, since neither of us really had a place to go for the big meal.  My hope is we can make that a bit of a tradition, though I hate the thought of having to ask her to host every year.  In any case we took what we thought was going to be an extremely depressing thanksgiving and turned it into one of the best in recent memory.  Similarly tonight we participated in what I hope will be another new tradition.  For years since the passing of my Grandmother and Grandfather on my Dad’s side we have talked about trying to get together for the holidays, but for one reason or another it never quite happened.  Tonight however we had a Christmas gathering not unlike the ones we had so many Christmas mornings.

The awesome thing about it, is that it was a more evolved tradition, in that it became far less about the gift exchange and more about the sharing of conversation and company.  Essentially it is the sort of thing that I wished Christmas always could have been.  Everyone was genuinely glad to be there, and interested in what everyone else was doing and had done since the last time we were together.  There were no awkward interactions, or confusion, just family getting together to spend time with one another.  I hope we can do this every year, because I think it worked extremely well.  On an awesome side note we got to finally meet my cousins long-term girlfriend and she seemed really awesome.  It is also my hope that we can all stay in closer contact this coming year than we have in the past.  If nothing else however we had a really great evening together.

A Very Merry Christmas

I am writing this Christmas eve, so some of the wording might come off a little odd, especially since it is still my intent to post it in the morning before we start travelling to go to more new family traditions.  I just wanted to take a moment to express how much I appreciate you my readers.  It is a strange thing that I do on a daily basis, because most of the time I am talking to myself.  Other times I am keenly aware that I have people watching and listening to what I am saying.  This is one of those times.  I hope you find in this Holiday whatever you were looking for.  Be that time with family, or some really awesome food… or even some much needed solitude.  The holiday in many ways is a thing that recharges our batteries for the coming year, and I hope you all get that much needed charge from it.  You fine folks keep me doing this on a daily basis, and without you reading it… I fear my blog would be a pretty boring place.

As you stare down the barrel of 2015 I hope you all find peace going into a whole new year.  My holiday full of new traditions I think is going to do just that for me.  I’ve had a lot of unresolved anxiety about my relationship with my family, and how precisely I fit into it.  I’ve spent a lot of my time feeling like maybe they really just didn’t “get” me…  but I guess at the end of the day that isn’t really the important part.  The key is that they keep trying to understand me, and keep caring enough to ask how I am doing and what I am interest in.  May each of you find your own place in the world that fits you.  My readers, my guildies, my twitteratti…  you are all my extended family.  So a very Merry Christmas to all of my family out there, and I will talk to you again before New Years to wish you one of those as well.

Highmaul Attempts

Brilliant Ideas

Last night my wife and I thought we had a great idea.  I was in Highmaul raiding until 10pm my time, and we thought after that we would pop out to Wal-mart to pick up the ingredients for all of the recipes we were going to fix today.  Normally speaking we avoid Wal-mart like the plague, but there were a few things we needed in addition to the normal grocery store fare.  Any store at this time of the year is sheer madness, but we thought surely by 10 pm the crowds would have lessened.  It seems like everyone had this same idea because Wal-mart was completely insane.  The entire time in the store there was this persistent “crowd” noise of hundreds of people chattering.  This was only perforated to the sounds of a wailing child… that went on for a good five minutes without stop.

The biggest frustration was the general state of disrepair the store was in.  We attempted to gather up the ingredients we needed but kept running into obstacles.  When I went to get crushed pineapple for example there were two women there fighting over the last few cans.  After listening to one of the workers it sounded like they were stocking the shelves and stuff was flying off before they could finish stocking.  The biggest problem was that nothing really made any sense as to where it would be located.  The two women fighting over the crushed pineapple… apparently missed the warzone that was the palette of various fruit fillings out in the main isle.  I had scrounged up four small cans hoping it would be enough…  when I stared down and saw an entire case of the big cans just sitting there out in the main isle.

Peaceful Oasis

Normally speaking the checkouts are the worst part of a trip to Wal-mart, but after having to navigate that obstacle course that was the store…  this time the check out line actually seemed rather peaceful.  We had quite literally just made a break for it, only having gathered up about half of the things on our shopping list.  The strangest thing about last night was the fact that so many people seemed to just be wandering around aimlessly in the store, without a basket or a purpose.  There was this pack of one adult and four teenage boys that didn’t seem to have any real mission other than always moving slowly in whatever isle we needed to go down.  My wife had to stifle several curses, so it was most definitely time to exit the building regardless of the results.  Reasors our local grocery store chain was also open 24/7 so we figured whatever we were missing we could hopefully get there.

Whereas Wal-mart looked like a chaotic post apocalyptic wasteland..  Reasors was a pinnacle of calm and order.  Every shelf was well stocked, there were no random cases of food blocking the isles, and the workers all seemed to have the grace of angels.  We should have come here first and completely ignored Wal-mart because they had quite literally everything we needed in large supply and with no land grabs in the canned fruit isle.  I have a feeling that as we go through the day today, we will need to make a trip out to get this or that thing we forgot… and in that case I am most definitely going to Reasors.  The biggest frustration last night seemed to be the death of common courtesy.  In Wal-mart there were a number of times where we would wait on someone to pass, or let them turn out of an isle into the main lanes.  Never once did anyone even acknowledge the fact that we existed…  let alone say “thank you”.  Sure we were just as stressed as anyone there, but we took the time to thank the people who showed us where something was or let us pass with our carts.

Highmaul Attempts

Wow-64 2014-12-23 20-32-06-92 Last night was the only raid night we will have this week, with the holiday and such.  With that in mind we were hoping to at the very least clear all of the content we have been able to kill so far, and we managed to accomplish that.  In a single night we did Heroic Kargath, and then started in on Normal moe clearing Kargath, Butcher, Brackenspore, Tectus, and Twin Ogron.  We managed to clear all of this with plenty of time to put in a half dozen or so attempts on Ko’ragh.  The only fight we failed to oneshot was Tectus which still seems like a completely chaotic mess.  We are trying really hard to organize said chaos, but it feels like there is something we are either missing or that has not quite clicked yet on how best to move the melee group and the ranged group.  There were still several points where the melee could not engage the bosses because there was too much death swirling around on the ground.  We however pushed through and had a really good attempt allowing us to move on.

Ko’ragh on the other hand still feels confusing as hell.  We are starting to grasp the concepts, but have yet to quite figure out the best way to deal with the adds.  Last night we tried leaving the melee on the boss until the adds were gathered up on the tanks, but this seemed to be too much incoming damage for a single tank to manage.  I have a feeling that next week we will return to the melee wrecking the adds one by one as they come in.  In any case we keep getting further each time we work on it, so I have a feeling given a normal two night raid cycle we would have likely beaten him.  My biggest concern is that I feel like Gladiator dps is lagging behind what it should be.  The problem is I really don’t like the feel of fury this expansion, and I have a feeling that Arms is just as untenable as Gladiator seems to be.  Thankfully I have been leveling and gearing my Deathknight so if I have to switch characters to be viable for raiding… that is option as I am enjoying frost dps still.  Gladiator adds a lot of functionality that is nice to have, just fearing that there will be a point where it simply is not enough to make up for the lower dps.1

Ranged State of Mind

Schedule Conflicts

The strangest thing about being on a lengthy break is just how contorted your schedule ends up getting.  In part I guess I need the normal weekly rhythm to make me feel like the world is right.  Last night for example we had a raid in Final Fantasy XIV, but since I did not go to work that day I almost completely forgot that it was a thing.  Similarly I am going to struggle to remember that I have a raid tonight in World of Warcraft because of the same exact problem.  There is a primus song that gives us the wisdom “Weekends don’t mean quite so much when you’re unemployed, cept for the fact you get to hang out with your workin friends”.  The same can essentially be said for week days too when you are on vacation, as everything feels like some extremely extended weekend.

This morning for example we almost completely forgot about setting the trash out to the curb.  In fact were it not for my wife reminding me we probably would have been screwed.  For some reason I ended up sleeping in until almost 9:30 this morning, which is why this post is getting out the door so late.  I feel there needs to be a term for this, since we have “Jet Lag” for when you cross multiple time zones…  we need “Holiday Lag” or something similar for when your days no longer have the same meaning that they used to.  I am not really complaining mind you, since I am not at work and getting to lounge comfortably in my fuzzy pants at 11 am.  Things could be considerably worse, but man it is strange to get used to.

One More Bard

ffxiv 2014-12-22 21-16-02-55 I had to share this photo today.  Once again it is me and the amazing Ayla and Joren Noye, dancing around in our holiday best.  I have actually glamoured my bard gear to look like last years holiday set since it kinda reminds me of Link from the original Legend of Zelda when you have the red armor right before you take on death mountain.  I cannot tell you how happy it makes me feel that goofy things like this happen in our housing neighborhood.  What is even more awesome is that Ayla and Joren are going to go through the new Eternal Bonding ceremony on New Years day, and I was invited…  as well as anyone from the free company.  It should be awesome to see and I think we get a pet for participating.  At some point I need to make my way into game and work out what I am going to wear for an outfit.  I do have the tuxedo somewhere, but I kinda want to create my own custom spin on it.  Wondering what the Tuxedo jacket looks like with the Soldiery Kilt.

We lacked the numbers last night to do anything of major significance… so instead we decided to run a Syrcus Tower as a FC.  I wanted to run as my bard since that is the character that needs gear… and since there are always more bards in a full party I wanted to be able to roll need.  This however gave us the three bards in our party once we randomed in a couple of players.  We kinda wrecked the damage on everything, and our group was always the first to finish whatever adds we had spawned on us.  This was true even on Zande when the non-FC bard managed to get locked out of the final fight.  Our comets were still the first to go down in every round, and we ended up helping the others dps theirs down as well.  Sadly no bard gear dropped, but it was a fun and fast run without any of the normal bullshit that happens in Syrcus.

Ranged State of Mind

Wow-64 2014-12-23 11-07-14-87 In truth I have been playing my Bard quite a bit, and the nostalgia of Warlords of Draenor has even lead me to break back out Lodin my Hunter in World of Warcraft.  There is a strange sense of nostalgia playing him, because in truth I have not taken playing him seriously since vanilla.  I’ve talked about it before but Lodin was the raid main I never intended to play, and as such as soon as I got to Burning Crusade he was quickly abandoned.  Since I have brought back Belghast my Warrior out of retirement… it feels like it is also fitting to dust off Lodin.  Right now he is 89 and sitting in Townlong Steppes, so my hope is to finish leveling him to 90… equip the set of Timeless Isle gear I have waiting on him to make the first little bit of Draenor easier… and then work on leveling him to 100 next.  My enjoyment of him as a whole improved exponentially when I got Arcturis the spirit beast bear my last time playing him.  I’ve always liked running around with a dwarf and a bear… and Arcturis is really an amazing creature.

I think part of what excites me about playing a Hunter again is the introduction of the Lone Wolf talent.  I have always hated having a pet while dungeoning or raiding.  They always seem to do exactly the thing I don’t want them to do at the moment.  As such I’ve always personally found that raiding with something that you don’t have direct control over a liability.  That said I love having a tanky pet while leveling and farming, because at that point it is like having a two player party…  just one that you are controlling both halves of.  The Lone Wolf talent seems to be the best of both worlds… it lets me dungeon and raid as a pure marksman without the need to fiddle with pet mechanics, but also wander around the world as an amazingly efficient team.  Much the same was as Gladiator made me way more interested in Warriors…  Lone Wolf does the same for me and hunters.  Now I just want to get leveled up so I can see if it is as enjoyable as I think it will be.

Garrison Leveling

Carabiner Failure

Several years ago I picked up a cheapy Carabiner in a hardware store and started using it as a key chain.  I liked it because I could hang my keys on my pocket or anything else for that matter when I had my hands full, and that I could easily separate out my house keys, and both sets of our car keys as needed.  The spring in the original one got loose and I replaced it with the black one that I have currently.  Over the last few months I had a few incidents where a key fell off in my pocket but I didn’t think much about it, that is until this weekend.  Saturday we took my Mother in Law to Joplin and we spent pretty much the entire day running around town.  Joplin is roughly two hours away for us, and it is just different enough from the normal pace to make it interesting.  While in Joplin we hit a bunch of different stores and even spent time in the mall, so it was an absolutely packed and busy day.

When we were walking out to the car at Sams Club our final stop…  my heart sank as I realized that my keychain “felt funny”.  Sure enough I was missing the key to my Jeep, but the problem is I had no clue where it might have slipped off.  We looked around the parking lot and didn’t see it at all.  We traced our footsteps back to the store we were in before Sams thinking it might have fallen off there in the parking lot also.  Essentially we had no luck, and were about to simply chock it up to being a $150 mistake…  given that is roughly what it takes to get a new key made for my jeep given it is one of those combo keys with the remote built in.  Yesterday while running errands my wife called around to the various stores we had been to, to see if anyone had turned in a key.  Sure enough at Sams they had a grungy key matching the description of mine.

Yesterday was an extremely strange day.  I had been up until 2 am the previous night working on the podcast, and then was up at 8 am that morning working on it again.  After errands my wife went off with her sister to visit her mother again…  and we had tentatively made plans to go today to Joplin. I was living in this strange zone of sleep deprivation, where things seemed like good ideas.   So in my lack of wisdom… I decided to drive by myself the two hours to Joplin and two hours back… on what was one of the dreariest days imaginable.  I have to say it was a rough trip, but I made pretty good time and acquired the key that was in fact mine.  I finally crashed last night around 9 am… and then was back up this morning at 4:30 because my wife was upstairs watching Law and Order…. and I kept hearing the “Doink Doink” sound.  Pretty much as soon as I finish writing this post I am laying back down, however I did manage to get back my keys which is pretty awesome.

Garrison Leveling

Wow-64 2014-12-22 05-58-29-55 Since the launch of Warlords of Draenor I have managed to level two of my stable of characters to 100, but even more than that I have managed to push up most of my level 90s to at least 91 while unlocking their Garrisons.  As such this has allowed me to flip through them each day running missions and doing crafting content, giving me access once more to having all available tradeskills.  I thought nothing much about this until the other day when my Paladin dinged 93 from completing follower missions.  I guess I knew I had been gaining experience from my Garrison, but I did not really think about it being much if anything.  Turns out that you could in theory level your alts entirely through doing Garrison content.  In fact I am managing to keep a stockpile of gear to level into on my paladin at least, so if you had the patience of a saint you could in theory gear a character to epics doing nothing but daily quests.

There is just something strange about that thought process, considering it is just about the most passive way to level that I could imagine.  That said you are managing to get a bunch of incidental experience each time you clear out your mine, or harvest your herb garden.  By the same token each follower mission rewards you similar experience to actually completing a quest.  I just find it so strange that Blizzard decided to implement this system, because it seems like such a departure form the way things have worked in the past.  Granted I expect fully to actually level my alts for real in the near future, but it is nice that I am slowly creeping forward on each of them as I swap between them each day queuing more work orders, and follower missions.

New Class Footage

I have not talked much about Final Fantasy XIV since monday’s post, but there has been a bunch of news floating around the interwebs as this weekend was the Fan Festival in Tokyo.  It seems at this point all of the new classes have been revealed.  We have known about the Dark Knight for some time, and I fully plan on switching to that as my main job when it is released.  On top of that we now know that the healer is going to be the Astrologian, which looks to be some sort of healer that heals through the use of Tarot cards.  The gun class is in fact one that Yoshi P had hinted at some time ago as being one of his favorites, the Machinist.  In both cases they look pretty slick and have a lot of people excited about them.  The Machinist feels like it is going to be a slow firing blunderbuss type class which may or may not be all that enjoyable to play… seems like the cooldowns on attacks might be frustrating.

The most important thing to me is that they finally showed off some footage of each of the classes.  The Dark Knight looks like everything I possibly hoped it would be.  Ashgar and I joked that while it makes me very happy… it is likely going to make Tam very sad… since he seems to really dislike random spikey bits on things.  That said I personally find it amazing, and the animations may just top Warrior, although I have yet to see anything that really tops Steel Cyclone.  I love the way two handed classes feel in FFXIV, because there is a certain heft to the movements, like the weapon is extremely heavy and difficulty to wield.  I feel like the Dark Knight is going to let me live out my “Tiny Odin” fantasies even more than I can now as a Warrior.  I really look forward to seeing more information about the actual attacks that these classes can do, but I am sold… and am more than ready to throw my money at the screen.