Fighting Fate

Smoothies for Everyone

nutribullet Every so often either my wife or I will get an idea in our heads and ultimately it leads to the other person either embracing it… or getting so sick of hearing about it that we simply give in.  Several years ago I got it stuck in my head that I really wanted a juicer.  I did copious amounts of research and finally ended up with a rather expensive model by Breville as it was the highest rated.  After attempting to make juice a few times… I deemed it simply was not worth the effort and the colossal mess that went into the process.  When you watch a juicer commercial they always seem to produce the prettiest almost Technicolor juice you could ever imagine.  In reality what you produce is a lot of various shades of brown, and while it tasted just fine…  you had to pour a lot of fruit into even a single glass.  Ultimately the juicer is being loved by a far more sensible family right now, and I gave up on the notion… happy to see it getting some use.

So when my wife decided that she wanted a Nutribullet because one of her coworkers used it… I thought we were just about to walk down this same path.  Surprisingly this I guess is a “juice” maker that we can exist with because it is so damned simple.  We picked it up on Thursday and over the last few days we have been making all sorts of concoctions.  My wife has been hitting pinterest and finding various recipes, and me…  well I have just been trying to perfect a breakfast shake that combines my morning coffee with enough nutrients to keep me going until lunch.  The trick seems to be to make my coffee the night before and set it in the fridge so that it blends better.  Right now I am mixing in a banana, some peanut butter, some nutella, coffee and some honey to sweeten it all.  I think I am pretty close, but I think the secret will be to fix my coffee like I normally would before setting it in the fridge.  In any case the resulting smoothie is shockingly filling.  Other than that I have been fixing a wide array of orange juice based drinks when I feel hungry.  If nothing else this is already far more of a success than the juicer ever was.

Fighting Fate

boardwalkempire Since I have been sick so much lately and realistically it has been too cold to do much of anything at all… I have spent a lot of time on the couch watching television.  By watching television I mean either watching shows steaming over the network or on demand cable.  I really don’t spend too much time passively watching live broadcast television other than adult swim.  Over this period I have caught up with Scorpion, watched Halt and Catch Fire season 1, and finally got around to watching the last season of boardwalk empire.  I might be going into some spoiler territory here so if you have not watched the show you might want to skip ahead to the next segment.  For me this show has been about my love of Steve Buscemi, and without him I likely would not have ever watched it.  I mean I have enjoyed watching “gangland” movies in the past, but I am not really the godfather type.  What made this series so interesting for me was the fact that they took this favorite character actor of mine… and crafted a complex character that only he could bring to life.

Nucky Thompson is at the same moment repulsive and endearing… and you are never quite certain which side of him you are going to get.  He is one of the more brilliantly flawed characters I have seen on either the small or large screen in a long while.  Sitting down to watch the show from the first moment…  you get an impression that none of this is going to end well.  All the while you watch however you find yourself secretly rooting for Nucky to finally reach whatever pinnacle he is trying to reach, and that he can finally find some happiness.  So as I sat down to watch this final season, I ultimately knew that all gangland themes end in death and destruction.  To the last moment however I wanted Nucky to find a way to trick fate, and sidestep his own demise.  The way that they brought this chapter to a close was so perfect, so touching, and at the same time so satisfyingly “just”.  If you have not watched Boardwalk Empire… and ignored my warnings about spoilers…  I still suggest you go watch the show.  The end result of the experience is overwhelmingly positive and something I would suggest to almost anyone.

Primal Payouts

ffxiv 2015-02-27 20-26-34-46 One of the awesome things about having so many people around lately in the Free Company is the fact that we can actually pull together impromptu group content.  Last night on a whim when we realized we had eight geared 50s on at once… we opted to give Odin a shot.  While the ilevel requirement is something small…  it is a trap.  This is probably the most difficult and chaotic fight we have experienced in awhile.  The healing and dps requirements just seemed brutal, and we did not even make it to what is termed the “heal check” of the encounter.  As the night went on we got better at the “dance” of moving in and out of the circles of death, and given more time I think we could have probably beaten him.  This is a single tank fight, and our combination of players last night ended up giving us two dragoons and three bards…. which was a strange combination of abilities.  I could have potentially gone bard and had more dps time on the boss, as he is constantly spawning circles on to of him that have to be moved out of… or you essentially die.  Additionally we will probably do this fight in the future using a Warrior tanking it rather than a Paladin because of the insane amount of damage… and simply needing the larger health pool to soak it.

ffxiv 2015-02-27 17-32-53-77 Other than that I spent most of my night running random primals in one form or another.  The chant of “Hards for Cards!” is still alive and well in the guild.  Over he course of the night I managed to pick up both the Ifrit Triple Triad card and the Gilgamesh and Enkidu Triple Triad cards.  The big bonus of running all of these hard mode primals is the fact that I am also collecting so many of the cool weapons that they can drop.  My ninja is going to be set when I finish leveling it as far as cosmetic weapons go.  Right now I am focusing Garuda who has yet to drop me a card, but we did as a guild get a few more people flagged for Titan Extreme by killing Garuda Extreme.   I am super happy with the current state of how the guild and the game are going for us.  We keep getting a slow trickle of new players, which keeps giving us a reason to revisit older content.  This is the thing that I wish World of Warcraft could figure out.  Running old content, and making it still be relevant helps to bond players to the guild as a whole.  Final Fantasy XIV does so much right to get the social aspect of an MMO perfectly, that I just wish the other games I played made half that effort.


Fun With Trains

Bel’s Blog Bonanza – February 27, 2015

For those not familiar with it, I write a bi-weekly column on and they made the huge mistake of letting me name it myself.  As such I gave it the completely bombastic title of “Bel’s Blog Bonanza” and every other week I give a run down to the best of my ability of the current hot topics circulating through the gaming blogosphere.  This week I talk about the echo effects of the rather brutal interview of Peter Molyneux by Rock, Paper, Shotgun.  This had many responses out in the community, and I picked a few of the ones I felt represented the various feelings the best.  Additionally the Crowfall Kickstarter has been huge on the blogging front with an absolutely overwhelming number of posts contemplating what everything means thusfar.

This week has also been huge as far as game patches went with the two remaining subscription juggernauts of Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft both releasing a significant patch on Tuesday.  From the Final Fantasy XIV side from we had a large number of posts talking about their experiences with the Manderville Golden Saucer and related items that came into the game this week.  On the World of Warcraft front we had quite a few reactions to the various features that were put in with the first patch of the expansion.  While the viewpoints of FFXIV 2.51 seemed overwhelmingly positive, the reactions from the World of Warcraft players were a little bit more mixed… which I assume is what you would expect from having a much more mature community.  The honeymoon was over long ago and now folks are viewing the game through less than rose colored lenses.  In any case check out the post and let me know what you think of the column.

Fun With Trains

Last night I finally started to feel like I was getting back into the swing of things.  Yesterday as a whole I felt considerably better than I had since last Thursday.  With it being a raid night, and we had cleared all of the encounters we had worked on during my medicated stupor on Tuesday… this meant that last night was entirely a learning night.  Some people get depressed at the concept of constant wiping, but for me it feels cool because we are getting to try new things.  Last night we set our sights on Operator Thogar, which for those who are unfamiliar with Blackrock is the “Train Boss”.  His room is essentially a train depot with four different tracks.  At various points during the fight a train will come barreling through the room and if you are on the wrong track at the wrong time… it will flat out one shot you.  For me as a bit of an abomination as Gladiator DPS… it will take me down very close to death but not actually kill me.

As you move through the encounter some trains will simply buzz through, and others will stop and drop off adds.  Among the types that drop adds there are ones filled with simply mindless trash mobs, and others filled with what we have termed “specialists”.  It is these specialist trains that cause the problems and quite simply last night we were not getting them down fast enough… while at the same time dodging trains.  It seemed like melee had the dance down pretty well, which is generally the case since melee is used to constantly moving.  We just need our ranged and healers to get used to the rhythm of the fight to be able to time when they can cast and when they have to be moving.  Basically we died constantly at this same point… where we have a pack of specialists and we did not get them down with enough time to move to the far edges of the room and split up.  I feel like this is a critical juncture and once we nail that we will have the encounter.

Killing the Flamebender

Wow-64 2015-02-26 21-41-21-83 Generally speaking if we do not make serious progress on our first few attempts, it is almost better to switch targets and let folks digest the mechanics for a week.  When we come back the following week there is absolutely a marked improvement.  Since this is the case with our raid, our leader called the halt on the Orc Trainmaster and we went back to working on Flamebender Ka’graz.  If you remember we actually made some solid progress on her awhile back getting her down into the 30% range if I am remembering correct, so I knew going into the night that more than likely this was going to be a fight we could fine tune and get through.  Once again this is a fight with a lot of moving parts.  Players have to avoid lines of fire that get drawn on the floor as she targets a ranged dps and attacks them.  This means the melee spend most of their time shifting around trying to keep from standing in these.

The crucial part of the fight seems to be dealing with the two lava wolf spawns.  This was the point at which we spent the most effort improving last night.  We shifted around trying several different combinations and finally landing on actively calling which target which group of players should be attacking.  Like I said last time these work like Corehounds and if they are not brought down at the same time… they both re-ignite.  The other big thing we tweaked was where the group collapsed, attempting to do so in the center of the room rather up within melee range of where the boss is tanked by default.  I think the combination of both of these was what actually allowed us to get through that second flame puppy phase with essentially a full compliment of players.  From there it was just repetition of the things we were already good at doing… and when the third dog phase happened we were able to ignore them and finish off the last 3% of the boss.  As is rare for us we actually managed to get everyone to stand still long enough to take a kill shot.

Hards for Cards

Feeling Mostly Human

I guess for better or worse the second day of medication trick worked again.  Round about the time I took my fourth dose of prednisone I started feeling more or less human again.  Today I am feeling significantly better, but I am going to try not to push myself terribly hard.  The goal will be to simply take things slow and do what I can.  I got out long enough to go to the grocery store yesterday, as my wife suggested I get some vitamin C in me… and simply walking around long enough to gather up a few items damned near killed me.  So here is hoping I can successfully navigate my way to work and back home again.

I want to take a moment real quick to thank all the folks who have been constantly checking on me.  I log in each morning to a barrage of “feeling any better yet?” and I have to say it makes me feel really damned lucky to have some awesome friends.  This has legitimately been the worst I have felt in a really long time.  Largely I have kept people in the loop so they don’t expect miracles from me during this period of time.  I missed the raid on Monday completely, and barely made Tuesdays.  Time will tell if I make it through today with enough energy to be able to make the one tonight.  Largely I figure there is nothing I do in any of them that could not be missed for a week if I absolutely had to.  Mostly right now I am dreading going back to work after being away for a day and a half.  But I will struggle through with at least a feigned smile.

Hards for Cards

ffxiv 2015-02-25 20-48-46-39 We have decided to copyright the term “Hards for Cards” because while it sounds a little rude… it accurately describes what we largely did last night.  There are many ways to earn triple triad cards.  The two primary ways revolve around either repeatedly dueling NPCs hoping to get lucky, or repeatedly running dungeon and raid content…  also hoping to get lucky.  I have to say though, given the two options I would far rather run the dungeons and raids, because at least then I am also gaining tomestones.  I started off solo queuing for Trial Roulette, giving me a random assortment of whatever trials that folks seemed to be running.  For the most part all of the primal trials have a chance of dropping their Triple Triad card equivalent.  Before long we had a small team of us running Trials, and towards the end of the evening a full eight man.  Through all of the content I ran last night I managed to get the Ultros/Typhon card and the Good King Moggle Mog card… which are both far better cards than anything I had managed to earn through an NPC Triple Triad duel.

ffxiv 2015-02-25 17-50-03-53The other big accomplishment last night was through through an influx of tomestones from all the random trials… I was able to purchase the 110 weapon for my last 50.  Granted I have a slew of classes that I have yet to level to 50, but as of now I have 110 weapons for WAR, BRD, DRG, WHM and as of last night PLD.  This also means that since all of my gear is currently WAR/PLD that both of my tanks are sitting at ilevel 116 which makes me pretty  pleased.  I am not sure how much action my paladin is going to actually get however, since I have a definite preference towards the warrior style of tanking…  but I would like to at least bring it out of mothballs now and then for duty roulette.  I really need to psyche myself up to tank more for the duty finder.  The community is pretty great most of the time, and there is really nothing but my own anxiety keeping me from doing it.  I just greatly prefer tanking for friends… and last night I tanked several instances and really enjoyed myself.  I just need to push myself to do it more with strangers, considering I would definitely not mind the constant gil bonus for queuing as a tank.

The Little Things

Wow-64 2015-02-26 06-24-11-65 I have essentially bankrupted myself in World of Warcraft purchasing all of the heirloom items that I had access to, but had yet to pick up.  The majority can be purchased in the museum in Ironforge, however a handful can still only be purchased on the guild vendor.  Thankfully these have all had their cost lowered to the 500g for the level 60 step.  In the course of picking up the last few items I noticed a doodad for sale on the vendor that I had not seen before.  The item was called “Garrison Guild Banners” and did precisely what the name said.  I think this is probably a testament to just how few heroics I actually ran in this expansion given that apparently you get one from an achievement earned by completing all of the heroic dungeons.  I am guessing it is upper blackrock spire that I never actually completed.  The item was cheap, 100g but man has it added a lot of enjoyment to my garrison.

Wow-64 2015-02-25 09-41-58-79 Another little thing I can check off my list is that I finally have the level 2 Menagerie unlocked.  I was never one of those people that really had much issue with the fact that the Pet Menagerie was essentially a dead spot in my Garrison.  I simply never had leveled a pet to 25, and as a result was not able to participate in the quest used to unlock the Menagerie in the first place.  I always felt kind of bad that as much as I like mini-pets…  that I had not really spent much time playing WoW Pokemon.  However with the 6.1 patch they introduced a simple quest that allows you to earn an Ultimate Battle-Training Stone…  which in essence boosts one pet from level whatever to level 25 the current cap.  This is available to every level 100 character you have with a tier 3 Garrison, so I managed to build a team of three level 25 pets shortly after logging in on Tuesday.

I did no research at all, and instead went with three of my favorite pets…  which is a fact that I am sure will make my life more difficult.  I went with the Terrible Turnip largely because its special ability should make the capture of pets more easy…  which is the main reason why I wanted a level 25 pet in the first place.  After that I chose to level my next two favorite pets…  Mini Thor from the Starcraft II Collectors edition, and Murkalot which was a Blizzcon bonus item.  Currently the team makes me happy… but I doubt I will be wrecking much face anytime soon.  If nothing else they should allow me to power level additional 25s with greater ease.  With my heirlooms, and my new pet army… I am poised to start working on my Horde alts.  So that is likely going to be one of my many downtime activities in the near future.  In the meantime…  keep being awesome readers, and I will see you all tomorrow!

#FFXIV #WoW #TripleTriad

Triple Triad Anyone?

Miserable Defined

KenzieWithMe I am getting my morning post out extremely late today, because I have been attempting to sleep.  Since last Thursday I have been fighting something and going into crazy coughing fits.  Finally yesterday I went to the doctor and it turns out it is a bad case of bronchitis they are worried may turn into pneumonia.  As such I am resting as much as I can, but I am in this odd state of limbo.  They gave me a Z-Pack of antibiotics and some prednisone, but there are times the cure feels worse than the problem.  I grew up a sick kid, and constantly taking doses of prednisone to get over whatever issue I happened to have at the moment.  I am not sure if this is an all people thing or just the way my body metabolizes the drug, but it puts me in this state of being ravenously hungry, unable to sleep, and alternating between freezing cold and burning hot.

My blog post is happening so late because I thought I would try and get as much sleep as I could this morning.  Unfortunately the moment after I got to bed in earnest…  I went into the regular course of coughing fits.  I really need to find a way to sleep standing up comfortably.  I’ve never been one of those people that could actually sleep in a recliner, though as I type this I am at least attempting to rest on the sofa.  I am hoping today is the day when things start to turn around.  Generally speaking the second day on prednisone starts with you feeling considerably worse and then by that evening life is starting to get better again.  In the mean time my kitten is being adorable beside me on the sofa and keeping my company.

Triple Triad Anyone?

tripletriadwin Yesterday was an insanely huge day for MMO patches.  In Final Fantasy XIV 2.51 was patched in unleashing upon the world the greatest time sink ever…  Triple Triad.  When Final Fantasy XIV came out, it was during the heyday of collectible card gaming.  So I was floored when I saw that they had their own deviously simple card game inside of a game.  I remember farming monsters to get gold, to buy better cards… to ultimately get a better deck so I could duel NPCs…  and win better cards.  It was one giant feedback loop that kept me enthralled for months as I tried to collect all of the cards in the game.  I was so into this game that I tracked down physical cards and purchased a handful of extremely expensive for the time imported packs.  Nowadays single packs are selling on ebay for upwards of $60… I think maybe I paid like $5 a pack at the time… which I thought was highway robbery.  Now I can play the game inside of another game I already love… and so far I have not really left the Golden Saucer other than to duel npcs out in the world.

ffxiv 2015-02-24 11-26-02-04 Though honestly… as amazing as the Manderville Golden Saucer is… who would want to go anywhere else?  I know there is more to this patch than this one attraction but I feel like this is the part that I have been waiting on since it was first announced.  I puttered around trying out each of the minigames, and so far the one that is easiest to increase your Manderville Gold Points, the currency needed by all Golden Saucer games, is the strength tester.  It costs a single MGP to play, and if you can press the hammer at exactly the right moment you can get 5 MGP in return.   This will take forever, but should be able potential way to earn enough money safely if you so choose.  Triple Triad on the other hand has significantly better payouts, so my hope is that I can build a good enough deck to regularly dual the King and win.  There are already videos online with some strategies for winning against the king with the default deck.  Right now however my priority as always will be to win more cards..  because that is the part of the game that is interesting to me.

Heirlooms for Everyone

Wow-64 2015-02-25 09-54-41-32 heirlooms Not to be outshined, yesterday was also the release date of the 6.1 patch in World of Warcraft.  With it came a number of quality of life changes like the brand new heirloom system.  One of the coolest things about it, was the fact that any heirlooms that you owned, got bumped up to level 90 preemptively.  For the most part heirlooms seem to be around 500g for the level 60 version, 1500g or so for the upgrade to 90, and then 5000g or so for the upgrade to level 100.  All of which seem really reasonable to me.  The best feature is that you can have the same heirloom on as many characters as you like.  As such my army of horde alts are now fully kitted out in heirloom gear for at least level 60.  To make the process a little easier they introduced a new currency called Misprinted Draenic Coins that actually give us a proper reason to do a daily heroic!  You can turn these in for the items used to upgrade your heirlooms.

Wow-64 2015-02-24 21-34-55-22 In other news, last night I limped through the raid even though I likely should have done so.  I performed pretty shitty all night long, but I did well enough to keep from screwing anyone else up.  We started the night with Gruul, moved to Hans and Franz and then Darmac before starting in work once more on Oregorger.  We finally either reached a point in gear where we could handle the damage and healing, or we simply got better at moving… but whatever it was we managed to finally defeat Oregorger removing what had become a physical and mental wall.  The other night when we tried Kagraz it seemed like we could get that fight down without much more effort.  Similarly I think we will be preparing to play with trains and Operator Thogar.  My hope is that we can get back our momentum and get closer to clearing the instance on normal at least.  My hope is that soon we will give at least Gruul a poke on heroic.  We have that fight pretty well under control, so I can’t see as how we should not be clearing the first bosses of each wing on heroic before too much longer.  In the meantime I am hoping my medication kicks and I can return to live as normal… because being sick sucks.

Final Fantasy XIV Minion Guide

I Love Mini-Pets

ffxiv 2015-02-22 10-52-44-08 One of my favorite things in any game is the collection of mini-pets and in Final Fantasy XIV they have a truly silly amount of them.  In talking to a guildie today I realized just how contorted it is to try and figure out how to get each of them.  They come from vendors, achievements, quests, an random raid and dungeon drops.  I thought for today’s post I would attempt to pull together a rudimentary list of where you can obtain which minions.  This will likely not be a complete list, but it is a good first attempt.  I will try and update it for new data as I find what I am missing.

Purchased Minions

This is probably the least complete of the information I have, but if you really want to find out how to get each of the minions, click the link and follow up to find out where the vendor is located.  Some of these require you to complete certain FATEs to get the vendor to show up. Anything marked Special event means it is from a holiday event or similar limited time happening.

Beast Tribe Purchased Minions

This next batch are vendor purchased, but require you to gain a certain amount of faction with a given beast tribe to access the minions.  It looks like each faction has two different minions.

Crafting and Harvested Minions

This category of minions is obtained either through a crafted pattern or through harvesting.  Click through to the minion to find out specifically what it takes to obtain each.

Quested Minions

There are a number of minions that can be obtained through the completion of quests.  Here is a list of those that I know of, as well as the quest that goes with them.  Be warned looking at the quest might be a bit of a spoiler at times.  Anything marked Special event means it is from a holiday event or similar limited time happening.

Achievement Minions

There are a number of minions that are associated with the completion of an achievement.  I’ve attempted to link the achievement to help you figure out what it takes to get each one.  Some of them are extremely involved.

FATE Minions

There are a number of minions that are obtained through the completion of specific FATEs.  Generally speaking these require you to get gold completion on the FATE in order to earn the minion.  These drop each time you get gold, meaning they are often extremely cheap on the market board.

Treasure Map Minions

With the introduction of the treasure map system, there are a number of extremely rare and highly sought after minions that come from completing these maps.  From what I understand it is a sub 1% chance of getting one of these minions, because of this… they go for millions of gil each.  Good luck!

Gardening Minions

When the housing garden plots were introduced, there are a number of minions that can be in essence grown.  Each of them requires you to do some truly contorted things to get a rare seed… that will then grow into the minion.  I don’t know the specifics but hopefully you can research how to do this elsewhere.  I am just providing a list of minions.

Retainer Venture Minions

Similar to the Treasure Map minions… there are minions that have an exceptionally rare chance of being returned from Retainer ventures.  Most of these come from exploration ventures of specific gathering types.  The rarity causes them to generally be priced in the millions.  Hopefully you will have some extremely good luck.

Dungeon Drop Minions

There are a number of minions that can be found as somewhat uncommon drops in various dungeons.  Several of these started as 100% chance drops, but as the market was flooded, Square decided to dial back the drop chance making them significantly rarer.  The best option for these is to farm them by running the dungeon multiple times.

Raid Drop Minions

A Number of the raids and trials drop minions.  Generally speaking when a trial drops a minion it is dropped every time you successfully complete it.  When a raid drops one, there is a chance it may or may not drop the minion.  The problem with raid drops is you are having to roll against potentially 24 other players… which means you need to roll exceptionally well to have a shot at walking away with it.

Veteran Reward Minions

Final Fantasy XIV has easily one of the best veteran rewards programs, rewarding players for subscribing to the game with various items.  At each step you get a minion, so I have jotted down the minion and the number of days subscribed you have to reach to earn it.

Mog Station Purchased Minions

Recently Square Enix introduced a number of RMT minions available through the Mog Station.  Each of these runs roughly $5.  So far these are limited to the various scions apart from Minfilia that comes from the yearly anniversary event.

Final Fantasy XIV Merchandise Bonus Minions

There are a handful of items that can be purchased that have a pack in code for a specific minion.  These are all exclusive and cannot be obtained through other means.

Eternal Bonding Ceremony Minion

Finally there is one other very specific minion that can only be obtained through attending an Eternal Bonding ceremony.  Having not actually done this myself yet, I am uncertain how this process works but I would assume it becomes purchasable after you attend.

Thats All Folks… for now

ffxiv 2015-02-23 21-43-30-57

That ladies and gentlemen is all of the minions that I happen to know about.  As they add more to the game I will try and keep this guide updated.  Tomorrow the 2.51 patch lands and with it I am sure more minions.  Also if there are other minions not included in this guide that you know how to get, please let me know and I will copy over the information.  Hopefully someone out here will find this information useful.

#FFXIV #Minion #Guide

Tech Pedantry

Roguish Charm

ffxiv 2015-02-23 06-12-46-67This weekend was one of those where we stayed inside for the majority of it.  For starters I still feel like crap, with whatever bronchitis type thing that I have.  I think it might be getting slightly better, but still feeling drained from all the coughing.  For the most part I spent my weekend in a blanket cocoon on the sofa catching up on the show scorpion and playing an awful lot of Final Fantasy XIV.  While some of my time was spent with the guild running group content, a far greater amount was spent working on leveling rogue.  The class is really starting to grow on me, primarily because of the extremely well done animations.  Even though I essentially only have four buttons that matter right now, the animations feel important and it feels like I am the master of dagger based combat.  I started the weekend at level 18 and ended the weekend at level 26 so I am pretty happy with that.

For the longest time I had struggled with what to level next.  My monk was the closest to max level at 33 but really there is just something about it that does not excite me.  I’ve never really liked unarmed/fist weapon classes in games.  At high levels you can get some insane looking claws which I am sure improves the enjoyment…  but in general I have never actually liked monk characters in the Final Fantasy franchise.  Tifa, Sabin, Yang, and Zell all got a minimum of use in my parties, always favoring other jobs for my melee classes.  So I guess for me I don’t have this fond nostalgia for the monk and as such it just feels like a less interesting dragoon.  Rogue and I am hoping ninja on the other hand feels like this blade master that moves swiftly and delivers fast attacks on their target.  I can see leveling both at some point, but I think for the time being I will be “yet another ninja” waiting in the party finder.

Tech Pedantry

mpc-hc64 2015-02-23 06-18-44-52 The other aspect of this hibernation was watching all sixteen episodes of the show Scorpion to catch me up to date.  For some time now my wife has been telling me that she thought I would enjoy the show.  Some people are pedantic about grammar or spelling… for me it is about technology.  If you show a technology used in an inappropriate way it grates on my nerves and I struggle to get past it.  The logo for the television show is stylized as </scorpion>  which is an ending html tag…  and it drives me insane that they did not instead use the appropriate syntax for a single tag which would be <scorpion />.  Anyways at some point I pushed past this frustration when I kept hearing from friends how good the show was.  It took me a few episodes to start caring about the characters but right now I think I am officially hooked.

The strange thing about the show is that for the most part they do get technology right.  When they go into a nuclear reactor they talk about SCADA based systems, which are an actual protocol that for the most part runs all major infrastructure.  Other elements have a bit of science fantasy applied, but still the vast majority of it checks out in theory.  The only question is just how much of the show is based on the real Walter O’Brien and how much is made up for the sake of Hollywood.  The hacking NASA thing is supposedly true, but I feel like much of the show is romanticized for the sake of the screen.  I am just happy to be watching a show that does a pretty fair job of representing tech, and doing so as close to reality as probably any other show has managed to get.  Sure it suffers from the same “goofy interface” issues that any other show does, but I have connected enough with the cast of characters to get past that.  All I have to say is that Happy Quinn is a badass, and so long as she continues to be an interesting character I will probably keep watching.

Best Shoes Ever

starwarsvans I have this strange attachment with Vans, Airwalk and Converse shoes.  There is just something I like about canvas low tops that make me happy… especially the slip on varieties.  I would not say that I collect them but I definitely have more than a handful of pairs that I swap back and forth between.  The other day my wife stumbled onto the above pair of shoes and thought I needed them.  That is how cool my wife is, that she found something like this on her own and suggested I order them.  Granted for size 13 shoes they were a bit more expensive than I originally thought, but damn are they worth it.  Today is going to be the first time I wear them, and I am sure I will get some goofy looks…  but fuck it… they are amazing.  They did have some really subtle Darth Vader shoes that I contemplated getting, but I only wanted to get one pair… and the choice was obvious.

sunningcats While I am posting pictures, I figured I would drop this one on the blog as well.  This is one of those rare moments when all three of our cats are getting along.  It is a great size comparison picture that shows just how insanely huge Chloe is compared to Kenzie and Allie.  As I write this I have Kenzie the kitten sleeping on the top of a computer case on my desk, Allie picking at a box on under my desk, and Chloe sprawled out blocking the exit to my room.  They feel like they should be fed apparently, and are going to guard me until I make it happen.  Every time I stop typing the look around anxiously as though I am going to bolt from the room and try and shake them.  Living with my fuzzy menagerie is definitely an interesting existence, especially when at the same time both ferrets are demanding attention.  These are all the reasons why I often am late getting out the door in the morning, but I would not change it for the world.

Battle in the Big Keep

AggroChat 45 – The Citzens of Earth Show

Citizens Of Earth 2015-02-21 10-33-46-63 Last night we recorded the episode devoted to the very first AggroChat Game Club title, Citizens of the earth.  During the episode we talked about the various aspects of our game play experience.  For this game play experience myself and Rae played on the PC, Tam and Ash on the Vita and Kodra on the 3DS.  It seems like this game was not quite ready for primetime, because all of the console experiences were somehow fraught with problems.  We attempt to dive into the mechanics in depth, talking about the interesting way the game recruits new characters to your party.  We also dive into discussion about the storyline and our general feel on how successful the game ended up being for each of us.

I have to say this first game made us completely re-evaluate our process for picking titles for the future.  As such going forward we will be doing a round robin starting with Rae.  This months title will be Trine 2 which is awesome because I know that has been in a number of Humble Bundles as well as a Playstation Plus title.  Our hope is this will make it a fairly easy title for people to join in the fun with.  Since this game has two very different experiences for single player and multi-player we will be trying both.  I know personally I plan on playing some on the PS4 as well as on the PC to give myself a feel for how the game performs both on a PC and on a console.  It should be interesting, and I hope you all will join in the fun and give Trine 2 a play this coming month.

Battle in the Big Keep

ffxiv 2015-02-21 19-34-17-05 On Saturday nights before podcast time we have started doing a semi-raid night where we gather up whoever happens to be on and run eight player content with them.  The random nature of these nights is quickly making it one of my favorite evenings of the week.  Last night we finally had a full eight player group ready for the latest of the Hildebrand quests.  Once again we get into a battle with “Greg” aka Gilgamesh, but the awesome part is this time we really do get to see Enkidu his longtime companion.  This entire sequence has been huge for our guild, because we have  deep ties to Final Fantasy V.  For years Ashgar has been twisting our arms to participate in the Four Job Fiesta with him, and as such we are all very familiar with the shenanigans of Gilgamesh.  The sequence of events is almost directly ported from Final Fantasy V and as such we love every new step.  There is just so damned much nostalgia wrapped up in this game that it is amazing.

ffxiv 2015-02-21 19-40-55-61 I have to say the conclusion of the Hildebrand quest chain was well worth the wait.  I don’t want to spoil anything about the quest chain or the fight…  but this is quite possibly my favorite encounter in any game.  Everything about it is just so amazing, the only problem is I am not sure how someone is going to complete it being less geared than we are.  I was taking so damned much damage as a tank it was silly…  which makes me think it has to be percentage based.  Otherwise it would flat out kill any paladin tanks I know in the game.  I have roughly 11k health and when he cast Sword Dance it would whittle off about 8000 health in a short period of time.  We ran the fight back to back, and I swear there will be not getting tired of it for me at least.  Also it drops an Enkidu chicken pet..  so I must have it.

Random Groupy Bits

ffxiv 2015-02-21 19-58-12-89 One of the things I am really enjoying right now is having so many different people playing the game at different levels of completion.  This is meaning that we need to keep running different activities and revisiting older content.  I am absolutely eating this up, because I never really know what I might be needed to tank each time I log into the game.  I would love to see us do a semi regular night of doing nothing but the things that can drop pets.  Last night Exale needed Good King Moggle Mog, but ended up dropping from a duty and garnering the 30 minute debuff.  Instead we pulled together a group and did the Dragon Neck encounter… aka Ultros.  The first few times we did this it was super frustrating, but the last couple of times we seem to be getting better.  To mix things up Ashgar and I swapped roles and he took Ultros and I tanked Typhon.

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We had one bobble in not getting enough water in the various Kappa transformed players “bowls” to interrupt Typhon, but on our second try it went pretty much flawlessly.  I am generally pretty horrible at rolling on pets, in fact on Enkidu I rolled an 11.  However when Ultros dropped at the end of that encounter, I managed to roll a 95.  You can see in the above image me in ninja form standing beside the adorably creepy wind up Ultros minion.  I maybe have a problem with minions… right now I have 60… and am constantly looking to get more.  It is the little fun things in the game world that make it enjoyable for me.  I need to get off my ass and get on with doing the various beast tribe dailies because each of them has both a minion and a mount waiting at the higher levels of faction.  I am a little disappointed that there are not more mounts in the game that are dropped off normal dungeon content rather than extreme mode primals.  Eventually someday I hope to join in the extreme mount farming fun, but so far these always seem to happen on Saturday nights… when we are recording our podcast.

SkySaga is Pretty Great

Strange Days

Yesterday is going to rank among the strangest of days I have been through in my life.  For starters I am rather sick, so much so that I don’t have much of a voice right now.  How I am going to record AggroChat tonight is really beyond me.  It might be one of those episodes where I pester Kodra to be the MC, and I just add some gravelly sounding flavor commentary here and there.  So being sick and perpetually feeling like the room is moving aside…  I posted a slightly unusual post for me yesterday that to some extent set the community on fire.  On a good day I get maybe 150 readers hitting my blog…  yesterday I had well over 700.  Good or bad what I said seemed to strike a chord with folks…  and it was very strange to be riding that out.

The thing that scared me however was the kinds of reactions I got.  Everyone was extremely supportive, almost surprisingly so.  The aspect that was a bit frightening is how everyone felt the desire to post their own comments on the blog in question.  The blogger commented that I had sent my “gang” after her, and in truth I didn’t realize that I had one.  If we are to form a gang however, we will have to wear awesome hats.  Honestly that sort of power scares me more than a little.  I am not sure if I want the ability to without meaning to call down a nuke of their blog from orbit.  It just seems strange to be able to move that many people to action…  especially when I wasn’t really asking for it.  My chief goal was to have some voices that were being silenced heard, and that was the result of yesterdays post.  Everything that occurred afterwards, while I deeply appreciate the support, felt like maybe it got completely out of hand.

SkySaga is Pretty Great

SkySaga 2015-02-19 17-18-41-84 Over the last few days I have been lucky enough to be playing the current Sky Saga alpha.  I have to say I really dig the game but it is also one that is somewhat difficult to sum up quickly in words.  The game itself feels extremely like the various “next generation minecraft” offerings that have sprung up recently.  The entire game is voxel based, and if I had to guess is likely using the same VoxelFarm technology that Landmark does.  There are moments that in playing lots of landmark… the engine feels very similar in the way it draws nearby surfaces.  If I could sum it up best I would call it Minecraft with a purpose, in that there are constantly objectives and mini-quests to be accomplished as you move through the world.  The gameplay starts on a tutorial island that ultimately serves as your home base.  Anything you build here persists between plays of the game.

SkySaga 2015-02-20 13-49-15-42 The majority of the game play revolves around collecting key fragments, melding them together into a new key and then using that to open up portals to new areas.  From here you have access to explore new realms, with enemies, treasure, and resources not available in your home dimension.  The game itself is the pinnacle of charming as you play a either a human, cat person, or dinosaur person that gives you some limited customization options.  You progress through the tutorial by crafting various implements that you will need like a pick axe, or a sword.  The thing that stands out is how good the world feels.  The art style and design ethic are carried through every element that you interact with.  That means that everything from the breaking of a block to the swing of your sword feels like it belongs in this setting.

Pressure to Complete

SkySaga 2015-02-19 17-28-54-22 There are two main issues that I have with the game design right now.  Firstly when you craft a key it is a one shot item granting you essentially a one way trip to a new realm.  When you exit that realm for any reason, be it porting back to your home dimension or logging out of the game…  you lose all progress in the other realm.  This makes it a hard game to pop in and out of for short periods of time.  I feel like I need to get the most out of every key for fear that I waste the resources that it took to craft it.  The other problem is that when you die you lose everything on your person that has not been dumped in a hotbar slot.  The combination of these two make it extremely frustrating because there is no real way to pop back to your base of operations to “save” items in a chest without wasting the portal stone that got you to the new realm.

SkySaga 2015-02-19 17-54-23-15 The other big problem I am finding is that resources seem exceptionally limited.  Your starter island has a trove of material to get you started, but the problem is that most of these are in extremely small quantities.  The minecraft way of gathering resources is to just find a place and start digging.  The problem is I did this for a good thirty minutes last night and encountered absolutely nothing but stone.  The world seems extremely static and once the resources are depleted it is essentially a waste to stay there.  The frustrating thing here is that you get dumped onto a realm with a number of other players, and essentially you are all competing for the same few items.  You may luck out and get a realm with fresh spawns…  or you might get a world that is completely depleted meaning you just wasted your own resources getting there.  I can already see that more than likely purchasing resources is going to be a key revenue generator for this game.

SkySaga 2015-02-19 17-22-07-57 I have roughly another week to play this game during the current alpha test phase.  My hope is that I can manage to sort out some of the issues I am having.  The game that is here however is extremely enjoyable and it makes me way to play more of it.  I just feel like somehow I am missing something when it comes to how to get the resources I need to complete quests.  My hope is given time I will figure out the nuggets of information that I happen to be missing.  I don’t really want to take to the wiki pages quite yet, because the game itself has a rather nice in game wiki feature to explain what everything you encounter does.  I feel like I am just missing some key unlocks in the “chronicle” as they call it that will help me connect the dots.  If you have access to the game I highly suggest you give it a shot.  I will be righting a more complete review later once I feel I have mastered more of the basics.

Actual Free Speech

Calling Out

A few days ago a good friend of mine Jaedia posted an extremely heartfelt commentary about how the sexual objectification has effected her.  It was a brave post, that touched on a lot of uncomfortable discussion points that most people would rather not think about.  The awesome thing about it is that it sparked a really good conversation over twitter.  In the middle of a series of comments about how Girl Grey had been effected by this same process, some random guy made a comment that completely derailed the conversation, and essentially proved the need for this discussion.  I did what I thought was right at the time and called the guy on it, that escalated into a bigger ordeal because he clearly was not understanding what we meant about the context of the comment being important.  This all happened on Monday, and after some time thinking about it I decided to post about it the experience Wednesday morning.

Later that same day a post rebuking mine showed up on the Gaming Couples blog.  This by itself is no big deal because people disagree with me on a regular basis.  Everyone has an opinion and they are of course entitled to it.  I thought long and hard about whether or not to post about this today, because I have tried to keep my blog a place of positivity, but I feel like I have to say something because it has gotten too far under my skin at this point.  I don’t care that someone called me out for my post, that is the side effect of posting “real” discussion on my blog.  I took painstaking care not to directly call out the person involved in the twitter discussion.  I went through the painstaking process of pasting the screenshots into Photoshop and then blurring out the names of those involved.  What has frustrated me is that the blog post in response to mine is labeled “Freedom of Speech” and the author has not allowed any comments that differ from her opinion through the moderation queue.  As such this morning I am taking my blog post to make sure the two responses that I have been sent see the light of day.

The Angry Response

One of the frustrating things about the “Freedom of Speech” blog post is that you could tell very quickly that the individual had not actually read the original post by Jaedia, and at least to some extent read what they wanted to read out of my own blog post.  As such when Jae emailed me her response, she did so because she did not think it would make it through the moderation queue.  Her response follows…

Hi, “someone he follows” here. Just feel a few corrections need to be put out there. 🙂
He didn’t call me pretty, we were having a discussion on how bullshit sexual objectification is with another Twitter friend and how she felt that before she lost weight she was insulted for being ugly, and after, she was at the other end of the scale and she really appreciated that she wasn’t alone in feeling like she was nothing more than her looks sometimes. Then the dude chimed in with “you pretty” and Bel and myself spoke up for our friend because it was ill-timed and uncomfortable.

No, it wasn’t the worst thing ever. But the fact that the guy kept on his case that he “just wanted to call his friend beautiful” was kind of uncalled for.. sure, it was sweet, but it was inappropriately timed and misguided.

Your opinion is a valid one, but in response to this particular event, you’d perhaps have been better reading my post and the resulting conversation before judging us because it pretty much reads, “I can’t be fucked to find out what they were talking about but I’m angry about it anyway.” We were trying to be civil. This guy decided we were insulting him because, and I quote, “he had a penis”, which wasn’t true in the slightest.

PS. Freedom of speech is totally cool, but it doesn’t mean that everything people say is RIGHT. And why does it always seem to come up when somebody speaks up for something they believe in? Kinda contradicts the freedom of speech argument.

first_comment Sure the response was angry and ranty…  but for someone who supposedly values free speech so highly I would have assumed it would be moderated through.  There have been several comments that I did not find valuable but still I gritted my teeth and pressed the “approve” button.  I felt that in order to be true to myself I had to accept all criticism.  However later that night I saw the above comment on twitter.  Maybe the individual has a real problem with cursing…  so I thought that I could let that slide.  I didn’t agree with the decision to moderate the comment, but it of course is not my blog.

The Heartfelt Comment

While I could understand potentially moderating curse words, I can not see moderating this next comment.  When Girl Grey got wind of the post she apparently made her way over to the blog and left her own commentary.  Since she knew that Jae’s comment did not make it through the moderation queue, she also emailed me hers just in case the same fate happened.  I told myself that I would give the blogger until this morning to have allowed that comment through the moderation queue before making my own commentary.  This is not particularly the way I would have liked to have ended my blogging week, but I feel like I needed to make this post.  Below is Grey’s comment…

I am actually the person that was being replied to in the twitter convo, not Jae. To context the whole situation: All involved are my friends, & all still are my friends.

During the whole conversation, I had posted about how, when I was 350+ pounds, I would get looks and stares coming into a room. My ultimate goal was just the be unnoticed. I felt shamed, I felt outcast, and I felt worthless. Fast forward 200 pound loss, and I was also explaining, I still feel that way. I walk down the mall and I hear cat calls. I get accused of showing too much chest area – when I’m still a large chested woman – and beyond turtlenecks, I’m going to show something. My boisterous and naturally flirty personality gets me called a tease. And in all this, I I found people who understood me.

And then the pretty comment happened. And yes, I do believe in the right to say what you want – but there is a time and place for everything. I get compliments every day. I take them with grace and appreciation, as I took this one no different. I actually had a nice DM with the person afterwards, and all was well.

However, that being said, I feel like this situation was akin to coming into an AA meeting and calling the lot a bunch of drunkards; it was inappropriate timing. If we all agree that mental health issues need to be addressed, but then turn around and say “Oh, but if someone says something hurtful, grow a thick skin because there is free speech,” I think we have an issue. I appreciated Bel & Jae stepping in, I don’t feel like Bel was in the wrong.

second_comment This morning when trying to decide if I was going to make this post or not, I noticed the above commentary on a second twitter account that the blogger uses.  I knew then that no matter what someone posted, it would not end up making it through the moderation queue.  It seems that the person is not actually interested in free speech like they claimed in their own post.  In fact this is a direct quote from that same blog post…

Free speech isn’t just speech that makes you comfortable.  Free speech means everyone is free to engage is speech regardless of the feelings of others.

The hypocrisy of that statement, given the turn of events actually makes me a little queasy to my stomach.  I’ve never claimed to be more than I am, nor have I heralded higher ideals than just trying to be a decent human being.  However if an individual is going to wrap themselves in the blanket of free speech, then by god they better mean it and live up to those ideals.  I’ve tried to make this post as positively as I can, and I have still tried to protect the identity of the twitter accounts that I am referencing.  I am just disgusted by this entire chain of events, and should have potentially let it go.  However I felt like the comments that never made it through moderation needed to be heard.  Thanks for your time and tomorrow we will return to regularly scheduled gaming discussion.

Lord of the Storms

Region Limited Items

FFXIV_China_Pet One of the things that game companies continue to do that drives be absolutely insane is to treat game regions differently.  I realize there are functional reasons why certain areas of the world have to be a walled garden, but stop placing exclusive items in those walled gardens.  World of Warcraft did this with a number of limited edition pets and mounts only available in the China region and it seems as though Square Enix seems to have done the same.  For I assume political reasons the Heavensturn new years event did not appear on the Chinese servers.  Instead it was replaced with a lunar new year event featuring awesome red lantern decorations throughout the world.  If you want to see a full folio of pictures you can check out this link over on the lodestone.

FFXIV_China_Mount The culmination of this event is a battle with Xi the New Years beast… which appears to be an insanely remodeled Behemoth.  At first I thought this was a new mount but apparently that is not the case.  Through completing this event you get the extremely adorable remodeled Nana Bear minion that looks like a panda with a little sprig of bamboo.  I really hope that Yoshi P and crew decide to bring this same event to the global servers.  I realize that for extremely idiotic reasons the Chinese servers are going to miss content that is politically unpalatable to their government, but it sucks when they get nifty exclusive content to replace it.  I really hope they choose to do the right thing and make it available, even if only through the Mog Station store.  I would absolutely pony up the traditional $5 price for a panda nana bear.

Ifriting with Jae

ffxiv 2015-02-18 18-07-25-19 Last night and this morning too for that matter… I have been feeling absolutely horrible.  As such I made last night some what of an early one going to bed around 9pm.  Before that however I offered my services to the free company to help a bunch of players catch up on content that had been gating them.  The above picture is of me and Jaedia doing some Ifrit, though admittedly she is stuck in a cut scene I believe when I took this picture.  Yesterday there was an excellent post by Liore talking about how good the community is.  There are times however when the community is not amazing, but even then it is rarely as bad as it can be in World of Warcraft.  When we ran Ifrit, we had to random in a single dps to make it happen.  Upon zoning in we did our normal greetings and the ninja named Justin’s only the comment was “kik me”.  We ignored the first one, but he kept repeating it.

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To which I responded the above… and he started doing the /angry emote.  Not sure what he thought that would do, but he eventually piped up again saying to “kik me”, this time Ash chimed in with “We Said No”.  Ultimately he huffed and puffed a bit more with his angry emote, and then resigned himself to do the fight.  Now there are probably ways he could have trolled us, but I give him credit in that he eventually straightened up and did the content as intended.  I mean I feel sorry for the guy to some extent, it sucks to be sitting through the 40 minute queue as a ninja… only to find out that you got randomed into a primal encounter…  something that notoriously yields little to no experience for completing it.  So in the end, even though he was a bit of a jerk about it… I still gave him a player commendation as a consolation for him having to sit in another 40 minute long queue.  That right there is the WORST encounter I have had with another player in Final Fantasy XIV in months.  All in all not too bad at least based on the encounters I have on a near nightly basis with someone in garrison chat.

Lord of the Storms

ffxiv 2015-02-18 19-32-53-00 Continuing with the theme of helping free company members catch up, we had a player working on his relic quest.  For some reason the queue time for the Dhorme Chimera is exceptionally long, so we have been trying to pull together a quick group when someone needs this.  Through begging and cajoling I was able to get seven players on at once which meant we were either going to random a player or ask for help.  The preference is to ask for help because the fight only really needs a single tank, especially if the tank is as geared as I am.  However if you queue into it randomly you have to start the fight with two tanks and two healers in a standard eight man configuration.  So while we have an example this morning of the worst of the community, I can give you an example of the best of the community as well.  Several of us are members of a linkshell called “We Stand as One” and at this point I am not 100% sure how we ended up in it.  I asked in LS chat if anyone was up for helping, and I had no less than eight responses saying to invite them.  We killed the Chimera fast enough that we didn’t even get a level one limit break.

After that we did Ramuh Hard mode…. which in essence is the “normal” mode since that is the lowest version of the fight.  Solaria needed the fight for her story quest, but unfortunately Nyahn had not quite unlocked it.  As such we dropped him, and picked up a few more willing volunteers from  the linkshell and proceeded to wreck the Ramuh encounter.  I remember being so massively stressed the first time I did this in a random group.  There are two phases where you have to burn down some adds or everyone in the raid dies.  We did not even get close to the timer easily sailing past both obstacles.  The best part about Final Fantasy XIV is the fact that these primal fights are really enjoyable encounters.  Generally speaking folks will line up to volunteer to experience them, because it is the sort of thing you only do once in awhile when a player needs it.  The raid encounters in general seem to be the same way.  They are enjoyable experiences and no one much minds when a group is learning and wipes quite a bit.  All in all it was a pretty great night in game, and while I didn’t really accomplish any of my goals… it was great to see others accomplish theirs.