Wrestling with DRM

Laptop Weekend

Here in Oklahoma it is a rainy nasty weekend.  I pretty much rained all day yesterday, and this morning when I went out to get breakfast I ended up completely soaked.  As such I have declared this weekend a “hang out on my laptop while curled up in blankets” weekend, and so far it has been pretty glorious.  Unfortunately a good chunk of it has been updating my laptop, since it has probably been six month since I have regularly played down here.  All in all it is not going terribly badly as I have had both my Vita and phone to play on while the laptop downloads patches and such.  I have to say I have so much frustration over allowing myself to get sucked into a mobile game.

Dragon-Coins-27 Years ago my wife and I used to play a game at the state fair that involved throwing tokens in the path of a sliding shelf that pushes coins off of the edge.  I had always enjoyed this game, and that first year at the state fair we spent way too much money getting the swing of it.  We played for hours and after about $50 spent all we had to show for it was a bullet keychain.  In successive years I got better and started learning the little tricks, like you can trade in the crappy little gifts for more tokens to collect these poker chips in order to buy bigger prizes.  That second year we walked away with a nice sized stuffed animal, and I think the third year we walked away with like five as we had figured out how to game the system.

Unfortunately Dragon Coins by Sega is exactly this game, but made even more addictive.  You take the already addictive coin pusher mechanic and attach it to a pokemon like monster collection and evolution minigame… and you have a recipe for constant mobile addiction.  Right now I am cursing Liores and Aro for talking about this game on the Cat Context podcast several times because finally I got curious enough to try it.  Now I am afraid I am hooked.  Thankfully as far as games go this one doesn’t feel too egregious yet.  There is a ton of “free” content to play and so far I have not encountered any roadblocks that absolutely required me to purchase anything.  It at least gives me something to play when I am out shopping with my wife.

Wrestling with DRM

daorigins 2014-10-11 10-25-41-983 One of the things that I spent last night installing and updating was Dragon Age: Origins.  Since I intend to be spending a bit more time downstairs I figured playing DA:O while catching up on television was a good activity.  I did not even have Origin installed on my laptop, so I went through the motions of doing that last night and then set to downloading Dragon Age Ultimate Edition.  For whatever reason the DRM on that game and I have struggled throughout the years.  It worked miraculously well upstairs when I reinstalled it a few weeks back so I thought maybe, just maybe Origin had worked out the kinks.  When I went to set it up on the laptop apparently there are still issues because while it downloaded the base Dragon Age… it did not seem to download any of the addons.

To make matters worse windows 8 does not appear to like the Dragon Age Updater program and it just simply is not running on my laptop at all.  So all of the directions from the Origin support site for restoring access to your addons does not appear to work at all.  What I finally ended up doing was manually copying all of the addons from my desktop upstairs to the laptop over the network.  Now when I boot up the game it appears to see everything just fine.  But I could see someone with less patience giving up long before we reached that point.  Dragon Age seemed to be a problem child, because I never went through any of the issues while playing any of the Mass Effect games.  So here is hoping the DRM scheme for Dragon Age: Inquisition is equally unobtrusive.

Of note for those who have not played Dragon Age: Origins before and would like to in preparation for the launch of Dragon Age: Inquisition… it is now apparently available for free from origin.  This game is well worth your time spent, and going back and playing it has made me remember just how much I loved the original game as compared to Dragon Age II.  Honestly I am not in the “I Hate 2” camp, but the first game is simply better in every possible way.  I figure just playing through the first one is more than enough to introduce you to the setting and its characters and conflicts.  More than anything that was what I was trying to do while replaying the game, is to remember all of the intricate struggles.

The Grim Dark Future has Tradeskills

Destiny_20141009231722 One of the problems I am having with Destiny is the fact that you reach this point in the end game where your entire life becomes about grinding otherwise meaningless things.  There are folks who will farm level 2 mobs over and over for five hours in the rare chance of getting drops, or return to previous content areas feverishly hunting for spinmetal or any number of other crafting materials.  Unfortunately these are not extreme players, but representative of the expected gameplay that games at the end of your twenty level story arc.  The end game of Destiny involves the collection of otherwise unimportant bits that you then use to upgrade your armor slots, in hope of getting enough “light” out of it to push yourself up yet another level.   Right now my life is about getting Spirit Bloom, Relic Iron and Plasteel… so it has me wandering aimelessly through the hunting zones in search of ground spawn nodes and chests.

My tolerance for mindless grinding is considerably higher than that of my friends, so while I am still able to find fun in this process… most of them have long since tapered off their play time.  I have managed to push myself up to level 25 after doing a ton of upgrading.  The problem is even I am not sure how much further I care to take the game when the end result is  so damned repetitive.  I suppose I could start trying to do the crucible, but I didn’t really get into this game for its player versus player gameplay.  I realize I likely expected something out of Destiny that it will never really deliver, but up until the point I hit 20 I have to say I enjoyed all of the content from that point on.  I even enjoy running the patrol missions because they give me little bursts of purpose… I just wish the patrol missions had a chance of rewarding you the crafting materials you need to progress.  That ultimately would be a massive improvement that would breathe new life into the game for me.  As of now Destiny is that game I play while waiting on something else, either waiting on my wife to get home, or waiting on something to spawn in Final Fantasy XIV.

#Destiny #DragonAge #DragonCoins

Grinding Gear into Plasteel

Ready for a Freeze

The last few weeks my allergies have been killing me, and this is not usually the case for fall here in Oklahoma.  It feels like the seasons are getting horribly confused, and ragweed that normally hits its worst during July has been still active in August and October.  As such my lungs have decided to betray me under the onslaught, and yesterday afternoon I ended up going home from work.  I took a few breathing treatments and got some sleep and this morning I feel marginally better, but still on the scale of “lousy”.  Right now I am just read for the first hard freeze to happen and kill off most of the allergens.  Sadly that doesn’t look like it is going to happen any time soon.  The temperature is dipping down today to the 60s, but otherwise we are still having 70 to 80 degree days.

dragon-age-origin-1024x640 The constant drainage and coughing just makes me want to stay inside and hibernate.  Thankfully right now I have a ton of good games to play.  With the impending release of Dragon Age: Inquisition several of my friends are replaying Dragon Age: Origin since like many Bioware games there is reportedly going to be a save game import feature.  I know my experience playing through all three Mass Effect games in a row produced a ton more quest options than when I played Mass Effect 3 without importing.  So it has me wanting to try going back through the past games as well.  My upcoming gaming schedule may be devoted to Dragon Age: Origins for a bit, but I still plan on poking my head into FFXIV, Trove and Destiny on a nearly nightly basis to see what is going on.

Grinding Gear into Plasteel

Destiny_20141003060320 Thanks to the miracle of the Queens Bounty event I’ve managed to shoot up to 24 light through upgrading the two purple pieces of gear that I managed to get.  Through running various other things I have managed to pick up a handful of nice weapons and other light bearing blues.  Right now I am running around with a level 20 scout rifle, that while it doesn’t deliver as much punch as the hand cannon, it still has a bit of impact and can carry like 250 rounds with me.  It makes it extremely good for whittling down enemies at range with extreme accuracy.  I would still love to find a level 20 blue or purple hand cannon, but so far my only purple ingram has produced crafting materials instead of a weapon.  Upgrading gear right now seems to be my sole source of getting more light, as I have yet to find any items that can directly replace anything I am currently wearing.

Destiny_20141003060344 Last night my play time entirely revolved around trying to find more green armor to grind down into Plasteel, and finding Relic Iron… which so far is the hardest of the materials to spot.  I’ve gotten rather good at picking out the chunks of brown against the red brown landscape of Mars, and had a fair bit of luck finding chests that had quite a large quantity of it.  The problem honestly as you can see from the screenshot is that I just cannot seem to get enough plasteel.  I could in theory buy ingrams from the Cryptarch and grind those down… but that seems defeatist.  Instead I am mostly spending my time doing patrol missions on Mars since they give me reputation and have a fair chance of dropping greens.  I have now entered the grind phase of the game, and while I am still very much enjoying myself I can see how this might wear on folks with a lower tolerance to grind.

Tron and Infinium Ore

Trove 2014-10-03 06-23-24-633 With the release of Beta and the addition of the Neon Ninja, they added in a biome to go with that theme.  While this morning I was only able to find a very small one… this is what folks have dubbed the “Tron” biome.  In fact when you are in the biome a musical theme plays that reminds me quite a bit of some of the Tron Legacy soundtrack.  There are rivers of neon blue water, and instead of grass and brushes you have chips and resistors.  It feels like you are in a datascape and the various robots have similar tron coloring.  Each biome has a version of the skeleton, and in this biome they look like the Red MCP guards from the original Tron movie.  I hope that eventually I can build a table that allows me to spit out stuff themed like this biome, because I will completely switch my entire cornerstone to look like it.

Trove 2014-10-03 06-14-54-858 This little innocuous looking block is Infinium Ore, and it has become the bane of my existence.  After a certain point in the crafting system… every single recipe requires this.  The problem is that as you go up in level this doesn’t seem to get any more common.  You can find Shapestone and Formicite Ore until your heart is content, but Infinium still is a very rare occasional, and any given vein maybe gives you twenty if you are extremely lucky.  Most of my playtime has been wandering around looking for these ore spawns.  The problem with Trove is I simply don’t understand how the game works yet.  In Minecraft the spawns were based on a certain logic, and once you mastered that you could be plopped down almost anywhere and be able to find the resources you need.  In Trove it feels more like you have to be lucky.  I feel like I need to spend some time scouring the Reddit looking for tips and strategies for finding this ore node.  I won’t be able to do any of the really cool things without large quantities of it.

#DragonAge #Trove #Destiny

Months Behind but Loving It

Happy Bragtoberfest!

During the month of October Izlain and J3w3l of Couch Podtatoes are running a special event they are calling Bragtoberfest.  The idea is to share the fun you are having gaming with your friends.  You can check out all of the details on Izlain’s blog Me Vs Myself and I.  I thought it was fitting that on this fight October morning, that I do in fact have a handful of gaming achievements to “brag” about as it were.  The event however is not just for crowing about your gaming achievements, but instead sharing that magical feeling we all have while playing a game we are really into.  Over the past months there has been quite a bit of negativity either coming from or leveled against gamers.  Bragtoberfest is an opportunity to embrace the good and present a positive viewpoint of gamers having fun being gamers.

Months Behind but Loving It

ffxiv 2014-09-30 22-12-52-679 Back in July a large number of us that played Final Fantasy XIV at launch, returned to the game to give it another shot.  I was the first to come back thanks to a free weekend, and enjoyed it so much that I ended up roping a lot more of my friends to join me.  We played for roughly three months after launch and then for various reasons all wandered off into the next big game.  As such we never really made much progression at the time.  As a guild we had managed to take down Hard Mode Ifrit while working on the relic weapon chain, but that was literally as far as we had managed to get.  So coming back we have had this whirlwind of catching up, and experiencing content that is almost a year old at this point, but still very new at the same time.  Over the last several weeks on Tuesdays we have been pulling together an eight man raid team and working our way through Binding Coil of Bahamut.  At this point we have defeated the first four turns and had originally planned on focusing on turn five last night.

However last night we had one of the members missing, and were subbing in a player that was relatively new to the Final Fantasy XIV end game.  As such we opted to set our sights on a different target, the first of the Extreme modes…  Garuda.  Most of us had managed to get attuned for this fight and had been for quite some time, however there is just something about the Garuda fight that is terrifying.  For starters it has one of the most awesome and at the same time creepy introductions.  The normal mode Garuda fight kicked our ass so many times while trying to get folks through it around level 43 when you encounter it in the game.  All of this gave me pause when I thought about the difficulty of doing the fight on Extreme mode.

ffxiv 2014-09-30 22-14-16-200  One of the most interesting things about the Final Fantasy XIV endgame is that you have a fixed amount of time to make attempts.  For Garuda and most instances you have exactly 90 minutes to defeat the encounter before the game punts you from the instance and you have to start over from scratch.  For  the most part we all went into this fight last night without functional experience of how it works and learned on the fly as we went.  Each attempt we made adjustments to the strategy, shifting the targets between myself and Ashgar until we figured out an ideal mix of who needed to tank what where.  There are three phases to the fight, and the last two phases rotate back and forth between them until you defeat her.  Once we had managed to get through a single rotation of phase three we pretty much had the fight in our sights.  At that point we had roughly nine minutes to defeat the encounter as a whole.  We pushed through and managed to get it just in time, and as such finished a quest we all had sitting in our logs for some time allowing us to now move on to Extreme Mode Titan.

Flaming Axe of Doom

ffxiv 2014-09-30 22-20-55-837 While bragging about cool stuff, I managed to finish gathering my 1300 Tomestones of Soldiery and am now the proud owner of the awesome flaming axe Conquerer.  While I would love to be wielding a Bravura Novus instead, that quite honestly is still a good long ways off.  I am still slowly working my way through the 9 Animus books, and then after that I have to do the Novus grind… which involves collecting a bunch of Alexandrite and binding 75 pieces of Materia to my weapon.  This step is not only time consuming but also extremely expensive.  As such I have been stockpiling money and Materia as I go to hopefully be able to complete this step.  As far as the current Animus grind, I am 2 books into it and still have 7 more to go.  My good friend Cylladora however is down to two books left, so I am pumped to see her progressing so quickly.

All of this made me decide a few weeks back to go ahead and gather up the Soldiery “bookrocks” and get the slightly easier to get level 110 weapon.  The process for that is somewhat contorted as well but involves winning an Unidentified Allagan Tomestone from Syrcus tower or Second Coil of Bahamut.  You then take this and 10 Rowena’s Tokens and trade for a Weathered Conquerer which in its own right is a really nice level 100 weapon.  Each of the Tokens is sold for 130 Tomestones of Soldiery in Mor Dhona for a grand total of 1300.  You then take your Weathered weapon to Drake in Hyristmill and trade both it and a Sands of Time to him to receive the level 110 “unweathered” version.

This is all possible thanks to the fact that in patch 2.38 they started allowing Sands of Time to drop in Syrcus tower.  Since you can only win a single item per week in Syrcus, that means that I gave up on usable gear for the last two weeks to gather up the UAT and the Sands.  Similarly I had to make sure I capped my Tomestones of Soldier each week to make sure I could get to 1300 in time, since you can only early 450 a week.  I am damned happy to have a level 110 weapon, which is almost best in slot.  You can technically get ilevel 115 weapons now either through the Second Coil raid or through the completion of the Nexus step of the Relic weapon chain.  My goal is still to complete the Relic weapon, because I love the feel of the quest chain and the look of the eventual weapon.  However for the time being I can feel happy knowing that I am going to be able to generate plenty of threat with a weapon at least as good as anyone in our little raid group.

The Queens Bounty

Destiny_20141001065107 Monday night I pushed through to level 20 and started working on the Queen’s bounties in anticipation of trying to get gear from the event before it goes away at the end of this week.  Last night after the raid I talked a couple of friends into helping me out with making this happen.  The only problem is that as a fresh 20, I could not actually RUN the Queens Bounty Strike.  Thanks to Kodra and Shiana we pushed through a couple of strike missions and after a few lucky drops and some upgrades… I managed to get to 21 light which allowed me to queue for the Queens Bounty content.  So it was myself, a 24 and a 27 queueing for the content, and the game decided to give us all 24 mobs.  As such I finally begin to understand the rage that some of my friends have felt while grouping with higher level players than themselves.  Quite simply I could not actually land decent attacks on anything.  I was aiming straight for the head and making content, but just simply not making a dent in it with my level 18 blue hand cannon.

My friends assured me that this was not anything I was necessarily doing wrong but instead just a simple component of the mobs being a few light levels higher than me.  As such I tried my best to limp along through the content but spent a lot of time hugging the ground.  At the end of the mission I managed to get the chest piece drop, but at that point it was already well past time for bed.  My hope is to go back tonight and try for the helmet and maybe the sniper rifle.  I still have four more tokens left to go and I just picked up a few more easily bounties this morning.  Level disparity problems aside I am still digging the way this game feels.  While I am not sure I would ever complete the raid, I am definitely going to shoot for gearing up in full purple gear.  The biggest thing is I wish to god I could get a purple weapon drop.  That would at least make me feel less useless.  At the end of the night I was sitting at 22 just a single upgrade away from 23, so I am pretty damned happy with the results in any case.

#FFXIV #Garuda #Destiny

Electronic Gaming Monthly

Tied to Screens

At least once a week I see a report in the news talking about how we have become too tied to our screens and we have lost social interaction.  While I agree that as a culture we are pretty damned addicted to technology, this view point that not interacting face to face is aberrant or strange seems to be a pretty extrovert centric.  For the introverts the era of instant non-face to face communication allows us to leave far richer lives than if we were left up to our natural curmudgeon tendencies.  I am not one of those people that goes out seeking face to face interactions, and while I can handle it in short doses…  it completely drains me and causes me to retreat inside my shell.  Whereas digital interaction, doesn’t really cause much stress at all as I can interact when I feel like it, but withdraw just as easily as closing down a chat window.

Dealing with people simply causes a lot of anxiety for me.  We have various friends that we will go out with semi-regularly… but even then I struggle.  When we make the initial plans it sounds like a great idea, then as it creeps ever closer to the time of the event… I start looking for ways out of it.  It goes from something extremely fun, to something I am dreading.  Then finally when I force myself to go through with it I have a good time in spite of myself, but this whole rollercoaster I put myself on is something I would rather simply avoid entirely.  It takes a lot out of me to go through it each time.  So when I see someone complaining that we are losing social interaction, I feel they simply are not taking me into account.  Sure there are fewer people for the extroverts to get their warm fuzzies from, but for us extroverts it means we are forced into a lot less awkward interaction as a result.  I feel like thanks to the internet I live a far richer and involved life than I ever would have on my own.

Electronic Gaming Monthly

magazine-electronic-gaming-monthly-super-street-fighter-ii-turbo-v7-5-of-12-_5-page-2 While on an oddly introspective tear this morning, I thought I would talk a bit about a little back and forth I had yesterday about something I miss.  In my travels I stumbled onto the Podcast A Life Well Wasted again…  which tragically only ever released seven episodes.  It is this great This American Life for Video Games feel, and I would love to have more of it.  I re-listened to the first episode talking about the death of EGM magazine and was struck with waves of nostalgia for that time in video gaming.  Electronic Gaming Monthly at the time was this inch think omnibus devoted to all things video gaming covering arcade, consoles, hand held and even on rare occasion PC gaming.  I read the magazine pretty religiously from roughly 1990 to around 1996.  It and White Dwarf were the magazines that I waited each month to arrive, and before I actually subscribed I would anxiously watch the news stand at my local grocery store for the next copy.

Back then a lot of my fervor for the magazine centered around them giving me the dirt on the next arcade fighting game.  I remember it was the first magazine to post full moves lists for Street Fighter 2, and I memorized them like some arcane text.  The arcades were this crazy place where people speculated about potential moves, and by the time Mortal Kombat 2 arrived there were all these unofficial moves sheets floating around the arcades with half of the attacks speculative or complete and total bullshit.  EGM was the voice of authority, only publishing things that they had verified as working.  At the same time they had this irreverent review style that appealed to me greatly at the time.  Gaming was still very much an insider thing, and an excluded subculture…  so it just felt awesome to have a magazine talking about the things I actually cared about.

I really don’t know why I stopped reading the magazine, other than maybe the internet got better at reporting the news I cared about…  or simply that I got busy and poor in college and could not long shell out the then $7.00 price tag for a magazine each month.  Before this episode I was acutely aware that Electronic Gaming Monthly no longer existed, but I never really knew when exactly it happened.  In fact the last time I went to a news stand I didn’t see any magazines devoted to video games, so I am guessing that is entirely a bygone era.  Once upon a time I used to think that working for EGM would have been the coolest job in the world.  There were times I day dreamed about becoming a “video game journalist”.  I guess in some way with my blog I have been, or I am at least as legitimate as that term ever really was.  I do miss an era when the magazines did not feel beholden to the manufacturers to make sure they got at least a 6 out of 10 score.  The aspect of the scoring system that I appreciated the most was that you usually got three different reviewers points of view, instead of just one.

Quite honestly I think a lot of what made that time in gaming history so magical is the actual lack of information we had about anything.  Right now we know everything about the games that are being made before they even exist.  Hell we obsessed over Titan and all we really knew about it was a name, but still folks managed to dig up little nuggets of information about it.  EGM worked, because we were starved for information on our hobby.  They were one of the few sources of this information, and while they might only give us 100 words on a single game… that was far more than we were getting anywhere else.  The wild speculation, the misinformation, the rampant rumors all got laid low by a single issue of this magazine giving fertile ground for the next crop to spring up until it arrived to quell them again.  I miss that era… and I think in a way that’s why the 16-bit games are so important to me… because they are wrapped up in that shroud of mystique.  I miss Electronic Gaming Monthly.

Beginning the Real Grind

Destiny_20140929175725 Last night I accomplished one of the goals I had set out to do Sunday and finally pushed through to level 20 in Destiny.  At this point I feel like the real leveling curve begins as I start searching for gear with +light on it.  Right now I have managed to find a blue chest piece with 5 light, so I am barely if at all moving in the right direction.  Similarly I started working on the Queens Bounty and managed to knock one of them out for killing Fallen Ultras.  I am roughly halfway through the 200 headshots one, so hoping I can grind that out in the next couple of days.  I am really not sure how many of these I can complete before I actually get to take my swing at the loot piñata.  I could really use an upgraded hand cannon as the level 18 green one I have been using feels not quite so epic any longer.  I have to say I am really digging Mars so far.  I find the Cabal extremely satisfying to kill, like even the relatively weak Legionaires.

Destiny_20140929174412 At some point around level 18 I got sent to the shipwright again, and she let me pick a new design.  I have to say I am digging this one a lot more than I did the collectors edition version.  The paint job is okayish, but I am really loving the design of this ship.  This is the first design I would have likely picked on my own.  I absolutely hate the style of the first ship, and the collectors edition ship still has enough elements that it annoys me.  This however is finally a good looking star ship.  I think mostly I extremely dislike asymmetrical designs, so as a kid I loved the X-Wing and A-Wing… but the B-Wing and Millennium Falcon frustrated me.  I could forgive the Millennium Falcon however since it was essentially cobbled together out of a bunch of other ships… but that B-Wing…  man no mercy for that.  In any case I am still digging destiny, and it is beginning to remind me more and more of Phantasy Star Online.  That was really my first venture into online gaming, so there is a large bit of nostalgia there as well.

#Destiny

Invaders from Mars

Weekend Goals

This weekend I set out with a handful of goals, and as always not everything got accomplished.  The first goal was to manage to get to 20 in Destiny.  Had the servers not gone down last night I might have actually hit it, as I am a little ways into 19 and still have quite a lot of story content t o do.  The second goal was to finish my second Animus book, and that one got wrapped up yesterday afternoon without much issue.  Sadly I don’t have the “bookrocks” stockpiled to buy another one, but in theory I could hop on the nightly hunt mob train and get there without much issue.  The third goal was to cap out my soldiery tomestones, and while I am not quite there I am close enough that tonight’s elite roulette will get me there.  Finally I had planned on trying to get to 10 on my Knight in Trove, which I didn’t quite make but I am now level 9 and also have a level 6 gunslinger.

All in all I think I had a pretty productive weekend full of focused faffing.  I think the Godmother would be proud of my little checklist of accomplishments… or at least almost accomplished items.  This is what keeps me motivated in games, is to have things that I want to tick off a list.  I am finding that I am exceedingly good at grinding headlong towards a goal, but when I lose sight of that goal I start to get bored.  One of the more interesting side goals of the weekend was to figure out how to configure JoyToKey and in part thanks to this tutorial video from Beau Hindman, I managed to get it running with little issue.  So now I am running around in Trove using my Xbox 360 controller and I have to say it works pretty well.  There are some wonky issues with occasionally my view drifting off slightly to one side or the other, but I think that is more an issue of the thumb sticks not entirely centering each time.  I might see if I can lower the sensitivity at some point to make it less twitchy.  The big thing I notice is the amount of time you spend mapping and remapping controls until you find the thing that feels most comfortable.

Invaders from Mars

Destiny_20140928212227 As always it was the love of loot and the desire to acquire more of it… that ended up lighting a fire under my ass in Destiny.  Previously I had been happy to slowly poke my way around the patrol missions, wandering aimlessly through objectives.  However due to the various loot issues going on that patch 1.0.2 intends to address,  they are basically having a loot giveaway event.  As we talked about in the podcast Saturday night, folks are frustrated with the grindy nature of the endgame, and as such they rolled out a limited time event that addresses that at least to some extent.    The event that is going on is known simply as The Queen’s Bounty, and through it a series of items appear on the bounty board.  Supposedly if you complete a handful of these you end up earning a legendary quality weapon.  Basically I want to get in on this loot grab before it goes away.

Destiny_20140927232244 I had managed to get to level 16 before setting foot on Venus, through just wandering about on the moon doing patrol missions.  As such I knew that if I just worked my way up through the backlog of story content I had waiting on me, I would ding 20 without much issue.  So yesterday I set forward doing just this.  I got to experience Venus and Mars… and so far I have to say I still prefer good old Cosmodrome and the Moon.  Venus can be extremely pretty, but everything seems to have this yellow green haze to it.  Additionally I have come to realize I am really not a huge fan of fighting the Vex.  The fact that I have to shift from aiming for the head to aiming from the yellow glowing spot in their belly can be frustrating at times.  Additionally fighting them is a bit like fighting a zombie horde.  The Fallen and the Hive had a fair amount of cowardice in their moves.  You can push and pull them around the map, but the Vex just keep advancing regardless of what you do like this unrelenting mass of shambling robots.

Destiny_20140928204249 Once you land on Mars however… the Cabal take heavy metal up to eleven.  This is very much the Warhammer 40,000 faction, in that they seem to have a cavalcade of ever more insane mechanized environmental suits to do battle with you.  There is this one baddie known as a colossus that has some sort of a chain gun that just pinned me down stunned as it ripped through my shield in a few moments.  The Phalanx however were what became super maddening.  They are basically a space marine with a giant riot shield.  They fire out from around the corner and appear to be deadly accurate regardless of how awkward that position must be.  The best tactic seemed to be either to toss a grenade, or try and bait them to move in one direction would looping around behind them.  In any case… my sequence of hand cannon one shots pretty much stopped when I reached Mars.

Destiny_20140928212751 At some point it appears that Destiny reset the player preferences, because apparently my grouping setting got flipped from invite only to allowing anyone to join.  In part I am thankful for this because I was joined by Nidrew who basically carried me through a few of the rougher missions, or at the very least kept me from having to start over.  So long as one of us stayed alive we could eventually respawn back up.  I find that aspect of the game interesting, that when a team mate has fallen, your focus goes from finishing the objective to just staying alive for 25 seconds so that they can revive and get back in the fight.  Of course you can go over and rez them youself, but often times they got pinned down in a fire fight and running back in there might end up being suicide.  In any case I am very thankful for the help, and when I stopped I was sitting at 19 so hopefully I can push on through to 20 tonight and maybe start working on the bounties.

Book of Deeds

ffxiv 2014-09-28 15-56-37-128 When you see this text pop across your screen it feels extremely epic…  until you realize that this was just one of nine books that you have to do…  and you have so many left to go.  I love the feel of the Relic weapon quests because they still remind me so much of just how difficult it was to get your epic weapon in the original Everquest.  The reality is that it is going to take me an insane amount of time to complete it, far longer than is reasonable considering lots of my FC mates are taking the significantly shorter route to a ilevel 110 weapon.  I don’t want to call it the easy way, because it is in itself a significant amount of grinding, but with the most recent patch it just got way easier to acquire the necessary bits.  In fact since that patch went in I already have everything waiting in my inventory to be able to get my ilevel 110 Axe, I just need a bit more soldiery which I should get Tuesday when the reset happens.

5OpoacO That said I still plan on going through with the Relic quest chain, because man… the Bravura Nexus looks amazing.  I borrowed this image from the FFXIV reddit, but man I really want to swing that weapon.  Granted the step between where I am currently and where you get that weapon involves months of work, but at some point I will be swinging it happily.  Granted by the time that happens they will probably add another tier of progression in there, and it will already be outdated but screw it… it looks awesome.  Final Fantasy XIV is really good so far at giving me things that I want to get that require lots of work to get them.  I’ve always been extremely luck with drops, so getting that item to drop off a boss seems to be an ineffectual way of keeping me engaged.  Giving me something that I have to do every week to slowly inch my way towards victory…  that seems to actually work at keeping me around.  I love the way that the books work so far in that each one slowly incrementally improves your current weapon.  Someday I will get there, I just hope that the rest of the people I am playing with will still be playing when it happens.

#FFXIV #Destiny

Leopard Print Paladin

Susceptible to Grind

Destiny_20140920104852 This weekend I played a good bit of Destiny because it is the perfect game for those moments when I don’t feel like I am get into something terribly detailed.  I play this game much in the same fashion as I play Diablo 3, in short bursts with the ability to jettison out if needed to go do something else.  As such this has become in many ways the game I play when I know we are going to be leaving the house soon.  I am never more than just a teleport to orbit away from safety, which makes me consume the game voraciously in small doses.  As such I have mostly been running the game in private mode with my fire team locked down to keep people from popping in at random.  I feel like I don’t want to deal with the expectations of others when I am playing a game in this fashion.  Generally speaking I am either moments from leaving the game, or playing the game while camping something in Final Fantasy XIV…  and in either case I am not exactly responsive enough to be a proper group mate.

Destiny_20140920114944

The bulk of my gameplay has been doing either patrols on the Cosmodrome or on the Moon.  I finally got a blue engram to drop, but unfortunately it was for my class item… which is essentially just decoration.  Instead of the traditional “flag football” towel, this one is a series of 3 banners that hang down from my waist.  One of the things I am learning about myself is that I am deeply susceptible to grinding.  I find it super easy to zone out and just wander around aimlessly in an area.  I seem to be able to get infinite amounts of entertainment value from simply wandering around killing Fallen and Hive on the moon and accepting the little mini-quests.  As such I was level 16 before I actually finished the Moon this weekend and got the quest chain sending me to Venus.  I am sure I will be 20+ before I finish Venus, because as soon as I unlock the next patrol zone… that is more than likely what I will be doing quite a bit of.

Destiny_20140920112437 I think part of the problem with Destiny is the fact that it has relatively little to go with as far as Story goes.  As such I find absolutely no sense of urgency pushing me forward to keep completing missions.  In a game like Mass Effect 3 I felt like I was moments away from doom at all times, so I just had to keep pushing forward and trying to turn back the tide in a war larger than myself.  In Destiny they have failed to infuse the narrative with any of this.  Sure things are going horribly wrong out in the galaxy, but we have this last city that seems completely immune to the effect of what is happening.  Sure The Traveler is “dying” but I don’t feel this happening, I feel like that is generations away and I have just been drafted into essentially a science fiction stalemate.  So I have zero issue wandering about and taking time to smell the “helium coils” as it were.  The moment to moment gameplay are what keeps me engaged with this game, and the story line and as such story quests could not exist at all and I would still be happy.

Leopard Print Paladin

ffxiv 2014-09-22 06-44-52-320 At the beginning of the weekend I was a level 40 newly christened Paladin of Uldah.  Over the course of the weekend I managed to push my way through to 46 and get the first of my spiffy gear.  For those who are not familiar with Final Fantasy XIV, at 45 you complete a class quest that will reward you four pieces of “Relic” gear that represents the defacto look for your class.  This means you get a full set of gear minus two slots.  The belt is not terribly important because no belt really changes the look of something drastically.  However the other missing piece is the chest piece and it is essentially the item that always ties a class set together.  On the Lalafell the paladin “short shorts” look is minimized by the total lack of height, however of anyone else it looks like you are wearing white boxer shorts without the chest piece that gives you the plate skirt that is so characteristic of a paladin in this game.

There is a full set of gear that drops in the dungeon Dzmael Darkhold, that rarely sees much use since it is level 44, and at 45 everyone gets their class set.  However the one piece that is extremely useful is the chest, which thankfully in all of my journeys I have gathered up a few of these.  The problem is that for pretty much every class there is something goofy going on with this set.  For the tanks the set features an inexplicable leopard print inlay, with no way to “dye” the pattern away.  So as a result for the last few levels you end up looking a bit goofy until you finally ding 50 and get that class chest piece.  Thankfully for me I also managed to pick up a nice pink quality chest for 47 that should make the outfit look a little bit more put together for the last few levels.

Red Bunny Samurai

ffxiv 2014-09-22 06-46-10-323 The other thing I am realizing is just how much of my other gear will work for Paladin.  Almost all of the dropped pieces and jewelry from the endgame levels worth for Marauder, Warrior, Gladiator and Paladin.  The problem with this is that I have several of the pieces glamoured to look like the Warrior class set.  Apparently this will not show as such when I equip them however, and quite frankly the Syrcus tower set looks like crap for plate wearers.  So I am wondering what set I am going to glamour to that can be neutral and work for both classes.  The most important thing after all is that I still have a proper bunny hat.  While I freely admit that I stole wearing this helm from Tam, I think I have more than made it my own… since it was clearly designed to be worn by a Lalafell.  He tends to favor the white one with the full face mask, where I am enamored with the red one that allows my full face to show through.

My goal for the coming days is to push the paladin to 50 and get it fully geared in 90 or better items.  I’ve been stockpiling hunt marks to be able to do this the moment I ding, but I am really not sure how many pieces I will actually need to buy.  All of my jewelry is dual class, as well as my chest, belt, and boots.  That just leaves three pieces of gear that I actually need to purchase, and then again I will need to spend the requisite 1125 tomestones of mythology to get the zenith weapon and shield.  Right now I have a dilemma I suppose in that I am really close to being able to purchase my next Animus book, but I am also really close to 50 at this point.  I don’t have the tomestones to do both.  In theory I can get the book and the process of simply getting my relic weapon should give me more than enough tomestones to be able to at least craft the relic.  Then I can deal with grinding out the rest as a paladin if I so choose.  In either case I should have another animus book and a 50 paladin soon enough.  Then I suppose my focus turns to finishing off my White Mage.

#FFXIV #Destiny

Dance of my People

Enter the Jigglehats

ffxiv 2014-09-14 22-10-22-567 Yesterday the Breaking Brick Mountains event started in FFXIV which is a repeat of an earlier event used to commemorate the launch of DragonQuest X.  For those not terribly familiar with the Dragon Warrior/DragonQuest franchise, it has a rather distinctive art style.  So seeing that art style appear in Final Fantasy XIV is extremely entertaining.  The quests have this great Dragon Quest stylized “Quest Accepted” and FATE related text that just makes me happy to see in game.  The quest itself is rather simple.  You talk to Havak Alvak near the Central Thanalan gate in Uldah, which sends you to talk to the Beefy Businessman down by the Thaumaturge guild.  From there you have to find a specific fate called “Brick by Brick”.  This will lead into one of two other FATEs either called “Brick by Stone Brick” or “Brick by Gold Brick”, both granting you quest completion.

One of the things I love about Final Fantasy XIV seasonal and special events is that they are super easy to complete.  I used to hate how frustratingly grindy other games events were, in that if you did not participate every single day of a holiday you could not get all the prizes.  Even with the Lightning Returns event, and trying to collect all of the weapons… it essentially meant I had to farm 5 different FATEs and then was completely done.  This event in total took maybe 30 minutes, and most of that was travel time.  Completing the quest nets you a Thug’s Mug cosmetic helm and a Wind-up Brickman cosmetic pet.  Next to the Beefy Businessman there is a Toughie Peddler NPC that sells the amazing “Jigglehat” or more properly known as the King Slime Crown.

It has become common place for our guild and the members of Howling Moon free company to mingle around while waiting on things to happen.  The events of last night are pretty common, in that we each tend to hang around the market board just down from our house, which can be seen in the background of the above image.  It all started when Joren Noye started up with this amazing outfit that he had built around his Jigglehat, that was mostly comprised of a dyed to match vanya robe.  What happens when to amazing Lalafell meet?  Well we dance of course, and within moments the ever adorable Jade Taiga showed up as well.  Well it was not long before Ayla Noye joined in as well, and we had an impromptu jigglehat party.  You have to love any game that supports this sort of random dancing in silly hats.  My friend Tam is convinced that the entire point of this game is to collect ever more amazing hats.

Paladin Soul

ffxiv 2014-09-14 09-52-39-215 I spent most of yesterday working away quietly on my Gladiator turned Paladin.  I completed the final level 30 Gladiator quest, and went through the opening quest for becoming a Paladin.  So far the 30 and 35 quests that I have completed are significantly easier than most of the job quests that I have done on other characters.  I am guessing that at some point in the near future they will drop the floor out from under me with a quest that is significantly more difficult than the others.  I personally thought the final level 30 Gladiator quest was rather challenging, in that I seemed to fail it the first time for no apparent reason.  I was doing everything they had told me to do and then all of the sudden I got duty failed.  Upon trying it again this morning I apparently did all of the things that I was supposed to and then some because I passed, but still have no idea what I did the first time versus what I did the second time.

I started the day at level 28 and finished the evening about halfway to 36.  I have yet to really sit foot in a dungeon yet, and have been mostly doing the FATE grind.  First in Costa Del Sol and now I am out in Coerthas.  In part I guess I like FATE grinding because it is mindless and something I can do over and over.  Additionally I have really become addicted to the whole Quick Ventures system, and I view FATEs as a way to feed Venture tokens to my Retainers.  For those that are unaware you can buy 5 venture tokens for 1000 grand company seals at your grand company quartermaster.  So far I am digging playing the Paladin again, but in truth I am mostly leveling this so that I once again have a good class for grinding FATEs to get Atma parts.  I maybe made a mistake in going for the Atma weapon on my warrior first.  That is pretty much the ideal fate grinding class, and in order for me to get another one up with that sort of survival… I am going to have to play my paladin.

Moonwalker

Destiny_20140913141700 Other than playing quite a bit of Final Fantasy XIV, I spent the bulk of the rest of my weekend playing some Destiny.  At this point my Titan is level 10 and I am spending most of my time in the Moon Patrol zone.  While I was waiting for FATEs on Saturday to spawn for my Animus book, I was hanging out on the PS4 wandering around either the Cosmodrome or Moon Patrol areas.  This is pretty much the ideal play style for me.  I like wandering about doing mini quests and killing lots of Fallen and Hive aliens.  However if you listen to our podcast you can tell that several of our cast have a real issue with the fact that the game has very little tangible story.  The story that does exist is questionably written and even more questionably acted.  For me, it is enough story to keep me entertained, but we have already agreed that I need and more importantly want significantly less story than most folks.  Wandering around and killing things is totally enough motivation to keep me enthralled, especially when the controls feel so damned good.

Destiny_20140910225853 The weird thing for me is I tend to lose motivation to do the various missions whenever I actually unlock the patrol zone.  It is as though the mission only serve as a vehicle to unlock patrol and once I have done that I have no real interest in progressing further.  At some point soon however I should really finish clearing out the moon, but in the mean time I am wandering around the surface looking for interesting stuff.  I love it when I find a chest or a new place that I had overlooked previously.  I love exploring this game, but find it more than marginally frustrating when I encounter the “turn back now” wall around the outskirts of the areas.  At least with the Cosmodrome you have understandable boundaries that limit you to just being on this one island.  On the moon you can see forever, so it makes no sense why I cannot wander out in the open, as there are no logical obstructions.  In any case, I am still really enjoying the game and look forward to playing more of it.

#FFXIV #Destiny

Angry Red Ball

Starting Coil

ffxiv 2014-09-09 20-18-41-319 For some time now after coming back to the game, we have been in a process of getting enough level 50 characters up to be able to tackle the official 8 man raid in the game.  Now there is a 24 man raid, but to some extent I equate that to the LFR system in World of Warcraft.  Both Labyrinth of the Ancients and Syrcus Tower are tuned in such a way as to allow complete strangers to be able to complete them.  They are however an excellent source of gear, and all of us have been doing them pretty much on a weekly basis on a shot of getting some ilevel 100 gear.  The Binding Coil of Bahamut however is serious mode raiding, or at least it was when the game was released.  It takes eight players through a series of separate “turns” as they call them… or floors as I think of them as we traverse one big raid.

Last night we took a friend of the guild in with us to get to our eight players, and she and another guildie had a sizeable amount of experience in the dungeon.  For the most part we were trying to figure out the fight on the fly, however after a few wipes Spiral started giving us tips.  Thanks in part to these tips we made adjustments and progressed pretty quickly through Turn One.  Since we had not been there terribly long we opted to continue on to turn two.  The First half of Binding Coil of Bahamut consists of five turns in total, with an extremely large boss encounter waiting at the end of it.  In order to progress to the next turn, your group has to have defeated the previous one.  I can see this becoming a bit of a pain later on as we bring new folks in that have not been keyed for the one we are actually working on.

Angry Red Ball

ffxiv 2014-09-09 22-21-29-337 When we reached the second turn, I feel like the bottom dropped out from under us.  The first turn once we adjusted a bit was rather manageable.  So I had this fear that we would simply blow out the entire first half of the raid due to the fact that we way over geared the level that the encounters were designed for.  This was pushed aside however as we started the second ADS encounter.  ADS is a angry red ball defense system that you encounter as the first boss in turn one, however this time around it brings friends.  The entire encounter is somewhat of a gauntlet in that you are trying to get to the boss before it enrages, which the process starts the moment you encounter the first mini-boss.  You proceed down towards ADS by taking a series of optional bosses out,  Each time you take a specific boss out, it removes a negative effect from the final encounter, but at the same time adds some form of a buff.

On our first turn we tried to take as many mini-bosses out as we could, and I think we only actually left one alive.  The end result was absolutely brutal as we fought a severely buffed and hasted final boss.  After that we more ploddingly identified which orbs removed which buff and gave which buff to figure out the path we could afford to take.  Spiral had told us that every group she had been with went left, but we wanted to know WHY they went left.  As a result we ended up going right, and for a period of time this seemed like the correct answer.  The mini-boss before ADS removed this frustrating mechanic known as Rot that causes a debuff to be passed around the raid like a baton.  If the debuff is NOT passed, everyone in the raid takes a significant amount of damage.  We thought this would make the ADS encounter more manageable, however after a few tries we noticed that it was giving ADS an insane haste buff, causing it to absolutely wreck us.

The Left Path

ffxiv 2014-09-09 22-12-47-391 So at this point we figured out why exactly every group went left, and by trial and error decided that this would be the best course of action.  It is at this point that I should explain that we knew a supposed easy way to defeat the boss from the moment we walked in.  The thing is while we can totally cheese out the Binding Coil of Bahamut, we will not in any fashion be able to cheese the Second Coil of Bahamut that features turns 6 through 10.  I figure that if we learn these fights now, we will have an easier time learning the fights in Second Coil, because we will have some insight into the way that the designers of the raid content think.  So throughout all of these tries we had a guaranteed win condition in our pocket, but we chose not to use it for as long as was feasible as to learn the fight for real.

Admittedly our biggest issue with this content was the fact that we lacked a Bard.  I can already tell that group composition is going to be a pretty critical thing for certain fights.  Normally we would have had Warenwolf on his Bard, but he was not available tonight.  We could have shifted players around to get a bard, however we were not really prepared for that and didn’t see that zoning back out and back in was really worth it.  As a result we struggled through and came within a sliver of defeating the boss a few times before taking not of just how late it was getting.  Finally when we were just about to call it, we opted to take the easy route.  Apparently ADS is one of the few bosses that is actually significantly easier to defeat after it enrages.  Instead of having to deal with mechanics like Rot, you have to deal with constant AOE pulse damage through the raid.  It literally becomes a burn phase and an endurance match for the healers to keep the raid up long enough to dps the encounter down.

Post Apocalyptic Halo

Destiny_20140909230130 After we had finished the second turn we all dispersed, and I filtered off into playing some Destiny.  I really did not want to get too terribly involved in anything, so I opted to just poke around in the level two mission that I had already defeated.  One of the cool things about the way the world is laid out, is that you can just wander around off the main course allowing you to explore new areas that are not necessarily involved with the current task at hand.  I had not unlocked the completely open world version of the zone yet, so this was the next best thing.  Funny thing is a little bit into me poking around I had someone from my friends list join my fire team.  I have to say I am not quite used to this concept yet of someone just randomly dropping down into your game.  I sent him a message warning him that I was kind of just poking around aimlessly and went on about my business.

Destiny_20140909191442 Interesting thing of note is that apparently if your friend zones into one of the “darkness” areas that are instanced… it also pulls you into the area as well.  So one moment I am wandering about killing level 7 mobs that I had stumbled onto, and then the next I am being sucked into the battle with the Archon at the end of the level 2 mission.  This was all fine and good as it is a pretty fun encounter, and since there were two of us the game scaled up the difficulty a bit.  The problem is… moments into the encounter my partner in crime disconnected from the mission leaving me there to deal with all of the mobs alone.  It turns out he was trying to upload a video clip and it disconnected him, which for future reference might not be the best thing to do in the middle of a fire fight.  I managed to finish off the encounter solo and got a nice helm as a reward for doing so.  On that note I shut things down for the night and tried to figure out why exactly my Vanguard Armory was not showing up.  Thanks to Ashgar I went in and did some “renew licenses” function within the PS4 settings, and that seemed to clear it up immediately.

#FFXIV #BindingCoil #Destiny

Destiny is Gorgeous

Squandering the Morning

My Great Capture Screen Shot 2014-09-09 06-09-24 This morning I have absolutely squandered my morning away, because today the servers for Destiny came up.  In truth the servers came up over the night, and there are already a large number of folks milling around in Tower that are level 10 or so.  This morning my overriding goal was to get a character created and get it to tower so I could eventually meet up with friends and play.  This formidable mug you are seeing represents the new version of me in Destiny.  At character creation you are given the choice between Human, some sort of translucent skinned humanoid, and robots.  Generally speaking I tend to heavily favor humans but there is a fatal flaw in the character creator…  no beards.  Since I can’t have a beard then I pretty much have to go robot.

All in all I am fine with this because I feel like a badass with the green glowing eyes.  I played robotic characters in City of Heroes and Champions Online, so I guess that fits my motif anyway.  I ended up rolling a Titan again, because I have to admit I like having the insane attack that slams the ground and knocks all of the enemies away.  Additionally I found I liked having a jet pack better than some form of a modified jump.  In theory the titan becomes more tanky over time, which also definitely fits my overriding goals in pretty much any game.  Similarly I know that there will already be a lot of Warlocks and Hunters among my friends, so I figure it is best to stick with what I know and enjoyed playing in alpha and beta.

Destiny Is Gorgeous

My Great Capture Screen Shot 2014-09-09 06-29-14 The thing I keep forgetting after large blocks of time being out of the game is just how damned gorgeous this game is.  I guess as a habitual member of the PC master race, I have a hard time realizing that the consoles have finally caught up.  Always in the past there was something wrong with the console images, either they were grainy or washed out or blurry.  They lacked the saturation and definition that I was so used to from playing on a PC.  The PS4 however playing destiny looks amazing, and I doubt it would perform any better on a PC, or at least not with the mid range video cards I generally purchase.  The big difference of course is that I am running around this landscape with the joystick rather than a keyboard and mouse.  This is the biggest adjustment for me, because I still don’t quite feel comfortable without the precision control to make headshots that a mouse gives me.

My Great Capture Screen Shot 2014-09-09 06-19-04 Thankfully Destiny has more than a fair amount of aim assist, and while I can’t really draw a bead and get head shots reliably, I can chew down encounters with body shots.  I managed to make it through the first tutorial level in pretty good time, and as I now idle in Tower to write this… random people keep landing and dancing with me.  I am not exactly sure when I will really get a chance to start this game properly.  I know we have plans for this evening, but I might pop in after that to at least run the first couple of missions.  This is one of those games that I don’t mind being behind the curve.  I am not really competing with anyone to get to max level first.  I feel like Destiny is going to fill the same role that Diablo 3 does.  Fun game that I can get into quickly, kill some stuff and pop back out without many hard feelings.  I like the big open world areas in Destiny for this, in that I can land and make my own objectives or simply run around looking for interesting stuff.

Beginning Coil

ffxiv 2014-09-08 21-07-18-237 The picture is completely unrelated here, but I look adorable like always in my White Mage outfit.  I mentioned earlier that we already had plans for tonight, and primarily that is because we have decided to start raiding Binding Coil, and this evening is the time that seemed to work the best for most people.  I honestly figure by the time evening rolls around Destiny will be completely unplayable, so I thought this might be a good idea to give us all something to focus on other than the inability to play with our new toy.  For some time we have been gearing up and wanting to start Binding Coil fresh as a guild.  I believe that mostly we will be going into this one completely fresh, in that none of us are really doing research ahead of tonight.  One of my biggest joys is figuring out content with my friends, and I think we will do just fine.

One of the most awesome footnotes about the community however is the reaction folks have had to us beginning Binding Coil.  Now this raid in one form or another has been out for a year, and they simply keep adding new turns to it.  So as I have talked to some fairly serious raiders about our guild starting the Coil fresh, I’ve received a completely unexpected reaction.  Were it World of Warcraft, I would have  gotten reactions like folks chiding us for being “Months Behind”.  Here I have gotten nothing but positive responses, talking about how they wished they could go back and see the Coil with fresh eyes again, and that we would enjoy ourselves.  This overwhelming sense of others wishing us well and being happy for us is extremely refreshing.  I am glad that this same strong community attitude extends to raiding as well as the dungeon content we have experienced.  Hopefully we will go in, clear the first turn and walk away with some awesome memories.

#FFXIV #Destiny

Follow the Shiny Bauble

Too Many Things

So for whatever reason this weekend has conspired to have a bajillion competing things happening at once it seems.  Firstly this weekend is like the prep weekend for the conference that I will be taking off from work next week to help my wife with.  Three years ago her and several of her twitter buddies decided to make a conference appear out of thin air, and this year it is being hosted here in the Tulsa metro.  As a result I am being a dutiful husband and helping out however I can.  That means today I will be moving things and testing out the various technology in each of the classrooms that will eventually host random speakers.

Right now my only fear is that the systems are designed to be hooked up to a VGA out and 3.5 mm jack.  Some of the newer laptops only actually have HDMI out…  especially the Mac laptops.  So here is hoping those people bring their own hookups because otherwise we might be pantomiming some of the power point presentations.  Needless to say my entire day today will be spent running around like a madman trying to get things set up as much as we can.  The problem is there are lots of other things going on this weekend.  Honestly I think game companies do this shit on purpose…  where they should time their events to be on opposite weekends as a thank you to the fans.

Destiny Beta

Destiny Beta_20140719081821 This weekend is the return of Destiny to my PS4.  I wish I could embed some video from my play sessions to date, but alas the Hitbox export to Youtube is still on the fritz and I have not figured out how to embed videos directly.  But if you are so inclined you can check out the first and second videos.  At some point this weekend I want to record some more footage in the hopes that someday I can upload it somewhere meaningful.  The second video is especially hilarious because I did not realize that it was picking up teamspeak while I recorded as well as my PS4 chat.  However once again it seems like the PS4 only picks up MY side of the conversation even though I am picking it up from an external capture card.  I really wish I knew a way to hang out on teamspeak, but have my voice from teamspeak get transferred as mic input to PS4 party chat.  I have some ideas but it involves a massive rube goldbergian effort.

Destiny Beta_20140719082406 I have to say I still very much love this game, and compared to the Alpha weekend… it seems extremely polished now.  A lot of the issues with voice acting are gone and the end product feels really good.  Similarly I seem to get items that are way over my level a lot less, so I am actually able to use and equip the various ingrams I find.  Ingrams for un-initiative are basically like unidentified loot from Diablo or similar games.  You get them while out in the field and you have to take them back to town… or in this case Tower to have a scribe identify them for you.  Most of the time the items you get are way better than anything you have access at that level, and they often have the side effect of “leveling up”.  When an item reaches a certain point they unlock special abilities that you can purchase on the item.  I have a pair of gloves for example that greatly increases the striking power of my grenades.

Destiny Beta_20140719082201 Everything about this game is awesome if you really want to get down to it.  You take a really good shooter, probably one of the best I have played in years and wrap it in a warm blanket of MMO style progression… and you have a game that is right in my wheelhouse.  My only question is just how many of the traditional Call of Duty/Battlefield crowd will be jumping ship.  I really don’t feel like the game is for that demographic, but instead for the players that absolutely love Borderlands 2.  While the loot doesn’t drop quite as frequently as it does in BL2, all of the leveling options feel really good.  The one thing I wished from BL2 was that I would have a persistent character that existed on the server, instead of one that existed in my local save game, with all of the things that come along with that.  Destiny gives me that, and I really think we are looking at the new model for MMO gaming.  Player Interaction light, action oriented co-operative and competitive environments.  That is not to say that grouping is not key in Destiny, but it is on a scale that is much more casual friendly in that you only need two other people to really tackle the most intense of situations.

Destiny Beta_20140719081907 Once again I am playing a Titan, because it fits my personality.  I want to be able to rush in, gun things down and throw them the hell back with a shockwave.  I don’t remember the name of the attack but you get it around level 5 or 6 and it is executed by pressing left and right shoulder buttons at the same time.  There are few more satisfying things in a game than jumping up in the air and watching everything fly away from you in brilliant slow motion ragdoll physics.  This class makes me feel powerful and mighty, and about as subtle as a nuke.  All of which fit me perfectly in how I like to play.  Kodra was playing through Wolfenstein last night… and to make a point Tam asked if I could remember what the crouch button was.  Kodra immediately chimed in “you mean the most important button?” and I was like “Nope! I have no clue what crouch is… I just baited the enemies to come attack me in the open and gunned them down.”  Subtlety feels like a complete waste of time when you could just kill every last thing that moves.

An Old Friend

ffxiv 2014-07-19 08-45-57-846 Another thing going on this weekend that is fighting for my attention is that they are having a free weekend for Final Fantasy XIV ARR.  For whatever reason lately I have been missing the game, and I feel like it is one of those games that I parted on good terms with.  I simply ran out of things that I wanted to do.  Right now the biggest problem I have with the game is that the people I know that are still playing it… are spread out in various tiny puddles scattered across a long list of servers.  When I first connected to the game it had me choose my Data Center, which temporarily gave me some hope that they had done something to consolidate the long list.  Apparently that is not the case and each server is still its own little island as far as grouping and guilding, but instead the Data Centers serve the purpose of the Battle Groups in World of Warcraft.  They are essentially your pool of players for doing anything that requires a group.

ffxiv 2014-07-19 08-46-45-762 The game is just as enjoyable as it ever was.  The hardest thing so far was remembering where the hell I kept my abilities and getting my hotbar back in order.  I think I got most everything to a place where my fingers can return to muscle memory for hitting.  I am sure a few things are out of place but the key combos that I hit constantly are all in the right places.  The main thing I did last night was participate in a hunt, which is a kind of daily event that appeared in a patch while I was out.  Basically each day you got to a hunt NPC and they give you this card… which is a physical item in your inventory with a bunch of wanted posters for the day.  These involve wandering around the world and killing specific mobs that appear in specific places.  The first three were pretty easy, and then the tedium set in for the last two.  Apparently these mobs were part of rarely occurring FATEs so I had to just sit around waiting for it to spawn.  For the most part it wasn’t too bad except one of them occurred in a level 3 area…  so I couldn’t even work on leveling my chocobo while I waited.  I am not sure if there is enough here to keep me for very long, but I am enjoying playing for the time being.

The Path Not Taken

archeage 2014-05-08 22-34-42-478 Another big thing happening this weekend is the beginning of ArcheAge closed beta.  Up until this point there were only two ways to get into Alpha testing.  Either you had to know someone like I did, or plunk down your $150 and buy the most expensive founders pack.  This weekends the floodgates have opened letting everyone in that has bought even the cheapest of founders packs.  The problem is I feel like I have been burned by my experiences in Alpha.  The community was so heinous and toxic that I just don’t want to have anything to do with it.  At this point Glyph is running in the background right now downloading the 21 gig patch that is needed to get it up and running in closed beta, but that said I am not sure if I will play it much.  There are a lot of problems I have with the game, not all of which can be improved.

I still have a fundamental problem with the character design.  While I managed to find one I could live with, I am still not terribly happy with it and the lack of “real” beards in most Korean games.  I do want to give it a try to see if letting in all of the closed beta players may have fixed some of the problems with the community.  One of two things is going to happen… either the super toxic voices are going to be drowned out in the sea of not so horrible…  or they will adapt to the “young eating” culture that is the Alpha game.  I know Trion is working hard on trying to find ways to moderate the toxicity, but I am just not sure if it will be enough for me.  At the end of the day I am a huge carebear and want to spend my time collaborating with other players… and not competing with them.

Follow the Shiny Bauble

The thing that frustrates me the most about this weekend and weekends like it when it seems like every single company is fighting to steer the hype train, is that it trains us to be flighty.  I feel like what is happening right now is that each of these companies is trying to fight for front page presence against any news that might be coming out of QuakeCon.  The problem is…  your player base is nowhere near as loyal as you might want them to be.  By constantly dangling shiny baubles in front of our faces… all it really does is train us to constantly be on the look out for the next shiny bauble.  So many weeks when it comes to gaming I feel like the James Woods character from Family Guy “Oooh a piece of candy”.  Ultimately I feel like the constant vying for our attention is only serving to make us less interested in staying any one place for terribly long.

Look at me for example… I already play a long list of games with no real signs of landing in any one place for terribly long.  This weekend I am looking at playing three more games that I was not really playing before.  But I didn’t start out this way, because I played Everquest for 3 years, Dark Age of Camelot for 3 years, and then World of Warcraft for a solid 7 years before the launch of Rift and the beginning of my rampant nomad phase.  Now I just follow whatever happens to suit my mood, and as a result I am popping between games on a weekly basis.  I feel like in part I was trained to be this way by the game industry constantly dangling an every tastier steak in front of me.  So I feel like stacking all of these events on the same weekend is just the highly of how frenetic things have gotten.  I decided long ago that life was too short to be playing something I was not enjoying, so I doubt I will be changing my nomadic ways any time soon…  but folks have to stop and thing that the constant fight over the hype cycle is only serving to make more people nomadic in the process.

#Destiny #FFXIV #ArcheAge