The Will of the Moon

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This weekend was largely about me trying to recuperate from whatever crud I had on Friday.  I’m feeling better as a whole but still not feeling 100%.  I’ve referred to this weekend as a name brand beta, because when a company throws a special test that most of the world seems to be invited to it definitely comes off as more marketing ploy than actual test of the game infrastructure.  Overall the game performed flawlessly other than an apparent known memory leak bug, that I never quite encountered because I didn’t play longer than the requisite two or three hours that it takes to encounter it.  The missions that I ran were rather enjoyable, and I fully expect to at a minimum play through the story content and unlock all of that.  I make no guarantees about how long it will take me given that it took me a good two years before I reached maximum level in the original game.

I still question how well the game fits my play style, but at the moment I am looking at it for a purely single player experience given that I know going into it that none of the other AggroChat crew will be playing it.  They all for the most part bounced off of the original Division, and primarily for the bleak story beats.  I think the fact that we were effectively working for the various communities that we discover makes the flow of the story feel better.  However as Kodra pointed out on the podcast, it does leave us a question of why exactly we are still an agent if there is no organizational structure left?  I mostly view that trope as the lone lawman in the wild frontier sort of approach.  I will say the game improved massively after I turned off the HDR, given that I was only able to SEE the HDR effect upstairs in my office and not while playing remotely through parsec…  and as such it made everything extremely washed out and hard to pick out details.

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The game I spent the majority of Saturday playing was Assassin’s Creed Origins and I have reached a point where I am staring down the barrel of the ending.  However I am extremely frustrated by what appears to be the ending that is unfolding in front of me.  Now I have said for some time that my opinion is that when this game was originally planned the ultimately design was that you could play it as Bayek or as Aya since the two characters at least on some level are interchangeable and have the same reasons for engaging in the main story plot.  For sake of budget I assume they cut one character so that they would not have to animate two copies of everything, but the problem with this is…  that every time you are forced to play Aya it is like stepping foot into a level one character.

What I mean by that is through the course of the game you make a lot of stylistic decisions about what weapons you want to use and what talent points to sink into.  Then each time you are throw into playing Aya you are forced to return back to the character that lacks the ability to customize anything.  So spoilers time…  but I just went through a sequence where it appears that I am saying goodbye to my character Bayek…  aka the one that I have spent the last 40 levels customizing to be exactly the way I want him to be…  and being forced to do the ending of the game with Aya the level 1 blank slate.  This makes me really not want to do any of the ending and just call it good enough… returning to playing through the fun part of the game which is doing random quests out in the world.  Maybe this isn’t exactly what is about to happen… but it certainly seems like I am just about to be forced into beating the game as a proxy.  Please note… I like Aya as a character and would have been fine playing her…  if I could actually control what sort of gear and talents she had.

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Lastly I spent some time playing Final Fantasy XIV this weekend and accomplished two things.  Firstly I managed to get my Blue Mage to 50…  which means I now need to find a party of blue mages to go collect the rest of the spells I have available to me given that everything else seems to come from a dungeon or trial.  I spent the podcast grinding out mobs in Northern Thanalan and managed to push across the line solo.  I also managed to get through The Burn which served as a bit of a roadblock since the final boss of that dungeon appears to be a PUG destroyer.  I’ve now moved the quest line along to where I am failing miserably at a fight that is about four times longer than it really needs to be.  Actually I have only failed it the one time and it was mostly because I didn’t catch on what was going on fast enough.  I opted to play through the mission as a warrior instead of a samurai, but that also meant that I was not prepared for a burn phase, because I assumed I was simply trying to out survive the encounter.

I will likely poke my head back in again tonight and give it another shot.  I think I am probably nearing the bridge between 4.4 and 4.5 and as such getting closer and closer to being able to understand what the hell is going on.

Lost Allagan Tankybutts

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It feels lame when I say it this way… but I am been on this very slow path of trying to ease back into Final Fantasy XIV.  Most recently I have spent my time leveling as a Blue Mage, but last night I decided to try and figure out what it would take to get unstuck in the main story quest.  One of the frustrating parts about coming back to FFXIV is that generally speaking there are gear roadblocks in the way.  This is not to say that the game does not give you ample opportunity to catch up…  but you have to be playing to be able to exercise those options.  If you have been like me and largely checked out for the better part of an expansion…  you come back and find that what might have been good gear for the launch of the game…  is no longer able to actually participate in anything.

This was the case with me who was largely in 310 gear when I checked out of Stormblood and slammed right into a wall called Castrum Fluminis in the main story quest.  To be able to do this 8 player trial it requires you to have 335 item level…  of which there are a bunch of ways to get, but all of which required me to actually be doing content.  Then I was reminded of the fact that a new set of hunt seal gear went into the game.  Last night I started the evening running around and collecting Centurio Seals….  only to notice that when I checked the total I had gotten…  that I was apparently capped?  I don’t remember doing that much hunting before I left but it was enough to get me into a full set of 330 gear.  Shortly after this a very awesome guildie dropped a brand new 380 crafted axe on me pushing my item level up to 336 and over the line needed to do the trial.

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However I took the chickens route out and decided to see what it would take to gear out my Samurai in an equivalent amount of gear.  The answer?  Roughly 1 million gil by the time all was said and done bought me a new weapon and a few strategic pieces of gear that pushed my total item level up to 336 as well.  I completed the Trial as Samurai since no one actually expects much out of them considering they seem to have replaced the Dragoon as the lolclass in the minds of the populace.  I do need to get back on the tanking horse…  but last night was not the night.  I did however get through the Trial relatively easily and pushed forward in the story until I hit one of the infamous “lots of cutscenes” warnings.  Based on past experience this means thirty minutes to an hour and a half of stuff that is about to happen.

Given that it was fairly late in the evening already I took this as my queue to head on to bed.  From what I can tell I am at the border between patch 4.3 and patch 4.4…  and I have all of the content in 4.4 and 4.5 yet to go until I have reached the ultimate conclusion of Stormblood.  So far they have thrown out a few surprises… but unfortunately the news of Shadowbringers has spoiled a little bit of the conclusion.  I’ve still not watched the long form trailer that came out with FFXIV Fanfest Paris, and as such am trying to push through so that I can be up to date.  I am trying to get back into playing an MMORPG again…  but it just feels weird considering how much of the Destiny style MMO Lite I have been playing of late.

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If my math is correct… tomorrow is the beginning of the Closed Beta test in Division 2.  I will likely be pausing my MSQ progression to spend time checking that game out.  Curious… who else will I be seeing there?

1000 Needles

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I’m still not as engaged with Final Fantasy XIV as I would like to be, but I have been using the new Blue Mage limited job as a sort of way of easing my foot back into the water.  While I am not the fanatic for Blue Mage’s that Ashgar is…  I’ve always had a soft spot for the concept of learning abilities by getting hit with them.  As a result I’ve found it really fun and interesting to go around the world trying to learn new abilities.  I started playing the Blue Mage during the Podcast last week and have now made some significant progress, though from what it sounds not nearly as much as the folks that power leveled it in two hours.  Side note… there is apparently a glitch in the game that has been acknowledged that cannot be fixed until 5.0 that involves killing a monster with a single hit and then rapidly switching classes.  Since the first class never actually got flagged into combat… the second class that you switch to gains the experience.  The only problem with this theory is that most of the one hit classes are all casters… and the only thing I have to 70 are some melee classes.  As a result I have mostly been leveling the old fashioned way.

At this point my spellbook looks like this…

  • Water Cannon – Default Ability
  • Bomb Toss – Level 5 Goblin – Middle La Noscea – 23,21
  • Blood Drain – Level 7 Cave Bat – Lower La Noscea – 27,16
  • Ice Spikes – Level 9 Trickster Imp – Central Shroud – 27,24
  • Self-Destruct – Level 12 Glide Bomb – Western Thanalan – 27,17
  • Off-Guard – Unlock 5 Spells to Purchase
  • Final Sting – Level 13 Killer Wespe – Middle La Noscea – 15,13
  • Mind Blast – Solo Tam-Tara Deepcroft – Final Boss
  • Acorn Bomb – Level 17 Treant Sapling – North Shroud – 26,21
  • Bristle – Level 21 Wild Boar (supposedly Lvl.17 exists but never found)  – East Shroud – 18,24
  • Sticky Tongue – Level 24 Laughing Toad – Western Thanalan – 14,16
  • White Wind – Unlock 10 Spells to Purchase
  • Mighty Guard – Unlock 10 Spells to Purchase
  • Toad Oil – Level 24 Giggling Toad – Western Thanalan – 14,6
  • 1000 Needles – level 26 Sabotender Bailaor – Southern Thanalan – 15,15
  • Bad Breath – Level 31 Stroper – Central Shroud – 14,21
  • Faze – Level 32 Qiqirn – Eastern La Noscea – 26,32
  • Flying Sardine – Level 32 Apkallu – Eastern La Noscea – 30,34

I’ve more or less been following this guide on PCGamesN and am thus far missing Level 5 Petrify from the order they suggest and then we get into a bunch of abilities that come from bosses.  I attempted to solo Haukke Manor and just got wrecked so I effectively need to put some levels on before I can realistically do that.  I think at this point I am going to grind up to 32 so I can equip a full set of Battlemage armor and give it a shot.  The leveling thusfar has largely involved me wearing a bunch of random gear that I happened to have available in my bags rather than actually trying to go for something optimal.  The other answer is of course to simply grind the rest of the way to 50 and then deal with going after abilities after having a decent set of gear on.  Whatever the case I am finding this interesting and fun and it is super satisfying when you see the animation indicating that you learned an ability.  The money combo tends to be Acorn Bomb to put something to sleep, 1000 Needles to deal 1000 damage…  that ignores the debuff of Mighty Guard and repeat that until whatever it is you are fighting is dead with the occasional White Wind to heal yourself back up.

Too Pure for the World

So I have not related this story, but the other day I was roaming around outside of Aleport killing things for experience.  A FATE had just started and I began chipping away at it…  and someone responded in /say that I would not actually get bonus exp as a Blue Mage from those mobs.  This lead to them offering to kill stuff if I tagged it… so we ran amok for a bit in zone but at the time the fastest spell I had was Water Cannon.  So they suggested that I meet them at Costa Del Sol and ran me over to pick up Flying Sardine which is an instant, and then proceeded to have me run around the zone tagging things for a bit until I legitimately needed to leave.  This was not something I asked for, nor was it something I expected… but some random stranger on this awesome server called Cactuar just volunteered to help me out.  I shot up something silly like from level 10 to level 28 in a few minutes, but more than anything I was just shocked that someone was willing to do this random act of kindness…  which makes me realize how long I have been away from this community.  That is the kind of game that Final Fantasy XIV is… and over the years I have had so many of these random encounters that wind up with both of us friending the other so we can see orange text run past.  Hell I have struck up conversations just while hanging out on the Gold Saucer that wound up with me getting invited to run stuff with their Free Company.

Final Fantasy XIV as a community is just too damned pure for this world.

 

 

Seasonal Light Cap Get

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As promised yesterday, today we return at least for a bit to proper gaming news…  or more so the news of the gaming I have been up to over the break.  I’ve been spending a significant amount of time playing Destiny 2 which is not terribly shocking.  That said I did manage to hit 650 light, the current cap for the rest of the current season and even have managed to push up my standard loadout of Breakneck, Ikelos Shotgun and Thunderlord to that level as well.  Now begins the slow process of bringing the other things I care about up to that level as well.

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I also managed to get my Hunter to 50 and have finished the Warmind content now and am slowly chewing my way through Forsaken.  I’ve swapped over 650 weapons and am using them to slowly push up her light level which I have managed to get to 625 in a day of trying to do this.  I will probably be spending a good deal more time working on her than the Titan seeing as I hit my initial goal of hitting the light cap during the break.  At some point I will probably also start working on pushing up the Warlock, but seeing as that is my least favorite class to play… it always ends up lagging behind significantly.

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The core problem I am having with Destiny 2 is a pretty good one to be having.  There is more content to do each week than I have time to really do it in.  At launch time I could push through all of the powerful gear options in a single night, and could easily run out of things that I felt were “worth doing”… and as a result spent a good deal of time working on alts to spread out that list of things to do enough to get me through the week.  With the current state of the game there is no way I have enough time to do all of the things that could create progress so instead I just focus on the things I feel like doing in a given night.  I am leaving so much progression on the table in a given week that I am having to learn to be okay with it.

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Lastly I have been tooling around with a weird Dark-Soulsian game called Ashen that is currently only available on Xbox One and the Epic Games store.  Once you get over the fact that all of the characters are faceless poppets, the game does a much better job of making you care about the world that you are exploring in the fact that you are essentially recovering after an apocalypse.  As you roam around you meet new people that you can help and in turn they join the village that you are building.  They start to offer you whatever it is that they can do from forging weapons to letting you futz with your stat layout.

There are times the game reminds me of Breath of the Wild as well…  albeit with way more hardcore combat.  It is very easy to die in this game as pretty much everything in the world hates you.  This can get a little frustrating because in my rush to attack before  they can attack me…  I have accidentally killed a few NPCs.  I am enjoying myself quite a bit, but I am not really playing it anywhere near as much as some of the other games I have on my plate.  I still thought it was worth mentioning in case anyone else was interested.  They have managed to create a game that is very much in the Dark Souls genre… that is also very hopeful and not quite so soul crushing. I linked to the original trailer above.

Capped for A Day

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Morning folks… I am struggling today.  Both in the waking up department because there is simply not enough coffee in the world… and in the illness department because I seem to be coming down with whatever the hell is going around the office.  I’ve yet to decide if I can make it to work today, so we will see what happens between now and finishing this post but I am taking a breathing treatment as I type.  As far as the weekend I did a bunch of assorted gaming because that seems to be how I roll right now.  Instead of focusing hard on one thing I seem to be splitting my time between a bunch of things, and as a result I spent a good deal of time making tiny images and updated my “Recently Playing” sidebar.  It mostly follows the post I made last week with the major exception of me apparently forgetting to include Elder Scrolls Online which I still dip my toes into occasionally.

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In the Destiny 2 front I spent a good deal of the weekend knocking out anything that could get me a Powerful/Prime Engram and wouldn’t you know it… I reached 600 light the current cap.  This is a cap that I will enjoy for another whole day…. because when the black armor DLC releases on December 4th the cap is going up to 650.  The truth is I am fine with this.. because the last cap was quite the stretch to get to from the levels I was sitting at when Curse of Osiris released, which is unfortunately the last time I really seriously played the game.  Sure I got in and did the Warmind story content and a little bit of planetary stuff but I really was not pushing myself to cap out at that point.  Additionally Forsaken made it way easier for someone to play casually and reach the cap, so I am looking forward to Black Armory and some of the new open world “Forge” content as I have always dug things like the Blind Well or Archon’s Forge and Court of Oryx from Destiny 1.  I need to get serious about trying to wrangle folks for the purpose of having a raid night… Squirrel keeps volunteering himself but at my count that still leaves us down four people.  So if you are interested in that sort of nonsense on the PC platform drop me a line.

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Since this is the first post of December I thought I would talk a bit about InPiPoMo which just finished.  For years I had not joined in because I largely considered my blog cheating given the nonsense number of screenshots that I post.  I apparently have a problem because the goal was to hit 50 “pictures” during the month of November to parallel NaNoWriMo and its 50,000 word count goal…  since a “Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”.  During the month without really attempting to do so I posted 93 screenshots if my quick count was correct, so yeah…  that is a thing I do.  Like this morning I had a screenshot of Diablo 3 on the Switch that I wanted to post but nowhere really to post it so I sort of shimmed it into this paragraph.  Huge thanks to Chestnut for keeping this going this year and you should totally check out her blog Gamer Girl Confessions.

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Over in Monster Hunter World the Winter Star festival is going on and with it a set of gear that you can farm.  For both PC and Console players this also means that almost every event that has ever been active is active once again allowing you to farm anything you might have missed.  That list is considerably smaller for PC players unfortunately, but it does let you get things like the Wyvern Ignition Great Sword and cosmetic nonsense like the Wiggler head.  From what I can tell the only event that is not active is the Code Red event tied to the Devil May Cry cross over potentially because it just ended right before this event.  You can however farm Kulve Taroth again until your heart is content.  There is a set of lackluster armor that you can craft, or you can do what I did and cash in your tickets towards the layered armor set so you can make ANY gear look like Santa Claus.  I plan on farming up enough tickets to also be able to purchase the super adorable Snowman Palico outfit… or Snow Woman in the case of Kenzie who regardless of the game is canonically female.

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I’ve talked about how awesome the screenshots are at the end of fights, because they always capture you doing something interesting.  In this case it is me dodge rolling out of the way of a line of lightning while everyone else is apparently downhill engaged with the monster.  When you hit Hunter Rank 49, in order to make forward momentum you have to face this monster in particular…  Tempered Kirin.  It took me forever to manage to get this on the console and in truth it was probably only because I was getting carried super hard by Shiana that Ashgar and I wound up getting it at the same time.  On the PC I’ve been dipping my toes into these waters for awhile now, and I have reached the point where it is not me that is fainting and causing us to fail…  but regardless still end up failing out most of the time.  Monster Hunter does this thing where the screen freezes and it can mean either you beat the encounter or someone other than you got carted and caused the whole group to fail.  When the screen froze at this point… I just assumed we failed it… but in truth it turns out with one life left to go we managed to take down Tempered Kirin.  I will probably NEVER fight this again…  that is unless someone who has recently started the PC winds up needing help to get through it.  Super happy to be moving again on the other side… which caused me to instantly shoot up to 58.

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I also spent a good chunk of the weekend fiddling around in Final Fantasy XIV… which frustratingly has started doing this thing where it does not exit cleanly and strands a black fullscreen window that seemingly has the power to block task manager.  This is really only a problem for me personally… since I have been streaming every bit of gaming recently from gaming desktop upstairs to my laptop downstairs.  When this happens I have to go upstairs and fiddling with it in order to restore functionality, which can be a bit maddening considering how regularly I am hopping games in a given evening.  Regardless I have reached my first wall gear wise in the Main Story Quest and it requires me to get to 335 I believe which means I either need to buy my way out of that hole or start doing enough content to farm up some gear.  I am probably going with the later given that I never was rich in Final Fantasy XIV terms.  In the meantime however I have decided to revisit my old friend the Palace of the Dead to push my Dark Knight up high enough to be able to do the Heaven on High content the rest of the way to 70.  Probably a significant amount of my time will be spent catching up classes so that they are ready when Shadowbringer releases tentatively next summer.

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All Things  Geekery is a great podcast by my friends Detached and Victus that among other topics tends to be a great source of Destiny 2 related conversations.  They have been doing this thing recently where they highlight a member of the community at the beginning of their show, which I thought was a really great idea when they started this concept with the very amazing Chestnut.  However I am now starting to question their mental state because apparently they saw fit to include me in this construct as well.  This week I apparently am leading off the show, but really you should probably just fast forward past that and listen to their interesting discussion of Red Dead Redemption 2… a game I am super interested in but waiting to see if it releases on the PC given that is my platform of choice and I have a bad habit of rebuying games for it.  You can find the podcast at…

Finally there is of course the podcast we recorded this weekend where we talk about Final Fantasy XIV, Monster Hunter World Winter Star event, what happens when MMORPGs close down, Tetris in Virtual Reality and a few other topics shimmed in between.  I tend to be really bad about promoting the thing that I actually do, so I should get in the habit of talking about it more on this blog so there is some cross pollination.  I am still shocked anyone reads this thing… let alone listens to me ramble on the other thing.  At this point I have decided to stay home and crash this morning because I had very few things on my calendar for today.  If I had a packed day of meetings I might have struggled through it and probably infected the rest of the office.  Now I am going to get in some fuzzy pants and forget the world exists.

 

 

Wildstar Thoughts

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I am having one of those mornings when I am not entirely certain I have thoughts that are worth sharing.  However because of the ritual that I have built up for myself I am going to share something anyway.  I consistently have a chorus of “no one wants to hear about that” running through my head as I write most of my posts.  I think that is in part why I struggle so hard when someone says something nice to me about my blog or any of the other things I do.  I feel like I really have no clue what I am doing and even more so why anyone would care about it.  I am super appreciative that people do seem to care, but I feel like one of these days everyone is going to pull back the curtain and realize what a boring person I am.  Worse I have an unshakable fear that I am a fraud and that some terribly clever person is going to write a lengthy essay on medium pointing out this fact and cause you all to hate me.  Medium feels like it is a site entirely about writing lengthy essays about exposing harsh truths about the things we love.

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Sometimes I start writing and things just veer wildly off course, and I have a feeling that is precisely what is happening this morning.  Yesterday afternoon at 2pm pst Wildstar went dark as a game and I have some weird feelings about it.  This was not an important game to me personally, in fact I struggled to figure out why everyone liked it so much.  That said I realize that it was a very important game for an awful lot of the people who I care about in my life.  This is in part why I kept trying to unlock the puzzle about what made it feel good to play.  Probably the happiest I was with the game was when I was playing my Chua Engineer and even then…  largely because of the adorable bot army that I drug along with me.  The core problem there is… that the vast majority of the friends I had playing the game on the regular were Exiles not Dominion.  Sure this eventually changed so that you could cross faction until your heart was content… but I think by then it was too far past that golden time in which a game really has to hook me on its charm.

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There was something about the game that caused me to struggle with it.  There was a certain sensory overload that I felt each time I played, with too many things going on with the UI and the telegraphs that just left my eyes feeling immensely tired after playing it for a short period of time.  I realize this is weird given that I have always been one of those people who prefers to have a massive number of UI elements on screen in World of Warcraft, but the combination of this and the action combat proved to be more than I could handle most of the time.  I am regretful that I never managed to make it to the level cap or really experience any of the endgame content.  I had multiple characters largely fall off the face of the leveling curve in Whitevale…  and I am not entirely certain what specifically about that zone caused me to lose all forward momentum.

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All of that said I have to tell you that Wildstar had quite possibly the best housing system I have seen in a game, namely the way you could set up your little pocket dimension to be whatever you wanted it to be…  along with interesting minigames to play.  It also had an excellent cosmetic gear and dye pot system that I hope going forward more games pay attention to.  It was a game that gave its players so many nice systems, and I think that is in part why it had a generally thriving social structure.  There are a good number of people that I met through the game that have become fixtures of my Twitter feed in a daily basis, and I am thankful that I got to meet all of them.  Said feed was completely breaking my heart as I watched so many emotional posts scrolling by in the last hours of the game before they finally shut things down.  I think what probably makes this worse… is the fact that Wildstar lasted far longer than anyone actually expected it would given NC Soft’s track record of shuttering still relatively popular franchises.

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At this point however I am not entirely certain which is worse.  Watching a game get shuttered, or having a game purchased by a company that you are almost certain is going to do bad things to the game.  I watched Hellgate London be bastardized by Hanbitsoft and then get regurgitated back onto Steam in a form that is at times barely recognizable to the original.  Recently Trion Worlds was purchased by a company that has games in its stable with literally temporary inventory bags that expire after seven days.  So I have nothing but the worst fears about how Rift is going to change under their stewardship.  So I am not sure if it is worse to see a game completely close its doors, or to watch it flop around in a zombie state for awhile muddying your memories of it.  As I have said before when this sort of thing happens…  these MMO games that we love are fleeting.  Grab on with both hands and enjoy them while you still can, because eventually…  they are likely going to shut their doors either replaced by something shiny and new or because the players disappeared over time.  In the case of Wildstar we can only hope that a Server Emulator is far enough along to be able to create a fan run server like the thriving Star Wars Galaxies community or the Age of Reckoning Warhammer Online community.

 

 

Lurk Longsword

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This morning is a little bit odd given that I am not at work, but also had to get up at 5:30 like normal.  I guess I technically didn’t but I still have things that need to get done.  My mother in law is going into the hospital today for a lung biopsy, so I would greatly appreciate any thoughts, prayers or just general good vibes channeled her direction.  Our hope is of course that it isn’t anything serious, but just the act of taking a biopsy from your lungs is fairly serious.  A few days ago I wrote about how hardcore mobile gamers can be, and I guess further evidence proves that even more true.  Yesterday I booted up Walking Dead Our World while waiting on a meeting just to check and see what objectives I should be focused on… and found that I had been kicked from the group that I wrote about.  It seems as thought a group leader can see various stats about the players, and it appears that it is common place to purge anyone not killing at least 200 walkers a day.

I am WAY more casual than that… and I had apparently somehow avoided notice for a few weeks before the hammer dropped down upon me.  I don’t even really know the people in the clan, but it was surprising how much it generally bummed me out.  I’ve since joined another group, but I have to say…  the drive to play is largely gone.  Previously I felt like I was working towards something with a bunch of other players, but now I mostly just don’t care as I have to get acclimatized to another group of randos.  I’ve contemplated forming my own group and calling it something along the lines as “Casual AF” and just seeing what sort of players I get to join.  The clan size is limited to 25 players, so if you are in a group of high achievers I totally get why they might want to punt casuals.  The objectives are things like kill 300 armored walkers with a specific character, and in a given encounter you might come across two of them…  meaning at that rate you would have to take out 150 of these randomly occurring encounters to get the objective.  The game is balanced for hardcore players, so also maybe not balanced for me personally.  It was interesting while it lasted.

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One of the things I love about the Kulve Taroth event is the random weapons that you end up walking away with.  Generally speaking there are a few gems scattered in amongst the dross… and one of them is this longsword.  The base damage is a little low, but it makes up for it in the utility of having a longsword with fairly reasonable paralysis on it.  Ultimately I have been using this a lot as I have been taking on the Devil May Cry event quest where you fight four different monsters, and this ends up giving a fairly early proc of paralysis to help out the burn phase.  It also works shockingly well on Kulve Taroth itself, which is goofy given how damned big that is to see it paralyzed.  It does allow for a lot of good burn time whenever it happens which makes me heavily favor the weapon, and if I shifted out my item build a bit I could get quite a bit of white sharpness on it.

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I also spent a good deal of time last night playing Final Fantasy XIV and managed to get off high center in the quest chain.  There was a very specific quest that I was struggling with, that involved killing a bunch of mech suits that cast self destruct.  This stupid thing took me roughly four attempts to finally get through it, and is one of those fights where the NPCs are vulnerable to death… and if they die you instant fail.  I finally figured out exactly what I was supposed to be doing and on the last attempt it felt way less arbitrary.  I will say this is one of the frustrations at times with Final Fantasy XIV…  is that for all of the really good visual messaging… there are at times in the solo quests that they don’t give you much of an explanation of what you are supposed to be doing.  My hope however is that this gets me unstuck and I can continue questing my way through all of the Main Story Quest content that I had missed.

Tiny Samurai vs Eureka

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One of the things that happened over the weekend that we did not talk about on the podcast, nor have I mentioned on the blog… was the reveal of the next Final Fantasy XIV expansion Shadowbringers at the Las Vegas Fan Fest.  I mentioned Fan Fest when I was talking about BlizzCon and how they only hold one when they have a big announcement to give us information about.  As such you go into the experiencing knowing you are going to see something really cool, and while the trailer for Shadowbringers is cool… it was not the big reveal of the weekend.  That said I do find it interesting that we are not going where I thought we were going at various points in the Stormblood storyline.  It seems like in order to restore balance… we are to become the Warrior of Darkness.

The more important reveal however was that of the Blue Mage… aka the MMO class that I questioned if was even possible to do in a multiplayer game.  With it they are introducing this concept of “Limited Jobs” and by that they mean Jobs that you can do… but are purely solo/open world only.  Blue Mage will launch with 4.5 and be locked to a maximum of level 50 in progression.  Like a Blue Mage in any other Final Fantasy game, you will not learn new skills by leveling up and instead learn them by fighting the monsters that perform certain abilities.  So to learn Bad Breath you will need to fight a Morbal and watch it do that move…  or similarly you will need to watch a Sabotender do 1000 Needles to be able to pick it up and start doing it yourself.  I really dig this concept because it allows them to do this class with all of its flavor and power… without having to worry about balancing it against any other class.  Level 5 Death would have been super hard to balance around… and I am wondering if they will start bringing other challenging classes in to the game under this Limited Jobs banner.

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All of this thought about Final Fantasy XIV lead me to patch it up, and attempt to figure out where the hell I left off in the Stormblood post expansion main story quest.  I bounced very hard on Stormblood and I am still not entirely certain why, but after leveling the Warrior and then grinding up the Samurai… I just ran out of steam.  I’ve made a few attempts to get engaged again and similarly bounced out.  Hell recently there have been a few times I logged into the game and then right back out when I wasn’t exactly sure what I needed to do in order to gain traction.  All of this time however Sol has kept Greysky Armada active and there is a group of folks that do a cycle of regular events.  Last night was Eureka night and I decided to log in and join the shenanigans.

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Ultimately it was myself, Mor, eventually Neph and a character that I have seen around but can’t really place a person to…  being babysit by Pix who deserves a hero medal for easing us all into the concept of Eureka.  I remember when this first opened I spent some time solo grinding and managed to make it to level 2 just by killing random stuff.  It seemed insanely grindy and a love song to Final Fantasy XI which itself was effectively the Japanese version of Everquest.  Soloing it was miserable but with a group of friends it felt an awful lot better.  Even more so once we started gathering up the materia shards that effectively gave us a 60% damage boost.  I entered the night at level 2 and managed to push through to level 8 before we finally called it because it was getting late.

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Seriously Pix deserves massive thanks at herding us around Eureka and helping us get the objectives we needed to get knocked out.  Effectively he was out of group and AOE taunting everything onto him… while we sat there killing it down as fast as possible.  As a result I spent most of the night as Samurai and while it took me a bit to remember how to play the class it eventually came back.  When Neph joined us I feel like she went through the same thing with Machinist… which I guess is to be expected for as long as we have been gone.  I know they have other themed nights, like one in which they do crafting maps…  so for the time being I am probably going to be logging in and doing those activities at least until I get my bearings.  I had an awful lot of fun, and I most of it was due to the fact that I was getting to hang out with a bunch of friends that I had not hung out with in a really long time.

Hellgate Disappointment

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If you have read my blog for any length of time you will know that I have a hot burning and undying love of the game Hellgate London.  I played it originally at launch and was of the few suckers who actually ponied up for the subscription plan as well, with its extra events.  There were a whole slew of us that were playing World of Warcraft at the time, that took a break and started playing Hellgate as effectively our primary game.  There was in fact a House Stalwart guild in game that was pretty damned active for awhile…  but sadly a very short while.  The game released on October 31st or 2007, and in 2008…  Flagship Studios filed for bankrupt protection and all assets including the intellectual property of the games they were working on… were seized by Comerica bank.  Namco Bandai kept the servers going through January 31st of 2009 and after that point it was effectively a single player only game.  The assets were eventually sold to T3Fun/HanbitSoft a South Korean game developer who took the unreleased assets and spun up a few new areas of the game centered around Seoul.

In 2014 the game showed up on Steam as Hellgate Global which was being run by a HanbitSoft Connected company called T3Fun/Redbana Corporation.  Hellgate Global was an MMOized version of the game and featured a number of micro-transactions that added some “pay for qualify of life” type features like an item that would identify all of the items in your inventory instead of having to do them one at a time.  Similarly there was an item that would deconstruct every item in your inventory at the same time.  I actually played this game for a bit, and noticed that the difficulty was massively watered down and these mini bosses were added in every so often that served as a loot pinata.  It was entertaining but also nowhere nears a compelling as the original game, and it eventually shut down in January of 2016.  Recently Hellgate once again showed up on Steam as a game that was coming November 15th… and last night I purchased it for myself and a couple of Aggrochat members.  One to grief him because I sincerely doubt he will like the game, but he also once gifted me a copy of Bad Rats.  The other however because I think she will absolutely like the game…  that is if she can get past the frustrations with this version.

My hope was this would be an easy way to get people in and let them experience Hellgate London.  Previously the best way to play Hellgate London was to either Amazon or Ebay a copy of the old game and then install Hellgate Revival to bring it up to more modern standards.  There is even a side project called London 2038 that acts as a server emulator, allowing you to play online with others and restoring much of the functionality of the game.  My hope was the Steam version would bring a lot of these improvements to the game and make it as easy as purchasing and installing to get in and play.  Unfortunately after last night…  the route I just described is still the best way to play the game.

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First of all we have to talk about how HanbitSoft has seemingly changed the story of Hellgate London, by introducing a some equally questionable animation tacked onto the front of what is still the most epic intro sequence from any game.  The original game is largely the story of Doom… rifts from hell open up and a bunch of demons flow into our world and decimate it.  They however shifted it to be a battle between the light and the dark in ambiguous terms, that maybe work better for a South Korean audience than the biblical hell on earth story of the original.  The other big problem is that seemingly this is a game that was taken from the original English…  localized into Korean…  and then has now been localized back into English.  We’ve all seen the memes of what happens when you pass something through google translate too many times… in fact my favorite is a twitter account called Rosewatta Stone that does that with Magic the Gathering cards.

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There is an awful lot of jank going on with this game, from the completely unskippable tutorial sequence that keeps popping up how to do everything… and then will freeze your character in place until you perform whatever the hell they are asking you to do.  To the fact that the textures are extremely muddy and are way lower resolution in a few of the areas than the base install of the original game.  Hellgate London was a game with a bunch of different tile sets for lack of a better term, and they were constructed out of a series of themed prefabs…  and this one in particular seems to have fared the worst which is the cityscape with rubble strewn through it.  Others like the train station tileset, seem to have gotten a much higher resolution texture treatment and as such look significantly better.  The problem is however that this experience feels extremely uneven…  like they got bored while working on the game and only focused on the areas that they liked the most.

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This is effectively the same version that was released as Hellgate Global from what I can tell, and as such it includes a handful of classes that were not available in the original release.  I am however a creature of habit and wound up rolling a Guardian again… which is the class I always tend to play when I play Hellgate.  I am a sword and shield tank, but again you can see the unbalanced nature of the textures.  That shield looks perfectly fine… the armor however is blurry and washed out.  It also has the weird intro sequence where it places you in what used to be the cash shop hub of the game, before sending you to your first destination.  None of the cash shop vendors still exist, but that was effectively a player lobby that allowed groups to gather up, and it seems like there is no real way to get back there once you have started actually playing the game.  It definitely comes off as them quickly singlerplayer-izing what was designed to be a rudimentary MMO cash grab.

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The thing that cracks me up the most is the inclusion of the Korean warnings about play time.  After paying an hour you get the following message to pop up in the chat window “You have been playing for 1hour.  Excessive game play may affect your lifestyle.”  This is one of those loot pinata bosses that I talked about, and when you kill them you get a fountain of loot most of it blue or higher quality to come pouring out.  All of this aside the game was largely playable once you got past that forced intro section.  That is until I started encountering some more serious issues with the game.  Shortly after the hour mark I started encountering some massive slowdowns, and at first I thought maybe there was a memory leak in the client.  However upon restarting the game and getting into a fight the same things started happening again.  I think this might be an issue with one specific spell effect from a specific type of monster, which are the the demons that crawl around and then throw fireballs at you.  The moment one of these sends this spell effect in your direction my framerate bottomed out.  This is coming from me playing on an i7-5820k with a Geforce 1080 ti…  so more processing power than this game ever dreamed about having initially.  I finally had to stop playing last night because it was impossible to do anything…  because I kept hitting these framerate walls.

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Ultimately I still love Hellgate London and I happily played for about two hours until I encountered the issues.  I was hoping that the Steam release would have actually had some effort put into it, but unfortunately that is not the case.  The positive side is that right now it is selling for a little less than $10, so it isn’t like even with the three copies that I bought I am out a significant amount of money.   I am hoping that the modding community decides to fix these issues, because it is probably something as simple as the fact that the game inexplicably dropped Direct X 10 support and is only allowing Direct X 9 for some reason.  If you really want to play Hellgate London, you are still better off digging up an original copy…  installing Hellgate Revival and then using London 2038 to play on the multiplayer servers.  I have a feeling in the coming days I will be doing this thing again just to see how different the experience is.

I hope that HanbitSoft will patch the game to make the experience less frustrating, because I still would love to see the Seoul levels as well as the Hellgate Tokyo content that supposedly was added in to the game as well.  I am not however holding my breath that any of that is going to happen, and more than likely this was just a quick cash grab that I got suckered into by my love of this franchise, and the nostalgia of all that it could have been.  I’ve spent thirty bucks on dumber things, so in the end I will be just fine.

Shock to the System

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Yesterday I had the day off and I am sorta thankful for that.  It means that I missed driving in the first snow of the season.  It isn’t that the roads would have been slick or anything… it is just more a case of folks acting crazy in inclement weather.  As a result I stayed home and dealt with the air conditioning folks doing our winter maintenance checkup on the system.  I also spent a good deal of time playing various video games and also making a batch of Chicken Tikka Masala.  My wife unfortunately did not get the day off and as such I wanted something to warm up her belly when she got home.

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While waiting on the folks to get here, and while they were doing their thing… I played a lot of Diablo 3 on the Switch and have moved on into Act 2.  I like this port of the game quite a bit, but as I have talked about…  mobile gaming just doesn’t fit that cleanly into my life.  If I have access to my other machines I would probably rather play them…  and the switch is just heavy enough to be awkward to play while laying in bed.  However I heard last night that apparently the Switch version is what Tamrielo needed to really get into the game as he now has a Necromancer in its 60s… which is significantly higher than I think he has ever gotten a character before?  The controls feel good, but for someone who is super used to how things work on the PC… it is taking a lot of adjustment.  I equate it to someone reciting a poem you know in a foreign language…  you understand what they are saying but there is a lot of translation happening.

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As far as most of the day… I spent a good deal of time playing Path of Exile…  and I really need to figure out how to leave public channels.  I also decided to spend a little money with the game and bought one of the supporter packs that they are just about to phase out when the new expansion releases.  I figure at this point I have gotten enough joy out of the game that I really should pay something for it.  This gave me a bit of cash shop currency which I then used to get a better looking weapon and shield…  though I am wishing I had gone with something else for the shield because it does not match the outfit at all.  Basically my gameplay tends to revolve around Molten Strike, Blade Vortex and Leap…  everything else is largely superfluous and as such I am completely cool losing W as a keybind to give me back the move forward functionality I am used to in Diablo 3.  I flirted briefly with binding leap to spacebar, but ran into issues with the game needing a close all windows keybind to replace the spacebar I took.  Once I figure out a decent option for that I might go back to spacebar for leap since I prefer having a movement key bound there.

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As far as Monster Hunter World goes…  I am in an odd place where I need some Kirin+ items…  but for whatever reason do not have access to High Rank Kirin.  I spent a good chunk of the night trying various quests to try and whittle down whatever it takes to unlock the High Rank version of the fight, but failing miserably.  Essentially I need a couple materials to get the last of my layered armor pieces from the Kulve Taroth event… and I am not sure if I will still be able to do the turn-ins after the event or not.  I know that I can craft Kulve Armor without issue, and have gathered up more than enough mats to make a full set of that once I farm up the Elder Dragon gems.  I’ve been sitting at Hunter Rank 49 for awhile now, which means that I have to take down a Tempered Kirin.  Last night I made several attempts and while one came super close…  there is always the problem of someone fainting.  In this particular run it was me that failed…  but in others I managed to stay alive 100% of the time and someone else got the carts.  Ultimately I will get through this… but in reality I just want the parts from it and could care less about moving my Hunter Rank higher at this very moment.  Time to research what exactly I need to have already completed to unlock the needed High Rank hunt.

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There are so many games right now out that I’ve not had a chance to really devote much time to.  On the 16th another one gets added to that stack in the form of Let’s Go Eevee…  because Eevee is way cooler than Pikachu.  I need to figure out a better way to spend time with the switch because I have quite the backlog right now…  because I have not devoted anywhere near enough time to Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate or Starlink Battle for Atlas.  The only problem with Switch games is that they look like crap on my 4K setup upstairs, and they are not quite comfortable to play in bed.  So I need to figure out a happy middle ground where I feel comfortable playing the games and will also be willing to give up playing something on the PC.  Yes I realize these are the first worldiest of problems.

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Also in the extreme stack of games that need attention…  Fallout 76 launches I believe tonight?  Look when someone says Midnight I never quite know if they mean which specific night/morning.  I believe it launches tonight at Midnight EST, but when I popped in a moment ago to take screenshots the servers were up.  I am wondering if this was by accident, or if they are just going to let people trickle in that happen to try it.  Sadly I have work, but I can in fact verify that everything from my B.E.T.A. character is there and functional…   minus one turret that I placed on my base.  I am not sure if it got blown up, or if something glitched and it fell below the world or something.  Regardless Fallout 76 is either launching tonight… or has already launched and it will be tonight before I get to give it any attention.  I had a lot of fun with Kodra and Tam running amok, and now I am left with the decision of… do I play my already level 10 character from beta or do I roll something fresh.