Raubhangeddon Over

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Having a birthday on the internet is a really weird thing.  By the time I woke up yesterday morning in our hotel room I already had a flood of messages from folks.  I cannot put into words the warm fuzzies I got seeing that.  I attempted to keep up with thanking everyone individually but as we started roaming around Kansas City yesterday I completely lost track of where I was in the mix.  By the end of the day it was just a daunting task to try and sort out who I had thanked and who I had not.  By the time we made it home I was completely drained and crashed pretty hard.  So if I did not manage to thank you individually I apologize and please know that every single person meant the world to me.  As far as our trip… it was really enjoyable.  Once again we did our thing which is to hit every single Half Priced Books store in the metro, along with a few other stops like Micro Center and IKEA… all things we don’t have in Tulsa.  This is the second year in a row we have done this, and it was largely born out of the fact that getting my wife home after the AP reading turned into a very unpredictable experience.  Functionally when the shindig lets out they are trying to fly a surge of 4000 or so people out of a tiny little airport.  It is roughly a four hour drive from Tulsa to Kansas City with a bunch of variables that could speed it up or slow it down.  The first year she was doing the AP grading there, she ended up getting flown to Dallas and then having a long layover there so that it took roughly 8 hours for her to get home.  Admittedly…  me driving up to get her and driving back home is still 8 hours….  but at least by spending the night it is chopped up in a few segments and lets us go do some stuff in this case Saturday night and Sunday morning.  I always hate it when my birthday lands on Father’s Day because it also means everything is madness.  Micro Center is normally a fun experience, but in this case there were workers stationed every few feet and just walking around the store I wound up getting asked 8 times if they could help me.  I am not exactly sure why I find this so offensive…  but I wish there was a system where you could get a sticker from the first person you meet that says “leave me the fuck alone”.

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The other big happening of the weekend was the Stormblood launch, and in some ways it went really smoothly…  and in other ways it went tragically wrong.  Please note that I love Square Enix and the Final Fantasy XIV team… but you are going to get some salt from me on this post.  On Friday the head start began, which is an event only available to folks who had pre-ordered the game prior to a certain point.  This is really key because it is a fixed group of people, pulled from a known quantity of folks who plunked down money and purchased your game ahead of time.  In order to get into Headstart it means that you needed to register a code that was sent to you by Square Enix via email with the Mogstation.  Over the years there have been a number of events where the team has says that they just did not expect the numbers…  namely at the relaunch of A Realm Reborn and I at least partially gave them the benefit of the doubt in this statement.  However with the launch of a brand new expansion for a game with a known set of players… and a known set of preorders…  that should have given them a head start on trying to figure out how much server throughput they needed for the launch.  They failed this miserably and for all of Friday and all of Saturday…  everyone was stuck on the same quest that required the creation of a solo instance.  That means every player in a given Data Center is fighting for what is apparently a very limited number of slots available for running this quest.  The result was a mixture of reactions from the players…  and the creation of lines as folks attempted to go about this quest in an orderly fashion.  Final Fantasy XIV is literally the only place you would ever see this solution… and it didn’t take long even here before it broke down.  Granted the line concept was some superstitious nonsense given that you were not just competing against your fellow servermates…  but also everyone else in the Aether data center in my case.  So while Cactuar isn’t a massive server… it is large enough, but becomes completely drowned out by the size of the player base of Balmung and Gilgamesh which share the same server cluster.

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Yesterday during the day however at some point they put in a fix and remedied the situation, so last night in my sleepy state I attempted to move forward only to be claimed by sleep and a server disconnect in the middle of a lengthy cut scene.  This morning I popped in with every intent of taking a few screenshots and wound up playing for about an hour popping around and doing quests.  I am hoping we are through the worst of the launch, but I expect another influx of players on Tuesday when the game releases in stores.  Hopefully they have learned their lessons and have spare resources ready to stand up if they run into more problems.  In the era of virtualized servers, leased datacenter space, and all manner of licensing options…  it feels like there is little excuse not to have some resources waiting in the wings to stand up at the first sign of trouble.  I have a feeling there were a lot of design decisions on the infrastructure side that maybe don’t scale terribly well in modern computing terms.  The game is doing some odd things, like it came out during one of the E3 discussions that every time you move in the server… your entire player object is passed around including your inventory and armory chest as part of one huge object.  This came up when they talked about not wanting to expand out inventory space too much because it might crash the server in passing around too big of an object.  This just seems like a weird way of going about things, and one susceptible to memory hacks or at least rollbacks from crashes.  At this point I just need to play catch up because I have Free Company members that are already 66 or higher.

Tiny Wings

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This is likely going to be a super short post because reasons.  Last night was an interesting shift from my personal status quo because I guest hosted on the For the Lore podcast.  They were recording their yearly E3 multi-episode and for also reasons… @Samodean was forced to miss.  So as a result @ZenBuddhist pinged me over twitter to see if I was willing to join him and @LodurZJ as an alternate.  In the past I have always really enjoyed guesting on other podcasts in part because it lets me see how exactly everyone else is doing this recording thing.  AggroChat as a whole is largely done almost by accident, and it is sometimes nice to see how those who have a clear purpose actually piece together things.  It had also been entirely too long since I had done this sort of thing.  The only gotcha was their normal recording time is about 1 hour sooner than I could realistically get to the screen and settled in for the night.  Thankfully they pushed it back a little bit and I was able to join in.  Hopefully once again I did not make too much of an ass of myself.  I am not exactly sure what their release schedule is, because in truth the only release schedule I know is our own.  However in the near future you should be able to catch me on the first of a two part episode covering E3 2017 on the For the Lore site.

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In other news… Stormblood has officially begun…  or at least the head start for those who pre-purchased the game.  This expansion had some fairly sweeping changes, and when I first logged in it felt like my hotbars were on fire.  Many of the buttons that I had slotted were replaced by a shared pool of role specific abilities.  So that mean’t things like provoke and stun now exist in that shared tree from which I was able to slot 5 abilities in total.  This is ultimately going to lead to some interesting choices because unlike before with cross class abilities…  there were way more than five choices from that pool that I wanted access to.  I have a feeling we are going to be swapping up to attempt to tailor for specific fights.  For example I now seem to have an AOE taunt… which isn’t that important for leveling… but I could absolutely see needing that on specific fights or if you were taking over the add tank on a specific encounter.  For the most part Warrior feels the same with the big change being that we lost the 5 stack resource… that I never can remember the name of and instead get the beast gauge.  This swap has a bunch of positive benefits to the class as a whole.  For example there were many fights where I would need to hold back using Inner Beast for specific mechanics… but this meant there was the opportunity cost of being capped out at 5 stacks of the buff.  Now I have a gauge that goes from 10-100…  or functionally 10 stacks of my resource meaning that even while holding back an Inner Beast I can also keep building up at least one more attack in reserve.  The other amazing quality of life change is I am not sure if this meter actually decays over time…  I have been able to hold onto beast charges for way longer than I could have the equivalent stacks before.

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The negative of the launch so far is that the Duty instance system seems to be toast.  That means there is a point in the main story quest where you simply cannot proceed past.  The folks that habitually skip cut scenes seem to be far worse off because it seems to keep them in a bit of a locked state where they can’t interact with NPCs at all.  As a pretty rabid cut scene watcher… I did not have this problem but I did absolutely hit the wall already.  There are some that are raging against the machine in chat, and others that keep telling them to calm down.  There are of course new Jobs to work on and other things to occupy time until this gets fixed.  I am absolutely certain someone somewhere is having a really bad day and working as hard as they can to remedy this.  In truth we don’t even know if this is a development thing, but could instead be an infrastructure issue with the hosting environment.  Whatever the case…  folks are getting stalled out but that sort of goes hand in hand with the release of anything.  All in all I am happy that my character largely is going to make the transition without massive horrible feeling changes, and that we get to explore a new part of the world.  For the moment I am not bothering to glamour back my helm… and apparently have tiny floppy wings instead of bunny ears.

Readyish

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Some time ago I started a thing.  The first piece of information you need to understand this… is to know that Final Fantasy XIV for whatever reasons does not have an idle kick.  I remember this causing so much issue during the launch during, and them finally having to implement one.  However at some point they turned it back off and sometimes we abuse the hell out of it.  Kodra is notorious for staying logged into things… and Final Fantasy XIV is not exception.  I remember there have been times when he has stayed logged in in some hub like Mor Dhona for literal days.  One night he happened to be AFKing and I decided it would be funny to update the guild MOTD to say something to the effect of finding Free Company members AFK and taking awkward photos with them.  This was something that regularly happened in World of Warcraft, and most of the photos were questionable to say the least.  Sita however has decided to turn this into an art form and the photos just keep getting better.  As you can see..  I made the mistake of going afk right out in front of our guild house.  I had been alt tabbed doing other things and it wasn’t long before a number of photos of me and other people showed up on Sita’s twitter feed.

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You have to admit they are pretty great.  Sita has caught a bunch of Ashgar, Sol, and Kodra as well over time.  As far as Final Fantasy XIV goes…  we are now in the great outage that is preparing everything for the headstart launch of Stormblood.  In theory at 2 am PDT or 4 am my time on Friday the servers come back up… and we officially transition into 4.0.  Am I completely ready for this?  Truthfully no.  I feel like I have done very little to prepare for the launch of an expansion, but I did manage to mostly clear out my bags and also put a dent in some of the stuff that had been clogging my retainer.  The biggest problem right now is I don’t remember at all where the MSQ last left off.  If I had to guess… the Rising Stones in Mor Dhona since everything seems to take place there.  I am not nearly as pumped for this launch as I was for Heavensward, only because I have so many other things to distract me.  I am still spending a significant amount of time in World of Warcraft doing random stuff and enjoying myself.  I think part of my trepidation is that I know the moment I log in Friday, my character will have changed.  Warrior from all accounts is one of the least changed classes, but with Heavensward I knew that more or less I was only going to be adding tools to my kit rather than swapping for a slightly different kit.  Functionally those first few levels are largely going to be me getting accustomed to driving a new character, and I am hoping I pick it up quickly.

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I think the part I am looking forward to the most however is seeing all the faces show up and seeing the Free Company be a thriving hub once again.  That is the part of an MMO cycle that is the hardest to really put into words, is how awesome the launch of a new batch of content is.  Folks you might not have seen in months suddenly show up and are interested in doing stuff.  I’ve been in one of those cycles where I have simply not been around, and I am looking forward to digging in and getting involved in shenanigans.  That said I don’t really want to launch of Stormblood to stall any of the other things I have going on.  For example I still want to keep moving the whole RoboSquid thing forward and continuing to take down dungeons with minimal gear and level.  I am probably going to take a few weeks off of the Friday night thing in World of Warcraft, but ultimately I want to return to that as well because I still enjoy hanging out with that group of friends.  Then there is the huge backlist of things that I really need to play that are not MMO based. E3 had this weird effect of making me want to play games that are already out, more so than making me long for the games on the horizon.  Well that is other than Destiny 2…  I kinda want access to that now.  That said it will have released before I realize it.  The older you get the faster time seems to move and right now entire months evaporate before I realize it.  Stormblood seems like it was still off in the distance… and now instead it is launching tomorrow.

Turtles and Failknighting

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Over in Final Fantasy XIV they are having this Make it Rain event, which in truth is a really short quest that leads you to the Gold Saucer where all MGP winnings are increased by 50%.  For awhile now I had been closing in on the Adamantoise mount just by doing the weekly and daily cactpot options.  However last night the between the free 20,000 MGP you get for the quest and hitting a 1/2/3 combo for 15,000…  I finally pushed over the line and was able to purchase it.  Now I know Ashgar is holding out for Fenrir but for me… it was always about the turtle.  Since I was a little kid I have had a connection with them, largely because I grew up slightly out in the country and spend a good deal of time playing with random terrapins that wandered into the yard.  I am the sort of person who will swerve wildly to miss a turtle…  or honestly any animal for that matter.  What makes this mount even better however is that it can fly…  pending you are in a flyable zone and not sitting outside the free company house.  Add this to the pile of mounts that Lalafel look adorable on, and I figure I will be riding it in place of my standard Chocobo for the time being.

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After that I logged into Belgrok and started pushing towards 110 in World of Warcraft.  For the most part it took finishing up the back half of Stormheim, going back to Val’sharah and doing Bradenbrook…  and finally doing the first tiny bit of High Mountain for me to hit the level cap.  From there it was all about trying to get some gear from whatever quests that were available at the time.  In the most questionable of ideas…  Grace and I decided to take our freely 110 characters over to the invasion happening in Val’Sharah.  This is normally a perfectly reasonable idea, but on a low population server everything that is in the world becomes a little bit more difficult.  We were mostly doing okay until we reached the part where we had to do the scenario.  At which point we got queued with a super chill rogue who did not call us horrible at all…  even though we kinda were.  There was this epic fight at the top of the tower where the rogue solo’d down the boss there with an over abundance of skill.  He himself was pretty minimally geared, but was obviously far better at survival than either of us were and kept running away from the boss and using columns and such for line of sight…  just long enough for his self heal to be up before engaging again.  The yakkity sax madness largely continued when we got up to the final eyeball boss…  but all in all we managed to finish things up and get some gear in the process.

The unexpected thing about this low population server… is that it seems like someone had flooded the market with really cheap 835 plate armor.  I managed to get my item level up to 814, which hoping we have another night of some upgrades through world quests might actually see me able to get into heroics.  Right now I really need 2 rings, 2 trinkets and some shoulders…  because all of those slots are bringing down what would otherwise be a reasonable position to be in.  In the grand scheme of things the only reason why I want the ability to do heroics…  is that the queue times for those are generally far shorter than the queues for normals.  I am up to the point in the Order Hall campaign where I need to run a bunch more dungeons and I am not really looking forward to doing so with 45 minute queues per dungeon.  Whatever the case I am now in the phase where I begin gearing… which tends to be the phase that I enjoy an awful lot as everything is potentially an upgrade.  I need to go ahead and unlock the Broken Shore…  but the truth is that I am not sure I would even be able to survive out there.  A lot of my success with that area has been due to the fact that I am normally playing a grossly overpowered protection warrior.  I am sure it is going to be a miserable time as an extremely undergeared dps deathknight.  Side note I took the screenshot above before I reapplied my transmog just to show off what a mess that a freshly dinged 110 looks like.

Leave the Game Better

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Last night as I was winding down for the evening I ended up getting pulled into a discussion about positivity and the Warcraft community.  I’ve long been a proponent of doing whatever I can to try and make MMO gaming environments better for other players.  I am what I would  call a “world tank” meaning that I permanently run around in tanky stance while questing and often times go out of my way to “tank” things that don’t even matter to me.  If I am riding through a zone and I see a squishy player fighting a boss mob… then nine times out of ten I am going to hop off my mount and charge over to help out.  I don’t even care about factional boundaries here, and I am one of those players that is just as likely to help out the Horde as I am the Alliance when it comes to taking the threat onto myself and letting people kill their monsters in peace.  I’ve been graced with a class that simply cannot die under most circumstances… and I sort of feel like it is my duty to help other people out whenever I can.  I cannot count the number of times I have been doing a quest and had someone roll up late…  and then continued to pull packs of elites just to make sure they finished their quest.  They always seem sorta surprised when I send them a tell asking them “how many more” they need for the quest.  Growing up I was in scouting, and even managed to get my Eagle… and there was a rule of camping that went a little something like “leave the campsite in as good of condition if not better”.  I sort of have this same view towards MMOs or the world in general honestly…  if I can improve the world by my presence I am going to shoot for that.

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Prior to the launch of Legion, I had gotten used to some of the cultural norms in Final Fantasy XIV.  Namely people talk during dungeon runs… at least enough to give a friendly introduction at the beginning and at the end. In part this is because there is a system in place over there that allows you to give a single commendation each run, to whatever player for whatever criteria you feel fit the situation.  I give them out for all sorts of reasons…  glorious outfits, extremely competent dps, or just someone being jovial and friendly.  In part this friendly atmosphere exists… because they reward you being nice to other players, and will straight up ban you for talking about damage meters in game.  It creates this weird bubble where things don’t work there the way they work in any other MMO community.  Knowing this… with the launch of Legion and as we started queuing up for content… I started trying to apply the same logic the World of Warcraft and shockingly more often than not it worked.  Just breaking the ice at the beginning of a run with a “Hey Folks!” seemed to go an awfully long way in improving the experience as a whole.  I noticed my usual silent runs become perforated with discussion, as it was like one person saying something broke down whatever dam was there preventing conversation.

Another thing I have done this expansion cycle that seems to have helped my own attitude is that I am just not dissecting the game and tearing it apart like I used to.  I am trying really hard to just take things at face value, and more often than not completely ignore the patch note cycle until I am ready for something.  Sure this means I have not exactly been on top of the ball on a lot of things…  like Broken Shore, and have been doing things in a grossly inefficient manner.  However it also means that I am not exposing myself to a lot of external stimuli until I am actually ready to consume it.  More than this however…  I just haven’t shared my doubts publicly because I haven’t felt the need to.  A few weeks into the Nighthold raid cycle I disappeared from the game, and faded away quietly.  I just felt like I wasn’t enjoying myself nearly as much as I was when doing other things.  So I simply walked away and did other things for awhile.  There was a moment where I could make a clean break, and my raid had a tank to step in and take over for me.  In the past I would have felt the need to explain to my readers why I did this.  Instead I just left and eventually put some thoughts together in my big “regularly playing” post, but even that probably wasn’t needed other than I was catching up my sidebar…  which is already completely out of date again.  However because I didn’t really make a big deal about it… it was so much easier to just slide back into the game a few months later when the mood hit me again.

While it might sound odd, I think for me not writing about World of Warcraft and its failings…  helped me to feel better about the game for the long term.  It also kept some negative vibes out of the community.  Sure I currently have a laundry list of things that bug me about the game, but I have come to a point of acceptance that World of Warcraft will never actually be the “one true game” for me.  I know that I will keep venturing off to play other games because it is in my nature, and that it will still feel enjoyable to keep coming back and revisiting all of my friends in the WoW.  In part this is why I am so excited that Destiny 2 is now going to be entering this same realm.  For well over a decade I have cultivated a community in the Blizzard games, and it seems like it is going to be awesome to be able to take all of these people with me into another love of mine when it launches on the PC.  While I would love to see Blizzard as a company make an attempt to instill a positive attitude in its players by introducing systems that reward the good apples…  more than systems that punish the bad, I largely accept that it is going to be up to me and players like me to be the agent of change in the world.  I know we all keep returning to the MMO space to decompress from our days out in the real world… but there is nothing keeping us from being a little nicer to one another in our adopted second home.  Games tend to develop a culture of support or toxicity… and maybe I am naive but I feel like a game can change.  I feel like we can slowly erase the toxic nature that has developed over the years and put back in its place one that is largely supporting of others.  Now this doesn’t just apply to WoW, but is I think an admirable goal in any game you play.

Regularly Playing: May Edition

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I had a realization over the weekend as I stared at my sidebar…  that it has been a significant amount of time since I last did the regularly playing thing.  The last one I was able to find was on October 3rd of 2016…  some 210 days ago.  I may or may not have completely fallen off the wagon on this concept.  The original intent was to take a moment once a month to “true up” the side bar and shift out what I was no longer playing for what I was currently playing.  As a result we are going to see some significant moving and shaking in the list as a result.

To Those Remaining

Final Fantasy XIV

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I am still going fairly strongly in Final Fantasy XIV, and while I might not log in every night I am logging in multiple times a week.  I am definitely still making the Tuesday night raid thing, and while we don’t always make progress each week we get together to do something.  Thanks to the wonder of cross server grouping we have been able to pull in our friend Kelesti into some stuff as well.  Largely we are all in a big holding pattern until the release of Stormblood which comes in July, and as a result I am still in the middle of my “level everything” binge.  Right now my Machinist is just shy of 40, and that leaves Astrologian the only thing that has yet to be touched.  The whole purpose behind all of this madness is so that I can purge my vault of anything at minimum sub 30… and the grand hope is to sort through anything sub 50 and be extremely judicious in what I choose to keep.  Still having a lot of fun in Palace of the Dead, just have had other distractions of late.

To the Returning and New

Skyforge

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This is one of those games that has not graced my sidebar in a very very long time.  In July of 2015 I played quite a bit of the game around the time that it launched, and while I enjoyed it… it always felt like it was missing something.  Apparently October of last year an expansion released that added in pretty much all of the features that I am finding myself enjoying now.  Additionally the game just works better with a controller than it ever did with a keyboard and mouse and while I returned primarily on the PS4… I am also dipping my toes back into the PC experience as well.  Both are extremely fun and I am not entirely sure how long I will be splitting time before I officially pick one platform.  Whatever the case if you have ever played this game I highly suggest checking it out.  It has some issues… namely you are limited to three classes at the start with no clear path to add new ones.  However each of the classes is doing something somewhat unique which makes them more enjoyable than the standard Tank, Mage and Healer that they represent.

Star Wars the Old Republic

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There are two things that are shocking about this game gracing my list.  Firstly that apparently I never actually made a “now playing” widget for it, and secondly… that I am back playing it again.  I blame a sequence of nostalgic events happening at exactly the same time…  all of the hype about the next Star Wars movie, the love of Rogue One, and my deep enjoyment of Mass Effect Andromeda has lead to an upwelling of love for both Bioware and Star Wars.  As a result I have returned to an old mission, which is trying to level through all of the class stories.  I managed to finish off the Sith Sorcerer and am now through Hoth so far in the Imperial Agent.  It seems as though I picked one of the best storylines for last, and even though I am not traditionally a stealthy/shooty type class…  there is something extremely awesome about this one.  I largely went Sniper because my Smuggler on the other side of the fence is Sawbones/Healer.  I am having a blast right now, so I am going to ride the enjoyment until it lasts.  The goal is to push forward into the story I have not touched on my Jedi Knight main after finishing the Agent story…  which involves Shadow of Revan, Fallen Empire and Eternal Throne.

Horizon Zero Dawn

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I do not normally put many single player games on the regularly playing list, but we have this sequence of amazing ones being released in short order.  One of those is Horizon Zero Dawn, which is a game that I hit hard at launch… and then for whatever release lost momentum to Mass Effect Andromeda.  As a result I have been slowly playing it here and there as time and desire allows.  I could force myself through the story, but I want to play it when I want to play it… and that is right now involving the occasional hour long session of hunting giant robot dinosaurs rather than pushing forward the main story.  I am still very much enjoying the game, but I need to find some catalyst that really gets me back into it and dying to play the next chapter.  In the mean time however I am still enjoying the “bowplay” if I can coin that term.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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This is very much another “as desire hits me” sort of experience.  When the game came out I picked it up on the Wii U and in the time between then and now I have managed to pick up a switch effecting starting back at square one.  This stalled my progress a little bit but for the most part I have returned to where I left in the Wii U and am once again moving forward.  I have designs on starting to take this to work and playing a little over lunch and on break times.  While I have the switch I really have not done a lot of handheld play with it remaining largely docked upstairs so I can play it with the pro controller.  It is a great game and in spite of having a lot of things that frustrate me about the game… is yet another in a long list of titles contending for my game of the year bid.

To Those Departing

World of Warcraft

While I still have an active account, I am just not really playing at all.  I logged in shortly after the last patch and got bored and logged out again.  I fell off the raiding bandwagon about halfway through Nighthold, and honestly just sort of reached the point I have in so many other expansions.  I think in theory I could come back and play casually and enjoy the experience but there are just simply too many other things I would rather be playing right now.  So as a result this is going to find its way off my side bar, but I did have the forethought to simply comment it out rather than remove it because I am sure at some point around Blizzcon time I will get hit by the bug once more.

Rift

Much like with Nightmare Tide… I just failed to gain traction with the latest expansion the Starfall Prophecy.  A large part of my struggle with Rift is that I can never seem to find a warrior spec that I really like anymore.  What I ultimately want is a juggernaut for doing PVE/Leveling content that can burn through the mobs with nonexistent downtime.  If I ever find that spec again I will return to the game and happily finish up leveling.  The other huge struggle is that the game lacks a reliable current font of knowledge.  The forums in theory have a lot of the information but it is this blend of current information and ancient and no longer reliable, and I just lack the mental fortitude to sift through it.  I am hoping that after writing this… Muspel or PK will come to the rescue once again with a viable Warrior build like they have in the past.  The other huge challenge with Rift is the fact that none of my gaming infrastructure is playing the game, nor do any of my regular suspects have any interest in the game at this point.

Destiny

It hurts more than a little bit to be adding this game to this space on my list.  The truth is I am just not playing it right now and I don’t see that changing for the foreseeable future.  I have too many other games fighting for my attention, and while I absolutely know I will be returning with Destiny 2…  the amount of stuff that I can do solo or want to so solo is pretty limited.  At this point it feels like I would be working towards something that is ultimately going to disappear.  I also have a lot of questions because as it is right now… I am looking at making the leap to PC from PS4 for the second game… and I am not sure what if anything might transfer.

Guild Wars 2

Adding this one to the list really doesn’t take a lot of effort.  I was only into this game so long as some of my friends were actively playing it.  Once Tam and Ash and Kodra faded away… so did I.  It is still not my favorite game but I have developed a certain appreciation for it.  Most of what it is doing however isn’t really all that interesting to me.  I largely got to play along with my friends only because I had maxed out my Warrior soloing for ages without them.  He was geared and ready to go… and will still be there if it ever has a resurgence.  Much like Warframe this is a game that was not ultimately for me…  but somewhat enjoyable so long as I was playing with friends.

 

 

 

 

Twitter GOTY “Poll”

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Last night was a bit of a rough night, because we had a massive storm blow through.  A side effect of the storm was the fact that about 11:30 my wife woke up on the couch because something dripped on her foot.  In the middle of our living room, dripping from one of the beams was a slow trickle of water.  At that point there really isn’t much to do other than put down a towel and a bucket and hope it stops.  However that sort of ruined any thoughts of a really solid nights sleep.  This morning I had originally intended on writing about a rather hamfisted absurdist article that is making its way through my twitter circle, but in truth I am simply going to not deal with that today.  It reminded me of conversations that myself and Tamrielo have on a regular basis… but I also wanted to approach the topic with more grace than I probably have in me right now.  So instead I am going to answer a twitter poll in blog form.

While technically not a poll, it is definitely a thing that I thought looked interesting so this morning instead of tearing into discussions that I don’t really want to get into…  I started thinking back upon various years and trying to determine the games that mattered the most to me during that time.  Also I may or may not be applying a little “in retrospect” to a few of these choices, but that is also ultimately my prerogative.  I limited myself to only picking games released during a specific calendar year, but in many cases the true impact the game had happened much later.

2012:  The Secret World

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I really cannot say enough good about this game… from the perspective of someone just starting out playing it.  I’ve said an awful lot about this game over the years in three pages worth of blog posts… and probably some others that I failed to categorize correctly.  This often makes my “best games I am not playing” list whenever I compile one.  Functionally there are two vastly different game experiences…  the leveling game when you are digging through the story and trying to solve the mysteries of the world…  and the end game where you lose all creative freedom that you had while leveling.  The first game is phenomenal and something that I feel everyone should experience at least once.  The later…  is ultimately what caused us to quit and keeps me from reattaching to the game for any length of time.  However that said the ride is well worth it, and the game has some of the more interesting dungeons in MMOdom…  until you reach nightmare levels where everything sort of falls apart.  I am really looking forward to the re-release of the game under the Secret World Legends name… and hoping beyond hope that they can give me an experience to latch onto with both hands.

2013:  Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

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The impact this game has had on me and my friends is immeasurable.  Largely because it gave us a common ground in the form of an MMO experience that we all care about.  More than anything however it knows how to tell story in and interesting and serialized fashion, where the story arc from one expansion sets up the key players for the next.  This is also the only MMO that has ever sufficiently pulled off a surprise plot twist, and has done so many times…. and been willing to assault structures that I assumed were fixed and sacred to the game itself.  From August onwards in 2013…  my life pretty much belonged to Final Fantasy XIV until we slowly petered out when we ran out of things we were capable of doing.  However we came back and had a renaissance with the game that has continued to the present times with this still being the game we can all sort of agree on.

2014: Destiny

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This is another game that realized its ultimate impact on me long after the year it actually released in.  Destiny is a really important game to me for a whole lot of reasons.  Firstly it has amazing moment to moment gameplay and it is hands down the best feeling shooter I have ever played.  From the moment I heard about the world and the setting I was completely sold… and in truth this is the game that pushed me to buy my way into the current console generation.  I got my PS4 console the week the first PlayStation exclusive alpha was happening, and the little I played of it hooked me extremely hard on the concept.  Year one had a lot of problems, and I sort of picked at it like you might pick at the remains of a meal you know you are done with…  but just keep nibbling on.  I did return to paying regularly towards the tail end of the first year, so that I was primed and ready for the launch of The Taken King.  From Year Two on however I have been a dedicated acolyte of the world, and own it for both PS4 and Xbox One…  and am contemplating making the leap to PC version with the launch of Destiny 2.  The game still has some narrative problems, but it does not stop me one bit from enjoying it.

2015: Fallout 4

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I love Fallout as a franchise.  I still remember saving up the cash to buy the first one when we were in college, and I was completely hooked.  I am not old school enough to remember Wasteland fondly, but I have always been a fan of the whole post apocalyptic nukepunk genre.  So while I am listing this as my game for 2015…  it is a hype cycle that began long before and continues long after.  This is still the game I boot up when I am in a specific mood.  Similarly I have played Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas countless times, and Fallout 4 simply replaces those in succession.  This game is proof to me at least that I care far more about systems, and gameplay…  than I really do about the main narrative in a game.  In fact the only reason why I probably beat this game is because we chose this as our November/December AggroChat game club game for the tail end of 2015.  I would probably still be avoiding the main story… and still off on my own having adventures in my head….  which is in truth my preferred method of playing a game.  Just talking about the game has given me this huge urge to boot it up…  right now…  which would be a horrible idea considering I have to go to work.

2016: World of Warcraft: Legion

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I have to give a lot of credit here to World of Warcraft and the rebirth of the game that happened with the launch of the Legion expansion.  They took a game I thought I no longer really cared about, and was legitimately done caring about…. and turned it into an experience that I rabidly played.  I even managed to return to raiding and didn’t check out this time until we were a few bosses into Nighthold…  which is in truth way longer than I lasted in Draenor.  I’ve reached this point where I am not really playing the game or following it now… but the transformation that took place should nonetheless be honored.  They tried a whole bunch of new ideas that they admittedly borrowed from other games… but wove it together in a fashion that felt new and fresh.  Similarly I feel like it has to be said that they have done and continue to do a great job of managing patch cycles.  They finally broke the “three and done” mold that had happened with Pandaria and Draenor and by all accounts are still releasing interesting content.  I know at some point I will return and at the very least finish out the Legion flight meta achievement, but for the time being I am simply not forcing myself to play a game I am not super into.  Legion however is probably going to go down in history for me as their best expansion…  toppling what was previously my current favorite Wrath of the Lich King.

 

So now that I have given you mine… what are yours?  Feel free to post them in the comments section here… or join in the twitter poll.  I am curious to hear everyone’s thoughts.

 

 

 

 

Pretentious Magitek

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This morning my cats are being little butts.  The normally sweet one is prancing back and forth on the keyboard… and the one that is normally a butt just wants me to keep flinging a rubber band for her to chase.  None of this is really conducive to sitting down and writing a proper blog post.  The sweet one has now taken to sitting on the cabinet to the left of the computer and staring…  occasionally meowing.  She is likely afraid that she will waste away to nothingness in the time it takes me to write a post, and believes that I really should stop doing whatever it is humans do and go feed her.  On top of this I am having some hardware issues…  with a box that is not connected to this one but it is frustrating me to the point where I am constantly reaching over to the other keyboard and fiddling with stuff.  This also is not super great for writing a fully functional blog post.  However I still need to somehow push forward and come up with some form of brilliance…  even if that is dollar store brilliance that is on clearance for only 50 cents.

Last night I did not really do much in the way of gaming.  I finally finished watching the last episode of Iron Fist, and while doing so I worked on my baby machinist.  I managed to get back over the 60 barrier and turned my weapon red in the Palace of the Dead…  which makes no difference when it comes to the speed of leveling but feels like it does significantly for your ability to burn things down quickly.  I hit a string of parties with a tank and three dps…. and all things considered they tend to go pretty smoothly.  The only rough spots are when the group decides to fan out and split down different pathways.  In theory this is not a horrible way to approach the dungeon as a whole, but if anyone ends up pulling a mimic it is a certainty that someone will get pox.  As I have spent more time in the dungeon, my focus has shifted to trying to avoid pox at all costs…  at least until we have a pomander of purity waiting to be used.  Most of my wipes in Palace of the Dead have revolved around a bad pull combined with folks having pox.  The absolute worst moments are when a tank attempts to tank….  without having a healer.  I mean I get it… as a tank our instinct is to run in and gather everything up.  However that is just not really a viable option for running Palace of the Dead unless you have a pocket healer going in there with you.

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Another thing that has happened that I have not really talked about is that I crossed the 500 commendation barrier and now have my giant pretentious golden magitek armor.  I admit I was a little disappointed when I found out that the tune it plays is exactly the same as the normal magitek armor.  The weird thing about the commendation system is that it pushes me to be friendly even if I am not really feeling like doing so.  I tend to open every dungeon with a “hey folks” and close every dungeon with something along the lines of “thanks for the run, have a good one”.  I am not sure if this matters but I usually can at least steal a single commendation from each run.  Now my friends who random queue more often have been at the 500 mark for a very long time…  I largely pushed through the last 150 or so while dungeon the deep dungeon.  It feels like “strategic niceness” is a thing, and I feel sorta dirty admitting that sometimes I am just doing it for the sweet sweet comms.  The only problem is… even after having gotten the mount I am still keeping up the practice.  I think at some point it just began to feel normal to greet people when you join a dungeon and thank them when you finish…  so while this largely started out as a way to leech commendations from folks it has apparently become a ritual now for me.  This in part is why I wish other games would implement something like the commendations system.  I’ve noticed that while a lot of groups are completely silent…  that practice of the greeting at the beginning breaks the ice enough to get people discussing things if we run into problems.  Folks seem far less likely to sit on a mimic chest and try and solo it down for example, when they have talked at the start of a run.  It is like the act of a simple greeting makes it perfectly okay to say other things later, and while I tend to zone out…  it is nice to have the occasional line of dialog flying by in party.

Chasing Aloy

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It feels odd that it is Wednesday and I am just now getting around to writing one of my traditional “mixed bag” sort of posts.  Those are generally a Monday thing given that I have a bunch of gaming time to talk about in general, and almost always it is a shotgun blast across a bunch of different games.  However Monday was the anniversary post, and yesterday I wanted to write up my final thoughts upon beating Andromeda… so finally we are where we are writing about the assorted debris of the weekend.  If you had talked to me last week, you would have seen someone who was excited to be finishing up Andromeda so I could move back to Horizon Zero Dawn as my primary game.  While I have played it a few times…  that hasn’t really been what happened because for whatever reason I am having a bit of trouble easing back into the game.  Essentially it feels like the skills I had developed early on are painfully rusty, and the section of the game I am in doesn’t have nearly as much call to purpose so I feel a little bit like I am either stuck in “roam around aimlessly and kill zoids” mode, or trying to force my way through the few story quests I have.  The last town I reached gave me a slew of side quests, so in theory I will probably spend some time doing those to try and get myself reacquainted with the game.  The frustrating part about this is I do not want to be bouncing off of it… but for whatever case it just hasn’t quite fit my mood.  Maybe coming off Mass Effect Andromeda… I just sort of need to play a vastly different kind of game.

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The game I am playing a truly shocking amount of instead is Skyforge.  Pretty much every night I am at least getting in long enough to run a few missions.  Right now I find the bite sized gameplay appealing because there is no massive overarching commitment.  I can pop in for a few minutes and play a little bit, while feeling like I had a meaningful experience.  I had talked the game up to some of my friends and was super saddened to find out that apparently the female models are a boob jiggle mess.  I mean I knew that was a thing among the South Korean developers… but I didn’t know it was a Russian thing as well.  The other big problem with the game is that you ultimately have a long list of interesting classes….  but no easy way to access them.  You functionally have to start the game as a Paladin, a Smite Nuking Healer, or a Ice Mage… and then work your way to whatever class seemed interesting.  For me this was just perfectly fine given that I really like the Paladin as a class, and ultimately will probably always play it as my main in the game.  However I have a lot of friends who were interested in other classes but are never going to make it through the grind to ultimately get there.  I am shocked that you cannot simply buy your way to freedom in the game and unlock whatever class you really wanted to play…  or better yet allow characters to pick any single class to start with.  I mean the game has some really interesting classes like an Alchemist, the Kinetic, or Gunner…  so there is a lot of interesting stuff going on but unfortunately if you don’t like tank, mage and healer… you are going to bounce super hard before you get there.

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Finally I have been still popping my head into Final Fantasy XIV on a regular basis and working on my overarching mission…  which is to get all of the classes to at least 50 before the release of Stormblood.  I’ve set 50 as the goal because it allows me to jettison the bulk of the leveling gear from my bank vault, and reaching that level seems completely reasonable with Palace of the Dead.  Over the weekend I managed to push the Monk to 50, and am now sporting the full set of Allagan look-a-like gear that I have been picking up through the dank dungeon.  I like the set quite a bit because it is one of the few “armored” looking sets that you can get for a monk.  We had this lengthy discussion the other day about how we each favor different styles, and for me… it needs to be symmetrical and heavily armored to really make me perfectly happy.  What is left on the leveling track is Machinist and Astrologian… neither of which I had even trained in.  I picked up the Machinist from Ishgard and almost immediately hopped back into the Palace of the Dead rather than doing any of the actual class quests.  I have to mention that it was a bit of a chore to sort out what all abilities I should actually be using with that class… and how it functions.  However once getting used to it, I have to say I like it quite a bit.  It is gimmicky and RNG gated…  and I still have no clue if I am actually playing it correctly…  but for casual dungeon running it seems like a lot of fun.

Mechanics Defeated

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Last night did not ultimately end up like I thought it would, for many reasons.  Firstly this weekend we had a death in the family…  but man is it harder to explain than that.  When you grow up in a small town, families that are connected to each other through a marriage end up mingling an awful lot.  Because of kids birthday parties and school events, you are constantly encountering this whole other family that is not actually related to you.  So when I say a death in the family, it was not actually my or my wife’s family, but instead the father of a brother in law in wife’s side.  So when it happened we made a trip up to Friday night to attempt to offer support, and do our normal thing of bringing paper goods since during a death in the family a household goes through way more of everything.  The funeral itself is today, and because of the weird familial restrictions of bereavement leave policy I don’t get a day off.  Last night was the viewing, which is sort of like a wake but not actually a wake…  and I did not think we were going to go.  However when I got off from work my wife indicated that we probably should at least make a showing.  I thought this largely meant that I would be gone from our normal Tuesday night FFXIV shenanigans.  It was roughly an hour drive either direction, and then by the time we went to the event and ate dinner I fully expected to be about an hour late for fun time.

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However we opted to pick up some food and eat it while travelling… I would explain what we got but it probably would not make sense to anyone who did not grow up in a tiny town.  I also apparently drove like a bat out of hell, because I made it home and was only about fifteen minutes late… with folks still trying to pull the group together.  With me it meant we had seven people available to do stuff…  and in some quirk of bravado we decided to pug that 8th layer and keep working on “Mechanics: The Fight” or Thordan Ex.  We got a Dragoon that said they had run the fight on a healer before… and we proceeded to start attempting to make progress.  A few seconds into the fight and the Dragoon was already dead.  During that first attempt I think they were rezzed four different times… and more than likely through the entire sequence of the attempts averaged around three deaths per outing.  As if summoned by our tears…  Kodra showed up and we rejoiced and disbanded our party finder group to bring him in.  The hilarious part about this is that we all started talking about how much we had gotten used to having a good Dragoon.  Then a few seconds into the first attempt…  Kodra died in EXACTLY the same manner as our pug dragoon.

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We rebounding from this and started making proper attempts.  The night was mildly stressful because we once again had a slightly different line up than normal.  Muspel was filling one of the slots, and his only level 60 and geared character is his warrior.  That mean’t Ashgar was not tanking along side me and instead running DPS on his monk.  This is not normally a big deal other than the fact that every attempt I have been in the offtank role, and last night was my first night actually tanking the main boss.  It took some adjustment, namely during the dragons eye phase to know that I had to actually step through the boss to make sure I was clear of the effect.  Similarly there was a dance of times I needed to stack up… and then hurriedly run the hell out before he cast a frontal cleave.  I am pretty sure I killed someone at least once during one of these interchanges, or when having to run across the Arena to place to boss so that the dragon eye and boss were in the same orientation.  However on what would have been our last attempt due to the timer, we brought all of these elements together and managed to get our very first Thordan Ex kill.  Now to move on to the Warring Triad Extremes, but hopefully we can keep popping Thordan each week so we don’t actually forget the dance.