Requiem for Kill Quests

Good morning you happy people in the wondrous digital frontier.  Today is yet another day marred by these horrible allergies.  I am so ready at this point for a hard rain or even a minor freeze to clear the crap out of the air.  I feel like I am having to deal with a full summers worth of allergies all within in few weeks.  Right now the ragweed count is off the charts, and this has always been one of my worst allergies.  Odd thing is… my wife has always gotten sick and lost her voice right after the start of the school year, but we never really figured out why.  Signs are pointing to ragweed induced hay fever, and so far treating it like that is seeming to work.  But the over the counter stuff we are using is making both of us massively drowsy…  but it is working well enough.

Cousin it’s your Cousin

 

The other day my friend Rae linked me this video… and it has been stuck in my head ever since.  I find myself constantly singing to myself “Niko it’s your cousin, why don’t you take me bowling”.  I had not been introduced to the Miracle of Sound before now…  I think maybe I had heard a few of the songs but they are all pretty amazing.  Essentially it is yet another ubiquitous YouTube star and similar to Malukah he writes songs almost exclusively based on video games.  Many cases he takes dialog from the game, and remixes them into really catch tunes.  One of the best tracks though is inspired by Game of Thrones called “Halfman’s Song”.  The guy is super talented and definitely worth watching more of the videos and subscribing to the channel in general.

Now comes the deep dark confession… that I have never played Grand Theft Auto IV.  So having played many of the games up to IV… I totally understand the type of character Niko’s cousin is… but I’ve never actually played the game or any of its expansions.  I played several of the others quite prolifically but the problem I run into each time is that the world feels dead to me.  Sure it is cool to roam around causing mayhem… but I always think it would be much more enjoyable if I could do it with friends.  I have this problem in a lot of games that feel like they SHOULD be MMOs.  While I adore the Elder Scrolls games… I have always longed to have friends with me in that world instead of more NPCs to interact with.

Lord of Ifrit

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One of the cool features of Final Fantasy XIV is that every bit of instanced content has automatic scaling built into it.  As a result it is super easy to tag along with friends when they reach points you have already finished.  For example yesterday there were a few friends who had not passed the “Bowl of Embers” trial that as I have said before acts as a roadblock from you getting to new content.  So they needed an additional dps, and I tagged along as my Dragoon.  The only negative is that it will cause you to lose any abilities you did not natively have at the level it scales you to.  So you will find yourself adjusting to playing in a fashion you may not be used to.

In the case of my dragoon… I lose the ever amazing jump ability, as well as the third part of my combo chain.  So I had to revert to the older playstyle of flanking to get the buff then switching to impulse drive backstabs.  I wish they had gone with the more common scaling down abilities option rather than the old style EQ2 lose abilities method.  So far it has not been nearly as game breaking as it was in EQ2… since you lost access to newer versions of spells… causing you to have to go rifling through your spell book to find the ones that WOULD world for the instance.

Additionally I tanked the three dungeon sequence of Sastasha, Tam-Tara Undercroft, and Copperbell as a Gladiator.  I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at just how differently tanking as a Gladiator feels to tanking as a Marauder.  It is a more strategic feeling combat, more slow paced and deliberate.  Whereas the Marauder feels like an all out rage fest as you try and get as many mobs as you can in your overpower cone.  I can definitely see some merits in the other tanking style, and at some point I figure I will finish leveling gladiator to 30, and conjurer to 15 so I can pick up the Paladin soul.  My big disappointment is that you cannot change classes in a dungeon.  My hope was that I would be able to switch back and forth between Paladin and Warrior based on the requirements of a given fight.

Requiem for Kill Quests

One of the other disappointments so far with Final Fantasy XIV is it has roughly half the number of quests I would like it to.  The best means of gaining experience seems to be doing normal quests for NPCs.  The problem is there are only enough of these quests in the world to really support leveling a single class.  As a result for my sub classes I am forced to much grindier methods… such as fates, leves, and the occasional guild dungeon run.  I feel like this is a growing problem in games as they are trying really hard not to do “Kill 10 Rats” quests.  For whatever reason… these are now out of vogue with the player base in general… and as a result game companies are trying to scrub their games of them.

Thing is… I love kill quests.  One of my favorite things in Dark Age of Camelot was the kill quest givers.  They would send you off to kill random mobs, only giving you the direction from them for guidance.  I wish modern games had an NPC like this called a Huntsmaster that literally just sent you out into the world to kill X number of mobs.  Thing is… I naturally have an extreme bloodlust when it comes to carnage in a game.  I like killing things, and my friend get annoyed with me at times because I can only go so long without engaging in combat.  So if we are running to a dungeon… there will be numerous stops along the way for me to randomly charge a mob.  Having a kill quest gives me a way to focus this bloodlust towards what feels like a larger purpose.

I realize that I am in the minority… and most players seem to want deep and meaningful story content in the form of quests.  While story quests are fine… I honestly don’t really like them that much.  As I am playing a game I am building a narrative in my head… that is often times at direct odds with the narrative that the game is trying to tell me.  So as a result when I enter one of these story quests… it forces me out of my own little world that I am building for myself… and into the world that the game designers have deemed for me to participate in.  Like I said… I realize I play games in a largely different way than most players do.  I think I have developed this reaction after having spent years doing kill, escort and fedex quests… and as a result I have started building storyline to make all of them important to me.

I guess at the end of the day, I hate that these short bursts of purpose are now out of vogue with the player base.  I liked them especially because there was a clear end in sight.  With so many story quests, you never really know how many actions you are committing to upon accepting the quest.  You could be accepting a quest that would be three short steps all within the same zone, or an epic sixty step quest that involves travel through half of the games content to complete.  Ultimately I guess I don’t like the not knowing how much of my time I just promised to an NPC.  I hate abandoning quests, but there are times where I just don’t have the patience to jump through that many hoops at a time.  As a result I have always favored the super simple kill X quests as a way of getting in and doing something that feels like it means something in short bursts.

Wrapping Up

Well time for me to wrap things up.  They are having cake for my grandmother back in my home town this afternoon, so I am trying to figure out if I can realistically commit to going or not.  Additionally today will be laundry day so I will be spending most of the day swapping out loads.  All of this while fighting the allergies and the strong desire to just go back to bed… is going to make a less than enjoyable day.  I hope you all have a much better day ahead of you, and I hope that the start of the week is relatively smooth.

Dragoon Get!

Good morning you happy people out in digital land.  The last two days have been pretty horrible, at least in the way that I have felt.  However at roughly 2:30 yesterday afternoon something “broke”, and I started feeling a bit better.  I shifted from being shivering and piling on as many blankets as I could find with no real appetite.. to being hot and having a ravenous appetite.  While my allergies are still going more or less haywire…  I think whatever bug I had has moved on and I will be well on the mend.  I am super thankful it is Friday however, as everything I seem to do just wears me out right now.

Dragoon Get!

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After getting level 30 on my marauder and switching over to Warrior, I immediately set my sights on catching up my lancer.  One of the key design flaws in this game appears to be a severe lack of quests.  Essentially there are enough quests for you to level ONE class, but each additionally class you want to push up has to grind their way through the content.  Every 5 levels you can get a class quest that will upgrade your weapon and armor, but essentially other than that you are on your own.  There are of course leve quests but they are not really that good experience wise, and you are limited on the total number of those you can do a day.  Right now the best and fastest way to level is to grind Fates.

Fates are essentially a cross between the events in Guild Wars 2 and the Rifts in Rift.  They are random and sometimes player kicked off events that spawn in a zone.  They have a time limit to complete the objective, and players are rewarded based on contribution.  Unlike some games this one seems to be entirely based on the unmodified threat table.  As a result healers and tanks seem to have an easier time getting “Gold” ranking than say a single target dps.  There are certain zones that have become hubs of sort for Fate running, and roaming groups ping pong around the zones picking up credit.

Fate Grinding

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This is essentially how I pushed from level 22 to 30 on my lancer, but running fate after fate.  Sure it was super repetitive… but there are a few advantages.  Firstly… Gil the currency is really hard to come by.  It is only awarded by doing quests, leves and fates.  There is no way to earn it from just killing random mobs.  As a result Fates become one of your best repeatable sources of money.  Additionally Fates reward grand company seals, which you can then use to upgrade your rank in your chosen grand company or buy some really nice gear upgrades.

After all my fate grinding I was able to bump my rank up several steps and buy a nice level 30 axe for my warrior and spear for my dragoon.. as well as a really amazing tanking hauberk that is pictured above.  Additionally there are certain fates that reward various nifty things from getting maximum contribution.  The fates are generally puns based on pop culture or songs… so the localization team had a lot of fun with them.  In Costa Del Sol there is a fate called “It’s Not Lupus” where you fight a boss named “Cancer”… which is a House reference… and if you get maximum contribution it gives you a little crab pet to follow you around.

Gold Sinks

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One of the things that really concerns me going forward with the long term health of the game is the huge number of gold sinks, and relative lack of ways to actually earn money.  Always in the past my defacto answer for needing money was just to go farm mobs until I got the amount of cash that I needed.  I have always loved mindless slaughter…  however in FFXIV it has lost some of its luster since npcs out in the world NEVER drop loot.  That is just not a thing this game does at all… essentially your only sources of loot are dungeon chests, leve chests, quests and occasionally fates.  This leaves you with relatively few opportunities for money making.

Other than grinding fates over and over… the next best way for money seems to be running Guildleave quests.  The oddity about these however is that you only earn 6 allowance a day.  Now these allowances stack up until you have 99 of them, but if you are using them as a way to get money or to gain experience you can burn through them really quickly.  While the game is amazingly fun, and I really love the freedom of the whole multiclass concept… I can see how very quickly we are going to enter a territory of currency micro management.

In theory I am guessing all of this is to make the crafting that much more valuable, and force players to create a market economy.  That is all well and good but right now I would far rather dump my materials on our most seasoned veteran crafter to push him up in ability… than to try and sell items on the auction house to regain some of my lost gil.  The market also is completely unreasonable at times.  Gear seems to be dirt cheap overall, since you can gain it in multiple places… and there is really no functional difference between quested and crafted drops.  However all the other things… are way out into the stratosphere as far as cost.  Lord help you if you want black dye for example.

I am hearing of level 50 characters needing start alts just to run through the quests to steal money from them.  That is going to be a sad activity if that ends up being the way MOST level 50s pay for their repair bills.  Right now that seems to be one of the bigger money sinks.  Everything has durability, and everything you do damages it somewhat.  Ultimately this is going to be the thing that pushes me to level a crafter, so that I can end up repairing my own gear.  There has been talk of adding in dailies and other ways to earn currency, but we will just have to see how heinous these end up being.  If they are similar to the leve quests, which give me a random chance at really nice gear upgrades… then I might be completely fine with them.

Back On Track

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Last night I finally got back to leveling my main class properly once more.  After dinging 30, getting the Warrior job I took a bit of a break from the main storyline to level a bunch of other things.  Right now I currently have 32 Warrior/Marauder, 30 Dragoon/Lancer, 22 Gladiator, 12 Pugilist, and 6 Thaumaturge.  As I said the other day I ran up the 12 Pugilist because it has some of the most powerful cross class abilities… namely the amazing “Second Wind” which equates to a free potion when used.  I seriously could not have passed the level 30 lancer quest if I did not have this ability… so far the toughest encounter I have faced in the game.

Leveling Lancer to 30 and picking up Dragoon was purely a “want to” not part of some broader scheme.  I have always loved Dragoons in the Final Fantasy universe.  There is just something about the jump command that mystifies me.  The ironic thing is… I dinged 30, finished the Dragoon quest… but have yet to actually fight anything and USE the jump command.  I immediately switched out my gear to my level 16 gladiator set and started leveling it.  My goal there was to hit 22, so that I could get the cross class ability “Provoke” which is literally one of the only snap aggro abilities in the game.  I figured this would greatly help me in the ultimate goal of my Warrior soul… tanking instances.

Essentially I am at a point where I have the low hanging fruit from both of the cross classes that feed into Warrior… namely Pugilist and Gladiator.  So I feel as though I finally have a full range of abilities at my disposal for being the best possible Warrior tank I can be.  Ultimately I will level my Gladiator at some point, because I would really like to have both a max level Warrior soul and a Paladin soul at my disposal.  Each of the tank classes functions vastly different, and I am sure there will be cases where either one will be far superior.  Normally I favor sword and board, but quite frankly… the weapons that gladiator gets look horrible for the most part… which is greatly destroying my enjoyment.

As of last night I am up to the next major dungeon in the storyline, Brayflox’s Longstop… so here is hoping we can get a group together tonight.  Quite frankly myself and the other tank have been the bottleneck in the ability to run dungeons.  The dps seem to always be far ahead of us in the quest line and they are waiting on us to catch up so we can tank the instances for them.  The only problem is… in order to effectively tank you need all of the sub abilities that feed into your class.  In both cases, myself and the other tank have been spending a lot of time picking up those sub class abilities.  Now that I finally have my set, I should be fine with mostly focusing on the main storyline from this point on.

Wrapping Up

Well it is once again that time, and I need to wrap up this post and get on with my morning.  I hope you all have a great weekend ahead of you.  For me I am hoping that I finish mending from whatever crap I have gotten, and that the allergens in the air die down a bit so I can live normally.  It is bad enough that my wife has even been bothered by her allergies… and she rarely if ever is.  Is it too much to ask for a cold snap so that everything will die out?

Once upon a Cleric

Morning all you people out in internet land.  For the second day in a row I feel absolutely miserable.  I think overall it is just a massive overload of allergies, but it has managed to go and piss off my asthma.  As a result I ended up at home about halfway through the day yesterday and have been juggling breathing treatments ever since.  I have yet to decide if I am going to attempt going in today, but right now it doesn’t seem likely.  I feel worse than I have felt in a long time.

Once upon a Cleric

Today’s post has been spurred on by a comment on twitter to yesterdays post.  Essentially a friend of mine said that they would make a healer out of me yet.  To which I replied… that few would believe but I actually started out my MMO gaming “career” as a healer.  The friend of course could not believe that… so I figured today I would regale you all with the tale of how I ended up being so damned tank centric.  We are going to have to step into the way back machine and go backwards through the years quite a bit to around 1982.

My mother was a high school teacher, and as a result I spent large amounts of time milling around the high school after hours as she finished up with her lessons.  There was a traditional at the end of school each year… that essentially anything left in the lockers by the end of the day was thrown away.  As a result the janitorial staff and by proxy us teacher kids got to rummage through whatever was left in the lockers.  Stuffed in the bottom of the locker I found the thing that would begin my descent into madness… an Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook.

From that point onwards I was obsessed with all things D&D and roleplaying, and I was especially hung up on the cleric class.  I loved the concept of a battle priest, fighting undead and wielding both weapon and holy spells.  This obsession was only further cemented when I read the novel “Pools of Radiance” and was introduced to the Tarl the Cleric of Tyr.  I loved the fact that he was just as good with a weapon as it was with turning undead.  I thought it was a cool concept and the idea was only furthered with the awesome images of battle priests in the Warhammer games.

Tiny Elvis

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Scan forward a decade and in 2000 I got hooked on Everquest by a friend of mine.  He introduced me to the whole mythos by having me play his second character on a Vox raid.  Pretty much the most epic way possible to get introduced into MMOs.  I pretty much went out the next day and picked up Everquest, the Kunark expansion and the newly released Scars of Velious.  When it came time to choose a class, there really was no option but a Dwarven Cleric of Brell.  I was completely enamored with the concept of battle priest fighting undead.  That concept lasted pretty well into my late 30s… when I began to realize that my life as a cleric was that of a heal bot.

The end game reality for a cleric was the Complete Heal rotation.  For those of you who are not familiar with this concept… essentially each cleric establishes an order and it is agreed upon before the fight.  Each of us then set up a macro that shouted “Casting CH – Ready Cleric #X” whereas the X was replaced by the correct priest in sequence.  When that cleric saw their number scroll by they were to count to 12 and then press their own macro.  Then return to a watching for their number to scroll by state.  The end result is that the tank received a complete heal every 3 seconds… instead of the normal 12 second cast time of the spell.

I have to say this made combat in the dungeons and raids and extremely boring and binary system.  Watch chat for your number, cast your heal, return to not paying attention until your cool down was up.  It was not until I dabbled with EQ1 a bit recently that I realized just how much downtime that game had.  You were still chained to the screen of sorts, but I can remember healers knitting, reading books, all just waiting on their complete heal rotation.  The thing that soured me on the experience however was not having any control over my own destiny.  I essentially followed someone else into a dungeon and was there until they determined it time to leave.  This experience has forever soured me towards healing in general.

The Celt

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The game we played after we fell out of love with EQ and the hours spent standing around doing nothing… was Dark Age of Camelot.  The above image is the very first incarnation of Belghast Sternblade.  The Celt Champion was a really amazing class, in that it had ranged spells to pull with, loads of debuffs and was equally proficient in the tank, off-tank and dps roles depending upon how it was specced.  Most of the time I tended to favor two handed weapons and served in a dps and offtank in a pinch role for the various excursions.  My friend juggled the roles of both main tank and main healer by dual boxing a Dwarven Warrior and a Celt Bard together. 

This is the point at which I should note that the bulk of my time playing DAoC was spent on Gaheris… the carebear server… largely because it gave us three whole realms worth of zones and dungeons to explore instead of the rather claustrophobic single realm setup.  Adding to this trio we had a Lurikeen enchanter that served as our primary dps.  It was amazing the amount of things we could pull off with the small group we had.  There were many times I had to offtank a mob just to spread out the damage enough to get through the fights.

When I started doing Keep and Dragon raids… I got drafted into the full tank role a few times and really enjoyed it.  This is essentially the game in which I got my first tastes of tanking.  I liked the taste… and ultimately ended up doing quite a bit more with our alliance.  As we moved on to other games I started favoring the hybrid/offtank role because it gave me soloing versatility and a key group dynamic that I could fill.  When we played City of Heroes, I was a blades/regen scrapper which in many ways was one of the more tanky classes in the game.  Once again a friend played the full bore earth tank, and I alternated between dps and off tanking as needed.

Bait and Switch

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This is Exeter, a tankadin… and my intended main when World of Warcraft released.  In beta the Paladin had been the ultimate synthesis of Battle Priest and Tank.  I had so much fun running around with my friend who was playing a nuking priest at the time.  My attacks would debuff the target against holy damage, and he would come in for the kill and demolish it.  It was like the perfect symbiotic match…  then Blizzard completely destroyed it at the 11th hour right before release by introducing the “Seal” system to replace the “Strike” system.   Over night Paladin went from being the most amazing thing I had played so far… to feeling absolutely awful and confused.

With release… I stuck to my guns and tried to make a Paladin work… and so long as I had friends to level with I was doing awesome.  Then tragedy struck… we had a death in the family, and I simply was not around for a few weeks.  When I came back all of my friends had long since leveled past me, and I found trying to solo on the paladin a thoroughly frustrating mess.  Since the one thing above all else Hunters were renown for was their soloing ability… I started playing Lodin.  I was able to catch up to my friends with surprising speed and I played a hunter just effective enough to not be a horrible strain on my party.

Hunter Happened

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I never really intended on playing Lodin as a main character… I just intended on using him as something to catch up to my friends… then later leveling Exeter on my own and returning to the intended role of Tankadin.  However one thing lead to another… and a good friend of mine ended up starting a raid, that needed hunters… and before I really realized what I was committing to, I was a half GiantStalker decked out raiding hunter.  The funniest and most ironic part is… that I ended up on the one class that had a cast rotation similar to the complete heal.  Once we entered Molten Core I got indoctrinated into the Tranquilize rotation.  Just like complete heal… hunters would set an order and we would then “tranq” the next enrage effect.

I had a lot of good times raiding with the Late Night Raiders, and I met a ton of people that have become permanent fixtures in my gaming life… but quite honestly I was never a good hunter.  I could pass as one, and I could sit around 3rd in damage when compared to our other hunters if I really pushed it… but I just did not care about the class the same way the others did.  My instinct was always to get up in the face of the mob and beat on it with something…  and I hated pet management above all things.  I managed to get Exeter to max level… but it ended up feeling just horrible.  At that point Paladins tanked with Seal of Rage… which was a glorious mess that never really worked at all for holding aggro.

Priest Enabler

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Around about this time a good friend of mine mentioned that she would like to level a healing priest, but didn’t really want to go through the grind that was leveling a healing priest.  I had been kicking around the notion of leveling a tank, but again leveling as a tank was a painful experience.  So as a result we decided to level my human warrior Belghast and her dwarven priest Finni together to make the process easier.  This was probably a bad thing… because it was the first moment that I realized how amazing priests are.  They enable me to make really bad decisions… like pulling ALL THE THINGS in an area and then living to tell the tale.

I loved this new play style of making everything hate me… then getting bailed out of my bad lifestyle choices by someone else.  The two characters shot up extremely quickly, and before I knew it I was tanking the unofficial raid nights for Late Night Raiders.  The problem is… the more I got into tanking… the more I hated playing Lodin.  The only problem… Lodin was geared… and there was no way to get as geared as the LNR tanks.  So I bided my time, continued getting tanking experience and “apprenticed” of sorts under the various really good warriors that we had in our raid.

One of the best things about an expansion… is it is a complete gear reset.  As a result I used the Burning Crusade expansion to be my springboard to ditch the hunter and move forward as a “real” tank.  From that point onwards I have essentially played nothing but tanks as main characters.  Be it my Warrior in Rift, or my Marauder/Warrior in Final Fantasy… I always gravitate towards tanking.  It took some time… but I finally found that one role that really suits me.  Which I guess in a way is why I am so passionate about tanks being a thing going forward.  It is a role I feel that I play fairly well.

Wrapping Up

So there you have it… the tale of how I went from being the most healery of healers to playing absolutely nothing but tanks.  I figured it was a tale worth telling, especially since there are folks that still have trouble thinking of me as ever playing anything but a tank.  The ironic thing is… there are a group of folks I raided with at the time that still think of me as Lodin the Hunter.  I was a really horrible hunter.  At this point… I am going to go crash on the sofa as I feel absolutely terrible.  I sincerely hope you are having a much better day than mine.

Support Belghast

Good morning all you happy people in digital land.  So far I am having another allergy ridden morning as I struggle to shake off my stupor.  Right now I just want to go back to sleep, but I know that is really not within the realm of possibility.  My lungs are pretty junked up this morning, so starting to wonder if I need to take a breathing treatment.  Here is hoping that by the time I have finished writing this post that things will have cleared up and I am feeling much better.  I kinda wish I had one of those cookies from the Matrix that makes everything feel “right as rain”.

Moment of Truth

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This morning is in essence the moment of truth for Squeenix.  Either players will be able to log in normally or at least within a few tries and get on with playing Final Fantasy XIV… or they will likely start to drop out of the game giving up.  Today’s maintenance has been sold as the cure to the problem in many ways.  If it ends up not being so… I am questioning just how much patience players will have.  I know my guild is getting to the point where our patience is worn extremely thin at this point.

I originally thought the title of this subject was going to be “Epic Letdown”.  Launching Final Fantasy XIV Realm Reborn was literally the first thing I did when I got upstairs.  I was greeted with the familiar 1017 shuffle as pictured above.  My immediate thoughts were “what the fuck”.  This has been such an up and down rollercoaster.  I feel like I have gone through the stages of grief with the outrage and the denial and finally I have arrived at the sad acceptance that they didn’t have a clue one what they were doing.

However I did a few quick searches and stumbled across this post.  Essentially it said that they were going to throttle logins immediately after the servers came back up… and in theory they have just now come back up.  Then over time this morning they will ratchet down the restrictions to make sure that the servers stay stable.  In essence that makes sense I suppose.  So shortly after this… I attempted to log in and got a 20 player queue and in within a few minutes.  Right now things seem tentatively “better”.  Time will tell as to whether or not the login lottery is gone… or if I am just seeing the effects of it being 6:30 in the morning. 

I want so hard to believe that things are back to normal, or at least back to Beta 3 normal…  because the recent norm has been pretty jacked up.  We have several people in the guild who are unable to purchase the game and get onto Cactuar, so here is hoping that in the coming days they are able to do so.  An encouraging sign was that apparently Squeenix gave Amazon the nod to go ahead and start offering digital sales and downloads yesterday afternoon.  That was the point at which I started to get extremely hopeful… because to me that meant they really felt this was the solution.  Here is hoping that it remains playable over the next few days as more players come online.

Support Belghast

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Last night was a pretty momentous occasion for our little guild over in Rift.  It was the first time since the founding a few months back that we had five level 60 players online at the same time… or quite honestly even in the guild period.  Over the last few days Fynralyl and Psynister hit 60 on their main characters, and within the last week or so Sylladora did as well.  They joined myself and Lukian who had been 60 for some time and simply been waiting for some more guildies to start up regular dungeon runs.  The only problem with this… is we have a bit of a strange group composition.

The five of us add up to be 2 warriors, 2 mages and a cleric.  Lukian had been working on a healing spec, so I knew we had that covered.  Either Psynister or I could tank… so that should be good… but I thought Psyn pretty much ONLY had a tank spec, and since he needs tanky gear for elites I figured it was best to have him in that role.  Fyn and Sylla would of course be dps… which left us missing one key role…  Support.  At the last minute I remembered that in Storm Legion, Beastmaster had turned into a support tree, so after a little bit of fiddling I reset one of my unused roles to be the default Trailblazer preset (Beastmaster/Tempest/Reaver) support build.

It took me a little bit to get a grasp on my hot bars and set up a few macros, but within 10 minutes we were ready to go with me queuing as a support role.  It turns out that the Beastmaster is essentially a big walking buff bot.  I bring with me 6 different group and raid buffs that do everything from increase our damage, to reduce our damage taken, to causing a small hot every time I do a finishing move.  Essentially I am a lot like an Everquest bard…  I make everyone in the party somehow better, but you don’t really notice it until you don’t have one.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at just how cool the re-skinned beastmaster cat pet looked.  The previous version was this ugly emaciated blue thing, so apparently with storm legion there was a massive improvement in the models.  I have to say playing it does not feel nearly as gratifying as playing a Bard… which was the only Rift support I have been used to.  The effects of my work are far less tangible.  I know that just me being in the party is reducing all damage taken by 5% and causing everyone to deal 5% more damage…  but you really don’t show up on the meters either in the damage or healing you do.

I need to do more research into the support warrior roles, and come up with potentially a better spec.  I went for this one namely because you could be semi effective at range with the addition of the tempest abilities.  Also I feel as though I really did not have much time to soak in the abilities before trying to create some haphazard hot bars.  It worked well enough however and we were able to get through the random normal 60 we queued for.  Sadly only one piece of gear was usable… and even it was for the wrong spec. However hopefully over the coming weeks we will get some folks good gear.

Wrapping Up

Somewhat of a low news morning for me, but I did ramble on at length about two things so I figure this is a good place to cut it off.  I need to finish getting ready and get on the road.  I still feel like death warmed over, and my lungs still feel like crap.  So much of me wants to just say fuck it and take a sick day… the only problem with that is I don’t really see any end to this until the weather gets colder.  It is like all the allergies are hitting at the same time.  Anyways.. hopefully all of you out in digital land are doing far better than I am… and that you are all having an amazing week.  I am resigned to telling myself that we are at the halfway point to the weekend.

Pugilism

Good morning you happy people in digital land… I am somewhat awake and once again sitting at the keyboard in the morning.  I know that over the holiday weekend I was a slacker and ended up logging late in the day for two days… but now it is time to return to reality and as such the morning posts begin once more.  All in all it was a pretty good Labor Day weekend, we ran out and did quite a few things and I managed to get in a decent amount of playtime in on various games.  I even managed to hit the suggested point in the NDA title, so I call the weekend as a whole a success.

Another Cool Find

Lego_Gungan_SubYesterday my wife went shopping with her mother and sister and I pretty much stuck around the house doing laundry, changing the ferret cage, and playing a lot of Final Fantasy.  Right now there is a lot of closeout going on at the various Wal-mart locations around us, and she said she would check the ones in Joplin if they ended up there.  I had honestly pretty much forgotten about it when I got a series of texts asking about various sets.  I still think it is so damned cool that she is more than willing to feed my addiction to all things Lego.

At the first store there were many sets that I already had, and one that I had picked up at our store… but in amongst the various heavily marked down boxes was a gem.  The Gungan Sub is a set I have thought was cool for some time, but it had an $80 pricetag that like all the bigger sets makes me not willing to pick them up.  However yesterday she found it for only $40 so it was a definite buy especially considering this one is another out of print set from 2012.

This apparently is a re-release of a model by the same name that came out in 1999 for the release of the Phantom Menace.  It looks like the model has been improved in every way, and in addition there is the first Queen Amidala minifig which is pretty sweet looking.  Of course in the travels my wife found lots of stuff for herself, including a bunch of scarves that were on clearance and a few tops.  It sounds like she had a good time hanging with her family, but I still think it is awesome that she thought to check the Legos and actually found some.

Pugilism

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Now that I managed to get to 30 on my main class and pick up the Warrior job I have backed down a bit from pushing through the levels.  One of the frustrations with specialization is that you can no longer access all of the cross class abilities.  So by switching into Warrior I lost access to all the nifty toys I had from my Lancer sub class.  As it stands currently, Warriors only have access to cross class abilities from the Gladiator and Pugilist classes.  Since there are quite a few good low hanging fruit in the Pugilism tree, I decided to swap over and run up a few levels there.

I have to say I enjoy the way pugilist feels.  In many ways it reminds me of the way the martial arts hero felt in City of Heroes.  You have lots of awesome kicks and punches and a really interesting combo system.  Basically how combos work in this game is that when you hit an ability, it will highlight the next ability in sequence… and if you press it you get some special added effect.  The problem is if you miss the second attack, it is a lost opportunity. 

With the Pugilist, each attack applies a short term buff to your character, and this buff is what controls the ability to proceed through to the next attack.  This means even if you fail to hit the target with the second attack, there is always a chance to pull out a second attempt at the attack and proceed down the combo tree.  Additionally they get a third step in their combo building process amazingly fast, within the first few levels.  This makes the class design feel extremely responsive early on in the leveling process.

Right now my goal is to hit level 12, which will give me access to a few really nice cross class abilities.  First we have Featherfoot, which increases evasion by 25% for 15 seconds.  Next we have Second Wind, that is a variable heal that builds off attack power.   Lastly we have Internal Release, which increases Critical Rate by 30% for 15 seconds.  I have heard that the Marauder ability Berserk which increases attack power by 50%, will greatly buff Second Wind.  While Berserk keeps you from using special attacks for 30 seconds after its duration… it could be a handy combo in a clutch situation where you are tanking and need a large heal NOW.

Primetime Patching

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At the point of posting about the prime time patch, I had not really don’t the time conversion myself.  Essentially the “Wednesday patch” is actually a Tuesday evening patch for the United States.  I feel as though a million oceanic players are reveling in the frustration saying “see what it feels like”.  The maintenance period is essentially 7 pm to 1 am central time, so pretty much encompasses the entire playable time period I would normally be in a game.  All will be forgiven if this fixes the issues and we can finally stop the “1017 shuffle”.

I heard an interesting theory about what is happening to the servers and why they cannot support any more players.  The theory states that it is not actually a problem with the individual shards themselves, but a problem with not having enough resources on the “instancing server”.  The game makes constant use of throwing players into instanced scenes in the game as you complete some of the games more epic quest moments.  This additionally is supposedly the same server that is used by every dungeon in the game.  The majority of player disconnects involve going into or coming out of an instanced area.

The theory further poses that it is this instance infrastructure that was just too small to support the current deluge of players.  This server was supposedly scaled for around 100,000 concurrent players, whereas we have well over that on a given basis.  This is also why in the final beta test, before they imposed the caps… the main issue at hand was the complete and total failure of the instance system halting players from progressing in their quests.  If this is in fact the case they may literally be able to throw servers at the problem…and after this maintenance all may be resolved.  I really hope this ends up the case…  because the game is far better than its shitty infrastructure shows.

Wrapping Up

Well it is time for me to take the trash out, feed the cats and get on the road.  I hope you have a great short week ahead of you.  My hope is that no real crisis arise and I can get some things knocked off my extremely long list.  More than likely tonight I will be back in Rift, as I am sure the guild thinks I have fallen off the face of the earth.  Looking forward to trying to get some more dungeons going this Wednesday for guild night.  Crossing my fingers that the maintenance fixes everything, and I will be able to play FFXIV at will, and not feel like I need to play it whenever I can actually connect to the game servers.

Warrior Get!

Good afternoon folks… I have been a horrible slacker this morning and am just now sitting down to blog.  Quite honestly… I feel like crap again… even more so than I did yesterday morning.  The allergy thing is kicking my ass… right now my lungs and head feel like they are full of concrete.  I rolled out of bed around 9 am and have been moping around the house since.  Essentially it feels like the seasons are all jacked up… this is the way I normally feel mid July.

State of FFXIV

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I am just starting off this post with a reminder… that the current state of Final Fantasy XIV Realm Reborn is bad.  The game is fully playable and really damned enjoyable if you can make it into game.  However at least once a night one of us gets essentially permanently locked out for the evening.  Making it through the login tries as shown above takes brute force and luck.  This weekend has honestly been far worse than anything since the last night of the head start.  The lobby server and JP and EU/US realm lists are taking a dump on a regular basis, so it is by sheer luck that any of us are making it in to play the game at all.

So once again… I highly suggest that you DO NOT BUY THE GAME YET.  Give it a month or so, right now Square seems to be working on fixing things… but they are doing so at a glacial pace.  Supposedly we will have a all realms maintenance on Wednesday to add resources to the servers.  The bad thing is that essentially it is happening during primetime for the United States.  I hope that this remedies some of the issues, but they could have done much better timing wise.  Considering like 90% of the players are in EU/US… timing it in a way as not to convenience the Japanese players only further cements my believe that Square in general could give zero shits about the US/EU player base as a whole.

I have heard through the blog and twitters verse that people are hunting from store to store trying to find a copy.  Seriously… save yourself the headache and wait until they restore digital sales.  We each have our preferred methods for getting through the login lottery.  Yesterday evening I set up my “spam 0 over and over” macro and used the time to clean my office and break down a few dozen Lego models into parts.  As I was finishing up and cleaning the top of my desk with a wet wipe I got through.  Others seem to try for 30 minutes and then go off and do something else.  Whatever the method is… you are far better just waiting until you don’t have to jump through the egregious hoops.

Bowl of Embers

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One of the big problems right now in the game is there are a large number of absolute bottlenecks that prevent you from moving forward.  The first of these is the “Bowl of Embers” quest line that leads to an instance.  I am going to try my damnedest not to spoil anything, because the instance is really damned cool and feels extremely epic.  However you have to do it with a well balanced 4 man group.  Once again we have the same problem in FFXIV as we have always had in the games leading up to this point.  DPS is simply more popular than Tanks and Healers, and since leveling a healer is fairly difficult… they are FAR rarer than tanks are.

As a result there are literally hundreds of players bottlenecked by not being able to get this quest completed.  The most jacked up thing about it is… you are offered no more quests ANYWHERE until you finish this one.  I got my way to the quest, and then continued leveling as I didn’t have a guild group handy.  I managed to push my way from 15 to 20 doing nothing but my hunting log quests and guildleaves.  I thought the game got super sparse never realizing that I was being held back by not having done the Bowl of Embers.

Upon completing this one quest… there were quests everywhere waiting on me.  One of my friends decided to take it upon himself to queue as a healer one night while we were all out questing.  One poor thaumaturgist had been waiting in the bowl area for 3 hours… not realizing she could leave the area and continue playing the game while queued.  So she had literally been just sitting there waiting on the queue to pop all that time… getting more and more frustrated as each hour passed.  So far this is the worst thing about the game play that there are roadblocks like this every so often that halt not just the main story… but ANY questing.

Warrior Get!

ffxiv 2013-09-02 13-11-58-90 My focus of late has been two fold… firstly to get to level 30 Marauder so I could do the Job Specialization quest and become a Warrior.  Secondly it has been to get far enough in the storyline to unlock the Haukke Manor dungeon.  That is another odd thing about this game… you can’t queue for a dungeon until you have unlocked it through the main storyline.  Essentially the other players have apparently had more playtime than me and the other tank.  So we have had a guild group just waiting to do Haukke Manor but no tank to do it.  A few players have risked pugging, but the vast majority of us really only care to group with guild members.

So as a result I have felt a certain internal pressure to level through the quest chain as fast as I could so I could start tanking this instance for people, as it appears to be another logjam in the storyline.  One of the weird things about taking a job is that you gain one really powerful effect upon getting it… but end up giving up your ability to cross class other than from two specific lines.  So essentially a Warrior can only gain cross class abilities from Gladiator and Pugilist.  This sucks a little bit because I had a really nice survival and slow ability from the Lancer line.

Right now my next plan is to focus on leveling my lancer for a bit, because I would really like to get it to 30 so that I can have a second job by picking up Dragoon.  That way I would have both a dps and tanking job that I could fall back on for alternate dungeoning.  The only negative is that while leveling the lancer I will essentially have to focus on running fates and guildleaves as I have already completed most of the quests available.  To some extent I wish there were a number of repeatable quests available that you could do regardless based on your current class.

Daedalus Returns

ffxiv 2013-09-02 13-35-56-37 Another really cool thing that happens at 30 is you unlock the ability to turn your riding chocobo into a battle companion.  Essentially they can take up the role of healer, dps or tank and become similar to the mercenaries in the Everquest games.  Of course you forfeit the ability to ride them as they are battling beside you, but it allows you to tackle more difficult encounters solo as you bring your own little duo along for the process.  They level as you fight with them, and you use this to purchase abilities.  Far as I can tell you can eventually teach them all of the three stances abilities.

Summoning them costs a Gysahl Green, which is the traditional Final Fantasy Chocobo food of choice.  I am going to have to figure out which vendor sells the greens so I can buy a big stack.  You get the first one as part of your quest chain.  So far my Chocobo only knows the first level heal, but I literally just got this ability before coming downstairs to force myself to blog.  The game really has so many little hooks that make you care about it.  It reminds me at times of Everquest 2 in the number of intricate systems it has behind the scenes that it takes awhile to find.  This game screams WoW clone at first viewing… but the more I get into it, the more rich it is.

Wrapping Up

Well I managed to bang out a blog post and keep my one post a day streak up.  Tomorrow I will be returning to the normal scheduled early morning posting.  Overall this extended weekend has been a really odd case.  I figure no one is likely waiting with baited breath to read my posts anyways.  More than likely folks will catch up on their RSS readers after the long holiday weekend.  I hope you all have had an excellent one, and I hope you keep my friend Sylladora in your thoughts.  I just found out she is having to put down her dog this weekend, and it is always extremely rough to lose a long companion like that.

Altoholic Cure

Good morning you happy people in digital land.  I am sitting here trying to wake up.  I kind of feel like death warmed over right now because my allergies are going into overdrive.  My throat just feels absolutely raw and no amount of Benadryl or anything else seems to make the allergic crap go away in full.  I had a pretty great day yesterday, and today I am looking at just milling around the house doing as little productive as possible.

Altoholic Cure

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One of the interesting things that FFXIV seems to have made me finally understand is that I am not in fact an altoholic.  Now if you look at the long history of me and games… you will see many screens that look like that filled with multiple max or at least high level characters.  In Rift for example I have a 60 warrior, 57 rogue, 51 cleric and multiple 20 something’s scattered out along multiple servers.  You would immediately think that I am in fact an altoholic… but recently a series of games have proved this otherwise.

One of the things that has proven the most tantalizing for me about The Secret World and now Final Fantasy XIV Realm Reborn is the fact that I can literally have one character and do everything in the game on it.  One of the frustrating things about playing alts for me has been that I did not always take everything I had acquired from one character and carry it forth into the next.  I hated the feeling of starting over on achievements and mounts and pets etc.  So when I started playing The Secret World, it was completely mind-blowing that I literally could have one character that could do anything at all in the game.

Multiple Roles

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I have come to realize that I don’t start alts because I necessarily care about playing another character.  This should have been clued in by the fact that in WoW every single human character tended to have the exact same appearance.  Belghast and Belgrave look exactly the same… minus the fact that Belgrave has the nifty Death Knight glowing eyes thing going on.  I end up starting new characters because I want to fiddle with new mechanics.  So much of the appeal of Rift to me has always been that I had up to 9 saved specs per character and could switch between them at will to fit my current mood.

Final Fantasy XIV is proving to be the ultimate distraction at the moment, because I can play every class and do every tradeskill on one character.  It is not only supported, it is in fact suggested because you open up the maximum number of possibilities with cross class actions by doing this.  To some extent it reminds me of the way Horizons was in the ability to freely switch between classes at will.  Horizons is one of those games that you either loved or you hated… and for me I mostly mourned the potential the game had.  My main character was a Reaver, which was an advanced class that required I believe 20 warrior and 15 spiritualist.  Then in addition to that I poured on 24 levels of Cleric so I could have some cross class healing, and 15 levels of Mage so I could have access to all the elemental weapon buffs.

The way the game worked is when you were playing another class, you could carry with you 1/2 of the levels worth of spells.  So at 24 cleric, I would use up through level 12 healing spells on any other class I chose to play.  This lead to some really open ended gameplay that I loved… I could build my own class of sorts by picking up the abilities that I liked best from each of the other classes.  Granted they gimped you slightly by doing this… making your xp gain go drastically slower based on your number of classes.  I did love however playing a character that was in essence a jack of all trades…  and not limited to only one specific role.  Post Horizons this has been a concept I have missed greatly, and what I believe has lead me to rolling tons of characters trying to reclaim that freedom.

Class Freedom

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One of the things that feels the coolest while playing Final Fantasy is that each of us have multiple roles that we are actively or semi-actively leveling.  For example my character is 27 Marauder, but I also have 18 Fencer, 16 Gladiator and 6 Thamaturgist.  Instead of running dungeons last night with our main spec we realized that we had a pretty solid group composition with our secondary specs.  So instead of tanking, I switched to dpsing as a fencer, and we had two arcanists that both served the role as part time dps and part time healer… letting someone who is traditional dps try out his tanky marauder.  We went back and re-experienced the lower level dungeons and had a blast doing it. 

The most awesome thing about this is… as you are tanking on your main spec… you can acquire those drops that would have been excellent for another class but would end up rotting on the ground of a dungeon somewhere.  This was always something that stuck in my craw as a tank.  I didn’t mind being needed in the specific role, but I always hated seeing gear that would have been awesome for an alt rotting on the corpses of bosses because no one in the instance needed it.  I always longed for a way to pass that gear along from my main down to an alt and see it go to good use.  I personally hate seeing gear sold or disenchanted… I love seeing it go to use regardless of WHO can use it.

So as a result… as I am playing my main spec I am picking up quest rewards that I can use later for various other classes in the game.  Likewise there is never a case where I don’t have access to my full compliment of mounts or pets or other cosmetic goodies.  All of this is why that Final Fantasy XIV is turning out to be way more compelling for me than I ever expected going into this.  Originally I thought this was mostly a game I would play occasionally because I had some friends playing it.  Instead I am finding a game that is so much better than it has any right to be based on the past track record Squaresoft’s MMO failures.

I find myself looking forward to each little milestone in the game, and likewise looking forward to switching weapons and leveling my little lower level classes.  When you switch roles, you have access to various cross class abilities from each.  So as a tank I can cherry pick all of the various survival abilities so that my Marauder has 4 “Oh Shit” buttons I can press in an instance.  Likewise as a DPS I can cherry pick abilities that will either increase my survival or increase my dps.  While you don’t have as much freedom as you did in Horizons, it still feels the same… that each of your classes is making every other class you play better in the process.

Wrapping Up

Well I had no clue I was going to write a love song for the class system in FFXIV before I started… but now that I did it makes sense.  That is the one aspect of the game that I find the stickiest so far.  It is making me really wish that I could have a Warrior, Cleric, Rogue and Mage all in the same character in Rift even if it meant having to pay for adding the additional classes.  Anyways I hope you all are having a great Sunday and that you have a great rest of the Labor Day weekend.

FFXIV a Week Later

Good morning folks… I find myself still slowly shaking off the effects of taking some Benadryl before going to bed last night.  My allergies have been killing me this week and as a result my throat is extremely raw from all the drainage.  I feel like we are getting a summers worth of allergens all at once.  The normal flow of things has been pretty messed up this year, for example we each night the windows are bombarded by junebugs…  this is something that should have occurred around my birthday in mid June.  Everything just seems to be happening later than normal.

A Week Later

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Thus far I have been pretty harsh in my postings about Final Fantasy XIV Realm Reborn.  The problem is… the infrastructure is still grossly inadequate, but the sad part about that is that the actual game itself is really good.  When you first see the game it feels as though you are playing a Japanese interpretation of World of Warcraft.  However the longer you play the more you realize it is a deeply nuanced game with a lot of really strong points going for it.  The game still has very strong WoW elements… but it also is a whole lot Final Fantasy XII with some Rift and GW2 mixed in for good measure.

The key system for me that makes it extremely enjoyable is the job system.  I’ve been a fan of this since I first encountered it playing a language hacked SNES rom of Final Fantasy V.  What this does in reality is make it so you have no real need for alts.  One single character can do literally every class in the game, and you are actually rewarded for doing this.  When you switch classes you can take with you certain cross-class abilities.  While these are rarely the signature attack of a given class, they do add quite a bit of flavor to your character.

Similarly the crafting system works much the same.  You can fall into a black hole of crafting if you allow yourself.  One of our guild members is I think trying to level every single craft profession.  They are all insidiously tied in a way that makes it extremely beneficial to be able to craft multiple types of things.  You will often encounter roadblocks where profession A requires you to have something from profession B and C.  The dirty secret is… that many of these items that you need are also available on a few vendors out in the world… so if you know where those are you have no real need to multi-craft.

Multi-Classed

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Currently my character is a 23 Maurader, 16 Gladiator, 15 Jouster and as of last night 6 Thaumaturge.  Yes you heard that right… I do in fact have a few levels of Thaumaturge… a finger wiggler.  The thing is every single class I have played has been fun.  The caster for example has a really cool mechanic that switched back and forth between elemental fire and frost attacks.  The fire attack gives you a buff that increases your damage output… but also increases the cost of your spells… whereas frost decreases damage output… but massively increases mana regeneration.  So in order to play effectively you have to switch back and forth between the two buffed states, and it gives you the ability to regenerate back your mana… but still be attacking.

Right now I have pretty much focused on playing Marauder and plan on transitioning it to Warrior when I get to 30… as Warrior is a mix of 30 Marauder and 15 Gladiator.  Eventually I plan on taking Lancer to 30 as well so I can pick up the Dragoon Job which requires 30 Lancer and 15 Marauder.  The thing is the cross class dynamic completely changes the way you think about your character.  For example I know at some point soon I am going to have to push Gladiator up to 22, because that will unlock provoke, one of the few snap aggro taunts in the game.  As I have been tanking quite a few instances… this will be a key ability for me to have in the long run.

Tanking

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Essentially for tanking early on you have two different flavors to choose from.  The Marauder is your big two hander wielding tank that ends up feeling a bit deathknighty… if you forced a DK to rely on nothing but Heart Strike cleaves to hold aggro.  The Marauder is extremely nuanced and there are a few buffs you want to juggle, but overall it is a very fluid feeling class.  On the other side you have the Gladiator, which is a more traditional sword and board tank.  It’s primary means of holding aggro is through flash, a spell that it casts that increases the threat of all targets surrounding it.  In order to support this ability the Gladiator is given an attack combo that ends up regenerating their mana in the process allowing them to keep flash up all through the fight.

At this point I have tanked six instances as Marauder, and I really like the feel of it.  I am starting to feel as thought I understand the mechanics extremely well.  Hopefully as guild members level up I will be able to swap it up and try some instances as Gladiator to get a feel for how I like the differences.  So far I naturally lean towards the Marauder since it has a big damned axe… and has a nice AOE cleave attack that is super useful when leveling out in the world.  However my suspicion is that later on the Gladiator/Paladin will have much higher overall defense and the ability to soak more damage.  Ultimately I plan on grabbing enough levels to pick up Paladin as well as something I can swap to when needed.

Dungeons

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The dungeons quite honestly are shockingly good.  I expected the standard theme park ride through a dungeon experience… but they are really intricate and nuanced.  Essentially so far it seems like there is a golden path that allows you to quickly progress through the dungeon.  However in each one I have encountered there are tons of optional things you can do… rooms that have no reason to ever enter other than for the chance as getting a bonus chest of loot.  Last night we were in a dungeon and there were pull chains every so often… each had a completely random chance of spawning some event…  or in an extremely rare case getting a chest of loot.  It took time… and the encounters that were spawned were fairly painful… but we ended up with 3 bonus chests by doing that.

Additionally the boss encounters are messaged extremely well.  So far we have done no real research on the dungeons we have encountered, but just by watching the way the mobs behave we have been able to figure out the key mechanic of most fights.  That is not to say there have not been the occasional item that completely wipes the group when we didn’t do something…  but in those cases it was really painfully obvious what we were supposed to do… we just were not paying attention.  The fights have a lot of things going on… are often times frenetic and rely on you to both tank mobs and allow your dps to burn the occasional add down unassisted.  Overall it is one of the best dungeon experiences I have had in several years.

Tragedy

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This game is extremely good… and I would honestly go so far as to say it is an amazing experience.  There is simply so much in the game that you do not see at face value.  So many deep systems supporting your gameplay experience that it takes awhile to get into.  The tragedy of all of this is… that even as good as the game is… it is still supported by a grossly inadequate infrastructure.  Yesterday Reinhart posted a translation of a letter on the Japanese forums that explains the problems.  Essentially they were not expecting the game to be the success it is… currently they have capacity for 218,000 players to be logged in at the same time.  From what I have heard they were initially only expecting to have 100,000 concurrent users.

Right now they have way more than this trying to play the game, and as a result we end up with all the technical problems we are dealing with.  I honestly believe they are trying their best to deal with the issues…  but I also believe that more than likely Squaresoft did not have the faith in this game than the really should have.  The first release was a complete disaster, and I feel as though they threw some money at it in hopes of turning into a modest profit generator…  but instead it has been way more popular than they ever could have imagined.  While I am happy they are exceeding their expectations…  it makes for an extremely frustrating experience.

I have had a Microsoft Sidewinder 4X keyboard for some time, and one of the nifty features it has is a bank of hardware macro keys.  Until the release of this game I had never actually configured them to do anything.  Now I have a key that presses the 0 button every 1.5 seconds…  this is essentially what I am reduced to if I ever hope to log into the game.  For those who do not know this… hitting 0 on the numpad is basically the equivalent of hidding X on a joystick… it is the continue to the next step key.  As a result you can log into the client by spamming 0… and with the constant world is full errors this is essentially how we get it… hit the hardware macro and fiddling around on phones or tablets until it lets us in.

Wait to Purchase

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My hope is that in the coming weeks they will resolve these issues and it will be smooth sailing ahead.  The problem is… the damage may have already been done.  In the United States we are going into the Labor Day weekend… and if the game is not fully playable over that break… then it will cause a ton of negative vibes among the US populace.  This game is extremely worth the purchase, and as much as I dislike saying this… is fully worth the monthly subscription fee.  However right now my advice to friends is to wait before purchasing it.  Sure you can probably go form store to store to find a copy of the game…  but you are ultimately just setting yourself up for frustration.

The gameplay experience is extremely good, which makes the inability to actually get into the game and play it all the more frustrating.  This combination of amazing game and total lack of infrastructure is what made me such a ball of directionless fury early in the week.  As a result if I can save anyone that frustration I would.  I feel like eventually things will settle down… be it a week from now or a month from now.  The game will still be an amazing experience at that point… so I highly suggest you just sit on your money and play something else in the meantime.  I promise the collective community with sound an “All Clear” sign when the game is ready for primetime.

Wrapping Up

Well I need to wrap this up and get on the road.  I have a project charter to knock out today, and I am trying to figure exactly where I will hide out while writing it.  The problem is that I get so many random questions throughout the day that it throws off my train of thought.  I am thinking about grabbing the small conference room on the floor we go to for laptop lunches.  I can hang out in there and compose freely without interruptions.  I hope you all have a great day and that it is the beginning of an amazing labor day weekend.  I will be involved in a big NDA protected event, so not sure how much gaming news I will have to report this weekend.

Lure Liquidation

Good morning you happy people in digital land, I am easing my way into cognizance this morning.  Last night I slept fairly well, but not as deeply as I had been recently.  The primary difference is I decided not to take a Tylenol pm last night and it seemed to still work.  Essentially I had hoped I was over whatever hump was causing me to wake up every few hours… and it seems to have been the case.  I really did not want my sleep patterns to become dependent on a drug… even if it was simply an over the counter one.

The Exodus

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The funny part about our Wednesday night “un-official” guild night… is that we never end up doing exactly what I had planned on doing in the first place.  Originally I had posted on Twitter and the guild forums that it was going to be a lure liquidation night… and while we did a lot of that we did not start the evening doing it.  I logged in around 6:30 or so and at that point we have only a  few people around.   After I had finished with my dinner I noticed we had 5 characters that were 50+ online.  So I started trying to put together something that would make a workable group make-up for a dungeon.

Lukian bravely specced his cleric into healer and worked on his setup for doing just that.  I on the other hand built a quick bard build and attempted to remember how to do that.  That left Psynister as our tank, and Fynralyl and Vernall to dps things down.  Initially we started the instance and then quickly realized that it was grey to all but one of us.  I thought maybe this would change after we actually started the fight it might change… but apparently Exodus of the Storm Queen uses old world logic for determining how something cons to players.

After the first boss we all left the instance… and manually mentored down in the 51-52 range.  This is really something Trion needs to fix.  You need to be able to queue with a mixed level guild group and it automagically mentors everyone down to the closest fit for a given dungeon.  This would really simplify the process of mixed level groups doing things together.  After manually mentoring… we realized that we had the deserter debuff… so one of us ran over to Iron Pine Peaks and manually zoned us into the instance.  Quite honestly… this process needs a lot of work.  It is awesome that it is viable… but it should be just a thing you click a button to do.

After the initial hiccups the instance went relatively smoothly… and we only had one wipe… namely because I could not really remember any of the boss fight strategies… or at least misremembered the wrong parts.  Granted not a single piece of viable gear dropped, but we got some useful rune crafting mats out of the process.  I had been wanting to run ANY form of a dungeon for weeks…  so this at least filled that niche.  It was fun and each of the players fell into their roll pretty naturally.  I figure I suck at barding… but there really isn’t much to do with barding now that codas refresh the cool down of motifs.

Lure Liquidation

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After the dungeon we noticed we had a few more people online, so we decided to start by opening some crafting rifts… since we each had a stockpile of grandmaster lures sitting unused.  Previously when Lukian and I had done this… it seemed like the best chance of crafting materials was when summoning them in the high end zones like Ashora or Infinity Steppes.  The only problem is… I was on my 56, Fyn and Psyn both 57 and Dethbridge that joined up with us 54.  None of us had any of the porticulums out in any of the zones.  However we had some ports relatively close to Ashora, so we set our sights there.  Lukian stepped afk to grab a bite to eat as we caravanned across Kingsward.

Deth was not with us yet, so when we got out to Ashora we dropped a guild banner to let him port his way out.  I have to say that is an extremely cool addition to the game… I just with the cool down was not quite so heinous.  An hour just really limits the usefulness especially when the guild is trying to bounce around the world and do something.  We opened the one Outfitter lure I had on my rogue, and quickly realized that one 60, a 56, 2 57s and a 54 was simply not enough dps to close level 60 crafting rifts and hit all the timers.  So after we got one phase away from completion… I decided to take one for the team and grab my warrior that is raid ready dps.

After this switch up the rifts closed extremely smoothly and we were able to burn through the crafting lures.  The only problem with Ashora is that this tends to be the place where everyone and their brother open rifts.  As a result the world was littered with abandoned Hunt rifts…  but we decided to go ahead and try a few of these as well.  With a 60 healer, 60 dps, 57 tank, 58 and 54 dps we we able to close them pretty effectively.  We had talked about doing some hunt rifts, so I was more than willing to latch onto someone elses effort.  I know hunt rifts spawn in the wild… but since every single one in Ashora seemed to be a hunt… I am figuring someone is spawning them with the hopes that someone else would come around and close them behind them.

I have to say this random running around and doing things together was exactly what I had needed after the recent days of frustration and anger over the generally botched state of the Final Fantasy XIV launch.  This was pure and simple fun, running around aimlessly as a group of guildies finding mayhem as it lay out in our path before us.  We got at least one ding out of the action, and I think our 54 got a large amount of xp from each of the 60 rifts we closed.  I know we each walked away with a fair stack of catalysts for crafting epicy goodness, and a bunch of random level 60 materials on top of that.  The hunts each provided quite a bit of Torvan Hunters rep and a decent number of infinity stones as well.

The Hive

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After a couple of hours of running around, Fyn decided it was time for bed for her… and as a result we broke up the rift running party.  Lukian asked if I had ever done the level 60 chronicle and I had not.  Since it was supposedly pretty fast I agreed to group up and knock it out.  I am extremely impressed with what I saw.  The previous chronicles had essentially been dumbed down version of the raid encounters to date… but this one appeared to be a unique beast of its own.  Essentially you are invading an architect hive… and the NPC you are helping out is pretty much my favorite in the entire Rift universe…  Atrophinius.  There are a couple of repeatable quests that you can perform for him, giving you writs of notoriety for your faction of choice.

The fights were all pretty simple, and while I died a few times out of a mix of not knowing the encounters and the trademark Belghast overzealousness…  we never actually wiped as a group.  The gear you get out of the chronicle is relatively nice, and it can be upgraded to essentially pre-elite blues at best.  It is a good way to get your feet wet and gear over the course of a handful of days.  Additionally it rewards a little bit of the elite dungeon currency for finishing each run… so you could eventually buy elite purples if you were diligent enough.  Essentially it seemed like there were three encounters and a bonus chest that spawned randomly in the zone.

It was a really fun and simple dungeon designed for two players.  The visuals were just amazing looking.. and there was an added mini-game in that they have hidden artifacts scattered throughout the dungeon… so while you are clearing the place you are constantly keeping your eyes peeled for them.  At least in our run, they seemed overly fond of hiding them in the various lighting fixtures of the dungeon.  I am not sure if I would do this as an every night thing… but I definitely enjoyed myself and would gladly run it again.

Wrapping Up

Like I said above… this was precisely the kind of night I needed to wash away all the frustration from previous nights.  Before starting up rift last night I decided to try logging into Final Fantasy XIV and encountered the World Full 1017 error for 15-20 minutes as I ate my dinner.  So while I was able to get in multiple times over my lunch break… it seems to have been mostly a fluke.  However my guildies are reporting that as a whole it is far easier to get logged in… or at least you only have to leg hump the login server for 30 minutes or so before you get access.  I do hope they get things sorted out… having a mostly unplayable game over the labor day weekend is a pretty massive sin.   Speaking of that… I have one of those NDA events going on… if you too have an NDA event going on this weekend let me know… it may very well be the same one and we can work towards a shared goal.  Anyways… enough cryptic talk aside… I hope you all have a great day.

Too Much Chaos

Good morning you happy people in digital land.  No its okay… I promise I won’t be grumpy, ranty Bel today.  Quite honestly my initial rage over the horrible infrastructure of Final Fantasy XIV is over for the most part.  I said many things in my anger yesterday, that I wish I could take back… namely had a few choice fights with friends.  Today’s post is my attempt at an apology.  Hopefully I will be able to mend whatever fences that berserker Belghast tore down in the process.

Dealing Poorly

Yesterday at the time I wrote my post, and subsequent posts I made on the Stalwart guild forums… I was a very pissed off Bel, filled with lots and lots of righteous indignation.  I had to vent out that anger in the only way I felt was safe to do it… with my words.  The problem is that has long lasting negative repercussions as well.  My words tend to have a lasting effect long after the anger that caused them has subsided.  So this morning while I am pretty chill about the whole situation… the reverberations of my anger are still bouncing around.

As a young adult I had issues with anger, namely because I didn’t feel like I really could express it.  I felt like I had so many expectations on the way I should act and behave,  so as a result I would keep packing down the frustration and rage somewhere beneath the surface.  I guess I had hoped that it would just fade away.  The problem is it never really did and there was a buffer of only so much crap I could take before it would all come spilling out in a torrent towards whoever was the last person who pissed me off.  The “last straw” never ended up being someone worthy of my rage… just the last unfortunate soul who ended up adding something to the stack.

Then all these frustrations would come spilling out in a pyroclastic blast targeting whoever happened to be in the way.  I remember there was an incident I am not proud of at all… where a friend had been picking on me about something… working a sore nerve over and over.  The kid was not a bad kid, nor did he really mean what he was saying… but it finally reached a point where it had built up over the course of a few days and I just snapped.  I ended up picking him up and next thing I knew I had thrown him down a flight of stairs.  Thank god he was okay…  but it was at that point I realized that I could actually hurt someone with my anger.

Too Much Chaos

Basically at that point I realized that I could no longer afford to keep packing the powder keg and holding in every little bit of anger… because when it finally exploded I really had no control over the direction the explosion would occur.  For the most part the idea of venting more often has worked for me… but at times there are just things that I can’t vent about.  So lately I have been packing the powder keg once more… and the accumulation of little frustrations and anger here and there that I just could not react to have been building.  While I don’t really think of myself as an extremely ordered person… I feel like I can only really handle so much uncertainty and chaos in my life.  I am good at dealing with small variations in my daily life… but for the most part I need the majority of my routine to remain unaltered.

The last month has been a combination of so many chaotic situations clashing at one time.  Firstly my work environment has been insane… until Monday morning we had 61 active projects divided up among 3 employees… myself included.  The bulk of these projects involve me juggling my time in a way so that I get just enough done… to keep from pissing any one business unit off.  Every single one of these projects is some business units “number one priority”… so quite honestly I take a lot of the chaos on myself to protect my team mates from it.  My thought has always been that if I could keep them focused on individual tasks… and me working on the random occurrences we could get more done than if all of us were being interrupted constantly.

Added to this… my home life has been a mess lately as well.  My wife is a school teacher, so the last month and a half has been entirely about the preparation for going back to school.  This involves accumulating materials, with our weight loss finding clothing, and finally all of the responsibilities of day to day living shifting back onto me.  She literally ends up working 80 hours per week once you factor in all the after hours work… so as a result during the school year I pick up the slack with household chores.  But each year there is a massive adjustment period as I try and deal with her being in a state of chaos as she gets used to going back to dealing with school work 24/7.

On top of this our weekends have been pure chaos lately as our neighbor… decided within two weeks to get married.  So my wife was pulled in a completely different direction just as the height of the back to school crap was starting, in trying to help out with the planning of that as well.  Additionally I got put in a position where I had to photograph my very first wedding.  All of which were things I just could not say no to.  Now that the wedding is over… the neighbors daughter has had to have emergency surgery… so the chaos continues on in helping deal with that.  I say neighbor but they are basically our family…  when I had the massive bleed out incident a few years back… she was the one that cleaned up the mess while I was in the emergency room.  Likewise any time anyone has ever gotten hurt… we have been the ones that got called and rushed to the hospital.

Finally… we have the Final Fantasy XIV launch.  With all the rest of this chaos in my life… I just could not take the one sanctuary I had left…  my gaming world to be thrown into a disarray as well.  So yesterday I blew up in a whole bunch of directions when I finally reached my peak of crap I could deal with at one time.  Quite honestly I think I made myself sick in the process… and after I had exploded out my rage…  I just felt woozy and sick to my stomach.  I had essentially done what I have tried not to do… I packed the powder keg and let it explode on its own.  All of the things I could not react to… because I had to be a “good guy” and take it in stride… just came pouring out and the failed game launch became my target.

After the Storm

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So as I said… this is my way of apologizing to the people I offended yesterday… and the ones that got in the path of my rage.  Since I spent the last two days complaining about the Final Fantasy XIV launch… I felt like there was a point that maybe I had not given enough time to.  The game itself is extremely good, when you can get into it and actually play.  Last night after much frustration, a group of players managed to make their way through the login lottery and we pulled together a dungeon group.  At a point in the main story arc, you are lead through the three level 15ish dungeons available to players:  Satasha, Tam-Tara Undercroft, and Copperbell.  This is going to be a point of content for some players… because the main storyline quest halts until you have run all three.

I had not been able to do any of the quests, and there were various other members of our party that were missing one or two of the later dungeons.  So as a result last night we just ran the entire quest chain back to back.  I have to say… I am surprised at just how well our group managed.  The marauder is a seemingly extremely capable tank.  Essentially I used a combination of overpower and the cross class gladiator flash skill to hold AOE aggro on multiple targets.  There were many cases where when pulls were timed correctly we could get single mobs, instead of chaining large groups.  The dungeon style was somewhere between Burning Crusade “Crowd Control Everything” and Wrath of the Lich king “AOE Roflstomp”.  Essentially they felt just about perfect.

Basically in each of the dungeons there was a golden path you could take..  that would get you from point A to point B the fastest… or there was a more indirect route that would lead you past a large number of treasure chests along the way.  We chose to take the more winding path and while most of the chests gave us potions or crafting materials… we did manage to get a few pieces of pink gear in the process.  The dungeon design as a whole felt extremely solid, and I look forward to seeing the later ones as the difficulty ramps up.  I hope soon to run the same three dungeons, but this time as gladiator to get a feel for which tanky class I like better.

Really Damned Good

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Basically the problem with FFXIV is that it really is amazingly good.  The game lands somewhere for me between World of Warcraft and Rift… in that you have a WoW like world… that happens to be filled with lots of random events and various event style quests that you can do.  Additionally everything scales downwards… and as a result you can continue to do all of these events as it will sync your level.  When we stepped into the dungeon last night… it synced us all down to level 15 without any player intervention.  The only negative about their system however is the fact that you actually lose abilities… rather than just scale them downwards.  Everquest 2 used to do this same thing… and it was extremely frustrating losing an ability that you had come to rely on.

It is that the gameplay is really great that makes the poor infrastructure at launch all that more of a tragedy.  I have teetered back and forth on the edge of whether or not I would be playing this long term for some time.  Ultimately I want to find a way to mix in playing this and playing Rift at the same time.  Tonight for certain I will be back in Rift, as there are lots of things I want to do there… and the worst part about playing FFXIV has been the absence of all my guildies from Rift.  I think tonight I either want to kill many rifts, or try and do a dungeon.  I have not tanked in Rift in ages… and I want to dust my spurs off and get back in the action there.

Anyways where I was going with this…  was that I hope my rants over the last few days do not permanently sour people against Final Fantasy XIV.  It is a really solid game if you can get past the infrastructure and just play it.  My only suggestion would be to wait until the server problems have worked themselves out in the next few weeks before taking the plunge yourself.  Since dungeons automatically scale, you will likely always be able to find support for the early dungeon running.  The world is amazingly populated despite all the issues logging in.  I think more than anything, they have had a far bigger response than anyone ever could have imagined from a re-launch of an originally failed game.

Wrapping Up

Well I need to get out the door and on the road.  Lots of crap to do today… and lots of issues that need to be dealt with.  I plan on playing Rift tonight, because quite frankly I miss it.  Now that the madness and the anger over not being able to play FFXIV has subsided, much of the “omg I have to log in” has as well.  I feel like I need a chill night of just piddling around in Telara.  I hope you all have a great day, and that this midpoint in the week goes smoothly.