Wildstar Woes

Crack Dealer

So my reputation as a gaming crack dealer is intact, as I spent part of yesterday teaching another gamer to play Magic: The Gathering.  I guess it is fitting that we taught him at a Math Conference, considering it was invented by a mathematician.  In my defense this time, the attendee asked for someone to tutor him in the ways of planeswalking, and considering I was not actually attending sessions but instead just waiting around to be needed, I volunteered.  We met yesterday morning at 9:30 in the third floor commons area and I brought my patented “box o’ decks”.  @Jay2thaVee was a complete rookie to the concepts of magic and had not purchased any decks.  Thankfully I had left a few of the various $14 starters I have picked up in their original states, as those are pretty much the easiest way to learn.

Unfortunately I take “devotion to black” seriously, and every single deck in my box save for one had black somehow mixed into it.  He played a white/black nyx prebuilt, and I was playing a black/blue theros prebuilt.  Basically for the first game I played with my hand on the table, so he could see what exactly I was doing and when I was doing it.  Additionally every so often when he seemed to lack a play I would nudge him a little bit to explain how the cards in his hand might be useful.  By the time we got around to the second match he was up and running and ready to kick ass… and in fact he did just that.  The second match was excellent in that it showed just how quickly fate can change with the play of the right cards.  We both had cards in play that helped us soak back up some health in each upkeep so for a long time we were in a bit of a stalemate as I could only do as little more damage than he could heal up each round.

Thanks to an artifact that gave all of my creatures lifelink I was able to soak up quite a bit of health during this long drawn out stalemate.  At this point I was starting to get a creature advantage on him as well as a health advantage.  Then with a single play he rocked my world.  Granted I had to explain how good the card he held in his hand was, and why he should play it… but when he plunked down Banishing Light.  Now I must have been extremely tired or something, but I completely misread the card yesterday when we were playing.  It says banish “target” and for some reason I read that as “all” non-land permanents.  So I played it as though it was a complete board wipe, which made the game more interesting.  He began to make progress on chipping down my extremely high health pool which was like 32 or something similar at that point.

Then I get the big guns onto the board with my Abhorrent Overlord.  So I once again start whittling down his health at the same time as he chips away mine.  I do 6 health, he regens 2, and so on until we get to a point where he has 11 health and a serious creature advantage on me, and I have my single big guy as he eats everything else I can get on the board and 9 health.  He manages to do 10 damage to me in one turn and it is pretty much over.  However of all the ways to learn magic this is one of the better matches I have played.  It shows just how tentative a lead can be at any point in the game.  When we misplayed the banish card, it looked like the game was over… but had i not had several rounds of getting crap to play I could have maybe pushed back to get the victory.  In any case I think he is hooked and going to buy a couple of decks for he and his son to play together.  Sounds like awesome times.

Wildstar Woes

WildStar64 2014-07-26 08-21-14-508 Last night I got a rather frank question from a friend of mine regarding Wildstar.  Some time ago another friend had handed him one of the free trial codes that we got for preordering.  He just now got around to trying it a month and a half after launch.  While he enjoyed the game, it wasn’t like the most enjoyable thing he had ever played.  His question was how many of the Stalwart crew were still playing, and if he should pick it up.  He followed us into Elder Scrolls Online, and while he loves that game, he finds it extremely solemn to be playing by himself all the time.  The big thing is that he didn’t want to jump into Wildstar and it to be the same experience for him.  His question was, should he buy the game.  Now I could have put the hard sell on him and lead him down a path that would have ultimately lead to disappointment…  but I was honest with him.

For the most part in the circle of friends that he is part of… Wildstar has come and gone.  There are a few of us who log in periodically but this game had probably the briefest of “glory days” of any title we have played to date.  I only made it to 26 before slowing down and to the best of my knowledge none of us actually made it to the level cap.  I enjoyed aspects of the game, namely the dungeons…  but for whatever reason as much as I should love this game… the drive to play it was just missing.  I am still piddling around, this time on the Exiles side on Evindra but running into the same lack of drive to log in.  Everything about this game should be something that I really enjoy, and you could not ask for a better community team or company supporting it.  But when I ask myself what I want to play in a given night, this game never seems to come up on its own.  To be honest most of the time I was leveling my Chua Engineer it was the boom boxes that kept me logging in every night more than anything else.

So while I think there is a great game here, I had to be honest with him that he probably should give it a pass if he is only interested in playing with the Stalwart/Masks crew.  I think one of the things that really hurt this title was the fact that we simply rolled on the wrong faction for the wrong server.  Dominion side on Evindra is dead… like when I got to Whitevale I sat around for two hours waiting for someone else to wander by so I could take out one of the world mini-bosses and not so much as another adventurer came by at any point during that time.  To be truthful it feels like wandering around Illium you might see a dozen other players at any given point, whereas on the Exiles side you are constantly bumping into people.  The problem is with only 6 slots per server, it really negates the concept of playing both factions.  Within a few days all of the people who were primarily Exile, had deleted their Dominion alts to free up space for more Exiles.

So once again we are stuck at the problem of having all of my time devoted into what has essentially become a non-starter character.  So when confronted with the idea of re-rolling…  I just can’t be bothered to put much effort towards it.  Ultimately if my immediate circle of friends is not playing…  then what exactly am I rushing around to get leveled to be able to do?  I am sure I could roll with any number of the guilds on the exiles side, but I just am not sure if I have the social oomph left in me to start from scratch without being able to rely on the folks I hang out nightly with on voice chat.  I feel like Wildstar might have run its course through the internet as well.  I am seeing a lot of folks who claimed diehard loyalty to the game “taking a break”, which we all know is the beginning salvo in the “quitting the game” conversation.  I am not ready to cancel my subscription yet, but I am just struggling to find reason to log in.

Dragooning It Up

ffxiv 2014-07-26 08-06-32-335 Lately I have been back playing quite a bit of Final Fantasy XIV.  I feel like I parted with that game on really good terms and it has always been extremely charming.  When not working on hunts I have been working on leveling the dragoon.  If we can convince a repeat of the other night to happen, when we all logged in to run a dungeon, that place me playing a DPS character.  Ashgar unfortunately only has two tanks to 50, and I have a Warrior and a Bard.  That said I have never really felt deeply connected with the bard.  It does amazing damage and is super useful, and mostly was easy to level through Fates.  The class I would far rather play dps wise is the Dragoon, so lately I have been taking advantage of the Duty Roulette option and running some random dungeons.  I have to say the groups I am getting randomly are actually extremely friendly and communicative.  I feel like maybe this game has crossed the threshold of shedding all of the folks who were caustic and toxic… and now really has devoted fans left.

I guess the real challenge will be what this game feels like trying to tank it with random groups.  At some point I will work up the nerve and tank a random as my Gladiator seeing as I would really love to get to Paladin conversion levels.  There is still a lot to like in this game, and it is the only Asian inspired title that has managed to create a male character I actually enjoy playing.  There are proper beards here, and you have options other than “pretty boy” as far as facial features go.  We will see how long it take for me to get this game out of my system this time, but so far I am really enjoying myself.  I feel like at some point I need to dig up a list of what all new content is available, as there have been three rather large patches since I last played the game regularly.  FFXIV is pretty horrible about advertising what is new from the game interface itself, so I think there are probably some other ways to level that I am just missing.

#MagicTheGathering #FFXIV #Wildstar

Moon Raider

Edition Madness

2014-07-22 06_07_13-Save 81% on Two Worlds II_ Velvet Edition on Steam I feel like the colorful descriptors that companies tack onto iterative versions of games has hit an all time low.  Since the 80s we have been forced to play a progressively extreme number of versions of a game.  During the 90s the Street Fighter franchise for example proved to us all of the ways it could not actually count to 3.  We’ve suffered through Super, Hyper, Ultra, Zero, Alpha, Game of the Year, Ultimate, Legendary and innumerable other hardcore and extreme versions of the games we love.  This morning as I idly checked Steam I spotted something that made my eye stop dead over it.  We really have a game that is a “Velvet Edition”?  What is next suede or cordura?

I keep thinking maybe this is a translation error somehow, but “Samten” doesn’t really sound much better.  Maybe it is me, and I just have a negative connotation towards the word velvet, and maybe it is completely normal for someone to use that word in place of say “deluxe”.  This is just a first for me, and I think maybe this whole descriptor thing has gone a bit far if we have arrived at fabrics now.  I mean even though “game of the year” bundles are completely inappropriately named, considering very few of them have actually won a “game of the year” award…  at least for awhile they were something standardized.  I personally would rather they go with something like “complete edition” considering that is what we are talking about… the version that includes all the damned DLC in one place.  Though I guess game companies would probably frown on admitting they have been rationing game content to us for years.

Moon Raider

WolfNewOrder_x64 2014-07-21 21-02-13-441 We had a few errands to run last night, and by the time I got home I was not sure what exactly to play for the evening.  Since this weekends podcast, Kodra has been urging me to finish up Wolfenstein so he could have someone to talk about it with.  So I opted to work on that, and while I did not quite make it through the game I figure I am pretty close to the ending.  I suffered a series of technical difficulties where I would crash out and have to load back in restarting me at the previous save point.  When this happened the last time I figured I would call it a night, as it seemed like I was probably going to have to repeat a significant chunk of the previous level.  It seems to be related to when I go into a cutscene and then come back out of it.

WolfNewOrder_x64 2014-07-21 21-50-29-397 It is really hard to find screenshots that I can show off that don’t really give away anything major about the game.  Well other than the fact that you get to experience Nazi’s on the moon…  but that doesn’t really give much away plot wise.  I feel like that is the aspect of the game I enjoy the most is seeing how this alternate reality evolved without the influence of the United States.  So much of everything we experience today is because of the global export of American goods and American values.  As a culture we have had a death grip on the entertainment industry and the internet as well… and as a result everything that comes from other countries often feels like an odd remix of something we would see in the United States.  So to see this reality that evolved entirely in a different direction is interesting to me.  I applaud the level designers because all of the little details feel like they come from a completely different place.

WolfNewOrder_x64 2014-07-21 21-05-26-813 This game is definitely going to warrant a second play through, because there is a single decision that you make early on that causes the game to go in different enough directions that from that point on the chapters of the game branch depending on your choice made.  It seems that Kodra and I picked completely different routes, and I think it will be interesting to talk about the differences between them.  I don’t feel like this is probably a discussion we can really have on AggroChat because it would be impossible to do this in a way that is not spoilerific.  I really hope all of you took advantage of the QuakeCon pricing and picked up this awesome game when it was essentially half price.  I have a feeling that this game is going to experience quite a bit of third party modding, and I hope that sooner or later they bring out a multiplayer addon.  One of the more enjoyable game play and narrative experiences I have had in awhile.

Sparse Next Few Days

The next few days are going to be interesting for me.  Today is technically my last day at work this week, but just because I am off does not mean I won’t actually be working harder.  My wife is part of a crew putting on a mathematics conference here in town, and I have opted to take off from work to help her with it.  I know Wednesday for example I will be operating an impromptu shuttle service, and then the other days I will likely be filling in a tech support role and general “gopher”.  With all of these constraints it will be interesting to see what I end up blogging about, as I doubt I will be playing that many games.

Magic-2015-M15-Core-Set-Fat-Pack That said it sounds like at least one of the conference attendees is a Magic the Gathering fan, so I will be bringing up a box of decks just in case that happens.  Speaking of Magic…  I really have no clue what Wizards of the Coast was thinking when they came up with the 2015 product designs.  Once upon a time the off brand products that you can get in your grocery store that are branded as Always Save or Best Choice or even Sam’s Choice were simply called “Generic”.  They featured white labels with start sans-serif writing on them, similar to government commodities.  So I cannot look at this magic the gathering set without thinking “oh its generic magic”.  I feel like we arrived at this point out of some sort of hipster minimalist design ethic…  but yeah it is just not working for me.  I guess they have used every other color of the rainbow lately for the primary theme of a set…  so sooner or later they were going to get around to white.

It will be interesting to see how the next few days shake out.  Likely you will be getting some more personal posts.  Right now the plan is to take my laptop and work on editing my NaNoWriMo novel between times I am needed.  The only problem with this is that the guest wifi at the school is horrible.  My phone will allow me to tether to it, but not sure how much I can do that without AT&T getting pissy with me.  We are grandfathered in on one of the unlimited plans, and I don’t really want to do much to jeopardize that.  The positive is that the Galaxy S5 shipped with unlocked tethering software, and it is not like I had to do anything to get it up and running.  I just expect that all of the websites I would want to look at would be blocked without it.

#Wolfenstein #MagicTheGathering

Frog Fractions

Conference Prep Work

20140719_151945 As I mentioned yesterday morning my day was filled with helping my wife prepare for the conference this week.  One of the goofy things about a school system is that you cannot take for granted any two rooms being configured the same way.  I have no doubt that at one point or another they were probably all working exactly the same.  However a series of teachers with their own way of doing things has meant that no two projector systems were set up quite the same.  So over the course of the morning we went from room to room turning everything on, and making notes as to how exactly you got sound from the system, and video to the projector.  To add a monkey wrench in the works, some of the rooms had what is called an Elmo, which I guess is some sort of modern age version of the overhead projector.

Some of the systems routed through this device, others you simply had to switch the VGA port over to if it you wanted to use it.  In each room I left instructions on a sticky note as to how to access both Audio and Video, and where needed how to use the Elmo machine.  All of this said I will be around on the first day of the conference playing A/V support if someone has any issues.  I am not phenomenally good at this role, but I can usually figure things out.  Where things get dicey is in the few rooms that have bad connections run through the walls… and for those they were going to just have to deal with it.  Most of the rooms go from an RCA jack to an optical connection that gets run through the wall, and it sounds as though maybe some of the optical cables have been damaged over time.  The approved method of fixing this is apparently randomly wiggling the cords… which is probably what fractured the optical cables in the first place.

For the most part it took an hour or so per floor and then we broke for lunch.  The highlight of the day was getting to have spicy chicken and cheese tots from Rons.  The above picture represents the fruition of our work after lunch.  I should have taken a before photo because the room had been previous configured with tons of tables strewn about.  The tables didn’t fold and stack, but instead the top flipped up and you had to drive them carefully into the closets in a way as to compact them.  I am rather proud of just how compact we managed to get them in there.  The next thing was these heavy iron trays that the stacks of chairs sat on, which I carried into place and figured out a way to stack them in the closet as well.  Finally this allowed us to arrange the chairs all 180 of them in 12 rows of 15 chairs.  It was a busy day, but it looks awesome and is starting to feel ready for guests.

Weary Podcast

Last night was a podcast that I thought might not actually happen.  Generally speaking we tend to start recording around 8 pm CST on Saturday nights.  Last night it was 10 pm and we had not yet started recording, so I was beginning to think maybe episode 15 was not going to happen.  I knew it was going to be a weird week because Rae is travelling and I thought Ashgar was going to be absent as well.  Initially Kodra and I had planned on just having a conversation between the two of us about a few things we had talked about earlier in the week.  As we got closer and closer to the show time…  Kodra was nowhere to be found, but Ashgar miraculously showed up.  I knew that Kodra had intended to come, so I just kept waiting.  I was playing away in Minecraft and Ash playing Destiny so quite honestly the evening slipped away before we really noticed.

When Kodra finally came online we ran pretty late but I think we recorded an enjoyable podcast in spite of the overall tiredness that we all felt.    A major event that happened this week was the  complete and utter failure of the Yogventures kickstarter, and the scandal surrounding it.  We talk at length about this and the potential ramifications it has for kickstarter projects in general.  Additionally we talk about the Destiny Beta and FFXIV free weekends and how crazy it is when so many things are going on during one single weekend.  We also talk about how our sense of community has changed and that it seems to no longer be connected to one game, but instead we take it along with us.  Finally Kodra and I geek out talking about Wolfenstein New Order since he has recently played it.  We had to cut a few sections to trim down time, but we kept the best stuff in there and have it ready to listen to.

Frog Fractions

2014-07-20 11_19_30-Frog Fractions _ Twinbeard I feel like I might be the last person on the planet to have experienced this game.  For some time it has been coming up in both the podcast and just in regular conversation among my circle of friends, and I felt bad because I really did not give the game any time.  My patience for web browser played flash games is pretty much non-existent.  My line of thinking is, I cannot get away with playing this at work… so when I am home I would far rather be spending my time playing a “real” game instead of a web browser based one.  Granted that probably sounds a little harsh but I have yet to find a web based game that really provides me as meaningful of a gaming experience as a traditional PC or console game.  So when the absolute hype cycle surrounding the game happened I booted it up, clicked a few bugs saw some random shit appearing over their heads and walked away bored.  I guess I didn’t pay close enough attention to realize… there is some really strange shit going on in this game.  Be warned… there is no real way for me to talk about this game in any meaningful way without spoiling the fun.  If you have not played Frog Fractions you should do so now before you progress any further in this post.

2014-07-20 10_22_05-Frog Fractions _ Twinbeard The game starts out as this somewhat charming if not low tech game where you are trying to protect fruit, allowing them to ripen by keeping bugs from eating them.  You left click with your mouse to fire out your tongue, gobbling up the bugs and at the end of each round you earn points for each fruit you saved.  The ones that you did not save fall into the water, and at first there is nothing really you can do about this.  The moment at which the game starts to get odd…  is when you start getting power-ups.  Like the point at which I thought maybe this game was a bit strange was when I hit Cybernetic Brain.   You can also upgrade your lilypad into a turtle friend, that allows you to move around with WASD to catch the fruit as they ripen.  There is so much I don’t quite understand… like what the hell Zorkmids are or how you earn Indignity… which I assume is a bad thing.  At this point I kept clicking away with the help of the upgrades…  of which lock on targetting and static tongue seem to be the most game changing.

Then Shit Gets Weird

2014-07-20 10_32_00-Frog Fractions _ Twinbeard At some point you can unlock an upgrade that turns your turtle into a flying dragon… at which point the game suddenly becomes a bullet hell shooter.  So you fly around trying to avoid the multicolored balls while still gobbling up the bugs and trying to save the fruit from falling into the water.  By this point I had upgraded the fruit to durians… which smell bad, and cause the bugs to eat them more slowly.  This is the video game equivalent to Axe Cop, in that it seems like it was almost designed by using madlibs and a 8 year old kid.

2014-07-20 10_32_51-Frog Fractions _ Twinbeard It was at this point I figured out that I could go underwater….  where all the lost fruit was apparently waiting on the bottom of the lagoon.  You can see that apparently now the fruit score does not matter at all, because it now simply reads “Like a billion”.  I have no clue why but I made five or six passes through the fruit watching them all fail to register.  I thought maybe something would happen if I did it enough, but finally gave up on the process and went back up to bullet hell land.  One of the funniest things is the whole lock on vision upgrade.  First you get it, then you get the ability to uninstall it, and then you get the ability to reinstall it…  which finally unlocks the ability to uninstall it again.  Each time this happens it is not like the previous slot becomes available again… it just keeps tacking new upgrade slots onto the grid.  I kind of want to play again and see just how many times I can unlock and remove this option.

Starfox Has Nothing on Me

2014-07-20 10_35_01-Frog Fractions _ Twinbeard After a few more waves of bullet hell madness…  my dragon apparently decides to shoot off into outerspace.  So now I am inexplicably trying to save flying fruit, while dodging asteroids and bug attacks.  Apparently I am going to attack the bug homework… which is apparently “Bug Mars”.  All the while this phase is going on, various characters keep showing up and giving me words of advice in Starfox fashion…  I was disappointed that none of them told me to do a barrel roll (which tam will tell me is not a barrel roll at all).  This continued for six or so waves, all the while it getting harder to get at the bugs because my frog tongue could not go through the asteroids.

2014-07-20 10_37_02-Frog Fractions _ Twinbeard In the weirdest of possible events… some how I get captured and taken to Bug Court.  Where basically I am forced to choose between becoming a naturalized citizen of Bug Mars… or forced labor.  I am not sure you actually have a choice here, or if you are pretty much forced to become a citizen either way.  They ask you a series of questions about Bug Mars culture, and either I got really lucky or quite literally answering anything… is the correct answer.  Some of the responses are really damned funny, but man this is not anything I ever saw coming before playing this game.  In a way it kind reminds me of a modern version of “Takeshi’s Challenge”, and for those who have no ideal what this is you should totally watch the JonTron playthrough.

2014-07-20 10_38_14-Frog Fractions _ Twinbeard So there you have it… I am now apparently a naturalized Citizen of Bug Mars.  You would think that maybe this is as weird as the game gets, but you would be wrong.  Shortly after this I rode on the back of my dragon through an underwater world while a narrator explained to me the true meaning of boxing…  and how this modern punching thing is just a strange bastardization.  Which then lead me to a rocket ship…  and a text based adventure game.  This is the point at which I stopped playing this morning.  This game…  is insanity bottled.  I keep wondering just how deep the rabbit hole gets.  I mean like what is on the other side of the text adventure game.  The best thing about all of this is the fact that the name of the game is a complete and total lie.  Nothing at all about this game has to do with fractions.  Even if you have against my warning made it this far in my post without having played the game yourself…  I highly suggest you experience the madness for yourself.

#AggroChat #FrogFractions #SteampoweredSunday

Let There Be Rangers

Dabbling with Danger

ReaperCounter At work there are a bunch of us who have at one point or another played Magic: The Gathering.  I don’t play the game regularly, because I simply do not have the time to commit to going to a shop regularly to play.  However I still love playing the game, and it is wrapped up in so much nostalgia for me.  My first starter deck was from unlimited, and I dabbled a bit here and there through Arabian Nights, Antiquities, and started getting serious about the time revised came out.  I played super actively until the launch of Ice Age and then for one reason or another got out of it.  At that point I was really into the World of Darkness games, and was doing far more pen and paper than magic…  also I started college and seemed to have far less disposable money.

I flirted with the game again my Senior year, because there was this great culture at the local game shop.  I came in at the tail end of Mirage, played through Visions and was super involved with Weatherlight…  probably my favorite expansion to date.  When I left college I also left the community I liked hanging out with an playing magic regularly, so I stopped playing again.  Since then I have picked up the occasional pack of cards to see what was new, but never really got involved with the game again. That was until I found out that we had a bunch of former magic players at work, and I thought it would be awesome to foster a sort of lunchtime M:TG group.  Yesterday I got to break this awesome reaper miniature again, as I tutored my friend Rae through her first game of Magic.  This could end in madness, but my hopes is that we can just develop a casual magic culture to hang out and enjoy.

The Ancient Library

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-22 18-45-43-676 Last night while waiting on the pizza to arrive and Elder Scrolls Online to patch, I decided to attempt to play some more Final Fantasy 5.  I had a near mishap where I thought for a moment I had lost my saved game and had to revert back to a period of time when I was still in white mage hell.  However that was not the case, and I managed to restore back and get to where I should have been.  I kinda went crazy at one point and ground my way to 19… which means that in order to be safe for the Ancient Library I needed to be at least 21.  So most of the time waiting on the Pizza was spent grinding aimlessly trying to get the last two levels so I could start my quest proper.  You might ask why I need to be 21?

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-22 19-05-58-456 If you enter the Library of Ancients, there are various creatures that can cast the dreaded Level 5 Death spell.  This will target any character with a level that is a multiple of 5, aka ending in 5 or 0 and pretty much instant kill them.  This means in order to be safe you have to enter the library at something OTHER than that.  Now if you have a Blue Mage, you want to de-synchronize your party so that you have exactly one party member at a “5” level so you can learn it.  Both fortunately and unfortunately I do not have one so I just needed to be safe as I finished the library.  The above monster is Byblos the guardian of the library, and I found him pretty easy considering I had ground to a much higher level than you normally need for the encounter.  Most people natively get here around 15, so at 21 I was significantly higher.

Goodbye Ship, Hello Chocobo

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-22 20-25-15-748 Final Fantasy 5 is a story about destroying modes of transportation and then curiously finding a new one to replace them.  After the library you find new information that allows the fire-powered-ship to start moving again without the power of the fire crystal.  Unfortunately as you move to your next destination you encounter an earthquake and the fire-powered-ship gets sucked into a giant whirlpool.  Conveniently you just happen to be on an island that just happens to have a Black Chocobo Forest.  I know from lore that these are Black Chocobo, but I will be damned if this one is not pink…  so you pilot your Pink Chocobo around the world visiting all the destinations that you missed and picking up any gear or spells that you might need.

Let There Be Rangers

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-22 20-41-32-722 The big takeaway from the encounter with the Pink Chocobo, is that it had the last two fire crystal jobs stuck in its gullet.  One of which was the Ranger job that I had been waiting patiently for.  This means from this point out I must have a White Mage, Mystic Knight and Ranger in the party at all times.  I opted to shift Faris and Galuf to rangers in order to teach them the Rapid Fire ability as soon as I could.  Basically you enter a period where you can reach most of the world so it is a great time to finish up anything you left unfinished.  I headed up to Istory and went ahead and defeated Ramuh for example.  Since I do not have a summoner in my party, this was a completely optional step… but Ramuh is generally my favorite of the espers so I figured I would go ahead and fight him.

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-22 21-04-59-953 Once finished messing around the room I proceeded with opening the way to the Tower of Ruin.  The desert area is one of my least favorite, mostly because the sandworm fight is a pain in the butt.  Considering my party composition, it was not really technically difficult, just annoying in that the Sandworm jumps between one of three holes on the screen.  You don’t target the worm itself, but instead the hole it came out of, this means that more often than not you can target a hole and it might have moved before the attack lands.  With the white mage, I was able to heal through anything the worm could throw at me, and it was simply a matter of wearing it down.  Mostly this just meant that my rangers could not benefit from their !Aim ability, as it took way too long for it to actually resolve the damage.

Airship Go!

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-22 21-25-01-826 Once you complete the Tower of Ruin you get rewarded with access to the airship, and find out that your fire-powered-ship didn’t get destroyed, but instead fell into a chamber underneath crescent isle.  Now you have this really awesome base that you can launch either the fire-powered-ship or airship out of.  You end up faffing about running several mini missions all in the effort of trying to teach your airship how to flight higher to reach the earth shrine that has been elevated up into the air by the power of yet another crystal draining… and ultimately crystal destroying machine.  We are nearing the sequence of events that I hate each time I play this game.

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-22 21-56-13-507 The Earth Shrine is guarded by four missile launchers and the extremely frustrating boss Soul Cannon.  This is the point at which I stopped playing for the night.  I made an attempt at the missile launcher fights, and while I managed to get through one of them… I didn’t back out and save like I should have.  The big problem with the fights are the “rocket punch” attacks that cause your characters to go confused, and the Rocket Launcher that is an insanely nasty percentage based attack.  Thing is if I can get enough time to Spellblade, the Rocket Launchers drop fast but I seem to spend my entire time trying to heal up and un-confuse my party.  If I am struggling with the Rocket Launchers I have having trouble fathoming just how bad the Soul Cannon encounter will be.  I am thinking this might be time to grind again and get a level advantage.

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-22 21-53-29-154 Being 22 has allowed me to just steamroll the encounters leading up to this one, but that level gap has closed on me.  So I am thinking I will spend some time over the weekend watching TV and grinding away to build back up a buffer.  Additionally I would really like it if most of my characters had Rapidfire as an option for the Soul Cannon encounter.  I think I got through it during last years Four Job Fiesta by double casting lightning attacks, so if I can get two Mystic Knights with Rapidfire I might be able to do the same kind of trickery.  Spellblade is a super powerful ability, but it sucks in that it takes one turn to cast in which you essentially do nothing.  The Soul Cannon sequence is one of the big hurdles that most players get hung up on, so I don’t feel too bad that I am having to rethink my strategy before moving forward.  I am sure with the Black Mage/Red Mage combo Kodra was able to just absolutely destroy it.  What I really need is a bunch of Ribbons, but I think at this point in the game I only have access to the one I have.

#FF5 #FinalFantasy #MagicTheGathering #MTG

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD

Steampowered Sunday #12

This weeks episode of Steampowered Sunday is chock full of self indulgent cheatery.  Firstly we have plans on going out and about Sunday morning, so I am technically playing the game and doing this review Saturday night shortly before recording AggroChat.  The second bit of cheatery is that normally I play through a game in my steam back catalog.  That however is not the case this week as currently steam is having a sale on all Activision titles.  Among the list was one that caught my eye.  I had noticed it a few times in the past but was never at a price point I was wiling to snap it up for.  However yesterday for $5 I figured it was well worth that just for a trip down memory lane.

THHDGame 2014-05-03 19-32-02-65Something you need to know about Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise is that I played the hell out of it.  I was one of those little skater kids, and I even went so far as to have the “Tony Hawk” style “hangover” haircut.  As a result when this came out for the original Playstation I latched onto it with both hands.  One of the things I always wanted was a really good skating game, however we were stuck with either Skate or Die that at least had a free style ramp mode, or 720* which lacked any kind of free skate option… and if you took too long you were chased by an angry swarm of bees.  No game gave me what I wanted, which was the ability to faff about without a timer ticking and do all sorts of nifty tricks.  This game franchise had exactly that, and I spent countless hours playing and it and it’s higher resolution cousins on the Dreamcast.

Memory Lane

THHDGame 2014-05-03 19-34-59-10 When the I got my Playstation 2 one of the first titles I picked up was Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3.  So I knew one of two things was going to happen.  Either I would have a wonderful romp down memory lane, or I would be severely disappointed by the crappy remake.  Thankfully the game is pretty much a 1080p remake of the original playstation title, and this is a good thing.  Playing the game with a XBOX 360 controller on my PC feels almost exactly like I remember playing it on the PSX.  All the tricks worked essentially the same, and I struggled with the same problems I ever did.  The game works the same way, each map has a ton of objectives and as you move your way around the area you get bonus scores for collecting them.  As always the first objective I generally go for is for grabbing the letters S K A T E scattered around the room.

THHDGame 2014-05-03 19-35-37-03 Additionally all of the old secrets are exactly where I remember them, and accessed through the same kind of tricks.  I really was not expecting anything more than a graphical update, so I was not terribly disappointed to find that literally nothing had changed.  I got the same enjoyment crashing through the room on top of the ramp as I ever did.  One of my favorite things about the series was trying to find all the named “gaps” and a lot of these work the same as they always did.  The only thing that is confusing really is that the game is like a remix of all of the Tony Hawk titles.  There are maps from the early THPS games as well as the later Underground games.  Overall this gives you a good mix of things to go and explore, and Free Skate mode is just as much of a guilty pleasure as it ever was.

Stripped Down Game

THHDGame 2014-05-03 19-34-43-14 My biggest complaint about the game is that it is greatly stripped down.  Gone is the ability to create custom skaters, and also gone are the weird unlockable characters like the Neversoft eyeball guy, and Spiderman.  The lack of ability to create your own skater really hurts my overall enjoyment of the title.  I liked creating a skater that was a reasonable facsimile of myself and customizing his stat package to be only the things I cared about… namely street skating.  I found that overall Eric Koston has the closest stat package to what I would want, so I have been using him.  The game has been out for two years, so I doubt that we will be seeing any kind of DLC that adds in the missing functionality.  My only hope is that maybe just maybe someone cares enough to create a mod that lets you do the same thing.

The other missing feature is the skate park creator.  I spent hours building interesting skate parks to go explore, and I remember THPS 2 for the Dreamcast had a wide variety of items you could choose from.  I realize this title was released not only on the PC but also tablets and phones… so there is a limited amount of stuff they could realistically squeeze into the game given those constraints.  Even with these missing features, I have definitely gotten my $5 worth of fun.  Sure I still have my playstation, playstation 2 and dreamcast…  but I am not going to go dig them out of the closet and hook them up just to play Tony Hawk.  This little download has allowed me to relive some of those memories without having to do that.

Watch Me Suck at THPS!

As has been the trend lately, I recorded the entire play though of THPS, or at least a good chunk of it.  You can see just how bad I suck at the game these days, and how many jumps and tricks I miss.  I had a blast doing it, and I need to figure out a better option for a push to talk key while playing a game that requires a controller.  As a result there are huge blocks of time where I say nothing.  But it is fun nonetheless.  If you had good memories of the game like I did, you might check out the sale while it is still going on.  Well worth the few bucks, and the game performs extremely well.  I didn’t notice anything glitchy about it, so it seems like a pretty solid experience.

Episode 4:  Mentors for Everyone

Last night we recorded Episode 4 of the AggroChat podcast, and once again we had our regular cast in place.  Kodra was back from his business trip, and Rae was no longer trying to join the circus.  I tried a little experiment last night, that I probably won’t repeat again.  I had been concerned that I had been overly directing the flow of conversation, so I tried to take a step back and let the rest of the hosts introduce topics.  The end result lead me to do way more editing and massaging on this episode than normal as I deleted a ton of awkward pauses.  The end result is still fairly interesting.  We ended up talking about the current state of Elder Scrolls Online with its launch and remaining bugs.  We talked quite a bit about ArcheAge and how intrigued I am by it.  Finally I nudged the rest of my panel into talking about League of Legends.  They had been threatening for weeks to derail the podcast, and I encouraged it… and the end result was not terribly derailed after all.

#SteamPoweredSunday #AggroChat #TonyHawkProSkater #ElderScrollsOnline #ESO

Heroes of the Storm

Odd Weekend

With all the excitement of the weekend, yesterday I needed to just recharge a bit and do a bunch of stuff around the house…  namely lots of laundry.  My wife got up early yesterday morning, as she had planned a trip to Dallas for the day with friends, so this left me completely up to my own devices all day long.  I ended up sleeping in until around 9:30 at which point I did my FTL Steampowered Sunday play, and the subsequent blog post.  Then it was lots and lots of laundry for several hours.  I feel like I might be coming down with something, so I really wasn’t much more useful than that.

On the Grandmother front, she is doing as well as could be expected.  She woke up yesterday for a bit before they sedated her again.  Her kidney functions have not returned, but she was severely dehydrated.  They have a nephrologist coming into the hospital today that is going to look at her and see what they can do to stimulate activity.  Once the kidneys start working again they will be much closer to “in the clear”.  Mostly they think she just needs to rest and let the body do its natural recovery.  She is a really tough woman, so I have faith that she is going to pull through this.  Her vitals all look okayish and seem to be improving by the day. so here is hoping time is really all she needs.

As far as the sick cat, she seems to be doing much better.  She was extremely needy of attention yesterday, and her appetite seems to have returned.  For the majority of the week she had not eaten much of anything, so yesterday whenever she acted hungry I was opening a cat of food for her.  I think she ended up eating five different times yesterday.  She had lost quite a bit of weight over the course of this ordeal so while I will taper back her feeding eventually… for now I am just happy she is eating.  She demanded attention, which is good… because while she was sick she was pretty scarce.  Preferring to just lay down on the couch by herself instead of wherever we happened to be in the house.

Elder Scrolls Final Beta Weekend

Since this past weekend is the final beta weekend before launch in a few weeks, and since we had been given leave to stream whatever we wanted…  I did as much playing and streaming as I could fit in.  All told I think I streamed a little bit over four hours, split up between four different videos.  Most of the time was spent faffing about on my Orsimer Dragon Knight in the Daggerfall covenant area.  I closed the weekend sitting a little bit away from thirteen.  However because of the absolutely illogical pattern I followed I know I missed a good number of the quests from the first area of Glenumbra.  I would love to say that the beta weekend was completely smooth, but it seemed as though a lot of the systems were bugged out.  Dark Anchors for example seemed to spawn, and then just stay active even after the forces had been defeated and a player got credit for destroying them.

One of the systems that was completely new to me, were the Dark Fissures.  These are essentially mini versions of the Dark Anchors and can just spawn almost anywhere around the map.  Think of these as “soloable” Rifts.  I say soloable in quotes because really unless you are prepared to take on boss level monsters they will be pretty freakin hard.  I defeated two of these and did so just barely.  If you go into them make sure you have your health potions hotkeyed and ready to go.  The awesome thing about the Dark Fissures is that they seem to drop really awesome stuff.  The final one I closed out yesterday evening dropped a level 12 blue fire staff, which I am sure would have been awesome… had I used staves.  If the beta weekend were going longer I would have tried to find that a good home.

Heroes of the Storm

I know I mentioned this the other day, but I am still pretty pumped that I am in the Heroes of the Storm technical alpha.  One of the really cool things about it is that it is completely sans-NDA.  This means that I can stream the hell out of the game, and I intend to.  I recorded a few videos over the weekend, the first of which was just me playing around in practice mode working on the weekly quests for getting victories with heroes from each of the franchises.  The second video however I dipped my toes into cooperative mode fighting bots with other players.  I have to say I found the jump in AI to be quite extremely between practice mode and cooperative.  I earned enough gold through the various quests to purchase two of the cheaper heroes Muridan and Raynor.  At some point I hope to pick up Falstad, because while he is in the free to play rotation currently… I am sure this will change similar to how it does in League of Legends.

Right now I am enjoying the game far more than I ever did League.  Basically it has all of the aspects of league that I really enjoyed… namely fighting people with awesome champions, and none of the aspects that I didn’t like.  League build path was always an enigma to me, and I tended to play champions that I could use the same build on over and over.  League gameplay is far more nuanced, but Blizzard has done for League what they did for the MMO genre.  Streamlined, simplified, polished and created something that the masses can latch onto.  Instead of a huge list of items for you to purchase, you build your character by making a few simple choices.  In the beginning at least all of these are either or choices like “survival” or “damage”.  Over the course of the map this ends up building a semi-custom champion.

However once you reach level 8, they open up these choices significantly.  While playing Muridan yesterday there was one of these levels where I had five different choices for how I wanted to proceed.  Each choice causes you to give up other options with no real way of getting those back.  For me… a player that found the item buying system of League completely unfathomable this works so much better.  For a player who wants a deeply nuanced and unique approach to each match… they are probably still going to favor League.  The champions as a whole feel more well rounded than League champions, in that they have a wider “kit” of abilities and the option to choose between two different “R” attacks really seems to help this.

Play 2014-03-14 10-13-23-03

The place where the game really shines is in their map creation.  At their core, each of the maps is essentially “Summoner’s Rift”.  That said each of the maps has a unique sub game to them, while League tries to do this with the various map types… it simply does not work as well as it does here.  For example in the map shown above Blackheart’s Bay… you have a really awesome coastal city/pirate theme going on.  When one team collects enough doubloons they can turn them in to call in a bombardment from the pirates on the enemy team.  In one map the mini game is all about controlling two shrines which allow you to waken the Dragon Knight.  When you do so the player transforms into this unstoppable juggernaut perfect for diving straight into towers and destroying the enemy resources.  I have only played the game a little bit, but I have to say I am deeply hooked.

Gamer Hangout

Another odd happening this weekend is that I ended up participating in Beau Hindman’s Gamer Hangout show.  I’ve been friends with the members for some time, and there was a week where they had asked me to join in the show… but I until recently I simply did not have a camera.  Now you will be able to see the WHY I didn’t have a camera.  I have always been pretty closed with separating the real me from the gamer me… so it took quite a bit of courage to appear on camera like this.  I am always far more comfortable behind the scenes than being out front and animated.  What was cool about the show is that in essence they based this week on one of my blog posts.

It just happened to be where I was available to join in and chat about it.  While most of us only actually got through two different games on our list, we somehow managed to talk over an hour about them.  They have apparently extended an open invitation for me to participate more in the future, so I guess that means I did not completely make an ass of myself.  My office is a pit, and if I do this more often I think  I would want to rearrange things some… however that involves me cleaning and moving and not sure how likely that is to happen.  It was really enjoyable, and the other folks were great.  Was very much an odd end to an odd weekend.  I just wish that youtube would not have picked a thumbnail of me talking for the video.

FTL: Faster Than Light

Steampowered Sunday #9


Watch live video from Belghast on TwitchTV
This week I am doing something a little differently with my Steampowered Sunday post.  Since streaming is new and shiny… and as a result I am doing a ton of it…  I decided to livestream my playtime in FTL.  This was after all the game you chose for me to play this week.  Previously I had done a few things wrong with my voting.  Firstly I made the link super hard to see at the bottom of my post.  Secondly I gave you guys like ten choices to choose from, which ended up with a bunch of widely dispersed results.  This go around I opted to have you all choose from the three that did not win last week, but had the highest number of votes.  You all apparently wanted me to play FTL, because it managed to net 53% of the vote.

Steep Learning Curve

OBS 2014-03-16 11-24-01-08 Like most of the games I play for Steampowered Sunday, I went into FTL with absolutely no information.  This is one of those titles that was insanely popular in the internet zeitgeist a few months back.  I picked it up on a steam sale but never actually got around to playing it.  As a result it sat there sadly in my steam library until you guys resurrected it.  This is one of those games that is really hard to go into cold.  I liken it to trying to play Minecraft for the first time without any guides.  So I had no clue how to do anything in the game, and ended up dying horribly to the first encounter I happened across.  I thought my weapons would fire themselves I guess.  It was not honestly until my third ship that I managed to glean that you could toggle on and off your weapons with the number keys, and fire them that way as well.

Similarly it took me a bit to understand that moving your crew around the ship would help to put out fires, fight boarding parties and repair damaged systems.  Essentially playing FTL you die a lot, and hopefully you learned something from the death that you can carry forward into the next ship.  That said sometimes you just get fucked by random chance.  In the above screenshot I happened to wander into a star system with active solar flares.  Just like in Star Trek episodes… solar flares are murder on your shields.  Had I happened across the system with no hostiles I could have potentially pooled my resources in the shield room and kept myself repaired long enough to jump out.  That said I had a pretty nasty fight with a mantis drone and by the time that was finished my system was a mess.  I fought the death of my ship in vain as the solar flares slowly destroyed me.

Belghast Gameplay Not Suggested

OBS 2014-03-16 11-27-31-41 I really do one thing in video games… I run in guns-a-blazing and hope for the best.  In an FPS I am the king of the spray and pray arsenal.  In an MMO I am the guy that habitually charges everything.  It is the thing I do.  This is very much not the way you want to play FTL, unless you like resetting constantly.  If you wander into a system and encounter an “advanced tactical drone” chances are you should really not screw with that.  I had that happen, and it started neutral to me…  but moments after attacking it, it had disabled all of my ships systems and I was left to sit and watch as all things blew up around me.  I feel like that is the real lesson of FTL…  stuff happens, often times bad…  so hope you can learn from it and not be dumb in the next iteration.  The game is pretty brutal about punishing you for your bad decisions, and that is okay… because it tends to be brutal about everything.

I feel like there are so many things I am still missing about success.  While playing one of my friends told me over twitch chat that I could vent the compartment to space to put out fires.  Which is awesome… except I couldn’t seem to do that when I had attackers in a compartment.  The learning curve is exceedingly steep and unforgiving.  Much like that first time I played Minecraft, I feel like I need to spend an entire afternoon wandering around a wiki somewhere to figure out what exactly I was doing wrong.  I feel like there is a “oh! That is what Coal looks like” moment waiting to happen.

Deathcab for Cutie and Starships

FTLGame 2014-03-16 11-42-20-31 One of the things I enjoyed the most about the game is the soundtrack.  It is this really pleasant postal service/deathcab type soundtrack that makes you not care so much that the world is burning down around you.  This is one of those moments when I happened to get trapped behind enemy lines and had to fight a far more advanced ship than I had.  Notice how they pretty much disabled everything I had and are essentially unharmed.  I feel like this is where tactics come in, which is never a strong suit of mine.  I tend to be a “shoot first, ask questions never” type player… and this is going to be something I have to get over if I ever want to succeed at FTL for more than a few minutes.  Tactics matter a lot, and one of the things I learned early on is… if they have drones, for the love of god kill the drones.

Right now I am really bad at deciding what thing to attack first.  I tend to have the best luck destroying ships by killing their engines.  That said I feel like i would have a lot more success disabling their weapons, then shields, then engines.  When they are charging the engines to escape it seems like a single shot to the engine can slow them down enough to kill them before they jump.  So I know this is a good theory, but getting me to do that when everything is burning on my ship seems to be the problem.  To quote Wash… “Oh god, Oh God, We’re Gonna Die”.  I have trouble keeping focused when my cute little people are dying horribly fighting fires.  In the immortal words of my friend Vexa… “Fire is pretty much the worst.”

More Play Warranted

FTLGame 2014-03-16 11-42-45-38 I feel like I am fundamentally bad at this game.  That said I feel like this is an okay thing.  Much like MInecraft, one of the simple joys is rolling the dice and seeing what combination of events you happen to get this time.  I felt completely fine resetting and starting over from scratch.  In many ways this reminds me of an early Shareware title called EGA Trek that I used to play the hell out of.  The gameplay basically was the same, it involved warping around the galaxy looking for trouble.  I played this game for hours upon hours… rolling the dice and seeing what trouble I could get myself into.  Combat was very similar, and I would not be shocked at all if the FTL folks had played this game at one point or another.  Granted FTL is all of this in much higher detail, but the same pure fun is there.  Sometimes it is just fun to die over and over horribly.  May the “SS Were Gonna Die” continue to fly onwards.

Mystery Game Time

I’ve decided to shift things up a bit, and start giving away random games instead of a specific title per week.  This weeks winner will be contacted today and given a copy of Brutal Legend.  However this coming week I will be grabbing something from the stack of mostly indie games that I have laying around.  If you win, and it is a title you already have… share the love and give it to a friend that doesn’t already have the game.  Another thing I am doing is leaving the two losing titles on the list, and replacing FTL with a brand new title…  this week Evoland enters the ring.  This way I actually have a shot of playing through the games that were the losers of previous weeks.  As always to take the survey click the big bright button below.

I Love Loot

Good morning you happy denizens of the interwebs.  Getting a slightly slow start this morning, as I was trying to find my old pair of 10 eyelet Doc Martens.  Not sure why, but lately I have been wanting to wear them.  Positive is I found a pair of Docs, but negative is I did not in fact find the ones I was looking for.  I guess that is what happens when you don’t wear them for a decade.  Today is going to be oddly busy, with coffee in the morning with some local web developers… and a dinner at night for a friend of hours.  Hopefully all the points in-between are relatively uneventful.

Web Games

glitch-mmo-game-1-1024x465

This week a few significant web based games have been in the social discussion mill, namely folks remembering Glitch fondly and talking about the official launch of Card Hunter.  Both of them are extremely fun little games…  but I think in both cases they miss the boat a bit by being web based games in the first place.  By day I am a web developer, and I maintain a large infrastructure of websites…  so I am deeply committed to the “web” as a technology, but I simply do not feel like it is a great platform for the delivery of games, or at least it is not for me.  I guess I should explain my position a bit more than that.

Essentially the only time I can play a web based game, is when I am sitting at one of my computers at home.  I have web access almost 24/7, but I sadly do not have one of those jobs where I can fuck off all day long playing web games.  So this pretty much leaves my time to play these games when I am sitting at home… and if I am at home I have access to hardware that will run “real” games.  So in that case, there is almost never a time where I would prefer to play a browser based title than something more engaging and visceral.

Glitch was a really awesome game, and I actually logged a couple dozen hours playing it.  I was one of the beta testers and forced myself to sit down at least once a week and spend a few hours engaged with it.  The great tragedy of that game for me… is that it was not mobile based.  If I had that game on my phone, I would still be playing it… and likely it would have had none of the funding issues that eventually lead it to close.  Mobile is totally the ideal platform for this type of game, because I can access it in a way when I am in the break room, or standing around waiting for my wife to finish shopping…  essentially I can play it when I am NOT near a real computer.

cardhunter_cave-in

Card Hunter I fear will be a similar tragedy.  It also is a really fun game, but when I have to choose between playing it and playing a “real” game, it is going to lose out every time because quite frankly the experience is not good enough to compete with FFXIV, Rift, Borderlands 2, Diablo 3 or whatever happens to be my current game of heavy rotation.  It is a super cool concept, and I love the D&D red box era artwork and nifty feel of it all.  However the fact that it is a completely flash based game, means it will always be relegated to the land of novelty, and not something folks will seriously latch onto… since for the most part just like Glitch it will be unplayable on mobile devices.

For the longest time I thought I was maybe the only one that felt this way, but the other night talking about Card Hunter among my friends… we all expressed a similar feeling of “rather play a real game” if we had access to our home computer.  The niche for these games seems to be for people who can play them at their workplace to be honest.  Since that is often considered bad behavior and is punished in most workplaces… I feel like that is maybe a bad niche to latch yourselves onto.  The problem with anything web based is generally that as a society we see web content as “free”, so I feel like trying to extract a viable payment model from anything web based is going to be a long term challenge as well.

Quite honestly I wish Card Hunter the best of luck.  I think it is a really compelling game, I just wish I had it on my phone or tablet rather than having to play it on a computer.  I would love to be able to say that I will likely play it…but I know based on past track records it is the type of game I would play one night on a whim and then never play again.  If I could boot this up while out in the world and waiting on someone… then hell yes I would likely be playing it.  I just think this is going to be the long term issue with web based games that cannot easily be played on a mobile client.  I hate to say it, but I think Flash is just dead as far as a viable game development technology, unless they can get broader mobile device support.

Shiny Seeker

ffxiv 2013-09-08 16-53-03-92

Today is ending up as a day to talk about all the things I have wanted to talk about… but just have not quite made it to doing so.  These all seem like partial themes left on the cutting room floor.  Lately I have been blogging a lot about FFXIV, and how much I have been enjoying it.  This is still very much the case and last night I had fun running Sunken Temple of Qarn as my Warrior and then later on switched to my Dragoon to dps Brayflox’s Longstop.  The simple fact that is something I can do without switching characters… is pretty awesome by its own light.  Today however I am not going to gush on the game… but instead talk about one of the problems I have with it.

One of the things that hooked me on Everquest and MMOs in the first place was unpredictable loot.  As much as I might complain about random number generators… I have always loved that rare chance of getting something truly amazing from killing a monster.  All thought my life, I have had a fascination with randomized systems.  When I worked in a card and comic shop, I used to have an uncanny knack for being able to pull that rare foil card from a pack, or getting whatever happened to be the high priced rookie card.  Randomized loot in MMOs is this same thing multiplied over and over, and I love it dearly.

The problem with Final Fantasy A Realm Reborn… is there really is no loot to speak of from killing monsters.  Sure you can get crafting material drops, and these end up cluttering your bags… but you will never get a piece of useable gear, a rare pattern or an adorable pet from killing monsters.  In fact the number of opportunities for you to get items from your adventures is extremely limited at all.  Essentially you can get them as quest rewards, or from chests that spawn while doing leves and dungeons.  The chests give me a little shot of randomized loot goodness…  but it almost feels too few and far between.

I Love Loot

While I truly do love this game already, and I can see myself playing it for a long time.  It will never fully replace games like Rift for me.  Even now I am more than happy to log into rift and roam around killing random things… because with each mob I kill I have a chance of getting truly phenomenal.  I have talked at length about my bloodlust when it comes to games…  the desire to see what the next mob might drop feeds into this immensely.  While I am still likely to kill random mobs, I find it to be happening far less frequently in Eorzea since I am neither sufficiently rewarded by experience or by loot for doing so.  So it turns out that my bloodlust is a fairly complicated formula that does in fact take reward into account.

Honestly all they would really need to do to make me completely happy, is make it so that there is a random chance of one of the chests spawning after killing a mob.  Even a 1 in 100 chance would be more than enough to make me happily roam the countryside slaughtering families of goblins and kobolds.  Randomized loot is the thing that keeps me going out into the world and killing things for the off chance of getting something really cool that I can use on an alternate spec.  So my ultimate fear is that there will be a time where the novelty of this loot-less system wears off and I simply don’t want to play any longer.

Confused Economy

Another huge concern of mine is the economy in general.  The only way to get Gil, is from doing quests.  Killing random mobs out in the world never rewards you any money.  The best source of cash are Guildleaves.  These are short quests that involve you going out into the world and completing some objective.  These often reward random gear as well, but primarily they are a good source of money and an okay but somewhat lackluster source of experience.  The problem is… you are limited to doing 6 of these per day.  These allowances stack up until you hit 99, so if you are not playing for a few days you can still do them.

The challenge is these leve allowances are used by tradecraft, battlecraft and the guildhest system.  After a certain point, these are essentially the only “quests” that you can do in the game after you have completed all of the normal quests.  The only other repeatable source of money is from grinding FATEs, which are Rift like random events that occur in zones.  The result of this is that the economy is extremely front loaded, in that you can gain lots of money from doing the initial quests… then after completing those…  your prospects for gaining money tend to dry up significantly.

As a result, many players are finding themselves grinding up multiple characters only to view them as disposable vessels only for the purpose of taking money from them.  I myself have contemplated this if I run into dire straights.  Essentially every quest you do has a “cash” option, that allows you to take essentially trade coins that can be sold on the vendors.  Since all of the quested gear is exactly the same as the crafted options… and you seem to be able to buy crafted items far cheaper than the money reward from a given quest…  I find myself always driven to take the money payout option from each quest.  Right now I am leveling faster than our crafters can keep up… but soon there will be the option of just having one of the guild crafters make my gear.

Essentially I am concerned with how the players will keep up with the expense of playing the game.  This last patch they greatly reduced the repair costs… but there will be a certain amount of upkeep that is just required as a player.  Last nights Sunken Temple of Qarn run I considered extremely successful… but I still took 5 deaths thanks to some rather bullshit mechanics… namely an ability that seems to have no cast timer and will one shot a player if not stunned constantly.  Essentially I just feel that this loot less and cash less combat system… is inventive but deeply naïve… and so much of me hopes they will patch the game and make it work like every other MMO on the planet.

Wrapping Up

Well I need to wrap up because I have a coffee date with a group of community web developers.  I am not really looking forward to it, nor am I looking forward to the evening dinner date with friends.  All I really want to do is go home and hang out on the couch, and maybe order a salad from Rib Crib.  We have eaten fairly poorly all week, so this weekend it is going to be our attempt to do better.  I am still down roughly 60 lbs since my start so I am doing okay…  but we have to be constantly vigilant.  I hope all of you have a great weekend ahead of you.