Leave the Game Better

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

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

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

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

Regularly Playing: May Edition

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

To Those Remaining

Final Fantasy XIV

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

To the Returning and New

Skyforge

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

Star Wars the Old Republic

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

Horizon Zero Dawn

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

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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

To Those Departing

World of Warcraft

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

Rift

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

Destiny

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

Guild Wars 2

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

 

 

 

 

Twitter GOTY “Poll”

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

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

2012:  The Secret World

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

2013:  Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

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

2014: Destiny

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

2015: Fallout 4

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

2016: World of Warcraft: Legion

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

Pretentious Magitek

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

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

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

Chasing Aloy

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

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

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

Mechanics Defeated

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

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

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

Mechanics: The Fight

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In our continued trend of being months behind the curve and happy about it… ¬†last night we worked again on Thordan Ex. ¬†We jokingly refer to this fight as “Mechanics: The Fight” because it this weird amalgam of every mechanic from binding coil and a mix of new ones. ¬†This is a prime example of what I think of as the archetypal Final Fantasy XIV fight… where it relies on you memorizing a DDR like pattern and then everyone in the party completing that pattern flawlessly. ¬†That however is not exactly the sort of fight our group excels at. ¬†When we go up against a “managing sheer chaos” style fight, we tend to be able to pull those out as one shots. ¬†However when you ask us to memorize and execute a specific pattern… ¬†it takes forever for us to memorize the dance. ¬†I am especially bad at pattern matching and memorization… ¬†and as one of the primary tanks this is not exactly a great thing. ¬†We did however get to the point last night where we were getting everyone through the dive bomb phase and through the meteor phase. ¬†There is a whole lot of bullshit that happens at the tail end of the fight and we were noticing that things started to completely fall apart during the pillars phase…. so I feel like if we can get through that… we can get through the rest of the fight. ¬†I also feel like this is the sort of fight that once the pattern is learned and beat into our brains… we will be able to execute it pretty flawlessly from that part out. ¬†Which is a good thing… because there are a lot of us that would like to farm birbs.

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Speaking of Birbs…. I can now poop chocobos. ¬†Right now the Hatching-Tide event is going on in Eorzea, which sort of serves as the Easter celebration. ¬†Lets be fair… that like so many Eorzean Holidays… ¬†Hatching-Tide is mostly nonsense. ¬†The yearly event usually revolves around eggs and spriggans… ¬†that often times steal the eggs or somehow interact with the eggs. ¬†None of this really matters however because the important part is the fact that this year there is a mount. ¬†You can ride around on a giant floating egg… and ejects a baby Chocobo on command. ¬†So I think most of us that completed the event spent a good deal of the evening riding around on eggs and hurling chocobos at people. ¬†This is a prime example of why I love this game so much at times, because it is just down right absurd. ¬†There are so many “why not” moments that the game has where they put silly things in the hands of the players… who then do things like create Fat Chocobo parades. ¬†In Idyllshire last night there were a whole slew of people trying to synchronize the ejecting of Chocobos… ¬†which is an extremely aptly named place now that I think of it since so many people go there to Idle. ¬†For now I have fallen off the “get every class to 50” wagon but I hope to hop back on shortly. ¬†I just have too many games I want to be playing… and as a result am sort of playing all of them poorly.

Ballad of Cowboy Ninja

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This weekend largely belonged to Final Fantasy XIV and the brief appearance of the Cowboy Ninja. ¬†One of the huge benefits of leveling through Palace of the Dead is the fact that you end up with a bunch of treasure tokens… ¬†that often times reward awesome cosmetic gear. ¬†Pretty early into my process of pushing the Ninja from 38 to 50 this weekend I stumbled across the above Cowboy hat and from that point out my path was set. ¬†I gathered a bunch of appearance goodies that I had collected from running the dungeon over and over… ¬†namely because my appropriate level gear was a subligar and harness. ¬†The three main appearance items that all came from palace of the dead are of course the Boarskin Survival Hat, Survival Shirt, and the Wind Silk Bottoms which are these bizarro red plaid pants. ¬†Through out the weekend I ran the dungeon wearing this outfit and gathered up a bunch of commendations… I largely believe in appearance alone. ¬†I am still around 25 coms away from my golden magitek mount so… in truth anything I can do to rake them in is a bonus!

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I think another huge factor for getting coms is being talkative in dungeon runs. ¬†While Final Fantasy XIV tends to be a much more friendly experience as a whole than World of Warcraft, it is still a largely quiet one… especially when it comes to grinding Palace of the Dead 51-60 over and over. ¬†Everyone more or less knows their roles and falls silently in place doing them, and I try my best to break up this monotony with some comments here and there. ¬†I always start the dungeon run with a “Hey Folks :)” and finish with some variant of “Thanks for the run. Have a good one!” and then I watch as the coms slowly trickle in. ¬†Sure it is formulaic, but it seems to work… ¬†and the truth is I usually get responses back from the other players which is part of my larger goal of breaking the silence and getting folks interacting. ¬†I mean it is not so formulaic that I have a macro set up or anything… ¬†so there is at least that. ¬†Regardless I hit 50 during Talking Dead last night and started working my way through the Ninja quests. ¬†I had forgotten that I had a full set of high quality level 115 gear sitting in my bank waiting on me, that I picked up while questing my way through Heavensward. ¬†So I also now look like a proper ninja as well.

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The other thing that I spent a significant amount of time playing this weekend was Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. ¬†At this point I have made a proper foothold in the world beyond the plateau, and in my travels I met Hestu. ¬†I am pretty sure he is my spirit animal… and all he really wants to do is shake his maracas for people. ¬†Thankfully by the time I encountered him I already had a few seeds to throw his ways, which I got by uncovering the hiding places of some of the Korok. ¬†I still have this very mixed relationship with this game. ¬†On one hand there are a bunch of things that I would love to change… ¬†and on the other hand I just can’t seem to stop playing it. ¬†There are absolutely things that feel needlessly obtuse and arcane… ¬†but by the same token you feel rewarded when you finally figure out how this or that system works. ¬†In many ways it reminds me of when I first set foot into Minecraft and had no clue how to craft anything at all… and simply started throwing things into the crafting bench to see what I might be able to make with it. ¬†Cooking works exactly this way, and while I have no clue how to duplicate some of my efforts… ¬†every now and then I get something truly awesome in the process.

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Another thing that is needlessly arcane is the process of taking screenshots from the Wii U. ¬†For awhile I have known that you can hit home… click Miiverse and save a screenshot through that method. ¬†The problem there is that there is really no way of actually getting at that screenshot other than looking in your album in Miiverse. ¬†I mean you can share it with other people using Miiverse… but is anyone actually using Nintendo’s pseudo social network? ¬†As a blogger I of course want access to the screenshots for the purpose of posting them on this blog, and in order to do that… you have to follow a completely different process. ¬†The process begins much the same as the Miiverse route, but instead after hitting home you bring up your browser and navigate to this address… ¬†i.nintendo.net. ¬†This process will bring you to a “Nintendo Image Share” page that will allow you to connect to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr and post whatever happens to be on your screen at the moment you bring up the browser. ¬†This in theory works on 3DS as well, but I have yet to test it out. ¬†The images of me in Kakariko Village and of Hestu were snapped in this manor and it seems to work extremely well. ¬†I mean like everything to do with Nintendo it is needlessly complicated… but it works. ¬†As always I configured my Wii U to post to my screenshot twitter account that I have connected to the PS4 as well. ¬†I highly suggest having a secondary account for screenshots… that way you can without feeling bad dump twenty screenshots in a single night. ¬†I do however need to check this out on the 3DS and see if this will finally allow me to get proper screengrabs of the games I am playing there. ¬†How was your weekend?

High Sodium and Paragliding

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This morning I am going to start the blog out with some tales of high sodium content. ¬†It is safe to say that the Final Fantasy XIV “serious gamer” community is grumpy as hell right now. ¬†Essentially the downtime on Thursday introduced the return of the Diadem… which is functionally what Free Company airships are used for… and also something that I have never actually gotten the chance to participate. ¬†My understanding is it is a giant outdoor timed hunt zone of a sort, that has lots of mini objectives that then can reward chests full of loot. ¬†I am always down for Square to revitalize content that has fallen by the wayside… I am looking at you hunt marks. ¬†However why folks are super salty about this is that apparently there is a phenomenally rare chance at getting a 280 weapon to drop while doing the content. ¬†This is of note 5 item levels higher than either the latest relic step or the weapons from Savage Alexander. ¬†Ashgar posted a comment in our podcast slack that I can only assume came from reddit…

Can confirm, am salty.

Then I did some napkin math and if one person of the 72 players who participated wanted to get a specific weapon out of the 13 available, they’d need to do the Emergency Mission 1000 times to have a reasonable (read around 65%) of obtaining it. For a 90% chance of obtaining it, you’d need to put 2200 attempts into Emergency Missions.

If you play the roughly 2350 hours we have until we get early access to SB, you will at one emergency mission per hour, distribute 150 hours of sleep and non FFXIV related over 98 days, lets say you spend 30 min each day on food, personaly hygiene etc. and you will sleep for 1 hour per day. This is, of course, calculated with queue times estimated as 0, which I’m sure they will be. /s

So the thing is… getting one of these 280 weapons is quite literally winning the lottery. ¬†It is not something anyone can reasonably aspire to, but serves as enough of a carrot to get people interested at all item levels of gear to start doing Diadem once more. ¬†This absolutely fits the modus operadi of Yoshi P and crew… which is largely bribing players to do whatever content that they feel is under represented by placing the big new shiny rewards there. ¬†What I don’t get however is the folks claiming they are going to cancel the game over this action. ¬†This has been the way content is balanced from the beginning of A Realm Reborn… ¬†and nifty things through bribery is a constant theme. ¬†This does not however negate the work you put in on either a Alex weapon, or your Relic because nothing can ever tarnish the shine of those memories. ¬†If you are playing a game only to have things no one else will ever have… ¬†then you are probably playing for all of the wrong reasons. ¬†Numerical perfection is a constantly moving target, and one that will be outdated the next time a new patch lands. ¬†However if you just play for the joy of playing… and the memories of accomplishing content with your friends… then no one can ever take that from you. ¬†What I see instead is a company throwing one hell of a carrot into content that would have easily become outdated the second it launched, and more importantly is a way of getting folks geared in 265 gear which will help their transition into Stormblood.

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One again I am super annoyed with having to snag screenshots from the web and use them in my posts when I talk about Breath of the Wild. ¬†The Wii U is so cludgy when it comes to posting screenshots, but I suppose at some point I really need to figure out how to make it work. ¬†Last night instead of hanging out on the sofa or upstairs… I opted to chill in the bedroom and play some more Zelda. ¬†As of the end of last night I have officially left the starter zone, and in truth the biggest thing holding me back… was the fact that I could not figure out how in the holy hell to cook things. ¬†My key problem with Zelda is that things just feel grossly un-intuitive. ¬†For example… ¬†I expected to be able to walk up to a cooking pot… and see a “Press Button to Cook” prompt. ¬†However this never actually happened and instead I had to google it… and then google it again until I found someone who could explain it in simple enough terms to treat me as though I understood nothing about this game. ¬†There are a lot of steps to this process that are not painfully obvious or were not to me. ¬†First off you have to make sure that your cooking pot has a fire under it… ¬†so for me that meant taking a branch… ¬†catching it on fire and then whacking the cooking pot which then lit the wood underneath it. ¬†From there you have to go into your inventory and press X on the materials to “hold” it. ¬†That however is not enough… you have to press A to add the item to your arms… ¬†and you go through and pick out the ingredients you want to cook doing this.

Finally when you exit the menu… you see the prompt to cook the items link is crudely holding… ¬†and you are treated to maybe the most magical tune ever. ¬†Like I am already hooked on cooking because I want to hear that tune over and over and over… and I tried cooking damned never everything in my inventory that looked even vaguely edible. ¬†There is a completely magical remix that blends the tune with the Carmen Sandiego theme. ¬†The cooking gave me access to frost resistance food… which then in turn gave me access to the last two shrines which allowed me to leave newbie plateau. ¬†I feel like maybe I am starting to hit my stride with this game, and maybe stopping the comparison with Horizon? ¬†Probably the highlight of last night for me was finding the Great Plateau Steppe Talus and then defeating it… ¬†after so damned many deaths. ¬†One of the things that I like about this game is that the auto save points seem to be sprinkled around just often enough… that you are really never losing too much time in making an attempt. ¬†So for the Steppe Talus, the save point was just outside of the little valley it is in so I could quickly run back and keep trying things until I finally defeated it. ¬†The trick for me was to try and stay on at all costs which meant sometimes crawling back down into climbing mode, and other times just simply running around on top to make sure I didn’t get knocked off. ¬†The hardest part however was once again the fact that no one weapon would ever last more than a handful of swings so I literally killed it… ¬†with a single weapon left in my inventory. ¬†This made it extremely awkward trying to kill a handful of skeletons that spawned as I was walking out of the valley. ¬†Whatever the case… I think I see the potential now for what boss fights might be like and I also sort of get the reference to souls games. ¬†That term gets thrown around way too much lately, but in this case I think they largely mean the need to keep learning new tricks to defeat overwhelming odds. ¬†In the case of the Steppe Talus, if I got hit once… with a solid enough hit it was simply over. ¬†So I very much had to stay ahead of the combat, and only through not making any mistakes was I really able to defeat it.

A Good Night

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Last night was as the post title might give away… ¬†a really good night. ¬†Lately in Final Fantasy XIV I have been caught up in one of two different grinds. ¬†The first being getting everyone to 50 by running floors 51-60 over and over again in Palace of the Dead. ¬†The second being leveling crafting through the use of the Ixal beast tribe quests… ¬†which is significantly more time consuming that it initially seems. ¬†There have been so many nights I have completely squandered the entire evening trying to get that last high quality item needed to turn in a quest. ¬†This past evening however we ran group content, and actually had a full team of eight players. ¬†Granted at some point during the evening we lost Mor, and Neph is in Iceland and unable to game with us… ¬†but we have built back up to a large enough group that we can do things together without queuing in randos. ¬†Not that random players in Final Fantasy XIV are ever really a problem… it is just nice to not have to explain that we are hashing things out on a voice chat that they don’t have access to. ¬†The prime target of the evening was Zurvan the last of the warring triad. ¬†While I was not really a huge fan of Sephirot… ¬†I have to say both Sophia and Zurvan are awesome fights. ¬†Zurvan is a bit more of a good old fashioned avoid the shit fight… but still very fun to tank at least.

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After finishing up Zurvan we got another person keyed for the last part of Alexander by running them all in sequence. ¬†I have a feeling we are ultimately going to be doing a lot of this at some point given that both Stormrazor and Muspel are coming up through the ranks. ¬†It sounds like at some point we really need to run the early Alex for Storm, which is absolutely a thing we can do. ¬†All in all the Alex fights are extremely fun… ¬†except for maybe that middle section. ¬†There are definitely some memorable encounters, but I simply don’t like it nearly as much as I like the first four and the last four. ¬†I actually managed to roll lucky and walked away with an accessory and a belt, which takes my total item level up to 247… which I am simply hoping is high enough to avoid another gear wall during the next batch of content. ¬†That has been the problem with Heavensward and one I am hoping they are fixing for Stormblood… ¬†the hitting of walls that are not super easy to get to through casual content. ¬†I still feel like they need to be doing a round of hunts each item tier to help folks catch up in a solo manner as well as through doing group content. ¬†Final Fantasy XIV as a whole is a weird social experiment… of applying pressure in one direction and rewards in another direction to try and influence player behavior. ¬†Sometimes it works out perfectly… and other times it feels cludgy as hell. ¬†The gear barriers are one of those rare occasions in this game where I feel like they made the wrong choice. ¬†That said it was a really great night of running stuff with friends, and now that we seem to have a regular group of eight people… ¬†so many other options open up.