Hunting Bookrocks

Deep Freeze

Last night was another prime example of the odd weather patterns here in Oklahoma.  When I got home from work it had managed to heat up enough to kick on our air conditioning.  Then over the course of one of the worst wind storms I can recall, that pretty much wrecked the gate to our backyard…  it dropped from a balmy 80 degrees to 33 degrees and still really windy this morning.  Being veterans day, and being that I am off work today… I had planned on having the Heating and Air guy out today to do our yearly “winter” inspection.  I am guessing that I picked the perfect day because tonight it is supposed to plummet even colder.  I realize that all of you northerners are thinking that the temperatures I am describing is nothing… but for someone raised to live in 70 degree to 115 degree climate this is pretty cold.

The problem with the heating and air folks coming out is the fact that my office was a mess.  I have a bad habit of just tossing empty boxes in the corner and over the course of a year the pile of boxes had gotten pretty epic.  It made me realize just how much stuff we order from Amazon.  While we do not have curbside recycling here, we do however have these little bins called “Mr Murf” that I can take the cardboard to.  So I have loaded the back of my jeep with the various assorted boxes, condensing them as best I could.  In addition I went out into the backyard and unhooked the hose from the house in preparation for a hard freeze. The last step was to gather up all the trash and put the bin out next to the curb, feed the cats, feed myself and sit down to blog.  All in all I have had a damned productive day and it is only 7:30 in the morning.

Hunting Bookrocks

ffxiv 2014-11-10 21-34-48-178 I rushed around so much this morning so that, one it would actually get done, and two I could spend the rest of my day leisurely farming for bookrocks in Final Fantasy XIV.  Before I finished the night last night I managed to cap my Tomestones of Poetics, and similarly I am close to another piece of armor with my Tomestones of Soldiery.  Generally speaking running content on reset day yields some of the best results, so I will more than likely be hitting a mixture of Labyrinth of the Ancients, Syrcus Tower and Expert Roulette in an attempt to get the precious precious bookrocks.  At this point I really want to get my pants drop out of Syrcus Tower so I can stop running it as a dragoon.  Ultimately I would rather be running it as a class that has a higher likelihood of getting drops like my Bard.  However given my past luck with MMOs, I know the moment I take anything other than the class that can roll “need” on them… they will start dropping every single time.

In The Burning Crusade I raided Karazhan every single Sunday for over a year.  During this time tanking it, I managed to get Attumen’s mount, but never managed to get the tanking necklace that eluded me.  After a years time I got tired of dragging a character in there that only needed a single item, so I started healing it on my paladin… letting another up and coming  tank take my space.  The first time I was in there as a Paladin… the tanking neck dropped.  That has always been the case for me… I have exceptional luck early on and then there are one or two items that will not drop no matter how many times I attempt to get them.  Then there are super rare items that everyone seems to be able to get but just end up taunting me.  I am looking at you Headless Horseman mount.  When I was farming that regularly, almost every time someone in my instance would get their mount…  but I would not.  I guess it could be worse… I could be Rylacus or Tamrielo…  who simply don’t get drops at all.

Rapidly Backpedaling

Wow-64 2014-11-11 07-56-07-885 I am still completely up in the air as to whether or not I will be playing Warlords of Draenor come Thursday.  Had you asked me two weeks ago I would have said an absolute and resounding “Nope”.  Then Blizzcon happened… and the extreme heartstring tugging of the Looking for Group documentary.  That thing crit me straight to the feels for 9999… yeah I am still thinking in Final Fantasy numbers here.  Unfortunately I felt things that I have not felt stirring in me about World of Warcraft since probably I last set foot on Draenor or at the very least last set foot in Northrend.  This started an unraveling of my resolve against playing World of Warcraft.  Basically there are two important pieces of data.  The first being that my subscription does not officially run out for another 19 days.  The second being that thanks to them opening preorders what seems like a year before the expansion actually launched…  I’ve already pre-purchased the game and used my boost to 90 to push up my Night Elf Mage.

So there you have it… I have both access to my account to play, and the expansion already sitting there waiting on me.  The problem is my problems with the expansion are still there.  There is an excellent video from Qelric condensing her views about the Death Knight class in the expansion, and while I have never been able to be that concise she sums it up nicely.  All that I have been able to say… is that they just felt wrong somehow.  Like I never could quantify exactly what that meant.  All of that said… if I do end up  coming back I will more than likely do so on Belghast my warrior, with a return to protection tanking.  I managed to get into Belghast a little bit right before I quit playing before the launch of Elder Scrolls Online and was having a reasonably good time with it.  The protection changes seem to be mostly good, and the feel is solid.  I would be kinda nice to set foot in Draenor on the character that came into its own during the Burning Crusade expansion.  BC was the era where I transitioned from Hunter main to Warrior Tank main, so there is a whole bundle of nostalgia wrapped up in that setting.

The one thing I know for certain…  I will never be leading the World of Warcraft House Stalwart again.  When I came back last year, I fought hard to try and mend the rift that had built up in the guild in my absence.  I tried desperately to get the two factions to talk to one another, but no amount of me acting as a bridge between… managed to actually help.  This broke my resolve, and eventually the problem child in the equation left…  and things apparently have been rather blissful in his absence.  World of Warcraft is not a game I can play seriously any more.  I tried to go back to raiding regularly with this last expansion and it just did not fit with the way I want to play the game.  So long as I was a damned dirty casual I seemed to be enjoying myself, but the moment people started relying on me for anything…  I was back in the position that I fought so hard to escape the first time.  If I do play again, it would be as a secondary game the same way that I continue to play Rift.  It is time for the Warcraft branch of House Stalwart to have a true leader, not just a figurehead that long ago stopped loving that position.

Given that it is Veterans Day here in the United States, I thought it fitting to show my thankfulness for the service of our men and women in the armed forces.  This actually means quite a bit to me, because while I have never served in the Military myself…  both of my grandfathers did.  We lose sight on just how hardcore World War 2 must have been.  The Grandfather on my fathers side was wounded during the D-Day invasion, and had a machine gun emplacement shoot down his back as he was trying to duck into a foxhole.  Had he not happened to quite literally fall on a medic, he would have died as the machine gun and sliced through his lung and it was collapsing.  They bandaged him up just enough to send him back out into battle, where he eventually participated in the Battle of the Bulge.  During that leg of the campaign it was so cold that he lost  half of his toes to frostbite.

My Grandfather on my Mother’s side was in the Tunisian front and captured during the Battle of Kasserine Pass, and spent time in a prison camp.  Eventually he joined in with others and staged and escape managing to eventually get back to Allied lines.  While on the run he was aided by various farming families in the Italian countryside.  My wife’s step father on the other hand was a veteran of the Korean Conflict.  He was a member of the Chosin Few, a group of service men trapped on a peninsula in the Chosin Reservoir that held off Chinese forces.  The thing that I found the most interesting is that all three men were completely stoic about their service.  Not a single one of them wanted any recognition for what they had done for our  country.  In fact none of them really wanted to talk about it at all.  It was only later in life that each was willing to give us little tidbits of information regarding what all they had been through.  I quite literally cannot imagine what they had to go through to survive, and I am thankful that I will never have to know.  So on this Veterans Day I am thankful for all of the men and women who have served our country so that I can have the life of safety and personal freedoms that I lead.

#FFXIV #WoW

Holiday Countdown

Gone Viral

Yesterday did not go as planned in any sense of the word.  Well to be honest the morning went pretty smoothly and I had a rather relaxing go at piddling around in Final Fantasy XIV while doing laundry.  However that all changed mid afternoon as we started battling a virus infection on my wife’s laptop.  The night before she had some weirdness going on with several DllHost.exe in memory consuming lots of system resources.  She rebooted and it seemed to go away at least temporarily.  However yesterday morning the virus scanner picked something up and deleted it… which seemed to only cause things to escalate from there.  She started getting errors in Powershell which to the best of my knowledge we never actually installed on her system.

It seems as though a new strain of something called Trojan.Poweliks had gone out into the wild on the 8th and she had the bad luck to hit the wrong site and the wrong time and contract it.  For a bit we thought maybe it had been stopped, as the virus scanner found several items and correctly identified them as Poweliks.  Strange thing is that this only seemed to piss off the system, as constantly more things were popping up with the same infection.  Finally around 10pm we decided to just wipe the system taking the “nuke it from orbit” approach.  So that is precisely what I did after watching Walking Dead.  At least this solves one problem… as that laptop had a 32bit version of Windows 7 on it… which prevented us from giving her some more ram.  Problem solved.

Dragoon Legs

ffxiv 2014-11-08 19-17-48-704 Since the 2.4 patch release I have been on an insatiable quest to finish out the level 100 Dragoon set from Syrcus Tower.  Sure I could get better items from the soldiery vendor, but at this point it is a matter of principle.  I have gathered up every item but one, the legs that drop from Amon the next to last boss.  At this point I can run Syrcus Tower in my sleep, as I have quite literally been in there three to five times a night.  I have seen the legs drop exactly three times… each of those times I had the misfortune of being in the same dungeon with another dragoon.  Each time I lost, one of them by a single point on the roll.  Essentially these legs have become the bane of my existence… but I am not giving up, not by a long shot.  I know that the moment I switch classes and start running Syrcus as my bard… the legs will drop on the very first time and go uncontested to another Dragoon.

One of the interesting options you have as part of the Duty Roulette is that you can check the “join party in progress” check box…  meaning in theory you could get dumped into a partially cleared instance.  I actually managed to luck out twice with this… the second time they were on Zande the final boss in the raid.  Now when you join it dumps you at the beginning of the instance and you have to take a teleporter that brings you relatively close to the boss that the group is working on.  Apparently they pulled before I could get there so the above picture is me dancing the Manderville as the final meteor plummets towards the party.  The funny thing is that I still got to roll on all of the items that dropped even though I got locked out of the encounter.  While I didn’t win anything… this was the easiest 15 poetics and 20 soldiery I have ever earned.

Holiday Countdown

xmascountdown

It feels like this has been the year of gaming blogosphere events.  The first was the always awesome Newbie Blogger Initiative, then I had my own super successful Blaugust, and Izlain just wrapped up Bragtoberfest, and now the ever amazing MMO Gypsy is wanting to create a virtual advent calendar.  It seems there is tradition in her area of the world of the “Advent Window” where each member of a town or village decorates their home to represent a day of the advent season, the days leading up to Christmas Day.  In a way we are a virtual village, with our blogs representing our homes and the town being made up of the gaming blogosphere as a whole.  The idea that she talks about in her blog is that for each of us to create a post on an assigned day highlighting all of the positive things about the gaming community.

If you have a blog and are interested in participating, you can sign up by either leaving a comment in the post announcing it, or dropping Syl a line on twitter.  I have been informed that since I helped with the logo, that I had no choice but to participate.  Of course I would have signed up anyways, but I will just let Syl think she has some serious pull to order me around like that.  I think it is going to be a really interesting event, and hopefully we can come up with some way of visualizing the days of the month to carry out the window on the world feel.  All of the specifics about the topic, title, how you get your day assigned can be found in the original post.  We have had so much negativity this year in the broader gaming community, and as such it is up to us the gaming bloggers to show that there are still positive voices in our world.

Gaming Blogosphere

While it was not my original intent, I am ending up making thankfulness posts that ultimately relate to the topic I just posted.  Similarly this morning I am extremely thankful to be a member of the Gaming Blogosphere.  That term in itself is a fairly ephemeral thing, because it means so many different things to so many different people.  Ultimately it was the Blog Azeroth folks that gave me the spark to start Aggronaut.com so many years ago.  Like so many Tales of the Aggronaut started as a single focus blog, with my intent being focused on World of Warcraft Warrior Tanking.  However this shifted focus to being a general tanking blog, with some raid leadership topics… and then ultimately abandoning being World of Warcraft focused at all.  At each step of my journey I have had supportive voices cheering me on from the community, and were it not for them I likely would have fallen completely into obscurity.

For a long time it felt as though we didn’t have a very strong sense of community out here in the “not entirely devoted to World of Warcraft” blog space.  However the events I talked about in this post have helped to create a much more cohesive sense of community.  This combined with the fact that this year we launched The Gaming and Entertainment Network has given me a deeper sense of belonging to something larger than just myself.  I am deeply thankful for the other bloggers that I interact with on a near daily basis, and thankful that they have for some reason accepted me into their good graces.  You have been a supportive voice when I desperately needed one, and I am so thankful to have all of you.

So Many Feels

AggroChat Episode #30

I still cannot fathom that we have made it thirty episodes into our podcast and are still apparently going strong.  Technically it is 31 weeks since we started this adventure, because we missed one week for various sundry reasons.  What shocks me the most is that we still have listeners and that it seems like we keep picking up new ones along the way.  I feel Sally Field screaming “You Like Me, You Really Like Me!” but in this case its the Us that is liked not necessarily me.  AggroChat is really about pushing record on the type of conversations we have always had over voice chat on a near nightly basis.  We are unscripted and unprepared and yet still seem to never had a drought of things to discuss.

This week we go  through a whirlwind of topics including:  Magic the Gathering Online, Infinity Minatures Game, Dawngate being cancelled, Blizzcon, Overwatch, and the constant frustration over Gnomes being the butt of every joke.  I think we were all caught off guard by the news surrounding Overwatch.  If you remember several weeks back we speculated as to what might be announced, and while we brought up an FPS we just as quickly dismissed that ideal.  The FPS genre is pretty stagnant so I didn’t see much room where Blizzard could improve upon it.  Here is hoping this is not the case because the gameplay footage I have seen has me absolutely intrigued.  Wolfenstein Enemy Territory was my favorite competitive shooter, and here is hoping that they bring this same level of detail and strategy to the maps.  Also hoping that by some token I can manage to score a beta invite.

So Many Feels

If you recall yesterday I talked about the “Blizzcon Spirit” and how that this year I had not really felt it.  Well last night it struck with a vengeance.  My friend Syl mentioned the Looking For Group documentary and how good it was over twitter.  I had already planned on watching it at some point, because I am a sucker for documentaries… especially fan produced ones.  I have to say it is so amazingly good, and I am glad that something like that exists.  The negative is I am absolutely overwhelmed with feels about Blizzard, World of Warcraft and the community surrounding it.  Had it not been super late last night I probably would have logged into the game the moment the documentary had finished if for no reason other than to visit my characters.  The documentary is like some crazy aphrodisiac that makes you love World of Warcraft again.  One viewing and you will be wanting to scream “For The Alliance!” or horde if that is your persuasion.

Then the reality sets in…  that all the same problems I have had with the game, and the players and just years of history…  are all still there.  If I could return to a snapshot in time, when we were still raiding Icecrown Citadel as the Duranub Raiding Compny…  I would do it in a heartbeat.  If I could return to a period in time when we were fighting to clear Ahn’Qiraj as the Late Night Raiders… I would also do that in a heartbeat.  The problem is there are these epic vignettes of time where it would be amazing to return to and experience all the love and wonderment that existed in that little vacuum.  Sad thing is none of those things exist…  time happened, years of guild, server and raid drama happened.  Folks don’t just stand still in one place, they evolve and move on with their lives.

Glory Days Revisited

belghast_updated When I log back into World of Warcraft amped up on Nostalgia… I feel just like that once upon a time Quarterback reliving their big homecoming win.  That world that was meaningful to me and the people that I fought to protect and keep moving towards a goal…  just don’t exist any longer, or at least they don’t exist in the same combination that they once did.  I have tried to return to the game on two different times and rally the troops to rekindle the spirit that once made my guild a great place to be.  Each time I end up frustrated that no one is wanting to work towards those ends with me.  People are happy to exist in the comfortable place they have carved out once the epic nature of the game died away.  The glory days really can’t be relived, at least not in the same way.

So here I stand wondering what exactly I will do.  I know there is no going back, but part of me wishes there was.  I have a paid subscription through December, and a fully paid expansion because they allowed me to order it a year ago when I was actually amped up about World of Warcraft once more.  I have no idea if I will attempt to log in come release day, and start playing through the new content.  One of the things about being open to change, means you can’t fully predict what you will do when a different set of stimulus is applied.  I think my time leading the Warcraft House Stalwart is over, and it is time for them to find new leadership that can make them great again.  That doesn’t preclude me from occasionally playing the role of war hero and popping my head in from time to time.

Feels

Since this post is in large part about feelings, and me struggling with them…  I thought it was fitting to state that while often times frustrating…  I am glad that I have them.  It would suck to go through life with the inability to surrender to your emotions and get caught up in a moment.  While society has attempted to teach me that it is somehow “unmanly” to feel emotion, and moreso be swayed by them…  for whatever reason this indoctrination never actually took.  I feel no shame in choking back tears during certain moments of a lot of movies.  There is  that moment where you just can’t help yourself, and that story of whatever you are watching has peeled back your layers of defense and landed a blow to your inner core.  I embrace that I can empathize with people I have never met, and care even more deeply about them that they will likely ever realize.  While it is often cool to be aloof and uncaring about things…  I like to care, I like to know I am making a difference.  So today I am thankful that I was raised with compassion and the ability to grant that same compassion to others.

Blizzard Spirit

Christmas Spirit

I tend to be a scrooge when it comes to holidays.  I am not sure exactly why I have reached this point, but it wasn’t always that way.  Over time the world seems to have warn me down, and each year that passes I find it harder and harder to get into the right frame of mind.  There are lots of reasons why it might be the case, not the least of which is the fact that my family has gone through far more deaths around Christmas time than I care to recount.  I think in part this is just the way I am, as I don’t really get excited over any of the holidays, or at least have a harder time with each passing year mustering some excitement.  It might also be due to the fact that in general we start seeing Christmas decorations showing up in the stores around July, and by the time the holiday actually shows up I am in full tilt overload mode.

Without a doubt all of this changes the moment I am face to face with a child.  I can see the amazement, excitement and wonder in their eyes as they take in the experiences of whatever holiday it happens to be.  This raises a torch to the little fire inside of me, and causes me to remember just how magical these events used to be before I became a “grown up”.  Ultimately holidays are for the children, and it is only in them that they can be truly appreciated.  Since I don’t spent my time around that many kids, it takes longer and longer for this little flame to be renewed each year.  So while I don’t necessarily want to be a scrooge, that is ultimately what ends up happening.  I am not out on my lawn yelling at the kids, but nonetheless we don’t do much if anything to celebrate holidays on our own.

Blizzard Spirit

blizzcon_spirit So you might be thinking…  Bel… why are you telling me all of this?  Well once upon a time, no matter how forlorn I was about Blizzard as a company, Blizzcon was this magic bullet to relight the fires of wonderment inside of me.  Whether or not I was actually playing anything from Blizzard at the time, when Blizzcon rolled around each year it would hold a torch to the little fire inside of me and stoke my nostalgia to a fever pitch, causing me to renew my subscription.  This has long been referred to as the “Blizzcon bump” and can pretty much be charted on the subscription numbers every single time.  This is part the majesty of Blizzcon itself, and part the fever pitch of excitement that reverberates through the community as a whole.  It becomes contagious as you watch friend after friend succumb to a certain kind of madness and raise their Blizzard fan flags high.

The problem is…  the pilot light deep inside of me keeps flickering and as of yet no amount of fire seems to be stoking it.  I tuned in yesterday to watch the Blizzcon opening ceremonies stream, because I knew more than likely something would get announced that we would probably talk about tonight during the podcast.  I had heard rumors of a big announcement, and honestly I halfway expected that big announcement to be Warcraft 4, since it was the 20th anniversary and all.  Other than that I expected whatever was announced to be on a tablet, since that has been a major growth market for them with Hearthstone.  I was completely wrong in all accounts, and while what announced was awesome looking…  it didn’t really do what I thought it would and reignite the flame.

This is the first Blizzcon since the introduction of the Virtual Ticket, that I have not watched.  While I pre-purchased my copy of Warlords back when I was actually regularly playing the game… this also looks to be potentially the first Warcraft expansion that I will not actually be playing at launch.  I am jealous of the folks like Alternative Chat and Qelric that have kept their fires of nostalgia burning brightly.  Maybe this will be like Christmas, and I will be overcome with the “Blizzard Spirit” days or maybe even minutes before the official launch of Warlords of Draenor.  I am not a person of firm stances, and absolute positions.  I change my mind about at least one long held belief on a nearly daily basis.  So maybe just maybe I will be a late bloomer in my nostalgia and end up happily playing this expansion.  Currently the signs are pointing to no, and while my account is still active I have gone through all the preparations to not be playing at all.  I quietly handed over the reins of House Stalwart to my friend Rylacus during the dark of night.  In any case I will try my damnedest not to be a true Scrooge and ruin anyone’s fun during the launch festivities.

Overwatch Looks Awesome

Reaper_Overwatch_002 All of this said, is not to take anything away from the fact that Overwatch does indeed look like a really awesome game.  When it was first announced I had mixed emotions about it.  It felt very much like “Blizzard Does Team Fortress 2”, and I didn’t quite understand why this was going to be a ground breaking thing.  Then again in truth nothing that Blizzard does is really ground breaking.  They have this way of taking an existing genre and polishing it to a mirror shine, improving the playability and accessibility during the process and making the gameplay itself infectious.  I have no doubt at all that when we actually get our hands on Overwatch all of these adjectives will be true, and it will be yet another blockbuster game in the crown of a company that is known for them.  We still don’t know a lot of details about the game but my general theory is this will be “MOBA” like in that we will more than likely have a rotation of free characters that we can play, with the option to purchase them permanently and also purchase nifty skins for them.

What made me excited about the game was when I watched the above video of an actual match.  I am not your traditional FPS player, in that I don’t really enjoy twitchy deathmatch back and forth gameplay.  As such I have always favored games with hard fought objectives be it capture and hold or capture the flag.  My all time favorite competitive FPS is Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory because it gave me something to focus on other than just my kill count.  Watching the above video… feels like Wolfenstein.  I love that the maps have tight corners, because the last few generations of shooters just feel too open to me.  I prefer to play run and gun, and wide open maps pretty much mean certain death from above for my particular style.  Though from the looks of it these maps seem like they will provide adequate places for folks who like to ambush like snipers as well.  The focus on the objective tightens the focus of the map, since everyone will be swarming that one location, and the six versus six group size makes for more intimate play.

heroselect_047 So while I am not just enraptured by the Blizzcon conference as a whole, that does not mean that I am not absolutely looking forward to this game.  Right now the champions that I am looking forward to playing the most are Reinhardt because he is tanky and melee, and Winston… because he is an gentleman ape.  Another champion that looks really awesome is Torbjorn because if you have followed me for long, you will know my love of Dwarves.  Additionally when it comes to Enemy Territory games I almost always play the engineer, so that pretty much seems to fit right down his alley.  Another champion that looks interesting is Symmetra for her awesome mini turret placing mechanics.  The champion that I am not sure if I will like or not is Bastion, because he seems really quirky… but often times quirky is also interesting.

It has been over a decade since Blizzard launched a new IP, and I have to say so far I approve.  The cinematic trailer is great, when it started I was like “Blizzard does Super Heroes?  Sign me up!”.  I really want to play an MMO in this universe because I have not given up hope on a really good super hero MMO.  DC Universe Online is fun enough, but it feels really limited in scope, but it is still the best we have.  City of Heroes was a long time favorite of mine, and I miss it quite a bit at times…  that said it had been years since I had actively played it when it shut down.  Champions Online on the other hand has been a barely playable abomination… which is sad because I had so much hope for it.  If project Titan was in fact going to be Overwatch the MMO…  I mourn its loss.  However the game that rose from its ashes looks amazingly fun.  At the end of the day… I just really want to see a full length movie dedicated to the adventures of Winston and Tracer.  Hopefully I can manage to get into beta because I am very interested in seeing how this game progresses.

Open-mindedness

This one is going to be a bit of an odd one, but in part it syncs up with what I have said today.  I am thankful that my upbringing has instilled in me a sense of curiosity towards new ideas.  I can’t really say how it happened, but I have a pretty malleable sense of self, and as such I’ve always been hungry for new viewpoints on different subjects.  I gobble up as much information as I can, and each piece of information could potentially “upgrade” one of my existing views, or cause me to trash a “rough draft” and start over.  There are very few things in me that are not open to discussion, other than a core barometer of justice and basic human decency.  So at this very moment I can’t tell you how I will feel about something next week, or a year from now… because I am constantly evolving.

I think this is a strength and not a weakness, and it has allowed me to adapt to the line of work that I do and the ever changing cavalcade of new technologies and programming practices that I have to evaluate.  All the while I try my best to keep a firm sense of all of my experiences, and the history behind them… while still putting myself out there and looking to take the best bits of knowledge that I happen to find along my journey.  So Mom, Dad, Priests, Scout Leaders, Teachers…  all are to be thanked for somehow instilling in me this sense of willingness to pick up new ideas and abandon the ones that no longer make sense.

#Blizzcon #Overwatch

Great Time to Start

Good Time to Return

This weekend is going to be a huge hyped filled occasion, and twitter will be full of news trickling out of Blizzcon from the stable of Blizzard games.  However if you are not enthralled by that I have something to entertain you as well.  With not surprising timing, Square Enix has announced that this weekend that officially started at midnight PST all players who have ever played Final Fantasy XIV will be able to return and play for free until midnight PST on the 10th.  This means if you have the client already you just have to patch it up, if you do not have the client however thankfully Square Enix makes that relatively easy to find as well.  I literally just typed in “Final Fantasy XIV Client” and was taken directly to the easy to find download link.  Additionally if you are a Steam user, you can download a “demo” of the game which should download the full client as well.

For the my own purposes and the purpose of linking to friends I have maintained a playlist on my youtube account that contains each of the major patch trailers.  Square does an amazing job of highlighting all of the content that they add into the game during these trailers, and some of them are over ten minutes long showing off new features.  It has been two weeks now since the release of the 2.4 patch that added in a round of new stuff including the brand new Rogue class and Ninja job.  This admittedly has thrown the world out of whack a bit, and be warned that DPS queues in the duty finder are a bit longer than normal…  however this appears to be coming down rapidly as folks finish leveling their rogues and start playing the endgame.  The positive is that this has been a slow trickle and the server is still super active with FATEs actually viable in practically every zone.  This is also booned a bit by the improved Atma drop rates, making folks willing to work on Atma weapons for alts.  If you haven’t played in awhile… none of what I just said probably made much sense…  but just know that these are good things.

Great Time To Start

ffxiv 2014-11-02 19-34-21-091 If you have never played Final Fantasy XIV before, it is now the perfect time to start as well.  For starters there has been a 14 day trial system in place for a few months now, allowing you to get in and play for free.  If you prefer to go through steam I believe clicking the demo option will do the same thing… but I am not sure how the billing works through steam.  In theory everything has to go through the Mogstation, which admittedly the worst part of playing any Square Enix game is dealing with their extremely confusing account management system.  The reason why it is such a great time to start is that right now until November 12th, Steam has the complete Final Fantasy XIV game for half off.  That means the normal version is only $12.49 and the Collectors Edition that comes with a bunch of spiffy stuff including the adorable Fat Chocobo mount among other things is only $22.49.  This seems like an absolutely insane deal, and I may have ninja gifted the game to a few people yesterday as a result.

ffxiv 2014-11-01 20-06-51-406 One thing of note, in the world gone mad with F2P games… this is a traditional subscription model.  One interesting twist however is that there is something called an “Entry” subscription that is $12.99 a month and allows you to play a single character per server.  In truth this tends to be the sweet spot for most people, as you really only need one character in the game period.  The job system allows you to swap back and forth between many roles at will, allowing that one character to do damned near everything there is in the game.  For example right now my character Belghast Sternblade is a 50 marauder, 50 gladiator, 50 archer, 50 lancer, 40 conjurer, 33 pugilist, 26 thaumaturge, 19 arcanist, 15 rogue and 35 miner.   So for awhile I have considered dialing back to the one character account because the likelihood that I will ever care about another character on my server is supremely unlikely.

Better For Not Being Free To Play

ffxiv 2014-10-31 20-03-13-582 Yesterday I had a bunch of folks say essentially the same thing. “I would be excited if this was free to play”, which frustrates me a little bit… but I can see saying it.  There are some games that free to play would ruin, because in truth the “free” aspect of that name is generally a bold faced lie.  Sure there is some stuff you can do for free, but at the end of the day everyone needs to make money to keep their doors open.  As I have watched games go f2p, I have watched two things happen.  Either they greatly slow down the pace of content releases, or they start erecting paid walls between you and that content.  In truth ONE of the two has to happen or quite frankly the companies end up going out of business.  The once lightning pace that content dropped for Rift players feels like it has slowed to a trickle.  Then you have games like Star Wars the Old Republic where each and every thing in the game has some price tag associated with it.

ffxiv 2014-11-05 22-00-23-313 The thing that has impressed me the most with Final Fantasy XIV is the pace at which they have released content over the last year, and more so than that the sheer volume of content that gets released.  Roughly once a quarter they release a new major patch, and roughly once a month they release a minor patch… that is not just bug fixes but serious new system improvements.  For example… these are the 2.35 patch notes…  that are several pages long full of new systems and usability improvements.  When they add content they add it not just for the highest end players, but they trickle it through all play styles.  There are new max level dungeons, new raids, new crafting recipes and materials to go find, as well as a continuation of the really awesome storyline that is woven through the game.  They seem to care about all of the different playstyles that make up their community, and are wanting to give each of them a reason to keep logging in and playing.  Quite frankly…  free to play and having to worry about getting enough money to survive would absolutely tarnish the spirit of this game and its community.

Cactuar Server Community

I figured this was a good bookend to the post I made above.  Today I am going to talk about something probably strange to be thankful for, but I am going to anyways.  I am extremely Thankful for the existence of the Cactuar Server community and how awesome the people there are.  Once upon a time I was deeply connected to most of the server communities I was part of when I played games.  I was a huge supporter of Gaheris in Dark Age of Camelot and Xegony in Everquest…  so it was not strange when I landed in World of Warcraft to get involved with the Argent Dawn community as well.  The problem is that Argent Dawn broke my heart, the longer I played on it.  During those heady days after release we had a vibrant and thriving community, full of lots of interesting groups of people more than willing to work together towards larger goals.  Argent Dawn was a hotbed of non-guild based raiding and it was awesome.  Over time, especially with the release of Cataclysm…  this all changed and the old guard of players that were community focused slowly drifted off into the nether.

It was hard to watch the Argent Dawn community fall apart, so as I played other games I really never took the time to dip my toes into the larger server.  I stayed fairly insular and only really cared about my own guild and its well being.  This changed this summer when I came back to Final Fantasy XIV.  I think in part it is because when I first renewed my account, I was the only one to do so for a few weeks.  This meant I no longer had my life support system of known good players to run dungeons with, and was forced to get out and meet people in the community.  I am so thankful that I did because I have met some amazing people on this server and found it to be a throwback to a simpler time when people generally were nice to each other.  I’ve embraced our community whole heartedly and while it is not terribly well used yet… I’ve built a nook for the community and will be trying to get folks using it over the coming weeks.  So today I am thankful for finding the Cactuar community, because it has revitalized my faith that servers are a thing that can be super important to my game playing experience.

#FFXIV #Cactuar #MonthOfThankfulness

Littlest Odin

Flirting with Viral

Last night when I got home I had a message waiting on me, wanting to know if I had talked to a certain blogger.  At which point I gave my perspective, that I thought they were trying to keep a fairly low profile lately.  This started the gears in my head working, thinking about the fine line each of us walks each day when we post.  I admit that I live in a small amount of fear of one of my posts ending up going viral for some reason.  I mean ultimately as a blogger you want readers, but there is a limit to that.  Right now I have a dedicated group of a couple hundred regular readers and this feels comfortable.  It feels like I group I could reasonably have a conversation with, and remember the names and faces of each of them.  I write some fairly personal posts, and this feels like a small enough community to share that sort of intimate details with.

The problem is there have been a few of my posts that have for one reason or another gotten picked up in a much larger sphere of influence.  When this happens I find the whole experience stressful.  While it is cool to suddenly see your readership spike, at the same time personally I feel almost invaded.  Like this group of people that are not “my” people are trampling my lawn and ruining the flower beds.  The group of readers that I have now feels organic, and they have one by one found my blog for their own personal reasons.  Having a huge influx of people brings with it wholly different ideas of what community means, and what proper interaction between a blogger and reader is.  There were a few posts of mine that got picked up by WoW Insider back when this was for the most part a WoW blog… and it was as though the Mongol Horde was knocking on my front door step.

It is awesome to feel like your blog is a popular thing…  but at the same time I think most of us live in fear of our side project getting too big.  That someday something will happen to cause it to grow out of control and develop a life of its own, rather than this thing that we have fought hard to develop in just a certain way.  With the recent strife in the gaming community, I admit I have been more afraid of my blog suddenly being found by the “unwashed masses”.  I am still uncertain if I was the target of a DDoS a few weeks back, because it seemed like only my sites on the provider were actually effected.  We live in this climate where having a differing opinion to that of the riot mob has serious consequences, and that doesn’t exactly give me warm fuzzies.  Still however i put myself out here every morning, hoping that the right people will see this… and the wrong people will get bored before finishing the first paragraph of one of my posts.

Littlest Odin

ffxiv 2014-11-05 19-37-53-758 A few nights ago I happened to be paying attention to chat at exactly the right moment, when through one of my many social Linkshells I saw a call that Odin had spawned in South Shroud.  For those unfamiliar with the concept, Odin is one of the coolest primal forces to have existed in the Final Fantasy universe.  In each incarnation there is generally the mechanic that if you take too long in attempting to defeat him he will cast Zantetsuken and destroy the entire party in a single attack.  Zantetsuken of course is the name of his sword which apparently roughly translates to “Sword of Vengence”.  The Final Fantasy XIV incarnation is just as painful, and involves him casting massive area of effect abilities that are extremely hard to get out of, and in some cases can in fact one-shot the player.  When Odin spawns it is as part of a fate, and players fight desperately in this chaotic mess to generate enough threat to qualify for Gold level participation.

If you participate at all in the fight you get an item called Odin’s Mantle, and if you manage to get gold you end up getting five of them at once.  Once you have collected five, either through getting Gold once or something else multiple times you can take them to Revenants Toll in Mor Dhona and trade them for some interesting stuff.  The king prize at least as far as I am concerned is Zantetsuken itself, which while no longer that good of a weapon is still an amazing item for the purpose of glamouring onto other items.  Another really popular item is Slepnir’s barding, that makes your Chocobo look like Odin’s mount Slepnir.  However since I actually picked up Slepnir itself from the cash shop, that was no longer a big deal to me.  So this time around I picked up Hjalmr aka Odin’s trademark helm.  In honor of the new look I dyed my Soldiery chest black to blend things together a bit better.

When the Dark Knight becomes a reality, I am really hoping that they release a two handed version of Zantetsuken that I can then glamour onto my weapon.  Even though I am wielding an axe, I still think I make a pretty badass tiny Odin.  The funny thing a bout this is that Odin actually spawns as the race of the person that landed the last killing blow.  So when I fought him the other night in South Shroud, he had actually spawned in Lalafell form.  Nothing says awesome like a tiny bundle of death oneshotting players left and right.  Both Odin and Behemoth are really cool experiences, and while I hate that I am constantly missing them… there is something about the extremely slow respawn timers that gives them a sense of mystique.   I am not sure what the actual timer is, but at least as a player it seems to be several days. In any case it is the sort of thing that I drop whatever I am doing to join in the fun… or will at least until I have gotten all of the shiny baubles that are available to win.

Dungeons with Friends

ffxiv 2014-11-05 21-55-32-810I have always liked to tank for my friends, but for whatever reason in Final Fantasy XIV I have always found the experience to be a bit stressful.  I am not sure if it was just lack of confidence in my abilities, or still getting used to the subtle differences of the way tanking works in this game…  but for whatever reason I have tended to prefer dpsing in dungeons and letting my friend Ash take the tanking lead.  However over the course of the last few months I have been “feeling my wheaties” and with the release of brand new content I find myself actually preferring to tank.  I guess this is a good thing since Ash right now is in the middle of a move and will be without internet for an undetermined amount of time.  Additionally for the longest time I DPS’d in part because he had no “non-tank” jobs to play, and since I had multiple dps we could pick and choose whatever we needed the most.  That however has changed as he now has a monk available, and it is allowing me to climb back into the tanking seat.

As such I have spent a lot of time lately tanking the new expert dungeons of Snowcloak, Sastasha Hard, and Qarn Hard.  In fact I am starting to get requests from outside of the guild to tank for people.  Last night I finally accepted one of these after turning them down for various completely legitimate reasons.  I felt horrible for having to keep declining because I was generally either already spoken for by the guild, or in the process of trying to wind down enough to log out for the night.  I have to say I had a blast tanking for folks that I am less familiar with, and maybe just maybe I will gather up the courage to start tanking for complete strangers as well.  I am not sure what has changed but upon getting my 110 weapon threat generation seems to no longer be an issue.  The encounters just stay glued to me, which allows me to have more freedom and less watching of “bejeweled” making sure someone doesn’t get eaten by a stray mob.  In any case that sense of unease I had while tanking seems to be dissipating and I am enjoying myself more each time we run something.

My Readers

I would like to think that even if I had no readers at all that I would keep doing what I am doing on a daily basis.  Most of the time I write my posts like I am talking to myself, but in truth it is really helpful to know that I have people listening on the other end of the line.  I have always been impressed with my readers, at how thoughtful and kind they are.  The moment I first knew I had a dedicated audience, was shortly after I had started my blogging each day thing.  For whatever reason I did not get a chance to write my post that morning like usual, and I had intended to write it over lunch.  That morning I was deluged with folks asking me if I was okay, and making sure everything was alright.  They were concerned when they did not see a post waiting there for them when they did their normal crawl of blogs.  I’ve always tried to respect my audience and keep my blog a mostly positive influence in their lives.  Here is hoping that I can continue to do this, but please know how much it means to me that you all are dedicated to taking this journey with me.

MOBA Crash

Falling Down

dawngate logo

Yesterday we had an interesting bit of news released as the first big MOBA, or multiplayer online battle arena if you are not familiar with the term, announced that they would be closing their doors.  Dawngate was the product offering by Electronic Arts and entered closed testing in May 2013 but quickly fell from the buzz cycle.  Quite honestly when I saw this announcement I had quite literally forgotten there was a game called Dawngate.  Some of the complaints about the game was that it felt like a rather lifeless clone of League of Legends.  Many of the Champions or “Shapers” as they called them seemed to have one to one relationships to league of legends champions.  However the game did try to fix some of the things that were broken with the existing Summoner’s Rift map type, adding in more interesting gameplay elements.

The problem is that no one that I knew was actually playing it.  There were a handful of people who got into the beta process last June and then I never heard anything again about the game.  For whatever reason they lost at producing enough forward hype for their game to drown out the other MOBAs or at least fight for a place at the table.  The game looked very pretty, but I just don’t think they did enough to excite players.  My only hope is that Riot will take some of the ideas that Dawngate had and try and incorporate some game modes that are similar to that into League of Legends.  I am not the biggest fan of MOBAs in general, but I have played enough of them to know some good ideas when I see them.  The fact that Dawngate had this mechanic where taking down each tower was essentially the equivalent to like 1/3rd of an inhibitor seemed like a cool idea.  Instead in League you reach a point where taking down additional towers is a waste of time… and I don’t think you would ever reach that point in Dawngate.

MOBA Crash

league-of-legendsOne of the interesting things about the games industry is how much it repeats itself.  When someone has a successful idea, it seems that the “investors” all get involved to dog pile on that genre and try and crack out as many look alike games as they can.  That is not to say that each of the new games does not have merit, nor is it to say that they are not good games.  The problem is there is a certain point at which the market has reached saturation and can support no new offshoots.  Unfortunately I think we have reached that point already with the MOBA genre.  Dawngate was really the first major game in the genre to call it quits, and Turbine the developer of Infinite Crisis does not look terribly strong right now after a round of layoffs in October.  I feel like we are just about to enter the same area we have been with MMOs for some time now… where there is no “easy money” left in the market.

hotswallpaper Right now you have the juggernauts of League of Legends and DOTA2.  To a lesser extent Heroes of Newerth still has a bit of a following, but their latest product offering of Strife seems to be struggling to gain traction.  Smite on the other hand… seems to have found a niche in the fact that it is a WASD controlled MOBA and for folks like me that hate click to move…  it offers a new way to play this game genre.  Heroes of the Storm on the other hand has done what Blizzard does best…  polish a game to a mirror shine and lower the barrier of entry.  As such HoTS is a much easier entry point into the MOBA genre for non-MOBA players.  Personally of all of the titles it is my favorite in part because it leverages characters that I already know and love and just extends that nostalgia into another genre.  Apart from these few games though I think pretty much every other MOBA is suspect, fragile and vulnerable to be the next announced cancellation.

The Cycle Repeats

doom_logo I think my first experience with this cycle of trying to cash in on the next hotness was the massive amount of vaguely playable games that came out after the release of Doom during the early 90s.  For every Dark Forces there were a few Depth Dwellers or Nerves of Steel that were barely playable.  Then Warcraft: Orcs vs Humans came on the scene… which itself borrowed heavily from the mechanics of Dune 2.  But immediately following was an equally confusing cavalcade of RTS genre games finally ending up with only a handful of series surviving.  We are seeing this same thing playing out currently with the string of “Minecraft clones” fighting for your dollar.  Essentially if a game comes out that is popular enough you can bet that somewhere in a back office someone is willing to pour money into something vaguely similar in an attempt to rush their version of the trend to market.  Eventually someone comes along with a box full of straight pins and the bubble popping begins.

2013-04-17 06_54_46-Greenshot The thing is that I don’t really even think this is a bad thing, other than for the folks who get caught up in the round of layoffs that almost always follows.  It is possible for a game to move the genre forward even if it doesn’t end up a success itself.  Warhammer Online for example had quite possibly the best quest objective visualization system I had played with, and many other games came through after its launch and offered a similar system for their own product.  The next release of World of Warcraft offered a version of quest visualization that looked almost exactly like this one.  So even though Warhammer Online turned out to be a failure, it imparted on the genre a few features that have stuck around.  As such I feel like if we are starting to head towards a MOBA crash, the ones that failed to find a niche will still have an impact on the games that ultimate end up dominating the market.  There will always be a market for MOBAs, just like there was always a market for Adventure games, FPS, RTS, Survival Horror, MMO, Sandbox Building or whatever the next big fad becomes in gaming.

Fuzzy Blankets

This month I am talking about something each morning that I am thankful for.  This morning as I am wrapped tightly in a fleece blanket while typing this…  I am reminded just how thankful I am for our array of very warm and very fuzzy blankets.  Oklahoma is an interesting place, in part because we go through this seesaw act with our weather towards the end of Fall.  Until a week ago it was pretty reliably 70*-80* days and I was mostly wearing shorts on the weekend.  Then a cold snap hit is and it has gotten down to the 30s.  The problem is I fully expect that we will be back in the 70s within a weeks time.  During this back and forth I am always reluctant to turn on my heating, just because I know it isn’t “really” winter yet.  As such we spend a month bundled up in blankets and honestly due to the weight loss I find myself more cold natured than I used to be.  So this year like so many years I am thankful that fuzzy blankets exist to keep us warm, when our weather is still deeply confused.

A New Lance

Curiosity Abated

image I ended up getting into a conversation yesterday based on my post regarding the longevity I have played Final Fantasy XIV.  Like I said yesterday I have been back in Eorzea since July so this will be going on four months… which for me in my recent MMO history is a really long time to be playing any one thing.  I have officially played Final Fantasy XIV longer in this one stretch than I did both Elder Scrolls Online and Wildstar combined if you just count time spent playing the production clients.  This got me thinking and my friend as well… what my longest played games might be.  So this morning I turned to Raptr, which I have always just left running in the background quietly logging time spent in whatever game I happened to be playing.  When you do this you end up with some unexpected results.

For the purpose of this chart I ignored anything with less than 100 hours played, which it turns out is a surprising number of MMOs including Lord of the Rings Online, Warhammer Online, Guild Wars 2 and a few others.  The fact that almost 40% of my time spent playing MMOs has been in World of Warcraft was not a huge shocker, considering I played that game for roughly 7 years without taking much of a pause.  The fact that Rift weighs in at number two is also not a huge shock, considering I have played it off and on since release.  What did surprise me is that I fully expected Everquest 2 to be in third place, as it is one of those titles I keep cycling back to periodically.  I guess the thing is that I don’t end up playing it for terribly long before the combat system ends up frustrating me and I move in.  In the year it has been out Final Fantasy XIV has shot to the number three spot in total time spent in an MMO with 536 hours.  If nothing else I feel like that is pretty telling of just how much I am enjoying this game.

The last revelation is that I found it interesting that I spent roughly the same amount of time in Elder Scrolls Online, Star Wars the Old Republic and Wildstar.  Wildstar was the lowest of the 100 hour plus club weighing in at only 122 hours.  Elder Scrolls Online was the highest with 163 hours, but were we able to include the year I spent testing that game I would have probably overtaken Everquest 2 at least.  With Star Wars the Old Republic I could have sworn I spent more than 127 hours playing the game, so it really makes Wildstar and SWTOR almost exactly the same…  which is strange considering that I never got a character to maximum level in Wildstar, but managed to level three in SWTOR.  I guess the content grind really was that much faster in SWTOR than I realized.  In any case it is interesting to look at the data and see where your time has been spent.  Raptr by no means is an exact science, but I have it running on both my desktop and my laptop so in theory the data should be relatively complete.

A New Lance

ffxiv 2014-11-02 21-47-07-232 For some time now I have focused on my Warrior job in Final Fantasy XIV as my main.  I figured it was the one that I needed to be geared the most since I was going to end up tanking for my free company when we raided.  However since launch I have also really liked playing a Dragoon, and for the purpose of Duty Roulette I almost always queue as DPS.  Ages ago I got all of my jobs that I have at 50 to ilevel 90 so that they would be viable doing pretty much anything I cared to dip my toe into.  However before we started contemplating raiding, I picked up a handful of pieces out of Syrcus Tower on my Dragoon placing him slightly ahead of the pack.  Since the unlocking of loot in Syrcus I have been spending most of my time there trying to get him gear.  Right now I still figure that most of my soldiery needs to go to finishing getting the warrior to ilevel 110 or better, however at 108 I am still leaps and bounds ahead of a lot of my guildies.

ffxiv 2014-11-02 11-28-35-404 Factoring that in I figured I could splurge a little on my own wants for awhile.  When playing any class my focus has generally been on getting a new weapon.  It always feels like the most significant improvement, because it is that object that is most visually noticeable when you swap out a single slot.  As a result it has annoyed me for some time that I still had my Gae Bolg Zenith weapon on my Dragoon.  I could after all start the Atma grind, and the Animus book grind…  but really in the grand scheme of things I do not have the money to get through the Novus step…  so while I want to finish these for the sake of finishing them, it is not exactly a pathway to a better weapon for me.  With the uncapping of Syrcus Tower it means that we have ready access to Unidentified Allagan Tomestones, the precursor step for getting the Weathered(100) and eventually Unweathered(110) weapons.  So while I started out running ST over the last few days to pick up level 100 gear for my Dragoon I have ended up essentially grinding out one of the weapons.

ffxiv 2014-11-03 22-25-12-711Last night I finished my grind to 1300 Tomestones of Soldiery and as you can see in the above screenshot I am the proud wielder of a shiny new Liberator lance.  Unfortunately this happened like moments before bedtime for me, and I never really got to try it out.  So tonight my plan is to run a quick Syrcus or Labyrinth to see how good it feels to have bumped up 20 levels in weapon ilevel.  When I got my 110 axe on my Warrior, it was a massive and immediately noticeable difference, and I am hoping it will feel the same on my Dragoon.  After dumping this 1300 “bookrocks” on a weapon, I will now return to gathering them up for the purpose of finishing out my set of Soldiery gear.  That means I will need a ton of Sands of Time however to get those pieces up to 110 ilevel, which means I will still be running a truly silly amount of Syrcus Tower.  In the grand scheme of things though I enjoy running it.  I never see it as a grind, because it still feels very epic to me.  I feel about ST the way I feel about various WoW raids that I used to solo for fun.  It feels like I am doing something epic and important, even though it is content that is very much “on farm”.

This morning I am going to get by with just a two section blog post.  Each of those sections took awhile to write so I figure it all shakes out in the end.  This morning for my Month of Thankfulness post I figured I would talk about something fairly unlikely.  Yesterday at work I had my annual performance review, and even though I am in many ways the pocket expert on so many systems we have…  it is still a process that I find stressful.  I think most sane and rational people have these moments where they feel like they are a giant fraud, and these seem to hit me just before I go into my yearly performance review.  Yesterday was the same as every year, lots of anxiety for no reason.  Once again I had a fairly glowing review, but I am kinda just beating around the bush here.

What I am thankful for is my boss.  When I started out in my current position my little sub group got passed around like a hot potato.  At one point I had been under six different managers, four directors and three CIOs… and had only been with the  company for two years.  Then my current boss took the position.  I have to say when he took over I was suspicious, because I had never seen him in a managerial light, however he has done an amazing job.  I really respect the focus he has placed on making our environment not only productive, but a very fun place to be.  Each of us has our own “kitch” and for the most part he supports it all.  It is the first time since my very first job… that I felt like I had a work family.  This is also the first group I have ever willfully attended the Christmas Party for… and we do all sorts of outside activities like most recently going to the RiffTrax showings.  So this today I am thankful for the effect he has had on improving how I think about my job, and the fact that for the most part I look forward to going into work each day and seeing my team mates.  Sure each of the members of our team is a self starter, but it is his focus on morale that has made the entire thing work.

Slow and Steady

Longevity

ffxiv 2014-10-31 19-51-45-680 There was a point yesterday when I realized something that somewhat shocked me.  I have been back in Final Fantasy XIV for longer than the combined time my guild was active in both The Elder Scrolls Online and Wildstar.  There has been a trend over the last few years where when we move into something new we last around two months and then move on again.  Elder Scrolls lasted roughly two months, and Wildstar in truth less than a month before folks petered out.  For Final Fantasy XIV I have been going strong since July so this will be going on four months.  In truth this is the longest I have played any game in awhile without pause.  I am not sure if Rift counts since I tend to always be playing that game off and on, and the period of large amounts of activity last year only lasted a few months at most before it was back to me and a skeletal crew logging in periodically.  Another thing I have noticed is that I tend to turn the lights off when I finally go, meaning that I am one of the last people to leave.

In Elder Scrolls Online this was maybe a bit different, since Sig and PK were both active considerably longer after I stopped logging in on a regular basis.  I however only recently actually went through the process of cancelling my account there.  Wildstar on the other hand I was all too willing to cancel my account, but sadly by the time I did the entire guild was completely toast.  I guess I wonder what has made us grazers of MMOs rather than large scale consumers.  For awhile I thought it was just the ramifications of coming from a multi-year game like World of Warcraft, and being unfettered and experiencing some kind of options overload.  I still feel like there are so many good games out that to be played, and just not enough time to really experience them.  I wish I could realistically play FFXIV, Rift, EQ2, LoTRO, TSW and Landmark all at the same time.  The problem is when I rampantly multigame like that I get absolutely nothing accomplished in any of them.

Slow and Steady

ffxiv 2014-11-01 20-20-57-256 Right now I am enjoying making slow and steady progress in all of my endeavors in Final Fantasy XIV.  Last night I managed to hit 108 ilevel on my main job which is the warrior, and in part that is because of the 2.4 patch.  There is a big of a paradox going on after the Dreams of Ice patch.  Unlocking the loot in Syrcus Tower means that it has gotten significantly easier to farm the ilvl 100 gear drops and the Sands and Oils of Time needed to upgrade level 100 soldiery gear to level 110.  The problem is that it feels like it is significantly slower to grind out Tomestones of Soldiery than it was to get Tomestones of Mythology.  So as a result I am sitting on several unused Sands of Time and a couple of unused Unitentified Allagan Tomestones because I lack the Soldiery “bookrocks” to purchase either a weapon or another slot of gear to use the sands on.  At this point I am closing in on the 1300 Tomestones of Soldiery needed to purchase a level 100 weapon, which I will then turn into a 110 weapon with one of the sands, finally giving my Dragoon something decent to poke things with.  Before this patch I never would have spent soldiery on an alternate job, so it makes me happy to finally start progressing my Dragoon again.

The other side effect of the patch is that it seems to have become significantly harder to gear your very first character.  Previously you could hop on the “hunt train” and farm up enough Allied Seals to purchase a full set of ilevel 90 gear within a few hours.  For 270 Allied seals you could purchase an entire set of gear for a new job, which in the grand scheme of things even if you didn’t do the insane hunt process was only about a week of doing the daily hunt quests.  This was a huge benefit to getting new players into the game quickly.  This has slowed down considerably because all of the level 90 gear is gone from the hunt vendor and replaced with the level 100 Soldiery equivalents.  Unfortunately this also means that the items themselves have gone up massively in price.  The pieces can be purchased for 660, 400, and 300 for the various slots adding up to a grand total of 4020 allied seals for an entire set of gear.  Right now this just seems absolutely insane to me.  I feel like a later patch is probably going to reduce this price but that for the time being they are trying to make it easier to get soldiery gear… but not so easy that we can cap out over night and run out of things to progress.

Active Free Company

ffxiv 2014-11-02 11-28-35-404 Another awesome thing about the 2.4 patch is that it has seemed to revitalize our server as a whole.  Cactuar has sprung to life as so many players I think had taken breaks before the launch of this latest patch and all of its goodness.  Granted a flurry of the activity has been leveling rogues, but that seems to be slowly tapering off.  Similarly there has been a resurgence of activity in our guild as folks have joined up to start working on characters on our server, or returned from their own pre-patch absences.  At several points yesterday we had around a dozen players online, and that still is not including some of our more active members that were curiously missing from the fray this weekend.  I know Rae was off doing work related stuff, and Kodra was sick most of the weekend… and Ashgar busy packing for his move.  With all of those things factored in it seems even more impressive that we were able to field the numbers that we did.  I ran several of the new dungeons with groups of friends, and have yet to actually make my way into the expert duty roulette without a premade group.

Granted I am fully expecting that the upcoming launch of Warlords of Draenor will pull a few players away here and there, but I think the majority of our group is well insulated against the effects of WoW at this point.  I am generally the one who returns, and right now as it stands I have no plans of playing at launch.  In fact were it not for the level 90 boost that we got from preordering so far ahead of time…  I doubt I would have even purchased the expansion this time around.  I kinda wish I could claw back that purchase to be honest, but I guess that is the problem with preordering going roughly a year before the release date.  That seems so long ago at this point, especially considering the short periods of waiting for new content I am getting used to in Final Fantasy XIV.  This game is rolling out a new major patch each quarter, and a minor content patch on a semi-monthly schedule and I hate to say it… but you get spoiled.  I don’t think I could return to a game with a year between content patches again after this.

Fuzzy Children

As I said yesterday this month I am trying to come up with something each morning that I am thankful for, turning it entire an entire month of “Thanksgiving”.  This morning I am thankful for my “Fuzzy Children”, aka my pets.  My wife and I have no intent of ever having human children, so our babies are as close as we will get to having kids.  Presently we have three cats, one kitten, and two ferrets and they are all awesome.  Each of them have their own personalities, and each of them their own routines that I would not change even if I could.  Animals have a way of enriching your life for just existing, and while I might complain about this or that I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I wouldn’t know what to do without one animal at my feet and another on my lap…  and another wandering around my office knocking stuff over.  I am thankful for my fuzzy warm bundles of happy, and the joy they bring.

NaNoWriMo Supporter

AggroChat Episode 28

Last night we once again rallied the troops and recorded another episode of AggroChat.  This week Kodra was saddled with the dual burdens of illness and family…  and as such could not attend.  However we had Ashgar, Rae and Tam.  The number one thing on all of our minds was experiencing the 2.4 patch content in Final Fantasy XIV which landed last Monday/Tuesday.  During that time Tam has pushed up a rogue from level 1 to 50 and is now gearing it for raiding purposes.  I have mostly spent my time running Syrcus Tower trying to get bits to gear out my warrior and dragoon.  All of us have been slowly working our way through the brand new dungeon content.  Yesterday shortly before the show Ash, Tam and myself finished the last of the three new hardmodes and I have to say I am really damned impressed.

ffxiv 2014-11-01 20-20-47-557 Even more impressive is where the main storyline seems to be going.  This is one of the aspects I find the coolest about FFXIV is that the story just keeps evolving and not in an artificial way.  The problem with Star Wars the Old Republic is that when you reached 50… especially as a Jedi Knight or Jedi Counselor you had solved the galaxies greatest threat.  There was nowhere to go but down from there.  In FFXIV when you finish the main story, it is just the beginning and everything about the game tells you… you didn’t solve shit.  You took out one pawn in a far greater game.  So every three months or so when we get a major patch, I am always amped to see where exactly the story is going to go.  Right now I am only a couple of hours into the new story content, and already they have thrown out some allusions to past Final Fantasy games that have me spooked as to where we might be going with this.

NaNoWriMo Supporter

At this point hopefully all of this years participants have at least broken ground on their new novel.  Throughout the month of October I mulled around the notion of doing NaNoWriMo 2014, but in the end I have decided not to.  Last year if you recall I essentially live blogged my novel and used each days writing as the next days posting on my blog.  In the intervening year I have done absolutely nothing with it.  I’ve not even cracked the original drive document to even begin editing it.  This more than anything else tells me I am not quite ready to undergo the challenge again.  Last year I won, and by winning I mean I actually finished my 50,000+ words by the end of the month.  The problem is I have a chrysalis for a novel and not really something worth publishing.  I need to put at least as much effort as I did writing it into editing it.  At least once a week I think about digging into it and ripping things to shreds as I sort bits out that I slammed together in a rush.  It just seems so damned daunting to unravel what I was only able to pull together through sheer will.

The other reason why I have decided to skip NaNoWriMo this year is that it took a hell of a lot out of me.  My world for the month of November revolved around making sure I got my words done for the day.  In the end nothing else mattered, and I pretty much abandoned everything else that I enjoyed.  It was during the month of November that I faded away from FFXIV in the first place, because the game required too much effort from me to keep playing it while pouring out 1500 to 2000 words a day.  Additionally my blog suffered because I could not keep up my daily blogging AND write that many words a day… was just not something I could juggle.  This was the point that I got back into World of Warcraft, because WoW was a game I could play entirely on auto pilot.  Nothing about the game made me think, and I could live in this blissful muscle memory zone where I got enjoyment without having to acknowledge the world going on around me.  NaNoWriMo was all consuming, and while I think it is something that everyone should complete at least once…  I have done that.  I completed the competition last year, and wrote a novel… something that I can check off my bucket list.  I don’t feel the need for a repeat performance…  at least not quite yet.

What I plan on doing is being a cheerleader for the folks who ARE planning on doing the struggle this year.  The folks that need inspiration or support as they struggle to keep up with the waterfall of words that NaNoWriMo is.  Be it a word of encouragement or a swift kick in the ass when I see they haven’t done their words for the day…  I will try and be there.  So while I am not a participant I am very much a supporter of the process.  Having actually gotten my novel finished on time last year I might even be able to provide a source of advice.  I would never have finished last year were it not for the other people struggled through the process with me.  They were a source of inspiration and I am hoping some of them will be taking up the challenge this year as well.  It is an awesome thing, and hopefully I can play match maker between groups of friends entering the fray together.

I realize this is the second of November and not the first, but we are going to temporarily ignore that fact as I introduce a new thing that I am going to do all this month.  In truth it was not until yesterdays post that I was made aware that this was a thing.  My wife usually skims my posts each day to see if I have written anything about “us” in the blog, and after doing this yesterday she turned to me and said “you should have done a month of thankfulness post”.  So yeah… I kind of wish I had thought about that before making my post yesterday.  So this morning I pulled together a logo and am setting forth on this adventure.  I’ve always liked Thanksgiving the best of all of the holidays because it isn’t about commercialization or how much you can spend to show your love… it is just about a simple thanks for the awesome things in your life.  I am not going to make this out to be a big thing like Blaugust was, but I think it would be awesome if it spread a little bit around our community.

My Wife

I figured I would start off my series of posts with a post about my wife.  Not only did she give me this idea but she is pretty much a constant source of support in my life.  More important than that she keeps me grounded.  I get absolutely engrossed in the things I am into, be it my blog, the podcast, streaming or whatever the latest video game I am obsessing over.  She has a way of pulling me outside of all of this and focusing me on the real world outside of my computer and consoles.  There are a lot of couples that game together, and I have always thought this would be a cool thing…  but I also know it would never actually fly for me.  If I had a gamer spouse  the bills would never get paid, the chores would never get done… and I would ultimately end up losing my job.  My wife helps me keep one foot firmly planted in reality, and keep from slipping down that slippery slope.

More than this we compliment each other nicely.  She is all of the things I am not.  She is a creature of logic and I am a creature of passion, and together we make this awesome pair.  I can’t necessarily say that we are opposites, because we have just enough in common to make it work, but we definitely complement each other.  The other strange thing is that we rarely actually fight.  I mean we bicker back and forth, but there is rarely any spat that isn’t resolved by bed time.  We are in fact an old married couple, and have been able to complete each others sentences for years.  There are so many times we will just say a word or two before the other person agrees… because after almost two decades we know exactly what the other is thinking.  Without having a place of love and stability, I wouldn’t have the courage each day to put myself out here in front of you all.  For all of this and more I am very thankful for my wife.