Fears Verified

Death Visits

It is shaping up to be a bad week.  I realize at this point it is Saturday and the week is technically over, but bear with me.  Thursday I got a text from my father telling me that my Aunt Inez had passed away.  Technically she is a Great Aunt and the sister of my Grandmother that passed away close to a decade ago now.  So given her age it is not terribly shocking news, but I feel horrible that she lived roughly two hours away… and I have not seen her since my Grandmothers funeral.  At the least I think she attended the funeral, but that day was such a blur that I can’t really be certain.  I know she was not at my Grandfathers funeral a few years ago, because she wasn’t well enough to travel.  I don’t know the details of when the service will be, but I was figuring I likely should make the trip.

That was at least until last night I got a call from my mother.  Another Aunt has been in and out of the hospital more times than I can count over the last few years.  I say Aunt but again that is a bit of a misnomer since she is technically my second cousin…  but she treated me like a nephew pretty much all of my life and I was too young to realize that my cousins and I did not have the same relationship to her.  She has been in final stage renal failure for quite some time and having to take eight hour dialysis pretty much every other day.  In fact when my Grandmother on my moms side passed away earlier this year, I had thought my Aunt would go before her.  Last night on the phone my mother said that she had been given a terminal diagnosis and was being transferred to hospice.  Yesterday they stopped dialysis which gives her a prognosis of two to four days at the most.

As at peace as I thought I would be with this… it turns out I really am not.  In fact my mother called my cell phone at 7 am this morning…. and I am scared to death to return it.  My wife and I had planned to come visit her today, since we couldn’t go together last night.  My fear is that I am going to pick up the phone and call my mother back and find out that she passed in the night.  I have a complex mix of feelings about how exactly I am with this possible event.  So long as I don’t call her back, it is like it hasn’t happened yet…  and for all I know it might not have.  There is part of me that thinks it is a blessing, because she has not had any semblance of a qualitative life in the last six years or so.  The single solitary joy she had was mealtime, and if that is the happiest you are all day long…  then it tells me life is pretty horrible.  Another part of me deeply mourns the fun and interesting aunt that she was for most of my life, and that she hasn’t been able to be for the last decade.  I know that once I finish my blog post, I will call my mother back and whatever it is that has happened will not longer be sitting out in a buffer somewhere… but will be very real.  This mornings post I guess is a way of psyching myself up to receive the news.

Fears Verified

I did not actually make it through my post this morning before receiving another call from my mother.  It was in fact what I had feared, that my aunt passed away over night.  She drifted off to sleep and never woke up and passed early this morning around 2 am.  I guess they had known about this for longer than they had told me.  She found out sometime on Wednesday, and at that point her and my mother went into planning mode, planning all of the elements of her funeral.  Apparently she also threw all of her renal diet measures out the window and ate the things she had been craving.  The one that I found the oddest was the fact that apparently she had been craving a snickers bar.  So much so that she asked my mother to go out and get her one right then.  By some quirk of fate my mother had purchased a snickers bar that morning and it was sitting there in her purse just waiting for the request.

My aunt was one of people that when she made up her mind she did it whatever it was.  If she decided she wanted to go to a craft show, she would show up at the house early that morning and say “get in the car, we are going to a craft show”.  More often than not my mother would tag along for whatever adventure it was that they were off to, be it going to a movie or going on a road trip.  When I was younger there were many weekends she would decide that we were going off together to visit my cousins, and me and my Aunt would go off on an adventure where I am sure I would talk her ear off about whatever thing I happened to be into at the time.  It turns out that when she realized there was no getting better, she set her mind to planning on her passing.  It sounded like during the day yesterday she had set all of her affairs in order, making sure my mother had transferred enough to her own account to pay for the funeral.  After that it seems like she decided she was done with everything that needed to be done and simply drifted off peacefully.

Just Dance

ffxiv 2014-08-22 09-29-47-430 As not to end this mornings post on a somber note, I thought I would mention something that warms my heart.  Final Fantasy XIV is a very charming game, and as such it seems to attract a certain type of gamer that is more than willing to stop and smell the roses.  When I go idle I am notorious for starting up one of the many dances that I have been collecting in game.  Often times when I return to the keyboard I will be joined by one or more people who have decided to take up dancing beside me.  This happens as an almost nightly ritual in the housing ward our guild has a plot in.  I will go down to the market board, and while checking out what has been posted I will start up a dance.  Before I know it Naine one of the neighbors will have joined me, and on occasion others will as well.  The community is weird like that, and I am growing to love it.

The above screenshot is of me and a new friend going through our little dance ritual while waiting on something to spawn.  I feel like if you stop to dance with a Lalafell, you are destined to become instant friends.  So the next time you happen upon someone dancing in whatever game you happen to be playing… take a moment to join in.  It is moments like this that make the virtual world seem so much closer than just an assemblage of pixels.  On a side note I am extremely happy to see so many friends either renewing their accounts or starting new ones to come hang out on Cactuar with us all.  I am really hoping this will be a game I set down roots in for a long while.  We are already involved in a bunch of different active link shells and it feels like we have connections far deeper than just our immediate circle of friends.  I have not felt that way in any game since the early days of Warcraft, and I have to say it feels really awesome.

Cannot be Tamed Questionnaire: Part Three

Wrapping it Up

Over the last few days I have been answering a Gaming Questionnaire, and with a little luck this morning I should be wrapping that up.  You can check out part one and two and see what the earlier answers were, or you can check out the original survey here.  Without further stalling… here goes the answering of the final leg of this survey.  Be Warned…  this leg of the journey is going to include several spoilers… so


14. Most memorable moment in a game:

82404-legend-of-zelda-a-link-to-the-past I alluded to this in one of my answers yesterday, but the most memorable moment for me while playing a game was in a Link to the Past.  I can’t explain this fully without spoilers, so if you have not played The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past I highly suggest you do that and maybe skip this answer for the time being.  In the game you spend a lot of time running around collecting all of the objects you are used to from a Zelda game all in the attempt of rescuing Zelda from the dark wizard Aghanim.  After collecting the Master Sword, the pinnacle of the original game you journey to the tower in Hyrule Castle where the Dark Wizard resides and do battle with him.  Up until this point I totally thought I was moments away from beating the game, and a little disappointed at just how short the experience was.

When the finally defeat the wizard, and I remember the battle being rather challenging at the time, you expect to collect your rewards and move on after beating the game.  Nope!  You are warped into the Dark World and you set upon a different quest.  I remember my jaw almost hitting the floor as I realized “there is a whole other world!”  This was the very first time I game had done this to me, set up the starter world / real world bait and switch so successfully.  In those moments this one game forever changed the way I looked at game in general.  So when I played Rage for example… I was totally expecting a bait and switch that unlocked the real game, but alas it was just a really short storyline.

15. Scariest moment in a game:

kithicor_forest_atlas Crossing Kithicor at night will I think forever be the scariest thing I can think of in any game.  For those who are not familiar with it, in the original Everquest there was a zone that sat between the West Commonlands and Rivervale called Kithicor Forest.  Both Rivervale and the Commonlands were starter zones and during the day Kithicor was a nice level 15 hunting zone.  However at night it changed completely and was filled with tons of level 50 undead creatures that spawned moments after dark and stayed up until the daylight hours.  Everquest was an old school game and the only way to move around was to do so by foot.  There were a number of druid and wizard ports but those required finding a person of that class, and more often than not it was more trouble than actually running there would have been.

In Everquest there was a concept called “running the zone line”.  Since this was an early game a lot of the zones were big squares, and by quirk of the spawning and pathing code the zonelines were generally relatively safe places, though later on they purposefully made some of them dangerous.  There were many a time that I would zone into Kithicor just as it was getting dark and praying I could make it across the zone before attracting unwanted attention.  In all the times I ran Kithicor, I never actually aggro’d any of the high level undead, but this did not stop me from living in fear of them.  It felt like I was constantly moments away from a horrible and grizzly death.

16. Most heart-wrenching moment in a game:

This one took me a little bit to think about it, but the more that I did the more I was certain there was one exact moment that I had to talk about.  Well written stories have a way of taking a character that you start out disliking and maybe even hating a little bit… and turning them into something you have come to love.  Mass Effect 2 was my first foray into that game series and as such I have a deep love for many of the characters that were introduced in that game.  One of them that turned from someone I disliked to someone I came to adore was Mordin Solus.  I went ahead and linked the moment for those who have not played the series or plan on playing the series.  Essentially through the story line you find out that he was responsible for the genetic disease that caused the Krogan to become sterile.

In Mass Effect 3 he sets out to undo what he had done and is sabotaged by his people and namely the STG the secret group that he was originally a part of.  I replayed this section of the game over and over to see if there was a way I could stop this from happening, but as far as I know there simply isn’t.  In order to distribute the cure to the Krogan, Mordin realizes he has to die.  “Someone else might have gotten it wrong” is his only explanation.  I just finished watching the video I am embedding, and man…  I still get choked up watching him sacrificing himself in his usual logical manner.  It is an absolute sucker punch directly to the feels.  Thank you Mass Effect for being able to do this several times during the course of the game.  I still think if you turned Mass Effect into a television series, it would be amazing.

17. What are your favorite websites/blogs about games?

This one thankfully is a rather short answer.  If it is in my blogroll I read it regularly, and suggest you also read it.  My blogroll has gotten so large that I had to implement a database driven system that shows like 20 random blogs at a time, especially since I have a habit of showcasing specific groups of blogs like the Newbie Blogger initiative classes or Blaugust.

18. What’s the last game you finished?

DCApp 2014-07-06 07-24-29-89 The last game I finished was Divinity: Dragon Commander and you can check out my Steampowered Sunday feature on it here.  I had previously beaten Divinity II and loved every moment of it, so in preparation for the release of Divinity: Original Sin I started playing a ton of games by Larian Studios.  If you have not played any of their games I highly suggest you check them out.  Divine Divinity and Beyond Divinity are the only two I have not played yet, but I hear they are both excellent Diablo style games in spite of the fact that they have horrible names.  They have this odd habit of not making games in the same genre twice.  Dragon Commander for example is this strange Civilization/RTS hybrid, Divinity II is a Skyrim-esc game, Divine/Beyond are Diablo style games and Original Sin is a hard core PC RPG in the style of Baldur’s Gate.  It is a really interesting company, and they make some awesome games.

19. What future releases are you most excited about?

Destiny Beta_20140719082406 The only game on the horizon that I am really excited for is Destiny.  The reason why I got a Playstation 4 was in huge part because of this game.  We had a ton of fun playing it as a group in beta, and I look forward to doing so again when it releases in September.  Really interesting FPS with role-playing game elements and at the same time built around a really good shooter engine.  The game was gorgeous and the game play extremely enjoyable.  You can check out my some of my initial thoughts here.  My only frustration is that those playing on Microsoft consoles and those playing on Sony consoles will be on separate servers.  We have Microsoft to blame for this one, because they place some odd restrictions on the manufacturers.  With FFXIV for example it is on PC and Sony consoles… and all of the players play on the same server.

20. Do you identify as a gamer?

In spite of all of the negativity surrounding the term, I definitely identify myself as a gamer.  It is just a part of what makes up me as a person, but it is a very important one.  I feel like if we stop using the term gamer, it will become yet in another line of slurs hurled towards people.  We need  gamers out there doing good and elevating the title to something more than just a basement dwelling misogynistic man-child.  I try my damnedest to leave every gaming community I am part of better for my presence there.  I try really hard to remain a mostly positive voice, and lead through my actions.  So yes, I identify myself as a gamer and it is because I have hope that the term can be something more than derogatory.

21. Why do you play video games?

I guess I have always played video games for as long as I can remember, so at this point there was no single moment that got me into gaming.  I am a gamer in all senses of the word… I love video games, board games, pen and paper, even puzzles and the occasional word game.  More importantly with video games it allows me to do things I cannot do in real life.  I cannot fight back an alien invasion hell bent on the extinction of humanity, nor can I crawl through a dungeon and slay a dragon.  Gaming lets me live out lives that I simply could not through any other medium.  Sure you can read about someone else’s story in a novel, but gaming lets me make my own stories in vivid three dimensional glory.

All Done!

I did in fact manage to wrap things up today.  Look forward to a real post from me tomorrow!

Cannot Be Tamed Questionnaire: Part Two

Resuming the Survey

Yesterday I really did not make it terribly far into the survey before I simply ran out of time.  If you want to check out the first part see my previous post.  I will be picking up where I left off this morning and hopefully getting significantly further.  There are a number of awesome responses to all of the questions floating about so I highly suggest you check out the other Blaugust folks as well.  If you want to see the original survey you can still see it here.

7. Name a game that was popular/critically adored that you just didn’t like.

guild_wars_2-wide I am going to have to say Guild Wars 2 here.  I have given this game a good college try on several occasions, but each time I play it I just get frustrated that I cannot for the life of me see what everyone else likes so much about it.  I alpha tested this game and so far it has been the only alpha test that I actually went through the trouble of resigning from.  When it launched everyone was interested in it so I decided to give it another shot, only to end up frustrated again.  Since this is a buy to play title, I keep patching it up every so often to see if it is something I can enjoy yet.

I feel like I am less frustrated with the game at this point, than my inability to see any of its saving graces.  I feel like I am somehow flawed in that I cannot understand why this title is popular.  Don’t get me wrong it has a lot of really nice features, ones that I wish were in other games.  However the lack of meaningful interaction with the world and lack of role based game play always end up with me uninstalling the game.  I mean I understand that the world is pretty, but past that I can’t think of why someone would want to play it.  This game will always be an enigma to me, and I have yet to actually make it past 45 or so in any character.

8. Name a game that was poorly received that you really like.

Rage-car-640x360 I struggled with this one for quite a bit, and I went on this morning writing most of the other posts below before returning to it.  Mostly I didn’t quite know how to classify something as “poorly received”.  There are a lot of games that do not necessarily do well upon launch that later receive an almost cult following.  Then it finally hit me… the game I should talk about.  In 2011 ID Software was working on a brand new engine, and a game that showcased it.  Everything about it looked like we might be getting their take on the whole post apocalyptic fallout style genre.  When it released however, not a single person seemed to like it.  I however loved every single moment of Rage.  I loved the setting, the engine, the characters you interacted with… and most importantly the moment to moment game play.  The only problem I had with the game was that there simply was not enough of it.  It was over well before I was ready for it to be, in fact I thought it was going to pull a “Link to the Past” on me and show me that the real mission was only just beginning.  Sadly however the game was over and I had so many things absolutely unresolved.  However the game that was there was absolutely sublime, and for whatever reason people just couldn’t seem to see that.  Unfortunately due to lackluster sales and due to bad reviews… they never really released much DLC for the game, and I will be left with what might have been.

9. What are your favorite game genres?

I primarily play MMOs and Role-playing games or at least games with heavy character development and role-play elements.  I like games where I can become the character, rather than playing through someone else’s character.  Games like the new Tomb Raider are awesome, but it is like watching a movie.  The games that really pull me in are the ones which I can inhabit and that become about me more than the characters I am playing.  I want to be the big damned hero and save the kingdom… and if a game lets me do that I am generally happy with it.  Similarly I can never seem to actually play the “dark side” option in a game.  I cannot bring myself to willfully be a dick to people in games, because the character is really just an extension of me… and I can’t bring myself to act like that.

10. Who is your favorite game protagonist?

To be honest, I have to go with the above answer.  I am my favorite game protagonist.  When I play a game I am playing a version of myself.  It might be Bel the Orc, or Bel the Monster Hunter, or even Bel the Crackpot Surgeon…  but it is always me that inherits the character.  I like playing versions of myself and when I play a game it is about me being able to do things I can’t actually do in real life…  either that or shouldn’t do for the sake of you know not ending up in jail.  So when I play Mass Effect I am not playing Commander Shepard… I am playing myself as a Commander.  The games that do not disturb this internal narrative are the ones I tend to enjoy the most like Skyrim or Fallout.  If you actually want me to pick a character from a game that I like the most…  we will have to go with Link in all his many forms.  I guess he most represents the heroic ideal for me or a weak person that goes on a quest and gets strong during the process.

11. Describe your perfect video game.

This is always the roughest question, because if I knew how to create the perfect video game I would likely be a game designer.  For me at least like I said above the game that gets the least in the way of my personal narrative is the one that I tend to enjoy the most.  So for me I greatly prefer the silent protagonist games like Secret World of Final Fantasy XIV.  When someone is speaking the dialog of someone that is supposed to be “me” in this world, it causes so much cognitive dissonance.  As far as the game play I tend to favor fantasy games or post apocalyptic world settings, because they are very open ended and allow for very loose moment to moment gameplay.  I want a good overarching quest that drives the storyline along, but I also want there to be a ton of interesting side quests along the way that are in essence little bite sized chunks of adventure with very limited commitment.

The most important thing to my enjoyment however is the ability to go off the rails.  Nothing frustrates me than having a series of cut scenes the moment you start a game, so my preference would be to dump into a world with little explanation, and allow me to figure out what is going on as I roam around.  Cut scenes are cool, but I hate feeling like I am trying to play an “interactive movie”, so I would prefer that if they exist they are initiated by me and not forced upon me.  I place a high premium on being able to explore on my own and find my own adventure where it leads me.  I think this is why I like the MMO genre so much, is because I can carve out the game I want to play through all of the various things it offers.  I have learned to appreciate narrative gameplay, but it so often feels like I am being handcuffed and forced to do things I don’t want to.  So at the end of the day I feel like the “Theme-box” or “Sand-park” hybrid is my favorite thing.  Give me a storyline that I can follow if I choose to, but also let me go off and build my own game play when I decide to do that.

12. What video game character do have you have a crush on?

This question is a little odd to me, because I can’t say I have ever really had a “crush” on any video game character.  Maybe in part it is because I grew up in the era of gaming where storyline was an after thought and the characters really were just an assemblage of pixels.  I guess the closest for me is I have a fondness for Tali’Zorah in the Mass Effect series and always tend to pick her for my parties.  I can’t say that is a crush per say but I definitely like the character more than most of the others.

13. What game has the best music?

I listen to a lot of video game music, as that tends to be MOST of what I listen to at work.  Instrumental music is what I can write or code to most easily, so it helps me focus on whatever I happen to be doing.  Additionally there is a nice feel good element to it of nostalgia as in the back of my mind I get warm fuzzies when I hear tracks that remind me of good times in games.  Right now the soundtrack that is on heavy rotation for me is Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn import CD.  I am also a huge fan of The Secret World and Defiance soundtracks for various reasons… but primarily that they fit the game they represent and reminds me of those worlds.  However if you absolutely want to pin me down to just one soundtrack… I have to go back to Castlevania Symphony of the Night.  There is just so much to love about that soundtrack, and it will likely always be my favorite.

Finishing Up Tomorrow

Once again I have run out of time, but I feel like I can probably finish things up tomorrow morning.  I feel bad that it will have taken me three days worth of posts to make it through one single 21 question survey.  However I could not bring myself to give short answers on any of the questions really.  The questions themselves serve to unlock a bunch of memories in the process, so I figured this is my blog and I might as well expand upon them.

Cannot Be Tamed Questionnaire: Part 1

Packaged with a Bow

I am not sure if this was intended to draw out posts during Blaugust or not, but yesterday Jasyla over at Cannot Be Tamed posted a survey.  I seem to be able to rattle on every morning without much issue, but I am always thankful when a ready made post is handed to me so neatly.  In part my hope is that through my own blog post and Liore’s (who turned me onto this) we will get this one spread through out the Blaugust community and get Jasyla a bunch of responses.  I am really not sure how far I will make it into the survey in a single post, but we will see.

Cannot Be Tamed Gaming Questionnaire

You can see the full text of the survey here, but I will attempt to answer all of the questions

1. When did you start playing video games?

2260351657_5c4ea18a61_z I honestly do not remember a time when I was NOT playing video games.  I would have to say age three or four maybe?  The earliest memory I had of video games was that my parents owned a Sears and Roebuck Pong clone.  More than actually playing it… I remember the desire to play it.  Like from the moment it got hooked up to the television I wanted my hands on it.  Though being as young as I was, my parents were super reluctant to let me play.  It was finally my Uncle Billy who I think let me play for the first time, and I remember losing almost immediately.  The thing is it intrigued me so much that I kept wanting to try over and over.  That early experience pretty much imprinted my brain for video games permanently.

2. What is the first game you remember playing?

seaquest6 Well like I said in the above answer the first game I remember playing is Pong.  The first game I remember absolutely loving however was probably Ms Pacman.  My aunt was the first to get an Atari 2600 and all of us cousins played it nonstop over most of our formative years.  I ended up getting a second hand Atari system not too long after that.  The game I can remember playing the most of however was Seaquest a game where you rescued drivers from sharks in a little sub that could fire a weapon.  It was also the first game I can remember playing that didn’t have just a constant repetition of levels.  As you progressed through levels the colors would change and new enemies would be added, and we wove a complex storyline through these simple transitions.

3. PC or Console?

EverQuest-10 I am primarily a PC gamer, but it hasn’t always been that way.  In fact I have a ton of rare console systems stored away in my closet including an 3DO, a NeoGeo and a TurboDuo.  In fact during the years before I got hooked on MMOs I had a video game loft with all of my consoles hooked up and “on tap” through a complex series of A/B switches.   I have spent large swaths of my time shifting back and forth between them.  Prior to 1992 I was a hardcore console gamer and mostly an Super Nintendo JRPG fan.  Then we got a PC and I got hooked on Wolfenstein, Doom and Civilization.  As I went through college the 3D graphics changes were happening and I was all about playing everything in “GL”.  It was during this time that I played Warcraft, Diablo, Starcraft, Fallout, Quake, Baldur’s Gate and pretty much anything i could get my hands on.

When I got out of college however I had a massive console resurgence with the Sony Playstation, Dreamcast, and Saturn systems.  I didn’t really make the journey back into PC exclusivity until I got hopelessly mired in the original Everquest around the release of the Scars of Velious expansion pack.  It has been my love of the MMO that has kept me glued to the PC, and while I have dabbled with the PS2, PS3, Xbox 360 and PS4…  I still prefer the PC.  While until recently it was the MMOs that had kept me there, it is also the fact that I can modify my games freely.  Everytime I install a new back of mods in Fallout 3, it makes it a completely new experience for me and I go through another 50 to 100 hour play through running back through all the content with fresh eyes.  So when given the chance I will almost always gravitate back to the PC.

4. XBox, PlayStation, or Wii?

playstation-4-controller1 I started off my gaming life as a Nintendo Fanboy, but over the years their consoles have gotten less and less practical.  All I really want is for them to release a good solid console without a gimmick controller.  I don’t want new ways to play my games, I just want new content.  I am admittedly these days a Sony Playstation fan.  I have owned two different Xbox 360s, but it is really the value of the Playstation Plus subscription that keeps me attached to Sony.  Over the last few years they have come off as the good guy in the console wars, and Microsoft coming off as the part of the stodgy corporate power.  I realize that both are huge corporations hell bent on parting me from my money, but I feel less horrible about supporting Sony.  Right now I have the PS3, PS4 and Vita in my office and they are hooked up so I can livestream the PS3/PS4 so I guess my alignment is pretty clear.

5. What’s the best game you’ve ever played?

273154-castlevania-symphony-of-the-night-playstation-screenshot-in The game I constantly keep coming back to over the years is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.  The game represents pretty much my perfectly crafted game.  For starters it is lovingly drawn 2D animation and not 3D.  It has an amazing soundtrack with awesome rock versions of the Castlevania classics.  I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the Castlevania franchise, despite how many false steps it has taken over the years.  I love the idea of hunting down Vampires, Werewolves, Ghouls, and all manner of things that go bump in the night.  Castlevania is one of the first games I purchased for myself on the original Nintendo.  I remember saving up my money and making a trip to Toys R Us to get it… and that was quite the pilgrimage considering the closest one was an hour away.  Symphony of the Night was pretty much the pinnacle of “metroidvania” for me.  It had roleplaying and leveling elements to keep me hooked, and an awesome world to explore and find all sorts of secrets.  I have repurchased this game at least four different times, on various platforms and I have it installed on my Vita at the moment.  When I am feeling horrible this is the game I boot up to take me back to a time when everything made sense.

6. What’s the worst game you’ve ever played?

et2600Screen2 I have played so many games since the days of the Atari 2600, but no game has ever absolutely confounded me as much as E.T. the Extraterrestrial.  This game is the game that began my fear of movie tie-ins regardless of what they might be.  I was still in elementary school when the movie came out, and absolutely loved it.  So when they released it on my favorite console system the Atari, I had to get it right?  There was nothing at all about this game that made any sense what so ever, and still to this day I cannot reason what the hell I am supposed to do.  You alternated between getting humped by men in trenchcoats, to picking up piles of poo on the ground that were supposed to be Reese’s Pieces… to falling into trenches for no apparent reason.  To make things even stranger…  sometimes the trenches had things that looked like record players… that gave you credit of some sort for collecting them.  But the most frustrating part was trying to get back out of the trenches, which involved extending your neck and levitating out…  but you had to do so in exactly the right spot or you fell back down again.  This was the first game to ever make me want to throw my controller across the room.  After all of these years I still get angry thinking about the disappointment I felt as a kid playing this game.  I have to say that the Ghostbusters Atari 2600 game redeemed movie ports somewhat, because I remember that game was really good.

Taking Longer than Expected

So at this point I am only 6 questions in…  and there are a total of 21.  This is going to take awhile, so hopefully you can bare with me as I answer a few questions each morning.  I simply have run out of time this morning so I have to cut this off here.  I blame the fact that I just had to look up images to go with each of the paragraphs.  In any case tune in tomorrow for the next set of questions, where I hopefully make it through more than six!

Change is Scary

Gatekeeping a Hobby

Yesterday was one of those strange days where a lot of people were talking about the same ideas.  I was not privy to the original source that sparked the discussion, but several of my friends over twitter were talking about the definition of a “real gamer”.  It seems that someone was spouting off in their lack of knowledge that tablet and mobile gamers were in some way lesser gamers than the those on the console or PC.  This once again gets back to the definition of what exactly a gamer is.  Over on the Moderate Peril blog he questioned exactly why we need a label at all.  In other hobbies, you don’t see the attempt to exclude people the way that we do within gaming.

I am very much one of those people that wants to assemble as many awesome people from as many different points of view around me as I can.  As a result I am always open to new interpretations of what exactly gaming is.  While I am not a huge fan of mobile and tablet gaming, just because the types of games I enjoy playing do not translate well without physical controls… that doesn’t mean there are not actual gamers there as well.  If you boot up bejeweled while waiting on a bus, you are just as much of a gamer as someone who camps a rare spawn for 20 hours.  There have been times in the past that I found mobile gaming to be lacking, but at this point there are tons of really detailed games that you simply cannot get on any other platform.

After seeing Hearthstone on a tablet for example, I feel like any other platform is somehow lesser because of just how cleanly it works there.  After playing Carcassonne on my phone, it felt so natural and perfect to be playing a turn based board game that way.  The big area that I am seeing taking over the mobile markets is the various kinds of simulation games.  While it started out with things like Tiny Tower, it has involved into extremely detailed and lengthy games.  Similarly I can see a lot of role-playing games flourishing on the mobile markets.  All of these things are real games, played by real gamers.  Shouldn’t we be including everyone in our big happy family instead of trying to exclude them?

Change is Scary

The cynic in me wants to think that the exclusion comes from a form of gaming Hipsterism.  The realist in me however sees that it is pure and simple fear.  Change is a scary thing, and we get rooted in our own inertia of the way we think things ought to be.  This is the gaming equivalent of “I walked to school uphill both directions and I liked it”.  In order to stay a vibrant and interesting market it needs to adapt to trends.  While I deeply love the Fallout series for example, I don’t expect every game to be the Fallout series.  Additionally while I have certain things that I like to play, it is perfectly okay that things exist that I don’t want to play.  Guild Wars 2 has become somewhat of a whipping boy for me over the years as a way of explaining what I don’t want to play.  That said I love that it exists because it makes a large number of my friends excited and happy to be playing it.

Expecting everything to be custom tailored for you is the surest way to end up angry in the end.  It is like walking into a store and complaining that a red shirt isn’t blue enough for you.  If you don’t want to wear a red shirt, don’t buy a red shirt and then expect it to change into the color you want it to be.  If you are like me and don’t like sports games…  simply ignore the fact that the sports games exist and move on with your life.  If you want to spend your nights playing nothing but Japanese Role-Playing games then do that with your free time, but realize that there is still a lot of room for games in even that niche that you may not like.  As the video states… it is perfectly okay to not like things, but don’t be a dick about the things you don’t like.  There should always be room in our community for folks that don’t look, think, act or experience things in the same way as we do.

Harder Isn’t Better

Similar to all of the above, there was a second topic floating around that Liore specifically wrote about.  I guess the old argument had resurfaced that you aren’t a “real gamer” unless you are always playing everything on the hardest settings.  For starters I don’t even know what a “real gamer” is, because if you are playing games of any sort you are a gamer.  There is no sign that says you must be this tall to ride this ride.  Now granted it is perfectly okay for there to be skill checks in order to unlock certain things.  These give us challenge and something to push for.  That said when a person accomplishes said skill check, it does not immediately make them a better person than someone who didn’t.  I find it completely valid that some content be gated behind these skill check mechanics, but the sort of elitism and classism that surrounds them needs to die in a fire.

Similarly playing something on hard mode does not immediately make you a better person.  I personally mostly play games on medium to easy mode depending on what exactly I want from an experience.  More often than not I am playing a specific game because I want to experience the story, and while I enjoy the moment to moment game play I am not there because I want the rush of excitement from being able to twitch my controls at exactly the right moment over and over enough times to unlock a special achievement.  I just want to see the story through the point of view of the experiences of my character.  In these cases I absolutely play on easy mode, and I personally love it when a game is like Wolfenstein New Order and allows me to drop the difficulty on the fly in the middle of a game session if I encounter a roadblock.

“Twitch moments” are absolutely the number one thing that kills my gaming experience.  When I encounter a moment that is significantly harder than the rest of the game play surrounding it, that is often a roadblock that keeps me from completing the game.  In an MMO or a Role-Playing game I can wander about and level up or get significantly better gear to mitigate the difficulty.  In most single player games however I simply have to have faster reflexes.  While I realize I can train myself to have faster reflexes, years of not playing twitch games have caused me to dull significantly.  The problem is… most games are not worthy the time commitment it would take to improve.  I don’t generally find achievement getting fun, nor do I find repeating the same mission over and over until I finally grasp it.  One of two things happens, either I lower the difficulty and beat it… or I simply stop playing the game likely to never return to it.

So I ask you the question, am I no longer a gamer because I do this?  No and I feel like you would tend to agree or you wouldn’t be wasting your time reading my blog on a regular basis.  I am a gamer because I game, not because I live up to some artificial bar set by someone being elitist and exclusionary.  Gaming is about having fun, and if in the course of whatever you choose to do you are enjoying yourself… then mission accomplished.  While gaming is about the journey and not necessarily about the destination… anything that stalls you out along the path is a bad thing.  This is why I love mechanics like the Echo system in Final Fantasy XIV and the system that World of Warcraft has.  Where over a series of wipes you are slowly buffed until you can defeat the content, because it maintains bragging rights for the folks who don’t need the buff… but still allows things to be fully accessible by anyone else.  At the end of the day I am an easy mode gamer…  deal with it.


Monday Morning Coming Down

This morning I quite literally could not remember if it was Monday or Sunday.  I had to turn on the television just to make sure it really was Monday and that I should be getting up instead of heading back to sleep.  This is not the best possible start to the work week, but I am slowly climbing my way to consciousness as I sip this coffee.  Not quite certain why this morning is such a struggle, because in theory I got to bed at a decent hour last night.  My wife and I both spontaneously decided it was bedtime at roughly 10pm.  Ultimately I managed to get to sleep a little bit after that fact, but this morning I am still periodically trying to type with my eyes closed.

I would say it was a medium busy weekend as far as weekends go.  We spent a good deal of time attempting to clothing shop for my wife, which means I spent a good deal of time messing about on my phone.  Sadly in both our excursion to Muskogee and our outing yesterday afternoon she did not find much of anything.  I did however find more severely discounted Legos and added a couple more Lord of the Rings sets to my collection.  Other than the shopping excursions and dropping my jeep off to get oil changed and a flat fixed…  the bulk of my weekend was spent in Final Fantasy XIV.  Overall it was an extremely productive weekend all around.


ffxiv 2014-08-17 11-10-30-815 One of my goals this weekend was to catch up on the main storyline quest to be prepared for the eventual 2.4 patch.  So far there have been three major content patches in Final Fantasy XIV and in each they have progressed the main storyline adding a new primal to fight.  The first patch added Good King Moggle Mog, the second Leviathan, and the third patch added Ramuh.  Before yesterday morning I had caught up in the quest chain to Leviathan, but had limited luck in getting a group.  However yesterday I managed to get a group within ten minutes of queuing.  The fight takes place out on the ocean.  The storyline is that they have built a special platform to help neutralize his abilities and allow you to fight him.  So you are towed out into the middle of the ocean and left to fight him off alone.

The fight feels deeply foreboding and the music that plays in the background only serves to reinforce this.  They are after all asking you to duel a god.  During the fight itself the platform is attacked by the head of Leviathan and his tail.  The DPS shifts back and forth between fighting the tail and destroying these globules that spawn up on deck.  I am not sure exactly what killing them does, but I know that ignoring them completely wipes the raid.  Every so often Leviathan will do this attack where he lays his body across the bow of the platform causing it to rock violently against the waves, and tilting the entire platform to one side dragging everyone there.  Seeing this in action looks amazing since the entire horizon shifts slightly as the platform lists in the waves.  It took a few tries but we managed to down him without much issue.

Lord of Levin

ffxiv 2014-08-17 17-20-35-077 After defeating Leviathan a large chunk of us from the free company moved on to do Battle of the Big Bridge which is an optional primal like encounter where you face Gilgamesh the samurai.  The most awesome thing about this encounter was the fact that we managed to pull it together through the use of several different linkshells.  We picked up a person from our housing linkshell and then another person through a social linkshell that Tam was a part of.  The fact that people are willing to drop what they are doing and help out with things like this makes me happy.  The Big Bridge encounter doesn’t really reward much of anything, and there are no drops to speak of, just a crazy time running around.  The best part about it is almost all of the Dialog that Gilgamesh speaks comes directly from encounters with him in Final Fantasy V.  Speaking of which… I really need to finish my play through of that game for the four job fiesta.

After finishing the Gilgamesh encounter, I spent much of the afternoon working my way through the main storyline to get caught up and ready to take on the next encounter the Striking Tree.  In the Final Fantasy mythos Ramuh tends to be a friend to humanity, helping them along the way.  In Final Fantasy V it is Ramuh that teaches your party more or less how to channel the power of the Espers (summons) and call them in battle.  In this game his role has shifted slightly, but he still acts with reason and wisdom rather than fury and rage like the other primals.  The Striking Tree hard is a battle about proving your worth to this elder god more than defeating him.  We failed miserably, or at least did not succeed.  Our time ran out before we managed to defeat him.

It seems like when you are dealing with the newest tier of content they completely remove the echo buff system.  Meaning that as we wiped, we did not get a stat boost allowing us to slowly overcome the obstacle.  I knew this was the case for the various Extreme mode versions of the encounters but I was shocked to find it as the case for Ramuh.  Ultimately we simply lacked the DPS to burn through a series of adds.  Ramuh has a similar wipe mechanic to Ifrit, in that if you don’t dps down the adds you cannot survive the next attack.  We were able to limit break one round of adds, but this was short lived as we lacked the dps to continue on after that fact.  Basically I reached a point where I was one of the most geared players in the instance, and could simply not carry the group as a whole.  I plan on giving it a shot on a night that is not Sunday, since that tends to be a lousy time for MMO groups in general.

Fully Geared Dragoon

ffxiv 2014-08-18 06-35-21-469 Through all of this running around this weekend I managed to “finish” gearing my dragoon.  I say finish in quotes because there are still several things I can get that are upgrades, however they are all much slower prospects and either involve getting lucky drops in Syrcus Tower, joining a Coil of Bahamut raid, or saving up Soldiery bookrocks which the game tends to reward 5 to 10 at a time.  At this point I have level 90 gear or better in every single slot, with a level 100 ring from the soldiery vendor and level 100 gloves from Syrcus Tower.  I feel like my Dragoon dps is as good as I can get it for the time being, and more than ready for us to begin Coil when we have enough people.  Now my focus shifts to gearing out my warrior who right now is sitting in the low 70s, but in part only because of me using some of my DPS jewelry to buff him up a bit.

ffxiv 2014-08-17 20-20-37-784 There was a huge sense of accomplishment last night when I bought the belt that replaced my final sub 90 item.  In a few weeks time I have managed to catch up to Cylladora who continued playing the game long after we all left.  Last night I also tanked my first dungeon since coming back and overall I think it went smooth enough.  I was pulling pretty quickly and trying to figure out how to maintain aggro again.  It feels like the win condition as a warrior is the fact that I have steel cyclone, and the goal of every pull was to build up enough rage to be able to start the next fight with this attack.  When I managed to do so things stayed fairly glued to me.  When I didn’t I struggled to play catch up with overpower.  Tam was playing his summoner and there is always going to be a point where I lose control of adds to his dots, however for the most part I was able to mitigate this pretty successfully.  I guess the real determination is going to be whether or not I start pugging for duty roulette or not.  If they rewarded me extra bookrocks I would do so in heartbeat, but the extra money may or may not be worth the headache.

#FFXIV #Blaugust

Play What You Love

AggroChat Episode 18

This week on AggroChat I am joined by regular hosts Rae, Ashgar and Tam which means we are unfortunately without a Kodra this weekend.  He is off enjoying the sights, sounds and gaming opportunities of GenCon.  I swear one of these years I want to go to this, because it has been like the pinnacle of all gaming shows in my head since I was a youngin reading Dragon magazine.  I realize that in reality it is a fair bit smaller than likely even PaxSouth that I will be going to in January, but there is just something extra epic about GenCon.  In honor of this convention we talk at length about the latest rendition of Dungeons and Dragons…  the fabled Fifth Edition and why you should be excited for it.  Wizards of the Coast at this point pretty much knows that they made some serious mistakes with fourth edition, allowing for the meteoric rise of Pathfinder.  In 5th Edition it feels like they are trying to pay for the sins of the past with awesome.

In addition to D&D 5th, it was a pretty significant week in gaming in that GamesCom, the Blizzard Warlords announcement and SOE Live were going as well as an event for EVE and SWTOR.  I talk about the things that really stuck out to me from the GamesCom feed, including the PS4 Shareplay system and the controversy over Tomb Raider exclusivity.  We talk about the World of Warcraft Warlords launch announcement and the subsequent trailer, and the general feeling of “blah” we seem to have towards it.  Finally we talk about Everquest Next and that it does in fact seem to be a game they are actually working on and not just vaporware.  Additionally we talk about the upcoming changes in Landmark, and how it is a step in the right direction but not enough to get Ashgar interested again.  It is a pretty packed show so hopefully you will tune in.

Play What You Love

ffxiv 2014-08-13 22-38-20-747 Since coming back to Final Fantasy XIV and the release of the 14 day trial program, I have had a number of friends give it a shot.  A good number of them have gone ahead purchasing and subscribing to the game and this is awesome.  However for a handful of players it just didn’t click for whatever reason and they sent me heartfelt apologies for not being able to get into the game.  This is perfectly natural, not all games are for all people… and in the current gaming climate we are in there is more diversity than ever, so there really is no excuse to play something you don’t enjoy.  So I feel like each of us owes it to ourselves to play whatever it is that we love, and never apologize for doing it.  Life is too short to spend time playing something you just don’t enjoy for some reason.

Right now I am enjoying the hell out of Final Fantasy XIV, and I feel like this is a game I could settle down in.  However if I reach a point where I am not enjoying it any longer, you can bet I will move on to whatever seems to “feel good” to play at the time.  If you stick around and play a game you just aren’t enjoying it only really leads to you either getting completely burnt out, or extremely bitter about the fact that your friends are forcing you to play something you hate.  If you allow yourself to glide along through a whole bunch of different fun experiences…  I feel like we all end up happier as a result.  So please if you try this game or any other and you really don’t enjoy it…  go play something else.  All you ever have to tell me is that it just “wasn’t for you” and I will completely understand.

Blaugust Prompts

I have been rather slack with a lot of the Blaugust related things, but the biggest of these is my original intent to collect a bunch of writing prompts. While the threat on the forum has a ton of these already I still need to add a bunch more.  So today here goes a few related to this weeks podcast and this weekend post.

  • What game do you love that none of your friends seem to enjoy?  Is there a game that you keep returning to but wish your friends were playing along with you?
  • For me GenCon is this fabled event, what is yours?  What is the event that you would love to attend but have never had the opportunity to do so for whatever reason.
  • What makes a good community?  What aspects of a game or social community do you enjoy, and what aspects detract from it?

I am extremely proud of all the bloggers who are participating daily in the Blaugust event.  Thanks for making this a truly awesome month.

#FFXIV #AggroChat #Blaugust

Death by Adorable

Back to School Time

I’ve said this before but the two most frustrating times in the life of a teacher spouse are the beginning of school and the end of school.  It is hard to watch your spouse going through a stress filled ballet and not really having much that you can do to stop it.  Here in Oklahoma it is of course the beginning of a new school year, and while my wife does have have students yet she has been back officially at work several days now.  To be truthful this summer she barely got any time off at all considering she was up in her classroom almost every day.  Apparently during the welcome back speech that the principal gave he  mentioned this fact.

Today we are going out on that ritual of rituals… back to school shopping.  It is in fact not just a ritual that the students go through.  I am sure we will be hitting lots of different clothing stores in search of that “first day” outfit that we always seem to get.  Back to school sales are like porn for teachers, and I am not sure if the rest of the world knows this or not.  The odd thing is that this year the sales are just lacking.  I am not sure what exactly it is, but so far it is not only that the stores don’t have much in the way of sales going on, but they don’t have much in the way of interesting stuff either.  In the past Target and Walmart both would have these dollar sections full of all sorts of organization ideas that my wife would come away with inspired from.  This year they are pretty much non-existant… and I don’t think Walmart even has their dollar section.

The biggest disappointment I have is in Office Depot.  Once upon a time they were among the most supportive businesses for teachers.  We had a teachers appreciation card that gave us a discount on damned near everything we bought, and while the discount wasn’t amazing… it felt like it was something.  Several years back they replaced this program with one similar to that of Best Buy where you get gift cards for every X dollars that you spend.  Even this has been reduced to a pittance.  On top of this the stores themselves seem to have gone through a state of decline as they just don’t have the stock that they used to.  I think this is the first year that I can recall where they didn’t have a teachers appreciation day, or give teachers the ability to buy more than the limit on the sales.  In any case it has been frustrating to watch this, and for my wife it is like ruining Christmas morning.

Death By Adorable

ffxiv 2014-08-15 20-51-34-573 For some time I had been blocked from progressing along the main storyline quest by the Thornmarch Hard primal fight.  Instead of waiting for the rest of the guild to catch up so we could do the fight legitimately as an 8 man team, several of us decided to go ahead and knock it out of the way.  The fourth primal of course is Good King Moggle Mog the king of the Moogles.  It is a council fight of sorts, but to really call it a council fight is a bit of a misstatement.  It is a fight of sheer chaos for the most part.  First you are presented with a series of Moogle adds, each one representing a class in the game.  Some of these are more important for you to kill than others, and as DPS I pretty much just followed the marked targets.  After defeating all either of the Mooglesguard the king himself spawns and the actual fight begins.

The council aspect comes into play in that when you kill an add the King inherent their power.  The Black Mage for example does an AOE ability that spreads through the entire room, the White Mage heals, the Warrior a giant version of steel cyclone, and the Paladin taunts and pulls everyone into him.  These last two can be brutal in that the Paladin and Warrior and time them to happen at the same time essentially wiping the raid.  This fight as a result is all about killing things in the right order and keeping the various Mooglesguard away from targets that buff them.  I am not 100% sure what order we went in but I know without a doubt that Black Mage and White Mage were the first two to go down.  I also know that we killed warrior, but left Paladin up in the successful attempt.  However we only managed to down them because someone got off a limit break as we were wiping horribly at the time.

The fight itself is sheer chaos and the hardest part about pugging it was that no one seemed to be able to agree on the “correct” kill order.  In many ways it reminded me of the Paragons fight in Siege of Orgrimmar, but at least there everyone agreed that one target was far more important than the others.  I am glad to be through the fight and able to move on with my main storyline quest.  That said I would gladly go back and do it another time.  Extreme mode sounds like insanity, because supposedly you have to carefully dps down each of the Mooglesguard without killing them, because the king himself is immune to damage…  however when any member of the Mooglesguard dies he heals all of them back to full from his own health pool.  So in theory you have to burn down all of the moogles down to near death and then kill one off draining the health of the King in the process.  The madness of constantly having to fight all eight Mooglesguard and deal with the king at the same time just seems like pure hell.

Syrcus Tower

ffxiv 2014-08-15 20-25-22-758 The only other big thing that I did last night was work through the quest chain leading up to the next step of Crystal Tower.  From what I hear Syrcus Tower is a significantly different beast than Labyrinth of the Ancients.  Whereas in Labyrinth you could theoretically get a piece of loot from every encounter, each time you chose to run it, in Syrcus you are limited to receiving a single piece of loot per week.  This has made it a frustrating time for a lot of people as they watch so much really good loot rot.  I guess the bulk of people running it are doing so in hope of getting a piece needed for weapon upgrades.  So no one actually rolls on the gear, and that means in general if you are going in there for gearing purposes you have your pick of whatever you could want.

The only problem is it takes awhile to run and I have yet to actually have time to really queue for it.  Instead of doing it I ended up doing a random hard mode dungeon with the guild.  So hopefully tonight I will be able to dip my toes into the dungeon proper.  At this point I have progressed significantly gear wise.  Right now I am sitting at 83 ilevel and the only pieces that are sub 90 are my boots, belt and gloves.  All of which can be upgraded through a number of means, not the least of which are running hunts and gaining bookrocks.  Additionally I could luck out and get replacements for any of those slots while running Syrcus.  It seems like the hardest thing to get is jewelry as far as drops go, and as a result I have spent most of my bookrocks and hunt tokens on getting those sorted out.   Still really enjoying the game and pumped to see more people joining in every few days.  Our hope is that as some point we can try the actual raid the Binding Coil of Bahamut which is an 8 man duty.


We Have The Date

That’s a Lot of Fish


Last night I did something a bit different than my normal fare and actually hung out with several of my coworkers.  While I hang out with Rae at least in the virtual sense almost every night, this was a bit different.  For my boss’s birthday his brother took him to a thing called Rifftrax put on by the guys from Mystery Science Theater 3000.  They do the same basic thing, but they do it live and stream it to theaters all over the country.  Since he had such a great time he decided it would make an excellent group activity.  So last night we met  for dinner and then continued on to the nearby theater to watch the Matthew Broderick version of Godzilla ripped apart by the MST3K guys.

First off this is a much bigger deal than any of us realized, as we spent probably a bit too long at the restaurant and had maybe 20 minutes before the start of the film.  By the time we all got to the theater and inside the place was absolutely packed.  Apparently if you want to get seats together you have to arrive well ahead of time, and it almost has a tail gating mentality.  Instead we all split up mostly into groups of two to find a place to sit.  So this ended up with me being down on the front row leaning back in my seat and trying to watch the movie.  Thankfully we didn’t really CARE about the movie… but instead the commentary.  Afterwards they said that it was a bit hard to hear the dub over as you got further back in the theater so I guess the awkward angle was worth it.

This is totally something I would do again, and it has been a long while since I have laughed this hard.  I guess I had completely put large sections of the Broderick film out of my memory.  I mean I remember it being bad at the time, but I didn’t remember it being THIS bad.  If you have the chance to see Rifftrax in a nearby theater I suggest you take up that opportunity.  They do this apparently as a semi regular thing here, so I will have to follow the schedule and see what is next.  It seems like the next showing is November 4th where they do that campy classic Anaconda.  I will have to see what is going on but I would really like to maybe try and go.

We Have the Date

2014-08-15 06_36_04-Continue to Battle.net ® Yesterday was the big announcement for the Warlords of Draenor release date and now we know exactly when to expect it to land.  Some time ago Godmother ran a contest to see who could guess the date, and I apparently came the closest along with River.  I remember at the time River saying something to the effect that I looked lonely on the spreadsheet so he decided my guess was as good as any.  Now that said I did have some logic behind my guess, I was not just randomly picking numbers.  My general theory was that we would not see a World of Warcraft expansion until after Blizzcon.  So knowing the Blizzcon dates I figured they would want to take advantage of the Blizzcon-Bump but get product out there before Thanksgiving and the holiday madness begins.  I apparently was right but Blizzard threw everyone for a loop by making the release a Thursday.  I don’t think anyone was expecting that.

Once again the good folks at Blizzard have managed to craft together a really awesome cinematic.  Were I a horde player I would probably be cheering the awesome orc action.  Instead it just seems like another really awesomely animated feature explaining the premise of the expansion.  The events play out a little different than I would have thought.  All along I thought that Garrosh would actually stop Grommash from drinking the blood, but it seems like good ole Grom was already making that decision.  Garrosh however just gave him the backup he needed to defeat Mannorath.  I feel like the events of this expansion will serve to set up for the long fabled Burning Legion expansion, since we obviously screw with the way things were supposed to work out.  I figure you can’t kill a demon like Mannorath without having some pretty negative repercussions.

Overwhelming Meh

Like I said, were I a horde player I would likely be heralding in yet another overwhelmingly horde focused expansion.  Thing is I am not, and I have never cared a single bit about any of the horde lore.  It was just that faction filled with monstrous humanoids and a handful of people that I cared enough about to roll alts to be able to play with.  Nothing about the horde is really my thing, apart from the whole “everything has spikes” aspect.  I expected yesterdays event and subsequent trailer to pump me up and prepare me for what was inevitable, my temporary return to World of Warcraft.  The thing is it seems to have had the opposite effect.  I am even less interested in the expansion than I was going into the day, and I can’t really put my finger on the why.

I have been in Alpha/Beta for some time now, and all in total I have played somewhere between six and eight hours.  During that time I have just felt like I was forcing myself to play the game.  I felt obligated to test the content since friends had gotten me into it.  Nothing I was doing however really did it for me, and even with the existence of some interesting ideas like the Garrisons, it all felt rehashed.  The Burning Crusade was one of the most exciting expansions for me, and it was the era of so many cool things for me as a raider.  I expected to be wrapped up in this whirlwind of nostalgia upon returning to it…  albeit in a pre-destruction state.  While Draenor is gorgeous and I can see the underpinnings of the areas I used to love…  it all just feels really old at this point.

This expansion is going to be amazing for those players that are currently enthralled with the game.  There are going to be a handful of other players that maybe quit wow but didn’t really play other games in the meantime… that will return and fall back in love again.  However I fear for those of us who have gone nomadic and played every game that has come down the pipe… the overall game is just starting to feel its age.  The systems don’t quite work as well as other games on the market, it isn’t the culmination of the best ideas any longer.  Instead it is a combination of what they could get to work within the existing framework of the game.  It will definitely breathe new life into the game a whole and introduce a bunch of new doodads for the players to get involved with, but so far it has all felt very hollow to me.  As much as I want to be excited, I am wondering if I have actually truly outgrown the game.  I had more fun doing Godmother’s survey than I have had actually playing the game in a very long time…  so that tells me I was pretty much living off nostalgia to this point, and maybe that font has been exhausted.

Labyrinth of the Ancients

Manderville With Friends

ffxiv 2014-08-13 17-28-46-658 Yesterday I had a bit of a rough day at work from the mental and emotional sanity standpoint.  So I was pretty much bummed throughout the day and this carried on to coming home that night.  I did have a weird sequence of events happen that lead to me meeting a new friend.  When I play a game on a specific server I have gotten in the habit of creating a column in tweetdeck with the server name and the game name in it, just to see what happens to be going on in that community on social media.  When I came back to Final Fantasy XIV I did that and created a column that said “FFXIV Cactuar” giving me any FFXIV posts related to Cactuar.  It has been less than amazing considering that it also catches all posts about the cactuar creatures…  and as a result I had gotten out of the habit at looking at it.

ffxiv 2014-08-13 17-49-54-819 When I looked yesterday however there were a bunch of posts from a seemingly friendly person playing on our server.  In fact there were pictures posted of the mists housing district, and I thought wow… wouldn’t it be a crazy coincidence if we ended up virtual neighbors.  Turns out she is in ward 1 of the Mists which pretty much means “we bought housing the second it was available”.  We friended each other in game and next thing I know she is coming to visit our house in the ward.  What do you do when you have guests over?  Dance the manderville of course.  After a bit I got a few guildies in on the act, and she even taught us what happens when you get a bunch of Moogle pets together.  After a short period of time they apparently start dancing in a circle together.  With some experimentation it seems like lots of pets interact with others of the same type.  When you summon a Pudgy Puk for example, all the other Puks rush over to greet the newcomer.  It is little details like this that make the game so amazingly charming.

ffxiv 2014-08-13 17-55-41-290 The awesome side effect of all of this madness however is that through twitter we all met a new friend.  As the evening progressed she pulled two of my guildies into Syrcus tower and I think they had a pretty good time.  She on the other hand seems super excited to actually know some people on during the EDT primetime.  She hails from a huge guild on the server, that apparently at one point was one of the highest progressed guilds, otherwise I would totally try and steal her into the guild.  It might still happen because her group is not active at all, as for whatever reason most of them went missing posts patch 2.2.  In any case it was a pretty awesome random happening, and I think its always great to meet more awesome people on the server I play on.

Labyrinth of the Ancients

ffxiv 2014-08-13 20-32-51-933 As far as my evening, my wife and I walked a mile and some change to dinner and when I got back everyone was otherwise engaged.  So I decided to take the plunge and queue for the first of the crystal tower instances.  Labyrinth of the Ancients is essentially the Final Fantasy XIV version of the WoW LFR system.  You queue up individually or as a group and are matched up with other players forming three groups of 8 or 24 in total.  Each “alliance” as they call it works as a team to make its way through the tower, and often times has to split apart so that each time covers a specific mechanic.  The first part of the dungeon drops ilvl 80 gear, and has no loot restrictions, which makes it a pretty popular place to grind out some basic gear.  Additionally each run through rewards both kinds of “bookrocks” making it a decent way to get some currency.

ffxiv 2014-08-13 21-45-09-396 In total I made two runs last night through the raid.  The first run seemed to be going really smoothly with us one-shotting the first boss encounter.  However there was a portion that involved us splitting up into three teams and our team kept failing.  I am not really sure what was happening as my role in the fight was super focused on burning down the “boss” at the end of the platform.  Apparently however the adds were not getting handled and the ranged dps that is supposed to burn them down failed to do so.  The end result was a slow cascade of players leaving the group until finally the game asked us if we wanted to abandon the duty since there really was no shot in hell of getting fillins.  Unlike World of Warcraft the Final Fantasy duty system allows you to say “I only want fresh raids” and this is the default option….  so for the most part it is very hard to get people to join your group.  In future runs I might just flag myself as a fillin to see if the queue goes any faster, as each time I have queued it took around thirty minutes.

Second Chances and Onion Knights

ffxiv 2014-08-13 22-37-59-392 I took a break, stretched my legs and got a drink and then sat down to queue for Crystal Tower again when my group failed out.  It was roughly thirty minutes again when I got a brand new group.  At first I was wondering if this would be a repeat of the last group when we struggled to defeat the Bone Dragon encounter.  However from that point onwards everything else went pretty flawlessly, and in no time at all we were through the dungeon and I was on to being flagged for Syrccus tower.  Most of the look was meaningless for me, however form the Behemoth encounter a lancer hat dropped.  I mostly rolled on it for the cosmetic look and that I was the only lancer in my sub team.  When loot drops, it drops for your 8 man group and not for the 24 man raid instance as a whole.  This means you are only really in competition against a handful of players, and so far I have been the only dragoon on each time.

completed_onion_knight  I was able to scrounge up a picture of what the completed Onion Knight set looks like, so yeah I totally rolled for cosmetic purposes.  In truth I would really like to get all of the pieces of the Wolfram set because I am really digging the appearance there.  I seem to have lucked into the chest and helmet.  The Chest was 66,000 gil and the Helmet was 80,000 gil on the Market Board, and since then I have not seen ANY piece of Wolfram gear cheaper than 150,000 to 200,000 gil.  I am sure the crafter that posted them that cheaply is kicking themselves, but as a result I have some really awesome ilvl 90 gear.  I will have to ask some of my crafter friends what exactly it takes to make more pieces because yeah… I could totally use some more of it.  In any case I had a fun time checking out the raid instance.  I think it is all of our hopes to be able to do Binding Coil of Bahamut at some point as a guild, especially since that is only an 8 man raid.  I really like the encounters in this game so far, and I look forward to seeing what more of the raids look like.

#FFXIV #Cactuar #CrystalTower