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.

Whorleater

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.

Whorleater

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.

#FFXIV

We Have The Date

That’s a Lot of Fish

omegariff_logo

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

On Exclusivity and Microsoft

GamesCom Bombshell

rise-of-the-tomb-raider Yesterday was the first day of the GamesCom conference in Cologne Germany, and generally speaking during past conferences we have for the most part seen a repeat of what was just announced at E3 a few months before.  This year however we got quite the bomb shell dropped during the Microsoft press conference, in the form that they claim that Rise of the Tomb Raider is going to be an Xbox One exclusive title.  This of course caused a wave of outrage through the community in part because up until this point all signs pointed to this being yet another Square Enix multiplatform title.  In fact during the E3 event, this appeared as part of the Sony PS4 press conference and was not even shown during the Microsoft event.  The outrage that I see so far is far less about Xbone vs PS4 but the fact that at least on initial pass it seemed like it would not be coming to PC either.

If you dissect the message that was delivered you can see something subtle happening.  Every single time they mentioned that this was exclusive they played with the words a bit.  They kept repeating the carefully constructed phrase “coming exclusive for holiday 2015”.  Over and over at least four separate times they used that exact same wording.  So that screams to me that they are putting a lot of hype behind something that may or may not be the case.  There are always a number of 100% platform dependant titles on a console.  The best example of these are the classic titles that you can only get on a Nintendo console like Zelda, Mario, Metroid, Kirby and Kid Icarus to make a few.  Then there are titles that come out first one a given console, but later on ship on every other console.

On Exclusivity and Microsoft

This is after all a card Microsoft has played for years, trumping the supposed exclusivity of a given title that then not only comes out but in part becomes far more famous on another platform.  If you remember both Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect were XBox exclusives, yet in both cases the franchises came out on the PC and with Mass Effect it now exists on all of the consoles and was a massive sales juggernaut.  Similarly even during this generation both Dead Rising 3 and Ryse: Son of Rome were supposedly platform exclusive titles but in both cases they are being released on the PC.  There was even the situation of Ninja Gaiden II that was a platform exclusive, and then later Tecmo released the game as Ninja Gaiden Sigma II so that they could break their exclusivity agreement.  All of this leads me to believe that this is just more marketing chicanery from Microsoft and not actually a platform exclusive title.

Ultimately games are developed to make money, and right now with 5 million Xbox One units being dwarfed by 10 million Playstation 4 units, it simply does not make sense to ignore the larger platform.  Ultimately this was a master stroke on the part of Microsoft however if they manage to pull it off.  I wouldn’t exactly call Rise of the Tomb Raider a platform selling title, but it certainly helps to buff up a console that has floundered a bit in its first year.  A good friend of mine has this rule that he refuses to buy a console before there are five titles that he wants to play on it that he cannot get anywhere else.  I personally have found this to be a pretty good rule so far, and ultimately this lead me to purchase my PS4.  If I reached a point where I had five titles for the Xbox One… I would consider getting one, but for the time being I just don’t have any interest.

Results of Poor Messaging

Microsoft has reached this point out of some phenomenally poor messaging.  When the console was announced they made a series of blunders in trying to guess exactly what their console buyers would want.  All of the touting of its television features really lost me in the process.  I barely watch television, and when I do it tends to be for a specific purpose… to watch one show and then move on to the next thing.  The only channel I watch with any frequency is Cartoon Network, more specifically Adult Swim.  Even then the last time I sat down in front of the television to actually watch television on purpose was well over a week ago.  So the focus on the initial marketing message of the console by demonstrating all of the admittedly interesting things it can do with television…  really landed off in left field.

Since then he has been struggling to out message Sony who has quite frankly dominated the news cycle with some pretty innovative features.  For sake of fairness I personally own right now 2 Xbox 360s, a Playstation 3, a Playstation Vita and a Playstation 4.  So I am not exactly an unbiased observer here.  I have clearly chosen the Sony Platform over the Microsoft one in part because all of these consoles work so well together.  The other thing is that Sony has focused in with laser precision on a very specific message.  “This is a console about video gaming, and we want to provide you an awesome gaming experience.”  So far this message has worked and resounded with folks looking for a next generation gaming console and not necessarily a next generation media pc.

It’s About the Value

The primary reason why I jumped allegiance during the last generation is admittedly just how amazing of a value Playstation Plus is, or more so how disappointing a value Xbox Gold was.  PS Plus is a $50 dollar a year subscription that gives you tons of free content as a result.  I just made a list of titles I have gotten in the two years I have been subscribed to the program.

Dust 514, DC Universe Online, Ratchet and Clank Collection, Dead Nation, Unit 13, Gravity Rush, Wipeout 2048, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Hitman: Absolution, Outlast, Resogun, Pinball Arcade, Infamous 2 , Little Big Planet 2, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, Malicious, LIttle Big Planet Karting, Uncharted 3, Mod Nation Racers: Road Trip, Thomas Was Alone, Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark, Lone Survivor: The Directors Cut, Zen Pinball 2, Worms: Battle Island, Labrynth Legends, Zombie Tycoon II, Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee HD, Hotline Miami, Grid 2, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Payday 2, Metro: Last Light, Closure, Knytt Underground, Dyad, Bioshock Infinite, Darksiders, Saints Row: The Third, Batman: Arkham City, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend, Poker Night 2, Joe Danger 2: The Movie, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Borderlands 2, Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny, Tekken 6, Galaga Legions, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, Castle of Illusion, Jet Set Radio, Binary Domain, Vanquish, The Cave, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, Street Fighter X Tekken, Dragon’s Dogman: Dark Arisen, Remember Me, DmC Devil May Cry, Resident Evil Chronicles HD Collection, Mega Man 9&10 Combo, Tomb Raider, Pro Evolution Soccer 2014, Battlefield 3, Sleeping Dogs, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, Trine 2, PixelJunk Shooter, PIxelJunk Monsters , Velocity Ultra, Soul Sacrifice, Stick it to the Man, Limbo, Puppeteer, Surge Deluxe, NBA 2K14, Warframe, Flower, Strider, Towerfall Ascension, Doki-Doki Universe, Terraria, Muramasa Rebirth, Vessel, Dead Space 3, Fez, Dragon’s Crown, Metrico, Rogue Legacy, Proteus, Road Not Taken, Crysis 3

That is 94 individual titles that I have gotten for free through either the console itself or the Playstation Plus service.  In many cases those titles are available on multiple platforms and as a result I get a copy for every platform it is avaialble for.  This is a huge deal for me, and not only do most of the titles have what Sony calls “cross buy” where if you buy a copy for any platform you get it on ALL platforms… you also get “cross save” on the newer games.  Lately I have been playing quite a bit of Rogue Legacy, and I can start a game on my Vita and then pick it up later upstairs on my Playstation 4.  On top of that if I have a game I want to play on my PS4 I can pick up the Vita and use it as a remote screen and even play it remotely.  Admittedly playing from your PS4 while not on the same network is a bit laggy, but the simple fact that it exists is mind boggling to me.

Now I realize that “Games With Gold” is a thing that exists now and they have been fighting to catch up, but at this point there have been 35 titles to Playstation Plus that has released 148 PS3 titles, 14 PS4 titles, 48 PS Vita titles and 87 psp/psone/minis titles.  I am admittedly bitter however for having paid for years of Xbox Gold subscription for what amounted to the permission to play games online and watch Netflix.  Since then they have reversed this decision and made Netflix a free software, but when I initially got my Xbox 360 you had to have the full gold subscription to use it.  Sony is just as much of a corporate monstrosity as Microsoft, but they have been doing a much better job of disguising that fact and giving me warm fuzzies along the way.  Since I still have all three of their most recent platforms, and even a PSP if we want to go back that far…  they are doing an awesome job of giving me reasons to care about each and every platform and more specifically the interoperability between them.

Share Play

Hands down the most interesting thing to come out of GamesCom for me was the announcement of Share Play.  The Playstation Now game streaming service has been announced for some time, and it is currently happening playable in beta, but for the time being it just is a poor value.  What Share Play does is take that same game streaming technology but flip it around to make it extremely useful.  Right now if you want to play with a friend, you both have to own the same game and log into it at the same time to meet up and play.  What Share Play proposes is that you can be sitting on your couch and your friend on theirs, but be virtually playing the same copy of the game together.  The idea is that you send your PlayStation network friend an invite to join your current game session.  At this point the game is then streamed to their console and you are playing together in the same session.

I have no clue what the ramifications of this technology will be and what sort of internet connection you will need to make it work.  Thankfully however most of my friends that I hang out with on a nightly basis also have some pretty beefy internet connections.  So I can see us getting a lot of play out of this feature.  Want to try out a new game, awesome… pop in my game and play with me and see if you like it.  Want to work together on some achievement, awesome…  let me send you an invite and we will work on it together.  That is the thing I like the best about the PS4 experience so far is that it feels very socially connected as I am constantly able to see what my friends are playing and especially during the Destiny betas we have been able to pop around freely.  The only negative I have so far is that the voice chat system is horrible, and as a result I still prefer to use teamspeak.

Wrapping Up

I realize that I am not an unbiased voice about the whole Microsoft versus Sony debate.  In truth there really isn’t much of a debate to be had in either direction.  Buy whatever console has the games you want to play on it and ignore everyone that is spouting off about your choice.  I made my choice based on the fact that it had more games that I wanted to play on it, and with the Playstation Plus service from the day I brought my PS4 home I already had a half dozen titles to play on it that night.  PS Plus and all the other consoles do an amazing job justifying the purchase of MORE Sony Consoles.  As far as Rise of the Tomb Raider, I am taking a wait and see attitude.  I think right now that this exclusive agreement is just a carefully marketed and cleverly worded announcement.  Will it ship on Xbox One first?  More than likely… but will it be followed up within six months to a year on every other platform?  Almost assuredly so, because so far if it is popular and demanded enough most Xbox titles see a PC release…  I am looking at your KOTOR, Mass Effect, Fable, Dead Rising and I imagine every other blockbuster that gets released for a Microsoft Console.

#XboxOne #PS4 #RiseoftheTombRaider

Revenge on Pharo Sirius

Robin Williams

robin-williams This morning is a rough one, more than anything because I don’t quite know what to say but at the same time feel like I need to say something.  It is unlikely that anyone was not touched by at least one of the many faces of Robin Williams.  You had the coked up version from Mork and Mindy, the family friendly version from Aladdin, the bawdy rapid fire version from Good Morning Vietnam and finally the extremely gifted and serious one as seen in movies like Goodwill Hunting and the Fisher King.  There was a Robin Williams for everyone, and he was absolutely adept at switching to just the right version of himself for the role.  Throughout the evening last night, folks kept popping onto TeamSpeak and announcing the news with shock that the words themselves were rolling off their lips.  In many ways it will be hard to envision a world without him, because he has been such a comedic force of nature my entire life.  He was like the tidal forces… just a thing that existed and we were quietly enriched for the presence.

He of course was a very public proponent of gaming, supposedly naming at least two of his children based on game characters.  The most famous of these was his daughter Zelda, because he was supposedly “playing a lot of Zelda” at the time.  He also struggled with all manner of addictions, so much so that I cannot think of cocaine without thinking of him at least in passing.  Brilliance often burns bright by standing far too close to the flame.  It is also reported that he struggled with depression, and I know specifically what that feels like.  You develop all sorts of coping mechanisms to push away the bad thoughts but they never actually leave you.  They are unrelenting in their pursuit of you and constantly gnawing away at the best of days.  I don’t really believe there is such a thing as a “cured” state, just “functioning better”.  So I choose not necessarily to wallow in the memory of this mans greatness, but instead to salute just how long he managed to chase his demons away before they consumed him.  At the same time I wonder just how long I will be able to accomplish the same.

A Room of my Own

ffxiv 2014-08-10 22-05-55-122 On a far lighter note, I thought I would show off my new room in the guild house.  Granted I don’t have much of anything in it yet, and primarily the things that I do have, I purchased because they were cheap.  It just felt wrong to own a private room but not have anything in it.  Tam has this glorious room with all sorts of rare items that he has crafted through goldsmithing, but since I have avoided crafting like the plague in this game I have very little to show myself.  The room was purchased with my recent wealth generated by the sale of some Materia that I got through questing.  Two of them sold for 100,000 gil a piece and the third sold for 500,000 gil giving me some money finally to play around with.  The private room in the guild house costs 300,000 gil but unlike other games there are no upkeep mechanics.  So even though it is crazy expensive to get housing, it is at least a one time expense.

At some point I need to dip my toes into the crafting system, because it seems like all of the really cool housing stuff is crafted.  Unlike some games there really doesn’t seem to be a ready made drop component here.  Like in EQ2 you could go clear specific dungeons and walk away with pieces of furniture or statues, but here you walk away with rare crafting materials.  In fact this has been the point of much disappointment as the last several bosses of most of the hard mode content drops nothing but crafting mats that are then turned into some of the best in slot items.  This was part of my major disappointment the first time playing the game, that nothing ever really dropped interesting gear out in the world.  I think maybe if I learned to appreciate the crafting system I would “grok” why I should care about getting that high quality Pieste Skin.

Revenge on Pharo Sirius

ffxiv 2014-08-11 21-49-34-777 Last night for me was mostly a night to catch up on the main storyline quest.  There are a number of trials that are unlocked post 50 through continuing down the main storyline.  Each time they add a new patch they add new storyline content, and at the not so subtle constant nudging of Tam I worked my way to getting caught up on the King Moggle Mog encounter, which is the first of these new trials you get to.  The problem is it causes you to run a series of dungeons and guildhests that no one actually wants to run ever.  As a result I had to queue for Sunken Temple of Qarn, aka the dungeon with the bees that one-shot unsuspecting players.  Overall the dungeon went extremely smoothly in part because as a Dragoon I could sit on the bees and interrupt them as soon as they went to cast the final sting spell.  After this I had to run through a couple of guildhests with amazing names “Hero in a Half Shell” and “More than a Feeler”.  The best thing about FATEs and Guildhests are the awesome puns.

ffxiv 2014-08-11 22-04-56-176 After I finished my guildhests we decided to go off and seek revenge on Pharo Sirius.  I guess at some point after patch 2.1 my friends had tried coming into here and gotten absolutely wrecked.  So it has been both revered and feared since, and they wanted to get revenge.  At this point we have significantly better gear, as at that time none of us had our relics and at this point most of us also have a good deal of gear to back said relics up.  While there were some extremely tricky parts, I have to say overall the dungeon went pretty smoothly.  They remembered enough of the pitfalls from before to keep us from getting hung up on them again, yet the boss encounters were still fresh enough that we had to do a good deal of thinking on our feet.  We beat the dungeon with plenty of time still left on the timer, whereas the first time they were here they hit their 90 minutes and simply ran out of time to continue trying.

Mammets of Halatali

ffxiv 2014-08-11 22-11-56-607 After clearing up our revenge issues with Pharo Sirius we opted to move on to Halatali Hard Mode.  Essentially we have been working our way through unlocking the various dungeons so that each of us can begin doing Hard Mode roulette in the duty finder.  Similarly we have a whole slew of trials to unlock before we can do those as well.  As of last night I am missing Hard Mode Stone Vigil, Hard Mode Haukke Manor and Lost City of Amdapor before I can do the hard mode roulettes, and I think Tam and Ashgar are just down to two of those.  The tentative plan is to run the missing ones tonight, and if not I can always directly queue for whatever ones I happen to be missing.  I would just rather experience the new content as a guild than with a bunch of random strangers.  Although I doubt we will have enough people to actually do the trials at any point soon, so I probably will go ahead and queue for Moggle Mog and Battle at the Big Bridge to get through those trials so that I can move on in the storyline.

ffxiv 2014-08-11 22-19-36-068 Just like the other hard modes, it seems things have changed since we last were here.  After working so hard to clear out the dungeon the first time, it seems as though a series of “friendly” gladiators have taken up residence in the dungeon and are prepared to challenge us to a series of difficult encounters.  I say friendly in quotes because each time you get near one of them they seem to heckle you with random sayings.  The whole dungeon reminds me a bit of the Crusaders Coliseum in World of Warcraft, and in fight you end up pushing your way through a bit of trash before coming up against another big boss encounter.  There were some extremely interesting mechanics, and in a few places we took some deaths… but managed to spring back and figure out the “thing” we needed to learn to defeat whatever horrible attack they were throwing at us.  As a whole I feel like this could be a dungeon run extremely quickly now that we know the mechanics.  All in all it was a pretty great night, and I managed to catch up on the storyline… and hopefully tonight we can unlock the rest of the dungeons.  I still have yet to set foot in Crystal Tower, but if all else falls through I might do that.

#FFXIV

Crafting Gae Bolg

Deep Cleaning

deepcleaning With the return to school rapidly approaching, this weekend we engaged in what has become a ritual of ours… the semi annual back to school deep cleaning.  With all of the travel over the last several summers our lives have become about trying to just keep moving forward.  As a result the house keeping falls a bit by the wayside.  I am adept at picking up and vacuuming but when it comes to actually deep cleaning a room, I lack the attention to detail that my wife has.  So yesterday we decided that we would devote a good chunk of the morning to getting a bunch of things done that needed to be done.  The above image is part of the load we ended up taking to goodwill that had been sitting around our house as clutter.

For me I mostly did the brute force cleaning, and the gathering and relocation of objects.  Once the brute force pass was done my wife would come in and do the fine detail work with chemicals and such since my lungs can’t really handle that sort of thing.  We worked together as a team and the house looks great as a result.  We still have a bit more laundry to finish up tonight, but overall the house is ready to go into the school year.  Personally I don’t so much care, but the cluttered house is a major stressor for my wife, and anything I can do to help her transition back into the school year to go more smoothly I am willing to do.  Over the next few days I know she will have several other things that need to get created or shopping trips that need be made all in the name of “back to school”.

This time of year is almost like Christmas for a teacher, but for whatever reason this year the back to school sections of stores have been pretty puny.  My wife as going through her past blog posts from previous years, and during this time she was constantly finding neat things to use in her classroom.  This year there has been nothing.  We did make a mad dash out to Office Depot yesterday afternoon to pretend we didn’t know each other and buy two separate bundles of 3 magnetic white board erasers each.  Once upon a time Office Depot used to let teachers buy more than the limit of sale items like that, but as a whole that store has really gone to shit.  If it was not the option we happened to have in town, we would likely never actually go to it.  They used to be extremely supportive of educators, but lately they have really screwed with their appreciation programs to the point where it simply isn’t worth the hassle and instead we just go to staples when given the option.

Errands for a Smith

ffxiv 2014-08-10 18-18-31-362 My gaming yesterday was largely about trying to play catch up and get attunements knocked out of the way.  For the last couple of nights I had been hoping to catch up with Warenwolf so that he could attune the needed Materia to both my Lancer and Archer weapons for their respective relics.  The relic weapon quest is something akin to the epic weapon quest from Everquest and Everquest 2, the primary difference being that now you can complete most of it through the duty finder.  The first step in the process is to craft a base weapon that Geralt the smith will improve into the relic weapon.  There are several ways you can go about this, the intended way is to farm Wanderers Palace for an item component, and then have a crafter of that type take it and some rare metals to craft together a weapon for you.  The more realistic way is to simply watch the market boards for someone who has already crafted it.

After dumping all of my free money into the guild house, I had to play catch up and finally Friday evening I managed to get enough gil together to be able to purchase the base weapon.  The biggest frustration I had is that you do not need a high quality weapon, as the conversion to the relic weapon will ultimately destroy the base item in the process.  However there seemed to be nothing on the market but high quality weapons, which demand a premium.  The next step is to take this weapon and fuse two materia of a specific type to it.  After that you bring it back to Geralt and he begins sending you on various other tasks.  The first of which is to defeat the Dhorne Chimaera in Coethas Highlands.  Both myself and Rae were working through this quest at the same time so we tag teamed all of the steps.

The Chimaera went pretty smoothly and was much easier than I remembered when we did it as a guild.  We turned in once again at the smith and he sent us into Amdapor Keep to retrieve some rare tome.  This group was a bit of a frustration as it was lead by a gladiator who had apparently not tanked the zone since release.  Once upon a time you could rush to the first bosses gate and skip all of the trash in the process.  He tried this twice and we failed twice, and then from that point on he was pissy the entire run.  This guy really is one of the first jerks that I have encountered in the game so far, however we kept our heads down and finished the dungeon without much issue.  After a quick turn in at the smith again we were off into Coerthas Highlands to “temper” the unfinished weapon through combat where you have to kill eight of three different types of mobs.

Crafting Gae Bolg

ffxiv 2014-08-10 21-32-31-504

After the weapon tempering phase it is on to do yet another world boss battle, this time Hydra which is located in as a sub dungeon in Halatali.  This fight went far faster and easier than I remembered as well so I was starting to feel excited that we might just wrap this up in a single night.  After turning in again it begins the hardest part of the quest where you have to defeat each of the hard mode primal encounters starting with Ifrit.  Rae and I were up to the challenge so we queued together and hoped for a quick run.  It turns out that when you queue as two dps it actually goes pretty quickly since the game tends to favor prebuilt chunks of parties over singlets.  When I was running these as my Warrior it felt like I was absolutely carried to my Bravura weapon.  It might be a side effect of the fact that Sunday is rarely a great day for random grouping, or we might just have gotten unlucky but each and every primal fight we encountered last night was a struggle to get through.

Ifrit for the most part went smoothly enough, taking us a couple of attempts to get him down.  Garuda on the other hand was a nightmare.  We had a pair of tanks that didn’t really know what they were doing and they were from the same guild.  The better geared of the two tanks was oddly enough less experienced.  It turns out that for roughly 200 hunt emblems you can get a full level 90 set of relic lookalike gear, and that is what both of these guys were wearing.  We wiped mercilessly and this scholar in the group was getting pretty pissy.  I mean I get being frustrated, but instead of trying to teach the players what needed to happen in the encounter they just wanted to rant and rage.  Rae stepped up to the plate and explained the encounters and after we got a three stack of the echo buff we managed to push through it.

Titan is without a doubt the most difficult of the hard mode primal encounters, and this time it was no different.  Once again we did not experience the carry factor that I had when I was running up my warrior.  Everyone in the party seemed to be similarly or lesser geared than the two of us.  Lots of bad things kept happening including the second healer just standing in stuff constantly and dying early.  On the attempt where we beat it, all of us died to various effects and a group of four players… a Scholar, a Monk, a Gladiator and a Warrior managed to push Titan down the last quarter of his health winning us the battle.   I wish I could have given each and every one of them a player commendation because wow… they really were badasses.

ffxiv 2014-08-09 23-09-29-293 Thankfully during this entire process I managed to get enough “bookrocks” to not only craft the weapon Gae Bolg but immediately turn around and upgrade it to the ilevel 90 version as well.  Early in the day I had decided to queue for one of the hardmodes and while we made it through just fine… I felt like I was pulling down the party because my Dragoon did not have his relic weapon.  Now that I have it I feel like I can queue for the harder dungeons with more confidence.  As part of the whole running around yesterday, both Rae and I attuned ourselves for Crystal Tower, which is as Tam explained it “Baby’s First Raid”.  I am hoping to run that tonight and maybe get some more upgrades, but thanks to the spiffy weapon I picked up I am no longer quite so worried about dragging down the team.

#FFXIV #Relic