Learning to Fly

Coerthas Distractions

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 08-15-59-02 All I really wanted yesterday was to sit in one spot and play Final Fantasy XIV all day long.  While that did not happen as I had originally envisioned I did still manage to get a fair amount of play time.  The biggest interruption came early on when I was trying to work on my blog post, and the air conditioning company called to tell me they were on their way over.  Firstly I had completely forgotten that I had scheduled our twice a year maintenance for Friday thinking I would be off from work anyways.  Secondly…  the guy who came over seemed relatively new and manage to take an hour and a half doing what normally takes the guy fifteen minutes to finish.  So that was ultimately why I ended up posting so late.  By the time that finished we needed to run a few errands, and I spent until roughly two doing that.  Finally when I got home however I had a solid block of play time and also a mission set out in front of me.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 16-03-31-09 Tam had apparently been playing since quite literally the servers went life at 2 am pst.  As a result he was anxiously waiting on us to catch up so that he could run the very first dungeon.   While Dusk Vigil is not entirely gated by the main story, it does require you to have gotten far enough into the story to unlock a specific camp of NPCs.  Previously I was getting easily distracted by every single FATE I came across…  which was pretty much an endless feedback loop since at any given moment there are a dozen different FATEs up in Western Coerthas.  Instead I had to shift to being laser focused on completing the quests.  This batch of storyline however deserves some time to slow down and savor it a bit as you quest through it.  They have done something that no other MMO has done…  picked up the storyline moments after the last quest of the previous expansion.  Over the course of “A Realm Reborn” they learned how to extremely effectively tell compelling story, and this expansion just continues that trend.  I feel like I am only a little ways in and they have already dropped several big bombshells on me.

Dusk Vigil

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 21-48-23-26 Normally I would have told them to go with another tank to Dusk Vigil… even though I love the act of clearing a dungeon that very first time.  Problem being at the moment I am the highest progressed tank in the guild and likely the only one who has unlocked it.  Around 8:30 last night my wife and I decided to go for a walk down to the local shaved ice place, and I told them that I would run the dungeon when I got back.  Upon coming back the new renters across the street were out in the yard and it felt awkward not to go over and say hello.  People think it is strange that we don’t really know anyone in our neighborhood…  but I have to say this is 0 for 2 when it comes to introducing ourselves to new people.  This new one is just as insane seeming and clingy as the last one…  now the positive is that there was an Xbox 360 set up on the living room floor with Lord of the Rings movies and Dragon Age Inquisition scattered around it.  So maybe just maybe they are going to be cool people?  After making them wait half the night we eventually go away from the neighbor and I went upstairs to fight the login boss and get back in game.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 22-19-25-94 Surprisingly I managed to log in immediately and get straight into the server, and got my group invite and we were up and running.  The big take away from the dungeon is that much like the overworld…  the mobs hit extremely hard.  I am an ilevel 128 Warrior, and that first trash pack I pulled was a bit of a wakeup call.  The coolest thing about the dungeon however were the bosses which were in essence a remix of mechanics we have seen in some of the raids, but assembled in a manner that felt fresh.  I imagine at some point we will have a gear level where we can ignore the mechanics but for the time being…  folks have to pay attention.  The layout of the dungeon was extremely cool as well and had both a Coerthas flavor and a stone vigil flavor the deeper you got into it.  The background music and boss music were both amazing as well… with the zone music sounding like a remix of the Heavensward theme with Snowcloak.  The dungeon also dropped some really nice level 110 items that had unique graphics, so I hope to pop back in and try and collect more of it.

Learning to Fly

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 23-32-49-86 I have no clue how far a Yalm is, but over the course of yesterday I think I travelled thousands of them hunting down Aether Currents.  For the uninitiated Final Fantasy XIV gives you a brand new Black Chocobo just a few quests into the Heavensward Storyline.  Also for the uninitiated Black Chocobos old a special place in the Final Fantasy pantheon of being the only breed of Chocobo that can actually fly, and while they often look more purple than black…  the one you get in Heavensward is officially a jet black chocobo with pretty cool barding.  When you get yours you also get this device called an Aether Compass.  In order to fly in a zone you need to track down a certain number of the Aether Currents, and in Western Coerthas this is 10 scattered throughout the zone and 5 that you get from doing quests.  If you have ever played a game that has a tracking system the compass works pretty much like this.  You click the item and it tells you the direction and distance away the next Aether Current is located.  This appears in your quest items tab, but I highly suggest moving it to a hotbar because you will be clicking this thing constantly.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-20 00-19-29-65 As a result you have to not only try and figure out how to traverse a zone that is extremely difficult to traverse do to some extreme elevation changes, you have to do this while interpreting messages like “381 Yalms to the South East”.  Most of the Aether Currents are found as a result of some jumping puzzles, that can either be extremely difficult to get to…  or relatively simply if you figure out the path they intended you to take.  The worst feeling is jumping down off something and seeing an Aether Current on the way down… that you could have gotten if only you know it was there ahead of time.  Once you have gathered up all of the currents you can fly around the zone on your Black Chocobo… and I have to say it feels amazing to finally be able to do this.  Sure the whole Aether Current thing is frustrating, but it did an amazing job of teaching me the layout of the zone and it is really the sort of thing that I did not finish until I was already MOSTLY finished with a zone.  This is a great compromise for allowing players to fly, but not feeling like you are somehow cheapening the content in the process.  Other games should really take note of this system going forward, because it feels like you are really earning your ability to fly each time.

White Mage Soul

The Best Intentions

Yesterday I read a post by Missy Mojo lamenting just how “un-fun” Blaugust has become for her.  I fear that there are a lot more people out there feeling the same.  I hear the same sort of lament in Kodra’s voice each night as he says he really needs to do his blog post.  The idea behind Blaugust was simple, to challenge people to do the same thing I do and write something, anything every day.  The thing is that the challenge grew legs of its own and sucked in a lot of newly minted bloggers along with the veterans.  I figured I might have five or so veteran bloggers take up the challenge as I did a year and a half ago.  The thing is I didn’t get there over night, and in fact had been blogging for around four years before I decided to post regularly.

This is probably the worst kind of event for someone new to the craft to start under, and we had huge participation by folks who started just for this even or started under the Newbie Blogger Initiative.  I promise my intention was not to grind people down with daily blogging, but instead to fill the gap that often happens in later summer for content.  In many ways it has worked better than I could have imagined, and tragedy in my own life has caused me to fall behind in the reading department.  My biggest fear is that this whole experiment will cause large lapses in content for the newer folks like Missy.  If you are doing this every day and not enjoying it, then it kinda defeats the point of blogging in the first place.  I give you complete permission to drop out of the contest with no hard feelings or lamentation.

White Mage Soul

ffxiv 2014-08-27 06-41-19-389 The primary goal of yesterday for me was to get my conjurer to 30 so that I could become a White Mage.  Since I already have a 50 tank, 50 ranged and 50 melee…  I felt like I needed some sort of max level healer at my disposal as well.  As far as healers go, I have enjoyed my time healing dungeons on the conjurer far more than I have enjoyed any healer in a long time.  The style just feels natural and I can usually land in a relaxing rhythm during each dungeon.  I figure the healing will get more complicated as I get more tools at my disposal but for the time being I am enjoying myself.  I had leveled Arcanist to 15 over the weekend in preparation for nearing 30 conjurer, since White Mage is a combination of the two.  I might return to leveling Arcanist at some point so I can become a scholar, but I feel no real pressing need to either.

The thing I found funny was that the level 30 Conjurer quest was far more difficult than the quest to actually become a white mage.  Even moreso I found it odd that in order to do my quest to get the unicorn mount I had to shift back to Conjurer as well.  In any case I finished both and am now an up and coming white mage ready to take on the world.  After coming home from the rosary last night I worked my way up to 32 so that hopefully someday tonight I can start running Brayflox for gear.  I have two pieces of the battlemage set but I would really like to get the rest of it, or at the very least the robe.  Additionally I would not mind seeing the white mage ring drop either.

Gearing the Warrior

ffxiv 2014-08-27 06-51-03-594 Since it is pretty certain that I will be needing my Warrior for when we start Binding Coil of Bahamut hopefully soonish, I opted to start rolling on Warrior gear in Syrcus tower.  Yesterday Tam and I decided to queue together for our weekly loot run.  Unlike other games you can run Syrcus as often as you like, but you can only take a single piece of loot from there each week.  The nice thing is this allows you to keep running it in the hopes of getting that one item you need.  Since most of the people  in there are after the item to craft their weathered weapon almost all of the gear rots, or at the very least it isn’t terribly contested.  The run started off really smoothly, and our group had a warrior tanking… which to some extent made my heart sink a little.  My goal going into the place was the pick up some warrior loot, but I brought my dragoon just as a backup in case something phenomenal dropped.

The first boss went extremely smoothly, and I was feeling like our tank was doing an amazing job.  On the first boss the warrior gauntlets dropped and moments afterwards the tank was asking for us to pass or roll so he could equip them.  We all did as asked and the moment he got the loot he dropped from the party.  This was the first time I had seen this happen, but apparently it is a frequent occurrence in Syrcus.  The awesome part though is that he was replaced by a really well geared Gladiator, and on the very next boss the Warrior chest piece dropped, allowing me to pick it up easily.  So that combined with picking up the soldiery tome ring takes my Warrior to 91 ilevel and more than ready for the Coil.

#FFXIV

Carried to Greatness

Some days are harder

There are some days where the magic just doesn’t seem to want to happen, even when you feel like you have a lot to say.  This morning I have been sitting around for the last twelve minutes doing everything I could to avoid opening LiveWriter and begin banging away on the keyboard.  Sometimes it happens and this is perfectly okay.  Yesterday there was a series of tweets that I was party to about what happens when you decide you want to go in a different direction than you started.  You would be shocked and amazed at just how many times I start in one direction and then decide that it is not in fact what I want to say.  There have been so many paragraphs sacrificed on the altar of mood swings, and I am here to tell you that this is perfectly okay.

In fact I would go so far as to say this is entirely expected as part of the daily writing ritual.  There are going to be days you struggle to find meaning from your cluttered mind, and it is completely fine for you to jettison one idea in favor of another.  Please do not ever feel obligated to complete a thought.  Just because you get two sentences down on the page, does not mean you have to follow up with the rest of a paragraph.  If you can have sketches in the margin of a notebook, you can surely also have room for the same thing to be happening with your writing.  There are so many things that Blaugust is “about” but one of them definitely is about being comfortable with your own words, and knowing when they work and when they do not.  Not everything you write has to be a masterpiece, and some things are destined only to be pushed out the airlock.

Carried to Greatness

ffxiv 2014-08-07 21-02-33-014 One of the things I have been avoiding doing since coming back to the game is wrapping up my Relic weapon quest in Final Fantasy XIV.  Before we left we had completely a number of the steps as a group.  I went through the extreme cost of getting the base weapon, and getting the two materia fused to it.  Then as a guild we conquered both the Chimera and the Hydra.  Finally I was up to the three Hard Mode primal fights of Ifrit, Garuda and Titan in that order.  A week or so ago I managed to get through Ifrit but I figured that was a fluke considering just how easy of a fight it is.  I also had intimate knowledge of that fight considering we had legitimately downed him as a guild.  The only problem is when we did it as a guild, I was using my bard job and not my warrior one… and did not get credit for it.

Garuda scares the shit out of me.  This was a hard fight for us to learn as a four man team at level, so I could not image just how frustrating and painful it would be as a tank.  I watched as my guildies that were not tanks queued for it and got it taken care of without issue, but still I was pretty gunshy.  Had it not been for Ashgar queuing up as a tank last night and talking about just how easy the encounter was… I likely would still be waiting.  Sure enough upon queuing I ended up getting dumped into a group with lots of folks that were in raid gear, and essentially I became the groups mascot.  Before I knew it we had downed Garuda and I was moving on to the next step in the quest chain that involved a good deal of running around.  All of my nerves were literally for nothing because at this point in the game…  folks have progressed so far past the hurdle that was hard mode Garuda that it became manageable without really knowing the fight myself.

ffxiv 2014-08-07 23-19-55-252 Titan on the other hand was still a challenge.  Once again I was the mascot of the group and really served to give no benefit other than miniscule dps.  The problem with titan is there is so much that goes on between the attacks that knock you off the platform, the attacks that can one shot you, and the crazy exploding rocks that can make you into a venn diagram.  It took my team three tries to get through the encounter, and with each wipe we gained a stack of echo…  which works much the same as the determination buff in World of Warcraft.  After all of the nervousness I was sitting there with all the components I needed to finish my Bravura.  While this is no longer the be all end all weapon… it still feels like a big deal to me.  I honestly questioned if I would ever complete it, so now I am absolutely pumped to be holding it in my hands.  I still need to farm a few more “bookrocks” before I can upgrade it to the next step, but hopefully I will get those tonight.

Nostalgia Crit 9999

Gearing Up to Celebrate 10 Years of World of Warcraft

Something I have been meaning to talk about for a few days is the recent announcement of the World of Warcraft 10th anniversary events.  Firstly lets get the fact that they are announcing them in August when the anniversary is not until the tail end of November out of the way.  I guess they need some good news to be honest considering how most of the community expected to be playing Warlords by now.  For those who have not followed the information they are doing a number of interesting things for the anniversary.  For starters anyone who logs in during the event is going to get a new pet in honor of it… the Molten Corgi.  When I first heard about the pet I honestly thought I had misheard some bit of information and it was related to Rift instead.  It feels weird to have two different MMOs obsessed with the adorable stub legged puppies.  That said it is exactly that… adorable and fiery and sufficiently epic to announce the 10th year of a game.

Keeping with the theme they are bringing back Molten Core, and making it a max level dungeon… and making it a special 40 man LFR.  Anyone who manages to make it to the end of the dungeon will earn a special Core Hound mount.  I have not heard if this is going to be complete-able with a guild group or not, or if this is going to only be an LFR thing.  I honesty feel like LFR is a decent simulacrum for the way actual 40 man raiding felt.  The amount of random fuckery that went on during most 40 man raids as 20 people carried 20 warm bodies to victory, seems like it could only be simulated by the LFR system.  It makes me wonder what all sorts of callbacks will they have.  Will there be a new version of Thurderfury for example?  The updated Quelserrar for example was something I hotly sought after, because I loved the look of that blade.

If all of this were not enough they are bringing back the one and only time that world PVP actually worked…  Southshore vs Tarren Mill.  They are apparently creating a special 100 vs 100 battleground to play out the epic battle of town versus town that used to play out on a nightly basis.  This is seriously the only time in WoW history that I actually willfully participated in PVP, and so many friendships grew out of it that I still keep in touch with today.  This era of wow was one of those lightning in a bottle moments, and I can’t even remember why it stopped.  I am sure it was in reaction to something that blizzard did to screw with the mix, but I remember by the time Ahn’qiraj rolled around no one was actually doing this fight any longer.  Maybe the battlegrounds were the nail in the coffin?  At this point I honestly cannot remember.

All of this sounds awesome and is loaded with so much nostalgia it is like a sucker punch to the veteran players face.  The problem is… we remember these events from the past of WoW as being so much more epic and enjoyable than they actually were.  For years we have viewed the early days of wow through rose colored lenses of a time when “things were right and good”.  When in reality they really were not that great.  The amount of lag that happened in Southshore for example made most of the deaths absolutely random.  The amount of drama and bullshit that accompanied Molten Core and the loss of three hours of your life every week to run it was equally insane.  These are not exactly moments to be heralded as the way things ought to be.  They were us making the best out of a bad situation and enjoying what game play we could find where we could find it.

I came in late to Molten Core after my raid had already broken its back doing the hard work to get it on farm status.  I was carried to my full set of Giantstalker, and then proceeded to run the dungeon every single week until pretty much the end of Vanilla.  I still have large sections of the pulls in that place memorized, as I geared up first my hunter, then my paladin and my warrior running the place for various people who needed able bodied fill-ins.  None of my “good memories” of this time in Vanilla have anything to do with the actual places we were running.  It was the people I happened to be running them with.  You cannot reassemble the raid I cleared Molten Core with, or the social channel that we ran Southshore versus Tarren MIll out of.  Those players have all scattered to the wind and a bunch of random socially inept strangers are a piss poor substitute.

Liore made a post earlier this week about that you can’t go back home, and it is true.  While everything about this event is laced with the drug that is nostalgia…  none of it is real.  How we feel about that time in World of Warcraft is an accumulation of everything that was happening at the time.  It was the people and the places and the fact that there was literally nothing else to do at the time, because WoW was the only game on the market that offered anything vaguely close to this.  No amount of wishing is going to actually turn back the clock and recapture the joy and experiences you had back then.  Don’t get me wrong… I will probably log in during the event to get my shiny trinkets… but I go into it knowing this is a pale comparison to the way things actually were.  There is no such thing as going home, because both you and the place you are going have changed in the process of getting away from it.

Writing Prompts

Now for a few more writing prompts.  I wondered if this would end up being useful but based on the fact that a handful of people have been drawing from them I guess it is a worthwhile cause.  Today’s prompts are all laced with the venom that is nostalgia.

  • What period in a game or game do you wish you could return to?  What is that thing that is now gone that you wish you could be playing again?
  • We all accidentally get rid of something that we end up wanting later on.  What have you deleted/disenchanted/sold that you later kicked yourself for doing?
  • We have all left something unfinished in our effort to move on to something new.  What achievement have you never completed that you always wished in the back of your head you had?

#Blaugust #FFXIV #WoW

Tiny Conjurations

Failure to Launch

ffxiv 2014-08-04 22-12-56-31

Right now to be truthful I am having all manner of issues with my machines here at the house.  With my gaming machine I think I have narrowed it down to the power supply, and plan on replacing that tonight.  My laptop however I think was bit in the ass by the same nvidia driver issue that seemed to start everything.  I am not sure what is wrong with Nvidia Driver 340.52 but both machines started having issues shortly after installing it.  It might all be unrelated, but I likely would skip this driver for the time being because I wouldn’t want to wish my issues on anyone.  Thankfully I was able to roll back to a system state on my laptop before the driver, so here is hoping that fixes things there.

As far as my desktop when I attempt to power it on, things flicker on for a brief second before immediately stopping.  The fans won’t even make a full rotation, and based on all reading this is likely a PSU issue.  Now in the past when my PSU has gone south, nothing at all happened, so this is new ground for me.  However I am willing to try it since a PSU is a relatively cheap component to replace.  Otherwise I would be something wrong with the motherboard… and I really don’t want to go down that avenue unless I absolutely have to.  The problem is that I am running out of machines… worse case scenario I can try and get this machine my spare in gaming condition.  I think it would run most of the things I might want to run, just not as well.

As far as me, I have been feeling like crap as well.  The stress of having my machines in various states of “down” combined with allergy season wreaking havoc on my sinuses and lungs lead to me deciding to take a day to mostly rest and collect myself.  My lungs have not been behaving well for the last couple of days, and the constant sinus headache has been causing me to eat ibuprophen like candy.  So here is hoping by the end of today I will have all of my machines up and running smoothly as well as me doing the same.  If not I guess we have to explore other avenues, and if I don’t get to feeling better soonish I guess I will have to run to the doctor.  As a result of all of this my morning post is delayed.  I did not really get a chance to post a big rundown of the blaugust folks either…  but I guess at this point things are rolling along smooth enough that hopefully everyone is already reading the incoming posts.

Tiny Conjurations

ffxiv 2014-08-06 06-10-03-54

Last night before all the computer issues started with my laptop, I decided to work on the conjurer job.  At this point I have a 50 warrior (tank), 50 bard (range dps) and 50 dragoon (melee dps) so the only thing I am really missing at this point is a healer.  All of the available healers require various levels of conjurer, so I figured it would be a good starting place.  I am still not certain if I will be going White Mage or Scholar as far as healers go, but in any case I am slowly working on the levels.  Conjurer I think has to be the hardest thing to level to date, mainly because all you really have to kill the mobs with is Stone and its various derivatives.  Even in cleric stance, which is surprisingly enough the dps stance…  you can’t really burn down mobs that fast.  My plan is to mostly level through dungeons, but the problem with that is that I have to actually get to 15 first to do it.

Last night I tried my hand at healing Guildhests since those start at level 10.  The main problem there is that folks don’t really seem to have a handle on tanking.  I healed a total of four, and in each of them the tanks made zero effort to try and pull any mobs off of me.  This means in the first one I ended up dying horribly, and in the later ones I mostly focused on healing myself… since I apparently was heal tanking.  Guildhests really aren’t worth the frustration experience wise, so I went back to grinding near Horizon.  I have a pretty massive stack of leves built up, so I opted to work through some of those.  At the point my system troubles started, I was just shy of 15, which hopefully means I can jump straight into healing dungeons instead of grinding on my own.

Feels like Home

ffxiv 2014-08-04 20-41-26-78

Yesterday afternoon Tam and I were talking about how much like home this game is feeling.  I think in part it is due to the fact that Greysky Armada the free company is a thing uniquely created by the group of players that played FFXIV at launch.  House Stalwart is very much a creation of my own, and it feels like my guild.  White Masks is very much a creation of Tam and it feels like his guild.  Greysky Armada is this wholly different thing that incorporates the best of each of us into something totally different.  I think that is why coming back to it is so comfortable, because its an us thing not a me or him thing.  Not sure if any of that makes any sense at all, but the folks that mostly do the AggroChat podcast have all been hanging out on voice chat for a few years now, and the FFXIV guild is 100% rooted in that little group.

Now that is not to say that everyone else isn’t welcome, but we kinda lead the guild as a team and not as a monarchy aligned under any one of us.  On top of all of this is feels really awesome to see everyone back in Eorzea.  I like this game a lot, and things just seem to work for me.  Especially now that I went ahead and embraced the adorable making myself a Lalafell.  At this point I am really hoping that the magic will last for awhile, and that we can all enjoy this space for more than a few months.  Ultimately that is what I keep looking for… a place to set down roots and settle down.  The problem is each of the games either has problems that bother me enough to where I don’t want to play it…  or it lacks the people to make a comfortable environment.  My hope is that FFXIV will be the game we all can agree on, since for the most part we all pined for it a little.

#Blaugust #FFXIV

Podcast that Wasn’t

The Final Day

I am up bright and early for a Sunday morning, because today is the final day of the Math conference.  On the arrival day I had to ferry trips back and forth between the airport, and today I am having to do the same thing.  The conference only actually runs for two hours, but I imagine the school itself will be open a bit longer as folks wait around for their rides.  My hope is that everyone checks out of the hotels before heading to the conference, so I don’t actually need to make any trips between those.  That was the piece that actually slowed things down the first time was dropping folks off at the two different hotels.

At this point I am ready for it to be over, so that our lives can return to normal.  I fully appreciate the gravity of what this event is for the folks who are attending it, but each night I have had to go home and sequester myself.  I am not good at dealing with an overabundance of human beings, especially not ones needing something from me.  There are a lot of things I feel bad about, but one of the big ones is that I spent most of the conference hiding out in my wife’s cube in the collaboration room.  I watched twitter, and came out of my hiding place whenever someone needed something.  However it served as a bit of a safe space where I didn’t have to try and make small talk or “act normal”.

Podcast that Wasn’t

Well it finally happened, a weekend when all of the members of AggroChat were busy at the same time.  Because it didn’t really feel right to not do anything… I recorded a quick blurb that I am calling Episode 15.314 in honor of the fact that my entire week has been consumed by playing a supporting role in the math conference.  This week I simply did not have the time to plan for a full replacement cast for the podcast.  I could have maybe pulled something together last minute, but I was honestly too drained to carry the cast forward.  At least we made it to fifteen episodes before needing a week off.  Next week hopefully we all will return to normal and be ready to be entertaining.

The funny thing is… the moment I recorded and posted this…  Kodra showed up.  So in theory we could have maybe limped along last night with Me, Kodra and Tam.  But I figured it was better just to take the week off if I thought I was not going to be my normal charming self.  Like I said above… I have had to do so much glad handing this week, that my social normality buffer is just gone.  I am not sure if I could carry on an intensely direct conversation with two other individuals… even if said individuals are really close and long term friends.  The blurb I recorded hopefully is charming enough, and talks a little bit about what we all have been doing.

Svara Still Awesome

ffxiv 2014-07-26 20-01-18-829 Coerthas is still an amazing place to run FATEs in, and I spent most of my evening running around out here hopping from event to event.  The king of all FATEs will always be Svara, which for the undoctrinated is a series of three connected FATEs that tell the story of the Isgardian fight against the giant dragon Svara.  First off it is completely epic to follow the path of this dragon and fend off the Isgardians from all of her children, then finally down the big beast at the end of the sequence.  It is also epic the amount of experience you get, considering if you hit gold participation in all three fates it is worth around 40,000 xp which is a really nice chunk all at once for about 15 minutes of work.  What makes Coerthas extremely awesome as a zone is that there are a bunch of this heavy xp fates and you can pretty much spend the entire night running between them all soaking up as much xp as you can.  I figure I will likely stay here until I hit 40 before moving on to someplace else.

ffxiv 2014-07-26 19-09-48-884 I am already enjoying playing the dragoon so much more than playing the bard.  Don’t get me wrong, the bard is enjoyable… but it is also the class that everyone seems to be playing.  Every time I solo queued for a duty roulette I would end up in a dungeon with a bard as the second dps.  Playing melee is just much more my style, and the Dragoon delivers some seriously potent direct damage.  Its weakness however has always been the fact that it has little to no area of effect damage.  In fact if I remember correctly it has a single attack, that I do not even have yet.  However they seem to have fixed some of the problems that existed in early release with FATE contribution.  Back then spamming any AOE was the key to getting high contribution.  However it seems like you can focus down a few spawns and still get the same scores that you would if you were just AOEing everything around you.  My goal today after all of the madness is over with shuttling people back to the airport is to do some more duty roulette.

#FFXIV #AggroChat

Hunting Malboros

The Night Before

This mornings post is going to be a little scant on visuals so I am just going to leave you with this amazing cinematic trailer that Riot released yesterday called A New Dawn.  You should totally watch it and marvel at just how awesome Graves is.  If you watch the making up they talk about the whole video having a meme running through it “Graves is not impressed”.   Onwards to the real post.  This morning is the beginning of the Mathematics conference, and throughout the day today I will be playing chauffer to a group of folks who need ferried from the airport to the hotel.  As a result we spent some time last night cleaning out my wife’s Pontiac Torrent since it has the most comfortable seating for a large number of adults.  The thing that makes that vehicle awesome is that it has a sliding bench seat so you can push it back for extra leg room but still have a significant amount of cargo space.

coffeeandmonster I went comatose around 10:30 last night, but apparently my wife is having schoolgirl jitters.  As a denizen of twitter as well…  I guess I would probably be jittery about meeting a bunch of folks all at once from the twitterverse.  Granted this is the third running of this conference, but it has never been anywhere near as large as it is this year.  We have apparently completely sold out two hotels and they are booking in a third overflow hotel now.  To give me fortitude to get through a day of meeting all of these people I don’t know but will be expected to be cordial with…  I am leaning on both coffee and a monster ultra.  Mostly I just wanted to show off this awesome WW2 Dalek poster coffee mug we found the other day.  My wife actually spotted the Doctor Who mugs first, and there were a bunch of designs to choose from… but I have always been partial to the WW2 era propaganda poster from Victory of the Daleks.

So while I conked out completely around 10:30 my wife was apparently up until 1 am.  Then when I woke up this morning at 5 to get around and showered, she was awake again and responding to tweets.  I think its adorable that she can be all hyped up on nerves and I will likely be the same way when January rolls around and I go to Pax South.  I am not sure if  have mentioned that on my blog or not yet, but as of right now I have tickets for all three days to Pax South.  I may or may not be attending Sunday, but I am definitely going to try and be there for Friday and Saturday.  I figure the last day of a con is likely the “anything you missed” day and all the major stuff will likely occur on Friday and Saturday.  I might be completely wrong, but that would at least give me Sunday to drive home.  If you are also going to Pax South give me a shout, because I would love to arrange some sort of a twitter/blogosphere/whatever meetup.

Attack on Deathshead

WolfNewOrder_x64 2014-07-22 18-59-17-748 I made it a bit further in my play through of Wolfenstein New Order but I am still struggling with crash to desktop issues.  I had a spot in the moon base that was doing it, and now am having a spot in Deathshead compound that is kicking me out.  Last night I gave it a few attempts but just didn’t have the patience.  I think next time I try it I might shut down EVERYTHING, including DXtory that I generally have running so I can take screenshots.  I know some games get a little pissy about overlays, or it might simply be that I need to disable the steam overlay.  In any case this game is really amazing and it gives me totally unrelated hope.  This past weekend at Quakecon, ID Software gave an exclusive peak at Doom 4 that has apparently just be renamed Doom and is somewhat of a reboot.  If Machine Games can give us a game as awesome as Wolfenstein… I have high hopes for what Doom has in store for us.

As my friend Kodra has said before, Wolfenstein is very much exactly what games felt and sounded like in the 90s.  Everything was industrial metal…  and we liked it.  I am perfectly fine with this throwback syndrome, because the modern FPS is nowhere near as much fun as the first generation of them used to be.  We have come so far in trying to make everything more and more realistic, and I think in that struggle we lost sight on what actually made the games fun.  If Wolfenstein and the reboot of Doom herald in an era of interesting level design with secrets and multiple paths to the objective… then hell yes I want to return to the 90s.  Right now my goal is to make it through Wolf one way or another by this weekend, so we can potentially talk about the ending on the podcast.  We will of course warn people ahead of time before the spoilers start flying.

Hunting Malboros

ffxiv 2014-07-22 20-18-24-344

This is one of those moments when I really wish Hitbox.tv knew what “today” and “tomorrow” actually meant.  For the last several days they have said that they would have the export to youtube functionality back up and running today or tomorrow.  I realize they are a small company and this is a beta product, but at this point it is seriously making me consider going back to Twitch.  I don’t want to, but I also like having the ability to embed video recorded from the night before in my mornings blog post.  Complaining aside…  one of the things that I have been enjoying since coming back to FFXIV is the hunt system.  Each day you can go to a hunt board in your grand company offices and grab a new set of wanted posters.  They call them bills…  but “handbill” hasn’t really been used popularly in the United States in decades.

I love that the various wanted posters just list a bounty and a basic location for where the mob will spawn.  In general I can remember where in each zone that type of mob already exists, and usually the type you need is intermingled within the pack.  This system would totally be a quick enjoyable jaunt out into the world if it were not for the two FATE based encounters each day.  Here you are either super lucky or have to wait around for hours.  Last night I streamed a fairly boring stream, because it was me killing Malboros and Dark Sylphs while waiting on an apparently rare fate to spawn.  The positive is this is causing me to actually level my chocobo.  As of last night I dinged level 3 on it and made a goodly dent into 4.

The big thing I have noticing is it is super horrible about standing in stuff.  Like I had to do all sorts of crazy to try and position the Malboros in such a way as to not let the Daedalus (my chocobo) get breathed upon.  Hint… I am pretty horrible at this and probably went through a dozen gysahl greens during the course of the night resummoning him.  I find this game extremely relaxing compared to the spastic pace of Wildstar.  I have lots of love for that game, but just watching the world absolutely wears me out.  Coming back to FFXIV and its more sedate pace felt like crawling into a warm bed.  Granted the combat system is still interesting in that I am constantly having to move out of stuff while keeping up my combos, but it is far less button mashy since everything has a sizeable cool down.  In any case I am enjoying myself, and at some point I am going to get brave enough to do Duty Roulette for the big prizes.

#WolfensteinNewOrder #FFXIV

Fear of the Tonberry

Unexpected Enjoyment

ffxiv_07202014_212651 This weekend was an odd one, in that I had to devote pretty much all of Sunday to helping set up for the upcoming conference.  Since we recorded so late Saturday night, that meant that pretty much as soon as we finished with the podcast I crashed hard.  Normally I stay up that night and edit away on the podcast getting it posted round or about midnight generally speaking.  What this meant in practice is that my entire day was pushed by by a number of hours yesterday.  So by the time I had finished with that, played my SteamPowered Sunday title and knocked out yesterday mornings blog post… it was 11 pm.

At this point I struggled to find anything to settle into, in part because playing Frog Fractions was such a weird experience.  Before long my wife and I decided to go run some errands and get lunch.  By the time we made it back from that my day had pretty much dissipated.  When it came time to finally play something I settled into Final Fantasy XIV and quested my way through the daily hunt.  After finishing that I opted to work on my gladiator a bit, which meant trying to remember where the hell the optimal area for level 27 was.  It turns out that FATE running isn’t quite like it used to be.

Previously you would jump the gun 25-30 and go straight to Costa Del Sol.  The problem with this is that you no longer have the huge wandering mass of players needed to make an army of under level characters work in a zone.  As a side effect however FATEs have become far more enjoyable in that running across a zone to get to one is no longer an act of futility.  They are no longer up for a matter of seconds but instead feel like real epic battles with big monsters.  So for me at least this makes it a far more enjoyable prospect for leveling, in that I feel like I actually have to work to get my experience.  The single best addition to FFXIV though is the ability to have your Chocobo out to get it experience, and then turn around and mount it again when you are finished.  This instantly improved the enjoyment of the game for me ten fold by no longer having to make the choice of leveling my Chocobo, or moving at a snails pace.

Fear of the Tonberry

ffxiv_07202014_203225 Something interesting happened while I was sitting there playing Final Fantasy XIV.  One by one various friends opted to download the game or at the very least patch it back up, given that it was a free weekend.  Before we knew it we had the beginnings of a group.  Tam first started the idea of running a dungeon, and after I had fixed some dinner for my wife and I that is precisely what we did.  Sadly at this point Warenwolf had to leave because he gets up at a truly insane hour in the morning, this coming from someone who gets up every morning at 5:30 am.  We decided to roll the dice and pug in a fourth player to run Wanderers Palace.  This served two purposes, firstly Ashgar needed it for a grand company hunt log and secondly this is one of the easier max level dungeons.  We figured it was a good way to break us back into the game.

ffxiv_07202014_201342 Surprisingly it went really smoothly, with only one wipe happening… and that was in the not terribly surprising “rush to climb the tower” phase.  We had two things happening at the same time that proceeded to make it a difficult thing.  The first thing was the fact that for whatever reason myself and Tam were having some massive lag spikes, that even went so far as to cause him… our healer… to disconnect a few times.  Secondly I really did not remember how to bard.  The muscle reflexes came back instantly for playing a Warrior, since I spent most of my time in this game tanking, but Bard was a relatively new thing and while I had completed up through Hard Mode Ifrit as a bard…  it took me a bit to remember what exactly I should be rotating through attack wise.

During the course of this run is when we started to remember just how enjoyable the dungeon content is in FFXIV.  Of all of the games I have played over the last few years, I think I have enjoyed these dungeons the most.  They seem to be the absolute perfect blend of challenge and reward and are beautifully done.  I am sure we will remember why we all faded away from this game, but at the moment all we are able to do is remember just how much fun we had.  Ultimately where things will either click or fall apart is if we can manage to find enough things to do to level our alternate jobs.  That is the point at which I started to lose interest.  I leveled one job through questing, and the second job through FATE grinding… and at that point I felt like I had exhausted all of the ways to level in that game.

The thing is Square has been quietly plugging away on this game in the year we have been gone, and as a result there is a ton of new content.  I just hope I can find some mix of it that makes the leveling process enjoyable.  There seem to be a ton of quality of life changes, like being able to repair gear to past 100% durability without actually switching to the profession needed to repair it.  Also while you are out harvesting nodes you can get treasure maps, which open up a new minigame of trying to find the treasure.  They seem to have finally added in some Gold Fountains to counteract the Gold Sinks.  The daily hunts for example will earn you a grand total of 7,000 gil pending you do not spend too much of it teleporting across the world in search of the next mobs.  In any case there seems to be a way to finally earn some money, instead of constantly being broke.  I have a feeling I will be mostly leveling through dungeons, as the overall community of the game seems to have been massively improved.

Blaugust Update

Over the last few days I have received quite a bit of interest in this whole Blaugust thing.  However along with this has been quite a bit of confusion over what exactly I mean by a new post a day.  Since this is coming from the gaming blogosphere, many folks are assuming that I mean it has to be a gaming post.  Additionally there has been some discussion in exactly I consider a post.  Wilhelm for example keeps a photo blog updated, and he wondered if this classified as a daily post for the purpose of the contest.  Now if you wrote a couple of paragraphs about the image, then totally this is a post…  if it is simply a bunch of pictures, then no sadly I have to say it doesn’t qualify.  I figured I would post some ground rules today.  I will be expanding on these further on the Blaugust Anook since that is the official headquarters for this initiative.

The Topic

Since this is the biggest point of questions, I figured I would get it out of the way.  You can write about anything you want to write about.  You can diverge from gaming in any fashion you like, and your blog doesn’t even have to be gaming related.  Liore for example was talking about making a gaming foodie blog, and that would totally count for the purpose of this event.  The idea is to get you used to writing on a schedule, and not so much dictating what you are writing about.  Inspiration can be an extremely fickle thing, and if you want for it…  there end up being massive lapses in your posts.  The idea here is make you realize that you don’t need the muse to crank out interesting posts.  If you allow yourself to, your personality with inhabit the writing and inspiration will find you mid paragraph.

The Guidelines

  1. Write a New Blog Post no less than 10 sentences in length.
  2. Include a link back to the Blaugust Initiative page
  3. Advertise the post on the Blaugust blog – you will be given permissions to do this
  4. If you Advertise the post via twitter, please include #Blaugust hashtag
  5. Over the course of the month, repeat this 31 times.
  6. ????
  7. Profit!

The Rewards

I will be keeping track of who has posted a post each day during the course of August.  On September 1st I will be holding a drawing for several prize packages.  Firstly I hope you like games… and want to acquire more of them, because basically that is what is going to happen here.  Over the course of a few years of the Humble Bundle series, I have accumulated a bunch of duplicate keys.  I can think of no better way to give away some of these, than to reward the hard work of participating in a challenge such as this.

– Grand Prize

I hope you follow me on Steam, because I will be picking a game off your Steam Wishlist and purchasing it for you.  In addition to this I will be letting you pick a game from my Humble Bundle surplus list as well.  For this prize specifically I will be looking for someone who has actually posted a post each individual day, rather than someone who has posted 31 posts in the month.  This prize should represent the truest form of the challenge.

– Three Also-Awesomes

Additionally I will be picking three individuals at random from the total pool of contestants to win the “Also-Awesome” award.  To quality for this you have to have started your posting on August 1st, and written a total of 31 posts over the course of the month.  I will be having these folks in order drawn pick 2 games a piece from my Humble Bundle surplus list.  I am varying the requirements here a bit, to allow someone to have missed a day here or there but posted a catch-up post to still be in the running for something.

– The Catch-Up Artist

Anyone who joins the initiative late, is going to be in the running for this one.  To quality you have to have joined after August 1st, but managed to catch up and still write a total of 31 posts in the month.  You an procrastinate however long you like, but I am expecting 31 well formed posts to get this one.  After the above prizes have been picked from my Humble Bundle surplus list, the winner of this prize gets to nab one of the games for themselves as well.  I promise the surplus list is big enough to support all of these people… and still allow them quite a bit of variety in the choices.

– All Participants

I will be crafting some sidebar badges and banners that can be affixed to your website showing the world that you won the Blaugust challenge.  Additionally you will be able to bask in the warm afterglow of knowing you accomplished something awesome.  Depending on the number of participants I reserve the right to make up a bunch of other awards along the way.

The Sign-up

While there has been quite a bit of interest, only a handful of you have actually joined the Blaugust nook.  For ease of maintenance on my part, I would really appreciate it if you all went out there and clicked the Join button.  This and the whole advertising on the nooks blog thing is going to help me account for all of the posts, and also turn around and advertise them myself easier.  I am trying to make this work but at the same time not make August a hellacious month for me.  I appreciate the desire to participate, and I appreciate everything you are doing to make my life easier as well.  As I said before I will be posting some prompts before the start of the initiative.  Right now I am shooting for 60, but that number might change.  I look forward to reading all of your entries during the month!

2013 Retrospective

Grand Experiment in Review

2012 was an extremely horrible year for me and at least professionally I would rank it as quite possibly the worst year I have ever had.  I would put it as worse than the year I was out of work for six months after the dotcom crash.  On September 11th 2012 my company suffered what they thought was a network attack, that only later the security guy pulled his head out of his ass and realized it was a regularly scheduled security scan… that he himself authorized.  The results of this was a massive overreaction that caused me and my team to spend the rest of the year and a good chunk of the beginning of this year rebuilding damned near everything that touched the web.  Why did we have to do this?  Because they quite literally pulled the servers out of the racks and sent them to the FBI, leaving us next to nothing to work off of.

So next to that year, this year has seemed like an absolute dream.  However it has been more than that for me.  2013 has been a year of personal growth and exploring new things.  In April when I finally pulled my head above water after the “faux” security incident, I really wanted to make a break back into blogging.  I fell off of the planet shortly after the security event and simply could not bring myself to write about anything.  Coming back I devised what I called a “grand experiment”, namely to blog each and every day even if I didn’t think I had much to write about.  At this point there are 237 posts categorized as “The Grand Experiment”, and without fail I have blogged every day even when it was a struggle to do so.

Has the experiment worked?  Well functionally yes I have managed to blog every day, but more importantly has it provided an interesting stream of content?  Quite honestly I don’t know.  Most of the time I feel like I am a little kid writing to a make believe audience.  When I talk to someone who mentions something I have written… I am always shocked.  I feel like no one actually reads my stuff, that I am mostly just writing it for my own benefit.  People seem to enjoy what I write, and I have a regular stream of readers… but I will never have the type of audience that the bigger bloggers have.  I am just too rough around the edges for that sort of thing.  For the most part I am happy with the results of a year of blogging and my long-term goal is to make it at least one full year of posts without pause.  That of course will be up April 26th of 2014, which seems like it is far in the future right now.  However I don’t see myself losing steam at any point soon.

A Healthier Me

Another big change in my life over the course of 2013 is that I am considerably lighter.  In March my wife and I began to shift the way we relate to food.  I say it in terms like that because really we have completely changed our relationship to food as a whole.  To say we went on a diet doesn’t really encompass the level of change.  Diets are about the short term, but we wanted to make permanent and long-term changes in the way we ate.  Namely we focused on trying to find a new and sustainable way to live.  At this point I am 70 lbs smaller and have hit a bit of a plateau over the last month.  However the fact that I survived both Thanksgiving and Christmas without breaking that plateau makes me happy enough.

My wife on the other hand continues to lose at a steady pace and is now down roughly 60 lbs.  At some point I need to get super serious again, as I have become lax of late.  However the current weight seems to be a place I can comfortable stay without any real intervention.  I have reached my goal and it is time for me in this new year to refocus myself and set a new one.  I will never be a small man, I come from a long line of really big people.  I am however happy enough being able to say I am a “smaller” man.  The thing I was not expecting to be honest were the health benefits.  As a whole I am far healthier than I was a year ago, and the primary benefit is that my Asthma that I have struggled with my entire life… and have even been hospitalized for… is really a mere nuisance these days.  I can go months on a single inhailer, and that is not a thing I have ever been able to do in my life.

Professional Growth

In the last year I have grown more into the role of the manager of my group.  I have learned to delegate more, which is something I have always struggled with in my life.  I was good at accepting assignments, but never very good at passing them on to my troops, instead trying to take them all on myself.  My team is pretty amazing and I would be lost without them.  I guess in some small way I have learned to have more faith in them, and trust that they will do as much diligence with an assignment as I would have.  As a result I have shifted more into the architect role for my group and part-time project manager and full-time traffic cop.  Making sure all of the assignments are going to the right places and all seeing at least some progress.

We usually have 50-60 active projects for a team of three people.  So it involves lots of juggling.  Various forces in my company want me to move up into a permanent management position.  However I simply do not want to distances myself from the “real work” enough to take them.  Additionally right now I am responsible for three extremely highly functional people, and I don’t think I  could cope with being put over less functional people that I would some how have to whip into shape.  I am not really great with confrontations, and as a result I think I would flounder.  Either that or it would be similar to me as a raid leader, and I would turn into a real asshole.  For the time being I think I am happy with where I am and what I am doing.

I Wrote A Novel

One of the things I have always wanted to do in my life was to write a novel.  I made several false attempts at various times over the years but never could seem to push myself to do it.  This November I joined the NaNoWriMo event, and over the course of the month knocked out my first novel.  I have no idea if it is actually any good, because honestly I have not even read it since finishing it up.  I plan in the new year to tear it asunder as I edit it, and fix any issues.  However regardless if it completely sucks, I have accomplished a goal.  I managed to write a novel, and that is a thing most people can’t say about themselves.  I didn’t do it to get famous, or be published, I did it mostly just to prove to myself that I could.

The weird thing about it is, November seems like a lifetime ago.  The whole concept of writing 1500 words per night was just absolutely draining.  My entire life revolved around that novel for those thirty days, which is honestly longer than I have stuck with anything like that in my life.  More than anything I feel like it was a venue of personal growth.  I did a thing I never thought I could, and I did so in a methodical way in which it felt like success was assured from the moment I started.  Sure I faltered a few times along the way, and there were a few days I didn’t write a blessed thing.  However I kept moving forward towards the eventual 50,000 word count goal and I achieved it.  I think more than anything I am proud of this accomplishment from 2013.

A Year of Gaming

This is a gaming blog afterall, so during 2013 I played a lot of games.  I played way more games than I can ever manage to remember, but I will try and run down a few of the big ones.  The list of major titles is as follows.

Oddly enough I am beginning this new year not entirely differently than I began the last year.  January 2013 I was still involved in the launch of Mists of Pandaria, and it was not until April that I really began to distance myself from that game entirely.  World of Warcraft and I have this love/hate relationship.  I get frustrated with it so much, because it seems that they always seem to take the most short sighted solutions to problems, and there are so many games that there that do various things it does…. so much better.  However as a total package I feel like the game is unbeatable.  It offers the most good things in one package.  The realization for me however after my 2+ years of absence from being serious about the game is that it is not about the game at all.  World of Warcraft is about the people playing it, and I had missed the ragtag group of people known as House Stalwart immensely.

The game I probably played the most often during the year however was Rift.  I want to love rift so badly, the promise of the game is really great.  The problem is it just lacks something that I can’t quite put my finger on.  It is a technically superior game in every aspect, but it is like it lacks a cohesive narrative that makes me care about the world every single day.  The dragons were a thing I thought I  could get behind.  But now that we have systematically killed each of them off, I cannot say in a single sentence what the world of Rift is.  I think that might be the problem, there is no one clear narrative to the game.  You cannot say “this game is” and have even half of the people agree on it.  I still play it occasionally and there is still an incarnation of House Stalwart there that Psynister and Fynralyl are keeping alive.  I thank them so much for being there, but I just can’t seem to care about the game right now.  I am sure at some point I will again.

Final Fantasy was another major force for the year.  This was a game I never intended to like because really I feel like me and Japanese RPGs had a messy divorce quite some time ago.  I had a group of friends actively wanting to play it, so against my better judgment I went along for the ride.  What I found however was a really well crafted narrative and dungeon experience.  If I could have kept experiencing new bits of immersive content, I would have likely stuck around.  However once you reached the end of the game, it was exactly that…  the end.  All paths lead to massive amount of grinding, and for whatever reason… while I can stomach grinding all day long in World of Warcraft… I could not stomach the particular FFXIV brand of grinding.  Namely I blame this on the overall lack of meaninful drops in the game.  If I have a chance of getting something cool while killing mobes, no matter how remote the chance… it feels exciting to me each time I open a loot window.  There was nothing that could drop from mobs in the world that I would ever care about.  Additionally gearing up to get to a point where we could raid, was just not a bridge I was willing to cross.

Games for 2014

There has been a game I have been in super secret closed door testing since February.  I cannot name the game by name, but I have to say I am still extremely excited about it even after most of a year testing it.  I have watched the game grow from something that felt polished to something that really is amazingly rich and polished.  I don’t think I will quit WoW this time for another game, because I have set down some pretty solid roots there again.  However I know I will also be playing this game, at the very least two to three nights a week.  It is probably the least wow-like game I have played in a long while, and because of that I feel like there is room in my heart for both games to have a unique space.

Past that I am really not certain what 2014 will hold.  I know that I am not really interested enough to purchase a PS4 or an XBox One, so I think I will be exiting the console mainstream once again.  I am mostly a PC gamer to be honest, and since my gameloft has been taken over by my wife I am okay with not having access to the consoles.  More than anything I am looking forward to the various stores beginning to liquidate their stocks of PS3 and XBox 360 games, so I can pick up the titles I always wanted to play but didn’t have the desire to pay for.  Additionally there are still a lot of things on the DS/3DS that I want to play, and I am looking forward to picking up the newest Zelda game.  I am sure there will be a number of surprises along the way, games that catch my fancy enough to deserve lots of blog posts.

I hope that 2014 will be as positive force in my life as 2013 has been.  Additionally I hope each and every one of you out there can say the same.  My friend @AlternativeChat has declared 2014 the “Year of Faff”, and I am down with this notion.  I think we all need to learn how to faff about in the game worlds we are in, because stopping and smelling the roses is the only real way I know to break the cycle of burnout.  I have tried my best to embrace this concept, and hope to continue to do so in the year to come.  More than anything, I feel like I am sick of jumping games every three months, and I get the sense that the gaming world as a whole is somewhat sick of that as well.  I hope we can each embrace our own faff, whatever that might mean.

Social Justice

Happy Holidays?

Yesterday was a mixed bag, I am not going to get into the awkwardness that was Christmas with my family.  I should have taken a picture of the gallon jug of holy water that my grandmother for some reason seems to think she needs, however I did not as it would have been too obvious.  Suffice to say it was fine while it was just my parents and grandmother, but once people started showing up the fight or flight instinct kicked in and I had to get out of there.  We stayed long enough to be socially acceptable, or at least long enough to see everyone and then got back on the road.  I really don’t deal with large groups of people in confined spaces very well.

When I finally got home that night I went back to my LFR madness.  I really would have thought that the holidays would have made people better natured, but instead it seemed like only the worst people were running dungeons.  I guess it makes sense, as most of the “good” people probably have families and such that they would rather be spending time with.  The highlight of the evening, as far as horrible goes came when my Downfall group finally got to Garrosh.  We had a few people drop like usual, and one of the warriors  that joined in immediately started moaning that he had waited in queue for an hour and missed the entire dungeon.

Instead of doing the right thing, and just dropping group and taking the deserter debuff…  he proceeded to pull Garrosh while we were still getting prepared screaming “For Mother Russia”.  Obviously his ploy was to get us to kick him which doesn’t cause the debuff to happen.  He was running across the screen just about to aggro him again when the kick happened saving the day.  The problem is…  there needs to be a better way of managing this.  The systems in place don’t give us a way to flag this guy letting other people know that he will likely screw their group over if things don’t go his way.

Social Justice

TribunalCase League of Legends has had in the past the most notoriously toxic community in online gaming.  As a result they knew that this was ultimately hurting their product and keeping players from participating on a deep level with it.  Instead of sitting back and saying “pugs will be pugs” they took matters into their own hands and tried to devise a way of dealing with this.  As a result they created two systems that work hand in hand.  The honor system allows players to provide “endorsements” that are positive, such as Teamwork, Friendly, Knowledgeable, and at the same time provide a venue for reporting bad behavior.  When a player has received enough negative reports they go into another system called the Tribunal.

One of the problems with social reporting is that there is a sea of false positives and downright minor infractions that clog the customer support staff.  As a result the Tribunal system is innovative in that it brings each case before a jury of “peers” aka other players who have signed up to be willing to sit on these peer based juries.  You can view all of the results on the public Tribunal page if you are logged into your league account.  The image on the right side is an example of a tribunal ruling.  Of course warnings for language should apply as it states exactly what the player said during the match to warrant being reported.

Be Proactive Blizzard

These systems really do seem to work out in the wild, in fact with the big 2.1 patch in Final Fantasy XIV Squaresoft introduced a very similar endorsement system with some big rewards that can be gained through this positive behavior.  In the past there were unofficial systems on the servers that permanently labeled disruptive players as pariahs from the social circles.  There was a time where you could look at the guild a player was in and have a fair shot at gauging whether or not the player would be a positive influence on your group.  Additionally just talking to a player for a moment before inviting them to fill a group gave you a good idea of their future behavior.  When Blizzard introduced systems to automate these processes it completely removed the element of social ramifications, and such the “greater internet fuckwad theory” came true.

When it is perceived that there are no consequences for bad actions… players tend to behave worse.  Sure there are awesome people out there that are awesome all the time regardless of who is looking… but that is quite simply not the majority of people.  These systems work to bring a tally of someone’s misdeeds to bear each time they step into a group.  The guy who wiped the LFR because he didn’t want to be there… would bring with him a black mark from each and every player that flagged him for doing what he did.  I feel like blizzard does an excellent job of policing and banning players who are actively exploiting the game. 

However it is quite literally against their best interest to ban players who are paying them a monthly subscription.  Each time they ban one of these players they lose his money, and over time it adds up.  What systems like the tribunal do is introduce a neutral third party, the player.  The tribunal works because no only does it hold players accountable for their actions, but it also holds the players who are making these decisions accountable.  Every decision that is made, and the players who participated in making it is posted publicly for the world to see.  Since this relies on the players justice is usually far more swift than waiting for customer service to sift through their backlog of cases and deal with it.  It is my hopes that with the rollout of Warlords of Draenor, they will investigate a system like this, and hopefully make it applicable to ALL battle.net games..

Richer Than You Think

A Patch Awoken

Monday evening the Final Fantasy XIV servers were down to deliver the brand new 2.1 patch.  This is the one that everyone had been waiting for, that was supposed to deliver a ton of new content.  At one point I was anxiously looking forward to this update, because it held the promise of player housing as well as new dungeons to run to collect what we lovingly refer to as “bookrocks” aka Tomestones.  Now that the patch is live, I find that I can’t seem to be bothered to actually patch the game up.  Tuesday and Wednesday night I spent a bit of time hanging out in mumble with my friends who are still playing it, and they seem extremely excited about it overall.  The video below shows all the reported changes, and I will admit it seems pretty staggering.

 

However several of these things seemed to be tarnished by somewhat bad design.  The biggest of these that I have heard of is the housing system.  Currently it is oppressively expensive,  the day it was released I saw a tweet (that I seem to be unable to find at this moment) stating that they gained the first million gil towards their house… only 99 more to go.  That apparently is cheap… here is a listing of the housing prices on the various servers.  We are in group three, on Cactuar so right now it would cost 125 million gil to purchase the largest home… aka the one suitable for a guild house.  Considering prior to 2.1 there really was no way to make money at 50 other than crafting…  this seems insane.  The highest I have ever gotten with my character was 200,000 gil, and repair bills and components for my artifact weapon whittled that down to around 75,000 gil the last I checked in on the game.

Supposedly they have added in a bunch of new ways to earn money, which I guess is a positive.  However it does seem silly to roll out such an expansive and impressive system…  that no one can actually use on day one.  Supposedly over time the housing prices will fall, but that still puts the large house at 100 million gil at the absolute cheapest possible price.  Listening to my friends, they seem to be enjoying the new content.  The new dungeon Pharos Sirius seems to be genuinely difficult and to the best of my knowledge they have not beat the final encounter.  That was one of the interesting things about FFXIV dungeons, is that they had a 2 hour timer to get through them.  I feel like I should be excited about the prospects of the patch, but I just fine myself not caring at all.  Whatever magic I felt towards FFXIV seems to be gone for me, in the same way it has flickered away for so many other games.

Richer Than You Think

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This morning I achieved a personal goal… too bad it comes 2 expansions too late to be terribly impressive.  I have never been extremely successful at making money in MMOs.  I guess in the grand scheme of things it just has never really been a priority.  As a result I have always thought that I was broke, or at did not have a ton of liquid assets in game.  While I am still not anywhere near some of my guild members, I am was apparently doing better than I ever thought.  Awhile back I installed Titan Panel again, to help organize a lot of my informational gadgets in one place.  In trying to keep track where I was with all of my tokens I installed a Currency addon.  Interesting thing about it… is that it started to keep track of all of the money spread across all of my characters.

As of last night it showed that I had 25,000 gold distributed among all of my alts… five of which are 90 and in various stages of “raid ready”.  No character had more than 5,000 gold on them specifically, but spread out among all of the characters it added up.  Because of this I decided to realize something that had long been a goal for me.  With Wrath of the Lich king they added what has been ubiquitously referred to as the “Repair Mount”.  Since I do a lot of random killing out in the world, and solo farming of dungeons/raids… I find myself constantly searching for a repair vendor.  So many times I have thought to myself “man it would be awesome to have that mount”, but even with faction and guild discounts it was still 14,000 gold… which seemed like an insane amount.

I never would have purchased this back in the days before account-wide mounts… but the idea that I just gave every single alt the ability to repair whenever they hell they felt like it?  Sure 14,000 seemed like a reasonable price, especially considering I have branched out onto a second account of characters.  So this morning before sitting down to write my blog entry I shifted back and forth between all of my characters and began pooling my money on Belgrave to make the purchase.  I knew for certain he was exalted with Kirin Tor, the faction the mount vendor is sold on.  I have to say… I am freaked out a little that I just spent all that gold on a single mount, but within a few days that will pass and I will be happy with my decision.  There really is very little I want to purchase in the game at this point that my army of alt crafters cannot eventually make.  So I figure thanks to the mount I will be able to farm up more goodies to fill the coffers again.

Lucky Streak

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Most of the yesterday evening I spent working my way through Siege of Orgrimmar.  The first section of the dungeon went extremely smoothly and the loot gods seemed to be smiling upon me.  I managed to get a usable drop off three of the four bosses there.  Of course the first drop of the evening was a neckpiece… after purchasing the one with honor last night.  That seems like it is always the way however… when you upgrade a piece, you end up getting a better one almost instantly.  The second part of Siege however went extremely slowly as I had to complete it in two passes.  I was on the second boss of the first pass when my wife came home last night and needed my assistance.  After killing Iron Juggernaut I bailed from the LFR and did what she needed for a bit.

After coming back that meant sitting through another 30-60 minute queue and repeating the first two encounters without loot.  However that second run went far more smoothly than the first, and we had no wipes at all until folks lost focus during the Nazgrim fight.  That is not the type of fight that you can “burn down at the end”, since the not dealing with the adds means he very rapidly heals back all of the damage you are dealing to him.  During the second attempt however, folks stayed focused on the adds and we managed to defeat him in near record time.  My hope is tonight to come back and finish out the last two parts.  At 11pm I attempted to queue for the third, and it looked like roughly an hour queue so I gave up and went to bed.  Still no love for a weapon, but this next segment has the chance of dropping a weapon I believe.  So between it and my nightly habit of running a Heroic Scenario… I might have a chance.