Leave the Game Better

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

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

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

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

Level Scaling Tech

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I am in this place with SWTOR Knights of the Fallen Empire where I am honestly not sure what more I can say without my blog turning into a massive spoiler fest. ¬†There are a lot of events going on and many of them have surprised me. ¬†This is a little shocking given that I consume a lot of gaming media and that KotFE has been technically out since October 2015. ¬†I am not sure if I purposefully ignored SWTOR articles… or if I just didn’t come across that many. ¬†Whatever the case essentially everything from Shadows of Revan onward has been a completely new story experience for me without me knowing any of the elements ahead of time. ¬†So while I recognized characters like Theron Shan or Lana Beniko… ¬†I knew nothing about them going into this recent binge of playing the game. ¬†We’ve talked about this on the podcast before, but returning to an MMO and seeing years worth of content laid out in front of you is a pretty great thing. ¬†Especially in a situation like SWTOR where they have a reasonable level scaling system.

Yesterday Syp posted something over on his personal blog Bio Break talking about level scaling systems. ¬†His specific discussion centered around whether or not level scaling systems were good for games, which was brought on by his recent journeys in LOTRO. ¬†Over time my own feelings about the systems have changed. ¬†You can scan through the backlog of this blog and find me talking about Mentoring systems, where games allow high level player A to drop down to the level of player B and run content with them. ¬†This seemed to me like the most elegant solution to the problem of being able to run content with your friends. ¬†That was until I encountered Guild Wars 2, and the fact that no matter where you go your character is scaled down to the level of the world. ¬†The concept of evergreen content is a big one for me… because I like when a game expands over time rather than contracts. ¬†While Guild Wars 2 is not the best example of this… because of the fact that there is plenty of content that you will never be able to play again in that game… ¬†it did make me appreciate level scaling as a replacement for mentoring.

The only problem there is that when the world is constantly the same level as you, it robs you of one of the quintessential MMO experiences of leveling up and becoming more powerful. ¬†The world always feels the same to you, because you are functionally always the same relative ability levels to it as you level. ¬†In situations like that the levels themselves feel like a completely extraneous concept. ¬†Why even have a number that goes up if the world is always going to be functionally the same difficulty. ¬†When we started playing Final Fantasy XIV they had an extremely elegant solution for this in the form of their dungeon finder. ¬†Each dungeon had a functional level range from the moment you first were able to zone in… to the moment that it considered was the upper bound of levels. ¬†So if the average mob level in an area was 35, then functionally the maximum level the game would allow you to be was 40, scaling everyone over that level down to that point. ¬†The only negative here is that this ONLY applies to dungeons, and in truth it would have been interesting to see this same sort of system just work out in the world as a whole.

That I guess is functionally what is going on in Star Wars the Old Republic, and I am loving it. ¬†Each piece of content be it planet, flashpoint, or something else… has a functional level range attached to it. ¬†Once again it is functionally along the lines of being five or so levels over whatever the maximum level of encounter for that area. ¬†Then the game rewards you as though you were fighting something your own level in terms of both experience and loot drops. ¬†This means that you can go anywhere and do anything without feeling like you are getting nothing from it. ¬†At launch this was absolutely a problem with SWTOR and it was extremely easy to out level an area, and reach a point where the experience gain was no longer worth the time you spent on a planet. ¬†This was especially true as I remember on Tatooine which in itself was a huge planet with lots of side content. ¬†By the time I “did everything” I ended up several levels ahead of the curve and functionally kept getting more and more over-leveled as I went through the rest of the planets.

Now there is a certain measure of freedom in being able to just go and do the content without having to worry about level… and in many cases gear. ¬†While leveling my Imperial Agent, there were a few points where I went 10 levels without upgrading any of my gear… and really did not notice a significant amount of power drop off. ¬†Then again I did exit the class storyline at level 58… so there was some significant over-leveling going on there that might have been easing the transition. ¬†The thing with this system is however that while you are gaining power and you FEEL powerful… there is never a point where you are just waltzing through ¬†field of enemies gently tapping them and watching them explode. ¬†When you run someone through a low level dungeon in World of Warcraft for example on your level capped main… you can functionally breathe on mobs and they impale themselves in a shower of loot. ¬†SWTOR feels like a happy medium, of letting your power level increase without completely trivializing the game. ¬†Sure most of the time I am not actually afraid of death, but I still feel heroic doing content… ¬†because I am having to use my abilities to take things down rather than a single auto swing. ¬†As a result I have somewhat shifted my focus from user driven mentoring systems… ¬†to seeing more games adopt this sort of level scaling. ¬†The best part about Legion honestly was the way that content has scaled to the player while leveling through it, and if only Blizzard had applied this tech to the world as a whole… it would be a much more enjoyable experience. ¬†I like knowing that I can revisit those areas that I enjoyed so much in the past, and still having an interesting time.

 

A Good Night

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

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

 

Random Screenshots #4

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This morning is one of those mornings when I am super thankful that I cobbled together the random screenshot tool. ¬†Last night I sort of failed at doing any measure of directed content. ¬†I tuned into Spiral’s stream as she continued to push forward into Final Fantasy V and spent most of the night alt tabbing between twitch and Final Fantasy XIV. ¬†I’ve been on this mission to make sure that I complete the Ixal quests each day, and they take significantly longer than your average quest. ¬†In truth the bulk of the slowdown is all of the swapping back and forth between classes and having to craft items over and over until I get X number of high quality baubles for the turn in. ¬†Sometimes I just get unlucky, and the higher crafting gets the harder this seems to be. ¬†So while I might only need 4 items for the turn in… I might end up with a stack of 15 normal quality items that I had to craft to get those four HQs. ¬†Needless to say when I finally finished up with the quests it was around 9 pm last night… and I was feeling largely done with Final Fantasy XIV for the night. ¬†So instead I popped into the bedroom where I have my Wii U connected and played some more Zelda. ¬†It is growing on me, but I still find a lot about the game frustrating, or at least non-intuitive. ¬†As a result I don’t have a whole hell of a lot to talk about this morning, and definitely no screenshots so… once again I crawl back into the vault and do a random sort.

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Chua Starting Area – Wildstar

While I may have issues with Wildstar… it will always be a gorgeous game. ¬†This is I believe a screenshot from the¬†tail end of Crimson Isle, the Chua/Draken starting zone. ¬†There are times I miss my little Chua, and I went so far as to create a new one awhile back as a Warrior. ¬†The problem is the game of Wildstar itself just never quite clicks. ¬†There is just too much going on visually for me, and the style of targeted directional abilities with hotbar combat never seems to feel as good as I think they hoped it would. ¬†I feel like the game would feel a lot better on a console where you can bind your main attacks to the triggers and bumpers and control movement and aiming with both analog sticks. ¬†In theory you could emulate this… but keyboard to controller emulators never quite work as flawlessly as if you set the controls up for that purpose out of the box. ¬†Just like running a console with a mouse and keyboard… ¬†you are trying to fake out the hardware while using out another control scheme under the hood.

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Funny thing that I get a World of Warcraft image in this search because I really have not talked about the game lately much. ¬†I am admittedly on a bit of a break right now, and in part I am simply just not forcing myself to log in when I don’t really want to. ¬†For three or four weeks the real world got in the way of my raiding… and then I just got out of the habit of logging in regularly. ¬†As it stands I have this meeting on Wednesdays that usually lets out about 6pm which leaves me an hour to get home.. find food and log into the game for the raid which is simply too rushed for my tastes. ¬†So for the moment I am on extended leave, until the spirit drives me to start playing again. ¬†This image is from me finding the Burning Plate of the Worldbreaker… aka the Protection Warrior alternate appearance. ¬†This is probably the moment in Legion when I was playing the most intently, and every single day I made a trek out here to see if the shield was up. ¬†The day it finally was… I took lots of screenshots and I so happily used this appearance until I got something newer unlocked recently. ¬†The Legion launch and the first few patch cycles will always be a happy memory… even if I have sort of fallen out of the habit of playing the game.

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Another happy moment in a game… at the end of a long grind is when I finally got Turquoise on my Chocobo in Final Fantasy XIV. ¬†For those who are unfamiliar… your base Chocobo can be dyed through an insane process of feeding the chocobo various fruits. ¬†What makes the process maddening is that one set of fruit alters the RGB values… and another set of fruit seemed to instead alter CMYK. ¬†When we first started doing this it was largely trial and error before the calculators came out… and even when they existed it never really was an exact science. ¬†At the time we were doing this… the fruit for dyeing was prohibitively expensive. ¬†While we were trying to keep an active stock of seeds growing in the garden… it never quite met up with the desires. ¬†If you find yourself interested in this process, check out this calculator because it seems to be the best. ¬†I remember towards the end I teetered back and forth between three colors until it finally clicked and gave me the Turquoise that I was hunting for. ¬†All of this… ¬†was simply to make sure that it matched my Leviathan Barding.

Tiny Black Mage

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My madness continues… and last night I joined in with Grace and eventually Storm and Muspel to do some Palace of the Dead. ¬†Essentially PotD is the new FATE grinding, and while it can be sort of repetitive, I never seem to get tired of it. ¬†I mean I thought Tam was insane when he went through his own period of time where he lived in dank dungeon, but now I finally get it. ¬†What I am loving about it is that I can just hop in… run a bunch of Palace of the Dead… ¬†mentally be somewhere else like watching a movie or a television show and then still feel like I made significant progress at the end of the night. ¬†The first goal has been to catch up my classes to 50, because it is going to allow me to have a massive house cleaning of everything that has been clogging my retainers. ¬†I have a problem with gear, because I know that eventually I would love to have every single class to the level cap. ¬†That is just the sort of person I am. ¬†In World of Warcraft I actually achieved this goal prior to the launch of legion and had at least one of every alliance character sitting at 100, and three horde characters as well.

Currently I have my Warrior sitting at 60 and he is my only viably geared character for doing big kid stuff. ¬†Then you have my Dragoon that I also leveled to 60, but promptly abandoned because playing that class in Heavensward was just so much less enjoyable for me than it was in ARR. ¬†When I was last furiously playing the game I was working on my Bard, which had become my defacto dps class for awhile and I managed to get it up to 55. ¬†Then we drop down to my 50s which are Paladin that I have not touched since Heavensward because I simply don’t really like playing a Paladin tank. ¬†We have my newly raised trio of casters in the form of the Scholar, Summoner and Black Mage all sitting at 50. ¬†Then we drop down to some 30 somethings with Ninja at 38, Monk at 33, and Dark Knight at 33. ¬†I have yet to even pick up the quest to be a Machinist or an Astrologian but at some point I probably need to do that so that I can weave those into the rotation as well. ¬†Now I am sort of torn as to what I should pick to level next, but for the moment I am leaning towards either the Dark Knight because I miss playing heavy armor classes… or the Ninja because they are just really fun to play.

The other set of goals that is staring me in the face is that when I last left my crafting… I had managed to push everything up to 21… with mining and foraging sitting at 50. ¬†At some point I really want to start this grind again and push everything up to at least the point where I can make glamour prisms. ¬†In theory I should be doing my beast tribe dailies to use those to level my crafting, but I just haven’t reached a point of getting back into the game enough to sort everything out to be able to do that. ¬†Once I finished with the Sahagin I sort of let the beast tribe thing die once again… ¬†but in theory should be doing the Ixal at least for crafting levels. ¬†Whatever the case it seems like I have been assimilated back into Final Fantasy XIV, and have more goals than I can realistically accomplish. ¬†My Warrior gear could also always be improved, but I am just finding PotD a relaxing way to spend my evenings… ¬†but sadly one that is not terribly interesting to write blog posts about.

One Hundred Floors

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So yesterday I mentioned that I had plenty of Aetherpool to get a weapon, but found out that I apparently needed to have completed the full 1-100 Palace of the Dead experience to purchase it. ¬†Confession time here… before last night I had never actually completed any further into PotD than floor 70. ¬†Most of my running lately has been resetting and running 51-60 over and over which tends to give between 1/2 and 3/4 of a level worth of experience depending on your level. ¬†I am sure this slows down in the post 50 grind, but regardless considering how fast most of the runs go it is well worth my time. ¬†Given how fast the queue is… I am guessing the community as a whole has also decided it is well worth their time. ¬†For the moment I have been focused on getting up my characters to 50, which would allow me to clean out a significant amount of gear from my extremely clogged retainers. ¬†Last night I hung out in a holding pattern until my wife got home, and then we both walked to dinner and finally around 7:30 I had arrived at a place where I could get committed to running something serious. ¬†I mentioned that I really needed to get to floor 100 and within moments Tam, Ash and Grace had volunteered for the run. ¬†All told it took roughly 2 hours to get through the 51-100 content, which no matter how you chop it is a raid like effort of sitting still in one place for a long period of time. ¬†As far as experience goes I went from 33 to 37 and am just barely shy of dinging 38 so just a little less than a half¬†level per flight of floors. ¬†I also managed to bump my Aetherpool up to 85 weapon / 87 armor as seen in the final score shot from the dungeon.

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The first five sets of floors were pretty chill, but quickly things kinda turned to madness. ¬†We had a sequence of floors with just a silly amount of Chimera and Dragon on them, and in truth we pomander of rage’d the last three floors just to go quicker. ¬†We picked up plenty of silver chests and exited with 9 treasures… ¬†but we didn’t exactly go out of our way to do full clears either. ¬†If we had unexplored rooms and the portal activated… we were far more likely just to hop straight in than to spend any more time. ¬†This become more so as we got into the last few flights and it was clear that we were all getting tired of the run. ¬†I am super thankful to my friends because I probably would not have successfully pugged my way through that one. ¬†I have had great luck with 1-10 and 51-60… ¬†but pretty much any other set I try they end up failing miserably and I am just out thirty minutes worth of frustration in the process. ¬†Grace on the other had has somehow managed to pug her way to 100, and I salute her. ¬†Her intestinal fortitude for dealing with strangers is so much stronger than mine. ¬†After running 1-50 for Muspel over the weekend, and then running 51-100 for me last night… ¬†I think it might be a long while before I sign up for another complete run of Palace of the Dead. ¬†I greatly prefer speed running the first flight over and over to trying to do the entire thing in a single sitting.

Chateau Belghast

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This weekend was a bizarre one.  We are still very much under the gun of a release date, and I attempted to do whatever I could to further that goal.  However for all of Saturday our building was without power, and I was instead on call just in case something went wrong.  The building power went down at 6:30 in the morning, and by the time we started recording AggroChat we had not yet gotten the all clear.  I was just hoping that things would cycle off of the generators as successfully as they did cycling onto them, and that I would not end up getting interrupted during the podcast.  Sunday was a mixed bag of work and doing all of the other things that we ultimately put off until Sunday like laundry and various errands.  The weekend as a whole wound up being a very random mix of games as I played whatever I could during the brief moments of downtime.  As you can see by the Chateau Belghast image above, I started fiddling around with Fallout 4 once again, and scrapped my old house and built this one instead.  The inside is largely unfurnished but I am digging the outside quite a bit.  It took me far longer than it should have to sort out how best to attempt centering the neon text, but in the grand scheme it seems to look okay.  The frustrating bit with their neon font is that is is in no way monospaced with the characters all varying pretty wildly in width.

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In Final Fantasy XIV I am still very much getting back in the swing of things, and have fallen into the pattern of doing Beast Tribe dailies. ¬†In theory I started down this path because I wanted a reliable source of ventures for my retainers, so that I could keep sending out my gatherers on field exploration. ¬†However I also really like mounts, and over the course of the last week or so I have been pushing up the Sahagin, not necessarily because I love the mount, but more because it was the next closest faction. ¬†For a long period of time, it was the faction I was spending the rest of my daily allowance on while working on the Sylph. ¬†Yesterday however I managed to push Sahagin across the finish line and now have my truly bizarre Sapsa mount to ride around on. ¬†I figured what better place to take a picture of it than in the waters of The Mists, where the Free Company house is located. ¬†Next up should be the Kobolds as once again… ¬†they are the next closest given that I had been spending my extra ventures on them while working on the Sahagin. ¬†I mean I know there are lots of other things I SHOULD be doing… but I just can’t bring myself to pug dungeons yet. ¬†After a string of bad experiences with Palace of the Dead… I don’t much feel like pugging that one either. ¬†The problem there is as we talked about on the podcast, is that if you fail… ¬†you lose all progress gained which seems deeply punitive for a random group activity.

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Finally I spent a good amount of time this weekend playing Elder Scrolls online. ¬†I failed to take any screenshots so instead you get an interior shot of my home. ¬†I pushed forward the story line in Malabal Tor a bit, but the big problem with ESO is that I tend to wander wildly. ¬†I find it extremely hard to stay focused and instead I wind up going after the next object on the horizon that looks interesting, and as a result never seem to end up getting my objectives accomplished. ¬†There is always a fallen log to harvest, or an outcropping of ore to mine. ¬†Whatever the case I find myself continuing to move steadily towards 160 champion levels, which is the current item cap. ¬†Unfortunately I have a feeling this is probably going to change with Morrowind, but for the time being getting there.. and being able to craft a set of gear that will last me for a bit tends to be my focus. ¬†The other thing that I am realizing is that 160 champion levels is just a drop in the bucket given that quite literally every build I find expects you to have at least four or five times that amount. ¬†There is a part of me that wishes I had never actually faded away from this game, because at this very moment I am so impossibly behind the curve. ¬†Then again I think that overwhelming amount of content is what has been drawing me there much in the same way as it did for A Realm Reborn until we caught up. ¬†I know there is more to do than I have time to do it… and in some way that is insurance from ever really getting bored.

Heavy Crowns

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I’ve admittedly been pretty sporadic in my gameplay of Final Fantasy XIV since just shortly after the launch of Heavensward. ¬†For whatever reason the story this time never quite clicked in the same way that it did during A Realm Reborn. ¬†Additionally Alex never felt nearly as interesting as Coil… ¬†so it just felt like I was grasping at things to tie me to the game but struggling to find them. ¬†More than all of these I think the two dungeons per cycle business hurt the most, because it turned something that I used to love… ¬†Expert Roulette into a grind because there was always the dungeon you enjoyed… ¬†and the dungeon you disliked in every patch cycle. ¬†All of this said I have been poking my head in periodically and was at least aware of the mentor program. ¬†The idea being that Square would create a way to identify players who know lots about the game… ¬†which was an interesting theory. ¬†In practice it largely just means you have a Tank, DPS and Healer at the level cap. ¬†Also as I found out last night it apparently makes you feel like you need to run around barking orders and throwing shade on how bad you feel the rest of the party was doing. ¬†Even though I was attuned for it… I never actually ran the second of the 25 player raids called the Weeping City of Mhach. ¬†Collectively folks just call it the “Wiping City” and for good reason… because we died an awful lot but given that it was the first time myself or Grace had been in there… I thought we did largely okay.

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The funniest part of the night was the Forgall fight… which involves becoming zombie but not going full zombie and avoiding some things while absolutely standing in others. ¬†In short it is the traditional insane dungeon fight that simply requires constant execution… and has mechanics that will straight wipe entire parties. ¬†It is a rarity that there are fights where you need to use the healer level three limit break… ¬†but during the course of this fight we used it at least twice… ¬†and there might have been a third time I didn’t realize. ¬†We were at a point where we had no tank and maybe three people total still up, and a bunch of us assumed we were wiping it out and running back. ¬†We were wrong… as the “Mentor” continued barking orders and telling people to rez this person or that person… during a contorted fight that felt like it took 20 minutes to finally beat. ¬†The truth is I had no clue what I was doing, but I finally got finished off by an actual fight mechanic as one of the attacks takes you to 1 hit point… ¬†and requires chain healing to keep the tank from instantly dying afterwards. ¬†We had maybe a single healer up at the time and I fell down hard… but just in time for another tank to get rezzed and pick it up. ¬†I feel like this was the sort of fight where we needed to play Yakety Sax … ¬†but slowed down to the point where it almost sounds like a funeral dirge.

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The fight that I got the most enjoyment from however had to be Ozma… an encounter that I had heard about for awhile now. ¬†Largely I had heard about it being the group killer, in that it required a lot of moving parts that rarely got coordinated properly among the alliances. ¬†Thankfully I was on voice chat with my Free Company and they were able to give me enough of a heads up about what I should be doing. ¬†It also helps that early into the fight we lose the entire B alliance, giving me a run seeing the mechanics the first time and then allowing me to take that experience into the second smoother attempt. ¬†All in all we nailed it pretty well on the second go, and for the most part by the end of the encounter I learned everything that I needed to do to appropriately tank the fight. ¬†The reason we were running Wiping City however was to get me some gear… ¬†and unfortunately not a single tanky piece dropped. ¬†However I do feel confident enough to probably solo queue tank for the place and start soaking up more gear that way. ¬†The risk of playing FFXIV irregularly is that the game moves on without you… and I hit yet another wall with the latest patch. ¬†I was sitting at 220 from my last attempt to catch up… and this time around the first dungeon requires 230. ¬†There are of course a lot of more grindy ways to catch me up… but we were trying to take as many short cuts as possible.

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Before disappearing and flaking out last time I had managed to put in some progress on the 235 weapon from Palace of the Dead and as I talked about yesterday our little run pushed me pretty far… but not quite over the tipping point. ¬†So last night once finishing the Wiping City, we broke up into a smaller group and did some Palace of the Dead and over the course of a few runs managed to get me to 39 weapon 32 armor. ¬†During all of the stuff I managed to accumulate enough Lore tombstones to upgrade my earrings to 230, and at some point during the evening Tam hooked me up with a set of 250 legs to replace my then lowest slot. ¬†I had enough cash accumulated to manage picking up the 250 ring as well since my next lowest slot was that. ¬†All together those four pieces of gear pushed me up to exactly 230 item level, and thus makes me viable for a lot more content including the dungeon that is blocking my quest progress. ¬†Unfortunately however I have had this patch cycle spoiled for me, because before I remembered to turn off player titles… ¬†I actually happened to be running Deep Dungeon with someone that was showing their new title off. ¬†Now I am not sure exactly how it is going to go down… but I know something is going to go down. ¬†Ultimately that is not necessarily going to ruin the impact, just a bit of a bummer to have it spoiled in a way that really should not have even been a thing. ¬†While I wouldn’t necessarily count myself as “caught up”, I am at least in a much better place than I was. ¬†I need to do a lot more palace of the dead so that I can pick up the next weapon… ¬†but that one requires 60 weapon/armor which is still a very very long ways away. ¬†My only revision of that content would be to make the end of sequence mini-boss drop one of whatever your lowest rank happens to be armor or weapon. ¬†Also of note… you can see that thanks to the new weapon I did some glamouring and am once more the Bunny Samurai.

Derpest Dungeon

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Last night did not exactly go as intended, but it was a pretty great night nonetheless. ¬†Originally I had hopes of getting a Mythic+ group together so that I could use my +5 Maw of Souls keystone. ¬†That said I didn’t really exert a whole lot of effort in finding it either, and when I finally got settled in for the night after a bunch of idling there were only a handful of us on. ¬†Instead I opted to work on my time walking dungeons in the hopes that I might get more of that tasty tasty Essence of Aman’Thul from the weekly quest. ¬†When we got a group together it consisted of Rylacus and his son Tinoke who both still needed 2 dungeons… myself who needed 4 and then Bled and Phy just because they are awesome and love me enough to do a bunch of time walking dungeons. ¬†In truth I had completely pug tanked one of the dungeons so I could have suffered through it if I had to, but I enjoy tanking for my friends way more than I enjoy tanking for strangers. ¬†In any case we got to chit chat back and forth on Discord while doing the dungeons and that made the four go much faster. ¬†I had hoped by the time we finished there might be more people around, so we could pull together that Mythic+ but alas that was not the case. ¬†In truth I am guessing it was a good thing since a crisis arose while we were doing the Time Walking heroics.

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I hate printers, probably more than any piece of equipment ever. ¬†They never seem to work as intended and always require an inordinate amount of fiddling. ¬†One of the things you have to know is that many nights my wife can print as much as an entire ream of paper for her class. ¬†When I am upstairs I am also at least in part the warden of the printer, and get yelled up at to fix issues when they arrise. ¬†Now earlier in the evening she was printing perfectly fine… and then all of the sudden things stopped spooling entirely. ¬†I tried my best to correctly diagnose the problem, but none of the rampant googling actually provided anything that was useful. ¬†Of note… we have a massive workgroup printer that weighs about 200 lbs and is precariously connected to a machine that acts as a print server via parallel to usb cable. ¬†It works 99% of the time but is just brittle enough to make me constantly uncertain of what might be causing the problem. ¬†We tried a sequence of rebooting the laptop and rebooting the “server” to no luck. ¬†She was able to hit file shares on the “server” without issue, but any time she tried to access the printer it said that it did not exist. ¬†However I could print to that printer from any other computer on the network so the connection was still there and active. ¬†Finally in my destination I started fiddling with home group settings, and changed her share settings because I was literally trying everything I could reasonably think of. ¬†Instantly it was like something refreshed her machines permissions and she could suddenly see the printer and life was once again good. ¬†Once again… let me express my undying hatred for printers.

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Apparently Tam had been trying to get a hold of me while deep in printer diagnosis hell. ¬†Over the weekend I made a vague attempt to catch up on the Final Fantasy XIV content, but hit a both literal and figurative wall… ¬†in the form of the Baelsar’s Wall instance. ¬†I was not about to pug tank it… and it turns out apparently I couldn’t anyways because my item level is too low. ¬†I am currently sitting at 220 but apparently need 230 to get there. ¬†When I finally got patched up and logged in, Ash was needing to go to bed which left us with Tam and Kodra and seeing as I had not actually run any of the second half of the derpest dungeon, we opted to form a group for that. ¬†I have to say… while I have struggled in the past to get in and have fun… ¬†the deepest dungeon really hit the spot. ¬†The deepest dungeon serves the purpose of being quite possibly the easiest way to get weapon upgrades, with a mini game system that I have talked about in the past that involves collecting “gear” and leveling both your weapon and armor to 30. ¬†When you have collected 30 you can turn that in for a very solid 235 weapon which would be a sizable upgrade for me. ¬†Now when I entered last night I was sitting at the point where I stopped playing last time… which was somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 weapon and 14 armor. ¬†By the end of the night if I remember correctly I was sitting at 30 weapon and 28 armor… so pretty close to being able to collect my first weapon. ¬†It seems like the 51-100 floors move your item levels considerably faster… either that or we simply got lucky. ¬†To be honest, I had more fun in FFXIV last night than I have in a long time… ¬†and the above screenshot is there to simply serve as a reminder to just how insane Cactuar is as a server.

[Edit] – I can’t re-title the post without breaking every link that I syndicated this morning. ¬†That said I am finding out that “Derp” has some problematic roots and is a word that makes a lot of folks uncomfortable. ¬†It’s not really a word that is of any importance to me so going to attempt to jettison it from my vocabulary.

Restless Weekend

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This weekend was a bit of an odd one, because at least for me it centered around recording our “Games of the Year” show on AggroChat. ¬†This is generally speaking a huge ordeal given that our show is made up of six very different minded people. ¬†Back during the days when we had four regular hosts it was less of a proceeding but now that we essentially have six people each picking three games a piece… that means we wind up talking about 18 games, which as it turns out divides neatly into two 9 image panels. ¬†The above image is the first of these and serves as the backdrop for our normal show card of sorts, however with the text over it you can’t necessarily make out all of the images involved so I decided to post it here. ¬†You can as always find the show on AggroChat or my method of choice for sheer simplicity of listening… ¬†YouTube. ¬†The reason why this largely dominated my weekend is because we ultimately recorded two podcasts that were both two hours long before I set down to edit them. ¬†Post edits they both clock in around an hour and twenty minutes, which really is shocking given that I did not actually time anything out in an attempt to make them work as relative set pieces. ¬†I guess however if you set out to record nine games per show… the end result comes out fairly evenly. ¬†I did make an attempt to shuffle the deck in such a way as to put the games I thought we would most likely talk the longest about¬†divided evenly among the shows.

So we recorded from 8 pm CST until just after midnight, and then I got up around 7:30 Sunday morning and edited until 12:30… ¬†and as a result every other element of the weekend felt like it was shoved to one side or the other. ¬†Of course all of this madness has a purpose since the double episode is timed perfectly to cover the absence of myself and Ashgar as we go to Pax South. ¬†Now in theory Grace, Kodra, Tam and Thalen could record without me… but that would mean I had the forethought to have the mess that is our show in a state that I could easily hand over the reigns to an understudy. ¬†I have not planned ahead that far, and while I do have a series of Audacity and Photoshop projects to speed up the process… ¬†I am not sure if I could even properly explain what exactly I do each week. ¬†It is my hope however that I managed to not only publish yesterday, but also schedule everything else to publish next Sunday while I am driving home from San Antonio. ¬†Staging a publish to happen without me is always a fraught thing for me… because so rarely does it actually work as intended. ¬†Even if it does… I am literally stressed beyond reason until I see the tweets show up in my timeline from the publish process actually doing its thing appropriately. ¬†In the grand scheme of things however… ¬†it is not the most important thing in the world… but it is important to me.

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As far as gaming went this weekend that was equally scattered. ¬†I patched up Final Fantasy XIV and made it far enough to hit the first instance gate, before ultimately walking away. ¬†Similarly I patched up Wildstar, created a Chua Warrior and played to around level seven before once again walking away like a bored child. ¬†As far as gaming that managed to last for more than an hour… ¬†we had World of Warcraft where I finally hit 35 points on my Protection Artifact and started pushing up Fury instead. ¬†I have gotten back in the habit of logging in each day to do my Emissary quest because now there is also a potential legendary upgrade waiting at the end of the grind. ¬†I started doing my Time Walking dungeons… but only managed to make it through the first one tanking it before once again wandering away. ¬†The game that seemed to stick the hardest was Elder Scrolls Online where I completed a good chunk of Malabal Tor, a zone where I am already completely enthralled by the storyline… ¬†even though it involves largely nothing but elves and their internal politics. ¬†I’ve decided that the Bosmer are what it takes to make me really enjoy Elves. ¬†I am really enjoying the whole lore regarding the Green Lady and the Silvenar, and I guess in truth that was an aspect of the lore that I had either forgotten or ignored in playing other Elder Scrolls games. ¬†I even managed to have a few emotional gut punches last night, when I lost characters that I actually really liked during one quest chain. ¬†In truth all I want to do right now is hide in my blanket cocoon on the couch and play more ESO, but that said I do want to at some point get a Mythic+ in for the week since I have a +5 Maw of Souls key.