Labyrinth of the Ancients

Manderville With Friends

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

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

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

Labyrinth of the Ancients

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

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

Second Chances and Onion Knights

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

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

#FFXIV #Cactuar #CrystalTower

Revenge on Pharo Sirius

Robin Williams

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

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

A Room of my Own

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

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

Revenge on Pharo Sirius

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

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

Mammets of Halatali

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

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

#FFXIV

Crafting Gae Bolg

Deep Cleaning

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

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

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

Errands for a Smith

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

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

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

Crafting Gae Bolg

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

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

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

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

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

#FFXIV #Relic

Belghast the Healer

Lack of Rundowns

Over the last few days the whole post rundown concept has simply not been sustainable.  As I said yesterday I have had a whole bunch of technical issues with my two primary machines, leading me to be super late with my blog post.  As a result the whole rundown thing just hasn’t been in the radar.  At this point since I am having to edit them back in later, I am wondering if it really is sustainable for me to keep doing.  My morning blogging ritual gives me thirty minutes to an hour of time to work in a blog post.  The verification and retrieval of the links takes almost that long as well because ultimately I end up reading the posts as I go.  So on the week days I simply do not have enough time to keep up the practice.

The first few days I simply edited the list in at work over lunch, but the problem is my work world has gotten significantly busier as well.  All of this frustrates me since I want to find a way to showcase all of the awesome posts other than my ubiquitous retweets.  What I really want to showcase is the fact that out of the 45 or so participants…  35 of those have not missed a single day.   Then we have another batch that is also awesome of bloggers who started late but have been faithful ever since.  My biggest hope is that this spirit of community and shared purpose extends past the month.  I know the Newbie Blogger Initiative as it has run on, has gotten to be that way… in that I am still in regular contact with a lot of the people I mentored during the month.  I posted awhile back about the lack of community out here in the non-game-specific space… but hopefully we are changing that one blog at a time.

Running for Grand Prize

Began Late but Not Missed a Day Since

 

Belghast the Healer

ffxiv 2014-08-06 14-41-38-651 Yesterday I managed to get to level 16 on my conjurer, the required level to start the Duty Roulette process.  Now you have to realize that I have not really healed anything in years, at least not a dungeon.  Probably the last time I regularly healed was during the Burning Crusade on my Paladin in World of Warcraft.  That was roughly seven years ago, and it is a role that I tend to shy away from.  The reasoning is my very first MMO experience was as a Cleric in Everquest, and it pretty much burned me on the role from that point out.  That said I like to always have at least a healing option in my stable of alts, and since I now have every possible role other than healer… I figured it was time to do something about that.  So I channeled all of my bravery and queued for the Duty Roulette…  there is honestly something about that name that is so much more fitting than “finder”.  When you hit the button you really are taking a huge chance on what exactly you are going to get in the process.

ffxiv 2014-08-06 14-45-58-060 Thankfully for my very first dungeon I got an amazing group.  I seriously probably could not have assembled a better “starter” dungeon group than I ended up with.  We had dps that never pulled aggro, and a tank that managed to pick up every single add without fail.  There was never a point at which I drew healing aggro on anything, and I literally did not have to heal anyone other than the main tank.  In the back of my mind I knew this was a rarity as far as random dungeon groups went, but I was thankful to have it as my “breaking in” period.  For the most part everything went smoothly and we made it to the end of Tam-Tara Deep Croft in what felt like record time… without skipping any content in the process.  I was thinking to myself that yeah, I could maybe do this healing thing.

Reality Sets In

ffxiv 2014-08-06 15-13-03-480 So if I got the idyllic situation for my first run, my second run was the absolute worst possible situation.  We get started and the tank is the only one of us not communicating at all.  Like people tend to be pretty friendly and I open every dungeon run with a simple “Hey Folks, How Goes It?”, which usually starts up some chatter as we do the dungeon run.  The tank was completely silent, and sat there for a few minutes and then suddenly lurched forward without warning and pulled.  My immediate thought was console player, since they tend not to respond to anything… ever… or if they do they respond in very short single character replies.  It was a gladiator tank and he proceeded to start beating on a single target, and ignoring everything else in the pack.  The moment I cast a single heal it all magnetized to me and I essentially became the main tank at that point.  Problem was that the target he was on… he wasn’t really tanking either and the first time a dps started attacking it they would pull it off of him.

ffxiv 2014-08-06 16-44-12-862 After a few pulls like this the tank proceeded to AFK, at which point the group kicked him and we cleared the way to the first boss without a tank at all.  It was me, a thaumaturge and a pugilist and I healed through the damage.  When we got another tank it this one was wearing most of the relic armor set, so my hope was that she would do all of the things that the other tank wasn’t.  Turned out that she was an extremely competent tank and the rest of the run went smoothly.  By the time group three had rolled around I was starting to feel my wheaties, and thought I could take on anything.  I didn’t really struggle last night until I encountered my first group wanting to use weird tactics at the expense of the healer.  In Halatali on the final boss, there are these adds that need to be killed before they get to the fire in the center of the room.  If you don’t catch one it does an AOE burst on the entire party.  My group ignored these completely and as a result I had to heal through constant AOE burst damage… Medica was my friend.

More Chill Than Tanking

The major reality check that I was not quite prepared for was the fact that it is so much more relaxing to heal than to tank.  Granted that might just be a me thing, but I feel like I am constantly having to watch everything and make sure I have aggro on it all as I play a game of “bejeweled” making sure all of the gems are bright orange squares.  Healing on the other hand is more like playing whack a mole, and that invokes so much less stress.  I have to make sure I am not standing in shit, and then I have to make sure all of the bars are full.  That’s it, that is my only focus and I feel like I can relax considerably.   Sure there are moments where you have to work hard to top everyone off, but that isn’t “every single pull” where I feel like as a tank you are constantly struggling to maintain threat over your party.  At this point of course I have only healed the first few instances which admittedly are much easier than the ones to come, so we will see if I change my opinion significantly as I go.

ffxiv 2014-08-06 22-13-56-942 The long and short is that I am embracing this new role and enjoying myself.  In the video at the beginning of this block I heal three different dungeons and all of the groups go relatively smoothly.  I am glad that my party cannot hear my stream of consciousness commentary, because it would likely piss a lot of them off.  Ashgar was talking about getting commendations so much faster as a healer, and I can see that to some extent.  During one of the dungeon runs I got three commendations, meaning that I got every one available.  However there are multiple dungeons I have walked out of without a single one, which is something that is super rare for me as a DPS.  I feel like tanking is the flashy job that everyone appreciates…  not dying is significantly less tangible.  As a tank I have always appreciated my healers, because they are the lifeline that allows me to do the batshit crazy things I do.  I feel like there isn’t as much appreciate for healers from the general public.  You only notice the healers when they are doing a poor job.

Writing Prompts

I’ve been stressed and busy the last few days and as a result I have not added any new prompts to the stack.  However as I have seen a few people dipping into them I thought I should add a few more to the pile.

  • What is the most thankless job in gaming?  I am trying to keep this broad on purpose because I am not meaning the holy trinity.  There are so many roles from ore farmer, to sniper that are played in various games.  What one gets the least credit?
  • What is your favorite appearance item or set of items?  Everyone has something that they keep in their inventory just because they love the look of it.  What is yours?
  • What does MMO mean to you?  This term gets used broadly, but doesn’t really have a firm definition.  What does it mean to you and where do you draw the line between traditional online games.

#Blaugust #FFXIV #Conjurer

Lalafellication

Blaugust is About Blogging

Earlier I had most of a blog post finished when my system took a dive on me.  Nothing appears to be recoverable so you are going to get my rapid fire version.  It seems that too many people are getting hung up on the notion of daily blogging.  Yes I am having a contest and giving away prizes, and yes this entire thing started as me challenging people to take the daily blogging routine I do.  That said more importantly, Blaugust is about Blogging and doing so regularly.  If you normally post once a week and you begin posting three times a week thanks to this initiative, then I consider it more than successful.

If you don’t feel you can do the daily blogging thing, then alter it to fit your needs.  There are a few people who have ramped up their posting in the spirit of Blaugust, and that is awesome.  I feel like posting on a schedule is a valuable thing, and if you can’t make seven days a week… try five and if that is even too much then try three.  The hope is that you will develop a routine that becomes far harder to break than individual one off postings.  I went through huge lapses in my blog before I adopted the daily stance, and I pretty much started this without much ramp up.  It was a struggle at first but over time it became significantly easier and now I can crank out a post about almost anything.  Find what works for you, and stick with it.

I plan on editing back in a list of the day four blogs.

Hitbox Sorta Fixed

A few days ago I posted railing about the various shortcomings of the hitbox live streaming service, and since then they have attempted to fix a few things.  Previously I had used twitch to back up my live stream to youtube, making it significantly easier to share and embed in blog posts.  When I switched over too hitbox I thought things were going to work similarly.  Unfortunately the entire time I have used hitbox the export to youtube process has been broken.  This week they seem to have fixed it with a few limitations that make it damned near useless to me.  Yesterday I tried to export all of the videos that were hanging out on my hitbox page in limbo and out of the whole batch only two made it there.  The two videos were in the 20 to 30 minute range, and anything longer failed.

I guess this means that unlike twitch that can export up to two hours of video to youtube, hitbox is going to limit the users to only 30 minutes at a time?  For me at least this makes the feature meaningless, and since I still cannot download the videos I have already recorded it means my various series on youtube have glaring holes as I number things sequentially.  The only positive is that you can apparently embed video directly in your posts now, so here is hoping that actually works.  I am wondering if trying to embed it in live writer is what ultimately crashed my system earlier, so I am going to not test the waters until I have finished today’s blog post.  In any case I still like hitbox for the fact that there is no stream delay, and it makes having a conversation much easier.  The problem is with the fact that I now have to record the video locally and manually upload to youtube, it has severely soured my streaming of late.

Lalafellication

ffxiv 2014-08-04 22-14-42-49 Last night I took the plunge and did something I had been considering for a few weeks.  As part of the preorder process I had a vial of Fantasia sitting in my inventory.  This allows you to re-edit your appearance, and in practice change your race and even gender in the process.  While I liked the look of Belghast the Highlander, I had long wished I had embraced the adorable and went Lalafell.  I think I only made it as far as I did in Wildstar because I thought the Chua I was playing was adorable.  So last night I took the plunge and you can now see the end results.  So far I have no regrets.

I ran a few instances last night and everything about combat is now cute.  It did take some getting used to the difference in perspective, and it may have caused me to step in some bad stuff that I thought I was well clear of.  All things considered I really like the decision I made because now I can take adorable pictures everywhere I go, and participate in the ever popular “if I fits, I sits” meme.  Everything I do seems cute and harmless, even when I do a dragoon jump into things.  I am a fan and I am sure it will make my adventures far more memorable.

Completely Broke But Happy

ffxiv 2014-08-04 22-18-44-86 The other big thing that happened last night is that all of us pooled our money together and bought a small house in The Mists, the housing zone for Limsa Lominsa.  Basically it was a zone of compromise in that a few of us preferred Gridania and others preferred Uldah, but everyone was pretty amiable too the notion of the Limsa housing.  The other huge benefit is that we found absolute prime real estate in the third housing ward.  We are guessing that the house must have been repossessed because it is smack dab in the middle of the zone with a Market Board and Summoning Bell steps outside of our front lawn.  We don’t have a lot in the house but we did manage to pick up a Chocobo Stable, Aetherite Shard and a Mailbox allowing us to cheaply port from anywhere in the world to our house.  Now I will have to begin the grind to try and get the 300k gil needed to buy my personal room.

ffxiv 2014-08-04 21-26-00-70 This whole experience highlights what I have been saying about the server community on Cactuar.  Within moments of purchasing the house and getting the basics configured we were swarmed by our neighbors welcoming us to the neighborhood.  It seems they were super happy to see the house occupied and we now have a few friends in the houses surrounding us.  The guild that was visiting in the picture lived in a huge house above us, and apparently since this house went dormant they were no longer able to jump down through our plot, because they were blocked by the building bounding box.  They were extremely appreciate of once again having a fast route to the market boards.  Later in the night we had some other neighbors welcome us, and it is this sort of interaction that I am valuing the most about the server.  This is the first time in a long time I have felt like I was part of a larger community.  Final Fantasy truly is a special game, and I hope especially as more people return to it we can set down some permanent roots here.

#FinalFantasyXIV #HitBox #Blaugust

Dragoon Soars

Blaugust Weekday Style

The last several days I have done a pretty significant rundown of the posts from the previous day.  However as I only have thirty minutes to an hour to post in the morning, and that whole feature is pretty time consuming I am probably going to have to stop that over the week.  Either that or I might just edit it back in when I have a moment.  So far things seem to still be going awesomely.  Lots of interesting posts coming out, and I think it is awesome that they aren’t all traditional gaming posts either.  I am seeing a lot of different depth, including quite a few helpful tutorial type posts.

What amazes me is I honestly thought by day three or four I would see a lot of falloff as folks decided this daily posting madness thing was not for them.  However instead I am starting to see the length of the individual posts increase.  A few folks that might have started with minimal posts have ones that are not starting to get significantly meatier.  If nothing else the initiative has met my goals for it, which was to essentially shake up a boring time in the blogosphere and get it hopping again.  I think it makes a nice pair to the Newbie Blogger Initiative, one beginning at the beginning of the summer and the other at the end as folks are wrapping up and preparing for the fall.

Day Three Rundown

Guardians With a Guildie

guardians-of-the-galaxy This weekend was an odd one with us having a birthday party up near the lake for my niece on Saturday and my wife staying there to spend a few days with her mom.  Since I would be all by myself I tentatively planned on seeing Guardians of the Galaxy Sunday morning for a matinee, but oddly enough when I got home from the party I had a message waiting on me from a longtime friend and guildie.  It seemed he has the same idea and wanted to know if I was interested in going to see it with him.  The initial plan to see it at the IMAX fell through since they were sold out, so we changed venue to here in my town at our smaller theater.  I have to say it was pretty awesome to see Vernie, as from what the two of us could remember it had been about two years.

It is kinda sad that we live in the same town but see each other that infrequently.  Both of us tend to land on the side of being a little introverted, so while we always seem to enjoy meeting for lunch or something similar… we never seem to think of doing it.  It seems like a lifetime since we worked together, and in reality it has actually been a decade ago.  I keep trying to figure out ways to get him on where I work, but the positions never seem to line up quite right at any given time.  In any case we met yesterday for an 11 am movie and went to Baja Jacks a local texmex place.  If you’ve been to a Moe’s or a Chipotle you know the concept.  The subway build your own thing model, but I like this local place considerably better than the chain versions.

As far as the movie it was pretty awesome.  Guardians of the Galaxy has always been somewhat of a third string Marvel franchise, so I think it is pretty great that they are bringing them to the forefront.  In reality they are having to scape a bit to get “movie worthy” comics due to some pretty poor licensing arrangements around certain characters.  For example I’ve heard that the “Avengers” series of movies cannot involve any mutant humans, because the folks doing the X-Men movies have fully reign over those.  Similarly Spiderman was farmed off and licensed separately as well as the punisher…  so they have fragmented what was meant to be a cohesive universe.  All of that said I am happy in a way because it means that we are getting to see some properties that would have been on the fringe.

I’ve always thought Rocket Raccoon was a badass, so was happy to see him brought to living breathing CGI life.  The voice actor and the animators did a great job of bringing him together and making him a sympathetic character.  The movie definitely has a “loveable band of misfits” vibe to it, and it works well.  This is not the dark brooding “I’m batman!” flavor of super hero movie, but instead a crazy technicolor romp through the galaxy.  For what it is, it is really awesome and they managed to infuse a ton of humor in the mix.  I mean zany humor and not the normal gallows humor that seems to  infect the super hero genre.  I feel like they have themselves another interesting property on their hands, and I would totally plunk down money to see another film with the same crew.  I do wonder how they might integrate this into the overall avengers storyline.  It will be interesting to see what happens, and if you can wrangle your own guildie to go see it with… I highly suggest you do.

Dragoon Soars

ffxiv 2014-08-03 21-30-48-01 This weekend my central gaming focus was to push my dragoon to level 50 and be able to run the big kid stuff with my friends.  When I got home from seeing guardians I made the final push and dinged.  The awesome thing is I had a ton of gear waiting on me, since through running dungeons with my other 50 jobs I had picked up a number of things.  Moments after hitting the level I had replaced pretty much all of my dragoon set.  I opted to pay the 2000 or so gil per item and apply a glamour to go back to my dragoon armor appearance.  However the moment I set foot into my first dungeon… I got a chest piece that was a significant upgrade and therefor wrecked the appearance again.  I am considering just reverting my gear back to the original appearance and drying it all white to match the chest piece.  I realize I have had this graphic numerous times in the past, but something about the white version just looks awesome.

I spent most of the evening running around the map attuning myself for the various dungeons that have gone in since launch.  There are a significant number of them and if you are curious how to get attuned to each check out this helpful post I found.  Right now the only things I am not attuned for involve some serious quest work to unlock like Crystal Tower.  I should not however be holding by my friends when it comes to options for things we  can run.  I really want to try Pharo Sirus, but I question if we have the gear yet.  Granted Tam has all the gear in the world right now since he has had some pretty good luck with drops and is the only one of us to successfully complete his relic weapon.

Since I was initially tanking, I am working my way through the Bravura quest chain which is the warrior Relic.  Right now I am up to the step where I need to tank Garuda Hardmode and I have to say I am a little intimidated by it.  Ifrit Hard is extremely easy to tank, but I remember us struggling to get folks through normal mode Garuada… so I am more than a little edgy about the thought of tanking it cold.  I need to do a bit of research before I throw myself into the duty finder and give it a shot.  After that the only step remaining is to do Titan, which I am sure will be the toughest fight yet.  Then of course I need the bookrocks to get the weapon and upgrade it…  however that should be significantly easier.  I have enough to get the weapon, but should not be terribly far from getting the ones to upgrade it.  Then of course I get to start all over again to get the same thing for my Dragoon.

Writing Prompts

Here come another set of writing prompts for you avid Blaugust initiates.  Once again do not feel any specific compulsion to write about them, I am just churning them out to help those who get stuck.  You can see a full list of all of the prompts to date on the Blaugust nook forums.

  • Has there ever been a game encounter you were afraid of?  For example I am spooked of tanking Garuda hard… has there ever been a fight or encounter you dreaded?
  • What is the coolest moment you and experienced with a game community?  Has someone gone out of their way to help you, or was there a really interesting player in a community you have been a part of?
  • Do you collect in game pets?  Various games have turned this into a minigame but are you a pet collector?  If so why? If not why as well?

#Blaugust #GuardiansOfTheGalaxy #FFXIV

Farewell Wildstar

Day Two Rundown

We had an amazing turnout in day two, and while a couple of folks didn’t end up making a post we picked up several more in the process.  Additionally there were two blogs that I missed in the day one rundown.  I have to say I am still floored by the quality of content that folks are churning out.  I guess once you get the ball rolling in something it just develops a mind of its own.  I really need to figure out a better way of tracking the individual posts, as I have been up since 7 am and the last hour has spent simply pulling together this list of links.  However it is totally worth it because there look to be some pretty amazing posts there.  I plan on reading them immediately after posting my own morning post.

So there you go 41 day two posts, and two that I missed from day one.  We are having one hell of an initiative so far, and I highly suggest you check out all of the posts.  I have my super happy face on right now because It is going so smoothly thus far.

Farewell Wildstar

WildStar64 2014-06-20 22-30-01-908 I finally did something yesterday that I knew was coming for awhile now.  I logged into the Wildstar account website and cancelled my subscription.  While I still have through October to play the game, I doubt I actually will.  At this point I have not played for two and a half weeks, and simply have no real drive to do so.  I did not actually make it to the level cap but stalled out at 26.  Why am I quitting you might ask?  Honestly I don’t really know.  Everything about Wildstar is something that I should like, but once the amusement of playing a Chua wore off I was left once again with the game I played in beta… that just didn’t quite do it for me.  I never really got into the game during the beta process and the highest I managed to get a character was to 10, but considering how much I had misjudged FFXIV in beta… I thought I owed it to myself to give the game a chance.

It does have a lot of nice things going for it, and the community and development teams do an awesome job of listening to the fans.  Wildstar however is kinda like a monster truck rally, when what I really want is a book club.  The game is awesome in an over the top 80s action movie kind of way, but after a point it just wears on you.  The wow-raider me would have loved this game, but I have changed considerably since I was raiding five nights a week.  I ultimately want something a little slower pace and a little bit more cerebral and less twitchy.  Who knows at some point I might fire it back up, but I kinda doubt it.  It was a fun experiment and I think overall it will do really well, but I think I wanted to like the game far more than I actually liked it.

I think what really started the downfall for me is as I watched our guild start to disintegrate around the time the free month ran out.  The aspect of the game I really liked was its group content, and that was really damned fun.  The problem is without active players, it became impossible to do the dungeons, and I was not quite ready to brave the dungeon finder.  Additionally we chose the wrong faction as a guild.  Not that I don’t love Dominion, but everyone I know from twitter and the blogosphere is playing on Evindra Exile side… which means we had no shot in hell of even getting their alts considering the 6 character per server limit.  Sure I could have started over and rolled Exile… and I did make a few alts… but quite frankly I just didn’t enjoy the game enough to start from scratch.  I wish all of you folks still playing the game luck, because it really is an interesting experience.

Not Final After All

Last night we got things back to normal and recorded Episode 16 of the AggroChat podcast.  Once again we had our entire cast of myself, Ashgar, Rae and Kodra.  On a whim we decided to pull in Tam as well since he was available.  I have to say it was one of the more chill shows we have recorded in awhile and everything seemed to flow pretty naturally.  I did absolutely no editing this time other than removing a few silences.  It sounds a little different however because I am recording from a different machine in a different location.  This weekend I had my main computer melt down and I have yet to get it back up and running.  As a result I recorded from my laptop, but we struggled through and I think the end product works just fine.

We talk about a bunch of things like Shovel Knight, Rogue Legacy, League of Legends, falling out of love with Wildstar… but more importantly our return to Final Fantasy XIV.  I guess for us it was not final after all.  I personally want to set down some more permanent roots in this game, and despite the cost prohibitive nature of guild housing… we are starting to price and talk about the location we want to buy in.  They made a ton of tweaks and in all cases it seems to have improved our enjoyment.  If you are thinking about giving it a spin check out the free 14 day trial.  We are on the Cactuar server in the Aether data center.  If you get in add Belghast Sternblade to your friends list and give me a shout.

Writing Prompts

I slacked off yesterday or more so I got caught up in the excitement for just how amazing day one was… and forgot to post any writing prompts.  Thankfully I had six already so it is not like you guys were at a loss for potential inspiration.  That said I do intent to keep throwing out the occasional batch of writing prompts and adding them to a list I have collected on the nook.

  • What is your earliest gaming memory?  We all have to come to gaming from somewhere, what brought you into the fold?
  • What is your favorite class?  Do you play a new type each game that comes out or is there always one type of class that you tend to favor?
  • Do you follow a games lore?  There is often tons of lore both in game and out of game, do you follow it and even track down the tidbits that are not obvious.. or are you mostly oblivious to it?

#Blaugust #FFIXV #Wildstar

Day One Rundown

Shock and Awe

That is really the only words I can think of this morning to explain my reaction to the huge turnout we have gotten for Blaugust.  I want to thank each and every one of you that is plugging away on daily posting.  I also want to thank the folks that have now joined on day two, and anyone else out there waiting in the wings that may or may not be chipping in the occasional post as well.  When I came up with this idea in part due to my wife’s own may challenge, and my love of the concept of jamming together Blog and August into one word… I thought that maybe three or four people would join in the madness.  As of yesterday we had 38 day one posts, and since then a handful more have added in on day two.

The thing I am happiest about is just how many of you have easily “grokked” my intent.  I wanted to stir things up and get folks out of the doldrums that is the summer season.  I have been doing the daily posting thing, so I thought it might be cool to challenge others to do the same thing.  That said it is far less about daily posting than posting on a regular schedule.  The other neat thing is that basically this is training for undertaking something more serious like NaNoWriMo.  I could never have completed my novel last year were it not for my getting in the habit of daily posting before then.  Basically if you can prove to yourself that you can write a ten sentence or more blog post each day, then that 50,000 word goal isn’t completely unreachable.

Day One Rundown

While this has been a bit of a pain in the ass to pull together this morning, I wanted to do a rundown of all of the posts that were made yesterday.  I’ve read them all at this point and commented on several of them, and I have to say the world you all did is amazing.  You are making this a truly amazing initiative and I have very little to do with the success.  I think we all want to do awesome things, we just sometimes need the catalyst to make it happen.

Such an amazing list of bloggers, and I am absolutely humbled to have them supporting me in this initiative.  Additionally to all these awesome posts the very cool gaming site MMO Games gave us a good write up about the event.  The also awesome Anook.com has been featuring our nook as well so it should be giving us additional bandwidth to the initiative.  So much blogger love going on I am still constantly amazed.  It is still plenty of time to get started and join the madness, just check out my Gospel of Blaugust post for the rules.

Setting Down Roots

ffxiv 2013-10-30 22-51-40-21 Over the last few years I have been flitting from game to game for some time, and it is really tiring.  What generally happens is I get into a game and then the community we have built up around it starts to deteriorate.  Without the people to sustain me, I start to get my own wanderlust since I crave the next place that has the happy guildchat spam I am looking for.  One of the more enjoyable games I have played over the last few years was Final Fantasy XIV.  Everything about the game felt “just right” until I ran out of content to level with.  I love the fact that you can pour all of your effort into one character without feeling like you are missing out on anything.  The only problem is when we last played the game shortly after launch, after you had run out of storyline quests you were pretty much forced to grind fates if you wanted to level anything else.

In the months that have followed they have patched some of these gaps.  Right now I am still doing a fair amount of FATE grinding, but I am perforating it with trips through the Duty Roulette system.  While this might seem grindy still to some, for me this is enough of a break to make me happy.  The other thing that just feels right about the game is the community.  It is this weird throwback to a time where people were generally cool to group with.  I remember during Everquest, wipes happened and no one seemed to mind… they just picked themselves up and recovered.  The WoW generation changed that, and introduced the culture of “your bad and should feel bad”.  Last night we were running Hard Mode Ifrit and I made a mistake that ultimate wiped the raid.  Not a single person was grumpy about it, they just explained what I should be doing instead and were happy to try again.  That type of attitude is just refreshing, and I keep running into it over and over.

I have this feeling like I would really love to set down some permanent roots in Final Fantasy XIV, and I am starting to try and reach out into the community.  This game has had me adding people to my friends list in the first time in literally years that I did not already know going into the game.  It reminds me of the early days of wow, when we still cared about our fellow players and were happy to collaborate and coordinate on bigger things.  One of the biggest gaps I am finding is there don’t seem to be any big public Linkshells for folks to communicate and cordinate with.  I am kicking around the notion of starting one of these.  There is so much content we have yet to see, and FFXIV is one of the only games in the last bit that all of us seem to be able to agree upon.  Here is hoping that I won’t be writing another post in a months time on how the game just isn’t doing it for me any longer.  Right now the game feels very much like home, and I look forward to logging into it each day.

#Blaugust #FFXIV

Sixteen Years

Blaugust Begins

At this point the first few blaugust posts are starting to trickle into the nook and I am super pumped that this apparently is going to be a “real” thing.  I have to admit at this point that the inspiration here is from my wife.  During the month of May she decided to try and follow my posting every day tradition, and in the process she gathered up a bunch of math bloggers that also wanted to try it.  While not everyone succeeded in posting something every day, including my wife… it did stir up a lot of new and interesting content in their blogosphere.  Since August is such a dead time normally, my hope was that an event like this would get people moving again and a bunch of interesting stuff would flow as a result.

I had hoped that maybe I would get a couple daring bloggers to take up the challenge, but instead this seems to have developed a life of its own and right now we have over 25 bloggers committing to the daily routine.  If nothing else this is going to be another awesome opportunity for networking and community building.  Some of the best friendships are forged in the fires of shared struggle.  Since the process has begun I now have to device the best possible way to track progress.  Right now I am thinking a google doc spreadsheet, that way I can share out the link to the bloggers.  If I happen to miss giving credit for a post they can correct me, because they can actually look at my tracking mechanism.  I want to thank everyone so far for also posting their posts on the nooks blog.  This is going to make the entire process significantly easier for me.

Sixteen Years

kenzi_conkedout August first has way more significance for me than just the beginning of Blaugust.  Sixteen years ago today my wife and I were married.  If you want to check out the tales of us getting married at the house of vacuums you can see that here, as I talked about it during my factoid february initiative.  There is not a day that goes by that I don’t realize how lucky I am, in that I have found someone compatible with me.  Together we live a pretty damned charmed life if I do say so myself.  As many folks commented during the math conference, we really do make an awesome team and both of us seem to be capable of focusing on the task at hand without getting bogged down in the minutia of it.  We often bicker as we work through problems, but I cannot remember the last time we had an actual “fight” which I guess says a lot for the success of our marriage.

There is also not a morning that goes by where we do not say “I love you” more than a few times.  Granted a good chunk of the time it is simply our single line of text that says “loves”, but inside of that simple word encompasses so much.  Another hallmark of our relationship is that we support each other in pretty much any endeavor.  She is completely supportive of my blogging and podcasting and gaming and streaming… and while she has spent more time than she can probably recall waiting on me to finish something up.  She also totally gets why my guild and my community are so important to me.  She has her own completely separate community, and since I get the importance too, that is why I took time off from work to help with the math conference she organized.  At the end of the day we “get” each other, and that is more than you could ask for in a relationship.  I am truly lucky.  I included a picture of Kenzi conked out on my wife’s lap yesterday because really… is there a reason not to?  My god this kitten is adorable.

Want to Try FFXIV?

ffxiv_07202014_201342 Over the last couple of days there have been a few really cool developments in Final Fantasy XIV.  First off they just announced yesterday that you can now get a free 14 day trial of the game.  If you’ve always wondered what it is like to play, but did not want to plunk down the money to do so…  now is your chance.  I know my friend Calamity Jess had been kicking around the notion of playing and lamented the other day that there was no way to try it out without coughing up the full price.  Now folks have an excellent way to do just that.  Granted there are some severe restrictions on what you can and cannot do.  You can’t join a guild, or pretty much use any of the social communication channels.  I do believe you can join a linkshell however, which I am guessing is precisely what we would do for the various folks trying out the game so that they can have some means of communication.

For those wondered I am located on the Cactuar server, which is one of the most highly populated servers in the game on the Aether Data Center.  For World of Warcraft players, the data center is like the Battlegroup in that when you do the duty finder it pulls from players in that grouping of servers.  If you are a member of the Alliance of Awesome community, a former House Stalwart member, or just a reader of this blog I would be more than happy to have you hanging out on Cactuar.  One thing of note, sometimes Square decides to bar new character creation on Cactuar, so it is best to try and create your characters in the morning or during the day.  During primetime most of the high population servers reach a locked down state.

Lets Be Friends!

In addition to offering free trials of the game, they have now opened up a recruit a friend program.  You are seeing this right, that is in fact a two seater Chocobo… and I want one really badly.  If you end up liking the game and sticking around I would love it if I could recruit you.  The system works similar to most of the other recruit a friend programs and you can read the full details here.  After 30 days of paid subscription both the recruiter and the recruit get a nifty item that increases all experience gain by 20% below the level of 25.  This is kinda huge in that a lot of the rough spots leveling wise happen before 25 when you don’t really have all the bells and whistles for your class.  For example Gladiator is a bit of a slog until level 26 when you pick up the 3rd step in your primary combo Rage of Halone.  Anything to help speed that process up is a massive boon.  Additionally it also increases your craft experience, which in itself is a slog to level.

After 90 days of paid subscription the recruiter gets the spiffy two seater Chocobo mount.  The person being recruited of course gets the normal “veteran” benefits from a paid subscription which in themselves are pretty cool.  As you can see here for 90 days subscription you get 3 pets, a swimsuit, a appearance change potion, and a flying eyeball mount.  They have one of the better veteran rewards programs, because really at each step there is something really cool there.  Right now I have gotten the 180 day step which gives me an awesome pet that summons a warrior of light from final fantasy 1.  I tend to cycle it until I get the black mage, because the FF1 black mage is adorable.  Anyways if you try out the game and want to stick around I would appreciate being given the opportunity to make you a recruit!

Writing Prompts

The first posts are rolling in and folks seem to have plenty of inspiration behind them.  That said I plan on still posting a series of daily prompts to help out those folks who need a little bit of inspiration.

  • What is your proudest gaming accomplishment?  What think took you the longest to complete or required the most skill.  What thing makes you the happiest that you have accomplished.
  • What is your favorite game biome?  Games often have the same kinds of generic climates spread through the zones and levels.  What is your favorite type of climate and why?
  • What is your favorite grouping experience?  Even the most staunch solo artist eventually groups up, what is the best thing that has happened while grouped with other players?

Amazing Community

Computer Meltdown

All that I really wanted to do when I got home was to log into my computer and play some Final Fantasy XIV.  Unfortunately my computer seemed to conspire against me.  Everything seemed happy when I first got home and I had just queued for duty roulette and begun working on a FATE when something odd happened.  The screen froze and turned black, and then moments later I was rebooting.  Now I am notorious for ignoring windows updates, and I know in Windows 8 there will reach a point where it simply will not let you ignore them.  Sure enough upon reboot it was installing new software, so I thought that maybe all that had happened is that I reached that threshold.

So I went ahead and booted up my machine and logged into windows.  Everything seemed just fine, nothing really seemed out of the ordinary until I booted into Final Fantasy XIV again and then boom… the same thing.  I thought for a bit that maybe it was my video card driver update that I applied last night, so upon rebooting I proceeded to roll back that driver.  Upon booting into the game again…  this time a brown screen then a black screen and then everything powers off.  The thing is that the video card never actually felt hot when I reached back and felt the air vent on it.  My initial thought was that the video card was just toast, which is disturbing because it was only a few months old.

As a test I swapped out to an older card and sure enough the machine booted right up.  Unfortunately however upon firing up a game I was back at the black screen cycle.  It was then that I noticed something.  I took the side panel off my case and watched it boot up, and the fan on the processor heatsink was not moving at all.  So I am guessing at some point it died, and potentially for awhile it was working intermittently.  Processor overheating would in theory cause all of the things that I was experiencing.  Here is hoping that there has been no permanent damage to it.  A heatsink/fan combo is a relatively cheap thing to replace, so I ordered a new potentially better one from Amazon and it should be here Friday.  Until then I guess I will be gaming on the laptop exclusively.

Meet Kenzi

kenziandshilohkenzi_alone Now other than my computer having a meltdown and throwing me into stress mode, there was some awesome that managed to happen yesterday.  We added a new child to our family, and unfortunately she moves so damned fast that this is the only picture I have managed to snap since bringing her home.  Thankfully the folks we got her from gave us a far better picture of her.  However as you can see she apparently loves the ferrets.  She has kept returning to the playpen to play with them through the bars.  They seem completely enthralled by her as well, and moments after snapping this albeit blurry photo of her and Shiloh she also woke up Bellatrix and they were both following her every move.  Being a kitten however she is rarely in one place for too terribly long.

We thought for a bit about a name and tried multiple characters from Harry Potter as well as Firefly, before finally settling on Kenzi.  She seems far more like that character than any other so far.  She is fearless and kenzishoulderdaring, and a little bit shifty at times.  Not to mention the whole dark hair thing works well also.  Kenzi was my favorite character from Lost Girl and really the only reason why I enjoyed that show for as long as I did.  So I feel like the name is fitting.  Right now she is batting my fingers as I type this and trying to hop up on the keyboard.  While I think it is absolutely adorable… I need to finish this post up so I can get on to work.  Here is hoping the ferrets wake up and steal back her attention.

So after writing my blog post she decided to crawl up on my shoulder.  I am officially in love, not that I wasn’t already.  I have always wanted a shoulder cat to hang out with me while I game.  Now she is curled up under the lapboard that my laptop is on grooming herself, but she spent a good long while on my shoulder.  This is totally going to work out… we just have to somehow figure out a way to stop the nibbling.  She seems to like to attack my beard and bite it right now.  Which is adorable, but will eventually get to be frustrating and potentially painful.

Amazing Community

ffxiv_07202014_212651 For the last week or so I have been spending most of my evenings playing Final Fantasy XIV on the Cactuar server.  I have to say I am starting to fall in love with the sense of community there, and on the entire Aether data center as well.  Thanks to my time in wow and just how toxic that environment can be… I have been extremely gunshy about branching out and playing with people I did not already know.  I’ve always been willing to group with my guild and their friends, but I had zero interest in poking my head out into the larger world.  Quite frankly when I had done this in the past, I dealt with so much abuse as a tank that I had no interest in ever attempting it again.  The problem is this negative attitude towards pugging carried forward into every game from that point on.  The moment someone wanted to do something, and we did not have the requisite number of people I would immediately remove myself from the equation.  This means I’ve spent an awful lot of time sitting around in games waiting for the magical number of people to log in so we could go do something fun.

Coming back to Final Fantasy XIV however I did so without much of my support structure.  For most of this past week I have been the only person online at night in my guild, and as a result I finally decided to brave the Duty Roulette.  This essentially is a random dungeon system that picks from any dungeon available to you.  The awesome thing however is that for leveling, you gain experience as though the mobs were your level not the level you have been scaled down to.  I went into this with the plan to attempt to be more social, so I started talking to the group the moment the instances started.  Funny thing is…. other people talked back, and in very positive ways.  Instead of running the dungeon in silence we started to banter back and forth much like grouping used to feel like during my Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot days.

So what caused this magical environment to appear in the face of so many games with toxic grouping environments?  I honestly think it is two fold.  Firstly at this point the only people who are playing Final Fantasy XIV are the players who are in it for the long haul, the players who are devoted too the franchise and willing to weather whatever storms might arise.  There is a sense of general camaraderie that I have not seen in many games, and I think it comes from a shared struggle.  I expected the servers to feel dead with the initial drop off of players after launch, but in reality while there are fewer overall players, they are just more focused in specific areas.  While you cannot go to any zone and run FATEs, the zones where you can… are extremely active.

The other part I think is a weird little system that Squaresoft put into the game.  Similar to league of legends, at the end of each dungeon or guildhest you can “commend” a player for their actions.  You only get one single commendation per dungeon run, so it forces you to think long and hard about who best deserved it.  Now there are some pretty significant rewards for having racked up a large number of these.  This I think causes players to want to seem friendly, and through the course of pretending to be… they end up actually being cordial.  I expected that the commendations would be almost exclusively reserved for the tanks and the healers, but it turns out that apparently I have made some appreciated contributions as well.  At this point I am sitting around 25 commendations, and there is rarely a duty or hest that I don’t walk out with at least one.  So apparently my banter, combined with the fact that I try my damnedest to interrupt everything as a DPS…  is appreciated and matters.

cactuarfashionshow I feel like Final Fantasy XIV is this strange time capsule where players have returned to the kinds of values that I used to appreciate so much while playing the games that existed before World of Warcraft.  While I have not poked my head out into the raid community yet, I find it really impressive that I am playing on a server that has actual community events.  This game feels like a crazy throwback… and I am loving it so far.  It seems like somehow we managed to actually pick the right server to be playing on all those months ago when we picked the server name simply out of our love of the cactuar.  The server even keeps track of the spawn times of hunt mobs, keeping a google doc to record when one last spawned and was killed.  Granted the other day when I looked it had gotten a bit out of date, but just the fact that the server cares enough to create something like that is pretty awesome.  I think the next thing for me is to try and find some social linkshells and meld into the broader community more.

Writing Prompts

Tomorrow is the official beginning of the Blaugust initiative, and as promised I will not leave you hanging.  I will be posting a series of writing prompts each day to help turn the wheels and get your creative juices flowing.  Please note of course that you do not have to write about any of the prompts I post.  I am just trying to provide inspiration if it happens to be lacking.

  • What was the first game that made you “feel” something.  I am talking about the first game that invoked a real human emotional response be it fear, love, outrage…  we’ve all had it happen and I am curious about your first time.
  • What is your favorite boss encounter in any game and why.  What makes that encounter stand out in your mind and what can be learned from it.
  • If you were an NPC in a video game, what type of NPC would you be.