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.

Hitbox Frustrations

Back to Normal

This morning signals the return to my normal routine.  Over the course of the math camp I have allowed myself to veer significantly from the path I normally take.  This means a lot of things, including being far more sluggish about making my blog posts within a scheduled timeframe.  Additionally my diet and walking regiment fell completely apart in the face of eating out so many times.  That said it is time to buckle down and return the tray tables in their upright position and prepare for landing.  It feels so weird to be going back to work today, and I am dreading being deluged by a weeks worth of stuff that set unsorted out.

I have only slightly followed my email while I was out, and dealt with a few fires… and postponed a few others for this week.  I know I have an extremely full plate waiting on me, and hopefully my coworkers will be forgiving as it is going to take me a little bit to get back into the swing of things.  Unfortunately based on everything I read in my inbox, I really need to hit the ground running today and knock out several things.  I know of at least one project that needs to be out the door and ready to go by August 1st, and another that needs to follow closely on its heels.  Then there is our project list, and juggling in a new person into the group.  So it is going to be a stressful rest of the week to say the least.

Hitbox Frustrations

This morning I logged into Hitbox.tv and completed a ritual I have done for the last several days… so many times I have quite literally lost count.  I logged into my account, went into my pre-recorded video and attempted to push the videos to youtube.  Like always it gave me the popup message signifying that my videos should show up on youtube shortly.  As has been the case each and every morning, I am quite certain they will not actually show up there.  Right now I have half a dozen videos that I have recorded playing various games that are in essentially limbo.  While there are lots of awesome things about the service… right now you cannot download videos you have recorded, upload them to youtube or even embed them directly from the hitbox service.  Which basically means the videos are not accessible anywhere other than through the hitbox interface.

There are so many things I like about hitbox, but presently it is relentlessly buggy.  The streaming portion they have down pat, and I would say it is one of the best experiences since you can actually chat somewhat realtime with people watching your stream.  It is all of the little things that I have come to take for granted with Twitch that simply do not work at all.  Previously there was a really awesome twitter integration so you could have an automated message go out to your twitter feed when you were actually live and ready to go.  In the last few days since I had last streamed, this apparently broke as well.  Right now it feels like we have been sold a lemon, and while I am sure they are trying as hard as they can to straighten things out… they seriously need some better public relations.

The official pronouncement from hitbox support is that things should be fixed either today or tomorrow.  The problem is that “today” and “tomorrow” were three weeks ago.  Instead of following up with a legitimate estimate for when things will be fixed… they just keep giving out the same “today” and “tomorrow” statements.  Now as my friend Ashgar pointed out, I can in fact record local and upload to YouTube as a separate process…  which is fine for anything I do in the future.  I however tend to stream sequentially, in a way that someone could go back and watch the progress I made along the way.  This means a number of videos are now essentially stuck in hitbox jail and there is no way that I can get them to another service.  I took for granted that the estimates of when things would be fixed were actually true, so I kept recording expecting that someday I would be able to upload them to YouTube without issue.

Right now I am in a holding pattern and still using hitbox, because really the streaming functionality is excellent.  I just wish everything else about the service were up to the standards set by twitch.  I don’t really want to go back to twitch if I can help it, because having to live in a minimum of 30 seconds of lag, is frustrating to me and frustrating to anyone who might be viewing what I was doing.  I feel like my viewers are significantly different than the normal viewers that streamers get.  When I get someone in my channel it is a friend of mine, and I feel like I should interact in as timely a manner as I can, because we have connections beyond that of viewer and streamer.  Hopefully tomorrow will come, and they will fix their crap and let us start moving files again.  At the very least I would be happy with either the ability to download what I have already recorded or at the very least embed it directly into my blog.

Player Commendations

ffxiv 2014-07-28 21-50-54-546 After dropping off our British friend at the airport, and one of our ferrets to the vet… we went home and pretty much vegetated.  I had a rather glorious day playing some Final Fantasy XIV and even doing a little bit of streaming.  For the most part the day was spent working on my Dragoon in an attempt to get him to level 45 and acquire the awesome dragon armor set that waits for me there.  Right now my leveling method of choice is to run around a zone, this time Coerthas doing FATEs while waiting on the Duty Roulette to pop.  For years I have been completely gunshy about doing random dungeons, thanks in part to just how horrible and toxic the community in World of Warcraft dungeon finder can be.  That said I have to say that the community so far in Final Fantasy XIV has been an utter delight.

ffxiv 2014-07-28 20-38-52-506 Sure I have run into a few players that are relatively horrible at playing their class or their chosen role, but I have yet to find a single player that I would consider rude or abusive.  I can take playing with folks who struggle, but it was always the “internet tough guys” and general jerks that kept me away from the dungeon finder.  The most interesting thing for me is that apparently I have made a positive impression on the groups I have been in.  After I had left the first time, FFXIV introduced a system of positive reinforcement called “Player Commentations”.  The idea is at the end of each dungeon run each player gets to commend a single player for their actions in the run.  Generally speaking I assumed these would be limited to the tanks and healers, since they tend to run the show.  That said I have managed to rack up ten of them so far through the course of my random dungeon runnings.

ffxiv 2014-07-28 20-45-22-985 Granted I try to go out of my way to make the dungeon run smoother, interrupting all of the AOE effects that I can.  In Stone Vigil last night I even managed to double interrupt a pack using Legsweep for one and Spineshatter Dive to interrupt a second one moments later.  That said I expected this sort of thing to go unnoticed, or get attributed to the tank… since tanks also have stuns…  but at least in PUGs seem to rarely use them.  All of this said it feels like the community in FFXIV has reached a point where all of the negative forces have wandered off into other games, and what is left is a cohesive group of players who are bound together in their love of all things Final Fantasy.  This might be a great oversimplification but so far I’ve greatly enjoyed all of the random dungeons and guildhest groups I have been a part of.  People seem to be genuinely willing to talk through problems without resorting to name calling.

ffxiv 2014-07-28 21-04-58-384 I closed off the night sitting at 43.5 and working on the final Dragoon hunt.  Something awesome is that apparently when we were not looking they added in some extremely awesome rewards for completing the hunt logs.  When you complete your class hunt log you get a ring that is honestly as good as Darklight if not slightly better.  When you complete your grand company hunt log, you get a pet.  You can collect your rewards by telling Jonathas in Old Gridania a “tale” of your deeds.  I still think this is a pretty cool way of handling a epic turn in like this, that your character literally tells the NPC a story about how you succeeded in battle.  This is going to give me the drive to finish up my Immortal Flames hunt log, so that I too can get a pet from it.  So far I am really enjoying my time back in the game, and it is starting to stir the attention of some of my guildies.  Here is hoping that at some point we can return to doing 8 man content.  For now I will just settle with being able to do guild groups.

#Hitbox #FFXIV

Fear of the Tonberry

Unexpected Enjoyment

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

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

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

Fear of the Tonberry

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

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

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

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

Blaugust Update

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

The Topic

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

The Guidelines

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

The Rewards

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

– Grand Prize

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

– Three Also-Awesomes

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

– The Catch-Up Artist

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

– All Participants

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

The Sign-up

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

End Game

Slowing Down

ffxiv 2013-10-06 00-51-19-70

For most of us in House Stalwart the wild ride that was the Final Fantasy XIV storyline has come to a conclusion.  As a result a large number of us have dialed back our playtime a bit to recover.  This is only magnified by the fact that the game that none of us may speak of is having yet another event and a large number of us are actively playing that.  The storyline was extremely exceptional and did everything I would expect in the ending of a classic final fantasy game.  However this time it left the door completely open.

It felt much like that first time you transitioned Legend of Zelda a Link to the Past into the Dark World.  It feels like we just scratched the surface of the game, which I guess is how the ending of the storyline content should feel in every MMO.  Lots of things are resolved, but very quickly you realize that nothing at all is truly resolved.  Now that we have spent all the storyline we are left with the fact that other than the wonderful story… the FFXIV experience is a rather skeletal one.

End Game

ffxiv 2013-10-05 20-39-50-40

Basically eight of us have entered the phase of the end game at this point… which is extremely limited.  Each step along the path has some pretty severe gear requirements, so what we have ahead of us is a large amount of running the same two dungeons over and over.  Basically you are given two paths forward for gear.  The first of which is running two 8 man dungeons that reward a lot of tomestones, but absolutely no gear…  or running two 4 man dungeons that drop gear but very few tomestones.  Neither option feels really good, considering for the time spent running Amdapor you really do not end up with much gear.  I’ve run it three times as a tank and have yet to see a single drop.

The real problem is the fact that each run through the dungeon racks up a not insignificant repair bill.  One of the big problems I have talked about before is the fact that there really is no good way to gain money at level 50.  I carried with me into the end game about 200,000 gil, and that has been going fast as I use it for various needed things at the maximum level.  The options I have before me are grinding fates which pay out around 200 gil each, grinding leves which pay out around 500 gil each…  and playing the auction house.  The problem with the auction house is that `the only thing worth anything really are high level crafted items.  Leveling your crafting however can bankrupt your character… so it is a bit of a catch 22.

Relic Weapon

ffxiv 2013-09-27 21-13-22-72

The goal of the game right now seems to be to get your relic weapon and later on your +1 upgrade to it.  This is the best item in the game you can get, but much like the Everquest Epic weapon it is a long and drawn out process.  To start down this path is a rather expensive one.  Firstly you have to acquire the base weapon, for a Warrior this is the Barbarian’s Bardiche.  This is crafted by a high level blacksmith and is gathered together out of bits that have to be farmed from a combination of dungeons and overworld zones.  They currently go for about 10,000 gil on the open market, and since I do not have access to a max level Blacksmith that is the option I chose to go with.  In my experience it costs far more than 10,000 gil to get a smith to create one for you.

From there you need to infuse 2 Battledance III materia onto the item.  This once again has to be done by a level 50 blacksmith… and the going rate per infuse on my server is 10,000 gil.  Acquiring the Battledance III materia is a whole other matter that is far more time consuming.  These are gained from disassembling level 45 or higher items that are 100% spiritbound.  The problem is… individual items can be disassembled into a wide variety of different materia.  I spiritbound a set of Mithril Plate gear, and did not manage to get a single Battledance III.  Ultimately I had a guild member give me one of them, and I bought the second on the open market for 15,000 gil.

So just to get to the point of turning in the infused axe I have already spent over 50,000 gil once you factor in the material costs of the infusions.  I apparently got off easily… for a Paladin or a Scholar apparently the costs are more like 100,000 gil.  From here it is a series of monsters that I have to take down, starting in Coerthas with the Chimera and ending with Hard Mode Titan.  All of which is rather honestly a pretty horrific grind, considering by the time you get to Hard Mode Titan, you damned well better be in full darklight gear, the set you get from the tomestones I talk about grinding out earlier.

Grind, Grind, Grind

Ultimately this is going to be the thing that kills the game for me if they do not introduce some less grindy paths.  Right now I have the option of grinding for money, grinding to level other classes or grinding out end game gear.  There is nothing left to do in the game that is anywhere near as enjoyable as the questing experience was.  At this point, the game is a really fun ride to 50, and then grind city afterwards.  I still greatly enjoy the dungeon runs, and I look forward to doing more of that, but that involves getting a large number of people online at the same time.  When there is not a full groups worth online, I am finding myself lacking in things I really want to do.

At this point I have leveled my Warrior to 50 and my Bard to 50…  but any additional characters involve lots and lots of either mob grinding or fate grinding and right now after having done it twice… that lacks any sort of luster.  So I find myself piddling around in other games waiting on enough of a critical mass to form in FFXIV that we can do some dungeons.  At this point I really lack interest in doing anything else in the game.  I think as time passes I will want to level other classes, but after having ground out two to 50, I need a bit of a break.  As a result I have been piddling around in League of Legends and finding myself pining away from my Hex invite.  FFXIV still has a ton of potential, but they really need to make some changes in 2.1 to make the game more livable.