Traditions End

diepkvcv0ae2xet

destinyitemmanager

For the last several years there has been a tradition I have observed… and that is going upstairs and checking to see what is available on Xur for the week.  For the unindoctrinated… Xur is an Agent of the Nine… a group that we know next to nothing about in Destiny.  He also is somewhat of a garbage collector and brings trinkets for us to purchase each week either in the Tower or Reef social space.  Various activities in the game reward a currency called Strange Coins… and these are then exchanged for various items that always include an exotic weapon and a piece of exotic armor for each class.  The armor rolls are notoriously bad but it is still a reasonable way to get a jump start in light levels, and I absolutely abused this fact on my Xbox One account when I was leveling it.  One of my favorite sources of Xur info is from Patrick Casey, and at the head of this mornings video he made a comment about how he is just about to never have to see this squid faced guy again.  Not sure why… but it just sort of finally hit me…  our time with Destiny is almost over.  Within the next few days the PC Beta for Destiny 2 will begin… and then shortly after that the official launch of Destiny 2 on PS4 and Xbox One.  This really is the last weekend when Xur really matters at least for me in particular because starting on Monday I will be playing Destiny 2 on my PC systems… and starting the following Wednesday I will be playing it on my PS4.

tqmbprofile

Destiny 1 as a whole has been an amazing experience, and I am looking forward to seeing Destiny Item Manager (the first screenshot) updating to start showing me all of my baubles that I begin collecting in Destiny 2.  A huge chunk of my experience has been my clan, and it is awesome to see the clan page updated to fly a brand new banner in preparation for what things are ultimately going to look like in Destiny 2.  I’ve worn the tag even when it didn’t really matter… like on my Xbox One account… and was proud to see it rise out of the ashes of Axioma.  Right now my future in the Destiny universe seems a little up in the air.  I am not entirely certain if I will be playing as a PS4 primary or PC primary…  and even then I have no clue what my clan situation is going to look like.  This is where my various gaming worlds begin to collide.  Destiny 2 existing on the PC is going to bring a lot of long time friends out of the woodwork that are interested in playing the game.  At that point I am not sure if it is better to flood TQMB…  or just start something on my own.  I am not even sure if you can have split clans based on platform… or if your Bungie account can only join one period.  I would like to remain in Tequila Mockingbird on what seems like the platform that they will be most active on…  aka the PlayStation 4.

diepkvcv0ae2xet

It seems really weird to be thinking that I might be standing in the Tower for the last time.  Sure Destiny 1 will remain in existence for a period of time… and I can always go back and experience things.  The problem is… will I actually want to?  Destiny 2 looks to be the first game with a ton more things to be doing… and it feels like something worth sacrificing an entire world for.  Sure I have gotten used to seeing The Traveler floating just off in the distance…  but I will get used to the new visuals of the European Dead Zone.  I will miss my vault full of weapons that I have accumulated through hours of grinding… and bending the arm of Squirrel and Jex into helping me do random stuff.  Destiny has been a magical time for me… and it feels like I have been away far too long.  I am ready to dust off my controller skills and venture forth into the new world when it opens on September 6th.  While I feel a little misty about the thought of abandoning the current one… I know bigger and better things are just on the horizon.  The challenge I always struggle with in gaming is that I have more friends than I can ever possibly play with at the same time… but I always try and juggle this as best I can.  I am certain that as we enter the new game I will figure out a way to balance playing with my awesome friends in Tequila Mockingbird… and all of the new people who will be giving the Destiny franchise a fresh chance.

Bel Propaganda

Guild Infrastructure

greysky It has been an insane ride with our free company.  It is like the floodgates have opened and folks are now recruiting themselves.  More truthfully it seems that when someone gets a foothold in our free company, they tend to recruit their friends to join it as well.  As a result some strange stuff is happening, like last night it was pointed out that apparently we are now ranked 15th on our realm and climbing as far as activity goes.  That is apparently up from 70th on our realm…  which is absolutely insane, needless to say we are a guild on the move apparently.  What is awesome about this is just how damned friendly everyone is.  Each time a new infusion of people join the guild there is so much happiness in guild chat, with everyone welcoming the new players.  My biggest hope is that we can keep this general sense of joy going forward.  What is even more awesome is just how many of the new people are perfectly comfortable hanging out with us on voice chat each night.  We are now contemplating the very real possibility of being able to field multiple serious 8 man groups at the same time, which a few months ago would have seemed crazy.

As a result of all of this…  Tam and I had a discussion yesterday in which we released we were getting far too large to not have any guild infrastructure.  When it was just a handful of us that were in constant communication… it worked more or less to not have any semblance of a guild website.  However now that we have all of these new people we are having to create something resembling a modern guild.  When we came back in July I stubbed out a site on Anook but we never really populated it with anything.  As of yesterday this is changing, and I hope that we can get the rest of our guild to sign up and join in the fun there.  Largely I am choosing Anook, because a lot of people already have accounts there… and dealing with running a forum is a pain in the ass.  Forum software is often one of the largest attack vectors on any site, and if you do not keep a rigorous schedule of constant updates…  it is liable to get compromised.  I simply don’t want that sort of liability any more, and since Anook offers a fairly robust forum, shared image galleries, an event calendar, and a nifty way to link guild streams together…  it seemed like a really nice fit.  Not to mention that Lonrem is amazing and has been willing to support damned near any hair brained scheme I have come up with.  Folks have already started populating the shared image album, which is awesome.

Bel Propaganda

ponyparade

Another thing to come out of yesterday is something of a recruitment piece.  Over the last several weeks I have been giving essentially the same talk to everyone that joins the free company.  Not that I mind having this conversations, but I felt like I was spending a lot of time repeating myself just getting the most basic information out there.  I got to thinking… if I could condense this talk into a single page I could create something easy to link to new people.  It is by no way an attempt to stop questions, but more to give players that are new to our group a quick info dump about who we are and what we are like.  After creating this I realized… that I also created a tool to let people entice their friends.  So as such I thought I would offer up the link here this morning for any of my Free Company mates that might be reading.  You can now go to belghast.com/grey101 and get a quick dump of a bunch of information about our free company and our basic guidelines.  So when your buddies ask you about your free company, you now have a quick thing you can link them to explain further.  I used it yesterday afternoon and so far people seem to dig it.

While on the topic of propaganda… I had to include the above photo that Rae sent me.  She was feeling out of sorts on Monday night, and while the bulk of us were raiding Turn 9… it seems she was up to shenanigans in our housing zone.  I am really not sure how this happened but apparently an impromptu pony parade occurred where everyone broke out their favorite pony mounts and rode around our housing zone.  I absolutely love that this sort of thing happens.  A large number of us idle in the housing zone when not doing anything, and we have developed this awesome community of players that do the same.  The night we bought our house, we were welcomed by a bunch of neighbors from the houses around us and over time we have gotten to know several of them.  It is awesome logging in and running to the market board, only to get /hugged several times along the way.  Cactuar is a truly amazing place, and I am so happy that we apparently chose correctly when we rolled there over a year ago.

Heroic Hans and Franz

WoWScrnShot_032415_202250 Trying to mix things up a bit, and get our folks upgrades… my Raid has been working on some of the Heroic encounters in Blackrock Foundry.  Last week we made significant progress on the Hans and Franz encounter, and had some lessons learned that we took into this week.  Namely two things really lead us to this victory.  Firstly better awareness of who was getting the body slam attack, and for them to move out of the raid making sure the tank did not take the debuff.  Secondly better self awareness in trying really hard not to get pinned down by the crushers as they came through.  Last night we had some of the worst possible luck as far as RNG goes and the patterns we could potentially get.  There is this one pattern that was killing me damned near every time because the boss would be in the center of the room… and the only free space on the far left edge.  On the last few tries, including the one when we managed to down them… I started prioritizing my own survival to damage time spent on the boss and I feel like the rest of the raid did essentially the same thing.

We managed to pull out a fairly narrow victory, but I have a feeling that since we now believe we can do this fight…  future attempts will be much smoother.  From there we moved to work on Beastlord Darmac, and had a few heartbreaking attempts getting him within 2% on our best.  That fight… is just madness on heroic with so much shit in the room being on fire during the later phases.  There are several things we need to work on, but I feel like we CAN improve and potentially down them next week.  Largely the spear maintenance needed to be better, both in folks moving so they do not get pinned and folks breaking out individuals who did get pinned.  The amount of time you have is really tight, and this needs to be an all raid effort when someone is gets stuck.  Secondly I feel like during the last phases we needed to move the boss more often, because the amount of flame surrounding him made it damned near impossible for melee to dps.  If nothing else we made solid progress and I feel like with a bit of polish we can knock this one out as well.

We Like To Help

Reluctant Roulette

ffxiv 2015-03-04 23-21-10-21 I thought I would take a few moments this morning to address a few things we are noticing among new recruits to our Free Company.  I believe for the most part the majority of this group reads my blog at least sometimes, so here is hoping that my post will find it’s audience.  If nothing else this serves as a good reminder to anyone new to Final Fantasy XIV or considering playing it.  The first behavior I am seeing an awful lot of is an absolute reluctance to EVER use the Duty Roulette system at all.  It seems like most of the players have come from several years in World of Warcraft, where “pugging” has become a dirty word.  I fully understand this and quite honestly I was scared to use the Duty Roulette system…  that is until another FC mate tiptoed into the water and reported back that it was actually pretty awesome.  I dislike random groups in other games more than most people, and I will be the first to say that the community in this game is simply better.

The other thing you should know is that those of us who are veterans are using the Duty Roulette system constantly.  On a given night if nothing much is going on I will be queuing for either Hard Mode or Trial Roulette, and at least once a day I am trying really hard to get in at least one Expert Roulette.  Sure you occasionally stumble onto an elitist, but it is nothing like other games where you are belittled and kicked from the group for not instantly being amazing.  More often than not when a player says they are new, someone will take the time to explain the encounters to them.  Honestly I often give my player commendations to new players for having the strength to stand up and tell the group.  It makes the run go so much smoother when you know for certain if a player is going to have the requisite ancestral knowledge to understand the common way a given fight is done.  More than anything I suggest you give Duty Roulette a chance.  I’ve actually met several people on Cactuar through the roulette system, and it makes me happy to see them around.

We Like to Help

ffxiv 2015-03-16 19-51-20-83 One of the other behaviors I am seeing a lot of is players not asking for help.  I realize that in some groups this might not be the norm, but in our Free Company for the most part people enjoy helping others.  Now there might be times for this or that reason that someone cannot help, and that is perfectly fine.  However if we don’t know a given player needs something, it is impossible for us to read minds.  Our hope is that this creates an atmosphere where people are freely saying what they need to do, and others  are responding that they can help out.  A prime example is that we have known for a bit that Neph needed Dzemael Darkhold, so when she popped on the other night we ran the dungeon to make sure she got it.  Similarly we have done countless primal fights or lower level dungeons to help our dps players especially fight their way through the queue system.  Self service and the Duty Roulette are always valid choices, but when you are confronting a thirty minute long queue…  please speak up and pending it is not a raid night folks should be able to pull together a dungeon pretty easily.

Running dungeons in Final Fantasy XIV is not quite like running dungeons in other games.  The fact that the game auto scales your level to match the dungeon, and rewards you with money if you are max level…  means that running lowbies through dungeons is always a positive prospect.  In other game my primarily problem with running low level dungeons was that it ended up feeling like I was babysitting players, because at max level I could just one shot most of the encounters in the zone.  In Final Fantasy XIV, these dungeons are still viable, and it feels like you are doing something meaningful regardless of the level range.  I will never get tired of running places like Haukke Manor or Stone Vigil, and Primal fights like Garuda still end up being a challenge for our scaled down groups.  It is interesting trying to remember how you functioned without your high level abilities, and this alone makes a lot of things far more interesting than you might think.  So please if you need help, be it a dungeon or help with some crafted gear…  speak up in chat.  Right now Tam is doing an interesting census of players to find out if they are interested in raiding, so I highly suggest you fill that out from the guild message of the day.

A Night with Nael

ffxiv 2015-03-23 20-28-37-77 Last night was a bit of a refresher night in many ways.  Namely we had a few people out, which meant we snagged one of our new recruits to help out with turn nine.  The problem is our group does things a bit different than the “norm” for turn nine groups.  So there was a bit of adjustment, similarly it had been over a week since I last set foot in the zone, and I was more than a tad bit rusty myself.  I still feel like we made some progress, but we are hitting this wall on the third phase where we are just not pushing Nael hard enough to keep from getting two dragons.  In our attempt to push harder, we are getting this awkward transition to phase four and getting a dragon at the same time…  which is leading to a wipe.  I feel like I am simply not doing enough dps on my Dragoon to really make up the difference.  My tank is level 122 gear wise, but my dragoon is only 112.  Honestly I never expected to be dpsing in a raid situation, so my Dragoon has essentially gotten table scraps as far as gear goes.  I have been pushing to grab a piece of 120 gear our of World of Darkness each week in the hopes of boosting my dragoon dps just a little bit.

This however means repeating World of Darkness over and over without seeing any drops.  Last night represented my sixth and seventh run of the week, and thankfully on the final boss I saw a piece drop that I did not already have.  Sure it was only the belt, but at the 11th hour on the night before reset…  I will take quite literally anything.  I was just about to reach the point where I was going to start rolling on everything just to get a piece of gear before the zone reset today.  Largely I feel like I am being a boat anchor on our group with this fight.  We need more dps, and I am just not going to the extreme lengths that Kodra is willing to to tweak his dps.  The optimal dragoon rotation is twenty seven steps long according to the guides I have read… and quite frankly there is no way in hell I am going to be able to pull that off flawlessly every single time.  Instead I do a much more simplified and repeated sequence, but when we are on this razors edge of being able to do it versus not being able to do it… it feels like I am failing the group.  As such my answer is to try and pour gear into the problem, and as soon as World of Darkness uncaps on the 31st I will be running it until my eyes bleed farming a full set of gear.

Night Means Business

Weekly Caps

ffxiv 2015-03-19 23-18-41-40 Another weekend down, and I have somehow managed to cap poetics at the 11th hour.  I did not get near as much playtime as I would have liked over the weekend, and I was pretty horrible about managing to do an expert roulette every single day.  That said I still managed to cap without a whole lot of issue yesterday evening while watching television.  This meant that I also managed to get a second item this week in the form of the ironworks neckpiece.  Right now this only leaves me with the ring that is sub 120, as far as the full set of poetics gear I still need a chest and a belt.  One of those will take multiple weeks to get, so at this point I am trying to decide whether or not to go after the expensive piece, or to go for another 375 item and upgrade my final 110 item to 120.  I really wish that World of Darkness had a shot at dropping jewelry, or at the very least rings since that seems to be the problem item for all of my classes.

The problem with rings in Final Fantasy XIV is that they are unique equipped.  Now there is a slight trick to this, that the unimproved and improved version of the same ring count as two separate items.  This means I could buy a second ironworks ring now that I have an augmented one and get rid of that last 110 slot that way.  This always feels wasteful since you are essentially never going to use that non-augmented ring for anything other than a bridge to slightly higher stats.  This is one of those things that I hope they work around in the expansion, making more ways to fill that second ring slot without resorting to wasteful spending of tokens.  Another thing I would love to see is for max level players to get a few tokens for running free company mates through low level content.  I was honestly concerned that I might not make the cap this week because I spent most of my weekend tanking lower stuff for friends.  I wouldn’t change a thing, but it would have been nice to know I am slowly inching towards the cap when we were running Dzemael Darkhold or Aurum Vale.

Lower Content

ffxiv 2015-03-22 18-35-46-30 Other than the stress about hitting the 450 poetics weekly cap, I had a blast this weekend running free company mates through lower level content.  Over the course of the weekend I tanked a few primal fights, a couple of trips into Stone Vigil, a couple of trips into Dzemael Darkhold, and if I am remembering correctly at least one trip into Haukke Manor.  Essentially anytime a guildie needed something run, I stepped up and offered…  sometimes with some caveats attached like that I was already in a run.  What makes me even more happy is it seems like most of the guild is doing the exact same thing.  Our folks really genuinely seem to enjoy helping, and this makes me extremely happy to see it in action.  I find it interesting that even though we are spending a lot of time running content below our actual gear levels, that they still feel fresh and challenging each time we sit foot in them.  That is a real testament to just how good their dungeon content is, that after running Haukke for what has to be close to the 100th time, it still feels just as enjoyable.

The awesome thing is that thanks to all of this dungeon running we have a whole new flock of players getting close to hitting the level cap on their first classes.  I believe Syl hit 47 on her Black Mage, and I know Grace is somewhere in the 46ish range after our various runs throughout the weekend.  What is so awesome about this is that doing 8 player content is going to be all that much easier as we keep adding new folks to the mix.  The awesome thing is, there is a possibility that at some point we can actually be running two full parties at the same time.  This is going to be great for offering lots of different content options to the group as a whole.  It is a super exciting time to be playing Final Fantasy XIV in the Greysky Armada, and all of it just has me pumped to log in each night.  I am thoroughly enjoying the game and really looking forward to June and the Heavensward expansion.  That said also really looking forward to the 2.55 patch coming March 31st.

Night Means Business

FINAL FANTASY XV EPISODE DUSCAE_20150322124217 I spent some time yesterday afternoon playing the Final Fantasy XV demo, otherwise known as “Episode Duscae”.  The demo starts our cast of road trippers a bit into the content from the sounds of it.  Their vehicle has broken down and they are having to make some cash to pay for repairs.  This serves as a way to teach the player about combat.  The other thing that it should have taught me better was that the day/night cycle means serious business.  I did what I always do in games, and went wandering off the path looking for combat wherever I could find it.  I took on packs of Saberwolves, and foolhardily a giant pack of what I think were called “Gerdua”.  They were these huge lumbering tusked calf things, and somehow I managed to aggro around a dozen of them.  I got a lot of practice using the parry options to take them down.  As night fell the game reminded me that I really should camp for the night.  The problem is it did not really message well where i should camp or even how I should go about doing this.  On my map was a house icon, and an exclamation point there saying something about making camp.

So I wandered off in that direction in the middle of the night, and from out of the sky came a horribly bright light signaling an enemy drop ship was just about to flood me with baddies.  After dispatching the first party of four heavily armored troopers, I started getting attacked by Goblins.  The goblins were no big deal because they had minimal hit points, in fact after some time I started really enjoying wrecking them.  That was until a second and third drop ship showed up…  so I started trying to juggle eight heavily armored troopers and a half dozen goblins running in to fight me.  I was actually holding my own for a bit, until the Saberwolves started showing up…  and at that point I was pretty much done for.  I thought to myself “That Escalated Quickly” and it really did… one minute I am doing just fine and feeling like I have a chance and the next moment the entire world seems to be attacking me.  So when this game tells you to camp…  I suggest you camp.

Reluctant Healer

Tyranny of Blank Page

ffxiv 2015-03-11 19-16-57-98 I’ve been going through a bit of a spell the last several mornings where I get upstairs, sit down, and stare into the abyss that is a blank screen not really knowing quite what to fill it with.  So this is a post to tell all of the people that read me, that seem to think I have this limitless font of material… that sometimes it runs dry.  In part it feels like I am just not doing all that much of any interest in the games I am playing.  Due to various issues at work my in game time has been very distracted.  Often times I might be at the screen but I am doing a generally poor job of paying attention to the people around me.  Even last night while sitting on Voice Chat, it was like it was filtered and muffled in the background of my mind, taking a few minutes to pull my focus forward and actually understand what someone just said.  Suffice to say it is me, not the games I am currently playing that is causing the problem and in an attempt to make things better I went to bed pretty early last night.

The last few days have just been odd to exist in my skin.  I had a very interrupted weekend, where I did not accomplish much in the way of gaming.  Then each morning my routine is thrown off because my wife is on spring break, and while in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t change my schedule  that much… something feels fundamentally off.  It has been nice having her home during the day because it means I don’t have to figure out something for dinner that can be reheated easily.  Last night she made this amazing batch of Chicken and Dumplings, and from the sound of it the recipe was super easy.  Largely just dump a bunch of stuff in the crock pot and give it an appropriate amount of time.  The thing that frustrates me the most about my current “out of it” state, is that I feel like at any given moment I am letting down five people because I am not doing whatever they need me to do.  Between MMOGames, the fledgling AggroChat site, the insanely growing free company in Final Fantasy XIV, the guild in World of Warcraft and various sundry other side projects I feel pulled in so many places.  When I am “myself” and in my right mind, with the appropriate frame of reference… it all seems to work.  When I am in this current stupor nothing seems to function and I am failing in equal parts at all of it.

Reluctant Healer

ffxiv 2015-03-19 06-33-40-41 One of the more interesting side effects of my current mission to cap poetics every single week, is the fact that I seem to be absolutely rolling in Tomestones of Soldiery.  As a result I have been using it to bolster all of my other classes, and most recently I have been pouring it into my White Mage.  The ultimate irony is that I am sitting at 104 gear score, but have yet to heal anything at level 50.  I have to say I am looking pretty badass though in my daystar gear set.  Overall I am a huge fan of all of the soldiery gear, though I feel like I should probably be spending the points on my Bard instead.  My bard actually gets use anytime we need a ranged dps for something and not a tank.  This doesn’t happen extremely often, but far more often than I would ever consider swapping to heal something.  I have to admit that healing in Final Fantasy XIV was really fun up through Brayflox… and then it is like things got too real for me.  I had too many flashbacks to my early days as a healer, and it stopped being nearly as much fun.

I know I have covered this numerous times but I started my MMO career as a Cleric in Everquest.  For years I had played Clerics in Dungeons and Dragons and managed to turn them into these awesome holy warriors.  Picking the right deity here, and the right spells there… could turn what is usually a support class into an amazing front line battle priest.  Unfortunately this design went against everything that was Everquest, and I spent a lot of my time soloing using the good ole Root and Nuke combination.  Then when it came to raiding… I had to learn about the frustration that is the Complete Heal Rotation, where every 2 to 3 seconds the main tank is getting a full heal, so you have to time the 12 second cast so that someone is always starting up the next one.  All of this makes me really reluctant to heal anything, because I never want to get back into a mode of operation where that style of game play is the normal.  So I guess I have a bit of a mental block towards actually putting myself out there as a viable healer.  I would gladly do it for anyone in the free company, but I just haven’t really made it widely known that it was an option.

Guild Tanking

ffxiv 2015-03-19 06-43-48-08 Instead I am far more comfortable taking up the mantle of a guild tank.  In my current daze I have probably missed a half dozen opportunities to tank for guildies.  Last night I managed to catch one of these as Solaria  and her daughter Isalenne needed to run Haukke Manor.  I would have tanked anything for them, but it so happens that Haukke is probably one of my favorite dungeons in the entire game.  I love the whole Castlevania feel to the place, and while leveling my healer I seemed to get that place almost every single time I popped into the low level roulette.  As a result I have pretty much every pull memorized, and Isa commented on just how relaxing the run was compared to the average duty finder one.  I actually got into a discussion on twitter yesterday about DPS queues and class balance and I realize that I am 100% part of the problem.  I will happily don the mantle of the serious tank when it comes to my friends…   but when I solo queue for the duty finder… I do so as a DPS.  I’ve never really learned how to turn off that part of me that takes total responsibility for the success or failure for the group when I am tanking.  As such I am willing to take that burden for my friends, but cannot bring myself to do it for strangers.

The problem is I know deep down in my bones how generally awesome the Final Fantasy XIV community is.  I know that I have tanked for random strangers before while leveling… and actually enjoyed it.  The problem is I have this mental wall that I struggle to get around.  Since the introduction of the Ninja, the DPS queues in Final Fantasy XIV have been completely out of control.  If you do a low level duty finder you can be sitting in that queue for over thirty minutes as dps, and if you are a ninja… it trends extremely close to infinity as the game seems to try to stick a ranged and a melee in a group if at all possible.  The end result is a lot of frustration for newer players that just need to get dungeons running.  As such I try my damnedest to intercept people needing dungeons and make them happen among free company members.  The problem is… not all of my friends are on Cactuar, and not all of them are in our Free Company.  I really should be a better person and do more “charity queues”, which is a term we came up with shortly after release when everyone seemed to need Ifrit but no one could get a group.  Various members of our free company would queue for Ifrit and help a bunch of people through that obstacle.  I remember one Black Mage had been sitting in that queue for three hours, so really I need to step up to the plate and do more random tanking.  Knowing this however is slightly different from doing this…  but I am going to try and force myself out there.

Slow and Steady

Longevity

ffxiv 2014-10-31 19-51-45-680 There was a point yesterday when I realized something that somewhat shocked me.  I have been back in Final Fantasy XIV for longer than the combined time my guild was active in both The Elder Scrolls Online and Wildstar.  There has been a trend over the last few years where when we move into something new we last around two months and then move on again.  Elder Scrolls lasted roughly two months, and Wildstar in truth less than a month before folks petered out.  For Final Fantasy XIV I have been going strong since July so this will be going on four months.  In truth this is the longest I have played any game in awhile without pause.  I am not sure if Rift counts since I tend to always be playing that game off and on, and the period of large amounts of activity last year only lasted a few months at most before it was back to me and a skeletal crew logging in periodically.  Another thing I have noticed is that I tend to turn the lights off when I finally go, meaning that I am one of the last people to leave.

In Elder Scrolls Online this was maybe a bit different, since Sig and PK were both active considerably longer after I stopped logging in on a regular basis.  I however only recently actually went through the process of cancelling my account there.  Wildstar on the other hand I was all too willing to cancel my account, but sadly by the time I did the entire guild was completely toast.  I guess I wonder what has made us grazers of MMOs rather than large scale consumers.  For awhile I thought it was just the ramifications of coming from a multi-year game like World of Warcraft, and being unfettered and experiencing some kind of options overload.  I still feel like there are so many good games out that to be played, and just not enough time to really experience them.  I wish I could realistically play FFXIV, Rift, EQ2, LoTRO, TSW and Landmark all at the same time.  The problem is when I rampantly multigame like that I get absolutely nothing accomplished in any of them.

Slow and Steady

ffxiv 2014-11-01 20-20-57-256 Right now I am enjoying making slow and steady progress in all of my endeavors in Final Fantasy XIV.  Last night I managed to hit 108 ilevel on my main job which is the warrior, and in part that is because of the 2.4 patch.  There is a big of a paradox going on after the Dreams of Ice patch.  Unlocking the loot in Syrcus Tower means that it has gotten significantly easier to farm the ilvl 100 gear drops and the Sands and Oils of Time needed to upgrade level 100 soldiery gear to level 110.  The problem is that it feels like it is significantly slower to grind out Tomestones of Soldiery than it was to get Tomestones of Mythology.  So as a result I am sitting on several unused Sands of Time and a couple of unused Unitentified Allagan Tomestones because I lack the Soldiery “bookrocks” to purchase either a weapon or another slot of gear to use the sands on.  At this point I am closing in on the 1300 Tomestones of Soldiery needed to purchase a level 100 weapon, which I will then turn into a 110 weapon with one of the sands, finally giving my Dragoon something decent to poke things with.  Before this patch I never would have spent soldiery on an alternate job, so it makes me happy to finally start progressing my Dragoon again.

The other side effect of the patch is that it seems to have become significantly harder to gear your very first character.  Previously you could hop on the “hunt train” and farm up enough Allied Seals to purchase a full set of ilevel 90 gear within a few hours.  For 270 Allied seals you could purchase an entire set of gear for a new job, which in the grand scheme of things even if you didn’t do the insane hunt process was only about a week of doing the daily hunt quests.  This was a huge benefit to getting new players into the game quickly.  This has slowed down considerably because all of the level 90 gear is gone from the hunt vendor and replaced with the level 100 Soldiery equivalents.  Unfortunately this also means that the items themselves have gone up massively in price.  The pieces can be purchased for 660, 400, and 300 for the various slots adding up to a grand total of 4020 allied seals for an entire set of gear.  Right now this just seems absolutely insane to me.  I feel like a later patch is probably going to reduce this price but that for the time being they are trying to make it easier to get soldiery gear… but not so easy that we can cap out over night and run out of things to progress.

Active Free Company

ffxiv 2014-11-02 11-28-35-404 Another awesome thing about the 2.4 patch is that it has seemed to revitalize our server as a whole.  Cactuar has sprung to life as so many players I think had taken breaks before the launch of this latest patch and all of its goodness.  Granted a flurry of the activity has been leveling rogues, but that seems to be slowly tapering off.  Similarly there has been a resurgence of activity in our guild as folks have joined up to start working on characters on our server, or returned from their own pre-patch absences.  At several points yesterday we had around a dozen players online, and that still is not including some of our more active members that were curiously missing from the fray this weekend.  I know Rae was off doing work related stuff, and Kodra was sick most of the weekend… and Ashgar busy packing for his move.  With all of those things factored in it seems even more impressive that we were able to field the numbers that we did.  I ran several of the new dungeons with groups of friends, and have yet to actually make my way into the expert duty roulette without a premade group.

Granted I am fully expecting that the upcoming launch of Warlords of Draenor will pull a few players away here and there, but I think the majority of our group is well insulated against the effects of WoW at this point.  I am generally the one who returns, and right now as it stands I have no plans of playing at launch.  In fact were it not for the level 90 boost that we got from preordering so far ahead of time…  I doubt I would have even purchased the expansion this time around.  I kinda wish I could claw back that purchase to be honest, but I guess that is the problem with preordering going roughly a year before the release date.  That seems so long ago at this point, especially considering the short periods of waiting for new content I am getting used to in Final Fantasy XIV.  This game is rolling out a new major patch each quarter, and a minor content patch on a semi-monthly schedule and I hate to say it… but you get spoiled.  I don’t think I could return to a game with a year between content patches again after this.

Fuzzy Children

As I said yesterday this month I am trying to come up with something each morning that I am thankful for, turning it entire an entire month of “Thanksgiving”.  This morning I am thankful for my “Fuzzy Children”, aka my pets.  My wife and I have no intent of ever having human children, so our babies are as close as we will get to having kids.  Presently we have three cats, one kitten, and two ferrets and they are all awesome.  Each of them have their own personalities, and each of them their own routines that I would not change even if I could.  Animals have a way of enriching your life for just existing, and while I might complain about this or that I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I wouldn’t know what to do without one animal at my feet and another on my lap…  and another wandering around my office knocking stuff over.  I am thankful for my fuzzy warm bundles of happy, and the joy they bring.

Tiny Conjurations

Failure to Launch

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

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

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

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

Tiny Conjurations

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

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

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

Feels like Home

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

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

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

#Blaugust #FFXIV