This morning I am having one hell of a hard time getting started, largely because it feels like I don’t really have a whole lot to talk about. It was a Monday night, and that means raiding in Final Fantasy XIV. However it was also a night that I was seeming to have a pretty frustrating migraine headache. So in truth it was a good thing that we were breaking in a brand new tank… or at least one new to our group. Pixel Executioner I am pretty sure is something that once upon a time I knew from the Blog Azeroth community, but thanks to the miracle of the fact that everyone seems to be connected on the internet I am getting to know him again thanks to Neph. Pix had apparently never quite finished the original run of Alex so we started our evening there, with turn four otherwise known as “Burden of the Father”. This went down in really short measure, and so long as you are tanking the boss… you really don’t have a clue there are any mechanics that need to be dealt with. The only thing as the boss tank that you have to worry about is Discoid which signals you are just about to take a ton of damage. As a result this was the absolute perfect first tanking foray of the evening to break him into the rhythm.
After that we moved into the next part of Alexander and ran through the next four turns. The awesome thing about this is that it gave me a nice little break between fights to kinda chill out and try really hard to forget my head was trying to kill me. I am pleasantly surprised where we have come as a group, because I remember struggling a little bit when we first did Alex Midas, but last night it seemed really easy. Well that is until we reached turn seven… which has a significant amount of madness going on. The awesome thing there is that we finally learned how to mechanic one of the phases. Previously the answer to getting through the fire jail was just to have rez ready to go to bring back whoever happened to get locked in it. Instead this time we learned that during the fire phase you just stand still and do nothing until your group brings you out of it. If you move however… you die… and we were trying to do stuff and move… which is apparently a bad idea? The best part about the night is that we managed to actually finish the second Alex for Pix. We were coming down the to the end of our normal run time, and I honestly thought we did not have anywhere near enough time to finish. However we managed to pull a victory out on the final boss… having only gone about five minutes over our normal close time.
It was a really great night and apparently luck was on my side. For awhile now I had been sitting on one of pretty much all of the items needed for the various armors that require two items. Over the course of the evening apparently the game decided it liked me, because I won a significant number of rolls and suddenly shot up in item level. I managed to complete the arms last week, but this week I managed to complete helm, boots and belt bringing my item level up to a respectable 113. At some point I really need to spend some time getting back in game and finishing off my weapon in Palace of the Dead, because there were several moments last night when the fact that Pix my co-tank had one… made it harder to maintain threat. In all honesty I have been struggling to remain interested in Final Fantasy XIV. I am enjoying raid nights, but I am simply not wanting to put any of the other time in to make sure I am geared enough. Which I know has to be frustrating to my raid mates. I feel like I am fairly horribly geared as a whole, at least compared to what I could be. The problem being when I sit down after a long day of work… I keep logging into World of Warcraft instead of Final Fantasy XIV. Especially with the launch of Legion happening next week… my FFXIV time is likely to continue to be in Triage mode for awhile.
At the launch of Heavensward we absolutely wrecked us a Sky Whale, but struggled a bit with Ravana. It was a combination of insane amounts of incoming damage, mixed with the fact that we consistently failed at Final Liberation. As we all faded away and off into other games, the one big regret many of us had was that we never actually managed to take down a bug. Last night we finally set that record straight, and defeated Ravana. In true fashion for our group however, the kill was a complete mess. In fact I managed to get knocked off right before we finished the fight, because some random roofer was knocking on my door. In Oklahoma our version of ambulance chasers are fly by night roofers looking to repair “hail damage”, and this guy had an equally questionable name to go with it. So in my somewhat distracted state I was just a bit too close to one of the attacks that knocks you off the edge. Ashgar somehow managed to survive alone until we finally pushed him over the edge at the last possible moment. There is a final final liberation… and we probably killed him as the bar passed the O and was creeping up on the N… aka seriously the last moment before we all died a horrible death for our hubris. Of course like is usually the case no axe was dropped… but instead we did manage to pick up a pretty spiffy looking book that reminds me of a strange armored butterfly.
After downing a bug, we set our sights on Final Coil since a few of our modern assemblage were not with us when we managed to take this down the first time. We started off with Turn 10… and honestly had to relearn fights as we went. So much of this happened so long ago… that we maybe partially remembered a mechanic here or there but had largely forgotten the bulk of them. We outgeared a good deal of the mechanics, but in truth what this really meant is that we could simply chain resurrect players when they died instead of dealing with the proper mechanics. Ashgar and I attempted to think on our feet and deal with this as best we remembered them… the primary example of this being the giant metal clad hydra that serves as the boss of Turn 11 who happens to have an attack that will straight up oneshot the current tank if it is not taunted off. Traditionally we have a firm cut off time of 10pm CST but we went over a little bit. Tam called our final attempt on Bahamut for the evening, and that happened to be the attempt we pushed across the finish line and got the win. I am so happy to have been able to come back and take on these fights for the folks who had never seen them. While I want to keep progressing into content that I have not seen, it is always good to go back and do the stuff we have, just to remember how far we have come.
In other news I managed to push across the finish line in a completely different sort of fight. For whatever reason I have had a fire lit under me to level a bunch of my stragglers up to level 100. I pushed the Rogue from 92 to 100, Druid from 95 to 100… and then started on my Warlock that happened to be sitting at level 75. As of last night I managed to nudge him across the line to 100 and even got in a quick LFR before the FFXIV raid. I was honestly shocked to find out that you could queue for Highmaul LFR at item level 615, and I absolutely did just this. I am not sure why I am enjoying my warlock so much. It is just a style of game play that I have never really spent much time doing… and this represents the first “finger wiggler” I have ever legitimately leveled to the current cap. I’ve had a Priest and Mage temporarily at “cap” but in both of those cases it was a boosted character so it really does not count. I think part of it as well is that I really want a proper character to start farming transmog items for all of my cloth wearers. I also want a tailor that I don’t mind grinding cloth on, because the Shadow Priest is absolutely not that character. Now with the launch of Demon Hunters tonight, I fully expect to be attempting to do that madness… however in the meantime I am really looking forward to exploring the world with my army of demon buddies.
Last night I was not terribly certain what I would be doing with myself. For the last several days I have been heavily focused on transmoggy things over in World of Warcraft, but on the same day that patch was released the newest patch landed in Final Fantasy XIV. Before I left work I saw Tam ask if anyone would be interested in taking a trip into the Palace of the Dead… or as he has begun referring to it the “Dankest Dungeon”. This had been something on my radar for a long awhile, with the theory being that you had a brand new leveling path for alts. I have an army of alts and honestly you can only manage so much FATE grinding before you need some other path. It seems like everyone on my server has gotten the same idea, because apparently to queue for the dungeon you have to be standing in Quarrymill. I snapped this photo last night but if you looked in any direction you would have seen pretty much the same density of players. In many ways this reminded me of the wall Revenant’s Toll felt on raid reset day. Neph wanted to play her Dark Knight, Tam his Black Mage, and Thalen his Machinist… which left me needing to do the team focused thing and play a healer. Anyone who knows me very well will know I am not really the best healer in the world. The irony there is that I started my MMO career in Everquest as a cleric… the go to healer for any serious content. I also feel that experience pretty much generated a massive mental block against ever wanting to do it again.
Now I have had a White Mage for a good while, and actually enjoyed myself leveling that. However for whatever reason the Scholar class has never really clicked with me. Before the launch of Heavensward I managed to get Arcanist to 30 and actually claim both the Scholar and Summoner jobs but pretty much stalled out shortly thereafter. I felt like I sucked at the class and simply stopped queuing for dungeons, because for ever Tam Tara there would be five Brayflox that I struggled to deal with. The interesting thing about the deep dungeon is how it has its own parallel leveling system, and how it apparently invents things that simply don’t exist. For example when you go in as a job… you don’t exactly get the path that you took to get to your level. For example I had Eos and Selene really quickly rather than my Carbunkle friends, which is I guess the same thing that happens when you get leveled down in a dungeon. On the other side of the equation, Kodra commented about having a serious challenge dealing with trying to function in the dungeon as an Arcanist without the Scholar job. Arcanists play this strange role of not quite but almost healer, that I remember struggling with when I ran dungeons… because I was also note quite a dps. The early levels seem to heavily favor dps, with the last set that we completed before I was literally falling asleep at the keyboard… needing us to actually do proper group tactics to get through.
Weapons of Light
So as you move through the dungeon there are chests that you open that do a bunch of different things. Firstly you get a shared group inventory that contains these items called Pomanders. These cause various effects both to buff your party, and to counter act the negative effects of the dungeon. For example there is one that shows the entire map so you can navigate to only the rooms that contain chests, or another that will disable all traps in a floor. There are still others that are designed to counter act very specific negative effects gained from certain encounters, like Pox that stops all health regeneration. This one is particularly nasty if placed on the tank… which it was for a significant period of time last night. The natural instinct for me is to clear every room, but you are timed from the moment you set foot inside and have sixty minutes to clear ten floors. At first this seems like an easy task, as we quickly breezed through the early levels. However once we got onto the third set of floors that timer started to make a big difference, and in theory you are given roughly six minutes per floor. As a result we started pulling the levels in a minimal clear fashion with our dps fanning out at times to scout ahead and try and determine which path we should go down as a group. The name of the game is finding the blue and silver chests that contain “gear” upgrades… and by that I mean +1 to your arms and armor score which serve as the gear for the dungeon.
The most interesting thing about the experience is how you gain your abilities during the normal arc that occurs as you level up. However for whatever reason I thought I would hit a ceiling and simply stop getting abilities when I hit level 31 which is what would have happened were I running dungeons. Instead I continued to move forward and am now in my 50s gaining heavensward scholar abilities that are unlocked through quests. So in theory this is a crash course in how to play your class… long before you actually get the abilities. As to whether or not this worked… I started out the dungeon run extremely rough and almost all of the healing was coming from Selene the murder fairy. As we moved forward I started to get the hang of it, and was using adlo like a mad man followed up with some direct healing. People died, a bunch… or at least more than I am happy with… and we ended up wiping on a really bad luck trap spawn. However as the night progressed I started feeling significantly more comfortable healing as a scholar. In theory I would feel much better stepping into a dungeon now than I did before last night. All in all I got roughly three levels which is a slightly faster progression rate than running dungeons, but not the sort of speed that is going to lead to a lot of chain power leveling. I had a lot of fun and just wished that we had been able to start earlier in the evening so that I could see the end of the dungeon. I definitely want to do this again soon.
This has already been an interesting morning so far, and it is only 6 am. I got up and did my normal routine of making coffee for my wife and I. I heard what sounded like rain so I took a peek outside like I often do, because the pool is an amazing indication of rain. All of those tiny droplets breaking the water show up far better than they do on land. As I stared out at the pool I noticed something moving around in it that I could not quite identify, so I took my cup of coffee outside to investigate. In the pool was this poor little field mouse that looked as though it had been swimming desperately trying to find a way out of the pool for awhile. I basically had two options… either help him now, or fish him out of the skimmer basket later once he eventually lost his battle with treading water indefinitely. I of course opted for the first, and started looking around the yard for something I could use as a ramp to help him get up and out of the water. I finally landed upon using a shovel and then began the battle of trying to convince him that I was actually trying to help. Once I finally got him up and out of the water he essentially collapsed on the shovel making it extremely easy to get him up and out of the water and over onto our deck. The little guy sat there for a bit before realizing that he should be afraid of humans, and eventually scurrying off in the general direction of the green belt behind our house. Sure he was what most people would consider a pest, but to me he was cute and fuzzy and in desperate need of assistance. I am absolutely a sucker for such things.
Last night also was a super interesting night. I had talked about events serving as a bit of a catalyst to get a large number of us back and engaged with Final Fantasy XIV. Part of that was “getting the band back together” as it were, and namely that meant reconstituting our raid team. So we spent last night working through some of the things many of us had sitting unfinished namely The Final Steps of Faith and Containment Bay S1T7. Before going into the fight Morehnai had warned us that the Nidhogg battle is little overtuned, and might be a bit difficult given that a bunch of us were sitting at exactly the 205 item level cap. He was really the only one of us that could be considered even the slightest bit over-geared with the rest between the bare minimum and just shy of 210. We also largely insisted on going into the fight completely blind, so this meant a handful of wipes as we started to learn the mechanics. The first wall was the add phase dps check, which we quickly sorted out and figured out ways to optimize our dps including me shifting to Deliverance stance for that big. Other than that it was largely working through the moving parts, avoiding damage that we didn’t need to take and ultimately more optimization before we ended up getting the sweet sweet kill. Sure normal mode Nidhogg is not exactly extreme raiding, but it felt like a good return to working together as a team.
After that we went through the Sephirot encounter, which was not surprisingly an awful lot easier. With that once again mostly being use learning what various things meant and how to avoid the damage. Sephirot being interesting in that there are a ton of non telegraphed attacks, namely the one where he turns to face a direction and then does a potentially platform wide attack. Other than that it was also learning the dance of his knock back attacks, and within a couple of attempts we had a dead member of the warring triad. Finally since we were short on time we popped back into Bismarck and killed us a sky whale earning Thalen a spiffy looking bow and the rest of us more Expanse Totems. Next week we are going to kill us a giant bug and hopefully clear the second half of Alex. Past that the sky is the limit, but it felt really good to be together and working as a team once more. Past that I wrapped up the rest of the story and it very much feels like we are saying goodbye to everything we have known over this expansion. I am seriously beginning to think that when Fan Fest happens in October that we will be getting the announcement of a new expansion, and not only that but that it will only be a few months away. The Deep Dungeon will serve as something for us to play with in the meantime and a vehicle which allows us to catch up all of those jobs that we never got around to leveling. In any case it feels like a really good time to be back in Final Fantasy XIV and back working together as a team.
Yesterday I decided to start “truing up” my “Regularly Playing” section of my hot bar. This area has been through many changes throughout the years and the whole idea was just to let readers know what I am actually playing right now. It originally started as me simply i-framing in the information from Raptr… but since I don’t actually use that server or any other equivalent games tracker that isn’t going to work. I shift games quite often, and I wanted a way to indicate what games are currently “on tap”. So this shifted from “Now Playing” to “Frequently Playing” and eventually wound up with the verbiage of “Regularly Playing”. The goal now is to evaluate the list once a month and make adjustments to keep it “mostly true”. I realize I am finger quoting a lot of shit in this post, but the truth is I come home and log into whatever seems enjoyable unless I have a specific activity planned that night. Over time some stuff fades away and other games get added, so I thought as part of this process I would talk a bit about where I am currently in each game on the list, as well as a bit about any that I might have removed or didn’t quite make the cut.
Destiny: The Taken King
I am still just irrationally enthralled by this game, though over the last week I have not played quite so much because I am starting to get back into MMOs once more. This week has been all about Iron Banner, because I am trying my best to get my Hunter to Rank 5… in spite of not being here for the weekend due to travel plans. The major goal of the month was to hit 335 light and I have managed to do just that on the Titan, however I am still lagging on the Warlock and Hunter with the primary slot that they need the worst being literally any legendary quality artifact. I need to sort out what I can do to get one of those because I have plenty of infusion fodder to feed into an artifact… they just have 320 blues currently equipped. The only real frustration that I have with Destiny right now is that Bungie is apparently shit at math. We were told that several activities would drop an item equal to your current light level of better. However now sitting at 335, there are still a truly silly number of activities that drop 334 items. From Challenge of Elders turn-ins last night I got both a 334 weapon and 334 arms, and from an exotic engram I got a 334 secondary… all while showing up in game as 335 light. This is pretty maddening since 334 is useful for infusion if you are desperate but what you want to see is 335s so you can bring up ALL of your gear to that light level. Regardless I am still loving the game and I am hoping that the next big patch will address this problem. Also hoping that when I get back from my trip I can finish the push to Rank 5 because I am roughly halfway to Rank 4 at the moment.
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward
This marks the second week of me being “back” at least as far as doing the Tuesday night raid content is involved. I am still very much in “catch up” mode, but I am enjoying myself. As far as downtime activities I have started the grind to get elemental crystals for the first Anima weapon, aka the Relic 2.0 or 3.0 depending upon how you are counting. I am loving being Lala-Bel once more and I guess whatever funk I was going through that was keeping me from playing MMOs has passed because I am enjoying myself again. I very much need to be doing a nightly Expert but that has yet to happen quite yet. After yesterdays post however I found a whole slew of people willing to be tagged and pulled in for expert running. Now I just need to get back from this weekend and get started on this proper. Also apologies ahead of time for the nightmares that will be induced by the creepy-assed Calcabrina dolls.
Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls
Season Six is very much winding down to a close, and I have managed to accomplish pretty much everything that I could have hoped for… at the very least I got my additional stash tab. I have friends who still have things to knock out to get theirs so I am very much in a help as needed mode. That said I am still poking my head into the game on a regular basis to farm for Menagerist Goblins…. something I have yet to actually see. The highlight of the season was something that I did not even realize was a thing until it dropped. I guess the cosmic wings are among the rarest item this time around.. because it is RNG on top of RNG on top of RNG. You have to get one of the rainbow goblins to show up… and then have to get it to drop the Whimsydale portal… and then have to get a specific mob to show up in there to get them. In any case pretty much any time I get a Whimsydale portal I holler at anyone who happens to be on to come along with me now just in case they drop again. I’ve made it way further this season than at any other time… the only thing I am not looking forward to is trying to merge my current seasonal bank into my non-seasonal bank once more.
This is the newest addition to the list and also the one I have spent the least time playing. This week was the official launch of Overwatch, and my friends list has been completely on fire about this game. I played it enough in beta to know that I liked it, and then ceased to play it any further waiting for launch. Now that launch is here however… I have all of these competing priorities. The game is really good and so far I have yet to find a champion that I don’t like… pending I give them a serious chance. I was largely diametrically opposed to D.Va largely because the mech looked like a killer whale mixed with a guardian mode veritech. However after getting the carbon fiber skin from a loot box… and giving her a proper try I found out that I really enjoyed it. The game is probably the best designed shooter I have played in a very long time. The thing that is going to keep me from really sinking my teeth in however… is it has no PVE/Exploration gameplay like Destiny. If I could have Destiny set in this universe with character progression and collecting awesome weapons… I would be completely hooked. This will likely always be a game relegated to the “once or twice a week” column for me largely because I am just not that competitive. Earning loot boxes is a cool reason to keep playing, but eventually there will come a point where I run out of things I care about that came come from lootboxes.
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor
This is the backburneryist of backburner games for me right now. I’ve gotten in the habit of logging in daily and collecting my free money from the garrison… especially now that I put a massive dent in my finances and bought the Grand Expedition Yak. That said every now and then I do play one of the characters that I am still in the process of leveling. I have this grand idea that it would be fun to roll into Legion with a full list of level 100 characters, however I somehow doubt that is going to happen… much the way as it has never actually happened during any of the other expansions. However that said the alt of choice right now is my druid that I am slowly pushing up. In truth I am in a holding pattern until Legion and largely not paying a ton of attention to the game in the meantime.
Things Removed From List
Elder Scrolls Online
The truth is the MMO Funk hit and I never really returned to playing this regularly. I still very much want to, but it is going to need another lag in some other game for me to really sink my teeth into it. The game that exists today is amazing and they have done a really good job of keeping the content fresh. The biggest problem is I really don’t have anyone to play with over there on the North American server cluster. Now if I were playing on the EU side… I know lots of active and happy guilds. I would absolutely play with the Whitestar folks were that really a viable option.
While initially interesting to me, this game just did not sink its teeth into me the way it did the rest of the AggroChat crew. There is just something that I don’t like about it… and I have tried to reason out what exactly it was. I still have an account and still have some cool stuff on it, so I might at a future date return to it, but it never really replaced my love for Destiny.
While technically it was never actually on the sidebar… it probably should have been. I was all about The Division at launch and that excitement did not even manage to carry me through to the level cap. I am sitting around level 26 and I am just not sure what is holding me back. Largely the content at that level doesn’t feel nearly as interesting or rewarding as it did at lower levels. The packs of mobs out in the world seem to be scaled for group play, and when you down folks… they don’t seem to be dropping anything interesting. In theory I could hold my nose and grind through it… but what would I be grinding for? I am so far behind the curve in gear and it doesn’t feel like the game really gives you a lot of great options to catch up. There has been a sequence of changes that I really didn’t feel like had me in mind. At first I liked that it felt like you could progress through the game on many different vectors and end up at the same loot goal. However the crafting material nerf really hurt that feel for me. This is something I might return to later, once they offer some Destiny like catch up mechanisms to give players a hand up.
First off let me start this post by wishing all of you my readers a Happy New Year. During the course of this past year nearly 70,000 of you have visited my blog, and I am still scratching my head as to why. Whatever I am doing, I guess I will keep doing that in the next year. I do have some cool ideas for things to keep me moving forward, but I don’t really want to go into those right now…. mostly because it will involve some programming on my part to make it function. The thing I have learned over the years of blogging and this coming year will make seven… is that I am really really bad at columns. I will start a feature and then after a few weeks to months it peters out. The MMOs Worth Playing feature was one of my favorite so far, but it was also one of the more time consuming. That said in the coming year I would really like to bring it back, and maybe change its focus to be a little big more manageable…. sort of a MMO of the Month Club type thing. Each week during the MWP thing I was trying to log into that game, play it a bit to remember the things I liked about it… take fresh screenshots and get up a post every single Friday. As we got into the pre-Holiday crunch time it failed miserably. Maybe an MMO of the Month will work better because it gives me more time…. though honestly if the AggroChat Game Club is any evidence I will probably just end up waiting until the week before we record the show before attempting to play the game.
This morning the idea is to do my Awards for the year, since we have officially wrapped up a year now. These are not exactly your normal awards and more like the back of a high school year book… most likely to succeed etc. Though from what I understand…. there are a lot of schools who are no longer doing that for sake of potentially damaging students self esteem. More than anything I want to thank all of you for joining me on this continued journey. The last few months of the year were pretty rough on this side of the equation, but you all kept with me and kept supporting me, and for that I am immensely appreciative. Without further rambling… here is the inaugural edition of “Bel’s Game Awards”.
I absolutely did not expect to like this game, and in truth I probably never would have played it were not for the fact that my good friend Grace chose this as her aggrochat game of the month. I expected it to be largely played on a goof, and even went to the extreme of recording my first game play session because I expected it would be a maddening experience for me. The end result however was something I did not expect, I really enjoyed it. I laughed more while playing this game than I have laughed in a long time while playing any game…. maybe since initially playing Sam and Max Hit the Road. What is even more shocking is that I continued on after the initial play through and ended up getting six or seven different endings by the time we had recorded the AggroChat show. There has been a whole side discussion since about whether or not Hatoful Boyfriend is actually representative of Otome and Visual Novels in general…. or if it just lampoons the genre. I think more than anything it opened my eyes to the fact that this sort of “non-action” game can be extremely fun, and would make me at least try some other games. So kinda like WoW is an ice breaker for MMOs… this might be that sort of Icebreaker for Otome.
I remember when I first saw this game… it seemed like this amazing callback to the Super Nintendo era of RPGs where you had such oddball genre bending hits like Mario RPG and Earthbound. The problem is that in application… the game ended up as this soulless hull that simply was not fun to play. This was our very first AggroChat game club game… and none of us really liked it. This was the game that essentially we all unanimously voted that we wanted to play… and was also the game that caused us to change gears and start letting individual members pick a game for us to play, rather than trying to all decided together what the next game we would play might be. The game was frustrating from a technical level, but the level of grind needed to get very far just made the experience simply not enjoyable. The idea of being able to recruit hundreds of potential party members was amazing… until you realized that not a single one of them was interesting at all. The part that ruined it for most people was the fact that the main character, the mayor was so completely unlikable. I think it was Kodra that said that the game would have been salvageable if you could simply leave him at home and go off adventuring without him. The stereotypes were caricatures were humorous for the first fifteen minutes, and then quickly became painful to keep playing.
What can I say about Destiny the Taken King that I have not already said. I had no real hopes for this expansion because for the most part I had abandoned all hope for Destiny before the time the first expansion patch landed. Year one was a grindy mess whose light leveling system left me scratching my head and simply not caring anymore about trying to progress. I believe I managed to get to Light 26 before hitting a wall of resource gathering, that I simply lacked the desire to keep pushing through. In year one engrams in general felt few and far between, and you were constantly having to judge whether or not an item provided enough light to make it worth swapping it in, even if in other ways the item might be superior. Year two fixed a lot of this in the same way that the Diablo 3 2.0 patch just magically fixed that game, or at least made it FEEL better. That is the thing with me and games, the moment to moment game play has to feel good and also feel like I am getting something for my time spent. While I could say that technically there is way more grind in Year 2, it feels like you are at least getting something for your time…. even if it is just weapon and armor parts. I would rather see things drop… and all of those things be crap rather than never seeing a drop… and when you finally do it decodes into a lower level than the face value of the engram. The biggest change however is the fact that the Taken King has a story… and it is actually a cool one. Through both the quest narrative and the item descriptions that can be found on the website for each of the items you pick up… the game has started to tell this epic tale of both the Traveller and the Darkness, and how the two have battled through countless races and star systems since time began. For me, I patched up my game and tried the year 2 experience long before picking up the expansion…. and I highly suggest anyone who has not given it another shot do the same.
Game I Still Can’t Get Into
I love the Dragon Age franchise…. or at least I did. I’ve been a fan since Dragon Age: Origins… and I have beaten at least six different endings of that game. Which as a person who rarely if ever finishes video games… that should tell you something. I even managed to play through Dragon Age 2 a few different times, and largely enjoyed my experience. However when confronted with Dragon Age: Inquisition it feels like this insurmountable wall. Firstly I think the game just looks ugly out of the gate with its overuse of object shine and its strange playdough hair. The other big problem I have is that generally speaking I play roleplaying games on the sofa, where it is nice and comfy… and none of the laptops that I own are capable of playing this game with decent settings, or at least good enough settings to make it look not like shit. Recently I have picked it up for the Playstation 4 over the recent sales and it is my hope to maybe try playing it on the vita. The first statement anyone ever seems to make to me when I talk about my problems with the game… is that I need to leave the hinterlands. I promise I have left the Hinterlands… but the main storyline is just boring to me. It is nothing as awesome as Dragon Age Origins was…. and I think that’s because I just don’t like the Inquisition. I could get 100% behind the Grey Wardens… I believed in their cause and was ready to go into battle for them. I could give a flying fuck about being the Herald of Andraste. I hate this green shit that comes out of my hand… and I hate the feeling that I am constantly fiddling with the magic of the world… and my key goal in life seems to be to close rifts full of annoying demons. I like some of the characters that I interact with, but some of my favorite characters so far are characters you can’t take with you on missions like Scout Harding. My party of choice would be Cassandra, Sera, and Harding…. but instead I tend to go with Cassandra, Sera and Dorian. I wish I knew why this game is just so not enjoyable for me…. but I want to play it… I really do.
Lived Up to the Hype
The game this year that I was the most hyped about has to be Fallout 4, and that hype cycle started from the moment it was officially announced at E3. This game did so many things right, and really it was starting with the way it was announced. They held off to show any information on the game until it was already pretty damned polished, and then they hit it out of the part by saying that it would be in our grubby little hands only a few months later. In the meantime they gave us a pretty fun mobile game to keep us interested…. which I will talk about later. Fallout is one of those franchises that I place up on a pedestal for always giving me exactly what I wanted out of the game. A big open world with lots of little things to keep me interested, and a complete inability to ever truly “finish” the game. There is more content in Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas and now Fallout 4 than I will ever have time to see. Hell in the few days ahead of the launch… I played some more Fallout New Vegas and was still finding things that I had never seen before… and I considered that game pretty damned well trodden. As far as Fallout 4… everything about the game makes me happy… apart from maybe the main storyline. The thing is… I don’t play Fallout games for the story… I play them to go off and inhabit the wasteland and weave my own storyline around me as I go. I thought the voiced protagonist would annoy me… but for the most part I have been able to ignore it. I really like some of the companions this time as well…. namely Piper and Nick. I wish so much that I could adventure together with Piper, Nick and Dogmeat at the same time because I love them all. The biggest moment for me though was when I realized that in this game through the settlement system I could finally make the world a better place. I have a dozen or so different settlements at this point, and I have spent time building on each of them. I feel like I am making things work…. and improving live as I go. As far as the Storyline… I find parts of it frustrating namely that I did not see a good option to broker peace between the three main factions. I would have loved a “Can’t We All Just Get Along” ending option… and maybe it is there but I just have not found it.
Hype That Didn’t Last
If I had to pick a game of the year based on sheer amount of time I played it during this year…. the award would go to Final Fantasy XIV. It has been my constant companion… that is until the last quarter of the year when I started to lose interest. I can’t say I am disappointed in the game, because the content leading up to Heavensward… and the launch content was really amazing. The problem I have had is like after the launch of A Realm Reborn there just doesn’t seem to be that much to do to keep me engaged. I guess in truth the game has always been this way… because I remember us running into the same wall a few months after the launch of 2.0, that ended up leading us to un-subscribe shortly after. Coming back when we did July of 2014 meant we had roughly a year worth of content waiting for us to progress through. This content kept us busy up until the point of the Heavensward launch, with us not actually defeating Bahamut until we did it unsynchronized. With Heavensward we lack that backlog of fun older content to work through, and our casual gameplay style just does not really fit with the Final Fantasy XIV bleeding edge. So we managed to down Bismarck Extreme, Alexander normal, and made some pretty good progress on Ravana Extreme before we petered out and started to lose interest. What is making it extra hard is the fact that there are only two max level dungeons at a time this go around. Previous expansion each content patch came with three new dungeons…. and having to run experts by only alternating between the same two dungeons gets old really really fast. I am sure at some time I will get the bug and go back to playing this as my primary game…. but for now I am just basically only playing the new story and holiday content as it arrives and the rest of the time…. simply not logging in.
Shocked I am Playing
At the beginning of the year, I had quite a bit of fun raiding in World of Warcraft, but as Blackrock Foundry drug on…. and the launch of Heavensward loomed I simply lacked the care to keep playing like I have done so many times. In June I quit playing as the chart at the end of this post shows and focused solely upon Final Fantasy XIV, and I think maybe it is this single minded focus that caused me to burn out of that game so quickly. Blizzcon is a primal force of nature that no one can avoid… and I have to say it got me started down this nostalgia trip that ended with me playing the free version of the game on my sub 20 horde characters on The Scryers server. This ultimately ended up with me resubbing to the game and I have to say I am really enjoying myself. I am playing the game in a much more casual fashion than I am used to, and while I am raiding every single week…. I am doing so with a group that only raids on Sunday nights, and during a time slot when I am normally downstairs watching television anyways. I know there is technically no new content, but what can I say… I am having fun. Playing Horde has breathed new life into the game because it is allowing me to not only play with friends I never really got the chance to play with… but also see the world from a slightly different perspective. No clue how long this will hold out but I think so long as I am playing it and OTHER games at the same time… it might just hold for awhile. I think the key for me not getting burnt out is to allow myself the freedom to play whatever I feel like playing in a given moment and not really forcing myself to keep playing something that feels stale.
Made Me Almost Care About Mobile
As I said above, one of the things that Bethesda did right with the launch of Fallout 4, is that they gave us a fun app to play with in the meantime. Fallout Shelter is essentially Sim Tower or the later Tiny Tower mobile game…. set in a Fallout Vault. This was actually a lot of fun for a few weeks and gave me a reason to play games on my phone. The problem is I eventually got bored with it the same way I seem to get bored with all mobile apps. There were a lot of times I thought that I would keep playing it, were it for the ability to play on my desktop while doing something else. But for a brief period of time I found myself caring about a mobile game, and that deserves some recognition. My lifestyle just doesn’t really support mobile gaming, in that if I am going somewhere… I tend to be the one driving. Then when I am at work… I should be you know… working and not playing games. When I am out shopping… most games simple require too much to get into them and do a few moves before you need to move on to the next area. Then when I am home…. I would far rather be using my laptop, gaming desktop, or one of several different consoles than spending time on a mobile device. The one thing that might change this is the fact that I have started spending some time on my new Kindle Fire before going to sleep. Right now that time is mostly occupied with reading comic books… but I could see eventually playing a game like Fallout Shelter while trying to fall soundly asleep.
Game I Wish I Enjoyed More
If you were to write out every single feature that I would want in an MMO on paper… you would pretty much get the feature set of Rift. That said for whatever reason I have struggled to get into this game since the launch of the first expansion. I will come back and play for a bit but find it far too easy to walk away from. I love Trion, and I love the awesome people that work there. I love some of the awesome folks engaged in that community like Kiwi. All of this said… I just struggle to get into the game itself. I think it is several problems, namely that I just don’t have a large friendly and active community to be part of. I mean I have the House Stalwart guild but it has been dead since the last resurgence several years ago that lead me to go found it. For a long time my hope was Machiavelli’s Cat community, but during Storm Legion the Rift contingency pretty much died, and it lead us to merge into Alea Iacta Est…. who then also seemed to die out. During this awkward period I tried a few other guilds, and never found a home… eventually creating House Stalwart on Faeblight. The big problem that Rift has that WoW does not… is the fact that there is no cross account id system that you can use for communicating with friends regardless of what character they happen to be playing. However with the recent “Glyph ID” that is now showing up in the launcher… I am wondering if they are crafting that infrastructure. I feel like I simply have not put in the necessary legwork to find a new home, because it seems like so much effort. That combined with the fact that finding a workable spec itself is a challenge, has left me in this phase of logging in… playing for a bit and then fading out again. I want to love this game, but it has been a struggle.
Most Emotional Experience
This is a strange one for me… because I’ve technically never played this game. The game itself is more of an experience… a visual novel of sorts… than a true game. Sure there are gameplay elements and mechanics… but those remind me of the video game equivalent of one of those pop up books that has levers and such that allow you to move the characters or animate a specific story element. I watched a let’s play video on this game, and in that I pretty much experienced all of it. The end result evoked some of the strangest emotions in me.. and actually lead me to cry at a few points. I think any creative type can understand the emotions that you go through in the experience, and I know for myself…. who tends to suffer from a fairly unhealthy amount of imposter syndrome… it hit incredibly close to home. I am not sure if it was a positive experience, and for all I know given the timing… it might have been the start of my recent funk. The rollercoaster I went through… was not exactly healthy. That said I feel like I have to give the game credit, because it made me feel things… like deeply feel things. Very few video games can do that, and ultimately I ended up purchasing the game as a thank you for the experience…. even though I doubt I will ever actually install it or play it.
Game of the Year
The only thing I can really give you… is a hearty shrug. I don’t know what my game of the year would be. If you judged it on sheer excitement and the eventual execution… it would probably be Fallout 4. If you judged it based on the amount of time I spent playing it through the course of the year, then it would be Final Fantasy XIV. If you based it on the sheer shock that someone got me to play the game in the first place… then Hatoful Boyfriend. Basically every game on my list deserves its recognition, and for the most part that recognition is positive with the exception of Citizens of Earth. I played a lot of games this year… and I hope to play even more next year. Game of the Year is honestly a silly concept… and just like I can’t really give you a firm answer for “Favorite Movie” or “Favorite Song” I could never tell you my absolute favorite Video Game. My mood plays such of a huge role in what I want to play at a given moment…. and if I want mindless destruction right now Destiny is giving me everything that I could ever want. But as soon as my mood changes… so does my preference in games… and I often times fall back on sheer comfort gaming like whatever MMO I happen to be into. So yeah… all of the games on this list… I mentioned because they were important to me, so they are all my Games of the Year.
This morning I am absolutely stealing an idea from Grace who happened to post something today called “What I’m Playing”. Sunday is traditionally a rough day for me as far as posting goes. One of two things has happened, either I have stayed up way late on Saturday night to finish editing and posting the AggroChat podcast, or I am rushing around Sunday morning to finish it. This ends up making the morning feel like a big hassle either way, as my body thinks I just went through this epic struggle to get our podcast posted. My brain is telling me… isn’t that enough? Do I really have to make a blog post too? At which point I tell my brain to shut the hell up and stop being so whiny, and btw give me a topic to write about while you are at it. So now I am latching onto this week in review post idea like a life raft and just going with that.
Final Fantasy XIV
A subtitle for this week could easily be called “failing to accomplish goals” because there is a lot of that going around. Monday night we made solid attempts on Ravana Extreme, and Wednesday we didn’t quite have the people to pull anything together. Other than that I have honestly been pretty scarce in game. I get like this after finishing a grind to accomplish one of my goals, and for awhile now I had been grinding in so many different ways to gear both the Warrior and the Dragoon. I had all intention of capping Esoterics this week, but as of last night I just have seventy five. I could spend my day grinding to play catch up… but I highly doubt that is going to happen. Hopefully we can return to our normally scheduled Final Fantasy XIV play schedule next week.
I am still very much playing Wildstar, but similarly to Final Fantasy XIV I didn’t really spend much time actually playing it this week. I made a minor dent on Whitevale on Tuesday, but I spent more time talking about Wildstar with friends this week than actually playing it. I am not really sure what was up this week but I was overly tired pretty much every day. We had one horrible night where the storms woke me up and I never could get back to sleep fully, and I think this lack of sleep pretty much pushed the rest of the week out of whack. Each night I felt like I lacked the mental fortitude to concentrate on an MMO, so ultimately just ended up playing something else. I want to continue my climb on the Warrior because I am finding the game more enjoyable than I did at launch, and am actually really looking forward to the free to play drop.
Dragon Age Inquisition
I spent an awful lot of time playing this game over the week, but my overarching goal was less about actually playing and more about figuring out how to play it from my laptop. I maybe obsess about stupid shit sometimes. As you can see from the screenshot I finally left the Hinterlands! I am actually enjoying the game quite a bit now, but for whatever reason I am not finding it nearly as “sticky” as the previous Dragon Age games. In Origin and even in 2 I had these moments where every fiber of my being just wanted to see what happened next. It was like turning the pages of a really good novel, and this game doesn’t have that same feel. It very much feels like I am playing levels in a video game and I find I care less about the story than I have in previous games. That is not to say the game is not enjoyable, because I am absolutely having fun… but it is just a different sort of fun.
I apparently worked the Hellgate London out of my system, but instead it has given me a desire to play Diablo III. For most of the week this has been my go to game, as it has just the right amount of friction for my mental state. I don’t have to think about it much, I can just push buttons and kill things… and that works. In the continued theme of setting myself up for failure, I apparently decided that creating a Season 3 character from scratch was apparently a brilliant idea. Now in order to get any of the Seasonal rewards I need to get a character to 70… before 5 pm PST tonight. This is not a thing that is going to happen since I am just now sitting at 27 as the above screenshot shows the ding. The positive is… I am actually really enjoying playing the Crusader. I figure when Season 4 starts I will make another seasonal character and see what I can make it to with a full three months or so of playtime available.
I curse everyone involved for introducing this game into my life. It is so damned crazy, but I can’t seem to stop myself from playing it. At this point I have now seen six different endings for the game. From what I can tell I have yet to actually scratch the surface, but at least I feel like i have a lot to talk about for the upcoming show. I imagine that I will play it some more and go for a few more endings. The ending that I have not seen is the supposed “bad ending”, which I guess means you have to play the game without much thought taking random birds to do things. At this point I have taken the approach of setting my sights on a specific bird during each play session. I have a few more left to do that with, so that is probably going to be my focus in the sessions between now and the aggrochat show.
Heavensward Mega Episode
For awhile now the AggroChat crew has deliberately put off talking about the events of Final Fantasy XIV Heavensward in an attempt to allow folks to catch up on the content. However this week the gloves are coming off and we are dipping into a full spoiler episode where we hash out the events that have occured since the 2.55 patch show. We trace the steps of our characters from setting foot into Ishgard to the final conflict of the expansion, with as much details as we can think about in between. This is a roughly two hour long show because of the truly large amount of content to go over. We considered chopping this into two halves, but figured we would release it uncut. We talk about our favorite characters, our most emotional moments and what we are looking forward to with future content patches.
I am not exactly sure why but I have been obsessing over the whole concept of using my laptop downstairs as a remote thin client for my gaming machine upstairs. My grand hope has always been to be able to devote time and resources to the gaming machine, and just use any laptop in the house to play games remotely. After last night I think maybe I have it working as intended. For the last several days I have been struggling with Splashtop Personal, and in spite of lots of folks reporting good results with it… I never could get anything even vaguely close to playable. Namely the biggest problem was mouse lag, and when you are playing games that require mouse movement… this is a huge problem. I spent time crawling the forums, looking for answers and after trying a series of supposed registry hack fixes… the best I could ever seem to get out of Splashtop was something in the neighborhood of 25 fps which a more common stable 20 fps. Yesterday I installed a brand new AC1200 wireless card in my laptop, so that should literally rule out ANY connectivity issues. I was seeing 650 Mbps stable wireless and did not see any significant improvement in performance as a result. Now on the other hand… web surfing and downloading anything is now absolutely amazing… so I don’t regret the $20 spent on the new usb 3.0 wireless dongle.
Now I said I thought I had solved it… but as to this point have talked nothing about the failures. What finally worked is Steam In Home Streaming… with some hackery. Steam Streaming has worked fine for steam games, but not every game that I want to play is on steam. The biggest elephant in the room is games on Origin, but I think I found a workaround for this one. If you add Dragon Age Inquisition to Steam and attempt to launch it directly, it will fail every single time. However the workaround seems to be that you add the Origin launcher to steam and then remotely launch it… and while that window is up you can launch the game you want to play. The caveat is that you have to completely exit Origin after every game play session or it won’t actually work. As a result Splashtop Personal is coming in handy anyway as a way of making sure I do not have Origin running before heading into game. The same thing seems to work with the Battle.net launcher, and the Final Fantasy XIV launcher. Having steam open those gives you access to the application that you are actually wanting to play over the remote session. As far as performance goes, there was some strangeness with audio that I ultimately solved by setting both the client and “server” machine to 2 channel 16 bit 48000 hz audio. After that I was able to play Dragon Age Inquisition remotely with the exact same frame rate I was seeing sitting at my machine upstairs. I am guessing the new wireless made all the difference in the world because I could feel zero lag input, and it made for a pretty amazing experience. As a final thought if you want to play a steam game that does not have a launcher of its own… I have heard having steam open notepad.exe works the same.
The Heavensward Episode
I just wanted to take a moment to talk about the upcoming episode of AggroChat that we will be recording Saturday night and releasing Sunday morning. After all of us had completed the 2.55 content, we recorded a full spoiler episode where we hashed out out ideas about what just happened and where the game would be heading. This week we plan on doing the same thing for the 3.0 story content to date as a preparation for whenever we receive 3.1. We had put off the show in an attempt to get as many people through the 3.0 story as possible, but at this point we figure the statute of limitations is officially up for these spoilers. I am mainly writing today because we are taking input from the community. There are several ways you can send us your ideas either through the aggrochat email or the aggrochat twitter account. Of if you feel more comfortable you can leave your thoughts below. Our goal is to talk through our own ideas and the ideas that we receive on air Saturday.
There is a lot of stuff that happened between 2.55 and 3.0 and some of it had some pretty major ramifications for the games story. I’ve been extremely careful not to spoil too many details even with the screenshots that I use. That said there are things I just need to talk about. There are characters that we lost along the way, and new characters that we gained… and it is going to be good to finally be able to openly talk about all of this. The final cinematic for 3.0 sets up a brand new villain that we will likely be facing, and I have so many ideas on what that one is going to mean. Also there are less spoiler theories as well like this being the expansion of multiple element primals. If you think of Ravana, he is very clearly a mixture of Fire and Earth. Bismarck similarly is a mixture of wind and water. Would that make the next primal a mixture of Lightning and Ice? I cannot think of any existing summons from other Final Fantasy games that really fits that theme, so I am guessing they would be crafting a brand new one just for FFXIV. That only covers three primals however and I fully expect that each patch will have its own new one. So are we going to start seeing new elements, or are they going to tie directly into the new primary enemy that I mentioned above. Essentially… we have stuff to talk about and would love to have your input.
Of Bird Boyfriends
The AggroChat game club game show is also quickly sneaking up on us, and I think of all of the hosts I am the only one who has yet to touch this months title. Grace picked Hatoful Boyfriend as the game of the month title, and I have to say at first I had a small bit of trepidation about this title. If you remember Kodra has gushed about this title numerous times and even streamed a bunch of his gameplay. I watched some of it… and it seemed like pure madness. At the core this is just not a me game, largely because there is not death and destruction. That said I am actually starting to look forward to finally giving this a try, because it DOES seem like pure madness. I could use a bit of surreal insanity in my life, and some of the possible endings sound so damned bizarre that I have to see them for myself. I’ve been largely putting off starting however because I thought it might be funny to stream my first moments in the game. As such I have been trying to find a time when my streaming would not be too much of a nuisance for my wife who is going through the normal “back to school” frustrations. It seems like tonight however might be an excellent time and right now I am planning on starting my stream at roughly 6 pm CST for anyone who wants to see me attempt to date some “birbs”. I plan on playing on voice activation so you can get all of my subtle responses and not just the ones that I want coming through over push to talk. I am not sure exactly what will happen, but I have a mixture of excitement and dread at the same time.
I feel like it has been pretty noticeable that I have been in a bit of a funk for the last few weeks. When this happens I tend to extract myself from the world until the passes, which isn’t necessarily the smartest thing that I can do. However over the years I have done this as my coping mechanism, because I am always afraid I will snap at someone when I get moody. For a bit yesterday I was wondering if my magical happy pills were not longer working, but then my wife asked me something. Was my low as low as it has been in the past… and to be honest no. Normally the world would be crushingly oppressive, and instead I just felt sort of permanently bummed out. So I guess maybe things are working just fine, they are just filling in the valleys so that the lows are quite as low as they would have been otherwise.
Yesterday was one of the more stressful days that I have had in awhile. We had someone patch a server and due to a conflict between the Windows Update Service and MacAfee that we have seen numerous times now… it caused a process deadlock that ended up taking down production services for hours. This was stressful in so many ways, because while there was nothing I did to cause it… there was also nothing I could really do to help it either. It was another department with another manager… and another set of priorities responsible for the fault and the fix. So when I came home… I was at an extremely low point. However my wife and I went out to dinner, and then as the evening went on I started to feel better about the world. It was like peeking out of a fog to see a lovely day behind it. I guess in the grand scheme of things… if all of my low spots are like this from now on… I will count myself lucky because while it sucked, it was manageable.
Bahamut Is Down
One of the struggles in game is that I feel like I am caught between two worlds a bit. It has taken longer than I expected to get the Monday night raid group pieced together and ready to do Heavensward content. As a result we have been focusing on trying to get through the Final Coil of Bahamut, and made some significant progress. Last week we were just shy of forming a group, so going into Turn 13 last night… we were all rusty. However it feels like we got our bearings more quickly than normal and made a few adjustments. Previously I had been tanking Bahamut at the twelve o’clock position which seems the most obvious place to drag him as you are running in… and do the traditional drag the boss while running thing. Instead we swapped things up and I drug up back to the six o’clock position we entered the room at. This allowed Ashgar to pick up the adds significantly easier and also allowed the DPS to burn them down faster.
The real challenge however was like always… we suck at dive bomb phases. However in spite of the fact that you ultimately have to deal with something like five divebomb phases, they seemed to come together more smoothly than we were used to. Essentially you have to find Bahamut, and move out of the way while also moving out of the way of Twintania that comes barreling through immediately after him. I think we only made it through two or three of these phases completely clean, however we did manage to rez the few players that got pushed into a wall. I am constantly impressed at still how difficult of a fight this is. Sure this is expansion old content at this point, but I am damned happy to be able to say I have defeated Bahamut, and I have a title and a minion to show for it. Paragon to a really spiffy White Mage Cane as a result, and part of me wants to try and muster the troops to do this more often so that we can farm the really awesome weapons for folks. I have to say… the most stressed I have ever been in Final Fantasy XIV is trying to find a way to survive Ahk Mourn. On the positive side… Alexander turn 3 has caused me to get really good at timing Holmgang.
Last night was a significant night because not only did it see us beating Turn 13 of Final Coil of Bahamut… but it also saw us officially starting this expansions raid content as a group. I love the Wednesday night group, and I am enjoying what is happening there… but there is something extra special about getting the Monday night group into Alexander. While Kodra, Grace and I are parts of both teams, there will always be something special about my first Final Fantasy XIV raid group. So it makes me happy that this week everyone was up to 170 and several were considerably beyond that… even though it took a little bit of cheatery to get Ash’s paladin in the zone by wearing some strength jewelry. We only really had time to do turn one of Alexander, but we came really damned close to oneshotting it. Had we not started freaking out because we thought we were coming up against the hard enrage… we absolutely would have downed it in the first try.
On the second attempt everyone felt more confident and we pushed the dps so much harder than before. The awesome thing about coming in on a Monday is that several of us were already capped on Alexander pieces for the week which meant pretty much all of the newish folks walked away with something spiffy. I look forward to coming in next Monday and clearing all four turns of Alexander, and getting everyone their freebie accessories. From there maybe some Bismarck and Ravana? It makes me happy to feel like I am making forward momentum with both teams. The only thing that frustrates me a little bit is that I feel like we should go back and do Turn 8, which is the turn that Monday night skipped to start work on Turn 9. So maybe next week I can talk people into doing that so that we finally can close the book on the Coil of Bahamut. I don’t want to sacrifice getting people through Alexander for it, but I would love to be able to say I have beaten each of the turns. All in all it was a pretty great night, not just for the raid victories but for also clearing away the fog that I have been dwelling in.
At this point we are getting super close to the launch of Blaugust, and the sign ups keep coming on the Nook. There is still time to sign up and be ready for the start of this exciting month. Also remember there is zero penalty this year for starting late and catching up. Last year my friend Tamrielo did something absolutely insane and wrote 31 really well formed posts in a 48 hour period. While I would never suggest anyone do something like that, it is absolutely possible to start a week late and make up the missed progress. Similarly I know folks will be attending Gamescom or Pax Prime during this month, so it is absolutely a good idea to stage the content ahead of time. For the WordPress users out there I highly suggest you check out their pretty excellent mobile app (iOS, Android) that gives you access to your blog on the go, and does a decent job of letting you compose a post on the go.
I tend to be a very pro WordPress person, but blogger is perfectly acceptible as well and while I have never used it there seems to be a mobile blogger client also (iOS, Android). The primary reason why I tend to suggest WordPress is just that there is a path between WordPress.com free hosted service, and moving to a WordPress.org installation on your own custom hosting. There are a number of guides out there to help this process along. What I like so much about this is the fact that it lets someone get their feet wet and decide if this blogging thing is for them… before plunking down the money it takes to rent space on a web host and purchase a domain. There are lots of people that never make the jump between COM to ORG, but it is nice that there is always that option if you want to do something with your blog that is not supported through the official channels. There are also guides for going from Blogger to WordPress, but they tend to be far less straight forward.
Anook Community Award
Last night something really cool happened, namely that Lonrem the tirelessly working community manager of Anook.com posted an excellent “best practices” document on the Blaugust Nook. If the document were not enough in helping people get the most out of their Anook experience… he also slipped a tidbit of information in down at the bottom. For a few weeks now we had been talking about Anook wanting to sponsor some sort of award. It was finally decided that the best way to have an Anook reward is to have the users of the website vote on their favorite posts. Here are the basics of this award posted straight from his document.
I’ll also announce here that Anook is going to support Blaugust with a special prize! I’m going to tally up the Hearts that each blog post gets for each blogger (Blaugger?) and award the top blog with a game code. I’m going to see if I can round up other prizes from some of our friends and partners as well, no promises there! This does give a bit of an incentive to post regularly, start on the first of August, but also to share the link to your blog on Anook! If you’ve got any questions, let me know!
This is really awesome to have our first “real” sponsor… because my pocket didn’t really count. Last year when I started this, I decided to host the challenge off of Anook because it is a network that I love. Lonrem singlehandedly won me over with his devotion, and the features basically keep me from ever having to build yet another custom SMF forum for anything. So I fly the Anook banner on my stream and mention it on every AggroChat just because I love the site. I am humbled that the site is returning some of that love and helping us get this challenge started in a bigger and better way this year. I’ve had an idea through this contest of creating a games of the week where I suggest a handful of free to play games that folks play, and then write about their experience to help get those creative juices flowing. While I might have been dreading the loss of my free time that Blaugust means… I am absolutely getting pumped about how much more “real” this whole thing feels for 2015.
It is not uncommon for me to log in to Final Fantasy XIV in the evening and hear the all too familiar chime of a group invite before the game has completely loaded. My guildies are used to ninjaing me into tanking all manner of things, and I assumed that it was yet another case of “daily expert”. So I accepted the invite without thinking much about it, and found myself shocked when I saw the Alexander loading screen. To make matters worse the ninja alex was turn 2, which is quite possibly the most frustrating thing for a tank to take on without having a second tank in there that they trust. The problem being that pugs like to stack all of the mobs together, which makes it impossible for the tanks to effectively hold aggro on them. What happens instead is that both tanks burn through all of their resources and the mobs spend the entire fight bouncing back and forth between them. This would be fine and good if it were safe for a single tank to take them on… problem being that in the later phases you have to try and carefully split the damage to even it out. All of the mobs on one tank is pretty much a certain wipe.
The positive of getting pulled into Alex like this however is that it took away my normal reluctance to such things, and as of last night I now have three of my four pieces of loot for the week. All that is left is Turn 1, and quite honestly it is the least stressful for me to pug. The tanks have clearly defined roles and for the most part they go fairly smoothly now that most people are pretty well geared. At this point for that final item I want either a chain which would instantly give me a belt, or a pedal… which would also instantly give me an item because I have a second one in my inventory. I have to say the way gearing works in Alex is a little maddening, but I feel that honestly it is their way of trying to delay people reaching level 190 geared. With Esoterics in place, I can’t really see going for say the Alexander chest piece since it takes getting a lucky roll four weeks in a row on Turn 4. My first Esoterics item of course will be the 200 weapon, because for a tank that is the single most useful upgrade. After that I will probably assess my weakest pieces and go after what I need the most… which is more than likely going to be my chest piece. Of course in the mean time Square could do what they seem to always do… and change up the game by taking away loot restrictions. That said I still think it is a little early in the patch for that to actually happen, and more than likely won’t be until 3.1.