There is a specific moment in my time playing Final Fantasy XIV where I realized that the Cactuar community was something special. It was the night that we purchased our Free Company house, and all of these neighbors showed up to welcome us to the neighborhood. Many of those folks welcoming us were from the Howling Moon free company, and over the months of playing I got used to seeing all of these people hanging out at the Marketboard right in front of our house. Among them the pair that I got closest with was Ayla and Joren Noye. There were many nights like this one where we did silly things to pass the time between queues. Then several months ago they disappeared, as did most of the people I had become close with from that Free Company. I asked around in the guild but no one seemed to know what happened. It is always hard when friends disappear that you are close with… but not yet close enough to exchange all of those personal details.
With Heavenward they were back as I had hoped, but started playing a little later than most. I guess over those months they had some personal stuff to deal with, but I was amped to have them back wandering around in our neighborhood. Since then at least once a night we exchanged random happy emotes and a flurry of /say conversation as we fiddled with our retainers. When I got the hint that maybe things were not as wonderful in their guild as they once were, I did the thing that I always do… offered them a home. I didn’t really expect them to take me up on the offer, but last night as I was starting my daily hunts… I got a tell out of the blue from Joren. He told me that things just weren’t the same, and if it was still okay he would like to take my offer. Needless to say I was absolutely thrilled and delayed a guild dungeon run until they were ready for the invites. I cannot put into words just how excited I am to have them on board, we may even have to reconvene the council of squishy hats to celebrate.
This morning I happened to randomly click through to a re-tweeted blog post from DragonChasers about SkyForge. On it was a comment from the blogger Jeromai that struck a bit of a chord with me, because I am absolutely the sort of person that would frustrate him.
You know what’s really frustrating to me? People who can do it (whatever it is), but cannot describe or break down or teach exactly -how- they are doing it, beyond “I dunno, I just do it” or “here, just watch a video of me doing it,” or worse, “lol, it wuz easy, I don’t know how come you can’t do it.”
To me, folks who really know what they’re doing can also break down and explain roughly what they’re doing or the tactics they’re using or what they’re keeping track of, even if execution by someone else requires a lot of personal practice.
Sometimes people say that they don’t really know how to explain it, because they don’t want to explain it. For me personally I quite literally cannot explain how I do half of the things I do. Essentially I try and commit as much of the things that I do to muscle memory as I can, so that I can do them… without thinking about them. So when I tank an instance… I do so many little things that I can’t really break apart the things that I am doing automatically… from the things that I am doing intentionally. I’ve always been a player that played mostly on instinct and reflex rather than mindful reflection on strategy. I think this all comes from why I play games. Ultimately they are a means of relaxation for me, and many times I find myself zoning out into the sublime motion of playing the game without really having to think about it. This has strengths and weaknesses, and the big problem that I run into particularly is when I have to unlearn my reflexes and replace them with something else.
For example on the Titan Extreme fight in Final Fantasy XIV there is a place where I absolutely have to ignore every instinct I have built up and stop myself from running back into the boss after an attack. I struggled with that for our first attempts, because I had to commit an exception to the rule to muscle memory knowing that there would be a follow up attack that would kill me if I ran right back in. The other big weakness is there are so many things that I do on a daily basis that I cannot tell you step by step what I am doing unless I happen to be sitting at the keyboard and doing them. At work I am awesome at fixing problems and troubleshooting things… but I am horrible at trying to walk someone else through the process of doing all of these things. The positive is… once something has been committed to reflex it stays with you forever. I fired up F-Zero the other day for likely the first time in two decades… and I still knew every corner and place to use my booster on the tracks and easily got first place. Same goes for an MMO, I can sit down in front of a game that I have not played in years… and if I set the hot bars up the same way as i had them before I can return to playing the game like no time has passed.
The Final Stretch
My big accomplishment for the night is finally pushing across the line and dinging 59. I was able to replace the lance that I absolutely hated with this pretty cool one from the Ancient Library dungeon. This is the point where I realize that I have apparently not run the library as much as I thought I had. When it came to the level 57 gear, I had most of a set… and apparently do for just about every possible class I would care to level. The 59 gear however from Library, I have only a small smattering of pieces and next to nothing when it came to lancer gear. Thankfully I had squirreled away a set of High Quality 58 gear from the quests… since at that point I technically had better gear on my Warrior from running dungeons. That should more than get me through to 60 before really needing anything else gear wise. When I hit 60 I have waiting on me a 180 weapon, and a bunch of 170 and 160 pieces that should make up pretty much a full set.
My hope is that I will be able to leap frog to 170 the Alexander requirement pretty quickly. The thing I need to sort out in the meantime is how to do a better job of maintaining the Blood of the Dragon buff. The problem that I keep running into is that I will get thrown into a situation where I cannot safely get back to the boss in time to hit either a Fang and Claw proc or Wheeling Thrust. So my buff drops… and I have to wait whatever is left of the minute long recast time to throw the buff up again. I assume that once I hit 60, if there is a situation where I know Blood of the Dragon is about to fall… this is when I mix in a Gierskogul to spend the buff on an attack rather than let it fade completely. Remember the whole muscle memory thing from above? I had a previous rotation committed to that swap space… and now have to revise it. Given some time at 60 I will relearn what I need to do, because honestly I am not looking for the insanity of the optimal dragoon rotation… but instead looking for something that is “passable”. I don’t care if I beat our top dps… but I just want to make sure I am not the bottom of the pack either. I feel like I just don’t have enough of a competitive nature to ever be a truly successful dps player.