Love Our Guild

Unlocking Dungeons

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-12 20-42-09-53 This weekend was a little bit split as far as gaming goes.  I spent about four hours in SkyForge and the rest of it wandering around in Final Fantasy XIV.  I had a bunch of side projects that I never really got off the ground.  One of the things about being a tank is that you are constantly getting called on to do tanky things.  Last night for example, I had all intentions of simply wandering around the new zones doing hunt mobs, but I ended up getting drafted to tank both Neverreap and Fractal Continuum for a friend who just dinged 60.  Since this would allow him to unlock the content, and be yet another possibility for a daily expert roulette, as well as providing three of us in the dungeon run some tasty tasty first time bonus, I did not mind giving up my relaxing evening of hunting to help out.

Both runs went fairly smoothly other than Warenwolf falling off the side of the final boss in Neverreap.  Luckily we had the stamina to go ahead and finish that boss without him.  Fractal Continuum went extremely smoothly other than some annoyances with bomb placement on the final boss.  Luckily the loot gods seemed to be at least a little favorable and Waren walked with a bow and some other items helping him inch towards that all too critical level 170 mark for Alexander.  It is my hope that in this last week we will have increased our item level enough to be able to put a good attempt in on Bismarck Extreme tonight.  I found out that apparently the dps constraint is that you be able to break the spine in a single attempt without also blowing every cooldown.  Wednesday we were able to break the spine, but it was a “just barely” situation and we absolutely had to abuse every cool down available to get there.

Love Our Guild

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-13 21-28-49-98 Last night I had a moment when I was overcome with warm fuzzies.  Folks were doing what they always do and filling my screen with green happy spam, and somehow it came around to the discussion of the free company.  I am not sure if I remember who started it but someone made the comment that they were happy that I had recruited them into the guild, because if not for that they probably would not be playing.  Then in a burst of activity a bunch of people chimed in with pretty much the same thing.  So I wanted to talk a bit this morning about how much all of my guildies mean to me.  There are so many days where I have had a rough patch, that I can log into our free company and within moments of seeing the cheery conversation I am in a much better mood.  Having a happy guild family is ultimately what helps me keep returning to one game over another, and ultimately is what keeps me engaged in Final Fantasy XIV.

Sure the game is awesome, but having this big group who is willing to drop what they are doing to help someone else out, makes the experience so much better.  Yesterday during the evening I worked through a backlog of dungeon runs that I had recorded, and came across a video that didn’t turn out quite as intended.  Since the launch of Heavensward the guild crafters as lead by Solaria have been working away on making us an Airship.  When it came time to launch it for the first time a good chunk of us gathered in the workshop basement of the guild hall.  In part we hoped a cut scene would happen, and as a result I had OBS rolling away in the background recording the event.  While the event did not turn out as I had expected, looking back on the footage it makes me exceptionally happy to see so many of my guild members roaming around in one place.  I love the housing district for the constant flow of guild members popping in and out as they go off to other adventures, and this moment was probably the largest meeting of sorts we have had.  It made me realize that we need to do something like this more often.

More SkyForge

Skyforge 2015-07-19 13-57-50-17 The SkyForge open beta finishes up this Wednesday and in the mean time I plan on playing for a little bit each night.  I have to admit while there are still problems with the game for me, it is growing on me in ways I can’t quite fathom.  During yesterdays run I finally figured out something that had been bugging me.  I said in my videos and in my blog posts that it seemed like the combo system was largely ineffectual, and for the most part this is true.  However I noticed on my character to the right of the health bar was a charge counter of sorts marked with a lightning bolt.  This is directly above the dodge counter that shows how many times in a row you can dodge, and how long before the counter regenerates when they are all spent.  This lightning bolt number tied to the special combo attacks, and if I use a combo while I have a charge available it does significantly more damage.  However any additional combos while that charge is regenerating end up being largely useless.

Skyforge 2015-07-19 09-53-56-71 Knowing this is a thing, made combat feel more purposeful.  Essentially I had one special move to use every 30 seconds or so, because that seemed to be roughly how long it took to regenerate a charge.  When that ability was not available however I could happily wail away on the target then set up for the next special attack.  This little bit of information seemed to dynamically change the way combat felt.  Additionally doing the more open world zones, seemed much more enjoyable to me given that if I started wailing away on a boss, chances are someone would come along behind me to help me finish it.  Running around with a group of other players also made me realize just how little damage the paladin does comparatively.  In all honesty… I might end up playing quite a bit more of this game because it feels like I am starting to grasp the reason why it does the things it does.  It is not the sort of game I would ever play as a primary mmo, but I have been enjoying playing it in these short bursts, where I complete a single objective and then log back out for awhile.

More SkyForge Thoughts

Controller Support

SkyForge_GolemProtector

One of the questions left unanswered from yesterday was whether or not the game had controller support.  On a whim I picked up my controller towards the end of one of yesterdays streams and I noticed that I could in fact control my character with it.  Today I popped into game with the mission of trying to test this theory out.  It seems that maybe they are working on controller support but that it does not actually work fully.  I could control my character perfectly using both of my analog sticks, and if I hit the A button on my XBox 360 controller I could perform any of the normal actions that require the spacebar.  However it did not actually seem to interact with the world, and pressing A when not hovering over an objective did not perform the jump action, which is normally the default action for spacebar.  I went so far as to go into the keybindings section and it would not let me bind anything to controller presses.

SkyForge_PaladinAOEExplosion

Now of course if you wanted to go so far as to use Xpadder you could easily get this game up and running.  It takes care of the toughest part which is getting the analog movement feeling right.  My hope is that in subsequent patches it is going to add full controller support, and then this game is likely to increase significantly in enjoyment.  Left button spammy attacks feel less spammy when done with a controller button.  Since writing yesterdays post I have added another few hours worth of gameplay, and I have to say my verdict is still very mixed.  I even talked about it a bit on last nights podcast.  On some level I am feeling about this game much the same as I felt about Guild Wars 2 when it was in testing.  There is something that compels me to keep trying to figure it out, but at the same time I find it extremely easy to stop playing after completing a single mission.  The act of running a mission just wears me out, in a way that content in Elder Scrolls Online used to wear me out.  Things are so ridiculously tightly packed that on normal solo missions you spend so much of your time mindlessly grinding through huge encounters.

Isola Digs

SkyForge_IsolaDigs

This morning however I ventured into what seems to be another large shared cooperative zone, much the same as the very first mission in the game.  It involved a series of around 25 smaller objectives that were scattered throughout the map.  The frustrating thing about this zone in particular is that the objectives were super linear, meaning when I tried to do my normal thing and hop off the path…  I missed an objective that I then later had to double back through the entire zone to go find again.  As a whole though I have to say I like this style of zone so much better than the little instanced mini dungeons I had completed more recently.  The game also feels better when lots of other players are wandering around, which greatly speeds up the amount of time it takes to burn through the various health bars of the bosses.  This tells me that a lot of my frustrations was simply that I was soloing content designed for groups to take down.  The fact that I could fairly easily solo content as a paladin, maybe points to that class being a little overpowered for this sort of thing?  Then again tanks in most games are adept at soloing bosses that were originally meant for a group to take down…  I am looking at you Deathknight.

SkyForge_FireWardenBoss The other cool thing about this region is that it seemed to be full of boss encounters that did not seem to be tied to a specific objective.  There may be a quest that I missed somewhere that opened these up, but from what I saw there was a fire, water and wind warden.  Above you can see me taking on the fire one.  The only thing missing elemental wise is earth, which I did not really see while wandering around.  I managed to get a few greens off these bosses, so my theory is they are just there to make your experience more interesting.  The boss fights with other players helping were significantly more enjoyable, but I could still shield up as a paladin and whittle them down until I succeeded.  There was only one single encounter where I even came close to dying.    At the last minute a wave of players rushed in and helped me finish the boss off.

Combat Still Repetitive

SkyForge_PaladinFinsiher2 All of this said… my problem with the combat still exists.  It just doesn’t feel like I can do anything interesting with the encounters.  I did add a new combo attack to my repertoire, and while I abused the hell out of it.. each individual fight still seemed to take a little bit longer than they should for the game to feel really “fun”.  The mobs still suffer from the same problem where they tend to be one trick ponies, and keep using the same attack sequence over and over.  There is almost always one thing that you should dodge out of, but other than that it is grind them down with your main attack until they are gone.  There are a lot of things I do like however when it comes to the interactions with other players.  This seems like a game where everything is open tagging, and if you are in an area and have dealt any damage to a pack… you seem to get full credit for the entire pack.  Similarly if there is an objective, it seems like everyone can click said objective, and that seems to have changed from one of the closed beta streams I happened to watch.

SkyForge_CryomancerHelp As a result I found myself wading into a lot of fights that I did not strictly need to just to help out the other players.  Unfortunately not a single one of them did I actually communicate with.  There are a lot of ifs about this game, and I am not quite certain how much I will be playing of it.  In theory I kinda dig the model of purchasing classes or having a slow tedious process of unlocking them.  To some extent I wish I had gotten in on the ability to play the Berserker, because I think that might be a class I would really enjoy.  I have heard that you can go to the training center and test drive all of the classes, much like you can test drive champions in a moba, so that might be one of the things I do next.  At this point I have played around five hours of the game, and I have enjoyed it just enough to keep me coming back to try and find the secrets that I seem to be missing as to why this game is really fun.  Ultimately there will be a point where I just give up on it, but I have not quite reached that yet.  After all it gives me a bit of a diversion from leveling my Dragoon and gearing in Final Fantasy XIV.  If you want to check out the last two videos I have posted since yesterday I will be embedding them below.

Port Naori – Instanced Dungeon-like Mission

Isola Digs – Open World-ish Shared Zone Mission

(was still encoding at the time of posting this… so might have to check back later)

SkyForge Impressions

Recreating Belghast

SkyForge_BelvsBel Skyforge is one of those games that I have consistently been unable to decide if I am interested in.  There are certain aspects of the game that I really like, but then again there are certain aspects that I am really uncertain of.  [Edit] Having to rewrite a chunk of this real quick because I was under the false impression that this game was from a Korean publisher.  I guess this is primarily a Russian game with the assistance of Obsidian an American company.  I guess this explains why I could easily create a character I liked when I have so much trouble doing this in most Korean MMOs. [UnEdit] So I was pleasantly surprised that I could create “Belghast” or at least a reasonable facsimile.  In the above comparison you can see the traditional old school “WoW Bel” against what I was able to create using Skyforge, and I am pretty happy honestly with the look and feel.

SkyForge_WeirdManTouchingMe Last night I spent some time streaming my first few adventures into the game, and as such did not take a lot of screenshots.  The result is you are going to end up with a lot of screen captures from my stream that include my little chat blocker box thingy.  As the weird little man that is touching my face asked me what I think…  that is ultimately going to be my mission this morning.  I can’t really call it a review, since I have not spent more than a couple of hours playing it.  I can however talk about my thoughts.  There have been so many times I have missed out on a games open beta period only to kick myself later when I start to get interested in the game.  Similarly there have been many games that I bought my way into… only to find out later that I didn’t really care for the game at all.  Even though I am still very much engrossed in Final Fantasy XIV and spent about four hours playing that last night AFTER my foray into Skyforge, I felt I owed it to myself to give the game a test drive.  Similarly if you are on the fence and looking to my article to give you some guidance… I highly suggest you just try the game yourself while it is free.

The Setting

SkyForge_MoreQuestText For those who have been around MMOs for awhile, you will remember a game that was discarded somewhere along the way called Imperator.  Mythic games had originally planned on building its “Rome in Outer Space” title but quickly dropped the title when they got the license for Warhammer Online.  After playing a little Skyforge I seriously wonder if someone from that original Imperator team rebooting this idea over at either Obsidian or Allods.  Imperator_CollesiumThere are only a few screenshots from the original Imperator team around, but to the right is one of the more interesting ones.  From what I have seen of the world of Skyforge, it very much shares the same look and feel of a “Rome in Space” concept.  To carry this even further the enemies and their leaders have a very “ancient egyptian” feel to them, which makes me wonder if we are going to see a lot more of these “high tech ancient  civilizations” concept as we get deeper into the game.

Skyforge 2015-07-17 06-07-54-37 The game does a decent job of setting up the story of how you came to have the powers you do and setting up a reason for why you can die multiple times and keep respawning.  Your character is an Immortal, and just like in Highlander your powers do not manifest until you have died the first time.  The introduction to the game is the story of how you died during what turned out to be a suicide mission.  One of the interesting things about the game is that you play a fully armored character during the introduction and then choose your appearance later as you are telling your tale.  While I may have missed it, it did not seem like I had a way to change my gender during this introduction.  So I am wondering if that means that quite literally everyone is “male by default” until you get back to base and choose your gender and appearance.  This did not bother me on a personal level, but I could absolutely see how this would really be a sticking point for some folks and rightly so.  As you can see from the screenshots… the world is absolutely gorgeous and every little aspect of it feels highly detailed.

The Paladin

SkyForge_PaladinShield Since I tend to always play tanks in MMOs… I opted to roll the paladin.  I am not sure if EVERYONE starts as one of three classes, or if this is just limited to the Open Beta, but I was limited to a choice of Paladin, Cryomancer and Lightbinder.  These represent the tank, dps and healer essentially, and this is a game much like Final Fantasy XIV where you can swap your class at any given time.  Unfortunately the Paladin is the only one of the starter classes that I have any interest in…  there are really three classes in this game that interest me and that is the Paladin, Knight and Berserker.  Now we are going to start delving into some of the negatives.  Combat is similar to Neverwinter Nights which in itself is not bad.  Essentially it is a combination of mouse clicks augmented by abilities you cast off keys around your WASD and numeric keys that tend to have long recast times.  It uses a system similar to TERA in that your secondary mouse button is a variable combo ability.

SkyForge_PaladinSpinAttack As a Paladin my combos offered an impressive 360 degree whirl attack that you can see above, a single target lightning bolt, and a frontal cone slash attack.  The problem being is that the combo system seemed to have a mind of its own.  In Tera it related to a certain number of clicks… in Skyforge it seems to be tied somehow to your character animation.  As a result I found it really hard to predict when I could hit a specific attack and always seemed to have the wrong ability available as my combo attack at the wrong time.  Now this combo tree is something you can fiddle with freely and maybe given some time I could sort out how best to use it.  However it gives the combat interaction a bit of a “sloppy” feel to its design.  I find myself greatly preferring the ability to press a unique button for each attack rather than allow the game to sort all of that out for me.  I know at least if I press the button, an ability will fire…  instead here it felt more like the game was playing for me sometimes and I was simply mashing the attack buttons blindly.

SkyForge_PaladinFinisher I feel like all of the attacks were designed to look and feel impressive.  For example the above screenshot is of me executing my finisher, that shows up when the mob is low on heath and there is a pop up window telling me to hit E to use it.  It involves me throwing the mob up into the air and then a bolt of lightning or holy power or whatever it is that Paladins care about striking them back down to the ground.  Again this felt like something I had to freaking mash E for whenever the mob was getting close to being low enough to use it… because my main attack seemed to run away with itself and I would get locked in a combat animation that seemed to be of variable length.  The thing I keep coming back to is that maybe this game feels significantly better when played with a controller than with a mouse and keyboard.  I need to sort through the settings and see if it supports my Xbox 360 controller because this might be an awesome offering to the console market more so than it is to the PC one.

My Impressions

SkyForge_PaladinCharge Like I said at the start of this I have really not spent much time playing the game at this point.  I got in yesterday morning and last night, and between those two play sessions I have completed two of the small instanced missions.  After the second mission I went back to the main hub and got yet another one… and then decided that I was not really having enough fun to keep playing that night.  That is a bad sign, for me personally.  I love combat and combat missions, and if a game wants to throw me at kill X things… I generally eat them up like warm cobbler covered in ice cream.  The problem is… I just found the combat boring and repetitive.  I feel like maybe I am not grasping the “master plan” to its design but it really felt like I had to wail away at random with abilities and mash my shield whenever it was up to keep from taking damage.  It really did not feel like there was much structure to the flailing about, and I found this frustrating especially compared to say the Cryomancer that I watched Jabberant play that seemed to have lots of strategy to it.  It could just be a side effect of my being used to Final Fantasy XIV where every single key press feels like it has some importance behind it.

I’ve embedded my play session from last night so that you can see how the game looks and feels while moving through combat.  I am not giving up on this game quite yet, but I will say my first day of play was “strike one”.  Maybe it feels better as I go along, but I have a feeling that pretty much all of this game is going to be a Lobby/Instance approach with no real “open world” to go exploring.  I might be wrong, and maybe I just have not seen “leveling zones” yet but the whole thing feels a lot like the way DDO did content, mixed with the combat styling of Neverwinter Nights.  All of this said, since you can get in now for free and give it a spin… then I suggest you try it out for yourself.  Maybe you will find it a refreshing experience, and not the boring and repetitive one that I found.  Maybe I was simply in the wrong mindset, because yesterday was a really long day.  In any case I am going to give it a few more shots this weekend to see if it does anything for me.  Sometimes games take a bit for me to enjoy, and this might be one of those.  In any case I am happy I gave it a shot before “buying in”.  So far the verdict is pretty mixed, but I wanted to at least put my thoughts to paper for anyone who might be interested in them.

The Ancient Library

Land of Lost Cables

This morning I feel like the world is angry at me.  Namely we spent the last two days doing some hardcore cleaning and rearranging of both my and my wife’s offices.  This involved taking loads of stuff to good will, and even more loads of stuff out to the dumpster we rented.  However it feels like maybe the end is in sight.  The funny thing about this process is I am finding things that I did not remember existed.  Like for example… wedding pictures…  I did not remember we had a book of wedding pictures.  I realize that statement sounds weird… because everyone remembers photos at their wedding right?  Well for us… we eloped and there was a pretty limited group of people that COULD have taken photos.  I am guessing my cousin Sarah took the photos because she does not appear in any of them, but it was still kinda cool…. and god did we look young.

We also found a stack of photos from our college graduation… and apparently overall shorts were a big thing in 1998… because both my wife and my niece were wearing them.  The other awesome thing about cleaning is finding all the things I have bought and re-bought a dozen times.  Like right now I have bins labeled video, audio, usb and network…  and all of them are overflowing with cables.  I seriously should not need to get any form of a USB cable for example for life.  I have every possible connector save for maybe USB 3.  In addition I found more iPhone/iPad cables than I remember us ever having.  So as I dismantle my office today to do the final leg of this process I should have more than enough cables to hook things up however I want to in the final configuration.

The Ancient Library

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-03 20-27-25-13 Since we are expected to participate in the Four Job Fiesta every single year…  our circle of friends has developed a deep understanding of the content contained within Final Fantasy V… in part because Ashgar has such a deep understanding of said content.  So when it was leaked that Heavensward would include the Library of Ancients needless to say we were a little excited.  Thursday night I managed to get up to the appropriate level to do the dungeon, and last night after Page64-ffv-iosall of the cleaning I sat down and managed to get a guild group to run it.  I have to say I am really damned impressed with the experience and this might be my favorite dungeon yet…  which is a pretty mighty feat considering I really really love The Vault, with its Scarlet Monastery 2.0 feel.  What is best is the way that many of the mobs pop out of books just like they did in Final Fantasy V.  In fact one of the mobs that you run into over and over is good ole page 64.

As you might suspect it has the ability to cast level 5 doom… which apparently plays by the rules set forth in Final Fantasy V.  This means players who are 59 are unaffected, but those level 60 players have to get the hell out or they straight up die.  Granted we have not actually tested this, so it might just be a rumor.  Once again I streamed my run of the dungeon so that I could capture it in video form.  The absolute best part of the dungeon is of course Byblos which takes the place of the middle boss.  The best part is when you kill him he says “Soon, the seal of the master will be open.”  I love it when Final Fantasy XIV does some fan service and so accurately depicts a mob from another game in this one.  One thing I learned is that the Gale Cut attack can be completely avoided if you just move from out of front of him when he is casting it.  So far every dungeon in Heavensward has been better than the last, so I am completely amped to see what the end game dungeons are going to be like.

The Road to Sixty

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-03 18-14-48-09The library finally paid off and I started to get some warrior drops.  The set that comes from the Library is one that I am going to have to farm up because I either look like a Sherlock Holmes era inspector or a refugee from Diagon Alley.  In either case I am a fan of it, and it looks pretty adorable when I run around like this.  Tam is going to be quick to point out that this is not a plate set of armor…  and I will give him that.  It is very much not plate, but instead a cloth robe…  but it looks adorable so I am just going with it for the time being.  The only thing that I have yet to see at all this expansion is a weapon drop.  Every single dungeon seems to drop a nice weapon, but in all cases I have seen zero axes.  As a result I am struggling through on the HQ white weapons that you get through the storyline.  I figure soon enough I will be able to purchase a nice end game weapon as after last nights shenanigans I am roughly a sixth of a level away from sixty.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-03 19-45-58-51 My hope is tonight…  in my newly arranged office… I will be able to push the rest of the way into sixty.  It seems there is a dungeon that folks are waiting to run that comes at the end of the main storyline.  I am more than happy to tank for my friends… I just have to get to max level first.  As horrible as 58 was… I have to say so far 59 has been pretty chill.  Just through pushing through the main storyline in the final area and then doing some side quests and two dungeon runs… I have been able to conquer most of this level.  Had I managed to actually do my clan hunts yesterday rather than getting pulled straight into a dungeon I might have dinged last night before logging.  In theory I could do that tonight and hit the cap… then catch up on the last bit of story that leads to the final dungeon.  My god… the story…  things happen and I want so bad to talk about them, but most of my readers I would assume are not quite there yet.

Bismarck Harpooned

Depths of Madness

As I warned you all, I am writing this the night before I intend to post it…  at 11pm after a fairly long day of working on our little side projects.  Essentially the offices of both myself and my wife need reorganizing in the worst possible way.  Neither has really been torn apart and put back together in a very very long time.  In fact a good chunk of today was spent shedding documents…  from 2005 or so that we kept for god knows what reason.  I had forgotten just how many bills and statements used to pile up from the mail… that are now delivered electronically.  So I spent my time alternating between shredding documents until the shredder overheated…  and boxing up things I no longer needed or wanted for Goodwill.

The problem being that I feel completely overwhelmed in how much is still left to go through.  I am horrible about just boxing things up to get it out of the way… so I have several of these boxes loaded with miscellaneous stuff.  So this whole mission is part de-cluttering but even more important a sifting of things back into logical bins.  At the same time I am trying to make my computer space more friendly, and have a better option for hooking up my console systems and still being able to capture footage from them through my computer.  Another thing I am trying to do is to give myself a workspace where I can fiddle with computers or more importantly assemble the mountain of Lego sets I have.  Then I am trying to free up some additional room to have places to display said Legos when I finally get them together.  Needless to say the next few days are going to be busy.

Bismarck Harpooned

ffxiv_07022015_200623 If you have ready this blog for any period of time, you will know that I am pretty much willing to get drug into anything if a guild member needs it.  There are some exceptions that I avoid like the plague…  I am looking at you Aurum Vale.  However if the need is great enough I can always get my arm twisted enough to run whatever it is.  Bismarck on the other hand is an encounter that I truly enjoy, so the moment someone mentions that I almost jump at the chance to run it.  What makes Bismarck so interesting is the fact that it is a vastly different style of primal fight.  While you are ultimately in a fight against the giant flying whale, you are having to deal with a lot of different elements rather than fighting it directly.  The goal is to fire two giant harpoons into the whale that allow you to wench it to the side of the island you are standing on.  From there you can dps down its weak spot.  To make things more interesting you have to deal with all sorts of weather effects, different sorts of adds, and the whale itself slamming into the platform periodically.

The funny thing about pugging a Primal encounter is that you never fully understand the mechanics at work unless someone actually takes the time to explain them.  One of the mechanics that we did not grasp completely was what exactly to do with the water globules during phase three.  It took us three attempts to get through Bismarck because we were essentially having to figure out what exactly to do with them.  The first time we killed the adds and died to lightning damage, the second time we left the water globs up… and then took a massive  burst of damage when they exploded.  The real mechanic is a bit more subtle.  If there is story weather happening, you leave the water globs up to soak the lightning damage which will ultimately kill them.  If the skies are clear however… you kill the adds before they explode.  Once we grasped this more clearly we wrecked this primal.  I have a pretty nice video of our kill above that I edited out of my stream.

Finally Fifty Nine

ffxiv_06302015_202857 The bulk of my evening was spent wandering around trying to find ways of getting experience.  After having pretty good luck with Clan Hunts Wednesday night, I started off my evening getting a new set and working through those.  It seems like they provide about an eighth of a level upon completing the first two tiers, which is nothing to sneeze at.  After finishing these off I went back out to the Hinterlands to do quests for the crazy goblins within.  These quests involve more than your normal amount of running around as you help them build their new perfect society.  I managed to just have enough quests to push on through to 59 without any further dungeons or fate running.  Now I am in the final stretch to 60, and I have heard it goes considerably faster.  I also just unlocked the next dungeon, and I have been looking forward to running it since I first heard about it.  Hopefully tomorrow before or after the podcast I will be able to pull together a group and run it.  In the mean time however… I need to head to bed because we have to get up early tomorrow to deal with more cleaning.

Sohm Al with Neighbors

The Teamspeak Conundrum

Yesterday I spoke for a bit about one of the reasons why I have not streamed that often.  Namely that I have friends who would prefer not to be broadcast over my stream, which means when I DO stream… I have had to wall myself off from my social network of friends by dropping down to the “streaming” channel.  As a result there is only so long I can seem to go without popping back upstairs because I simply get lonely down there all by myself.  Over the last year or so I have tried to figure out a set up that would work, to let me stream freely without the fear of broadcasting my companions.  The defacto tool is Virtual Audio Cables, but folks have talked about it being cumbersome and the more I looked into it… and they started talking about setting up batch files to do this or that…  it honestly scared me away.  Honestly even the website seems a bit cludgy…  so I kept looking for other solutions.

In the mean time I made attempts to make this process work using both Voice Meter and Breakaway Audio.  Neither tool admittedly was designed to do this, but I had found guides online that supposedly allowed it to work.  Problem being after setting everything up… it never seemed to work for me and there was extremely limited documentation on what I could do to tweak my setup.  Last night I finally decided to dig down into Virtual Audio Cables, and found the guide embedded above.  For starters… this is the point at which I complain that YouTube is the worst means of disseminating information.  What I needed in all of these cases was a good blog post with annotated screenshots…  all I could actually find were a series of haphazard videos.  That said the above video, when followed actually produced the results exactly like I wanted.  Last night I was able to stream practically all night long, while hanging out with friends…  and not broadcasting a single thing they said.  Additionally I bound a separate push to to talk key just for the stream so that folks watching the stream are not getting “half” of the conversation.  The videos below are the results of my evening of streaming.

Sohm Al with Neighbors

ffxiv_07012015_195121 The picture does not exactly go with this story… but oh well it is my prerogative.  Solaria’s fishing outfit looks amazing, and it makes me want to level fishing.  It does however show you that the Greysky Armada spends a ton of time milling around our guild house in The Mists.  One of the things I love about this game is that we are constantly interacting with our neighbors.  Last night Damai and I were talking in /say and a neighbor joined in, saying that he needed a dps and a tank for Sohm Al the second dungeon in Heavensward.  Damai was already spoken for, but I offered up my own services as a tank.  We queued and got in quickly and the below embedded video is the results of that run.  I did a few stupid things, one of which that wiped the party but we had a great time running dungeons with people who were essentially complete strangers until I last night.  I think it is awesome that you can have these casual run in acquaintances.

During the early days of World of Warcraft had this rich tapestry of social connections that reached into many of the other raiding guilds on the server.  When I needed someone for an activity our raid was running, I could reach out into these social channels and draw upon dozens of different people who were milling around looking for something to do.  Cataclysm however pretty much destroyed this network, and I have never really been able to build an equivalent in any other MMO… that is until Final Fantasy XIV.  The people here on Cactuar seem to crave interaction with folks outside of their insular guild units.  I am in my maximum number of linkshells and while folks get lost in their own little world… especially while leveling in Heavensward… I have still been able to draw upon them to fill groups.  As we move into more “maintenance” mode this is going to become more true.  The only thing I wish was that there was a way to create more “formal” guild alliances.  There are a handful of free companies that we hang out with regularly, and it would be nice to have a shared channel of communication that was not “opt in” like a linkshell.

Another Titan Extreme

Wednesday is normally the raid night of our second guild static.  Since the raid leader was not around he left it up to Damai to organize something…  and while we did not really have the appropriate numbers to work on Second Coil of Bahamut, there were still a large number of folks needing Extreme Primals to unlock more content.  I was asked if I “felt like tanking Titan Extreme” to which I replied “there is never a sequence of events that exists… where I feel like tanking Titan Extreme…  but I will if you need me”.  Titan Extreme is just one of those fights that is maddening on so many levels and I would place it among the five hardest fights in all of the A Realm Reborn content.  That said I make it out in my mind to be far worse than it actually is, and at this point I have the dance memorized.  This fight is absolutely about repeating the same sequence of actions over and over until the boss falls down, and as I have commented in the past… this is the sort of fight we fail miserably at.  We are amazing at fights where we have to think on our feet and adjust to change…  but doing this on Titan extreme ultimately ends up screwing the entire raid when it comes to Weight of the Land damage.

What I found amazing is just how challenging this encounter still is even though many of us were being downscaled to 50, and our gear downscaled with us.  A Realm Reborn content is absolutely going to remain relevant for new folks that have yet to experience it.  This makes me more happy than just about anything else in Heavensward.  We still have a bunch of people coming up through the ropes that have not seen any of the 2.0 raid content, and my hope is that we can have an old school night where we work on this as a guild and get people through it.  This is what I wanted from World of Warcraft all along… a way to run old content and make it still relevant to current players.  There were epic experiences like Blackwing Lair and Ulduar that are just diminished because we overgear the shit out of it, and there is no real way NOT to be overpowered… other than making some alts and level locking them at fixed points in time.  Granted we tried to do this once with a raid of level 60 locked alts…  but it still was not the same.  Final Fantasy XIV however seems to have figured out how to make it work, and I am damned thankful.  We eventually got the kill and I edited out just that part in the above video.