Long Time Coming

Bug Squish

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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.

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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.

Legion Lock

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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.

Week in Gaming 8/23/2015

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Stealing Ideas

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

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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.

Wildstar

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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

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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.

Diablo III

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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.

Hatoful Boyfriend

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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

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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.

[AggroChat] [Direct Download] [iTunes] [Stitcher]

Ravana Attempts

Unbreaking Google+

Last night I had a message from a long time friend of mine, asking me why I was no longer posting my daily posts on Google+ to which I kinda gave a head tilt and went “huh”?  I had certainly seen my posts making their way to G+ anytime I checked my messages over there.  Then I took a closer look and saw that they all said “shared only with you” which kinda defeats the purpose of syndicating posts in the first place.  It turns out that nothing I have posted since July 28th has made it to G+ which is more than mildly frustrating.   I un-linked my account from Jetpack Publicize and relinked it a few times, but I never saw the prompt that I once saw asking me to select what type of sharing level for my posts.  So I took to the search engine to try and figure out what was happening.  Sure enough it seems like Google did something to change its policies with what level of access external apps have access to your account.  You apparently need to go into Settings > Manage Apps & Activities and then find the WordPress app or whatever else you are using for syndication.  This will allow you to edit the permissions for how it will be sharing to your feed, and like I said before apparently the new default is “Only You”.

After posting about this last night it seems that this pretty much happened for everyone universally.  I thought I would take a quick moment and at least explain how to fix it.  As far as syndicating my posts… I tend to take the approach of broadcast what I write pretty much everywhere.  Each of the social networks kinda has its own vibe and while I greatly prefer using Twitter, there are folks that read my content that equally greatly prefer G+ or Facebook or even Tumblr.  My goal has always been to deliver my content as in as painless of a manner as possible for folks to read.  I personally am not a huge fan of Facebook, and in fact I went through the crazy process of deleting my personal account once upon a time because it annoyed me.  However when I started blogging I signed up for an account just for the purpose of reblogging my content because I know there are people who do prefer to use Facebook.  Granted it might get annoying as shit if you follow me on multiple platforms to constantly see duplicate postings, but I guess that is a chance I am willing to take because I don’t want anyone to feel excluded or left out of the process.  Maybe this is strange but my daily posting thing… feels like all of us are taking a journey together and I don’t want to leave anyone behind.

Ravana Attempts

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As is always the case last night was we gathered up the Monday team and did some eight player content in Final Fantasy XIV.  We started the evening by burning through all four parts of Alexander Normal for the folks who are not running it and capping out early like I am.  At this point my Warrior is sitting at level 190 and I have everything I can get out of Alexander other than the chest piece.  So as of today I will be largely running the place to help out the gear on my Dragoon.  At some point I hope to get the chest piece but largely for cosmetic reasons because the Alexander gear set looks amazing.  Last week we managed to burn down Bismarck Extreme and now both the Monday and Wednesday teams are keyed for the next primal encounter.  As such instead of beating the sky whale again we decided to make attempts on Ravana Extreme.  Now going into this place we had heard horror stories about how rough the encounter was and how it was another Titan Extreme where you had to move exactly at the right time and keep repeating a pattern.  Honestly I didn’t see that at all.  Instead I saw an encounter with a repeatable pattern but significantly more wiggle room  to adjust as we went.

We made some serious progress last night, and I think more than  likely we will be able to defeat him next week.  Each attempt we kept creeping closer to the goal, and essentially what is going to be the make or break moment is dealing with the Final Liberation phase.  If we can learn that particular dance we will have the encounter, and it honestly did not feel like we were too terribly far off from that process last night.  Granted at this point we are significantly better geared than the first groups that attempted the fight, but my hope is that we can get in and start farming this guy so that folks can get the really awesome weapons.  In truth I hope that we can farm both primals because there are absolutely weapons that come from both of them that I would like to see.  We had the two handed sword drop from Bismarck last Monday and it looked amazing.  It is the stupid things like getting glamour items that motivate me, and at some point I want to organize 2.0 extreme primal farming runs so that we can start to get folks their ponies.  As it stands we only have a couple of ponies in the guild, and I think my Leviathan pony was the first.  We need to figure out a method because really I would like to make sure everyone gets at least ONE primal pony before other people roll on it.  Granted eventually it would be awesome to have people get a full set, but I would be happy with having everyone with just one as a starter.

Entering Whitevale

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This morning I am having one of those mornings when I am easily distracted.  The cats are tearing through the house chasing each other like they have gone mad.  There is a dog barking and it sounds like it is coming from my back yard… even though it is really across the green belt.  I keep flipping over to twitter, and having to force myself to put my fingers back on my keyboard and type in my WordPress window.  Largely since this is Blaugust I wanted to include this little tidbit because it absolutely happens to me too.  There are days when you cannot keep your train of thought, and I have learned to just go with it.  Start writing the things that seem most natural and eventually somehow you will get back on track.  Last night was one of those nights for me as well, and I flipped back and forth between games quite a bit as the evening wore on.  Before the raid I spent time over in Wildstar with the purpose of trying to “finish Galeras”, which is a bit of a daunting task because there are a silly number of quests in that zone and many of them you will never actually find unless you go wandering around aimlessly.  Bit by bit however I explored the regions of the map that had yet to be explored and I am now relatively confident that I have at least gotten most of the quests out of the way.

That now means the moment I have been dreading is upon me…  and I had to take the flight out to Whitevale.  I guess in part the reason why I have been avoiding doing this is that Whitevale ultimately was the zone that broke me when I played the game at launch.  I am not sure entirely what it is about the place, but it felt like moving slowly through molasses.  I think in part it was due to the fact that Dominion side there simply were never that many players in the zone, meaning that I could never get a group to do any of the group objectives, and the mob density meant that it was super hard to move anywhere without having to fight a dozen mobs.  The zone also seemed to have a higher concentration of the challenger and superior difficulty mobs than the other zones.  It seemed like I could not move anywhere without seeing one of those horrible flashing red shielded mob types that I had to try and chew through in vain.  As a result I have honestly been scared of getting to this zone because it was my fear that once again it would break me.  I have actually been enjoying the content so far, and finding playing the game refreshing.  So hopefully maybe I can make my way through Whitevale because supposedly everything on the other side of it… is significantly better.

 

Lord of the Hive

Fears for Launch

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 06-47-05-93 All in all it was a pretty great head start weekend, but there was one big problem that I fear is only going to get worse as we move forward to the official launch tomorrow.  Right now the initial datacenter login procedure is having some major issues.  What is happening is that several of the highest population servers are all on the Aether data center that I also happen to play on.  When you attempt to connect to that data center, if it cannot find a slot the client times out… throws a nasty error and exits.  This is like the worst possible way to handle this error, and my hope is that we see a patch soon at that at least takes you back to the start screen allowing you to attempt to connect again.  Normally speaking it takes a half dozen tries to get past this screen before getting into the login server queue… at which point you have won and get to play the game.  Last night I opted to switch machines and got stuck behind the login issues for roughly fifteen tries before being able to make it into the game.  If we are running into these problems on a Sunday evening… I feel like life is going to be unbearable come Tuesday for the official launch of the game.

I love Square but sometimes they just make horrible design decisions when it comes to infrastructure.  The way the client works is that you log in on the launcher, and then it launches the game passing in an encrypted token with your authentication information.  As a result if anything goes wrong with the client, it essentially crashes back to desktop and to the launcher forcing you to log in again.  If you have the mobile authenticator this means entering another one time password and beginning the entire process over again.  If you remember the above image from the original launch of the game… and all the infrastructure issues we had to deal with.  They all came from the fact that they launched the game without any form of a queue system.  The positive is that they have fixed that issue and for the most part the game has been stable if you can get past the Data Center gates.  I had some initial lag on the first day, but after that the game has been flawless…  once you get logged into it.  My hope is that with the launch of the game we see a small patch that changes how the client works, in that it no longer drops back to desktop on timeout errors, but instead allows you to attempt a reconnection.

Lord of the Hive

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-20 20-47-42-97 Yesterday was a big day of taking on new content, and potentially there will be some story spoilers here, so apologies ahead of time.  When I wrote my last blog post I mentioned that I had unlocked the first trial and yesterday after dropping my wife off for her next trip I managed to attempt it.  Ravana the Lord of the Hive appears pretty quickly through the story as being the primal associated with the Gnath, an insectoid beast tribe from the Dravinian Forelands.  Instead of waiting around for a full guild group, I queued for it and managed to get a group relatively easily.  In the group was a paladin tank that had apparently done the fight a few times, and helped us through the various pit falls.  It was decided that I would end up tanking, since the Paladin was wearing mostly strength gear and since Ravana hits extremely hard.  This fight like so many other primals has a hard wipe mechanic that if you do not dps down the adds fast enough a saber falls to the ground.  Towards the end of the add phase he sucks the entire group up into a whirlwind and they take damage for each saber that is left on the ground in this fashion…  in my experience more than one… maybe two is a full raid wipe.

Now with the Free Company I have, my point of view on dps is a bit skewed.  Most of us rolled into this expansion in most of a full set of level 130 gear, and most of our dps do silly amounts of damage.  We were flat out failing at the dps check mechanic, so I suggested that I go into my new deliverance stance and help with the adds.  That seemed to make all the difference in the world as I was able to shred the adds pretty quickly in my new pseudo dps stance.  We made it through the encounter, but took long enough to get a limit break three, and another limit break two…  and the group was getting precariously close to a second “saber” phase.  I didn’t realize our dps was that low, and honestly I walked out of the fight thinking it was just “that hard”.  Later in the evening yesterday we walked into the encounter with seven of eight members of the group being from our free company.  We did not manage to get a limit break three at all before he died, and during the add phase he didn’t even get a single saber to hit the ground.  With that sort of dps… the fight was actually really easy, but I still am concerned about what the fight will be like on extreme mode.

Sohm Al

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-21 16-50-14-53 The second bit of content that I got to experience new yesterday was the dungeon of Sohm Al.  You reach it very shortly after finishing the first trial encounter, and it happens to act as a gate keeper for your final Aether Current that you get upon completing the quest.  Thankfully as soon as I got there in the content I had healers and dps ready to go with me, so I was able to get a full guild group for my first experience in there.  I have to say I am really liking the dungeon design so far, in that they are extremely fun experiences to go through.  They remind me very much of the last set of dungeons that they released as far as difficulty level.  Additionally so far they seem to be dropping some interesting looking gear, that I hope to collect a full set of.  The tanky set that comes from Sohm Al looks like the armor that the Lucia wears, so it might be my next appearance set that I wear for a bit.  The new crafted gear that you get from quests however appears to be influenced from the Varlet set that comes from the previous 2.55 expert dungeons.  I’ve expanded the number of retainers that I have once more, and now I am feeling less constrained about the awesome things that I am collecting.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-21 17-13-47-77 When the game released originally I did what I always do in MMOs and tried to complete every single quest objective that it places in front of me.  The problem being that in Final Fantasy XIV there are a fixed number of quests available for ALL of your jobs.  This meant that after my very first job… I was forced to grind them up using FATEs and dungeons with zero quest support.  This time around they seem to be flooding us with quests, but I am tackling them in a very methodical method.  Essentially I am following the main storyline until I reach a level gate, meaning that I have to have progressed another level to get the next step.  At this point I go back and start working my way through the side quests looking for any that unlock Aether Currents, and after I have completed those, I start doing a bare minimum needed to get to the next level threshold.  The goal is that I save plenty of side quests for when I start working on my dragoon, and hopefully that eases that process at least a little bit.  Last night I hit another level gate in the story content, but thankfully I have maybe an eighth of a level to go before hitting 55 and progressing again.  I am not sure if we are going to raid tonight or not, but in any case my hope is to push through to the next level and continue the story, because it is getting really damned good.

Making Story Matter

The First Trial

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-20 20-47-09-89 Today begins the third day so far with Heavensward and I am feeling so completely behind.  This is of course something I am doing to myself, as I am still significantly ahead of several of the other free company members, but I have this sense of falling behind.  I guess it part it comes from the fact that expansions are by nature a reset.  On Wednesday night I was that guy that had two max level and well geared tanks, a max level and well geared healer, and both a ranged and a melee dps also max level and well geared.  I could literally fill any role I needed to fill in a party, and this gave me a great sense of confidence knowing that I could also we be useful in some way.  Now as of Friday all of that is gone… and I am back to clawing my way uphill to try and arrive at that position of comfort again. I am focusing on my Warrior and as a result I can ONLY  tank an instance.  So that means I either fill that role or I have to watch from the sidelines as people have fun without me.

That is the stress of an expansion, the immediate feeling of inadequacy that only goes away with copious amounts of time spent pouring levels into all of your characters.  It is a real struggle to keep myself from powering through everything so that I can reach that point of safety faster.  Like in the back of my head I have this order in which I intend to level things to get back there, but if I am not careful the whole thing can be overwhelming.  Everything is new and shiny and I am sure I will have plenty of time to level and still experience all of the content as it was intended.  Right now I am held up on the first trial encounter, so I am hoping that as soon as I finish writing up my blog post I can pop in and try and defeat that so I can move forward in the story.  The thing I find interesting is that they have apparently skipped “normal” mode entirely because this first trial is flagged as “hard”.  I guess it makes sense as it happens post 50, but in the grand scheme of things I feel like maybe “leveling” content cannot really be deemed “hard” modes.

Making Story Matter

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-20 19-28-17-63 The story is getting extremely good, and that is the thing that I am the most impressed with.  Usually when an MMO expansion happens, there is a resetting of things to square one and the world essentially forgets what its last state happened to be.  I’ve always found this frustrating because I want the world to remember where it has been before.  I want things to change and that the NPCs that I spent time working with, will remember who I am when I meet them again.  One of the single most immersion breaking moments for me is when I encountered Alexstraza in Twilight Highlands and she had no memory of working with me at Wyrmrest Temple in the Dragonblight of Northrend.  Sure years have passed by I was set up as a big damned hero through the events, and I am still the same big damned hero today.  She should have embraced me as a friend based on those past events, not as another nameless and faceless NPC.

More than anything Final Fantasy XIV seems to do an excellent job of working with your character being the badass that it supposedly is.  The reactions that you get are extremely human.  Some people fear you for your power, and others seek to test their mettle against it.  But regardless of their reaction…  there is no NPC that at this point does not realize you are the “Warrior of Light”.  The storyline of Heavensward takes place literally moments after the final events of 2.55, and while sure it would be frustrating to a new player to be told that they cannot enter the new content without catching up in the storyline…  this is because the storyline would seem unintelligible if you did not experience the events of “A Realm Reborn”.  This is really a new experience for me when it comes to MMOs and I have to say I am absolutely in love with it.  Square Enix has figured out how to make MMO storyline and lore matter… and I am so damned thankful they did.  I just hope that other games see how well it works in Heavensward and start adopting it in their own games.

AggroChat #62 – Flight and Chocobos

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 23-50-32-16 I originally thought that when we set down to record this episode of AggroChat we would end up putting aside all pretense and simply talk about the Heavensward expansion for Final Fantasy XIV.  However what happened in reality is we ended up recording an extremely length show where we basically did that… AND a normal show as well.  While many or our weeks revolved around the launch of this new expansion…  we had to do something to bide our time until the Friday launch.  Grace has apparently been completely hooked on Marvel Super Heroes so we talked about that for awhile.  The other game she has been playing is Wildstar, so we spent a good deal of time chatting about how that game has been progressing.

In Final Fantasy XIV before the outage we managed to take down Shiva and Odin once again so we talked a bit about that.  Then myself, Tam and Kodra have been playing an awful lot of ArcheAge so we talk again about that and our progress so far.  Then finally when we start talking about Heavensward we get sidetracked on a lengthy debate about the merits of flight in MMOs and whether or not it is simply GM cheats.  Each of us brought our own perspectives to the conversation and quite honestly this could have been a show topic in itself.  Finally we talk about our experience so far with the Heavensward expansion to close out the show.  It is an extremely packed show, and clocks in just shy of two hours.