A Small Patch

Blaugust Clarifications

Yesterday I had a handful of questions about Blaugust that I thought I should address this morning, just in case anyone else had it.  Firstly it is absolutely okay to write content ahead of time and stage it to release over the course of the month.  With both Pax Prime and Gamescom happening during the month of August, this is more than likely going to cut into some writers schedules.  I know last year there were several folks doing great… and then they went to Gamescom and dropped off the face of the planet.  Being able to cover schedule irregularities is a necessary coping skill to deal with keeping a schedule.  While I personally prefer not to schedule posts ahead of time, quite literally everyone else does this.  So for the purpose of Blaugust this still absolutely counts towards your thirty one posts.

Another question that I had is whether or not it is cool to tell a story in thirty one parts.  This is also absolutely fine, and like I said yesterday this is a challenge about longevity and regularity…  not necessarily what you are writing about.  A prime example of this is during my NaNoWriMo run in 2013… I knew that I could not do it and blog at the same time.  So instead I just posted my nightly words each day as my blog post.  So over the course of the month I essentially broadcast the draft of my story to the world.  In the case of the person who asked me yesterday, they wanted to write the back story of their primary game character over the course of the month.  That seems completely valid, and at the same time something that would be extremely awesome.  The constraints of this contest are about producing thirty one posts during the month, and so long as those posts mean the constraints of the challenge you are doing just fine.

A Small Patch

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-22 06-32-08-08 I have a good friend Rylacus who is going to be starting Final Fantasy XIV soon.  Over the year plus I have been contiguously playing this game I have talked to him about the patching schedule.  I mentioned that about once a quarter we get a big patch, and usually more than once a month we get little minor patches.  The problem being that he had no real frame of reference as to what I meant by those two things.  Yesterday 3.0.5 was released and this is absolutely what I would call a “small patch” by FFXIV standards.  When I linked him the patch notes he was completely floored by the fact that we call that a minor patch.  A lot of things happened yesterday, not the least of which is the introduction of the Esoterics tier of Tomestones.  I keep thinking at some point they are going to run out of goofy names to call these, but they seem to have a limitless fount of them.  This allows players to purchase item level 200 items, and returns us to the state of the weekly tomestone cap of 450.  The weapons once again are priced just enough to force players to hit that cap three weeks in a row to get them.

Yesterday was also another significant moment for me and my Warrior as I finished upgrading all of my gear to level 180 (other than the Alexander ring that I should be getting tonight… ).  This means I am essentially “done” gearing with Law and can now start diverting that to my Dragoon who is roughly halfway to level 58.  I was reaching this point where running dungeons was not nearly as important for me as it had been in the past, and then bam… a small patch releases and once again I am infused with this desire to hit the dungeons every single day.  This time around Expert Roulette is going to be my key focus, and we have learned in the past that through running a single roulette every day for several days in a row.. you can cap your tomestones without doing anything terribly insane.  What I marvel at however is the timing of their content.  Quite literally just as we started slowing down our dungeon running fervor… they launched yet another tier of gear giving us even more reason to get excited about running dungeons again.  This game is absolutely phenomenal at figuring out the right mix of carrot and stick.

Final Coil

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-20 20-27-08-11 Another huge thing yesterday is that Savage Alexander opened and now the bleeding edge of Final Fantasy XIV raiders can throw themselves against that content.  As of this morning it seems like only a handful of free companies have defeated the first turn, and only one or two have managed to defeat the second.  So it seems like it will take folks a good deal of time to actually conquer this raid.  For our guild however, we are still very much in the gearing process and have yet to be able to field a reliable “normal” Alexander run on a regular basis.  What our Monday night group has been working on instead is finishing out the Final Coil of Bahamut.  I realize we are quite literally “months behind” as the saying goes, but I am still very much enjoying myself.  We managed to take down Turn 12 on Monday night and made what I feel is significant progress on Turn 13.  Ultimately it will probably take us a few more weeks, which is good… because we still only have one geared tank for the Monday raid.

As a result… I ended up solo tanking turn 13… which is quite possibly the most hectic thing I have done in a long time.  My world became entirely centered around making sure I had five stacks of wrath at the right moment… so I could hit Inner Beast plus another cooldown… in order to survive the tankbuster…  which of note means that it literally does enough damage to decimate my 25,000 hit points.  The worst timing however was on the pull when quite literally I was hitting my fifth ability and gaining my fifth stack of wrath… as the attack was casting that I needed Inner Beast for.  Needless to say that night stressed me the hell out… but hopefully we can down him soon.  I would love if the axe dropped, because it is super amazing looking.  What I really hope however is that we can finish gearing and start work on Bismarck Extreme, Ravana Extreme and Alexander for gear.

Final Coil of Bahamut

Missing Tank

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-13 20-49-19-35 Last night was our raid night for the group that meets on Mondays in Final Fantasy XIV.  Initially there was talk of working on Bismarck Ex but since we only have one geared tank in that team, that was out of the question.  Ashgar decided to level his monk first, and is now working on bringing the Paladin online once more.  The amount of time he has had to work over the last few weeks has slowed down his leveling process, and you can tell he is more than a bit frustrated by it.  In any case that left us with one max level geared tank  and one partially leveled tank to play with.  Since the elemental snakes will one shot the tank if he has the wrong buff color…  that took Bismarck Ex completely off the table.  So as a result we opted to venture forth into the Final Coil of Bahamut, an area that we unlocked last week but had yet to attempt.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-13 21-28-28-83 One of the constant themes of the Heavensward expansion is the fact that the Allagan’s are jerks and seem to like playing god.  The story behind the Final Coil of Bahamut seems to reflect this.  Not going to go into any massive spoilers, but I highly suggest you run through this content at some point so you can see the story bits yourself.  The other big surprise is the fact that we did in fact have to deal with a lot of mechanics.  We went into this place as a “undersized party” which is the lamest way of saying “let me go into it without level syncing me down”.  This is a great option for farming older content by yourself, for example I have been slowly working on getting the rest of my Brayflox Infantry set for example doing this.  For the older raids this means you can go in and have a bit more padding to deal with the damage these deal.  We pulled turn 10 completely blind, and managed to make some significant progress before ultimately wiping… and having to learn the mechanics of the fight.

Final Coil of Bahamut

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-13 21-33-17-05 Throughout the course of the night we managed to take down turn 10, and after a bit of futzing turn 11 as well.  We entered turn 12…  mainly because there is a huge amount of story content at the beginning of it.  We made a couple of attempts and agreed that we would simply return next week after doing a bit of studying.  I realize we are not doing this content “for real” by any stretch of the imagination… but it still feels very epic.  Everything about these zones and fights are just amazing to behold.  There is an awesome jumping sequence where you go flying through the air… and I am sure it is enough to make anyone with either motion sickness or a fear of heights squeamish.  I sometimes suffer from vertigo in games, but this actually didn’t seem to bother me too much, at least not in the same way that Razor’s Edge did.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-13 21-36-34-17 Ultimately what I want to try and focus on instead however is gearing the folks that are sub 170.  I want to do Alexander with my normal raid group, and I want to also tackle the two extreme fights.  Unfortunately I am one of the few people on our team that I think is geared to that point.  So that means I need to start grabbing folks and dragging them into dungeon runs for tomestones of law over the coming weeks.  Basically I need to start seeing if people are already at 170 before running a dungeon… and then trying to grab folks that aren’t instead.  Over the last few days I was in my own mad push for that gear level and kind of ignored everything but doing that.  Now I feel like I need to take a much more structured approach in an attempt to get folks the gear they need to do the bigger and more exciting things.

Alexander Ready

Assorted Updates

TardisShowerCurtain First up I want to thank everyone for checking in on me after my Saturday post.  I am doing largely okay myself, but I wanted to talk about my own struggles in the hopes that it might bring someone out of the woodwork and let them know that they really aren’t as alone as they might think.  I am still processing the information about my friend, but again I am more concerned about another one of my friends for whom the news is much closer.  I was absolutely overwhelmed by the support you all gave me though, and I am consistently amazed at just how loving a community the twitter and blogosphere communities can be.  Sure there are people out there that make these places toxic environments, but I seem to have filtered out any possible negative elements from my own feed so that all I really see is positive people who have always been willing to embrace me when I needed it.  In part I am hoping that if someone is struggling…  they also see the overwhelming response I got… and maybe it convinces them that it is worth reaching out and talking to someone.

This weekend was very much the “last call” for the dumpster, as it should get picked up today.  The weekend before we tackled both of our offices, and Saturday we tore into the upstairs bathroom.  For several years now it had gone neglected, and the upstairs shower room was essentially a catch all of big things that we “intended” to take to good will but never actually got there.  As a result that room had probably not been opened for roughly a decade.  We fixed that… and did a bunch of little things throughout the weekend as well.  This is also seemingly the weekend of finally taking care of things we intended to do.  Over the course of Saturday I took three full loads to goodwill, and at the end of the day we were finally able to deploy this amazing Tardis shower curtain that I have had for a few years, with the intention of going in that bathroom.  The cats are confused as hell with the constant changes in their world.  The upstairs bathroom also serves as the littlebox room… and our eldest cat just sat in there Saturday evening confusedly meowing… because she didn’t recognize the place.

Office Improvements

mynewsetup A week ago I posted an “in progress” shot of my office and this weekend I continued to refine it.  One of the side benefits of Saturday was getting a cabinet that would fit under the printer table, that now serves as my toolbox.  This allowed me to sort the various tools that I found while cleaning and organize them in one place.  Sunday however became the day I tackled hooking up the consoles again.  Below the television that is proudly displaying Street Fighter Alpha 3 (we will get to that in a bit) is a cabinet that contains my PS3, PS4 and Xbox 360.  I had to cut holes in the backing board of the cabinet to fish the cords through but in the end in works pretty well.  While I had my PS4 torn apart I also performed the upgrade from the stock 500 GB hard drive to a new Samsung 2 TB one…  and the nice thing about this setup is that it is close enough to the router that I can actually hard wire the network instead of relying on wireless for everything.  My hope is that this improves the performance of remote play through both the Vita and the PSTV.

All of these are hooked into an HDMI switch box that then goes through my Elgato capture card into my PC, allowing me to capture video from any of the devices.  The new device that is playing SF Alpha 3 however is a side project that I started a couple of years ago.  I had purchased a Foxconn Netbox PC some time ago for the purpose of turning it into an emulator machine.  Problem being in my old setup there was never really a good place to hook it up, and while I managed to get an operating system loaded on it…  I never did the required fiddling to make it all work.  In the meantime I had been searching for a more turnkey solution and finally landed upon Lakka, which is a custom Linux distribution designed entirely around running the RetroArch emulator platform.  The awesome thing about it is that it also has Samba set up so it mounts each of the required directories as windows shares so you can simply copy files to it over the network.  So as of yesterday I got it up and running and have NES, SNES, GB, GBA, DS, Genesis, Master System, Game Gear and a few Arcade games running on it.  Really happy with the way it is working, the only negative is that apparently the N64 emulator will not run at all on 32 bit hardware…  so I can live without that.

Alexander Ready

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-12 14-55-34-01 From a gaming perspective my world has revolved around getting to item level 170 in Final Fantasy XIV.  This is the magical breaking point that allows you access to the new Alexander raid, and can be attained through a combination of law gear and clan hunt based upgrades.  As of last night I am sitting at 173 with every item upgraded to 170 or better except for one of my rings.  Yesterday afternoon I managed to get into turn one of Alexander with Wulf and Grace and on our second attempted pushed through the encounter.  It was a really fun fight to tank along side Wulf, and while he continued on into the progression… I dropped out to help folks with dungeons.  My hope is that maybe tonight I can get in some more of Alexander because supposedly at the end of the quest chain, you end up getting a “Bolt” the item that can be exchanged for an accessory slot.  This would ultimately make it so that I didn’t need to somehow purchase a second tomestone of law ring, but instead jump straight to the 190 equivalent.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-12 21-45-55-08 I am really happy that in theory my gear grind is coming to a close at least on the Warrior.  This is largely because I really want to start pushing my focus to the Dragoon so I can get it up to level as well.  Right now I am roughly half way to 55, and honestly a few more dungeon runs would get me there quickly.  Right now however every waking moment in game has been spent making sure I do all of my duty roulettes so that I can get all the bonus law I can manage.  Even with a shift in focus to the Dragoon I will still probably end up getting a bunch of law, simply because I get called on by my friends in the free company to tank random stuff.  I quite literally could be happy if I did nothing but run dungeons, because this set of dungeons is freaking amazing.  The last few days I have managed to get The Vault as my low level roulette, and I am perfectly fine with this because that place is so much more enjoyable than doing another Brayflox or god forbid Aurum Vale.  While I am still struggling inside with the news I got on Friday, the weekend as a whole was pretty successful in at least taking my mind off of it for large blocks of time.

The Gearing Game

False Starts

Yesterday I made an attempt to go to work, but ultimately was told to head home by my boss.  Over the last few days I have been pretty much living on the couch with my leg slightly elevated and alternating icepacks on it.  The problem being that I don’t exist like this in the real world, where sitting at a desk generally requires that your feet be on the ground.  While I love the arrangement of my cube at work, it really does not allow for me to elevate my leg at all.  Not surprisingly within an hour of being at work my knee was swelling something fierce.  So I headed home and started the process of icepacks over again until it started to behave somewhat normally.  The positive is however that the area that is actually swelling is rather small and contained as compared to the day the fall happened, so I guess I am recovering quickly.

The biggest problem, the one that effects this blog is the fact that my wrist has hurt an awful lot.  After struggling through yesterday mornings post, I was pretty much typing one handed for most of the day.  I wore a brace most of yesterday and as of this morning it is feeling much better.  It is still extremely tender when I move my wrist too quickly or to any extreme of motion…  but overall it is more functional.  Hopefully this means I can return to normal typing instead of this frustrating one handed mess that I dealt with yesterday.  Since it is also my “mouse hand” that is effected I have been surprised that really using a mouse doesn’t hurt much at all.  I guess in general I am used to keeping my mouse sensitivity so high that I barely have to move my hand at all to send the cursor flying across the screen.  Hopefully today will be a much better day and I will continue to mend quickly.

The Gearing Game

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-07 20-00-37-22 Like most players in Final Fantasy XIV, my life revolves around the acquisition of Tomestones of Law.  To get a full set of “law” gear it takes roughly 3500 and they have given us many options on how to get them.  Firstly there are three dungeons that reward 80 tomestones each, and an additional 40 if you can manage to catch someone who still has their first time bonus or “virgin bonus” as we have taken to calling it.  In addition to that you get 100 tomestones for both a low level roulette and a high level roulette each day, and an additional 60 for a trial roulette.  The one that surprises me however is that Expert Roulette is only worth 80, but I guess in theory it has a face value of 160 to 200 since you are getting stones from the dungeon proper as well.  In order to get into Alexander, the raid that just opened players need to reach a combined ilevel of 170 which also happens to be the level of the tomestone gear.  So in theory you need a full set in order to step through its doors.

Where you can cheat a bit is through those ubiquitous “Clan Hunts” that I have been using as filler leveling.  It turns out all of the items needed to upgrade your gear from 170 to 180 come from Centurio Seals.  Hopefully you have been doing these religiously because in order to get a full set of gear upgraded to the next step it is going to take a grand total of 2795 seals.  Now granted you can hop on the hunt train like you could in the previous expansion and in theory grind this out in a weekend.  Personally I happen to find the daily hunt mechanic rather relaxing, as I can log in… fly around the gorgeous zones and pick off the mobs one at a time.  Right now I have four pieces of gear… chest, helm, ring, and weapon.  Currently I have upgraded the weapon and ring to 180, and am saving enough hunt marks to upgrade the chest piece next.   There will come a time when I stop messing with anything other than three star and elite hunt marks, but for the time being they also serve to help level my dragoon for the lower level ones.

Dragoon Dungeoning

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-07 21-59-43-32 Right now if there is a moment when I am not engaged doing something else, or tanking something that can gain me law stones…  I am pretty much in the dungeon queue on my Dragoon.  Right now the dps queue seems relatively manageable sitting around the 10 minute mark for “leveling” dungeons.  As a result it is my hope to ride this queue for as many classes as I can manage.  After running a couple of max level dungeons, I settled into a couple of quick runs on the dragoon who is now up to “Sohm Al” level.  I have to say I find this pretty relaxing as well, because I can just sit back and poke things with a stick.  I opted to go ahead and record my dungeon run to add it to the stack of dungeon videos I have on my youtube channel.  I had not actually recorded any when I was not currently tanking, so it gives a slightly different perspective of the fights.  I have to say I am really digging the “tribal” look that comes from Sohm Al.  That helmet is freaking amazing, and is likely going to go in my glamour bin for future usage.  At this point I am roughly halfway through 53 so I figure it will take two more dungeon runs to hit 54, and then five to six past that before I can do the next dungeon at 55.  Embedding the video and cutting this post short today without a second paragraph.