Posted in Blaugust, Blogging

Blaugust 2019 – Festival of Blogging

It’s almost that time of year again. The summer is heating up and August is quickly approaching. And for bloggers, that means it’ll once again be time for Blaugust!

If you run a blog, or want to start up a blog, it’s the perfect time to do it! Here’s what you need to know.

About Blaugust

Blaugust is the brainchild of fellow gaming blogger Belghast, who originally started it as a blogging challenge during the month of August. The idea was to try to write a post for each day of the month. However, as the face of blogging has changed over time, so has the structure and goals of Blaugust.

I think he says it best, so I hope he doesn’t mind if I quote him:

We live in a time when blogs are going dark and the hope is to keep infusing the community with a fresh lease on life. Those of us who have been doing it for over a decade now can easily lose hope. It sometimes takes a fresh batch of whippersnappers to keep us engaged and interested in making sure that the community thrives.

If you have a blog that is waning in frequency, or if you ever thought of creating one… this month is the perfect time to put those plans into action.

Last year, I took on the role of mentor for Blaugust, and joined the Discord group. However, timing was rough for me as I had just spun up my FFXIV RP blog on Tumblr and was heavily into fiction writing. Sadly, I didn’t feel as if I gave Blaugust the attention it deserved, but Bel seems forgiving of that.

This year, I’m going to try and make up for it. Though I’m not a super active Discord user in general, I’m already planning posts and topics I want to talk about next month. There’s also a handy-dandy schedule, which is there to offer suggestions on what to write each week. You don’t have to follow it, but it gives loose topic ideas if you find yourself grasping for a post.

There’s plenty of time to get involved and start planning. You can find the sign-up sheet, Discord join link, and more information on the main Blaugust post here.

So if you’re a long-time blogger, a blogger who hasn’t written in a while, a new blogger, or someone who just wants to try blogging for the first time — you’ll find new connections, blogs to read, suggestions/help/inspiration, and readership here!

Hope to see you in Blaugust!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Shadowbringers – Embracing My Inner Elf

One of the fun aspects of Shadowbringers is how the world building team took the familiar elements of the Source world and twisted them just slightly to populate the new dimension we’re exploring in the First. Part of the amusement was to explore all the little nuances of how the two mirror worlds evolved differently. This includes the races that live in the worlds.

Each major race has a counterpart in the First, some being more different than others. All races have a different name — the peoples of the First seem to be a bit more based on your stock high fantasy races including your expected Dwarves and… yes, Elves.

Where the elf-like race in Eorzea is called Elezen, in the First, they are simply Elves. And while I never intended to play the Elf-Archer-Bard trope when I was developing my RP character, boil it down and that’s what Amon is. An Elf Bard.

May as well embrace it.

Making Progress a Second Time

Though I’ve only freshly finished Shadowbringers on my main, on Friday night, I started it all over again on my RP alt. I’ve not been rushing through stuff — in fact, I spent more time talking to NPCs and doing all the side quests since I’m not so worried about leveling alt jobs on Amon. When it comes to main story, some cutscenes I rewatch, others I skip past. Just depends on my interest level on that section of the story.

But I’m still making good time, and entered Rak’tika last night before I went to bed. I spent most of yesterday out in the fae lands of Il Mheg, where I obtained the most Elf-Archer-Bard trope gear from the quests I did out there. This is just the basic level 72 ranged melee set, but when I first saw it when looking for glamour on the marketboard on Friday night, I knew it was my goal to go as wonderfully cliche as I could.

Last night’s Titania clear was a bit painful seeing that half the party was completely new, but we did get past it at 98% on the DPS check on the 4th run. IMHO, that’s the most difficult trial in this expansion — it might be easier if you had a party of level 80s with full end-game gear who have done it before. But going in directly on-level, it can be a tough fight.

The Trust System

Thanks to the lovely Trust system, that was the very first fight I actually had to group up for to progress through the story. When I did it on my main, I ran everything with Syn. Because Trusts are solo completely, we weren’t able to test it out and had to take a party. So, for me, part of replaying the expansion is to try out the Trusts with the various NPC characters.

The system is slow, but it works well enough to get a clear. In fact, the Trust AI is so good that I often use them to know where to stand during boss fights and learn mechanics. It’s like having your very own tutors along for the ride. That’s not to say I’ve never seen them make a mistake, but it’s far less often than a real player.

Because I don’t need to worry about when the next MSQ dungeon is going to force me into a group, I’ve been far more relaxed in playing through Shadowbringers. I used to sit there and try to anticipate and dread the next dungeon. Because these instances are wedged into the story, to enjoy the rest of it, you have no choice. But with Trusts, I simply don’t worry about it anymore.

In fact, I’m excited to push my alts through Stormblood (where I left most of them because I dread doing all those dungeons and trials again), just because I know that once I get to Shadowbringers, I can make my own time. Well, aside from three trial fights. But that’s okay… I can live with that.

Oh, and here’s what happens when Syn buys the music for Rak’tika Greatwood for the FC house:

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Shadowbringers – Level 80 Botanist!

I don’t have any fancy new gear to show for it yet – my scrip gear got me all the way without a problem – but I finished leveling my first gatherer to 80 last night! While I’ve been casually working at this on and off throughout the week, I had no real intention to complete this goal so quickly.

Here’s some things I learned along the way:

  • Do the daily Grand Company turn ins
  • Do the weekly scrip deliveries
  • Keep up with the Crystarium deliveries as you level
  • Do the leves in the Crystarium to fill in the gaps

None of that is really a surprise. But I do want to talk about the Crystarium deliveries for a moment.

Crystarium Deliveries

These are a series of level-based quests that give almost a full level of experience if you turn them in at high quality. In fact, I suggest to always make sure it’s high quality, otherwise, you’re doing yourself a major disservice.

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to gathering Crystarium deliveries:

  • They are a one-time quest (not a weekly reset)
  • They cover both Botanist and Miner

I know that the crafting deliveries cover Carpentry, Weaving and Leatherworking, for example, require you to craft something from each of these jobs in order to finish the product. But sadly, only one of those jobs reap the rewards of the turn-in. So, this may be something to plan around while leveling your jobs.

Thankfully, Fishing has its own delivery system. So that should make working through the last couple gatherer jobs faster in the end. I was also able to plan ahead and pick up the first of my Fokelore books using Yellow Scrips. So I’m well on my way!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Shadowbringers – Leveling Gatherers & Earning Blessed Tools

Now that I’ve completed the Shadowbringers MSQ, I’ve turned my attention to leveling gatherers. Thanks in part to the good chunk of experience that Crystarium turn-ins give, it’s not been that hard to push my Botanist to 76 over the weekend.

The one thing to note is that the Crystarium turn-ins are a one shot thing (as far as I can see). So while it’s been a boon for my Botanist, helping me skip over a few levels, my Miner is going to have to do things the normal way. This is a little prickly where it concerns crafting jobs, but I won’t complain about getting free levels where I can.

One of the things I set out to do this weekend was go ahead and clear out my gathering log for Shadowbringers. This is not something I’ve typically done in the past, but since I’d only had a small chunk of things to gather from 70-75 (before I hit 76 on Botanist), it felt manageable. I even went through and gathered all the timed nodes.

During this excursion, I earned two achievements, which I must have been only shy of getting. I’d not finished all my gathering logs from Stormblood (I’ll probably go back and do that now), but finishing the logs in Shadowbringers got me both the Blessed Mineking’s Pickaxe and the Blessed Fieldkeep’s Hatchet.

Note that the hatchet is actually the Heavensward Blessed tool because I am a lot further behind on my Botanist logs for some reason.

Blessed Fieldkeep’s Hatchet

I remember working really hard to get my Blessed Minekeep’s Pickaxe back in 2017. The fact that gathering a few nodes in the new expansion dropped the newest version in my lap was logical, but also pleasantly unexpected.

Small changes to the gathering logs in game have made them a bit more useful. And while I haven’t tried out the in-game alarm, I have a feeling I’ll be making use of it in all due time.

I guess I better go back and do some gathering logs for Botanist now!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Shadowbringers MSQ Complete

Though we had a few setbacks – such as Syn’s net dropping out at about 3% on the final boss fight – we made it through the MSQ for Shadowbringers this afternoon! Above, our characters in Red Mage and White Mage AF armor.

There were a few weak plot points in end that I could pick at story-wise. But overall, the rest of it was so solid that really, the few flaws I could find are pretty insignificant. In fact, I hear a lot of people say Shadowbringers was the best Final Fantasy game we’ve had in a very long time. I’m inclined to agree – from start to finish, it is a full, whole and wonderful offering to players and fans alike.

I won’t go into any spoilers in this post, but I’ll just express that in the week I’ve put into playing it, I’ve enjoyed everything (except a few dungeon fights) immensely. Still, I know that it’s not completely over – though FFXIV did a good job in encapsulating the story within the walls of the expansion itself, it’s hinted at plenty more for us to do.

And I haven’t scratched the surface of crafting, gathering, Trusts, leveling other jobs, finishing side quests, or unlocking Expert just yet. Not to mention all the alts that I really want to eventually get to the First!

Overall, Shadowbringers has been pure excellence, and I’m positive I’ll be putting a lot more time into it going forward!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Shadowbringers First Impressions (No Spoilers)

As of last night, I’m level 76, quickly closing in on 77, and I feel like I’m on the other side of being halfway done with the MSQ. I’ve seen all of the zones that I’m aware exist in some form or another. And I’ve been in deep when it comes to story.

What can I say about this expansion without spoiling anything? Quite a bit, actually.

I was looking forward to Shadowbringers before release. But now that I have it in my hands, I hate having to put it down for anything else. It’s been a long time since a game has captured my attention, much less a MMO, with a story line like this.

To measure it against previous expansions:

  • Heavensward was pretty good
  • Stormblood was mediocre
  • Shadowbringers is amazing

I honestly haven’t found much at all to nit pick about anything. The story makes sense, even with the odd dimension-hopping we’re doing. I care about this world and the characters – even the side characters. The story isn’t afraid to get gritty and grim when it needs to, and it continues to unfold and entertain. I hear the ending is just as good by those who have completed it.

Story Thoughts

The story is heavily locked into this new world we’re exploring. The First feels like, to me, that the team has gone all-out embracing the freedom they have in creating lore and setting that isn’t locked to anything from 1.0 and beyond. They’ve made it their own, and it really shows.

Here, the team can draw on the familiar to create the fantastical. I adore the high fantasy feel and all the very different creatures and races we learn about. There’s just enough tension in how sin-eaters are developed to give a supernatural sense of urgency – something I didn’t feel much in previous expansions.

Heavensward had dragons. Stormblood had the Empire. But the sin-eaters are almost feral things that can’t be reasoned with, are an immediate danger in the way they kill and spread, with a nature that remains fairly unknown.

Character Thoughts

The antagonists are interesting. And then they pay the we’re-not-sure-if-we-can-trust-this-guy game with another antagonist, which I’m fully enjoying, and want to see more of.

Characters make sense. Their actions, reactions and development is logical while still being emotional. You can see how this world had changed some of them, and a lot of thought has gone into where each character stands on certain issues.

Culture Thoughts

There are just as many side characters that really shine, as well. I’m quite taken by the plight of the different peoples of the First. We see how pockets of society have formed and how they deal with the apocalyptic nature in different ways. Some fight against the end times while others only look to seek worldly comfort until their end.

These cultures raise lots of moral questions and musings. I enjoy thinking things like this through, and am glad to see some of these undertones tackled in the development of the story.

Music Thoughts

Oh, and I can’t close out my first impressions without talking about the music. I immediately noticed that we’ve been getting a lot more in the way of overworld music that includes vocals. Maybe this is because the lovely chorus of the Steppe was looked upon favorably. But Shadowbringers pushes this up a notch.

For example, check out the tune for the Rak’tika Greatwood – don’t watch it if you don’t want to see a zone spoiler. Just listen!

I’m a fan of a great many of tunes I’ve heard so far – I could just chill in the desert (yeah, irony) or zone out to the EQ2-invoking sounds of the fairy lands. I also really like the boss battle theme this time around… though the overworld battle theme is a bit jarring with all its heavy 90’s pop guitars.

Dancer

Oh, and one last thing before I close this ramble out. I haven’t tried the Gunbreaker, but Dancer is incredibly fun as a new job, and feels really good to play. We’ve already had one FC member who dropped Samurai for Dancer, and I don’t blame him one bit. In terms of damage output and what you bring to the party, I expect to see a lot of people playing this job going forward (hope it doesn’t get hit with nerfs).

The only other job I’ve spent time with is Red Mage. Not enough has changed for me to really notice, outside of a change in AOE rotation. So far, so good.

Now, with all that being said, I’m looking forward to diving back into this game, especially with the holiday weekend coming up. Hoping to finish off MSQ, but still have tons of things to level and explore (crafting/gathering) in the expansion.

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

July 2019 Gaming Goals

A Quick Recap for June

I was busy playing Shadowbringers this weekend, so I didn’t remember to write up a summary of the outcome of June’s goals. This is somewhat sad because last month, I blew all of my goals out of the water!

Not only did I meet every goal I set – including finally finishing all the job quests I’d put off for over a year – but I actually exceeded my goals by getting both Warrior and Dark Knight to 60 before the expansion dropped.

I’m quite happy where I’m sitting overall. I’ve been able to dive straight into Shadowbringers while still kicking around daily beast tribes to level the jobs that aren’t yet 70. Later, I’ll talk more about the expansion, which I’ve been enjoying immensely, but for now, let’s set out some goals!

FFXIV Goals – My Main

  • Complete Shadowbringers MSQ
  • Level Red Mage to 80
  • Level a gatherer

I’m keeping this all very simple and wide open right now. As I’m sitting, I feel like I’m maybe about halfway through the MSQ, at level 75, as of last night. Even if all I did were roulettes every day, I’d easily hit 80 by the end of next week.

I guess the real question is what job to level after that? Or should I look at pulling up another character instead? I’m somewhat hesitating on bringing my RP alt through until I understand the MSQ as a whole.

Side Goal – Tai’s Stormblood Progress

Now that I’ve seen what I have of the new expansion, I’m fairly inspired to get as many of my characters to the First as I can! I have several who are just sitting at specific places in the MSQ, especially right at the start of Stormblood.

However, Tai has reached the Steppe, which is a fairly good way into the expansion. So, as a side project, I’m going to see if I can’t push him through the expansion and get him closer to Shadowbringers. Now that it’s super easy to gear up at 70, a lot of the barriers of progression have fallen.

I’m honestly not all that looking forward to going through Stormblood again (and again and again), but it’s not so much that I’m tempted to buy a story skip. Yet.