Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Copied Factory Impressions

So, I’m going to start this off by saying I’ve never played a NieR game. The first time I’ve ever heard of the series was due to people talking about NieR: Automata. I’ve mostly only heard positive things about it, and apparently it’s a really great game for those who enjoy the kind of game it is.

However, as I stated before, the aesthetics and concepts don’t really appeal to me. I have an appreciation for science fiction in small doses, and prefer less gritty and more fanciful elements mixed in my sci-fi.

Shadowbringers, in contrast, is an expansion that feels quite high-fantasy. The world of the First has a lower technological level than the Source due to the devastation the world’s undergone. So meshing something of dark sci-fi into this world seemed a very odd choice. I was originally worried that it would be so out of place and overly dark, despite the fact that the devs worked to make it the ultimate highlight of 5.1.

I think for people who understand the world of NeiR, this raid was very significant and well received. I have no emotional attachments and don’t even understand any of what I’m seeing beyond the story that FFXIV presents, so you’re getting a completely unbiased set of thoughts here.

Setting and Story

First, I was pleasantly surprised with how the teams meshed the Copied Factory into the existing world. As stated above, the First just doesn’t seem like the place for dark sci-fi to exist. But they managed to make it happen in a way that felt believable.

Not only that, but their choice of the side characters who lead you through the raid added just enough humor and whimsy to keep it from getting too dark.

Yes, I’m wearing a Halloween glamour in these shots. That’s how long ago I unlocked it.

The Factory setting itself was a lot of metal and machines, as I expected. But, for some reason it didn’t feel too imposing — I was concerned it would be super dark and dreary and edgy. In fact, there’s an area at the end that’s so bright that I often get a bit of eyestrain because of all the white.

As for the story… well… I don’t really get much of the significance of it. Androids are fighting bad machines to save the world. And… that’s really all I took away from it. I’m not entirely sure why they are in the First or what connection they have to the past of this world… or why there’s even a huge buried factory to begin with.

Maybe the further story will tell us? I’m not super invested in it, though.

But that’s okay, because there’s raid drops and playability.

Raid Mechanics & Rewards

Unlike all these folks out there who are drooling for a B2 glamour crate drop, I really don’t care that much for the outfit. *gasp!* Did I just say something unpopular? Ah, well.

I don’t care for it, and everyone wants it or is wearing it. So I’ll be glad when that fad eventually heads for the sunset, as they tend to do.

However! I do think the normal gear drops there – which are all dyeable for a change – are VERY nice to look at. I actually opened the raid on my RP alt because I was after the aiming coat in particular (finally got it last week). So thumbs-up on glamour design for normal drops.

I’ve yet to get one of the pod minions, but I think they’re cute, and do want one. I also think the music is pretty nice there, and got the music drop that people seem to really want last week.

As for how the raid feels and the mechanics…

Folks who know me know that I have been disgruntled with the difficulty level of Alliance Raids since Weeping City. I feel that on release, most of these raids have been way too difficult for the average player who doesn’t have a guild on voice chat to learn. This can be seen in the fact that the Monastery was later edited to have an automatic echo buff applied to it… likely just so people didn’t drop upon seeing it in roulette.

The direction the Copied Factory has gone in is a lot better. I actually say that while dying more often in this raid than I did in previous raids. Which is funny. I find it an accomplishment each time I manage to stay alive a whole boss fight.

However, the fights are much more forgiving, even to full party wipes. I think that there’s only been one run that we’ve had a raid wipe, and that was because we had a new tank that didn’t realize he needed to spread the adds on the boss.

When I go as a Red Mage, I do a lot of rezzing, and get my share of rezzes, but the raid as a whole seems pretty stable to carry on despite players taking a few hits along the way. That’s not to say that wipes aren’t possible, but it seems like the community in general really farmed this raid for drops the first few weeks, and mostly have an understanding of mechanics due to that.

The one major complaint I have about the boss fights is an odd one. Whereas I felt some of the bosses were a bit too large in previous raids (I’m looking at you, Yiazmat), in this one, a few are just too small (or need to be elevated above the particle effects).

The final boss in particular has several laser moves where he shoots beams to the fore/aft or sides, as well as a laser directly from the front. I find it really difficult to see which way he’s pointing because the machine looks similar on all sides and the model is so small it gets lost in the battle easily. It’s frustrating to know what I need to do to avoid the mechanics, but still die while shouting: “I couldn’t tell which way he was pointing!”… and this happens at least once every run, if not more.

In general, though, it feels like the pace of this raid is a bit more laid back than the previous raids. There are mechanics that overlap, but not to the point of insanity. Even the boss battle music is rather chill, as I die to the slowly…. moving…. pink bubble…. that I just didn’t see as it crossed the screen.

Oh, and I will note that I liked how you could do a little explorable mission into the Factory after clearing the raid. And you can go back in there anytime you want. I don’t exactly understand what any of the significance is, but I appreciate that it’s there.

Posted in Art, IRL

New Drawing Monitor – XP-PEN Artist12

For many, many years, I have been digitally drawing on the Wacom Cintiq 12WX that Syn gave me back when she got an upgraded Wacom. It has served me very well all of this time, and actually still runs despite a slightly loose connection wire and a crack in the screen. If it tells you anything, these were released back in 2007. So, I’ve had it a LONG time.

Everything was overall fine until I built my new machine this year, which runs on the standard Windows 10. The Cintiq drivers worked, but sometimes the Wacom service would randomly shut down and I’d have to restart it, and overall, it just didn’t have as smooth a feel drawing on it as it did on my Windows 7 machine.

I knew there was nothing to be done for it but eventually upgrade. But I’ve been putting that off for a few reasons:

  • Drawing monitors are expensive
  • Monitor size

It may seem weird to you, but I don’t want a 21 inch drawing surface. It’s just too big. I want something I can half prop in my lap and on the desk while holding in my hand, just as I always did with my Cintiq.

For a while, the drawing monitor craze was bigger is better. Everytime I shopped around, it seemed impossible to find much under 15 inches. But that seems to have changed lately.

Also, back in the day, Wacom was the only brand to use. Period. So, I got it in my head that when I updated, I should only look at Cintiqs. And again, for a while, Cintiqs were HUGE in form factor. Lately, they’ve started making a 13 inch. But even that model is $800… which is getting close to the cost of building most of a new PC for me!

So I’ve been holding off. Until I saw a sale for Black Friday on Amazon last week. I admit it was somewhat of an impulse buy, but at $160, I picked up a XP-PEN Artist12. It had good ratings, was the right size – just a little smaller than what I’m used to – and for the price (a fraction of the cost of that Cintiq!) I figured I could try it out.

I got the tablet last night, actually a day earlier than expected. Won’t complain one bit about that. Setting it up was much easier than I thought it would be using the info in the user guide. I just had to make sure the monitor resolution was right, the app size was at 100% in Windows, and a calibration later, I was inking a test Wayrift page.

The only one issue I do have is that both it and my normal monitor run through HDMI. For some reason, my video card has 2 Display Port slots and only one HDMI slot. Go figure. So, to use the tablet, I have to switch the ports out.

I already have an HDMI to PD adaptor ordered and on the way, so hopefully that will fix that issue. I just want to set up the tablet as a second monitor to use whenever I need.

So far, I like what I’ve seen with this tablet. The resolution is much higher than what I was used to on the Cintiq, so that makes all the UI elements feel really tiny in the art programs I use. That’s just something I’m going to have to get used to, and not really an issue.

I went through and set up all the extra keys on the tablet and the pen, and everything is working as my previous tablet did control-wise. I also really like the matte finish on the tablet screen. One little nit-pick I had about the old Cintiq is that if things were hot and humid, or I’d just come from taking a shower and tried to use it, my hand would often stick to the surface, making it harder to draw. This tablet came with a little drawing glove to help with that, too, but I haven’t tried it yet.

So far, so good. We’ll see how it holds up to my art schedule. I kept the old Cintiq as a backup just in case.

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs, Nintendo Switch

December 2019 Gaming Goals

Welcome to December – the last month of this decade! Crazy to think about, pretty soon it will be 2020. I’m going a little light on the goals this month because who knows what’s going to happen with the holidays here. 🙂

FFXIV Goals

  • Level Trusts & Alt Jobs (Main)
  • Level Crafters and Buy Master VII Books (Main & Amon)
  • Progress Tai through Shadowbringers
  • Progress Zuri through Stormblood

Nintendo Switch Goals

  • Earn at least one new badge in Pokemon Sword
  • Finish next temple in Link’s Awakening
  • Ring Fit

And yeah. It’s short and sweet this month. Mostly daily leveling and making progress through expansions. I am working on Tad’s crafting/gathering and leveling on the side, but it’s nothing I want to set down as an official goal at this point. Mostly stuff I’m doing just for the fun of it and to test to see how fast crafting/gathering leveling is.

Hope you have a great December!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs, Nintendo Switch

November 2019 Gaming Goals in Review

And just like that, November is gone and December is almost here. Wow!

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the progress I made for November’s goals. A few things slipped through the cracks, but other things took their place. So it’s all a bit of balance.

FFXIV Goals for My Main

  • Daily Pixie Beast Tribe Quests 
  • Daily Nuts Hunts (For New Mount) 
  • Finish Dancer Job Quests 
  • Finish Gunbreaker Job Quests 
  • Level Crafters with new weekly Scrip turn-ins 
  • Get Eden Weapon for Red Mage 
  • Upgrade Gear with Factory Coin Drops 
  • Decorate House (?)
  • Clean up Shadowbringer Quests 

I finished up all of my job quests (woo!), got my Eden weapon, completely leveled Black Mage through beast tribes and hunts, and finished leveling Weaver. I also finished max rank with the Pixies and got the new hunt mount.

In the meantime, I’ve been cleaning up Shadowbringer quests here and there. Not a huge effort for that, but I have done some work. I actually did do a tiny bit to decorate the house – found new walls I liked, and I’m toying with the idea to work on a cabin design, which would be good to work on through winter.

FFXIV Goals for Amon

  • Finish 5.1 MSQ 
  • Daily Pixie Beast Tribe Quests 
  • Daily Nuts Hunts (For New Mount) 
  • Level Red Mage 
  • Level Crafters with new weekly Scrip turn-ins 

I did all of this with Amon as well. Finished 5.1 MSQ, max rank Pixies, hunt mount, leveled Red Mage using those, and leveled a crafter from scrips. I haven’t been hitting Ishgard to level up my higher crafters for some reason. I guess I’m more interested in the fluff.

FFXIV Other Goals

  • Progress Tai through Shadowbringers 
  • Progress Zuri through Stormblood
  • Level Zuri’s Fishing & Fishing Retainer 

As you can see from the picture above, I have been making progress with Tai in Shadowbringers – I unlocked flying in Lakeland, and as of last night, am working through quests and MSQ in Ill Mheg. Will likely Trust through Dohn Mheg today. And while I never look forward to the Titania fight, I believe that might be around the point that Pixie tribes will open up for him, too, which will help with his leveling.

Zuri didn’t see any progress in Stormblood (no surprise there) as it feels like I need to focus on one character at a time when it comes to making it through content. And I’m just never thrilled to be going back through Stormblood again.

But, I did level her fishing to 72 through almost only fishing turn-ins by themselves. It’s starting to slow down and get a bit more costly at this level, and she’s nowhere near being able to fish in Shadowbringers yet, so I may put this on pause until she gets closer.

Nintendo Switch

  • Defeat next temple in Link’s Awakening
  • Ring Fit leveling

While I didn’t play either of these games much in November, I did put some time into the new Pokemon, which I knew I would. I’ve earned two badges so far, and spent more time than I should breeding and trading. That always happens. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed the game and should probably write about it sometime. I want to make sure I keep making progress in December!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Pixies and Factory Drops

Writing that title just reminded me that I still haven’t written out my verdict on the Copied Factory raid in FFXIV yet. I’ll put that on my list for this week.

I finished up the last of the Pixie beast tribe reputation this weekend. This netted a new housing item, which I have bought a few of, but have yet to explore decorating with. I do have a perfect room for some of the Pixie housing items, just need to sit down and work them in.

With those at max rank, I no longer need to run them daily, unless I just want to for alt job XP. I probably will on my main, because I still have a million jobs that need to get to 80, and every little XP counts. I do plan on finally jumping into Trusts soon, and clearing out overworld quests for that as well.

Speaking of Trusts, I also finally unlocked the Switch for Tai, so I’m slowly starting to move him through the Shadowbringers storyline. I also started to run my Alliance Roulette with him to help supplement his leveling through the expansion. It’s been a while since I’ve really played Dragoon, and I still find that I enjoy the job, even if it’s not something I’d choose as my main.

Speaking of Raids, I’ve been running the Copied Factory twice each week. Once is for my Main who really doesn’t need any of the drops except for fluff, minions, music and the upgrade coin for gear. So far, she hasn’t had a lot of luck outside of the new dress that she got in the picture up top.

This glamour has an interesting property. On the very first day of the raid, the community crowed over how the B2 glamour drop legs enhance the character’s booty – male and female both. Well, this normal chest drop for casters (and I assume any other job) appears to enhance the upper female assets, which was unexpected but quite noticeable.

Ah well.

I was actually a little disappointed that it didn’t look more like the male coat caster drop instead of a dress. Here’s the male version on Amon:

I do love that they’re all dyeable out of the box, though. That’s very nice and makes for a lot of new glamour options.

While Amon is running the Factory for glamour and fluff, he actually needs the aiming drops as upgrades. I really want to get him the aiming coat, though, purely to base yet another glamour set around.

Oh, and I have repurposed yet another RP alt over the weekend. This is Tad.

I cringed at having to spend the amount of gil I did on his coat alone, but I adore how it looks on him. I’m trying out Machinist with this character, and so far enjoying how it feels — it’s the first time I’ve dabbled with the new Machinist changes in Shadowbringers. I was not a fan of the Stormblood version at all.

So this fellow needed a CT unlock, and is teasing me with having a crafter and gatherer right within the lower range of the Ishgard restoration turn-in system. I’m really curious what it’s like to level a crafter/gatherer with all the new changes to the system and the Restoration sitting there as well. So I might just take the plunge and level him, despite already having two not-quite-finished omnicrafters.

So, as you can see, even though my goals were met for the Pixie quests and daily hunts, I always, always have something else to work on for someone in this game!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: The Hunt is Over

One of my goals for this month was to earn the Forgiven Reticence mount on both my Main and Amon. I’ve always liked the design of this creature, even back when we fought something like it in ARR dungeons.

How do you get it? It costs 3,200 nut sacks from the Nutsy Hunts.

Since I rarely take a ride on the Hunt Trains (with a few exceptions), and I wanted to use the daily hunts as a supplement to beast tribes to level up my side jobs, I chose to do the daily hunt logs.

This isn’t terribly difficult, but when doing it on two characters every day, it does become time consuming. Last night, when I finally thought I’d have it done for them both, I was more than ready to put hunts aside for a while. Especially since I’d finished leveling the side jobs that I was working on originally.

I snagged the mount on my Main, and started the rounds on Amon. That’s when I saw the first calls for the Mateus Hunt Train forming in Lakeland. While I knew I’d have enough nuts to finish the mount from the solo hunts, I decided having some extra (I’m still missing a minion) and earning some tomes on the side was worth the ride.

I really enjoy Hunt Trains. They’re pretty fast, fairly organized, and give me the feeling of open-world cooperative play with strangers. It’s a bit like the GW2 open world events – except that you do need a party to get full credit and it only lasts for about 15 mins.

I still finished off the daily hunts on Amon anyhow, and even after buying the mount, I have about 500 left over. The minion I want is 800, so I might just do a few weekly hunts to get that done. Unless I happen across another Hunt Train.

For now, I’m focusing on ranking up Pixies to the cap – which should only be a couple more days, I think. Then I swore to myself that I’d start leveling with my Trusts. I have a ton of jobs I want to work up on my Main, and I do want to level my Trusts at the same time.

Then there’s going to be FATEs for Amon. But I don’t feel up to starting those just yet. Maybe next month.