Posted in Gaming

August 2020 Gaming Goals

Welcome to another new month! August has FFXIV players looking forward to patch 5.3 with lots of story and new goodies. Because of that, I’m keeping my goals pretty light. A number of these are hold-overs from last month with a few small additions.

FFXIV Goals

  • Finish leveling Samurai and do job quest
  • Level Dragoon via Beast Tribes 
  • Ishgard Restoration Quests
  • Amon – Crafter Relics 
  • Amon – Dancer Quests
  • Amon – Hildibrand
  • Tad – Level to 70 via Beast Tribes & Roulettes
  • Ben – Level via Beast Tribes & Roulettes
  • Zuri – Progress through Stormblood 

So why are Tad and Ben on the radar for leveling suddenly?

Well… during the FFXIV anniversary sale, I decided to break down and buy story skips for both of them. All the way to Shadowbringers.

Zuri is currently floundering through Stormblood for my 4th time through. The thought of doing it yet again on two more characters just to get to Shadowbringers… I could do it but I’m facing major burn-out.

Trusts are a major game-changer for me. Not having to stop and party up for a dungeon every couple of levels makes all the difference in the world. If they’d implement Trusts in Stormblood, I wouldn’t have skipped. I can blast through the story just fine, but I dread the dungeons.

The one catch is, neither Tad nor Ben are level 70 yet. So they can’t actually start Shadowbringers. That’s why I’m tossing them in beast tribes and roulettes to the best of my abilities. Tad is already level 66, almost 67, so he’s not too far away. Ben is much further, though.

I’m not going to push too hard to get it done this month, but I’ll do what I can. Beast tribes in general are a good quick way to earn XP every day without having to work too hard at it.

Posted in Gaming

July 2020 Gaming Goals in Review

July just seemed to zoom by me for some reason, but I’m pretty happy with how many goals I finished this time around. This month has seen quite a bit of playing the new alpha of 7D2D (which was unexpected) as well as FFXIV and continued Animal Crossing.

So what did I get done?

FFXIV Goals

  • Role Quests on Main for Healer 
  • Job quests for:
    • Monk 
    • Scholar 
    • Astro 
    • White Mage 
  • Level Samurai via Beast Tribes 
  • Crafter Relics 
  • Ishgard Restoration Quests
  • Amon – Dancer Quests
  • Amon – Hildibrand
  • Zuri – Progress through Stormblood 

Well, look at that! I knocked out my Healer role quest and all of the outstanding job quests for all of the jobs I’ve leveled to 80. It’s the first time since last expansion that I’ve had it all buttoned up nicely like that.

Samurai is currently level 79 as I’ve been working on beast tribe quests every day. Looking towards having that finished next week and on to leveling the next job.

I finished all of my Crafter relics on my main, too. I’m somewhat kicking it around and going slowly on working at them for my alt. But my main was my biggest focus for this.

I also did get Zuri into the next zone for Stormblood, though I didn’t make a lot of progress on her. I did level her a little bit with Alliance Roulettes, but now I’ve set that aside as I’ve got two other characters that I’ve been focused on for roulettes this week – I’ll talk about that in my goal setting post, though.

So really, the only things I didn’t make progress on were some things for Amon and trying out the Ishgard Restoration quests. I still want to do those quests, though, especially before the next phase of the restoration drops. There’s some time before that, but it’s on my mind to see what those are about.

Really, that’s pretty good overall! And I do have a fairly clear idea of what I’d like to work on next month, though the 5.3 patch drop will very likely shove some goals out of the way. Thankfully, I don’t have a ton to hold over.

Posted in Ukulele

Introducing My Ukes

Some folks might have noticed that last week, I quietly moved a few posts about playing ukulele to this blog. These were originally posted on my fiddle blog – Netfiddler. I bought my first uke last December but didn’t actually get going with practice until after my birthday.

In the meantime, I’d written about three posts on the topic, which you can see here. The lack of posts wasn’t at all because I didn’t enjoy the instrument. Quite the opposite, in fact!

But unlike fiddle, which is a tough and rigorous instrument to learn, uke is far more casual and laid back. In fact, it’s a walk in the park to make a decent sound on a good uke than it is to make even a passable sound on a fiddle that costs nine times the price.

I’d started to keep note of my uke practice sessions just like I do my fiddle. But as time went on, I realized this wasn’t really necessary. Again, it’s a casual instrument in comparison. Where I feel the need to keep detailed practice notes on fiddle, the same isn’t true about uke.

So, after a few months of that, I felt the uke content really didn’t fit in, nor was it needed on my fiddle blog. But I still wanted to keep it around somewhere! So I decided to move what I had written to this blog — I mean ukulele is geeky enough, right?

Introducing my Ukes

I wanted to take a moment to introduce my ukes. There’s a joke with uke folks that Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome (UAS) is a thing. Right now, I’ve curbed it, but I agree. Ukes are so very different between the sizes, tones, makes and creative looks, that once you start getting into it, you want to experiment and experience different instruments.

Compared to other instruments, they’re also not quite as expensive to invest in. Sure, there are really awesome ukes out there that you can drop hundreds on. But compared to something like a fiddle, where bare minimum is $300 for a playable low-end student instrument… yeah. Ukes are far cheaper.

Blue Hola!

I started with an Amazon purchase as a Christmas gift to myself, not knowing anything about ukes. This was a concert sized teal/blue Hola! brand uke starter bundle. I haven’t seen the blue in stock in months, however, and it doesn’t even show on the page as an option anymore. Granted, the color was one of my main influences when I made this choice, but the reviews were also good and at $69, so was the price.

While I haven’t played this as much as I have some of my others – though putting some Worth clear strings on it has improved the tone – it did cement the idea that the size of the concert uke was good for me.

Having small hands, I struggle to play even a scaled-down guitar. So part of the reason I wanted to try a uke was to see if the size was a good fit. It was!

This reminds me that I really need to pick this one up and play it more. It certainly wasn’t a bad choice for a first, cheap uke set.

Kala Spalted Maple Cutaway Travel Tenor Ukulele

My second uke was an impulse buy, I admit. But I was curious to try a tenor size (which is a little larger than a concert). I’d joined a few Facebook groups for ukes by this time, and folks were calling out major sales happening on Musician’s Friend (which apparently has great uke sales often).

One that popped up was this Kala travel tenor. While it seems expensive at first glance, I got about $200 off of the price during the sale.

There were several reasons for this purchase. Kalas are known for really good quality instruments with great reviews. This one, again, is tenor sized, which I wanted to explore. This one also is a travel uke, which means it’s got a neat, thin body.

The only issue I had was that it didn’t have bolts for a strap, and I learned really quickly that I’m more comfortable with a strap.

So one of my birthday wishlist items was a strap that hooks into the soundhole (seen pictured) along with that stand that I’m using to display it.

I still feel like the concert is a better size fit for me, though I love the sound and the thin body on this one. I need to explore the tenor once I feel more comfortable playing uke. I’m sure that I’ll enjoy the tenor in time.

Enya Nova U

This little concert travel uke had started to make waves shortly before I began playing. People were going nuts for the Nova U, and I was hearing about it everywhere.

I loved the soft blue color and the idea of a concert size travel uke (thin body) was very appealing. As was the idea that this was made of carbon fiber composite, which meant it didn’t suffer from changes in weather, humidity, or getting wet like wood does.

For a while, it was sold out on Amazon. But I was keeping watch for it to return. When it finally did in May, I decided to pick it up as a late birthday present to myself.

I’m very pleased with this uke and its playability. Everyone stressed how easy it is to play and how low the action is. All of this is accurate. Totally happy with my Nova U, and put a lot of strumming practice on it!

Amahi Snail EBUK Ebony Concert Ukulele

My final acquisition is my Snail uke. This… was one of those things that came from an inside joke.

On my RP Tumblr, my bard character really really likes snails. To eat. While I don’t share the sentiment, I still found it funny when I learned there was a Snail brand uke (thinking of my bard playing a uke). Even more, there’s a uke by this brand that uses the snail-shaped logo as the sound hole design.

That’s one thing I love about ukes – you can be so creative with design and color, and that makes them all unique! The more I thought about this Snail uke, the more I really fell in love with the soundhole design.

I did some research on it and found that it was generally a pretty nice uke with good ratings. The acoustic version usually cost close to $200, while the electric version was much more.

Some online stores still carry this model, but it’s somewhat hard to get your hands on. So while I kept this little uke in the back of my mind, I didn’t purchase one.

Along came an Ebay auction. Brand new Amahi Snail EBUK Ebony Concert Ukulele… with one tiny flaw in the finish on the bottom of the fretboard. If you didn’t know it was there, you’d probably never see it, and it hasn’t bothered me one bit.

Starting price was around $50 — which was a total steal for this instrument. I jumped on the auction and didn’t see many bids until close to the end. I was watching it like a hawk as someone was frantically slamming bids higher and higher near the very end. My highest bid outbid them by 50 cents – no joke – and I won the auction for about $80. A true steal considering it’s worth over double based on going price.

My uke arrived, and the only catch with this one was it also had no strap and no round sound hole to hook a normal strap to — I learned how to make one for it out of yarn!

I really fell in love with the Snail uke once I got it. It’s somewhat more mellow and doesn’t have the brightness and volume my Nova has. I chose to change the strings to Worth clear (I heard a lot of good things about Worth strings), which was an experience to learn to change strings for the first time!

Once I got it re-strung, though, I think the volume has improved and I really love the tone! It’s been my go-to recently so much that I think I should break the habit and play with some of my other ukes before they get jealous. 🙂

At this point, I’m pretty content with my uke family. While I still see some ukes there that have really neat designs, I haven’t felt the itch to hunt one down and buy another. So hopefully, I’m done with UAS for now.

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Crafting Relics Complete!

On my main character, at least.

So this week I’ve been powering through crafting the Dragonsung tools from the recent crafting patch. There’s nothing too terribly difficult to it… as long as you have decent gear to start with. It’s mostly just time-consuming because it’s far easier to craft the HQ finished product you need (and it must be HQ) by using HQ prerequisites.

Because you need 30 of those, that’s 60 combines for the second stage of the tool. Not to mention you had to have the scrips to buy the Oddly items from the vendors. That was actually the easiest thing for me since I already do weekly scrip turn-ins. In fact, I had piles of Oddly items stacking up in my inventory, which was a real motivation to get this done and clean my bags out.

So last night, I finished my last crafting relic.

Please let me note that I haven’t started the gathering relics yet. But if you look above at what’s required for the second stage – 510 High Quality gathers…. and 60 HQ fish for the rod… yeah. I’ll work on that when I’m in the mood for gathering.

In the meantime, I need to do this all over again on my alt, Amon. He’s already got two of the tools finished. But his gear isn’t quite as good as my main’s, so he usually requires a bit of food to give him a boost. Not only that, but I know that I need to upgrade his current tools on many jobs because they’re still stuck in level 70 rubbish.

The one thing that irks me a bit is that to start the prototype for each relic item, you have to plunk down 80,000 gil. That’s more than the facet tools cost on the marketboard on my server! Ouch!

I’m not sure if this will all be worth it if I don’t keep my gear up to date and melded, but at least my main has it complete. I guess Amon can just work on it casually when I don’t have anything else pressing to do (when is that?).

Posted in 7 Days to Die, Gaming

7D2D: Dynamic Music System

7D2D Alpha 19 dropped last week, and I’ve been meaning to write some posts about it as we’ve explored what the update has to offer. Just as with any alpha update, it feels like a whole new game. There’s a ton to write about, but the one thing that really stood out to me from the very start was the new dynamic music system.

7D2D has always used music pretty sparsely. You get a jingle in the morning and an ominous piano when it turns night. But aside from that, there was just some slightly atmospheric loops that felt more like sound effects than true music.

That’s changed with A19, and I’m really impressed by the concept and customization of this dynamic music system. Playing on a randomly generated map as we do, it makes sense to have dynamically generated music as well.

Here’s what the patch notes say about it:

TFP have again teamed up with Native Darkness Productions to make the Alpha 19 Dynamic music system more robust while adding a ton of new content and features.

The propriety Dynamic Music System algorithm measures and uses many player-centric conditions such as player location, biome, time of day, inside or outside a location, nearby aggressive enemies, threat level and more to tailor a custom movie like musical experience for the player.

From this Dynamic Music System algorithm the system can play from the following musical groups: Home day music, home night music, exploration, suspense, combat and custom trader music for each trader.

Exploration, suspense and combat are procedurally generated providing a complete musical arrangement from a set of interchangeable loops. As of Alpha 19 there, are 31,558 unique combinations of music.

7D2D patch notes

The lovely thing about this system (which is off by default) is how much you can customize it.

Once you enable the music, you have control over not just the volume, but how often you hear the tracks play. I’ve got mine up to 100% but the default is something like 30%. So if you just want to explore and rock zombies with a few tunes from time to time, you can do that.

It is very much a dynamic system. Somehow, the game recognizes when I’m just chilling and building the base as opposed to being out in the world exploring, or creeping through a house with zombies around every corner. Battle music is a tad odd at first, but actually quite helpful – you know when you’re being targeted even if the zombie is in another room somewhere. It’s also alerted us to times when zombies were beating on our base wall though we didn’t hear any other trace of them.

I really can’t think of another game that has implemented a system like this. Sure, the tracks can get a bit redundant at times, but it’s still a really cool concept. I heard that Trader Joel’s music is a lot of fun – I haven’t visited him yet, but other folks in the Posse have.

We’ve already made it through the first two blood moons in our playthrough. Our base is established and I’m working on a warfort. So I’ll be writing more about my impressions of this new alpha soon!

Posted in Gaming

July 2020 Gaming Goals

July just came bursting on in today, so it’s time to set some new goals for this month! The new letter from Yoshi-P has set release for the next FFXIV patch on August 11. So new patch content is not going to be a concern during July — I have plenty of time to try to catch up on things like relic crafting.

So what are my plans for this month? Mostly to finish up the things I didn’t get around to in June, to be quite honest.

FFXIV Goals

  • Role Quests on Main for Healer
  • Job quests for:
    • Monk
    • Scholar
    • Astro
    • White Mage
  • Level Samurai via Beast Tribes
  • Crafter Relics
  • Ishgard Restoration Quests
  • Amon – Dancer Quests
  • Amon – Hildibrand
  • Zuri – Progress through Stormblood

Most of this really shouldn’t take that long if I just sit down and space it out. Well, everything except progressing through Stormblood yet again.

Aside from that, still playing Animal Crossing daily, and messing around in Second Life as well. Might hop back into the Sims again, too.

Lots to choose from!

Posted in Gaming

June 2020 Gaming Goals in Review

It was the first month I got back to doing gaming goals, and things went along pretty well. I didn’t get everything on the list done, but I did get a few pretty solid goals met, including getting another alt current in Shadowbringers.

So what did I accomplish?

  • Finish earning final mount in Moogle Event 
  • Job Quests on Main for:
    • Summoner
    • Scholar
    • Dancer
    • Bard
    • Machinist
    • Astro
    • White Mage
  • Role Quests on Main for Healers & Melee DPS 
  • Job Quest for Amon – Dancer
  • Stormblood Hildibrand for Amon
  • Progress Tai through Shadowbringers 
  • Crafter Relics for Main & Amon 
  • Daily Beast Tribes for Main’s Monk leveling 
  • Check out Ishgard Restoration Quests

I did get a whole set of role quests out of the way, which felt really good. I still need to buckle down and work on healer roles/jobs. I plan on doing that next.

I just hit 80 on Monk last night, and started leveling Samurai using beast tribe quests. Finished up a few relics for crafters, but this is something I need to focus on a lot more next month.

Also, earned all the mounts I wanted from the Moogle event. So, really, did get quite a bit of what I wanted to do done with plenty still left for next month. We may see a new content release next month as well, so I’m not sure how much in the way of goals I’ll actually get done. It just depends!

Posted in FFXIV

FFXIV: Shadowbringers Completed! (Third Time)

This was one of those things that shouldn’t have taken as long as it did to finish, but I just ran out of steam in the middle of doing it. I finally got Tai through to the end of the current patch in Shadowbringers!

Considering that when Shadowbringers launched, he was still stuck mid-Stormblood, it was quite a way for him to go. When I finally got him to Shadowbringers, I thought it would be quick and smooth sailing, especially with Trusts to get me through all the dungeons. And that part was true.

Of course, I still had to go through the three trials in groups, which turned out to not be quite as painful as I feared. Aside from Titania, all trials were pretty easy to clear on the first shot. I think I had some pretty excellent PUGs though.

Since Tai is geared up with the crafted level 80 stuff, he should be good to go into the next patch as-is. I don’t plan on doing any Tome grinding for him (or any of my upcoming characters) because doing it on my main is more than enough for me. I’m glad for the option of crafted gear because that makes my life with alts so much easier.

Speaking of alts in general, most of my other alts are stuck in Stormblood limbo right now. Unlike Shadowbringers, you still have to group to run all the dungeons through that story, and that is really what’s holding me back from getting my alts through it. Well, that and the fact that I find going through Stormblood yet again tedious.

My next character – Zuri – is currently in Yanxia, moving towards the Steppe. So she’s made some progress into the expansion already. I’m also quite interested in moving Tad and Ben through this content eventually. I’m not sure which one I’ll decide to work on now that Tai is finally done, but I do want to nudge myself to do a little bit every week to at least keep progress going.

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Getting the Job (Quests) Done

In this month’s goal post – the first goal post I’ve created in several months – one of the things I noted was the fact that I’ve (once again) amassed a number of job quests on my main. Unlike previous expansions where every job gets a long quest chain, Shadowbringers traded this out for Role quests instead. Then, at level 80, once you’ve finished the Role quests, each job gets a single quest.

These job quests are mostly fluff. It’s just checking back in with the NPCs that relate to that particular job and seeing how things have developed since your level 70 quest.

Some of these quests are a bit more stirring than others. For example, I really like the Bard and Dancer quests – they were fairly inspirational. On the other hand, the Machinist quest was alright, but felt mostly like just a way to get some screen time for the NPCs related to that job.

The Role quest system has helped me out quite a bit in this area — since that means that instead of doing a long quest line for each job, you can cover several jobs in one role. I’ve been notoriously bad at keeping up with job quests for the longest time. It’s a sad fact since usually I do enjoy these quests once I finally sit down and scrape out time and focus on them.

Aside from that, I’ve put time into working on a few of my crafting relics – which was also a goal for this month. I’m not as far along as I’d like to be on this (I have all the Oddly Specific mats), and hope to put more focus into it in the next couple weeks. I have a feeling that getting this done before 5.3 will make the progression a lot easier.

And then there’s the fact that I’m also pushing my alt, Tai, through Shadowbringers as a whole. I’ve been really lax at doing this, but have finally unlocked Amaurot last night. Once I clear that and get through Hades, the rest is catching up with patch content. All of these dungeons can be cleared with Trusts. So really, after Hades, the hard part is over for me.

I was right in thinking that writing out some goals for this month would help motivate me to get stuff done. I’m at the point where I just need to work through the Healer role quests so that I can finish up all of my healer job quests. Then, it’s just a matter of getting a tank leveled and doing my job quests as my melee hit 80.

Still plenty to do, and I’m going at it pretty casually right now.