Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars 2, MMORPGs

GW2: The Griffon Dream

Though it’s been well over a month since I finished the PoF storyline and unlocked the griffon collections in GW2, and over a week since I found enough gold to pay for the mount, I didn’t start the process in earnest until this week.

This is quite the quest. If I wasn’t so bent on getting this mount quickly, it might have even been enjoyable.

But I want this mount. I want it noooow. XD

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A huge thanks to Dulfy for her amazing griffon guide. Without it, I’d be completely lost.

The major blockers for me were the runes that you had to collect from Legendary Bounties or big events. I really didn’t know a lot about the process, but I held my breath and dove into the world of GW2 Party Finder.

I joined my first squad ever the other night.

Don’t laugh. I’m shy, okay?

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I said, “Don’t laugh!” 😦

So, figuring this out, I was able to beat the Legendary Corrupt Facet…

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And the Deadhouse event, and the Djinn…

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I’m at the point where I think I can probably solo the rest of the collections, which makes me very happy.

I’m also going to say that some of these jump puzzles to reach the different eggs are a pain in the tail. I just don’t have a lot of patience for jump puzzles anymore — part of the reason why I want the griffon! 😀

Anyhow, I powered through three of the collections over the past few days, and I’m a little proud of my progress. I know once I get my griffon and this is all behind me, I’ll certainly feel accomplished in the end. I’m hoping the end will be in sight this week.

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Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Tales from the Duty Finder: Do Some Research!

So a few days back, Zeb and I decided to run an Expert Roulette. Most our FC was busy doing other things, so it was just us two. We ended up running Ala Mhigo with a pick-up Tank and a Black Mage DPS.

It was a pretty typical run. The Tank was your standard over-confident wall-to-wall puller in the beginning. I’m not super fond of this, but we burned what we could and there were no deaths. I was a little surprised the Tank didn’t wall-to-wall after the first boss, because I expected it. Turns out there was a reason.

We beat the dungeon fairly smoothly. I didn’t see a problem with the run at all. We were saying our parting “Thank Yous” after the last boss when suddenly the Tank said this:

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This was the first thing the Tank said the whole run. And instantly after he said it, he left, not bothering to give anyone a Com, either.

Now, I don’t really know much about playing Black Mage, but the DPS we picked up wasn’t visibly poor in a Netflix Ninja way. I never felt like I was propping up the other DPS during the run. We got through the dungeon fairly quickly. No one died. Maybe the Tank felt they couldn’t do huge wall-to-walls like they liked because the DPS wasn’t perfect. I don’t know.

The bottom line was there was no reason to suddenly toss out unhelpful criticism right there at the end of the run. The Black Mage didn’t say a word after that, even though we expressed our surprise. She just left.

I felt bad for her. What if the Tank had said that to me?

It’s one thing to nicely suggest some adjustments for a rotation. It’s another thing to tell someone they “have no idea” what they’re doing, so go “do some research.” What a snobby tank! I swear that I’ve seen a lot of diva tanks lately… but… I won’t go down that rabbit trail.

Anyhow, Syn checked her Contact list (as she tends to) and noted the Black Mage was on our server. So, she whispered the Black Mage and told her that she really didn’t do a bad job, and tried to be encouraging.

I didn’t see the conversation between them, but it turns out the Black Mage was an older woman IRL who was just trying to play the game and have fun. She noted she probably needed to refine her rotation and sadly admitted that she “probably sucked.”

Soapbox Time

Really, Tank? Really??

Please, remember: People we group with are people.

Sure, I’ve had my moments of frustration with PUGs, but what happened here didn’t need to be. It doesn’t kill anyone to offer a little kindness, or at least constructive feedback. You never know who’s on the other side of the screen and what they’re situation is like.

Even I’ve found it easier to be jaded and frustrated with folks in my group after playing for so many years. But that just shouldn’t be. I’ve taken a step back from the game, especially the end game lately, and that’s done me a lot of good to put things in perspective.

We’re rolling into the holidays, here. It’s a time to reevaluate where we stand and to love thy neighbor. Sometimes thy neighbor is that older woman you randomly group with who plays a Black Mage for the fun of it, and just doesn’t have the optimal rotation.

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Posted in Writing

I’m Doing Something Stupid: NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo used to be my jazz. I haven’t participated in an official NaNo in many years, though.

I know most folks reading this are familiar with my blogging gaming and geek stuff… and some even know that I am a technical writer in the adulting world. The truth is, I started out writing fiction as a kid — fantasy fiction to be specific.

Like many writers, I have trouble sticking to it when inspiration isn’t heavy in the air. When I discovered NaNoWriMo in 2002, I found a challenge that kept me motivated enough to spout out 50K words in 30 days. I’m not sure why it worked for me, but my author stats speak for me:

nanostats

And the years you don’t see there — 2014 ~ 2016 — I was participating in at least one, if not two, Camp NaNoWriMo events instead. I tend to prefer Camp NaNo since it allows you to set your own pace and word count. Back in the early years of NaNo, I was in college, so it was a lot easier to find the time to spin stories of fantasy. Now days, not so much.

That’s why what I’m doing is stupid.

I almost didn’t write at all this year. I’ve actually been in a bit of a creative slump.  I passingly considered doing NaNo, and even mentioned it to Syn. But I didn’t commit.

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Concept art!

Back in 2015, I was writing a Camp NaNo for my story Runne. The final few chapters of that writing session turned into something completely different. That’s the beauty of writing for NaNo… you never really know what you’re going to get if you just let your story go. (I’m a partial pantser, I admit it.)

Out of the blue, I stumbled on two characters who had previously never shown up in any of my writing and honestly had nothing to do with the main story thus far (though they will eventually). I knew I was going off on a tangent, but the characters were just fun to write and ponder about. They even got a piece of concept art, as you can see.

This tangent turned into something that nagged at me even after I closed that year’s Camp NaNo event. I was really interested in taking a deeper dive into this part of the story, but it didn’t fit in the overall scope of Runne. I set all of my writing aside this year, as I noted, thinking I wasn’t going to deal with any of it.

I was wrong.

Over the past two years, I’ve been kicking around an origin story, trying to figure out why this character is the way he is. He started showing up in RP sessions (it’s Syn’s fault), and I continued to think about and discover things about this character.

I don’t know what possessed me to get this all out in writing. But, suddenly, this week, I couldn’t stop it from happening. I rolled up a new WordPress blog (which will remain secret for now) and just went at it, spewing this rather morbid origin story that told the reasons for this anti-hero’s rather broken personality.

I’m not used to writing morbid and darker stuff, so I feel a little dirty doing it (there’s nothing actually dirty there, I promise). But I also keep telling myself that this is the truth of this character, even if I glossed over all the grisly details on purpose.

Anyhow, it took me about 10K words to get all that backstory out of my system. But I still had more story to tell. That’s the point when I realized I was going to do something stupid: I was going to join NaNoWriMo… on Day 15.

That’s halfway through the month! What am I doing?!

I’ll tell you what I’m doing: At least 2,500 words a day until the end of the month. XD

So, if I get a little slack over the rest of this month, just know I’m drowning in Dragons.

Posted in Gaming, Sims 4

Sims 4: A First Look at Cats & Dogs

Though I haven’t written a lot about Sims 4 lately, I’ve spent a good bit of time getting ready for the newest expansion pack that released last week, Cats & Dogs (C&D). In fact, I even gave the landing page of my Custom Content Blog a facelift.

I’ve also been sorting through all my downloads, discarding things that are outdated or that I’m not interested in keeping, putting what I keep into better categories on my blog, and updating links where I can. I spent an evening last week just confirming the state of the mods I use, updating them and the links in my blog, and discarding the ones that don’t work anymore.

I’m making a lot of headway on reorganizing that blog, but I’m not quite done yet. There’s still a lot of content left for me to prune and update. And all of this was to get a cleaner base game in anticipation of C&D.

The Features

So, C&D is pretty self explanatory. It’s a full game expansion that adds… cats and dogs. Note that it’s not named “Pets” like previous iterations in the Sims series. This is because, true to name, we only got cats and dogs. I still mourn the loss of small pets, birds and especially horses.

You also have the ability to become a vet and run your own clinic. I haven’t done this yet, so I’ll have to follow up with a post about that feature when I get there.

While the pets you can bring into your Sims’ households are super cute and expressive, some folks feel as if the expansion is priced too steep, or would have been better suited for a game pack. I’m really not sure where I stand on this —  I haven’t been disappointed in it (aside from lack of pet type variety), but I can certainly see how some people feel this way.

 

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The story of my life: two cats fighting and in a place they shouldn’t be while I’m trying to relax and enjoy my time after work.

I know from keeping up with information and interviews that a lot of things are going on under the hood that may have bumped the development up into making it a full pack. Things that are small to us, but take up technical time — such as making surfaces, like tables and counters, things cats can jump up on (all the time!). Or maybe the completely free-form Create-A-Sim for pets, much like the system we used to have for everything in Sims 3 (they’re opening a can of worms with that). Add to that the 170+ breeds already programed into the CAS – that’s pretty impressive!

For those who just want to play around with pets and genetics, there’s a lot of fun to be had right there. And it answers your burning questions such as… What if The Fox & The Hound had puppies?

Yeah, you know you want to know!

The Bugs

On the down side, this expansion pack is super sensitive, and there are a LOT of bugs.

Due to adding a whole new type of Sim to the game, the patch everyone got before it’s release (Nov 7)  broke a bunch of mods. So, be sure to research which mods might be pitching a fit for your game even if you haven’t picked up this expansion. I wasn’t joking when I said I sorted through and did a major clean-out of my own mods.

But even aside of mods, a number of players have reported all sorts of bugs. I’ve personally had issues trying to adopt strays I’ve befriended on the street — they simply never adopt. I had to resort to inviting them over to my house (which you do by calling them on your cell like a regular Sim — WHAT?) and CHEAT: Shift-Right-Click “Add to Household.” But I shouldn’t have to do that.

I’ve also seen wonkiness in trying to take a sick pet to the vet.

The Pets

On the up side, the pets themselves are a mixture of wonderful and frustrating. The big controversy with pets is that Maxis decided to make them “mysterious” by removing your ability to control them. This is fine, except it also hides important information about your pet — how old they are, when they’re going to age up, what their skills are, what their relationships are.

I don’t mind not being in control of my pet (it feels like I’m never in control of my pets IRL), but at least let me see their age!

Not to worry, though. There’s already a mod that makes pets playable. I’ve installed it but haven’t sat down to play a session with the mod enabled. I’ll see how I like it.

So far, I’ve only taken one of my old custom-made Sims, Amie, changed her traits to make her an uber animal lover, and dropped her in a house next to the beach in the new neighborhood, Brindleton Bay. I’ve put her in the same save as my beloved family of City Living (I also have a family of vampires in this world that I’ve never blogged about, so I’ve become pretty attached to that save).

I then sent Amie out to befriend all manner of stray cats and dogs just to see the variety of pets and personalities. So far, I’ve only brought home cats, but it looks like dogs might be a bit more interesting since you can actually train them. With cats, you just keep scolding them not to do things like jump on counters and knock over trash cans — true to life.

Meet Mayor Whiskers, my first stray adopt. Who can resist this charm?

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Yes, he comes with the top hat and collar.

I was a little disappointed to see that he wasn’t just a randomized stray, but one other people encounter in their game, too. So, essentially, he’s a Townie Cat.

Well, they sucked me in with this stray. He was too friendly and charming. I had to take him home. Then, after I got used to life with one cat, I went about adopting another stray, a female this time, to see what having kittens was like.

Actually getting the cats to mate wasn’t too hard — though you have to wait for the female to go into heat. But of the 4 or so times I tried, only one was actually successful. I guess they don’t want the city flooded with kittens and puppies… but I’ve heard some players who have no luck at all getting offspring.

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Mother cat and kitten

My cats had two male kittens. They both looked very similar to their father, just with a few different traits. I kept one of the kittens with the better personality and adopted off the second (this was so sad!).

I wish I’d seen a little more variety in their kittens. I know from playing around in the CAS that they actually do have a genetic chance at chocolate point kittens, more like their mother. I’ll keep trying and see what happens.

Actually cleaning up and taking care of pets can be really time consuming. Not only do they shed (you can buy a Roomba to help with that!), but they require feeding and brushing and litter box cleaning/bathroom breaks very often. I learned quickly that the automatic feeder and the laser powered litter box (I need one IRL) are my new best friends — having two cats and two kittens was waaaay too much work without a little automaton.

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Once I had that in place, though, cats were pretty self-sufficient. I suppose they’re an option for Sims who are on the go and still want a pet, while dogs may be more for Sims that can dedicate the time for training.

So, this is my first impression of Sims 4 Cats & Dogs. I’ll probably have more to write about as I dive deeper into this pack.

If you’re on the fence about picking it up, you might want to wait until some of the bugs are ironed out or a holiday sale comes around. Pet lovers will find a lot to enjoy in this, so only you know if this is something you need in your Sims life. 🙂

Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge: Back to the Future: Ep 1 – It’s About Time

Game: Back to the Future: Ep 1 – It’s About Time
Time Played: 3.5 hours

So far, I’ve made good on my goal to try out a new Steam game every week this month. I put this one to a vote, and Back to the Future: The Game turned out to be the choice. I warned that if this was picked, I’d play through the entire series of 5 episodes to stay consistent with the game’s story. So, that’s what I’ve been doing.

The only other Telltale series I’ve ever played is The Walking Dead. It’s actually the series that turned me on to Telltale games, and one I enjoyed quite a bit. Since that was my entry point to their story-based games, it’s hard not to compare Back to the Future to The Walking Dead, especially considering they were released within a mere 2 years of each other.

What Is It?

If you’ve ever played a Telltale game, you already know what to expect from Back to the Future. If you haven’t, consider it a story-based point-and-click adventure game with a few mild thinking puzzles. Paint that with a solid coat of Back to the Future references and characters, and you’ve got a good idea what this series is like.

Now, while I grew up during a time when Back to the Future was a brand new thing, and I knew several people who were big fans of the movies, I was never a crazy fan myself. I appreciated the movies and understood the appeal. But it wasn’t actually until the whole “Back to the Future Day” in October of 2015 that I sat down and watched Part 2 and Part 3 for the first time. Oops?

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Anyhow, if you are interested in this game for the Back to the Future vibe, you won’t be disappointed. The game does a pretty great job in the writing department and in portraying the iconic characters the way you’d expect. Some reviews noted that the game almost feels like a continuation of where the movies left off, and I wouldn’t argue against that.

Impressions

Again, it’s hard to not compare this to The Walking Dead, which feels like a baseline for Telltale games now days. That’s not to say Back to the Future is bad, but the first Episode is not quite as polished as The Walking Dead game experience.

The UI is a bit clunky and something you’d see in a much more dated game than 2010. And, for some reason, it kept forcing my monitors (both of them) into a significantly lower resolution every time I played. These weren’t game-breakers, but did color the experience.

While the voice acting and writing were top-notch, the stylistic graphics bothered me a bit. The graphics weren’t bad, they were just… different. They went with these big, expressive CG versions of the characters, and sometimes it felt as if I was playing a claymation cartoon. For some reason, the lip syncing animations really liked to focus on showing the characters’ teeth. (I don’t know why that’s a detail I noticed…)

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I suppose given the source material and goofy tone of the game, this wasn’t out of place. But I can’t help but wonder what the game would have felt like in a more streamlined comic-booky style, like they presented with The Walking Dead. Maybe as I play this series longer, the style they chose will grow on me.

While I did enjoy the story and the puzzles, sometimes I felt certain scenarios dragged on longer than they really needed to. Due to the wonky UI, I’d forgotten that the game had an inventory system halfway through it, which got me hung up on one of the puzzles.

There was, thankfully, a Hint feature that was really only helpful to tell you the answers. The game tried to offer subtle, logical suggestions for hints, but I’d usually already figured out that much of the puzzle by the time I was turning to the Hint feature for help.

I groaned anytime I had to make Marty cross the town square, which, given the nature of one of the scenarios, happened often. The game prompted me to use mouse and keyboard to make him run, but it either didn’t work in my game or I fail at gaming, because I never managed to get him to move above a slow, crawling walk.

On the other hand, there were some very inventive scenarios, especially closer to the end of the game. I felt like they were finally getting into the flow of things just as the first Episode came to an end. They’ve certainly earned my anticipation towards Episode 2, which I’ve installed for this week’s Steam Challenge.

Recommended?

yes

If you enjoy Back to the Future, good old-fashioned point-click story games, and don’t mind slightly dated visuals, you’ll probably enjoy this!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Maiden’s Rhapsody & the Great Disconnect

FFXIV, along with what seems like more than half the Internet, has been struggling with terrible disconnects lately. They claim it’s due to DDOS that’s been happening since the end of October.  Whatever it is, it’s been really bad.

I’ve seen people drop out just standing around town. I’ve seen mass disconnects in the middle of raids. I’ve been victim to kicks and drop-outs while doing various things myself. It’s been pretty frustrating.

The worst disconnect I experienced was during a FATE. Lemme tell you about it.

Maiden’s Rhapsody

The Maiden’s Rhapsody is a returning cross-over event between FFXIV and FFXI. I did this event last year on a number of characters, but I still have a few more that didn’t get the cosmetic outfit. So, one of my goals was to take any of my alts who qualified for the event through it this weekend.

I say “qualified” because the event requires you to be at least level 30. It sends you through some challenging zones for that level, and asks you to participate in 4 different FATEs. The first FATE is pretty easy, but the difficulty for a character in the lower 30s start to ramp up after that. Pretty typical for FFXI.

I’m not saying that a fresh level 30 couldn’t beat the FATES on their own, but I had a lot of trouble on my level 34 character trying to solo the third one on Sunday. It was only because a few more people showed up that I managed to squeak through.

Anyhow, I dusted off Zuri on Friday night, who was a level 33 Bard at the time, and started the quest. While it’s not a long quest, there is a lot of travel and waiting for FATEs to pop and such. So it can take you at least 45 mins or so to knock it out, especially if your character hasn’t opened up the zones yet.

Everything went okay. I jumped from FATE to FATE, getting it done. There were plenty of other people doing it.

And then, the Great Disconnect happened.

The final encounter of the questline is something that’s not really a FATE, but acts like one. It’s weird. You run up and interact with a destination on the ground to start the FATE, and other people who have that particular quest can jump in and help.

We learned if you don’t have the quest, you can’t attack the FATE bosses. It’s also not marked on the map as a FATE. As I said, it’s weird.

The battle has two phases. You have to kill the add before you can attack the boss. After you kill the add, the NPC goes into a short dialogue, and the battle pauses for this moment of enlightenment. Normally, once this is done, you beat down the boss and the quest is complete.

Well, that’s not what happened.

I clicked the spot and activated the fight. Other people came to work on the FATE with me. We killed the add. And then… I got disconnected during the part between the two battles, when the NPC was talking.

I rushed to log back in, frantic not to miss the final stage of this quest I’d been working on for the past hour or so. Only, I discovered something worse.

Because I was the one who activated the fight, and I disconnected before the second  battle began, the FATE was frozen in the dialogue phase. It just sat there, with the boss untargetable. The boss wasn’t attacking and we couldn’t attack him.

And there was still 15 mins on the FATE timer… We had to wait until it failed and timed out.

More people started to arrive only to find that the FATE was bugged. I wanted to sink into the swamp as people started to get antsy and annoyed. Someone even shouted, “Who broke it?”

I didn’t speak up. I felt so bad. Thank you DDOS.

Anyhow, once the FATE timed out, I let someone else activate it, and the fight proceeded just fine. We beat it. And I discovered something twice as bad.

The quest wasn’t progressing for me.

So I activated the FATE the next time. We beat it again. The quest still didn’t progress for me.

Because the FATE froze and failed for me the first time, I was stuck in quest limbo. I had no choice but to drop the quest and start it ALL OVER AGAIN. From the very beginning. All the way back at FATE #1. AUGH!

I gave up for the night. The next day, there were less people running it, so I recruited Syn and Amoon with my sob story of the Great Disconnect, and they helped me out. I did finish it the second time, leveled to 34, and the armor actually looks pretty great on Zuri.

So, if you’re doing this quest, just be careful of the disconnects on the final fight. 😦

Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars 2, MMORPGs

GW2: Griffon Gold Get

I know it’s a little late for a Halloween picture, but I took the above shot and never got to use it anywhere. I liked it too much just to leave it in my screenshots folder. So, there you have it.

So, I’ve been working on saving up for my griffon mount in GW2. I started the PoF expansion with under 100 gold, seeing that I was newly returned and didn’t have a ton of gold before I left. I learned that dailies give 2 gold a day, and that selling unidentified drops was a good source of income, so I’d been plugging away at those to bring my stash up to 180+ (after spending gold on the mounts throughout the expansion).

But I wasn’t as diligent as I should have been. Some of my other GW2 friends didn’t seem as intent on getting the griffon (mostly because of the cost) as I was. And other games and projects have been pulling my attention away from GW2 as well.

This all changed this weekend.

Mystic Coins Reserve

A Free Company friend, Bean, posted a picture of her griffin in our FC discord channel. I sent my congrats and noted that I was still working on saving up for mine. She responded, and somewhere in the conversation, mentioned that selling Mystic Coins was profitable.

“Wait…” I said to myself. “Mystic Coins? Aren’t those those things I get every week and just toss in the corner of my bank?”

I Googled and saw they were mostly used for legendary crafting, other armor recipes and some guild improvements. AKA – Nothing that interested me more than a griffon does at this point.

I checked my bank. Over all this time, I’d stashed away 300 Mystic Coins. They were selling for a little over 80 silver each. So….

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I no longer have any Mystic Coins, but I now have more space in my bank and more than enough gold to get my griffon!

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I wish I’d known about this sooner! Makes me wonder what else I’ve got stashed in my bank that could be worth something. I should probably clean it out sometime.

About Those Mount Skins…

All of this is pretty exciting to me… just enough to help me deal with my extreme disappointment of the GW2 Mount Adoption License mess. I meant to write about it last week, but I was pretty tired out after some real life work stuff, and never got around to it.

I’m not going to damper this post with discussion of RNG, lockboxes and gemshop greed. I’ll just say that I don’t mind GW2 selling fluff in the gem shop — I even buy things that I really like. But I don’t approve of the way ANet decided to monetize this huge number of skins in a grab-bag way.

I like a few of the skins. But some skins are either (IMHO) lackluster or too flashy. I would have ponied up for some gems if these were sold individually where I could pick what skin I was buying. But, since RNG is a part of this, and I refuse to pay for a chance at getting something that I like, GW2 gets no money from me at all on this.

Oh well. I have a griffon to work on! Right?