Posted in FFXIV, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Puppet’s Bunker = Glamour Central

Puppet’s Bunker is the second Alliance raid in the NieR: Automata crossover series within FFXIV. I meant to write about it back when it first came out, but now is just as good a time as any.

I’ll sum it up by saying: I ran it once just to see the story, stayed for the glamour.

I’ve had a long history of frustration with alliance raids, dating back to just about everything that came out after Void Ark. I felt like what was once somewhat more casual 24 man content suddenly took a turn for the quite difficult. And no longer was I confident to introduce just about anyone to this type of content (as I was in Crystal Tower), because I often found running them a chore.

The NieR: Automata series didn’t really change that for me. Factory was one of those instances where for one dumb reason or another, I died at least once during a run just about every time. This wasn’t the norm for me, and a lot of it has to do with the raid outstaying its welcome in length, especially the last two boss fights.

Now days, I tend to survive that raid a lot better since there’s a higher gear rating in general. But I still have to turn off all the battle effects of everyone else just to be able to see the bosses to respond to directional mechanics. This is the only raid I’ve ever needed to do that for.

Going into Puppet’s Bunker the first time, I told Syn I was planning on running it once. Only on my main. And just for the story clear. I’d seen pictures of the gear drops (shown all in black) and didn’t really pick out anything that appealed to me enough to want to run this alliance treadmill again.

That all changed when, somehow, on that very first run, I lucked out and got the caster chestpiece for my main (Red Mage). This didn’t really phase me when it happened, and it wasn’t until after the frustration of my first Bunker ran off that I thought to see what the piece looked like if it was any other color than black.

The nice thing about the raid gear is that it’s all dyeable (the first I think for any alliance gear). So when I previewed it in a nice teal color, I suddenly realized…

Dang. This gear looks good in a different color.

That was the beginning of the end.

Female casting set, minus the hat and gloves, from Bunker.

I started previewing other sets and realized that I really, really wanted some of this gear on my RP alt. In fact, I wanted two sets for him, plus the caster set for my main.

My main already had gear that was superior in stats, so running this was totally for the glamour. There were some weeks I ran 4-5 times just to get a drop. Any drop. On my alt, this gear is actually an update in stats for me, so it was worth it.

But now I finally have the glamour sets I want…

Male casting set, minus hat and gloves.
The aiming coat, meshed with other glamour pieces for my bard.

Then, I made the mistake of rolling randomly for the Dragoon coat on my main (since I’d already gotten everything I wanted for casting). And went…

Dang. This coat is perfect for my actual Dragoon alt, Tai.

And so it begins again. I unlocked the raid series and ran it for the first time as melee last night. Much to my shock and excitement, the Dragoon coat dropped!

Just the coat, but a great start!

Running melee is a good deal more challenging than ranged or caster. Therefore, you don’t see a lot of Dragoons in these raids. Running ranged or caster, you almost always have competition for the drops… not so much as Dragoon. But still, I was stoked to get the coat the very first run.

My Thoughts on Puppet’s Bunker

So after having played this raid for a few months, I feel like Bunker is shorter and (once you learn the raid) easier than Factory. However, some of the mechanics in Bunker are not as intuitive – meaning, they’re harder to pick up on first glance and are things you usually learn from watching someone else (or a video).

Going into Bunker the first time, I watched a video beforehand. But that still wasn’t enough to get me through without lots of death. After my first run (when I determined I was going to run this more due to glamour desires), I watched about three other videos to piece together all the information on things I did wrong that lead to my demise.

It took several runs, but I can say that I mostly have a solid idea of how to play the raid. I usually don’t die, but sometimes random mechanics (usually on the last boss) can cause complications. With a good party of folks who know what they’re doing, this is often a smooth raid to run.

So overall, I haven’t minded running Bunker as much as I have to get the glamour and gear that I want. There’s mostly just a bit of a learning curve at the start to overcome.

I swear, though, those casting gloves do not exist. I’ve been at this for many, many weeks and still have not seen those gloves drop yet. They’re the last piece I need…

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: First Art Party!

Most folks know by now that I’m a super shy person, and that often extends into interacting with people in games. I won’t go into a bunch of details, but it does make things like in-game events, especially of the role play type, frightening to me.

However, when a group of friends I knew on another server were hosting a Free Company “art party” this past weekend, it sounded tame and safe. Suffice to say, I had no idea what an art party actually was…

In my head, I envisioned a small group of people sitting around, socializing a little bit and drawing sketches of whatever they were working on at the time.

The reality was…

…So many people (not pictured) in this large mansion that the house could not physically admit any more people inside and the zone outside had become just as busy!

Rocking out to this tune for hours…

I was absolutely taken aback at the response to this art party. So then I started to try and figure out what this gathering actually was.

Art parties IRL are defined as:

An Art Party is a unique experience where a group of adults get together to enjoy each others company, drink wine or cocktails if they choose and create their own work of art with some guidance and encouragement. 

https://www.iloveartparties.com/faq

In FFXIV, it takes on a slightly different context. So, you have a bunch of characters sporting their favorite glamours all coming together to hang out.

Here, there is some socialization, but it’s not really a role play atmosphere. There’s mostly lots of dancing, chatting, goofing off and meeting people. But the focus of the art party is artists (both those who draw and create screenshots) finding other characters that catch their eye, and drawing/screenshotting them.

Then, these pieces of art are put on display using a specific hashtag, mostly on Twitter. So all the art and the screens and the interactions are shared across this hashtag.

I was too overcome by the actual party aspect to get into the art part of it. It wasn’t until I actually saw art of my character popping up in the tag that it clicked. Sometimes an artist will directly message you with the URL of a piece of art. Sometimes you just have to keep an eye on the hashtag scroll on Twitter and discover the art there.

It’s very exciting to know that your character stood out to other people enough that they’d want to draw you! I was really delighted to see all the creations! Not only that, but during the time spent at the party, I whisper chatted with a few folks, and met a number of people that exchanged follows with my character’s Twitter.

Most of my development for interaction about this character has been on Tumblr, but I have wanted to find a way to connect more on Twitter as well. This really helped me reach out to meet new people.

Not to mention my persistence of dancing next to the the stairs by myself ended up turning into this dance group before the night was done:

We had everyone from Ascians to Allagans to Scions to Sin Eaters and Flame Generals!

This was great fun, and I intend to join the second part of this party this upcoming weekend (held at a better time for our European friends). I’ve also learned that this is actually one of many such parties going on!

This Twitter account is dedicated to getting the word out about FFXIV art parties on all data centers. If all of them are as fun as this one was, I’ll be looking forward to joining more of these on down the line!

Now that I’ve introduced art parties to you, you can keep an eye out for one on your data center, too!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Bozja Relic Weapon Complete!

While I’ve already finished my first relic on my RP alt, and had finished the first step for my main for a while, last night I finally got the shiny version of the 5.3 Bozja relic for my Red Mage. While these aren’t terribly difficult to get, and I have the base weapon on several of my main’s jobs, I think this will be the only one I progress on for now.

I had three of the Bitter Memories that I needed for the second step already – two from leveling roulettes and one that dropped as I finished up the mettle I needed to get to Rank 10 in Bozja last night. So, thanks to my FC buddies, they ran me through three Anti-Towers to get the rest done.

I was skeptical of the Anti-Tower method to begin with. But as long as you have a tank/healer friend to speed up the queues, you really can knock one of these out in 10-12 minutes each. Compared to the drop rate of memories out in Bozja, it feels far faster.

I am done with seeing this fight for a while, though.

Why does one of the few FFIV references in FFXIV have to be this fight?

Anyhow, I do have one more relic I want to finish for sure on an RP alt. He’s on the second step, but has a ton of ranking to do in Bozja – he’s only just rank 5. So I might just tough it out in Bozja as long as there’s still folks out there. Last night, there seemed to be, and even enough to pop the Castrum.

Castrum is the next step for the storyline for me in Bozja, do hopefully I won’t lose too much experience in dying to that fight. Because, what I’ve heard at it, it can be difficult! XD

Posted in Second Life

Second Life: Thanksgiving House

I knew the holidays were going to be fun for decorating my Linden house in Second Life, and I have been right. While it’s no where as fancy as what I had for Halloween, I’ve pulled down the spooky and put up the turkey.

I had almost no decorations for Thanksgiving upon looking at my inventory, so I went out and did a little shopping on the SL Marketplace. One of the things I knew I needed was a live turkey in the front yard, preferably one that wanders.

The Jian turkey fit the bill, though it’s a bit high in prims. This creator always makes lovely animals of all types, so I was willing to sacrifice a bit of room for a really nicely animated turkey.

Aside from that, I pulled up all the flowers and put down leaf covering. I can’t control the color of the grass, so scattered leaves for the fall feeling is the best I can do. I suppose I could put down a large mega prim and texture it, but that would lose the natural feeling of the area around the house. So leaves and various other decorations it is!

Pulled out the Japanese maple and the leaf emitters to have a falling leaf feel.

Inside, I added some decorations…

But mostly the standard food-type things.

This was a carry-over from Halloween, but still very fitting!

I have had some visitors at my Linden house the past month as the Posse has been back into playing dice games. I already owned a Greedy Greedy, but then came the request for a Pentadee table as well, so I picked one of those up for the backyard deck.

Just rolling some dice!

I might add a few more things to the house decoration-wise, but they would have to be very low prim if I did. I think most of this is going to have to do for Thanksgiving. Absolutely looking forward to what I can do with it for Christmas!

Posted in Gaming

November 2020 Gaming Goals

We’re getting closer to the holidays and to the end of this year. It’s been a crazy one, for sure! This month, I’m looking at a lot of little odds n’ ends I want to get done. Some of it should be quick to finish, some not so quick.

FFXIV Goals

  • Finish leveling Dark Knight to 80 and do job quest
  • Clean up quests in the First (to level tank)
  • Finish Red Mage Relic for Main
  • Finish Relic for Tad
  • Finish leveling Tad’s Fisher
  • Gear up Tad’s Gatherers with scrip gear
  • Work on crafting Relics for Main and Amon
  • Gear up Koh’s 60 Summoner and do job quests
  • Finish getting YoKai Minions

MISC Goals

  • Continue to level Taming in UO
  • Continue to play Steam games

I toss this out there because I want to be mindful though casual of playing other games along side of FFXIV. I’ve been playing games like House Flipper and Barn Finders last month, and have had a lot of fun doing something a little different. I also want to keep making progress on skilling up in UO, though I don’t want to make it an official goal as I want it to remain pretty casual.

Aside from all this, I have a few art projects I’m working on for the holidays and things like that to stay busy. Hope November is a good one for all of you!

Posted in Gaming

October 2020 Gaming Goals in Review

Firstly, Happy Halloween! Hope it’s a fun and safe one for you!

Now on to the goals. Overall, I did pretty well in achieving my goals considering the release of Bozja and the Relic weapons sidetracked a good chunk of my time. Let’s see how I did:

  • Finish leveling Ninja to 80 and do job quest 
  • Start leveling a Tank 
  • Clean up quests in the First
  • Level Tad’s gatherers with beast tribe quests 
  • Do crafting/gathering quests in the Mean
  • Progress Zuri through Stormblood 
  • Level Mocho’s Paladin 

The most important things got done for sure. Zuri is officially done with Stormblood! Woooo! Mocho is finally a level 50 Paladin! Woooo!

I finished leveling Tad’s miner and botanist to 80 using beast tribes, and his fisher is 77, making good time. I’ve also been working on weekly turn-ins for his gatherers to earn him the level 80 scrip gear.

I finished leveling my main’s Ninja to 80 and got the job quest tucked away. I’ve been working on Dark Knight using beast tribe quests. While I did do a handful of quests in the First, I didn’t do enough to really check that off my list. And I didn’t touch the quests in the Mean at all. Oops!

As for my Switch goals:

  • Decorate Animal Crossing Island for fall/Halloween 
  • Play horror game on Switch

I did indeed play Animal Crossing, decorate for Halloween and stash away candy nearly every day for the event happening tonight. Though I installed a horror game I own on the Switch, I didn’t get around to actually playing it and trying it out.

Overall, it’s been a good month for gaming – I’ve also been playing a few Steam games on the side just to switch things up. Lots of things to work on for November!

Posted in Second Life

Second Life: Halloween Haunted Neighborhood

Though we usually spend some time on the haunted house ride and in the cornfield in Second Life for Halloween, this year, the Moles created something new to entertain us.

I’ve been writing here and there about my Linden Home, which is part of the newer Bellisseria neighborhoods, and much better than the old Linden Homes you once got with a SL subscription. This year, they took an entire neighborhood of homes in Millbank and decked it out in Halloween style.

When I say they’ve decorated for Hallween, I don’t mean putting some pumpkins on the porch. Each house in the neighborhood is themed around something – from a spooky lab, to a Cthulhu shrine (complete with a Cthulhu sighting), to a house that “murders” you repeatedly in different ways, to a cemetery with many surprises to discover.

The starting point also offers free flashlights that animates your character in Scooby Doo style and a red balloon (straight out of IT) tour of the entire grounds. I’ve been through the grounds a couple of times with different people and discovered something new each time – like the creepy porcelain doll named Annabell who followed me down the stairs from the second story of a house and out on the freakin’ porch! I should have taken a screenshot, but I was too busy shooing her away!

It’s really nicely put together and lots of fun to explore! Nice job SL!

Posted in MMORPGs, Ultima Online

Ultima Online: First Week Back

It’s been a week since I’ve retrieved my old Ultima Online account – one that I made back in 1999. I have been playing it fairly consistently when time permits, though it’s been a bit of a learning curve getting back into it. How’s things going? Well…

A Tale of Two Clients

The first thing I had to make heads or tales of (aside from the bank issue that I needed to solve) was the user interface (UI) of the game. This is probably the largest stumbling block for players new to this sort of oldskool game (aside from the absolute lack of handholding it provides).

Even for me, I admit, it was hard to go back to a game where you keyed up macros that you have to remember and use the right mouse button to move. Modern MMOs with their hotbars have spoiled me, and I had to do a good bit of Googling just to figure out how to do rather basic things when I returned to UO.

One of the first questions I was faced with was which client to use: Classic or Enhanced.

At first, I was really leaning towards sticking with Classic. I just like the crisp pixel art style better.

Classic client

But after I spent some time with the Enhanced Client, I leaned that way instead. Mostly due to the easier to use UI – especially hotbars.

Enhanced Client

I just don’t really dig this psudo-3Dish attempt at the art style as much as the oldskool pixel art. It seems more muddy and harder to see — though you can zoom in and out on the Enhanced Client and not so on the Classic.

I do believe there are mods and such for both clients, but I haven’t looked into those yet. One thing at a time.

The Skill Issues

The next thing I had to address and research were my character skills and what to do about them. Since UO was my first MMO and I had no real plan of attack casually playing it 20 years ago, skills on my characters are pretty much all over the place.

I learned that aside from a popular build “Sampire” (life leeching samurai), melee builds on their own aren’t really a good way to go (especially if you intend to solo). I learned Taming builds are all the rage and that Bards can be pretty neat, too.

Between both of my Aywren characters (Yeah, I have two: “Aywren” and “Aywren Sojourner” – I might change that up sometime later), I have a smattering of bard, mage, taming, tailoring, swordsmanship and… it’s just all over the board.

I learned that Stratics is the place fans tend to go for builds and such. It felt good to be back on oldskool forums looking at builds and tactics. I did this for a few days, trying to decide which character I should lean which way.

It seems like Aywren was further along in taming, so I’ve focused on learning that build and magery for her.

While my other character seems to have delved much more into musicanship, so will likely be my bard. I’ve yet to figure out exactly what build I want for this character – she might get a total makeover.

I also learned that being grandfathered into the Endless Journey meant that I actually can roll additional characters! This led me to deleting one of the old ones – she seemed to be leaning towards magery, but didn’t have any items of note in her bags and wasn’t very far into skilling up. So she was pretty redundant and using a name I’d not use now days, too.

I’d like to try out a gargoyle character eventually, but for now, I have enough on my hands!

The Gift of Gear

So after a few days hanging around Moonglow, I learned that the island isn’t as safe as I remembered it. Used to be, as long as you didn’t venture around the graveyard, all you’d ever need to deal with were Mongbats.

My run-in with a skeleton named Edward changed my perspective. He was just wandering up the main road, slaughtering all animals in his wake. I remembered how the skeletons of Moonglow were usually easy for me to take, and this resulted in my first two deaths (death two was trying to get my gear back from my corpse).

I tried to look this guy up, but found nothing about him online. Man, was he nasty and FAST.

After I quickly remembered how to get a rez from Wandering Healers and managed to retrieve my stuff from my corpse, Edward chased me all the way back into Town where I logged off for a bit. I did see him wandering around the west gates of the city later that night. Wish I’d taken a screen, but it all happened so fast.

One day, I will return, Edward. Just you wait.

After doing more research, I determined there is now a new player experience in UO, and this usually starts in a town called New Haven. So, after experimenting with rune books and messing about with moongates, I made my way there.

The bank in New Haven is pretty busy!

Much better! And much more populated, too!

As a new player, this area has a nice sprawling southern area to tame all sorts of animals. There are a few tough fights out there, but nothing my Bear Brigade couldn’t handle (I say that without having tried to fight the ettin).

Syn even rolled a character and we messed around together for a night. This is where we met the very nice fellow from the [kool] guild.

He approached me in town, and I knew he was offering to recruit me to his guild. At that point, Syn had only been in game for 20 mins and I was struggling to answer her questions and teach her what she needed to know to navigate those first-player steps. So neither of us were really able to focus on thinking about a guild that early on.

I’d also forgotten how chatty and friendly people were in older games. I told him that I’d not played UO in 20 years, and I felt a bit bad taking a guild invite when I didn’t know how much I’d be able to contribute. He reassured me that the guild was there to help new and returning players, so I did promise to keep them in mind in the future. But for then, we just needed time to settle in and explore.

He wasn’t pushy and totally understood that. In fact, he offered to give us some gear that would help us start out. At first, I hesitated on taking a gift (modern day MMO mentality), but he explained this was something called LRC gear.

I had no idea what LRC meant, so I asked. He further explained that this gear would completely negate the need to hunt/buy/gather reagents for casting spells.

In UO, every time you cast a spell, it requires a specific type and number of materials that you must keep in your pack – if you don’t have it, you can’t cast it. It was one of the things that kept me from going too deeply into magery.

Once I understood LRC and what it could do for us (since Syn started out in magery, unknowing of the reagents), I quickly agreed to accept his gift. He brought us both back a set of 100% LRC gear (telling us all the while that it wasn’t the best stuff but it would be a help) and gave us both 1 million gold to boot! He also advised us to insure the gear (which I did know how to do), so that it remained with us should we die.

My fancy new LRC gear and the Bear Brigade (There are actually five bears there)

Holy cow! This was further than I’ve been in UO gear and gold wise pretty much ever, and I am so very grateful and exited!

Thank you Mr. from the [kool] guild! I wish I’d taken a screen to remember your name, but I was helping Syn figure out how to put her new gear on at the time. XD

Skilling Up

So, now I’m at the point of skilling up. I’m dropping skills I don’t need and leveling skills I want as a tamer and mage. The quests in New Haven pointed us to an area right near called Old Haven. It’s fantastic for no-aggro enemies and skilling magery.

I even ran across this guy who spawned out of nowhere: Drelgor the Impaler! He took about 5 mins to kill by kiting all over the place while chucking fireballs on low mana, but I took him down!

First “Big” Kill

Right now, I’m hanging around New Haven, skilling my Taming to the south and my casting to the west. I’ve moved up from bears to things like grey wolves and panthers in my taming skills, but bears still seem to be the tankiest pets to tote around at this point. They make short work of Bog things and Greater Mongbats.

I find UO to be a pretty chill solo experience, which is a nice contrast to FFXIV where everything is high energy and mostly group-based stuff. It balances out well, and I’m enjoying the feeling of a world that I’m slowly rediscovering — I know it’s huge and there’s so much for me yet to learn and remember!