Posted in Blogging

Happy Holidays!

 

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First and foremost: I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season!

Tomorrow I will be heading out to spend the holidays with friends and family, so this will probably be the last post of the year for me. I wanted to take a moment to send you all good wishes and thank you for being a part of this blogging experiment.

Wherever you go, whatever you do, have a safe and happy holidays!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Ceremony of Eternal Bonding

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My friends in FFXIV, Ellisia and Oziris Shaefer, invited me to their Ceremony of Eternal Bonding, which is the wedding event for the game. I was really surprised at the quality of the ceremony, which was complete with a reserved sanctum, invitations, gifts, clothes and individualized cutscenes. Below is a gallery of pictures from the celebration. Thank you both so much for inviting me to your special day! ūüôā

Check out Ellisia’s Twitch video to see the whole thing! I’m there as Zuri Nimat.

 

Group Shot
Group Shot!
Posted in Gaming, Sims 4

Sims 4 Announces Outdoor Retreat – The First “Game Pack”

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Source: Official Sims 4 Blog

 

I haven’t blogged much about Sims 4, but I’ve been overall pleased with the game and with the extra free content they’ve offered us since release. To start, the team has given us a number of things that the community felt were removed from the base game – ghosts, pools and some standard careers. They’ve also provided free holiday packs for Halloween and Christmas with outfits, items and clothing.

The devs have just announced the first new “Game Pack,” which is something we haven’t seen before. In terms of content, the Game Pack is larger and more feature-rich than the old Sims 3 stuff packs, but smaller than a full-blown expansion. The cost of this digital DLC runs about $20, which was the price for the old stuff packs.

A bit of history for me. I’ve been a simmer since the very first base game was released. I own every expansion for every game in some form or another. However, when the Sims started spinning off stuff packs, that’s where I drew the line. The was no way I was paying $20 for a handful of clothes, maybe some hair, and some decorations or items. I could get all that (sometimes even better) from the modding community!

I also never ponied up for buying the individual items in the Sims 3 store. I always felt that content was way overpriced when I could get the equivalent (often better looking) for free from the community modders. So, I never got on board with the Sims store – I even have some of the free currency in my account that I never found a reason to use. It was all just way too expensive!

My feeling on the idea of Game Packs, however, is fairly positive. The description of the kind of content in Outdoor Retreat – a new world, new interactable items, new group interactions, etc – seems to be the amount of features that fits the price point. I like that the team can focus on content in smaller chunks, but chunks that feel worthwhile to purchase. As far as I’ve understood, the Game Packs will not take the place of expansions, which is another positive.

I’m still in wait-and-see mode with the whole thing, but I’m looking forward to hearing where this is going.

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV Heavensward Expansion: New Race and Classes Revealed!

 

heavensward

Also See: FFXIV Heavensward Expansion Release Date & Collector’s Edition Info

Remember how in a previous post I noted that I was hesitant to pick up another subbed game because I’m waiting to see what FFXIV was going to reveal for the expansion. Yep. They blew me away with the newest info from the Fan Festival. Listen up devs because this is how an expansion is done. One new race. Three new classes (none which need base classes). Flying mounts introduced. Likely new lands and raids and such as well.

I can’t hide my excitement – this is going to be amazing! Here’s my thoughts.

New Race: Au’Ra

With horns, tails and scales and such, they appear to be dragon/reptilian type humanoids. While I’m sure they’ll appeal to some folks, they really don’t excite me, to be honest. They aren’t quite dragonish enough in the face for me to feel prompted to change races or roll a new character. I’ll save my ultimate judgement for when I see them in the character creation, and I’m always happy to see more options, but at this point, I’ll probably stick to my moon kitty.

au'ra

New Tank: Dark Knight

Not a big surprise here as we all knew about this class from a while back. Some nice new art to view for it, though.

 

darkknight

New DPS: Machinist

This was also not such a huge surprise as the devs have been teasing a gun-slinging class for a while. The slant they took on it (not being a musketeer) was unexpected, being more of an engineer that seems to work with turrets as well as guns. It’ll be interesting to see how this class pans out.

 

machinist

New Healer: Astrologian

This one did take me by surprise. I knew they were hinting there would be a new kind of healer, but this is a different design and take on the healing class that I didn’t expect. It seems like it could really be a neat playstyle if done correctly!

 

astrologian

Collector’s Edition Goodies

I’m not usually suckered in to collector’s editions unless they have some really good stuff. A flying griffon mount caught my eye. But even more so was the Dark Knight Cecil and Kain minion. Being that I’m a huge FFIV fan, it would almost be against the laws of the universe not to get the collector’s edition… so I hope they provide a not-so expensive digital download version of the CE. Kotaku has confirmed there will be a lower priced digital download CE. I know what I’m getting!

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cecilkain

 

 

I still have sooooo much yet to do on my existing characters before this expansion comes out. I guess I’ll be focusing my extra time on making some progress with crafting and leveling for Zuri from here on!

Speaking of which, I’m having fun with the new Starlight Celebration event happening in game right now. Here’s a holiday Zuri for your enjoyment! ūüôā

zurichristmas

 

Posted in Gaming, MMORPGs, WoW

Newcomer to WoW: Parting Ways with the Caravan

My Paladin Pals
My Paladin Pals

This is going to be my last WoW post for now. I’ve had to think long and hard about whether to continue at a full price subscription come the end of this month or not, and for reasons I’ll talk about later, I’ve decided I’m going to have to put the game on hold.

But I didn’t want this post to be all about saying goodbye! I wanted to detail some of the progress I made on my Monk, who is now level 48.

Part of the Caravan

I traveled to the Eastern Plaguelands, which were aesthetically not pleasing one bit. I know that was probably the the point of the zone, but I was really pushing to try to get through it due to the dull feeling of the area. The exceptions to this were the burned-out villages, that had a ghostly feel – and a ghost story as well! I did enjoy those parts. Even the wildlife in those places are strange and ghostly, which was a nice touch.

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On the Caravan

Becoming a part of the caravan was what saved this zone for me. The very first person I met when entering the zone was a Worgen named Fiona. She sends you out hunting for her two Paladin companions, Gidwin and Tarenar, who were instantly recognizable as a nod towards Legoals and Gimli from the LotR movies.

I quested with this group. Did errands for this group. And when it was time to move on, they invited me to ride on their caravan. This set the scene for some really funny NPC dialogue between the characters, and I soon find myself happy to be a part of this little group. As we moved across the map, we picked up and helped other NPCs, until the story played out and the two Paladins (and myself) eventually became part of the Argent Crusade.

If not for these characters, I doubt this area would have been very memorable to me at all. But I had a lot of fun meeting them, and felt somewhat sad when I moved on to the next zone.

The Bad Lands

I was prompted to travel to the next area, the Bad Lands, via rocketship. This was at first glance, a desert location mixed up with goblins and their strange inventions. I was amused by the experience, including butting poor goats off the top of the hills near the towns. But what really caught my attention was a storyline that tangled me with dragons.

I didn’t expect the turn of events, and I do hope to find out how the story ends one day. Anything with dragons is of interest to me.

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Parting Ways

As I said above, I’ve made the tough choice that I need to streamline my gaming a bit, including subs games. If WoW was any sort of F2P, I wouldn’t be putting it down. But as it stands, I have to make a choice between two sub games, and I’m loathe to put down FFXIV with all the time and effort I’ve stuck into it.

As it is, I’ve hardly picked up WoW this week because my gaming pals are super into 7D2D still. I’m also super interested in seeing where the new Starbound update is taking that game. Plus I have sooo many single player games that need my attention!

For those reasons, I can’t see myself subbing a second game at full price at this point. Also, I’ll be travelling soon, and just won’t have a lot of time to game. So, it’d be silly to re-up a sub when I’m not going to be around to play it.

Now, my impressions of WoW are pretty favorable. So I’m not throwing in the towel because I haven’t enjoyed my time or because I’m frustrated with the game. I do want to pick it up sometime again, maybe when things are a little less hectic for me. It also all depends on what happens with FFXIV in the upcoming year.

My one kinda-negative about WoW is that I’m acutely aware that I’m probably missing all sorts of important things in the story and lore simply because I know so little about the WoW world. I can enjoy the zone’s stories for what they are (props to the writers for this), but I bet I can’t see¬†the detailed¬†meaning of things.

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My Monk at Level 48

This sort of thing is important to me, in so much as it’s just way too overwhelming to try and tackle. I’ve had plenty of folks put out the offer to fill in the blanks for me if I need it (thank you). And I suppose if I really wanted to put out the effort to discover 10 years worth of lore and game development, it’s possible. But, call me lazy, I’m not really looking to put that kind of investment in any game right now.

It would be like walking into Guild Wars 2 without playing Guild Wars 1 – so much is lost without that knowledge and experience. But that original experience took years of time to build up and being there to see it unfold.

I suppose that’s another reason why I passed on ESO, too. I don’t have a¬†background in the Elder Scrolls universe and I feel quite lost in that world, as if I’m missing those important little things that I should really know.

Again, this isn’t WoW’s fault — you can’t fault a massive game like this for having expansive lore. That’s a good thing! I suppose you should blame me for being a little jaded, and unable to process this huge¬†amount of lore. Maybe one day when I have more time to sit down with it, I can sort through it and it’ll make sense to me.

Until then, I’m content with my experiment to at least try out WoW. After playing 50 hours of the game, I can now say that I have some working knowledge of the early levels of the game, how the game feels, how it’s changed since vanilla, and the kinds of content the game provides. I was pleasantly surprised to see that artistically, the game has aged well. I enjoyed the writing, NPCs, pet battles, and think that Monk was an excellent choice for me to play.

If I ever get the itch to continue exploring this world, I’ll be back!

Posted in Gaming, Mobile Gaming

Review: SimCity BuildIt – Not the Mobile SimCity I Was Hoping For

 

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I’ve been dreaming of a day when I could play a SimCity game on my tablet. Just think of how awesome it would be to have a full, city building experience on the go! So when I heard about the newly released¬†SimCity BuildIt mobile app months ago, I have been silently waiting to see it launched and in action. I installed it on my iPhone 5S this morning and took it for a test run.

My initial impression on this: This is not a SimCity game. It’s Farmville with a coat of SimCity paint over top of it. And I’m really disappointed.

If you were one of the folks who disliked the newest SimCity PC game, don’t even take a look at this. It’ll just make you rage.

Game Mechanics

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Everything is on a timer.

Sure, the graphics and interactivity are lovely, but I repeat, this isn’t a SimCity game. You lay down a road, but you don’t zone an area and watch it grow under a hopeful mayor’s eye. Instead, you plop down tiny residential lots, which are fixed-sized squares that don’t grow on their own. And you only get a fixed number of lots to place depending on your level.

To progress, you plop down stores and factories, which also don’t grow on their own, nor do they really seem to offer jobs to your sims that I could tell. Instead, these stores and factories produce stuff like wood logs and nails. These are run¬†on your normal freemium game timers, which you can speed up using the purchaseable in-game currency. Once your factory is done producing stuff, you use it to upgrade your residential lots. The more lots you have and the more developed they become, the more resources they require from you to continue to upgrade.

Upgrading is how you increase population, earn experience for levels, and earn money (which I read is super hard to come by once you get into the upper levels). Each level unlocks more plots to place, and other stuff like parks, service buildings, etc. So everything you do is gated by your level. No just flopping out a zone and watching it develop. It’s very hand-held and very limited compared to real SimCity games.

The only good element of the game was that you can pick up and move existing buildings without destroying them first. So arranging your city is easy to do, which is good since the tutorial had you throwing down factories across the street from your residential lots. Ew!

Other Woes

Requirements for upgrading a residential lot.
Resource requirements for upgrading a residential lot.

This game chewed through my phone’s battery like crazy, even when it was turned off! Not only that, but my phone heated up while playing the game to an extent I’ve never seen with any other app. That really can’t be good.

When I attempted to connect the game to the iOS Game Center, SimCity BuildIt crashed. Trying to re-launch¬†the game, it would crash every time Game Center attempted¬†to launch alongside it. I couldn’t get into the game to disconnect it¬†from Game Center, so I was unable to continue playing.

That was the point where I called it quits and uninstalled it. I think reinstalling was the only option I had to maybe fix the issue, and that would just put me back at the very start by wiping my city. So I’ve left it uninstalled, and sadly have no interest in trying this game again.

My final thoughts: Even the old Facebook SimCity Social was more engaging than this offering, which is nothing more than a stripped down freemium attempt to use the SimCity name in a mobile app. It’s nothing you haven’t seen a thousand times before. Unless you really like that kind of game, stay away.

If they could have just given us a real SimCity game, even at a blanket cost, I would have bought it. ¬†Instead, they opted to take the freemium cash-grab route, which was what I was afraid they’d do.

I’m a sad mayor to have to write this post. *sigh* ¬†ūüė¶

This is what your residential area looks like - all these bubbles requesting resources to upgrade.
This is what your residential area looks like – all these bubbles requesting resources to upgrade.
Posted in Gaming, Starbound

Starbound Releases Winter Update Trailer

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Starbound Wallpaper credit to Gamigeek

It was about a year ago when I got into Starbound. It was the first mining/building/adventuring type game that I ever tried, and even with its early access status, I quickly found a lot to love about it. It’s probably my second-most played game in my Steam library – Steam hasn’t tracked all my play time for whatever reason – and I introduced it to several friends who also invested time and had quite a bit of fun with it.

All that being said, I haven’t really played Starbound a whole lot since earlier this year. I know that the development team has been hard at work for months with the next huge update for the game, and it’s something that I’ve been waiting on before creating the universe anew. Unlike other early access games I’ve experienced, Starbound devs seem to choose not to release their content to smaller¬†stable public version updates, though their stream of blogs detail the players with what we have to look forward to in time.

Yesterday, the team released the new winter update trailer, detailing features we can look forward to with their next big release. Consider me hyped for it! I’m really looking forward to revisiting the worlds of Starbound and experiencing all the new content this update will bring.

Posted in Gaming, WoW

WoW Screenshot of the Day: Motherhood in Azeroth

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In Azeroth, this is how mothers do.

Meet Kelly Dumah, devoted mother and wife to¬†Nathaniel Dumah. They live happily in Nathaniel’s family mill in the lovely, scenic Northridge (Western Plaguelands).

Picture credited to Wowhead.
Picture credited to Wowhead.

Yes, everything is idyllic… except for maybe those rabid foxes… gnolls… huge spiders… that sort of thing. Half the time, I couldn’t tell if Kelly was being passive-aggressive in her quest text. She tries to seem¬†happy for her husband’s choice to take them out into the middle of war-torn nowhere,¬†but on the other hand, she seems¬†to think Nathaniel is lacking in better judgement. For some reason the quest text¬†struck me funny, especially since I read most of it in a sarcastic light.

I’m happy for Nathaniel: he’s spent so long trying to return to Northridge, and now with the Scarlet Crusade out of the way, he can finally move back home. It’s just… even for such a seemingly-idyllic setting, it’s not really the best place to raise a family.

For example: along this valley’s edge, you will find rabid foxes searching for innocent prey. Every once in a while I catch a glimpse of one looking right at me.

 

Farther to the south, you will find Redpine gnolls… a new arrival to the area. You probably passed some on your way here. Nathaniel pretends like they’re not a problem, but I know better.

 

I have my doubts about those gnolls’ intentions. They haven’t attacked us yet, but their numbers are growing, and they seem to always have their weapons ready. I’m no military expert, but that seems a little aggressive to me.

I’m not the only one who’s noticed Kelly’s… interesting… mothering techniques. I laughed so hard when some comments joked it’s an epic new shield skin. XD

Also, note the rolling pin in hand. Right.

 

Posted in Gaming, WoW

Newcomer to Wow: Pirates and Undead

Tomb of Uther
Tomb of Uther

I entered the Cape of Strangelthorn at the upper end of the level bracket (level 34 for a level 30-35 area), and I was starting to feel a little bit of a slow-down in leveling progress due to it. I was there for the experience, however, so I stuck by the zone to see the story through. It started a bit slow until quests finally directed me to the town of Booty Bay.

In Booty Bay
In Booty Bay

I have a love-hate relationship with the place. I love the atmosphere of the pirate town, and I especially love the fact that there’s a bank, mailbox and auctioneer there. But navigating through the town, up and down the ramps, and through multi-tiered buildings to find quest givers and receivers cost me more time and frustration.

The questline led me to helping the pirates in Booty Bay and protecting the town from another faction of pirates, the Bloodsails. To do this, I was charged to infiltrate the Bloodsails and learn as much about their plans to attack the city as I could. The fun part was working my way up from a deck swabber to a captain of my own pirate ship (too bad I couldn’t keep it… I had some thoughts, though).

Despite my best efforts, the attack on Booty Bay still came. I was most impressed at how the town was transformed into a fiery invasion through WoW’s use of phased content. I’ve been seeing this phasing working throughout most the zones I’ve quested through, usually at key moments in battle. A peaceful town transforms into a location under siege, then smoothly transforms back, or sometimes into an after-war state, as quests progress.

Since I’ve never quested in a group, I’m not sure how the phasing content effects other people – such as grouped party members – but I never saw where the content said it was solo only. From time to time, I’d see someone else in the phased content, so I know it wasn’t a solo instance. Just interested in how this tech worked.

At the end of the zone, I had two different quests leading me to new locations: A hero’s call¬†to the Southern Barrens and one provided by¬†War-Mage Erallier to help with the Battle for¬†Andorhal. I chose to take the portal to Andorhal, and was dropped in the middle of a war-torn city.

Enter the Western Plaguelands

The Western Plaguelands is under constant attack by the undead Scourge, with several groups of the living attempting to reclaim and heal the land. The city of Andorhal is at the center of this, and using the phasing content, I participated in several waves of attacks on the city during my questing there.

I also found myself caught up in an interesting conflict between the two Death Knights, Thassarian and Koltira Deathweaver. I didn’t know their background, but¬†felt prompted to check out their story via the wiki, especially after witnessing a truce between them.

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I was quickly “whispered” to by Thassarian to keep my mouth shut about what I saw. I thought it was really neat that an NPC acknowledged my presence and communicated in such a way.

Sure thing.
Sure thing.

There were a number of highlights in this zone that come to mind. I visited the tomb of¬†Uther Lightbringer – I know Uther from the short time I played Warcraft 3 waaaay back in the day. I also took on a number of hilarious quests helping upstart druid¬†Zen’Kiki find his place among the¬†Cenarion Circle. I loved how he’d join up in my party and just do his own thing, including failed shapeshifting and killing himself with moonfire.

Other Stuff

While questing in the Western Plaguelands, I reached level 40, which gave me access to a skill for faster ground mounts. I bought that, and a new improved turtle mount, and am really enjoying the extra ground speed!

Also, I’m very grateful at this point that I took the advice to level both herbalism and mining on my first character. For a while, I had no idea how I’d make the money required for future riding skill upgrades. By selling materials I find as drops and from my gathering classes on the AH, I’ve been able to save up quite a bit of gold! My only grump is getting used to the AH, especially after getting used to the ease of the ArcheAge AH, which automatically tells you the current lowest price per unit of any item you want to sell.

I’ve already moved on to the Eastern Plaguelands, but I want to wait to blog that until I complete the zone. Last night, I reached level 46, so I’m moving right along now that I’m in zones that are a bit closer to my level.

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New level 40 turtle mount!
Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV Gives Some Luv to the Dragoons in Patch 2.45

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While I’m mainly concentrating on getting my $5 worth out of WoW this month XD , I wanted to post about some changes to the Dragoon class in FFXIV that really got me excited. I’ve been guilty of not logging into FFXIV for a while, though I remain subbed to the game. I just felt the desire to switch it up some after spending hours of grinding levels for my Ninja in FFXIV, whiclh led me to trying AA and WoW this fall.

My Dragoon History

dragoonBeing a huge fan of oldskool Final Fantasy (FFIV in particular), Dragoon is a class that naturally appealed to me. I like playing melee DPS by default. I like the concept of Dragoon jumps and the shiny blue armor. I like the overall idea of the class. So, it was logical that I leveled Dragoon on my duo alt, Tai.

I just didn’t enjoy the way it played. I found the constant positional requirements a real frustration, especially since you were never promised to have a good tank… or even a tank at all. Since I’m often the tank for my duo team with Syn, or soloing hunts on Tai, positional attacks just couldn’t happen, which lowered my overall DPS.

Dodging in and out of AOE ground attacks was a pain, too, but something I learned to deal with. It still chafed me that the Dragoon’s magic defense was much lower than any other class, which resulted in me eating dirt far more often on this class than any other class I played. Dragoon also had very little in the way of utility, especially compared to Monk and Ninja.

Despite leveling Tai to 50 on Dragoon, working to obtain a full set of ilvl 90 gear for him, and starting the Dragoon relic quest, my morale about playing the “LOLGoon” (as they’re sometimes called) was pretty¬†low. I felt that others probably groaned when they saw a Dragoon in their random party. I don’t think I’m a terrible Dragoon, but I know I’m not the best, either, as I’m no min-maxer rotation memorizing player.

But when I didn’t think¬†about how gimped Dragoon was as a class, I enjoyed playing it overall. That, and all the work I put into the class, kept me from abandoning it and trying something else completely. Though I did level Ninja to cap – I had hoped Ninja would be a replacement for Dragoon – and I enjoy Ninja for what it is, it only confirmed to me that I still enjoyed Dragoon more. Funny, huh?

Give the Dragoons Some Luv

After the release of Ninja, the Dragoon players got really vocal. It’s been long known that Dragoons are often seen as the butt of the jokes in parties, even by Square themselves. Hence, this video:

But with a new DPS introduced, one with equal DPS output and much more utility, the Dragoon players gave a cry that the developers actually heard. All the issues with the class – forced positionals, low utility, and weak magic defense – meant that parties would rather take a Ninja than a Dragoon anyday. Can’t blame them for that.

I remember reading not long after the Ninja release that the FFXIV dev team heard the plea of Dragoons, but I never expected to get such a huge buff to the class mechanics as what we saw in Patch 2.45.

From the patch notes:

dragoon

So, as it stands now, the positional requirements for buffs and combo starters have been removed. However, to get the best DPS, you still need to use the skill from the right position. This means if you just happen to mess up, due to whatever circumstance (twitchy tank), your skills don’t totally fail, they just won’t output the best DPS – much like how the Monk skills work.

We got some other nice little buffs to useful skills, including shortening the recast timer for Jump.

Also, they’ve brought the Dragoon’s magic defense in line with other melee DPS. Woo! Why was it like that to start with?

This has me super stoked for playing Tai as a Dragoon in the future, even enough to motivate me to work on his ilvl 100 armor in time. It’s always great when a underdog class gets the love it really needs, and I hope these changes help the morale of Dragoons in parties. There’s already discussion happening at the FFXIV forums, of course, but I can’t see these changes as anything but needed and good.