Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Triple Triad Tips for Dummies (Like Me)

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Back in 1999, when FFVIII released, I discovered I really sucked at the card game Triple Triad. Now, 16 years later, when Triple Triad was released as part of the Gold Saucer update in FFXIV, I discover I still suck at Triple Triad. However, that hasn’t stopped me from playing the game, practicing, and trying to collect cards.

Note: I was far better at FFIX’s Tetra Master for some odd reason, and played that hours on end. 

Not a Numbers Person

nomathThe major reason I’m not very good at this game is that my mind just doesn’t work well with numbers. I’m a verbal and written person. You toss numbers at me, and it becomes a jumbled mess that confuses. I can get the idea of “this number is higher than that number, therefore, you flip the card next to you.” But once you start changing rules, especially the Plus ruleset, which requires basic math, that’s a recipe for frustration.

I am not looking for pointers on how to play the game, because I understand the rules, and have all the resources I need. Despite knowing the rules, the bottom line is, my mind doesn’t think in a way with the tactics and foresight needed to be an excellent TT player. While some people were out there beating King Elmer III with a starter deck for fun, I was slamming my head up against the brick wall of frustration known as Guhtwint of the Three Diamonds.

I’m perfectly fine with this, as I believe everyone has their own thing (Chocobo Racing is mine). But that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to give it my best shot to collect cards and have fun.

Those First 30 Cards…

This is an article for people who find themselves in the same boat as me. Try as you might, the “easy” NPCs in the Gold Saucer mostly trounce you when you try to challenge them. I quickly came to grips with the idea that I’m going to need to build a solid deck of cards from the ground up, but I wasn’t sure how. So I did a bit of research.

Triple Triad tutorial
Triple Triad tutorial

My first goal is to collect my first 30 cards. When you do this, your deck earns an upgrade that allows you to place an unlimited number of 2* cards in your hand. As you could guess, that will significantly increase the power of your deck… and I think that’s the progression that SE had in mind when they designed this game.

While you can buy some cards for MGP at the Saucer, and I actually did, I don’t really suggest it. Some folks say to just keep buying that initial 500 MGP over and over again using 5,000 Gil. You can only purchase up to 500 MGP, and once you’re over that, can’t purchase again until you fall below 500 MGP. But this does allow you to pick up cards from the bronze packs (costs 520 MGP each).

However, in my case, I’ve earned well over 500 MGP from chocobo racing, and I don’t really want to blow any more of it on buying cards (chocobo breeding, new hair style, and Setzer jacket are all a goal for me). I did attempt a couple purchases, but I regret those now, because I could have easily won what I purchased (even the one Silver card) from NPCs, if I’d known how.

Besides, I’d rather earn my cards through playing the game than buy them!

So that’s what I set out to do.

Building a Deck for Dummies Like Me

First tip: Leave the Gold Saucer to gather cards. 

Playing my first TT game
Playing my first TT game

I know the temptation is there to challenge the Gold Saucer NPCs over and over again, but once you earn the cards from the opponents you can beat, it’s time to expand your collection by challenging NPCs outside of the Saucer.

I found a few forum resources that helped me out with learning what NPCs provided which cards. Also, which NPCs I had a chance to beat given my particular skill level and deck composition.

I wanted to make a list of NPCs I was able to overcome with a little effort and successfully earn cards from. Currently, I have 22 cards, including my first 3* card, Thancred! As I build my deck, I’m finding it’s getting a bit easier to make wins, just as I hoped.

Keep in mind that regional rules may be in effect for certain NPCs. These change at random, every day at 7am PST. This can make certain NPCs more difficult on various days. So keep trying! I’m not going to note all the rules for every NPC, but I will provide the order in which I remember beating the NPCs, which is roughly based on me building a stronger deck.

Also, this is still pretty early in discovering who drops what card. So there may be more cards to earn from these NPCs later, or that simply haven’t been discovered yet. Therefore, it may not be 100% accurate, but it’s as accurate as I can get for what resources tell.

Random Tip That Doesn’t Fit Anywhere Else: The game has a feature you can use to suggest the best deck based on the cards that you have. I use it often, and find that I am usually successful with the deck it builds, with a few tweaks. However, winning against Plus rules may require a specialty deck, rather than the suggested deck.  

NPCs to Challenge!

Triple Triad Master – Spriggan* Chocobo*
Gold Saucer (4,7)
Sadly, you have to sit through the tutorial every time you play him. But he does give cards randomly.

Jonas of the Three Spades – Ixal* Moogle*
Gold Saucer (4,7)

Guhtwint of the Three Diamonds –  Spriggan* Chocobo* Scarface Bugaal Ja** 
Gold Saucer (4,7)
Uses Plus Rule 😦

Maisenta – Sylph* Coblyn* 
New Gridania (11,11)

Roger – Pudding* Morbol*
Central Thanalan (19,20)

Memeroon – Amalj’aa* Memeroon**
Upper La Noscea (14,24)

Mother Miounne – Goobue* Mother Miounne**
New Gridania (11,13)

Momodi – Momodi Modi**
Ul’dah – Steps of Nald (11,9)

Fufulupa – Thancred***
Western Thanalan (22,17)

F’hobhas -Mutamix Bubblypots**
Central Thanalan (23,13)

Helmhart – Gerolt** Ultros & Typhon** 
Eastern Thanalan (20,21)
Has a schedule, from 10AM – 8PM ET

I’m still missing a few cards from the above list, but will keep trying to build my deck. Hope this was helpful in getting you started! I’m listing resources below that I’m using, and can take you beyond these NPCs above.

Resources Used:

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: A Quick Chocobo Racing Guide

ffxiv_02242015_195025

So chcocobo racing has sucked me in, just as I knew it would when the Manderville Gold Saucer released. While you can make the comparison that it’s like Mario cart, except with birds, there’s really quite a bit more to the system than just that.

Rewards you earn from chocobo racing are MGP and experience to level your chocobo. We’ll get into the leveling and stats later.

Getting Your First Racing Chocobo

Naming my first chocobo
Naming my first chocobo

The chocobo you race is not the same as your Grand Company chocobo mount. Before you can start racing, you must go through a series of quests. Here’s a quick-step guide for that:

  • Talk to the lift attendant in the Gold Saucer, just to the left of the main info desk. This takes you to the Chocobo Square. Don’t forget to attune to the aetheryte!
  • Obtain the quest “So You Want to Be a Jockey” from the Race Chocobo Registrar located at Chocobo Square (X:6 Y:4)
  • This sends you to Gridania, to Katering at the Bentbranch Meadows in Central Shroud (X:20 Y:22)
  • Talk to Katering again to obtain the quest “So You Think You Can Ride This Chocobo”
  • Return to the Race Chocobo Square to complete the quests and obtain your first chocobo
  • Chocobo names are pulled from lists of predetermined words. They can still be interesting, though. 🙂

Chocobo Racing Basics

Just some basic things first:

  • Races are competitions between 8 chocobos.
  • You can choose from three different tracks, or allow the game to choose a track randomly.
  • You only see chocobo names in the races. A blue name indicates another player is riding the chocobo. A green name indicates an NPC.
  • Chocobos will move forward along the track automatically.
  • The track is divided into invisible lanes. Tapping to the left or the right will change which lane your chocobo runs in.
  • Pressing forward will push your chocobo to sprint faster, which will use the chocobo’s stamina.
  • If you run out of stamina, you won’t be able to sprint for the rest of the race, so budget it well.
  • Treasure chests on the track provide power ups or debuffs against other players.
  • Running over colored magicked panels on the ground will give you buffs. In upper level races, they can also debuff you, so be careful.
  • Chocobos can receive bonuses for racing under the chocobo’s preferred weather conditions. You can find these listed in your chocobo’s profile.
  • Racing chocobos can wear barding. 🙂

 Advanced Chocobo Racing Tips

Once you’ve got the hang of things, here’s some tips to help you win!

ffxiv_02242015_201144
Winning the race!

Stamina Usage and Lathered 

  • When you push your chocobo to sprint for too long, the chocobo will become Lathered. This burns stamina faster, so you want to avoid this.
  • When your chocobo becomes Lathered, release the sprint button and let them rest for a little bit.
  • There does seem to be a cooldown time you need to wait before sprinting, or else you’ll pop right back into the Lathered state again.

Power Ups and Debuffs 

  • As you approach a treasure chest, a bar of icons appears in the bottom right corner, letting you know what power ups are next.
  • Use this bar to determine whether you want to get the item or not. Sometimes, you might want to pass on the item, if the item after that could give a nearby competitor an edge over you (such as a hero potion or a sprint). Plan item management wisely.
  • Chocobos do have collision during races. Avoid sprinting when you’re behind another chocobo, and be aware of chocobos on your right or left if you try to switch lanes.
  • Beware of enemies that appear on the upper level tracks. They debuff you if you run into them.
  • Stay away from racers who pop the briar caltrops debuff – this looks like a ring of thorns around another chocobo. This will kill your stamina and could put you out of the race for good.
  • Stamina tablets can protect you from briar caltrops, as well as all other things that drain your stamina.
  • Though I usually ride around the bad magicked panels on the track, you can jump over them.

 Chocobo Ranks and Leveling

chocobostats
Chocobo Stats

As you continue to race, your chocobo will earn experience and gain ranks. Here’s what you need to know about ranks:

  • Every time your chocobo ranks up, it will earn stat points that are randomly distributed across stats.
  • Each rank also earns a feeding opportunity, where you can feed your chocobo to increase a specific stat.
  • At Rank 10, your chocobo will earn a random special ability.
  • You can unlearn the chocobo’s ability by purchasing Lethe Water from the Track & Feed Trainer for 800MGP. You will have to earn another rank before your chocobo is reassigned a new special ability.
  • You can purchase training manuals from the Track & Feed Trainer to train your chocobo in a specific ability.
  • Chocobos can pass their ability down to their offspring as well.
  • At Rank 40, you can breed  your chocobo.

But chocobo breeding will need to be a whole nother article as it’s something players are currently experimenting with!

Sources:

 

I'm pretty good at racing!
I’m pretty good at racing!
Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Riding High on Crystal Tower – A Raid for Shy Players

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I’ve been playing MMOs for over a decade, and this weekend was the first time I have ever participated in a raid. My FC, <KoM>, helped Syn and I work our way through Labyrinth of the Ancients (which I just call Crystal Tower, or CT, by habit) and Syrcus Tower (ST).

Even though Zuri is over ilvl 100 at this point, I’ve never attempted the larger raid instances, just because I was afraid to try it. What I discovered, however, (and this is coming from a very group shy player) is that the raids in FFXIV are actually super fun! In fact, Syn and I ran CT maybe 4-5 times this weekend just trying to learn the mechanics and get familiar with it all. ST is a little harder, and while the rewards there are more on level with what I need for upgrades, we’re focusing on one at a time.

Why Crystal Tower Is a Great Raid for Shy Players

ffxiv_02212015_165237
Running for the next boss room.

I know someone will come along and laugh at how FFXIV raids are not really hardcore raids of old. That may be true, but that’s why they’re accessible for people like me. At first, I thought a 24-man group would be terrifying to play in. Then, I learned that while there are some areas where team work is involved, for the most part, CT feels a lot like a more focused form of a GW2 public event.

There are so many people around you, you kinda blend in (unless you’re being a dingus). This is perfect for someone like me, who is always concerned that people are judging my group performance. Everyone is so focused on whatever part they’re playing, as long as you’re not dying constantly or accidentally pulling what you shouldn’t, no one even notices the bard in the back. Works for me!

The mechanics are pretty easy to learn and memorize, especially if you have someone teaching you in voice chat as you go along. I found by my third run through that I was able to teach other FC people who were running the first time without difficulty.

I think that’s where FFXIV really shines – boss mechanics are challenging, but not impossible or overly frustrating. It’s truly a fun ride for a casual player, and I’m really happy that FC folks encouraged us to give it a try and taught us the ropes!

Battle of the Big Keep

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My little Enkidu!

I’ve been putting off the final fight with Greg, which would finish up my Hildibrand quests for Zuri. I read the tactics for the fight in the wiki, and remembering the stress (and queue times) of the Dragon’s Neck, I kept pushing it back.

I mentioned I still needed to finish this encounter in Mumble chat, and a kind FC member came to the rescue, volunteering to be my healer in the queue (oh, so much faster than the lone DPS). So, I took the plunge, and I have to say this was a really fun fight (unlike Dragon’s Neck) that I wouldn’t mind doing again! We got through it first time without a wipe, and I was stoked to win the roll on the Enkidu minion (because I never win rolls like this).

It feels like the devs are leaving it open to a possible return of Hildibrand stories sometime in the future, which I would love. These questlines have been some of the corniest, but good, fun I’ve experienced in an MMO.

Oh, and Manderville Gold Saucer releases tomorrow! Woo! 

Hildibrand is also excited for the Gold Saucer!
Hildibrand is also excited for the Gold Saucer!
Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars 2, MMORPGs

GW2: “Backpacks are the New Hats” (No, They’re Just Carrots)

 

madking

NOTE

I think I need to clarify something that’s being misunderstood. This isn’t a post saying “I want free things without working for them.” I honestly have moved on from GW2 for the most part, and don’t expect or want anything out of the game.

Rather, this is an observation about how the intention behind “free” cosmetics has changed between GW1 and GW2.

I don’t mean to belabor the topic I wrote about yesterday, where I discussed the direction GW2 has taken with their gem shop cosmetics, especially festival items in particular. However, I got a comment that made me think up an addition to that article. While I did reply to that comment, I wanted to discuss this a bit more here.

I don’t mean to sound rude, but this comment made me think how well GW2 has trained the players to jump through hoops for “free” cosmetics, and not question it. The way I see it, there’s a huge difference between the intention behind the cosmetic hat gifts in GW1 and the cosmetic back items you have to work grind for in GW2.

Claudius commented:

Backpacks are the new hats. You can get a free ram backpack this festival. Last Wintersday you got a free outfit. I am not sure that your anger is justified 🙂

Firstly, I will note that I am not angry. In fact, I’m pretty much apathetic about the path GW2 is going down because I’ve seen the evolution, I don’t like it, and there’s not a thing I can do about it.

I’m more disappointed. Because I knew Guild Wars when it was a different sort of game. Now it’s a monetized and over-hyped shadow of the spirit that used to drive the series, and it doesn’t have to be.

No, these back items are not “the new hats.” I’ll tell you why.

It’s All About Intentions

gwf-dragonfestival_1600Let me explain how it worked in GW1, since it seems some folks may not have experienced it to understand the difference. The devs created a festival event, usually tied to a RL holiday. There was a lead-up event, sometimes with optional quests and ways of earning special treats throughout. On the last day of the event, was a grand finale that lasted anywhere from 15 mins to half an hour and repeated throughout one day.

If you attended the grand finale (which was usually fun within itself), you’d earn a bunch of free treats for interacting in the right way. For example, playing the Mad King Says and getting the responses correct would give you trick or treat bags. Then, at the end, a free hat appeared in your inventory. Even if you screwed up every Mad King Says, you still got the hat.

It was a gift, something given freely, simply for you being there. It was a way to celebrate that holiday, a way to remember that you attended that in-game event. It was part of the whole festival that everyone got, and something people looked forward to getting. Something people collected and loved to wear in towns, especially during random dance circles.

Good times.

Of Carrots and Sticks

Where GW1 festival items were a gift, GW2 festival items are a carrot on a stick that prods you to grind the content or log in every day. There’s a big difference.

The patch notes for the current Ram event says:

Play in the revamped Dragon Ball Arena, try to get your Lucky Great Ram Lantern backpack, and join us in welcoming the Year of the Ram.

The key word is “try.” You don’t have to try to get a gift. A gift is freely given.

I looked up what it takes to get a basic backpack, and the wiki notes:

Lucky Ram Lantern is a back item, rarely rewarded from Lucky Envelopes.

Researching the Lucky Envelopes, these come from finishing achievements and playing the Dragon Ball arena. So, you get a chance at the backpack (the wiki notes it’s “rarely rewarded”) from envelopes you only get by jumping through achievement hoops and grinding the arena.

Basically it’s a carrot on a stick to nudge people to run the content in order to get the prize. For those who are tired of this carrot thing, apparently the back item is also purchasable on the trade post.

Mawdry's crazy shopping list
Mawdry’s crazy shopping list

This isn’t quite as bad as the hoops you had to jump through to earn the free back items in the past. Mawdry is one that comes to mind. I knew things were getting way out of hand when I saw the grocery list required to craft that thing.

The one exception I can think of was the very first cosmetic back item they introduced, the Mad King’s Memories book. You earned that by undertaking a series of story quests and a scavenger hunt that was pretty fun. Sadly, they’ve removed these quests and the reward from current Halloween events.

Regardless if you’re beating on an endless number of dragon pinatas, collecting samples around Karka-infested South Sun Cove, running Sanctum Sprint a million times, collecting a gazillion blade shards, or grinding through story achievements, the outcome is the same.

The back item is there to provide incentive to run the kind of content the devs want you to run. It’s there to keep you logging in, even if the content is repetitive.

It’s a carrot, not a gift.

The cost may still be free, but intention is completely different. That’s my beef with it.

PS – I wasn’t involved in Wintersday much last year, but Dulfy doesn’t show any free outfit obtained from the event.

Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars 2

GW1 vs. GW2: Cash Shop Shenanigans

The Dragon Festival of GW1, in Lion's Arch. Which has not been leveled to nothing twice over yet.
The Dragon Festival of GW1, in Lion’s Arch. Which has not been leveled to the ground twice over yet.

Today’s gem store update in GW2 reminded me of one of my pet peeves with the game. Namely, they’ve thrown pretty much all cosmetics into the gem store. This includes the so-called festival cosmetics, such as the “new” Dragon and Lion mask in GW2.

Source: Dulfy
Source: Dulfy.net

Now, yes, I realize they are functioning on a B2P model that relies on cash shop purchases to maintain. I don’t fault them for putting stuff in the cash shop.

What bothers me is, coming from GW1, the things they put in the cash shop, especially things dealing with festivals, were things that we got FOR FREE in GW1. Which was, may I remind you, also a B2P model that didn’t adopt a cash shop until much, much later in its development cycle.

gw1masks
Pretty much the exact same masks in GW1… but these were FREE at festivals!

And you know, that was a good thing. Because festivals in GW1 were fantastic! The community gathered around whatever event, be it Mad King Says for Halloween, or the showdown between Grenth and Dwayna for Wintersday, or the Emperor’s coming for the Dragon festival… and we got FREE hats. No strings attached. No cash shop shenanigans.

And it was EXCITING. Because for that day, every three hours or so, there was a really cool event that you participated in and was rewarded for.

Compare that to: “Get the new dragon mask in our gem shop for 300 gems. Limited time only!” …And maybe you can understand why GW2’s cash grab is such a huge disappointment to me, a person who loved to collect all the hats, and loved to take part in every festival every year.

And I’m talking… a freakin’ lot of free and very cool hats! Check this out:

gw1hats

And the cool thing was, we never knew what they were going to release each year. So there was always the excitement building for that first event, where lucky folks who could be there came back to fan forums and posted screens of what we could expect when we got home from work that afternoon.

Man. That was fun. That worked up the community in a good way and got people logging in.

And what do we have now in GW2? “Oh, new hat in the gem shop.”

What a bummer!

Gradual Gem Shop Change

But this didn’t happen over night in GW2. In fact, GW2 started out on the same foot as GW1 in terms of offering free festivity rewards. Gasp! Shocking I know!

I even have the Day of the Tengu hat, which I was quite proud of!
I even have the Day of the Tengu hat, which I was quite proud of!

For example:

  • At the launch of GW2, you could get a free Celebration Hat (from the cash shop), which was a somewhat cheesy baseball hat with a GW2 logo. Didn’t really fit into the whole fantasy theme, but hey, it was free and very neat to see the generosity even during beta.
  • Halloween of 2012 rewarded participants of The Mad King Says with a neat free Witches Hat. Yes, they did start their gem shop costume and RNG weapon skin stuff at that point, but there was at least a free item from the event.
  • The Devil Horns were free to buy in the cash shop during Halloween of 2012. Apparently now, they cost 200 gems.
  • Wintersday of 2012 offered a free Wizard’s Hat in the cash shop. I wasn’t quite sure what a wizard’s hat had to do with Wintersday. But, hey, free hat, right? Or maybe a leftover from Halloween. Because this felt like the beginning of the end of cool free things.
  • Some folks got free kites and stuff in 2013, but only if you spent money in the cash shop within a certain period of time.
  • Halloween 2013 offered the Mask of the Night skin for The Mad King Says. I think that’s all the event rewarded in 2014, too. Compared to the cool Grenth Hood and stuff in the gem shop, it was so lame that I started to really feel fed up at that point.

The few free cosmetics became mostly back items in 2013… many which were linked to annoying achievements you had to grind out during the Living Story season 1 scenarios.  This was fun at first… but then they got so convoluted that I just gave up even trying to achieve these.

I’m not saying they’re not trying to weave a few free skins into content here or there. But gone are the days of celebrating events with free festival cosmetics, replaced by everything in the Gem Store. In fact, I almost feel as if putting the few free things in the gem shop during 2012 was a subtle way of grooming people to be comfortable in buying things from the gem shop. Perhaps they knew they needed a gradual conversion of folks coming from GW1 to the new GW2 gem shop mentality. And that thought sours me, too.

So when I saw these iconic masks from GW1 pop up in the GW2 cash shop, something in my heart ached a little. I’ll just try to hold on to my memories of a ring of GW1 elementalists joyfully wearing brightly-dyed dragon masks, sync-dancing in Shing Jea. Because that was infinitely more special to me than what GW2 is doing these days.

To close, I’ll just leave this GW1 video I made back in 2007 here…

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, Guild Wars 2, MMORPGs, Nintendo 3DS, The Secret World

Weekend Snapshot: FFXIV, Cactuar Kitty, GW2, TSW, Majora’s Mask

The Crystal Tower of FFXIV
The Crystal Tower of FFXIV

This weekend saw a lot of various things going on for me in the gaming world. Just a quick summary!

FFXIV: Further Progression

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Zuri finally got her Atma!

I’m still trying to make some progression with Zuri before the Gold Saucer sucks all my time releases next week. I finally finished her set of ilvl 100 armor, and completed her Atma bow. With all that done, I’ve been at a loss for what I want to work on with her (though I have a million things).

Not running dungeon roulette has helped significantly with the burnout I was feeling for a while. I cut those out and have started working on beastman dailies, including focusing on building faction with some tribes I haven’t completed for Zuri yet. But when it came to running hunts and unweathering her armor, I’ve kinda decided to take a break on that. I also considered working on getting armor for my healer class (I’m very, very slowly leveling Scholar and have a level 32 White Mage), but I also chose to take a break instead.

Tai's not so sure about this new armor...
Tai’s not so sure about this new armor…

I did run through the final Hildibrand quest so that I was up on story for most of that series. Those are always fun. I haven’t yet tackled the Battle at the Big Greg (as I like to call it), because looking up the fight, it seems really complex, and I just wasn’t in the mood to deal with another Ultros type fight this weekend.

I’ve focused my hunts and dailies on Tai instead, working to piece together his ilvl 100 weathered dragoon armor set. I don’t like the way it looks very much (sorry), and really miss my wyrm gear. He doesn’t even look like a dragoon anymore, and the armor is shaped so oddly. I doubt I’ll put the money into glamoring it, though, because with an expansion on the horizon, I don’t know what’s going to be happening with armor progression in the future.

Tai is still working on gathering all his Atma (he has half of what he needs now). However, Syn and I worked through the quests to finally unlock Crystal Tower (I also did this on Zuri). We haven’t run it yet, but it’s an option to explore later.

FFXIV: Cactuar Kitty

I’ve been reading about the fun many blogger folks on Twitter have been having by rolling on Cactuar and joining a very nice FC there. I’ve been trying to resist the call of Cactuar for a while (because of duties to my FC on Midgardsormr), but it was really something I wanted to be involved with. I discussed it with Syn this weekend and she encouraged me to try. So I rolled another alt on Cactuar to hook up with the fine blogger folks at <GREY>.

My new Cactuar kitty, a semi-Zuri clone!
My new Cactuar kitty, a semi-Zuri clone!

I was indecisive for a bit on what race and class to roll (though I knew I’d use my Aywren name for sake of easy identity), and ended up just taking Zuri’s base design and giving her a different haircut and freckles. I’m too attached to Zuri, and no matter what I tried to roll, I kept coming back to my moon kitty. 🙂

So my Cactuar Kitty was created, I hooked up with fine welcoming folks, and started burning through content. This isn’t very hard for me, seeing this is the 4th – 5th time I’ve rolled a character in Gradania (due to restarts, alts, etc). I chose Archer/Bard again because it’s my favorite low-stress class.

I pushed through to 15 so that I could complete the Valentione’s Day quests (which I did). Ended up at level 20 at the end of the weekend. I blasted through the first two story dungeons with really strong PUGs. With my eyes on my mount pretty soon, I’ll be continuing to speed-level whenever I have time.

It was somewhat refreshing to roll completely fresh on a new server for a change. It makes you appreciate what you have on your main, though! 🙂

Thanks to kind folks for giving me a home on Cactuar! 🙂

GW2: Level 80 Again

Finally, my mesmer is level 80!
Finally, my mesmer is level 80!

So I’ve been loyal in logging in just about every day to earn my daily rewards in GW2. This weekend, my mesmer, SoYa, whom I’ve been leveling since 48 on daily rewards alone, reached level 79-and-some. I have other characters who are in more need of the free level tomes, so I decided to grind out the last of SoYa’s level through personal story instances (which I’ve hardly even touched on him).

Once that was done, I spent some time kitting him out with nice armor, working on the Lazy Mesmer build, and finally equipping him with that Bonetti’s Rapier that I’ve been holding on for him for over a year or so now.

Next up for daily leveling tomes will be my engineer, Kip, who has a ton of cosmetics taking up storage as I wait for him to reach end game before I give them to him. Since I already have a level 80 engineer, I find it hard to want to do all that over again, even if engineer matches him best as a class.

Sometimes I really do miss those old Living World events, back when they used to allow sub-level 80s to uplevel and take part in them. That’s how I used to level most my alts. Since they’ve took that away, and my interest in grinding events has dropped, I’m thankful these dailies provide an alternate leveling path for my stable of alts who would otherwise never get leveled.

Ah well.

TSW: Long Road Ahead

Syn and I decided to pop into The Secret World for a short bout this weekend. We were so happy to see that a mission we’d sent a bug report for back before Halloween was fixed, and we could finally complete it. However, trying a “hard” mission in the Besieged Farmlands knocked it home for me that my so-called build is super lacking, and that blades is not supposed to be a DPS weapon. 😦

We started looking around at builds, and I found something more tanky that I’d like to try, but I’m severely lacking on AP and SP to achieve it anytime soon. Especially with the super casual way I play TSW.

The good news is that with upcoming changes to the pre-Tokyo content, I may delve into this game more often to build up those points and make a more solid build. I’m really looking forward to all the changes that are coming. And I bet if I could get my character to the point I want her to be, it would be even more awesome!

Zelda: Majora’s Mask

zeldamajoramaskFriday saw the release of Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask for the 3DS. I never played this game when it was first released, and actually never finished TOOT, either. But both have been on my lists of to-finish since I now have them on my 3DS.

Majora’s Mask has been somewhat of a curiosity for me. I remember when it first came out, I wrote it off as strange looking, a bit creepy, and some weird spin-off of TOOT. So I didn’t give it a chance.

My real interest in this game came from the Majora’s Mask creepy pasta and ARG that took place a few years ago online. I got really, really engrossed in this while it was happening, and I still shudder when I see one of those statues of Link. So, when I heard this was being released for the 3DS, one of the few newer-gen systems I own, I knew I had to try it out!

I’ve been really impressed by what I’ve seen of this game, both story and mechanics-wise. I knew that people said it was a good game, but so far, I’ve found it to be much better than I even expected it to be. I’ve completed the first cycle of 72 hours, and working on puzzling through the second at the moment. I like how the game just dumps you in the world and expects you to figure things out on your own. At the same time, it does a good job of balancing out information for someone totally new, like me. What I thought might be overwhelming (the time limit), really wasn’t once I realized I could go back in time and keep reliving the series of days over and over until I achieve the things I want to do.

In fact, this was a really genius way to framework a game and story. I love how you slowly build on your achievements, so even though you’re going through the same three days again and again, you always have different objectives.

Anyway. Great game. Looking forward to puzzling this out – I’m going to have to make some free time for it!

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Posted in Gaming

The Sad, Sad Story of Godus

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I know there’s been enough sad stories going around, but this is one that I’ve been sitting on for a while, watching from the sidelines. It’s just  now finally blowing up in the face of those who should take responsibility for their mess, and I feel that the community’s ire is quite justified. The game I’m talking about is Godus, slated to be the “reinvention” of the god game genre, built on the name of the legendary Peter Molyneux.

This game was originally a Kickstarter project that was funded over 2 years ago and raised £526,563 total. It promised a lot of lofty, but very cool ideas including:

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I was not one of the backers for this project, so I’m not writing this out of anger. In fact, while I own the game (haven’t played it yet), I spent about $1 of my own money to purchase it – I got it on a mega sale at GMG, where I had some credit built up.

I first saw Godus a few years back when it went on Steam sale. I was drawn to the title because I really liked the art style, and I enjoy god games. Then, I found out who was developing it, and my mind jumped back to hours of enjoying Populous on the SNES, and all the time I tried to put into Black & White.

I spent some time nosing around the Steam page, I saw quite a few negative reviews for it. So, I prodded deeper into the forums on Steam, and got to the heart of the community discontent.

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Sculpting in Godus looks very pretty! But if you don’t have the god power to do it, what’s the point?

Apparently, Godus development started out on the right track. There was some battle, signs of the promised multiplayer, and it was shaping up to be some sort of early access god game for the PC. Then, suddenly, in the middle of developing the PC version, someone on the team got the idea that the game needed to become some kind of mobile game hybrid.

This included real-life timers that allowed you to only play the game so much in one sitting, the click-click-click-click Farmville syndrome to earn your god power back, sticker collections that you had to find to unlock new abilities, and shoehorning the beginning of an in-game Gem store… It was the Gem store that really blew up in their face, if I remember correctly, and the team quickly back-pedaled to remove it from the PC version.

By then, however, it was apparent that Godus mobile was becoming first and foremost. There was no sign of the promised hub world for multiplayer. The world that was touted to be as large as Jupiter in Peter’s interview was no where to be seen. The team tried to redesign the resource gathering system over and over in attempt to please the PC players… but the heart of it didn’t budge from that click-fest, wait-fest that you’d expect from a tablet game and not from something on the PC.

And in all this time, backers on Kickstarter haven’t seen a whiff of the rewards they were promised, not to mention a game that matched what was described as the project’s forefront. And the poor guy who won the Curiosity Cube contest, to become the God of Gods in Godus, has been left in limbo for over two years now. Really. Read that article. It’s something else.

Instead, they released the free mobile versions of Godus, which Peter has said in his newest semi-apology video is making the team a whole lot of money through micro transactions. This money should be going towards improving the now-mobile port PC version of Godus into a real PC game, right? Nope. Back in December, Peter admitted that he was shifting the team away from working on the incomplete Godus game for a new venture, called The Trail. Oh man… did the Godus forums on Steam blow up then.

That’s not the only thing to blow up. Do a Google search for Godus in the news and you’ll see that the media has finally picked up this story and is making it well known what kind of bait and switch has been played out here. I also saw Peter Molyneux trending on Twitter yesterday… and not in a good way.

They tried to apologize, but really, I think it’s making things worse.

So why am I writing this article? Because I’ve watched the evolution of this drama for quite a while, and I’m really sad to see how far Godus has fallen. I think there  are were plenty of passionate and good folks working on this game’s development, and I don’t envy the newly appointed designer, Konrad Naszynski, who is trying to see the original vision through.

Where will this end up? Who knows. But the gaming community is not going to let Peter get away unscathed, it seems. For that, I say, “Good on you!”

Update: This was written before THAT follow up interview at Paper, Rock, Shotgun. After reading that, some of my opinions of Peter have changed. I still don’t agree with what’s happening with the handling of Godus. But at this point, I’m not even sure if the poor guy knows what he’s communicating to the press half the time. I feel a bit sorry for him. 😦 

Posted in Everquest 2, Gaming, H1Z1, Landmark, MMORPGs

Dismayed and Torn: Daybreak Layoff Response

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So, as most folks probably already know, it was announced today that Daybreak (formerly SOE) will be laying off a number of staff. For money reasons, of course. Only, the folks on the chopping block are some of the most passionate people I know on the team, such as Dave Georgeson (Smokejumper) and Linda Carlson (Brasse).

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsI may not have written a lot about Landmark lately, but Smokejumper has been a huge part of this beta experience for me. From the moment you launch the game, he welcomed the community and set the feel for the Landmark world. His passion, and the passion of Brasse, shown through in all the games they were a part of. They made it welcoming and inclusive. It was part of what I loved about the community… and their loss will be widely felt.

And while I don’t wish evil on anyone, I marvel that someone as sharply sarcastic as Smed still remains. You can call me out for holding a grudge, but I still haven’t forgotten his snide comments on the “disgusting PVE carebear servers” that would launch with H1Z1, and how he’d just have to deal with the fact that casuals who don’t like KOS PVP are playing his game. That was a total turn off, an absolute contrast to the welcoming feeling I got from games such as Landmark.

The part I’m torn about… do I continue to play Daybreak games?

I know these people put so much of themselves into these creations. I’ve put lots of money and time into some of these games myself (EQ2). Do I leave the games they worked on in frustration of the company’s direction? Or do I continue to play (even if I play very casually) because they did put so much of themselves into these games, that they’d want people to continue to enjoy them, even if they’re not on the team anymore?

Even Smokejumper requests:

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It’s rather hard… Where to stand on this? Either way, it’s crushing news and a really bad move (IMHO) for those in charge at Daybreak. I wish the best to those who are being forced to move on. 😦

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Sunset. Not Daybreak.

 

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

Casually Introverted: Why I Need the FFXIV Manderville Gold Saucer

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In just two weeks, on Feb 24, the Manderville Gold Saucer will release in FFXIV patch 2.5.1. Along with personal housing, this has been a feature I’ve waited for since the very first time I  heard it mentioned, possibly over a year ago. Hearkening back to the Gold Saucer of FFVII fame, it’s a cross between a casino, carnival and racetrack, full of mini-games to take up your MMO gaming time.

And though the fun factor is a major draw, for me, the Gold Saucer couldn’t come at a better time because I’m feeling the onset of slight burn out right now.

Casually Introverted

I keep forgetting that there’s a reason I’m a casual player. I get really caught up in trying to make progress and trying to match the end game requirements that I find myself pushing and pushing and pushing out of my comfort zone. This is especially true of running dungeons, most often with PUGs, which the FFXIV roulettes require. For a while, I can maintain that progression. But over time, it takes a toll on me.

I suppose you can say I’m casual in part because I’m introverted. So I’m casually introverted.

glass_of_waterWhile I am shy, when I talk about being an introvert, I talk about the amount of energy it takes for me to maintain a constant connection to other people around me. I like this description, as I think it really explains it well:

The difference between an introvert and an extrovert boils down to energy. Introverts, unlike extroverts, lose energy when being among people.

Think of introverts as a cup filled with water. Everytime we interact with others, we give a bit of that water to the person. The more we socialize, the less water we have. No matter who we spend time with and even if we love and enjoy seeing this person, the cup will run out. Spending quiet time alone allows us to refill this cup.

For me, this includes running dungeons, because this is a (stressful) social interaction for me. Lately, I’ve been trying to run daily roulettes again to upgrade my armor, and the RNG has not been kind. Instead of getting the easier dungeons that I used to get often, the game has been throwing stuff I don’t enjoy, like Arum Vale, over and over again. Then, after hunts, I get on an alt and do dailies all over again.

I’ve also been extremely social in my FC, since I’m working hard to build up and maintain connections between members. I do enjoy this, but it’s also not something I can do constantly without taking a hit. So after pushing through hours and hours of FFXIV gaming this weekend, I suddenly find myself at the point of “Uh oh.”

The Point of “Uh Oh”

“Uh oh” is when I still have enthusiasm for a game, I still have so much progress to make, I still have interest in doing things… But I’m tired. My cup is going dry and I find myself doing minimal content to push through for that day. Then I log off and play something else for a while.

It’s bad that I’m starting to feel like that, but good that I’ve identified it before it turns into to total burnout (like it did last summer). I can also identify the major culprit of this feeling as the daily roulette dungeons… so I’m going to go back to doing beastman dailies instead. They only give half the amount of rewards compared to dungeon running. However, I can do them solo, I don’t have to wait in a DPS queue from anywhere between 20-40 mins to get into them, and I don’t have to dedicate an hour’s time (or more) running with a PUG to complete my objective.

It’s slower. But it’s still progress. And any progress is better than getting burned out and not logging in.

All that being said, I really enjoy the folks I’ve met in my FC during our recruitment phase – I’m not saying that I don’t. And I don’t mind doing things to help them. I just need to find a better balance so that progression doesn’t drive my enthusiasm into the ground.

Why I Need the Gold Saucer

The Gold Saucer is probably the thing I’ve been most excited about in MMOs this year (aside from the actual FFXIV expansion). I can see myself taking time out to have some fun with all the various games it will bring. And this is a very good thing as it will provide another mode of enthusiasm for the game to offset the desire to simply progress.

It will remind me to have fun while being casual. That it’s okay not to progress as fast as everyone else around me as long as I’m enjoying the ride. That’s sometimes difficult to remember when you see folks so far ahead… but I need to.

Now, about the Gold Saucer.

goldsaucer2I’m super stoked about what I’m hearing about chocobo racing and chocobo breeding. We don’t know how that’s going to work yet, but the team has done a great job with the chocobo companion system, so I have a lot of faith in this. I used to race and breed chocobos for hours in FFVII, so if it’s done well, it’ll be a pleasant blast from the past.

Expect blog posts on both topics. 🙂

Also, the card game from FFVIII, Triple Triad, will be making an appearance. I’m not so keen on challenging other players, but I love the idea of challenging random NPCs to games. I just hope they don’t make it too hardcore to the point it’s taken overly-serious. I have to say I was a lot better at the card game from FFIX, Tetra Master, though. I don’t remember a thing about playing Triple Triad.

Everything I’ve seen from the teaser videos, including the rewards for playing in the Gold Saucer, sounds like it should be a ton of fun. I hope that fun is what the devs had in mind when designing these games and systems, and that it’ll encourage folks to engage in other activities than just the daily grind. Including me!

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