Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge: Armello

-Welcome to this series where I resolve to play my Steam games backlog! Here are my discoveries!-

Armello-logo

Game: Armello
Time Played: 1.9 hours

I’m continuing the Steam series with yet another game that I Kickstarted last year: Armello.

This game was released as early access in January, and the developers have been tweaking and adding lots of new content ever since. I waited a bit until the dust cleared to play this game and form my opinion.

Now, before I start my review, I’m going to borrow a semi-quote from Sir Mixalot.

Beckaaaay! Look…

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At…

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This…

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Game…

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It’s so…

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BEAUTIFUL!

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Everything art-wise from the intro, the board, the characters, the cards… it’s a jaw-droppingly beautiful game. The art alone was inspiring enough for me to back it last year. Huge props to the art team on this.

What Is It?

Armello describes itself as:

Armello is a grim fairy-tale board game come to life. Full of swashbuckling adventure combining deep, tactical card play, rich tabletop strategy and RPG elements.

I’d say that’s pretty accurate.

Armello is a digital board game that combines moving over a gridded map, drawing and playing cards, RPG character stats and equipment, and rolling dice for battle and skill checks. So it’s a pretty huge conglomeration of a lot of different gaming elements all rolled into one.

You can play Armello solo, against three computer AI opponents, or choose to play mulitiplayer (I’m assuming on Steam). I don’t know how the multiplayer works since I’ve only played solo so far. But for competitive enthusiasts, it’s probably more fun to play against real folks than the AI.

Choosing your character
Choosing your character

Armello is a world of animal creatures, ruled by a king who is slowly dying to the infection of the rot. This is, indeed a “grim fairy-tale” in that it was kinda hard for me to sit there and watch the king’s life ticking away each match. I don’t know exactly what the rot is, but it’s pretty nasty, and even players can become infected.

You play one of four animal heroes within the kingdom, sent by your clan to claim the throne in whatever way necessary.  Each hero has their own stats that provide strengths and weaknesses. For example, Thane the wolf is a warrior with a lot of Fight (5 points) and decent Health (4 points), which makes him a natural at battle. His Wits (3) and Spirit (3), are much lower, which hinders his spell casting and the max number of cards he starts with each day.

Each character is a little different, with their own special abilities, which changes things up when you play with each.

You can win the game with one of four victory conditions:

  1. Prestige victory – You earn the most prestige in the game. When the king finally dies to the rot, you win the throne. Easiest condition to earn, and only one I’ve seen so far, though I haven’t won yet.
  2. Spirit Stone victory – You gather four spirit stones that randomly spawn at night, or can be earned in quests. Take them to the palace and cure the king of his rot, while banishing him and earning the throne. Sounds pretty mean.
  3. Kill the King victory – You break into the palace, overcome the palace perils (which isn’t easy to do), and kill the king. Sounds pretty mean, too.
  4. Rot victory – You purposely become infected with rot, build up more rot than the king, break into the palace and kill him while rotted to take the throne. Doesn’t sound like the kingdom is in any better hands with you on the throne, though. XD

As you can see, there’s no kind outcome for the poor king in all this.

My Impressions

I’m not much of a board game player, though I do tend to find them fun. I’m also not strong at playing games with heavy focus on strategy and numbers. So I just wanted to put that out there before my review.

I swear Thane is OP. He beat me in both games I played.
I swear Thane is OP. He beat me in both games I played.

I felt this game looks and runs extremely well for an early access release. I didn’t run into any bugs or issues while playing, and was really impressed by the overall presentation and feel of the game.

However, for me, there was a lot of complexity to the game that I had to struggle to get my mind around as a brand new player. There wasn’t a tutorial mode, but tutorial screens did pop up from time to time on my first play-through, trying to help me get a grip on all the cards, dice, stats, perils, equipment, card burning, etc that goes on in this game. The game does have an extensive help section, but this requires you to pause the game, go to help and read wiki-like entries to find the information, which isn’t very intuitive if all you want to do is jump in and learn the game by playing.

This game has a lot of moving parts, which is a good thing for replay value and for those who enjoy the challenge. Add to it randomly generated maps and more randomness in the cards you draw, the quests you get, the dice you roll, and the daily rule drawn by the prestige leader every morning, and you’d be hard pressed to play the same game twice.

By the end of the first game, which overwhelmed me a bit, I had a basic idea of what to do. I still felt like I was missing a lot of information, though, so I turned to playthrough videos to help me out. This one was very helpful in taking me step by step through what stats meant, what the interface was about and how to play the basic game.

Armed with more information, I played a second round. I wasn’t as overwhelmed the second time, but I still found myself struggling to beat Thane, who I swear is OP. Even with an awesome cloak that added a permanent 3 prestige, he still trounced enemies one after another on the map and solidly beat everyone else. Maybe I should play him next time, though I really like Mercurio, being a rat-lover. 🙂

Verdict

2015-04-26_00001Armello is a good, solid digital board game with a lot of neat elements that combine into unique gameplay. Each round took me about an hour to complete solo, so be ready to spend about that amount of time for each playthrough. It’s not a huge amount of time, but not something you can pick up and put down, unless you’re playing solo (there is a saving option for solo play).

It looks and feels fantastic, and I’ve certainly not played anything like it before. All the different elements, while really cool, may be a bit overwhelming for a new player who is not a board gamer. There is a learning curve for those folks, so be sure to check out a video (like above) to ensure this kind of gameplay is something that appeals to you. Especially with the current $25 price tag on Steam.

My personal verdict is that I might pick up this game from time to time for a quick solo play, I don’t think I’m going to put hours into it… because I’d rather be spending my time playing a different genre. That’s just me. However, I’m proud to have supported this game in Kickstarter and I’m happy that it is being made a reality, because those who love board gaming will probably find a lot to love in Armello.

I’m not sure what the devs can add to this game to make it non-early-access, but I’m looking forward to following the development as it continues to grow.

Recommend:

yes Yes – If you enjoy board/card/dice gaming. Be sure to check out a playthrough video if you’re uncertain, however.

Posted in Gaming, MMORPGs

Guild Wars: Stepping Back in Time to a Decade Ago

This was the original GW1 character select from 10 years ago. My first characters, too.
This was the original GW1 character select from 10 years ago. And my first characters from May, 2005.

Guild Wars 1 is celebrating its 10th year anniversary! It’s hard to believe, especially since it’s a game that I played back during the open beta phase. Despite the fact I beta tested it, it wasn’t a game I expected to play.

You see, years before that, due to the general atmosphere of MMOs, and some bad forced-grouping experiences in FFXI, I’d sworn off playing any more MMOs all together. I was frustrated as a shy and casual player. I wanted to be part of the online world experience, but I was transitioning out of college into the work world, and I had tons of art projects, so I couldn’t dedicate a million hours of my time to online gaming.

The neweness of MMOs had worn off on me during my UO years, and I really needed a game that fit me. One without the frustrations of forced grouping, elite raiding, and huge time sinks.

This was my first ever GW1 screenshot - dated May 1, 2005. It was still in BMP format like they used to save.
This was my first ever GW1 screenshot – dated May 1, 2005. It was still in BMP format like they used to save.

Discovering Guild Wars

I remember my sister was the first one to suggest Guild Wars. She’d heard of it and told me, “You and Syn might enjoy this one. It has features I think you’d like.”

I dismissed it at first. It didn’t sound like a game I’d like based on the title – I didn’t join Guilds in games and I’m not into Wars. Also, I had sworn off MMOs at that point in my life.

But when I caught wind of an open, free beta event, I decided to give it a shot. I remember really enjoying it, mostly because the beta sequence threw you into one of the missions that lead up to becoming one of the White Mantle in Lion’s Arch. It wasn’t the same as the mission that was eventually put into the game, but it was enough that I got a taste for the writing and level design.

I liked what I saw, but I didn’t ride the hype train. In fact, I forgot all about GW1 until it launched. I must have been bored one day, and I remember going out to pick the game up a few days after the release. I’d never owned a B2P game before, so I figured without a sub, I didn’t have much to lose. It was one of the best things I ever did.

Enjoying Guild Wars 1

Zeb and Tai in their original GW iteration. May, 2005
Zeb and Tai in GW1. May, 2005

Not only did GW1 revitalize MMOs in general for me, but it gave me a mission and story based online game that I could play with Syn. She wasn’t an MMOer at all before that, and seeing she’s very story-oriented, it would take something like GW1 to have hooked her. Now days, she’s running Crystal Tower raids more than I do! XD

The story had its own charm, and it knew how to make the player feel like the center of the action. It was obvious that there was lore and history behind the game world – I remember being fascinated by the idea of the sunken city of Orr and the undead that were dragging up to shore. And while the story progressed through missions, you could go back and replay the story any time (unlike GW2 personal story).

The game was challenging back then, especially if you were duoing with henchmen. But I liked that you had the option to fill in the party with henchies, even if they weren’t as good as human players. Boy do I have some stories about Alesia…

I liked the ability to have a secondary class and all the amazing builds that were wide open to you as you developed your character. I liked going out to cap skills from bosses. I liked that missions had levels of completion – I remember getting the Bonus or Master rewards was always exciting.

The game changed a lot over the years. Here’s some highlights I remember, some which don’t exist anymore.

I Remember…

  • Farming for hours on aloe out in the Barradin’s Estate in Pre-Searing to earn enough money for a guild cloak. We were [RIFT] before Rift was ever a game. Couldn’t use that tag in GW2, after Rift was released, though, because no one believed we were named after a webcomic (Wayrift).
I was so proud of buying our guild cloak! May, 2005
I was so proud of buying our guild cloak! May, 2005
  • At launch, you were required to go through a PvP session before you could leave Pre-Searing. I don’t know if that’s still the case, but even back then Anet was trying to nudge PvE folks into PvP. XD
  • When no one knew what happened to Gwen after the searing, so people held on the the broken flute and scrap of red cloth just in case.
Meeting Gwen for the first time. May, 2005
Meeting Gwen for the first time. May, 2005
  • At launch, if you wanted to change your attributes, you had to go out and earn experience to reset your points. Now days, you can just reset them and distribute on the fly as long as you’re in a town.
  • At launch, infusing your armor happened one piece at a time.  That meant you had to run the Iron Mines of Moladune over and over for each piece of armor you needed to infuse. Glad they changed that.
  • When people discovered 55 HP farming. It started with a Monk build, which could obliterate huge groups of griffons and minotaurs in the desert. Eventually, other classes could run it with a Monk secondary – I remember running this on my necromancer just because I could.
  • When dance syncing was first added. HUGE dance parties. Many great dance videos were made!
  • When the Frog and Gaile used to visit Lion’s Arch. We there was always a huge turnout and I remember Gaile’s conga lines fondly.
Gaile conga run. April, 2006
Gaile conga run. April, 2006
  • When Thunderhead Keep used to be a big end game challenge. I also remember when the Monks, frustrated with bad treatment of healers, staged a dance-strike at Thunderhead and refused to join parties.
  • At launch, after you beat the end boss in Prophecies, the game just dumped you unceremoniously at the statue of Glint. Players were sad that there was no real ending or fanfare for their character. So, when Factions was released, the devs created a HUGE fanfare for winning the game – so many NPCs cheering for you, your henchies and story NPCs talking, everyone dancing, and tons of fireworks. Later, they went back and added a fanfare for completing Prophecies, too.
We beat Prophecies! September, 2005
We beat Prophecies! September, 2005
  • There was so much excitement when Sorrow’s Furnace first released. That was really tough content at that time, too. That was also the first release of Green weapon drops.
Fighting through Sorrow's Furnace. September, 2005
Fighting through Sorrow’s Furnace. September, 2005
  • 15K armor was the end game goal. I was so proud of mine. 🙂
I got a lot of complements on my necro armor back in the day. :)
I got a lot of complements on my necro armor back in the day. 🙂

We spent years playing GW through all of its different expansions. I even have two different box accounts, also with expansions. We put a lot of time into earning titles and mapping landscape for the Cartographer titles.

Our enthusiasm fell short, though, when GW2 was announced in 2007. Seeing that GW2 didn’t actually release until 5 years later, I always felt that the GW2 announcement was too premature. Knowing that development was shifting to a new game kinda took the wind out of my sails. I understand now why they had to develop a new game from the ground up, but back then, I just felt sad knowing GW1 wouldn’t see new expansions in the future.

Eventually, we moved on to playing other games, but I won’t forget the fun we had when GW was still at the peak of its development. I still log in every month to ensure I maintain guild leadership and that all is well in our little guild, founded in May 2005. GW still holds a fond place in my heart. It was the right game at the right time for me.

Thank you for everything, Guild Wars!

Memories!

(Yes, I kept all my screenshots… I knew they’d come in handy one day! I have thousands, seriously!)

Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge: Hero Generations

-Welcome to this series where I resolve to play my Steam games backlog! Here are my discoveries!-

herogenerations

Game: Hero Generations
Time Played: 2.3 hours

I discovered Hero Generations, a game developed by one person (!), through a Kickstarter campaign last year. I liked the basic game concepts, so I backed it and went into waiting mode, like you do with Kickstarted games. A few weeks ago, the game officially released on Steam. I thought this was odd because it’s the first Kickstarted game I backed that went into an official release and not an early access.

What’s It About?

The game describes itself as:

An innovative roguelike/4X strategy game where every turn is one year of your life.

Uncovering a map
Uncovering a map

That’s pretty accurate. You start with a randomly generated young hero on a map. The map is covered with a fog of war until your hero uncovers it, so you can’t see towns, locations or enemies until you start moving around. Each time you move one space on the map, that takes one year of your hero’s life. So, the clock is always ticking down.

The goal of the game is to earn fame through defeating enemies, build up structures around your towns with gold you loot, and then fall in love and hand down your legacy to your child. While rolling for traits for your child has a lot of random elements to it, they can earn traits that are passed on between you and your mate.

Fighting isn’t the only strategy, however. What you build in spots adjacent to your towns will effect the size of the town and what it will become. For example, if you build three barracks around a town, the town will turn into a fort. If you upgrade all three barracks to strongholds, the town will become a keep.

Upgrading your town is important because it changes the types of mate you can find within. Some mates are just “Commoners” without much in the way of traits. Upgrading your town increases the variety and quality of mates, which increases the chances of better quality of your next generation. Better mates have higher standards, however, which also seem to be effected by the type of town they live in. I’ve seen mates expect a certain amount of strength points, gold earned or fame points before they’ll fall in love with you.

Some Impressions

The RNG Board that passes traits to your child.
The RNG Board that passes traits to your child.

There’s a LOT of RNG play in this game. Actually, quite a bit of the game relies on trying to influence a better random outcome.

Traits, as I said above, are randomly earned when a child is born. Also, when your hero hits milestones, you can choose from additional random cards, which can give strength, traits, life expectancy, and more.

Combat is also RNG. The more strength you have, and the better items you hold, the better chance you have to roll a higher attack number. However, there’s also always the chance that a weaker enemy can still get a few hits in. Not sure how I feel about that, but it did lean towards my advantage when I took out that dragon that one time.

I do like the art style, and it’s neat to watch your hero change as they gain scars or as they get older. I find the choice to take up much of the screen with a white background kinda odd, though. This game doesn’t use all the screen real estate that it could, but I’m not sure why. Other players noted that due to this, it lent this game to feeling like an Internet flash game or a mobile game, which I agree. I think that with a few screen tweaks, this game could make a very awesome tablet port.

Kip (with green hair) loves me!
Kip (with green hair) loves me!

One thing that severely bugs me is inventory management in this game. You have two inventory slots. Period. That’s it. I think the designer thought that this would increase the difficulty. But, in fact, it just annoys and prevents me from picking up anything of worth along the way. I found a really cool and powerful sword, which I refuse to drop, and I have a decent shield, which I also refuse to drop. So, both of my inventory slots are taken up, and I can’t pick up anything new. Sometimes, those items are needed – such as hammers that can fix structures around the town that tend to decay over time.

To the Dev: At least give us one more inventory slot. That’s not a lot to ask. I’m not dropping my sword or shield, so that makes it very difficult to do anything with any item that drops on the map… kinda takes a lot of fun out of it.

The gameplay, while fun, does get a little bit repetitive after a while. There’s a basic pattern of heroes starting out weak and new, not doing much until adulthood where they come into their own with strength, then trying to cram everything in during the prime time of their lives before they need to stop and find a mate. I see this as a game you’d probably play in quick rounds, as each lifetime goes by pretty fast. I was up to close to 30 generations in about 2 hours.

 

The art is very pretty. I'm sad there's so much white space in this game, though.
The art is very pretty. I’m sad there’s so much white space in this game, though.

Verdict

This verdict hurts my heart to write. I like this game. I like the concepts. I’m having fun with it. I see the dev continuing to make fixes and add things that the community is requesting, even though the game is not in early access.

But.

I think there needs to be something more to it to justify a $14.99 price tag. There, I said it. 😦

And I hate I have to say it, because I want to support this developer and his ideas. I paid $10 to back it on Kickstarter, and I feel that’s more the proper price range now that I’ve played it. The game is not early access, so that tells me the developer feels the game is complete. I feel a lower price point would probably encourage more folks to try the game since this is this dev’s first foray into the world of Steam.

So, my verdict is, if you like what you see, wait for a sale or for the price to drop.

Recommend:

yes

Yes – if you can get it on sale.

 

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Posted in Gaming, MMORPGs

Why WildStar Still Doesn’t Do It For Me

Nipp_Nimble.150418.012800

There’s been a lot of hints at the possibility that WildStar may be transitioning into a F2P or B2P model, though there’s been no official announcement. Of course, ESO didn’t say anything about their B2P transition until long after the community was already speculating the move. So, it’s hard to say what’s going on right now.

Update: Wildstar has just announced they’re going F2P!

I put in a few hours of playtime on both Exile and Dominion sides during the WildStar beta. Back then, I concluded that the game wasn’t for me. One of the major things that kept me from playing was that I was dedicated to FFXIV as my subscription game, and couldn’t justify adding another sub (and the pressure subbed games bring).

State of Gaming

I’ve been taking a little break from FFXIV now that I’ve finished up the Main Scenario and got both my characters in a good position for the expansion. I’m still visiting daily, doing cactpot, checking on guild buffs, managing things in the guild and doing my weekly runs, but I’ve decided a little breather from constant dungeons and leveling is a good thing to help me feel more refreshed for when Heavensward arrives.

In the meantime, I saw that WildStar was offering a Mystery Box Promotion with a chance at one of three special items – two of them being a mount. And who doesn’t want a giant floating cat mount that you ride inside of? So, with hints of possible payment model conversion, the promotion, and the fact that I found a cheap $16 box copy on Ebay (no worries, it all worked) the day the promotion was announced, I decided to take the plunge.

Character Creation Conundrum

WildStar.150417.225714The first issue I ran up against was in character creation. I had a pretty good idea that I wanted to play an Engineer. However, on the Exile side, I was limited to Human, Granok and Mordesh races. I have no interest in Granok or Mordesh aesthetics (I tried rolling both). Not only did I not really care for any of the human females I tried to roll up, I thought it was a real shame to play a plain human when there’s all kinds of crazy things to play in the WildStar universe.

Aurin would have been my go-to race, but I didn’t like the class choices. I also did try an Aurin during beta, and I remembered not really liking the feel of their lore and society. This was odd, because I thought it would have fit my personality well. But for some reason, Aurin just grated on my nerves. So, I wasn’t going to sacrifice my choice of class with a race that was not that engaging to me.

That left me with rolling a Chua. I really like Chua. I really like that Chua can be Engineers. However, I knew before I rolled that my personality would not lend me to enjoy the Dominion side very much.

Still, I went Chua and rolled Nipp Nimble, a blue Chua Engineer. And, yes, I did get the floating cat mount (Snarfelynx), which I was really stoked about. Having a mount from level 1 made things a lot easier… I think I would have gone nuts having to run everywhere.

Why WildStar Still Isn’t For Me

So, I hopped in the game looking to give it another chance to wow me. Afterall, the last I played was beta. So that means lots have changed in a year. However, I found myself facing the same things that annoyed me with the game back then.

Aesthetics

I actually really like the cartoony art style of WildStar. In fact, it’s one of the things that draws me to the game. So that’s not what bugs me.

I’m not sure how to best explain what I don’t like. It isn’t the art as much as it is the use of space in this game. Everything feels so claustrophobic to me. The starting tutorial had too much going on visually, and that sent my senses into overload. This was probably on purpose because WildStar is all about going overboard on everything. However, it turns me off, rather than makes me excited.

The open areas of the starter savanna were a lot better. However, the starter town again suffered from too much clutter, making it difficult for me to navigate and find anything.

Quests

Way too often did I find myself getting lost or frustrated with quest lines that didn’t do a good job of pointing me in the right direction.

An example of this: the housing introduction quest. I was super excited to unlock my house (it’s another main reason I wanted to try WildStar), but the quest was really confusing. It told me to talk to the housing guy (so I did), then use the hologram next to him to go to my floating house island. So I did. Then it told me to interact with the housing displays, which I couldn’t find anywhere on my house island. I went back to the teleporter platform (where the quest arrow sent me), tried to interact with the board and the vendor there to no luck. I even dropped the quest and picked it up again. No luck.

Nipp_Nimble.150425.130807After Googling it and watching videos, I finally discovered the displays were back in the housing building in the main city, not on my housing island. Super confusing! Why didn’t they tell me to interact with the displays first, and then go to my house island? That would have alleviated the issue.

I also had issues with quests that required you to press the “T” button to use a tool. I discovered that quests can conflict if you accidentally pick up more than one that required you to use a tool in this way. After Googling it, I was sure I was doing the quest the right way… it just wasn’t working. Then, I decided to drop one of those “T” button quests, and what do you know… it worked.

There were a lot of other quests that had poor flow or were difficult for me to follow, but those are two examples that really stood out to me.

Storyline

You knew I’d have to talk about story. That’s just how I roll.

Overall, the story, as far as I’ve experienced it up to level 14, was nothing that drew me in. I guess I’m more of a fantasy person, so space ships, exiles and empires really don’t excite me very much. I appreciated the environment and world building, but the storylines themselves fell short mostly because they were so disjointed, and there were so many NPCs and names thrown at me at once.

Unless I watched my quest journal carefully, there was no indication that what I was doing was a “main story” quest. The flow of the main story was poor, often leading me to forget characters and situations. There’s just too much going on in this game that it’s hard to focus.

When something interesting did start happening, complete with voice acting, the quest just dead-ended without any direction of where to go for the next part. I was really perplexed that they’d spend so much time building up to something that seemed exciting just to let it drop. A few levels (and hours) later, I must have picked up the follow-up quest to the one that dead-ended, but I didn’t even realize it was a continuation until I started piecing it together. By then, I’d already forgotten the names of NPCs, so it was more like “Oh, right. I remember that guy we took captive. So this is part of that story that dropped off the face of the earth four hours ago!”

Not good.

Investing In My Character

Nipp_Nimble.150424.193442I knew picking Dominion would be an issue for me, and it was. I couldn’t get into random acts of cruelty that the game wanted to pass off as zany science or part of the Dominion’s “character.” Not only did I blow a lot of things up (which was okay), but I dealt with cruelty to animal test subjects, the annihilation of a race that refused to give into Dominion subjugation, and lots of other distasteful things. On the other hand, the Exiles weren’t doing a lot of nice things, either, so I’m not sure that I would have fit any better over there.

I don’t know what it was about characters in WildStar, but I could never put myself into my character’s shoes. Games like GW2 imposes speech and voice acting on your character, but I still felt connected to the choices I made. FFXIV and The Secret World provided silent protagonists, but they still responded through facial expressions and body language in cut scenes – I could invest in them and take on their persona while I was playing.

In WildStar, I feel like I’m watching stuff happen to my Chua. He responds to NPC dialogue in fairly generic ways that were written to blanket characters of all races, and doesn’t sound anything like a Chua should. In the end, my Chua is a part of this WildStar universe, but not someone I can personally connect to. That disconnection makes the game really impersonal to me.

Lack of Information

I did figure out that I was earning abilities as I leveled up, and that I had to buy them to unlock them. But then they started giving me AMP points and ability upgrade points with no explanation that I saw. Or maybe they did try to tell me, but so much information was bombarding me that I missed it? Dunno.

On top of that, I started earning AMPs as items… and had no idea what to do with those until level 13 because the game never directly indicated these were important. I thought they might be some crafting component or something. Lucky I held on to them.

Then there’s these shields and items you can slot into weapons and stuff and all sorts of things I never got a grip on that the game never explained. I was mostly winging it.

Combat Style

I’m a lot better at action combat now days than when I first played WildStar beta – thanks to raiding in FFXIV. The telegraphed combat style used to really blow my mind. It’s not so bad now, and can even be exciting – at first. But it takes a toll on me over time, especially as I got higher in level and fights lasted longer. I found myself just exhausted by combat in the game… it’s the first MMO I had to put down because I needed a mental break from fighting quest mobs.

I did really enjoy my Engineer a lot. I don’t regret my choice of class at all. I just can’t maintain that kind constant action combat for long periods of time.

Nipp_Nimble.150424.185418

Interruptions

Along that same line… I can’t stand all the constant interruptions in the WildStar communication system. I like that you can use the communicator to turn quests in rather than running back to the NPC. I like the idea that quests can start organically by entering a specific area (NPCs contact you out of the blue to offer you a quest). I don’t like when that stupid communicator starts bombarding me with text that I want to read in the middle of battles or unopportune times… which is almost always when the communicator pops up.

It just jars me out of the experience and frazzles my nerves… because I’m trying to stay alive during one of the exhausting action combat battles and this thing is popping up… ringing… or throwing boxes of text over my screen. Then, I miss half of what’s said since it doesn’t appear to be printed out in my text box…

But then, all text in WildStar moves much, much faster than I can actually read. And that’s another problem for me cuz I actually… you know… want to read the text!

Population

Nipp_Nimble.150418.021547I came to WildStar with the idea that I was going to try it out and give it more of a chance than I did in last year’s beta. I didn’t come to look for a community yet (which is why I didn’t announce my intention to play). I wanted a pure solo experience where I could mess around uninterrupted… aside from the blasted communicator, of course.

I rolled on the PVE server, naturally, which is the higher pop server of the two. I rolled Dominion, which is the lower pop faction. Still yet, the number of other players I saw in the intro zone in the 15 hours I played I could probably count on two hands. It was a stark difference from games like FFXIV and GW2 where there are players everywhere, even in starting towns and zones.

Yeah, I know I should have /joinedwhateverchatchannel… but I wasn’t really there to look for people. It’s just that I couldn’t help but notice I was pretty much alone in the world 98% of the time.

Did I… Actually… Like Anything?

I know up until now, I’ve focused on all the things that bugged me. This wasn’t supposed to be a WildStar bashing post. So I’ll note things I did like.

  • Art Style – Mentioned this before.
  • Engineer Class – I really liked this class, despite the combat, and felt pretty powerful with it. Wish my bots behaved better, though.
  • Settler Path – I tried the other two paths during beta, and this one is my favorite. I loved building stuff and setting up buffs. I was confused about how I was supposed to level it, though.
  • Sense of Humor – For the most part, I was mildly amused by the game. But sometimes, it was LOL funny.
  • World Building – I can sense that there’s a lot of lore and world building behind this game. I can feel that the dev team genuinely loves the world of Nexus. When I did have time to listen to the lore cubes, I was always interested in what they had to say. I just wish everything else made sense.
  • Housing – I like what I see overall in housing and got really excited when I realized I could earn housing add-ons from finishing challenges.
  • Ship Challenge Instances – Don’t remember the exact name for these. I like that they scaled up depending on the number of people in your group. The one I tried was pretty fun.
  • No Forced Dungeons – A big plus to me since I’d probably not run them anyhow. XD
  • Snarfelynx – I’m riding inside of a big floating kitty, and I like it.

My Verdict

I don’t regret trying WildStar again and giving it another chance to capture me. But like when I played it in beta, it just didn’t do it.

I’m sure this game is great for folks who want that quirky sci-fi feel. Those who love action combat and don’t mind the fast pace of the game probably enjoy the things that exhaust me. I don’t think that it’s a bad game by any means, but it’s just not the game for me for so many different reasons.

I’ve decided to put WildStar down for now because I have a ton of single player games I want to work on during my FFXIV lull. I might revisit it again sometime if the game does change payment model. Until then, I’ll leave my Chua and Snarfelynx happily chasing each other on my floating house island.

Nipp_Nimble.150424.200512

Posted in Fantasy Fiction, Writing

Camp NaNoWriMo Complete! (Thank You Pissed-Off Alliance)

Camp-Winner-2015-Web-BannerWriting fiction is one of those strange, untouchable creative endeavors. Sometimes you struggle to put anything on a page. Sometimes it just flows out of you from some unknown source, a beautiful and perfect stream of prose. Just like with any other NaNoWriMo challenge, I experienced both of these on my way to finally completing the April 2015 Camp NaNoWriMo.

Part of me is glad that my word count is complete and the “novel” is now validated. Though writing 25K words is no where near as rigorous as trying to complete 50K, it’s still a lot to swing when you work as a tech writer IRL. I also took a bit of a break from blogging during this time, which I hope was understandable.

Thoughts on Fiction Writing

Fiction writing is a different beast from business writing or blogging. It’s all putting words on the page, that’s true. But when you finish a blog post, you don’t need to worry about whether characters developed, plot stayed consistent, or if you need to completely cut what you wrote because it was a bunch of drivel that didn’t further the story in any valuable way.

I’m not saying that it’s not a challenge to devise a solid, informational or entertaining blog post. It’s just a different sort of focus. One that I’ve gotten used to since I’ve started blogging more regularly here.

So when I tried to wrap my head around fiction writing again, it was a pretty tough challenge for me in many ways.

This is the fourth year I’ve written a continuation to my fantasy story Runne. I started writing this in November of 2011, and completed three full 50K NaNoWriMos in a row. However, I found myself walking away from NaNoWriMo 2013 with a problem: I had hit a dreaded plot block.

It wasn’t that I didn’t know where the plot was going. I had a good idea of the major plot points I needed to hit. I just didn’t know how to connect the dots between point A (where I currently was in the story) with point B (where I needed the story to get) in a clever, logical, yet organic-feeling way.

Pantsing It Up

Concept art for new characters.
Concept art for new characters.

Over the years, I’ve found that the best writing method for me is to write as a light pantser (yes, this is a word). I do believe in sketching out a loose outline and knowing important plot points I need to hit. I don’t believe it allowing that outline to dictate every chapter I write, however, as this constricts my writing style and what the characters do. To me, that’s a recipe for a very wooden story, devoid of organic growth and change.

My characters (I often call figments) have a life of their own… some who totally balk the idea of being dictated to by a greater, fixed outline. I swear I can’t force them to do anything they don’t want to do. If I DO try to force things on my figments, it rings hollow in my ears and seems out of character for them. Some of the most interesting and unusual plot lines have come when I simply let my figments tell me their stories… not when I dictate to them how the story goes.

So, I kinda sit down to write with an overall goal for my chapter in mind, then let the figments respond to the situation I create. It’s kinda like… playing DM in a tabletop adventure! You don’t know how the players are going to respond, and they are the ones that make the game interesting based on their reactions.

Likewise, I don’t always know how a character is going to react to things. Sometimes, they do things very surprising to me… and then I’m left wondering how I’m going to move forward with a plot that just got turned on its head. Most of my creative excitement comes from these random moments of surprise. It’s what makes writing so rewarding to me.

Suffering With Plot Block

I was super stuck with plot block in my attempts to plan and write for Runne since November 2013. In fact, I was so blocked, that when I decided to try Camp NaNoWriMo last year, I choose to work on Shadows of Zot instead of Runne. I just didn’t have any idea how to keep the story moving forward, so I totally avoided writing for it at all last year.

Over the winter holidays, Syn and I sat down and worked on a very large and over-arching outline for Runne. We spun a lot of great ideas, things that really excited me about the future of the story. However, when I finally worked up the courage to sit down and write for Runne the first time this year, I found myself still staring plot block in the face.

Sure, we drafted some neat future-scenarios… but I still didn’t know how the heck I was going to move the characters from point A to point B. Ugh!

I struggled with it… a lot. I putzed around the first few chapters trying to set a tone and establish plans for the characters. I thought this was totally dull, but thankfully, my figments weren’t content to let me write too boring of a chapter before they threw in their own little twists. Once I’d written myself as far as I could in that direction – I even explored characters I loved to write but don’t often get to write about (TsuMeTai) – I decided to fall back on the dreaded fail safe of bored writers.

I created new characters.

New Characters Save the Day

I try very hard not to fall into the trap of character bloat. This is what happens when a bored writer keeps introducing new characters over and over and over again, hoping one of them will spark that inspiration they need to keep writing. Usually, a new character will help inspire a writer and make the story fresh… at least, for a little while. So, it’s not bad to consider a new character now and then, as long as you know how they fit into the existing story.

Runne is an interesting beast in that I designed it to allow me to write in what I call segments. These are short groups of chapters where I can spend time visiting one section of plot or group of characters, then bounce to another plot or group of characters with the next segment. It also allows me to skip large expanses of time, since Runne is a story that spans a whole lotta years. If I were to try to write every little day in chronological order, it would be impossible.

So, jumping focus to a pair of new characters – in this case Bahamut (no, I’m not talking about Binding Coil) and Kei — was very viable and didn’t interrupt the flow of the rest of the story. These chapters actually helped me to explore some world building, too. I learned a bit about the bigger picture of the world of Runne as well as theories of magic and history that I wasn’t totally aware of. Plus, the characters were just fun to write and will factor heavily into the future of Runne when they come in contact with the other established characters.

Unexpected Alliance

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My wonderful pissed off alliance. 🙂

Once my little foray into new-character-land was done, I found myself right back to point A with the same problem. I had a nice and inspiring diversion, but I wasn’t any closer to point B than I was when I first started Camp NaNo. How frustrating!

I did a little bit of mini-planning to see what resources I had available to me. I realized it had been quite a while since I had visited a certain set of figments (Fu and Nikko), and there were some important developments in their relationship and in world building that I wanted to touch on. What I didn’t realize was that this chapter was going to lead me a different direction… when another character, TsuMe, decided to make an unexpected move and interact.

Now, for anyone who doesn’t know these characters (that’s probably most folks still reading this), these are two extremely blunt, headstrong, stubborn and angry characters. I’m talking enough pent up rage to strike the fear into the heart of 4chan. While they are both usually pretty anti-social and untrusting, they are both raging against the same thing (evil, corrupt governing body).

So, suddenly, I have two fairly snarky characters starting to talk for the first time. And they each realize, “Hey… I’ve just met someone as pissed off as I am… and he’s pissed off about the same things and at the same people!” And, suddenly, I have this alliance of two fantastically pissed off characters putting their heads together to do something about the things that piss them off. I was so totally stoked at the strong character interaction that I had to rush home from work and draw art about it!

Now… now… I was getting somewhere! I may not have all the details still, but I have characters who feel strongly about something who are spearheading plot motion from point A to point B. And I totally never even considered putting these two in the same room before this. Go figure.

 

Have you ever RPed or written fiction and had unexpected characters do unexpected actions and led to really awesome things?

 

 

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Steps of Faith Nightmares

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Update: As anticipated, Steps of Faith got a nerf in patch 2.57. Hopefully this will help prevent stories like mine from replaying in the future.

And maybe folks will stop auto-dropping this trial, too. Maybe.

So last night, I reached the Steps of Faith Pain trial on Zuri while working to complete the main scenario story and get her ready for Heavensward. I knew that it would be tough to do using the Duty Finder. I just didn’t know that it would be near impossible.

 

-Steps of Faith Begins-

Me: Hello!

Healer: Oh FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF- NOT THIS TRIAL!

DPS: I shoulda just run Ifrit HM four times to finish my poetics. Why did I roulette?

Tank: Here, guys, I’ll save you from the pain! *drops*

*Rest of group drops, too*

Me: I… uh… actually need this for story progression. Guys? … Guys?

That was how my first DF went last night. I knew that I was going to be in for a nasty ride. It seems that people hate this trial so badly they will actually eat the 30 min penalty to avoid having to do it.

One sympathetic DPS paused before leaving and left me with these sage words: I suggest you get friends together, or at least use the Party Finder. Good luck. 

I was resolved to keep trying, however. The queues weren’t so long for a lone DPS that I was turned away from giving it another shot. What I found was extremely painful.

 

-Steps of Faith (Take 2) Begins-

Me: Hi all! Who’s got cannons and DK? 

*silence* …. … ….. 

Me: Uh… great. I’ve got cannon. Who’s second cannon? 

*silence* … … … 

 

The mechanics of Steps of Faith aren’t hard, to be completely honest. A huge dragon walks slowly down the bridge towards the final warded gate. Two people grab cannons positioned on the bridge and use it to damage the boss dragon and all the adds. From time to time, there’s a tower with a Dragon Killer (DK) harpoon located at the top that someone must fire at the dragon. The DK is what does a majority of the damage unless you have a really high output DPS group.

Every single team I explained as much as I could for each player doing each mechanic.

 

Me: Climb the tower. You’ll see a red target on the ground. Shoot the dragon once the dragon’s body is in the circle. 

DK Person: *shoots the DK too soon*

NPC: A wasted opportunity!
Translation: How could you miss a dragon the size of a jet plane?

DK Person: What happened? 

Me: *repeats* Only shoot the dragon once the dragon’s body is in the circle.

dutyfailed

 

I was essentially trying to herd cats to keep the mechanics running smoothly. Because if you don’t do the mechanics, you’re not going to win with a DF party no matter what. It was just the matter of getting people to actually read what you write in chat to get things done.

 

Me: Okay, this time we have to fire snares at the dragon before you can shoot the–

DK Person: *shoots DK and misses*

NPC: What? How could such a huge beast avoid such a shot?
Translation: Really? We even told you that you needed to snare it before–

DK Person: How did that miss? 

Me: *repeats* We have to fire snares at the dragon before you can hit it with the DK.

dutyfailed

 

The main problem is that this trial is part of the main scenario, hence gating the ability to move on into Heavensward when the expansion releases. I’m not sure this is the case of “they’ll get better and learn the mechanics and it’ll get easier to beat in time” mostly because I’ve seen people just drop this trial before suffering through another round with it.

If new folks are coming in who need it for story, and people who already beat it refuse to help or teach (or simply can’t teach because they never ran the cannons or DK and don’t know how it worked), this is going to be painful for people who need to complete this in the future. It’s very rare that I speak negatively about a trial or dungeon in FFXIV, because usually, with perseverance, a Duty Finder group can get through most of the story content. I’m just not sure it’s going to happen with this particular trial.

 

-Start again. Fast forward to first DK.- 

Me: Ready DK! 

DK Person: Waiting for your snare! 

Me: First DK doesn’t need a snare. Go ahead and shoot! 

DK Person: *doesn’t shoot* 

Me: Shoot! Shoot! 

DK Person: *doesn’t shoot* 

NPCS: Man, you guys just suck… 

dutyfailed

 

I spent hours failing on this trial with three different parties last night. We had lots of folks who dropped. We had people who sincerely tried to get the mechanics. We even had one frustrating run where we hit the boss with all three DK and still didn’t do enough damage to the boss because too many DPS died over and over along the way.

 

*tank doesn’t pull add off me, and I die at the cannon due to fire or poison damage* 

Me: I’m down! Someone needs to grab second snare! Hurry! 

*crickets* 

DK Person: *can’t hit with DK because no one activated second snare*

NPCS: *facepalm* 

dutyfailed

 

At that point, I really didn’t know what to do. I was worn out from hours of narrating the fight to folks who couldn’t stop to read what people were frantically writing in group chat. I probably annoyed the crap out of people… but the only way to win is to do the mechanics. And everyone who wasn’t on cannon duty was ignoring the fact that people on the cannons, or assigned to the DK, can still die and need instant replacements.

The one time I did get a good second cannon, it happened to be a healer. Of course, then the DPS, who couldn’t stay alive for being trampled, started whining about healers needing to heal (though the other healer said many times that he could solo heal it, and he could). So they pulled him off the cannons and put another bard on… who not only didn’t do cannons most the time, but couldn’t snare…

 

Me: Snare! Snare now!

Cannon 2: *doesn’t snare* 

Me: It’s that yellow pillar with the word “Snare” above it sitting right in front of your cannon!

Cannon 2: *doesn’t snare* 

DK Person: *can’t shoot DK* 

NPC: *cries into his hot chocolate* 

dutyfailed

 

We won? We actually won?
We won? We actually won?

So, I finally had to fall back on the kindness of FC members. We went in four strong and instantly claimed both cannons and DK control. Immediately, a tank dropped without a word. I groaned. Things were already off to a bad start.

Luckily, we retained the rest of the group, though they went ahead and pulled even missing a tank. We honestly came very close to beating it with only 7 people, so when we got a tank replacement before the next run, we had it in the bag.

That’s the interesting thing about this fight: you struggle and struggle usually… but when everything is lined up… when tanks are pulling right, cannons are taking down adds, and DPS can focus on the boss, you can even kill the boss after the second DK drop. Which is what we did. It was a resounding win.

And the NPCs cried with joy. As did Zuri.

The win aside, I remain really concerned about the future players coming through the story only to get gated by this trial. While it may look good on paper, and really isn’t that terrible if everyone is doing their part, it’s apparently a lot to ask from a rag-tag PUG group in the DF.

It’s a frustrating three or so hours of my life I won’t get back, and I really don’t look forward to having to see this trial ever again. Though I know I will because it takes a FC to get it done, and our members will eventually need a group who knows how to do it.

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: MMO Story Done Right

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Very, very slight spoilers for FFXIV 2.55. I won’t say anything too spoilerish, but pictures I display are from the final cut scenes of 2.55. 

Now that I’ve had a bit of time to digest the end of the FFXIV 2.0 era storyline and discuss the plots and characters with Syn (yes, this MMO story had two writer friends discussing it days afterwards), I wanted to spend some time talking about MMO story done right. In a previous article, I discussed how many MMOs produce mediocre story at best… and how gamers either are ambivalent towards story all together, or just accept that’s the best we can get.

FFXIV proves there are MMO developers out there who won’t be content with weak story and characters. This pleases me greatly.

On Plot

ffxiv_04122015_012944Now, I won’t say FFXIV is the best story in the whole world. It has its quirks, and obviously takes a page from anime/manga style storytelling (which doesn’t bother me). However, when I play any game with a story, I play it as a writer. I look for characters to identify with, characters who I learn to love and who develop over time. I poke holes in the plot weakness and look for inconsistencies. I don’t accept cliche tropes and can very rarely suspend disbelief for those times a game really streeeeeeches to try and make things fit together in the story.

In the case of FFXIV’s story, I have always felt the writers knew exactly where the story is going. The plots are often very complex and very interwoven, and our characters see mounting threats from a variety of sources throughout the main scenario. There are times we get whisked off to protect this city and then off to investigate this issue and then off to fight this primal. It makes it very clear that Eorzea is not a world of peace, with dangers on every side, no matter how much we strive to make it so.

Despite all the different threads woven into the story, the writers keep it clean and don’t convolute things. I was surprised that I could actually have faith in them to guide us through plots that delightfully foreshadow and then later successfully deliver on things hinted at in previous patches. I’m actually having trouble finding any true plot holes to poke through.

I feel that the 2.55 story provided a very good balance between answering the little questions we wanted answered (What does Yugiri look like under her mask?) while still maintaining a lot of mystery and tension in the overarching plots. They masterfully revealed just enough to satisfy while continuing to dangle enough to entice.

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Heavensward is not just an expansion that flops out a connected continent with a weak reason to go there. Our characters are heading to Ishgard for very, very good reasons, all which are a tantalizing continuation of the events that took place in 2.55. I was very impressed by this – it’s not just a game that opens the gates to a new area. This new area serves a very important purpose, and I have a ton of interest in seeing how my character is going to fare in these new, dragon-torn surroundings.

Overall, the plot in FFXIV does everything a good story should. It mixes mystery and political intrigue, friendship and betrayal, hope and despair, murder and mayhem. And it delivers this story through some of the best non-CG cut scenes I’ve seen in an MMO. Seriously, the breadth of expression S/E can get from their in-game character models was jaw dropping.

Characters

ffxiv_04122015_014114This is the first time in many years that a MMO has crafted characters that I can truly care about. I can’t help but compare the Scions and close companions, whom I’ve come to know and invest in over the last year and a half, with lesser attempts to try the same thing (Destiny’s Edge 2.0 in GW2 comes to mind).

I don’t know what S/E did, but it worked. And I cared. I even cried a little.

I watched as each of my allies had to make hard choices and sacrifices for that which they really believed in. It ached fiercely each time.

I also watched as unexpected allies returned to assist my character in times of need. And those moments were enough to give me the hope that all of the trials my character passed through this game meant something to someone in a much larger way. I understood the sacrifices that were made in looking upon the reflections of those who continue to believe in my character.

This game really imparted these emotions and did it very well.

I can’t say much more about this topic without giving too things away. Suffice to say, I didn’t know how much of a “home” Eorzea really was to my character until I experienced what I did in 2.55.

On Story

ffxiv_04122015_014415Story in FFXIV is one of the shining achievements in FFXIV… along with all the fantastic game play this MMO offers. I can’t speak highly enough, and I am so very glad that I have been along for this ride.

In a time when story seems to be something nonexistent, tacked on to quest text, or poorly executed at best, it’s truly a breath of fresh air to see there are writers and developers who really value what story can bring to an already top-notch MMO. This may not be for everyone, I know – I’ve heard plenty of folks who give up on the game way too early to see what really lies within. I’ll be the first to admit that the story in FFXIV takes a while to ramp up, but once it does, it doesn’t stop.

I’m looking forward to Heavensward now more than ever.

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Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV Major Win: Main Scenario Completion! (No Spoilers)

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Syn and I successfully completed all of the FFXIV 2.55 main scenario story this weekend. I want to start out by saying, it has been many years since I’ve played a Final Fantasy game that really felt like a Final Fantasy game. I think FFIX was the last single player FF I was able to really get into… so it’s pretty crazy that a MMO has story and characters that are far more compelling than most of the single player FFs that have come out over the last decade. (This guy seems to agree…)

I have a lot to say about the story, so I’ve decided to make that a post to itself (tomorrow). First, I wanted to write about the progression of actually getting to the end of the Main Scenario (it had end credits and everything).

Last week I wrote about trouble with impatient tanks and our fail at Chrysalis. We continued to have these issues in the 8-man party progression instances until we really lucked out to find a team that would stick with it.

Chrysalis Win

This is the joyful sound of a team that sticks together and a job well done!
This is the joyful sound of a team that sticks together and a job well done!

Our second try at Chrysalis was again met with people new to the encounter, trying hard to learn. While Syn and I were hardly veterans at this fight, we did what we could to offer suggestions (Bard, please sing MP song… Scholar, please use shields after orb phase, etc), and the party really did improve with each attempt. After the third wipe, someone did try to vote abandon the party, but there were enough of us there who really needed it for story progressions, so the vote failed.

Lucky for us, because that’s the attempt we actually won. Man, that felt really good after struggling and failing so many times! I was super proud of our little team for keeping it together, not getting frustrated and seeing it through.

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Steps of Pain Faith

The next big bottleneck for use was the Steps of Faith instance. This is a new instance, so there are a lot of new people playing and learning it. The mechanics in this fight are nothing like your standard boss battles, and it just doesn’t seem that people get that at this point.

I saw this screen sooooo many times. :(
I saw this screen sooooo many times. 😦

I can’t tell you how many times we failed this with the duty finder. Before we went in, we watched the guides, so after the first wipe, I got the idea of what we needed to do. The problem was, no one else in the group was listening when Syn and I tried to explain that the cannons and the Dragon Killers are the most important element of getting the boss down. When we did get people to use the cannons, they didn’t understand the idea of having to snare the boss so we couldn’t hit it with the Dragon Killer.

Again, we were at the mercy of impatient tanks who would drop group after a wipe, forcing us to have to abandon the duty and re-queue. Luckily, the queues were fast, and sometimes we even got in groups with the same people again, who somewhat knew what to do after the first fail.

We eventually got in a team with two very high level tanks who were patient enough to allow us to fail and learn. One of the tanks knew how to work the cannons, so I eventually took the other cannon slot (the other DPS couldn’t get the snare concept) and Syn took on Dragon Killer duty. Once we coordinated all of that, we actually beat the boss down even before he came anywhere near the gates for a massive victory. It only took us what felt like a million fails. XD

Yes! Finally success!
Yes! Finally success!

By that time, it was after midnight, but I was too pumped to go to sleep. So we did the dumb thing and opted to continue the story, not knowing we were in for close to two heart-wrenching hours of cut scenes to reach the end. It was so, so well worth it, though.

This is the first time that I’ve ever actually been caught up with the FFXIV story line ever. And seeing how the story transitions into Heavensward, I’m really stoked about the expansion.

Now… I just have to do all this over again on Zuri. *ugh*

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Impatient Tanks & Chrysalis Fail

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I really haven’t done a lot of FFXIV gaming this week since I’ve been involved with both Sims 4 and 7D2D. I also haven’t done much blogging this week due to trying to keep up with my word count for Camp NaNoWriMo. Sadly, I’ve been struggling a LOT with getting any sort of fiction on the page, so I decided to blog a bit today to warm up.

Impatient Tanks

I wanted to touch on a topic that bugs me a little – impatient tanks in FFXIV.

Now, disclaimers before I start: 

  1. For the most part, the FFXIV community is a good bunch. But things seem to change with end game story scenarios and hard mode dungeons. Must be the Poetics runs?
  2. I’ve run across impatient players of ALL classes. So, yes, I know it’s not just tanks that can be this way.
  3. I respect good tanks for the job they do. I leveled PAL to 50, and while I haven’t done any higher level content yet, it’s not an easy job for me to play.

That being said, there are also jerky tanks and people who only seem to tank not because they want to help lead a group, but because it gets them that insta-queue. This sort of tank will bail the moment it seems like the dungeon or instance is going to take longer than they’d like. I’ve seen it too many times.

I even see tanks bailing in the queues themselves. As a DPS, I’ll sit there for 40 mins only to watch the queue rotate through tanks (and sometimes healers). I don’t know if it’s true, but it sure seems like a tank will hit the queue, in three to five mins, if it doesn’t pop, they drop and probably queue up again to find something faster. That’s the life of a DPS.

Chrysalis Fail

Syn and I were trying to tackle the Chrysalis for the first time last night for our story progression. We were already somewhat un-enthusiastic about trying it, but we swallowed our nerves and did it anyhow. I watched the queue tank juggle for over 20 mins until we finally got two who would stick.

A few of us were new, though Syn and I watched videos before we went in and had an idea of what was going on. Naturally, we wiped on the meteor section the first try, but I thought that we had a pretty good grip on what to expect after going through it the first time.

Somewhere during the second round with the boss, we lost one of our DPS. It looked like a net drop or something, because they didn’t just up and leave, we had to eventually vote dismiss them. While we did a lot better on the meteor phase the second time, because we were down a DPS, we wiped again – frustratingly with the Tear just having a sliver of life left to it.

We were very close to beating that phase, and the team seemed to have a good grasp on what to expect now, so we dismissed the DPS, hoping to fill that spot with another. What happens then?

One of the tanks drop. 😡

Tai's new tanking armor.
Tai’s new tanking armor.

I couldn’t help but feel somewhat annoyed about it at this point, though I know it’s a fact of MMO life. Still, in the end, the time was ticking down, we were down a tank and a DPS, so after waiting a bit, we chose to abandon the instance. By that time, my sister was texting me for a 7D2D run, so it was a fail night for us in the progress department. At least we know what to expect next time.

Anyhow, that impatient tank was really a letdown to the party who was honestly giving it their best try and learning from mistakes. Those tanks who seem to think insta-queues are the Seven’s gift to meat shields better enjoy it for now. Come Heavesward, everyone and their grandmother seems to be wanting to roll a Dark Knight. Let’s see how you like the queues then! 😛

(No, I’m not a bitter DPS who has seen over an hour queues for something I really needed to pass. Not at all…) XD

On a more positive note, I earned enough Tomes to pick up Tai’s tanking chest piece. However, this thing is HUGE on him – the armor is like two sizes too big and just looks rather strange on a fairly lean-built character. Not a fan of the design or the color… but I guess all this will be replaced eventually, anyhow. XD