bookmark_borderThe Switch Returns!

…Or at least, the Switch dock and AC adapter do.

I wrote about the issue I had with my dock and adapter and why I had to send these for repair earlier this week. Somewhere in there, I wrote “Hopefully they’ll just send me a new dock and adapter and be done with it.”

That’s exactly what they did.

So my package to Nintendo was sent a week ago, and traveled over a holiday weekend to arrive there on Tuesday. Getting it there was honestly the longest part of all this. I got an email on Tuesday that said it had arrived.

Wednesday afternoon, I got an email and shipping confirmation that it was going out one-day shipping. Thursday, it was on my doorstep when I came home from work.

I’m pretty certain this is a new dock and AC adapter they sent due to the packaging, how neatly that adapter cord was wrapped up (you can just never get it to wrap the same as it came when it was new) and the new plastic smell.

Sure enough, I plugged it all up to my new monitor and there was joy!

As you can see above, it’s not as big as my old TV, but I think it’ll work just fine. I have to admit that I’m disappointed in the sound quality from the monitor, though. I know what Zelda sounded like on my old TV, so I can compare.

I did have an extra set of PC speakers sitting around that I plugged in instead, and that helped. But I think I’ll need a new set with more bass to them to get the full experience. Anyone have suggestions on good (small) PC speakers?

bookmark_borderTimewarp Thursday: Heroes of Might and Magic

I remember a long time ago, I actually owned one of the Heroes of Might and Magic games when it was still considered new-ish. It might have been III… but I don’t recall exactly which one. I do remember enjoying it, though.

Now days, I think I own the whole series in some form or another on GoG.com. I decided it was time to start dabbling in the series to see what it has to offer. So, of course, I start with the very first one.

This plays rather well considering its age, though DOSbox forces full screen for a game that natively played at a much smaller resolution. On my larger monitor, the graphics aren’t bad for a 1995 game. They’re just super huge! Especially during the battle sequences.

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So, this is a fairly traditional strategy game. You have one or more heroes. Each can lead up to 5 different races of troops.

You start out defending your home city, which generates new troops for your hero each week depending on the type of buildings constructed in the city. However, as I learned quickly, you must also leave some troops garrisoned in the city or risk it being auto-taken by the NPC opponents (oops). If they take all your cities and you don’t recover one within a certain timeframe, the game is over.

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The start of the game I played, even though it was an easy campaign, was actually pretty tough. I couldn’t just outright send my first hero to take on the enemy encounters that were spread across the map on the first week. I learned I had to wait to build up my troops a little before trying to capture all the points of interest.

Once I started pumping out wolf packs, though, the game started to get pretty easy. I’d still lose troops from time to time, but I was mostly playing enemy encounters on Auto and letting the game hash it out for me.

It’s a shame that the game doesn’t determine when the enemy has no chance against you and just auto-wins without sitting through the battle. But I guess this is 1995. Also, there’s a certain satisfaction in creaming the opponents’ heroes after they keep flipping your mines and stuff.

As you win encounters, your hero also starts to level up. I even earned some pretty nice loot when I defeated the opponent hero once.

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In more complex games with a larger map, I could see how having several heroes to protect captured cities would be useful. In this game, though, I mostly powered up just one hero (because I was still learning), and haven’t expanded my ranks that much since.

I spent about an hour and some change messing around with this scenario, though I didn’t actually complete it. I think I’m in a good position to push for a win if I want to, though.

This is one of those games that feels easy to pick up and learn, but probably has a lot more strategy once you get deeper into it. I didn’t look up any information about the game, nor did I play a tutorial, but I was still able to pick it up (once I realized I can’t just throw heroes at monster without beefing up their ranks first). It’s certainly nice to go back in time to a game with simple rules and straightforward gameplay.

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I look forward to playing some of the rest of the series to see how it changed over time!

bookmark_borderRPG Maker: Nefol Dev Blog – Fight It Out!

This past weekend, I spent a good bit of time tweaking the flow of the Digger battle and finally finishing that scenario! In the middle of all this, I changed the graphics for the battle Digger creature, found and built new animations for the battle to spruce it up some, and finally got all the pieces to come together for the scene.

Yet Another Digger

First off, I decided I still wasn’t happy with the Digger creature we had. It was mostly a random monster I pulled from Google somewhere as a stand-in, and not something I was sanctioned to use. That’s when I started looking more closely at the artwork provided by Ækashics.

This is not only amazing-looking enemy art, but it’s free to use in RPG Maker games, free to edit, and more or less fits the style we want to go for. Plus, if we can pull from a library from the same artist, we can hopefully keep a consistent look across the battles we do include.

So, I took and altered one of her large insect creatures to remake our Digger again.

I also discovered a way to resize the monster sprites in battle, so in the final project, the Digger is a bit smaller than he shows in these pictures!

New Animations

I’m not quite sure how I stumbled upon Bubble Blog — I think I was looking for a Protect animation for the battle sequence. I’m not a pro on making animations in RPG Maker, but I did learn a lot about it this weekend.

I discovered that the one thing RPG Maker hasn’t changed much over the years is the battle animation system. This is good. This means that animation sheets made for previous versions of the game can still work for RPG Maker MV.

So when I saw some of the amazing animation sheets on that blog, I knew I needed to put them to use, rather than just settle for the default animations that came with the Maker.

I mean, just look at how awesome this fire animation is!

Anyhow, next up, I’m hoping to finish out the end of Chapter 2 this weekend. Syn and I then need to actually WRITE Chapter 3! How exciting — we’re working towards new content!

I’ll also work on getting a video of Chapter 1 out there soon. I’m still messing with video settings and things like that, hoping to get a higher quality output. I made a demo video to show Syn the battle sequence last weekend and wasn’t happy with the quality of the video output at all. I’m sure this is probably rookie user error, though, and I can figure it out.

Until then, Protect Clansman!

bookmark_borderNintendo Switch Repairs (And PSA)

First, let me clarify, this is an isn’t about sending in my Nintendo Switch for repairs. Only part of it. I’ll explain.

So, remember a few weeks back how I had a power surge that blew my TV and other electric components? And how I said my Nintendo Switch had survived.

Well, it did but it didn’t.

I ended up replacing my TV with a larger PC monitor that had an extra HDMI input and speakers, so that I can plug in my Switch (or other HDMI device) and play on my monitor. My thought behind this was that though it’s not as large as a full TV, I honestly only used my TV for Netflix and gaming.

I could buy a nice monitor, which I use all the time, and do the same. So, I did. Maybe one day, I’ll get another TV. But for now, I’m happy with my choice.

Switch Sadness

When I got the monitor all set up, I tried to connect the Switch to it. I got no video.

I changed HDMI cords. No joy.

Took it to the old TV in the back and tried it there. Nothing.

Uh oh.

That’s when I noticed that the AC adapter was also not charging my Switch at all.

Double uh oh.

The system itself was fine, but something had blown the Switch dock or the AC adapter… or both. The other issue is that you can’t buy a replacement dock and AC adapter anywhere yet. They don’t go on sale until May 18.

And, I had no way to charge my slowly draining Switch since the AC adapter was dead.

AC Adapter PSA

I did some research and found that you can buy AC adapters on Amazon. I thought that if I did that, I could test to make sure nothing was wrong with the Switch itself — could it still charge? Also, I could test to see if the dock was busted or if it was just the adapter that needed replacing.

The particular AC adapter I bought said that it was compatible with the dock and could be used as a replacement adapter. So I picked it up and put it on fast shipping.

When I got the new adapter and plugged it in, I was relieved to see that my Switch was still charging. However, when I went to use it with the dock, I got nothing but this on my Switch screen:

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Hm… that’s not what the description on the product said. I don’t often leave feedback on Amazon purchases but I did here… that’s a whole nother story, though.

Lesson Learned: You can only use the original AC adapter, or an official Nintendo brand replacement, with your Switch dock. 3rd party adapters may not work with the dock!

Nintendo Support

So, I had to get a hold of Nintendo Support. I tried going through their website, but every page that was supposed to take me to Switch support took me to a 404 or a dead end page. Instead, I ended up having to call them.

I really don’t like getting on the phone for any reason, but the guy at support was really nice. He did make me go through the troubleshooting steps, despite the fact I was already light years ahead of him on things like unplugging, rebooting, plugging things back in.

In the end, he opened a repair ticket for me, and asked me to send in my AC adapter and Switch dock. He said that the team is trying to expedite Switch repairs, so hopefully I’ll see it returned this week. I did get an email that told me that my components did arrive at their repair facility today. Hopefully they’ll just send me a new dock and adapter and be done with it.

I’d love it back in time to play Mario Kart, which is releasing next week. I’m not a fan of the idea of trying to play it on the hand held mode — this is part of the reason why I’ve also made no progress on Zelda lately. I much prefer to experience these on the bigger screen.

Crossing my fingers that all goes well! I want to get back on my Switch game again!

bookmark_borderFFXIV: Relic Goals Accomplished!

So, this week I finally buckled down and got the Singing Clusters phase of the Anima Relic completed! Though the weapon still has the creepy face on it, I do like the new sparkles. It’s an improvement.

I also pushed through and got to the “Light” farming phase. It’s funny how people still call it light farming, even though it has a different name for this Relic. Though it’s true that the functions are pretty much the same.

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And all during this relic, I’ve only done the ARF farm once. I was down to my very last Singing Cluster last night, so I swallowed my dislike for the dungeon and was lucky enough to have several FC folks help out!

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I don’t plan on working too hard in the Light farming stage because an ilvl 260 weapon is just fine for what I do weekly. However, that glowing dragon spear is much cooler than what I have, so I wager I’ll get that eventually!

Other Accomplishments

I also snagged my second Fokelore Tome for Miner last week, thanks to the weekly deliveries. If all goes well, I’ll get my last book this week.

This also puts me at just one gathering item shy of getting my Blessed pickaxe! Crossing my fingers that I can get it next time!

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And while I haven’t been working too hard on Tai’s progress, I did get him over ilvl 235 just in time to run his first Dun Scaith. Lucky him — the Dragoon chest piece dropped his very first run! That, plus the ilvl 270 accessory, put him sitting much better in the ilvl range.

The new chest doesn’t look half bad on him, either.

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I’m still working on leveling Black Mage for my main, though mostly through random PotD runs. Overall, most of my big, pressing goals have been cleared and I can just relax and work on random stuff until Stormblood.

It’s a nice feeling!

 

bookmark_borderTimewarp Thursday: RollerCoaster Tycoon

Welcome to my first ever Timewarp Thursday, where I investigate an older game in my PC library. I know I talk about how bloated my Steam library backlog is, but truthfully, I have over 130 games also in my GOG library!

That GOG Library

Now, some of these are duplicates of Steam games, thanks to GOG offering DRM free versions through GOG Connect. A free DRM copy of a game I own on Steam?  Yes, please!

But for the most part, I use GOG to purchase older PC games since they do a wonderful job of making them run on newer machines. I actually missed out on a lot of older PC games since I was somewhat late at adopting PC gaming. So, there’s a lot I’d like to play that I haven’t.

I can’t promise every Thursday will have a timewarp, but this one does. I got an itch to play a laid-back sim game last night, and decided to try out RollerCoaster Tycoon 1 on a whim. I do own RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 and 3 on GOG as well, but decided to start with the original.

I also apologize that the images you get here are taken on my phone. I couldn’t find a way to take screens in game, and Print Screen wasn’t working. (I have now looked it up and found it has a very different way of screenshotting…) Interestingly enough, my new PC monitor does a really good job for taking pictures, so they didn’t come out too bad.

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First Impressions

I was concerned that I might get hung up on the older graphics and UI, but I found that for the kind of game it is, this wasn’t a problem at all. It did feel like playing an older Sim City game, but that was more positive than negative for me. I didn’t feel like it was too cluttered or overwhelming when I was looking for information or building. So in this aspect, the game surprised me.

I was also concerned that building roller coasters would be hard and frustrating. I came to this game knowing nothing, and watched the pre-made tutorial section for a bit to get a feeling on how it worked.

To be honest, I had a few failures before I connected a full coaster from start to end. Then, it took me a bit to figure out why test runs were failing (have to have chains on those lift areas!). Editing an existing coaster isn’t super intuitive — I wish there was an easy way to click a part of the coaster and replace it with another part. It’s also a linear process, which makes it a bit more complex.

Now, this was nothing I couldn’t eventually figure out… but then my first coaster was a failure because no one would ride it. Come to find out, if visitors think the coaster is “too intense” they won’t ride it. I personally didn’t think my long drop was that intense…. but I removed it and made the slope more gentle. Sure enough, people started riding it.

Wusses.

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My first coaster

What I really like about RCT, is that it gives you options. As you discover new rides and types of roller coasters, you can choose to place a pre-made version or build a custom coaster.

So, maybe you just want to throw a new water slide out there, but don’t want to fuss with building it. You can pick the pre-made and plop it down.

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This gives you an example so you can see what’s possible with new rides. I probably would have never thought to build a slide like this… but I’m a noob at this sort of thing.

I also like that rides can easily be moved around. You do have to shut the ride down, but instead of demolishing it completely and building a new one, you can pick it up and move it somewhere new to expand or better organize your park.

I enjoy that you can do everything from setting the cost of each ride, to choosing the custom colors and music of rides, to planting gardens and placing decorations in your park. There’s a lot of customization, even in a game of this age.

So far, I’ve only played on one map, and maintained a small park, but I’m really, really enjoying it! I’m hoping to spend some time with it before trying out RCT2 and RCT3 to see how the series changed over time.

I’m so sad that I haven’t played this game before now, but happy to have finally discovered it! There’s a simple pleasure about building a park and bringing joy to these pixelated little people.

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bookmark_borderRPG Maker: Nefol Dev Blog – Digger Emerged!

Last weekend, I set about doing what I mentioned in the last post — struggling with how to introduce and script the Digger battle. I spent a lot of time chasing down rabbit trails, but I learned a lot about the different plug-ins and how to make them do what I want to do.

First thing’s first, I remade the Digger sprite.

It’s still not as big and intimidating as I’d hoped once on screen, but I did realize I needed something with a side view like this. So, in the end, it worked. Or… at least, the blue frog seems intimidated!

I also wanted to have a whirlpool type effect in the spot where the digger would first appear. Syn envisioned this creature to be somewhat like an underground antlion, which uses pits in the ground as a way to trap food.

Getting this effect wasn’t easy, but I did eventually rework a battle animation to do what I was basically hoping to do.

And, finally, was time to tackle the scripted battle. This took me hours… but I ended up with a lot of knowledge about how Yanfly’s battle systems work. There’s a scene where I wanted Jin to jump out in front of the party (to defend them), so I effectively needed something that would allow me to move Jin’s sprite position permanently on the battle screen. Finding something that would actually let me do that was a lot of time, failure and research.

I discovered that Yanfly’s Battle Engine Core has the beginnings of what’s called Action Sequences. This, along with the  Action Sequence Pack 1, Pack 2 and Pack 3, allows you to create all kinds of effects for attacks and other battle actions. Think of something like the animation tied to a Dragoon’s Jump attack — things like that.

However, as cool as it is, it could not permanently allow me to change Jin’s position on the battle field. After hours of working with it, I could get him to walk forward, but his position would only last the duration of the battle action before he’d return to his home position.

Setting the Row

I almost gave up on this several times, but in doing more research, I found someone on the forums asking the same question as I was. Interestingly enough, the answer ended up being in an unexpected place — Yanfly’s Row Formation plugin.

Like in old-skool JRPGs, you can set up rows —  like back row for casters and front row for melee. This plugin makes rows very dynamic, and would be an awesome bit of strategy to add to any RPG Maker game. But all I needed it for was to make one character stand out in front of the rest of the party.

This plugin did what I needed it to — it’s quite powerful in that you can even call to the plugin script while in the battle and change a character’s row dynamically. So basically, when I needed Jin to hop out in front of the party to intercept the monster’s attack, I put in a script call for him to change to the front row.

Like so:

And there you have it. Hours of trial and error just to get a simple change of placement for characters on the battle screen. Well, at least I got it working, which means I can probably finish up Chapter 2 this weekend! I’ve figured out the hardest part, I hope!

Oh, and see the nice new status bar with all the character faces on the battle screen? That’s a part of Yanfly’s Battle Status Window plugin. I swear, this guy knows how to do it all.

bookmark_borderBlack Desert Blitz

I don’t know what it is about Black Desert. It’s a game that should capture my attention and hold me fast… and when I’m in the mood for it, it does. But there’s so many things about it that are just… glitchy.

Coming from a well-polished MMO experience like FFXIV (and before that, GW2), it’s sometimes hard to overlook the lack of polish I see in BDO. The world is beautiful, but, for example, the NPC pop-in (appearing as black placeholders and then loading in) is hard not to notice. Just little weird things like that.

That doesn’t keep me from playing the game, but it cheapens the experience for me. It’s a shame because there’s just so much this game does well.

I find myself picking it up and putting it back down a lot. It’s probably because of the time-sink it requires to get the things I want to do done (horse training). But it keeps luring me back when I get a sandbox itch… like this past weekend.

Finally Progressing

Last time I logged in, it was over the holidays. I took notice of the Olvia servers, which give a nice solid XP boost to new and returning players. And then… well… the game got pushed aside for other things.

This past weekend, I sat down and really put my nose to the quest log to knock things out. Some of these quests have been there for a year now… and I still hadn’t pushed past level 24.

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It wouldn’t be a BDO post without a picture of a horse.

It was really refreshing to finally finish some of those old quests. For example, there was a quest to give a bronze hoe to an NPC. This doesn’t sound like it should be too hard, but believe it or not, bronze tools are complex to make. I don’t remember what was getting in my way of completing it, but I couldn’t make the ingot (or something) and I never found a hoe for sale on the auction house.

This time, I discovered there’s a pre-order function on the auction house. So, I put in a pre-order for the hoe, which automatically purchased it for me the next time someone put it up for sale. In about half an hour, I was able to complete the quest that I hadn’t been able to do in a year! I wonder how long that pre-order feature has been around and I just didn’t know it.

Organizing Stuff

I also sorted through the million letters I had in the mail from forever ago. Every time there was down time or a holiday or something, I was accumulating stuff in my mail and had no idea what any of it was.

Inventory slots and weight are both a major problem for me in this game, even after spending some loyalty points on inventory slots. So I had to do a lot of organization to be able to claim the rewards and figure out what everything in my mail was.

I did get a bunch of EX boosters, but also a few free lockboxes. I still don’t really understand how gear works in BDO, so I ended up selling most the stuff I got from those boxes. I also got a free week-long dye pallet, which allowed me to dye gear to my pleasing.

But the biggest surprise was in the form of the Fame rewards.

Rolling in Silver

So, this is a casual player who logged into the game to 9 million silver max in the bank. I thought I was doing good. Then I get this mail in my box talking about Family Fame… which dropped 63 million on me for just logging in.

I was shocked.

Then I started Googling to find out where this money came from and why. Apparently, BDO added a Family Fame system that drops a bunch of money on you every day depending on your accumulated family points. If you don’t log in to get it, it stacks up in your mail until you do.

I suddenly had more silver on me than I knew what to do with. So I quickly researched the best kind of armor to buy for Tamer, and bought the +15 version of it on the auction house. Yes, I know there’s better than +15 now… but I was only level 24, so that was plenty for what I need at the time. Until I can do better research and understand it more.

Finally Leveling

I quickly discovered that with the new armor and upgraded weapons, I was tearing apart all the monsters in my level range while barely taking a hit. This encouraged me to quickly become a weapon of mass destruction.

No, I don’t know what any of my skills really do in this game. I just hold the mouse buttons down and go to town. I have this one skill that I put on my hotbar that summons my pet and it does this massive AOE whirlwind that slaughters everything. So I’ve learned to gather up as many monsters as possible while it’s recharging and take them all down in one swoop.

Needless to say, this propelled my questing progress, but more than that, my leveling progress. In a few hours, a lot of XP boosts, I found myself ten levels higher.

Yes! I have finally leveled beyond 30 in BDO!

That Black Spirit

I’ve also picked up the main quest again, and the Black Spirit is just as dubious as ever. He continues to absorb energies and transform… He’s a lot less cute now than he was before.

He’s also a bad influence.

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…And I love it! Sometimes I don’t know whether my character is something good or bad in this world, and that is also strangely appealing.

I like being the Warrior of Light… but it’s neat to not know what line your character is walking for once. Are you the hero, or are you out just to take care of yourself? What is the Black Spirit’s agenda?

He did tell me he considered me a friend… and for some reason, given the offhand conversation this happened in (part of quest text), I believe him. I guess I can understand why he thinks that my character should choose their own path rather than just blindly accepting NPC quests and doing what other people ask all the time.

It’s kinda interesting.

Anyhow, I don’t know how long my stay in BDO will be this time, but I’m having fun destroying things and leveling quickly. I still have no desire to stick my neck out and progress past level 49.999999 where I could be ganked by PKers, though. So I don’t know how much that’ll hamper my enjoyment of the game in the end.

I do really want to explore the ocean one day!

bookmark_borderFFXIV: Alt-stravaganza

I was in a strange and restless mood this past weekend, and the Hatching-tide event encouraged me to dust off my alts to get the new mount. So, I found myself making progress on various alts instead of doing much on my main.

Hedgemouse

I’d left Hedgemouse off at the point right before you choose a grand company and start working on unlocking the company chocobo. I’m not sure why I lost steam at that point, but I did last month, and just haven’t worked on her much since.

So, I picked back up and got the chocobo unlocked. She’s a happy Lala now.

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I remember hearing that the chocobo quest was severely nerfed a while back, but this was the first time I took an alt through it to see these changes. It used to take 2,000 GC seals to unlock the chocobo voucher. That has been nerfed to 200… which only takes 2 Grand Company Leves to earn.

I’m not complaining, mind you, but it was still a bit of a wake-up call. No matter. A chocobo is a chocobo. I’m taking it!

Tai

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about Tai. I haven’t done much on him since I finally made the choice between him and my main as to who to progress with. I think that was sometime last year back when I was still trying to run Weeping City for two characters every week, and simply got burned out.

But I thought it was a real shame that Tai was left lingering two patches behind to not finish the 3.0 story… mostly because his ilvl wasn’t high enough. He’s still got a number of ilvl 210 pieces, with an assortment of Weeping City, Lore and Alex gear… if that tells you how neglected he is.

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Look at that face. How could I ever forget him?

I didn’t have the desire to grind for tomes for him, especially since expert was out of reach until he got to ilvl 230. And while I could have run PotD for a weapon, I didn’t have the resolve to do that either.

What Tai did have on him was over 4 million gil… from whatever. I have no idea, since he wasn’t a crafter (until this weekend). My real crafter still can’t touch making the ilvl 250 stuff yet. So, I ended up breaking down and buying Tai’s way to a proper ilvl.

I’d already bought a couple of 250 accessories, and it was not cheap. But then I saw that there was a HQ Heavy Metal Lance for sale for under a million on the AH, with an ilvl of 250. Seeing that my weapon was 210, I snapped it up and that pushed me up from ilvl 228 to 233. Which was enough to finish the 3.0 story (the final dungeon requires at least 230).

So, now Tai is a bit more broke, but has successfully completed the 3.0 story. One more Lore accessory later, he’s only one point shy of making it into Dun Scaith… but I’m not sure if I have the motivation to start running that again weekly. Those promised 270 accessories would be really nice, though.

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Tai’s new glamour

I also started being crazy and began leveling my crafting and gathering jobs on Tai as well. I’ve considered doing this for a while to have an alt that specializes in jobs that my main doesn’t. I’m not sure how far I really want to go down that rabbit hole, though.

I just felt like leveling something this weekend, I guess, and it wasn’t my black mage, like it should have been. It still felt nice to zoom through the lower level stuff — I have four crafting jobs at level 6 now and working on my gathering jobs, too.

I also put a good chunk of time into Black Desert this weekend, but that’s info for another post!

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bookmark_borderFFXIV: Hatching-tide Mount

So I’m gathering the Hatching-Tide mount across various characters, and taking a good look at how different races pose on top of the giant egg mount. Here’s what I’ve found…

Kitties seem to both ride the same way, male or female. Kinda hanging on for dear life.

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Au Ra guys ride like a boss!

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Lalafell gals are cute as expected.

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Hyur fellas ride pretty intensely.

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While Elezen guys are really chill.

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