Posted in Gaming

Happy Halloween! October Gaming Goals in Review

Happy Halloween!!

I have a lot to talk about with FFXIV Patch 5.1, but I’m going to hold off until next week to give folks time to play some of it themselves. In the meantime, let’s talk about goals!

My goals were pretty light this month, and likely to be light next month, too. I have a lot of things I want to do thanks to the new patch, but most of it overlaps with my main goal, which is to get my jobs to 80 for the Amaro mount.

Before looking too far ahead, time to look at what I did this month.

Major Goals

  • Earn Mogtome mounts (Main & Amon) 
  • Level Gunbreaker to 70 
  • Level Dancer to 70 
  • Continue leveling crafters with weekly Scrips (Main & Amon) 

Thanks to the Mogtome event, I blazed through leveling my Dancer, along with the Gunbreaker. I still need to do job quests for both jobs, but the hard part is done, and all of my battle jobs are at least level 70 now! I also did all the Mogtome farming for mounts that I wanted, as well as soloed a few ponies on my main.

I’m still working on leveling crafters, and will be for a while, though after patch 5.1, that’s gotten a ton easier to do. And with the new changes to desynth, my scrips can finally be put to something a lot more worthwhile. I’ll talk about this in another post.

Possible Goals

  • Make progress in Shadowbringers on Tai 
  • Make progress in Stormblood on Zuri
  • Level Zuri’s fishing 
  • Decorate my main’s house

While I did make some little progress for Tai in Shadowbringers, poor Zuri is still stuck in Stormblood for now. I did level Zuri’s fishing, which has become absolutely trivial after patch 5.1. I’m kinda glad I didn’t work too hard at it before this patch.

I did not get to decorate my main’s house (aside from the yard). I was considering upgrading to a larger house with the housing release, so I held back on decorating. Well, that didn’t happen – I’ll talk about that in another post. So I guess I’ll be looking at decorating next month, which is fine.

Nintendo Switch

  • Make progress in Link’s Awakening
  • Ring Fit Release

Sadly, I did not continue to make progress in Link’s Awakening. With a new Pokemon game coming out soon, I’m going to have to really make an effort to try to progress in this game before I lose momentum.

However, I did get my Ring Fit, and I have played it for several days. Not as much as I’d like to, but I am level 11 now! I do have things to say about that, and keep meaning to write a post but… yeah. That’s for another day. Gosh, I’m saying that about too many things. I guess I best start writing some posts soon!

Posted in 7 Days to Die, Gaming

7D2D: Meeting the Demolition Zombie on Night 21

Last night, the posse picked up where we left off in 7D2D on day 21, getting ready for that night’s horde. We felt pretty good – we stocked up on ammo, the walls were almost reinforced to the second level of concrete, we were leveled up and doing well.

This horde took us down a few pegs. In fact, I think this was the biggest crisis we’ve had in a horde since the early days of the game. It was mostly due to the new kind of zombie that I wasn’t aware existed – the Demolition Zombie.

To put it into perspective, let’s just say the Demolition Zombie is exactly the same as a Minecraft Creeper. It explodes at close range and does a LOT of block damage.

I knew that Amoon had mentioned a new exploding zombie, but I didn’t pay as much attention as I should have to this. Oh man. Just one or two of these guys wrecked our base and pretty much had us on the run on a horde night.

We were already pretty hard hit by iradiated ferals that came non stop all night long. We were out of ammo, the stakes were destroyed, and we were trying to keep the walls patched up. And then this guy appears out of nowhere.

My walls just melted, and I had no idea how or why it was happening! In the video above, it shows how this zombie can just demolish a steel wall in a few swings! Not to mention the concrete that we were using, which was not as tough as steel. It’s terrible!

Suddenly, the walls were breeched and a stream of zombies came flooding in. Trying to beat back the horde and place blocks to stop it, I heard the tell-tale beep-beep-beep of a bomb and saw the red light on the front of the zombie. I had no idea what this was, but a bomb is a bomb, and that’s pretty recognizable.

I shouted into the mic, “It’s going to explode!” That’s about as much as I could do before it did.

There was no time to react. Pretty much, if you’re close enough to see that red light, you’re dead. I’m not even sure full health could have saved me. I was at max fortitude and had decent gear for the level we were fighting on. Still was instantly dead.

Trying to fix the damage to the back wall in the morning

That wasn’t the worst of it. Now were were being overrun in our own base, and another one comes strolling through. This one blows up in the front room of our house and I die again. We lose our water supply box somewhere in the middle of all this, but thankfully, the explosion was just shy of the wall where we kept all of our main supplies.

What was left of the front room – I was horrified.

This… was traumatizing.

I’d spent most of my time – hours and hours – in this game building this fort, reinforcing it block by block, only for it to be blown to bits by just two zombies. We were then hunted down by the rest of the horde that hadn’t been killed – they don’t stop running when day comes. The only way to get away was to lead them away from base and die to respawn back home.

I won’t lie. I was pretty discouraged. But now that I watched that video above, I understand why everything went to pieces. I’m not sure how I feel about this Creeper Zombie – yes, it makes it challenging… and I don’t mind a little challenge.

But we choose to play on the easiest level because this has also always been somewhat of a casual and laid-back experience. We have always been able to pick and choose the kind of frustrations and dangers we deal with. And this one zombie has thrown all of that way out of balance. Even level 10 fortitude did nothing to help against it, no steel walls can hold it out… and I think that’s a pretty cheap kill.

This might be the first time I’ve really felt frustrated by 7D2D’s design choices. I’ve rolled along with a lot of the changes they’ve made in the many, many years of alpha I played. Even when things were buggy and broken. But this is just not balanced gameplay. Not when the whole idea of the game was to build bases to withstand hordes.

Anyhow, I’m sure we’ll sit down and figure out some other way to handle it, but after having spent so much time already building one base, I’m not sure we have the resources (and me the energy) to start over on something new. For now, just going to lick my wounds… at least the Posse helped to rebuild the base – I think they felt bad for me.

Amoon rebuilding the front wall. At least our Jack-o-lanterns made it through
Posted in 7 Days to Die, Gaming

7D2D: Alpha 18 Release

Over the past few weekends, the Posse team has been getting together to play the newest 7 Days to Die alpha release. A18 has been on the horizon for a while, and has been something we’ve been waiting to get to try out.

Just like with every alpha release, the game has shifted and evolved in terms of how you learn skills, what skills do, the way you find and craft items, and how you build/defend your base against the horde nights. There’s way too much for me to list in terms of what’s changed.

The biggest shift for me is in terms of three things:

  • Difficulty level
  • How XP is distributed to folks who are builders
  • The new skill trees

First of all, the game’s difficulty level has been ramped up quite a bit, even on the easiest setting. The idea is that you start out fairly weak, and work to level and strengthen your character as you earn skill points that you put into the new skill trees.

Skills have been revamped yet again, regrouped into a more RPG build type concept. You aren’t forced to specialize in any one “tree,” but its seems very beneficial to do so. This does hinge upon you deciding on a specific playstyle and weapon, then putting points in around that build. I don’t know that there’s really one wrong way to do it, but I do know that I’ve found my favorite build, quite by accident.

Let me introduce you to my steel knuckles.

The knuckle type weapons are new to this build, so when I found a set of iron knuckles early on, I was curious. I do usually enjoy a more melee approach in the game, though this is often made difficult due to the zombie’s reach and ability to stun you when you get hit.

But looking through the perk line, I saw that Fortitude did a lot to support a close-in melee style, including reducing stun chances and decreasing the damage you take. It also specialized in heavy armor which gives the build a bit more tanky-ability.

Add to that the Weather perks and the Planting/Gardening perks, as well as Health regen and Cardio… and well, this line really was calling out for me to play it!

It turns out that I’m having such a great time with the Brawler build! There’s nothing quite as satisfying as getting right in the middle of things and punching zombies. I’ve built myself up in such a way that it takes quite a few blows to damage me now — I’m not even at max rank — and I rarely get stunned when I do get hit.

Add to this the fact that the dev team has really reconsidered how XP is rewarded to builder players, such as myself. It used to be that builders who spent the majority of their time working on the base really got gimped compared to people out scavenging and taking XP from zombie kills.

It’s swung the other way now. Due to all the building I’m doing, I’m the highest level player among the group. I almost expect a nerf to building XP as it feels a bit too fast, to be honest.

On the wall, surveying some of the basic barbwire defenses I’ve been building

I also find that cooking has been changed again – though I don’t have any points in that area. It feels a lot more fun, coupled with the new farm plot system, to find seeds, plant and harvest towards building a food supply now.

We even got a few new plants, such as pumpkins…

…which you can harvest and use to craft jack-o-lanterns (pictured in the header image), much to my delight. Oh, yeah, and you can make food with it too, which is also important, I guess. 😉

We’ve endured the first two horde nights so far, and the second one was quite a ride. Of course, I didn’t have the barbed wire defense up at that point, so the night 21 horde will be the test of those traps.

Overall, we’re having a pretty good time with this version of the game. We’ve seen several patches drop, but none that have forced us to restart our map yet. Hopefully we’ll be able to get a little further in this time before that happens.

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: All Saints’ Wake 2019

I have a lot of various gaming topics to touch upon from this weekend, but I’m going to start with the most timely and easy to tackle – FFXIV’s annual Halloween event. As always, it’s a bit of lighthearted fun with an optional romp through the mansion if you want the extras.

This year’s reward is a mount – though a bit of a touched-up reskin of an existing mount. It’s quite glowy and certainly stands out just fine with a decided Halloween aesthetic.

The quest to get it is straightforward and quick to complete. No gathering tokens or FATEs to run, which is always nice when you have as many alts as I do.

Once you’ve completed this, there’s a couple of housing items that you do have to earn tokens for. Indoors, there’s a neat little All Saints’ poster and for the outdoors there’s a carriage – very much a full sized carriage. If you have a small house, it really does eat a lot of yard real estate up, but then, Halloween only comes once a year, right?

The carriage is nicely done, and large enough for several people to sit inside of it. I don’t think we have another object quite like it, so even though it is very large, I approve of the design choice due to originality.

Both items can be earned with one successful run of the haunted mansion, which gives you the 5 pumpkin cookies that covers the cost for both. Keep in mind that the mansion requires a light party of 4 people, and you can queue up for it like a duty if needed.

There’s also the other side of the mansion, which is the masquerade. This has been moved off into its own little instance separate from the rest of the mansion runs. You can talk to an NPC to temporarily take on a disguise of a popular NPC – this year sees the addition of characters that center around the original Crystal Tower raids, as well as a few others.

All in all, it’s a cute little event that respects your time. If all you want is the mount, you can knock that out pretty fast. Housing items aren’t that hard to get and the rest is just fun fluff for those who enjoy that sort of thing.

May as well have a good time!

Posted in Just Fiddling

Removing Chinrest Cork Residue from a Violin

One of the minor issues I had when I bought my Fiddlerman Master violin was just cosmetic. When I removed the chinrest that came with it to replace it with my own, it left behind some sort of markings where the cork had been pressed against the fiddle.

The cork residue on my fiddle

I mentioned this in my post, and Jim from Fiddling for Older Folks left a comment that informed me of a thread on the Fiddlerman forums that talks about how to fix that. So, I searched the forum and discovered the cork residue (or whatever it is) is a pretty common thing with violins, even high quality ones.

I did find this thread that gave some ideas on how to fix the issue. The idea that seemed least scary to me was to attempt to buff it with car polish. Fiddlerman approved and suggested Turtle Wax. Seeing I didn’t have any in the house, I hopped over to Amazon, picked up some Turtle Wax that seemed to be pretty gentle, and let Amazon Prime do its thing.

I got the wax today, and using a couple old rags I had on hand, followed the instructions for application. With a damp rag, I applied a little bit of wax and began to buff in the direction of the wood grain (don’t know if this matters).

It took a few application cycles – buff, wipe with damp rag, and then dry – and a little bit of pressure. But it worked!

On the front
Two spots on the back

I was so pleased with the results that I went ahead and removed the chin rest and cleaned the spot under that since I had all the materials out to do it. It’s covered up, but may as well touch it up while I was working on it.

Under chinrest

Thanks Jim for the tip and thanks folks at Fiddlerman forums for a good solution!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Patch 5.1 Trailer – Release Date: Oct 29

This trailer, which was released with today’s Live Letter, gives a peek at a number of things including the new 24 man raid, Hades EX, the new dungeon, and a hint that Alex bosses will be the next Ultimate. Good news for the folks who are interested in all that sort of stuff.

I don’t mean to be a downer, but none of that really does much for me. I’m looking forward to the new MSQ an beast tribe quests, which I think we saw a bit in there, but that’s been way overshadowed by the whole Nier thing.

The more I see the aesthetics of it, the less I really care for it. Part of what I liked about Shadowbringers was that it felt a lot more fantasy-based and low-tech. And now we’re being tossed into some dark factory of metal and machines. Yeah, not really my thing.

I am looking forward to changes in crafting, which the Live Letter went into a tiny bit. Though, sadly, the Ishgard reconstruction doesn’t start until patch 5.11… which I kinda had an idea was going to be the case. I also find it interesting they keep saying the Diadem will be reworked (again) to be the gathering location.

They also said something about adding new features to housing to make it easier and more appealing to RP in. I wonder what that’s about?

Just as typical, I’m sure I’ll likely be hyped by all the QoL and small features FFXIV adds this patch, rather than the big ones they showcase. We won’t find out about the exciting stuff until probably next Friday, as long as the preliminary patch notes drop then.

Until then, I’ve somewhat been taking it easy in FFXIV, mostly just logging in to check retainers. Since I’m done with pushing all my jobs to 70, I don’t need to do dailies anymore. Plus I’ve completed everything I wanted to buy for mogtomes and I’ve more or less upgraded my accessories with Eden drops… well… most of what I set out to finish this month is done, so it’s time for a little break until the patch.

I’ll come back rested and ready for 5.1 – and I might even duke it out for a new larger housing spot. It just depends.

Posted in Just Fiddling

New Rosin – Squeaky “E” Fix?

After getting my new Fiddlerman Master violin, I began to wonder if I needed a different sort of rosin for the different kind of strings it came with. I did a bit of research, and saw that the Holstein Premium rosin is sold by Fiddlershop (Even on Amazon), and has really good reviews. Many folks say it works well with the Fiddlerman carbon fiber bow, which I have.

I saw that it had Prime shipping and would reach me in a day if I ordered on Tuesday. Since it wasn’t that pricey, and I was pleased with Fiddershop’s support this week, I decided to go ahead and give it a try.

A Short History of My Rosin

When I first started playing in January, I was using Kaplan Premium Light Rosin. I’d done research and it had lots of great reviews. I’m sure it’s a fine rosin, but over time, especially in the summer months, I noticed that it was a bit too sticky.

I tried using less rosin. I tried using more rosin. Nothing I did balanced the rosin out, and it just piled up on the strings and caused a good deal of drag and squawking.

Interestingly enough, now that I look back at it, the one thing I didn’t have problems with was things like Squeaky E. Of course, I also wasn’t playing much on the E string back then since the EEI method doesn’t introduce playing on that string until far later.

I eventually switched over to the cheaper rosin that came with… something I bought. It might have been the Bunnel outfit? Ah, yes, here it is – Antonio Giuliani for $3.99. At first, I kinda liked it because it wasn’t as sticky as the more expensive rosin. But now, I wonder if it was part of the cause of the Squeaky E.

I got my new Holstein rosin yesterday, and did my best to clean my bow and apply the new. It was quite lovely — a deep red that falls somewhere between dark and light, kept in a neat little magnetized case.

While I was impressed by the looks, I knew the real test was to hear how it sounded. I’m still too new at all this to be able to pick out differences in depth and tone, but I can say that I felt like the bow slid over the strings much more smoothly using this rosin – and that’s to keep in mind that the strings are only a few days old at this point.

There was a little bit of build up I had to clean from time to time during practice, but that could also be leftover from previous rosin. But the biggest surprise I had was the distinct lack of Squeaky E.

I won’t say it was perfect, and I still feel like I need to test it again with today’s practice. But playing Angelina Baker yesterday, there was hardly a Squeaky E to be heard! I really, really doubt that I can attribute this to me suddenly playing most of my string crossings perfect overnight. I still had some sloppy crossings with Cripple Creek, but the issue with the E string in particular was just so much better.

Discovering this was extremely exciting, like a light at the end of the tunnel! If a rosin change could really be the solution to the squeak, I’m going to be very relieved. I drilled so hard all last month, and simply couldn’t get that squeak to go away. It think there was even one point where I started to question if it was my strings or my bow.

I’d pulled out my other carbon fiber bow at that point – which came with my Bunnel – but it made the same squeak (so I surmised it was operator error). No surprise. That bow had come pre-rosined, likely with the Antonio Giuliani brand. It never once crossed my mind it could have been a rosin issue.

This has bolstered my confidence and enthusiasm quite a bit. I’m trying not to be too excited until I try it again today to see if I have a similar experience, though. I’ll write again tomorrow to update.

If rosin was my issue, this is a prime example of why higher quality components are important even for beginners. I lost a lot of time struggling with a string squeak that I might not have been able to fully resolve on my own because it was due to the quality of tools I was using.

-Image Source-

Posted in Just Fiddling

Fiddlerman Master Has Arrived

My 7/8 Fiddlerman Master Violin arrived on Monday. As of this writing, I’ve had two full practice sessions with it, so this is still my very first impression of the instrument.

To start, I was surprised that it came with such a lovely case! When I ordered the fiddle, I noted that I really didn’t need the full outfit, and that all I wanted was the instrument only. This knocked off some of the cost of the outfit, and I really just expected to get some little shipping case or even for the instrument to be boxed differently.

Much to my surprise, when I opened the box, there was this lovely case… which is so much better looking than any of the cases that came with my previous violins. Look at this… just wow!

It also came with a little cover, a strap, and a soft violin bag inside the case. So even when ordering “instrument only” you get a nice bundle.

Lovely flaming

Now, on to the instrument itself. Goodness, it is beautiful! You know how you see folks posting pictures of the flaming on the back of their fiddles online. Well, now I have one to post!

Let me tell you that the photos don’t do it justice. It’s a beautiful golden brown and the lighter areas really have this glow where the light hits them.

Even I can tell that the bridge is high quality and is fitted to near perfection. The instrument came fully tuned, and maintained tuning even after being shipped around by FedEX a few days. I was a little nervous about only having one fine tuner, but for now, I don’t see that being a problem. When I go to change the strings, then I may have an adventure ahead of me!

The strings – I’m not sure what kind they used – sound really nice. The E might be a little too bright for my taste, but dang, does this fiddle project. I immediately saw a difference in the “loudness” between this and my Bunnel, even when I was bowing lightly.

Speaking of comparisons…

Master on the left, Bunnel on the right

It’s not the best picture, but you can see how the Master is a bit more glossy and golden brown compared to my Bunnel. It still doesn’t show up well, but there’s a bit of a glow to the golden areas.

Surprisingly, the 7/8 size violin wasn’t all that much smaller than the full sized. I’d expected a bit more of a size difference. There is one, but it’s not noticeable until you actually measure the instrument, or you go to put a 4/4 size shoulder rest on it. Thankfully, the shoulder rest that came with my Bunnel is fully adjustable with sliding legs. This let me fit it perfectly to the slightly smaller 7/8 frame.

The 7/8 also has trouble sitting in the little floor stand because it’s just slightly too small. I’ll have to look into adjustments to this, though it’s not really a huge deal.

This fiddle is in no way as small as the 3/4 I tried out. But I’m going to stick with it because any reduction in size is a help to me. I also know you can’t always find a 7/8 just anywhere readily. I feel like the better fiddle might be easier to play in the long run, so it might offset the trouble I was having — I’ll have to see as I practice with it.

Back Confusion

I had a moment of confusion about the make of the fiddle when I saw that my Master didn’t have a one-piece back like I’d seen in the pictures and the videos. I went through and checked different videos online to determine if I was just confused about the whole thing, but no… they all had single-piece backs. So that, on top of the peg issue (which I talk about below) prompted some concern.

Sample image of the full-sized one-piece back Master

I wrote the Fiddlerman support folks with my question, and sent the picture of my fiddle’s back. They went out of their way to check their stock and explain that due to being a fractional size instrument, there’s sometimes a change in design due to the wood available. However, I was reassured that it shouldn’t change the sound or play-ability. Plus I really like how the back of the fiddle I was sent looked anyhow.

I was more concerned there’d been a mix up even if the label said it was a Master. Turned out that it was just me being overly scrutinizing. But even so, Support was great and responsive – they even tried to offer a discount due to the confusion, but I told them it wasn’t necessary. This was completely on me and my curiosity.

But the stories are true of the excellent Fiddlerman support. I feel like should I have any real issues, they’ll go out of their way to fix them, and I’m confident about my purchase.

Small Flaws

The Master isn’t absolutely perfect, however. Aside from the two-piece back confusion, I did see a tiny little chip on the front of the pegbox when I did inspection. But that’s nothing I’m going to return the instrument for. It kinda gives it character, and wasn’t a chip in the varnish.

The one thing I did find (and I’ve heard about this from other reviews) is where the cork of the chin rest was connected to the wood, the finish is slightly textured. It’s as if the chin rest was put on before the varnish was completely done drying.

Of course one of the first things I had to do was fit my own flatter chinrest to the new fiddle (which turned out very easy to do). Because it’s not the same shape as the previous chinrest, you can see the two rectangular places the old chinrest once sat, still marked in the finish. It’s very light, and it doesn’t stand out a whole lot, but I know it’s there. I tried washing it lightly with a damp rag, but it was pretty much part of the instrument.

I actually found a fix for the chinrest cork residue! See the post here!

This is a tiny bit of an annoyance for the cost of the instrument. However, it’s not a deal breaker for me. I know that the fiddle is probably going to see its share of nicks and scratches on down the line, even as careful as I’ll be with it. My Bunnel is actually in great condition for being in my hands as long as it has been, though.

The only other thing I can note is that the pegs that came with my fiddle were not the ones pictured. I don’t know if that’s also because of the 7/8 fit — most likely. But I was rather taken with the nice trim on the pegs as it was pictured on the store page, and a bit disappointed that mine were plain upon arrival. Again, not a deal breaker, but something to note.

Mine on the right

If all I really found were some finish blemishes under where the chin rest sat and the tuning peg design, that’s not bad at all.

I’m pleased with the sound and the overall quality, and I intend to continue practicing with my new Master to see if the 7/8 is going to work as a good fit for me. I have a feeling it’ll be a keeper, though.

Posted in Fiddle Progress Report

Fiddle Progress Report: 9 Months

Yesterday, my new fiddle arrived, and it’s really all I want to write about… but… that will have to wait until tomorrow’s post. This is meant to be a progress report! So let’s see what kind of progress happened last month.

Even though I missed some practice time during month 6 & 7, I’m still going to count this as month 9. I did have to do some make-up work for my lack of practice, but now I feel like I’m finally getting back on the ball, even if progress seems slow.

Based on my practice log, I started back playing exactly two months ago. During that time, I’ve only missed one day of practice (on a holiday). I did have a week or so of being down with the cold last month, so while I didn’t get full quality practice in on those days, I did still do things like revisit previous tunes just to stay up on playing. So, I’m pretty happy with my practice consistency.

I had a lot of trouble with the Squeaky E this past month, due to struggling to make clean string crossings. I’m still working on sorting this out, though it’s getting better now that I have an idea of what to focus on.

At last month’s progress report, I predicted that I’d probably only get through cleaning up Cripple Creek and Angelina Baker. This was somewhat accurate — I feel like I have a grasp of the fingerings and how to play these tunes, and have them mostly memorized. But, I still feel they’re more sloppy than I’d like, and I’m still working on getting them cleaned up. Part of that was losing a week of good practice to being sick, I think.

However, I’ve already started to memorize Margaret’s Waltz on the side, and did poke around at learning Buffalo Gals, which feels like it may be easier that the previous two tunes (we’ll see). So I didn’t spend my whole month on just two songs.

My goals/predictions for this month is to continue to clean up Cripple Creek and Angelina Baker, especially focusing on the Squeaky E. I want to hook the two parts of Margaret’s Waltz together and start working on memorizing the tune as a whole. I also want to bring Buffalo Gals into the tune list by the next time I check in for a Progress Report.

Speaking of the Tune List, I’d like to find a way to put some audio on the list – whether it’s me playing the first bar or something like that. I find that I really need to hear the start of the tune to trigger memory, moreso than just seeing notes or tabs. I’ll work on that sometime this month, maybe.

Of course, I’m starting this new month off right with an exciting new Master fiddle, so I hope this beautiful instrument will be the inspiration to push me forward for a long time coming. More on this tomorrow!

Fiddlerman Master has Arrived!