Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Kirin Mount – It Took How Many Years?

So thanks to the newest Mogtomes event in FFXIV, I was finally able to finish up my pony collection last night, and get my kirin on my main. I’d already done this on my RP alt – he just ended up the character I did the farming on for whatever reason. And that’s going to be true of the bird mounts, too, when I finish them on him during this event.

I’ve just never been much for running Extreme content, and tend to skip trial fights whenever they’re optional. I still haven’t gotten the /hum emote on any of my characters yet because I’ve never run that trial fight. Maybe one day!

Anyhow, last night, I finished up a couple Prae runs to pick up the Shiva pony. Then, all I needed to finish my lot was the Ifrit one. I had been farming Ifrit a bit before they actually changed him to be easier to farm, but I had no luck in getting the pony drop, and eventually it slipped my mind to keep trying. Last night, it took me about 4 runs before the whistle finally popped up for me.

So now, after many years of playing this game, I finally have my pony collection completed! This Mogtome event will also net me one bird and the first of the wolves. I’ll still be missing the Ravana bird, however, so I’ll have to wait to see if that comes back into rotation next time, or drag someone into farming it (if I can’t solo it).

I’m not really in a rush to do it, though. Which is precisely why it took me this long to get all the ponies! 🙂

Posted in Ukulele

First Week of Uke

Back in December, I bought a ukulele. I’m not fully sure why I made that choice at the time. I don’t recall being specifically frustrated with my fiddle or anything. Maybe it was because after being in the violin world, ukes seem to be far less expensive and easier to pick up in the long run.

Also, the community built around the ukes seem to be super friendly and encouraging. Uke is an instrument that you can pick up and learn on your own, and the folks who play it encourage you to do so. There are good brand ukes and probably poor quality ukes, but despite what price-point you start with, you can still learn on a cheapie uke until you’re sure you want to invest in a better one.

In contrast, I’ve seen time and time again where a person new to violin on the Internet gets a less than warm welcome when they have questions about learning on their own and what type of violin to buy. Violin is much harder to get into, and I know that the players are trying to be helpful when the answers are “Get a teacher.” “Don’t buy a violin online.” “Have a teacher help you buy a violin.” “The violin you bought is too cheap.” that kind of thing.

But when you’re stuck in a place without access to a teacher or a good violin shop (like me), that’s fairly discouraging. Or if you just want to try it out to see if violin is your thing, and these are the answers you get, that turns folks away. There are some places online where the violin community can be downright… well… stuffy. Fiddle communities are a bit more lax and welcoming, I find.

Now, this wasn’t a post meant to get into the differences in the musical atmosphere between violin and uke – even if I perceive this to be a pretty vast contrast. But it is one thing that encouraged me to buy a uke last year.

To be perfectly honest, my little blue uke hasn’t seen a whole lot of action. I don’t think it’s a bad uke by any means. But, for some reason, I ended up picking up a tenor-sized Kala travel uke – mostly because it was on a half-off sale, generally thought to be a good brand, and I wanted to see the differences in size.

After getting some birthday gifts that not just encouraged but also set the stage for me to start practicing uke, I find this is the instrument that I pick up most. I really love how thin the body is, for one. It makes the uke easier for me to play.

I did have to ask for a hook-strap for my birthday — which I got — and this has also gone a long way towards making it easier to hold and support the uke. My little blue uke came with a strap, so I knew that I preferred having one — it’s probably a hold-over from playing guitar.

I love that, like the violin, uke has only four strings to keep up with. The neck is generally thin enough for my short fingers to struggle with chords — something that felt nearly impossible on guitar back in the day.

In fact, most learning “methods” – I hesitate to call them methods because learning uke feels a lot less structured – start with teaching chords. C, G7 and F seem to be the staple chords that open up many songs to you… once you get your fingers to transition properly.

For me, chord switching has been the challenge. I understand where my fingers need to be (and unlike my fiddle, the frets are there to guide me), but switching smoothly in time is really the major thing I have to practice. That and learning how to strum with the proper fingers (which isn’t the thumb).

Another major hurdle to overcome with playing uke is sore fingers. The strings on a uke aren’t steel, so it’s not as bad as when I was learning to play guitar, but the pain is still there. For some reason, violin strings don’t cause this kind of pain for me. I didn’t want to get to a place where I hurt my fingers so badly practicing uke that it would hurt too much to play violin.

Thankfully, after a week of careful uke practice, I already feel my fingertips starting to toughen up. I know it takes time and consistent work to develop fingers that go unscathed by strings. But if it wasn’t for the pain, I know I could spend a lot more time practicing than I do.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with my first week of uke. I fiddled around with it back when I got my first uke, so I already knew how to tune it. I also already had an idea of what it meant to strum and that chords would be the main focus. What I like a LOT about the EE book is that it does go into reading notation and playing songs based on notes.

Eventually, I really want to go into fingerstyle more than just learning chords. I’m not sure how much Irish/Celtic music is adapted to the uke, but I know some uke players make just about everything sound nice! It really is a cheerful little instrument, and I’m having fun developing new music skills with it!

Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch

Animal Crossing: Where the Blue Rose Grows

Like many folks, I’ve been playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons since the day of release. I’m not sure why I haven’t blogged a whole lot about it, but I continue to play in some capacity every day.

Blue Rose Breeding

In previous AC games, I never paid much attention to flower breeding. In fact, I didn’t pay much attention to flowers in general. But this time around, I decided to look into it.

Of course, there’s the easy crosses you can make… then there’s the roses. It seems like roses have the most complex and deep breeding of any of the AC flowers.

I was pleased when I started getting black roses to decorate around my second character’s house. But then I saw something about blue roses. Blue being one of my favorite colors, I decided to give it a shot.

Roses are native to my island. So had a bunch of them already. I figured this was a good starting point, and I read up this guide on what to cross to get what color to move in the right direction.

It seemed pretty straightforward:

  • Yellow + Red = Orange
  • White + White = Purple
  • Orange + Purple = Hybrid Red
  • Hybrid Red + Hybrid Red = Blue

So that’s what I started to do. I dedicated pretty much all of the northern part of my island to fields and fields of roses. I never got a zoomed out screenshot, but I’ll just say, it took a LOT of watering.

Eventually, I got the purples and the oranges. They got their own field.

Then I started getting hybrid reds, which I put aside in their own field, too. The thing about the hybrid reds is that they look exactly like normal reds, so you have to be careful.

Bad Genetics

However, after a few weeks passed, my hybrid reds produced more hybrid reds and an occasional black. Most of the time, they didn’t produce anything at all. So I started to wonder if I was doing something wrong.

I also wondered if I should have been crossing the hybrid reds that spawned from other hybrid reds, or if that was messing things up. So I decided to do further reading to look for answers to my questions.

What I found was disheartening. Apparently, there’s a lot more going on with the genetics of roses than I knew. I ran across this video here…

And learned that there were such a thing as “bad” hybrid red roses and “bad” genetics that would just never produce a blue rose. And that several breeding steps, tests and weeding out bad genetics would lead to the highest chance at success.

Even if you do have two “good” hybrid red roses, according to the video, you still only have a 1 in 64 chance that a blue rose will ever spawn. This was all supposed to be taken from tests and data provided by the community who delved into breeding.

And every guide I ran across said the best way to ensure good genetics was to start with planting from seed bags. Because this was the only way to start with pure genetics.

Considering I just threw a bunch of roses together that were already on my island, I started to think that my chances were next to none in getting a blue rose at this point.

Starting Over

Last Friday, I started to dig up all of my breeding roses and start over again from scratch. That was a lot of roses. I kept the purples and oranges as decoration around houses. But tossed most the whites, reds and yellows that came native to my island.

But just in case, I decided to leave my hybrid red field alone. And I still watered it on Friday.

Saturday was my birthday, so I hopped in game long enough to celebrate my birthday with the animals. I didn’t think to check my flowers or water them at all.

Sunday, I came around to check the progress of my new roses, and went up to see the hybrid reds I had kept around. To my absolute shock, there was a blue.

The fact that it was already in flower means that the very day after I dismissed the chance of getting a blue rose this way, on my birthday, this blue rose spawned. I just didn’t find it until the day after.

I took it back to the center of my town where I’ll certainly be watering it hoping for it to multiply. After reading and hearing how hard it is to get a blue rose this way, I feel like fortune was seriously shining on me.

Posted in Ukulele

A Uke Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday!

Some of the items I requested for my birthday were gear for my Uke. I didn’t write about it, but a few months back, I picked up a Kala travel tenor ukulele when it went on major online sale at Musician’s Friend.

I have a concert that I like, but also wanted a tenor. Since ukes (in comparison to fiddles) are pretty cheap, I didn’t see harm in trying out different sizes to see which ones fit me best.

One thing about the Kala was that there weren’t knobs on it where you could hook a strap – my concert came with those installed. I didn’t want to chance to install my own, so I looked up straps that worked for this kind of uke, and found this nice one.

On top of that, I wanted a second stand for the new uke, and looked into a method for starting to practice uke. I really enjoyed the EEI method for violin, so I went ahead and added the Essential Elements book for uke, along with all the other gear, to my Amazon wish list.

My wish list was granted, and I was gifted all these things for my birthday! So now my Kala has a new spot on my shelf with a new strap!

The next step is to sit down and figure out how to work some uke practice into my schedule without compromising my fiddle practice. One thing I know I want to do is practice in different areas of the house.

I have a corner of my bedroom, and a laptop setup, dedicated to just fiddle practice. Originally, I had to hide away in my bedroom because I had a very sensitive older cat who couldn’t handle fiddle sounds – be it my own or even a recording/video I watched online. Sadly, this cat passed away over the winter, but I still keep my fiddle playing to that spot in the bedroom, even though fiddle playing doesn’t bother my other cat.

For the uke, I want to practice in a different spot, however. While it is a risk to try to practice around my main computer in the living room (more tempted to be distracted), it just feels like a more comfortable and laid-back spot for the type of instrument it is.

I’m looking forward to the EE lessons for Uke, though I have a feeling it will be a much more casual endeavor than what I do with fiddle. I plan on starting out small next week and seeing where that leads me.

Posted in Gaming, Steam Gaming

Raft: Beating Bruce

Yesterday, I wrote about the new survival game that Syn and I started playing over the weekend called Raft. We mentioned it to Vix and Xaa on Sunday night, and told them we were having a good deal of fun with it.

So, last night, they also picked up the game and our crew became four. I started a new raft for the group, and was happy to see how easy it was for us all to just hop in a new hosted game. Even if someone disconnects, when they reconnect, they’re right back on the raft again.

The game still ran just fine with four of us — though the tiny raft was somewhat cramped. The only issue we ran across was a small bug where Xaa couldn’t cast his hook at first. After looking it up, I discovered that switching the hook’s inventory slot on your bar somehow fixed that, and we were up and away.

I’m glad we had more experience with the game when we came to trying to play with more people. It took a little time the first time around to figure out the water purifier and grill/fishing pole. With twice as many people needing water and food, it was a little bit of a scramble in the beginning. But by the end of our gaming session, we had three grills and purifiers, a medium plot with watermelons growing, and a large chest with a food stash started.

The final island we stopped at for the night became a place of showdown between me and Bruce the shark. I’d joked about killing the shark on Sunday, only to discover from an random post in the community section that this actually can happen.

The island we landed on had a weird shape to it with a bit of a crevice between stones on one side. Though I only had a wooden spear, I was able to lure Bruce into this crevice where he got a bit stuck, and land a few blows on him before he got free again. Some of our fighting was in water, too, but much of it was me luring him into the smaller area where I finally took him down after many hits.

This rewarded us with a shark-free zone for a short time. Also, shark meat. And most importantly — a shark head, which you can wear like a hat. I had Xaa take a few screenshots of it, though I didn’t think to screenshot the rest of our adventure last night.

We’ve mostly gotten caught up to the point where Syn and I were in our own game since we knew the ropes better the second time around. We’ll see what discoveries we can run across in this game going forward!

Posted in Gaming

Steam Gaming: Raft

I know I haven’t been posting much here lately – some of that has to do with the amount of work IRL that’s been ramping up. But much of it is simply I’m in a pretty standard holding pattern in FFXIV right now. I do my daily stuff, help a few folks out with their stuff, and that’s really not much to write about.

However, I have been starting to poke my head into other Steam games lately. And I’d like to get back to writing about the games I’ve been trying out. So let me start by talking about Raft.

Yesterday, I wasn’t really in the mood to MMO. I was looking for a game that Syn and I could co-op, but was more of a casual vein. While I love a good survival/building game, neither of us were in the mood for something that would be a huge investment with a high difficulty hurdle.

After I spent quite a while searching through games on Steam, we decided upon one that we’d never heard of before called Raft.

The concept was interesting.

Trapped on a small raft with nothing but a hook made of old plastic, players awake on a vast, blue ocean totally alone and with no land in sight! With a dry throat and an empty stomach, survival will not be easy!
Raft throws you and your friends into an epic adventure out on the big open sea, with the objective to stay alive, gather resources and build yourself a floating home worthy of survival.

-Raft Steam Page

So, basically, you’re gathering resources — both on the sea and from procedurally generated islands you run across — and building a base on your raft. Now, the catch is — there’s always a shark lurking nearby (apparently the community has named him Bruce). And from time to time, Bruce will take a chunk out of your raft… and out of you if you venture off the raft for too long.

There are ways to fend off the shark and eventually make your raft shark-proof. But that requires time and learning. Just like with any survival game, you have to figure out how to use the resources you’re given to progress.

In this case, you have to learn how to obtain food and purify sea water. Eventually, you can grow your own food – but that brings the danger of sea gulls who swoop in to eat what you’ve planted. So you have to figure that out, too!

Syn and I put in about three and a half hours yesterday, going into the game pretty blind. Thankfully, the game has several difficulty options — we decided to go on the Easy mode where you didn’t drop items on death and food/water didn’t deteriorate as badly. I think we made a good choice (and I was super happy for the options!) because there was a lot to learn and take in at the beginning.

I’m trying to stay away from too many spoilers, but I know from some of the things I’ve glanced at that we’ve hardly scratched the tip of what this game has to offer. There’s a storyline to follow, apparently lots of huge islands out there to explore, dangerous wild creatures to fight…

Additionally, the game is not a huge download – it only took about 10 mins on my machine. And multiplayer worked flawlessly through the Steam friends list. No fighting to get a server up for people to join — if you start a game on your machine and indicate friends can hop in, then they can see your game. You can also set a password if needed.

Unlike more process-devouring games (ARK, 7D2D), my computer hosted the game without any issues, and I could save the world at any time. It seems that you can create several worlds, too, if you want to play solo game or if you want to have separate games for different friend groups.

The graphics aren’t anything super realistic or revolutionary, but they have a pleasing aesthetic. Overall, despite Bruce the shark, Syn and I both found the game to be pretty relaxing. I’m sure on a higher difficulty level, that might not be the case. But for now, we’re just cruising along building our raft and discovering new things as we go.

For a $20 blind-purchase, I think we really picked a gem. I’m surprised I’ve never heard of this game before!