Posted in Gaming

October 2020 Gaming Goals in Review

Firstly, Happy Halloween! Hope it’s a fun and safe one for you!

Now on to the goals. Overall, I did pretty well in achieving my goals considering the release of Bozja and the Relic weapons sidetracked a good chunk of my time. Let’s see how I did:

  • Finish leveling Ninja to 80 and do job quest 
  • Start leveling a Tank 
  • Clean up quests in the First
  • Level Tad’s gatherers with beast tribe quests 
  • Do crafting/gathering quests in the Mean
  • Progress Zuri through Stormblood 
  • Level Mocho’s Paladin 

The most important things got done for sure. Zuri is officially done with Stormblood! Woooo! Mocho is finally a level 50 Paladin! Woooo!

I finished leveling Tad’s miner and botanist to 80 using beast tribes, and his fisher is 77, making good time. I’ve also been working on weekly turn-ins for his gatherers to earn him the level 80 scrip gear.

I finished leveling my main’s Ninja to 80 and got the job quest tucked away. I’ve been working on Dark Knight using beast tribe quests. While I did do a handful of quests in the First, I didn’t do enough to really check that off my list. And I didn’t touch the quests in the Mean at all. Oops!

As for my Switch goals:

  • Decorate Animal Crossing Island for fall/Halloween 
  • Play horror game on Switch

I did indeed play Animal Crossing, decorate for Halloween and stash away candy nearly every day for the event happening tonight. Though I installed a horror game I own on the Switch, I didn’t get around to actually playing it and trying it out.

Overall, it’s been a good month for gaming – I’ve also been playing a few Steam games on the side just to switch things up. Lots of things to work on for November!

Posted in Second Life

Second Life: Halloween Haunted Neighborhood

Though we usually spend some time on the haunted house ride and in the cornfield in Second Life for Halloween, this year, the Moles created something new to entertain us.

I’ve been writing here and there about my Linden Home, which is part of the newer Bellisseria neighborhoods, and much better than the old Linden Homes you once got with a SL subscription. This year, they took an entire neighborhood of homes in Millbank and decked it out in Halloween style.

When I say they’ve decorated for Hallween, I don’t mean putting some pumpkins on the porch. Each house in the neighborhood is themed around something – from a spooky lab, to a Cthulhu shrine (complete with a Cthulhu sighting), to a house that “murders” you repeatedly in different ways, to a cemetery with many surprises to discover.

The starting point also offers free flashlights that animates your character in Scooby Doo style and a red balloon (straight out of IT) tour of the entire grounds. I’ve been through the grounds a couple of times with different people and discovered something new each time – like the creepy porcelain doll named Annabell who followed me down the stairs from the second story of a house and out on the freakin’ porch! I should have taken a screenshot, but I was too busy shooing her away!

It’s really nicely put together and lots of fun to explore! Nice job SL!

Posted in MMORPGs, Ultima Online

Ultima Online: First Week Back

It’s been a week since I’ve retrieved my old Ultima Online account – one that I made back in 1999. I have been playing it fairly consistently when time permits, though it’s been a bit of a learning curve getting back into it. How’s things going? Well…

A Tale of Two Clients

The first thing I had to make heads or tales of (aside from the bank issue that I needed to solve) was the user interface (UI) of the game. This is probably the largest stumbling block for players new to this sort of oldskool game (aside from the absolute lack of handholding it provides).

Even for me, I admit, it was hard to go back to a game where you keyed up macros that you have to remember and use the right mouse button to move. Modern MMOs with their hotbars have spoiled me, and I had to do a good bit of Googling just to figure out how to do rather basic things when I returned to UO.

One of the first questions I was faced with was which client to use: Classic or Enhanced.

At first, I was really leaning towards sticking with Classic. I just like the crisp pixel art style better.

Classic client

But after I spent some time with the Enhanced Client, I leaned that way instead. Mostly due to the easier to use UI – especially hotbars.

Enhanced Client

I just don’t really dig this psudo-3Dish attempt at the art style as much as the oldskool pixel art. It seems more muddy and harder to see — though you can zoom in and out on the Enhanced Client and not so on the Classic.

I do believe there are mods and such for both clients, but I haven’t looked into those yet. One thing at a time.

The Skill Issues

The next thing I had to address and research were my character skills and what to do about them. Since UO was my first MMO and I had no real plan of attack casually playing it 20 years ago, skills on my characters are pretty much all over the place.

I learned that aside from a popular build “Sampire” (life leeching samurai), melee builds on their own aren’t really a good way to go (especially if you intend to solo). I learned Taming builds are all the rage and that Bards can be pretty neat, too.

Between both of my Aywren characters (Yeah, I have two: “Aywren” and “Aywren Sojourner” – I might change that up sometime later), I have a smattering of bard, mage, taming, tailoring, swordsmanship and… it’s just all over the board.

I learned that Stratics is the place fans tend to go for builds and such. It felt good to be back on oldskool forums looking at builds and tactics. I did this for a few days, trying to decide which character I should lean which way.

It seems like Aywren was further along in taming, so I’ve focused on learning that build and magery for her.

While my other character seems to have delved much more into musicanship, so will likely be my bard. I’ve yet to figure out exactly what build I want for this character – she might get a total makeover.

I also learned that being grandfathered into the Endless Journey meant that I actually can roll additional characters! This led me to deleting one of the old ones – she seemed to be leaning towards magery, but didn’t have any items of note in her bags and wasn’t very far into skilling up. So she was pretty redundant and using a name I’d not use now days, too.

I’d like to try out a gargoyle character eventually, but for now, I have enough on my hands!

The Gift of Gear

So after a few days hanging around Moonglow, I learned that the island isn’t as safe as I remembered it. Used to be, as long as you didn’t venture around the graveyard, all you’d ever need to deal with were Mongbats.

My run-in with a skeleton named Edward changed my perspective. He was just wandering up the main road, slaughtering all animals in his wake. I remembered how the skeletons of Moonglow were usually easy for me to take, and this resulted in my first two deaths (death two was trying to get my gear back from my corpse).

I tried to look this guy up, but found nothing about him online. Man, was he nasty and FAST.

After I quickly remembered how to get a rez from Wandering Healers and managed to retrieve my stuff from my corpse, Edward chased me all the way back into Town where I logged off for a bit. I did see him wandering around the west gates of the city later that night. Wish I’d taken a screen, but it all happened so fast.

One day, I will return, Edward. Just you wait.

After doing more research, I determined there is now a new player experience in UO, and this usually starts in a town called New Haven. So, after experimenting with rune books and messing about with moongates, I made my way there.

The bank in New Haven is pretty busy!

Much better! And much more populated, too!

As a new player, this area has a nice sprawling southern area to tame all sorts of animals. There are a few tough fights out there, but nothing my Bear Brigade couldn’t handle (I say that without having tried to fight the ettin).

Syn even rolled a character and we messed around together for a night. This is where we met the very nice fellow from the [kool] guild.

He approached me in town, and I knew he was offering to recruit me to his guild. At that point, Syn had only been in game for 20 mins and I was struggling to answer her questions and teach her what she needed to know to navigate those first-player steps. So neither of us were really able to focus on thinking about a guild that early on.

I’d also forgotten how chatty and friendly people were in older games. I told him that I’d not played UO in 20 years, and I felt a bit bad taking a guild invite when I didn’t know how much I’d be able to contribute. He reassured me that the guild was there to help new and returning players, so I did promise to keep them in mind in the future. But for then, we just needed time to settle in and explore.

He wasn’t pushy and totally understood that. In fact, he offered to give us some gear that would help us start out. At first, I hesitated on taking a gift (modern day MMO mentality), but he explained this was something called LRC gear.

I had no idea what LRC meant, so I asked. He further explained that this gear would completely negate the need to hunt/buy/gather reagents for casting spells.

In UO, every time you cast a spell, it requires a specific type and number of materials that you must keep in your pack – if you don’t have it, you can’t cast it. It was one of the things that kept me from going too deeply into magery.

Once I understood LRC and what it could do for us (since Syn started out in magery, unknowing of the reagents), I quickly agreed to accept his gift. He brought us both back a set of 100% LRC gear (telling us all the while that it wasn’t the best stuff but it would be a help) and gave us both 1 million gold to boot! He also advised us to insure the gear (which I did know how to do), so that it remained with us should we die.

My fancy new LRC gear and the Bear Brigade (There are actually five bears there)

Holy cow! This was further than I’ve been in UO gear and gold wise pretty much ever, and I am so very grateful and exited!

Thank you Mr. from the [kool] guild! I wish I’d taken a screen to remember your name, but I was helping Syn figure out how to put her new gear on at the time. XD

Skilling Up

So, now I’m at the point of skilling up. I’m dropping skills I don’t need and leveling skills I want as a tamer and mage. The quests in New Haven pointed us to an area right near called Old Haven. It’s fantastic for no-aggro enemies and skilling magery.

I even ran across this guy who spawned out of nowhere: Drelgor the Impaler! He took about 5 mins to kill by kiting all over the place while chucking fireballs on low mana, but I took him down!

First “Big” Kill

Right now, I’m hanging around New Haven, skilling my Taming to the south and my casting to the west. I’ve moved up from bears to things like grey wolves and panthers in my taming skills, but bears still seem to be the tankiest pets to tote around at this point. They make short work of Bog things and Greater Mongbats.

I find UO to be a pretty chill solo experience, which is a nice contrast to FFXIV where everything is high energy and mostly group-based stuff. It balances out well, and I’m enjoying the feeling of a world that I’m slowly rediscovering — I know it’s huge and there’s so much for me yet to learn and remember!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Relic, Glamour and Making it Rain

I’ve been quite literally doing so much in FFXIV that I’ve needed to take time off to give my poor eyes a rest lately. Running as many FATEs as I have over the last couple weeks is enough to give me a case of eye strain.

That being said, several things panned out over the weekend – the first was earning a relic on my RP alt. I still have yet to finish the second step on another alt, and farm up remaining memories on my main, but at least one character has a shiny weapon as of this weekend.

Also, I finally got the caster chest piece drop that I’ve been gunning for in the Bunker. I only need the hands now to finish the caster set, so I can somewhat relax running this raid. There were weeks I was running several times between two characters, so it’s nice to be able to just build the red mage glamour I was working towards and take it easier come this week.

The Make it Rain campaign is back again, giving everyone a hefty boost to MGP earnings in the Gold Saucer. This came with a short questline that rewards a new Consider emote.

Since Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, I’m a little bummed that we didn’t get All Saints’ Wake this year. I understand that with impact of COVID, the team had to make major adjustments (like everyone) to continue working. This led to content released late, and some cut content – including All Saints’ Wake.

They’d announced that Make it Rain would have something along with the Halloween event, but this turned out to just allowing players to visit the haunted manor. This is a nice gesture, at least. I guess this is the downside of having a game that hand-crafts new events and stories for holidays every year.

Mind you, I’m not complaining because I completely understand something had to be cut given the situation. It’s just a little sad that I see a bunch of MMOs out there with their returning Halloween events — again, it’s probably easier to just flip a switch to reuse something every year compared to FFXIV that strives to bring something new every year.

I guess I always have Halloween in Animal Crossing — which I have been working towards by logging in for candy every day!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Done with Stormblood (Again)

I’ve been pretty burned out with the struggle to get through Stormblood on yet another character. I’ve been working on finishing this up on Zuri for a while now. I’d left her in Yanxia for the better part of a year and finally, the last couple of months, I’ve put my nose to getting her out of that expansion and into Shadowbringers.

It’s been a painful ride, mostly because I elected to try to do it all by my self and not ask FC folks for much help with the string of dungeons and trials. You all know how much I utterly dislike dungeons and trials. The only exception was Tuskuyomi, which I waited over 30 mins in queue for as DPS, and broke down to ask for a Healer-boost queue.

Running dungeons with PUGs in Stormblood reinforces my absolute dislike for the forced dungeon interruptions in the MSQ design. It reinforces the need for Trusts earlier in the game, as well. If there’s content that really needs more options, it’s the Stormblood stuff.

Folks (including me) just don’t know/remember Stormblood content very well, I’ve found. This has been a consistent thing through just about every party that I’ve gotten in all of the leveling and MSQ dungeons I’ve run.

Wipes were very common, often due to undergeared tanks pulling too much too fast. Issues with people who bought story and level skips and don’t know their jobs. Things like that. Don’t even start me on the number of wipes we had just to clear Shinryu.

In the end, we did beat the content, though. I suppose much of what you’re hearing is me being completely jaded with Stormblood on my 4-5th time through. I’m completely done with it… even though I have a few more characters that need to clear it. I’ll figure out what I’m going to do with them when I get there.

For now, I have two characters just newly come to the First. Boy do I love Trusts!

Congrats, Zuri. You made it!

Posted in Gaming, MMORPGs, Ultima Online

A Return to… Ultima Online

AKA: How I got my original 1999-2000 Ultima Online account back.

Yep, you read that right! Back in the golden days of the Internet, UO was one of my first MMOs. My sister and I shared an account (since there was only one computer in the house at the time), and this game formed the definition of what a MMO world was for me.

I’ve known about the Endless Journey (Free to Play) offerings for a while. Every now and then, I humored the thought of trying the game again. But never did I actually consider that my original account could be out there and playable. Turns out, it was!

The Rabbit Hole

So what got me to thinking about my old UO account? Strangely enough, it was an article that Kotaku posted about the WoW level squish and how fast leveling feels. The comments started to discuss Ultima Online, of all games.

Another commenter said they’d love to return to UO if they could reactivate their old account, but hadn’t been successful in doing so. To which another commenter said, lots of people have actually reactivated old accounts for the F2P option.

And that got me thinking.

So I searched around and found this on Reddit:

Well, now. I’m a packrat. So the one thing I knew I still had was my original UO CD with the key on it. I went to the closet and sure enough…

I have a feeling this was the major item for proof of ownership for my account when all was said and done.

Restoring the Account

So, Monday night, I sent UO support an email with all the information I could remember about my account:

The next day, I got an email back requesting pretty much all this information in a different format, and a little bit more in terms of bits and bobs.

So I complied and sent them all the information I knew once more. There was a LOT that I didn’t – such as my credit card, phone number of that time, and actual account dates. But much to my surprise, I got an email back in a few hours:

At this point, I was starting to get pretty excited! It seemed like the information I provided had been enough! So, I sent them my current email, which is also the one linked to my Broadsword account (I have an old DAoC account too).

Not long after, I got yet another reply:

They assigned my old account a new password and sent me all the info on how to link my original UO account with the existing Broadsword account. And also how to change the password for the UO account to something I’d remember.

I did all this, gave it about 45-50 mins and sure enough, I found myself back in Moonglow for the first time in 20 years.

Returning to UO

I was shocked to find all my characters (there are 4) just as I left them – I was correct that they were on the Atlantic shard, too! This included my sister’s character that I’d forgotten had been associated with this account.

It took some time to readjust to the small client screen and some of the game’s quirks – such as remembering that you had to log out in a safe location (such as inside an Inn) if you wanted to switch characters quickly.

I poked through all of the character bank slots and curiously looked at the skills that were leveled for each. Neither of us were very hardcore players. We had a lot of cloth and wool and crafting stuff in our inventory. My sister actually had cooler things than I did, such as deer masks, a dye pot, some nice katanas and such.

The first issue I ran across was that what appeared to be my main character was using a last name that I not only would never use anymore, but is too closely associated with my password. In fact, it was a downright security issue. So, that was right out!

I didn’t want to delete any of these historical characters, especially my main. Plus, you can only have 2 characters normally on an Endless Journey account, so I was lucky to have an extra 2 grandfathered in. But I really needed to do something about that name.

So I did some research about what options I had, and learned there was a name change token for about $10. I plunked down the money, and now my main from 1999 sports my current day name: Aywren Sojourner.

Bank Troubles

The second issue I ran across is a bit more troubling. An EJ character is only allowed 20 bank slots, which isn’t a lot given that you lose stuff you’re carrying when you die (if it’s not insured – this is something new).

But the real issue is, having an old account, my bank already had more than 20 items in it upon logging in – naturally, since there were no restrictions back in the day. Mostly, it was a bunch of junk that I could have done without, too.

Don’t laugh. I don’t remember why I was hoarding bone armor in 1999.

I was puzzled when I went to try to take something out of the bank, and could not. So, it was back to doing research.

Come to find out, a veteran player who returns as F2P cannot access anything in the bank, not even to lower the bank slot numbers to 20, if they have more than 20 items in the bank already. That’s just… really bad design.

I don’t care about the 20 slot limit in general. But at least let me pull stuff out and not put anything in the bank again until I’m under 20 slots. That makes too much sense, right?

So my options here were…

  • Remain F2P without access to a bank ever
  • Reinstate my subscription just so I can clean out my bank, then drop the sub and have to wait for 120 days until I’m F2P again…

Neither of which I want to do.

I might pay for a sub eventually. But right now, I just wanted to check out my old accounts and see what the game was like again. If I can stay F2P, that’s really key to keeping me logging back in while I’m casually exploring my options. Especially if I have to drop my sub and wait for 3 months before I could play as a EJ account again… that’s just bleh.

I discovered there was a third route that I could go that would not push me to re-sub, but would cost me about $3.

The Vault Token

So, there’s a thing called a vault token. It provides 125 slots of shared storage between all characters on your account for 30 days. Plus it allows you to unbank an overstuffed bank.

I cringed to have to put more money towards it, but I had two characters on this account that would have locked banks if I didn’t. Not to mention, my sister’s character had some pretty nice fishing poles, extra packs and tons of cloth that could benefit other characters.

I went the vault token route, and it worked for my needs perfectly. In fact, I’m actually pretty happy that I did this because it allowed me to shuffle items to two of the characters who were basically running around in their skivvies, not even a robe to their names.

I was able to throw them some supplies, distribute the fishing rods, clean out the banks to a point where they will be usable again come the expiration of the vault. I don’t like that there is an expiration… but that was the best option I could see to remain F2P overall for the moment.

So, with those two things squared away, I now have my fully restored 1999 Ultima Online account converted to the Endless Journey and open for me to explore again. I’m pretty stoked that this could have happened at all – who would have thought that this would be possible – that a game I played all those years ago, this account and these characters would still exist?

The immensity of it!

Ah well, time to go fishing with my trusty steed by my side. He only waited for me to return for 20 years…

I’m back, Ben. I’m back.
Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Tales from the Duty Finder – Getting Burned

So you may know that I’ve been struggling my way through Stormblood on my Zuri alt with varying degrees of success. Generally, I make progress on her before other FC folks get online and want to do other things. This means that I’m usually in a PUG group for the dungeons, which I already am less than enthusiastic about playing.

Last night, I got to The Burn. This dungeon has a pretty tough final boss for an at-level party in general, not to mention a PUG with new folks in it. I wasn’t looking forward to it at all, but seeing I only had two dungeons left until I’m free of this struggle, I pushed forward.

Things seemed okay at the start. The healer (and I believe the tank) was new. That’s fine, though it might mark trouble for the last fight.

I noticed on the first and second boss fight that our healer wasn’t responding well to mechanics. Standing in the red, not knowing where to go, not following the party when we were obviously moving to a location for a specific reason, etc. I also noticed she had a love of AOE healing – I’m not sure if she did single heals – and I don’t recall her doing any DPS.

But she did heal… even if that’s all she did. And DPS was fine, so that didn’t bother me.

When the trouble began was at the last boss – Mist Dragon. Without the extra healer DPS, there were some close calls on the DPS checks. But then things really got troublesome.

About halfway through the fight, I got encased in ice and died from the debuff. So I sat and waited for a rez.

And sat. And waited.

And sat. And waited.

I watched her standing over there throwing out an occasional heal on the remaining two members, while I was dead on the ground. She was not pressed for time or even needing to heal super hard – no major mechanics were happening. She simply didn’t even attempt to rez me.

I asked for a rez in party chat. I got none. Just her over there throwing heals.

All I could do was sit and watch. I noticed we had full limit break bars, and suggested a DPS limit break. But the dragoon went down before that could happen – we were something like 10% at that point on the boss.

And she didn’t rez him either. At that point I was like… what the heck – seriously? A healer who appears not to know how to rez in a level 70 dungeon?

I started to get a little frustrated at that point (I’m so done with Stormblood, seriously). While I tried not to be mean, I did make my displeasure known as we all wiped to something that was totally avoidable… if the healer had only brought the DPS back to life…. you know… like healers are supposed to do.

Then the first thing she said in the whole run was something about someone using a limit break. The tank thought a 2 bar limit break was going to bright the party back to life. And I explained that only a 3 bar healer limit break could do that (8 man party).

By that time, I already had a FC unsynced run in my pocket if I needed, but decided to give it another chance. I don’t know why.

So, we waited as the healer…. ran all the way back through the dungeon to the last boss without using the shortcut to quick-warp to the end. At this point, I fully realized we were dealing with someone who knew absolutely nothing about what they were doing and should not be in a level 70 dungeon.

We proceeded to wipe again as she died first this time to mechanics. At this point, I was ready to drop group as politely as I could. No one was giving grief or being nasty towards her – this time I didn’t even say anything.

She rezzed back to start and promptly dropped the dungeon of her own will after we were all dead. We got a healer replacement immediately and went on to beat the boss just fine afterwards.

For all my frustration, I got a commendation. Go figure?

I then went to look up this healer on Lodestone, and sure enough… everything about her character looked of a purchased level-jumped and story-jumped individual. So she bought a level 70 character (that had both healer and DPS options), and chose to go into a level 70 dungeon as a healer without knowing how to play that job, aside from the fact that she needed to heal.

Please… please… If you’re a new player, get some experience with your job under your belt and learn what your job’s responsibilities are before you level skip and try to take on level 70 content. Especially if you’re a healer or a tank. This content can sometimes be tough for people who already have game experience!

This is why Stormblood needs Trusts. Period. I have a couple more characters that eventually need to get through this content. I’m debating whether to just give up on it or hope and pray Trusts come to Stormblood.

Or pick up a really good sale on story jumps sometime in the future… but it’s a shame I feel like I need to skip content just to enjoy the game.

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Bozja and 5.3 Relic Weapons

To see the new glowy 5.3 Relics, check out this post.

So the content that has captured the attention of my Free Company this weekend is the new Bozjan Southern Front. This area is one way to work on the new Relic Weapon upgrades (you can also do FATEs and dungeons), and has a number of throwbacks to Eureka.

Except, it’s not Eureka.

I never got very far into Eureka, to be honest. Though I started my MMO gaming days back when chain-pulling mobs for leveling was a thing, it was something that I couldn’t easily go back to. Not to mention, a number of friends and FC folk just didn’t have an interest in doing it after the first try. I can’t really blame them.

Thankfully, Bozja is a much more palatable version of the Eureka concept. Namely, you can do it solo if you really want. This is the important point for me.

In fact, it’s set up to be an area you can use to level any 71+ level jobs you have, as well. Instead of getting a Deep Dungeon this patch, they folded the leveling into this instance. I think it works well enough.

Despite all this, even when I was out soloing the area, I often hopped in random groups for Critical Engagements and just to run around farming Skirmishes. So if the idea was to encourage grouping, it worked for even a hermit like me. Well done!

What is Bozja?

So, the main draw is progress on the Relic weapon, yes. But I find that to be secondary to the progress I’m making within the resistance ranking system. It’s really a game within a game, which I like quite a bit!

So first of all, you have resistance quests. These lead you through the Bozjan zone bit by bit, unlocking new areas and more challenges. You obtain new quests as you level your resistance rank through earning mettle.

You earn mettle by doing Skirmishes. This is just a fancy name for FATEs.

Defeating specific skirmishes leads to the spawning of a Critical Engagement. These are large boss fights of sorts that can have up to 48 players in each. No matter where you are on the field, you can sign up for the engagement, and if you’re chosen to participate, you’re warped to the battle automatically.

The Hunt for Red Choctober wipes the entire engagement…

It’s a nice system.

If nothing else, it has has further increased awareness of the dangers of red chocobos. And provided several amusing memes, as well.

Certain Critical Engagements offer the opportunity to a one-on-one Duel. To get a chance for that, you have to perform really well in the CE (I know Choctober is one of them)… such as not getting hit by any AOEs during the entire fight. Way easier said than done.

I’ve been chosen for a duel twice in the lowest zone (not Choctober!), and declined both times. I’ve seen too many folks fail these to put myself on the spot. But it’s lots of fun to watch the fights and cheer from the sidelines! 🙂

You can earn lockbox drops from the Skirmishes and CEs, which can net you lots of Indigo Stars fluff items such as barding, minions, glamour, music and even a rare mount (that two lucky people in my FC have somehow managed to get).

Aside from that, you can also earn Clusters from any random enemy that’s not part of a Skirmish. You can purchase hair, emote, mount, music and other such with clusters. You often see people forming Cluster farms.

Once you get to Rank 10, you get a quest to do a larger engagement people just refer to as Castrum. I’m not quite Rank 10 yet, but am looking forward to trying it out when I get there.

Aside from earning Memories for your Relic Weapon, I know there’s a set of gear out there as well. I just haven’t reached that point yet to have the information about it.

Bozja has certainly been more fun as we’ve brought our own groups out there. While I’ve leveled 3 characters to at least Rank 5, having FC folks out romping around makes things smoother and overall more fun.

In fact, I think this is the most fun I’ve had in FFXIV in a good long while. I’m much more geared towards these open instances and hopping into random battles to help people. There’s something about the environment where you can lose mettle when you die that encourages people to support each other more.

So yes, I’m having fun in Bozja. Will post more as we get further and experience more things. Story is also pretty good too!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Stormblood Progress

Last night, I finally pushed Zuri through the Menagerie, which is the final trial battle for the original Stormblood expansion. She’s now finally finished all of the 4.0 content and only has to get through the five patches that came afterward to reach Shadowbringers.

I’ve played every dungeon and trial in Stormblood with PUGs, and I have to say that the knowledge of this content is probably as low as I’ve ever seen it. I’m not just talking about the new people (though there have been those folks, too). But people who have already cleared it and just have no clue how to do boss mechanics for these fights.

I’m also talking tanks who think they can wall-to-wall in leveling gear. I had that happen twice on two different dungeons and both resulted in a full party wipe on trash.

In fact, the only post-level-65 dungeon that didn’t have a wipe was Ala Mhigo, and that came really, really close (both the healer and the Summoner died with no one left to rez on a boss). Menagerie wiped three times (the second time because more than half the party moved after diamond dust only to hurtle themselves to their demise)… and only then was I reminded that even if you get the the second phase of that fight, you have to start all over again from the beginning if you fail. Yuk.

Not that my own memory of some of those leveling dungeons is really very fresh. I almost never run dungeon roulettes, so I haven’t seen these in a while. And this is pretty much the reason why. They’re woeful when you do have to run them.

I have two more characters on Mateus that eventually need to get through this expansion. This is my 4th time through, and it’s just painful at this point. Not only was I never really engaged in the Stormblood story, but the fact that I have to do dungeon after dungeon with PUGs and not Trusts really dims my enthusiasm. I’m still not much of a group-dungeon runner.

I hate to say it, but this experience justifies my purchase of a story skip to Shadowbringers for Tad and Ben earlier this year. I may wait a while for the price of story skips to come down, but if Trusts don’t get implemented in Stormblood eventually, I can already see myself purchasing a few more on down the line.

I have just a few more dungeons and one trial to finish up with Zuri and then I’ll be taking a break from Stormblood for a good long while.

Posted in Gaming, Second Life

Second Life: Halloween House 2020

One of the things I’ve been looking forward to with the string of holidays coming up is decorating my Second Life cabin this year. Living in one of the Linden neighborhoods, there are some rules about how soon you can put decorations up and how late you can leave them up – no Christmas lights in March, folks!

Friday, I sat down and started poking through all of the Halloween decorations I’ve stashed away for years in SL. I discovered that most of these were the freebies that the Lindens give every year in a pack. These are nice enough, but more high prim than I could afford with the amount of decoration I’ve already put towards my cabin.

So I went on a Halloween shopping spree and came up with a number of really cool things on the lower prim side. I still have room for a bit more, but I generally don’t like to use every last prim if I can help it — need to have some rez room, after all!

The outside got most of my decorations, naturally, from the awesome fog covering that hovers over the ground to spooky trees that chuckle darkly to black cat light strings and a welcome mat with a sound bite from the Haunted Mansion. This was all great fun to put together!

What else are you gonna do with giant overlook windows for Halloween but something like this!

The inside also got some new pieces, but most of this was pretty toned down compared to the outside.

I invited the Posse over to check out my decorations this past weekend. We dropped a few dice games on the back porch and also romped around the new Haunted Neighborhood, which was really cool. That deserves a post to itself, and so it’s on my to-write list!

I had second thoughts about keeping my Second Life sub going earlier this year, but now I couldn’t be happier with my Linden house cabin and the overall neighborhood structure we’re getting on the grid.

And then there are some things I own in the world, such as this memory-cat of my late Sebastian, that have sentimental connections to them now.

Anyhow, looking forward to doing some holiday decoration shopping for Thanksgiving and possibly Christmas, too. For now, I’m pretty content with the setup I have for Halloween!