Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Bringing the Smiles

I know that a ton of people have picked up Animal Crossing: New Horizons lately, myself being one of them. I’ve played AC through out the years, ever since the original came out on the Game Cube in 2005. So I’m no stranger to the ways of Nook.

But what makes this release so different is the timeliness of it all. Right now, we can use more smiles, a place to chill, and a way to connect with people when it can’t be done IRL. AC:NH has been a way to do that.

My sister and I (pictured above) both preordered the digital game with the intention of playing together before all the work at home started for me. I got the word that we’ll be out of the office until the end of April now. This doesn’t bother me a whole lot as I’m usually a homebody. But I have to admit that it’s nice to have a social outlet.

The two of us hook up over Discord, sometimes including other friends and family, and we explore our islands and all the fun things Animal Crossing offers together, yet separately. Sometimes we visit, but a lot of our time is spent doing our own thing while just being on the other end of voice chat to talk about what changes have happened and what we’ve learned.

Oh, and those fun trips to islands of never-ending spawns of tarantulas. I’ve been there twice now. They’ve helped pay off house loans quite a bit.

I haven’t done anything super fancy with my island, Sojourn, yet. I’ve mostly been moving through the “story” and racking up the Nook Miles. Unlocking things and paying for larger house upgrades. Seeing who moves in, and learning to try to like the personalities, even if none of them are Kid Cat yet.

I’ve never been one to plan out my towns in the past, and don’t really have an idea for what I want to do with my island. I’ve seen a lot of very clever and creative use of space visiting the AC Reddit, so I may come up with something eventually.

The game is everything I loved in older Animal Crossing games, merged with a bit of survival-game crafting and the ability to decorate outside like never before. While the graphics aren’t hyper-realistic (this is AC…) there’s been many times the serene beauty of my island has struck me, especially as the sun gradually sets over the ocean.

This is pretty much all I could have wanted in an AC game, and I’m having a blast!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Making Level 80s

Though I haven’t talked about my alt, Tai, very often lately, I haven’t forgotten about him. He’s smack dab in the middle of the Shadowbringers MSQ right now, somewhere in the level 76 quests.

In terms of story, this zone was not one of my favorite (the upper-half of the desert) especially since you have to duke it out with Ran’jit yet again in a role play as Thancred. I haven’t failed this fight yet, but I’m always worried that I will.

The reason I’m talking about Tai is that over the weekend, I finally leveled him to 80 on Dragoon (his main). Yes, he’s not done with MSQ and I’ve leveled him to 80. The power of beast tribe quests is strong!

Because I can now craft the facet gear (at least in normal quality), I’ve been piecing together a set of 480 stuff for him. This should put him in a really good spot to finish up the MSQ and push on into the patches after Shadowbringers. It’s been a long time since I’ve had him relevant and caught up on the story — thank you Trusts for making this much easier in Shadowbringers.

I still have far, far too many alts stuck in Stormblood or even further back that I need to move forward. But I wanted to at least finish up one character before I pushed on with another.

I also finished up leveling my bard to 80 on my main over the weekend. It’s the first non-casting DPS I’ve gotten there. This job was already hanging out at level 78 when I finished leveling my white mage, so a few more days of beast tribe quests got that done.

Next up, I’m working on Machinist with the goal of moving to consolidate all of my aiming gear. I really need to be taking Gunbreaker through Trusts to level my final group through the series, but I just haven’t been motivated to run more dungeons. I know it only takes about a month to get the job done, but I’m meh on the idea.

Anyhow, still making progress on things, even though it just takes some time. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to snag the amaro mount before the next expansion comes out or not. But in my defense, they keep adding new jobs to level! XD

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Ranking with Ishgard Restoration

Though most of my weekend was spent in Animal Crossing, one thing did happen in FFXIV that I wanted to note.

As I’ve posted before, I was pretty active around the Diadem and in leveling my final crafting jobs on my alt, Amon, during the release of the new phase of the Ishgard restoration. I wasn’t there for an actual event, but I sure did my part through leveling and farming Kupo of Fortune. I even leveled another alt from nothing to 50+ on a couple of crafting jobs while the Diadem drops were still dirt cheap to buy off the marketboard.

I was active, but only at night when I was home from work. I also was active across several different characters, though most active on Amon.

That’s why it surprised me when I got a message in the in-game mail…

So one of the things they added to the Restoration this time around was a ranking and leaderboard system. I hardly paid much attention to it, though I could hear by the chatter in the Diadem that some folks had farmed hours and hours to earn a top spot.

I considered what I did pretty casual. Again, I spread it across characters, and there were some nights I didn’t even go out in the Diadem! But still, somehow, I managed to rank in the top 100! Go figure!

The title is a little… interesting… but it was a pleasant surprise overall!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Patch 5.21 – Diadem for Gatherers

For a nice guide to the Diadem, click here!

So FFXIV dropped patch 5.21 last night, and since there’s not any real spoilers, I wanted to talk about it today. The main focus of this patch was the next phase of the crafting-focused content – the Ishgard Restoration.

This time, gatherers are included, and can also earn scrips. All of this gathering takes place in the newly revamped and re-released Diadem.

Yeah… that place.

Previously it was open-field content for gatherers and battle classes, sorta a precursor to Eureka in a way. But it was so group-oriented and so densely packed with monsters, once people came, tried it, got the rewards they wanted… it just didn’t stick. Neither time it released.

As for gatherers, they were often not welcome in parties, so you had to pretty much form your own. Either you went in through a party finder or you could use your free company airship (which required FC seals for fuel) to get you there.

Well, fast forward to now. The Diadem was closed down for reconstruction a while back, and now has opened as a paradise for gatherers. There are monsters who wander around, but they don’t attack. In fact, all they’re there for is to act like a really big resource node.

As you gather around the islands, you build up something akin to a limit break. Once you hit a certain point, you can fire off an aether auger and it instantly KOs any monster, rewarding you with a fountain of materials.

There are also special nodes that pop randomly when weather conditions are right.

Hello RNG

The one irritation I have with the system is that nodes appear to be randomized. Meaning, if you are trying to focus on leveling a particular crafting job, there’s no promise you’ll get the materials you need for that job even if you’re hitting the right kind of node.

It’s a bit hard to explain… the guide I linked to above says that each type of node (ex. Rocky Outcropping or Lush Vegetation) has several tables to pull from randomly when you go to harvest it.

So, what I really needed last night was some cotton bolls. But Lush Vegitation patches give you 1 in 3 chance of cotton. I got tons of adders and hardly any cotton, which was a bit of a pain.

I suppose that’s where the monsters come in. If you know which monsters drop specifically the materials you’re looking for (also noted in that guide), that’s really your best bet in gathering specific materials.

Firing My Lazors

Each node also provides materials in a variety of levels. So double check that you’re mining for the level of the crafting item you want to make.

Appraisal

When you return to Ishgard, you talk to an NPC to get your materials appraised. This converts materials in stacks of 10 (except for fish – those are 1 per 1) and enables them to be used for crafting or for selling. If you have extras that don’t make up a stack of 10, they just remain unappraised in your inventory.

This also gives you scrips to buy stuff at the Firmament. It was a pretty good chunk of scrips for the time I spent, IMHO. So very much worth doing if grinding crafting for scrips isn’t your thing.

You also earn Skyward points for what you gather. There’s a leaderboard where you can earn titles for being the most active in Skyward gathering. I’m… not too clear on how all that works since it’s not really something I’m too worried about. I doubt with my time restrictions I’ll ever see myself on the leaderboards!

Kupo of Fortune

A new reward system was also added to the crafting section of the reconstruction. As if adding new scrips and scrip rewards wasn’t fun enough!

So when you turn in a level 80 item, or the new expert level 80 items you earn marks towards Kupo of Fortune. I’ve heard the Expert is a much more challenging recipe level and is completely RNG. So even if you’ve got the best gear and melds, you can still fail. Just keep that in mind — good rewards, big risk.

I stuck to doing plain level 80 stuff. Each time you turn in 5 items, you get a stamp on a virtual scratch-off ticket. Once the card is full, you talk to an NPC to try your hand and luck at scratching a spot and getting a reward.

Last night, I won a mog table and one of the new parasols:

You can also win a mount, cosmetics, the Azys Lla orchestrion roll, housing items and lots of other fun stuff. It’s a nice little perk on top of scrips and the ongoing events that already take place in the restoration.

It’s been quite a while coming, but I feel like crafters and gatherers have finally gotten content worthy of their stations. I know I’ll be kept busy by this for a long time. And that’s not thinking that this (might) eventually lead to building a housing ward when all is said and done!

Good sub-patch!

Posted in FFXIV, MMORPGs

FFXIV: All Crafters at Level 80!

I know that in the scheme of things, I’m way behind on this. But as of last night, all of my crafters on my main are now level 80!

I really should have done this long ago, especially with Ishgard crafting making it so easy to blitz through levels. It’s just a case of me being lazy (and now I’m somewhat paying for it).

I’ve recently decided to put a lot more effort into crafting and gathering for my main. In fact, I picked up a full set of facet gear and plunked down the gil to start melding it up so that I was relevant enough to be able to craft the newest battle gear.

This is actually the first time in the history of playing this game that I’ve been in a place that I could craft the newest stuff. I usually don’t bother with the overmelding, and stick with the scrip gear. But this time around, I really like how the Neo-Ishgardian sets look… and… well… glamour wins all in the end.

So now I need to keep building up my stats so that I can make some of my money back. Part of this was because I’ve been so careless with my scrips in the past, too. I was doing the weekly turn-ins, but using it to level my jobs and blowing the yellow scrips on desynth stuff. I could kick myself now because I should have been using that for materia and melding up a good set of gear.

I’ll get there eventually, and I hope that I’ll be able to maintain gear that makes it possible. The nice thing about being able to craft the 480 gear is that I don’t have to worry about running extra dungeons for tomes on my alts. I can just craft them a set of gear (I don’t care if it’s HQ) and throw it at them so they have the ilvl required for whatever content comes next.

Heck, it’s tempting for me to do it for my main simply because that means I don’t have to run stuff every day. I tell you what… last night’s Dun Scaith for Alliance Roulette almost makes me want to do just that.

Neo-Ishgarding Top of Aiming on Amon

In other news… I think I might have some ideas for a backstory to my main. We’ll see. I don’t think I’ll ever RP her, but it would be fun to have a story for her.

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV – Ocean Fishing Guide

Quick Link: Get the FFXIV Ocean Fishing Spreadsheet guide here!

So one of the newest features released in patch 5.2 was all for Fishers — the ocean voyage! This is for ANY level of Fisher. You could have just unlocked the job, be level 1 and do this. It’s fantastic for leveling, and for those at a higher level, there are rewards like a minion and a mount.

The Minion

You unlock ocean fishing in Limsa Lominsa with a quest at the Fishing Guild. You then go to the docks next to the Arcanist Guild to talk to an NPC… and you’re ready to go. That NPC will tell you when the next ship is set to arrive — boats come in every two hours. They also will let you know what route to expect on the next voyage.

When it’s time to go, a quest marker will appear over the NPC’s head. You click it and are automatically put into a group and a boat of 24 people. You can also go in as a party, so you can bring your friends, or group up with other people on the dock!

Things to Know

Here’s a few things to know and do before you start:

  • Each fish you catch is worth points – these points are added up at the end of your voyage and can earn you the achievement for the minion (5,000 points) and the mount (10,000 points)
  • If you’re over level 50 and have scrips unlocked, you will get yellow scrips as well as XP
  • The fish you catch go into your inventory like normal fish, so make sure you have plenty of inventory space before setting out!
  • Buy at least one stack of 99 of the three bait that’s on sale from the merchant right next to the dock: Krill, Plump Worm, and Ragworm – only use these bait on the ship.

Spectral Currents

Here’s where it gets interesting. Each location the ship stops at (there will be three per voyage) has a different kind of bait that’s best to catch what’s called a Spectral fish (it will be a !!! fish). Each time you catch a Spectral fish, there’s a chance to proc what’s called a Spectral Current.

Within the Spectral Current

You REALLY want this! This is where you score the big points.

If you’re shooting for the minion and mount, the only way you’re going to get it is by procing the Spectral Current.

This appears to happen completely random. I’ve caught many Spectrals and have never personally procced a current.

Here’s the bait that you use in each area to have the best chance at catching Spectral fish:

  • Southern Straits – Krill
  • Galadion Bay – Plump Worm
  • Northern Straits – Ragworm
  • Rhotano Sea – Plump Worm

I’ve seen some debate about what to use at Galadion Bay, but for the most part, the community has settled on this. Sometimes someone on the ship will be calling out the bait, and sometimes not. So it’s good to have this list on a sticky note somewhere.

Your level and gear do not effect catching a Spectral or proccing. A friend of mine was only level 18 when she procced a current. It appears to be completely RNG.

You can also proc Intuition on a personal level based on the fish you catch, which allows you to catch a special green fish in each area for an additional achievement. If you’re level 80, you can also get white scrips for these fish.

I know there’s also a point where you can proc Intuition during a Spectral Current for a chance to catch a very special fish, but I’ve never done it. All of those details are in the spreadsheet I linked at the top.

I did manage to get the mount on two of my characters — but they were both level 80 fishers with Double Hook and tons of Hi Cordials to blow. Even then, it took some time, many voyages, and a lot of luck to get those mounts.

I know it’s ugly, but it’s mine!

At this point, I’m just using it to level alts, so I’m taking a much more laid back approach to the voyages. Even in the 60+ levels, it’s very good experience! Much faster than any other route to level Fisher, and certainly pretty fun!

So even if you’ve never fished before, give it a shot. It’s a neat experience and I hope it’s a system they add to in the future. It certainly seems to be getting a lot of attention by the players!

Lined up for a good-luck Yol Dance before the ship comes in
Posted in Second Life

What To Do With a Second Life Subscription?

I’ve been subscribed to SL with a premium membership on and off over the time I’ve had an account here. I made my avatar back in 2004. The most recent subscription streak for me has been since I returned in March 2018.

But that may be coming to an end this summer.

What happened two years ago that brought me back to SL? They doubled the amount of land tier afforded to premium members. Since the major aspect I love about SL is owning land and decorating it, this was a huge draw that pulled me back to sub instantly.

I picked up my first parcel in a rather historical area of SL in Gandymede. Then, when my next door neighbor sold the lot right next to mine, I picked up a second lot, for twice the amount of land. You can see that pictured in the header.

Now, to own double the land meant that I paid my sub and some cash monthly on top of it. But at the time, I was paying $7.50 a month (with a quarterly sub), and grandfathered into a good weekly stipend of L$. In fact, I almost broke even on my sub from the stipend alone should I have cashed out the L$ for money — something that was the case for many, many years.

I then discovered Bento avatars and eventually Water Horse rideables. There was a fun community of folks surrounding the Water Horse product, and I learned how to make coats and accessories for the horses and unicorns. I set up a shop in the mall, and started to do fairly well at moving product.

I was pretty happy with my land setup and a creative outlet that would more than support what I wanted to do in game.

But then…

Second Life Price Hike

Last year, SL dropped the bomb on premium members that there would be a substantial price hike. They tried to pad it by saying they added more value to the sub through more groups and IMs and whatever.

I’m not a super social person in SL — as I said, land owning and creative things are my draw there. So I don’t care about the number of groups I’m in or how many IMs get capped (others might care, of course).

My quarterly sub just jumped up $10. That means that SL would cost me $40 more a year. Plus, they’re trying to phase out the quarterly sub on top of it. Monthly and yearly alone really aren’t good options.

But to further soften this blow, they allowed current members to lock in the old pricing for one more renewal. I opted to lock in a year at $72. But come July, I’m going to get hit up for $99 if I choose to sub again.

Dropping Land

The first thing I did when I saw the price hike last year was sell half my land. Since they were going to hit me up for an unexpected $72 dollars for a yearly sub (I never sub yearly to anything), I opted to drop the extra land fee. This was about $7 a month on top of the sub — so that almost came out even.

I was lucky that my neighbor bought the plot up really quickly. Sometimes when selling mainland, you can sit there and wait and wait and wait for months before someone buys. The only other option is to abandon it — you get no L$ because you didn’t sell, and then the land goes into this limbo of being owned by the Lindens until it gets parceled back out to use again.

I am waiting to see if LL will do anything to make a price increased sub worth it to me this year. So far, they haven’t. It’s February, and I have until July. However, as I noted before, selling land can take a long time to come to fruition. So, in preparation for going free to play, I sadly put the last of my land up for sale last week.

My plot cleared and up for sale:

I’m going to miss the good times we had there, but really, we haven’t been using it all that much the past year or so.

Luckily, my neighbor again snatched it up within a few days of putting it up for sale. She’s now got it rebuilt into a nice forest path. So I’m glad my plot will be enjoyable to someone else.

Same land, just with trees and a brick wall

Cashing Out for Free to Play

The second thing I did, after putting my land up for sale, was cash out a significant amount of L$ I had in my account. This turned out to be $453 worth… which they took a chunk out of in fees (oh yeah, they also upped transfer processing fees during this price hike).

So in the end, my PayPal got a nice $428 credit after all of the products I’ve sold and monthly stipends have built up over the last two years. I think that mostly pays for what the sub cost was… maybe even a bit of a profit (though that was never my intent).

Don’t let anyone tell you that L$ isn’t real money

The Future of SL for Me

I still rent out a shop at the Water Horse mall, which is a fairly reasonable weekly cost. As long as I continue to sell products that cover the cost of my rent there, I will continue to sell there. I’m not sure how long that will be.

After the redesign of the mall last year, traffic has significantly dwindled. I don’t know what all happened, but it seemed to be some kind of upset in the community… I just know there’s hardly anyone there when I visit, and there’s more shops vacant than in use now days. However, I’ve still been earning enough from shoppers to make it worth my rent there. So I will stay.

I still want a place to put down a house and sell a few kittens. So I did some searching and found a nice land rental platform at a place called Fernynook. The cost vs. the prims is acceptable. While I haven’t fully decorated just yet, I have put a house down, along with my virtual cats.

This will be enough to keep me happy for now.

Since I still have a few months left to my sub in which I have a land allotment, I decided I might as well use it. One thing I’ve wanted to look into, but haven’t had a chance to until now, are the new Linden homes.

These made a pretty big splash last year, especially since the supply didn’t meet the demand for these houses. They’re quite nice, fairly customizable, the land around has been nicely formed, and most of all, there’s a strict HOA type set of rules of what you can and cannot do with it. So no gaudy flashy floating prims all over the place allowed.

But also no shops or commerce — which is why I needed a rental somewhere else to sell my kitties.

These houses are pretty hard to get your hands on. You have to stalk the Linden Homes page and refresh, hoping that someone who currently owns a house will release it.

Well, I lucked out. Not even half an hour after I realized my land had sold, I managed to snag a new Linden Home. I haven’t fully explored the area yet — it’s on a corner lot right across the street from a forest campground that I’d like to ride through one day.

I’ve done a little bit of decorating with it, and I’m happy with the location and how the neighborhood looks. But I’ll be honest — I was hyped about these houses last summer. Now that I have one, I’m going to be very seriously weighing whether my sub is going to be worth this house… as it’s the only thing I will lose when I go free to play.

Right now, as nice as the house is, it’s just not going to be enough. I can release the house with no pain on my part since it’s not like land that you have to buy and sell — Linden Homes are free to your account as long as you have the land allotment to use on them. If I ever wanted to sub again, I can just pick up another house after I hunt one down.

I’m really sad that it’s come to this, to be honest. I know there are hard working people in SL, like the Moles who are diligent in bringing out new Linden Homes. I know that they’ve continued to try to improve SL with things like bakes on mesh and animesh releases.

But for a rather aged and often laggy system, I’m having a hard time justifying a $30-$40 price hike each year. Especially given that I pay a sub for FFXIV, and that’s not going anywhere. On top of things like Netflix, etc…

Now, if they surprise my by July with something that absolutely delights me, I might still reconsider. But as of this time, I’m on a track to drop my sub come this summer, and just keep my shop and rental platform with the L$ that I still have stowed away from selling my land. That will keep me doing well enough for quite a while.