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!

Posted in FFXIV, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Patch 5.3 – Flying is Coming to ARR Zones, ARR MSQ Consolidation

So I woke up to some exciting information from the FFXIV Live Letter today. Namely – flying mounts will be introduced to the original ARR zones! This was something kinda hinted at with folks saying some zone geometry was updated last patch, but amazing and unexpected.

I’m totally on board with this. Here’s what we do know:

So it sounds like after you finish the ARR MSQ, you’ll be able to fly on your company chocobo. It was a real pain to have to go back and do “I Believe I Can Fly” on all my alts, so I won’t miss that quest at all.

This is going to make doing everything in ARR zone a million times easier, and I do approve. Is it rare that a game goes back and enables flying for the original zones? I don’t know…

Also, here’s some information on the consolidation of the ARR MSQ, which we did know was coming to 5.3. Here’s what we know:

While I’m all for smoothing out the MSQ, I do have a few concerns about adding a 24 man raid series as a part of the requirements for MSQ for new players. Granted, Crystal Tower is pretty easy at this point (though lately World of Darkness runs have been rough!).

But I know that when I was a new player, if you told me I’d have to “raid” to move through the story, I might have quit the game right there. For people who don’t understand that the CT raids are quite casual content, just the term “raid” and seeing 24 people will be involved could be anxiety-city for group-shy folks.

Again, there’s really nothing difficult about the CT raids at this point. They’re sometimes even easier than the dungeons you progressed through to get there! But it just might be a breaking point for people who see the word “raid” and think hardcore.

I guess we’ll see how it turns out.

Posted in FFXIV, MMORPGs

FFXIV: 5.25 Relic Begins

While I have worked on several relics throughout the expansions of FFXIV, I’ve never actually finished one all the way through. I have many that are in various stages of competition across 3 characters, but eventually the grind turns me away in the end – I just have too many other things to do to work on relic.

Last expansion’s Eureka was a neat idea, but the forced grouping and the grind were elements that I couldn’t get past, so that relic remained fairly much unstarted. And while I’m not going to hold my breath that we won’t eventually get a grind for this relic, I must say how it all started out was refreshing.

I won’t give any spoilers, but I’ll just say that players are tossed into a neat little story experience revolving around the Bozja resistance against the Empire and their history. It also ties in some of the story of the Ivalice raids and a good bit of background with Cid.

Best of all, it’s all done solo, but also unlocks an EX trial if you yearn for something more intense. Once you’ve unlocked the first relic, each job relic is 1K Poetics after, which isn’t that hard to come by. So it all starts out very easy and story-oriented, which is my preferred type of content.

I know that it’ll probably ramp up with a grind of some sort after this. But overall, the weapon is a nice one for non-savage players, with 5 open slots for materia, too. You do have to finish the Ivalice raids to access this — I only have two characters who have done this, but it was no sweat to unlock relic on them both in one night.

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Bunnies Everywhere!

And I’m not talking about Viera.

This year’s Hatching-tide event kicked off in FFXIV yesterday, and everwhere you look, you see people dressed in bunny outfits.

The event itself is pretty quick to complete, and actually requires you to wear the outfit in order to do the FATE to progress. While dressed as a bunny for the FATE — which has the goal of capturing chickens running wild — you have two skills: One for netting the chicken and one for throwing sticky stuff on the chicken to slow it down.

Get a bunch of people dressed up in bunny suits running after wild chickens with nets and… well… I think that paints a good enough picture of the event.

This is the first of two parts to the event — they’re breaking up the story quests like they did at Valentione’s. So something else is coming on April 5 to finish up the event as a whole. But even if you’re late to do the event, part 1 will still be available when part two releases. So that’s nice.

It didn’t take me all that much time to finish this up for all my alts, but it is a fun little FATE with an… interesting glamour and cute housing items. I’m all for some light-hearted fun right now, for sure.

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.