After writing my previous post about PoF last week, I did a lot of thinking, reading and actually playing GW2. That’s right, for the first time in three years, I actually sat down and put some time into GW2. My overall feelings are mixed, but swaying more towards the positive side. This is gonna be long, so warning!
Between FFXIV and my Nintendo Switch, I haven’t really been doing a lot of Steam gaming. Thankfully, I haven’t been doing that much Steam buying, either. In fact, though I haven’t forgotten nor given up on my Steam Challenge to overcome my overwhelming backlog, I’ve decided not to call this post part of the challenge, because it’s not.
I very rarely make impulse purchases on Steam. In fact, I rarely go to the Steam site to browse when a big sale isn’t going on. I’m not sure why I did yesterday, but I noticed a little game called Pixel Shopkeeper was on the front page of the New and Trending section.
Now, I have a huge soft spot for shopkeeping games. I also put some time into Recettear, but not enough to really explore it deeply. I liked what I saw of Recettear, but it was one of those games that felt slightly overwhelming in terms of systems when I was trying to learn it.
Pixel Shopkeeper is straightforward. It feels like a mesh of smaller mini-games, all easy to figure out. It’s an idea game to pick up for short bursts as both the adventure side and shop side only take a few minutes to complete. It would actually be a great tablet game (dare I whisper).
What’s It About?
You’re a graduate of Pixel University, but you’re carrying the burden of a school loan (too close to RL for comfort). So, you open a shop to pay it off.
There’s a small character creation bit, with a few customizations. This is not a major focus of the game, of course, but a nice little touch.
The game is light-hearted and humorous, embracing common net language, memes and fantasy RPG tropes. It’s not ashamed to toss “Generic NPCs” and “Generic World Maps” at you. And all this is completely fine.
The game gives you freedom to do whatever you like with the stipulation that at the end of the week, you have a certain amount due on your loan payoff. There are two parts of the game: the adventuring part, where you fight to secure loot drops, and the shopkeeping part, where you sell your loot drops.
Battle for Loot
If you have no loot, you can’t sell anything. So it’s important to train to increase your stats and abilities, and head to the fields and dungeons to gather stuff to put up for market.
The interesting part about this is that your character battles on their own. The only influence you have over their fight is whether you’ve trained them, geared them up, and if you keep them healed (by dragging herbs to them when herbs drop as loot).
As drops appear, it’s your job to fit as much loot into your bag as possible. This is done in a Tetris mini-game manner, which I found fun and sometimes challenging. Over the course of the game, you can earn or buy different types of bags with different shapes and features.
If your character is defeated, you lose all the loot and the day that you spent trying to earn that loot. If you win, you get to keep everything you bagged on top of treasure from a random chest you choose at the end of the run.
Sell That Loot!
The other half of the game is what happens at your shop when you go back to sell the loot you earned. Your shop starts out small, allowing you to furnish it with tables and stands to place your loot for sale.
As you sell more items, more furnishings become available, some with buffs to item prices and other perks. You also unlock other smaller support systems, such as the ability to polish your loot (makes it more desirable), advertise your shop, buy from other merchants, plant a garden, and even craft new and better loot to sell.
As adventurers walk past your shop, you can click on them to increase the chance they’ll stop, browse, and hopefully buy. You can also click on birds and tumbleweeds to earn extra coins, and sometimes crafting materials. You need to make sure that you keep the displays in your shop clean (just click on them repeatedly), or you may lose a potential sale with the dirty state of your shop.
At the end of the day, you get a summary, and options of what to do next. If you still have plenty of loot to sell, you can set up shop for the next day. If you need to gather more loot, you can head out to tackle monsters.
It’s a pretty simple game, as I said, which slowly introduces new features in small bites. I’ve only spent an hour with it so far, so I’m sure there are a number of other secrets to unlock.
The other thing I lik about Pixel Shopkeeper is the support that the developer is giving this game, despite having already released it. I saw him being very active and receptive to player feedback on the game’s Steam forum. In fact, he has already released two new difficulty levels (a chill mode and a sandbox mode) based on the fact that players found the normal mode a bit too challenging.
It looks like the game is going to get another large patch today, as well. So cheers to the developer for making his customers happy! In fact, I missed the launch sale of this game, and still paid full price for it (a rarity for me), because of all the positive feedback for both game and developer.
Shopkeeping games may not be everyone’s cup of tea. For those who enjoy this little niche of RPG slice-of-life, this is a game to keep your eye on.
Now, I don’t really think that doing daily Grand Company turn-ins is anything to name me a “goddess” for. But I’ll take what I can get.
So yes, all gathering jobs are at 70 now! It’s time to put the nose to the grindstone for crafting and get some better gear. 🙂
Oh, and something I thought was funny. When I reached level 70 Botanist, I noticed I got the “Breaking Rocks in the Hot Sun” achievement… which belongs to the Miner. When I got level 70 Miner tonight, I got the Botanist achievement instead! Ah, well.
I mentioned in yesterday’s post that despite the technical issues that cropped up with Stormblood, I’m far more optimistic about FFXIV than I probably have been in years. This, simply put, is because I think I’ve finally found a job that I love: Red Mage.
All throughout Heavensward, I had a tough time dealing with raids, end game content, and the frustration/exhaustion I felt at the whole thing. Part of it was because the game had become a repetition of Expert Roulettes and Alliance Raids, neither that I was particularly enjoying.
But I started to understand as time went on that part of the reason I didn’t enjoy the content was because I never found a job that really suited me. Therefore, I spent most of Heavensward end game being terribly frustrated no matter how hard I tried.
Bard had been my main job in ARR. I hated the changes that came with Heavensward that transformed them into a bowmage with nerfed damage (until a more recent patch). In fact, I put leveling on hold and spent about a year struggling to find a replacement DPS job.
The closest I came to this was playing Dragoon, which I ended up leveling to 60 twice between my main and my alt. However, Dragoon is a very active job, and gets exhausting for me to maintain good DPS, especially with the whole Blood of the Dragon timer counting down all the time. I was alright at it, and sometimes it was fun, but in more high-end content, it wiped me out.
For the same reasons, Monk and Ninja weren’t for me. I could never wrap my head around Summoner or Machinist, and Black Mage just got frustrating after level 50.
So… really… that left me with leveling Bard, swallowing the changes, and trying to do my best on Dragoon. But neither of these were sparking a feeling of “WOW! This is SO fun and I really want to play this and try it out in all sorts of content!”
Well… all that has changed.
Along Comes Stormblood
Stormblood ushered in some huge class changes, especially for Bard. I appreciate what I’ve seen of it, especially in making songs into actual songs that are something that improves the Bard themselves, not just those around the Bard. There’s a bit of support there, which is nice, but now Bard can stand on its own and buff itself as well.
I haven’t really spent that much time learning Bard, however, because Red Mage has consumed me. I honestly want to play nothing else right now.
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt a draw to a job in an MMO the way I am feeling towards Red Mage. I was hesitant to be too hyped for it at first because I didn’t know how the job was going to feel. But I’ve always loved the idea behind a hybrid caster who uses a cool fencing sword and has an awesome hat.
For the short time I did play FFXI back in the day, Red Mage was my main job. My dream, which was never realized, was to earn the Red Mage artifact armor in that game. It feels like coming full circle here — FFXIV just handed me the AF armor as soon as I unlocked the job!
As of last night, I’ve leveled halfway through 57, and I’m pushing hard to make it surpass my Bard’s level so I can pick it up as my main job.
Why I Love Red Mage
I’ve had people ask me outright what I think of Red Mage, and when I respond with optimism, they ask me what I like about it. It’s really hard to put into words. It’s more than just hype and flair, though I love the visual aspect and aesthetic feel of it.
The biggest thing is that I understand how it works. I know that sounds weird, but I can’t say that for every job I’ve played. I’d watched a few videos from the media release that described the “rotation.” So, when I sat down and set up my bars for the first time, I already had a basic grasp on what I needed to do. I’ve made a few discoveries as I’ve leveled, but overall, the way the job works makes sense to me.
The job doesn’t stress me out, which is huge. I feel like my damage output is strong, I can hold my own solo, and in a group, I contribute well. There’s some thinking to do, however, and a lot of flexibility (especially when you start unlocking Cures and eventually Rezzes).
I prefer a gauge that you’re building up, rather than one that’s constantly counting down. Red Mage’s gauge remains full as long as you don’t zone or use the energy on melee releases. I like that. I think I may be done playing Dragoon, because I can’t bother being stressed by losing BotD buffs for another expansion.
It’s just plain fun to play. This makes me want to do content, rather than struggle through content with a job that isn’t as fun.
Red Mage is about balance. And, for me, balance is a concept that’s super important in RL. In my fantasy writing, things often go wrong without balance. Or… my characters are often seeking to learn to balance something in order to master it. So, a job that focuses on finding a balance really appeals to me, and opens up some Role Play desire.
I’ve already earned commendations with the job, which is more than I tend to get from running Bard or Dragoon. Last night, I was in PotD for leveling with another Red Mage and two Samurai. I think I surprised them when I actually used Cure to keep the party’s health up — I am more than just DPS, and I love it! Though the Cure is never going to rival a real healer, it’s cool to have a dual cast double Cure.
About the only thing I find Red Mage weak in is running Frontlines PvP. Oh, ooops… Running PvP???? ME?
Hahah… yeah, that’s an article for tomorrow. 😉
I want to start this post by saying that while it’s sad that Stormblood EA didn’t start smoothly, this wasn’t something I didn’t expect to happen. It’s the risk you take when you buy into Early Access, and I remember quite well the Heavensward EA… and how the data centers crashed repeatedly.
I took Friday off with the hopes of playing as far into story as I could this weekend with Syn. We’ve duoed every storyline in the game, and this wouldn’t be an exception. She has a business trip, and is flying out today, so the idea was that we’d see as much of Stormblood as we could while she was still around. However, that didn’t happen.
Bottle Necking Story
Friday morning was uneventful, and we got plenty done. However, as more people joined the expansion, a few very painful bottle necks began to appear in the MSQ.
The first happened when you needed to enter a solo instance, Best Served with Cold Steel, by talking to Raubahn. You’d go through the cutscene, and then the game refused to load the instance. You’d just get kicked out back to the map with an error.
As time went on and more people attempted to enter, it looked something like this:
And this was just 1 of 3 instances of this map…
Apparently, to prevent the servers from crashing under the weight of the solo instances, they severely restricted the number of players who could access it. This meant that the servers stayed up, but the story was stuck (in two places).
Some lucky folks did get through, but the rest of us, me included, sat there and hammered the quest, skipped the cutscene over and over and over again, and prayed RNG loved us enough to let us in. I’d do this half an hour at a time, in between leveling and other stuff, but I’d have to say I spent at least 3-4 hours of EA trying to get in.
Yeah, I’m stubborn.
Of course, this caused a lot of frustration, which gave way to memes and jokes on Reddit while we waited and failed to gain entrance. Poor Raubahn was the center of the jokes, and apparently, he was even trending on Twitter a while.
Another thing that FFXIV is trying and not doing well with are creating instances of the same zones. This is new to FFXIV. It reminds me of what they do in Guilds Wars or Guild Wars 2. But GW2, this system is not.
It’s nice that they’re trying to prevent maps from bogging down. However, they didn’t think the feature through. Whenever someone in your group gets kicked due to server issues, the game does not look to see which instance their group members are in, and dumps that person in the instance with the lowest number of people automatically.
This means, they usually don’t end up back in the same instance with their party. Also, there’s no easy way to choose which instance you are put in aside from zoning out and zoning in again.
After several such happenings, and spending more time trying to get in the same instance as each other than finishing the quests, Syn and I gave up and just did the quests separately.
What I did get to see of the new zones was exciting, though!
Another issue for people who actually got past the MSQ roadblocks was in battling the first primal of the expansion. Apparently, if you win the fight and go to exit, some people were getting completely locked out of their characters. I mean, seriously could not log back in again at all.
This was apparently caused by people using emotes, such as /sit or /doze, while queuing up for the fight. Seems like S/E support is manually helping folks out who have this issue.
I woke up early this morning, feeling a little sick to my stomach (I’d eaten something that didn’t go well with me), and I knew I wasn’t going back to bed. So, at 6:30 AM EST, I got up and started clicking Raubahn until I was sleepy enough to finally lay down again.
It didn’t seem to matter that it was early morning, the crowd was still huge and I had no luck getting in. So, I gave up at 7 AM and went back to sleep. I slept in later than I meant to, and when I finally woke up and showered, I found chaos.
First, I saw my sister had tried to call me 17 times this morning (not including the number of times Syn tried to call me). Then I saw I had a bunch of text messages and Discord was pinging.
Huh?? What’s going on?
Syn tried everything to get my attention while I slept. XD
Note: I never keep my phone in my bedroom when I sleep. Even on vibrate, it would wake me up.
I love my friends. ❤
Syn was so frantic because she thought, at first, the reason we were getting in was because Balmung and Greg were down. This could have been a real possibility. Instead, S/E actually did finally get a work-around going.
Anyhow, I called my sister, she told me the quest was working and to get my butt online. I did just that and was thrilled to see I could, indeed, progress into the instance.
The battle there was actually fairly lengthy and complex. It wasn’t just a quickie thing to jump in and out of the instance for, and it had more than one part to it. I can see why it was taking people so long to get through.
So I beat it! I’m past the first bottleneck… just in time to see Syn off on a plane. *sigh*
Anyhow. The FFXIV community is rejoicing.
Despite the issue with the Cold Steel quest, I am having a ball in Stormblood. I know it sounds strange, but I have more excitement and hope now for my time in FFXIV than I have in years.
I’ll talk about that tomorrow and the next day, though. Today, I just wanted to chronicle the Rise and Fall of the Great MSQ Bottleneck. 🙂
Since Stormblood is just around the corner, I’ve decided to make a few posts thinking back over Heavensward in general. What did I like? What didn’t I like? What was just meh?
Let me start with the good stuff! This is just opinion, totally, so your mileage my vary!
Though Squads came out as a slightly under-cooked feature, I like them for the potential they may hold. I also like how I’ve trained up my squads to bring me back crafting and gathering scrips. If you stick with your Squad and tailor them to your needs, they can actually be quite useful!
6. Quality of Life
Heavensward brought SO MUCH QoL improvement that it’s hard to remember or even pick through it all. Improvements to the duty finder/party finder, queuing with your chocobo out, the optimized gear equip button, egi glamours and more!
5. Beast Tribe Quests
I know this seems to be an odd thing to praise, but honestly, the beast tribe quests have played a huge role in helping me level various jobs, earning stuff for relic, and getting all my crafters to level 60. They don’t get nearly as much credit as they deserve, especially for being solid, repeatable, daily solo content that actually gives a good chunk of progress. Plus, I really enjoy the dances and the storylines that come with them.
Aquapolis has been a major hit with many members of our Free Company. Not only is it casual and fun group content to do, but it actually does make a good chunk of gil if you get lucky. We did group treasure hunts to help fund our FC house upgrade, and I was surprised at how much you can actually make.
3. Custom Deliveries
I wish they’d released custom deliveries for crafters and gatherers sooner. I just couldn’t stomach the grind for yet another currency (scrips) to earn better gear, unlock recipes and ultimately, get those darn Fokelore books. In fact, I’d given up on getting any of it… until custom deliveries came about.
Thank you so much for giving casual crafters and gatherers a way to make progress! Because the grind before that was real.
Gpose! Gpose!! What’s not to love about a feature that makes taking cool screenshots possible? Even more, the team keeps adding new expanded features and filters to Gpose. There’s really so much you can do with it that I probably don’t even know about!
1. Palace of the Dead
Palace of the Dead was something I was excited about the moment I heard the concept. It turned out to be what I think is one of the best features added in Heavensward. Some people knock it for the repetitive nature, and I understand that. However, you can use it to level, you can earn lots of neat loot, and you can build up to a nice weapon that stands on its own in end game content. It’s really a casual player’s happy spot, and I look forward to running it a million times to level my Red Mage in the future. 🙂
Those were my favorite Heavensward features. What are yours?
I’ve known about the Disgaea series since the first game released years and years ago, but never played any of it. I even own one on Steam, and was told I needed to play it. It was just not on my radar, not even Disgaea 5, which is releasing on the Nintendo Switch next week.
So, I’m coming into the series as a noob that’s only distantly heard (good) things about Disgaea. I knew it was humorous. I judged that it was probably wild and over-the-top in an anime type way. And while I enjoy good anime, I’ve kinda lost tolerance for crazy eye-roll anime as I’ve gotten older.
I don’t remember what convinced me to try out the Disgaea 5 Demo that came out on the Switch this week, but I’m glad I did.
Note #1: I did not expect to like this game.
Note #2: I ended up really liking what I played of the demo.
Again, this is from someone who knows nothing about the series, and was wondering why conversations on the Reddit about Disgaea all ended in “dood.” I quickly found out (and fell in love with prinnies).
So, yeah. The game has a zany, take-me-as-I-am feel to the humor that isn’t too overwhelming partly because it seems to be poking fun at itself… or at least, at annoying anime tropes. For example, I’d like to dump Seraphina and her “Ohohohoho!” laugh… but I get the feeling she’s like that specifically because the game wants to point out how annoying this anime character type is.
All these years, I’ve also stereotyped Killia when I saw him on the covers of these games, imagining him as the annoying, powerful, emo guy who doesn’t care about anyone and sulks through the whole story. And that turned out to be… really not true so far.
He has a bit of that aloof tough-guy act, but at the same time, he goes out of his way to help Seraphina learn how to fight for herself, even if she’s forcing him into the situation.
He has a logical and mellow approach to most things, which reminds me of one of my own characters (Tai). I think that this helps to off-set a lot of the other more eccentric characters and situations and make the game palpable for me.
I can sense a deep strategy game underneath all this. I was amused by the combo and throw system, and interested in developing my hired troops. Though some of my pre-made Prinny troops had some… interesting names.
As someone who knows nothing about how the game worked, the first few battle scenarios did a lot to help teach me some of the systems. I like how the game kept the tutorials in character the whole time, too. This is how you do a game tutorial.
I have a feeling that I’ve only scratched the surface of the battle systems since I stopped playing the game as soon as I felt like I was sold on it. Good thing that I did, since the demo save doesn’t carry over into the real game when it releases next week. I quickly deleted the demo so that I wouldn’t be tempted to spoil anymore for myself.
Trading In Smash
I did pre-order this game. While it was fairly expensive from Amazon, I got a nice 20% off the pre-order as a Prime member. I also have started to trade in some of my pre-owned Wii U games I know that I’ll probably never play again, so I had some extra cash from that on my Amazon account.
The game I traded was Super Smash Bros for the Wii U. Gasp and horror, I know. How dare I trade in Smash?
The truth is, my sister and I both tried to play this game together a few years back… and neither of us liked it all that much. The new Smash games are just all over the place. We both felt there was too much going on and it became overwhelming quickly. Plus the bulky Wii U controller really didn’t work well for a battle game for me.
We loved the original Smash and even Brawl, but this new Smash was just not that fun for us.
I picked it up as a Lightning Deal on Amazon around Black Friday, so I only payed about $34 for it originally. But it was still one of those games I had a lot of buyer regret about since I just couldn’t get into it.
Thankfully, I could trade it in to Amazon for $20… so while I did lose some money on the purchase, I felt it was better to trade it towards a game I knew I’d play rather than see it gather dust here to never be touched again. I haven’t sold a physical copy of a game in a very, very long time as I usually keep them for my collection, but this just bugged me, so I pulled the trigger.
Fare well Smash!
Oh, and for the record, trading a game into Amazon was super painless. They even pay the shipping and immediately credit your account for the trade in.