Wishing you and yours a safe and happy Halloween!
With Halloween right around the corner, the Mateus server has been filled to the brim with community events, some even overlapping each other for time slots over the past week. Since it’s an RP server, it’s to be expected. But coming from a non-RP server, it’s always exciting to see community activity going on.
Since our server move, we’ve kept our Free Company small and lean. We have a few folks who chose to move with us, but most of our number is made up of alts or friends. Being smaller means we’ve had to learn to be much more self-sufficient. But overall, playing the game without needing to oversee a FC has been a good change.
We’ve not wanted for social interaction despite the size of our FC. On Mateus, there’s no lack of outlets to socialize. One such group is a Linkshell that Amon fell in with called Bards and Friends :D. (The “:D” is part of the name.)
I haven’t talked a lot about the LS and the folks I’ve met on our new server (even after months of making the move, I still consider it the “new” server). Most of the people I know are folks I’ve interacted with through my Tumblr blog. I tend to be much more comfortable writing and RPing through blogging, and live events or in-game RP tend to be harder for me.
Thankfully, just as I was really starting to establish Amon in RP, the Bards LS was also just starting to establish itself. I connected with one of the lead personalities there, whom I’ve come to consider a friend, and despite being a wallflower, I end up being invited to things due to that connection.
All Saint’s Wake Event
One such thing was the All Saints’ Wake event the LS hosted this weekend. Such an event was being considered, but when I voiced a desire to see it happen on Tumblr, plans kicked into high gear.
While I don’t like running events, I love to help plan and support events. So, I threw my name in the hat to help with organization. This included things such as helping with the promotion flyer, crafting minions for the goodie bags that were given out, and acting as a judge to the contests being held.
It turned out to be great fun!
We had a costume contest and spooky story contest (which turned into more of a Tales from the Duty Finder sort of thing in the end XD). Judging said contests was much more difficult than I expected because… man… folks really had a lot of creativity and spent good time and effort thinking up their costumes.
And here Amon was nothing but a jester. Oh well. I had the hat for it. What can I say?
Afterwards, a few of us lingered to have some light RP, which was nice. There were folks there that I keep meaning to connect with more often, but rarely get the chance to — either because I’m rushing to and fro to get stuff done in game, or we just never set up a time to meet and interact.
Syn’s RP character also had the chance to officially meet and exchange names with some of the others, as well. This is very important – exchanging of names – because in an RP environment, you’re not supposed to know someone in an official sense unless they’ve introduced themselves. Kinda like RL. So, once the names are introduced, you can more freely interact with another character on a named basis.
Life on an RP server is an interesting one. I’ll just leave it at that.
All Saints’ Wake, the Eorzean Halloween event, is currently running in Gridania until November 1st. So if you haven’t had a chance to visit this event, you still have some time to try it out.
This year, it’s somewhat of a conglomeration of elements that made up the past events. The haunted mansion returns, transforming into fiends return, pumpkin cookies return, and transforming into NPCs return. Everything’s centered around a re-purposed Haukke Manor, which you can now hang around in as a haunted house instance.
This year’s main rewards are a pair of cute ghost minions. There’s also some nice housing decorations, including much-needed wall hangings.
Yeah, the rewards are a little underwhelming after the last couple years — one that gave a spiffy broom mount and one that gave a full werewolf costume. It’s kinda hard to follow up on great rewards like that, but I have a feeling the team rotates the kind of rewards we get across all the year’s events.
So, the base quest is quick and easy to do and nets you one of the minions. Of course, the first thing you say is, “I can only choose one?” Well, that’s where earning pumpkin cookies comes in.
The housing decor and the second minion are all for sale on the vendor for pumpkin cookies. You earn the cookies in one of two ways — doing the Haunted Manor instance (4 players through duty finder) or running the repeatable quest inside the instance over and over again.
I opted to do the solo repeatable, even if it’s a bit more grindy. We tried the 4 player instance once, and while that rewards 5 cookies a pop, it feels like it takes longer… and it relies on other people being able to communicate and navigate the puzzles. There is a timer and there is a chance at failure.
So all of that combined meant I was going the solo route. I’m glad that they offered a repeatable solo quest — I don’t think they did last year, and I never got any of the housing decorations due to that. I just put on some tunes and go about my business, mostly earning the second minion for all my alts.
The other, almost hidden aspect of the Manor instance is the costume party part. There’s an imp within the main room of the Manor that allows you to select from a multiple choice question that eventually transforms you into a popular NPC.
Here, I’m transformed into Nanamo while Amoon is Raubahn and a couple of Ameryics dance in the background. Yeah, this could get pretty wild sometimes.
Anyhow, that’s this year’s All Saints’ Wake in a nutshell. I thought the little quest was cute (especially the ghosts) and was happy to earn some decorations for our little FC house since we’re lacking on Halloween stuff. If you’ve not done it yet, it’s worth a shot for the minions at least!
Over the last couple of patches, we’ve been given the opportunity to assist with the reconstruction efforts at the Doman Enclave. This comes in the form of the player donating items to the basket on a desk, for which the Domans pay gil, eventually up to 200% the normal selling cost.
This… doesn’t exactly make sense to me, to be perfectly honest. I mean, here’s a struggling enclave trying to rebuild itself, and they’re paying you double the vendor cost for “donations.” And then they thank you up and down for the materials and support they just paid you for.
Okay, yes, I understand that players have to get something out of it to do a thing. And I’m not complaining one bit about having a vendor that gives me double payout for my Allagan Silver pieces every week. It just didn’t really make a lot of sense from a story standpoint.
All that aside, I completely enjoyed helping to rebuild the Doman Enclave. I think this may have been an experiment in seeing what phasing and instancing can do in a city-wide fashion. FFXIV has always smartly used the phasing/instancing (where you see one thing and someone else sees another based on what each player has completed in the game). We’ve seen a lot of this in building up locations for Beast Tribe quests, and now we’ve seen it in a wider scope, in the Enclave.
I was reading an article about the rewards of the Doman Enclave last week at MassivelyOP. One that talked about the player’s perceived lack of rewards, and how the Enclave would never truly become a player hub for several reasons.
I agree that it seems like a lot of work went into building the Enclave for a location that will probably never be a player hub. It might get some use from the RP population. But I feel like I got plenty of rewards from seeing the series through.
Warning: There are some spoilers ahead for those who haven’t completed the ending yet!
Last night, I finished the 4.4 MSQ on my RP alt, Amon. This is the second character I’ve taken to the end of the FFXIV story, so I wanted to talk a little about that today.
I learned I still hate Castrum Fluminis (I was impressed that my team actually figured out mechanics after our first wipe, but man, the 25 min DPS queue is killer). And I love Namazu Beast Tribe quests enough to do them a second time without complaint.
Also, I was worried The Burn was going to be harder than it turned out to be… and I found that I still wiped on Sadu’s instance 3 times due to the final timed section before I finally beat it. Man, I hate that instance. Granted, this character wasn’t as geared as my main, but still. Annoying.
But let me back up and give some history of progression on Amon since I’ve not talked much about this character before.
Rolling an RP Alt
My earliest screenshot of Amon dates back to September 17, 2017. So I rolled this version of him over a year ago. I’m fairly sure this wasn’t the first time I rolled this character with the idea to use him as a story/RP alt, but for whatever reason, I deleted the first version of his character.
Thinking back, I want to say that creating Amon came about due to the lockdown on Balmung, which is the unofficial main RP server for FFXIV. When that server became unavailable, the community chose Mateus (which was the smallest server at the time) as the secondary RP server to flock to.
While I did (and still do) have characters on Balmung, the RP scene on that server has a reputation of being tough to dive into if you’re outside of established circles. Whether this is warranted or not, the idea of rolling a fresh character on a newly-appointed RP server appealed to me more than trying to break into an RP server that was already established for 4 years.
So, I rolled a new Amon, repurposed one of my side Tumblrs, and started chronicling his adventures in short one-off posts with screenshots. However, this never really gained traction (I understand why now), so I eventually gave up on the idea about a month later.
Amon was left gathering dust until about late June of 2018. I was looking for a topic to write about for July’s Camp NaNoWriMo, and decided I wanted to spin up a story that could also serve as an RP foundation. In doing that, I surveyed the characters I had on hand, looking for a hook that interested me.
I actually almost deleted Amon’s Tumblr that day to turn it into something else. I came very, very close to dismissing his concept as something silly that no one would be interested in.
But when I logged in to look at his character, something stopped me. I’m not sure what.
It could have been the fact that I’d level boosted him (more on that later). Or it could have been that I saw an avenue with his story line that I didn’t see a year earlier. Either way, I did a complete turn-around and began to focus my efforts on researching lore and building a foundation for his character.
Boy am I glad I did.
On a RP server, it feels as if few people really care or expect you to have end-game unlocked or characters progressed (unless you want to). Finishing 4.4 MSQ and raiding Omega have nothing to do with your social connections and ability to RP. I found this refreshing, to be honest.
The main reasons for progression that I’ve seen are:
- Access to a wider range of glamour
- Access to more locations to RP in
Of course, this isn’t true for everyone. I’m sure there are folks on the RP servers who like to progress and get things done. I just don’t see as much of a rush or push to do it.
Buying level jump potions and story skips is very common on the RP sever, and not frowned upon at all. In fact, I wouldn’t doubt that FFXIV is making quite a bit of bank from these folks. They’re rolling multiple alts, not wanting to deal with leveling and MSQ yet again, and plunk down the money for skip potions — sometimes multiple times. Not to mention readily throwing cash at the Mog Station for cosmetics.
I can’t talk because I’ve done the same thing.
Back in 2017, I rolled up Amon and got him through Sastasha before I was already done with the DPS queues and thought of having to scrape through all the 2.0 dungeons again by myself. So, to save my sanity, I purchased a Bard level jump potion.
I don’t regret that one bit. I was alone on Mateus at the time, no one to group with me to help with queue times. Level jumping to 60 let me unsync all the content for a fair ways in. I think Castrum and Praetorium were the first runs I was forced to group for.
At the time, my main goal was to push Amon through 2.0 MSQ so that I could unlock the Crystal Tower series and farm for his glamour. This also unlocked Alliance Roulette, which is a casual track to 70.
I actually didn’t care one lick about progressing him beyond that point, once I had his glamour. But, some habits die hard, and before I knew it, I’d leveled him to 70… but wasn’t even close to done with Heavensward yet.
Based on my Tumblr timestamp, that was about a month ago. So the timeline looks something like this:
- Late June – Return to the character, just earned the company chocobo
- July 9 – Finished 2.0 MSQ and completed farming glamour
- Early September – Hit Level 70
- September – Complete Dragonsong War
- September – Enter Stormblood & Finish Level 70 Bard Job Quests
- October – Finish Stormblood 4.0 MSQ
- October 22 – Finish 4.4 MSQ!
And this is with me not really focusing on getting it done very quickly. Keep in mind, I did skip cutscenes and side quests, and power through areas. I know the game path pretty well. So I could easily burn through a zone a night if I put my mind to it.
I also had help from my FC with things from Heavensward on in terms of dungeon running. We unsynced as much as possible as a Tank-Healer-DPS trio, which was actually quite a bit.
I spent some time doing hunts for seals to gear him up at level 70. It wasn’t too hard to get an ilvl 330 set, which I was later able to upgrade to 340 when I finished 4.0. I had enough tomes to pick up a second ring, which put me at ilvl 341 going into patch 4.3 content. Seeing that The Burn requires ilvl 340 exactly, I was just a sliver over what I needed to make it through the content.
I know this means I’ll probably need to chase some tomes or drops for some upgrades in the future so he’ll have the ilvl to do whatever they throw at us for 4.5. I’m not really in a rush, though, as I’m still doing Expert on my main as much as I’m able to gear her up.
All in all, Amon’s in a pretty good position looking ahead to whatever expansion we hear about next month. And he still has tons of side content and quests to clear, not to mention crafting and gathering to level.
I’d never intended him to reach end game, and he’s never going to be a raid character, but it was a pretty wild ride! Now I just have 6 other characters who still need to work on MSQ! (Not) XD
Feedback from my previous post (thank you all!) has overwhelmingly indicated that you guys don’t mind one bit if I delve into my shenanigans from the Role Play side. In fact, you don’t care if I talk about progress made on an alt when I’ve already talked about clearing that content on my main.
This is awesome! So, I spent some time brainstorming up some topics I thought would be fun to discuss. This one was a no-brainer.
Not all that long ago, FFXIV introduced a very rudimentary music system for Bards. Though the devs have expanded on this system, it remains quite limited (more on this later). However, where there’s a will, there’s a way. And the community keeps coming up with ways to take the tools their given to make awesome things from it.
I love music systems in any game I play. I have lots of fond memories of playing music in games such as LOTRO and Starbound — both which implemented a method of playing .abc files and hooking up to play as bands.
While I love music systems, I am not a musician, nor do I have input that allows me to play music on my PC (like a midi keyboard). So, any system that requires me to actually know how to play is one I’m not likely to be able to use.
So, when that’s the type of system FFXIV implemented, rather than a file based system like LOTRO, I was sad. In fact, I didn’t even unlock the ability to perform until a few months ago.
What changed this for me?
Bard Music Player
I learned from Reddit there was a program called the Bard Macro Maker. This program reads the notes of a MIDI file and transcribes it into key-strokes in the game as music.
The program was still in development and had its quirks, but it more or less did what it said it would. Excited, I jumped head-first into the world of MIDI editing (which I’ve done in the past) to create songs of my own.
I learned there were a ton of limitations, and found only certain songs really worked. There were some issues with held notes and skipping notes, so I decided to put off making too many songs before a fix to the program came out.
Then I learned that a new and completely re-programmed app by the same dev was in the works. This was finally released on this past Saturday as Bard Music Player, and is head and shoulders above its predecessor from what I’ve experienced.
Where to Start with Bard Music Player
So you want to use BMP to play music in game? I can help!
- Download the program from the website.
- Unzip the file and place the .exe wherever you want.
- Create a new songs folder in the same directory as the .exe file.
- Stick your MIDI files in the songs folder.
There’s just one more configuration you need to know about — that is binding your music keys in game.
You get the performance skill from a level 30 Bard-only quest next to the Amphitheater in Gridania. Once that’s done, you’ll see a section of the Action menu called Performance.
Here you can view icons for the different instruments that are available. Just drag one down to your action bar, and click it to enter Performance Mode. By default, you probably won’t have the expanded keyboard — click the little gear icon in the top right of mini-keyboard that appears for settings.
What we want to do is check the box: Assign all notes to keyboard.
Then, just go and choose which keys to assign to which notes in the settings screen. I followed the example on the BMP site, but I’m not sure if there’s a right or wrong way to do this.
You MUST assign keys for the program to work correctly! Otherwise, you’ll be missing all sorts of notes in all of your songs.
For other needs, check out the BMP manual!
Now that the program is set up, all you should have to do is drop MIDI files in the songs folder and then load them in the BMP. However, there’s huge limitations placed on what can be played in FFXIV, so pulling an unedited MIDI file off the Net isn’t going to work.
Rule of thumb for MIDI files with FFXIV performance:
- FFXIV only supports notes in a three octave range (C3 to C6). Anything beyond that simply won’t register and play in game.
- FFXIV doesn’t support chords. So you can only play one note at a time.
This means you will have to edit MIDIs to have just one track, play one note at a time, and fall within the proper octave range. It’s kinda a pain.
But! The community has also done a lot of work in creating and sharing MIDIs!
Where to find existing MIDIs:
- Join the BMP Discord – there’s a channel for sharing MIDIs there
- The FFXIV Performances Reddit has MIDIs for download
- Buddycat Pack for BMP – a HUGE selection of MIDIs created to work with the BMP. A great collection to start with!
If you still want to create your own, the BMP manual has a section with some software suggestions you can use for editing MIDI tracks. I’ve used a combination of Noteworthy and Online Sequencer with some success.
Here’s an example of one of my own traditional Irish tunes I converted and played in BMP.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and Bard!
I’m quite happy with my Mudpie minion, pictured above — I’ve only seen it drop once and got the lucky roll to win it! Usually, I have no luck in rolling on minions, so I was stoked when I managed to snag this fellow.
A perfectly messy minion to talk about coming clean. Well, not that I actually have hidden my side-blog activity. I’ve actually linked to my RP Tumblr and discussed my move to the RP server and all the motivations behind it several times before.
But still, I feel a little guilty that this blog, which I’ve maintained for years, has slowly seen a decrease in content as a lot of my attention has gone towards my RP and creative endeavors. I have to admit that part of this is that due to whatever fluke, the response to my Tumblr writing has been quite strong.
In fact, since I first started seriously RP blogging in the last week of July, I’ve earned more followers there than I have all the years of WordPress blogging here.
Also, given that this blog has exactly 1,440 posts over its lifetime, it’s crazy to think that in just a matter of a few months, my RP Tumblr has 1,338 posts. Granted, what I write here is generally longer and more in-depth in terms of content, and some of the Tumblr content is just silly stuff, images or reblogs. But I’ve also posted some lengthy fiction pieces there, as well.
The interesting thing is, I’m playing far more FFXIV since I got involved with my RP alt and I’m having a lot more fun doing it. Yet, I’m blogging about it less here, mostly because I don’t know if this kind of content belongs on this blog.
I feel like folks who read this blog might not be interested in RP fiction and think the whole thing is silly. Maybe I’m wrong about that, though. I mean, we do all roll up digital avatars in fantastical worlds as a fun pass time, right?
I’ve also just found myself playing my alt, Amon, more than my main. I’ve come to view my main as a progression character — the one who has all the stuff cleared and unlocked and is doing Expert runs for Tomes. She’s maxed out on leveling crafting and gathering and I’m slowly nudging her battle jobs up to 70.
But really, I’m still quite burned out on raids and dungeons in FFXIV. Gear progression doesn’t interest me much since it just gets reset every patch and washed away come the expansion. So as long as I have the ilvl to get things done, I don’t feel the need to work on gear. As much as I would have liked to try Eureka, I didn’t jump on the early train there, and I’m still only level 4… so the whole grind for the weapons and gear there passed me by this expansion.
While I have a few things I want to work on with my main, really, I have so much more I want to do with my alt.
For one thing, I ensured that Amon didn’t unlock anything I didn’t want to play. This means most unrequired dungeons will never be unlocked unless there’s glamour I want. It also means I’ll never unlock anything beyond Void Ark for Alliance because I still have no desire to run Weeping City or anything beyond.
Instead, I’m leveling gathering, and eventually crafting, all over again. I know that seems pointless, but I’m having fun doing it. I get to work through Namazu tribe quests again, something I didn’t do on my gatherers, and eventually other beast tribes as a whole.
The bottom line… I get to cherry pick only the content I have any interest in and throw the rest of it out the window. No raids. No unwanted dungeon runs. And instead, I can focus on things like housing, glamour, performing music, lore, connecting with the RP folks who want to write with me, and doing much more creative stuff.
I’ve been so much more inspired and have enjoyed the game immensely once I’ve broken away from the run-run-run mindset. Sure, I still do my share of roulettes, even on Amon. But I also know that there’s an ending point for him.
Once I’ve got the jobs I want leveled on him and he’s cleared MSQ… and maybe cleaned up a lot of the quests he’s outleveled (I hate leaving quest markers everywhere on the map)… Then he’s free to just be a creative outlet for me without the worry of needing to progress. And if I do choose to progress something else on him, well, it’s because I wanted to.. not because I felt pressured to keep up with anything.
There’s a certain freedom in that that I’ve been missing in FFXIV for many years.
So What Happens Here?
But that leaves the question of what I’m writing on this blog.
Doing less on my main means having nothing of real interest to share here. And while I’d never directly post RP on this blog (that really wouldn’t fit), I’m not sure if some crossover posts (such as links to the RP fiction) would be welcome?
Would progress posts on Amon be welcome? Or would it be boring to see me retreading the same ground on a second character?
I suppose I could talk about the face of RP as it stands in game and on Tumblr. But I don’t know if that is interesting to anyone, either.
If anyone has suggestions or feedback, I’m happy to listen! I really don’t want to see this blog go inactive, but I’m a poor judge of how much of the creative content would be acceptable to cross-post here.