Posted in FFXI, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXI: Return to Vana’diel – Remembering Missions

I return to Vana’diel after not having played FFXI for over a decade. Here are my adventures!

img_20160417_213305

Once I became aware of the Quests button on the main menu, I also took notice of the Missions button just above it. I checked it out, and it seems my character must have accepted a mission (Bat Hunt) over a decade ago.

These missions are the only story content I remember from my time playing FFXI in 2004-2006. Basically, they’re a set of quest/missions that revolved around a storyline within your starting city. These missions are repeatable and they earn you rank with your city faction. These missions appear to go from level 1 to 70+, and are different for each of the cities.

Keep in mind that there are no quest markers to indicate a NPC has a quest to give you or a quest in progress in FFXI. So it took me a bit of time to shake the cobwebs out of my brain and remember that these missions are given from the gate guards in the city.

My old character had already completed the first mission, and this was the second. It sent me off into King Ranperre’s Tomb, which I remember spending quite a bit of time in back in the day. This area was for levels 1-10, so I was already over leved for the area by the time I got there. It got to a point where I stopped gaining experience from the monsters there. That’s what I get for forgetting this mission existed!

Anyhow, it was nothing to reach the tomb, where a cutscene launched – the only cutscenes I remember from the game. And then, one of the NPCs gave me a cryptic clue that I was supposed to understand: I’d find my answers from the bats.

img_20160417_213401

It took a while for me to remember what that meant. When I did, it became crystal clear why I recall spending so much time in this area.

Basically, I needed to farm Ding Bats for a drop of Orcish Mail Scales. Looking at the Wiki, the drop rate for these are approximately 12.4%. Not to mention, the bats only spawn at night. Fun times!

Actually, it wasn’t that terrible. Since I was over leveled, none of the other creatures were attacking me. Plus, I now had a full party of alter-ego Trust-buddies with me, so battles were fast, and the drop came in the first night of farming.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, I also managed to level up to 17, which was high enough to get beyond wearing that awful harness armor. Hurrah for the Lizard Jerkin set, which I promptly purchased using Sparks.

img_20160417_231005

Posted in FFXI, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXI: Return to Vana’diel – Super Easy Solo Leveling: Records of Eminence

I return to Vana’diel after not having played FFXI for over a decade. Here are my adventures!

img_20160417_145249

While buzzing around on the FFXI subreddit, I was given a really great, updated starter guide. The first thing this guide stressed was something called Records of Eminence (RoE). Naturally, I’d never heard of this before, but researching more, a whole new world of questing and leveling opened up to me.

Quest Menu

I learned that is that there is  a Quest and Mission option on the Main Menu! You just have to page over with arrow keys to see them. Within the Quests menu, there’s a whole section for RoE, including the tutorial that will get you started (Quest > Records of Eminence > Tutorial > Basics > First Step Forward).

This leads you to talk to a specific NPC in your home city, and activates a rather amusing cutscenes. I must admit that FFXI has a lot more hidden charm than I knew about!

img_20160417_145155

Once you get that creepy doll and unlock the RoE quests, you can go back to the Quest menu and start activating up to 30 RoE quests. Some of these are one time rewards for things you’re already doing (like Missions). Some of these just stay on repeat and keep throwing experience and Sparks at you as you complete them (such as regional kill quests).

You can choose to turn these repeatables on and off whenever you like. So if you’re going to be leaving an area for good, and entering a new one, it’s a good idea to accept the kill quests for the new zone you’re exploring.

New Trusts

I wanted to note that there is a long questline that unlocks a bunch of new Trusts for you to summon. I noticed I had this item Cipher: Valaineral in my inventory, but had no idea what to do with it. Looking it up, I understood it was associated with a new Trust, Valaineral.

I had to take the item and trade it to the Trust NPC in my hometown, which unlocked a new Trust to summon. This would then unlock a new RoE quest to summon that Trust outside the town. When I completed that quest, a new Cipher was rewarded to me for another Trust. So, it was a cycle of unlocking Trusts, summoning them, getting a Cipher to unlock a Trust and summon them.

It was a bit redundant, but in the end, I had a full group of Ciphers, including a Paladin, White Mage, Scholar, Bard and other such characters I could call on.

Sparks of Eminence

I can’t talk about RoE without talking about the Sparks. Not only do the quests reward good experience, but you get this currency known as Sparks. The thing you need to know about this is:

Sparks = FREE GEAR

I had wondered where I’d be getting my gear as I leveled up seeing that there wasn’t much to choose from on the Auction House. After learning about Sparks, I understood why.

img_20160417_161816You go to the original NPC in your hometown who unlocked the RoE for you (for example, in San d’Oria, that’s Rolandienne). They now offer to let you purchase gear of all kinds of levels in exchange for the Sparks you earn in RoE quests. I quickly picked up a set of level 17 gear so I could shed myself of the harness armor. This stuff was dirt cheap, too – like 60 Sparks per piece, and I already had over a thousand Sparks just from the few quests I’d been doing.

That wiki page I linked above will give you a full list of the gear you can pick up with Sparks. I’ve read some folks who say that with using Trusts, you really don’t need to gear up like you used to in this game, but it’s so cheap to do so using Sparks that I prefer to just go ahead and keep my gear somewhat relevant.

It looks like there’s other things you can buy if you’re maxed level, and stuff that can increase your skills as well.

All in all, an excellent system to help a new player not just level but gear up in a very convenient way.

Posted in FFXI, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXI: Return to Vana’diel – Super Easy Solo Leveling: Field Manuals

I return to Vana’diel after not having played FFXI for over a decade. Here are my adventures!

img_20160416_223309

If you’re anything like me, when you think of FFXI, you think of a game that requires a huge time sink to level. I remember spending hours leveling during my teens at the La Theine Plateau, getting ready for that big level 18 when I could start the SubJob quest in the Dunes.

But this FFXI is not that game anymore. Every time I turned around, I was leveling without meaning to. Before I knew it, I’d hit level 11, the point at which you start wearing the infamous harness armor. Ugh. At least I found most of it in chests instead of having to buy it.

Between exploring on my own and doing a little research, I discovered things that propelled me forward along my leveling track. Not only do enemies give more experience, and Trust-buddies make it easier to solo, but there are several new systems put in game to help the low-level solo player level quickly.

Field Manuals

I discovered Field Manuals by myself, and had no idea what they were. Just floating books hanging around outside the city walls. I think I even ignored it at first, thinking it must be part of something that didn’t pertain to me.

But then, I came back and explored it a bit more and discovered that Field Manuals are like quest givers for the certain area you’re in. They provide you with kill-quests (called Field Training) for creatures that you’re probably already killing.

For example, out in Ronfaure, one of the quests was to kill 7 Forest Hares, levels 2-6. That’s pretty easy to do, especially with my Trust-buddy. Once you accomplish it, you don’t have to run back and turn it in. It just automatically dumps 300 extra experience and gil on you (on top of what you got for killing them individually), and 30 tabs.

Tabs I haven’t explored too much yet. It looks like you can spend them for buffs and to transport yourself from one Survival Guide to another. Survival Guides look just like Field Manuals, but they’re actually a warp system in overworld and dungeon areas. Glad to see the game is helping players get around places faster!

img_20160417_022150

A few more things to know about Field Manual quests:

  • You can set to have them auto-repeat if you just want to sit out there and grind mobs
  • You only get the gil and tab rewards once an in-game day, but you can still repeat the quests for the experience
  • The quests have a max level… so once you no longer get experience from mobs, they stop counting for the quest
  • You can cancel your current quest at any Field Manual you find
  • Make sure to push the down arrow when selecting from quest Pages – there are more quests to choose from than it first appears!

Next up, I’ll talk about another newer system that not only lets you level quickly, but nets you FREE GEAR! Can you believe it? FFXI has gone all casual on me. 🙂

Posted in FFXI, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXI: Return to Vana’diel – In Excenmille We Trust (Solo-Friendly FFXI!)

I return to Vana’diel after not having played FFXI for over a decade. Here are my adventures!

img_20160416_194149
Meet my new Trust-buddy!

So remember how in my previous post I mentioned that I noticed that the Red Mage character I rolled over 10 years ago had 8 hours sunk into her, but only had 4 levels? Well, when I got back to town, and visited my Mog House, I noticed the inventory there was stuffed full with fishing gear, rods and bait. I also noticed that her fishing skill had been leveled.

Then I realized that my character had 65K gil on her! Now, this isn’t very much, I know, but for a brand new character, that’s quite a bit to start with. I used to love fishing in FFXI and remember when selling fish at the AH was profitable. Now I know what this character did for 8 hours – fishing and selling fish stacks for gil!

I’m glad I decided not to reroll her! 🙂

Trusts

FFXI has been known over the years as a not very solo-friendly game. In fact, it was the forced grouping that pushed me away all those years ago. I’m a shy player, and I like being able to make progress at my own pace. FFXI didn’t quite mesh with that playstyle, but I’ve heard that it’s done a lot to help leveling players handle older content on their own.

One big thing that I researched before coming back to the game were Trusts. This reminds me a whole lot of Guild Wars’ Heroes/Henchmen system. You bond with NPC heroes, and this allows you to summon an alter-ego version of themselves when out in the world. They have their own jobs and skills, and level up as you do (though you need to resummon them when you level).

In the beginning, you can summon up to three Trusts at a time (granted that you’ve unlocked them). This means you can put together your own NPC parties to help you out with lower level content! And I am having a TON of fun with this!

My First Trust

Since I’m in San d’Oria, I had to find the Trust quest giver, Gondebaud, who offers a quest upon reaching level 5. This was a simple quest – just go and talk to someone named Excenmille. This fellow is apparently a pretty powerful hero, and he also seems to be quite full of himself. 😉

Since I never leveled very far into the story of FFXI so long ago, I never experienced the text and tone of the game. This was the first time I really got to see some of the more recently-written NPC dialogue, and I found it pleasantly amusing. In fact, it reminded me a lot of the feeling of FFXIV writing.

img_20160416_193932

Okay, so he’s a bit vain. But I can put up with that. The dude can fight. He can heal. And I feel like 100% more confident of myself running around with a partner at my side.

We just ran around that forest and slaughtered everything, even the things that I used to be afraid of. Vengance! I was just having so much fun beating on things that I didn’t even notice that I was continuing to level, but I hadn’t picked up anything beyond the starter gear. So, I headed back to town to gear up.

I wasn’t yet aware that Quests and RoE existed yet… so I was doing things the old-skool way. I went to the armor shop and purchased a set of leather gear. XD

I’ll blog about Sparks and RoE later, but just know that there’s a better (and cheaper) way of gearing up now, but I had no idea about it at this point. I didn’t care, though. I was proud of my new gear and happy to finally bank the starter stuff.

img_20160416_221810

I was still exploring town, buying my spells, and re-learning my way around. I noticed there were all sorts of Home Points around the city I was unlocking for the first time — I can’t remember if these existed before? But they work a lot like the Aetheryte system in FFXIV, allowing you to warp around from one part of the city to another.

I went back outside to work on a little more leveling, and that’s when I first discovered the Field Manuals. But that’s a story for another post! 🙂

Posted in FFXI, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXI: Return to Vana’diel – Aywren vs. Locked Treasure Chests

I return to Vana’diel after not having played FFXI for over a decade. Here are my adventures!

img_20160416_160402

Once I got the game looking and playing well through configurations, it was time to finally check out the character that I left deactivated on the Asura server over 10 years ago. Now, I know that I never leveled any of my characters past 20, mostly due to the grouping nature of the game. However, I do remember having left at least one character at about level 20, fully geared up for that level, and with subjobs unlocked.

As I stated before, I had two different accounts with two different characters, and I didn’t know what was on either of them. I chose to reactivate the character on Asura since that is the most active server based on the information I’ve been reading.

Character Disappointment

Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed when I finally logged in.

Aywren@Asura was a level 4 Red Mage.

Hmm… that can’t be right. I’m sure I left her with more than that.

I struggled to figure out the controls and menu system (more on that later), and finally figure out I need to select Status from the Main Menu to see all of my stats. Sure enough, I only ever leveled Red Mage to 4 on this character.

Still in starter gear. Nothing else.

img_20160416_155752

Well, crud.

I pondered starting the character over, but decided she’d been around for so long that it would be a shame to delete her. I mean, level 4 is practically a new character, right? Plus, at level 5, I knew that I could check out the new Trust system, so I may as well keep going.

Funny enough, when I checked the time played, it said 8 hours for this character. I know it used to take a long time to level in FFXI, but I’m sure I could have been further along than 4 levels in 8 hours.

Vs. Controls

So, the first thing I decide to do, since I’m standing out in the forest anyhow, is go ahead and level to 5 so I can figure out what the Trust system is about. This requires me to figure out the targeting system and the menu system and controls as a whole.

It took me about 30 mins to realize my mouse was absolutely useless in most situations. I don’t remember ever having a problem playing it back in the day, and it slowly dawned on me why…

FFXI controls like an oldskool menu-based Final Fantasy single player game. 

No hotbars. No “M” for map. No “C” for character. No “I” for inventory. Take all these more modern MMO conventions and toss them out the window.

Once I wrapped my head around the fact I needed to think of this as a Final Fantasy game and not an MMO, things got easier. The menus started to make sense. Using the arrow keys to navigate menus made sense. Even using arrow keys to move the camera made sense.

Later on, I went in and made a bunch of other tweaks that helped out a lot, such as making the camera “chase” me and not locking my character in on enemies during a fight. It took a while, but I think I’m getting the hang of controls now.

This thing, though…

IT'S RIGHT THERE! And kicking your butt...
IT’S RIGHT THERE! And kicking your butt…

Vs. Treasure Chests

So, once I figured out how to select and attack an enemy, I chose the nearby innocent bunny (which I remembered could kick your butt flat), and Check it to make sure it wouldn’t kill me. That’s right. This is old skool MUD style. There’s no name colors or indicators to tell you how difficult something is. You have to inspect enemies to tell if it is going to promptly roflstomp you or not.

My first fight went well! And… wait… what’s this? It dropped a treasure chest?

img_20160416_155437

Took me some fiddling to figure out how to select the chest, and when I did, it said the chest was locked. Well, darn. I don’t have a key or… oh… I can Examine the Lock.

And, thus, the locked chest minigame begins.

So, I’ve learned that common enemies drop two types of chests — locked and unlocked — and they do so pretty regularly. Unlocked chests usually offer temporary items (yes, I know, temporary? — I’ll get back that in a moment), while the locked chests seem to drop some pretty relevant stuff, including gear.

This is a significant upgrade to the loot system, from what I remember, back when rabbits only dropped meat and hide. But the trick is, you have to put the time and effort into opening the lock combination.

The lock combination is a number of two digits between 10 and 99. You have between 4-6 chances total to unlock the chest in which you can choose to examine the lock or enter a combination.

Examining the lock gives you hints about what the two numbers can be.

lockedchest

Successfully entering the combination gives you a choice of what’s in the chest. Usually this is pretty relevant stuff. I’ve gotten all sorts of low level gear, which I could either use, bank or sell to a vendor. The downside to this is that locked chests take time and patience to figure out, and even then, you’re not promised the loot if you fail to enter the combination correctly. It’s kinda a little brain teaser, and when I did put the effort into it, I felt pretty good about winning!

My first chest, I was scribbling notes frantically (not realizing this was going to be something I’d be doing quite often), and I did succeed in unlocking the chest. I just didn’t realize that I then needed to select the chest again to loot it, and was puzzled why I didn’t get anything. XD

Sweet, sweet success!
Sweet, sweet success!

Temporary Loot

Now, about temporary loot. I think this is a pretty awesome idea, to be honest! Do you know how many useless potions and ethers I ended up tossing out by the time I was level 50 in FFXIV?

Temporary loot is cool because when these chests open, you get a choice of what kind of loot you want – stuff like potions, eye drops, ethers, etc. They are temporary, and vanish when you leave the area. They also don’t take up inventory space!

I’m not sure why, but I feel more inclined to use these things because they are temporary. They give buffs, restore health and magic, and then, when I’m done fighting for the day, they vanish. When I’m out fighting, they drop again for me to use.

Pretty nifty concept that I haven’t seen in other MMOs before.

So, after practicing a few fights, I reached level 5! I was ready to learn about Trusts…

img_20160416_160457
Ding! Level 5! 😀
Posted in FFXI, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXI: Return to Vana’diel – First Time Configuration Woes

I return to Vana’diel after not having played FFXI for over a decade. Here are my adventures!
img_20160416_160959

Yesterday morning, my 8 hour download off FFXI was finally complete and the game was ready for me to launch for the first time. Oh boy, did I not see what was coming next… I spent more of my time fighting with the game configuration than I did playing at first.

When I finally get to log in and choose my character, instantly I saw two things:

  1. The game forced fullscreen (which I remembered from back when I used to play)
  2. The graphics settings looked terrible

But, hey, I was logging in as my character, right? It remembered who I was after over a decade, and that I’d left her standing out in the forest of East Ronfaure all those years ago. So, naturally, my first instinct is to turn the camera around in order to get a good look and screenshot.

Hold down the right mouse button to turn and….

Game crashes!

WHA? 

Game crashes to the PlayOnline screen that scolded me hard for doing such and such and trying to play the game in Windowed Mode, which (I still remember) was a huge no-no back in the day.

But I didn’t do anything but right-click? 😦

So, I load it up again. Get to my character again. Right mouse click again. And BOOM. Game crashes and yells at me for windowed mode blah blah blah.

Uh oh. Well, that’s not going to work if I can’t right mouse click in game. So I get on the net to do some research.

The thing about FFXI is that it’s such a long-lived game, Google tosses you stuff that can range anywhere from 2004 to 2015, and it’s really hard to sort through what is true about the game now days. But one of the first suggestions made to folks having right-click issues is to use the third party program Windower.

Windower Wonders

windowerYes, I know, third party programs are also a big no-no with S/E games. But hey, I just wanted to get the game to run with some semblance of something so I could check out what level my old character was!

So I download this app, had to play with the window resolution a bit because the game looked all stretched and funky for a widescreen monitor (I didn’t find the aspect ratio settings in game until later that night), but finally got it to run in a way that I could play. I tested the right mouse click, and the game didn’t crash, so I was getting somewhere.

The neat thing about Windower is that it has all these little UI plugins built right in, which I haven’t explored too much. And for a long time, it was the only option players in FFXI had to run a windowed version of the game. It also controls things like screenshots and such, which is nice, because the in-game screenshots were awful, and I’m never going to remember to press the “[” key to take one.

The game looked leaps and bounds better using Windower because it knew how to crank up the graphics and do stuff in the background that I didn’t figure out until later that night…

FFXI Configuration

So, after finally getting to mess around in the game some, I decided I was tired of the intro cutscene popping up every time I logged in. I love that cutscene, don’t get me wrong, and watched it all the way through the first time I booted up just for nostalgia sake. But I don’t want to see that crystal every time I log in.

So, doing some research, I read something about the FFXI Configuration being the place to turn that off. I was confused at first, because I didn’t see this anywhere in the PlayOnline or in-game screens.

That’s when I finally deduced, the Final Fantasy XI Configuration is a stand alone program. What the? And… yes… somewhere dimly in the back of my memories, I remember this to be true!

So, I hit my Start menu, click Programs, click the Play Online folder, click the Final Fantasy XI folder, double-click Final Fantasy XI Config. And woot! There’s the joy!!

And look at that… they FINALLY allow you to play the game in Windowed mode after all these years! And when in Windowed mode, the game didn’t crash on me when I right-clicked! Progression is a wonderful thing! 🙂

ffxiconfig

I went through all the configurations in astonishment, realizing that the game had looked so terrible when I first launched it because it defaulted to try to full-screen with a 640×480 resolution. Yuk.

I messed around with this, and got the game running in a higher resolution, but then it was all stretched and wonky. So, back to researching… and I found out there was an in-game Configuration menu with an option for aspect ratio.

Where? I couldn’t even find the Logout option in this game… the controls are so… just… wow.

More research. I discovered that the main menu (why, oh why is the main menu mapped to the “-” key on the number pad?) actually has several pages… if you click the arrow buttons right and left to move through them.

Doh!

And there it was, the Config menu. Under Misc. 2 (there’s like 4 Misc. settings in this menu), I did indeed get the aspect ratio to work correctly for a wide-screen monitor.

However, playing the game some more, I really hated the tiny screenshots the game took (I think I can fix that, but at this point, I just wanted to play), and decided to jump back to using Windower for the ease of things.

Now. Now. Finally, I have the game configured in a pretty playable setup. I can make some progress.

Why don’t you join me as I stumble my way through a Return to Vana’diel

Posted in FFXI, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXI -V: What Am I Even Doing?

FFXI_Logo_no_title

What even is this?

I’m totally blaming this on Massively OP’s article about FFXI. You don’t know how odd it is for me to write FFXI and not FFXIV. I’m freaking out right now. XD

Anyhow. I’ve kicked around the idea of checking back in on FFXI because… I just feel like I never had any closure with the game. I’ve heard how much better it is for solo players and how great the story is and all the improvements. I even had it added to my Steam list for a while, but then took it off because I figured… nah.

Well, after reading that article above and some of the comments, I got really curious. They said you could maybe still find your old characters on your PlayOnline account. Now, over the years, I actually made two PlayOnline accounts. One was my original FFXI account, and then when I bought the expansion box, I got a second account that I activated for the free 30 days and such.

I started looking through documentation and it seems that you now need to link your Play Online account to the Square Enix account, the same as the one I play FFXIV with. So, I dug out my old boxes knowing that I kept everything, including the manual where that cryptic 6 digit account code was scribbled, along with the account password. To my surprise, I was able to transfer both of my Play Online accounts to my new SE account.

ffxi

I was astounded to see that the character on my oldest account was deactivated just a little over 10 years ago, but still there. In fact, I had an Aywren character on both accounts still there. Though, because I hear that Asura is one of the most active servers, I went with that one.

Of course, it wasn’t enough just to poke around to see if the character was still there. I had to figure out if I could download the game (I could). And then when I ran it, Play Online needed an update. I was amused at the fact that I had Play Online emails that dated back to 2006 as well. XD

The whole blended PlayOnline/SE account login interface is pretty clunky, though. Then, when I clicked Play, nothing happened because I had no character activated. So, I said, what the heck, and activated one. I hit Play and was instantly transported back to over a decade ago… when the game took over 8 hours to install updates after you just finished installing it for the first time.

playonlineffxi

Bummer. 😦

I guess I’ll leave it on overnight and deal with my curiosities in the morning. 🙂

Anyhow. I currently only have up to the Chains of Promathia expansion on this account. I’m not sure if I’m actually going to play this game in any sort of serious way, but I did want to revisit it at least once more, especially since it’s seen the last of its story updates. I’ll be sure to blog about my steps back in time to a game I haven’t seen in over 10 years.

Posted in Gaming

MMO Memory Box: FFXI: Rise of the Zilart ~ #Blaugust Day 13

This is part of the Blaugust series!

ffxiboxfront

 

Click pictures to see larger images. 

This game. This game. I never wanted so badly to be a part of a game that just wasn’t made for me more than FFXI. I picked it up pretty close to launch, so everything I write about here reflects the game in that earlier time.

Continue reading “MMO Memory Box: FFXI: Rise of the Zilart ~ #Blaugust Day 13”