Posted in FFXIV, Gaming

FFXIV: Earning the Amaro Mount – All Jobs to 80!

At the beginning of 2019, I had just finished leveling all of my FFXIV jobs to 50. The straggler jobs were my tanks, jobs that I really had no intention of ever leveling. Most of my tanks were sitting in the mid-30s during 2018, when I first decided… Yeah… I’m going to make an effort to bring all of my jobs to level cap. And I’m going to do it without any boosts or skips from the Mog Store.

As some folks know, I’m generally okay to play most DPS jobs in groups. But when it comes to tanking and healing, I’m not so comfortable. That means that leveling all the tanks and healers was done solo and outside of roulettes, which is one of the faster ways to level.

Let me just say… Beast Tribe Quests.

Years upon years of Beast Tribe Quests. And I’m not exaggerating. There have been very few days in the past 3-4 years that I’ve not logged in to run my battle Beast Tribe Quests for whatever job I was leveling, at whatever stage that was in.

Granted from 30-60 I had help from running Squad dungeons. Levels 60-70 is really the slump area for solo leveling jobs. Again, lots and lots of Beast Tribe Quests. And really, that’s about it if you don’t want to farm FATEs (and really, FATEs without a focused party is pretty slow).

At level 70, things speed up quite a bit. First, there’s only one set of battle Beast Tribe Quests this expansion, but it gives just as much experience as quests did when there were two tribes. Essentially, 5-10 mins of time every day earns a pretty significant chunk of experience – probably the most experience-per-minute you can get.

On top of that, you do have the option to run Trusts. However, I didn’t run Trusts all that much – I only leveled two jobs through them, enough to level the Trust teams. I’m just not big on running a bunch of dungeons now days when I don’t have to, even if I have a Trust team.

Quests in Shadowbringers scale to whatever level your job is, and they give a good deal more experience than I expected when you stack them all up. In fact, I failed in my attempt to finish cleaning up quests before I got all my jobs to 80 because I vastly underestimated the XP they gave. I still have two more zones worth of quests to finish. Granted, these are only one-time XP boost, but if you have a job you just don’t want to run in parties, any XP is good XP.

Anyhow, it’s a weird feeling to not have to run Beast Tribe Quests today. But even with this big achievement out of the way, I still have more than enough to keep me busy both on my main and my various alts. First, I’m finally going to focus on all those crafting/gathering relics that I’ve put off!

Oh, and finally leveling Blue Mage on this character. That’s a thing, too. ūüôā

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Ishgard Restoration 5.41

It’s that time again! The Ishgard Restoration is underway and the Skybuilder Rankings are open again! I do believe this is the final leg of the Restoration story-wise. I’m not sure if this will be the final leaderboard rankings as well.

While I’ve earned a title for my main and my RP alt, I have yet a third character, Tad, whom I’ve leveled all gatherers to 80 on. He started the Restoration with only three crafting jobs in the 50s (he now has one in the 60s after last night’s efforts), and I’d like to make progress on these as well.

I’d considered working on a title for him, but I quickly realized that you don’t actually get points in the ranking if you’re not crafting the higher level recipes. So everything I did on his level 50-something goldsmith didn’t count yesterday. If I really want to be ambitious, I could push to get this job into the 70s, where I think you start accumulating points(?) It wouldn’t be impossible to get on the leaderboard for my server at this point still.

Because I had to mine up lower level mats to level his crafting jobs, Tad didn’t get much in the way of points for his mining or botany, either. I’m somewhat tempted to just buy the materials (since they’re already cheap) and focus on leveling my crafting job up instead. I just don’t know how much effort I feel up to putting into the title a third time, though I always enjoy gathering in the Diadem when other people are around and active.

The Diadem itself has undergone quite a change, too! Gone are the heatwaves and yellow, thank goodness. Welcome is the gentle snowy weather instead. Much easier on the eyes!

If you’re taking on the rankings this time around, I wish you luck! I still need to catch up on a lot of the quests in Ishgard, but it’s been pretty fun to see content built just for crafters and gatherers, and how much of a crowd it always draws.

Posted in FFXIV

FFXIV: Taking Amazing Screenshots with GShade Filters

Link to the GShade website. Download and see help documentation there.-

Several years back, I wrote about how I’d installed Stormshade as a filter for my FFXIV screenshots. Sadly, over time, I noticed that Stormshade had not updated and was far from using the newest version of ReShade. Neither was it adding any new filter presets that I could see.

It wasn’t causing any technical trouble, but I decided I wanted to explore more maintained and up-to-date options. This meant trying out GShade, which I’d heard so much about.

Not only was GShade extremely simple to install, but it came with so many preset filters (the website notes there are 450+ presets) by default that I simply was beside myself! Installation was as simple as downloading the .exe and running it. No fiddling with folders – it knows where to find a standard FFXIV install.

It gives you the option to install the presets, but I don’t see why you wouldn’t. This was so much simpler than having to download the presets yourself and find proper folders to put them in for use.

And then, once you launch it, GShade gives you a bit of a tutorial walkthrough on how to do stuff. I was so used to my Stormshade settings that I quickly customized GShade to work the same way (which is not GShade default). And now I’m as happy as I can be every time I sit down to take an artistic screenshot with filters.

An example of the same picture with several different filters. Click to see bigger images:

There’s lots, lots more to choose from than that. So, if you’re looking to spice up your /gpose in FFXIV, give this a shot!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: New Year, Character Remake!

I have a pretty big announcement to make today. After playing my moon kitty, Zuri Nimat, as a main for over 3 years in FFXIV, I decided to remake my main character. Not only did she get a full physical change, but I’ve renamed her (Aywren Sojourner) and everything. It’s like having a brand new character while keeping all the leveling, items, pets, mounts and everything I’ve worked on all this time. I really like having the option to do that.

Don’t worry, I re-rolled Zuri because I’m too attached to her. I’m having thoughts about progressing her again as a RP/story character.

Why the Change?

So if I really loved Zuri’s character (and I do), why the change? Well, this all started back over Christmas holiday, when Red Mage was confirmed to be a DPS class.

Red Mage was my first job back when I played FFXI. I’m very much looking forward to the job in Stormblood. I’m hoping it won’t be too convoluted to play because these hybrid jobs are always my favorite. I want it to be fun. I want it to be my next new main job.

However, the traditional Red Mage gear (pictured below on the art of Yoshi-P)…

redmageyoship

…just doesn’t mesh so well in color with a blue kitty (IMHO). See here:

ffxiv_12212016_213901

Red doesn’t look terrible… but the blue fur/hair is meant to go with cooler colors. Yeah, I know that the gear won’t always look like artifact armor and can be dyed. But, it still planted a seed in my mind:

Maybe it’s time to give Zuri a makeover…

I started thinking about this. The more I thought, the more torn I became.

First world MMO cosmetic problems! 

I really love the way Zuri looks for the most part. Sometimes I regret giving her Smurf-Fur, but it’s part of who she is now. Changing that would be hard.

On the other hand, I really just felt like I needed to refresh things to help get me out of the slump I’ve been in. So, I decided over the holidays I’d pick up a fantasia and make some changes.

Over time, another thought began to creep in:

If I’m going to change Zuri’s looks, maybe I can consider changing her race. I mean, I may as well go all out if I’m going to use real money to change her cosmetically.¬†

ffxiv_08052016_193803

Afterall, there are a TON of catgirls in the game. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kitty. But at the same time, it would be nice to play a race that’s a bit more rare.

But after that thought began to settle, I argued:

Zuri wouldn’t be Zuri if she wasn’t a kitty! I couldn’t imagine her not-blue and not-kitty!¬†

Ugh! So, now what do I do?

Why not a name change, too? 

Wait, what?

I mean, it’s kinda odd that I use the name “Aywren Sojourner” everywhere else, and Zuri Nimat only here. Half the Free Company already calls me by my nickname, Wren.¬†

I guess that’s true.

A Little History

Here’s a little history: Zuri was a character I rolled up coming straight out of playing GW2. There, I had a Charr named Nipp Mousetrap who really got into the community back in the day, especially with RP folks on Tumblr. Part of the reason it worked well was that Nipp’s design was pretty unique — I made her to resemble my IRL cat, who is a flame point Siamese.

gw669
Nipp Mousetrap from GW2

So when I picked up and moved to FFXIV, the idea was to design an aesthetically original looking character, like I had with Nipp. I originally¬†wanted to get involved with the community the same way I had in GW2… it just never really worked out since I didn’t roll on the FFXIV RP server. I also found the FFXIV Tumblr community a bit harder to mesh with since the game had already been established for a good amount of time before ARR released.

What I ended up with was this Zuri:

ffxivzur

She was a bit too over the top back then. Over the years, I toned her down. But she was never made to be a character who represented me, or stood at the head of a Free Company, as my character does now.

Look and feel are important to me. Zuri represents a free spirit, and doesn’t reflect the qualities of¬†a FC leader.

She’s a character I rolled to RP with, but never really figured out how to make that happen. You might notice that when I write about Zuri, I always address her by her name, rather than “I” or “my” or “me.” This is part of that – I don’t identify with her as a “me-MMO-character,” but rather as a character I rolled for other reasons.

So, making this change is part of setting things right in my  (strange) mind.

In With The New!

This weekend, I renamed my main character to Aywren Sojourner.

I changed her race to Elezen. This is because Elezen are fairly rare (I thought about FemRoe, but FemRoe just don’t match my personality), and because when I played Red Mage in FFXI, my character there was Elvaan. It just felt right.

It was also interesting to play a taller character after having been a short-as-can-be kitty. I’m almost as tall as Zeb¬†now!

ffxiv_01082017_164809
Zeb and I

I also spent some time working on a new glamour for my Dragoon. After researching the market board, I decided I wanted one of the new ponchos. I had to settle for the Ramie version, since mats for the dyeable Cashmere version were too stupidly expensive. But, it’s okay. The color works well enough.

It’s been a while since I sat down and crafted something, so it felt good to be able to save some gil and make some glamour for myself. I totally didn’t expect the colors on the feathers to match the color of my hair. But there you have it.

ffxiv_01082017_164654
New Glamour!

The only content¬†I’ve had time to run on¬†my new character was a quick FC-grouped Syrcus Tower. I’ll have to say, it feels quite different to do it on a larger character. I know it’s all in my head, but the change in perspective is refreshing.

I was also a little nervous to run a raid using my “real” net name. I don’t know why. It’s not like anyone is going to recognize me from this little blog! But that thought was still there.

With Zuri, my character was disconnected from everything else. With Aywren, it more closely represents my online persona. That made me more aware of what I was doing.

As For Zuri…

I re-rolled Zuri on Midgardsormr and kept her pretty much the same as she used to be. I did change her tail type — she now has a multi-colored tail with a gold tip, like her hair highlights. I also lightened her skin color just a bit.

Then I sent her back to Gridania as a level 1 Conjurer, just as I have every time I rolled her. It’s always useful to start with a class that gives you Cure and Protect for cross-classing other jobs.

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Zuri’s New Beginning

I haven’t really decided which job I want to play with her this time around. It’s not really that important. I want Zuri’s journey to be a slow one of no stress and all creativity.

I’m still torn on which server to RP on. I’m keeping her on Midgardsormr for now as you can’t transfer a new character until after 3 days of making them. Balmung is the official RP server, and I feel a need to be in an RP environment, just for a change.¬†But it’s such a large server, and none of my friends or FC are there… so it’s a toss up.

Also, Midgardsormr pride! 

I’m working on creating a new WordPress and Tumblr blog just for Zuri’s adventures. I’ll be sure to announce them once they’re ready!

Have you ever re-created one of your long-time MMO characters or made a big shift in your mains? How did it feel for you? Did you end up going back to what you had before?

Posted in Gaming, Landmark, MMORPGs

Sad Farewell to Landmark & A Look Back at Alpha/Beta

Last night, Daybreak dropped yet another bomb in the form of an email that informed players that Landmark servers will close on February 21. Now, part of me had a strong hunch this was coming, but another part of me just looked on in disbelief.

I know it’s a money thing. I get it. Yet, I don’t.

EverQuest Next Landmark

I bought the $59 Explorers Pack for EverQuest Landmark on the first day alpha launched. I have no idea why as I’d just previously been burned by SOE’s floundering alpha/beta pack for Dragon’s Prophet. I really had no plan to buy into the alpha, and it was totally an impulse purchase.

I just remember I was home from work that day (sick?), I saw that the team had lifted the NDA on day one, and I had a hunkering for a sandbox world. I thought the idea of building the next EverQuest game was an amazing one. And, in the beginning, when Smokejumper and other devs were right there with us making something special, it did feel like the purchase was justified. Back then, Landmark was an amazing, sculpt-able version of Norrath.

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Norrath has Two Suns?

I blogged my experiences all through alpha and into beta (I’ll link these below). I clocked in a good amount of time as I learned the game’s systems and how to build. As a sandbox game, Landmark had a huge amount of flexibility, especially once players stumbled upon building methods that not even the devs could have foreseen.

There was a strong roadmap. The team stuck by it and kept developing a world we could alter to our own vision. I saw many new, improved iterations of crafting and building. I had several claims over that time, and really enjoyed building and exploring.

valentineslandmark
A Landmark Valentines Poem

Then, somewhere in the midst of beta, they added caves and water. Something happened with those builds that rendered my ability to play the game almost null. Though my PC was fairly new and not a pushover, I was hardly getting 10-15 FPS no matter what I did… and that meant that I had to sit out the beta until they got it fixed.

Because of that, my posts stopped¬†in May of 2014. It wasn’t until May of 2015 that I picked up the game again because it was honestly unplayable for me until then. I did come back to test the FPS issue from patch to patch, and did report it, but it took a year before it really got resolved.¬†I was not the only one with this issue, but it existed for a long time.

Slow Downfall

Needless to say, that broke my momentum. I came back to a game I didn’t really recognize, and found it hard to wrap my head around all the changes that I missed. The game was no longer “EverQuest Next Landmark.” The company was no longer “SOE.”

EverQuestNextLandmark64-2014-02-02-12-56-31-63
The loading screen, back when it was once named “EverQuest Next Landmark.”

A month later, I became very disappointed as the team threw the much-loved roadmap out the window. I already had a feeling that it was the beginning of the end. Sadly, I was right.

In March 2016, the game did launch out of beta, but Daybreak announced the end of development for Everquest Next. It was a kick in the gut for a lot of players, especially those who put their heart and soul into building what they thought were assets for their upcoming dream MMO.

I did log in a few times¬†after the March release, but it just wasn’t the same. They had added a lot of neat systems and building options, but the magic and excitement of alpha/beta was gone. While I’ve kept Landmark installed on my laptop, I haven’t actually logged into it since March, 2016. So I guess I can’t say that I’m losing something, but in a way, I am.

Potential.

What stuns me is that this game had so much potential to be a strong sandbox contender. They did a lot of things I haven’t seen in other building games, and I know that those who love it will deeply miss it. If this game had been released towards a building/sandbox audience, rather than being linked to the failed EQNext, it may have been a small success. I still have those dreams of riding a flying mount across the inter-connected islands of wonderful player creativity… that was touted to be the future of Landmark that we never got.

But I guess at this point, that’s moot. All we’ll have are our memories.

EverQuest Next Landmark Alpha Post Archive

Landmark Beta Post Archive

Landmark Release Post Archive

Posted in Gaming, MMORPGs

Which MMOs Make You Feel Badass?

badaPardon my French, but I used that word in my title on purpose. This post was inspired by a book I’m reading for¬†work entitled Badass: Making Users Awesome by Kathy Sierra. So the word is totally relevant in this case.

Now, the entire idea behind this book is really interesting. Catch this.

The¬†book’s author notes that for a brand or product to succeed against competitors, it’s not just¬†quality, customer service, design, or how cool a product is – though those things help. It’s more about¬†the feeling the user feels when they use the product – do they become better and better at something, and take pride in what the product helps them create? Do they feel awesome¬†at doing whatever task the product is supposed to help them¬†to accomplish? If so, they are more likely to talk positively about the product, and that product is more likely to succeed based on the user’s organic, word of mouth promotion.

To quote one of the editorial reviews on the Amazon page:

Believe it or not, many people don’t care how awesome your product is. Instead, they care about how awesome they are when they use your product.

Daniel H. Pink

MMOs That Make you Feel Awesome

I started thinking about this in terms of MMOs and games, and I realize the same can be said of what¬†we choose to play. I don’t know about you, but I tend to gravitate towards games that either make me feel awesome about my character/skills or allow me to build a character that I feel is awesome in some way. In short, we’re more likely to be loyal to a game that makes us feel good about our digital selves or¬†our accomplishments¬†– whatever we see our accomplishments as being.

This can be different for each person. It could be that you feel awesome at PVP. Maybe you’re a pretty darn skilled healer or tank for your guild. Maybe you’re proud of the house and farm you built in your sandbox game. Maybe you’ve collected enough mounts and pets to put a zoo to shame.

All these goals provide an intrinsic feeling of awesome. And the games that don’t do that for us on a personal, individual basis are less likely to get our money and time.

The Awesome Progression

Another thing to take into consideration is that player growth may be gradual, especially if a player is brand new to a certain game. So how well does the game move a player from being a “noob” to being what the player perceives as a competent player?

What about MMOs that are perceived as nothing but “grind?” What about¬†when a game you’ve played for a while suddenly introduces a new feature (that then becomes grindy, too punishing, and unrewarding)? The book warns about what happens when you make users feel like they’re stuck in a “Suck Zone.”

Credit: Scanned from
Credit: Scanned from “Badass: Making Users Awesome” Book

I’ve been here before. When I start to ask myself why I’m wasting my time hitting my head against a wall over and over. Gaming is supposed to be fun, right?

Usually, this is a fast track for me finding a different game that feels more rewarding.

Then, there’s the MMO expansion syndrome. The devs have all these great ideas for new features and fun things to bring players back to their game. They raise the level cap, and suddenly, all that hard-earned gear becomes something of the past. The trash mobs on the overworld map are dropping better gear than what you raided hours to get.

Or there’s some new feature or strange upgrade system or the game locks you out until you attune to something, and it’s just frustrating. You used to be at the top of your game.¬†Suddenly, you find yourself back in the suck zone, and that… well… sucks.

sucktoo
Credit: Scanned from “Badass: Making Users Awesome” Book

Proper progression, the book suggests, is one where the game is able to balance changes without taking away the progress and learning the player has made. That should look something like this:

Credit: Scanned from
Credit: Scanned from “Badass: Making Users Awesome” Book

While that’s¬†a good thing to shoot for in a game, MMOs have it difficult because they appeal to gamers of many different playstyles. It may be easy to pacify that RPer or person who just wants to decorate their in-game house (throw fluff at them). But what about those players who always demand a challenge? Who want that uber raid to overcome? And when does the uber raid go from a balanced challenge that makes a player feel good about what they’ve achieved to being something so over-the-top difficult that only 1% of the playerbase could ever hope to beat it?

Well, all those thoughts aside…

My questions to you are: 

Which games have made you feel awesome? Did you stick around them longer? Recommend them to gaming friends? Blog about them? Become part of that community?

Which games failed to make you feel awesome, or lost the awesome over time? Did you eventually leave, or did you keep trying to return to see if you could recapture that awesome?