• MMOs

    Together Heavensward

    ffxiv

    Heavensward has been a lot of fun, a lot of it due to the fact that Phil came back to the game and has played through with me. He was the one that introduced me to MMOS back in the early days of vanilla WoW, and I am always happiest when we can play the same game together.

    I admit that I did leave him behind a bit because I made the decision to level my Summoner while he started a new Dark Knight tank, but really…he couldn’t take any time off for the expansion and it was more than I could bear to wait for him to get home so we could play.

    Yep, I am a bad person.

    I would have to say that overall FFXIV is the best, deepest, most polished MMO out there today. Blizzard has alienated a lot of longtime players with recent expansions, GW2 just doesn’t feel like home (although it is undeniably beautiful), Wildstar made the fatal mistake of placing all their eggs in the basket of hardcore raiding, and I personally hated ESO. FFXIV is a very complex game in that it takes time to learn (and is difficult to come back and try to pick up where you left off), but in some respects I think that is a good thing. You won’t be bored by it. I love the instance design, and although normal questing is very kill-ten-rats the main story quests are wonderful. Heartbreaking at times, but still wonderful.

    Currently I have just reached the ilvl needed for Alexander access, and Phil is getting there. For the first time in years I’m pugging instances every night and looking forward to actual raiding, something which I swore I would never do after Warcraft. I love it.

  • MMOs

    Heavensward: Smooth Sailing

    FFXIV Ravana

    I really have to hand it to Squenix, they pulled off an extremely smooth headstart with Heavensward. There have been some of the usually weird lobby errors, but overall this headstard has been as problem-free as possible. I’m currently almost 56 on my Summoner (waylaid a bit because I’ve been watching every cut scene and doing every side quest before I move on). I’ve really, truly been enjoying the new content.

    Juvenile moment during one of the early fates: butt

    Okaaay…

    I am currently the proud owner of a gorgeous new flying machine which I shall post pictures of as soon as I go back to one of the earlier areas where I can actually fly. The area that I’m currently in (Dravanian Forelands, I think?) is so infuriating to try to navigate. I spent an hour running all over the map trying to find objectives, being thwarted over and over again by areas that I seemingly couldn’t reach. I was in quite a frosty mood by the time I logged off. :)

    Instances so far have been fun and relatively straight forward so far. I ran Aery last night, and we had a wipe at the end. The only person who had done it before, the DRK tank, had a hissy fit over it: “I’m doing this as a low-level roulette (really?) for some quick XP and you people are ruining it for me!” This is the type of thing that I’d hoped to avoid by pushing through the content as fast as possible: all the entitled jerks in Duty Finder who have no patience for people who haven’t seen the encounter before. Most of these don’t have guides yet, although they’re starting to pop up here and there. We haven’t even seen actual launch yet, and he’s speed-running instances? I’d like to introduce you to the aforementioned Alaimbert’s butt.

    So, a very enjoyable few days so far, and here’s hoping that there isn’t too much of an influx when the servers go up today for actual launch!

  • MMOs

    Waiting On Heavensward

    FFXIV

     

    Although I didn’t achieve everything that I wanted to in FFXIV: ARR, I’m still ready for Heavensward. My bags are clean (which took a relentless slash-and-burn on crafting materials) and I have a set of armor waiting for my Astrologian. The servers are now down and I’m hoping that we can download the patch for the new client soon.

    Part of the preparation involved an upgrade on my aging graphics card to a new Nvidia GTX 970 card which brought my benchmark score from 7584 to 14,117. With everything maxed the benchmark client looks incredible.

    One of the things I wasn’t able to do was to find a really good guild. The one that Phil and I are in has a small core of people who work their asses off to be welcoming and helpful (which is absolutely wonderful), a large group of people who play completely silently and have very little to do with the rest (not so wonderful) and no use of forums, no planning of events (which is horrible). I always find it really weird and uncomfortable when  guild doesn’t use forums, as it is then almost impossible to plan anything and it feels much more difficult to get to know people. It’s nice to check in on the forums during the middle of a work day and banter a bit. So, still looking for a good guild. I would love to find a good EU-based guild that spans multiple games and has a large, active player base.

    I’m still rethinking which job I’m going to want to level. I’d originally planned to switch to Astrologian, but the RNG element to healing makes me nervous. I may just level either Summoner or Bard and treat the new healer spec as an alt class until I decide. Either way, I am really looking forward to a proper gaming marathon again. Bring it on!

  • MMOs

    FFXIV: Ready for Heavensward

    Just a side note: I finally completed the storyline in FFXIV in preparation for Heavensward! Thank goodness for the nerfing of Steps of Faith, which was an incredibly stupid cockblock to place in a main storyline, preventing anyone who hasn’t completed it from playing the expansion content. I don’t believe in nerfing endgame content, but main storyline stuff really needs to be accessible for all players: casual players, non-raiders, crafters, people who just like to dink around doing quests and exploring rather than doing instances. So stupid.

    But anyway, I finally did it. I also levelled Bard on my main character and yesterday hit 50, which is my fifth level 50 and my second Bard. Yep, did it on another character not realising what a huge PITA it was going to be to go through all of the instances and so on at the end, so I did it all over again on my WHM/Summoner/Scholar. /sigh

    I’m totally addicted to the game at the moment, although I don’t get a chance to play as much as I would like. I don’t think I’ve been as addicted to an MMO since my Warcraft days. Really looking forward to Machinist. Or Astrologian. Probably not an Au Ra, as below – I like my sassy girl too much.

     

    ffxiv_au_ra

     

  • MMOs

    FFXIV: Noob Moments

    FFXIV

     

    Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve updated this blog. I’ve been struggling with health issues and also a metric ass-ton of work. So, yeah…poor neglected blog!

    I have been playing a lot of Final Fantasy when I can find the time, and I must say that for a game which was virtually unplayable when first launched, it is now a really stupendously great game. Maybe a “forever” MMO, as Warcraft has been for me.

    I have, however, made some really stupid mistakes.

    I know that Squenix really wants you to do all jobs on one character. Although they allow you to create alts, with all of the cross-class skills it’s kind of obvious that they want you to level all the jobs on one character. However, that means grinding fates and so on, so I thought “Hey, it would make ever so much sense to do all of the Disciple of Magic classes on one character, and the War classes on a second one, so I can do quests on both.” Amiright? Not so much, as it seems: I had a level 50 White Mage, 50 Scholar and Summoner and 40 Black Mage on one character. The alt had a level 50 Bard, 40 Paladin, etc. And then (as I started through the post-50 quests on the first character) I realised that I’d hit a Giant Wall O’Suck. I was never, ever going to want to do that grind on my Bard as well.

    Now, I quite like playing Bard and was considering making that my main class. But levelling it up by grinding fates on my main character? It makes me lose the will to live.

    Which brings me to something that I wanted to say about FFXIV: I understand about wanting players to play through the entire storyline before allowing them access to anything in the Heavensward expansion in June – fair enough. But why make it so damned hard? I would hazard a guess that casual players make up the bulk of the customer base for any MMO. They may not be a progression raider or an elite min-maxer; instead, they’re exploring and doing quests and crafting and just enjoying the ride. They really care about the story, where your elite types probably don’t bother much with story or lore. (I’m saying that based on the fact that I’ve had to skip every damned cutscene since I hit the post-50 content to avoid being kicked from groups. You speed-running bastards.) Why force those players to have to make it through hard modes and things like Steps of Faith? Why not make the storyline involve less hardcore instances? I’ll do them, of course…but I’m fully expecting it to be painful. It just seems like a very odd design choice.

    Oh, I almost forgot: my other noob moment? Dyeing my chocobo. I spent about a bazillion gil on the food to get soot black last night and fed them all to my bird per the advice on the color calculator. This morning? I have a parrot-green bird. Fracking hell. Now I have no idea how to actually get to black from there, and I’ve spent over 100k to do it. :(

    And yet…I love this game so damned much.

    ff2

  • MMOs

    Farewell to WoD (For Now)

    I just decided to cancel my Warcraft subscription again. I fully admit that I am one of “those” players, the ones who come back for every expansion, play to level cap, and then eventually quit. I no longer raid, and there just isn’t enough to hold my interest without raiding.

    There are garrisons, to be sure, and they were a lot of fun in the beginning on the first character. Third alt in? Not so much fun, as it turns out, as well as being a massive timesink. Of course you don’t have to do anything with your garrison…but after you have them it seems a bit silly to not gather those resources.

    I miss professions. On my leatherworker I hate the daily wait to have someone else create mats for me. I like levelling professions, and in the past have spent hours happily grinding for leather and so on. This isn’t as much fun.

    It always makes me a bit sad to cancel as Warcraft has been a part of my life (on and off) for ten years. Who would have imagined spending so much time in a game? I’ve had marriages that have lasted less time than that. :D

  • MMOs

    Warlords of Draenor: First Weekend

    I was bad this weekend: I didn’t check email at all until Sunday, early evening, and then had a total panic. Aside from that it was a wonderful weekend of pure slackage, a jump back into a world that I have loved for ten years, and quite a lot of frustration.

    The frustration part had to do with the massive queues on Argent Dawn, my server of choice and the location of my main characters. I’d paid to move every single one there at great expense because I’ve always loved the community there. The server is highly populated, the focus of RP events for the EU, and generally a pretty nice place to call home. Come the expansion, however, and there were queues of 3k to 4k starting from midday until late…yep, three and four hour queues if you were lucky. Garrisons were also a bit shaky the first weekend and quite often you would get “stuck,” unable to actually play your character until things reset.

    So, I scrapped my plans to level my warlock main. Also my Horde warlock. Also my newly boosted monk. Instead, my hunter Kitsune and I got re-acquainted back on Aggramar and I levelled her instead. Not entirely a bad thing, as new pets to tame was a huge draw. A few thoughts about the weekend:

    • Garrisons are awesome.
    • Garrisons should have been beta-tested a bit better, as they were buggy as hell.
    • Instances are fun again. No iLevel epeen and being forced to group with the GoGoGo guy. No snarky comments because you didn’t happen to know the instance inside and out the first time you run it. Just pure fun and exploration. I actually had to crowd control again…I can’t tell you how many years it’s been since I needed to do that. No grabbing everything in the entire dungeon and AOEing it down, just having fun. Awesome.
    • Armor is still fugly. I’ve always hated Warcraft’s armor design.
    • Seeing timelost versions of familiar areas was fantastic. There were a lot of very emotional scenes, and the voice acting (for the most part) was well done.
    • Everything was a bit too easy – all mobs could have been tuned up a bit. If an encounter says that it needs three people, you shouldn’t be able to solo it without your health ever dipping, that’s just not a challenge.
    • There were still a few really stupid bottlenecks. Remember in MoP, the scroll that everyone had to click on in the panda starting area? Why on earth would you not learn from that? Bad, bad, lazy Blizzard. Shame on you.
    • Gorgeous. Everything is gorgeous.
    • I still haven’t gotten used to human female’s faces. The expression “surprise buttsex” comes to mind. You know what I’m talking about.
    • I thought that it would irritate me to not be able to fly…but so far it’s not.
    • Did I mention how much I love garrisons? :)

    Here are a few shots from the weekend:

     

    wod1 wod2 wod3 wod4 wod5 wod6 wod7

  • MMOs

    Blue-Arsed Fly

    Autumn is always the busiest time for me, and this fall was hellishly busy. I love the work, of course, but the stress of having so many covers to do simultaneously is horrible. At the moment I’m booked into February and hope to be able to have a bit of downtime around the holidays in order to recharge the batteries and do some personal artwork. Perhaps even some writing. (Along with drinking holiday Baileys and eating pannetone.)

    But this was supposed to be a gaming post. It’s liable to be a very short one because I haven’t had a massive amount of free time and being tired makes me feel cranky and unable to concentrate on anything…rather like an exhausted two-year-old, it’s neither a pretty sight nor pleasant to be around. :)

    I finally cancelled my subscription to ArcheAge, and Phil and I sold our farms. Our lovely, lovely farms ideally situated on the coast, near the crafting stations. The things we’d worked so hard during headstart to get. I still love the game, but two things were wearing me down: one was the open-world pvp, which mainly means that you get ganked by zergs. It’s the ideal game for PKers, which are people who don’t have the guts or the skill to go off and kill enemy faction but instead prefer to hide and prey on members of their own faction who are just trying to move a tradepack from here to there. Bottom-feeder pvp.

    The other, more important, thing that was bothering me about ArcheAge was the Trion/XLGames situation. XL seems reluctant to make any changes to their poorly-designed game in order to combat hackers and bots. It’s a beautiful, immersive game – they did an amazing job there. It’s also coded so that much of the game is client side. Even someone with zero technical skills can adapt a config file that ensures all packs are worth more money, for instance. Packet spoofing abounds, leading to hacks such as the land-grab hack which allows individuals to snap up any free land before a player can claim it without even needing to be online at the time. Bots teleport underground, create items to sell from no actual materials, and teleport to turn in trade packs.

    Trion, who seem to have treated this game from day one as a massive cash grab, try to ignore the issues. GMs close thread after thread on the forums and customer service is next to non-existent. The final touch was when I went to cancel my subscription to the game…THE CANCEL BUTTON HAD BEEN REMOVED. It used to exist, but is nowhere to be seen now. There are very long threads on the forums confirming the same thing. I placed a ticket (which remains unanswered to this day), deleted my credit card information and mentally gave them two fingers as I logged out. My, how the formerly mighty (and well-respected) have fallen.

    What have I been playing? I updated FFXIV for the free weekend, started a baby rogue and enjoyed it so much that I resubbed. I also have a sub to Warcraft, which I am currently not playing until Warlords of Draenor comes out. Really looking forward to that one. :) And Rift a bit, mainly for minions which are very addictive.

    The holiday period, and having some free time, is going to be wonderful.

  • MMOs,  Warcraft

    Going Home Again

    While I have been working through a massive pile of work to do (a twelve hour day yesterday, I kid thee not), Phil has been on holiday. All. Summer. Long. He works for a school, so he just had six full weeks of holiday.

    I hate him, just a little bit. Hey, I kid, I kid…I think.

    Anyway, along with working through a long “Honey Do” list, he’s been doing a lot of gaming and one of those games has been Warcraft. We have old friends who have been playing with him after being away from the game for a long time, and me when I can. It’s been wonderful.

    Phil played Warcraft in beta over ten years ago; I didn’t play at launch, but probably began playing in 2005. I rolled a warlock (who I am still playing as a main today) and never looked back. This was the point where I truly became a real gamer. Oh, sure, I’d played before that, beginning with Quake and lan parties all the way to roleplay in Vampire the Masquerade, Mage, Changeling, etc. I was always a gamer, but Warcraft was the game in which I discovered a place to actually live in as a part of a band of adventurers, rather than a way to spend an evening. I watched the sun rise over the Barrens, hunted fabulous beasts to tame as my animal companions and stood shoulder-to-shoulder before Ragnaros and Nefarion.

    As the years went by there were newer, shinier games to experience, but none that I’ve loved as much as I did Warcraft, and wherever I go I will always have that memory of sitting on a small hill in the Barrens, watching dawn slowly creep over the grass plains as a herd of gazelle bound past. It will always feel like home.

     

    Vanilla Wow

  • MMOs

    ArcheAge: Getting the Most Out of Beta

    ArcheAge ShipArcheAge can be overwhelming at first (as in one of the betas, when you are trying to see as much as possible, decide on classes, races, etc., and also get your head around a very complicated farming and crafting system). There is just so much to do, so much to see, that it seems impossible to evaluate the game over a single weekend. We purchased the Archeum packages as soon as they were available and I’ve had a lot of time to try different classes, explore various areas and learn about as many aspects of the game as possible. Since ArcheAge is such a deep, at times very complex game, that time has been essential and was well worth the cost of the pack (all of the perks and currency are going to be pretty nice as well, but more about that later).

    Rolling a Character

    Ideally, you’ll be able to get into several beta events. With 120 class combinations you’ll want to try several. All of the races have racials that will actually matter in game, such as the Elf swim speed increase and longer underwater breathing which I am very partial to. Each race has a different starting area and unique mount, and although the quests are pretty typical MMO fare they all manage to convey the characteristics of that race.

    With a few caveats, I love the character customisation area. There is a distinct lack of darker skins, which bothers me a bit as someone who normally plays darker-skinned characters. There isn’t a way to customise your body. Aside from that, there is a wealth of facial customisation – for someone like myself who can spend hours building the perfect face, it’s wonderful. And saveable, which is the most important thing for beta! In the lower right-hand corner of the screen is a button that will allow you to name and save your presets.

    Skill calculator

    A Place To Call Home

    One of the more important activities (and one of the most rewarding) in ArcheAge is farming and crafting. This system happens to be in flux right now as Trion tries to Westernise the game. To a lot of players, said “Westernisation” seems to involve balancing their desire for you to buy things in the shop versus the players’ desire to just have a good time, and hopefully they’ll find a midpoint that stops short of an Allods-level cash grab. Hint: just look up “labor points” on the forums. :)

    Since housing and land are not instanced in ArcheAge, and there are limited amounts of it, early access is going to be a land grab. People will be levelling as fast as possible in order to get land for farms and houses staked out. I would suggest watching all of the cutscenes and enjoying the beauty and richness of the early game in beta so that you can haul ass at launch. Once land is gone, it’s gone. Remember the land rush scene in Far and Away? Yep, that’s exactly what launch is going to be like, so stop and smell those early flowers in beta.

    Friends and Family

    It is worth doing some research into guilds prior to the game launching: get to know people, find the right group and be sure to meet up and say howdy at some point during the beta weekend. In this game having the right guild is going to be very important, as much of what you want to do will be made much more pleasant and easier with a group. If you know that you’re interested in farming and doing trade runs, for example, it’s much easier and MUCH more fun to do that first trade run across the sea with your guild, preferably in a ship. I did mine solo, and it took two tries (I lost my first pack to a bunch of sea bugs). The second one I did by swimming the whole way in stealth, which took frickin’ FOREVER.

    Although I am by nature a solo MMO player, I’m putting my anti-social preferences aside for this game. You’re going to need a group of people to play with some of the time – and you’re going to want it, as you’ll have some of the most riotous, hysterically fun experiences ever with them.

    You can also form a family, which means that you can share each other’s property, work each other’s farms and so on. This comes in handy as you can share chores, pool LP (labor points, you’ll come to know more about labor points than you ever wanted to in AA) and so on.

    Gathering

    You don’t need to train gathering skills, so from level one if you see a tree, cut that sucker down. Pick that flower, mine that node. They all give XP, but also use labor points, so use your discretion if you find that you’re running low. Many of the plants you see will be useful for the first trade quests, so I always gather everything I can. You can’t harvest other people’s farms, but if they plant in the wild you can gather their crops. Be warned, though, that a jury system exists in ArcheAge and most trial juries seem to regard stealing crops or uprooting trees as being a crime worse than piracy. If you uproot trees in the wild you won’t get XP but you will occasionally get a sapling, which you can save and then plant on your own land.

    Mounts and Ships

    There are some pretty cool mounts in game, and you should have your first one by level five or so. If you’re brave, you can cross the sea and buy a mount from the opposite faction, which is always a hair-raising and exciting experience. Mounts level up with you and have their own XP pool, so make sure that you have a pet out when you’re fighting or on foot. At level 20 you’ll be able to get your first battle pet to fight by your side, and he levels up the same way. Quite early on you’ll get a rowboat from one of the quests, keep that in your inventory. You can do your first trade run in the rowboat, but it will be both slow and dangerous.

    You can buy mount armor from any stablemaster, which provides speed and health boosts. Upgrade as you level your pet.

    Lions and Tigers and…PvP

    ArcheAge is in part a PvP game, there is no denying that. However, if you aren’t comfortable with PvP it is entirely possible to level to cap without participating…you will be missing a lot of the fun, though! There isn’t any on-land PvP at all until you reach level 30, and after that you’ll be levelling through areas which are sometimes at war, sometimes at peace. The seas, however, are always PvP. One of the elements of the game that I am decidedly unfond of is same-faction killing (PKing), which I personally think is the lowest form of PvP. Gankers and griefers aside, though, you’ll rarely experience something as exciting as trying to take a tradeship through hostile waters with friends. :)

    Have Fun!

    I normally don’t do a lot of these posts anymore, but I wanted to for ArcheAge. Like many longterm MMO players I’ve fallen out of gaming a bit while remaining nostalgic for that first love, that game where you realised that you could blow an entire evening, an entire weekend, immersed in that world. I think (I hope) that AA is going to be that game for me. This is going to be my home, and I hope that you love it as much as I do.

     

    ArcheAge