Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just put 1 foot in front of the other...

Last night I’m out and about on Glam with the blackmage leveling 12-13. FoV in La Thiene on bees and saplings. 1st thing I can say is that the treasure hound effect is doing precisely dick. I’m hoping for seeds to replenish the gardening mule, which I’m hoping to get back to using soon, but the damn things aren’t dropping (40 kills since I started there a few days ago, think I got 1 seed).

For whatever reason I’m just not having great amounts of luck. I died twice due to agro from mobs I was safely past while pulling my target mobs. Can’t wait for sleepaga, but not sure I’ll ever get it as I’m only taking blackmage to 25. XP is slowing down as that FoV refresh is making less of a dent in my MP; I really need to go get a new pilgrim’s wand. Still, it’s a lot faster than it used to be soloing for XP. I’m going to have to start partying soon, but holding off until I transfer my 14-20 gear over, and not doing that until I hit 14 on both black and red mage.

As I’m finishing up my level another player runs by, chased by a monster. She is headed in the general direction of the zone line but she’s zigzagging so much that it’s taking her forever to get there. Now I happen to be fighting as I spot her so I can’t help her immediately. I finish off my mob as quick as I can and then TRY to grab hers. Blackmage can grab from a distance, but we can’t cast while moving. Unfortunately, when I try to grab her attacker she finally starts heading for the zone line and so the mob keeps moving out of casting range. I do grab it, but she zones anyway. Just frustrating trying to help someone and not being able to, whatever.

Eventually I do finish off the level. I decide to log for dinner. I fully intended to come back and get level 14 after I ate, but I decide to make a dent in the DVR before I run out of recording time instead. With cartoon network showing Family Guy now the thing is filling up quick.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

R E S P E C T, find out what it means to me...

Playing with ‘tude…

Anyone notice that ‘tude rhymes with rude? Yes, I’m talking about courtesy and civility and their wide-spread death in the game. It’s frustrating, it’s problematic and it’s lamentable… it’s also a fact of life.

Players just seem deliberately oblivious of the needs of other players now. People sync to level 10 and kill everything with a power level in areas where people that actually are that level are trying to XP so they can kill the mobs for their trial weapons. High level characters come through low-level areas and wipe out everything when they are farming, or just kill things out of boredom when they are waiting for a party to arrive. People with raise just walk by dead people without even offering. People will run by lower-level players that are in trouble from links and not help at all. Japanese players pretend not to speak English even though the majority of the population has studied it and speaks at least some English.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still some decent people out there. Soloing I have often had a nice random player come by and toss me a protect and shell, maybe the odd cure, occasionally a much-needed raise. But the number of times I am passed by without these kind of assists far outnumbers the times when they are received. It’s really a shame. When I 1st started playing, and for the 1st several years, people would just do these kind of things. If they couldn’t because they were the wrong job or whatever they would still ask if you needed help if they saw you lying there or being pounded by multiple enemies and they would see about finding it for you. That doesn’t happen as much anymore.

Now players brought this on in 2 ways. Lower-level players started looking at assistance almost as if it were some kind of entitlement instead of just common courtesy. The higher-level player is not obliged to help you, they can if they choose to. By the same token, higher-level players started to look at things like assisting lower-level players as being a burden and would simply ignore requests, and I’m not speaking about the nasty veiled demands masquerading as requests (the entitlement people I mentioned a second ago) but polite requests for help. Some players have no doubt been burned by scammers, others just frustrated by seeming to have to spend their time on everyone else but themselves, everyone has a reason.

We’ve all had the experience of being in an area long before anyone else and having someone else move in and just take over, expecting you to leave. The RMT crowd were the worst, but they were looking at it as “I’m here feeding my family, you’re just playing a game”; that attitude is probably at least part of why they don’t have jobs and need to play a videogame to make ends meet. As a beastmaster I caught this more than most players, I’d be soloing in a good spot and some XP, NM camping or farming party would just show up and expect me to leave since “you can level anywhere” even though that is NOT the case. We’ve all been in the Dunes when yet another party shows up but the zone simply can’t support another group. Most of us remember the days when MPK was still common and some jackass would stampede a group of enemies through your party just because it was “funny”.

I used to belong to a good LS before I found SK and after GoH had suffered it’s 1st serious dissolution called PayitForward, which is a nice English reference to karma. They really were a good group and the golden rule was alive and well there. I both gave and got a lot of help from the members and I was sorry to see the leader quit and dissolve it. I think we really need to bring that kind of thing back. These days it is all to common to see LS’s acting like little armed camps fighting against the other LS’s out there with no respect or at least courtesy between them. Granted, everyone should give Trevino’s LS shit, he’s such a flaming asshole that he deserves it. But other than that we really need people to realize that—for example—your LS doesn’t own Charby and another group aren’t jack-asses for showing up to get a joytoy for one of their members. Point of fact, that’s one of the reasons I don’t come running when one of our members gets the claim on him; if he wasn’t prepared to take him out he should have let a group that was have him.

Now I don’t know if it’s even possible to start a courtesy movement on the server without just being flagged as Caitsith’s doormats but I’d sure like to try. I think it would have to be a grass-roots kind of thing, and noone would be served by acting like doormats. For example, many is the time that NewDawn lost a desired zone for Dynamis, but if the other LS showed up on-time, prepared and ready while we were just straggling in for a 20+ minute late start as far as I’m concerned they deserved the zone; after all, all we were doing was making things worse for the group that wanted the zone at 11:00 EST but couldn’t as we wouldn’t be finished until about 11:30. However, if we were already there, had scheduled it in advance on the voluntary sites and had people ready to go then we should never give up the zone. What we should have done is enter on time and the rude dicks in the LS who showed up late could simply join us at their own risk, and hopefully the relic they needed had already dropped and gone to someone else. Whatever, I have opinions and I’m not out to win any popularity contests here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dowah ditty ditty dum ditty do...

Glamdring, the update!

Been awhile since the last update folks, and several things have happened.

Friday we had attendance issues in the Dynamis shell and had to cancel the run. Rather than everyone going their own separate ways we decided to do other things as a shell. Many of the players needed Fenrir for summoner. I haven’t done the pre-reqs for that so I had to forgo it. All I know is they won and it went smoothly. I ended up with the other group doing “Voidwalker NMs”. Yeah, I never even heard of them before either.

Well, the only advice I can give in general is be prepared before you pop whatever it is. The 2 fights where I died were both unprepared pops. When we were ready, the fights went smooth (a few deaths, not wipes). The NMs we fought went down 50% right off the bat from Zerg (we had a full alliance though). We got no drops or advancement though, at least noone mentioned any. If I ever get around to doing these myself I might get into more detail, but not today.

Saturday I went out with the thief. While I was supposed to do CoP with Futility we had to cancel. The needy guy showed up but none of our friends were willing. I don’t know about his people, but all mine are interested in these days is getting rank 10 in all nations (useless except for bragging rights) and working on trial weapons. So I had to disappoint Laro, but without the requisite group to win what can you do?

Later, I got invited to join Doncado killing scorps for his trial weapon (he needs to sync to me for XP or else his kills don’t count). I was just finishing up a level on thief, so I asked him to hold off about 20 minutes so I could finish and get to him. In the interim, he volunteered to help flesh out a BCNM group. At that point I just cleaned out my inventory and logged for the night.

The next day I get up and realize that I’m getting very tired of soloing thief; tired enough that if I had no other options I probably would have just quit the game for a few weeks. Fortunately, I do have other options. With the new level cap coming, I have to get my sub-jobs to 49 soon. Unfortunately, I don’t have what most would consider to be viable subs for whitemage (I leveled as a whitemage/bard to get to 37 which is a good choice for an Elvan, using Paeon to lighten the load on my pathetic MP), so I decide to level black and red mages to 25. I put 3 suits of armor on to storage NPC to give myself some space. Then I raided my mules for level 1 mage gear (which I do have). Turns out I tossed Glam’s Pilgrim Wand some time ago thinking I was done with mage jobs, so I need to get one of those again soon.

In any event, FoV has totally changed the way low-level mages level. Getting Field Support Refresh means I can just power through monsters for the most part for an hour at a time. Actually, I burn more time getting to and from the camp when I need to go back to town to dump inventory and get spells. One other drawback—I had other characters I was going to level these other jobs on (Glam was meant to be a beast and bard only) and I actually started the jobs. Some of the spells I need are only obtainable from non-repeatable quests and that means I need to use these other characters to quest these spells for Glam.

Long story short, Monday comes and I need a scroll from Sandoria. Unfortunately, I need level 3 fame to do it (for a level 12 spell in a beginner job)?! Well, I don’t HAVE any characters with enough Sandy fame that haven’t already done the quest. So now I need to get Sandy fame, annoying since I’ve stripped my other characters of gear and macros already. My only options were a few running around doing cut-scenes quests and the sheep feed in Selbina quest. So, couple hours later, couple thousand poorer I have my Drain scroll for Glam.

Monday night is supposed to be Dynamis Xarcaband, so I’m psyched as this is the zone for the only piece left for my bard. We have 5 PTO, 1 quit without notice, I think 1 or 2 no shows and we have to cancel the 2nd run in a row! We have been winning handily lately, what gives? One member of the LS thinks that with the introduction of level 99 (which hasn’t actually happened yet and SE has a history of being YEARS off schedule with implementing announced changes) people are thinking their level 75 armor is no longer necessary, so they aren’t really trying anymore. I agree that is probably a factor, but my money is still on people being uncommitted lazy shits instead. Eighteen hours and I’m still pissed. The group fragments and splits before we can pick an alternate activity. Myself, I finished getting the scroll I mentioned above and getting supper before 11p.m. my time.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Follow mine leader!

I actually managed a Blue thunder reference, I'm so proud...

Futility is my CoP Linkshell, as I believe I’ve mentioned before. The idea to do a shell as opposed to a static party is quite deliberate. A static party is a group of 6 people dedicated achieving a single goal at set times for whoever the static is formed to benefit (often, more experienced/progressed players will form a group to carry a few needy people through whatever). This is all fine and good, but it isn’t exactly flexible, although it tends to be very organized and focussed. The LS on the other hand is meant to be flexible and less organized by design.

The shell is meant to make this more like a social LS helping members than a static group. Ideally, members will be needy people, veterans willing to help and hopefully leaders who can expand available run-times beyond the Thursday evening, Saturday afternoon and Sunday mornings I have established for runs I will manage. The lowest progressed guy in the CoP mission line determines which run will be done, and all shell members are required to be willing to back-track to help. The primary goal is to get everyone past Diablos for Dynamis Dreamlands access, the secondary goal is to get everyone sea/Limbus access. Both of these end-game activities are popular and have rewards that make them worthwhile, but few groups really seem determined to get people qualified to do them. CoP has never been easy to get through as the missions are very annoying and few people are willing to face them again. This may change if the level-cap is removed as advertised. Members are expected to do their cut-scenes and easily soloed missions on their own time, coming ready for the fight at run times.

Unfortunately, missions like these do have a cost for helpers too. Reraise items, food, meds, none of these are free so this is not an insignificant commitment. This also lowers the appeal for helpers/leaders to join. And let’s face it, losing the time to work on your own character is probably the biggest cost of all.

Now I am not the most qualified guy to lead these missions that you will find. I do not have maps for many of the areas as they are quested items that hardly anyone does. I have not carried groups through before either, merely being a participant. I don’t have a large selection of jobs either to flesh out parties. Nonetheless, I am willing to do what needs doing, and those who have offered to help are all great people. The shell is supposed to make this a step above a pick-up party; we will all develop a degree of “chemistry” with the other players in the shell so we can better work together on the tougher missions.

Now I have had problems with attendance with this shell since I had to take a break due to some real-life activities, nothing bad, just family stuff with a sister coming back from Hong Kong and another who was about to have her 1st child. Those have since resolved and I have been trying to revive the shell through my social and Dynamis shells (this is very much a “word of mouth” operation). Unfortunately, for the last couple weeks noone has been showing up at run times. That changed last night.

Laro got my name from Laili, a player in NewDawn, and I pearled him over the weekend. Well he actually showed up last night. Unfortunately, all of my normal helpers were unavailable, most not even logged in. Noone in my social LS was available to help either. So unfortunately Laro ended up getting the other 4 helpers because I got nothing (although I did ask around), not an auspicious entrance to the LS for what I wanted to show to a new guy. Now Laro’s progress was… weird. He got to mission 2-3 with pick-up partys, and he managed to beat the Minotaur. Now for whatever reason the pick-up party didn’t get him through the torch door?! VERY strange. So all we did last night is help him kill a few stegotaurs and body-guard him incase we got blood agro from fomors (luckily everyone had hate within reason, as fomor start to detect even through Sneak if your hate is high enough). Well we finished his mission easily and he went off to get his cutscenes. I told him to be ready for mammets (barring anyone else showing up) if he can be ready for Saturday afternoon.

Now both before and after last night’s CoP I was working on leveling thief. Initially, I was soloing scorpions and goblins on FoV in West Altep. Mousie offered to join me for a duo with her dragoon after the CoP run which I thought was damn decent of her. I consult the Dancer solo guide for my level since I am unaware of any thief solo guides. The suggestion of Werebats in Bostaniauex Obuilette seems doable. We decide to go and work on them. Well, we get to camp, I neglect to tell Mousie it is a very good camp as we are maybe 8 steps from a zone line. Things go well until one bat out of hell eats Mousie’s face. After RR is when she finds how close the zone line is, again, my bad. Well Usul comes to power level us (a higher level player with healing abilities who stays outside party and heals members of party, may or may not tank as well). The only problem is now the kills are too quick. There are only 5 bats by camp and we are killing them much too fast now to maintain a cycle, so the XP suffers. I do manage to cap throwing and pick up 5 of 10 needed levels on marksmanship, so that’s good. We study some of the other solo guides, mostly due to a lack of duo/trio guides and get some ideas. However, it’s already about 10 minutes to midnight central and I still need food before bed so we call it a night.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Everybody's working for the weekend...

As usual I didn't post over the weekend despite having plenty of time, go figure. The stop smoking thing is up to 5.5 days now; irritable, raspy-voiced (not fun since I like to sing, I sound like a deep-voiced Kim Carnes now) and just generally bad company. Did you know you can't find the giant pack of Big Red gum most places? I need something to do with my mouth in lieu of cigarettes; I'd rather not substitute morbid obesity for the cigs if you get my meaning...

It's been a few days since my last post so several things have happened. Friday was Dynamis. We got jacked on glacier by Straymetal, a JP shell that I am convinced is all RMT (real money traders) based on their always entering and running with low-man crews. They must be doing something right however as they always seem to do full 3 hour runs. In any event, we end up doing Sandy again.

Fashnek was pulling zone for the 1st time. He didn't think much of the job he did but he was wrong. The pulls were clean and the pace was right; it seemed slow, but we actually had time to spare to kill the boss and farm which is exactly what you want. The only dirty pull was one that is supposed to be a sac pull, and Fash had people guiding him on what the pulls were, the guide screwed up in not warning him that it was a sac, Fashnek did fine. Point of fact, we all did for the most part.

We did end up in a long debate about reraises though. One of our members was using reraise items (we actually have a rule that says you will have RR items with you, but the way it is worded makes it sound like leaders will tell you when you have to use them. He seemed to think using them was mandatory. For what it's worth I think it should be. NewDawn has had issues of late with fielding large enough groups, we've even had to cancel several nights due to low attendance. When you have to low-man zones wipes are more common due to lack of damage output, insufficient healers, sleepers die and are less effective while weakened (enemies resist the spell), etc. Raise is a spell to come back from death that white mages, red mages, scholars and paladins have (although only whitemages have Raise 2 or 3) or those using white mage as a sub-job. This means that only a few people can raise our deaders after a wipe (I don't have sufficient MP to do so until weakness wears myself). In addition, there is a time limit before raise can be cast again. Now reraise removes the burden of raising for every player who uses it. We also have players who think they are too important to take anything but a Raise 3.

Brief explanation of what happens when you die for non-players. Obviously, you are out of commission. You can return to your home point and instantly be at full strength. Death costs 10% of the XP needed to reach the next level(at whatever level you are when you die), and you can actually lose your current level if you are too close to the bottom of your level. Raise can revive you without your having to homepoint, XP loss is reduced but you suffer from weakness for 5 minutes from the time you get up, if you die while weakened you will be double (or triple, quadruple, etc.) weak, meaning that ablilities that can be resisted are more easily resisted by enemies, and your HP and MP are greatly reduced, meaning you can cast less and take less damage. The XP loss is why responsible players work to keep their XP "capped", i.e. as high as possible (43,999 at level 75) so that they can survive multiple deaths without losing their level.

So back to the debate. The argument was because of the time it takes to recover from a large death. The sooner the whole group is up, the sooner weakness wears and we can fight at full strength. If players are not using RR, that means they have to wait until one of our raisers has MP and their Raise timer is up; if they insist on a higher raise (to save XP) it takes even longer for the group to recover. When we are struggling for time this means we may have to fight at reduced strength, lessening our chances for survival as I believe I mentioned, just to have a chance at achieving our goals. I've never understood why people don't keep their XP up. We all have 5 days with no runs to earn lost XP back. One person said some of us have jobs, lives and children, but since all of us have work (or school), family and lives that argument doesn't really wash. Better to say some of us have dedication and leave it at that. In any event, we didn't settle on anything as far as policy on using RR items.

We got the win, unfortunately we didn't get that much relic. Some nights are like that tho'. Usually when we do have tons of relic falling it's all for jobs noone needs, like puppetmaster or something. When I first joined NewDawn beastmaster and bard were largely unwanted, to the point that I had to go into negative points to get relic, as leaders hate seeing needed relic hitting the floor I was told to take it despite not having points at the time. So that was Friday night.

Saturday I split my playing time up. I was on through the early afternoon killing funnel bats in the Shitadel as I was able to get some range skill-ups off of them with my now 55 thief. I was on so I could monitor my CoP shell, which is supposed to run on Sat. afternoons 2pm EDT. However, noone needing it ever logged on to do fights. So I logged to tend to some RL tasks. When I logged back on I fully intended to continue killing bats, but Doncado was on LS asking for help with killing scorps for his trial weapon augment. He needed to sync down so that scorps would give XP (the kill doesn't count if they don't). Well I offered as scorps would work even better for skill-ups than bats if we synced to my level which was fine with Doncado. I did add a bunch of skill to my range attacks in between the FoV pages we were doing, although the page mobs were useless. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating for scorps, as he needed fire conditions. I think we managed 3 scorps total.

Sunday when I logged on is also supposed to be a CoP run (mornings, I have better things to do than waste time and money on church). While I'm waiting for the 10am run-time I decided to make more bolts; skilling up underleveled marksmanship means I go through alot of bolts so I made the lumber and then bolts to the tune of 15 quivers of acid bolts. I really should have done this saturday morning because the full moon increases the chances of getting high-quality results (in the case of bolts and lumber that means getting more-not better-than the usual synthesis results), but I wasn't thinking that far ahead, sue me. Run time came and went with noone showing up, so I decide to finish off getting 56 on thief. I also did a bit of inventory management before I logged to do housework and the like. Think I'm going to get some crafting done soon just to get my inventory under control. Since abandoning my other characters I now have 15 (instead of 9) mules so it sure needs doing. And both of my crystal storage mules are overflowing (that means 300 stacks of crystals, enough to make a few things).

Friday, April 16, 2010

...faces look ugly when you're alone, women seem wicked...

Quitting smoking makes you nasty... OK, that’s true and I been smoking 24 years so I got a lot of nasty to dish out.

Did another FoV in Xarcaband last night. Thief/dancer really doesn’t pound out the damage. Took over an hour to do page 5 despite being 2 levels higher than the toughest enemy I faced. I think I mentioned that I don’t like soloing thief for XP? Well I have now. Chatting on the LS and get invited by Mousie to tag along with her and Usul (in a level 38 sync). Ordinarily I would have said no with martial master active and me needing to skill-up. However, I’m not getting any skill-ups as it is so I figure why not?

Now they are both leveling ninja/dancer so I figure thief/dancer would be redundant. I decide to go thief/ninja for the extra dagger. Well it does not go smoothly. Part of it is probably a difference in playing styles. When I /dancer Drain Samba is up 100% of the time (unless I have reason to do Aspir or I’m fighting undead which are immune), unless I’m blocked by a paralysis or something from getting it off. It just seems to increase survivability to me.

In addition, when I am in a group I am always on the opposite side of a mob, since it seems to affect specials and the like. Doing this is especially important when working with a thief below level 60. Thief’s signature move is SATA>weapon skill (Sneak Attack Trick Attack), at that level the WS being Viper Bite. Now there are multiple elements to that move. Sneak Attack is a guaranteed Critical Hit when done from behind the enemy, at level 38 SA Viper Bite does about 200-220 damage. Trick Attack provides a bonus to damage (but not a guaranteed hit) when striking from behind a party member (regardless of which way the enemy is facing) and gives the hate generated from it to the guy you are behind, Trick Attack Viper bite doing about 150 at level 38. The 2 are synergistic if you can manage to SATA>WS from behind the mob and a pt member it does about 415 at that level. With neither SA nor TA working my Viper Bite only does about 60 at that level. Quite a disparity in damage as you can see. SATA is why you almost always see a thief in any party with a ninja tank, they are there for hate control.

Well, I’m already ready to rip the face off a bull rhinocerous and piss in what’s left if it will get me a cigarette, obviously not the best mood for patience and understanding. Usul and Mousie are both friends and Mousie I’m especially careful of not hurting because of the issues in her life (hers to reveal if she wishes, consult her blog if she gives you the invite). So I’m grinding my teeth, punching my desktop and pounding down an adult beverage every time I see that message that I did less than 400 on an SATA Viper.

Incidentally, now about 60 hours since my last cigarette as I write this and the urge is worse, not better. I imagine I’m going to be “Mr. Charm” in Dynamis tonight.

I mentioned they were doing FoV pages when they invited me. We decide to try a harder page in hopes that 3 people can make it work instead of 2 (sound theory usually). It might have worked, but finding a safe camp wasn’t really working in our favor. A safe camp is an area where no aggressive monsters roam, close enough to your prey to make pulling viable but out of linking range with their brother monsters. Not to mention the minor fact that Opo-opos (monkeys) are a royal pain in the ass, having very high evasion (our /dancers are a couple levels off from having the Evasion Down move of dancer yet), dispel, and a couple nasty debuffs (poison, etc). We all die multiple times just trying to get clear of them so we can cancel the FoV page. We could probably handle them now that Mousie got level 40, but not last night at 38...

In any event, we decide to go with page 2 instead. Now for whatever reason, SE put Mandys on page 2 with wasps and Goblins and lizards on page 1. Goblins and lizards are harder (and higher level)than Mandys but lower than wasps, just a bit strange the way they set that up. Regardless, page 2 goes much better. In fact, my only complaint is that synced that low I have to use consumable items for stealth; luckily my alchemy is high enough that I can make my own fairly reasonably. Despite a few bumps in the road (links, agro) we eventually do manage to win a few of these pages. Mousie and Usul both leveled at least once (although Mousie ended the night dead while she was AFK), and I reached level 55. Now this was weird too; I needed 90 XP to reach level and got exactly 90 on our last kill. When I logged last night my XP was listed as 0. I don’t think I’ve seen that happen in about 5 years.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Do you feel the way you hate, do you hate the way you feel?

Once upon a time there was a happy elf named Glamdring. He chatted with players from all walks of life. He gladly fought to raise his skills and powers in hopes that one day he would be able to return the favors of help he had received from other players, and carry newer players to the end-game content he himself had striven so hard to achieve. He laughed at the deaths he suffered along the way for doing things his way, not the established “cookie cutter” approaches to play. He thought hard about ways for people to pass challenges when they didn’t have the required jobs or gear. He always pushed the envelope of what could be achieved through determination, hard work and a lack of fear of losing.

An announcement-long dreaded but not unexpected-put an end to the simple enjoyment this fellow once had. The successor to his beloved FFXI was on the horizon and the warning signs were already here. Long-time players were cutting back on playing time if not quitting altogether. Parties were impossible to find unless you are willing to hurt your character or have already achieved high-level mastery. The game economy is rendered wildly unstable. Groups banding together to beat difficult tasks requiring larger groups out of friendship and pleasure in eachother’s company are replaced by dictatorial bands that require all your efforts be focused on advancing the leaders’ agendas, and all your free time be focused on funding those efforts. The bragging rights of saying you have beaten a certain challenge are becoming more important than the building of newer abilities in the character you have taken so long to develop.

Then an announcement of a massive amount of new content in FFXI throws everything into a cocked hat as this elf tries to advance himself in another field prior to the introduction of all the new content. He tries to balance his passtime with his real world needs. There are just so many demands… An illness makes game play difficult. Real-world job searches bearing no fruit rob the ability to take happiness from pleasures in the game because tomorrow is so uncertain. The game itself is becoming work…

Most players have achieved end-game stats in at least one job, generally more than one, and often in jobs that are more sought after than the elf’s beastmaster and bard. He seeks to raise a thief now, a job the game is already saturated with in hopes of expanding his utility in end-game scenarios where fear of death or loss makes others reluctant to fill certain roles. He is forced to solo for most of his advancement, because he refuses to follow the conventional path of “sync down to raise your level, then go back with skill-up groups to raise your skills”, wanting to be able to work with groups his own level when he achieves the high 60’s where people start playing at their own level again.

Soloing is a slow and painful method of advancement for a thief because their damage output is so low without a group to work within. Short of going through prohibitively expensive quantities of ammunition, gear, reraise items and tools to allow himself to use a 2nd weapon and fight higher level enemies, our elf is forced to fight enemies of a lower yield simply to survive while raising his level methodically. Those who could assist him are primarily focused on synced parties or acquiring trophies and bragging rights. So he drives forward alone.

His goal of helping others through the CoP storyline will also take its toll. Committed to 3 days a week if those in need show up for runs, he is unable to advance his thief level, excepting those few battles where his thief may be the job most useful for him to play. This was his commitment, the inconveniences voluntarily assumed, but it still has a cost. Our elf is not happy in himself anymore. He can only take pleasure in what he helps others to achieve, seeming to achieve nothing himself any longer.

In the real world he is aging, but without those achievements once so important to him. He has just stopped smoking, but he has doubts about his ability to stay off them, the substances meant to aid in this being a great source of displeasure. In the game his friends seem focused on goals that are incompatible with those of the elf, not a new development, as the elf has spent most of his gaming life on the road lest traveled. Frustrations mount and the elf feels the pressures from within and without taking their toll. Can he still grind his way to success one more time? The elf has doubts…

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Feels like the 1st time...

Dynamis Windy last night. If it seems like we do this zone a lot keep in mind that there are only 10 Dynamis zones total, and some of them you don’t wanna touch without a big turnout and a lot of prep.

In my opinion Windy is the hardest of the cities. Yagudo have an AoE stun move that they like to use, the statues like to sleep and dispel a lot and the trap pulls are just very inconvenient. Not to mention that all the houses have to be sacrifice pulls. I suppose I should discuss those.

Dynamis isn’t like normal zones. All that’s there to begin with are statues. Getting hate from a statue causes enemies to spawn; if the spawned enemies are close enough to the next statue it will link and you can end up with a nasty little chain reaction going on. Now in Dynamis you do need to kill specific enemies, whether it be for time extension, to weaken the final boss or simply to satisfy a condition to spawn the boss. Unfortunately, the specific mob you need is usually buried in enough other monsters to wipe out your group several times over. The sacrifice (aka “sac”) pull is a strategy designed to get past that. First of all, in a sac nobody except the puller and claimer can do anything to prevent getting hate from that giant group of mobs. A thief/ninja will get hate from the entire group, and then run away with all the bad-guys chasing him to a safe place to die and reraise. The claimer will use a non-damaging way to get hate (usually “Provoke”) to get hate from the specific bad-guy we need and have it chase them back to the main group. After the thief has died, the rest of the group can engage and kill the bad guy. If the pull was clean, all of the other bad guys will return to their original spawn points and everyone is safe. If the pull was dirty, all of the other bad guys will come kill the main group and dance on our corpses; usually this results in a called wipe so we can move on.

Enough about that. Last night we were fortunate enough to have some infrequent players join us, as well as a new guy to our group, and we like new guys. As always, there were some hairy moments, but if there weren’t what would be the point of playing? This was our 1st run with Oakami as our run leader (with Vexes giving a great deal of assistance), Oak and Vex being a real-life husband and wife team so they can talk shop without having to resort to Skype. They did quite well actually. No real change from our usual strategy for this zone, followed the same path and such. For whatever reason, the pace was much better than usual, maybe it was just that we didn’t wipe at all. Well, we got the win (which noone needed except from a morale standpoint) and even had 40ish minutes left to farm! Felt like old times, we used to do this every run when I 1st joined.

Suffice it to say that if we can keep up this kind of performance we may be able to reclaim our winning ways. Now NewDawn has been around a lot longer than I’ve been a member, but even in my time I have won every zone except Tavnazia. We want to get all of our members back to that point. Tavnazia is sort of a trophy point for people who do Dynamis, and we all want to be able to sport the “I Killed Diablos and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt!”. We’ll see…

Monday, April 12, 2010

Slow ride, take it easy...

So Saturday I end up not playing at all that night. I don’t want to solo, I can’t find a party at 53, I refuse to sync to 16 and I don’t feel like changing to one of the 75s and going out. Quantum of Solace and a couple good boxing matches made for a decent night though.

Sunday I get up quite early and I’m ready to solo the thief and get some skill-ups on my ranged. I make a quick trip to Castle Zvahl Baileys to work on Demons, thinking I can solo them without my NPC, suggested from the Dancer solo guide. Demons link from long ranges. So I’m back to level 52 in a hurry and I’m out my outpost warp fees. Annoying to say the least.

Well, someone logs on to the LS. Haven’t had a lot of contact with her as she generally runs with a different group, but Vella wants to do something. So she invites me to join her Dragoon in Cape Terrigan doing FoV pages. Now I have no idea she is level 75 already but I go and she just sort of happily carries me on her back, even when we get some extra people. Funniest moment had to be Taydr cure-bombing Daybreaker so that he couldn’t get refresh from the field manual. He kept that up for almost half an hour! I honestly thought Day was going to cry… I even tried to help Day by pulling a bunny and SATAing it on to Taydr, but no go. Regardless, they let me ride for the full 10,600 XP I needed to get to 54; Damn nice of them if you ask me.

Well, I eventually logged to take care of some real life stuff (laundry, groceries, etc.) but I do log back in. I get to help Mousie with some of her Dragoon AF, which is good since she helped me with mine and I like to repay the kindnesses of others when I can. I also like to repay people for being assholes, but that’s another story for another post. Well, while I’m helping Mousie I get a tell (private message) from Doncado asking if I can help with Nyzul. I let him know if he still needs me when I’m done helping Mousie that I’ll help. I manage to help the Mousie and in short order I pop to Whitegate to do Nyzul.

We don’t actually have a full group yet, so I get to play the waiting game. Patience is not really one of my virtues, especially when I haven’t eaten yet. I know that if I start supper they’ll be ready to go immediately though so I just sit and wait. Well, we eventually get a full group and head in. First tag, second floor of the climb we get a “kill all” floor. Normally I like these because of the action. This time we get a horrible NM to deal with, Cappricious Cassie. Now this is a hard NM even for some alliances let alone a party, so we already know we are screwed on time. Multiple deaths ensue and we kill it eventually just on general principles more than anything else. Unfortunately, the other mob left is Sewer Syrup, another NM although not as bad as Cassie. Well we wipe to it and just let ourselves get timed out.

Now ordinarily we would make a couple more attempts, but our 6th doesn’t get up from her raise. I mean ever. We probably waited a good 40 minutes. Now by this point it’s getting late and I’m hungry and cranky. So I eventually log for the night. By this time it’s so late that I forgo the nice meal I had planned on making in favor of a frozen pizza. I pop on the DVR to watch the latest episode of The Pacific on HBO. Totally off the subject of this blog, one of the best things I have ever seen on TV is Band of Brothers, the miniseries about Easy company of the 101st airbourne from WWII in the European theater of operations. Well the same group of filmmakers got together to do The Pacific. So far I’d have to say it is good, but not as good as Band of Brothers was. Still, it’s good to see something that shows just how heroic these guys really were. Honestly, I hope they do something similar for both WWI and Korea. I’m a history buff but even I’m not really up on these wars and the men who fought in them. Regardless, I highly encourage you to watch if you can.

Friday, April 9, 2010


It's no fun being sick. Bronchitis, almost turned to pneumonia, not a great way to spend your days. Coughing so hard I've actually pulled a bunch of muscles in my chest, back and abdomen. So I'm taking a bunch of meds and moving in a perpetual fog. Nothing sustains my interest, can't summon up the ambition to really take on anything, everything seems tedious and slightly confusing, like it's out of sequence.

Been trying to get some stuff done with the thief this week, managed to hit lvl 53 this afternoon. But I've been logging out a lot to do something else. So this took a lot longer than it needed to. Spoken with a friend a bit, that's a good thing. Been out of work the last 4 days, that's not a good thing. Now I find someone stole my grill (and it was a VERY expensive grill) sometime in the last 2 days. I loved that grill. At least my basic view of humanity is sustained...

Thief is a bit boring somethimes to solo level. Kills are relatively slow for a guy used to beastmaster just plowing through enemies. Skilling-up without a tank to play with means that I can't go after stuff that is too hard. Being past 50 means the XP required to advance increases a lot more than before, meeaning I have to kill many more bad guys. The drops I'm getting are worthless, except the wind crystals; I'm going to be using those soon when I log to get stuff to make thief tools to raise goldsmithing.

Really not much to say, no real accomplishments this whole week.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Oh look, the Easter Bunny left all these Raisenettes!

No posts for a few days, I been feeling weird…

April 1st ends up being a strange night. I get asked by Usul to sub for someone in the Nyzul Isle group. No problem, I’m game. The 1st run I’m asked to go bard and we end up confirming what seems to always be the case, bard simply isn’t as useful as a dedicated damage dealer or healer or whatever. So the remaining runs I’m asked to go beast (which is a damage dealer) and I sub ninja for the extra axe. These runs go better, but we ran into issues on the last run with getting spammed with charms (meaning one of our players is now working for the enemy). This ends up costing us too much time so we actually only had 1 successful run. We try to do 1 last assault but run into rank issues with one of the players. Instead, we work on kills for Usul’s new augmentable weapons. I don’t actually understand this system so I’ll probably get into it more later.

So, April 2nd we ended up not having Dynamis, some stupid religious holiday, whatever. I made a point of torturing the Catholics in my building and opposite it, home-made Italian Beef slow-cooking all day in my apartment with the windows open so you could smell it everywhere! DAMN tasty too it turned out.

Well, this seemed like a good time to get my bard XP back up (it was under 18k and I’m not comfortable that way) even though I really need to work on thief too. So I decide to campaign battle. Crash course on Campaign for those who don’t know. Campaign is a battle system at random intervals in certain areas against some very tough enemies. The advantage to campaign is that you don’t lose XP on death; in fact, you can actually get XP for raising yourself even though it’s not a lot. The XP system is different too. In campaign you get all your XP at the end of the battle, and it’s calculated on damage done, debuffs, buffs, raises, cures and probably a few other things as well. You cannot get skill-ups at all however. Now I usually campaign as bard/ninja so I can max my damage, keep up constant Hymnus (bard’s AoE reraise song) and constant Paeon (bard’s AoE Regen song) without putting up with all the unreasonable demands placed on bards in merit parties.

I think S.E. did something to the XP rate in campaign recently. I used to average 2-2.5k in a regular area, and 5-8k in Eldeime per battle, but now I’m lucky to be getting half that. In addition, the union drops are frustrating. Noone has ever said S.E. does not discriminate against American players; all updates are scheduled to not interfere with JP prime time but no such provision for American players, stores open a few seconds earlier in japan, they get much more information on their display which is considered cheating by Americans, etc. However, I’m convinced that the treasure lot random number generator for JP players only goes 500-999, not 0-999 as it does for American players. Regardless, I’m getting crappy XP and drops from campaign. I think I’m going to have to start taking parties to campaign to beef up my XP for buffing, which kind of defeats the purpose of campaign.

I did the same thing Saturday when I finally logged on, but I spent the 1st part of the day spending quality time with the new nephew. He’s a good kid, I was there for hours and he never cried once, even when he was tired or hungry. My presents were received well too, so that’s good. To make a long story short, I got bard to 41k XP and logged when I got bored to read a book.

Sunday it was time to break the thief back out. Took my NPC (who’s name is Yufafa for those that are wondering) out and went after beetles in Western Altep. Because of the level sync party I mentioned a few posts ago my ranged attack skills are lagging badly again so I need to get them skilled up. Beetles are a decent choice because the camps work out well. However, I’m running into problems with the majority of the beetles popping DC and not higher, making it difficult to cap marksmanship. I do manage it eventually, but my NPC dies in the process. I actually soloed the last 2 for cap without my NPC. I decide to move before I try the same thing with throwing to get a more favorable level range. I end up choosing lizards in Crawler’s Nest-certainly not my favorite choice, but it’ll work. Now these things link and they like to gather in groups which makes pulling them to safe places to fight a bit tricky, but the practice certainly won’t hurt me any. However, I promised myself that I would get some real-life work done so I end up logging there not even half-way finished.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ramble On!

Trying to get 75 in a hurry when you really have no interest in the intervening levels can cause some problems for you.

When I was leveling bard I was able to carry over a lot of my gear from my quite well equipped beast. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with thief. You see, beast and bard are primarily driven by Charisma, but thief needs Dexterity and Agility and the combat skill of accuracy, all of which are weak points for Elves. Now I do have a fair amount of decent gear to 50 for all of those problems, but then there is a long gap to cover until the 70s.

I have a few items from Shdwatch I can use, and I’ve made thief my Dynamis alternate lot so I should be ok once I hit those levels. Other than that I have a couple items I can quest and my artifact gear to carry me through to those levels. Now most people tend to think the AF armors are largely useless because there are better pieces available. That’s true if you make it your mission to have the best gear at every level. I just don’t think that’s a great idea. The idea is to get past those intervening levels as fast as possible, so investing significant money in gear seems kind of stupid to me. The fact is AF armor is designed to complement your job and while there are some specific pieces that might be better, using AF will lead to a decent character in the interim.

In any event, I decided to get my AF before I level anymore on thief. Now you have to be on thief to trigger the various quests, that’s not a problem, but you have to be on thief to pop your coffers, that IS a problem. To survive in those areas you need to be in your 70s solo, and trying to pop coffers with tools and such is a good way to have your face eaten by a mimic. So you need to farm keys… Let’s see, my level 50 thief with no buffer against level 68 mobs that like to stay in linking range…; where do I sign up? Sure I could take my beast or bard out to farm the keys, but even sub thief I would only have Treasure Hunter 1, which has no effect on rare/exclusive drops anyway. I did use my beast to get my Davoi coffer key, but it took something well over 50 kills to get it. Beast 75 makes very short work of Sparky for those who don’t know.

Now I had a Zvahl coffer key lying around the Mog house collecting dust so I decided to pop the coffer while I was in Castle Z anyway. This is how I was reminded that I have to be thief to pop the coffer, although the 11,520 gil was a nice consolation for being an idiot. I logged over to the Unsociables and chatted with Mousie about what was going on, as we are somewhat a static duo for leveling. She was just finishing up what she was doing and generously offered to help farm coffer keys and bodyguard me in popping them along with Usul’s help as well. I of course offered to help with her AF in turn when she wants to go.

As an aside, I should probably introduce you to some of these people I’m continually naming. Mousie is the owner of NewDawn, the Dynamis LS I run with (Monday and Friday 8pm EDT, Caitsith, look us up), and just has become a good friend in general. Usul is a sack in ND and the de facto run leader. Doncado is the owner of the SuicideKings shell, my social LS and is also a sack and leader in ND. Woochekitty is a sack in SK and a member of ND, she and Doncado are also RL husband and wife and tend to usually be a duo in the game. The other people I’ve mentioned are mostly members of these various shells. In fact, I am the owner of Futility, a dedicated CoP shell for helping folks get through that most annoying of mission lines and a sack in GuardiansofHonor, a social shell that suffers whenever Dessie, our leader takes a protracted absence from the game which she has done often the last few years. In these other shells I am a lay member with no official leadership duties, which is probably a good thing since I get nasty when I am a leader and am confronted with people who don’t follow directions. Enough of this…

Now Mousie is already a 75 thief and between her level and gear has Treasure Hunter 4 (the highest possible being 5 as of now) which does help with rare/exclusive drops. So we head out for Castle Ostroya to see about my AF there. Naturally, there is competition when we get there, although I am lucky enough to find the coffer in an accessible location. We got the key in fairly short order in terms of kills, but it took a good bit of time waiting for repops what with the competition. I popped my coffer and got my culottes (what a butt-ugly piece of clothing). My helpers want to keep helping so we were off to Castle Z. This doesn’t go quite as well. Usul had some issue where he didn’t engage a monster and we had hate on 2 and a pet. Well after Usul went down his playmate turned to me. I believe I already mentioned the level gap? Well the results are fairly predictable and I end up worm food. How Mousie survived I have no idea. Well Usul came back and raised me, saving my level. Mousie bit off a bit much while soloing some bad guys and damn near died, but she eventually got through it. The key eventually drops and in the course of getting it we eliminated most of the possible coffer spawns. I found the coffer and the bad guys were conveniently far away so I popped it and warped home.

Thanked the guys and I logged for some mulled wine and a meal of Italian sausage with peppers and onions over mostaccolli tossed in a vinaigrette, yum!

Strange brew...

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April Fools!

Square Enix does it again…

Searching for information on the new content to be added to 11 in the coming months and I ran across an interview with Hidecki Morobu, lead developer on the storyline for FFXIV, the new MMORPG that many XI players fear will kill the current game. The release, originally slated for November of this year is being postponed “indefinitely”.

To summarize a long rambling interview (I wish I could find the link but I’m on the wrong computer) the problem seems to be that the storyline is being continually revised, with much of the original being scrapped. This, in turn, causes the cut-scenes to need to be continually re-animated, re-scored and just generally reworked. Sounds like some kind of cascade effect in the editorial process to me. There are rumors I have heard that it has a great deal to do with World of Warcraft and the expansions that they have on the books. I guess both companies are just trying to be the “bigger better deal”. Questions regarding the proximity of the release to FFXIII and the rather lack-luster reception of the much hyped game were met with no response at all, not even a "no comment".

Regardless, there is allot of new content on the way in XI so this strikes me as good news. I really worry about my ability to complete much of this content in the time allotted prior to the original release date, but with the delays hopefully the player base will be there long enough to get some of this done if the release is being pushed far enough into 2011. I’ll let you know if I run across more info, or can look at my history on my home computer for that link.