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Month: January 2021

One down, three to go…

Posted in Blog, and Gaming

Last evening after work I finished the quest chain for “A Realm Reborn” in Final Fantasy 14, so I’m officially back to where I left off in July of 2019.

Well, a bit further actually. Let me explain…

This time I leveled through the main quest line content all the way to 47, which is right about where the experience you get from the main quest-line stops being enough to keep you leveled enough for each subsequent quest… Meaning you need to start running side quests to get to the next main quest’s level.

They did this because back in 2015, when the “Realm Reborn” quest line was made, 50 was the level cap. So Square Enix slowed the experience gain to slow players down a bit in the hopes it would give them time to finish the next storyline.

These days, with three more expansions worth of content already available, the solution to this problem is to simply give Square Enix some cash. Square Enix, in-turn, will give you level 70 on pretty much any class (or “job” in FF parlance) you want.

This doesn’t advance you in the storyline though. It simply gives you level 70, some level 70 starting gear, and access to your level 70 skills for said class.

And this meets the level requirements for the rest of the main quest-line, meaning you can move straight on to the rest of the level 50 story, the boss fights, and the cut scenes.

Now this seems a bit unfair to said bosses because you now out-level them by 20 levels and your gear is literally the stuff of fantasy to some poor bad-guy from 2015… But the game handles this quite well by scaling your level to the content.

So, for a level 50 boss you are reduced to about level 52 and your gear and skills scale as well. Meaning you participate in the fight as a well-geared character of appropriate level, so there’s still some challenge and excitement to be had.

And this is what I did.

The last three instances of the Realm Reborn content are the first 8-man content the player experiences as well. The first is a single boss-fight that is over in about 5 minutes, while the second is an actual ‘dungeon’ and a bit longer and more convoluted… The third is about two hours of storyline, cut-scenes, and probably a half-dozen epic boss-battles.

Once you deal with the ultimate baddy you ‘win’, the credits roll, and more story occurs.

It’s really a pretty epic ‘hero’s journey’ storyline. I highly recommended it, and you can easily fit it into the free 30 days you get for buying the game.

But back in 2015, even though the credits had rolled, the next expansion wasn’t quite done yet — so Square Enix crafted a series of patches that added what is known as the ‘hundred quest slog’… Linear filler content at level 50 to keep people occupied while the “Heavensward” content was finished.

This filler content has to be finished to unlock the literal gates to the next expansion though. And not many people make it through the hundred quest slog to get to the next expansion — even after Square Enix trimmed out twenty quests to make it the eighty quest slog.

Soooo, there’s a fix for this as well; you give Square Enix $11, and they move your character to the beginning of “Heavensward”.

And I did this as well.

Welcome to Ishgard!

Welcome to Ishgard!

Onward to the 50-60 content!

I’ve not seen any of the more recent expansions, so my progress will slow a bit as I click, poke, wander to, and read everything. 🙂

And I’m caught up with my friends as well, so I can help them out with various dungeons and whatnot.

Should be fun!

Tax time!

Posted in Blog

My W2 arrived, so that means it’s time to break out the calculator and get to doing my taxes…

Fortunately I have one of those new-fangled electronic adding machines…

Funny aside, I’ve had one of this family of Casios on or near my desk for decades. They have huge VFD displays that are easy on the eyes, really pleasant keys, and they run on mains power which gives them a satisfyingly analog 60hz hum when plugged in.

If you’re using some fiddly LCD pocket calculator more than 2-3 times a week, seriously — do yourself a favor and drop the $30 on an old-school desktop calculator. 🙂

Work / Game Balance

Posted in Blog, and Gaming

One of the nicer things about Final Fantasy 14 is that you can log in and achieve something without having to block out several consecutive hours to an entire day to do it.

During the week I only get an hour or so each evening where I can play something, which didn’t work out for WoW… For example, in WoW’s “Shadowlands” you can spend the first 10-15 minutes of your game time just getting somewhere to do something. This is because the travel times are really long to make the play areas perceptually bigger.

WoW also has tons of tiny but ultimately useless quests randomly interspersed with the longer more thematically important ones. So you can ‘do something’ for an hour, sure, but the net result of doing it might be negligible at best because the thing you just did is only tied into the main storyline with location and art assets… It had no real bearing on anything.

FF14 on the other hand has one grand arc, and that arc has a linear line of hundreds of quests from beginning to end of each expansion. And interspersed along this line are simple fetch quests, single-player mini-boss encounters, party dungeon runs, and dialog heavy story pieces.

There are also hundreds of smaller side quests, but they actually have a different indicator and are only there for when you have spare time or if you want some extra backstory, extra experience points, or some extra cash.

The net effect of this design is that you can log in, do one quest, and it’ll further the main arc that you are invested in. And you therefore feel accomplished, because you moved your character’s football a tiny bit more towards the goalposts for the expansion with one fifteen minute quest.

So, since Monday I’ve been inching along this line of quests as I’ve had time — working my way toward the third major boss battle, or “trial” in FF14 parlance, and major plot point for “A Realm Reborn”.

And last night I finally made it to said battle…

As I mentioned yesterday, after dealing with “Titan” and the random pick-up group I was with getting curb-stomped repeatedly, I wasn’t looking forward to dealing with “Garuda” at all.

I’m happy to say though that my bad “Titan” experience was purely party-driven. My randomized “Garuda” party had at least read up on the fight mechanics, so no one needlessly stood in the fire or was off navel-gazing while everyone else did the hard part. So “Garuda” was felled on the first attempt — and no one died. 🙂

In the end I collected the final gem from the series of bosses I’d been fighting and then got a good ten minutes of cutscenes that introduced the next baddy, moved the overall arc forward, and explained a few mysteries I’d been trying to figure out since level 1.

Oh, and I hit level 45… Not bad for an hour or so of playing.

The remainder of my free time last evening was spent working on the final phase of a class quest, which gad me gallivanting all over the place on a pilgrimage… Which leads to another nice element of FF14 — instant travel.

In WoW you unlock flight points as you adventure, and can fly back there from any other flight point with a bit of travel time as you fly from point-A to point-D, flying over B and C in the process. Said travel time is still many times faster than on foot, so it’s a handy thing.

FF14 has a similar system, but you instantly teleport between discovered locations. You can also directly teleport to point-D from anywhere at any time. So if I’ve been sent to some jungle somewhere to do something for some NPC, once I do it, I can instantly teleport to somewhere within the vicinity of said NPC to move the story forward.

Due to this, FF14 isn’t shy about sending you to the far ends of the world at a moment’s notice, so there’s a lot of variation of location and ambiance as you progress… This again is different from WoW, where you might spend a week in one quest hub in the middle of a desert doing kill-10 quests over and over.

Over all though, I’m super happy with FF14. The story is keeping me engaged and I’ve not even touched things like gathering and crafting yet (I need to).

Update

Posted in Blog, Gaming, and Photography

I tend to get to work pretty early in the morning; between 0600 and 0630 usually.

I blame this on my years in the military, but it does come in handy if you want to skip traffic and get an hour or two at the office before other folks show up and throw off your groove.

You also get to appreciate the sunrise, and occasionally moonset… Today was one of those days:

Moon over Denver. If it looks cold in this picture, it’s because it is; it was roughly 8 degrees out there (-13.33 for my metric friends) when I took this.

In other news, I’m still leveling my way through Final Fantasy 14 and attempting to catch up with some friends.

I did levels 1-30 Friday and Saturday, and 30-40 on Sunday, but once the work week started and my free time dwindled to roughly an hour each evening I’ve slowed way down. I hit level 44 last evening, while my friends are at 60+ now. I expect I’ll catch them at the level cap of 80.

I’ve been having fun healing the various dungeons, and as I’ve played healers in pretty much every MMO ever, I’ve been pretty successful at it; everyone who has gone into the first seven dungeons with me (Sastasha, Tam-Tara Deepcroft, Copperbell Mines, The Thousand Maws of Toto-Rak, Haukke Manor, Brayflox’s Longstop, and The Sunken Temple of Quarn) has survived to see the exit.

Last night my winning streak ended in “The Stone Vigil” though. The ‘Black Mage’ in the party successfully managed to stand in every fire possible and I just couldn’t keep him vertical through the last boss.

We still defeated the encounter and I managed to unlock the next bit of storyline, and it was really the mage’s fault for insisting on standing in the fire (or frost in this case), but still — it’s my job to make sure even the kids on the short bus survive. 🙂

FF14 has a another kind of instanced content called a ‘trial’, which is where you have to beat up a single boss who has several phases, lots of mechanics, and an entire dungeon’s worth of hit points… The first one of these (Ifrit) was pretty easy, but the second one (Titan) is apparently there just to humble you.

There’s a third one (Garuda) that I’ll have to face here real soon, and I’m dreading it…

My group had to try about five times to take down “Titan”, and with each attempt after the third your group does slightly more damage and healing and the boss does slightly less damage.

I think I did okay as I’m really good at doing several things at once while not standing in the fire, but for every fight one of the two DPS classes would end up blown off the platform in the first few seconds of the fight. We eventually beat it with just the tank and I…

It’s still a very fun MMO and I’m really enjoying the storyline, so that’s good. 🙂

Games people play

Posted in Blog, and Gaming

After discovering a friend of mine also plays Final Fantasy 14, I dug in and and really played the game for several hours this weekend.

While I had started on ‘Midgardsormr’ the other day, said friend plays on ‘Exodus’ — and being as Square Enix won’t allow a character transfer until the character is 90 days old, I got to start over on the new server.

I hit level 30 this morning… 

Wings? Check. Unicorn? Check. White and light-blue color scheme? Check. All very apropos for the character name.

Wings? Check. Unicorn? Check. White and light-blue color scheme? Check. All very apropos for the character name.

This is my newly minted ‘Conjurer’, which at level 30 moved to ‘White Mage’ which is on the way to ‘Astrologian’.

Yep, I play a healer in most of these games, as one would expect. Which is nice for a tourist like myself, as I don’t need to wait at all for the dungeons that gate the storyline.

The character is one of the ‘Viera’ race; tall, statuesque Amazonian rabbit-like people with Icelandic accents, which have some really interesting lore behind them. Like, they can hear the elements with those big ears — which seemed like a good fit for a Conjurer, which is Final Fantasy’s elementalist class.

My character has been jokingly referred to as the Bunnymancer for this reason. 🙂