Daredevil is Awesome

Broadcast Television is Strange

For this mornings post I am going to diverge a bit from my normal gaming topics and talk about some television that I have been watching.  Now there are often times I say that I don’t watch much television, and this is both true and not true at the same time.  I have not regularly watched television on a schedule for years.  For the last few years there have been two shows that I actually tuned in on purpose to watch and that is The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.  That said I never “only” watch television.  I have gotten to a point where I have be fiddling with something else because the act of watching television feels too passive to me.  So Sunday nights it has become almost ritual for me to sit downstairs with my laptop straddling my lap as I watch these shows that all not so coincidentally occur on the same evening.

It just feels strange to me, to have television occur on a schedule.  Everything else in my life is on demand and waiting for me when I feel like consuming it.  This concept of letting someone else control the pace and timing for my actions just feels deeply foreign, so I greatly appreciate the new paradigms of Netflix and Amazon shows being released one entire season at a time.  I am hoping that broadcast networks follow suit at some point, or they simply die out from neglect.  I don’t think that I am at all alone in my television consumption habits.  It all started with the DVR and my ability to delay content to a time when it was convenient to me.  Now I just let entire seasons stack up before bothering to actually watch them.  In our household we get more use out of the “on demand” section of cable television than anything else.  Now my wife and I both have a default channel that we watch when we want the television on as background noise.  For me it is Cartoon Network, and for her it is HGTV…  but in both cases we no longer passively watch the television.

Daredevil Is Awesome

Daredevil-Netflix-Logo Over the last two weeks I have watched my way through the latest of the Netflix original series, and I have to say I am damned happy to have done so.  Daredevil was never really “the guy” for me, but for one of my friends growing up he was.  As a result I read more than my fair share of Daredevil comics, especially in part because of the constant cross over with the Punisher who absolutely was one of my favorites.  Daredevil and Punisher both always seemed to have this characteristic that the more spandex and super powers comics never had.  They were gritty and rough around the edges… and gave us a window into a darker side of the marvel universe.  Hells Kitchen was a horrible place, but at the same time there was a resilience there and a determination to keep moving forward.  The Netflix Daredevil series captures this spirit perfectly, in a simple unassuming way.  The character of Matt Murdock is portrayed perfectly in all of the nuance of the character.  Daredevil has always been this split character, part hero, part victim of his own fatalism…  and this is played out on the screen amazingly well.

MARVEL'S DAREDEVIL The real triumph is the fact that this is a show that does not idealize violence.  While Matt makes a difference, we get to see the high personal toll that is taken on his body.  He does not make it out of these fights unscathed like we normally see from a Batman movie, but instead has a constantly bloodied body to show at the end of the night.  What made Daredevil great was the constant sense that he was in over his head, but that he kept fighting the noble fight because no one else would.  The best performance in the show however has to come from Vincent D’Onofrio as the Kingpin.  He makes this character into someone you almost want to root for during the course of the show.  You are both sympathetic to the character and repulsed by it at the same time, which is a rare trait.  You want the Kingpin to win… if for no other reason than to set up the ultimate triumphant fight between he and the Daredevil.  I feel like this first season has created fertile ground for this show to grow and change, and ultimately serves as quite possibly the greatest comic book origin story I have seen in a long while.  The only sad part is that I want another thirteen episodes to watch, because this first batch was simply not enough.

Unbreakable Kimmy

Unbreakable-Kimmy-Schmidt The other show that I have been watching lately is also a Netflix original, this time by Tiny Fey of 30 Rock and SNL fame.  The premise of the show is that Kimmy Schmidt was captured when she was in 8th grade by the leader of a doomsday cult.  Now freed she is taking on the world with her middle school understanding of it.  Kimmy Schmidt the show feels very much like 30 Rock meets Sister Wives turned Doomsday cult, but for the most part it works.  The character of Kimmy is essentially the same character as Kenneth played by Jack McBrayer.  I have to assume that a lot of the writers from 30 Rock are now doing this show, because the comedic timing is almost exactly the same.  I’ve only made it five episodes into the show so far but at  this point the cast of characters seems to be set.  On the home front you have the crazy landlord played by the always amazing Carol Kane, and the gay failed actor roommate played by Tituss Burgess.  Both serve to balance and unbalance the character in various ways, and the interactions by Kane and Burgess are amazing… there is an almost loving parental thing going on.

As far as work goes Kimmy finds her way into the employ of Jane Krakowski’s character Jacqueline Vorhees, as assistant, nanny, life coach, best friend, and whatever else she needs.  The problem here is that Krakowski is essentially playing the same character as she did on 30 Rock, which makes me wonder if this show was originally designed as a spin off vehicle for the Kenneth character after the ending of that series?  You could seriously plug the characters in from 30 Rock and the show would still work, which I find bizarre.  Sure in this case Krakowski is a wealthy Manhattanite with no grasp on reality, instead of a falling Hollywood star with no grasp on reality…  but they feel exactly the same in practice.  There are definitely some laugh out loud moments but these all come from the fact that Kimmy is still for the most part stuck with an eighth graders understanding of the world.   All of this said, if you loved 30 Rock… and I did…  this will provide the same sort of awkward humor fix that you might be left craving.  I plan on watching the rest of the series, and I am hoping it gets picked up for another run.  I can’t necessarily give it the rave review that I gave Daredevil, but it is most definitely a fun show to watch.

Building a Better Wardrobe

Allergy Apocalypse

I have been more than a bit out of it over the last few days.  Here in Oklahoma every allergy index be it mold spore or tree pollen has been through the roof.  This means that I have been living in a permanent daze.  The frustrating thing is that sooner or later it starts to piss off my Asthma and over the last few days that has finally happened.  It is extremely hard to keep a constant thread going in my head when I am in this situation so I want to thank you all for bearing with me.  I am sure I will be making the occasional unintelligible statement.  I promise the things I say make sense in my head, but often times there is a translation layer that gets obliterated by the allergen haze.  The frustrating thing is I am quite literally taking as much as I possibly can to combat it.  I am not really sure why things are so bad this year, but even people who do not normally have problems are struggling.

So for the time being I am going to keep pushing forward and trying to write posts that make sense.  Sometimes this will work, other times it will very much not work.  Unfortunately this same stupor has been extending to my gaming.  All night on Tuesday night I felt like I was disconnected from reality, and it was significantly more than just being in a funk with Warcraft.  My reflexes are much slower than normal, and I get frustrated with myself when I don’t perform at the level I have come to expect.  My instinct is to hide away for awhile and simply not group with other people, but I am going to try and fight that since my guildies are extremely understanding individuals.  Hopefully this will pass soon, and I will start to feel like a human being once more.  In the mean time…  this really sucks.

Building a Better Wardroberift 2015-04-16 06-04-09-97

Yesterday I vented some of my frustrations about the reported 6.2 content patch in World of Warcraft.  The bulk of my frustrations centered around the timewalking system, and how I expected it to finally be a mentoring system.  I was reminded in the comments however that there is another game out there with an extremely robust mentoring system.  So as a result I patched up Rift yesterday and poked my head around it once more.  It turns out that yesterday just happened to be the day the latest patch dropped.  Among other things this introduced an extremely robust wardrobe system,  one that I would honestly call the best available currently.  If you have read my blog for any length of time you will know just how important cosmetic systems are to me.  I like swapping the appearance of my gear, and I tend to collect looks to reuse later.  In fact my bank in most games is full of items that I thought might be interesting to use eventually.

rift 2015-04-16 06-05-00-63 What makes the system so awesome is that as you are out in the world each time you pick up a new item you collect its appearance.  Guild Wars 2 and Diablo 3 have similar systems, but what sets the Rift model ahead of these two is the fact that you can swap your items around freely without a currency or token expense.  Another nice feature is that in Rift you have forty wardrobe slots that can be unlocked allowing you to create a vast array of interesting looks.  While the wardrobe system had that functionality before, what it adds is the ability to also control the dye options at the outfit level.  It seems like I got a basic set of dye colors with the ability to unlock more.  Also an improvement is the removal of the item appearance system and inclusion of it into the wardrobe system.  Instead of having to use a bauble to change the look of your weapon you now just item slots that allow you to pick from the weapon graphics that you know.  To make all of this more awesome, the unlocks happen at a region level meaning you have access account wide across all of your characters on that server region.

Freeing Bank Space

rift 2015-04-16 06-28-35-38 Since I had collected weapons and armor that I happened to like the appearance of over the course of my time leveling in Rift, I had stacks of the stuff in my bank.  With the addition of this new wardrobe system it meant that every last bit of it could be removed either through selling it or what I ended up doing… salvaging it for crafting materials.  The problem with the implementation of this system coming so late is that I have gotten rid of so much already.  The cool thing is that I am a high level crafter for pretty much every armor type, so at some point I want to burn through some of my old materials crafting sets of stuff just to get the appearance unlock.  This seems like potentially the easiest and least expensive way to get lots of unlocks quickly.  For the time being I have enough items to give me a wide range of options to swap back and forth between.  I especially like having access to some of the gear sets I purchased for my rogue, letting me mix things up a bit with the heavy plate gear my warrior wears.

rift 2015-04-16 06-33-09-55 Admittedly one of the biggest things that keeps me from playing Rift is the fact that my inventory is out of control.  I cannot bring myself to get rid of anything… and thanks to the Minion system I am absolutely swimming in dimension items.  The vast majority of the items in my bank are somehow related to the dimension system.  At some point I need to actually start working on a zone.  For the time being I have a Stoneflask Tavern instance loaded with lots of other big objects that I have picked up along the way.  Right now I have something like six additional buildings that I picked up along the way and added to the instance.  The problem is it makes no sense currently, and I will need to spend some time making it make sense.  I really like the large prefab buildings, because it gives you a lot of space while only consuming a single dimension item slot.  I keep thinking this is going to be a weekend project, of working on my dimension…  but that never actually happens.  In fact Rift as a whole has been one of those games that I wanted to return to, but find myself just not logging into it.  There is so much interesting stuff going on, I just wish it grabbed my attention more often.

Timewalking Frustrations

6.2 Disappointment

This week we have had a pretty massive information dump about the 6.2 PTR patch information.  I have to say overall I am fairly disappointed, not necessarily in what is contained within the patch, but that everything about it feels like an “end of expansion” content patch.  The patch information is super spoilerific, but it seems as though the Burning Crusade is now invading Tanaan Jungle.  Soon the gates will open revealing a zone besieged by fel magics, that culminate in the Hellfire Citadel raid zone.  All of that sounds pretty badass, but the problem is it also sounds like the end of an expansion scenario.  If 6.2 is on the PTR that means more than likely we are a little over a month from seeing this content in game.  Which would probably place it landing at the beginning of June.  We have no new expansion announcement, which means that more than likely they will be announcing it in November at Blizzcon.

The problem there is that unless they launch immediately following Blizzcon, we will be looking at another Siege of Orgrimmar style content lag.  I feel like if they announce at Blizzcon the earliest an expansion would be launched is Spring 2016.  The best case scenario I can think of in my mind places a new expansion in our hands in March 2016 which would be a nine month content lag.  While that is nothing near as bad as the sixteen month lag at the end of Pandaria, it is still not amazing.  Sure they would I guess shoehorn another minor content tier like Ruby Sanctum, but I don’t think that will really make anyone happy.  Maybe I will be wrong, and maybe they have an even more epic conclusion of this expansion planned.  This Siege on Hellfire Citadel however just feels like the last grand hurray for the Warlords of Draenor expansion.  Which leaves the question in my mind of…  what next?

Timewalking Frustrations

The absolute largest disappointment coming from this however relates to the Timewalking system.  This was hinted at quite some time ago in an interview that something was in the worlks called Timewalking mode, and my mind was set ablaze.  My grand crusade has been for years that World of Warcraft needs a mentoring system, that allows higher level players to scale down to the level of lower level players… and do content with them “for real”.  When this new game system was hinted at, I was absolutely giddy because this meant finally after all these years WoW was getting mentoring.  This has probably been the biggest reveal as part of the 6.2 informational dump, and I have to say I am really frustrated with the result.  I am going to full quote a section of the announcement below.

In Patch 6.2, we’re introducing seven different weekend events that will run from noon Friday through noon Monday every week. Two of those events will be Timewalking weekends, in which you’ll be able to queue up for a randomly selected old-school dungeon with a new sort of “heroic” difficulty: When you Timewalk these dungeons, you’ll find that your character’s power and gear has been scaled down to a fraction of what they normally are. For the first time in years, some dungeons you outgrew long ago will once more put your skills to the test.

So instead of a robust mentoring system, we are apparently going to get a weekend gimmick.  If I am reading this statement correctly it sounds like these are going to be limited time events that will happen twice.  Maybe this is going to be like the pvp weekend construct, and simply rotate through seven different events, or maybe there are literally only going to be seven events ever.  Right now we don’t really know, but regardless of the situation it feels like a complete waste of resources to put these in as limited time events.  I was hoping for and expecting a robust mentoring system, but instead I am getting a carnival ride.  I really don’t know why I set myself up for these disappointments, because traditionally my hopes are dashed on a regular basis when it comes to this game.  I still have so much hope and can imagine a game that is so much better than what we actually have to play, but we never seem to get there.

Cycling Down

Wow-64 2015-03-27 06-34-47-22 I am more than willing to admit that some of my frustrations might just be me.  I have reached that point with World of Warcraft that I often do… where I am simply not enjoying the game.  In previous trips back to the game I would have left it months ago.  I pushed three characters to level 100 and everyone to within Garrison levels… and simply lacked the drive to push any further.  The moment to moment gameplay was extremely fun while leveling, but the non-raid end game content has felt like I had no real purpose.  So instead I log in an hour before raid on Tuesday, so that I can get my extra roll tokens, and make sure I have potions and flasks.  Occasionally I half heartedly log in to run Garrison missions on my main, just for the hopes of those raid loot boxes every other week.  I feel like I am spending the absolute bare minimum of time in this game, and so long as we were progressing smoothly in the raid it felt like it was time well spent.

Unfortunately we are not progressing smoothly.  We will have a good night, and then it feels like we regress five steps the next one.  I am tied to this game because I am actively raiding in it, but I have to say I am starting to question why I am even doing that.  When raid voice chat is full of frustrated and stressed out voices…  it pretty much destroys the enjoyment for me.  I am all about joking and having a good time…  and kicking ass while doing it.  When we stop being able to have that relaxed raid dynamic, and still be high functioning my will to care drains from me.  Ultimately I came back to the game riding a wave of nostalgia.  I stayed because I was raiding and getting to hang out with a handful of friends that I missed.  When even Rylacus, the life of the party, is starting to sound stressed and worn down…  I question why we are doing any of this?  I am sure I will chill out in the coming days, but seeing the 6.2 content, and our current raid struggles…  it is making me question why I am still playing.

Dances with Fish

A Good Insanity

greysky_thirdplace So this happened yesterday… and I am completely floored by it.  Firstly I thought last weeks 6th place was pure insanity, but to see us jump to third place in guild activity in a weeks time is just surreal.  For those wondering this is gauge is based on guild activity, or moreso the guild going out into the world and doing stuff.  This means we are leveling, crafting, doing fates, running dungeons, in apparently huge portions.  But to think we are the third most active guild on the server just seems so strange.  Anecdotally I did notice a few weeks back that regardless of what crystal I teleported to, there seemed to be some [GREY] members nearby so I knew we were getting pretty huge, but I guess this simply quantifies that.

The thing is I still feel like this has very little to do with me, and more to do with getting a critical mass of people in the same place for a long period of time.  We have been growing extremely fast, but at the same time very organically.  I invite someone, who has fun and invites their friends… and then they go off and want to invite their friends and so forth.  This all just seems to have snowballed into the amazing situation that we currently have on Cactuar.  It is a combination of a great game with great people, and the end product is this upwelling of awesome.  Last night Tam our fearless leader ran some numbers.  We currently have 135 members of Greysky Armada, and of those 89 have been online within the last two weeks…  and even more impressively 63 had been online in the last 24 hours.  We have a really huge active population of players… and it is pretty damned awesome.

Turn Five Revisited

ffxiv 2015-04-13 21-14-39-12 We have been struggling a bit to get our turn nine ship righted, as it seems each week we have been down some people required to make that happen.  Last night we opted that rather than standing around waiting and hoping for an 8th to show up… that we would do something more proactive and key another guild member by running them through turn five.  I still find t5 an extremely enjoyable fight, and it was a little challenging given that some of us were playing different roles.  We had to give up Kodra’s insane dps in favor of him picking up the mantle of the Paladin tank.  He did a great job at interpreting all the random commentary I said by not really understanding fully the job that Ashgar does on a regular basis.  Ash just takes care of so many details that it took us a bit to replicate all of them with someone else.  The funny thing is at this point in our gear level… the dive bomb phase seems to be far more forgivable.  I think we managed to defeat the turn on the 5th or 6th try…  but most of the attempts were really us trying to adjust to the twister phase.

ffxiv 2015-04-13 22-48-09-34 While the first coil is not exactly a great way to get people gear, they do have some nice looking items in there.  Last night I managed to get some achievement for defeating turn five multiple times in a row.  Ashgar has always been super awesome about letting me pick up the various pieces of plate gear that drop in there because I liked the look of it.  After the raid last night I went rifling through my inventory and realized that I had all of the cosmetic slots.  As such I opted to pick up a brand new glamour to show off my Heavy Allagan gear.  Now the weapon from t5 doesn’t really go with this set of gear, so I opted to use the 110 weapon instead.  I am sure I will get tired of it eventually, or I will complete some other set of gear that I want to use…  but for the time being I am pretty happy with looking like I spent a lot of time grinding the early coils.

Dances with Fish

ffxiv 2015-04-13 21-45-59-44 We took long enough last night to defeat turn five that we didn’t really have enough time to start in on turn nine.  Instead we opted to set our sights on the  lord of the whorl, Leviathan extreme.  We had made attempts on this in the past but struggled a bit at the time, so never really came back and revisited it.  However in the meantime I have run a lot of Leviathan hard mode for various guild members as they needed it for their storyline.  Each time I have pretended that I was doing it on extreme, and have gotten significantly better at avoiding “stuff”.  The challenge for extreme mode is that during the middle of the fight Leviathan knocks the barriers off the platform you are fighting him from.  This means that if you are not careful and do not adjust to his deck slams… you will slide directly off the platform and into the water… where you will be unrecoverable just like on Titan.  All of this pretending to not have rails seems to actually have made the real thing significantly easier, because for the most part we were not dying to folks sliding off the platform.

On our best attempt we managed to get Leviathan down to 24% and largely we were dying to either insane amounts of damage…  or the horrible add that fears players off the platform.  Mostly the timing of the stuns is a bit odd there, and Kodra was doing this for the first time.  After looking at a quick guide this morning it looks like we need to start stun locking that add around 70% health.  Essentially if you see a castbar at all.. it is apparently already too late.  There will be nothing you can do to stop the fear effects from going off.  I feel like on this fight I have the easy job which is just soak up a lot of damage and be ready with cooldowns if it looks like I am taking a burst of damage.  The offtank does pretty much everything else… stun the adds, pick up the adds, tank the four blue balls of doom etc.  Thought I feel like given a solid night of attempts that were not abbreviated… we can totally do this fight.

Tanking for Strangers

FitBit is Awesome

It is so rarely that you get to brag on a company so I thought I would take a moment to do so on my blog this morning.  My wife and I have had our FitBit flex trackers for a little over a year now, in fact when we looked it up it has been a few weeks over a year.  Mine is still trucking along happily, however recently my wife’s started developing some issues.  Namely it stopped vibrating, which was not a big deal other than the fact that there was no haptic feedback when you put the device to sleep or when you hit your milestone.  This weekend however she started having some significant problems with the battery.  She had charged it fully, and during the course of Saturday the battery drained completely.  This was the second time that it had prematurely drained the battery, so with that and the vibration motor issues… we just assumed the device was shot.

We had gotten a good year of use out of it, and figured at this point it was out of warranty and we would simply just have to buy a new one.  She shot an email to customer support, and then when she got home yesterday decided to give the support hotline a call.  Now this is either really awesome or creepy depending upon your perspective, but the technician on the phone could see various markers like that at the beginning of the day the battery usage on her fitbit was at 90% and drained completely during the course of the day.  We were correct in that the fitbit was out of warranty, but the tech no the phone said that it would not be a big deal.  They are now sending her a brand new fitbit and even checked to see if she needed a new band.  They didn’t have to by the letter of the law, but it is really awesome that they went ahead and took care of the issue.

Tanking for Strangers

ffxiv 2015-04-12 14-50-40-47 One of the things that I have struggled with in Final Fantasy XIV is capping poetics each week.  Now there is a rather easy way to do this, and that is running a random expert every single day.  The problem being that I was only actually doing these when I could muster a full guild group.  In spite of how wonderful the average community member is on Cactuar and the Aether data center, I still have this hang up about tanking for strangers.  This week however I forced myself to push aside this mental block, and I have to say I have been pleasantly surprised with just how enjoyable it has been.  Admittedly this all started for a strange reason, largely that I happened to miss the boat one night on the “guild group”.  I had logged in five minutes after the group formed, so I simply opted to queue as a tank instead by myself.  The result was that the run went quickly and I actually beat the guild group out of the expert.  Then another night, I missed the boat again because I spoke up on teamspeak… but not in free company chat and my comment got missed in the shuffle.  So once again I queued and made really good time through the instance.

These two events acted as a bit of a catalyst that set the chain of actions in motion, that have now lead me to queue almost every night and tank for at least one random stranger.  Before I do so I still ask if anyone wants to do an expert, but if I get no response I know that I can safely queue without much issue.  This ability to cap without much grinding has made other aspects of the game more enjoyable.  As a result I am more likely to offer to tank those low level instances when the guild needs it, because I know I am not quite so “under the gun” on the weekend to hit my 450 poetics cap.  I can’t say I am necessarily completely over my mental block about pug tanking, but I am definitely doing better.  Additionally I am really enjoying that extra 4500 gil from pretty much always getting the tank in need bonus.  Now if this trend continues I can see myself starting to queue for coil turn four…  and attempting to push towards the 200 victory bear mount.  On Wednesday night we ended up queuing for turn four and overall it went really smoothly.

Dusting Off Books

ffxiv 2015-04-11 21-29-26-41 Because of this practice of capping poetics over the last few weeks I am just about to reach one of my goals.  With the release of patch 2.55 they introduced a way for us to be able to get the Encrypted Tomestone needed for my Ironworks Magitek Axe.  All that was really stopping me from getting one was 1300 tomestones of poetics, which feels like a rather daunting task, but in reality is simply hitting the cap three weeks in a row.  It is my hope that between Tuesday and Thursday I can get the last few tomestones I need, and get my axe.  The awesome thing about it is that when I do finally get it I should be able to shift it to the Augmented version giving me a level 130 weapon.  The negative here is that I absolutely hate the appearance of the Ironworks axe…  so more than likely I will still be rocking my Malignant Mogaxe pictured above.  I’ve not been as happy with a weapon in a very long time as I have been with that one.

Now the strange thing this weekend is even though I am inching closer to the 130 weapon…  I ended up dusting off my Animus weapon books and started down that path once more.  I have no clue WHY I am doing this, but I apparently am nonetheless.  I think in part the dungeons were a hold up when I was unwilling to queue for them by myself.  In fact I had a book finished save for a single dungeon run for a very long time, and I finished that book up this weekend starting another.  Essentially I am rolling in soldiery right now, and I need to use it.  Now that I have two classes with 110 weapons simply waiting for me to level them…  I am feeling like maybe that isn’t the best use of my tomestones.  Instead I might as well venture down the path of madness that Ashgar has been blazing and start working on finishing up Animus and preparing for the impact that is the Novus step.  If nothing else it should consume all of my available soldiery for awhile, which is a good thing I guess.

Dark Knights and Brayflox

AggroChat 52 – FFXIV Story Spoiler Show

Since August 2013 Final Fantasy XIV has been a fairly significant part of our lives.  While we had a break in there, we have been in place for at least the last eight months soaking up every ounce of content that Square Enix can throw at us.  Throughout this game the story of the game has been a constant topic of conversation among the aggrochat crew and friends.  Each time a new tidbit of story was released it would start rampant speculation as to where the story might be going.  As we made our way through the current patches content, I think it is safe to say that none of us could have guessed how this would have ended.

As the credits rolled on the conclusion of the 2.0 storyline… the first reaction is that you absolutey have to talk to someone about it.  This week we do a complete no holds barred spoiler filled romp through the Final Fantasy XIV storyline to date, talking about its conclusion and some of the elements from previous patches that might play into the future of the Heavensward expansion.  If you have not reached the climax of this story arc, then I highly suggest you file this show away and return to it later.  During most shows we try really hard not to directly spoil any content, and we will be returning to that next week.  This week…  we need to get this out of our systems, and if you have finished the storyline, chances are you do too.

Dark Knights and Brayflox

heavenswardjobs We talk about this a bit at the end of the show but yesterday they had a big live letter at like 3 in the morning my time, going over more details about the Heavensward expansion including some concrete details about the new jobs and how they would be starting.  For some time they had said that they would not be starting at level 1, and that they did not have classes backing up the jobs.  We speculated what that meant, and started to wonder if this would mean like other jobs they would start at level 30.  Sure enough as per the slide above this has now been confirmed that new jobs will in fact start at 30, which means these new classes will be cutting their teeth on the likes of Brayflox.  Another interesting tidbit is that apparently in order to experience these new jobs, or the new Heavensward content…  you are going to have to have completed the main story through the conclusion in 2.55.

This is quite honestly a shocking devotion to their storyline and one that I stand behind whole heartedly.  One of the things that frustrated me about the Warlords of Draenor launch is the fact that it felt like they were essentially abolishing everything from the previous expansions from both a class standpoint by giving everyone a free level 90, and from a crafting standpoint in that you can level from 1 to max level through the garrison system.  Sure this is going to create a barrier between new players and the content that players are now playing…  but I have a feeling that Square Enix like always is going to find a way to make the old world content relevant.  One of the slide bullet points that I have not been able to find much explanation about says something to the effect of “2.0 content adjustments”.  So I hope this does in fact mean that we will have reasons to keep returning to older stuff.

Decisions Decisions

eightnewdungeons One of the slides that I saw that made me the happiest was that there are apparently eight new dungeons with the launch of the content.  Now I have no clue how many of these will be “leveling” dungeons and how many will  be “end game” dungeons.  We also know that the expansion will be launching with the Alexander raid, and two primal encounters Ravana and Bismark.  I know that over the course of 2.0 they introduced something like 18 new dungeons and I believe 16 trials.  So I feel like eight dungeons is a pretty good place to be launching considering how much content gets added over time.  Right now I am finding myself pretty torn in that I am not sure which direction I really want to take.  I have waned to play a Dark Knight since the moment my friends first started trying to convince me to play Final Fantasy XIV.  Now that I have it however…  I am just thinking about much much fun I have running content as a warrior.

I know without a doubt that I will have both at 60 and well geared, but I am not really certain which one I am going to push up first.  So quite honestly right now… a lot of this is going to depend on how much enjoyment I get out of the Dark Knight once early release starts.  I doubt we are going to get any sort of a test realm to play with them on.  I wish that were the case because I feel like Dark Knight is eight going to be a class I immediately love, or a class that I can’t really stand to play.  The whole spell tank thing can go in either direction, but if it ends up being more akin to the Shadowknight or the Deathknight…  then I am all a bout it.  If the end result feels very casterly… then I will most likely just stick to smashing things with my axe.  Basically I feel like either this is going to be the class that I have always wanted to play… or the class that Tam has always wanted to play.  However I feel like one of us is going to end up disappointed.

Summer of “Free” Rentals

Beating Games

This week I did another one of my “Bonanza” posts over on MMOGames.com and in it I linked to one of Tams post about why he plays games he doesn’t like.  This came from a conversation that we were having awhile back about how none of us could fathom how he can push on to beat games that he doesn’t even enjoy.  The problem I have been having of late is that I don’t even bother to beat the games that I am enjoying the hell out of.  The funny thing is that I was not always this way.  I have always been a collector, it is part of me buried deep down inside me.  I’ve collected star wars figures, comic books, Legos, and now more importantly awesome people as I stuff them into my free company.  There was however a time in my history when I used to collect video game victories.

During late elementary / early middle school it was the era of the Nintendo Entertainment System and I was completely enthralled by it.  Thankfully all of my friends were also engaged, which acted as a serious enabling force in my life.  There was one friend however in particular that matched my level of obsession, and going to break one of my cardinal rules and name him directly… since this post is going to get super contorted quickly without some name of reference.  Wade was always significantly better at me when it came to video games, and this created a friendly competition between us as we attempted to defeat as many of the cartridges as we could.   We both kept these intricate lists of what we had defeated, and often times swapped notes and strategies over lunch.

Summer of “Free” Rentals

We were enabled by the fact that the grocery store in our small town has a special deal during the summer months.  You could pay $20 and get a card that would allow you to rent as many games and movies as you could like during the three months of summer.  There were some stipulations on it of course, and you could only have one title out at any given moment.  But you could keep said title out as long as you liked.  Wade and I both got these cards and started trying to burn through as many titles as we could.  He had a significant lead on me in part because he lived within walking distance of the grocery store, and for me I was out in the boonies on the other side of town so required a special trip to go swap games.  There were many times he would start with one game in the morning and go swap it out that afternoon for something else.

We were also enabled by the fact that for some unknown reason our grocery store seemed to have a far better selection of games than would be reasonable for a small town grocery store.  I have a sneaking suspicion that one of the owners was a Nintendo junkie.  I don’t know where exactly we ended the summer at, other than the fact that Wade was leaps and bound ahead of me.  I think I managed to get somewhere in the 80s.  I would like to think that this was totally due to the fact that he had easy access to the store and could swap games at any point he liked.  That said I feel like he was just a much better gamer than I ever was, namely because his favorite game was Milon’s Secret Castle…  a game that to the best of my knowledge broke me.  I don’t think I ever managed to beat it, or at least not that I can remember.

Fighting Games

The games we played changed after that summer.  We both got addicted to Street Fighter 2, and then Mortal Kombat 2, and later Killer Instinct.  Fighting games were “beatable” but that aspect didn’t really matter any more.  It was more about could we beat each other, and honestly if he was playing Ryu I didn’t have a shot in hell.  We still played lots of JRPGs on the side, since those were now a thing… and sure we beat them, but they were a much more prodding experience.  I personally preferred to wallow in the games and spend as much time faffing about killing random stuff and earning currency as I could.  It took me over a year to beat Final Fantasy 6 for example because I spent so much time messing with the coliseum.  The dynamic changed… when a game started taking hundreds of hours to beat…  you wanted to make sure you didn’t miss any details before moving on to the next area.

Then we graduated High School and I mostly lost touch with Wade.  I moved on to college, got married, got a career…  and rarely ever spent much time back in my home town.  When I moved to college I was just “gone”, I never came home on the weekends because I was working at an internet service provider.  So when I moved out of home I literally left home permanently.  There was none of  that transitional period where I still hung out with friends from High School.  The sad thing is that Wade is one of the half dozen people that I actually really am still interested in from my High School days and I don’t have much in the way of contact with any of them.  One of them died in a surfing accident, another one quite literally joined the circus…  the rest of them are busy with lives and families.  The only one I know next to nothing about is Wade, which is truly unfortunate.  Before sitting down to write this I think I found him in facebook, so we will see if I can actually reconnect.

Massively Multiplayer Online

In 2000 I first played Everquest, and it completely shifted my focus away from console gaming for a good period of time.  If I was playing a game I was playing an MMO because it gave me this constant stimulus of other people to play with, and short term goals that felt like I was building towards something bigger.  This is really the point at which I stopped beating games, because I got used to playing games that continued on forever.  The thing is this shifted my mindset significantly, because so long as I faffed about and never actually defeated a single player game… it could continue on indefinitely like the MMOs I was playing did.  So games like Fallout 3, or Skyrim… in essence became single player MMOs for me.  There is a certain amount of let down now for me when I finally do beat a game.  The experience is over, and sure I could start up a new character…  but that notion is somehow tarnished.

When I play a single player game I am building this character in my head and this story as I go along with it.  That story, that character… dies the moment I do that final turn in, or defeat that final boss.  If I start a new game it is a new character, with a new story.  This is in part why I struggle playing deeply narrative games… because they ask me to play some other character that isn’t inherently mine.  At this point it is almost like I have a phobia of finishing games, because it means the joy is over.  When I leave one unfinished it is like that game is always on pause, and the enjoyment and happiness that I had in that moment never goes away.  While I so rarely pick up an old save and continue it…  I know that it is there waiting on me to continue the journey that I started.  I lack that competitive drive that makes me feel like I have to beat the game.  I am no longer collecting wins… but instead collecting nuggets of joy in these games that I can remember fondly later.

A Better Night

Perplexed

image Roughly a month ago I wrote a piece about the WoW Token, when it was officially announced and seemed to be something coming into the game “Soon ™”.  There are a number of websites that index the price of wow gold, but I don’t plan on linking to any of those for reasons.  At the time of writing those sites seemed to indicate the going rate for gold was something along the lines of $15 for 30,000g.  Now the strange thing was that there were some absolutely insane outliers, like sites offering nearly 100,000g for $20.  Now this week the WoW Token has launched, and I have been watching it thanks to an extremely excellent market website showing the current token price.  Firstly I expected the token currency to drop in gold value, but not this fast and not for this long.  I expected there to be a significant rebound once players started snapping them up in lieu of making subscription payments… and we may still see that towards the end of the month.  The token started at 30,000g, raising to 35,000g and then tanking quickly down to as low at one point as 18,000g before coming back up and hovering around 25,000g.

All of this while more volatile than I had expected, doesn’t really shock me.  What does shock me is the reaction from the third party gold sellers.  Those same gold index sites seem to be painting a bizarre story.  Gone completely are those 100,000g outliers, and they have been replaced by values that are almost lock step in line with the legitimate wow token pricing.  I expected that as the wow token gained traction that the third party sellers would start offering more outrageous deals trying to tempt players into taking that risk.  Instead if anything it seems like the WoW Token is now setting the standard operating price for gold regardless of how you obtain it.  This is just puzzling to me, and I cannot fathom why this would be the result.  Now as far as the WoW Token goes, I still think we will see a significant climb in price as folks subscriptions start coming due.  For me personally the WoW Token still is not “worth” the price.  Now if I could buy one or two of them and immediately purchase some big ticket items… I might be enthralled.  For the time I already have access to the sorts of gold that it is currently worth so it is not a huge draw.

A Better Night

Wow-64 2015-04-10 06-18-41-75 Tuesday night was unequivocally horrible.  I am still not sure what was wrong, but for whatever reason we were completely off our game.  We started as we often do with Heroic Blackrock Foundry, and downed Hans and Franz without much issue.  Then we moved on to Gruul and wiped until we had lost our will to live.  Finally towards the end of the night we moved on to Darmac… and squeaked by with a victory by the slimmest of margins.  Last night once again we started with some attempts on Heroic Gruul, only to end up wiping over and over once again.  I am not sure what has happened to us, or happened to the encounter… but it went from something we can do fairly easy to being damned near impossible for us.  Thankfully we chose to shift gears and take on Normal instead after a handful of wipes last night, and in a large part that made for a more enjoyable evening.  We went on to clear all of the content we have cleared before in the past, and since we were used to bashing our skulls against heroic… it seemed pretty simple.

The problem is we still have yet to touch the Iron Maidens fight, make any real progress on the Heart of the Mountain encounter…  and then there is still Blackrock.  I really want to make some traction on those fights and get to a point where we can at least say we are clearing normal.  This piecemeal heroic work is nice, but it feels like right now we are doing it in lieu of forward momentum on actually beating the instance.  This is one of those places where I am torn, because by god I really really want my heroic sword from Gruul.  Once again I am pantsless, and I am trying to keep from going through the bullshit required to craft a comparable pair.  I know the second I do… I will get a heroic drop, or mythic pair from my bi-weekly garrison crate.  I simply don’t want to deplete all the money I have to make it work.  Maybe the effect of the WoW Token will drive the price of Savage Blood down…  with people trying to sell them in order to make the gold to “make rent”.

Elder Scrolls Online Console Pre-order

ESOConsole

One of the cool emails that I received yesterday was to notify me that for the next thirty days I had the option of purchasing a digital copy of Elder Scrolls Online for my console of choice for only $20.  This was one of the big selling points that they made several months back when they announced the official launch date of the console version.  If you purchased the game prior to April 9th 2015 on the PC you could then get a cheap copy on the console, as well as the ability to transfer your PC characters to the console version as well.  Since I was a long time alpha player, and ultimately a launch day player this was no major incentive but I am absolutely taking advantage of it.  I honestly wish more games would give you a significant discount on other platforms when they re-release the game.  For example I have purchased State of Decay on Xbox Live, Steam, and will more than likely purchase another copy when the Year One Survivor Edition comes out.  It just feels nice to have at least some sort of a break here.  As such I have already pre-purchased and am hoping that it offers a preload of the game as well.

From the day the game came out it always felt like it would potentially work better with a controller.  I will tell you the real reason why I am picking it up with the ps4 is that I hope to play it through my vita.  I spent a fairly significant amount of time faffing about in Destiny while playing on my Vita, and I cannot imagine a better experience than hanging out in bed and playing some Elder Scrolls Online.  Similarly it gives me something to do while waiting on other things to happen in other games.  Upstairs I have my ps4 set up beside my computer, and in the living room I have a PSTV so I have four places I can comfortably play some Elder Scrolls Online.  I am amped for this release and I am hoping  the game finds its true potential with the console audience.  Right now the console players really do not have that many “meaty” mmorpg options, with Final Fantasy XIV pretty much being the absolute best choice.  Elder Scrolls Online should cover a very different niche of players, and I think it will ultimately be extremely successful.

Foundation of Folks

Statistics Funk

One of the problems with creating content is every now and then you will have something that you are very proud of, but the community doesn’t seem to be all that interested in.  That is not to say that I am not proud of most of the things I am involved in.  I love what this blog has become, and I love AggroChat…   but that seems to be less about me and more about the group dynamic that we have assembled.  However I feel like “Bel Folks Stuff” was one of those projects that I poured more of myself into than most.  The idea was that I would grab interesting people and have natural conversations with them where we discussed whatever happened to be on their mind.  I feel like for the most part that mission has succeeded, and I am very proud of the six episodes we have so far.  In the episodes I have talked with:

  1. Gypsy Syl
  2. Rowanblaze and Sctrz
  3. Alternative Chat
  4. Petter Mårtensson
  5. Qelric
  6. Liore

Unfortunately after the release of the latest episode I did that thing you are never supposed to do… I did a deep dive into the statistics.  In many ways this secondary podcast has been a labor of love, and right now it gets several orders of magnitude fewer listeners than AggroChat.  So I question…  what I did wrong with it?  Maybe I have simply done a poor job of advertising it?  It isn’t part of The Gaming and Entertainment Network so that right there is one strike against it.  I release them with questionable regularity, which is another strike against it.  I also question whether or not it was a good idea to treat it as separate from the other things that I do.  I have wondered for awhile if I should have just released it as part of the AggroChat content stream.. as a sort of bonus episode or something.  In any case… since looking at the stats I am exceedingly bummed about the limited audience.  Maybe there just is not the appetite for listening to gamers rattle on?  Anyways… this isn’t going to necessarily stop me from making more but I also feel like my guests have been awesome in their willingness to do the show…  when there really isn’t much benefit from it.

Foundation of Folks

For some time now, I’ve had various people tell me that I use exercise any connections I have within the games industry to turn the “Folks” podcast into an industry interview show.  I suppose I could do that, but the problem is I am afraid that would fundamentally change the nature of the show.  It might be idealistic, but I wanted to create a show without pretense about its purpose.  I wanted to have people on and just talk, and whatever topics we happened to cover naturally is what we would end up talking about.  If I have people on the show that are known for this or that, there is the pressure to ask them about what they are famous for.  By the same token, I would feel obligated to give them time to plug whatever hot project they happen to be working on.  At that point we have a traditional interview show and not what I was hoping for.  Maybe it is strange but I was hoping to have authentic conversation with a bunch of people, and almost forget for a time that we were recording the conversation.

I guess I question if I could talk “industry” folks into that sort of notion.  So far the people I have had on the show I have a deep connection with already.  These are people that I have gamed with, blogged with, or exchanged more tweets than I can count.  Right now it feels like I am just having a conversation with a friend.  I worry that I cannot keep up that dynamic with people I am not quite so personally invested in.  Then there is the problem of how would I even sell this notion to someone, when I obviously cannot guarantee much in the way of listeners.  That is the obvious sell for most big podcasts… is “talk to me and I can give you X number of ears”.  I don’t have that going for me on any level.  So yeah right now I am in this existential funk about “Bel Folks Stuff” and even though I love doing it… I am questioning if it is worth the scheduling headaches and the extra work on my part to keep it up.  I want to keep it up, but damn…  just bummed.

Second Static

ffxiv 2015-04-05 19-27-29-95 Last night when I got home… I was wallowing in my frustration over the podcast…  so much so that I forgot that last night was to be the inaugural running of the second static group within the Free Company.  The guild has been insane, and we are apparently so active and so prevalent that we jumped from 16th to 6th in the FFXIV free company activity standings.  I will say for some time there has not been a single city I have been in that I did not at least bump into one person with the [GREY] tag.  In order to help get the second static off the ground, myself and Kodra has offered to fill in as whatever role they needed us in.  I ended up main tanking to Damai’s off tank as we managed to work through several content items.  So while I started the evening in a bit of a malaise I finished it pumped about the prospects of having two active static teams within our free company.

We started off with Garuda Extreme, which I know very well…  just not well enough to explain adequately apparently.  This always seems to be a thing for me… I can do something, but I can’t necessarily tell you how to do it.  For awhile we tried using the Duty Finder to fill our missing slots, but honestly had significantly more luck creating a party in the Party Finder.  We met a few nice people on the server as well.  We managed to clear Turn 1 and Turn 4 of Binding Coil of Bahamut as well.  I was pleased that we one shot 4, since I remember having a significant amount of trouble with it initially when Ashgar and I tanked it.  To add to the confusion for the sake of this arrangement… the roles were flipped from what I am most used to.  The positive is… I feel like I could actually farm four over and over in an attempt to get my bear mount.  I need to figure out which piece of high allagan I am missing so I can focus down those.  I would really love to wear that full set of gear.  Anyways the end of the evening was definitely better than the day, so I am thankful that I have such an awesome group of people to spend my game time with.

Race to the Bottom

Bel Folks Stuff #6 – A Good Friday with Liore

Listen to the Episode Here

I had these grand ideas about having two episodes during the month of March to make up for the fact that I missed a February episode.  That never quite worked out.  I had a handful of people that I had talked to but scheduling never quite worked out since I try really hard to squeeze these episodes in whenever my wife is otherwise busy.  With the weekly schedule of AggroChat and the various guest spots I end up getting called on to do, it means she is having to bend her time around me quite often, that I try my best not to make this podcast also do that.  As such I tend to schedule people on a whim, and I am super thankful that the amazing Liore was amicable about that sort of timing.  I literally talked to her Thursday to see if she was available, and we recorded on the afternoon of Good Friday since we were both off work.

Liore and I have known each other for what feels like forever.  She’s been in my guilds, I’ve been in her guilds… and for a period of time in Rift we raided together multiple times a week.  During all of this time we have forged an unconventional friendship.  It feels like we end up on opposite ends of so many discussions, but at the end of the day we do so with the greatest of respect for the other.  During this podcast we talk about all sorts of things, but one thing in particular we highlight because we found it extremely humorous.  Both of us have been getting commentary from the community about a supposedly rivalry between the two of us since we do similar columns now for gaming websites that are technically in competition with each other.  I had a blast spending the afternoon talking with Liore, and had I allowed myself to do so I could have easily spent another full hour chatting away.  I always love it when the conversation flows naturally.

Race to the Bottom

wowtokenresults Yesterday we saw the release of the WoW Token out into the wild, and the demand for gold greatly outstripped the availability of people snatching up subscription time.  At the beginning however it was skewing the other direction.  The token started at a prematurely low 30,000g and I watched it yesterday raise up to 35,000g before taking a big dive into the territory that it is currently sitting.  Someone thought ahead and created an excellent stock market like tracking system on https://wowtoken.info/ and you can see the bottom starting to drop out.  Thing is…  most players already have an active subscription for the moment.  It was not until the end of the month when in other games with similar systems we started to see the demand finally climb again.  My advice, just like Wildstar is to snatch up these cheap tokens now because once the system matures a bit you will be paying significantly more per month of subscription.

The reason why I feel like this is the largest benefit of a system like this is it removes the temptation of players to turn to less than legitimate sources of currency.  When I wrote about this a month ago, my research at the time indicated that in the aftermarket this same $20 was buying players around 100,000 gold.  This means the legitimate route now costs you roughly five times as much as the illegal market, which is still going to be a huge draw for some players.  The WoW Token is a failure for Blizzard unless they can squash the third party gold sellers by starving them of their market.  Right now the token is new… and a lot of people are trying it out.  Given a month or two of sanity they will realize that it is greatly overpriced.  I guess for me, I won’t be doing this token unless I can buy a couple and get a big ticket item like an expedition yak, one of those things I have always wanted but was much too far out of my price range.  I have a feeling that this is going to be the case for your average customer.   If by the end of the month we do not see a massive spike in the price of a single token… then I will be extremely surprised.

End of an Expansion

ffxiv 2015-04-07 17-25-22-55 Now for the hardest part of my morning… how exactly do I talk about the wrapping up of the storyline in Final Fantasy XIV 2.55 without giving any spoilers.  I chose a very careful screenshot out of the stack of them that I took because this one really doesn’t say much about what is going on.  In the most spoiler free fashion I can, I am going to talk about my impressions of the events.  I have to say Final Fantasy XIV knows how to end an expansion.  This is hands down the most satisfying and at the same time most anxious ending to an expansion I have ever experienced.  In games like World of Warcraft everything is generally resolved at the end, and all the loose bits tied up… because the intent is for that expansion to live on its own forever without actually continuing the storyline in the next expansion.  In Final Fantasy XIV…  every aspect of this closing means massive ramifications that will hopefully be resolved as we travel into Ishgard.  Instead of wrapping up the lose ends neatly… for each one that is concluded two more ends stand open waiting to be explored.

The awesome thing is… this game has proven that it WILL actually explore them.  How frustrating has it been in the past as games have hinted at things, that never saw fruition.  After all there are still I believe three portals under Wyrmrest temple that go nowhere, that will likely NEVER go anywhere because the narrative has moved on past the original plans.  I expect that each event that happens during the closing of “A Realm Reborn” is going to factor heavily into a future storyline chain.  It was a pretty shocking and brutal conclusion, but it makes me damned happy that I am playing this game.  I quite literally did not see this one coming, and I highly suggest you push hard so that you can see this content before the expansion.  I pushed through in part because my friend Ashgar said that the trailer that was releasing this Friday supposedly spoils some parts of this impact.  As the credits rolled they showed a number of scenes from the past block of content… and I have to say sometimes you lose sight on just how much we accomplished during “A Realm Reborn”.  I am extremely excited to see what happens as we turn our eyes “Heavensward”.