ArcheAge – Head Started

ArcheAge continues to top the list of most popular posts and search terms on my blog for some reason, so I feel like I should say something about the head start.

Suddenly player collision doesn't seem like such a great idea.

Suddenly player collision doesn’t seem like such a great idea. Make way! Coming through!

I played a bit over the weekend, but not as much as you might think. For one thing, I kept getting disconnected due to the persistent server issues, and for another, I didn’t particularly want to spend all of my time staring at a queue screen. (Eventually I figured out I could leave ArcheAge on the queue screen and fire up FFXIV at the same time.)

As it turns out, if you didn’t play within the first hour that the game was up, you lost out on your chance to get a good spot for your farm and/or house. And by “a good spot” I mean “any spot anywhere in the entire world.” I feel bad for anyone who comes in September 16 thinking they’re going to be able to do any farming quests. I can’t even imagine where they’ll be able to build. I guess they’ll have to sail up to Auroria and stake out some land on the permanent PvP continent. Good luck with that.

That used to be a place where you could put a house.

One of the many places you won’t be able to put your house. And this isn’t even a busy server.

I managed to grab a spot for my scarecrow down in the Dewstone Plains north of Royster’s Camp on the Naima server. (I had some designs on playing on EU Kyprosa but that server is slammed all the time right now.) I’m playing a human on the Western continent. Neither of the Eastern races appealed to me, which I guess makes me a racist.

By the way, even though ArcheAge has 50 million character creation options, I can’t help but notice that everyone still comes out looking basically the same. There are no body customizations at all, it’s all face customizations which you never actually get to see in the game. Maybe it’s just the males. The females have more hairstyles at least.

In the alpha I played a fairly plain Sorcerer-type build. This time I started out running an Occultism-Vitalism-Auramancy build which ends up as an “Edgewalker” whatever that is. I wanted something mobile with lots of crowd-control abilities, because, you know, PvP and stuff. That’s pretty much the entire philosophy of playing PvP in any MMO: Stun the other guy so he can’t attack you.

Hey horsie, you could help you know.

Hey horsie, you could help you know.

Unfortunately the Edgewalker is extremely defenseless against archers, which is probably what 99% of everyone in PvP is going to use. So I swapped out the Auromancy for Battlerage and presto, I have an instant gap-closer and can smash archers in the face with my staff. (Being able to melee with a staff and produce reasonable damage is one of the cool things about ArcheAge. I love using non-standard weapons.) Time will tell if it’s any good for PvP, but it works great against mobs.

FFXIV – Crafting My Way Back Into It

I’m getting back into the swing of FFXIV with my slightly embarrassing, adorable Miqu’te that looks a bit like a porcelain doll in the game.

Rather than jumping back on the gear treadmill, I’ve spent most of my time on relaxing activities like gathering and crafting. Unlike most MMOs, those things are quite engaging in FFXIV and there are a whopping eight crafting and three gathering classes to level, so there is plenty to do. (By which I mean it would be impossible for me to max them all out without spending the rest of my life in the game.)

Chilling out with the giant turtles.

Weaving with the giant turtles.

If I were to be honest I’d have to say I’m a bit scared to go back to instances. Even though FFXIV combat isn’t super complicated, rotations are complex enough that people will probably notice if you’re doing it wrong and I don’t particularly enjoy looking like a moron in PUGs. So I’m breaking myself back into combat slowly.

Therefore I’m putting off going into any of the new dungeons. In fact, I never did most of the “old” level 50 dungeons. Amdapor Keep is the only level 50 dungeon I’ve ever done because it’s part of the Relic quest line. So The Wanderer’s Palace, Pharos Sirius, Copperbell Mines (Hard), Haukke Manor (Hard), The Lost City of Amdapor, Halatali (Hard), Brayflox’s Longstop (Hard), and The Stone Vigil (Hard) are all unknown to me. Not to mention trials Ultima’s Bane and all of the Extremes. And Syrcus Tower, and any of the Binding Coil Turns. So yeah, that’s a lot of content left for me to work through, some of which will be impossible without a guild. I’ll probably start with Syrcus Tower, since it’s easier to hide your screw-ups within a 24-man raid. :)

I started the Atma quest line to upgrade my Relic bow, but I feel pretty confident that I’ll never ever finish it in a million years. I haven’t seen a single Atma FATE yet, and somehow I need to find twelve of them, and then there’s a ridiculous amount of grinding for books after that. I can see where it would be gratifying to complete that, but it’s so far distant right now that it might as well be on the moon.

Got a big one.

Fishing overlooking Aleport. Best done with a controller while watching Netflix.

One of the great things about returning to FFXIV after a long absence is the tremendous amount of rest XP you have built up, and the 100 “leve” quest allowances saved up. In a surprisingly short amount of time, I leveled Miner from 40 to 50 to go along with the previously-held 50 Botanist. Then I discovered ffxivclock.com, a site which lets you know when you can go gather those level 50 resources from “unspoiled” nodes. I’ve been gathering up bunches of Crystal Clusters and selling them for mad cash. Well, more cash than I normally get, at least. For some reason, Fire Clusters are in great demand. (I have no clue what you even make with them, but people seem to like buying them.)

I had already made it to 50 in Carpenter, but I discovered that I hadn’t finished the Carpenter class quests. I was still on the level 45 quest. So I finished that one, which was pretty tedious, and then I did the level 50 quest, which was also tedious. And expensive, since I failed to craft the HQ Crab Bow on the first try, which destroyed the one expensive HQ Red Coral I bought, so I ended up just buying the damn bow for a ridiculous price but anything was better than risking another failed crafting attempt. Crafting can get pretty complicated in FFXIV. At least gathering the ingredients.

Currently I’m working on getting to 50 Weaver. After that I’ll work on Leatherworker. That will let me craft my own gear for Miner and Botanist so I can gather even more stuff to sell for mad cash. It will take a long time though since I’ve already used up all of my rest XP and most of my leve allowances. By the time I get those to 50 I probably will have already bought all the gear I need.

Results of Un-Learning Invert Mouse

I noticed that I never reported the results of trying to un-learn the use of Invert Mouse.

After about two weeks, I was no longer fighting my muscle memory and could play MMOs unhindered.

After about a month, I felt like I could aim pretty well again in shooters where precision is important.

It’s now been nearly six months, and I feel like I’ve never played any other way.

So it is possible to switch, even if you’ve played with Invert Mouse all your life. I have not attempted to play any flight simulators since switching though. I suspect I would crash and die instantly if I did.

Landmark’s Combat Update

Is something I know very little about.

I re-downloaded the game and eagerly logged in. Combat was here! Finally something to do besides dig up ore! My claim was long since gone, which was fine because it had nothing on it except some crafting tables. I ran to the crystal hub thingy in the middle of the map–an object that I still don’t know what to call–and found the right table to craft a weapon. I made a sword. I equipped it.

Then I stood there. I clicked the left mouse button. I swung the sword. It swished impressively in the air. I clicked the right button, and I charged forward to deal a thrust of doom. I looked for something to attack. There was nothing. There were no monsters roaming around. I walked up to someone standing there by the hub AFK and swished my sword at him threateningly. Nothing happened. There was no thunking sound and no numbers flying in the air. My sword went right through the guy.

Swish swish! It's combat! Uh, sort of. I guess.

Swish swish! It’s combat! Uh, sort of. I guess.

I logged out after a few minutes because, as is typical of all “major” Landmark updates, it was a total dud that barely changed anything about the game. (Don’t yell at me: I have no doubt that internally it’s a huge change.) I don’t know about anyone else, but when I heard “combat” I kind of expected to find some monster hordes roaming around the countryside jealously guarding the ore.

After reading around a little bit, I discovered that SOE pulled a clever bit of marketing bait-and-switch. Because “Combat” really means “PvP.” Why obfuscate the PvP? Well, clearly there’s nothing that social sandbox builders want more than PvP, right? I mean, SOE definitely nailed the pulse of their target audience with that one. I’m sure that players who have spent many hours building houses are falling all over themselves lining up to test PvP.

Assuming they can even figure out how to do it. My initial sword-swishing at a fellow player produced very unimpressive PvP action. Later, I logged in again, and suppressed my enormous disappointment with the new update for long enough to figure out (I think) that you have to find a claim on the map that has been flagged to allow PvP. Presumably if you run to that PvP claim, you’ll find someone else there ready to do battle.

My “home” zone only had one claim with PvP flagged. I didn’t feel the slightest desire to go there and fight somebody, so I logged off again.

So there we go. SOE started out saying that they were 60% finished with Landmark at the beginning of alpha. I think now they might have reached 65%. Maybe. Regardless, it’s still not a playable game.

I can’t help but wonder if there will be a dropoff in population when (if) the game is actually finished, if it’s nothing like what people have been playing for the last six months.

A Brief Word About That Controversy

I generally try to avoid industry politics on this blog, unless it relates to in-game politics. (Like raiders versus casuals.) Which is why I don’t have much to say about the recent kerfuffle known as GamerGate.

But I will say that I fully support equality and inclusiveness among gamers and I find personal threats against anyone loathsome. I try to cling to the possibly naive belief that truly despicable people are a very small, very loud minority.

On the off chance that any vitriol appears in the comments of this blog, I won’t hesitate to delete it.

FFXIV – Okay There’s One Bad Thing

To be fair, here’s one thing that FFXIV doesn’t get right:

I just re-installed it, subbed up, and jumped in again. (I went crazy and got a 3-month sub because I have some money coming in again heh.) I’m installing it on a different PC from when I last played it, so maybe you can guess what happened.

All of my settings, keybinds, and HUD configurations were gone. Even the character-specific configurations like my gear sets were gone.

This is bad, Square Enix! Bad, bad, bad. I’m excited to play again, but the prospect of spending hours setting everything back up is pretty daunting. Surely with all the other brilliant changes you’ve made in the last year, you can put in server-side configuration saving? We’re living in the age of The Cloud, after all. At least save my keybinds! And my gear sets! And … everything else!

This just in: Apparently there’s this thing called “The Googles” which has lots of useful information. You can copy FFXIV config files from an old installation to a new one, and it does actually work. I didn’t copy everything, though. I only copied the FFXIV_CHRxxxxx folder for the character I wanted, FFXIV.cfg, and FFXIV_BOOT.cfg.)

Why Endgame Viable

Well, here’s a topic. From Rowan Blaze: Why Have I Touched The Sky? Sort of a meta-blogging topic.

So my second challenge for you, Dear Reader, in these few days of Blaugust: Why did you title your blog what you did? Do you think the name still fits?

My first name for this blog was Melanthius. I still think that’s a cool name that rolls off the tongue, but it doesn’t have any inherent meaning when you look at it.

Then I was looking around at some other MMO blogs out there like Inventory Full and Bio Break and Hardcore Casual and Kill Ten Rats, and I thought to myself, holy crap those are great names because they a) instantly explain what the blog is about and b) have great branding.

So I set about to blatantly steal that concept. What I came up with was Endgame Viable.

And I’m not gonna lie, I hope people will accidentally click on my blog when they are searching for the flavor of the month class in whatever MMO they want to play. Because I have never seen any MMO yet where people aren’t asking in general chat in the newbie zone, “Is the (insert class or build here) viable for endgame?”

Far Cry 3

Continuing my journey through cutting edge games from two years ago (also games I’ve already paid for), I’m finally playing Far Cry 3, previously purchased in a Steam sale.

I enjoyed the first Far Cry. Well, I say that now, but when I look back on what I wrote about it in 2009, apparently I only thought it was “okay.”

I picked up FarCry from Steam for $9.99 a couple weeks ago.  It’s pretty cool, but it’s not blowing me away.

I’m not sure why X-Play gave it 5 stars.  It looks like it’s mostly a demo of the rendering engine, which is admittedly pretty nice.  However the gameplay is quite ordinary, and the acting and storyline is just terrible.  You’ve got your basic running, crouching, shooting and reloading (that always seems to be necessary at just the wrong time).  And sometimes you can drive around in boats and vehicles.

The best feature of the game is the wide open, huge islands you get to run around on.  There seems to be an emphasis on sneaking around, although I don’t see the point since there aren’t any sneak attacks, silencers or knives.  I can’t say I’m fond of sneaking around in the jungle though because you literally can’t see anything – the foliage always blocks your view.  Maybe that’s supposed to be a “feature.”  On the plus side, it’s kind of fun to take out camps of bad guys by popping them off one at a time from the edges, instead of charging into the middle with guns blazing.

I’ll give it a 3… out of 5.

Ah, remember the good old days when I watched X-Play? Well, you probably don’t because you weren’t there. Moving on.

I only played Far Cry 2 on the PS3, one of only a handful of console games I’ve bought in the last ten years. I remember thinking it was “okay” but I didn’t much like the openness of it and I didn’t care for the console controls. Here’s what I wrote later in 2009:

… I’ve also started FarCry 2 for the PS3.  The story is nothing like the original FarCry, sharing only a name that honestly has nothing to do with anything.  This time around you’re running (and driving) around an enormous chunk of Africa.

It’s one of those open-world style games, so you can do the missions in any order you want.  I actually find this style of game a little annoying – I get a better sense of accomplishment from linear games.  With open games I usually feel like I’m wandering around aimlessly for no particular reason.  FarCry 2 is not so bad, though – it actually feels a little like an MMO.

I tried some multiplayer but I was not impressed.  The lag was pretty intense so it felt like playing on a dial-up connection (maybe nobody was running servers near me).  Plus most of the maps that came up were user-generated, which means they pretty much sucked.

Much later I bought Far Cry 2 in a rock-bottom Steam sale so I could compare the PC version. Naturally I’ve never even installed it on PC, let alone played it.

Which brings us to Far Cry 3, nearly five years later.

Honestly I feel like the game is virtually identical to what I remember of Far Cry 2: Running and driving around a jungle capturing control points. It’s just that now we’re in a South Pacific jungle (I think) instead of an African jungle, and now we can hunt animals and rip their guts out to make things. All the NPCs sound like they have a weird mixture of African and Australian accents. The story is still stupid and uninspired, but I do enjoy roaming around capturing the Bad Guy outposts. I associate Far Cry with stealth tactics more than running-and-gunning, but I feel like I’m doing even more stealth in this version than any previous version. I hardly ever charge into any situation with guns blazing. I mainly use a silenced sniper rifle, a bow, and “takedowns.”

I started out playing with a controller just for simplicity of it, but I wasn’t happy with my inability to hit anything. (I haven’t played a shooter with a controller in ages.) So I went back to the ol’ mouse-and-keyboard setup.

Also, to prove to the world that I’m still a “real gamer” and not just some dirty casual old man, I am playing on the Hard setting. So there. Suck it, people-who-thought-I-wasn’t-a-real-gamer! Not that anyone ever did. (Actually I’m playing on Hard because the gameplay is more fun than the story.)

I doubt that I will “finish” the game. Like Far Cry 2, I’d be fine putting it away without finishing the story. One day I will simply not want to play it, and I’ll pick something else from the library.