FFXIV – 3.0 Main Scenario Complete

A while back I said I was playing ESO again.. welllll, I sort of lost interest. (I think it’s because I find the quests very depressing, and it also seems like everywhere you go and everything you do is basically the same as what you did before.) So it’s mostly FFXIV and an occasionally foray into LotRO for me these days.

I finished the Aetherial Research Facility. I got a nice group with a very “professional” tank, who explained the mechanics concisely and non-judgmentally. Indeed it turned out to be much easier than I feared, and kind of fun. It was another one with a lot of AoEs to dodge, which I like. It’s sort of like a puzzle game, trying to figure out where to run so that you don’t get caught by overlapping or moving AoEs. They’re usually predicable enough that you can plan ahead, but random enough that you still need to think on your feet.

There was another 8-man trial immediately after called The Singularity Reactor. I went into that one completely blind, reasoning that it would be similar to the 8-man trials at the end of previous stories, which were among the easiest in the game. It turned out to be at least easy enough for us to get through on the first try, even with three of us showing filmstrips over our heads and nobody explaining anything. At the time of this writing, in fact, I can’t remember a single thing about the fight, except the spoilery cut scene after it was over.

So that completed the Heavensward 3.0 Main Scenario, as far as I can tell. I think it was better than the 2.0 story. (I say that partly because I can’t even remember the 2.0 story.) Most of the characters had good arcs, at least until [redacted].

As you might expect, reaching level 60 in FFXIV is just the beginning, particularly when you get to the end in version 3.5 instead of 3.0. If it’s anything like level 50, I’m guessing there are now 5 updates worth of extended Main Scenario questlines to go through, each with a new dungeon and/or trial in it.

In addition to that, there is the somewhat arduous process of running around to find and unlock all the level 60 activities you can do after finishing the Main Scenario.

One of the first things I found was Rowena in Idyllshire, who led me to unlocking the Anima weapon quest. Yeah, I probably won’t be doing that. Not without a really long Netflix series to binge-watch, at least.

After that I unlocked a level 60 dungeon Neverreap, and two Extreme trials, none of which I qualify for yet.

I wanted to find the “Alexander” thing I keep hearing about, which I am guessing is the new Crystal Tower public raid thingy. Crystal Tower was a big help to my gear progress in the level 50 days. I didn’t quite know what to look for, but I stumbled onto it anyway when I looked into that gigantic robot hand that came out of the shield in the Dravanian Hinterlands. I thought it was just going to be another 8-man trial the way they kept talking about primals, but the Duty Finder clearly marks it as “Alexander – The Fist of the Father” even though the quest text never mentioned anything about Alexander, Fists, or Fathers. I still don’t know who or what Alexander is. It’s always seemed like a strange name for an instance. (I thought “Turns 1-9” were strange names, too.)

There’s no danger of accidentally wandering into any of these places unprepared, by the way, because my item level is way too low. At this writing I’m at 142, and I think I need to get to at least 145 before I can even start doing any of this level 60 stuff.

At one time that seemed like an impossibly high number, but now it’s a huge flashing newbie sign. I unlocked the Stone, Sea, Sky thing (which is an awesome game feature with yet another inexplicable FFXIV name) and marched haughtily into the practice tutorial boss, only to fail the DPS check miserably. Talk about humbling.

I decided I would run through the Great Gubal Library until I picked up a substantial portion of the Conservator’s gear set, which is item level 148. I kind of enjoy that dungeon and it would be nice to have a complete set of gear for a change. I’ve been wearing a hodgepodge for 10 levels now. Of course the first time through, there was another Bard in the group, and of course he got the only Bard drop there was. The second time through there was nothing but Ninja drops. So maybe it isn’t the greatest idea in the world.

P. S. Two more Gubal runs last night and nothing. It’s getting less fun, so bleh.

Morrowind – Learning The Ropes

I’m trying a new thing here. This is both a diary of my Morrowind adventures and an index to the videos.

P. S. Don’t spoil anything for me, I haven’t finished the game yet. :)

Morrowind 1 – Arriving in Seyda Neen. Story. I’m a Dark Elf Witchhunter. I was released from prison and transported by ship to Seyda Neen, on the southern coast of Vvardenfell island in the Morrowind district. Apparently I was released by a personal decree from Emperor Uriel Septum VII. After answering a series of questions, I was given some gold and a package to take to a man named Caius Cosades in the town of Balmora, who would have more information [15:20]. I found a healing ring in a barrel. I was told by a helpful stranger that a silt strider (a creature which to me looked like a giant long-legged tick) could transport me to Balmora. I encountered a man named Fargoth [25:45] who claimed the Imperials had taken his healing ring. I said nothing. Tee hee. Eager to find out why I’d been released, I took a silt strider to Balmora for 15 gold.

Morrowind 2 – Finding Caius Cosades In Balmora. Story, Thieves Guild. After arriving in Balmora, I began searching for Caius Cosades. I was told to ask for him in the South Wall Cornerclub. There, I encountered a Khajitt named Sugar-Lips Habasi and joined the Thieves Guild on a whim [13:40]. After many fruitless attempts at persuading the people of the corner club, the owner finally told me where to find Caius Cosades’s house. I made my way there and found the impressively shirtless Imperial Blades Spymaster Caius Cosades [23:05]. Caius read over the package I delivered, then, by order of the Emperor, made me a Novice in the Imperial Blades (a spy organization). Caius ordered me to establish a cover identity as a freelance adventurer by joining the Mages Guild or the Fighters Guild.

Morrowind 3 – Exploring the Countryside. Mages Guild, Random. I decided to join the Mages Guild in Balmora, since it seemed like it would fit my skill set better than the Fighters Guild. I talked to the local recruiter Ranis Athrys [5:05]. She accepted me into the guild and told me to find Ajira to learn my duties. Instead, I walked into the wilderness to try my luck with my starting weapons [13:40]. I found and explored the vendors in the Moonmoth Fort [15:05]. I learned to use my Ancestral Ghost conjuring spell [21:30]. I went up a hill, encountered a mage on a bridge, and died [23:55].

Morrowind 4 – Collecting Mushrooms for Ajira. Mages Guild. Back in the Balmora Mages Guild, I found Ajira in the basement and asked about my duties. Ajira, a student herself, asked me to collect mushroom samples from the swamp on the Bitter Coast for a report she was writing. I made my way to the swamp and encountered a Nord named Fjol, who demanded 100 gold, then killed me when I refused to give it to him [15:15]. I wandered through the small fishing village of Hla Oad. I fought Scribs and Mud Crabs using my trusty Bound Dagger spell, the only weapon I found to be viable. I collected samples of two out of the four required types of mushrooms before getting killed by a Nix Hound.

Morrowind 5 – Lost In The Swamp. Mages Guild. I found and investigated a cavern door to Zanabi [3:15]. I found the ruins of Hlormaren [6:30]. Eventually I collected the remaining mushroom samples. On the way back to Balmora I got lost in the swamp and fought many creatures, somewhat ineffectively, with a Bound Dagger. I found a door to the Andrethi Ancestral Tomb [12:20]. Eventually I returned to Ajira in the Balmora Mages Guild. Ajira rewarded me for completing my first duty with some potions [26:05]. Then I accidentally picked up an alchemy device from a table (I thought it was an alchemy station) and was killed when everyone in sight rushed to stop me from stealing it.

Morrowind 6 – Ajira Versus Galbedir. Mages Guild. In the Balmora Mages Guild, Ajira asked me to plant a fake soul gem in fellow student Galbedir’s desk so Ajira could win a bet [2:30]. On the way, I talked to everyone in the guild to find out their roles. I discovered that Masalinie Merian in the basement could teleport me to various destinations [15:40]. I bought the conjuring spells Bound Longbow and Bound Longsword from her as well. I planted the fake soul gem and returned to Ajira. Ajira then asked me to collect samples of four different kinds of flowers from the shores of Lake Amaya for her report [17:20].

Morrowind 7 – Collecting Flowers for Ajira. Mages Guild. On my journey to Lake Amaya, I discovered that the Bound Longbow spell is useless without arrows [2:30]. I encountered a lovestruck lass named Maurrie Aurmine by the road, who asked me to find a bandit [9:55]. I refused, because I was busy picking flowers. I collected samples of three of the four kinds of flowers required, but the Stoneflowers remained elusive. I passed a wooden door to the Lleran Ancestral Tomb [15:35]. I encountered another woman Nevrasa Dralor on the road [16:15], who was looking for a holy place at the Fields of Kummu. I agreed to escort her because she promised to pay me 100 gold.

Morrowind 8 – Advancing In The Mages Guild. Mages Guild. With Nevrasa Dralor tagging along, I finally found samples of Stoneflowers and returned to Ajira to complete my guild duty [8:50]. Ajira gave me more potions and asked me to buy a ceramic bowl for her. I stopped by Ranis Athrys and she promoted me from Associate to Apprentice to Journeyman in the Mages Guild [11:00]. I also heard a rumor that Larrius Varro at Fort Moonmoth wanted to talk to me. After delivering the ceramic bowl [14:35], Ajira asked me to find her two reports which she believed rival Galbedir stole. Galbedir told me a rumor that the Balmora magistrate Nolus Atrius was “on the take,” but denied stealing the reports [20:12]. 

Morrowind 9 – Escort To The Fields of Kummu. Random. I bought the Bound Mace spell, since my Blunt weapon skill is better than anything else (or so I thought). Since Nevrasa Dralor was still following me around, I decided to set aside my guild duties for a while to escort her to the Fields of Kummu. On the way we passed Fort Moonmoth, and I spoke with Larrius Varro [9:10]. He asked me to deal with a nord bandit on the road to Hla Oad (back in the swamp). I continued to the Fields of Kummu with Nevrasa Dralor [19:15] and she rewarded me with 100 gold. I then returned to Balmora.

Morrowind 10 – Confronting Fjol. Random. Continuing to ignore my duties, I left Balmora to track down the nord bandit for Larrius Varro. I passed a campsite at the Shulk Eggmine [1:10], and was surprised to find them harmless (I had previously avoided them, thinking they were bandits). I arrived again in the fishing village of Hla Oad, and talked to some of the residents [9:50]. I was killed by an assassin after resting [27:15]. After many unsuccessful attempts, I finally killed the Nord bandit Fjol using Bound Bow when he got stuck on a fence post [32:00]. Returning to Fort Moonmoth, Larrius Varro rewarded me with 100 gold.

FFXIV – Finally 60

It was a weekend of big achievements in Final Fantasy XIV. When last we left our intrepid Warrior of Light, she had run out of level 58 quests halfway to level 59.

I ended up doing some Clan Hunts, some Battle Levemetes (a word which I still do not think is a real word), and thanks to suggestions from Aywren, a handful of Beast Tribe quests for the Vath and Vanu. That got me to level 59, faster than I might have expected. (I also noticed that Beast Tribe reputation gains in Heavensward are about 10 times faster than … uh … non-Heavensward. What do we call non-Heavensward anyway? Surely not Vanilla FFXIV. I guess ARR or 2.0.)

Beast tribe quests got me to level 59.

I met up with Alphinaud and [redacted] and we went to a cave and met a stereotypical old witch surrounded by talking frogs. I was back in the Main Scenario! I was so excited. Then the old witch told me to go to the Great Gubal Library dungeon and get a book. Cue screeching car tires, followed by the sound of metal and glass crashing into a brick wall.

This grumpy old witch cliche wanted a book.

I watched a guide and Sunday I finally bit the bullet and entered the Duty Finder. As it turned out, I was more prepared for this dungeon than anyone else. I got to see an infamous “loldrg” in person. Personally I found the mechanics relatively straightforward and kind of fun (I like the ones where you have to dodge a lot, that’s probably why I liked the Bard in the first place), but they were too much for the dragoon, who died repeatedly on the Demon Book and the Bibliotaph. (In fairness, the Book would definitely be harder for melee DPS.) Losing the dragoon wouldn’t have been so bad, but the healer also had a tendency to die a lot.

After an hour we got through it, which I suppose is a credit to the determination of the group. But that’s way over my “omg I feel so trapped in here” threshold for a dungeon. That threshold for me is about 20 minutes, and it’s one of the reasons why I hesitate to go into FFXIV dungeons, which, case in point, sometimes last an hour.

All to fetch a book for the old witch lady.

The grumpy old witch left her book in a library filled with monsters and elevator music.

After that, the pace of the Main Scenario really accelerated. We went back to Cid who had made a whole new airship thingy which he dubbed the Enterprise Excelsior. (Of course he says “engage” too. And–nerd trigger warning–this Enterprise has two passengers named Biggs and Wedge.) Then there was an epic cut scene with fighting and explosions and tension and more spoilers and then I entered the final Heavensward zone, Azys Lla.

I never saw much of the Bahamut Turns, so I haven’t seen all that much of the old Alagan technology in FFXIV (otherwise known as super-advanced science-fiction technology). Well this new zone hits you full in the face with it, and it’s like stepping into a totally different, science fiction MMORPG.

An epic cut scene paved the way for the final zone.

Wisely, I don’t think they mean for you to spend much time in this zone. The Main Scenario propels you rather rapidly through the quadrants, and the pacing combined with the cool energetic music in the background makes you feel like you’re nearing an epic conclusion to the Main Scenario. I zoomed through this zone.

Until I got to the aptly-named quest “Heavensward” which requires you to be level 60. And naturally, I was only halfway there. It was kind of a bummer to let all that forward story momentum I’d been building die. It was like, okay everything is leading up to this massive final confrontation, but oops, no you can’t do that yet. Come back later!

I was determined to reach 60 before I went to bed, so I did some more Beast Tribe quests and another run of the Great Gubal Library (in which I got an oddly drab new tunic), then a random Trial in the Duty Finder (which for some reason always comes up on The Chrysalis for me), and I reached level 60.

And suddenly we’re in a science fiction MMORPG.

The “Heavensward” quest, not unexpectedly, led to another dungeon, the Something Something Complex Aetherial Research Facility. By then it was getting late and I was too scared to do another dungeon, so that’s where I left it. This one is probably going to be a heavy story dungeon, too, so it’s doubly scary. Nobody wants to sit around staring at that one person in the group with the film strip over his head for ten minutes at the beginning of the instance.

I did get my final Bard ability, though, which unfortunately looks pretty anti-climatic. It’s an instant cast ability that does extra damage when your DoTs are up. Sounds great and useful, up until the point when you read the “60 second cooldown” part. Boo. I also unlocked Wondrous Tales or Tails or whatever, which sounds a lot like “busy work” to me.

I might have gotten more done, but on Monday (a day off for me), Square Enix brought down the game all day for the 3.5 update.

LotRO Volume 1, Book 13 – Snowpocalypse

I completed a second Book in LotRO over the snowy weekend.

Last time we rescued Laerdan and found half of that elusive ring Narchuil. After Laerdan stormed out of the council meeting, Elrond asked me to talk to him. Laerdan believed the rest of the ring could be found in the (presumably dead) hands of a captain whose ship sank somewhere in the north. He asked me to meet a dwarf friend of his in Forochel, because he wanted to stay and patch things up with the Elves. Typical. I always have to do the work.

Forochel is a horrible place and I would never want to live there. The icy tundra of Forochel looked disturbingly similar to my real life after the unexpectedly high volume of snow and record-breaking low temperatures we got over the weekend.

Laerdan’s dwarf friend was no help at all, and directed me to contact the locals, who I think of as Eskimos but actually have sort of Scandinavian accents, which I rendered in my reference video recording as more like a weird combination of Indian, Native American, and Irish. The Eskimo chieftan Yrjana (pronounced something like EAR-YAWN) required me to pass three tests before he would speak with me, which required a great deal of riding through the snow fields.

Chieftan Yrjana said he would love to help find Narchuil, but a spooky emmissary from Angmar also wanted it. The chieftain met with him, and it was none other than my old nemesis Mordrambor, last seen in Book 11 killing many people of Evendim as he escaped. Mordrambor tried to convince Chieftan Yrjana to work with him instead of me, but Yrjana refused. Mordrambor left in a huff, promising to kill everyone, yada yada.

To find the ring, Chieftan Yrjana sent me to a powerful seer woman named Saija, who lived in a cave in the middle of nowhere. She told the tale of Arvedui, the Gaunt King, who died upon the back of a “giant sea-monster,” which only now as I write this summary do I realize was a “ship” and not an actual monster. Saija surmised I might find knowledge of the ring at the shipwreck, and so I went there.

At the shipwreck, still frozen in the water, I found the shade of Arvedui, the Gaunt King, the last king of Arthedain. Arvedui told me he had once hidden and abandoned many things in the dwarf-mines to the south (where he became “gaunt”). He wanted me to go to the mines and find his Book of Heraldry and take it to a Ranger.

This led to a rather lengthy delve into the depths of the Dourhand-held dwarf-mines, where I wandered for an endless amount of time trying to find a stupid book for a dead guy.

At last, I found it and returned it to the Ranger, who declared he would return at once to Rivendell to tell Elrond and Aragorn of the fate of Arvedui of Arthedain. (For you see, Aragorn was still in Rivendell during those days, and apparently is a descendant of this Gaunt King Arvedui.)

The shade of Arvedui thanked me for my service and finally got to the reason I was there. He told me that there had been a second Elf-ship which had come searching for him, whose captain had not perished. (This was presumably the ship captain whom Laerdan had given the fragment of Narchuil.) He knew no more, but suggested I speak with the seer Saija about it, and so I returned to her cave.

Naturally, Saija would not tell me anything before I performed some mundane tasks for her. Once I completed those, she told me that the survivor of the second ship (“sea monster”) had been lost in an ice cave. If the ring Narchuil could be found anywhere, it would be there. Saija volunteered to guide me there.

Inside the ice cave, Mordrambor was one step ahead of us. “I will claim Narchuil as my own and deliver it to my *new* Master,” he said, revealing himself to be a traitor to the Big Bad Lady Amarthiel. In the end, I fought with Mordrambor, but in a surprise twist that still makes no sense whatsoever, Saija revealed herself to be none other than Amarthiel in disguise (again). “Thou wilt pay for thine insolence!” she shouted at Mordrambor, as the two of them disappeared in a ball of fire, leaving me alone in the cave, with the other fragment of the ring Narchuil. I returned it to Rivendell, where I learned that Laerdan plans to take it south to destroy it.

And that’s how Book 13 ended.

I have to say, this book was a massive pain to get through. I did not enjoy much of anything here. I got lost in Forochel trying to complete the Chieftan’s tasks, I got lost in the dwarf-mines trying to find that book of heraldry, which made me especially angry because I did not see how a book had anything to do with finding a ring. It was just one boring errand after another which seemed to take forever. (It actually took about 3 hours of game time.) The summary I wrote above makes it sound quite a bit more entertaining than it was.

Story-wise, I’m not at all clear why Saija/Amarthiel didn’t just take the dern ring herself. Why would she help *me* find it? That made no sense whatsoever. Or was it all a plot to test Mordrambor’s loyalty to her? Perhaps the reasons will become clear later.

I calculated that I had roughly 33 more books to go before I caught up with the story in LotRO, which at two per weekend, should take me well into Fall or Winter 2017.

FFXIV – The Level 58 Slump

I’m a little miffed that I’ve run out of level 58 quests in the Dravanian Hinterlands only about halfway to level 59. Alphinaud and [redacted] stopped talking to me about the Main Scenario almost immediately after I ascended to level 58 and entered Idyllshire, which is apparently the new Mor Dhona. They now want nothing to do with me until I get to level 59.

So I did every level 58 quest I could find around Idyllshire and the Hinterlands, mostly involving the gobbies’ loony adventures building their city government. After that, I followed two racist refugees from Uldah in their misadventures of gobbie mistrust. I thought for sure that somewhere in those quests I would unlock Saint Mocianne’s Arboretum, which is clearly marked as a dungeon on my map, but nope. That blue dungeon icon is still there, and I guess I’m supposed to pretend I can’t see the rather obvious entrance.

Now I’m sitting there in Idyllshire with half a level to go, wondering what to do. Did I miss something? The only thing I can think of to do is grind The Vault dungeon or Leveling dungeons until I get to 59, but I don’t particularly want to. I don’t remember ever being at a point in FFXIV before where I *had* to do dungeons to progress. I mean, maybe I had this problem when I originally hit 48 and 49, too, but I don’t remember it. For alt classes I would usually do FATEs around Camp Dragonhead from 40-50 (actually more like 35-50), but as far as I can tell there’s nothing like that in Heavensward.

Tonight, after I wrote the above at work, I re-discovered the Battle Levemetes and Clan Hunts in Foundation, but they are slow and not very efficient in terms of leveling. But it’s about all I could find that didn’t involve a Duty.

By the way I have not enjoyed the quests around the Hinterlands. Well, the quests themselves are fairly amusing, but there is a *lot* of running back and forth, which is really time-consuming when you can’t fly yet.

In terms of land mass, the Heavensward expansion reminds me a lot of the Storm Legion expansion in Rift, and not in a good way. They made the maps *gigantic* in comparison to the launch maps, presumably to impress people or in FFXIV’s case to make flying more important, but what you actually end up with are these huge maps that take forever to get across, which are mostly empty of content. I’d just as soon developers not make bigger maps unless they plan to fill them with more points of interest.

LotRO Volume 1, Book 12 – Rescuing Laerdan

Turns out this was the only screenshot I took.

As part of my continuing efforts to catch up in LotRO, I played through another Book in the Epic Story. In the last book, we were looking for a ring called Narchuil, which is pronounced quite differently from the way it looks, according to not-Ian McKellen Gandalf in the voiceovers. (It’s something like “Nar-wheel.”)

(Per usual for my LotRO posts, I will not be attempting to add the diacritics to all the weird Elvish words.)

In Book 12, we’re … still looking for a ring called Narchuil. But we’ve been distracted by looking for Laerdan, who I erroneously thought had died in the last book. Apparently he was taken captive instead, and for some reason the folks of Middle Earth believe he’s worth rescuing. Some misguided sense of ethics, I presume.

As always, The Enemy writes down his plans on paper and distributes them to all of his minions, so after killing a few bad guys in Evendim, I was able to find out that Laerdan was taken before someone named Ein in Barad Tironn for interrogation. While random extra Forchon courageously guarded the door, I dispatched Ein, but Laerdan was long gone, taken to Angmar.

My contact in Angmar, Gwathryn, told me that Laerdan was taken to Sammath Baul. After prying a gate key from the cold, dead hands of the massive brute Lozudurkh, I was able to enter the corpse-filled halls of Sammath Baul. I fought my way through hordes of Angmarim and defeated Morven, Laerdan’s captor. I took the badly injured Laerdan back to Elrond in Rivendell to recover.

With Laerdan rescued, Elrond directed me to return to the search for Narchuil. Laerdan revealed in his sleep that it lay in Barad Durgul, back in Angmar. My Angmar contact Gwathryn worried that the inactive gate ward stones protecting Barad Durgul might be a trap, so I once again sought out the secret orders that The Enemy distributed to all of his minions. After a somewhat tedious journey into the heart of Barad Durgul, I found the secret orders on the corpse of an Angmarim Gate-Keeper  who carelessly forget to tear them up. It turned out the watching stones were disabled for the personal convenience of the Lady Amarthiel, and no danger.

The inevitable assault on the halls of Barad Durgul ensued, one Hobbit laying waste to hordes of Angmarim Houndmasters and Bloodletters. After a somewhat anti-climatic final duel with Goeolgon, I found the corpse of Narucham, a comrade of Gwathryn, who I was to have met inside, but apparently he got impatient to go on ahead without me. I also found an ornate chest, from which I recovered half of the ring Narchuil.

Back in Rivendell, Elrond called a council. My very own council in Rivendell! It wasn’t quite as elaborate as the council, but there was a lot of talking, at least, and Gandalf was there even if he only spoke one line. Laerdan had awoken from his “dark dreams,” and explained that he broke the ring in half to try to help his spellbound daughter Narmeleth. He proceeded to go a bit mental and ran away, proclaiming that he would yet save Narmeleth with the help of “Aignel and Ningarch.”

Poor guy.

I didn’t connect as much with this story as the last one. Mostly this part of the story involved a lot of tedious slogging through trash mobs. Since it had been months since I last played, I didn’t remember many of the names and couldn’t quite piece together what was happening. Now that I’ve written up this summary (with the help of lotro-wiki.com), maybe I’ll be able to connect a bit better with Book 13, which will apparently take us to the frozen north, where the other half of Narchuil lies at the bottom of the ocean, or something like that.

Also, I have to mention that when I loaded up LotRO to play this Book, my Hunter skills had been reset. There’s nothing quite so disheartening as loading up an MMORPG you haven’t played in months, only to find that your skills have been reset.

Top 10 Videos From 2016

I know blog readers don’t care about videos, but I wanted to record my Top 10 game videos from 2016 for posterity.

One day I decided to click on that Analytics tab on YouTube and found there was actually some information there, like which videos people watched. YouTube ranks videos by watch time, not views, which I suppose indicates that these are the videos that people actually stuck around to watch the most, for some inexplicable reason.

10 – Battlefield 1 – Pt 1 – Intro and Gallipoli. First of my Battlefield 1 playthrough, and first of four Battlefield 1 videos on this list, uploaded in 2016. I guess people like shooters. Interestingly, the “traffic sources” for these videos show a lot from “suggested videos.” I’ve no idea what that means or how that happens.

9 – Battlefield 1 – Pt 9 – Cambrai. More Battlefield 1.

8 – Dark Souls II – Part 15 – Ruined Aflis. This one was from 2015. A really action-packed episode in my epic Dark Souls II blind playthrough series. Starts with our first look at the Ruin Sentinels boss (from which we ran screaming), then goes to our first look at the Heide’s Tower dragon (from which we ran screaming), then ends up with us summoning Ruined Aflis to kill skeletons and turtle knights.

7 – T-Day Stream – Age of Conan, Questing in Eiglophian Mountains. A super oldie from 2014, when I tried streaming regularly for a month, and the only MMORPG in the list. A rare webcam appearance, from back when I used a headset, for the worst possible sound quality.

6 – Dark Souls – Sorcerer to Oolacile Township 2nd Bonfire. Another from 2015, and another rare webcam appearance. At least I had a condenser microphone setup by then.

5 – Battlefield 1 – Pt 8 – Cambrai. More Battlefield 1.

4 – Battlefield 1 – Pt 3 – Italy. More Battlefield 1.

3 – Dark Souls II – Part 17 – The Pursuer Defeated. Part of my epic blind Dark Souls II playthrough from 2015. This is the one where I finally beat that !@#$! Pursuer. Not shown in this video is the 500 times I failed in a previous episode of the series.

2 – Snap Judgment – Novus Inceptio. First (and only) 30 minutes of trying out Steam Early Access survival game Novus Inceptio. I guess people wanted to see it before buying it and apparently I was the only person willing to play it. Has the honor of getting 2 dislikes!

1 – Dark Souls – Sorcerer vs. Sif the Great Grey Wolf. From 2015. Me killing Sif in one shot with a sorcerer, very early in the morning, long before I cared about audio quality. I can only speculate it got a higher watch time because it’s only 3:30 long so people didn’t mind watching the whole thing.

By the way I’m debating uploading a Morrowind playthrough next.

Daybreak Closing Landmark

In the most shocking news heard since WildStar announced they were going free-to-play, Daybreak revealed they will be closing down Landmark in February.

I bought one of the $99 Founder’s packs. I don’t exactly remember why, but I remember seeing that video showing them digging holes in the ground and thought that was pretty dern cool. It turned out to be the most ill-advised game purchase decision of my entire life to date. To this day it informs my Early Access buying decisions. Thanks to Landmark, I made a rule that I won’t take a chance on an unknown Early Access game unless it sells for $10 or less.

Now that I think about it, I came up with the $10 mark because of H1Z1, another Daybreak product. H1Z1 consistently sells for $20, so I knew I had to make my dollar amount less than that, because I did not want to take a chance on another Daybreak product, even at only $20. All indications were that H1Z1 would be another unfinished prototype disguised as a game. It turns out I made the right decision there, because H1Z1 still looks awful, years later. (I don’t understand much German, but I get the impression they aren’t pleased with the game in that video–I picked it because it was recent.)

I saw some concern on Twitter about Daybreak’s new role with LotRO. I can understand that, but I’m also of the opinion that Turbine was getting ready to shut down LotRO completely, so even if Daybreak does shut down LotRO in a year, it will be one more year that LotRO survived. But I doubt that Daybreak would get involved with LotRO unless it was an easy money-maker for them.

I always thought the first versions of Landmark were their best versions. I actually had some fun wandering around mining resources to make stuff in those first versions. I liked the crafting progression for the most part. It was pretty relaxing, and digging through the terrain was some pretty cool tech.

Unfortunately, every time they released a major patch, the game seemed to get worse. They were using Landmark as a testbed for the systems that would go into EQNext, but those features weren’t that great, most notably the combat. I never did any PvP, but fighting mobs in the countryside was horrible. I actually started working on a post titled “EverQuest Next Will Be Terrible” but then they went and cancelled EQNext. Honestly I’m glad they did, because it’s better for the MMORPG industry to have no EverQuest Next than to have an EverQuest Next that’s a massive flop.

I always got the impression that the features planned for Landmark and EQNext were simply beyond the skill set of the developers working on it. I felt like the changes were very slow. I imagined there were two old EverQuest programmers in a basement furuiously working to patch Visual Basic 6 spaghetti code, maybe reading books on modern coding techniques on their lunch breaks. If anyone ever sees that code base I bet it would be a mess of Daily WTF material.

I know I’m making wildly unfair and unfounded accusations here but after spending some time in the software development industry, you sort of get a feel for the development process behind a product based on watching the changes in the finished product. The point is that watching Landmark’s progress did not inspire me with confidence in its development process. Compare Landmark with something like Trove, which pushed out huge, sweeping changes very quickly in their early days.

In retrospect, I think their building system was too complex for a consumer product. It was practically Blender-level of detail (a gross exaggeration, I know–using Blender is like trying to juggle while riding a unicycle on a tightrope and recite Shakespeare in Chinese at the same time). The point is that it was work to build something. Some people loved that (many of whom probably want to make games :), but I think most people found it inaccessible. Then again, it had to be complex because it was also the tool they were using to build assets for EQNext.

I will now show you the video I recorded shortly after Landmark’s big March 2016 Update last year (the one right before the “launch”) where I tried to give it another chance. I wasn’t going to upload it because I thought I was unfairly harsh and critical of it. But hey, I lost $99 on this game, so here it is.

Here are all my posts on Landmark.