FFXIV – Dun Scaith

It was a big weekend for me in FFXIV, as I managed to finish up the Heavensward Main Scenario Quest, so I stand ready to begin Stormblood this week (just in time for everyone else to be finishing it :). However, since there is usually a two or three day lag between my gaming events and posts about them, let’s continue with last week’s adventures…

Normally I try to stay semi-focused on meaningful progress when I’m in an MMORPG, but I had a bit of time to kill Thursday so I started wondering if I could pick up two more points of item level so I could check out Dun Scaith, the final alliance raid in Heavensward. It would do little or nothing for me at this point, but I had a couple of quests in my journal that required it, and I just wanted to see it.

Kitty saves the day!

I went over to Idyllshire to check out the vendors, and I was surprised to find out that I had a stack of over a thousand Tomestones of Poetics. I’m not sure where they came from–I guess a combination of leftovers from before Stormblood and the various post-Stormblood activities that give out Poetics like candy.

The poetics allowed me to buy a 270-ilevel ring, bracelet, necklace, and earrings, and that was plenty to get me over the threshold.

I jumped into the Duty Finder without even researching the raid. Past experience has taught me that there is so much to think about in these raids that I can’t absorb even a fraction of it just from a video. (If you watch MTQ’s videos on Dun Scaith, it is literally wall-to-wall explanation in a near monotone from start to finish–hard to digest.) I have to experience it firsthand, then review it later to find out what I did wrong.

Past experience has also taught me that the community is probably overgeared for the raid by now, so one little DPS that doesn’t know anything probably won’t hurt that much. Or so I hoped.

Staring down the last boss in Dun Scaith.

I was expecting it to take all day to get into the raid, what with everyone doing Stormblood stuff, but it only took about 10 minutes. (Later I learned I must have been extremely lucky, as it was the only time I could get in.)

On par with every other alliance raid, it took about 45 minutes to complete. I died a lot. But there were no wipes, so it was a smooth run. I even got some new boots. I wasn’t expecting to get new gear from it, but now that I know there’s a new set of gear to acquire, I feel like I have to get it. :) I tried to queue a couple more times but they never popped, so I should probably give up on it. New Stormblood gear is just around the corner anyway.

I ended up with enough excess Poetics to buy the ilevel 270 Shire Conservator’s chest piece. It’s kind of a grayish meh, though. Not terribly appealing. But I got my ilevel up to a nice, round 250.

Bye, bye sky pirates and weird misshapen cat!

One other thing I did was try to find out what to spend Wolf Marks on. You get these from PvP. I have over 12,000 of them now and there’s a 20,000 cap and I have no idea what to spend them on. The vendors at the Wolf’s Den Pier have plenty of gear but it’s all for level 50 and 60 characters, which doesn’t help me much. I wanted to buy stuff for my Dark Knight job, which is now up to 36. I thought about getting some White Mage gear but the highest-level gear I saw was only ilevel 110 and I’m already wearing ilevel 115. Anyway it seems a bit pointless to buy PvP gear at all since everyone gets the same stats inside the arenas. I suppose it’s all meant for glamours.

I’m in a similar boat with Company Seals, too. I’m at the 50,000 seal cap and I have no idea what to buy with them. Nothing at the Grand Company vendor looks useful to me.

Pictured here: Dancing man in underwear, Inspector Hildebrandt with his head stuck in the ground, Gilgamesh (who knows *what* he is), and a chicken. Add in cheesy sound effects and you have a pretty good sense of the Hildebrandt questlines.

Oh one last thing I worked on between everything else was the long-neglected Hildebrandt quests. I just got the Manderville dance and unlocked the “Battle on the Big Bridge” trial–that should give you some indication of how far behind I am. That questline is … well, let’s just say it’s bizarre.

FFXIV – Heavensward, What Happened?

Still bumping around doing miscellaneous tasks of little import in Stormblood. But lately I’ve been thinking about Heavensward, the previous FFXIV expansion. I pre-ordered it early and was in there on early access launch day, but looking back on it two years later, I didn’t play it very much at all. (Yet for some weird reason, I remained subscribed the whole time.)

In FFXIV ARR (2.x), I leveled all of the following jobs to 50: Bard, White Mage, Dragoon, Black Mage, Miner, Botanist, Carpenter, Weaver, Alchemist, and Leatherworker. I had no jobs below level 15, and most jobs at least 25.

Heavensward provided plenty of great screenshots, if nothing else.

In Heavensward (3.x), I only did one thing, and that was level my Bard in fits and starts from 50 to 60, the vast majority of it happening late in the cycle. I tried the new jobs and unlocked Machinist, Astrologian, and Dark Knight, but never went beyond the initial level 30.

So what went wrong?

What Aywren wrote about the Bard is exactly true. It went from a joy to play in ARR to a chore in Heavensward. Other games make a habit of drastic class changes with every patch (*cough* WoW *cough*) but in FFXIV it was a real shock to the system.

This is one of my favorite screenshots from Heavensward.

But there was more to it than that for me. I burned myself out with my late-ARR push to complete the 2.x MSQ in time for Heavensward. When Heavensward launched, I was already worn out.

Not only that, but from re-reading my old blog posts, I was still playing The Witcher 3 at the time Heavensward came out, and that surely dampened my enthusiasm for playing Heavensward early on.

I think another problem with Heavensward for me was the sudden change from being an “expert” to being a beginner again. From all the jobs I mentioned leveling above, you can probably guess that I had spent quite a lot of time accumulating knowledge and experience playing my character through all the different trials and tribulations of ARR. Then suddenly I was in the first zones of Heavensward struggling to get through plain old story quests. It was a big mental adjustment.

Getting ready for the masquerade ball! (Not really.)

Combat was fairly difficult in those first days, as I recall. The first Heavensward zone (Western Coerthas) looked bleak. It’s entirely appropriate for the story, but it wasn’t a friendly way to welcome players to the expansion. The second zone (or maybe it was third–Dravanian Forelands) was huge and it was a real chore to run from place to place until you unlocked flying. I remember grumbling about that quite a lot, actually. I basically gave up on the game in 2015 at level 53.

So I fell behind early, and once you’re behind in an MMORPG, it’s easy to find excuses not to play. (I’ve seen a lot of those same reasons from people who aren’t buying Stormblood, actually.) I didn’t start to make progress again until late 2016.

Farewell to Heavensward. Except I’m not technically finished with it yet. :)

So what have we learned from all this? What lessons can we take from the Heavensward years so we don’t stall out again in Stormblood? (By “we” I mean “me.”)

First and foremost and probably most importantly, it pays to keep up with the Main Scenario Quest. Trying to push through it all at once isn’t fun. It’s better to play it in smaller pieces on a regular basis, and that’s what I’m going to try to do for Stormblood. I’m going to make an effort to level something to 70 before the first patch (4.1 I assume).

Another thing is if you’re not having fun with a job, switch to something else immediately, even if it’s at lower level. Don’t try to push ahead with something you’re not enjoying. (That advice applies to every MMORPG, actually.) I’m liking the Bard a lot better than I did in Heavensward, but we’ll see how it goes once I get into the Stormblood zones.

Note on Comment Approval

I apologize, but at some point in the last couple of weeks, WordPress decided that I needed to approve every single comment regardless of who it came from, so you may see some delays with comments showing up.

I have no idea why it’s doing this. I can only assume some random thing changed with WordPress or Akismet or Jetpack recently. I’ve fiddled with some settings again tonight to see if it helps.

Accountant, Bourne, 10 Cloverfield Lane

Last weekend I rented The Accountant on Verizon VOD. It was decent, but not quite good. I felt a pretty strong connection to Ben Afleck’s character because I can identify with many of the symptoms he reeled off about “high functioning autism.” I’ve never been diagnosed but I’ve always assumed I’m on the Asperger’s spectrum somewhere, enough to be recognizable, but not enough to be debilitating. The plot that went on around him, though, wasn’t all that interesting to me (corporate accounting woohoo). Still, there were good performances all around.

Saturday night I watched Jason Bourne on HBO. I didn’t care for it. With the exception of a 10 minute car chase near the end, it was rather boring for an action movie. I’m not a diehard fan of the Bourne movies, but I at least enjoyed the first three. This one was a whole lot of “meh.” It seemed to re-tread the exact same ground as previous movies (“Bourne is looking for something, but we need to stop him before he finds it.”) Most of the movie consisted of shots of people looking at computer screens. I think they were ultimately trying to make a movie about personal data privacy versus government law enforcement, but jammed Bourne into the middle of it.

Sunday evening I watched 10 Cloverfield Lane on Amazon Prime. It was good. Far better than I expected it to be. I had the vague impression that it hadn’t been received very well when it was released, but I thought it was a very tense psychological thriller with some really good, believable performances and more than a few surprises (and not the ones you might think, if you’ve seen it). I don’t remember Cloverfield very well but I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it. I think I would rate this one better. (The two movies are unrelated, though.)

NBI 2016 – Kill Hippy GIFs With Fire

The topic of animated GIFs came up in the NBI Discord this morning so I thought I’d write a little bit about it.

I hate animated GIFs.

That is all.

No, really, I hate them. I lived through the 1990s World Wide Web, so I have vivid memories of the days when every advertiser put obnoxious blinking animated GIFs in every web ad, making every web page into some crazy dystopian night-time Las Vegas scene with blinking neon signs in every direction. (There was an early Futurama episode that captured this very well–I think it was A Bycyclops Built For Two.) It was horrible. It was so bad it birthed the entire ad-blocker industry.

Then there was Geocities, where every web page had an animated opening-and-closing mailbox for an email link and an animated construction-worker-with-a-shovel icon to indicate the page was still under construction.

Not to even mention that from a technological standpoint, it’s really a horrible format. I’ve written code to read GIF files (back in the 1990s). It’s the silliest way to encode an animation in the entire world. It was tolerable when all the animations were hand-drawn 16-color pixely creations made with Microsoft Paint, but now everyone makes full motion video animated GIFs, and I stagger to think of all the wasted bytes going into those files.

So I still have a possibly PTSD-related visceral reaction to animated GIFs. Something like: Nuke them from orbit. Kill them with fire. Drown them in … I dunno, water I guess. That kind of thing.

I don’t remember when or why animated GIFs came back into web culture, but I was never consulted about it and if I had been, I would not have approved it. Maybe this is the real issue that separates the Old Internet Generation from the Young Internet Generation. Get off my lawn, you damn hippy GIFs.

That being said, the entire issue for me could be solved with one simple checkbox in my web browser of choice: Do Not Play Animated GIFs Until I Tell You To. Yet for some reason, presumably a secret pact between the Big Animated GIF Lobby and The Web Browser Consortium, that most basic of user interface settings remains missing.

Oh, wait, I just Googled how to disable animated GIFs in Chrome and apparently there’s an extension for it. Sweet! Nevermind. :)

I shouldn’t get too excited, though. It doesn’t fix the Twitter app on my Android phone, which feels no shame in showing every animated GIF in the world without my consent, forcing me to disable images entirely. (Twitter looks very different when you turn off pictures btw–it’s mostly a gibberish of hashtags and links.) Nor does it fix any other app on my phone, which is apparently a territory that remains under the exclusive control of the Young Internet Generation.

P.S. I’ve really amused myself with the notion that future generations will be divided not by liberal or conservative political issues, but by how they perceive animated GIFs.

P.P.S. Okay, some animated GIFs are pretty cool. But it’s like 1 in 1000.

Black Desert In Tweets

Since I am too lazy/don’t have time to write a coherent post about Black Desert I thought I would take the very simple route of pasting a bunch of my tweets about it into a post. Boy was that a mistake. It turned that it wasn’t easy at all, and this post took far longer to create than I wanted it to.

This is a big problem because I just got the “Learning Higher Processing Skills” quest from Ficy in Heidel, which opens up the “Pure Water for an Experiment” quest from Flaviano, which then allows you (I think) to heat Melted Copper Shards into Copper Ingots, a task I’ve been wanting to do for some twenty or thirty hours of game time now.

A Year Of Blog Stats

Way back in April, Endgame Viable became a year old, statistically speaking. That is to say, in April, I had accumulated my first full year of WordPress site statistics. (The Endgame Viable “brand” was actually born on October 16, 2013, while the first post on this blog–ie. the database that powers this blog–was June 29, 2012.) I’m not one to keep a close eye on statistics, but they can be useful to see what “works” and what “doesn’t work,” and some new bloggers might be interested in what I’ve learned.

Slide Rule
A WordPress engineer calculating blog statistics. (Not really.)

The biggest thing I learned: People really love to search for information about ArcheAge. My most popular posts and incoming search terms–by far–have been about ArcheAge. So if you’re starting a new blog and you’re looking for a subject that will rocket you to stardom, I’d recommend ArcheAge. In particular I’d recommend topics on how to cheat… errr… get ahead in ArcheAge. :)

The most popular non-ArcheAge post I did was the one about the Best Subscription MMO. Not surprising given that the title is the exact phrase you’d type into a search engine.

Back in April and May of 2014, a lot of my referents came from Facebook. In June of 2014, they faded, and then in July, they stopped. I have no idea why or how people came from Facebook or why they stopped. (I have a page for Endgame Viable on Facebook but I’ve never done anything to cultivate it, and I stopped crossposting to it in January.) If anyone is reading this from Facebook, um, why are you doing that? :)

Apparently there’s this thing called “spam referrers.” I got a big chunk of referrers from places called buttons-for-website.com and make-money-online.com. I added some rewrites to my .htaccess to block them, but they keep changing their domain names every month though so that’s probably a losing effort. Now I just click the “spam” link in WordPress to hide them.

After search engines, Twitter is my second-highest traffic referrer. Except while Facebook was referring and it was my second-highest traffic referrer. (Seems like I should put Facebook integration on the old todo list.)

I got more comments on this blog in February 2015 than any other month.. I have no idea why. (This month is looking pretty good so far too.)

Looking at the most popular posts month-by-month, it seems pretty obvious that the most viewed ones tend to be reviews or first impressions. That seems logical, since those are probably the kinds of posts that come up in searches.

I don’t do anything to track RSS views. Now that I think about it, I don’t know if WordPress counts them in their statistics… probably not. Maybe I should look into that.

Posted on Blaugust Day 12. Read all of my Blaugust posts here.