FFXIV – Yo-kai Grinding

I’ve had a Yo-kai Watch in my inventory for a while, but I never knew what it was for or where I got it. I remember finding it in my inventory, and I kept looking at it, thinking, “What the heck is this thing for?”

Well it turns out that I must have accidentally done the Yo-kai Event quest in 2016. I have no memory of that, but when I went to find the Yo-kai quest-giver in Ul’dah the other day, he/she/it was nowhere to be found. I went to the Gold Saucer, followed the crowd of people, and found the Yo-kai vendor, which I must have already talked to in 2016 too. I even had the Yo-kai Medallium book, and one Yo-kai Medal on one of my Retainers.

I’m not much into minions (especially these extremely weird minions) but if nothing else, this Yo-kai Event is a great opportunity to level some alt jobs. People are out in droves grinding FATEs right now. Basically all you have to do is equip the Yo-kai Watch and participate in FATEs in low-level zones, and you earn one Yo-kai Medal per FATE. But more importantly, you get experience points! Oh, and you can purchase the minions from the Gold Saucer vendor with the medals.

I don’t know what these things are supposed to be either.

Once you have Yo-kai minions, if you equip the watch and summon a minion and participate in FATEs in the correct region, you earn Legendary Yo-kai Medals (at I’d say roughly a 30% drop rate), with which you can purchase weapons from the Gold Saucer vendor. The weapons have no stats and are kind of silly-looking, meant only for glamouring. You can find the correct region to farm by consulting the Yo-kai Medallium book (in your quest item inventory).

So some of my Labor Day was spent getting two weapons: The White Mage staff and the Bard bow. I gained a White Mage level (up to 56) and a Dark Knight level (up to 40). Sadly, neither White Mage or Dark Knight are particularly well-suited to FATE-grinding. Instant-cast ranged damage is your best bet for FATEs, which means you see a whole lot of Bards, Machinists, and Red Mages out there killing everything before you can even get to the mobs. Thankfully it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to get a silver or gold medal in a FATE.

Lockbox Expectations

While the rest of the world is probably posting about the Destiny 2 open beta today, I’m going to post about lockboxes, because I wrote this yesterday. I think it was Roger that said we bloggers could get a lot of good topics out of MassivelyOP’s Daily Grinds, so here’s another one:

What Do You Actually Expect To Get Out Of MMORPG Lockboxes? This particular Grind was inspired by Bhagpuss boldly claiming to like lockboxes (in a way).

I’m pretty sure that I’ve never purchased a lockbox in any game in my entire life, so I may not be the best person to ask.

But some games give out lockboxes as game rewards anyway. The most notable example that I can think of is WildStar’s Boom Boxes which they gave out like candy during open beta, but I think you could only open one a day after launch. I still have 63 Boom Boxes left to open. They sometimes have fun stuff in them but most of the time I was disappointed after opening them. They may not technically qualify as “lockboxes” though since I don’t think you can buy them anymore.

In GW2, I have a stack of Black Lion boxes and keys, but I gave up opening them years ago. I just drop them in the bank or ignore them entirely. I have no idea what might be in them, but I have a reflexively negative view of all boxes and bags in GW2 and I try to avoid them as long as possible. They explode into useless loot that fills up inventory slots and forces me to work to get rid of them. Bhagpuss’s description of spending a half hour clearing out inventory before and after any kind of event is very familiar to me, and one of the many things I could cite that drives me away from the game.

As for what I would expect to get from a lockbox: If such things existed in, for example, FFXIV, I would expect a (good) chance at receiving a reward similar to what I might receive as a drop from a dungeon or raid boss. I would also expect to see the odds of getting that reward before I bought the lockbox.

By the way, I think that it’s implied when we talk about “lockboxes” that we are referring to lockboxes bought with real money, directly or indirectly. I certainly don’t mind opening them if they are acquired through in-game means (subject to the above inventory management woes).

But I don’t buy lockboxes (or keys) and have no plans to ever buy one.

Ashes of Creation Combat

I was looking around for something to write about today and stumbled on this MassivelyOP post about Ashes of Creation combat. I clicked on the video and started watching with no real interest until this one combat mechanic caught my attention.

But first, I don’t know who that Ziz guy is, but if he’s not a paid content creator for Ashes of Creation, I’ll eat my hat. He’s way too excited about this game not to be getting paid. It’s a huge turn-off.

The “combat” shown in the video is only combat by the thinnest of definitions: It’s the blonde woman in red we’ve seen before–apparently the only character model they’ve made to date–blasting a statue. While Ziz raves about how it’s the smoothest combat animations he’s ever seen, I’m thinking, “I guess it’s not bad but it’s hard to tell since there’s only like two animations.” Is it the greatest I’ve ever seen? No. Am I ready to throw my money at this game yet? Hell no. The fact that they got someone like Ziz to rave about completely ordinary features is a huge red flag to stay away, to be honest.

What really drew my attention was the casting bar at the bottom of the screen during combat.

Instead of a standard casting bar that fills in, it was more of an interactive minigame. There’s a section of the bar colored in red, and it was very obvious that the player was trying to hit their ability key when a moving mark got to the red section. (The red section moved with every cast.)

I thought, “Surely that’s just an experiment and they’ll patch that out before anyone actually plays this game.” Just as I completed that thought, Ziz starts raving about this “combo” mechanic as if it’s the greatest combat feature of Ashes of Creation! Apparently they are doing this on purpose. Apparently if you hit your ability with the right timing (inside that red zone), it activates an additional combo or something.

Now obviously I haven’t experienced this feature first-hand, but I just can’t see this as anything but a train wreck for combat and game repellent for casual MMORPG players. Can you imagine if you have to dodge ground AoEs and watch that stupid casting bar at the same time? What happens if you miss the timing? Does the spell fizzle? Or does it simply do less damage? What’s the difference in damage between hitting the combo and missing the combo? How is this going to work for melee classes? Or tanks? Or healers? What about lag? Bots? My brain just explodes with potential problems here. How are they not thinking of these things?

Anyway, I’ll be very surprised if that particular feature survives contact with large numbers of players and makes it through to launch day.

FFXIV – The Rising Event

Hard to believe it’s been four years since The Calamity.

I don’t normally care that much about these anniversary or holiday events, but when I saw the wind-up Gosetsu I knew that I had to have him. Not that I ever take out minions in the game or anything. It’s just the principle of the thing.

I had it in my head that The Rising wouldn’t be starting until after the Tuesday patch, but this morning (Sunday) I logged in and everybody was talking about it, so I went to Ul’dah and sure enough there was the NPC. It was a brief event, as all FFXIV events are, and the word jumble password thing was fairly annoying, but at the end I got my precious Gosetsu wind-up!

Apparently Square Enix will also be doing a 14-hour live stream event. I might have watched it if they had committed to a 16-hour event, but I just can’t be bothered for a pitiful little 14-hour thing. It’s like they aren’t even trying!

I am still doing very little in FFXIV, by the way. My main activity is running Retainer missions, then Adventure Squadron missions. I have no idea what the purpose of Squadrons are (other than burning excess Company Seals), but it’s fun to make them do pushups in the barracks. :)

Comfort MMORPGs

Here’s another post based on a MassivelyOP’s Daily Grind:

What’s Your Comfort MMO?

I find this to be a somewhat odd question, because I generally like to have a constantly-changing game experience, as opposed to an experience that is always the same. I am the kind of person who likes to learn and try new things all the time (within the boundaries of crippling anxieties, of course). This is why I try out most new MMORPGs if I can.

Still, there are a number of long-running MMORPGs that I keep coming back to after long absences, around once a year. One of them is WoW. I usually drop back in and subscribe for a month, then leave again. It takes me about that long to run into the edges of the game–that point where I find myself mindlessly repeating the same mechanics over and over and over again.

I used to return to Rift a lot but I’ve soured on it lately. I just feel like I’ve done everything that matters and now the only way to advance is to join a guild and I just don’t want to make that kind of commitment. Rift still has a somewhat complex set of abilities you need to use to be effective, which makes it increasingly harder to return. I think they over-extended themselves a bit after Storm Legion.

LotRO is one that I’ve started returning to more frequently. Particularly in the past year, of course, when there was some concern that the game might disappear. I liked that they simplified the classes, because it made the game a lot easier to return to. Previous to that, it was a massive chore to get back into the game each time.

SWTOR is another that I return to often. It’s a very easy game to get back into because combat is easy. I find myself mesmorized from watching the cool lightsaber animations and listening to the cool lightsaber sounds more than anything else. I don’t play it as much though because they make it really difficult to enjoy playing for free, and I don’t want to subscribe to more than one game at a time.

Other runners up might be GW2 or TERA. Possibly even Mortal Online. I’ve always wished I had more time and/or ambition to play Mortal Online actually.

I can’t list ESO or WildStar or some others because I haven’t yet been able to return to them repeatedly.

I don’t go back to any of those MMORPGs for “comfort” though. I go back when I haven’t played them in a sufficiently long enough time that the game feels “fresh” again.

I should also mention FFXIV, because in terms of what I would call a “comfort” game it would probably be whatever I happen to be playing at the moment, which is FFXIV. Though I am drifting away from it as I wait for the next content patch. I’m at a point where most of what I do in the game is wait in a queue, and I don’t have much patience for that.

FFXIV – Stormblood Story Deep Dive

Here’s another post I wrote a long time ago but never published because I forgot that I wrote it.

Previously I gave a high-level summary of the Stormblood story, but now I want to dive deeper into more detail. There will be huge, massive, unbelievable, mind-shattering spoilers here that go far beyond anything that was in the previous post, so you’ve been warned.

The biggest plot problem I remember: There was one point in the story when our heroes had to watch while Yotsuyu terrorized some villagers. Gosetsu was going to charge into the fray to help the villagers, but of course Lyse and Alisaie objected because it would be suicide (allegedly). That made sense. But then a minute later Alisaie said, “Wait, no that sounds like a great plan, Gosetsu, you go get captured and try not to die as a diversion.” That was a terrible plan! The worst plan ever! How does it help anyone to let Gosetsu be captured or killed? It would have been far better to keep him with the group! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing there.

Another thing I chuckled about over and over (which I’m sure is just a technical limitation of the game engine): This was a story about nations at war, but we never actually saw more than about ten or twelve people on-screen fighting at a time for these nations. There was one scene when the Alliance fought it out with the Garlean Empire over I think Castrum Abanyia, and you saw like ten people charging at each other with swords. There was never anything like the Helm’s Deep scene in Two Towers, is what I’m saying. Every nation’s army apparently has no more than a dozen people in it.

You also never see more than like ten people in a town or village, even counting the NPCs you can’t click on. It seems like that would be an unsustainable population. One day I’d love to see an MMORPG with more realistic town populations as big as what you see in a typical Assassin’s Creed game, where you have to push your way through the crowds.

Okay let’s talk about the principle characters.

Lyse: As I said before, I liked her, and often found her dialog quite funny. The biggest problem I had with her is that I never felt like she was necessary to the plot. Even when she became the leader of the resistence, I felt like that position should have gone to M’naago, who had seemingly done more to earn it. (I always viewed M’naago as second-in-command after Conrad.) Lyse apparently had a rich history with the Ala Mhigan resistence but I never saw it developed “on screen” so to speak, so it was hard to buy into it.

Alphinaud and Alisaie: Not much to say. Alphinaud is still Alphinaud, and had no character development. What is going on with Alisaie and Lyse, though? There were some … hints. I also did not miss Krile whispering, “I knew you’d come for me,” when Alphinaud rescued her. (That started back in Heavensward. I can’t let that go without saying that anything involving lalfells is ultra-creepy to me.)

Krile: Her kidnapping turned out to be a big old nothing-burger, to use the political vernacular. Just a way to increase the stakes a little bit. It worked for a short time, when they first brought her before Zenos, but then they quickly shoved her onto the back burner in the story so I figured she would be fine. (I don’t think it would have raised any stakes for anyone who skipped over Heavensward, because Krile wasn’t seen much at the start of Stormblood.)

Thancred: Offscreen for most of the expansion, except when we conveniently needed him to tell us where to find Krile. I feel like they started to set up some kind of personal crisis for him somwhere in Heavensward, but seemingly abandoned it.

Y’shtola: Also offscreen for most of the expansion. Her dramatic life-threatening injury near the beginning turned out to be meaningless. At first I worried it was going to turn out that Lyse’s voiceovers were directed at Y’shtola’s grave. Then I realized she was probably talking to Papalymo. Then when Krile was kidnapped I briefly wondered if maybe Lyse was talking to Krile’s grave. Then I reverted back to Papalymo again. I expected to see a scene of Lyse standing over Papalymo’s grave, though. :) Anyway … not much else to say about Y’shtola. I would have bet money Y’shtola and Suda were the same voice actor, but it turned out not to be the case.

Scions: Is it my imagination, or are the Scions of the Seventh Dawn still leader-less? I recall some talk about selecting a new leader back in Heavensward but I don’t think anything ever came of it. Alphinaud acts like the leader, but sometimes Y’shtola does, too.

Estinien: I expected to see more from him. When I saw him standing over Nidhogg’s eyes after the credits I fully expected him to take them and turn into a bad guy again. I was like, “Nooooooooooooo!” Huge relief that he destroyed them instead. It would be nice to see him again in the patches but we don’t really need him anymore.

Raubahn and Pipin: Just out of curiosity, are we not supposed to notice that Raubahn’s kid is a lalafell? Did they ever explain that? Anyway I suspect Raubahn might be leaving for the great hereafter in one of the patches. I mean, he gave his prized sword to Pipin. That seems like a major red flag, and a big warning sign for someone about to commit suicide.

F’lhaminn: That’s Minfilia’s mother, if you don’t recognize the name (I wouldn’t have). Why did she leave her place behind the Rising Stones’ bar where she’s been forever?? I noticed that right away at the beginning of the expansion. I found her sitting quietly at a table upstairs over Rowena’s place at the back of Revenant’s Toll. Also, again, are we just not supposed to notice that she’s a Miqo’te and Minfilia is (was) human? [I now know this was explained in FFXIV 1.0.]

Conrad: I wasn’t surprised at his death at all, considering how much they made of him asking Lyse to be leader.

M’naago: Fun character, and I thought she was more deserving to take over leadership of the resistence.

Meffrid: The first casualty of the expansion, I was surprised that he died. He was a minor character, but we followed him around doing quests for quite a while so it stung a little.

Yugiri: Overall I felt like her character didn’t get enough attention, except around the one part when she went out to rescue those captured townspeople. I thought that scene was brilliant, and the following scene with her on the beach. The realization that the townsfolk might not want to be rescued was a powerful moment for her, but I don’t think they followed up on it. Sadly Yugiri largely disappeared from the story after that, replaced by Hein.

Gosetsu: One of my favorite characters, I was devastated when he died. Though I suspected he was going to die, considering he talked about wanting to die to balance things out. Shortly after his death, there was a passing mention of a possibility that the floor had collapsed into a river, so I figured we would see him again, along with Yotsuyu. I thought it would be in a later patch, though.

Hein: I never really liked him. I never felt he was a good leader, and I would have prefered to see Yugiri in that position. Other than a few moments here and there, Hein seemed to have a kind of flippant attitude toward the whole thing, as if he wasn’t taking it seriously. (Sort of like a Brett Favre kind of quarterback, instead of a Troy Aikman kind of quarterback, if you know what I mean.) It seemed very strange that both Yugiri and Gosetsu deferred to him. I did find his voice fascinating, though. I could never figure out what kind of accent it was. I think it was perhaps a native Japanese/Asian speaker affecting a British accent?

Isse: I thought this kid from Namai did a great job of conveying the plight of the oppressed Doma population under the Garlean Empire rule. Wish I could remember the exact quotes but it was something like, “When you [Yugiri] come in here telling us we can overthrow the Empire it … it doesn’t help.” And then later that old man among the captured villagers explained it even better. “It is as salt in our wounds.” That was one of the best scenes in the whole expansion for me.

Cirina: The woman whose name I continuously mispronounced as Serena. She was a docile little flower, even when she talked about entrails and butchering meat and bloodthirsty combat. Her reaction to Magnai’s advances was hilarious.

Sadu: The leader of the Undying Ones, and probably the most memorable character of the Azim Steppe for me. If she is not Magnai’s “moon” I will eat my hat. Great voice acting for this character, especially when she was flying around blasting the Garlean floaty sky laser thingys.

Magnai: I didn’t really like him. It seemed like he was spouting some kind of sexist nonsense at every turn, which was a little surprising to see in a Final Fantasy title. Of course it was all a big setup for the audience because it was pretty clear to me that he learned Sadu was his “moon” when he saw her in action, and she is the complete opposite of what he was expecting from his moon. Seems like there should be more to that story.

Zenos: Good riddance. Never liked him. As I mentioned before, they didn’t develop this character at all, and he was just a generic cardboard cut-out crazy evil villian.

Yotsuyu: At first I thought she was a generic villian as well, but I applaud them for at least trying to give her a backstory, unlike Zenos. At least we got a little insight into how she got to be the person she is. I thought she was a far better villian than Zenos. Even the voice acting was better. Still, she’s a horrible person who has done horrible things, and I’m not convinced she is redeemable, but we’ll see. I had a feeling she would survive, but I didn’t expect in my wildest dreams to see her and Gosetsu stuck on a deserted island together. I cackled when the camera pulled back. I’m a big fan of “put people into the worst possible situations and see what happens” and I can’t think of any worse situation for either Yotsuyu or Gosetsu.

Big Empire Bad Guy And Ascian At The End: I didn’t understand that scene at all. The Ascian revealed himself to be … somebody. I could’t even guess who. At first I assumed the Ascians had infiltrated the Scions yet again, but how would Big Empire Bad Guy know any of the Scions? Aywren seems to think the Ascian revealed himself to be Zenos. Apparently Zenos’s body disappeared? I missed that. I hope that’s not the case because we don’t need to see him again.

People I thought they were setting up to die at various times but didn’t: Yugiri, Y’shtolla, Krile, Alisaie, and Lyse.

Alisaie often said something like: “Don’t go doing any noble sacrifices or anything,” so I thought for sure she would end up doing a noble sacrifice herself during the story. In fact she
unintentionally did so during that fight against Fordola, but they did another “fake character death” where someone gets hit and falls down looking dead, only to come back a scene later with the explanation, “Oh it was just a small wound.”

Yugiri also tried to make a noble sacrifice, but failed (with another fake character death). I suppose it’s possible the noble sacrifices could come later in the patches.

With Lyse I wondered the whole time if at the end they were going to show her delivering her monologue to somebody’s grave, then show her charging into some battle and dying. (A classic misdirection, because we the audience would think, “Oh she can’t die because of that running flash-forward monologue thing.”)

By the way, if I didn’t mention someone you knew from before Stormblood.. it’s probably because they died a long time ago. I warned you about spoilers!

Getting Lost In MMOs

A recent MassivelyOP Daily Grind asked the question: “Do you like being lost in MMOs?”

My answer is generally no, I never want to my progress to be impeded by not knowing where to go. But it depends on the situation and/or the game. Here are two recent examples:

When I think about my experience playing through the remainder of the GW2 Heart of Thorns story, I was lost a lot in the Maguuma Jungle, and it was aggravating. The flat 2D map helped little because the world was extremely 3D and while the map might show you standing on top of your destination, in reality it might be way above you or below you with no discernable path to reach it.

On the other hand, I also spent a great deal of time lost in LotRO’s Mines of Moria, but I don’t remember feeling any frustration over it. The problem was identical: The map was flat and 2D, while the environment was 3D with ramps and stairs leading up and down all over the place, and you could never really tell whether your destination was above your head or below your feet. Yet I don’t remember ever grumbling about it in LotRO.

In these two cases one difference might have been the combat difficulty. In GW2, it was such an effort to reach anywhere on the map that if I didn’t get to the right place on the first try, I thought, “Ugh, now I have to fight my way someplace else! What a pain!”

Whereas with LotRO, the combat was ridiculously easy, so it was more of a sightseeing stroll to walk around the environment if I got lost. Also in Moria there were plenty of interesting things to look at while I tried to work out the right path. The color palette varied dramatically from place to place: There were blue areas, brown areas, gray areas, red fiery areas. Whereas most of Heart of Thorns looks roughly the same (like a big jungle).

(Updated with link and I actually read what I wrote to fix the mistakes.)

Dimrill Dale and Eclipse Jealosy

One thing that happens when you make a conscious effort to post every day is that half of your blog posts turn into diary entries. “Dear diary: Here’s what I did today. Well, yesterday.”

Yesterday I completed the Moria Epic Story and officially returned to the world under the sky in Dimrill Dale, attaining level 60 in the process. I got to revisit the Watcher in the Water deep in the bowels of Moria. Volume 2, Chapter 5 ended with having to complete three different skirmishes where you defend various places in Moria from Orc invasions. They were ridiculously easy to the point of tedium. In the end, the dwarves got their precious mithril axe Zigilburk back so I guess they are happy now. (That’s a terrible name for a legendary axe by the way.)

Chapter 6 begins with seeking out Galadriel.

I’m not entirely sure where the Moria Expansion ends, but I still have quests available in Dimrill Dale so I guess I’m still in territory that I’ve paid for.

Meanwhile in GW2, while watching Netflix, I worked on map completion in the Brisban Wildlands, something I almost never do because it’s a bit dull. But after my experiences with the Heart of Thorns story, it was a relief to be able to walk around a map without getting killed every ten steps. (My main Necro has 66% World Completion, by the way.)

In other news, I am SO JEALOUS of everybody who will be in the path of totality for the eclipse tomorrow. When I first thought I would drive down to experience it, I thought it was just a two or three hour drive away, and it would be no big deal to get there, find a vacant parking lot somewhere, and watch it. Then I learned it was a good six hours distant, not counting traffic concerns. That’s too far to impulsively drive for a two minute totality experience. Still, I keep hearing the siren call: “It’s just six hours. There will literally–not figuratively, literally–never be a closer opportunity in your lifetime.”

It’s not that I particularly care to see the eclipse. There will be plenty of clinical but completely accurate images on the Internet to look at, not to mention all the images we could look at from past eclipses. And where I live, the maps suggest the sun will be about 90% eclipsed anyway, which is pretty impressive.

It’s just that you can’t physically look at it unless it’s totally eclipsed. That’s the siren call of it: To look upon something so rare with the naked eye. To experience what people in history have looked upon as “dragons, dogs, and demons,” is pretty compelling. It’s a way to viscerally connect with past generations and the history of humankind on Earth.

It reminds me of the Hale-Bopp Comet from 1997. I vividly remember looking up one night and seeing that comet hanging up there in the sky like a … like a I don’t even know what, because I’d never seen anything like it before. It was stunning. In that moment it was easy to understand why people in history viewed comets as magical portents. That picture I linked is exactly what it looked like from my house. But it’s one thing to look at a picture of a comet online–it’s quite another thing to see that comet actually hanging up there in the normally changeless sky like a harbinger of doom.

Well, that was pretty dramatic.

Anyway. I’ve got my home-made eclipse viewer box ready. Have fun and stay safe!