Category Archives: gaming

Next gen #gaming for the masses

Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson have been toiling away at augmented reality for years at their startup, CastAR. Their ambition to make a fun AR product has been cooking for a while, and they’re taking a very different approach to the next-generation gaming platform. And given Ellsworth’s background as an underdog, it’s no surprise she’s…

via How CastAR’s Jeri Ellsworth will use augmented reality for fun tabletop gaming — VentureBeat

This post was like a bolt of lightning for all sorts of reasons – it’s about gaming, it’s about everyday people and it’s the vision of an amazing young woman.

Women in technology are still rare enough to make me sit up and take notice. Women in technology who may be creating the very next big thing? Phenomenal!

Go girl. 😀

Meeks


Blade and Soul – system error #3746

takhahn pic

The pic above shows my assassin character on Blade and Soul. I have not been able to play him for three days because I keep getting the system error shown in the title of this post. Not fun.

I have just checked the forums and there seem to be quite a few people in the same boat as me – when we try to login we get a system error and login fails. For me, login fails at the verification code stage – I get the verification code, cut and paste it into the verification box and then …system error blah blah.

I have tried resetting the password, but now I get a new message – account locked due to suspicious activity. Apparently, attempting to follow their procedures is suspicious.

Oddly enough I agree. I suspect there is a massive problem in the whole security/gameguard area of the game. For starters, having to enter a verification code every time the IP address changes is insane – most people, myself included, do not have static IP addresses. Change is part of the definition! And now this.

In some ways, though, I am thrilled. I am thrilled that I resisted the urge to go for one of the premium packages. I am also thrilled that I resisted buying anything in the cash shop. At least, now, all I’ve lost is some time and about 20 GB of bandwidth. Some people who can’t get into the game are paying for that privilege.

Talking about paying, another reason I am thrilled by all this is that I hate how closely the game is tied to the cash shop. I don’t mind paying for cosmetic items, but having to pay just to upgrade your weapon is a bit rich.

Weapon upgrade a.k.a. Breakthrough

Basically each class gets a purple weapon very early on in the game. Then as you progress you upgrade that one weapon.  So far so good. But then you very quickly hit the ‘Breakthrough’ point, and suddenly things get sticky.

Breakthrough is like a plateau in the weapon’s power. In order to take your weapon to the next plateau, you have to breakthrough by using a special, low grade weapon that is class specific. Now the packages that contain these low grade weapons are easy to get BUT, they have to be opened with a key. Ordinary keys are easy to get as well, but if you use ordinary keys to unlock the weapon package it’s up to luck as to which class specific weapon you get.

So far my character has accumulated 4 of one class weapon, 2 of another and one each of every other class in the game. The only thing I don’t have is my own class specific weapon.

But wait! If I go to the cash shop and buy a Veridien Key, it is guaranteed to unlock my class specific weapon. Do you see the trap here?

As I refuse to pay for such a basic and necessary item, my character is a level 14 assassin using a level 5 weapon which I cannot upgrade. Not without paying.

I don’t know if I have just been extraordinarily unlucky or the game is rigged to push your frustration levels to the point where you cave in and pay just so you can continue to level. Either way, I hate it. This is game design at its most greedy.

So I guess that’s it. Bye bye Blade and Soul. What a disappointment.

cheers

Meeks

 


#Heavensward – 2 x 60 at last

Before anyone gets too excited -rolls eyes- none of my characters have hit level 60 in battling yet, but I am proud to announce that Takh broke the crafting barrier twice today – once on blacksmith and the second time on goldsmith:

takh hits 60 with bsm

takh hits 60 with gsm

And now to reveal a little secret – Takh reached 60 on two of his crafts without ever having set foot in Heavensward! And it wasn’t all that hard. Basically he did the Grand Company [GC] missions every day, handing in HQ [high quality] and starred items where possible.

Of course he did have some help from Meeka. She did all the gathering and provided him with melded crafting gear via her carpenter, weaver, leatherworker and alchemist, but if you have the gil [money] to buy all those things, it is possible to get a craft to 60 just on GC missions alone. As I never have a lot of gil, I had to do things the hard way, but that’s okay; I really just wanted to show that it can be done. Plus, if I’m honest, I also wanted to thumb my nose at Heavensward and all its gated content.

In the next week and a bit I intend to get 4 of Meeka’s crafts to 60 as well, then I’m going to pack up the Mist house, move what I can into a private room in the Lavender Beds house and jump into Blade & Soul [release date 19th January, 2016].

B&S is a buy-to-play mmo with no monthly subscription so I’ll actually save money for a while. And when I get sick of the PVP element, I’ll go back to Heavensward and hopefully my friendly house-sitter will have kept the Lavender Beds house going for me. If not, my characters will be homeless and I’ll be so angry at FFXIV that I may never buy a Square-Enix game again. Ever.

-hrumph-

Anyway, the weekend’s over and I need to go to bed. Goodnight all!

Meeks


#FFXIV – why I can’t leave

I’ve written some pretty unhappy posts about Final Fantasy XIV over the last few months, but no matter how angry I get, one thing keeps me playing. And this is it. My house in Mist:

From the outside

From the outside

The front door

The front door

Warmth and books

Warmth and books

And a place to cook :)

And a place to cook 🙂

Going downstairs...

Going downstairs…

...into...

…into…

...the bedroom!

…the bedroom!

with its own oriental ensuite!

with its own oriental ensuite!

And finally the best feature of all – the view.

Dawn breaks in Mist

Dawn breaks in Mist

Yet as pretty as this scene is, it still doesn’t convey the eerie sense of reality I get when I sit here, staring down at the beach and watching the waves come in. Yes, there are waves and breakers and they move, seemingly at random.

But the waves are not the only things that move. Birds fly overhead, casting a shadow, or the quality of the light changes due to time of day or weather, or off on the horizon you see the dim outline of a ship with massive sails, majestically sailing out of sight…

No prizes for guessing where a lot of my ideas for Innerscape came from.

Have a lovely Sunday,

Meeks

p.s. most of the furnishings are crafted. If anyone is interested, I can tell you what each piece is, which craft makes it and what level recipe it is. Let me know in comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


FFXIV and the #Heavensward expansion – too much stick and not enough carrot?

Costa del Sol at dawn

Costa del Sol at dawn

When Final Fantasy 14 came out in version 1, it was vilified by the majority of players because it worked so badly. There was no auction house, no bank, no end-game content – all pretty much standard fare on MMOs. And the servers simply could not cope with the demands of the game. You could wait for seconds for a menu to open, and lag was endemic on all but the most powerful computers.

Nevertheless, as someone who played it from start to finish, I have to say that version 1 did at least try to be innovative. One of the good things it did was to break with its predecessor’s mold when it came to solo play. In FF11 [the first Final Fantasy MMO], even ordinary mobs were so hard, only a competent group could take them down, hence a group was needed for all progress beyond level 10.

By contrast, Final Fantasy 14 Version 1 allowed casual players to progress by themselves! It also allowed players to progress via battling, crafting or gathering – i.e. if you liked crafting better than fighting, you could do your crafts and level up your character without ever having to fight.

For those who did like to fight, anything was possible. You could customize your character’s skillset by taking cross-class skills from other melee and casting classes – i.e. your warrior could use a ranged skill or cast a spell if that was how you wanted to play it. The choice was yours.

And finally, although Version 1 did have a very interesting storyline, it was an added ‘extra’, meaning you could spend time on it or not. There were a few things you ‘had’ to do, but mostly the choice was yours. In this sense, it was more like what we now call a ‘sandbox’ than a standard MMO.

For those who don’t know, the term ‘sandbox‘ refers to:

‘… a style of game in which minimal character limitations are placed on the gamer, allowing the gamer to roam and change a virtual world at will.’

Too much choice? Too much freedom? Or simply a case of throwing the good out with the bad?

I don’t know, but a very vocal segment of the Version 1 players hated the game and felt ‘cheated’. As a result, the version 1 team was dumped and a different team took over. They rebuilt FF14 from the ground up, and when version 2.0 finally launched, it was as bright and shiny as a newly minted gold coin. Everything worked [except the payment system], and everything was beautiful.

The world was graphically stunning and did not require bleeding edge computer hardware to run. There was no lag. Everything ran like clockwork and crafting was once again an exciting mini-game where ‘luck’ was balanced with skill.

But to counter all these goodies, some of the most desirable early features – ‘carrots’ – could only be unlocked via the main storyline, and the main storyline required that you complete a number of low level dungeons [the ‘stick’].So, for example, you could not unlock retainers [a kind of ‘bank’ mechanism] without completing the first three dungeons. To unlock the ability to ride a mount, you had to complete a 4th dungeon.

Now I know that 98% of gamers will not find the running of dungeons a hardship. In fact, I know that most would be devastated to find that a game did not have dungeons, so these gamers would not even see the carrot-and-stick mechanism at play. They are the norm, not old ladies like me. But even young gamers can resent the lack of choice.

The linear straitjacket of the main storyline came into sharp focus with the advent of version 3, Heavensward. Not only would gamers have to be at level cap – i.e. at level 50 – to play the new content, they would also have to complete every last bit of the main storyline from the previous version.

I am not exaggerating when I say that the main storyline comprises scores and scores of quests, dungeons and trials. Skip any part of the storyline and you can’t even see what the new Heavensward areas look like.

So let me recap. To play the Heavensward expansion, players need to:

  • buy the expansion
  • reach level 50
  • AND complete the entire version 2.xx storyline

As someone who hates dungeons, it literally took me months to complete the storyline requirement, but even a ‘normal’ player would need at least a week. That is a lot of delayed gratification for someone who’s already at level cap.

Like me, a lot of returning players did slog through the storyline to get to the carrot, but I wonder whether they thought the effort was worth it?

I’m about half way through the expansion, and I have to say, I am disappointed. Heavensward was promoted as this new, shiny thing with lots of yummy toys, but the reality falls short of the hype, at least for me.

One of the pretties we all looked forward to was flying mounts, and sure enough, once I slogged through yet more of the storyline, I was given a rather elegant black choco – the first of the flying mounts on offer. But, of course, the damn chocobo wouldn’t fly, would it?

In Heavensward, you may get a flying mount, but the ability to make it actually fly requires that you unlock all the aether currents in an ‘area’ [or zone]. You are given a kind of aether current compass and told to go exploring…on foot. No problem. But then you discover that there are two kinds of aether currents:

  • those you can discover via exploration and
  • those you can only unlock by doing quests

I should point out that these are sidequests, not part of the main storyline. Yet, lo and behold, one of the aether current quests in the very first area sends you to…a dungeon. And you have to unlock ALL the currents before you can fly.

Did I mention I hate dungeons? Not only do they stress me out, they also eat into my life because on my server, the only time I can realistically expect to get a group is in the morning [timezone disparity between Australia and the rest of the world]. But I work. I have a life. Bah…

Suffice it to say that it’s taken me weeks to get around to running that stupid dungeon. I can now fly, but only in one area. This means that all the gathering I need to do in the next [higher level area] is on foot, again, because of course flying in that area is not yet unlocked.

And this brings me to more of the Heavensward straitjacket. The new map is huge, yet I can only access three areas of it:

  • Cloud Top
  • Western Coerthas
  • Dravanian Forelands

Why? Because the higher areas can only be unlocked via the main storyline. And you guessed it, the next part of the main storyline requires that I do a dungeon, one that even experienced dungeon runners describe as ‘tricky’.

I can understand how connecting up all the content would make sense, from a game developer’s point of view. If you force gamers to complete the majority of the content in order to progress, you are getting the most bang for your buck from that content. But that does not necessarily make for a great gaming experience…for the gamer.

To me, a great gaming experience is one in which there are independent content streams that allow me to control how and when I play. If I want to do nothing but crafting, I should be able to do that. If I want to play solo, I should be able to do that. If I want to chat to people and develop in-game friendships, I should be allowed to do that without being forced into some artificial model of ‘community’.

In other words, I should be treated like an adult and given the right to choose. It can be done. In fact it has been done, very successfully, by MMOs like Guild Wars 2 [GW2].

I played GW2 for quite some time in between Final Fantasy 14 versions 1 and 2, and I really enjoyed it. Fun and innovative are two things that immediately spring to mind. It was also a free-to-play MMO. But there were things it lacked – like player housing, and mounts. And although much more attractive graphically than say, World of Warcraft, GW2 has never been as beautiful as Final Fantasy 14.

It may sound a bit twee to talk about beauty in an MMO, but there are times in Final Fantasy 14 when I literally catch my breath in wonder at how lovely a scene is. The game has weather, and a day/night cycle, and lighting that shifts subtly with the time of day and the weather pattern. It feels as real as a 2 dimensional world can get, and I love it…

But as an adult, I feel as if Final Fantasy 14 is squeezing me through one of those sausage making machines, and I don’t like it.

Will I leave? I don’t know. I’ve been subscribed to FF14 for over 720 days. That’s a long time, and I have a lot invested in the game, including my house. If I unsubscribe, my characters will probably remain in storage on some server somewhere, but I know that my house will be ‘repossessed’ to allow other gamers the privilege of owning a house. Because, of course, there is not enough housing to go around.

So there are consequences with leaving, even just for a few months.

For now I’m going to trudge my way through Heavensward, but with Christmas approaching, I may start hinting to the Daughter that I wouldn’t mind being given the new Guild Wars 2 expansion. She has been playing it and loves it. And many of the things she tells me about the game sound innovative and fresh and new…

cheers

Meeks

 

 


FFXIV, Steps of Faith – Summoner

Steps of Faith is the final trial in FFXIV, version 2.X. It came out in early 2015 and was obviously designed to be the Grand Finale for this part of the storyline. As such, it was hellishly hard, especially for those just wanting to finish the story so they could play the up coming expansion.

For the expansion – Heavensward – the Steps of Faith was nerfed. [Nerf=the weakening of a game element for some reason]. Nevertheless, the trial is still hard, and I will never, ever, EVER put up with this much pain for a game. I got through it, on the 3rd try, and I scored another commendation, but it was real skin-of-the-teeth stuff, and the stress was not at all pleasurable. The following are a few things Summoners won’t find in the guides, but they are critical:

a) Your pet is going to be next to useless – it dies with monotonous regularity,

b) You CANNOT use the cannons while your pet is out. The hotbar of the pet stops the hotbar of the cannons from displaying. You will not even see the cannon weapon skills much less use them. I don’t know if this is a glitch or what but it was extremely embarrassing to find out the hard way. Thanks, SE.

c) You will be doing very little damage as a Summoner

d) BUT – you can be vital to the group by manning the Dragonslayer harpoon up on the towers.

I cannot stress this enough. Use the mechanics. Brute force may work if it’s a very well geared group who all know what they’re doing, but Duty Finder will not give you that group. If you go through Duty Finder as I did, you will need the mechanics.

Our group of 8 comprised 3 n00bs, including me, and we wiped on our first attempt because yours truly couldn’t use the cannons [had my pet out] and the attack was generally disorganized.

We didn’t wipe on the second attempt, but we did fail. Vishap [the Boss] had something like 50% health left by the last barrier.

Why? Because no one was using the Dragonslayer harpoons, that’s why. Either everyone forgot about them, or thought they could just burn their way through by brute force. Wrong.

On the third attempt, I decided I was next to useless anyway so I might as well give the Dragonslayer harpoon a try. If I messed up we’d be no worse off. I didn’t bother with my pet, just cast all my debuffs on Vishap before running for the tower.

I don’t know whether I got the first harpoon off or not because one of the mini-bosses followed me up the tower and killed me just as I clicked the harpoon. I rezzed [came back to life] and ran back to the fight.

My timing was out with the second harpoon but I know I got the third one. It took a nice big chunk of life from Vishap and also made the difference between success and failure as we only took the Boss down at the very last possible moment. It was so close I thought we’d failed again. Without the harpoon damage, we would have failed for sure.

So let’s look at the mechanics. The graphic below shows the basic structure of the fight:

ffxiv SoF map

Apologies for the amateurish graphic but it gets the job done. As you can see, the trial is in 4 parts, each part separated by a glowing blue barrier [it represents a magic ward]. The first part contains:

  • 2 pairs of cannon
  • 1 tower with the Dragonslayer harpoon on top

The purpose of the cannon is to kill the adds so the group can dps the Boss without getting killed.

The purpose of the Dragonslayer harpoon is to take a big chunk of the Boss’ life. The harpoon looks like this:

harpoon target zone

The harpoon gun is to your right as you go up the stairs of the tower. Do NOT interact with it until the Boss is more or less over the big orange circle on the ground. The harpoon has no hotbar button. As soon as you click on it, the gun will fire. It hits just the one spot and cannot be aimed

In the remaining sections, you must not fire the harpoon gun until the Boss is in position AND the players on the cannons have triggered the snares.

The snares, [shown below] look a bit like orange crystals, or lamps. The cue to trigger the snares is when the Boss uses his big, rectangular AOE. Once triggered, the snares throw chains over the Boss so the harpoon can hit it. Without the chains, the Boss will dodge the harpoon.

snares

Once the Boss destroys the last pair of cannons in a section, everyone, including healers, should be dpsing the Boss with everything they have. You won’t stop him destroying the barrier, but you can reduce his life quite a bit.

[Note: if you die, don’t wait to be rezzed. Go back to the beginning and use the shortcut portal to get back into the fight]

The final mechanic is the pile of explosive barrels. They are there as a last ditch boost to your group’s damage. But there is also one last harpoon gun available. You can see one of the snares circled in yellow in the screenshot below.

last phase

The players on the cannons have to stop the adds from destroying the barrels. Then, when the Boss gets there, they hit the remaining barrels with weapon skill 1 on the cannon hotbar.

I haven’t mentioned any of the mini-bosses that spawn because lots of guides talk about those, and you can find a good one here:

http://ffxiv.consolegameswiki.com/wiki/The_Steps_of_Faith

You can also find MrHappy’s walkthrough video guide here:

[Note: all screenshots are taken from MrHappy’s video guide]

Well, that’s it. The last game how-to. Now I can give Square Enix some more money to buy and play the expansion. It better be worth it because I haven’t had any fun doing this.

cheers,

Meeks

 

 

 


FFXIV – the Chrysalis

Okay, first up, I did get through this trial, and I even managed to get a commendation, so this is not sour grapes but… the Chrysalis was nasty. Part of the reason for that was social and part was due to the mechanics of the actual trial.

Mechanics

This is not a walkthrough so I won’t go into every skill Nabriales [the Boss] uses. Instead I want to talk about the two major mechanics – orbs and meteors. And I want to show you what all the important things look like because recognizing what’s what is often the difference between a successful run and a disaster.

Orbs

In the first phase of the trial, Nabriales will call forth two kinds of orbs to buff himself. One is physical, the other magical and they look like this:

chrysalis black and red orb

Screenshot taken from MrHappy’s video guide

The orbs start at the outer perimeter of the arena and slowly drift into the centre where Nabriales waits. Your job is to stop the orbs from reaching him. Every orb that does reach him applies a buff that will increase the damage of the big AOE he unleashes at the end of this stage. Nabriales will call the orbs twice.

How to stop the orbs

To stop an orb you have to run through it. When you do, the orb explodes and is gone. Unfortunately getting it to explode is not as easy as it sounds. Whether it was a glitch or some odd lag effect, I found that I could not seem to ‘connect’ with some of the orbs. In fact there was one that I ran through about 4 times before it finally exploded.That was not fun.

Alternating orbs

To make dealing with the orbs harder, you will have to alternate red and black orbs because connecting with 2 or god forbid 3 of the same kind would be bad, very bad.

The glitch and the alternating requirement meant that 8 people were running around, not doing a very good job of stopping these orbs from reaching Nabriales. And when he did his AOE we wiped.

At our next attempt, we survived the first round of orbs only to be felled by the second round.

I think it was about this time that someone from the group ranted about ‘stupid people’. I became a little heated and said we were not stupid, just new. When we had a show of hands, 3 of the 8 admitted to being new to the trial.

Anyway, we kept going which was good as some of the group would have preferred to rage quit.

Then, after 2 lots of orbs and Quake, Nabriales cast Blight and disappeared, leaving a portal in the middle of the arena.

Blight and the portal

Blight is a DoT AOE [damage over time area of effect] that lasts for quite some time and reduces your health the whole time.Blight cannot be avoided and neither can the portal.The problem is they happen at the same time.

If you get sucked into the portal while Blight is still active, the effect will last X amount of time longer so you do NOT want to get sucked in straight away. But how do you avoid getting sucked in too soon?

Simple – you run towards the outer perimeter of the arena, and you watch this little icon count down to zero:

Screenshot taken from MrHappy's video clip.

Screenshot taken from MrHappy’s video clip.

All the guides say to keep running until Blight wears off then pop your buffs just before being sucked into the portal. The reason for popping the buffs is that they are extended on the other side of the portal as well.

I happened to be right next to the portal when it opened the first time and couldn’t even take a step before I was sucked in. Lesson: stay away from the centre. 😦

The next time we faced Blight, I managed to run towards the outer edge of the arena long enough for it to wear off but I could not run and pop my buffs at the same time. You see that pull is damn strong.

This is what the portal looks like:

Screenshot taken from MrHappy's video guide

Screenshot taken from MrHappy’s video guide

Meteors

Once on the other side of the portal, you will see a series of circles on the ground:

Screenshot taken from MrHappy's video guide

Screenshot taken from MrHappy’s video guide

These circles show where the meteors will land. The landing spot of the BIG meteor is circled in red while the smaller ones are circled in yellow. The small meteors come down fast, and if they hit the ground they turn into a ‘tear’.

The way to stop the tears from forming in the first place is to put a tank underneath each small meteor. Of course you will get more small meteors than tanks so eventually a ‘tear’ will form:

Screenshot taken from MrHappy's video guide

Screenshot taken from MrHappy’s video guide

This ‘tear’ has to be destroyed before the big meteor strikes or it’s an instant wipe. If at all possible, save the level 3 Limit Break for the tear.

We also had trouble with this bit because at least one of the tanks had no idea what to do. Instant wipe.

Sadly it was not the experienced players who explained what needed to be done but someone who had only studied the video guides. Any way you look at it, that’s a ridiculous situation, yet it happens time and time again. Information is not gold. You don’t lose anything by giving it away.

The one positive thing I can say is that I got to practise my Swiftcast-Resurrection about five times. 😦

If anyone is interested in seeing MrHappy’s complete video guide, you can find it here:

cheers

Meeks

p.s. For my non-gamer friends – just one more to go. 🙂


CGI Silly Putty

Technophile or technophobe, everyone should have a look at this video clip!

It shows computer generated shapes squidging up and splaying out, and generally behaving like real world ‘wet’ things.

The animation is great fun to watch, but what really blew my mind was that none of it is real. Every last bend, twist and splodge is created by a computer graphics program simulating the real world… and doing it well.

And because more is better than less, here are some more fluid simulations:

Final Fantasy XIV has some amazing looking ‘water’ but still nothing that looks and acts like real water.

The following 3 pics were taken at a game location called ‘Mist’ and show the waves coming in and going out. [note to self – really must download a video capture app again].

Look at the waves….

mist ocean 1

mist ocean 2

mist ocean 3

The waves don’t ‘interact’ with objects terribly well, but one day they will. One day, the simulated world will look as real as the real one. And from there, Innerscape is just a hop, skip and a jump away.

cheers

Meeks


FFXIV update – The Keeper of the Lake

Apologies, another gaming related post coming up. The pic below is of my character, Meeka, and the new minion she just earned from completing the Keeper of the Lake.

ffxiv kotl minion closeup

To bring my non-gamer friends up to date, Square-Enix, the Japanese developer of FFXIV brought out an expansion in July I think. This expansion was mooted to be as big and fantastic as a whole new game. Hence the buzz.

I didn’t buy the expansion, however, because to actually play it, you have to finish all the old content first. This content is attached to the storyline, and FFXIV is heavy on storyline so there’s a lot of it.Up to this point I would not be complaining. Unfortunately, the dungeons and trials I hate so much are a part of the storyline, and you can’t do one without the other.:(

Yesterday, I tried to do the next dungeon in the storyline [the Keeper of the Lake] and came very close to quitting the game altogether. The reason? A group of players I would not like to meet in real life. I don’t want to make this a self-justification rant, but I was not the reason the melee dps and the healer died at the first boss [Einhander], leaving just me and the tank alive. [In dungeons, once the healer dies, the tank usually dies soon after, and vice versa].

Now, in this situation, the thing I did right was to use my weak, Summoner healing spells to keep the tank alive. The thing I did wrong was to forget about my ‘Resurrection’ spell.

As its name suggestions, Resurrection allows a Summoner to revive a dead player during a battle. Unfortunately, Resurrection takes over 6…six…seconds to cast, and you cannot move during that time or the spell will be interrupted – i.e. the player stays dead.

While this is all happening, however, the boss is not being polite and waiting while you cast your six second spell. No, it is spamming AOEs [area of effect spells] all over the place, so the player who stands still for even 1 second is essentially dead.

I knew this, and thought the fight was hopeless, but I was wrong. There is a way to get around the long cast time of Resurrection – by using it in conjunction with another spell called ‘Swiftcast’. Essentially, what Swiftcast does is it turns the first spell that follows it into an instant cast. So in theory, Swiftcast + Resurrection should go from taking 6 seconds to taking 0 seconds.

In theory, again, when the dead dps said ‘smn rais hlr’ [translation: summoner raise healer] he was right – I should have whipped out Swiftcast and followed it by Resurrection to revive the dead healer. But I didn’t have Swiftcast, did I?

Without going into too much detail, Swiftcast is a spell that you get as another class. The class is called Thaumaturge, and they get the spell at level 26. Now what you need to understand is that in FFXIV you can play as every single class in the game, and you can use some of the skills you gain in what’s called ‘cross class skills’.

But. You guessed it, my Thaumaturge was only level 20 [because I don’t enjoy playing it].

So in that sense, the dps player was within his rights to demand that I use Resurrection. Instead, we wiped and that should have been that. In the past, when a group wipes [everybody dies] they try to learn from their mistakes and go back in. In this group, however, they kicked me from the dungeon and the group.

Under normal circumstances, I’d feel as guilty as hell about that, sure that my age blah blah makes me a terrible player. But in this instance I just got mad. Very, very mad. You see the mechanics of Keeper of the Lake [the dungeon] are all about movement, and dodging. If there is a theme, KotL [Keeper of the Lake] is a movement test of all party members. Thus the melee dps and the healer died because they were either not aware of, or unable to master the dungeon’s mechanic. My lack of a quick Resurrection spell may have exacerbated the problem, but it did not cause the problem itself.

Hence my anger. Nasty, mean-spirited and unfair were some of the cleaner things I called the group as I stood there, unable to believe they would blame the whole mess on me. I can understand the temptation to do so, but it was neither just, nor in keeping with the courteous spirit of the game. And for once, anger stopped me from running away.

I spent all of yesterday getting my unloved Thaumaturge to level 26. Then I spent hours more trying to create a macro that would allow me to revive someone faster. [Macros are like tiny command driven in-game apps that automate actions and skills].

I wish I could say my Resurrection macro worked this morning when I retried the KotL [with a much nicer group!], but it didn’t. This is what the macro looks like:

/micon “Resurrection”
/ac “Swiftcast” <me> <wait.3>
/ac “Resurrection” <t>
/p Raising! <se.11>

/micon “Resurrection”  – simply creates an icon for the macro so you know which one does what. [worked]

/ac “Swiftcast” <me> <wait.3> –  is made up of a number of commands:

/ac ‘ means the command is about an action. It can also be written as ‘ /action ‘

“Swiftcast” – is the name of the action to be used [worked]

<me> – says that my casting is to become instant

<wait.3> – is supposed to give the connection time to process the command before going on to the next one. Remember we are talking about the command going from my computer, via the internet [slow in Australia] to the Japanese servers and back again. On good days there is no appreciable lag and everything feels ‘instant’, but in dungeons and other areas of peak action, the lag can be noticeable. [I think this failed]

/ac “Resurrection” <t> – this is the prime command and tells the game to revive the player currently targeted – <t> – by me. [did not work]

/p Raising! <se.11> – this is basically just a message to the group members that I’m going to be raising someone. The <se.11> is supposed to play a sound to get everyone’s attention. [did not work]

Each line of commands should work, but something in the mix failed because when I used the macro in the dungeon this morning [to revive the healer would you believe 0.o], Swiftcast worked but nothing else did. I managed to cast Resurrect manually before the 10 second Swiftcast interval ended, but I died just as the healer revived. If anyone can fix this macro I will be eternally grateful.

Now, this is where it gets really interesting, and lead me to writing this post – we were at the last boss [of 3] and the AOEs were insane. Picture a main boss who keeps spamming AOEs that cover great big chunks of the available floor space. Get caught in this maelstrom of criss-crossing damage and you don’t last long. Now add to that a second, boss-strength creature that is also spamming AOE’s and the fight becomes horrendous.

We did not have time to think, literally dancing from one small safe area to the next while desperately trying to do some damage. But as both the Black Mage and I were magic casters, it meant we’d get half way through and 2.45 second cast and bang, we’d have to jump out of the way again. Our spells kept being interrupted and we were all getting tired just from from the visual overload of trying to make sense of the constantly changing action.

Inevitably, concentration slipped. The Black Mage died and suddenly the healer was dead as well, leaving just me and the tank. Again.

I won’t lie, I was terrified. The debacle of the first attempt ran through my mind as I hit the macro to revive the healer. And…nothing happened. What????

I wasted a second or so thinking the delay was normal before it hit me that the macro had failed. Swiftcast was on but nothing else had worked.

My brain went into neutral. I knew there was an icon for the manual Resurrection spell on my hotbar but do you think I could see it? Talk about flustered, or perhaps that was just sheer fear. I did find the icon eventually, and there was enough time left on the Swiftcast to manually hit Resurrection, but I was caught in an AOE and died just as the healer revived. It was the most freaky timing I have ever seen.

After that, all I could do was lie there, watching as the healer [who is a very experienced player] and the tank did the impossible and beat the boss. Just the two of them.

It was wonderful, and I can honestly say I loved every member of my group the second time around. And you know what? Out of that 4 man group, only the healer had ever done KotL before, but the healer made sure everyone knew what to expect and we pulled together and got through. As a team.

That is how massively multiplayer games should be played – with courtesy and kindness and camaraderie. Because everyone has to learn the hard way, by making mistakes. I studied that dungeon for hours, but seeing it on a video clip is nothing like doing it yourself. That experience you can’t get second hand.

So to G***t Knight – you were right, I should have raised the healer. And thank you for pushing me to learn a skill I should have had sooner. But about everything else, you were so wrong.

And in celebration a few more screenshot of me, my house in-game and my cute little minion.

ffxiv kotl minion in house2

ffxiv kotl minion in house3

-hugs-

Meeks

 

 


I survived Titan hard mode!

meeka shocked-dance-

Okay, this post is for my gamer friends only. Apologies to everyone else, but today has been a huge milestone in my gaming career, and I just have to write about it. You see, Titan hard mode is…a very hard fight. The video clip below is what I studied, for hours this weekend, just to try and learn the mechanics of the fight:

If you’ve had a look at the video you’ll know that even young, very competent gamers consider this one tough. As I am neither young, nor very competent when it comes to battling, I fully expected to die, multiple times. Worse, I fully expected my incompetence to cause the whole group to fail dismally. Given how much gamers invest in these fights, they do not tolerate failure terribly well. And they don’t tend to be very forgiving of group members [like me] who make them fail.

So I am not exaggerating when I say this particular fight has ruined my weekend till now. I literally could not think of anything else, and when I logged on this morning I had to grab a bunch of tissues because my palms were sweating so much. Fear sweat, people, fear sweat.

And then none of the bad things I’d imagined actually happened!

Titan hard mode is an 8 man fight – meaning two healers, two tanks and 4 dps [damage doers like me]. Two of the eight were my wonderful friends, Mateus and Baufian, but the rest were complete strangers. Luckily they were all players with heaps more experience than me, and essentially, they carried me for most of the fight.

But…. I managed to remember all the mechanics of the fight, and more importantly, I managed to avoid all the many things that could have killed me. And then, at the Heart phase, I actually remembered to use the caster LB [Limit Break] against Titan’s Heart. I can’t tell you how proud I am of that because my hands were still shaking at that point.

[For those who don’t know, the caster LB is a ground targetting skill. This means you have to click on the LB and then move the ground circle under the foe you want to target. When you release the button, the cast time for the LB begins and it goes boom.]

And I lived. No one had to waste time resurrecting me. No one had to bite their tongue about the ‘useless noob’. And I didn’t humiliate myself in front of my friends. I will remember this fight for a long time to come.

Now, just in case there are others like me out there, here are some tips that helped me get through Titan hard mode, in one piece, first time through:

Do your research.

For me this involved watching the above video a million times. It also meant taking something like 8 pages of notes AND doing dinky little drawings of the hardest bits – like the Bombs.

Turn off Titan’s music.

I’m told the music is very stirring, but for this fight you need to be calm, not revved up even more.

If you’re on a pc, click on the system icon as shown:

ffxiv system menu

Select ‘System Configuration’ from the menu. That opens the System Configuration window:

ffxiv system sound music

Click the ‘sound’ option in the left hand pane, and then drag the BGM slider all the way to the left. That will shut off only the music. Click ‘Apply’ and you’re done.

Turn the battle effects display down.

When you have a boss and 8 players all using showy weapon skills, it becomes almost impossible to see what’s going on, and in this fight you must be aware of what’s happening at all times.

Again, you start with the System icon, but this time select ‘Character Configuration’ as shown:

ffxiv system character menu

From here, you will get this window:

ffxiv system character battle effects

Click the ‘Character’ tab and scroll all the way down to the bottom. That’s where you will find the Battle Effects Settings [the big, showy special effects]. To change the settings, click on the words, not the radio button. For some strange reason, the radio buttons don’t actually work. -shrug-

Again, click on ‘Apply’ when you’re done.

Zoom your camera out as far as you can.

Again, this is so you can see the whole fight instead of just your own small corner of it. Coincidentally, that will allow you to see the things you have to avoid. If you can’t see it, you can’t get out of its way.

Position.

If you’re a caster dps like me, don’t hang out right at the very edge of the fight. I know this is what we normally do, but this fight requires you to move almost constantly so if you’re a little closer in to Titan, you have more options of where to move to. Also, when he does Geo Crush, it means you can run in towards the tank faster. This in turn means you can be AOE healed.

Marked guide.

And last but not least, it really helps if you go in with an experienced friend or two, especially if one of those friends puts a mark above his head. That mark is very visible all through the fight and if you ever suddenly get that awful feeling of not knowing where you’re supposed to run, following that mark can be a lifesaver.

So there you go, a very non-expert review of Titan HM. I suspect that preparation aside, I was very lucky to make it through so easily, but hey, I’ll take a little credit for my win. 😀

cheers

Meeks


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