So I was reading through Belghast Blaugust challenge post and usually I shy away from such things because I like my free blogging style but one line that caught my attention was the part where Bel says how blogging everyday breaks down walls and made him more brutally honest with his readers. To be honest, I’ve had a lot on my mind lately when it comes to my MMO playing but both Bel post and Tamrielo recent posts about levels and gear separating people  push me to talk today.  It could also be the lack of sleep but I’m willing to live with the consequences. So let’s be brutally honest today.

I’m in an awkward spot right now in FF14. Or rather I should say I feel like I’m in an awkward spot but it could all be in my mind. I’m writing this because I want people to understand that what I’m writing here is my perception of things and I could be entirely wrong.

I love FF14, I love the expansion a lot and I’ve been playing it almost exclusively since it came out. I got to 60 amongst the firsts Greysky and I’ve been plugging away at the raid content in Pugs. I’m doing all this not out of a desire to be the first or the best but simply because I enjoy the time I’m spending in game and this leads to me spending even more time playing. It’s a cycle.

But as Tamrielo points out it leads to me being farther ahead than most of the guild. I do my best to help out catch up people when I can but the rest of the time I’m most likely found in a pug doing Ravana Ex or Alexander because in terms of progression it’s where I’m at. Reading Tamrielo post, I can’t help but feel responsible for that awkward phase he describes since I’m likely creating pressure on some people to catch up. It’s the last thing I want to do but I can see how my talking about Ravana Ex might make someone who’s still leveling feels like he or she is behind.

To add to the issue most of the people I raid with on Wednesday are in a similar spot progression wise so we’re heading into the new content and yet again, it’s likely contributing to some people feeling like being left behind. Again, not the intended effect but I can see how it can be seen as such.

I’m pretty much in agreement with Tam here when he says he wish those level and gear discrepancies wouldn’t exist. I want to do cool stuff with the people in my guild, not create pressure on them.  Like I said, I do my best to be helpful to people by answering questions and healing runs whenever I can, often despite what I would have wanted to actually do. I’ve set aside my Mondays for months just so I could help out the Monday group clear T9. I do all these things because I want to give back to a pretty awesome guild and I want include people, not exclude them.

But here comes the big But, I don’t believe I should feel bad for playing the game the way I want to. I genuinely want to help out my guild but at the same time I also want to go pug Ravana Ex and be excited about it. I hate that it seems to be creating this sentiment of me being hardcore when I consider myself to be anything but. For me being hardcore means putting progress over people and I’ve always put helping people before anything else.

This is all likely a temporary situation that will partly solve itself as time goes on and people catch up. On my end I’ll keep helping out whenever I can and I’ll keep pugging things and doing the new stuff on Wednesday. I just hope that people will understand that I’m not doing that out of a desire to leave anyone behind.

Hello insomnia!

Something personal today because why the hell not! It’s my blog and I can do what I want!

I have chronic insomnia, specifically Circadian Rhythm disorder, more specifically Delayed sleep phase disorder.  TLDR: my body refuses to fall asleep at a time that is considered normal by society.  It took forever to diagnose, I had to consult with multiple doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and other specialists before finally getting an official diagnosis on a piece of paper. I often joke I should laminate the thing and put it on my wall.

Like many disorders out there, there is no cure for it and the best I can do is manage it through a disciplined sleep schedule. It’s very important for me to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekend. This way I can train my body to sleep at the time I need so I can function normally throughout the day and do things like have a job that requires me to be up in the morning.

But sadly, even with the best discipline, things don’t always work out and insomnia will strike out. Usually it comes in phases, like I’ll have a bad week where sleep is harder to come by, or I’ve noticed that February is usually a harder month, likely due to lack of light or something like it. But there’s also the once in a blue moon sleepless night because reasons. Today though I know fully well why I’m messed up, I had to be up at 2 am because of my job and now I’ll be paying for it all week long.

So right now with about 5 hours of sleep combined over the past 2 days I’m alternating between feeling miserable and wanting to murder anything that comes within 5 feet of me.  A developer had the misfortune of submitting to me a buggy version of the app he’s working on and I decided to pass the review to someone else for fear of what I might say. I know I can’t even trust my own judgement right now and it sucks, a lot.

So what’s the point of today’s post? None really. I needed to vent and this felt more constructive than running after people with a fireaxe.

Two weeks have come to pass and Alexander, Heavensward first raid has been out since Tuesday and has been conquered in the very same day. Myself I cleared it yesterday and I took notes while I was in there so I could share them with you today. Overall, Alexander is a pretty fun raid and I can’t wait to see the rest of it. I want to say that the difficulty is on the easier side of things, at least for the first two floors but then again it’s hard to evaluate difficulty this early since the Duty Finder crowd at this moment is anything but standard. Alex F4 (or A4,still not sure on the nomenclature) is a good challenge for sure and it felt to me like they structured the raid a bit like Coils was, meaning that F1 to F3 is a bit easier and F4 acts as a gate keeper for the next part.

Alex F1

Real easy strategy that reminds me of Coils Turn 1. Nothing special there except maybe a bit of a dps check at the beginning. Took me a few tries to get a group that could pull it off despite the simplicity. I think a few too many people got in there with the idea that it was going to be Crystal Tower and were surprised when we wiped because they ignored mechanics.

Alex F2

Unending trash gauntlet boss. Really not so bad as long as the tanks are on the ball and split the adds so they don’t explode to damage. Had one of the most awful tanks I’ve seen in a long time in there and the guy had “The Final Witness” title. Sad proof that being in a group that can kill one of the game thoughest boss is not a guarantee of talent.

Alex F3

The first actual proper raid fight of the place. The boss has three phase with varying mechanics for each phase. Phase 3 in particular gave us the most trouble since there’s movement involved combined with a dps check plus having to watch tethers and debuff. Real easy to get tunnel vision, miss a mechanic and wipe the raid.

Alex F4

This is a boss that I think will become easier with an FC group. This guy deals absurbs amounts of damage and the fight is pretty much about being smart when dealing with all the incoming damage. I lucked out with this boss and got a great group on my 5 or 6th attempt but this boss actually made me reach for the Party finder and pre-made groups.

It’s been a week since my last post here and with me moving on July 1st it has been an incredibly busy week. Still, I really wanted to get as far as possible before Alexander comes out tomorrow and even have both Extreme primals done. I managed to get Bismarck Ex down and spent a good amount of time on Ravana Ex yesterday so it’s possible I might get it tonight but there’s a bit of luck involved with party finder.  The downside of all this focus on primals is that I’ve been less available for guild runs since I would often be in a party when calls went out. Hopefully they’ll forgive me.

But let’s get to the point of this post, the Extreme primals.

Bismarck Ex

Bismarck I feel is a gating mechanism. It’s a gear check with a pretty strict dps check, in fact the whole fight is a dps check. The more dps you have, the easier the fight gets, simple as that. The mechanics themselves are not too complicated but everything is dependent on whether or not stuff is dying fast enough. If you fall behind at any point it all gets out of control pretty fast. If you’re wondering, the fight is best done at ilvl 170 and up, meaning that it’s meant to be done in Law tome gear.

Beyond the mechanics of the fight, Bismarck Ex is a pretty awesome fight. It has a pretty unique set-up and it’s up there with the most original fights I’ve seen in an MMO. I feel it’s going to stay fun as we progress through the expansion.

Ravana Ex

My first encounter with Ravana Ex can be summed as “Holy ****, this guy hits so hard the tank disconnected and then it murdered me so hard my character got deleted.” Then I did it a few more times and found out, with a bit of disappointment, that Ravana Ex is not the character deleting avatar of death I thought it was.

Where Bismarck was a dps and gear check, Ravana is an execution fight. Can you do the dance properly for about 10 minutes straight without messing up? If the answer is yes, you win! If not then you die a horrible death. Ravana is extremely punishing when people mess up but as long as people do the proper thing it’s actually not that bad. I don’t even have to watch my mana that closely on that fight which is a big difference from Bismarck.

I still have to beat Ravana but I’m confident it’s just a matter or finding the right party and practicing some more. I’m pretty good right now up to Swift Liberation where I’m still struggling a bit to get it down perfect. But considering it’s pretty much it’s second to last attack in the entire rotation I feel like I’m close to being done with the learning part.

Overall, it’s been fun times and I can’t wait to get there with the people of Greysky. Knowing ourselves, I think we’ll have a tougher time with Bismarck than Ravana but we’ll see how it goes!

Warning! This post might be considered spoilery. I won’t go into details of the story but there’s going to be a few things so fairly ye be warned.

The big rush is over, I’m level 60 and I’ve completed Heavensward main story as of last Thursday. It was an awesome expansion, better by far than anything else I’ve got to play in an MMO in a very long while. Anytime I though the story was slowing down it would surprise me with something new and I’d just want to see the next part. People have compared Heavensward to the second season of a good TV show and I’ve definitely been binge watching it.

I don’t wanna delve too deep into details but The Vault is probably the most awesome dungeon I’ve done in an MMO and the end dungeon turned everything up to 11 and at some point we were joking that we were in fact playing Dragonball Z, the MMO. You also get to meet a particular NPC from FF1 that I just loved and lastly the post credit scene just got me super pumped about the upcoming content patches. It’s so classic Final Fantasy stuff that I can’t wait to see how it goes.

To keep the series analogy going can’t wait to see the next episode.

It’s endgame time!

So the story and leveling part were awesome and probably the best thing since sliced bread. That’s all good and great but what about endgame? The part where things tend to break down?

At the moment of writing, endgame consists of two dungeons, two extreme mode trials and some hunts. There’s the first part of the Alexander raid coming in about a week so we’ll get four of five fights and then two week later, the savage mode of the same. Also add crafting and the new relic weapon grind coming out soon and I think you got most of everything. It’s not a lot to go on and it’s jarringly similar to what we had when Realm Reborn came out.

The gearing set-up this time is that you do roulettes,hunts and dungeons for law tomes and then you can upgrade the items with hunt seals. There’s no weekly cap on seals or tomes so you’re speed of progression will be up to you and how much grinding you can stomach. Myself I’ve been grinding pretty hard for tomes and now I’m about 600 tomes away from finishing which means about a day of roulette plus one or two extra runs. The tome part is not too bad to be honest and someone dutifully doing their roulettes everyday should be done in about 8 or 9 days according to the math and depending on new player bonuses.

The part that I find a bit shoddier is the hunt side of things. In order to upgrade your tome gear you need hunt seals which are acquired either by doing clan hunts (go kill X monsters) or by killing rare mobs. Of all the endgame activities this is probably one of the most divisive. Some people love it and enjoy hunting for rare mobs and others find it to be a pain. There’s a lot of unwritten rules set forth by the hunting community and it can feels sometimes like a closed club. Not helping is the instancing mechanic which means the hunt target is in another instance of the zone. The whole focus on hunt is likely part of Square plan to get us to try out the different endgame activities but I could have done without that part. At least the clan hunts are an alternate source of seals that is painless so at least there’s an alternate way to get the seals.

Overall the endgame part of Heavensward is pretty standard MMO fare. It all comes down to whether or not you can enjoy a good grind or not. It’s not a painful grind but it is a grind and those looking for an alternate type of endgame will be disappointed.

Call me Ishmael

With two extremes modes out at the moment, I wanted to see if I could take them out now that I’m more geared. The first one is Bismarck Extreme, a giant flying white whale of death who is prompting many Moby Dick quotes.

The first good news is that healing wise it’s not too bad and doable. There’s a lot of moving parts to be sure but nothing insurmountable if you’ve done things like Titan Extreme or Turn 5 when they were bleeding-edge content. Where others fights are healer or tank checks, this one is focused on testing the dps. Can you output great numbers while paying attention to your environment and boss debuffs to make sure you don’t kill yourself?

This fight feels very much like a hidden gating mechanism in the sense that it’s a check of whether or not you’re good enough to go do the big boy raiding. In the past it’s been a pretty good strategy to make sure everyone is on the same level and I don’t disapprove. I still have to find myself a group that can take the beast down but I think it’s only a matter of time.

So that was a pretty long post. I hope you’re all enjoying Heavensward as much as I am.

Legends speak of a fabled beast, the WoW-killer that is prophesized to one day come and steal away all the WoW players to a terrible and dark place where they would have to play some other game. Luckily, a group of players, the WoW-knights, are ever vigilant against such threats and have in the past led many crusades against such terrors. So far they’ve been mostly successful and WoW has remained the king.

Lately though, we have seen the rise of the dreaded Final Fantasy XIV beast. A monster of 4 million players (and climbing) that is snatching away players and even worst, keeping them !!! Tales of woe have reached my ears that even the new WoW content did not bring back the wayward sheep. Whether or not this beast is the fabled WoW-killer remains to be seen but for the first time in a long while, WoW is threathened and the knights are taking notice.

As usual, the first strategy put forth by the Knights was to ignore the FFXIV beast, thinking it was feeding off attention and thus, would die from starvation. It’s a proven strategy that has worked in the past but this time it failed. The FFXIV beast is from an old lineage and it can draw on the followers of its predecessors for sustenance. This beast does not require WoW players to live and that makes it that much more dangerous. Now one would think that since it doesn’t need WoW players both can live in harmony but the beast is hungry and it wants more! Even worst, it offers a lot of things that are similar to WoW so that it can drag away unsuspecting players to their doom.

So the Knights reverted to their second strategy, try to exorcise the beast by recanting the holy incantation of the WoW-clone. Since FFXIV includes so many of WoW features, surely it is but a pale copy. Players would always prefer the original that had been refined over many years to perfection. Sure FFIXV could hide behind the illusion of New but such things past and once people curiosity had been satisfied they would return to the original, better game.  The WoW-clone strategy is a proven one that has seen success many times in the past especially when it’s combined with the New Content superweapon. Let the New illusion fall off, launch New Content superweapon and every goes back to normal.

To everyone horror however, for the first time ever a game has not only resisted but prospered despite these attacks. Even worst, FFXIV has launched its own Heavensward new content weapon recently and the damage is telling. Players not coming back to WoW, some even leaving to go join up with their wayward friends. Guild groups have died, raid bosses stand undefeated… it is a dark time.

Desperate for a new strategy, some Knights are now studying the FFXIV beast in the hope of stealing away what makes it so attractive. There’s clearly something else at work here and it’s just a matter of figuring it out. Once that’s done they can take away the features, include them to WoW, people will come flocking back and everything will go back normal.

We can only hope so.

This part is for anyone who might be a bit too confused by the above. FFXIV might or might not be the WoW-killer, time will tell.

What it is however is a game that has combined the better aspects of WoW with the better elements of the storied tradition of Final Fantasy and added some features that the developer felt would make the MMO better. Kinda like WoW combined the best parts of Everquest and Warcraft lore while adding some improvements to make WoW.

FFXIV is not a WoW-clone. It’s a variation on the MMO genre that WoW helped define. Most people playing it enjoy it for itself and not because they want WoW with a Final Fantasy theme. If you ask FFXIV player why they play that game they will give you a range of reasons but none of them will be “because it’s like WoW”. In fact many might answer “because it’s not WoW”.

So here’s the big secret for all those WoW players who are looking at FFXIV and wondering what features they should copy to bring back the players. FFXIV is not stealing players away from WoW, these players are actually enjoying FFXIV for being FFXIV. World of Warcraft is losing players who are tired of playing it.  

I thought I’d get a pass this time but it’s clear now that I won’t. I’m in full pre-expansion jitters mode and I just can’t seem to settle on what I want to do with my gaming time.  In the past 48 hours I thought about subbing to WoW, to Wildstar, trying Swtor again and god knows what else. I totally blame my WoW interest on Heroes of the Storm that I’ve been playing a surprising amount of.

The fact that I’m playing a Moba at all and enjoying myself is likely the highest praise I can give to HotS. It used to be that I would play League of Legends or Dota2 an hour or two every year or so but I’ve put in way more in just the past week. I think it might have to do with no item system that I hated in the other games but I’m way too much of a noob to know for sure what’s different. Still, I can bring some of Starcraft 2 skills to the table so I’m not doing too awful.

In FF14 I finished leveling Bard to 34 and got Quelling strikes so I’m really done now with my pre-expac goals. Won’t have cleared Coils but I’m fine with the progress we made. I’m still working some on crafting but more as a side thing than my main focus.

And that’s pretty much it right now. Want Heavensward to come out and trying not to fall into the WoW trap again.


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