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Good morning everyone!

I want to start by saying I’m sorry for the lack of recent posts. I’ve been extremely busy with real life so any free time I got is spent playing games instead of writing about them. My game of choice is still FF14 and by now I’d have thought that I’d be playing less since the expansion is getting closer but the opposite happened. I’m playing more now than I ever did since launch I think and my free time just disappears. In fact I purposefully slowed down a bit over the weekend to force myself to do something else besides playing FF14.

With that said, here’s how my pre-expansion goals are looking. First I’m past the Novus step of the zodiac weapon and I’m now on the last big step of the chain and it is quite a big step. So much so that I decided to take a break from it to focus on leveling my black mage class which is now at level 40. I also  had the opportunity to practice Turn 9 some more so there’s also that progressing.

Another activity that occupied me was Triple Triad card hunting. For some weird reason I had the urge to start farming these cards a bit more seriously and I’ve been fighting Nps for the damn things. I want to get to 60 cards so I can make 3-stars deck and I’m now at 52 so I’m getting there but slowly. Also, I’ve gotten pretty much all of the easy pickings so the cards are getting somewhat hard to get but it’s been great fun so not complaining.

And with that I wish you all a great week.

Doing a quick update today since I’m really strapped for time which has been the running theme for the past week. So, I’m at about 70% done with the Light farming which I feel is quite the accomplishment considering the time I had. I expect to be done somewhere this week and with a bit of luck, sooner rather than later, then it will be on to leveling black mage before getting into the last big grind for the zodiac weapon. The reason for this switch is both for a change of pace and also because I might get lucky and get a few drops for the last part of the farm so it’s a win-win.

In other FF news I’m starting to contemplate my future raiding plan, note sure how I’m going to go about it but I want to get back to raiding with a small fun group and I think this can happen in FF.

Yesterday I got a good dose of humility thanks to my MMO of the hour, FF14. I’ve been pondering lately about questions like community-building, how to be inclusive toward new players, how to behave so that they want to stay in the game and enjoy themselves. At the same time, balancing those issues versus endgame play like raids and dungeons. I still haven’t found the magic solution but I was set on being nice and helpful toward new players.

Then yesterday as I was entering hour three of a light-farming marathon I stumbled on a newbie group in Garuda HM and all my nice intentions went out of the window. They were a group of newbie players just entering Garuda HM for the first time and they were missing a healer, I happened to be that missing healer.

To put things into perspective Garuda HM at this point is pretty much a farm item for most of the community. It takes about 3 minutes to complete with a good group and the strategy involves burning the boss while the healers tank the adds and heal through the damage. It’s blinding fast and the most efficient way to farm light when it gives the bonus, which it did yesterday. On the off chance you get a new player in the group, you can just keep on going even if he dies and he gets his clear so everyone is happy.

But yesterday it was an all newbie group and what was supposed to take 3 minutes took 30. I realized something was wrong when we were 8 minutes in the first attempt and garuda was still at half health. Then after the first wipe, I figured they were new players so I offered the “burn” strategy and off we went. Except they didn’t listen… at all… They were attempting the classic strat for beating her except they were executing it all wrong so there was no way that was going to work. By the third pull I got more insistent that they try the burn strategy… it didn’t take either.

At the beginning of the fourth pull I was getting impatient and tried an abandon vote which duly failed. The group leader told me to leave if I wasn’t happy and I answered back that I wasn’t taking a 30 mins deserter debuff for them. I then realized I was stuck in an elitist asshole vs new player argument and that this time I was the asshole. So I replied that I agreed with him, that the original strategy was sound but that since then players had developed a new one and I asked nicely that they give the burn strat a go. Silence, then a reluctant agreement that they’d try my strat… once… 5 mins later and with the help of the Echo buff Garuda was dead.

Still the whole thing left me feeling awful. I’ve been trying real hard lately to do positives actions for the community and I felt like I came off as an arrogant bastard to a group of new players who just wanted to have fun between friends. I said so to my guild and kept on farming for a little while trying to not think too much about it.

However, just before I logged off I went back through my chat log and read what I had written, the exact words. I realized that I was a lot less of an ass than I thought I was. I was polite, I didn’t call anyone noob or bad or anything and if anything I sounded more desperate than anything else. Back at home I was raging but luckily that didn’t spill over in the game.

What to do ?

Like I said at the beginning of the post, these issues have no clear solutions.  New players have the right to enjoy the game at their own pace. At the same time veterans should also be able to enjoy a farming session. I should be able to enjoy pushing my dps as high as I can and I should be able to enjoy a lazy dungeon run to take my mind off things. We’re all playing MMOs because we enjoy some aspect of it even if it’s in a different way. So how do you reconcile all these ways of playing, how do you please the veteran and the newbie player that are in the same dungeon run?

We’ve been debating this topic collectively for over ten years now. Veterans would like new players to get better, new players want vets to let them be, some intermediate players want ways to progress and others just want to enjoy the game without a care in the world. What’s worst, we’ll often alternate between these positions depending on our mood any given day. It’s not easy…

I’ve seen arguments made that if you’re always helpful to new players then they’ll “graduate” to better players and everyone is happy. Except that not everyone wants to raid endgame and not everyone wants to put more effort into a game than just logging in and playing. Other have advocated segregating the players into different groups depending on interest, which is mostly what we’ve done by building guilds. There’s social guilds, raiding guilds and so on. But just like real life, we come into contact with one another regardless thanks to the magic of tools like dungeon finders and it’s not good business for anyone when the hardcore chews out the casual or when the casual paints hardcore as elitist assholes. Something I’ve sadly been guilty of before.

This post is running extra long so I’m going to keep the other parts for later but I’m curious to see what you guys think. How should we mesh players with varying interests and skills in our MMOs?

Another incredibly busy week gone by and I feel lucky to have to FF14 to help me unwind after long work days. Quite a few things have happened in game since last time so let’s get to it.

First on the Zodiac weapon quest front I managed to finish the alexandrite step after a grand total of 19 days spent on it which is pretty great time considering that a lot the difficulty in this step comes from the random number generator if you want to go at a faster pace than one or two a day. By now I know by hear t the names of every single fate in Middle LaNoscea.

With that Alex step behind me it’s on to the Light farm part of the quest. This is maybe the simplest step to the whole process. I have to farm 2000 points of light in order to upgrade my weapon. You get light from most anytime that is done in a group, Fates, dungeons, trials, raids, etc… Every two hours a few dungeons, trials and raids will get a bonus to light given which drives everyone to start farming them like crazy. According to the experts, the most efficient and fast way to farm this light is to farm whatever trial(5-6 mins fight) has the bonus at the moment. If you do only that, you are looking at 250 trials ahead of you.

I’ve been doing exactly that and I’m about a third of the way in. While it may look insane it’s actually not as bad as one would think. Trials are pretty short which means that I can stop hen I want to and I’m not stuck in a dungeon for another 45 mins when I don’t want to. Plus, the fights themselves are not that bad. On top of it, it’s a nice way to farm a few collectibles like Triple Triads cards and a few pets. I have another busy week ahead of me so not sure if I’ll be able to finish it by next week but I’ll try.

New friends

In other big news I’ve switched guilds during the weekend. I’ve been considering leaving my old guild for a while simply because I wasn’t really part of it, more of a hanger on than anything else. They were pretty nice people but after a while you want to feel like you’re part of something and it wasn’t happening.

So I was considering my options and the solution pretty much presented itself. A friend started playing and was considering applying to a more new player friendly guild. This felt like a good opportunity to join her and at the same time try to find a guild where I’d have a better chance at fitting in. It’s too early to tell how it will all turns out but it looks promising so far.

I’m pretty excited about the game right now and looking forward to more this week. Been a while since I’ve been this engaged by a MMO and I want it to never stop.

Seems like I’ve been tagged for a Liebster award which is a fancy way of saying that I have to reveal deep dark secrets about myself. Miss Mojo was nice enough to tag me so here are my answers

  1. What is your favorite game ?

Wow… the hard question right out of the gate! There’s so many games that I really love and I could do entire blog posts about each of them. But anytime I get asked this question the first game to pops to my mind is Tie Figther. That game became an obsession of mine and I pray that someday it gets remade in glorious HD.

  1. Who is your favorite blogger?

Foton from AfkGamer who sadly is not blogging anymore. That man had a dry sense of humour that I loved and a way with words I haven’t seen often. Wherever you are sir Foton, I wish you the best.

  1. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

Superhealing, the Wolverine kind. There’s so much I want to do and see that I don’t want old age and sickness to stop me.

  1. PC or Console?

Why not both ? I grew up playing on both systems and I still do to this day. For me it’s not about the platform but about the games.

  1. Do you like to be the center of attention, or blend into the crowd?

It really depends. I like to blend in at first and observe and then I’ll take a bit more space. But if I can avoid it, I usually try not to draw to much attention.

  1. What would make you blush/ make you embarrassed?

Public praise and compliments. I don’t know why but anytime this has happened I feel embarrassed.

  1. Which blogger would you like to meet in real life and why ?

For me it’s not one but the crew from Eff the Ineffable I met through blogging. Alas, Zelmaru, Grimtooth and all the others.

  1. Why do you blog ?

At first it was to practice written English and get familiar with WordPress technology. Now it’s more of an outlet for whatever I’m thinking at the moment.

  1. What is the thing you like most about yourself ?

That’s a surprisingly hard question. Not that long ago I would have said that I like being decisive and operate well in a chaotic environment. Nowadays though I make an effort to be more positive in general in my life and I love how that is working out.

  1. Why is the sky blue?

I know the real reason has to do with light reflection going through the atmosphere and stuff. Or something similar, some science people can correct me. My 6 years old self however thought that since the sky is full of water, rain being proof of that, and water being blue, then it’s perfectly logical that the sky should be blue. I prefer that version.

My daily FF ritual lately goes as follows. Log in, say hi to guildies, jump into expert roulette for my daily alexandrite quest, then daily Main scenario roulette for more soldiery so I can buy more alex and then it’s off to farm fates and hunts for even more alexandrites. It might sound awful and I admit I could do without more runs of Keeper of the lake right now but it’s not as bad as you would think. After all, I’ve been doing it for close to 10 days now and I keep coming back to it.

Why? Because thanks to some clever social engineering, Square Enix actually managed to turn a grind into something that can be fun and today, I want to show how clever it can be.

Alex and you

So a bit of background first about why I’m farming all those alexandrites. One of the steps for the Zodiac weapon involves getting 75 alexandrites, an item that you can acquire various ways and meld those 75 alexandrites with 75 materias that will upgrade various stats on your weapon based on what you chose. It’s a long process because alexandrites don’t just drop out of the sky and material can get quite expensive.

How exactly can one get alexandrite?

Daily Expert dungeon quest: 1 Alex. There’s a repeatable daily quest that will net you one mysterious map that will lead you to 1 alexandrite. It’s the most reliable and easiest way to get alexandrite.

400 tomes of soldiery: 1 Alex. Tomes of soldiery are one of the currency that you get from daily roulettes (random dungeons/trials/raids runs),  the dungeons themselves and a few other endgame activities. A good rule of thumb is that doing 4 roulettes should net you enough for 1 alex.

200 allied seals: 1 Alex. You get these seals from Hunts which is simply killing rare monsters that spawn in the world as a group. These monsters are tough enough that you cannot solo them. If you want to farm these, it’s best to join a dedicated hunt group that roams around looking for them.

Fate drops: 8-10% chance of getting an Alexandrite from completing fates. Fates (public quests) spawn all over and completing them will give you a chance to get an alexandrite. It’s random so you can hit dry spells or be real lucky. The best way to farm these is in a group where you can clear fates quickly and do multiples rapidly.

One of the most optimal ways I found to do the Alex grind time wise is to do the following.

  1. Do daily Expert roulette for guaranteed Alex. Also gives about 70 soldiery
  2. Do daily Main scenario roulette. Main scenario roulette gives 120 soldiery the first shot, the dungeons themselves give 100 and you often have the new player bonus for an additional 100. So 120 + 100 + 100 =320 soldiery.  Combined with the 70 from daily expert and you can be at 390 which is just shy of the 400 needed.
  3. Join a Fate farm group that also goes after hunts when they pop and if none exist, I’ll start one. The idea of these groups is to farm Fates quickly in-between Hunts spawn. Usually I’ll farm in middle laNoscea since its low level and the Fates cycle quickly so you can do them real fast.

Clever Squeenix

Let’s look at how clever this grind is in terms of getting people involved in the game.

  1. It gives me a reason to do the daily roulettes even if I don’t need gear from it, which speeds up the queues for everyone.
  2. Once you’re done with the main Scenario instances there’s no real reason to go back to them and yet, up and coming players still need them. By offering me so much soldiery, I get to go back to old content and help out newer players
  3. It gets me involved in Hunts a type of content I’m not drawn to. For players who want to do them, more players involved = more opportunity to do hunts.
  4. It gets me in groups of strangers outside my guild. Most people in my guild don’t need this content. So when I go out with farm groups, I get to meet new people that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Just last night I was enjoying my farm group so much that I ended up playing later because I enjoyed the company.
  5. It makes me initiate group content. When there’s no group already created, I will create a new group and invite people to it. This way I contribute directly to having people play together.
  6. The material steps get me involved in the auction house something I usually avoid like the plague. I’m not going to become big players but now that I understand it better I do find myself putting up a few things for sale and buying some stuff. Again, more players participating in the AH, the more fun it is for people who love that stuff. I’m also adding crafting mats to the market instead of vendoring it to the delight of the crafters.

And there’s probably more stuff I’m forgetting about.

See how Squeenix turned a grind into an engine to build community? If I’m a hardcore min-maxer, the best way to go about completing the grind is to get involved in the community and not grind by myself in a corner. If I’m more into the social aspect of the game, this grind is a good way to do group content and meet people.  Just yesterday, we had both types of player in my group and everyone was getting along and having fun.

That is a powerful tool, giving reason for different type of players to do content together besides raids where performance and egos can ruin the experience for everyone. With a grind, everyone’s going insane together and that’s a lot of fun.

Another busy week gone and much FF14 was played despite real life being annoying and work keeping me pretty busy. I’ll admit that I needed a place to hide last week and Eorzea happily provided. Nothing like grinding Alexandrite to forget about all your problems. So, how did I do on my objectives?

  • Extreme primals: Done!!! Shiva EX was the last remaining primal to fight and she fell rather easily considering the effort I had to put in to get Ramuh down. It could be because she’s current content and people still actively do the fight but I think she has a more forgiving fight than some of the other primals out there. I’ll likely do a retrospect of the fights at later time.
  • Black mage to 50: No progress this week. My black mage class still sits at 31.
  • Coils of Bahamut: No new fights beaten but I’ve started practicing turn 9 which is a roadblock for many and for good reasons. This is a big multi-phase fight with little room for error. I understand that this used to be the final fight of FF14 1.0 and it fits the bill of a big endgame boss.
  • Zodiac weapon: Again, this is where most of my time was spent last week. I’m now sitting at 32 out of 75 melds done. Not quite halfway but getting there. I was at first thinking this was slow progress but it’s actually pretty fast according to my guild mates who have gone through the process. I also managed to get a good amount of money by selling uneeded material so I should be fine on that front too. Only 43 alexandrites to go!

Gold Saucer also came out last week and it’s been a fun distraction. Right now I’m not doing a lot with it since I really want to progress on my weapon but I can see from my guildies that it’s a big success. For those who have done most of what the game has to offer, hunting after cards or raising the perfect racing chocobo seems to be plenty of content for them.

This week I plan on doing more or less the same thing I did last week which is to keep farming for my Zodiac weapon. I’d really love it if I could get it done before the expansion so that’s where my efforts will be going.

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