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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.

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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.

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Heavensward, Extreme edition!

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!

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Pre-expansion jitters

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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The quest for the Zodiac weapon goes on and now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel it seems to get ever farther. Currently I am missing exactly 6 items drops from various endgame dungeons and nothing else. I’ve already gathered all the seals, the tomes and crafting items I’ll need. I’ve been grinding hard for the drop but the progress feels slow. Between now and last week I managed to snag 6 drops so there is progress at least.

I’ve been keeping track of my runs and here are the results

  • Wanderer Palace: 4
  • Copperbell Mines HM: 8*
  • Aurum Vale: 6
  • Hullbreaker: 0*
  • Haukke Manor HM: 1
  • The Lost city of Amdapor: 3
  • Dzemael Darkhold: 2
  • Brayflox HM: 1
  • Amdapor Keep: 2
  • Snowcloak: 1
  • Qarn HM: 0*
  • Pharos Sirius: 5
  • Sastasha HM: 7*
  • Tam-Tara HM: 8*
  • Stone Vigil HM: 0*
  • Halatali HM: 5

Total 53 and counting. * are ongoing

A few people have been keeping track of their drops rates and most of them seem to end up between 45 and 85 runs totals with a drop percentage of about 25% if you average. So far I seem to be heading right for those numbers even if my drop rate is a bit lower (20%). In any case, I’m moving closer to my zodiac weapon and I just can’t wait.

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Long weekend, busy weeks, so you get a Tuesday posting. I’ve been struggling a bit in my resolution to blog more lately but at least it’s for good reasons and not just plain laziness so I got that going I guess.

Since it’s been a while since I’ve done this I suppose it’s time to do the rounds of my pre-expansion goals.

  • Extreme primals: Done! Been so for a while but still feels good to say so.
  • Coils of Bahamut: No real progress for a while now. Done some T9 practice but I still need to complete 7 and 8. Truth is that I’m always feeling pulled by other things and since these demand a fair bit of commitment I’ve been putting them off.
  • Black mage to 50: Done! Sorta… kinda… Well my black mage hit 50 during the weekend but I’d still like to finish it proper and that involves doing the first step of the relic quest and ideally getting quelling strikes. This would mean leveling Bard to 36 and Pugilist to 15 in order to get bard… didn’t like getting archer to 15 so not especially enthused about it.
  • Zodiac weapon chain: With black mage to 50 I started back on the grind. The pause did me good and I’m now attacking the dungeons drops with energy. I got 4 out of 16 drops so far so not a bad start and I got Aurum Vale and Dezmal out of the way so that’s a relief. I got all the crafting items and the only real other thing missing is around 2800 tomes of soldiery. Still a way to go but feels like the worst is behind.

Greysky Armada

So it’s no big secret now but I’m still going to break my rule about online presence and admit I joined up with the crew of Greysky armada thanks to the world famous Belghast. It’s a fun crew that has very diverse roster with veterans, new players, people in every time zone and a real love of helping one another.

I’ve been doing my best to get in the mood of things and help out when I can while balancing making progress on my own stuff and so far I think it’s been going well. It’s just fun to run stuff with new players and see how they react to all the awesome stuff. Makes old stuff seems new even to someone like me who might have run Wanderer palace over a hundred times. I’ve also started to get the ball rolling on a hard mode static so I’m curious to see how that will go.

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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?

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