My First YouTube

I posted my first ever YouTube video. This one features some gameplay from when I did the level 25 marauder quest. Unfortunately I had to cut the video short because I was too nervous recording that I didn’t win. However I assure you that I did win in my next attempt. Seeing as I can’t go back and do it again once it is complete, you’ll have to enjoy what’s here.

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Let’s not forget the real reason for ARR

Here’s a video review of the early days of FFXIV when it launched in 2010. Let’s not forget where we came from, and all the bad things that turned people away from FFXIV to begin with. I know some of you might be nostalgic of days gone by, or you might be upset or nervous about all the new changes – but remember why the changes were made

Early Access Roller Coaster Ride

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So early access is underway, and it has its ups and downs.  On the plus side, the game looks beautiful, the content is full to bursting, the systems are working great, there is very little lag, and I am able to play my old character and reconnect with all my friends.  But on the down side, here in North America, we’re seeing a lot of server issues and connection issues with logging in and the duty finder.

One aspect of the main story line is to go and run though several dungeons which can only be connected through using the duty finder, so when this is down the story doesn’t progress.  No grand companies, no earning seals, no epic cut scenes, no dungeon loot.  As a side effect of this problem, it also looks like some instanced battles in-game also rely on the duty finding server.  I was on a marauder quest that wouldn’t load because of a server error, later to be followed up by an error related to the duty finder.  Needless to say this has been frustrating while playing the game.

So to help us out, the maintenance team has been taking down the servers, trying to resolve the issues, and putting them back online.  This works for a while, but with so much traffic coming in with players trying to log and go right back into the duty finder, they have to throttle traffic, people can’t connect, people get booted, and other people cling to staying logged in as long as possible which ads to server population and wait times.  In fact, the reason I am writing this blog right now instead of being in-game fishing is because the servers are down again and I can’t log in.

However, amid the error messages, full servers, connection issues, and a few systems not working, the game itself is fantastic.  As I said, everything works as it should and everything in the world plays seamlessly.  The game is so great, that even with the issues they are having, once I am logged in and playing my character, all of that server maintenance and unable to log in crap is forgotten.

If any of you had played beta, you’ll know what kind of treat you are in for with the full version of this game.  You know the lands you will explore, the quests you will take, how the FATE system works, the marketing system, the equipment, the crafting/gathering systems – it is all there and working as it has been.  Now with the full release we have all areas unlocked for exploration, no level caps, grand companies, housing, more in-game items and rewards, fishing, arcanist class – the list goes on.  And every area visited, every class played, every dungeon explored – it all has something new to see and something interesting to do.  I also like the little bits of pop culture references that the game has sprinkled into it.

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The most exciting thing about FFXIV 2.0 is that the level of detail in the full version of the game doesn’t dwindle after the first few levels or after the first few main story quests.  As a player, you won’t “get the hang of it” after just a short while.  The game is constantly challenging players, throwing new and exciting things their way, and getting more and more exciting over time.  In most other MMORPGs you pick a single class and level that – and about halfway through the game you feel you’ve pretty much got a handle on how things work and just continue to grind and grind until the end.  FFXIV doesn’t work like that.  If you feel you’ve mastered a class – there’s plenty of difficult end-game content and equipment variations that will keep you working extremely hard to become better and push yourself to the limit.  And when that isn’t enough, at any time your character can take up another class and the game becomes completely new again with a new storyline, new abilities, new quests, and new items.

ImageI won’t go into too much more bragging about this game just yet, but I have a feeling SE hit the ball out of the park with this one.  So, even with all the issues in early access, I have been to the other side.  I have seen the working game.  I have played with the community, and I have tasted the waters of what this game has to offer.  And there is hardly anything that I would change about it.

Just Some Cool Thing

Came across this on the internets. I thought it was kind of cool and a great marketing device. I can just imagine a bunch of little kids swarming into this thing to get their chance to have the “cute little people” follow them around and wave to them.

However, I would want to get in on the game action too. And a six-foot tall guy dancing around with a bunch of kids just wouldn’t look right. So on second thought, let’s keep these cool FFXIV technology things away from kids and public places.

Thals Balls I Can’t Wait

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Beta phase 4 came and went without a hitch.  Seemed very much like how phase 3 was, so I was glad to get it over with before too long.  I don’t think I could have survived another three “weekends only” weeks of testing with down time for debugging.  As the development said, they were waiting on release until people said “enough already, the game is just fine.”  And I feel they met that goal with all the plans leading up to the August 27th release.

Of course for me the biggest excitement on Phase 4 wasn’t so much the addition of the voice acting, or the arcanist class, or the housing system.  The most exciting part of phase 4 to me was knowing that the data we had would carry over into the final release of the game.  That being said, I actually enjoyed it more this time knowing my works would not be in vain.

My first stop was the character creator – which was cake.  I had already downloaded and tested the benchmark tool multiple times in the past few weeks, and I had my character all set and ready to put into the game.  However, I did do a last minute hair style change, which I think looked pretty good.  I gave myself some face paint, kissed my old look goodbye, and launched myself into the trusty ol’ Balmung server to continue my long awaited journey.

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Uriah Nool’s new look

Of course with everyone else being an arcanist, I just had to try it myself.  It was cool, and a well built class – but I didn’t like having to be the same as everyone else.  (so many carbuncles running around @_@).  My next-lowest class was a level 16 marauder.  I decided to tough it out with arcanist until level 16 (so I could put the low-level content to use) and then try marauder.

Arcanist itself played out a lot like conjurer (a couple attack spells and a cure spell in the beginning) but also the ability to summon a pet (carbuncle) to fight for you.  The pet had its own pet command bar (similar to pets in WoW) and you could stand back and issue commands to your pet, and then fight alongside it.  I liked using the technique with having carbuncle take all the damage while I cowered in the background and attacked with spells.  Seemed to work very well.  Carbuncle was pretty self-sufficient and had a good AI set to it, so I didn’t bother with using all the commands on the pet bar.  In fact, I would rather just hide the pet command bar somewhere and never use it, but alas people like having their options.

To be honest, I never did like marauder in the previous version of FFXIV.  That’s why I stuck with my magic classes and didn’t tough combat classes.  But as it was my only other option in Limsa Lominsa at the time, I switched to it for something to do.  And I was very happy with the results.  The skills at level 16 were just enough for me to get to know the class and play around with some abilities and get a real “bloodthirsty tank” feel.  In 1.0, marauder felt like it was “all bark and no bite” with having a high defense but very low attack.  In 2.0, I can now deal decent damage and be more self-sufficient with curing abilities like Bloodbath and some defense boost and critical hit enchancement abilities that can be activated when really needed.

During Phase 4 I did manage to unlock most of the map around Limsa Lominsa and travel to the three main city states via the airship.  I finished the storyline up to level 15, unlocked guild abilities for ACN and MRD (axe throw is sweet), and traveled out to the NPC that teaches us to dye our gear.  The graphics in 2.0 were a bit lacking compared to 1.0 – but the lighting and environments make it well worth the tradeoff.  Everything feels very real and solid compared to the lifeless and transparent feel of FFXIV 2.0.

I only have two gripes I came across so far.  The first being the voice acting in 2.0.  I know people wanted voice acting, and I know SE did a great job picking out people to act out scenes.  The problem is that the game was built before the voices came into play, so they had to cram in audio without taking away or messing with what was already there.  This isn’t easy to do when the dialogue was made without voice acting in mind.  Having to match every voice with every text box and caveat of excitement as it is spelled exactly, trying to hold emotion while having to manually advance each block of text – it just doesn’t work well.  I’d rather they record the dialogue and add subtitles so it would play though in its entirety.

Secondly I don’t like the armor colors.  I know it sound petty, but I just don’t like the idea of people running around in mismatched gear looking like clowns.  I like having the option to change colors, but I don’t like default gear issued to be so colorful.  If I am running around with a blue pot helmet, a black harness vest, yellow pants, and green shoes – it just looks silly.  I noticed a lot of the reward gear for quests or gear bought from NPC’s defaults to very bright and vibrant colors that do not match.  So many adventures dressed up in thigh-high yellow boots and a mustard green shirt with a red hat is just too much.

ImageAnyway my gripes are very minimal with the game so far.  I can’t wait for early access this weekend and the game’s release this coming Tuesday.  I think it will get some pretty good reviews.  While this game does have some similar elements to many of the MMORPG’s out there today, it doesn’t feel at all like a rehash or a redo of everything we’ve seen before.  The classes are unique and exciting to play, the graphics are amazing, the lore and story are unique, and there is so much content to experience and unlock.  I can’t wait to see the reviews that come out, and I can’t wait to start playing this game and following all the new content, expansions, news, stories, and adventures seen in FFXIV for years to come.

Thought You Should Know (repost from Reddit)

Recently on Reddit, as a followup to the latest Live Letter From the Producer, there have been some new developments on Phase 4 of beta and the launch of FFXIV to take note of.  Below is the list of items and my thoughts on them (in italics, of course).  If you want to read the full Reddit post with included pictures and comments, the link is here:
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  • Phase 4 starts 17th/August and ends 19th/August.
    – Seems like a short time, but a lot can be seen/done in that time, so I am OK with this
  • Beta phase 3 players can start one day early on the 16th/August
  • Early access starts on the 24th/August, no down time between early access and launch.
  • Level cap is 20 in phase 4.
    – I read in the Live Letter Q&A that all content up to level 20 is the exact content that will be seen in the retail version of the game
  • Arcanist available in phase 4
    – Since I will be playing on Balmung (legacy server) I can imagine the arcanist guild being flooded with players during Phase 4.
  • Fishing profession available in phase 4
    – Haven’t seen any details/footage on fishing yet, but I can’t wait to try it out
  • Coliseum PVP will be in phase 4
    – I’d probably watch PVP from the audience, but I don’t consider myself much of a participant.  However, sound exciting!
  • Scholar confirmed to be healer role
  • Payment options Crysta, credit card, 30 day and 60 day game cards confirmed
    – I was surprised and excited to hear about this option.  Nothing like going to a game shop and picking up a time card and saving it until it is needed, or getting one as a gift.  Nice to know I can take a break from the game for a few months and then add more time when I know I can play again.
  • Fee based world transfer service confirmed (available 2-3 weeks from launch)
  • Free smartphone apps confirmed. Shows character stats, all abilities, quests, crafting materials, and basically all information about the game. Available 1 week after launch for iOS and 3-4 weeks after launch for Android.
  • No item transfer between same account and same server available.
    – Said to be a deterrent from RMT farming, which is why it isn’t available.  With the number of RMT’s running around in 1.0, I am fully behind this decision.  Unlike other games, characters are free to change their class/appearance whenever they want, so there shouldn’t be a need for so many characters on an account regardless.
  • Barber shop not available at launch, In the barber shop you can change hairstyle, hair colour, face tattoo, face paint, face paint colour and beard.
  • Seasonal events confirmed (Xmas & new years confirmed so far), with season-themed gear obtainable
  • Snowman gear confirmed
  • Fire resistant swimsuit gear confirmed
  • New Eorzea 2013 Collection Video
    – Haven’t found a link for this yet, but we should see it on the site soon  EDIT:  Here you all go:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbmC5ytybjQ
  • Phase 4 data will not be wiped unless a game breaking bug is discovered.
  • Crystal Tower 24 man raid confirmed (not available at launch)
  • Primals finishing moves confirmed to be changing
  • No /tell allowed in raids.
    – It was said the option is available, but disabled to prevent players from harassing each other if a dungeon did not go well and/or distracting them from the battle.  Knowing today’s gaming community, I agree with this decision.
  • Duty finder to be expanded over time.
  • Extreme difficulty setting confirmed for primals and dungeons
    – I am a bit intimidated by extreme difficulty fights, but maybe I’ll get the hang of them over time.  I am more of a casual player.
  • Unicorn Mount confirmed for white mage
    Yes, it looks horrible and stupid. 
  • Other unique mounts for different jobs available
    – Hopefully they don’t look as horrible and stupid.  I was fine with just chocobos and magitek armor variants.  All these mounts are silly.
  • Character gender and race effects mount sitting pose
  • Leviathan confirmed
  • Free companies earn points when members complete quests
    – Nice!
  • EXP bonuses and other bonuses confirmed for free company members
  • Mob themed furniture for player housing confirmed
  • Marriage system confirmed
    – Does an MMORPG need marriage?  Nope.
  • Molbol battle confirmed
  • Darklight armour for WHM confirmed
  • Player housing not reliant on GC city, houses can be in any city
  • Job quests can be completed solo
    – I am OK with this.  I hated having to find a party every time I wanted to finish the job training and get the gears.
  • After launch (patch 2.1) there will be better rewards for those who choose to join random dungeon in duty finder
  • Re-roll status points confirmed
    – I hear it won’t be an easy thing to do, but it will be an option.
  • Addon support coming 6 months after launch
  • GC based PVP confirmed. 4v4, 8v8 confirmed
  • The crater left by dalamud coming down is used as the coliseum
  • FFXIV Welcome Back Campaign for 1.0 players – can play for free from August 27th until September 9th.
  • Veteran Rewards Program.  Bonuses granted depending on how long you subscribe to A Realm Reborn starting at launch. Bonuses such as items, mounts and character remake ticket.

ImageSo as you can see, a lot of changes have been announced and a lot of plans are being made for launch and the days to follow.  Looks like the FFXIV is taking a gamble on some new elements not seen before in an MMORPG as well as trying to cater to the current MMORPG option with some more familiar features.  Don’t forget though, even though all these cool, new, and interesting items are available, the look and feel of the world is still up to the players.  If you don’t like something, don’t do it.  If you want something changed, talk about it intelligently and see if the community agrees and have your voice heard.  1.0 was full of things that didn’t impress players.  2.0 is full of things that are aimed at impressing players.  Hopefully the changes we see here will be for the good.  Don’t expect the game to be perfect out of the box, but expect it to be very nice and full of potential that will be unlocked over time.

It’s Over 9000!!!!!

ImageSo I assume everyone is trying out the new benchmark (character creation) benchmark, right?  Here is the link:

http://na.finalfantasyxiv.com/benchmark/index.html

As you can see above, my score was over 9000 on max settings.  Sure, some of you will gloat your famous victory computers gave you over 15,000 in the benchmark.  Sure, some of you will be jealous only pulling out 2-3K.  But I feel I am ready for this game and all SE has been throwing our way so I am happy with these results.

The first time I did this benchmark, I was confused and unimpressed.  I did the character creator and made my Uriah Nool lalafell and put him in some heavily clad armor and launched the benchmark (hoping for some new maps or visuals or something).  But when I ran the benchmark, It looked like the same one from before, so I wasn’t happy.  I felt as thought they just tacked on a character creator onto the same benchmark program.

Then I saw what I did wrong.  Since my lalafell was clad in heavy armor, I couldn’t tell where the character creation fit into the benchmark.  Seeing that my created character should have been displayed in the cutscenes, I decided to take off the heavy armor and check again.  And there he was – Uriah Nool in all my glory taking down the mobs in the dungeons and riding around on chocobos in my hero party.  Ah, what a feeling!

And what’s also cool is that the character creation part of this benchmark saves that data, so eager players awaiting their first day in-game can create their character ahead of time, and have no fiddling around before diving into the game.  I’ve seen a lot of posts in the beta forums asking players to rate their characters and help with their decisions.

I for one have made my own new character, however I am not sure how he will fit into my gameplay as each new character takes time to grow and collect items and learn and travel with others.

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Will this little fellow be seeing more time in the game than Uriah Nool himself?  Will he become Uriah Nool?  Only time will tell.