Sweet Delicious Freedom

The WoW servers have officially gone down in preparation for the Legion pre-patch, and I’ve milked every possible gold out of my garrison. For the record, opening crates, shuffling items, and liquidating resources on 16 characters is pretty dang time consuming, I do not recommend it. I also made a last minute stop by Dalaran on one of each class so I could pick up all their Wrath-era PvP sets before they get locked behind a PvP currency grind again. Yeah, I dropped a few tens of thousands of gold on a bunch of recolors that I will probably never use. The river of coins flowing out of my garrison has skewed my perspective on costs. Now I’ll have to get used to hoarding my gold again until the opportunities of the new expansion present themselves. My plan is to be far too busy with other activities to try any of the get-rich-quick schemes that take advantage of the changes being put into place today. I still desperately need to figure out which character (and faction!) will be my main for the start of Legion. With one of every class except warrior at 100, I have choice paralysis.

The other thing that will definitely be keeping me busy this week is the new FFXIV patch, also happening today. As usual there looks to be a ton of great stuff in this one, most notably the new “endless dungeon” type content that my friends and I are dying to give a try. Our raid time last night got cut slightly short so we only did a couple new-to-us Alex fights, but it was still a blast and I think everyone is feeling pretty good about the game right now.

I’m a little sad that I’ll probably put off the new FFXIV stuff until at least tomorrow. There’s so much transmog to unlock and bag space to free up in WoW that I am guessing that will take most of my free time tonight. I mean, sure, the transmog system isn’t going anywhere and I could totally hang out and do fun dungeons with my friends instead, but I won’t because my compulsive brain has been waiting for this day in WoW for way too long. Hooray for freedom from garrison tyranny, hooray for pristine empty bags. If you’ve been looking forward to either of these patches, I hope you enjoy too!

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Getting the Band Back Together

Sometimes in MMOs you run into little bubbles of time where things seem to line up in some perfect cosmic way and draw you completely in. Most of the time when I look back at these eras of my past, there’s something to mar the nostalgic glow a bit. My first social guild was a magical time of exploring the possibilities of social games, but it was also saturated with drama that eventually was terminal. That progression raid group I was in during Wrath was great and Ulduar was amazing, but the culture of that guild was toxic beyond belief.  My SWTOR raid  was like a second home, where I met several of my best friends, but the game itself was so broken and buggy that it’s a miracle we stuck with it as long as we did.

One of these bubbles that doesn’t quite fit this pattern was my raid group in FFXIV. This was a group of people who happily threw themselves at the same boss fight every week for months on end, never completing it until it was long past current but enjoying the process and each others’ company enough that the victory was still sweet in the end. When Heavensward launched the group fractured a bit, first to make room for more raiders in our free company, and then again as folks drifted away from the game during that first extended period without fresh content. Luckily, events last week conspired to focus everyone’s attention back on the game, and we got together for our first raid of a renewed campaign last night.

All but one of us were in gear that was about the bare minimum to enter the content we were doing, and most of us had never seen the fights before. Sure, Sephirot and Final Steps of Faith aren’t exactly progression raiding for folks who have been playing this whole time, but they were new to us. It took pretty much a full hour to scrape off enough of our rust to kill Nidhogg. Even though I had finished the fight once before, this time felt far more satisfying because we earned every inch of that kill together as a team. Nobody could see it, but I had a huge grin on my face when the cheers went up after that kill, because I did not realize until that moment exactly how much I missed that sound. After that we easily handled Sephirot in a few pulls in part because the fight was easier but also because our coordination and muscle memory were slowly returning after months of disuse. We ended the night by killing the skywhale, which was the last boss we killed before drifting away last time. It was a fitting way of coming full circle. Now I can’t wait to really pick up where we left off and hunt down a sword-wielding murder-bug.

Hooray for getting the band back together! Long may we play!

Fairies and Unicorns and Pokemons

This week has seen a rather dramatic return to FFXIV for my primary social circle. This time last week a few people were poking around, and suddenly the last few days almost my entire old raid crew is back and active and running things together. It is funny how having people I like and care about to run things with increases my enjoyment by an order of magnitude. It has been months and months since I’ve done anything resembling raiding or progression in any game, and I can’t wait to finally dig into some of the new bosses in FFXIV that I haven’t seen yet. Unfortunately I know myself well enough to know that being too social and having people depending on me will eventually lead to me sealing myself back up into my introvert bubble, so I’ve been taking steps to prevent this. It is a weird position to be super happy my friends are around but also forcing myself to step out into other games or just away from the computer to make sure I am mentally equipped to handle the social times when they count.

One of the things I did last night to try to carve out some “alone” time was to download Riders of Icarus. This MMO just went into open beta yesterday, although since it will be free-to-play I’m not exactly sure if the difference between open beta and launch is very meaningful. In any case, I had a few friends who were trying it and wanted to see what the fuss was about. The game is definitely pretty, but I’m not even sure that is a point in favor of a MMO anymore. All of the recent MMOs I’ve seen have been pretty, and sadly most of them are pretty in the same vague quasi-real-but-still-fantasy way. There wasn’t anything in particular about the art style of Riders of Icarus that stood out for good or ill. The world seems quite cool, I am a definite fan of sky whales and dragons, and the concept of finding creatures to tame and ride out in the world is really enticing. That seems to be the high point though. The action combat system that other folks were happy with seems not to shine through very well on a mage-type character. Also, the interface and systems feel like they came from a much older game. Looting in particular just felt bad to me. When I kill a monster and take its stuff I want it to be exciting but also quick. I don’t want to have to mouseover and interact with 3 little bags on the ground. FFXIV’s “everything instantly goes into your bags” mechanic and WildStar’s loot explosions and loot vacuum have really spoiled me.  In any case I only managed to play for an hour or two, so I intend to push a little further to see if anything sticks. As it stands now though, I don’t think this game will be for me.

The other game on my radar right now is Pokemon Go. Yes, the fever is definitely sweeping through my friends and my twitter feed. I managed to log in last night when it launched here and catch the squirtle in my house before being chased away by connection issues. It definitely took me a very sad amount of time to figure out exactly how to catch a pokemon, but I can eventually be taught. This morning I excitedly walked down to the local park where there was a pokestop, and collected a few items there. However when I got to work the reality of living and working in a pretty rural place set in. My workplace, where I usually take walks at lunchtime, doesn’t even show up on the map. In the game world, I spend my days in the middle of a giant field I guess. It is sadly devoid of pokemon or points of interest here, so to play this game I’d have to seriously change my behavior or else get lucky trying to find things when I go to the grocery store etc. I’m not sure that’s very appealing to me so I might have to sadly let this poke-craze pass me by. If anyone out there has a similar problem or has found a way around it please let me know!