Tuesday, May 29, 2007

On CoP

I write the following rant, because I feel like I need to clarify the reason why some issues, namely the upcoming difficulty downgrades on CoP send me into cautionary tirades in various venues of FFXI conversation. I also want some folks to understand why I'm not regularly online every night.

When I began this blog, I did so with the intention of bringing something different to the table.

I wanted to chronicle my experiences as a FFXI player who is part of a demographic that is as much underrepresented as it is largely insignificant in size to the overall population in most MMOs, much less FFXI: the parent gamer. But not just any parent gamer, mind you.

Not the parent gamer whose kids are out of the house. Certainly not the "I'm so hip I play MMOs with my kids" parent gamer. I mean the sleep-deprived, newbie parent of toddlers, living in a home that still smells faintly of diapers. The parent who begins to realize the lifelong art of juggling increased priorities -- among them career, parenthood, love life, physical health, free time, and (blessed) sleep.

As a part of this odd group of gamers, I'm faced with a choice when I stare at the Playonline screen: do I want to spend the 2.5 to 3 hours of free time that I have tonight playing an MMO? And "spending" that time is really what I do. It has a cost, consisting exactly of what I could be doing rather than carrying out a virtual life in Vana'diel.

In the brief span of time between my kids' bedtime and my own, I could read one of the slew of books I've deceived myself into thinking I actually have the time to read. I could watch a good film with an appreciation that can't really be achieved during the kids' waking hours. I could continue to hone my writing, or finish the odd number of poems I began years ago. I could have a meaningful, uninterrupted conversation with my wife. Hell, maybe I could play something other than FFXI for a change.

What I think some of the other adults playing FFXI don't understand is the impact of this trade-off. We can't just come home from work, put in a few hours, log out, and go do something else in RL. Those few hours are it for some of us.

This frames the game in such a way that the quality of my RL sometimes becomes inversely proportional to the rate of my accomplishments in Vana'diel. And this realization affects how I, and others in my situation, play the game.

Sometimes, though probably not as often as I sanely should, I choose not to make the expenditure in favor of FFXI, and I shut down the machine. Sometimes I do this for extended periods. These outages usually aren't planned. They're just the result of the constant juggling act, and FFXI has to hit the floor every now & then.

But I'm patient, and realistic, and continue to chip away at the game for my own pleasure, my own little spot of Zen order in all the chaos. When I do decide to log in, my usage of the 3 hours at my disposal also becomes a bit of an economic exercise (though not an unpleasant one), between EXP, crafting/skilling, missions, and linkshell activities... when I do have a linkshell.

This sporadic and slow approach to FFXI doesn't always lend itself to strong longstanding social connections in the game.

I have several close friendships on Ifrit that I consider myself extremely lucky to be a part of, but I could just as easily see someone in my situation wandering through the game for years without gaining firm social ties. Part of it is the piecemeal nature of our commitment to the game, but much of it is also due to the social gap between those with parental priorities and those who constitute the leisure class of FFXI: the early twenty-somethings with expendable time.

We just live in very different worlds, and when we connect it's usually a serendipitous occasion.

So... I say all of this because I want people to understand that it's hard and sometimes nearly impossible for some of us to get certain things done in this game. And doing them isn't just a matter of determination, or ingenuity, or perseverance, which I know many of you have demonstrated with your considerable accomplishments. It takes either a fluke or a nearly unacceptable cost to the quality of our RL hours to complete the task.

I'm not whining. Believe me, I know what whining is... I'm simply stating the truth.

So before some of you take too hard a stance on what you consider to be acceptably or justifiably difficult in the game, separating the proverbial wheat from the chaff in FFXI, consider that there are people for whom content such as "Sea" has been out of reach for quite some time, and for perfectly valid and inevitable reasons. SE's recent announcement might very well be a good thing for them.

I'm not even really speaking for myself, since I probably still wouldn't have the time for a Limbus group. But I know there are parent gamers out there who would make significant contributions to such groups. Consider Lifthrasir's flawless Promyvion runs that I recounted awhile ago. I personally think that the largely adult leadership of that group had quite an impact on how those forays into CoP played out.

On behalf of players such as these, I say bring on the kinder gentler CoP. Let veterans' reactions to the opening gates of Sea stand as a testament to their own self-worth.

Friday, May 25, 2007


After reaching the 160's in sword skill and attempting some rather dangerous solo skillups in the Eldieme Necropolis, I eventually formed a bona fide skillup party in Kuftal Tunnel, which went rather well. I once again had the privilege of playing with Raikoh for awhile and got my sword skill into the 170's.

Robber Crab reminds himself to bring a Reraise scroll to Kuftal

The next skillup session took place in the Boyhada Tree with Feon and the DarkEden group. They were all exhausted from a long Dynamis run, but we stayed together for awhile and I managed to reach level 183 while also whittling away the latent points on my Pick of Trials.

The Tree

A few nights later, DarkEden did a series of Tier 1 assault runs on Periqia (Seagull Grounded). The AI for the NPC we were escorting through the zone was quite annoying and unpredictable. Even when he took a good path, he would stall in cleared rooms or backtrack for no apparent reason, wasting a good chunk of time. We were successful on 2 of the 3 runs, however.

Joytoy builds TP like crazy... Feon out-Rampaged me on every fight

Excaliace's turn-on's: Wearing ruffles, staring at walls, and commenting on people's breath.

Lexxi and I duo'd some EXP in the dunes last night, she on her MNK (16) and I on my WHM (19).

Lexxi vs Goblin Butcher... Fight!

Frohike dispenses bunny wisdom

It was peaceful and fun, and I think the first time I've actually EXP'd with Lexxi. To my embarrassment, I kept fat-fingering my macros (laptop keyboards suck), and at one point ran out of MP on a particularly tough Goblin, resulting in death for both of us. She hit 17 early in the process, and thankfully had enough of a buffer to maintain her level. Raikoh nearly joined us when he logged in around midnight, but Lexxi and I were both passing out mid-battle and decided to call it a night.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Skillups & Savage Blade Redux

On the night following the Charybdis battle, Feon (/Ishy), Cozmos, & Audessa were killing weapons and dolls in Ro'Maeve and invited me out. Audessa was working on skillups and Cozmos was breaking her sword latent. I came out with as much accuracy gear equipped as possible (and some rice dumplings) and worked on skilling up my sword from a measly 67. Quite a ways to go before 250 -_-;

Killing Weapons

The session went very well, although we encountered a rather tough weapon around the end which killed Feon, and a series of links shortly afterward killed Ishmael, but we pulled through. When I logged, my sword skill was at 113.

I skilled up a bit in Crawler's Nest on the following day, mostly killing Worker Crawlers, Killer Mushrooms, and making the occasional foray into the big EXP room downstairs to kill some Soldier Crawlers and Exorays. I logged out with a sword skill of 126.

Skilling up Sword in CN

That evening, I noticed most of DarkEden were in Quicksand Caves and assumed they were triggering columns for the Altepa Gate. In fact they'd just completed the Ruby column and were preparing to take on the NM scorpion. They invited me out and patiently waited as I made my slow way out of CN and over to Western Altepa.

When I eventually got there, the party was comprised of Feon, Ishy, Cozmos, Audessa, on the usual jobs and Theshadowdeath on THF/NIN (thanks for the correction, Feon). Shadow and I recognized one another and we assumed we'd merited together, only to have Feon remind us that we had KSNM'd together a few months ago. Yes, senility strikes again.

We passed a couple of RMT camping the NM antican that spawns in the room to the west of the WSNM area. They kindly offered assistance which elicited absolute silence on the /say channel but quite a few lol's on the /party channel.

Girtablulu. Dead.

The fight was stunningly fast. I really think we finished it under 2 minutes, possibly in 1:30 or so. I launched a pre-primed Mistral Axe for a Light skillchain and eventually got off a Rampage, but didn't have time to unload the next WS before it was over.

So in a matter of days, Cozmos has unlocked Evisceration and Savage Blade.

The remainder of the evening was spent killing placeholder wyverns for Ungur in Gustav Tunnel and disposing of the occasional meddling undead. The dragon never popped, but we had fun nevertheless.

Camping Ungur

I also had a wonderful time chatting with Lexxi, whom I missed terribly after her departure from the game. It was really nice to see her in the chat log again, and we caught up and compared notes on our toddler's behaviors, which is always entertaining ^^;

I've been making steady progress on my sword skill, killing almost every tier of mob in CN except for the EP scorpions by the Queen Crawler spawn and working my way up to 153. In the process, I was able to team up with Raikoh of Lifthrasir for awhile, which was a pleasure.

Link! Ew...Crawler juice

I want to eventually bring my skill to the 250 cap and put 8 merits into it, increasing the cap to the A+ level of 276. That'll round out my Great Axe, Axe, and Sword skill quite nicely, and will really potentiate the Joyeuse. The sword is very fun to use now on mobs I can actually hit (they're not kidding on that 50% proc rate), and I can imagine it'll be a blast to use in meripo and various other sundry activities.

No play for me tonight though... I'll have an early morning ahead of me tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Ode to Joy

I was resigning myself to another night here:

Vanadiel religions have no concept of Hell.  This place makes it redundant.

when Feon once again rescued me from certain boredom & torture. He proposed that I come along for a WSNM fight, which I promptly accepted. I'd never participated in an Evisceration WSNM battle before and I was up for some adventure. As I ran though the Dunes, Feon also told me to bring a sleeping bag since we'd be camping Charybdis afterwards. /joy!

I remembered to drop by the event Moogle on my way to the dressing room to get my stats:

I haven't KO'd much...

I'll probably save the anniversary ring for either my WHM leveling or BST.

The WSNM fight went very well, although the Bat was tougher to kill than I'd expected, and more evasive:

Not very squishy, this bat.

So Cozmos is now clear for the Evisceration weapon skill! Didn't know she was fond of daggers >.>

Afterward, Ishy had to log for the night, so Feon two-boxed his character as we made our way to Sea Serpent Grotto for some camping. Our group consisted of Feon on his NIN, Feon on Ishmael as BRD, Cozmos as WHM/NIN, Audessa as RDM, and myself on WAR/NIN.

We made the circuit around the spawn area, killing pretty much all mobs that had the misfortune of popping in our path.

Devil Manta slaughter

It only took around 30 minutes of this before Feon spotted Chary, sending my heartrate into overdrive. With my luck, I was expecting a multi-day camp, which would have been unmanageable for me. Of course as soon as Chary popped, so did every damn mob on the way there, including Zuug the Shoreleaper and some cronies.

Bad time to go "shoreleaping" there, Zuug

I still couldn't believe I was actually staring at Charybdis when we got to the room. But there he was, ready for our challenge.


Unfortunately my role wasn't going to be a very active one, since the fight mostly involves DoT'ing & debuffing the hell out of the mob while the NIN tanks and gradually diminishes the mob's HP, then polishing the battle off with nukes at the end.

The fight initially went well, but Charybdis spammed Cross Attack much sooner than planned and dropped Feon to the ground. I made a lame attempt at kiting but was unprepared for the speed of Chary's attacks and died as well. So we wiped and started over.

Do over. Do over.

The second fight went much more cleanly. At about 50% HP, Water weather came into effect, so I and the mages moved down into the room to avoid any potential elemental pops behind the door.

Sooo close

A Devil Manta add wandered over at about 20% HP, which didn't present much of a problem for me to solo, thanks to Cozmos and Audessa's vigilant multitasking support.

So you've seen the post title and read this far and probably just want me to get on with it already. Yes, indeed, they killed Charybdis, something I never imagined I would have been a part of in this game. And I got it:

/em collapses

JoyToy... and my WS set (yeah, I forgot to swap back)

And I became the elated, bewildered, and grateful owner of a Joyeuse. It's just starting to sink in today that I really do own this thing, and I'm absolutely flattered that Feon, Cozmos and Audessa would risk their time and EXP to get this weapon for me. For...me! People will never cease to amaze me in this game.

On another positive note, Lexxi and Murrdoc have both returned to the game, making the server that much richer with friends whom I trust and value. I feel my life in Vana'diel has taken a turn for the better, and I still look forward to the unexpected adventures it will bring.

Vanity shot

Monday, May 14, 2007

Chillin & Nukin

I still haven't been on frequently, much to Feon's consternation, but I did log in for a session a few nights ago and had quite a bit of fun with Feon and Cozmos in Qufim!

Cozmos powerleveled Feon & me as we nuked crabs and other sundry mobs. I'd missed Feon & Coz's loopy chemistry, and it felt nice to just relax and nuke away the time without the complications of a full party. I did, however, have a habit of stupidly killing Shock with Rasp -_-. Sorry, Feon. I've got the elemental wheel memorized now, so I hopefully won't make that mistake too often anymore.

Feon also stunned me that night be offering to camp Charybdis for my Joyeuse in the future, which would be absolutely amazing. I'm certainly glad I didn't go whole hog with Axe merits...

He reached 24 on his BLM and I reached 19. I'm now one level away from switching back over to WHM and leveling that to 40. Once that's done, I'll split my time between meriting, crafting, and leveling BST... oh and trying to get CoP done. /sigh

Update: screenshots, got 'em:

Nuke & Drain

Club skill get! Or not.

Cute couple

Monday, May 07, 2007

Breathing room

OK, now that I have a little gil to work with, I'll be able to hop back on with more regularity.

This "hands-off" FFXI phase has actually been working out nicely over the past week. I log in periodically to do some fishing, craft up another RMT-pulverizing stock of product, keep the AH slots full, & log out. Quick, easy, and it frees me up to play a game that was recently released on Xbox arcade: Catan. It's a computerized version of the Settlers of Catan board game, which I've always wanted to play. Since my family and friends are still favoring Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride, this is the only way for me to get my Catan on, for now. And it's a blast.

If any of you are on the 360 and have 12 bucks to spare for a MS point pack, I highly recommend the game. Fairly simple rules, but very dynamic gameplay, with a bit of adverserial strategy thrown in, but not enough to really call this a "strategy" game. It's more along the lines of a development game (resource management, trading, etc).

Carcassonne will be released on the Xbox arcade as well, which will be interesting to try, although it is substantially simpler and more luck-based than I'd like. I hope both of these are successful, however, since I'd love to see an Xbox version of Puerto Rico, my absolute favorite board game.

P.S. I'll turn comment moderation off for now. I had a very persistent spammer and needed to turn moderation on since I wasn't tending my blog as closely for the past few weeks.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I really should be better at making money.

I mean, really. It's been 3 years, and I'm still going through the newbie cycle of extended play (EXP and other non-gil-earning activities) punctuated by periods of desperate money-grubbing. Frohike's too old for this sh**.

That said, it's not incredibly difficult to find ways to earn gil. I've stumbled across several. They're just not fabulous ways to earn it quickly and in large amounts. The methods I use are more suited to small, extended, incremental earnings that add up to large amounts over time. I should have been doing this all along, like once or twice a week, or every other day. But I didn't, and now I'm broke and bored as I wait for the gil to roll in.

Thanks for the responses to the last post. While fun, and a good way to skillup parrying/evasion on my WAR, Ule Tiger farming just didn't pay enough for the time invested. I'm back to crafting consumables for 3-7k profit per stack and making plans to level my crafting further. I'm also getting some more fishing skillups under my belt, although the 'you didn't catch anything' messages are absolutely out of control. Thanks for breaking fishing, SE. -_-; They'll fix it someday, I suppose.