Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Done with FF14

Well, I've gotten to the point where I'm having more fun dicking around in town than running endgame content, so it's time to quit. FF14 was a blast, especially dragoon story quests and the last two main story dungeons. It has such a satisfying yet attainable storyline ending, unlike most MMOs. The dragoon armor was easy to get too and felt so good to have it.

I dunno, not much else to say. I like how insanely fast you can level up your other low level jobs once you've gotten to level 50, all you gotta do is kill stuff on the hunting log and FATEs. The exp bonus ALMOST tempted me into leveling another class. But I have plenty of other things to keep me busy without adding an MMO to the mix. It was a fun 1 month distraction.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Thoughts on Final Fantasy XIV

↑ My character, Aki Snow on Durandal server!

I'm level 30 now and I'm really loving this game. The story, game design and art design are enough to keep me going in spite of the game being relatively easy so far, compared to other MMOs I've played. It's starting to get harder though, and considering how diabolically hard FFXI was, (and considering the people in my guild bitching about dying all the time...) I have a feeling I won't be disappointed when I get to the end game content.

Comparing FF14 to other MMOs:


FFXI
I didn't realize it at the time, since it was my first MMO, but FFXI had terrible gameplay. The interface was crap, information about ANYTHING, from crafting, to quests, to where to go to get exp, you had to either look it up online or ask other players. The remarkable thing about it though, was that it created a very strong sense of community. I've heard that FFXI imitated older MMOs like Everquest, which tended to encourage an "us against the game" mentality, but, like I said, FFXI was the first one I played, so I can't compare.

When I look at FFXI screenshots like this one, I distinctly remember the feeling of being a lone wanderer in a vast, desolate world. Enemies were very dangerous, they'd even follow you indefinitely once you got aggro, so they were typically spaced pretty far apart.
FFXIV, on the other hand, is much like WoW. Mobs and players EVERYWHERE, with plenty of quests designed for solo grinding. So far only the dungeons every few levels have forced me to join groups.

FFXI's game design also made you feel very weak and reliant on others, past about level 10 or 15 you were forced to join a party just to get experience points. And because you lost experience points and had the threat of leveling down, surviving and beating a difficult encounter felt super triumphant.
In large part due to Nobuo Uematsu's incredible soundtack, the game made me feel awe-struck whenever I discovered some extremely remote, high-level area that also had an otherworldly beauty about it. Most memorable for me was Tu'Lia (AKA "Sky")
In FFXIV, I've already had a couple moments similar to that:
One of the cool things about FF14 is a lot of players are veteran FFXI players, so there's still a bit of that "us against the game" mentality, even though the game isn't nearly as unforgiving as FFXI was. You don't lose exp when you die! You can never level down!
FFXI is the only game I've ever played where losing exp and leveling down was even possible. When the punishment for your character dying is so harsh, it really makes you cautious and makes you value your character more. When I hit level 75 in FFXI, I felt like the king of the world! I was gonnna do everything the game had to offer and more! BUT! I had to constantly be on guard, or all I had worked for could come crashing down.

Compare that to when I hit 70 in WoW or 50 in Rift. I felt bored!!! In those games, I immediately felt like the struggle was over and was much less invested in the game. I had to find some new way to distract myself with what was left to do, which was mostly PVP, and then PvP became a grind too.

But I'm okay with that MMOs getting boring once you hit max level. If I hit level 50 in FFXIV and finding nothing left to do, I can turn off my subscription and do something else with my time!

Dang... didn't mean for this to turn into another FFXI nostalgia rant. So, here's the point. FFXIV's takes some of favorite aspects from FFXI:

-Ability to change class anytime, and level every class on the same character
-Artifact armor (gear that makes you look like your class)
-Great music by Nobuo Uematsu
-Five races and three nations

Aside from the job system, it's mostly aesthetics. The only other thing I can think of that might have been cool to have in FFXIV would be the skill chains and magic burst system. Although, considering the number of knuckleheads playing MMOs these days who can't even play their basic role in a party correctly, perhaps it's for the best.

WoW
After FFXI being my first MMO, WoW was amazing! Quick list of things that blew my mind when I played WoW.

-Ability to solo exp throughout the game
-Ability to make multiple characters on multiple servers without jumping through any hoops.
-Ability to customize your character with talent trees
-PvP, PvP gear
-The abundance of quests, loot, dungeons etc
-In-game information about stats, enemy levels, whether or not an enemy will agro, etc.
-Personal mounts
-Crafting and gathering that made sense, was fun and gave you exp
-No loading screens
-Faster airships

Basically, wow perfected the MMO formula, and everyone has been trying to imitate it since. FF14 imitates all the best parts of WoW, but has some cool things of its own to offer.

Rift
Rift was fun, but very forgettable. It so blatantly copies WoW, it's kinda sad. I basically played it so I could try Saboteur, which was totally worth it. The most unique thing about Rift were the eponymous "rifts" which were world events that showed up on your map and spawned special enemies.

FFXIV has something similar with the FATE system. I think the FATE system is kinda broken right now because there are so many more players than expected. Whenever a fate appears people just swarm it. Rifts required more strategy and patience, even on the lower levels. The problem is, FATEs are the best way to level up a second class, so I don't know if there will ever be a time when they don't get swarmed. The boss FATEs are cool though.

Best things about FF14

-Storyline
-Limit breaks
-Five cross class skills
-Once you have a chocobo mount, you can use it as any class, even from level 1!

The Storyline is great. It has the right sort of tone for a world recovering from disaster. Lots of highs and lows, hope and despair, it can get pretty grim sometimes too. I love that we're chasing some mysterious masked man, reminds me of chasing Sephiroth around the world in FF7. The quality of the stories makes me want to play every class just to see what sort of stories the class specific quest follow... but I'll resist the urge. The voice acting can be a bit awkward, but it's not as bad as FFX.

The attribute points are kind of boring and obvious. STR for DPS, VIT for tanks, MND for healer, INT for black mage, /yawn. Where it gets interesting is chosing your 5 extra class skills. Any class can do almost any ability! You can stack damage % and crit chance buffs from other classes for dungeons, give yourself cure and protect for soloing, it's great!

But by far the funnest part of the game is using limit breaks on bosses as a DPS class. Maybe the boss just summoned some adds, or your tank or healer is really struggling. Then you push a button and... BAM!!! BLADE DANCE BITCH! Last 5th of the boss's health is gone and you feel like a goddamn hero.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

LFPM #4 Salvation comes from others

Lessons From Popular Media #4

This is more of an obscure media than a popular one, but it's one of my all time favorite Anime.

Salvation comes from other people in this world, not from god in the next world. Never give up on yourself, never give up on others.

"What if I ask for help from the bottom of my heart and nobody answers?"

That line haunted me for a long time after I finished watching this anime. There may not be anyone to answer your call for help, but you're much more likely to get help if you ask others than if you ask god.

This article goes into detail about this much more eloquently than I could, and it talks about how the story is similar to the story of Ruth.

http://knowledgeproblems.blogspot.jp/2006/06/moral-lessons-from-haibane-renmei-and.html

Monday, June 3, 2013

LFPM #3 Live in the present

Lessons From Popular Media #3

I got this idea from a youtube video, but I can't find it anymore >_<
In MLP:FiM in the episode "It's about time" Twilight Sparkle worries about the future too much and Spike worries about it too little, which can lead to being over stressed and having a tummy ache. The most level headed character is Pinky Pie, who mostly concerned with the present. She thinks about things in the future that she can predict, like what she will get for Twilight's birthday, and prepares for things that she can't predict, like ball emergencies and eye-patch emergencies.

LFPM #2 How to confront someone

Lessons From Popular Media #2

One more from Tyrion, because this is my favorite moment in the series so far.

"Game of Thrones: Garden of Bones (#2.4)" (2012)
Tyrion Lannister: What kind of knight beats a helpless girl?
Meryn Trant: The kind who serves his king, Imp!
Bronn: Careful now. We don't want to get blood all over your pretty white cloak.
Tyrion Lannister: Someone get the girl something to cover herself with.
[Sandor Clegane gives Sansa his cloak]
Tyrion Lannister: [to Joffrey] She's to be your queen. Have you no regard for her honor?
Joffrey Baratheon: I'm punishing her.
Tyrion Lannister: For what crimes? She's not fighting her brother's battle, you halfwit.
Joffrey Baratheon: You can't talk to me like that. The king can do as he likes!
Tyrion Lannister: The mad king did as he like. Has your uncle Jaime ever told you what happened to him?
Meryn Trant: No one threatens his grace in the presence of the Kingsguard!
Tyrion Lannister: I'm not threatening the king, Ser, I'm educating my nephew.
[to Bronn]
Tyrion Lannister: Bronn, the next time the Ser Meryn speaks, kill him.
[Back to Ser Meryn]
Tyrion Lannister: THAT was a threat. See the difference?

Joffrey really needed to be taught a lesson a lesson in this scene. Guilt tripping him wouldn't have worked, he's a spoiled brat with no conscience. Threatening wouldn't work either, he's the all powerful king. Instead Tyrion simply tells him the truth, that his actions are out of line and could lead to some dire consequences.

The lesson I take away from this scene is, don't be timid or apologetic when confronting someone, but don't make threats or try to guilt trip them either. Calmly inform them of the consequences of their actions and encourage them to act properly.

LFPM#1 Ignore insults

Lessons From Popular Media #1

Tyrion Lannister is the most inspirational bad-ass character I've come across in a long time. There is a lot to be learned from him, but I'll focus on this for now.

“Never forget who you are, for surely the world won’t. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”

“Don’t call me Lord Snow.”
The dwarf lifted an eyebrow. “Would you rather be called the Imp? Let them see that their words can cut you and you’ll never be free of the mockery. If they want to give you a name take it make it your own. Then they can’t hurt you with it anymore.”

Whenever anyone calls him an imp or a dwarf he either has a witty comeback or just completely ignores them.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

FEZ

I've noticed something recently about games that I really love. Metroid, Castlevania (particularly Symphony of the Night), Zelda, Lyle in Cube Sector, Shadow of the Colossus, etc. They have an element of exploration and discovery that makes the world feel vast and immersive. I wasn't really expecting that from Fez, but that's what I got.

The only thing I didn't like about Fez was the more obscure puzzles. The tetromino block code that corresponds to buttons on the controller, that was cool. The vibration puzzles, those were cool too. But QR codes? Broken QR codes that you have to reassemble even!? I understand why people enjoy that kind of thing, but I just don't have the patience these days, so I goggled it, no big deal. But if Fez existed before the internet it would've driven me nuts.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

iPad Mini

Wow... So, I bought an iPod touch in 2010 right before the iPad came out and before iPod touch started including built in camera and mic. But I was fine with it, I feel like I got my money's worth over the past few years. And I'm glad I waited to upgrade to something new, because the iPad mini is exactly what I wanted.

#1 iPad apps!
I can finally access all those pretty HD apps I've seen in the store next to my regular versions all these years. Some of them were nice enough to let me have the HD version for free for purchasing the iPod version, others I had to pay for, oh well.

#2 Bigger screen, but still portable!
I would feel like a huge nerd busting out an iPad at a bar or social gathering. The mini, on the other hand is big enough to be impressive and get people's attention without being awkward to quickly take out and out away. It's also big enough to comfortably play multiplayer games on the same screen without bumping heads or passing the device back and forth. Orbital, Fingle, Air Hockey, etc.

#3 Cellular connectivity!
Although it costs an arm and a leg here in Japan, I decided to use my new iPad to its full potential I would need to cellular version. Having something to do while waiting it Japan's ridiculous traffic has been nice. Keeping track of which tiny, unnamed side street I'm on while trying to find some small cafe was great too.

So yeah, I highly recommend the iPad mini, especially if you can fit it in your purse or bag that you carry around, or if you have particularly large pockets.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Game Club Okinawa

 EDIT: Sadly, they went out of business in December >_<

I recently felt jealous of the shiny new Mana Bar in Austrailia and the game bars in Tokyo where actual game developers hang out. So I did some research for venues in Okinawa that offer video games in addition to alcohol. There's a darts bar called Pareo with an SNES in the corner that I've been to many times, and there's the national chain called "space create" on kokusai street that has PS2s and high spec PCs, but then I found this, too bad I didn't find it a few months ago.
Hours:
Weekdays 5:00 to midnight
Sat/Sun 2:00 to midnight

Pricing:
1 hour ------ 480 yen
3 hours ----- 800 yen
5 hours ----- 1100 yen
Free Time -- 1500 yen
(price includes a drink ticket)

Thursday Special: Half off for groups of 3 or more.
Reservation Special: 800 yen per person for groups of 8 to 16, food, canned beer and canned cocktails charged separately.
Consoles available: Genesis, NES, SNES, N64, Gamecube, Wii, Xbox, PS3, PSP, 3DS... Probably more, but I guess I'll never know.