Monday, February 24, 2014

New design is in progress, upcoming games, topics for discussion

So as you can tell by taking a look, I took a quick stab at changing the site around a bit (my girlfriend helped with the color choices, as I have no artistic taste or talent whatsoever).  So while this is going on, time to list out a few things coming up

  • I'm going to be playing in a Dresden Files Fate RPG soon, and once I have a few sessions under my belt, I'll write up my thoughts on the system
  • I've got a few steam reviews I want to toss up, some older games and such I'd like to talk about.
  • Going to add a few board game reviews, as the mechanics behind them are quite interesting.
  • Going to try adding in a weekly kickstarter look, to direct people to projects I believe are fun.  If anyone has any they'd like me to share, let me know.
That's about it for now, just letting people know this blog is alive and kicking.

New site Design

Just a quick heads up.  Since the basic design of this hasn't changed since I started, I'm going to attempt to give it quick make over, make it easier to read, more pleasing to the eye etc.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Final Fantasy XIV - A new start

So many moons ago, I had given the beta of Final Fantasy XIV a shot.  To put it rather bluntly, the game then was horrible.  The races were merely re-skins of Final Fantasy XI races, the classes were not much better, and quests were so horrible to even attempt to get that after playing for only 30 minutes, I uninstalled the game and never looked back.  I did see it pop up once in awhile about how it had gone through a few dev teams, that they were trying to remake the game, and how eventually they scrapped the whole thing and started over.  This caught my attention, as it's rare for a game developer to do this for any title, let alone an entire MMO.  So i followed the new dev cycle, tried the beta, and have actually been playing the game since it came out.  Since I'm known among my friends as someone who will play almost anything, I believe I should explain whats new and improved.

So the aesthetics of the game seem much improved.  The maps and towns are bustling and full of various npcs and monsters going about their business.  The races have also been redone a bit.  They are still similar to Final Fantasy XI's races, but with new genders added, model changes and the introduction of multiple variants.  These variants give you more height and appearance options, along with different starting stats for each subset of a race.   The classes have also been redone, moving into four sets of classes.  You have disciples of the Land, Disciples of the Hand, Disciples of War and Disciples of Magic.  These break down into gathering classes, crafting classes, combat classes and magic classes (a marauder is a war discipline, while a summoner is one of magic).  Every character can be any class, and you can switch them at anytime just by changing your main weapon.  So you can be walking around with an axe, happily it about as a marauder, and notice someone is in need of healing.  Swap out a staff and suddenly your a healer.  Throw on a sword and shield and then your tanking as a gladiator.  Along with these, you can eventually earns jobs, which are like advanced classes.  They offer more options and sit atop of other classes, enhancing key features of those classes.  So a marauder is an axe wielding tank, while the job of warrior improves your abilities and offers new features to help tank and absorb damage.  You also have an armory to store 25 of each kind of equipment (helm, armor, main off etc) so you can carry various sets of gear with you.  You also have a room which allows you to store more items, sell them and hold special gear you earn from quests and events.

Now onto the meat and potatoes.  For PvP, there is not much there yet.  The last content patch added in a 4v4 arena style combat, and so far that is all there is in terms of PvP.  So if you want a rich PvP centric game, this is not going to be for you.  If you want a good PvE experience though, you'll find things to like in Final Fantasy XIV.  You have your basic quests you find scattered throughout the world, along with a main storyline quest which will reward you with decent gear, and makes sure you travel along the world.  Along the way you can also do dungeons, guildhests, fates and levequests.  Dungeons are common place, and range from quick and easy to challenging and drawn out.  The game has a built in duty finder for these, which means you can select multiple dungeons to queue for, and it will assemble a team for you.  The bosses range from simple mechanics (tank and spank) to more complex (protect pillars in the room so you can use them to hide from the bosses attacks).  Guildhests are like mini dungeons or challenges.  They usually center around a certain theme, and seem geared towards preparing you for more advanced mechanics coming in the dungeons ahead.  Fates are like Guild Wars 2 events around the world.  They will spawn on maps, and require you to defend a location, kill a big enemy, escort someone etc.  These will give you gold, exp and seals for your company.  At a certain level you join a grand company, and the seals you earn during the game allow you to buy gear, mounts and other items from the company vendors.  Levequests are the last bit of leveling you can use.  You find levequest vendors around the world, and can opt to perform quests for them.  They offer a variety of them to do, usually 6 or more per area, and you can repeat them as much as you want.  You can also get these quests for the various crafting and gathering jobs, to help you level those faster.

I will say I've been enjoying what they have done so far.  They just added in guild houses and are working on player housing next.  The dungeons I've done have been fun, and I just hit max level, so now I can begin to do hard mode dungeons and raids.  The next big patch is coming, and they seem to be keeping pace with content coming out.  So unless WildStar or ESO blows me out of the water, I may have found a home in Final Fantasy XIV for the time being.

Total Con - A retrospective

So this weekend, I ended up attending four days of a local Massachusetts game convention called Total Confusion (Link).  It's a long running (this was the 28th year) game convention focusing on board games, miniatures and table top/rpg games.  I figured since this was my first time, and it was a bit different from the other conventions I have been to in the past, a small review/write up might be in order.  If anyone reading this has been to the con as well, feel free to correct anything I may say or agree/disagree with me on some of the finer points.

So the convention runs four days total in a hotel in Mansfield Mass.  It has your standard registration options (pre-registering will be cheaper, and you can get a pass for four days or for each day, depending on how long you plan to be there).  Once your registered, this is where it gets a bit different then other cons I have been too.  At the major cons I go to (PAX and Anime Boston) once your registered you go into the con, and can participate in any panel, game or event going on, as long as you arrive early enough to get into the line for said event.  At TotalCon, you are able to be in the free game room, panels and other places as much as you want.  IF you want to play a scheduled game, be it card, miniature, board or rpg you need a ticket.  If you purchase an actual ticket for an event (say pathfinder at 3:00 pm on a Friday) you are guaranteed to get into the game.  If you want to play a board game at a given time, you can get a board game ticket for a certain block of time, and if you arrive and there is space in the game, you can play.  Finally there are generic tickets, which can get you into anything, but are last in the order.  So if you show up to a game with a generic ticket and an actual ticket holder shows up, you will have to give up your seat at the table.  Unfortunately for myself and my friends, we were not aware you could pre-register for the events, so we were unable to get into some of the games we wanted to try.  We did end up purchasing a few tickets for games though, along with a few generics.  It should also be noted, that generics can be returned for your money back, event tickets cannot be returned, unless the game does not run for any reason.

So we ended up arriving Thursday night, and looked around the con, getting our bearings and seeing what was going on.  The free game room was mixed with the regular board game and young gamers (games meant for children).  The vendor hall was different then others I've been too.  It was all local, small game stores, with very good selections and very knowledgeable staff.  I ended up purchasing various games from the different vendors, including some nice jewelry for my girlfriend (It was a dice bracelet made with tiny dice.  It can be found at Link ).  There was also a gamer cupcake bakery located outside the vendor hall.  The bacon maple cupcake was divine.  The con staff I ran into were all nice and knowledgeable, with a few small problems with some of the games encountered (mostly double booking tables, games running late and missing others, along with some games not having locations until the last minute so we had to look around to find where our game was being played).  Not sure why this happened a few times, but I'm guessing from the number of people there this year it may have been a new found growing pain.

I ended up playing quite a few games.  I joined the PathFinder society, played the Dr Who RPG, tried out some Call of Cthulhu.  Played some board games, including Zpocolypse and Triasic Terror (a copy of which now adorns my game shelf).  There were also other card games and such I played, but as can happen it blends together a bit, so it can be hard to say what ones I ended up playing overall.  One of the nice surprises of the games were the prize tickets.  Either by winning or being voted best gamer at the table, you could win purple prize tickets, which could be redeemed for dice, board games, shirts and various other nick knacks at the con.  It was a nice surprise, and definitely made me want to plan out my gaming session for next year.

I did have a few gripes though.  The ticket thing did throw me for a loop, and being unable to redeem specific event tickets was a bit of a downer, since due to games running late or late food, I missed a few games I wanted to try.  Now that I've been to the con, I've got a much better handle of how it works, but for new people just getting started there, it can be a bit daunting.  Also the board game tickets was a bit weird.  Today actually we signed up for a game, and were unable to play it because the tickers were for any board game at a given time.  We did wind up playing a cool game called Chroma Cubes (Link), so it worked out in the end, but I worry some people may purchase board game tickets for a group and be unable to play together.  Overall I ended up having a ton of fun here, and look forward to going again next year.