Saturday, April 30, 2011

Final Fantasy XI: Initial Goals

If you're just starting to play Final Fantasy XI (looking at you, Byung!) what should you be trying to do at the start? Here's a short list of things that seem important to me:

  • Play around with the external settings to get the game to launch in windowed mode. Today's computers are a lot better than PS2 era computers and they slowly added a few extra things like windowed mode to the game. I think I toggled most if not all of the settings available but windowed mode is by far the most important. Start -> PlayOnline -> Final Fantasy XI -> Final Fantasy XI Config
  • Throw your mouse away. The game was designed for the PS2 so it works well with a controller. They did a pretty good job making a keyboard emulate a PS2 controller. They did not do a good job integrating the mouse. Feel free to give it a try, but everyone else I know said things made more sense without the mouse.
  • Use the numpad to move around. 7 toggles autorun. / toggles walking mode. * toggles auto-lock if you have a target and toggles resting for hp/mp if you don't. - brings up the main menu.
  • If at all possible get in touch with me outside the game so I can get you into the linkshell (guild) ASAP. In game you can send messages to people with /t name message. My character is Ziggyny. 
  • There's a starting NPC when you first log in that gives you an item to trade to another NPC. Trading is done via the numpad - menu. Tab is the best way I've found to target things. So you need to run up to the right NPC, tab to him, hit -, and trade.
  • I believe they direct you over that way, but your next step should be to run a long way East until you're at the gates to Eastern Saruta-Baruta. There are two important NPCs here. Selele gives you a series of easy quests with good rewards that walk you through part of the game. Tih Pekeh starts a series of missions which are the main plotline for the original game. 
  • Just outside town is a book called a 'Field Manual'. You can get a quest from the book (individual training, grab a page to do that quest). These quests are just kill some dudes for bonus experience, gil, and tabs. Tabs are used to buy buffs and to teleport home and are really good to have. Do book quests when you can!
  • Earn 9980 gil. Spend it at an artisan moogle for 30 more storage slots in your mog house.
  • Build macros for your abilities. Macros are activated with ALT-1..0 or CTRL-1..0. They can have up to 6 lines and you can stack multiple commands into one macro. I have one that casts protectra and shellra with one key. 
  • Level to 18. At level 18 you can do a hard quest to unlock the ability to have a support job allowing you access to a second job's ability set. The quest is hard for 1 person at 18. It is very easy for someone a few levels higher. Hopefully by this point you're in the linkshell. Get Tom to help you kill the mobs. 
  • Level to 20. At level 20 you can do the quests which let you ride and raise chocobos. 
  • Level to 30. At level 30 you can unlock the remaining 14 jobs. 
  • Increase your fame with Jeuno to at least 3. This will let you increase the size of your bags. You do this by getting a lot of fame with the three starting towns. So either a lot of quests or the same repeatable quest many times over. Tom and I delivered corn to a guy in Selbina. 288 pieces of corn.
  • Get your Race Specific Equipment.

Friday, April 29, 2011

League of Legends

League of Legends is a real time strategy game based on the user created map Defense of the Ancients for Warcraft III. The basic idea is you control a single unit in a large battle with the eventual goal of destroying your opponent's home base. An individual game lasts for about 20-60 minutes and your champion starts each game at level 1. You spend the early game accumulating experience and gold which allows your champion to learn new skills and buy better gear. Eventually you start trying to kill opposing champions (bonus experience, bonus gold, and they can't play for a short time while they respawn giving your team a tactical advantage) or trying to permanently destroy defensive structures in an attempt to win the game. Each side has 5 player controlled champions and repeated waves of computer controlled trash mobs. With 74 different champions each having 5 skills and a huge number of items to buy the game has a lot of replayability just trying different things nevermind actually trying to be awesome as a team.

It's also free to play. Well, in a sense. LoL has completely embraced the concept of micro-transactions and built an entire meta-game around the individual game. There are 74 champions in the game but only 10 are available at any given time for free play. (The 10 change every week and seem to always have a good mix of tanks, support, melee, and mages.) Want to play a hero that isn't free? Well, you can pay some money and permanently buy the ability to play as that character. They've also built a level-up system for players so that each time you play a game your champions get a little better. You get talent trees and glyphs to modify your characters so even if two people are playing the same champion they could function differently if one talented into the defensive tree and one in the offensive tree. Talents are free but glyphs you need to buy with an in game currency that you earn as you play games. Or, perhaps, spend some real money to get more glyphs too. You can spend money on buffs to increase how fast you gain player experience.

A free player will get to max player level slower than someone who pays but eventually when they get there they'll have the same power as someone who pays a lot of money. The free player will have limited options each week on who they can play and probably only has one set of glyphs so they're only really optimal with one type of character instead of with all characters but when it comes right down to it a good free player will beat a mediocre paid player every time.

This is the kind of micro-transaction of which I approve. Games need to be paid for somehow and the people paying here aren't getting much of an advantage for their money. They're getting different skins for their champions and getting more flexibility and have to spend less time to level up, sure, but nothing earth shattering. I should note here that there is a match-making system when you sign up as 1 person in a 5v5 match such that the teams are fairly balanced so being a lower level won't mean you just get stomped every game. It means you'll just keep playing other low leveled people or maybe you'll get a high level dude on your team too.

It's a really fun game with lots of different numbers that get bigger both in an individual game and in the external meta-game. Being free of the WC3 engine meant some things changed significantly from DotA but a lot of what they did just feels right. (By contrast another DotA clone, Heroes of Newerth, was not nearly as fun as DotA was. LoL may actually be more fun.)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Final Fantasy XI: Race Specific Equipment

Read even a little bit about FFXI on fan forums and you'll run into debates about which race people should play. One of the primary arguments on the side of 'race doesn't matter' is that Square put Race Specific Equipment (RSE) in the game which tends to balance out the weaknesses each race has. For example there's a set of 4 pieces of gear from levels 27-33 for each race. The Mithra set gives 41 def, 48 hp, 48 mp, 4 str, 5 vit, 3 mnd, 3 chr. The Galka set gives 41 def, 96 mp, 5 agi, 6 int, 3 chr. The Taru Taru set gives 41 def, 89 hp, 7 str, 4 vit, 3 mnd. Very different sets but used to bring the races closer together in terms of stats.

The 4 slots used are hands, body, legs, and feet. Combined my current pieces of gear in those slots have, I think, 8 def. Even if the RSE didn't boost the stats I'm weak in I'd want them anyway because they give SOMETHING. So I clearly should work on getting this stuff. Tom and I tried yesterday but were just a smidge underpowered for the zone we were in. (We could kill the mobs one at a time but if we pulled extras we died.) We eventually wiped a final time by clicking on something that spawned a really tough monster when we weren't expecting it to that was involved in a RSE ammo so I figured it would be a good idea to read about all the different pieces and how to get them.

27 hands, 29 feet, 31 legs, 33 body - From the quest The Goblin Tailor. You need to have fame 3 in Jeuno to start. (I got up that high by turning in 24 stacks of corn to a quest guy in Selbina. Right now there's a teleport service between San d'Oria and Selbina so I could teleport directly from the corn vendor to the quest guy.) Then a goblin in Lower Jeuno will send you off to a cave where you need to farm a key from level 31-35 monsters. Use that key to open a randomly spawning chest in the zone to get an item to bring back to Jeuno. Do so and you get to pick which of the 4 pieces you want. The tricky part here is there are 3 different caves you could be sent to and 8 different RSE sets (one for each gender/race combo) which can be collected. Only 1 of the 24 is active at any give time. Yesterday evening was Mithra in Ordelle Caves. We did get a key to drop for Tom, but it won't be time for Mithra to go to Ordelle Caves again until May 5th during the day. Basically each of the 24 combinations stays in play for one game week which lasts about 7.5 real hours. You can farm keys up in advance if you want to (they are rare so you can only have 1) but you need to wait for your week to come up before opening the chests. The next Mithra week is this Saturday morning in the Maze of Shakrami. A timer of who comes up when is available here.

30 ammo - Something of a side quest while doing the above quest. There are ???s scattered throughout the above dungeons. Click on one of them during your race's week to spawn a level 46ish NM. Kill him to get your ammo. The ammo actually seem to boost what you're good at instead of what you're bad at which seems a little weird, but means it's still good to have if you don't use actual ammo.

50 belts - drops from two different 50 BCNM fights, not exclusive so you can buy it

55 earrings - drops from a level 60 ENM which requires everyone who enters to be the same race (ENMs seem to be fights like BCNMs except you don't need any seals to enter. Instead there is a 5 day lockout for each zone.)

62 hands - 60 BCNM, not exclusive so you can buy it

62 feet - different 60 BCNM, not exclusive so you can buy it

70 belts - 2 different uncapped BCNMs, not exclusive so you can buy it

87 hands - drop somewhere in abyssea, not exclusive so you can buy it

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Utsusemi: Ni

Utsusemi is the iconic ninja spell in Final Fantasy XI. This spell puts up a bunch of shadows and makes it so incoming attacks remove shadows instead of actually doing anything to the ninja. You get one level (Utsusemi: Ichi) at level 12 and one (Utsusemi: Ni) at level 37. The two have separate cooldowns so if you're going to be a ninja beyond level 37 you really want both spells. The first one you get from a quest but the second one is a rare drop from BCNM fights and sells on the AH for a cool million gil. It's sold 12 times in the last week so it's not like it's hard to get your million gil either. (Well, some sold for only 900k.)

Tom mentioned that it cost a million gil and my first reaction was we need to start farming it. I don't know if Tom actually wants the spell or just a million bucks but I could sure use some cash. And maybe the spell too, eventually. Ninja is certainly the best subjob for almost every job but I wouldn't need a level 37 subjob spell until I was level 74.

Utsusemi: Ni drops from the level 30 and level 40 BCNM fights. There are 15 minute long fights for 3 people and 30 minute long fights for 6 people at each level bracket. Given that we only have 3 people in our linkshell the 6 people fights are right out for now, so the question then is which 3 man fights could we do and what other stuff do they drop? Only 1 of us is even level 30 at this point (thought I did just hit 27) so looking at the level 30 fights to start seems wise.

Carapace Combatants - 2 beetles, one of which melees and one of which casts stone spells. Melee one can be slept or kited. Seems like any reasonable combination that can tank/heal/sleep/slow would work just fine.

Birds of a Feather - 1 named bird and 2 little birds. Named bird casts AE sleep so drinking poison potions helps? All suggested strategies I found involved using beastmasters to tame the little birds.

Creeping Doom - 1 crawler who doesn't do much damage. Instead he spams healing spells on himself and casts AE paralyze spells. Can be beaten by either running him out of mana with mana drain abilities or by chaining enough sleeps/stuns to prevent him from healing while you burn him out. Seems like a lot of diverse strategies work.

Die By The Sword - 3 weapon mobs which can only take damage from one type of attack at a time. Periodically they change which is vulnerable to which type of attack. (Piercing/slashing/blunt.) They can be rooted/slowed and it sounded relatively easy.

Petrifying Pair - 2 lizards which can't be slept but can be rooted/kited. Have conal ae stone spells which only hit people looking at them and the fight gets a lot easier if you unlock your attack and turn around when they start to cast.

As far as other drops go, here are some of the other stuff which seems worth trying for:

Leaping Boots - 200k - PP
Various absorb stat scroll for DK. 1-30k
Scroll of Dispel - 80k - all
Scroll of Erase - 60k - all
Various subjob specific belts and earrings
Mannequin parts
Random low value crafting materials

Leaping Boots are off the charts good. 6 stats on a level 7 set of boots! The next boots which have 6 stats show up at level 24 (and are actually the same 6 stats). Boots start to get weird abilities I can't evaluate but it doesn't look like boots with more than 6 base stats ever actually show up until end game gear. Apart from wanting 200k it seems like we probably just want a set of boots for everyone anyway. (There is an identical but exclusive (bop) set that drops from the NM Leaping Lizzie.) Dispel and erase are both must have spells for people who intend to level either red mage or white mage, but they seem to drop from everything Utsusemi: Ni drops from. So, I think Petrifying Pair seems like the fight to do. Guess I need to start leveling my red mage...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Final Fantasy II: Raising Agility

The leveling system in Final Fantasy II is such that you tend to get better at things by doing them. Want to level up sword skill? Attack with a sword equipped. Want to get more mp? Spend a lot of mp. Some of the stats are less straightforward and one in particular is flat out weird. That stat is agility.

How do you get more agility? Win a fight with a high evade percentage. You don't need to be attacked. You don't need to have a long fight. You just need to end a fight (without a negative status condition). The higher your evade%, the better a chance you'll get an agility stat up.

How do you have a high evade%? Have a high agility...

Ok, that's not the only way. Like in the original Final Fantasy wearing armor decreases your evade%. The heavier the armor the more it reduces your evade%. So, one way to increase your odds of getting an agility up is to run around naked. None of my characters are currently wearing a helmet, body armor, or bracer.

Another way is to equip weapons and shields. It turns out almost every weapon in the game increases your evade%, and it does so in an awesome way. Almost all of them have a 1% evade stat but it turns out that stat actually gets multiplied by your skill level with them plus 1. So if I'm using a sword with 1 evade% and have 3 sword skill I actually get 4 evade% from it. (I imagine this is because you're parrying with the sword and the better you are with a sword the better you can parry with it.) Shields work the same way but have real evade% numbers. The starter shield has 4 evade% on it. Get a shield skill of 2 and that's an extra 12 evade% right there. Now, you have two hands in FFII and you can stick a shield in each hand so with 2 shield skill I'd actually get 24 evade%. And now if I attack I do no damage but get twice as much shield skill experience!

How do you get more agility? By running around the woods naked, holding 2 shields, and showing them to the imps until they run away. (Can you blame them?)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Final Fantasy II: A Plan!

I somehow woke up an hour early this morning and rather than go back to sleep (and probably sleep through my alarm) I decided to just get up and get started on FFII. I still didn't have a plan but I thought maybe if I played a bit without beating myself up I'd get an idea. Even at starting stat levels I was barely getting any skill-ups at all from anything as I did the first couple plot points. Having an avenue to power and ignoring it for no reason is frustrating to me so I wasn't really enjoying myself. So I decided I need to come up with a good reason to ignore power or I need to just give in and play the game like I play games.

The most common complaint I hear from people when I explain the FFII battle system is that it just seems wrong to attack yourself or your friends in order to raise your stats. You should level up on monsters, fantasy gaming common sense says, and not on yourself. But does that complaint hold water? I asked myself if fantasy Nick would consider attacking fantasy Byung with a sword in order to get powerful enough to save the world. Which made me think of the fencing club at UW. I went to one meeting but couldn't get anyone else I knew to join with me and wasn't that interested in doing it alone at the time. But if Byung had joined with me wouldn't I have been spending the day hitting him with a sword in the hopes that I'd get better at using swords? Wouldn't he have gotten better at dodging swords and gain more endurance to dodge swords for longer stretches of time? Real Nick and real Byung don't even have a world to save and yet we could quite conceivably have hit each other with swords in an attempt to get better at using swords.

If it makes sense for real people why does it seem so wrong in a fantasy game? Is the problem that there's an imp watching me train? Is the problem that I wouldn't actually kill Byung in a fencing club (hopefully!) and could kill him in a game? Is the problem that games just intuitively involve grinding on mobs instead of rote training?

Having an imp along for the ride is a little weird for sure, but he can't hurt me. (Even at base stats the imps can't do enough damage to give me an hp stat-up.) It would make more sense to stand around fighting with no mob around but the confines of the game prevent that. That the most intuitive way to rote train is removed doesn't mean I shouldn't go for the next best thing.

Fantasy Nick can't actually kill fantasy Byung, either. Final Fantasy games have permanent deaths in them and they never result from generic combat. Even if I knock off all his health I just need to use a phoenix down, cast life, or take him to church. Even wearing him down to low health has no negative consequences. We can just drink potions or cast cure spells afterwards. Health is more akin to physical endurance than to a source of life, really. Run on a treadmill some and gain some endurance! I'm actually more likely to maim or kill real Byung with fencing swords than to hurt fantasy Byung and yet fencing clubs still exist.

Grinding on mobs certainly makes more sense in most fantasy games for sure. But this game doesn't work like most fantasy games. Unless you take "cheesy" tactics (I eventually equipped one of my characters with 2 shields so he wouldn't do any damage with the attack command in the hopes that the prolonged fights would allow for more stat-ups) it's pretty likely you're going to end up unable to get stronger. Monsters you can kill will die trivially and be worth nothing at all. Monsters you can't kill will kill you. FFII just doesn't have a smooth difficulty progression from dungeon to dungeon. Sometimes the difficulty takes a huge jump and if you don't do something weird you're screwed. Hitting yourself with a sword may seem wrong but so do the other tactics for getting stronger. (Swapping life with an imp, intentionally doing less damage to make the fight take longer, spamming buff or heal spells to rank them up, cancel trick, etc...) Different people may have different ideas for which tactics cross the cheesy line but pretty much any successful tactic is in that grey area somewhere.

The fencing club train of thought also got me thinking why I'm not actually good with swords. The answer there is time. There wasn't enough time in the day for me to sleep, eat, go to class, do assignments, fence, pump iron, and still play 16 hours of games each day. Something had to give and it turns out fencing and pumping iron were easy cuts. Fantasy Nick has much more pressing things to do than code Connect Four AIs and figure out how we can detect planets around distant stars. He has a world to save! So perhaps the best reason for why standing around hitting yourself in the head around the starting town is illogical is that he really has to get in gear and save the world. But the game doesn't have any such time restrictions on it, as games rarely do.

And then I had the answer to all my problems. My arbitrary limiting factor for FFII can be time related! Fantasy Nick can't screw around forever powering up because I'm saying he can't. I don't currently have a specific time limit in mind, just to try to get my game clock as low as possible when I win. I may search around and see if I can find a good benchmark on the internet but realistically all I'm going to do is establish a benchmark for myself when I do this whole thing again 10 years from now. But it gives me an actual plan and will let me twink up within reason so I'm pretty happy with the idea. I am, however, going to ban the cancel cheat. If thinking about doing things actually made you better at doing them then real Nick would be a much more powerful person. Fantasy Nick can do all the rote training he feels he needs to do but he can't just daydream and become awesome.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Moblin Maze Mongers Update

A couple days ago Tom and I gave the default maze you get given a shot. He was 5 levels higher than me so the mobs were all killable with just the two of us. It took a while to win and I think we were close to running out of time but we managed to get it done. But it seems 2 people probably can't level synch together to win so we either need properly staggered levels or to party with more people. It was pretty decent experience though.

It also turns out there's apparently a feature where you can use other people's mazes with their runes. So I may be able to try another maze without winning 13 default mazes.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

FFXI: Thieves: Still Bad

So in the original Final Fantasy I played as a thief and was just abysmally bad compared to everyone else. Tom and I played a little on our thieves in Final Fantasy XI and it turns out they're not very good either! They actually have several game changing abilities which only thieves have but they don't have those abilities at low level so they just take a lot of damage, do not much damage, and have nothing to change combat at all. They do get to steal every five minutes, though! I look forward to FFVI where the thief is the best.

Friday, April 22, 2011

2 Hour Cooldowns

I've been doing some reading recently about strategies for the low level BCNM fights hoping for some ideas on what kind of parties to bring. Turns out there are not exactly deep strategies to be found for these things. For the most part people just suggest bringing lots of monks, using their two hour ability (4x attack speed for 45 seconds), and then waiting two hours to try again. It feels pretty sweet to use a long cooldown to become awesome for a bit but when they're so awesome they trivialize hard encounters and encourage standing around for 2 hours between fights... Probably a design issue.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Final Fantasy XI: Aggro Mechanics

Getting the attention of a monster in Final Fantasy XI and then holding on to it are very different than they are in World of Warcraft. World of Warcraft is very straightforward. Walk into a red nameplated mob's aggro radius and he comes after you. If you're out in the world and run far enough away without attacking the mob it will reset and return to the spot you attacked them, healing to full when they get there. Once in combat trying to hold aggro is pretty straightforward. Any actions you do increase your threat number. Pass the current target's threat number by a large enough amount and you become the new current target. The amount you need to exceed by changes depending on where you're standing. Taunts give you the threat of the current target and then force you to become the current target.

In FFXI getting the initial attention of an aggressive mob is a lot more complicated. (Just like everything else, FFXI has crazy complexity.) First of all, mobs are either aggressive or not, just like in WoW. In WoW you can tell the mobs apart by the colour of their nameplate. In FFXI you can tell by looking the monster up on the internet. On top of that, mobs in FFXI have different ways of actually detecting you. Some mobs detect by sight, and you can actually sneak around behind these mobs by making sure you stay out of their cone of vision like in a Metal Gear Solid game. Alternatively if you get the invisible spell cast on you then mobs that detect by sight won't attack you. Some mobs detect by sound, which is probably the closest to WoW. Moving around makes sound, so if you move in the hearing range of one of these mobs they'll attack you. The spell sneak will prevent you from making sound when you move and as such you won't aggro these mobs. Some mobs detect when people cast magic. These mobs tend to have rather large detection radii and will attack anyone who casts a spell which I believe is any ability that costs mana. Some mobs detect when people use abilities be they weapon skills or job abilities like steal. Some mobs detect based on your health percentage. If you're at 75% or less health and anywhere close to these monsters they'll attack you. Finally, some mobs have super vision or super hearing and can detect you through sneak/invis.

In FFXI once you outlevel an aggressive monster by enough levels they completely ignore you going forward. In WoW if you get close enough to a level 5 bandit he'll still attack you futily. In FFXI he'll leave you alone. Unless, that is, you sit down to heal. When healing you're treated as being level 1 for aggro purposes.

Now, once you have aggro, can you run away? In WoW you just need to run a short distance outside to drop aggro. In an instance you can run as far as you want and you will never shake the mobs. In FFXI typically you also can't lose a mob no matter how far you run. (Until you get to a zone line and zone into another area of the world.) However, many mobs actually track you by smell. If you get rid of your smell and the mob couldn't still detect you (say because you rooted him and ran out of his vision) then he'll wander away. You can get rid of your smell by having the spell deodorize cast on you. You can also get rid of it by running through water! Cross a river out of sight of a goblin and he won't follow you! Or, if it happens to be raining outside you just don't smell at all!

Also, some mobs 'link' which means if a monster of the same type is fighting you they will too, even if they can't detect you or are too low level to aggro on you.

Once you're in combat and are fighting threat works pretty similar to WoW. Doing things makes the monster hate you more and he attacks whoever has the most 'enmity'. In a strange twist of simplicity there's no weird percentage threshold going on. The monster attacks the highest number, period. There's also no taunt mechanics that I'm aware of. Instead tanks typically just have moves with a high amount of enmity built in to try to be the one on top.

To shatter the simplicity, however, enmity decays over time. In fact there are two types of enmity based on how they decay, though the mob attacks whoever has the highest sum. There is 'temporary' enmity which is capped at 10000 and decays 60 per second. Warriors have an ability called "Provoke" which seems a lot like taunt but really is just 1 normal enmity and 1800 temporary enmity. (For reference, enmity from damage is 80/x normal and 240/x temporary enmity per point of damage where x is the level of the monster.) So at level 20 provoke is a lot like attacking for 113. Normal enmity also decays, but it decays when the monster attacks you. When the monster hits you you lose normal enmity equal to 1800 times the percentage of your health he hit you for.

The consequences of that last part are really deep. As a healer, if you pull aggro in a group, you shouldn't heal yourself in FFXI and probably should in WoW. In WoW you're going to assume the tank will save you because you're simply dead if he doesn't and you want to buy him enough time to get around to saving you. In FFXI there's a pretty good chance the mob will lose interest in you and go hit someone else after hitting you. You're going to rest to heal your mana back, probably, so you'll heal the health back for free. So you save mana by not healing yourself!

It also means avoidance is a threat stat since if the mob misses the tank he doesn't lose enmity. Health is also a threat stat since when you do get hit you lost less of your max health as a percentage and therefore also lose less enmity. (Ninjas are considered to be one of the best tanks for this very reason. They cast Utsusemi which makes the next few attacks auto-miss. Which means the ninja keeps aggro easily and the healer doesn't have to spend mana. Win-win!)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Final Fantasy XI: Extra Jobs

When you first start a character in FFXI you get to pick from 6 basic jobs. These jobs align with the characters from the original Final Fantasy with a couple name changes: Warrior, Monk, Thief, White Mage, Black Mage, Red Mage. You can switch between them whenever you want but you're stuck with those 6 jobs until you reach level 30 on one of them. At that point you can start doing quests to unlock the other 14 jobs in the game. I'm approaching level 30 and I figured I should take a look at what those quests entail to see if I could be working on gathering items or reputation needed to do those quests. There are a couple jobs I particularly want to unlock (Corsair, Beastmaster, Ninja, Ranger) but I probably will do the quests to unlock all of them at some point. So, what do we have to do?

Paladin - Do a series of 3 quests from a guy in San d'Oria. Get a revival tree root from King Ranperre's Tomb, get stalactite dew from Ordelle's Caves, get a knight's soul from Davoi. The first two are low level quests so I could get those done now if I wanted. The last one is in a level 75 zone so you need to be sneaky to get in. My highest job is White Mage and I'm actively trying to farm up the invisibility spell so this seems like it should be fairly easy for me to pull off.

Dark Knight - Get a quest in Bastok to travel to Palborough Mines and take a boat ride. Find chaosbringer, a truly abysmal sword. Get the killing blow with a normal weapon swing with the terrible sword on 100 enemies of any difficulty.

Beastmaster - Get your chocobo license. Pick a flower that grows at night in Qufim for the chocobo guy in Jeuno.

Bard - Quest chain in Jeuno. Trade a parchment to a rune in Buburimu Peninsula. Then go to Valkurm and click on a rune.

Ranger - Quest in Windurst to watch a tiger die in Sauromugue Champaign.

Samurai - Quest in Norg, so you need a Kazham airship pass which you get by obtaining coffer keys from beastmen cities near San d'Oria, Bastok, and Windurst. Need a hatchet and to kill two level 33ish NMs.

Ninja - Quest in Bastok that eventually takes you to Norg so you need the same airship pass. Must also kill a group of 3 level 32ish NMs. In order to be at all useful as a ninja though you need to learn the spell Utsusemi (Edge's spell from FFIV that puts up shadows making him invincible) and to learn that you need reputation with the Tenshendo. You get that by farming a ton of Yagudo bead necklaces around Windurst or tine ore around Bastok.

Dragoon - Quest in San d'Oria. Needs a hatchet and to travel all around the world. And then you have to kill a level 40 NM in an instance which only allows people on the quest or who have completed the quest to enter which means it's harder to get help than for the other ones. Sad, since dragoons look cool.

Summoner - Farm up a rare/exclusive item that's a very rare drop from any leech type mobs. Have it in your inventory and get a quest in Windurst to see all the weather effects. Travel the world finding weather.

Blue Mage - Quest in Aht Urhgan Whitegate. To get there requires being a member of the Tenshodo which requires either buying an item for 10k or getting reputation with them. (These are the same people who give you the quest for the ninja spell Utsusemi.) You do get the 10k item back either way, so you can either get there for minimal cost or by making 10k in the process if you have the rep. The quest itself involves answering some questions, trading a quest item from another zone (one of 3 so you could prepare in advance by having all 3 with you I guess) and then doing some other traveling stuff.

Corsair - Quest in Aht Urhgan Whitegate, same as Blue Mage. You need to farm a key off of level 80 monsters or pick a lock with a thief or maybe sneak around and grab a key from a hard to reach place. Then sneak around a bunch of places filled with high level monsters to get a quest item.

Puppetmaster - Quest starts in Bastok but leads to Aht Urhgan Whitegate, same as Blue Mage and Corsair. Quest just involves sneaking around high level monsters to get a quest item. Similar to Corsair but without needing a key.

Dancer - Quest starts in Jeuno and ends up taking you through a cavernous maw thing to the past. There's a warning in the quest description about taking care to use the right maws to get around the first time you go to the past. I don't really know what they're talking about at this point but the quest itself seems straightforward. Go get an item.

Scholar - Quest actually starts in the past, so I guess figuring out how that works is important for getting this job. Just requires trading 12 vellum to the quest giver and then using a mage job 2-hour ability. You can bring the vellum yourself or trade 12 rolanberries to a different NPC in the past to get a vellum, so 144 rolanberries total.

So, what can I do before I hit 30 to help out? Well, one thing I can do is read about the past to figure out what's going on for the last two jobs. I can get Tenshodo rep so I can travel to Aht Urhgan. (I need that rep for Ninja, Blue Mage, and Corsair all of which seem pretty sweet.) I could farm leeches to try to get the summoner item. I could get my Kazham airship pass. (Tom and I actually farmed up 1 of the 3 keys already.) I could do part of the paladin quest chain. I also need to get the invisible spell since a lot of these quests involve a lot of sneaking around.

I can actually do most of those things in the same place: Giddeus. A mob there drops Invisible. Most of the mobs there drop Yagudo Bead Necklaces. One of the 3 Kazham airship keys drops there. It may be a little too high level to solo at my current level but a couple more and I should be ok. I can also level lower level jobs (I need to level my Black Mage higher so it can be a proper sub job for White Mage) on easier Yagudo mobs for more necklaces.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Final Fantasy XI: Moblin Maze Mongers

Yesterday I went to visit the goblin who makes your bag bigger to see if I had enough rep to upgrade my bag size. (I don't, though my FFXIV authenticator worked so I have 30 more house slots.) I talked to the other NPCs in the room and one of them filled my inventory with junk dealing with Moblin Maze Mongers. Talk about counter-productive! I looked into what was going on a little more and it turned out I could use 3 of the 5 items he gave me as though they were spell scrolls to learn them forever. 1 of the 5 was a key item so it didn't take up any space anyway so I was left with just 1 item taking up space which isn't so bad. The question then remained: what are these things for?

It turns out with one of the expansions they added the ability for players to build their own random instances. You use the items given to you by this NPC to design the parameters for a dungeon and then you pay 100gil to have your party teleported to that dungeon. Beat the dungeon in a 30 minute time limit to get a reward.  Oddly enough the dungeons aren't limited to just beating up monsters, either. There's a fishing dungeon where your goal as a party is to gather more fish than a group of NPCs does. There's a crafting dungeon where your goal is to sneak around mining/logging/herbing stuff to craft stuff within the time limit. You can sneak around the monsters or you can beat them up since they drop crafting materials too. There's a twinky boss dungeon where you just fight a big bad. There's a stealthy dungeon where you get some disguises and have to loot treasure without getting obliterated by super powerful patrols. (Solid Snake Cardboard Box? Yes!) Perhaps most interesting is there's a dungeon where your goal is to twink out a level 1 NPC so that he can beat a pre-determined boss fight. You can't help him during the boss fight but you can spend most of the 30 minutes helping him do quests and kill monsters to obtain experience, loot, and possibly even change his class. And if you just want to beat up some dudes there are 3 different types of dude dungeons. A short one with two rooms of dudes. One where waves of dudes keep pouring into one room. And a huge one with multiple floors where you can abort between floors for a smaller reward if you're running out of time.

I want to give these things a try but unfortunately this is an MMO and therefore good things come in time-sunk packages. They started off by giving me the Maze Voucher for just the first type of maze (fight two rooms of level appropriate dudes). Winning that maze will give everyone in the party 8 'moblin marbles' among other rewards. For 100 marbles I can buy a voucher for one of the other types of mazes. I can only start one maze per earth day so if I was soloing this stuff it would be a couple weeks before I could try any other maze. Of course I probably can't solo it anyway, so that's probably moot. The main reward from the first maze is bonus experience. Each mob you kill is worth 50% experience when you kill them and 100% experience in a treasure chest should you kill all the mobs which sounds nice but I probably need close to a full group to win. (If I want the xp, anyway. I'm sure Tom and I can duo it since the mobs level is keyed off of the lowest level person in the party.)

But that's just to get new vouchers. You can customize each maze by adding in a bunch of tetris shaped pieces (called runes) with the voucher before you hand it in. Examples of such runes are Rune 005 "Lizard" which causes the monsters you fight in the maze to be lizards (good if you have a weapon strong against lizards I guess) or Rune 102 "Trial By Numbers" which makes everything harder by releasing more monsters or making the opposing fishers catch more fish. Runes that increase the difficulty of the maze would also increase the rewards given for winning. There looks to be 119 different runes which can be obtained either by buying them with marbles or in the chest you get when you beat a maze. I start with 2. Rune 106 "Guidance Contract" which appears to just give you hints as to what you need to accomplish in your maze and Rune 109 "Sustenance Contract" which spawns a vendor in the first room of your maze to sell you temporary items or let you change the music in your maze.

This looks like a fun way to spend 3 hours with a group of 6 people but since I haven't seen anyone ever advertising for MMM groups I don't know if I'll ever get a chance to run it fully.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Need More Space!

In Final Fantasy XI you start with a size 30 bag on your character and a size 50 bag in your house. Gear you are wearing occupies space in your bags and you have 16 gear slots, so if you're fully equipped you only have 14 spots for other things. Very few monsters drop actual money and those that do drop insignificant amounts of it, but often the loot they drop is worth a lot of money (or is worth rep which some might argue is even more valuable). So you want way more bag space if at all possible. Also, you can be up to 20 different jobs each of which might have multiple sets of gear so 50 slots in your house is not nearly up to the task either. Nevermind that if you're actually interested in crafting things you need storage space for that stuff, too. There are lots of ways to get more space though they all tend to be time or money intensive. That said, here's what I think is a full list of ways to get more space.

1) Mog Satchel - Perhaps the easiest of them all. This gives you a bag the same size as your character's bag added to your house. To get this you need to buy a FFXI authenticator and use it to secure your account. Theoretically my FFXIV authenticator may work for this purpose and I should look into doing so.

2) Mog Sack - Identical to the Mog Satchel in functionality. Costs almost 10k gil to an artisan moogle in any of the major cities. Said moogle will also give you a scroll of instant warp each day as well. (One shot hearthstone, essentially.)

3) Storage from furniture - You can decorate your house with a wide variety of different things. (I have 2 rusty buckets as the only furnishings in my house...) Each item of furniture takes up a space in your house inventory but also provides you with extra storage. This storage is restricted to being accessed only in your home country (my bucket is only in Windurst so obviously I can only take my hat out of the bucket in Windurst) and is capped at 80 total. I can only store 1 item per bucket so they're not very useful. The biggest looks to be 65 from a single item but it looks to be pretty insane to obtain. (It's a high level synergy combine which needs a > 60 woodworker and a 60 goldsmith.) But the ones with 8 storage don't seem terribly unreasonable.

4) Increase the size of your Mog Safe (default house storage) by 10. There are 3 such quests so you can bump your safe up from 50 to 80. The quests require: {fame 3 Windurst, bronze bed, power bow, beetle ring}, {fame 5 Windurst, mahogany bed, selbina butter, shrimp lure}, {fame 6 Windurst, noble's bed, raptor mantle, wool hat}. You get the quests by having the proper bed in your house when the conquest rolls over Sunday morning but keep the bed. You consume the other items but theoretically could sell off the bed or give it to someone else so they can start the quest, too.

5) Increase the size of your character bag (which also increases the satchel and sack) by 5. There are 10 such quests so you can also get your inventory size up from 30 to 80. (Why is everything 80? Supposedly something to do with the way the game was coded on the PS2.) These quests all require Jeuno fame, which is actually just the average of your fame in the 3 starting cities. So you need to go do a lot of quests (could be repeatables) in all the cities to get the biggest bags. These quests require: {fame 3 Jeuno, dhalmel leather, steel ingot, linen cloth, peridot}, {fame 4 Jeuno, ram leather, mythril ingot, wool cloth, turquoise}, {fame 5 Jeuno, tiger leather, gold ingot, velvet cloth, painite}, {fame 5 Jeuno, cermet chunk, darksteel ingot, silk cloth, goshenite}, {fame 6 Jeuno, bugard leather, paktong ingot, moblinweave, rhodonite}, {fame 6 Jeuno, balloon cloth, shakudo ingot, high-quality eft skin, ioloite}, {fame 7 Jeuno, lynx leather, adaman ingot, rainbow cloth, deathstone}, {rank 7 Jeuno, smilodon leather, electrum ingot, square of cilice, angelstone}, {rank 8 Jeuno, orichalcum ingot, peiste leather, oil-soaked cloth, oxblood orb}, {fame 9 Jeuno, molybdenum ingot, griffon leather, foulard, angel skin orb}

6) Mog Locker - Unclear how much this actually costs. Size 30 by default and grows to size 80 eventually. You can only get this after doing missions in one of the expansion packs. You initially obtain the locker and upgrade it by trading in currency I've never heard of which presumably comes from the expansion zone. You have to pay an upkeep every 5 earth days or you lose access to everything stored in the locker until you pay again. (It looks like the currency is obtained by doing quests related to that expansion. I've already done one of them and am on 3 others!)

7) Porter Moogle - You pay this guy 1000g once to get a slip of paper. This slip is associated with a type of armor and you can, for free, trade the slip and items of those types to the moogle and he will hold on to the items for you. Trade him the slip alone and he'll let you take back some of the stored items for free. This seems really cheap and easy and not at all relevant to anyone who hasn't leveled many jobs to a high level.

8) Armor Depositories - NPCs scattered around the world who will hold on to complete sets of gear for you. They take the items for no cost and give you a key item (takes no space) in return. Pay a fee and the key item to get the complete set back. There are mid level sets here, so it seems useful once you outlevel a decent set of gear to save it for later use on another job. 400g for 5 temporary storage slots seems pretty ok if you're not going to use them for a while.

9) Event Item Depositories - Same as above but for random holiday gear you may want to keep but never use. I could see the egg hat going in here, for example, since you may want it next Easter but not any time in between.

Personally I bought the Mog Sack yesterday and almost immediately filled it up. What can I say, I like to hoard things that may have use later on. But if I needed to, I could free up storage space in my house by vendoring random junk or actually turning in quests. My big concern now is space to store things I loot while grinding or logs I chop down while logging. So I think my focus for now, in terms of getting more space, is to grind my rep high enough to increase my bag size. Tom found a repeatable quest which basically involves buying an item from a vendor and lugging it across the word to hand it in for more money and a bunch of rep so maybe I'll get on that. Alternatively I may just level a new job and farm quest mobs.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dragons: Dead

Tom helped me level to 25 and we went to give the business to the evil dragon. It took expensive food, multiple mana regeneration items, and both of our 2-hour abilities but we barely managed to get him down. One step closer to getting access to the airships. Woo!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dragons: Still Twinky

Tom and I were working on our most recent mission and it ended sooner than I was expecting. We ended up face to face with the twinky dragon. The level capping system was supposed to cap us at 25 but it didn't seem to work since Tom seemed to stay at level 28. It didn't much matter as I quickly ran out of mana and got killed. Tom was doing an ok job at keeping steady at lowish health when the dragon petrified him. Stone doesn't seem like an instant kill in this game but it did stop him from acting or dodging and the dragon beat him to death.

I wasn't at the max level (only 22 here) and didn't have any consumables since I really wasn't expecting to fight a dragon at all. So I think we may well be able to 2-man it. Certainly a third person would seal the deal. (There is an add at the start, so a second person killing that guy faster would probably get us stabilized in time.) Well, depending on just how long stone lasts I guess, since I can't currently remove it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Final Fantasy XI: Crafting

I went over earlier the different ways of gathering raw materials in the game. What can be done with this stuff? Well, the easiest thing is to just sell it to someone else on the AH, your bazaar, or by spamming in some way. But what if you want to actually make something? How does that work, exactly?

There are 9 crafting guilds in the game and 8 of them work exactly the same way. The 9th, fishing, is mostly different but still participates in the guild point system discussed below. (This differentiates fishing from the other gathering professions.) The way you craft items in this game is you use an elemental crystal in your inventory to pop open a window with 8 slots. Hit enter on a slot to pick another item out of your inventory and add it to the crafting window. Put a bunch of stuff in the window and hit ok. If those specific items along with that specific crystal form a proper recipe and your skill level is within 9 of that recipe's level you'll try to make it. An animation will play and a couple seconds later you find out what happened. There are 5 potential outcomes from a given recipe: failure, normal success, high quality success, super high quality success, and super duper high quality success. On failure you lose the crystal and possibly some of the materials too. Each of the other 4 outcomes have fixed results based on the recipe and your chances for the higher quality successes is higher the higher your skill level is in relation to the recipe skill level.

For example, you could be trying to make apple pies. The skill cap for this recipe is 48, so you could try as soon as you were 39 but you'd get lots of failures at that point. Apple pies are food which give a 30 minute buff of 25 mp, -1 agi, 3 int. To make one, you'd use a fire crystal and then select a pie dough, a maple sugar, a cinnamon, a lizard egg, and a faerie apple from your inventory. Hit go and if you succeed you'd get 4 apple pies. Get lucky and you could get a high quality result and make 4 apple pie +1s. (Is that the proper pluralization of apple pie +1?) Apple pie +1 gives a 60 minute buff of 30 mp, 4 int, and 2 mp regen while resting. Get even luckier and make 8 apple pie +1s. Get the top tier result and make a full stack of 12 apple pie +1s.

Note you didn't need to learn how to make apple pies. Just putting the right combination of items together is good enough. You could search the game for hints on recipes or do massive trial and error. Or you could turn to the interweb and get full lists, like on these two sites.

There are all kinds of crazy theories about how to increase your odds of succeeding to make an item, or to increase your odds of getting a high quality result, or to increase your odds of leveling up. Matching the element of your crystal used with the element of the day or with the element associated with the cardinal direction you face! Or the phase of the moon, or the element of your equipped staff, or the weather going on! Nothing has ever been confirmed or denied officially. Here's a site that combines all the variables which they think matter into one spot to show where to face on what day when doing what recipe to get what result. Crazy!

Ok, so that's how to craft, but what about guilds? Why is fishing included here? Well, every craft has an artificial barrier that takes place every 10 levels. You can't skill up above level 10 without breaking that barrier and you do so at the appropriate guild. There's an NPC which asks for a specific item. Make (or buy) one of those items and trade it to the NPC to break the barrier and allow skilling up to the next 10. This is true for fishing all the way to 100 skill and for every other craft up to 60. For the other 8 crafts you can only earn a total of 40 skill levels beyond 60. So you could take one to 100, or 2 to 80, but you can't have 2 at 100. Some recipes actually use multiple crafting skills so this restriction actually limits who can make certain things.

Guilds will also provide you with a temporary skill boost if you ask for it. +1 skill for free or +3 for a fee. 

Finally, you can sign up to be a premium member of one guild. Every earth day an NPC in that guild will ask for an item and will award you guild points for trading them that item. There's a cap on how many points you can earn in this way each day and pretty awesome rewards when you gather enough of them. Gear and furniture that increases your skill, or unlock the ability to make certain things, or let you sign your work. (I guess I lied when I said you could make everything without learning the recipes since you can't make sushi, for example, without buying the sushi kit thing from the cooking guild.) You can switch guilds at any time but you lose all unspent points when you do.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Final Fantasy XI: Chocobos!

I managed to successfully run to the capital city (Jeuno) yesterday without getting killed. (There's no such thing as corpse running in FFXI. You die and you either get rezzed by someone else or you respawn at your home point. Thankfully while you do lose some experience you get to keep all your gear unlikely earlier games.) My highest level is 20 which means I met the minimum criteria for doing the chocobo quests. As best I can tell there are 4 main things you can do with chocobos; 2 of which existed back when I played before and 2 of which are completely new to me and sound to be pretty awesome.

First of all, at level 20, you can start a quest in Jeuno to heal a sick chocobo. You need 4 pieces of Gausebit Grass and you have to visit a sick chocobo and try to feed him the grass 6 times. Each time has to be on a different game day, so it takes 6 hours of real time to do. Note you can do other things in the meantime and they don't have to be consecutive game days so it's not nearly as bad as it sounds. You just need to head to the chocobo stables 6 different times. Your reward for completing this quest is a license which lets you rent a chocobo from any of a multitude of places including all major towns and the main teleport locations. Renting a chocobo costs a small amount of gil (300-1200ish) and the ride lasts for 30 minutes or until you dismount. Chocobos are like mounts in World of Warcraft in that they are substantially faster than walking but are worse in that you can only get on at the designated locations and they cost money to use. They're better in that you can't get attacked while on one so you can freely run through high level aggressive monsters without dying.

Next up, while riding a chocobo you can feed it a gysahl green (vendor price ~70gil) to make it dig for buried treasure. There is a hidden skill level associated with chocobo digging (it's a lot like fishing except you get told your fishing skill in the status menu) which helps determine what you dig up. Also the zone in which you are digging and time of day can impact what you dig up. Also, every zone on has so much stuff in it so if other people are digging at the same time they can deplete the results. Finally, there is a fatigue system (again, like fishing) so there is a cap as to how often you can dig each day. 100 digs by default, 200 with some gear. Total cost to skill up to max is estimated at around 12.6M gil! The guide I found claims that once you've invested 300k you're pretty much guaranteed to make money as long as you're hitting the right zones and they aren't cleared out already by other people. I know I used to carry a stack or two of greens on me and dig as I was riding from place to place just for fun and to see what random junk I could find but it was at a loss.

They added a new mini-game where you get to actually raise your own chocobo. You can get a quest to get an egg at level 20 and then you get to play a life management simulator for the next _FOUR_ months. Choose what your chocobo is going to do each and every hour to manage stat gains and ability gains and whatnot. Think Princess Maker 2 but with fewer buxomize pills. At any rate, after about a month of raising a chocobo you get an item which lets you summon your chocobo to you anywhere in the world. So, you can now mount up wherever you want! This item has a limited number of charges and costs 400gil per charge to recharge it, so you don't get out of paying for your rides, but you can start from anywhere which is pretty sweet. On top of that the stats your chocobo has impacts how your mount behaves when you're riding it. You can make it go faster than the rentable ones, or ride for longer, or be better at digging. There's also a racing circuit where you can ride your chocobo for various rewards and the stats your chocobo has matters for there, too. You can even breed chocobos if you want, like in FFVII, and try to make different colours or better stats. You're only ever playing the life management sim with one chocobo at a time but it sounds like you can have multiple old chocobos lying around and switch between them as you want different stat mixes.

Finally they also added in the Chocobo Hot and Cold game from FFIX. You get sent to a specific location in the world and when you get there you can dig. You get told in relative terms how close you are to the treasure and have a number of tries to find it using just a vague starting location and the hints from your chocobo. Get it right in time and get a treasure chest with some random stuff in it. It sounds fun (I certainly fully completed the Hot and Cold game in FFIX both times I played it) but I can't tell from the potential item list if it's profitable or just fun.

In conclusion everyone should get a chocobo license for sure since that quest is pretty trivial and the rewards are huge. Beyond that having the ability to call your mount from anywhere seems really useful so hatching one personal chocobo and raising it seems good. If you don't pay attention to the life management game you'll still get to call your mount anywhere (well, there is a quest in the middle to get a whistle to do it so you'd have to pay enough attention to do that) but your chocobo would have low stats and be slower than a rental if you did that. But since you could still rent in towns it wouldn't be much of a hit. And if you're like me and actually enjoy life management games and random digging then chocobos seems like a pretty fun time sink. Must make a green chocobo...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Final Fantasy XI: Egg Event

Starting yesterday and lasting for two weeks it would seem there is an Easter related event running in Final Fantasy XI. The basic idea is every game day (56 minutes) you can talk to a specific moogle in each city in order to get a free egg. These eggs have letters on them and your goal is to spell out specific things to get rewards. With 26 different eggs and getting at most one an hour this is rather reminiscent of the World of Warcraft Hallowe'en hat event. As in, statistically improbable to get a complete set. There are several notable differences here, most importantly that the eggs are not exclusive and can therefore be sold to other players. In fact, I first realized the event was going on when I saw a huge upswing in the number of characters standing around the entrance to the zone with their bazaars turned on. (In FFXI you can mark any item in your inventory as for sale with a price and anyone inspecting you can check out what you have for sale and buy it if they like the price. I used to do this with fishing bait.) Also you don't need to get one of every letter, though you will need many copies of specific letters. Here's what you can turn in and why you might want to do so.

The first three letters of your character name. Trading these eggs to the moogle will reward you with an egg hat and the ability to hand in the rest of the sets so everyone who does the event has to do this one first. The egg is mostly a vanity item but does modify what you can dig up when you're doing the chocobo digging profession. (It makes you dig up various eggs.) It also slightly changes the way you get eggs each hour as well. Typically you get a completely random egg when you talk to the moogle but if you're in a party with someone you can force the moogle to give you the first letter of their name. (Anyone want any Zs?) If that person is wearing an egg hat you instead get two eggs matching the first two letters of their name. (How about some Is?) It's also a level 1 hat with 1 defense which is better gearwise than the no-hat I'm currently wearing on my BLM... You can also get extra eggs each hour by trading other in game eggs to the moogle but I imagine that's not terribly cost effective.

Seven of a kind. This gives you a ranged slot item with 1 vit and 1% mp. Seems ok.

Initial straight eight. This is your first initial along with the next 7 letters of the alphabet. This gives you a ranged slot item with 1 vit and 1% hp. Also seems ok. Also apparently can be obtained with a second set of seven of a kind.

Spell the name of the element associated with the current game day. This gives you a ranged slot item with 1 singing skill and a latent ability of 1 accuracy, 1 attack, and 1 evasion. You need to have a song or roll buff to get that effect. Also seems ok if you have a bard or corsair in your group.

The first 5 letters of a region. This gives you a piece of furniture based on the city that controls that region. There are a whole bunch of different egg related furniture you can get most of which seem to boost the amount of gil you loot from mobs. If you want to make your house look all eggy this is a good way to make that happen. My house is completely barren right now (what can I say, I'm poor) so maybe getting some tacky egg furniture to spruce up the joint would be nice.

Overall it doesn't seem like there's anything game breaking to get from this event and it costs a lot of precious inventory space to hold all these different types of eggs. If people are actually buying eggs it might be worth doing for some quick bucks and I kinda want a 1%mp egg just because I have no gear for that slot right now but beyond that it doesn't seem like a big deal.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Sky commented on yesterday's post saying that he felt the level synch feature would be a big hit to the immersion factor of playing Final Fantasy XI and compared it unfavourably with World of Warcraft. I strongly disagreed with that assessment but I wasn't really sure why, so I spent some time thinking about what immersion actually means and how the two games fare. (I probably should have spent that time sleeping but when my brain gets working on something there's no turning it off.)

I did some searching and apparently the concept of immersion is a pretty fleshed out concept. Historically this has been in terms of books and revolves around the idea of "suspension of disbelief". Things in the story don't have to make sense from a real world perspective. They have to make sense from the perspective of the story world. When something happens that seems out of place in the story world you get jarred out of that world. So while I personally can't summon legions of zombies to obey my every whim nor can I suck the heat out of my enemies it makes sense that my online persona Recolada can. But if I could transform into a giant robot and shoot lasers out of my eyes that would break the immersion of WoW since it's a fantasy RPG in the Warcraft universe and not Transformers.

Now, in FFXI, my character is currently on the 6th mission in the main Windurst storyline. If memory serves this mission (which is the last one I did when I previously played the game, though I think I did the San'Doria version) involves researching events happening across the world and culminates in an epic fight with a giant dragon. This fight has a maximum level of 20, so if anyone came to help who was higher level they'd be forced down to level 20 for the fight. Does this break immersion?

I'm conflicted here. On the one hand, my mythical friend who has played for 5 years clearly should be a more powerful character. He's gained way more experience than I have. He's got way better gear. But when it comes down to killing this evil dragon we're on equal footing. Outside the dragon's lair, if we were fighting random bunnies, he'd destroy them in one attack while I may fight them for a minute. (White mage: bad at beating down.) But face to face with epic evil we're the same. This doesn't feel right, so it breaks immersion.

On the other hand, we have this evil dragon. He's causing all kinds of problems with the world and needs to die. My friend, and thousands of others like him, can kill him in one attack. How exactly is this dragon still alive and causing problems? This doesn't feel right either. Certainly in a Final Fantasy story environment the idea of a trivial epic fight just doesn't make sense. Even if we ignore that this dragon somehow survives all the high level players, having a huge build-up to a boss that dies in one hit shatters immersion.

Contrast this to a new player in World of Warcraft who is leveling through the Northrend content. The Big Bad keeps showing up in a bunch of your quests. He taunts you at every turn. He tricks you into helping Drakkuru betray his own people. Everything builds up to you wanting to get that guy. And you can't. It's simply not possible for the new player to actually assault Icecrown Citadel and take down the Lich King on equal footing. You can get a friend to come solo Marrowgar for you while you stand around and watch but it's just not feasible for a new player to find a raid of appropriate powered characters to take it on. The Lich King deserves better than to be a triviality to be updated 6 years from now like Ragnaros and Nefarian got this expansion.

Ragnaros is a good example too. He's _the_ Firelord. Assaulting his lair and taking him down in classic WoW took guts and effort. He was big and scary and hard. But give people a week digging through poop on another planet and suddenly he's a complete joke? Why, exactly, didn't my 40 man raid just go do that for a couple days and come back in and trivially stomp him?

But those are just expansion issues. WoW has two other huge immersion problems for me, one of which was actually brought in to solve the whole world not changing problem with why my FFXI dragon is still alive after being killed. That would be phasing, where the world 'changes' for you after meeting certain objectives. The problem arises when two people are trying to play together but are at different stages in the chain. I can be in the same part of the world, standing directly beside my friend, and be unable to interact with them in any way. Not because they're more powerful than I am so it doesn't make sense to work together but because the game prevents me from seeing him or doing anything with him. Immersion is increased for a single person in a vacuum but gets blown apart when two people in different phases try to interact. (Or when one person tries to pick an herb that is in the other phase...) The other is the dungeon finder which allows characters to instantly teleport into a dungeon with strangers, clear the dungeon out, and instantly go back to where they are. Convenient? Absolutely. Good for the game? I think so. But immersive? Not in the slightest. The physics of Warcraft simply don't work that way. Getting summoned to a warlock, ok, fine. Hearthing to your home point? Stretching it, but fine. Instant teleport to someplace at random to coincide with 4 other unknown people at the start of a level appropriate dungeon? I don't buy it.

But back to the level synch system. Does it break immersion? Yes, it is weird to have a character lose powers for seemingly no real reason. But I'd argue that it existing for boss fights like the dragon or Icecrown Citadel actually serves to fix a greater immersion break. And I strongly feel that even for random grinding it is a net positive addition to the game. Sometimes gameplay trumps immersion like in the case of the dungeon finder in WoW and I feel level synch does the same thing in FFXI. The ability to always play with your friends trumps the weirdness of a character powering down. (And in reality coming to terms with the fact you can't play with your friends also hurts immersion since it makes you more aware of the fact that you're playing a game with arbitrary rules about who can do what when.)

Imagine what it could do in WoW. Assume Icecrown Citadel is fixed as a level 80 zone no matter what. People who are level 85 could still run it, but they'd be as strong as they were at 80 instead of at 85. They could run it with their new friends so they could see the content as challenging fights. You could even make the bosses drop a relevant but not overpowering amount of valour points, too. The bridge dungeon between Cata heroics and Cata raids? Why not have it be ICC? This is quality content that is already tested. It's just sitting there begging to be used. Force anyone who zones into MC to become level 60. Then Ragnaros doesn't become a joke at all. He's still _the_ Firelord. Going in and killing him would remain an actual goal and achievement for new or old players alike. Maybe he wouldn't get visited very often since the loot would stay outdated but he doesn't exactly get visited very often under the current system either and him being a joke to kill doesn't make any sense at all.

So, does FFXI have immersion breaks? Yes, absolutely. They have sacrificed immersion in some places in order to make gains in other areas. WoW also has immersion breaks, also to make gains in other areas. Neither game is designed with immersion as the primary goal. They're both trying to be games that have consistent and immersive worlds but they both make concessions in order to be better games. But I don't think Square cares less about immersion than Blizzard does and certainly neither of them places an overwhelming emphasis on it to the exclusion of game play, which I for one am thankful for!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Final Fantasy XI: Level Synching

Tom introduced me to a new feature yesterday which is so awesome it's amazing. I'm honestly astonished that World of Warcraft hasn't added some variant of this feature. (I was first introduced to this style of feature 6 years ago in City of Villains.) The basic idea is the party leader can choose a person in their party to synch up with. Then every character in the party who is higher level than the targeted person gets leveled down to the same level as the target. They lose any abilities learned above that level. They have their skills capped as if they were actually that level.

The party then gets to gain levels as though the characters were actually the lower level. This experience gain gets applied to your 'real' level, but you gain it by fighting mobs appropriate to the target. FFXI has a 'merit point' system so people at max level can keep gaining experience to buy marginal stat increases. If someone is max level and gets synched up with someone lower they still gain merit points! So there's actually an incentive for max level characters to help out their buddies. Not only is an incentive; it's actually possible. In World of Warcraft if I had a friend start fresh now they'd have no actual way to play with my main character in any meaningful way for months. With the synch system we can have actual challenges fighting level appropriate mobs the whole way up.

When I used to play FFXI there were level down effects when you fought level capped bosses. However, when that happened, you couldn't gain experience and your gear fell off if you couldn't use it at your new level. The gear falling off part has, thankfully, changed too. Now if you could equip your gear with your real level and can't with your new level your gear actually gets deleveled too. The stat boosts on your gear get decreased proportionally in a way that isn't 100% clear. I saw a post from Square saying it would be worse than optimal appropriate level gear but that it's better than the alternative which is naked. It does mean you don't need to carry around a set of level 20 gear if you want to fight the level 20 bosses. If a specific piece is awesome you can still store it, but it frees up a lot of bank space.

There are a few restrictions, most notably that the target has to be at least level 10 and you all need to stay within range of the target to gain experience, but it seems really incredible.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Final Fantasy XI: Hunts

Tom mentioned yesterday that he found a quest to kill a bunch of onion mobs until a named onion spawned and then he got some weird rewards for killing the named onion. This sounded suspiciously like camping NM (Notorious Monster) mobs for loot back in the day so I figured I should do some searching to see if I could find what it was he did.

It turns out hunts are exactly that. Square took the existing NM mobs with the myriad of ways the spawn and just tacked on a system of rewards to encourage people to camp them again long after the loot may be relevant. They still drop the same stuff they used to drop (well, with some exceptions, but those got changed for other reasons and not as part of the hunt system). But if you were going to go camp a mob for the loot anyway you might as well pick up the appropriate hunt to get some bonus rewards. And if you want the rewards you might as well go camp some easy to spawn NMs!

But what are the rewards for doing these hunts? Well, it looks like there are 2 rewards for doing so. The first is a type of currency used solely to start higher level hunts. The second is a random glyph you can insert into a socket on your gear for a buff of some kind. (Tom got one that decreased the cooldown on one of his abilities. I got a couple that increased my magic defense against certain types of monsters.) Nothing too exciting thus far, but if you have gear with sockets (etchings in this game) you might as well fill them with something.

Unfortunately it looks like nothing comes with an etching by default. You need to level a new profession (synergy) in order to add etchings to things. Synergy seemed interesting enough but certainly nothing I'm level appropriate for at this point. On the plus side the glyphs vendored for a substantial amount of money for a low level character (700g each) so I was pretty happy to have camped the two I did.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Final Fantasy II: What To Do?

Final Fantasy II is a game that eschews the normal gain experience to go up in levels system. Instead you have levels for everything you can possibly do and you get better at something by doing it. Want to get better with a sword? Attack with a sword. Want to get better with Ultima? Cast Ultima. Want to get more maximum health? Take a bunch of damage.

Unfortunately the system is wide open to abuse. Want to get better with swords, and with shields, and get more strength, and more vitality, and more maximum health? Try hitting yourself in the head with a sword over and over and over again. The poor imp you're engaged with won't know what's going on but you don't care!

I looked around a bit and couldn't find any challenges to do in this game. In fact, it just seems plain hard and no one really seems to like it very much. I've only beaten it once so just playing through normally could be the right plan... But how to define normally? Normally for me where I'll hit myself with a sword for 15 hours and then cakewalk through the game or normally in the sense that my characters will only take actions I normally would in a different game. No hitting yourself with a sword. No cast life on people who aren't dead. Etc. I worry this will make the game practically impossible though since I simply won't get to level up spells like life to the point where they're useful.

Friday, April 08, 2011


The realities of MMO life.
I was screwing around a bit in FFXI before my WoW raid last night and figured I'd start leveling my fishing skill. I used to fish a lot back in the day but it turns out things have changed pretty substantially since I last played and I need to relearn mining for fish. The changes were made almost exclusively in an attempt to crack down on rampant botting of the admittedly very trivial system. How it used to work is you'd equip a rod in your ranged slot and bait in your ammo slot. Walk up to water, hit enter, select fish. Wait for it to tell you if you caught anything. Hit enter to see what it is. Repeat. Very easy to bot once you cracked the game to not run solely in full screen mode and crash when you alt-tab. (Eventually they added a windowed mode to the options themselves.)

Now, there is a quest in the game to get the best fishing rod that merely requires trading 10000 fish to an NPC. This fish could be caught with no fishing skill in one of the starting towns. People who earned gil in other ways but wanted the fishing rod would pay a reasonable price for these fish. It doesn't take a genius to realize you can make a lot of money setting up computers to bot fish these fish up, sell them to actual players, and then sell the gil online. Square did nothing about this for a long time but eventually decided the economy was blown way out of whack and started aggressively attacking people who sold gil online and apparently did a pretty good job of it, but in the process they screwed with the players as well.

They changed fishing in a good way by making it more interactive. You now have to play a little mini-game to catch your fish. This would kill trivial bots for sure but I'm certain I could write a good enough bot in less than a day to play the new game. (Note: I wouldn't do that. I'm just saying it's not hard.) They also put in a hard cap on the number of things you can catch each day. As you get closer to that cap you have to wait longer and longer between tries until eventually you can't try at all. This cap is 200 catches for most people, but if your account is less than 30 days old or if your job level is less than 20 the cap is 10 catches. So I can't realistically fish for a month. *sigh*

Fishing isn't the only gathering profession hit like this. The other one that got hit hard since I played is gardening, which I used to actually do on 2 alts in addition to my main character just to grow more stuff.

What is gardening? Well, in FFXI each person gets their own house which they can put furniture and decorations in to provide a minor buff to themselves. One of the things you can put in your house in a flower pot. (Well, you can actually put up to 10 flower pots in your house.) Then you can plant seeds in these pots to grow stuff. You need to examine the plants every day to make sure they aren't dying and you can feed them crafting crystals to help them grow. Depending on the seed you'll get stuff anywhere from a week to a month later.

Now, there is a seed type you can buy from a vendor. And it grows into something that sells to the vendor for way more than the cost. I hope people can see the problem here, too. Gil sellers would open up trial accounts, garden like mad by vendoring everything, and introduce a ton of gil into the economy. Not just gil sellers, either. I found a blog about a guy who did this to finance buying a top level item or something. Apparently you used to be able to buy a trial cd for $2. So this guy went around and bought all of them he could find anywhere near where he lived. He went through about 100 of them, apparently. He'd run 16 accounts with 16 characters each every month. So he was examining 2560 pots a day which apparently took him 3 hours a day to do. But he'd also have to set up 256 characters with the pots, seeds, and crystals to start with and would spend a couple days straight not sleeping or going out to set them all up. (How paying $200 and 15% of your life to make 10M gil appear from a vendor can be considered ok but paying it to someone else for their gil is not is a little confusing to me, but I digress.)

This guy was doing it and so were an awful lot of other people - real players and gil sellers - so Square eventually stepped in to crack down on it. Me, I'd remove the seeds from a vendor or nerf the vendor value of the product. Instead Square made it so any account created within the last 90 days gets terrible results from gardening. Most recipes make tons of stuff from a bag of seeds, new players get 1 item maximum. I used to garden for corn so I could cook it into bait with my cooking skill. The recipe to make corn typically yielded in the 12-24 corn per seed range. A new player would get 1. Which pretty much destroys any hope a new player has of doing practically anything of value with gardening. (There are some recipes that only yielded 1 good thing anyway, so those should still be ok.)

Of course there are other ways to gather raw materials and as far as I can tell the other ones haven't been nerfed simply because you had to level up to do them. Fishing and gardening could be done just as well on a new level 1 as on a max level character. (Kinda why I wanted to start in on them again... Oh well!) I figure it's worth going over the other ways of gathering stuff too just to have it all in one spot.

Mining, excavating, logging, harvesting: These all entail wandering around the world looking for spawn points and then using a gathering item on the spawn point. Spawn points don't look like anything special and I don't think there's any way to detect them like there is in WoW, but you can target them by tabbing around. (Tabbing becomes force of habit in FFXI. I found a hidden wall yesterday when I was doing a mission with Tom entirely by accident because I was hitting tab instinctively.) When you find a mining node you target it, walk up to it, and use a pickaxe on it either by selecting it from your inventory or using a macro. (/item Pickaxe ) Mining nodes stick around for a while so you can use them a few times before they disappear and respawn somewhere else in the zone. Using a pickaxe on a node could result in the pickaxe breaking and becoming destroyed so you need to carry a bunch of them around if you're actively mining. There is gear you can wear to decrease the odds of pickaxes breaking. The reason a level 1 can't easily do this is the mining nodes are out in the world and tend to be surrounded by aggressive monsters who will just kill you. There is a website with maps of each zone along with what gathering nodes exist there (and which rare monsters spawn there too). The other 3 work the same way, except you use different items on different types of nodes to acquire bones, logs, or cloth.

Chocobo digging: Essentially this involves mounting up on a chocobo and feeding it gysahl greens to make it dig up items. There is a hidden skill associated with this gathering profession and you need to spend a lot of money on greens at a loss before you get to the point where you can actually make money. Since I both don't have a chocobo nor money to throw away this isn't a big concern for the time being. They also added a cap here to limit the number of times you can dig in a day similar to fishing which puts a real damper on leveling it up as well. (The site I found says it takes about 28 months to cap now if you get all your digs in every day which seems insane.) I imagine I'll do this for fun if I get some greens in some other way beyond buying them but for now it isn't a concern.

Clamming: This is a mini-game where you find clamming nodes and add clams to your bucket trying to get as close as possible to your bucket maximum without going over. Go over and you break your bucket and lose everything. You get to keep the stuff you clam up, so I think there's strategy in terms of knowing what you have and if it's worth risking it for something more and maybe busting your bucket. Apparently if you come very close to going over but stay under you can upgrade to a bigger bucket. Not really sure how it works since it's on an island covered with level 40+ mobs. Something to look into for the future I guess!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Final Fantasy XI: Fields of Valor

Tmiv and I got started playing FFXI yesterday and almost immediately ran into a new questing system that was added to the game. (Well, it was added in 2008 so 'new' is a bit of a misnomer. But I'd never heard of it before!) The basic idea is there's a big floating book located at the entrance to a zone and you can ask it for a quest. You get to pick from a list of quests for the zone which all seem to be kill n of mob X and maybe m of mob Y. Kill everything on the list and immediately get rewarded with a pretty substantial amount of bonus experience, gil (FFXI's main currency), and tabs (the Fields of Valor specific currency). Return to the book and you can pick up a new quest. However, only the first quest each day gives all the rewards. Subsequent quests just give the bonus experience.

As an aside, they also substantially buffed the experience earned for killing monsters slightly below you in level. That change coupled with these quests apparently let pretty much any job in the game solo reasonably well now. When I used to play at level 9 I was lucky to kill a monster worth 15 experience. Yesterday I was getting 150 from the same level differenced mob.

That all seems pretty straightforward but the question I had was what good were tabs. Is it worth making sure you come back every day to earn the tabs or should you just do the quests for the experience? Well, tabs do two things for you. You can spend trivial amounts of them to gain temporary buffs to help you solo. (They're the equivalent of white mage buff spells or eating food. So certainly useful but not game breaking.) Or you can save up a bunch of them to force special bosses to spawn. (FFXI seems to be really big on collecting trinkets to spawn bosses.) For an idea of scale here I was getting 30 tabs per quest and it would cost 15 to get protect cast on me. It costs 100-450 to summon a boss.

Before you spawn the boss you make a bet with the book that summons the boss. You can bet gil and if you win the fight you get twice as much back. You can bet beastman seals (items that mobs randomly drop which you can cash in to summon bosses) to get back 75 experience per seal if you win. Or you can bet a piece of gear and if you win you get the gear back with random stats added on to it. You can only bet unmodified items which are unbound. In all 3 cases there are restrictions as to what you can bet as well based on the level of the monster. (The easiest boss has a limit of 3 seals, 150gil, or a level 5 item.)

Fighting bosses is fun so I want to collect tabs just to fight more of them but the rewards seem pretty underwhelming. I guess buying extra copies of vendor gear to get bonus stats is nice when it comes to leveling other jobs but it doesn't seem like the sort of thing I need to obsess over maxing out.

There is also a restriction on how often you can summon one of these bosses. You can only summon one per earth day. (Resets at midnight in Japan or 11am my time.) You can bring a full party of 6 to the fight and each of the 6 people can summon their own boss. Also, I should clarify that the quests themselves can be done once per Vana'diel day which is 57 minutes and 36 seconds long. (25 game days per real day.)

My gut feeling is the bonus to experience and gil is nice and the quests provide focus in terms of what to kill so it seems reasonable to do but if you skip over it you're not missing much.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Final Fantasy XI: Leviathan - Windurst

And so it begins. I was talking with Tom last night and he was gung-ho about playing FFXI. So much so that we decided to start playing last night. Then we were hit with a 4 hour file download, an hour install, and an 8 hour (at least) update. My update was still going when I left for work so there may well be more to come.

We needed to pick a server and it turns out they're currently in the process of combining servers due to declining populations. They had 24 servers before and are going to end up with 16 after the merge. There are no real stats for server sizes but an auction hall scanning site which tracked accounts using the auction halls on each server indicated that they were lining up servers 9-16 with 17-24 in size and doing 2 to 1 merges. I figured it was probably best to pick a server that wasn't going to be merged soon one way or another and picked the coolest name from the top 8: Leviathan! Brings back memories of playing Levia-Stasis in T2 when I moved to Waterloo way back in 1998.

Now, the FFXI world has 3 factions which compete for resources. If I understand it correctly the basics are each zone is controlled by one of the 3 factions (or possibly by a 4th NPC faction - the Beastmen!) Controlling a zone lets you buy gear there and easily teleport in. You take control from other factions by leveling in the zones, and I think you get a bonus to your 'valour points' by leveling in a zone controlled by other factions so they change around a lot. Each faction also has their own main storyline and since the primary goal of doing this is to do the storylines it seems like we should all be the same faction. (You can change later on to do all the missions.) There are 5 playable races in the game each associated with one of the factions but any race can start with any faction. You get a small bonus for picking the matching faction. (A ring with minor stats that can be equipped at level 1. The Windurstian one has 1 agi, 1 int, and 3mp.) You can eventually buy the ring with the conquest points if you are a non-matching race. It doesn't seem like a huge deal but especially starting out every bit counts, right?

What are the races and why do they matter? Well, stats matter more in FFXI than they do in WoW for sure. (If I remember right the stats get used in direct subtraction comparisons so having more hit than your opponent has dodge is very good and it could come down to 1 or 2 stat points to get there.) Also since mana regen is pretty much non-existent (at least at low levels) the size of your mana pool can be a big deal. The 5 races are:

Hume - human - average stats in pretty much everything
Elvaan - elf - higher str, vit, max hp, and mnd - lower agi, int, and max mp
Mithra - cat woman - higher dex and int - lower cha
Taru Taru - gnome - higher max mp, agi, int - lower max hp, str
Galkan - giant man - higher max hp, str, vit - lower max mp, cha

Generally speaking this means that if you want to be a spell caster you want to be a Taru Taru. I found a stat calculator and assuming it works correctly then at level 30 a BLM/WHM would have 370 mana and 41 as a Taru Taru and 204 mana and 33 int as a Galkan. That's almost twice as much base mana and an extra 8 points of int which impact damage or hit chance or both. It's pretty clear the Galkan is abysmally bad at casting compared to a Taru Taru.

Tanking is the opposite. Switch to WAR/MNK instead and the story changes. The Galkan has 674 health and 38 vit. The Taru Taru has 491 health and 30 vit. That's an absurd difference.

The other 3 races are more balanced with Elvaans being physical beaters who miss more often, Humes being ok at everything, and Mithra hitting more often but being less charismatic.

To look at it another way, here are the stat orderings at level 30 for a red mage with paladin as a support job. (No idea if that's a good idea or not but it has mana from both jobs so it should help demonstrate things.)

hp - Galka (567), Elvaan (506), Mithra (475) = Hume (475), Taru Taru (384)
mp - Taru Taru (297), Mithra (204) = Hume (204), Elvaan (173), Galka (125)
Str - Elvaan (35), Galka (33), Hume (31), Mithra (29), Taru Taru (27)
Dex - Mithra (36), Hume (29) = Taru Taru (29) = Galka (29), Elvaan (28)
Vit - Galka (37), Elvaan (33), Hume (30), Mithra (29) = Taru Taru (29)
Agi - Mithra (30), Taru Taru (29), Hume (26), Galka (25), Elvaan (22)
Int - Taru Taru (37), Mithra (30) = Hume (30), Galka (29), Elvaan (26)
Mnd - Elvaan (37), Hume (33) = Galka (33), Mithra (31) = Taru Taru (31)
Cha - Hume (30) = Elvaan (30) = Taru Taru (30), Mithra (26) = Galka (26)

And what do the stats do? hp and mp should be obvious, I would hope. After that:

Strength - do more damage with physical attacks
Dexterity - hit more often & crit more often with physical attacks, huge boost to sneak attack
Vitality - take less damage, do and/or receive more healing, do more damage with jump?!?
Agility - get hit less often & get crit less often with physical attacks, hit more often with ranged attacks, give less rage to the enemy with physical attacks
Intelligence - do more damage with black magic, take less damage from black magic, pick locks better?!?
Mind - do more damage with white magic, take less damage from white magic, heal more
Charisma - makes bards, dancers, and beastmasters better

Personally I intend to play lots of jobs and not focus on one type in particular so I think Taru Taru and Galka are out. Elvaan have a fair bit less mana than the other two and don't seem to gain anything terribly useful in the process. (They are probably the most powerful healers per spell cast but can cast fewer spells, and they hit hardest but hit and crit less often.) Humes make minor gains in strength, vitality, mind, and charisma but lose a lot in dexterity and agility compared to Mithra. Apparently they added a class that rolls dice and throws cards like Setzer in FFVI which is my ultimate goal and it seems like they want all stats but especially high agility. So I was down between being a Hume or a Mithra and I figured I'd just pick the one that started in the same town as whatever Tom picked. He wanted to go straight melee damage which heavily favours Mithra I think since they get such a huge amount of Dex, so that's what we're going with.

Mithra and Taru Taru both make Windurst their home, so that's where we're starting to get free rings. It sounds like a couple other people are interested in playing, so if you do please head to Leviathan and start in Windurst!

- edit: I should point out that many people say race doesn't really matter and you should pick what you want to look at regardless of anything else. I suspect those people have enough powerful gear to make up the deficiencies which I don't expect having but it is something to keep in mind. -

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


Commander Data sent the number 3 through space and time to break a time loop and save the USS Enterprise from perpetual destruction. It took the solo ninja 3 tries but the end result is the same. The time loop has been broken! Garland will no longer go insane and resurrect elemental fiends to send him back in time so he can resurrect them again. Woo!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Final Fantasy XI

I did some asking around and found 3 people who could be convinced to play Final Fantasy XI with me and another one who wants to play but has to wait until May. Silly teacher type people. I figured it might help to actually say what kind of game it is to try to get more people interested. But I haven't played in something like 6 years, so I needed to do some digging myself to find out what had changed since then. It turns out, not a whole lot. Some expansions with more levels, classes, and content. Some more PvP options. And some "quality of life" improvements like getting to choose what server you play on, easier traveling between locations, and sensible changes to the weapon skill system. The biggest thing I discovered in my poking around is that I do, in fact, really want to play the game again.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Flip Out?

I made it down to Chaos with this configuration. (I forgot I couldn't actually leave the dungeon so I gained the 50th level inside. It was a good one, but I couldn't save it, so I'll probably be 24 hit points worse next time. Or I may scum it to make sure I get about that many).

I got to take 6 actions total. Haste, 4 Sabers, and a melee attack in the 1700 range. I'd entered in my 8th command when he killed me. Sadly despite having a 50% chance to cast a spell he only cast 2 of them in his 8 actions. His 3rd spell has no game effect, so I had a good shot of killing him if he'd cast it. His 4th spell heals him to full, so if he'd cast more spells early on before I attacked at all I also would have won. A few more tries and I've probably got this, but the dungeon is so unbelievably huge that it takes an awfully long time to try. I don't think I have it in me to try again now, so I'm going to play some League of Legends games. Maybe I'll come back to it later tonight before bed, Maybe I'll try again tomorrow. Certainly he will die by Tuesday!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Swords For $400, Alex

This is actually a word that begins with a bloody S! I am talking, of course, about SABRE! I picked the item up that allows me to cast this spell today and decided to give it a spin on the boss of that dungeon, the Kraken. The fight was like a scene from a ninja movie. The boss punched the ninja in the face and the ninja got mad. He started running around like crazy (IE: I used defense sword until I was invincible) and the boss kept swinging and swinging but never could hit the ninja again. Then the ninja started to taunt the boss, brandishing his sword but not actually doing anything noticeable with it. Look, a sword! After showing the Kraken his sword 10 times to scoop up an extra 160 damage and 100 hit the ninja cast fast on himself and finally moved in for the kill. One action, 16 swings, and a very, very dead Kraken.