Tuesday, May 31, 2011


In my Blockbuster spending spree I picked up three different xBox 360 games all of which are sequels to games I loved. What is my Final Fantasy marathon if not rolling around in sequelness? If you look at the top selling games it's pretty much sequel after sequel. (360 - Halo, Call of Duty, Gears of War, Grand Theft Auto, Fable   PS3 - Gran Turismo, Call of Duty, Uncharted, Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy  Wii - Mario Kart, Super Mario Bros, Smash Bros, Mario Party) The Wii has a few new entries on the list (including the original Wii Sports if you count bundled games) but they all also have sequels up there as well. Sequels are a big market. But what do people want from a sequel?

Personally I've been trying to figure out what I want from a sequel to try to quantify how good the new games I got are objectively before I play all of them. It's difficult, because I think about previous sequels that I've really enjoyed and the ways they evolved has been very different. Is it even fair to call Final Fantasy VI a sequel to Final Fantasy V or Final Fantasy IV? If not is it actually fair to call Final Fantasy X-2 a sequel to Final Fantasy X? A couple characters carried over between games and it's set in about the same world but from a gameplay point of view they're drastically more different than FFVI and FFIV are.

When I was a teenager I used to buy every version of EA's NHL series. The games didn't really change much. You get new rosters and maybe a new feature each year but pretty much you're just playing hockey. Shouldn't I have been content with playing NHLPA 93? Did I really need NHL 94, NHL 95, and NHL 96? Maybe not, but if I enjoy a game in the first place then a couple minor tweaks to shake things up a little and a new coat of paint in terms of updated rosters is great. It's a little new and refreshing but it's still the same game at the core. This is the safe way to do a sequel and the Madden franchise in particular has made an absolute fortune pulling it off.

On the other hand you have games that use the same name but go off in a completely different direction. Super Mario Bros 2, for example. (This actually was a different game entirely that just had the Mario theme painted on top near the end of development.) It has some familiar characters and features but plays like a completely different game. Most of the Final Fantasy games fall into this category as well. You may choose between attack, magic, and item. You may cast Lit, summon Shiva, and ride a chocobo. There's a dude named Cid and he just wants to fly. Possibly there are crystals and fiends corresponding to the 4 elements. But the story lines, the combat systems, and the way you level up change drastically from game to game.

So what do I actually want from a sequel? I still don't know. Mostly I want a good game that I enjoy playing. An easy way to pull that off is to basically release the same game with a couple tweaks. This can be seen as a cash grab by some people especially if the game doesn't change much but I'm pretty ok with it. Going with a completely different game with some similarities certainly can work but it still needs to stand on its own as a good game. Super Mario Bros 2 certainly got some people to buy it because it had a Mario theme but if it wasn't actually a good game at its core it wouldn't have made it.

I feel like I want Dead Rising 2 and Portal 2 to basically be the same games as their predecessors. Those games had an interesting hook at their core and I just want more of the same. All I want is more ways to kill zombies and more puzzles to solve with spatial reasoning. Overlord 2 I actually want more out of. A completely different but good game with the same basic theme. I'm evil! Run with it!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Petrifying Pair

I've reached level 30 on my RDM in Final Fantasy XI which means I can now fill an important role in some of the level 30 restricted boss fights. The ones that drop an item worth a million gil. Big bucks! There's one in particular that seems particularly well suited to the small group we have now: Petrifying Pair.

The basic idea behind the fight is there are 2 lizards in the middle of the arena. They attack faster than a lizard normally would but are otherwise pretty much just 2 highish level lizards. They're immune to sleep but can otherwise be hit with crowd control effects. Lizards in general are weak to wind and ice and it just so happens that gravity is a wind spell and bind is an ice spell. This means you have a pretty decent chance of landing these debuffs on the lizards despite them being high level. Gravity is a movement speed reducer and bind is a complete root so it's pretty reasonable for someone capable of casting both of those spells to take one of the two lizards completely out of the equation. Then you just need the other two people to be able to kill the other lizard with only a little outside help.

Gravity is a level 21 RDM spell so the only people who can cast it are red mages or anyone who is level 42 with a RDM sub job. This fight is capped at level 30, so the only people who can do it at all are red mages. Hence, having leveled RDM I can now fill this role. But what about the other two people?

Well, in order to kill the lizard those two people either need to avoid all the hits, or be able to heal through them, or do such outrageous damage that they can burn the lizard out first. Ninjas or beastmasters are needed for the first option. Dancers, paladins, and blue mages are good for the second. Monks are needed for the third (and even then they can only do it once every 2 hours). The other two people I know who are leveled up to 30? Tmiv who has a bunch of jobs but particularly a dancer and Aidan who is a monk. So we'd have a great shot at winning at least once and probably can win with a little practice over and over. The one trick? The lizards have an AE petrify that hits anyone looking at them so you need to be quick about turning around when they start to cast it in order to avoid the spell entirely. (Unlock your camera and then just hit the back button supposedly works.)

The remaining question, assuming we can actually win, is what to do with the drops? The two methods people typically use to split drops from BCNMs are "your orb, your loot" which means whoever spent the 30 beastman seals for the run gets all the treasure and "pool it all, sell it, and split the loot" which works a lot better should you not win every time but has the added hassle of having to track who was in the group to split the proceeds with and also prevents anyone from actually getting stuff they want. On the other hand "your orb, your loot" means people with tons of seals can run the event more often and get more stuff as a result.

I like the idea of selling what drops and splitting the cash, possibly with some sort of rider about letting someone pay something like 20-30% of market value to the other two people to use the drop themselves. But then, I have enough money to buy what I might want from the drops and like the idea of a 333k windfall from selling Utsusemi:Ni. If I actually wanted that spell maybe I'd prefer another method though. (Though with this way you'd be certain to get the third one as long as you saved the 66% profit from selling the first 2, so it would work out in the long run assuming we did the fight over and over and over again.) Your orb, your loot is certainly the simplest but it sucks to have your run be the one that fails (or even to have your run be the one that drops the Absorb:Agi spell which is worth .1% of the Utsusemi:Ni scroll.

Why not run need before greed like in WoW? Well, the scarcity of beastman seals coupled with the fact the items aren't BoP. In WoW if we don't roll need before greed on the great gear that drops we simply can't have it. You can't get Nef loot any way other than by killing Nef and you can always kill Nef once a week. Here you can get a pair of Leaping Boots simply by building up enough cash to buy them from someone else, and you may not have a source of beastman seals to run all the bosses you need loot for. By always liquidating the drops you let people use their seals in the most economical fashion for them and everyone can always build up for the drops they do want by accumulating cash.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

League of Legends: Season One Regional Qualifier

I woke up this morning around 1pm and booted up League of Legends. Someone in the game was commenting in all chat about a game they were watching live, seemingly showing more interest in that game than the one we were playing. It turns out Riot (the company which makes LoL) has been running a big qualifier tournament this weekend to send people to Dreamhack in Sweden to play in a $100000 tournament. They've been streaming all the games live so I opened that up. There's a fair amount of downtime between games while they ban heroes and draft and such. So, I figured I'd go craft in FFXI. Only problem is I last logged out with my 100% xp buff up and I'd lose a lot of free experience if I just stood around crafting. So I threw up my looking for group flag and almost instantly got a group. (Turns out a level 21 RDM/WHM is in high demand since they can be synched down to and they can heal or they can do damage or they can do anything you want because they're awesome.) At any rate I used up that buff and didn't see a reason to stop so I put up another. And another. But then that group fell apart and I had a buff up... So I had to find a new group. When everything was said and done I'd gained 14 levels up to 35 and am now well positioned to try some of the BCNM fights assuming I go buy new spells like gravity.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Blockbuster Redux

I got up 'this morning' at 4:30pm, played a couple games of League of Legends, and then headed out to the Blockbuster on Lawrence to see if they had anything interesting to pick up. It turned out to be about a 35 minute walk away so it was decent exercise on top of finding lots of good deals. I also noticed that I appeared to be walking through a Jewish neighbourhood (look at me, reading the names of schools!) and was reminded of a conversation on Facebook about getting Coke made with sugar instead of glucose/fructose and decided to hit the Metro beside the Blockbuster as well. They ended up having both Coke with sugar and packets of Kool-Aid so that part of the trip was a resounding success. (The cashier was a little quizzical when she saw the stack of 60 Kool-Aid packets...)

Blockbuster was a big success too. For some reason it turns out that Blockbuster also sold books. I think they're all books that had been turned into movies (or vice versa) but they had a couple I'd been thinking about reading. Still 30% off! So I now have The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire. I also got the second season of The Mentalist (I guess I should find the first one now?). For movies I got Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children to fit into my marathon, Zombieland because Andrew keeps telling me I have to watch it, Braveheart because it's awesome, Independance Day on Blu-Ray in case I get my desktop fixed for July 4th, and the sweetest find of all time (or at least of today) Ocean's 11. The first one, with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr.

I also got a game, Dead Rising 2. Now, the original Dead Rising is the game I came closest to getting every achievement for. (I even killed the 53,594 zombies in one playthrough.) My roommate Mark's 360 red-ringed on him before I got the last couple and I never got around to finishing off the last 6 achievements I needed. But the game was awesome and I've wanted to play the sequel. So cheap price plus 30% off? How can I go wrong? The only real problem is I now have 3 new 360 games I want to play that aren't Final Fantasy games.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Blockbuster Bankrupt?!?

I found out today that Blockbuster has apparently gone bankrupt. In an attempt to get back on their feet they're closing down about a fifth of all stores in Canada and liquidating all of their stock. I went to a nearby location which is closing down over lunch today and everything in the store is 30% off. Old movies, newer movies, TV series, candy, video games... You name it, they're selling it. The one I went to had a new Wii down at something like $130.

Now, Sky will say that buying things just because they're on sale is silly and I had to hold myself back from picking up all sorts of things in the store but I did end up getting a bunch of stuff regardless. I picked up 3 of the movies used in The World's Greatest Treasure Hunt book. I'd been actively looking to get National Treasure 2 in movie bargain bins and getting it for less than $5 seems good. (The other two were National Treasure and The Da Vinci Code.) I also went shopping in their video game section. I got a new PS2 controller (I bought my PS2 used and the controller it came with is functional but a little gummy.) I picked up Portal 2 which I would have bought at full price if I'd been to a store recently since Portal was just that good. And I got Overlord II which I have heard nothing about. I really enjoyed playing the original Overlord though, and it was cheap before the 30% off, so probably a worthwhile purchase.

My only worry there is I think a lot of the enjoyment from playing the original Overlord came from living with Pounder and Mark and watching them play it at the same time. Living on my own has removed that aspect of console gaming (seeing how other people approach the same challenges in a game) which I think is probably a big part of why I've slowed down playing games on consoles.

At any rate if you live in Canada you should consider clicking the link to see if any nearby Blockbusters are liquidating near you. You may find a great deal on something you want. Or you may just find a 'deal' on something you don't need but get convinced to impulse buy... Woo?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Walking Like An Egyptian

One of the things I really like about the DDR games on the xBox 360 is they have the actual music videos for the 'real' songs. DDR Universe 2 has two in particular that I really like. Safety Dance and Walk Like An Egyptian. Walk Like An Egyptian is the fastest song in the game (at least that I've unlocked so far) and is 8 feet on expert. I finally managed to pass it today, and even got a B rank. Woo!

DDRU2 has a 'calorie tracker' feature where it uses some undoubtedly non-scientific function to turn your weight and the steps you entered into a number of calories burned. Now, I remember watching Bung and Tmiv play DDR back in University and while they may have been making the same steps I'm pretty sure Bung was burning more calories with his unique way of stomping to Boom Boom Dollar. So the number from the game needs to be taken with a grain of salt. If anything my number is probably higher since I tend to flail around a bit while I play. At any rate, the claim is I burned 400 calories today. But what does that even mean? Apparently that's about an hour of high impact aerobics. Perhaps an hour of pole jumping! A little less than an hour of tennis. 2 hours of throwing a frisbee around. 45 minutes of ultimate. An hour and a half of golf! So, a decent enough workout I guess. Hmm, maybe I should take up golfing again...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jack of All Trades?

There are many, many heroes in League of Legends. Quite a few of them are fairly interchangeable but fill a specific role. (Annie and Veigar cast very different spells and play quite differently but when it comes right down to it they're both characters who specialize in doing burst magic damage.) Right now I haven't purchased any of the heroes so I'm stuck playing one of the rotating free ones every week. I can't specialize in a single hero but I could specialize in a hero type if I wanted to. Do I want to?

The advantage to doing so is I might actually get good at doing that one thing. Last week I played a lot of games with Warwick. He's a hero who fills the 'jungler' role on a team. Junglers don't gain experience the normal way. Instead they run around in the 'jungle' and kill neutral monsters that spawn. This means your team as a whole gains more experience and thus should outlevel the opposition. In big fights he can either be a tanky melee DPS or a straight tank who lacks a taunt. I was starting to get a good feel for how that worked and think I was doing pretty good by the end of the week. I just played a game today where I was laning like normal instead of jungling (Warwick is gone, after all) and I did a terrible job of it. I'd lost the feel for last hitting the creeps properly. I'm sure I'll pick that back up in a game or two but it does show the advantage to specializing. If I'd found a jungler in this week's lineup I could have continued doing similar things as last week.

The disadvantage is I get stuck playing a select few heroes. There's a lot of variety and I'd like to try them all. Also, what happens when my randomly selected teammates want to jungle instead? Do I say screw the team and play what I want anyway? Having the ability to fill in the gaps around the heroes they pick is very useful.

Maybe if I had a preset team I normally played with I'd be happy specializing in a couple heroes that fill the same role but for now I think I need to spread out. So this week I'm probably going to play Ashe and Annie and see how they work out.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Consolidating Power

I got a game of Battlestar Gallactica on the weekend. Typically the same characters get used every game so Byung and I wanted to shake things up by doing random by class. We got vetoed but put our own twists on getting new characters into the game. I've been rewatching the show recently and chose my favourite character from the show despite him being very weak in the game... Colonel Saul Tigh! He rarely gets played since he's pretty low on the admiral chain of command. Normally I'd be afraid someone would take Adama afterwards to have an actual good character as admiral and I'd be sitting around with no title and no ability to fly in space. I decided I didn't care this time and it turned out no one else took a military leader anyway so I got to start as admiral. Now, Tigh's once per game ability lets him give the president title to the admiral and one turn before the mid point of the game I had absolutely nothing good to do. Possibly I should have tried to throw Duncan out an air lock but instead I decided to grab more power and declared martial law. Duncan then revealed as a cylon and threw our CAG in the brig, knocking that title to Byung who was playing Boomer. Then we jumped and made it to distance 4, causing Byung to be thrown in the brig by his character's drawback. Next in line for CAG? Saul Tigh. So I managed to be Admiral President CAG Colonel Saul Tigh. Woo!

We ended up losing on the final die roll (50-50 chance!) but it was fun regardless of outcome. At one point we had something like 14 cylon raiders attacking Byung in space without managing to hit him. (Turns out we had a lot of reroll cards saved up!)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Wii Fit: Meaningful Statistics?

I recently started manually tracking and reporting here the two stats Wii Fit 'tests' on. BMI and Wii Fit Age. I like numbers and looking at trends and such but the question that needs to be asked is do these stats matter? What do they track and do I even care?

BMI is a measurement comparing weight to height. That is all. It doesn't care if the weight is coming from muscles or from stomach fat. I'm sure there's a point when you've got enough body fat that working out properly will lower your BMI but for me I'm pretty sure if I actually exercised enough the number would actually go up, not down. Playing DDR for 30 minutes to an hour 5 nights a week is starting to impact my leg muscles (at the very least they ache a lot) but it isn't touching the BMI and really I don't think it will. That's just going to build muscle mass. If I actually wanted to lose weight I'd need to look at what I'm eating, likely starting with the 2 cans of Coke I drink a day at work. I may well start doing that but until then tracking my BMI is just wasting the 10 minutes a day it's taking to get the Wii Fit set up and running.

Wii Fit Age, on the other hand, is absolutely worthless. I did some searching to try to find what exactly it measures but it seems Nintendo doesn't care to fill anyone in on the specifics. The claim is it takes into account real age, BMI, and the 2 'balance tests' it puts you through. Now, there are 5 different ones (blue box breaking, slider area targeting, standing on one foot, standing on two feet, and walking in place) and you get 2 seemingly at random each day. There's no way that I can find to actually practice most of them. So Wii Fit Age changes so much day to day because I'm very good at some of the tests and not so good at others. I don't even understand what the walking in place one wants me to do. I'm bad at it, and I simply don't know how to get better. Am I actually bad at walking normally and is this something I need to fix or I'll screw my back in the future? Or is it just that my simulation of walking by walking in place is bad? I don't know and I have no way of getting the machine to tell me. The slider test I do very well at because I cheat. There are patterns to the locations of the target zones so if I get lucky I can actually be set in the right spot before it even shows it to me allowing me to breeze through the time. Does that mean I deserve to be 'younger'?

In my search for a definition of Wii Fit Age I turned up a bunch of articles claiming that Wii Fit isn't even very good for you. With all the annoying pauses dealing with stupid menus and the lack of movement in most of the tests it actually burns barely twice as many calories as just playing a standard game like Final Fantasy II. It's substantially worse than Wii Sports or DDR. So, I think that experiment is over. I'm going to keep playing DDR and I may look into tracking what I eat to see what's up there but the Wii Fit is getting retired for now.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Final Fantasy II: Leeching XP

I got to the next dungeon and used the goddess bell from the previous dungeon to get in. Cowering just behind the locked door was Gordon. He starts off by saying he's far too weak to fight the monsters in the dungeon. But he got behind the locked door so he must know his way around, right? No, when a party member asks him as much he confesses he doesn't have a clue since there are lots of secret passages and such in the dungeon. But despite being useless in combat and worthless as a guide he asks to tag along anyway. We're suckers so we say yes. It would have been nice to know you could open the door before Josef sacrificed himself getting us a key though.

It turns out he wasn't lying about being terrible in combat either. He has no spells so he must be a bruiser. Only problem there is he started with about 8% of the max health that my bruiser did. Just about the only thing he has going for him is he got killed while blinded so it was gone when I brought him back to life. (I really need to buy esuna at some point.) Now that I think about it that's not such a bad idea. I think it may be time to light Bung on fire so I can bring him back to life without blindness too!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Final Fantasy XI: Reputation

I finished the rep grinds for the 3 starting towns today (and by extension also for Jeuno since it's the average of those 3). I was thinking about how frustrating it was that the way I ended up doing it was to fill my inventory with stuff I bought from a vendor, going to another town, and turning it in to a quest giver for almost as much as I paid for it. There are all these quests in all the towns that I could have done instead but this was the fastest and easiest way. It also turns out there aren't nearly enough quests in the game to max out the reputations with just normal quests. You have to do some sort of repeatable quest over and over again. Some repeatable quests require zoning between doing them which is annoying but the ones I did didn't so it just involved a couple hours of trading junk over and over. (I've been watching BSG and just hitting the button in the background.)

When it comes right down to it though, is it actually worse than what went on in World of Warcraft or does it just have an uglier face? How many WoW rep grinds involved doing the same quests over and over for weeks at a time? And there you could only do them once per day! Not once per time in the zone or once per clicking the button... Once per day! You couldn't even get into a groove actually doing the same thing over and over. No, every day you had to fly to all sorts of different quest hubs and do the same quests day after day after day. And yet still I did it. Over and over again. Huh.

BMI: 22.07 (+0.09)
Wii Fit Age: 27 (-5)

Friday, May 20, 2011

League of Legends

I haven't been playing much of any Final Fantasys lately. Instead I've been playing a bunch of League of Legends. The free heroes this week include one that's really clicking for me, so I've been playing him a lot.

I also discovered that people cast games online like they do with SC2. Here's an interesting clip from most of the way into the finals of a recent big tournament, to get an idea of what the game is like.

BMI: 22.04 (+0.1)
Wii Fit Age: 26 (-6)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Final Fantasy XI: Crafting Progress

My plan was to level woodworking. The primary reason for doing so is so I could repair fishing rods (Lu Shang's in particular) but I haven't exactly been fishing up a storm. My woodworking is at skill 10 (of 100) and I wanted to make some acid bolts to skill up. It turns out no one sells the materials to make them anymore and they take alchemy 45 to make. So, in order to level woodworking from 10 to 15 I decided to level alchemy from 0 to 45. Almost makes sense if you don't think about it too hard. My alchemy is up to 41 now and I can start in on the acid bolt heads.

The surprising part, to me at least, is I made an awful lot of money getting my skill up to 41. The way crafting works in FFXI is almost everything has a 'high quality' result that you can only really get when you've leveled well beyond the needed skill. For equipment this high quality result tends to be a strictly superior version of the item. These '+1' items tend to sell for a lot more than the material cost. As such, high level crafters would make a bunch of the normal versions of the item in the hopes of getting a +1. They'd get all their profit for the +1 and then would just liquidate the normal versions for whatever they could get, typically substantially below cost. Couple this with the fact gear doesn't bind on equip (and therefore can be resold to another player when you're done with it) and skilling up by making dozens of the same piece of gear is a huge waste of money. (Well, you get skill out of it, so maybe it's more an investment than a waste?) For stuff that comes in stacks (like arrows for example) the high quality result would just make more of them. So a high level crafter making a consumable would just be more efficient in terms of cost per item. They could afford to sell for less than your cost because it could be well above their cost. Couple this with the fact there used to be a bustling real money trade business in FFXI (and therefore 'Chinese gil sellers' who were willing to make all the consumables for moderate profit) and skilling up on consumables was a huge money sink too. Sometimes you'd find a recipe that would sell well to a vendor and break even but mostly skilling up cost money and lots of it.

Square is currently in the process of releasing mini-expansions to raise the level cap in the game. It was 75 for years and years and years but they're now on their way to raising it to 99. (They're at 90 right now.) There used to be insanely powerful items that cost absurd amounts of money that people would hoard gil to buy. Now, that stuff is not as good as stuff that drops in the expansion zones. Also the new zones generate a lot of currency just having people level in them so there's a lot more money to go around amongst high level players. This means that someone who may have been happy crafting for profit before (because they needed to save up for a relic) now have no incentive at all to do so. In fact they probably make more money buying consumables and just farming in the new zones. So the consumable market, at least, is wide open. I found a recipe to skill up on, for example, that was worth about 5 times the material cost and sold almost instantly. (The materials come from vendors in 3 different cities, so really not worth a high level player's while.)

I'm now wondering if I should give up on the woodworking plan and just keep leveling alchemy. I should take a look and see if there's anything a high level alchemist can make that I really want. (I think they make bullets for corsairs to shoot so if I end up playing a corsair I might want that. Who knows?)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I've been playing Dance Dance Revolution Universe 2 on the xBox 360 lately. The 360 is designed with an achievement system built into it and I've been trying to get the achievements in the game. Some of them are for just doing normal things like unlocking songs or passing them on any difficulty but a few of them are incredibly hard and annoying. Now, hard isn't something I normally shy at. I got plenty of hard achievements in World of Warcraft and was quite happy to do them.

No, the problem here, I think, is that they aren't for playing DDR. They're for doing a bunch of obscure challenges that use the songs and the dance pad but are actually detrimental to playing the game. Silly things like play a song at triple speed, with no top bar, and the arrows appearing halfway up the screen, without missing a single step. Except for the up arrows. Hit an up and you lose. So if you're actually good enough to pass the song with a speed increase and not seeing all the arrows properly you're probably screwed because you're going to instinctively hit the ups and lose. So in order to actually do it you'd need to practice the song with those weird conditions over and over and over until you did it perfectly. And then do it for 48 other different weird sets of conditions. Sorry, but I'm just not willing or able to do that. I haven't gotten all of the achievements in any xBox 360 game yet and DDRU2 won't be the first one.

BMI: 22.01 (+0.03)
Wii Fit Age: 28 (-3)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Puerto Rico Results

Yesterday I played 3 games of Puerto Rico in the Snakes and Lattes tournament. At one point I was talking with the guy who came second and he asked a question about if PR just wasn't my type of game. (I didn't win any of the rounds.) I told him I found it a bit too random and he disagreed saying even with people taking completely random actions he found it fun to try to figure out what they'd do anyway and position himself to take advantage.

I can recall thinking similar things about the game a while ago. When I first played PR I hated it because it seemed too random. (And I played exclusively 5 player games which didn't help matters.) Then I started really liking it and eventually felt like I could make the game flow the way I wanted. And then I started thinking it was too random again. So did I learn something or did I just get worse? It's hard to say. I certainly haven't played much recently and was very surprised at some of the moves people made yesterday. Some of which I'm pretty sure were just terrible but others might have been smart and I just missed how.

I certainly lost one game just by not paying enough attention. The guy to my right wasn't announcing what he was doing. He was just reaching across the table to grab things and such, and I completely missed that he'd picked up a coffee plantation. He was constantly leaning over his board and I couldn't see what he had unless I asked him to move. So when he called settler and I had the money to build coffee I grabbed a coffee plantation and immediately built coffee. If I build tobacco instead I may well have won. Instead he spent the rest of the game trying to screw me. (Because he wanted to sell coffee himself, see, even though it was another 3 rounds before he even had a roaster.) If I was playing tighter I'd have known what he had or would have forced him to announce his moves like everyone else. But I guess I didn't really care and the result showed.

On the plus side I got to play two games of Factory Fun afterwards. I love that game. I think I may go on an adventure to see if I can find a copy...

BMI: 22.01 (0)
Wii Fit Age: 28 (-3)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Puerto Rico Tournament

Snakes & Lattes has taken to holding various board game tournaments every month or so. To date the games have been on the easier end of the spectrum with Dominion, Settlers, and 7 Wonders. Today they're running a Puerto Rico event which is certainly wading into the deep end of complexity. (Boardgamegeek gives it a 3.3 on the 'game weight' scale. Dominion is 2.4, Settlers is 2.4, 7 Wonders is 2.2. So, a pretty significant bump if you believe the bgg ratings.)

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with this game. It has my second least favourite game mechanic (public-private information) and I often find you play the game for a while and then someone chooses who wins. Because people rarely accurately track the 'hidden' victory points the result can seem pretty random. (And if they are properly tracking points, well, it just becomes king-making entirely.) Also, during the game, the actions people take can drastically impact who does well. I wish I had some numbers in terms of winner's position relative to where craftsman in particular gets called.

On the positive hand it's relatively short, every decision matters, has many feasible strategies, and is pretty fun. Even with it being removed from BSW for years it's still my 4th most played game. (And really it should be 3rd. It counts each hand of Tichu as a full game in the stats.) Only Can't Stop and Backgammon are ahead of it and they're realistically both 2 player games so Puerto Rico is my most played multi-player game by far.

I like to play it and feel I have a decent grasp on how to win. I just get frustrated when I lose for reasons outside my control. Or at least, for what seem to be outside my control. Maybe I need to re-examine how I'm playing after I lose to see if I could have done something better...

At any rate, I'm heading there right after work and could well be there until tomorrow so I'm probably going to miss my weigh-in today. Oh well!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Final Fantasy XI: 9 Year Anniversary

Apparently it's been 9 years since FFXI launched. As a reward they're giving anyone who talks to a specific moogle a special ring which has as a use buff '+100% xp'. This buff lasts either 12 hours or for 9000 experience earned, whichever comes first. This is a pretty silly buff and I gained 15 levels yesterday on my corsair through two uses of the ring. (It has 10 charges total.) I'm thinking of doing the same with red mage tonight at seeing if I can't get close to the 30 required to do the BCNM we've wanted to do for a while.

BMI: 22.01 (+0.02)
Wii Fit Age: 31 (+2)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Final Fantasy II: Dead Dead

One of the weirdest things about the Final Fantasy series is which actions are really fatal and which ones can be shrugged off completely with a high enough level white mage. In FFII you have 3 main characters and then a 4th slot with a rotating array of dudes filling in. I just had Josef filling in. He's just a mediocre monk. At one point he got blinded which made him a really, really mediocre monk. So I had everyone attack him until he was dead. Then I cast life and brought him back, sans blind. (I should probably find out where esuna is sold and go buy it so I don't need to resort to such silliness.) At the end of the dungeon a bad guy springs a trap which drops a giant boulder on us. It rolls down the stairs and Josef throws himself in front of it to slow it down. The rest of the party escapes, he gets rolled over. But I still have the life spell, so he should be fine, right? Not so. Getting hacked to bits by an axe? No problem. Get squished by a rock? GG my friend.

I am now just outside the ice cave having gotten the Goddess Bell. It has taken me 3 hours and 35 minutes to reach this point. My black mage could use some more maximum mana but beyond that all my stats still seem quite overpowered for the monsters I'm fighting.

BMI: 21.98 (-0.05)
Wii Fit Age: 31 (+2)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger? More like bogger!

Blogger died yesterday due to a buggy patch. In the roll-back they lost posts and comments from late Wednesday and Thursday and failed to let me post at all on Thursday. When they finally got it back today (Friday) the eventually posted my Wednesday post as if it was on Friday. Now, I take an irrational amount of pride in posting every single day. When I get thrown off that rhythm I tend to fall off the wagon entirely as indicated by my three week gap to end February and start March. I missed a day because my internet connection went down for 16+ hours and then I just stopped posting. I'd failed so there was no point continuing.

I did discover a feature, however, that lets me change the posted date on my posts. I was able to re-date the skill chains post as being from Wednesday. I was able to post my FFII update that I wrote on Thursday and date it as if it was posted on Thursday. Theoretically I could sit down, pound out 20ish posts, and eliminate that gap in March. That feels like cheating, though. I'm all about stretching the boundaries but that just feels like it blows them away. On the other hand, if I'd known about the feature at the time I think I'd have been ok with writing the post with no internet and then backdating it when I got online. I certainly feel ok about fixing the last two days. I thought I'd check the National Blog Posting Month wesbite but it doesn't seem like anyone there got affected or cared enough to post about it. Oh well. I have a feeling they'd consider it cheating for sure no matter how I did it so maybe I should undo what I did.

Meh. I think my policy is just going to be if I actually write it on a given day but can't actually post it for some reason then it's ok to backdate it. If it just isn't written then I lose. I hate to lose... Better keep writing!

Oh, and I decided that the silly Wii Fit stats are too volatile for daily tracking. So what I'm posting is a 7 day average and it's getting compared to the average of the 7 days prior to those 7 days. Huzzah!

BMI: 21.94 (-0.2)
Wii Fit Age: 32 (2)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Final Fantasy II: Broke!

I returned to the starting town with the Mithril key item. This allowed the weapon shop to start selling better weapons. Unfortunately I can't afford even a single silver sword. It turns out all those attempts to up my mana (by using Ming-Wu's mana burn spell) have left me essentially broke. On the plus side I do have a pretty significant amount of health and mana now and I'm about to lose Ming-Wu so no more power leveling until I can afford to buy Faze or Swap myself. Time to plow through the plot!

BMI: 21.94 (-0.23)
Wii Fit Age: 31 (-1)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

FFXI: Skill Chain Details

As you add more people to your party you start wanting to fight harder and harder monsters. In order to actually kill the harder monsters in a timely manner you really want to be taking advantage of the damage multipliers that exist in skill chains and in magic bursts. Unfortunately skill chains are a little complicated and very arbitrary which makes it pretty hard to work out on the fly, especially since the chat log seems to get very cluttered with many people fighting at the same time. Possibly with a lot of experience with all the weapons and chains possible you'd eventually be able to work it out but certainly for me I need a tool to assist. But first, an overview of a skill chain.

The basic idea is every weapon skill has a particular elemental attribute associated with it. The hand-to-hand skill, Combo, for example has the elemental attribute Impaction. For a few seconds after Combo has been used the mob will have that attribute. Now, if a second weapon skill is used during those few seconds one of two things will happen:

- If the attribute of the second weapon skill is either liquifaction or detonation then a skill chain will happen. The mob will take an extra 50% damage from the second weapon skill. The mob will become vulnerable to a magic burst of the associated element (fire for liquifaction or wind for detonation). And the mob will have the new attribute for the next few seconds completely replacing the old one. The chain can continue based on the new attribute.
- If the attribute of the second weapon skill is anything else then no bonus happens. The old attribute will again be completely replaced by the new one and a chain can happen from the new attribute alone. This means randomly using a weapon skill in the middle of other people's chain can hurt.

Here is an interesting site with a weapon skill calculator on it. You enter in the levels and weapons used by your party and it spits out what skill chains you may be able to do. I didn't think to look into this yesterday before we ran some mazes but it may have helped out. We ran into one mob type (ooze) which took drastically reduced normal damage. Having the potential to skill chain or magic burst them may have sped things up. (Instead I just spammed banish and rested a lot which worked out ok.) Putting our group in for yesterday (level 15s WAR/MNK with a scythe, THF/DNC with a sword, WHM/BLM with a club) shows a bunch of different skill chains. Some of which actually would have multiplied the banish damage by 30% which could have been a big deal.

Slice -> Burning Blade
Seraph Strike -> Burning Blade
Burning Blade -> Slice
Fast Blade -> Dark Harvest
Dark Harvest -> Seraph Strike
Burning Blade -> Seraph Strike
Slice -> Burning Blade -> Seraph Strike

Each of us had two weapon skills and some of them work in some orders but not others. Rarely do we use weapon skills at the same time due to differences in TP gain and other priorities. On some runs I didn't even attack at all. I just healed and rested. But I think it could have helped to look this up in advance especially once we ran into the oozes. I did melee a fair bit on those guys and if we could have timed a slice into burning blade into seraph strike into banish it could have been pretty sweet. We'll get you next time, Gadget! Next time!

BMI: 21.98 (-0.02)
Wii Fit Age: 31 (0)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Farming for Crafting Materials

I've been reading a fair number of FFXI crafting guides lately. Mostly I'm doing this to get a feel for the past and a rough idea of what vendors may sell different things I need since frankly every guide is terribly outdated at this point. The FFXI economies have been completely transformed in the last little while with the most recent expansions drastically changing the way people level and how money enters the game. At any rate, the most frequent comment I'm finding is these guides is what to do when the established price of a needed mat is 'too high'. Almost always the advice given is to go farm the materials yourself to 'save money'. Also, every crafting recipe requires a crystal to use (common drop from every monster worth experience in the game if you have a signet buff) and many people completely ignore the value of these crystals.

The problems here are you're not saving money by farming materials yourself and crystals actually have a very real value. Just because you have a bunch lying around doesn't mean you can discount what they're worth when figuring out how much crafting is costing you. You could just sell those crystals and have the money instead! And if a given material is worth so much you can't afford to buy it maybe you should farm it up and sell it instead of crafting with it. More to the point, you should have an 'optimal' way to make money and should spend your time doing that in order to buy the expensive stuff instead of farming it yourself.

This assumes, of course, that there is an actual stock of the overpriced item. Right now it seems like a lot of base materials are completely non-existent on the auction house. My goal has been to level woodworking in order to repair fishing rods and make various useful consumables. Every guide says to level in the teens on acid bolts (or some other kind of bolts) because they sell fast and for a reasonable profit. I would love to make acid bolts. But one stack of acid bolt heads has sold in the last 2 weeks. No one is making this stuff. So, if I want to make them myself, I need to level alchemy. Which means I need to level smithing. Hence, reading all the guides, which want me to go kill bees because beehive chips are too expensive on the AH. Gah! Farming is a solution to scarcity and possibly is a good way to make money. It is not a solution to losing money skilling up a craft. If a recipe is unprofitable then it's unprofitable regardless of how you obtain the materials.

BMI: 22.02 (-.07)
Wii Fit Age: 38 (+5)

Monday, May 09, 2011

Final Fantasy XI: Corsair's Roll

I managed to unlock the corsair job last night. Corsairs are gambling pirates that are good with guns and swords. They use dice and cards to power all of their special abilities. To play well you need to have a good grasp of probability and positioning and need to know what everyone in your party wants. And when played well they seem to be stupidly overpowered. Just what I'm looking for!

The staple ability of the class is a suite of buffs they can provide which grant a wide variety of benefits. Each member of your party can have two such buffs per corsair. The way you grant a buff is to use the ability "phantom roll" which has a 1 minute cooldown. You pick one of your dice to roll (you have a die for every buff you know) and everyone within 8 yards gets a buff based on the number you rolled. Then for the next 45 seconds you can use a second ability "double-up" which rolls the die again and gives everyone with 8 yards a buff based on the sum of all dice rolled thus far. Note, this could be a different set of people if people have moved. Anyone out of range of the double-up keeps their initial value. The tricky part is you have a table of different results depending on the number rolled and if you ever exceed 12 you bust. People within 8 yards lose the related buff and the corsair actually gets a negative buff hurting that stat which they can't get rid of. This bust buff eats up one of your two buff slots so busting is pretty bad all around. Everyone else can still get 2 buffs but you're stuck with a bust. Bust twice and you can't even buff anyone else until they fall off. (All such buffs last 5 minutes so you can juggle 5 different buffs total.)

Different people are going to want different buffs (mages have no need for melee accuracy and beaters have no need for mana regen) so you need to get proper positioning amongst everyone in order to get everyone everything they want before they start fading. A lot of time is therefore spent running between clumps of people and dropping buffs on them. (Bards work pretty much the same way so the idea of having a caster clump and a melee clump is pretty common in FFXI.) Corsairs don't do awesome damage as a result of all the running around but supposedly they do pretty solid damage considering all the buffs they bring.

The first 20 buffs are all named after one of the 20 jobs in the game. Each such buff provides something that job tends to want (ninja roll adds evasion, thief roll adds crit chance, warrior roll adds old-school windfury, etc...) and actually gets better if the named job is in the party. Thief roll can add up to 19% crit if there's no thief in the group and up to 25% crit if there is a thief in the group. Everyone gets the bigger number, not just the thief.

The very first roll you get (at level 5 which I'm not even at yet but expect to hit tonight) is corsair's roll. This roll provides an xp multiplier for the group which is pretty sweet. (Especially when you're running a lot of MMM mazes since the multiplier stacks well with the winning chest multiplier.) So looking at things just for our group (we're up to 4 people with Byung having caught up last night) how do I maximize total xp% uptime? Busting is going to cost me 6% of my experience for 5 minutes and cause the group to have no xp buff for a minute. (I will actually get the second xp buff too but probably lose it when I give out a second buff to the group.)

First, the table for results assuming I don't re-roll this buff at all if it busts. If I have a 5 buff rotation already, for example, this will be the case.

RollBuff ValueEV(Double-Up)

The best result for this (and all other) rolls is to hit exactly 11. Unfortunately it doesn't seem like trying for an 11 can be right for this roll. You make very minor gains by rolling again on 6 but that's because only the corsair gets saddled with the 6% penalty. And as the corsair I'm not too thrilled with this deal. But the buff value of 12 (and consequently the EV of the previous rolls) isn't actually -1.5% because I can spend the next roll on xp again for the rest of my group. Busting again destroys my whole reason for existing (assuming the other buffs I provide are of any use and I'm pretty sure they're all insane) since I won't be able to put up a single buff for at least 4 minutes. I'll have to see how it plays out but if I try again I will likely sadle myself with 4 minutes of busted xp, 1 minute with both busted xp and buffed xp, and 1 minute with no xp buff at all. Refusing to double-up if it could bust a second time gives the following table (assuming a 4 person party and with the buff value normalized to a percent per minute):

RollBuff ValueEV(Double-Up)

So if I bust and buff again a minute later I expect the group as a whole to earn close to 11% bonus experience per minute. If my buff rotation isn't full (and with our current group I don't expect it will be) then it can be right to bust and keep going. (If I roll a total of 9 the first time, for example, the average experience bonus is only 8%. 11 is bigger than 8 and that's ignore the fact I have a 1 in 3 chance at a good buff for everyone.) Clearly the second time through I hit on anything below a 5 and never hit if I could bust. But what should I do the first time through? The final chart there, given the new value of busting, is:

RollBuff ValueEV(Double-Up)

From here I should hit on 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 9. 7 is close enough that the selfish part of me wants to stay on it (and really since I'm going to be delaying a different buff by a minute by doing this is probably right anyway) but the rest of the hits are pretty substantial gains. Especially 9 where I'm gambling my experience in the hopes of giving everyone else a huge buff. Come on, lucky number 11!

For the curious it seems high level corsairs get a couple abilities to try to smooth out some of this randomness. Every 15 minutes you can fold which removes a bust debuff (or an actual roll if you have no busts). Also every 15 minutes you can force your next double-up roll to come out a 1 which is pretty great when you get stuck on 9 here, for example. Hit snake eye and move smoothly up the 10! (And how sweet is it to be playing a job with abilities named fold and snake eye?)

BMI: 22.09 (+.27)
Wii Fit Age: 33 (+5)

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Final Fantasy II: Skill Thresholds

I cleared out the first dungeon today, getting the 'mithril' key item. I had two people wielding double shields, one with sword and shield, and one with a staff. (He's the temp character who will be leaving soon. I don't care about leveling any of his stats.) I figured I'd have two people attacking which would kill all the fights pretty quickly and still level up shields on my two casters.

Unfortunately the game is designed such that as you get higher level in a weapon it becomes harder to gain more of that weapon. Now there are ways to do this that would make sense. Less xp per action or needing more xp to gain a level. No, what they did was added a threshold. If you have sword skill 5 then the first 4 times in a fight you attack with a sword nothing happens. Then each attack afterwards is worth standard sword xp. This means if you do it all in one fight you need to attack, say 23 times to level up. Or you could spend 19 fights attacking 5 times each for 95 actions instead of 23. And if you don't get to fight 5 times in a fight? You'll never level up at all. Short fights mean you're guaranteed to stagnate. My first character who had shield skill 5 going into the dungeon didn't gain a single shield experience. I eventually just unequipped one of the shield to level his hand to hand skill.

It's now clear I need to do skill up fights and story fights and I have to set up differently for each one. So I need to either bring weapons for my mages or build up their mana enough that they can cast attack spells every fight.

BMI: 21.82 (+.14)
Wii Fit Age: 28 (+1)

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Let's D-D-R!

There are two problems with Wii Fit. It's boring and you have long delays between different events as you navigate all the menus. The mini games are neat the first few times but get tiresome fast. Even now after a year break I just can't get into it. But I do want to build up some sort of stamina so I can consider some sort of physical activity in the future. I'm thinking maybe an exercise bike or something of that sort so I can watch Star Trek while building endurance. But for now... Dance Dance Revolution!

I plugged my pad back in after at least a year off there, too. I hit random and forgot that I wouldn't get to change the difficulty setting after the song was chosen. (In the arcade you get to see the song first since the difficulty varies drastically song to song even at the same setting.) I was on the 3rd difficulty setting and actually ended up perfecting it. My first AA result in the game and it came after more than a year off. It turned out the song was only a 5 difficulty (out of 10) but still, pretty sweet. And then two songs later I couldn't stand anymore I was so exhausted. Endurance definitely needs work. And to think, I don't have anyone to hit me with a sword...

BMI: 21.68 (-.41)
Wii Fit Age: 27 (+1)

Friday, May 06, 2011

FFXI: Back Tanking

I just saw some people talking about using a technique they call "back tanking" to fight some of the harder monsters in FFXI. This works on huge mobs that have frontal AE cones like many WoW bosses have. Onyxia and Nefarian are perhaps the most iconic such examples. The boss points at the tank so you position your tank away from the rest of your raid. That way only the tank gets hit by the huge breath weapon. Simple, right?

In FFXI huge mobs actually don't turn to face the person they're attacking. (And since there's no target of target function this makes it hard for the healer to know who's got aggro as I found out when we used Tom's dragon rune in an MMM maze.) So the tank runs behind the boss but stays in melee range so the boss doesn't move and therefore change the way it faces. Now no one is in front of the boss to get hit by the breath! It turns out the boss just won't use their breath attacks in this set-up and will use other attacks instead, which can be abused since some raid-wide AE attacks only get cast when the tank is in front as well.

This just seems weird and wrong to me. But is it abusing a bug or a creative use of game mechanics? Did Square intent to have dragons fought with the whole raid cowering behind the boss? It seems simple enough to fix (let dragons turn like smaller mobs do) so I'd assume it was kosher but it still feels like cheating.

BMI: 22.09 (-.16)
Wii Fit Age: 26 (-7)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Ethics of Cheating

Sky has been thinking about getting back into Diablo 2 (maybe he already has) and it got me to thinking about the last time I played D2 before they forced me to use my WoW account to log in to D2. The thing is I used to maphack; a bannable offense according to Blizzard. I didn't really want to play D2 legit so risking just my D2 CD key wasn't a big concern for me but I wasn't going to risk my WoW account. The last time I played, after I had to sync up, I played just user mods on private servers/single player. Probably also a bannable offense but since I wasn't going anywhere near Battle.Net the odds of getting caught were probably on par with actually figuring out a Zod runeword through trial and error.

I'm sure maphacks had all sorts of features that could be used to do all sorts of flagrant things. I know you could teleport hack in both WoW and FFXI so I have to imagine you could do that in D2 as well. I never did. I also never duped anything or really did anything that I felt was actually bad. I used the feature that displayed the whole map so I didn't have to explore Baal's castle every time I wanted to kill him. It also displayed all the monsters so teleporting around wearing entirely MF gear was a little less suicidial. (Only a little though since I just played riskier.) It displayed the immunities and special abilities of all monsters as well, which was a big help for a sorceress. I didn't have to careful inch forward and examine all the monsters to see what spells to cast or if I needed to avoid them. I could just walk in shooting lightning or frost as needed. Who am I kidding... I didn't walk at all. I teleported in. But with the spell, not a hack. It costs mana, see, so it's ok. I also think there was a loot filtering feature so I didn't see piles of garbage everywhere. Possibly the loot was always visible too so I didn't have to hold alt down to see it. There was an auto-quaff feature but I didn't use that. If I was going to die I'd need to stop it myself! There was an auto-disconnect feature if someone PvP hostiled you! I don't think I ever used that since I wasn't playing hardcore but I know it was a popular feature among those that did. Stupid griefers. 8P

So, am I a bad person? D2 was designed in single player such that you only had to explore the map once and then it was the same each time you entered the zone. In multi-player every time you zoned into a new world the map was refreshed from one of the very few templates and you had to re-explore it again. I did that for years and frankly it got tedious. I wanted to kill the A1-5 boss over and over for runes in a desperate attempt to get something vaguely resembling high on the rune list. Having the map reset each time probably doubled or tripled the time it took per run. Should I just suck that up and sink my time in as designed or was it 'ok' to have the map? Knowing immunities in advance also saved a lot of time, especially since the interface was not well designed for getting me the information I needed in a timely manner. And loot is just a disaster when you're killing screens of enemies at a time with chain lightning. I don't want to have to dig through piles of grey items in the hopes of finding the rare that dropped. By default you don't even know that it did and if there's too much loot on the screen you can't even see it all so you have to wander around with alt held down and hope you can see it.

Loot filtering is a feature I think the game should have had and I don't think it was excluded as an intentional design feature. If D2 was a living breathing entity then it would have a loot filter of some kind by now. (Like how FFI didn't have a run button but when Square re-released it on the PSX they included one. Playing FFI on an emulator with the speed turned up so you can run is 'cheating' but it doesn't make one a bad person, I don't think.)

What about having the map laid out in front of you? If the dungeons were always random I'd say hacking the map would make one a bad person for sure. But when it's always from a set of 3 possible maps and when single player mode does give you the same map every time, well, it's a little murkier. Seeing what monsters are behind walls is definitely cheating. And if I was selling ill-gotten gains on the battle.net market that would definitely be bad. But if all I'm doing is making a game fun is it all that bad?

Does it matter if other people are doing it too? I've been reading some FFXI fan forums lately and found some information about how many rare monsters spawn. Take Spiny Spipi for example. I did a hunt for this guy shortly after I started playing. The basic idea is 3 crawler mobs spawn around a river on the map. There's a chance when a crawler respawns that it will be Spiny Spipi. So I ran around for a couple hours killing crawlers until eventually he spawned and then I killed him. Woo! But no one cares about Spiny Spipi so I had no competition for killing him at all.

How it actually works is there aren't 3 of the same crawler at all. There are 3 different crawlers with their own mob ids in the database. One and only one of those crawlers is the placeholder for Spiny Spipi. You don't need to kill all 3 crawlers over and over. You just need to kill the one with the right id. Now, what you can do is edit the data files to change the name of that specific crawler on your computer. The game knows there's a difference between crawler1 and crawler3. It knows that crawler3 is the one you need to kill. If Spiny Spipi mattered then a bunch of people would already know which crawler to camping and which ones to ignore. I'm off wasting my time killing the other 2 crawlers and they're ready to jump Spiny Spipi.

Worse, the client actually knows the status of every mob in the zone. There's a program you can run to scan the client's memory and pull out the info for every mob in the zone. So while I'm running in a big circle killing crawlers and trying to see if Spiny Spipi has spawned the other people know instantly when he's spawned as he goes from no health to 100% in their program. So they're not spending a lot of time and effort camping him at all. They're killing the known placeholder and then checking back in 5 minutes to see if the placeholder or Spiny Spipi actually spawned again.

Ok, that's bad, right? Well... Two of the classes (Ranger and Beastmaster) actually get an ability called Wide Scan which allows them to see every monster alive in a huge circle around them. The mobs are all sorted by their internal id so if you've been meticulous enough you already know that you just need to kill the 3rd crawler in that list to spawn Spiny Spipi. You kill him, wait about 5 minutes, and then keep checking your scan to see if he's up or if the 3rd crawler is up. With only a little more effort you can pull the same thing off in game without cheating at all. You just made clever use of known game mechanics.

Pretty much someone using the hacks to mod mob names and see all spawned mobs in another window is going to kill the NMs almost every time if there's a competition. Anyone who is a ranger or beastmaster is going to kill them otherwise. And chumps like me who are a white mage get the leavings. I can camp the NMs that no one cares about (which really at this point in time is most of them) but I have no shot at a real one that other people care about.

Am I a bad person if I start using this program? (Hacking the client has all kinds of other benefits as well. Including seeing your party member's resource statuses to make weapon chains plausible without a lot of external communication and intelligently changing gear for different spells which you can do right now with their macro system anyway.) Am I a stupid person if I don't? Square has sporadically been aggressive about banning people for duping and position hacking but as far as I know never for just making the client more usable.

BMI: 22.25 (+.16)
Wii Fit Age: 33 (+2)

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Wii Fat

I don't remember where I saw it, but the other day I read an internet post connecting bad posture with shyness and not in the direction that seems to make sense on the surface. Their claim was having bad posture made people shy. I can't find where I saw it but they didn't have anything backing that claim. However, after a bit of reading I found one site that claimed good posture provides better blood flow which makes people feel healthier which I guess could help. I suspect it's more a vicious feedback loop where being shy causes bad posture which makes you feel worse which makes you shy. Or something.

Regardless, I've been meaning to get back on the Wii Fit bandwagon and get into something resembling shape. Having a stronger core should help with posture too, so might as well get started, right?

I scrounged up some batteries and  set up the Wii balance board. It turns out it had been 377 days since I last 'played' Wii Fit. I did the body test and it turns out I've gained almost 9 pounds in that time and am up over 145 pounds with a BMI over 22. At points in my life I was definitely on the 'too skinny' side of things but that's really not the case anymore.

I then tried to do some of the strength exercises but the 'charged' batteries I put into the balance board died after about 5 minutes total. I'm going to have to find some new batteries so I can get at it tomorrow. I figure if I make a habit of ending my posts here with Wii Fit data I'll be more apt to keep at it this time around so we'll see if that works out or not.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Final Fantasy XI: RSE Complete!

I logged on after work yesterday thinking I'd screw around crafting a bit and then play some FFII. But when I logged on Tom said it was Mithra week in Gusgen Mines and I should head down and 'help' him. I put help in quotes there because he'd already gotten one piece himself so clearly he can solo the place. White mages are pretty terrible at helping to fight things. Awesome in keeping a group alive to be sure, but not great in a team of two. Fortunately I got thief up to level 15 on the weekend and thief gets an iconic ability at level 15: Treasure Hunter. Unfortunately it isn't clear exactly what TH does but it definitely increases the drop rates of items. Like, say, chest keys. So even if having me along wasn't really speeding things up in a mobs per hour standpoint (though I am sure it was since every 2 fights I get to do a weapon skill which is about as good as one of Tom's autoattacks) it should definitely have sped things up in terms of keys (and other loot) per hour. We got 3 Escape scrolls to drop, for example, and they're worth ~18k each.

It also turned out the mobs we were killing were xp chainable for me, though the amount per mob was lowered from having a higher level person around. I still ended up gaining a level essentially for free since we were doing other stuff primarily.

We ran right down to the wire, finishing with about 26 minutes before the week ended, but we did manage to end up with 7 keys. With the 1 Tom got before I got home from voting yesterday we had enough for a full set of gear each. I can't speak to how much better level 30ish gear makes Tom but it definitely makes my level 32 WHM a lot better. 20% more max mp and a bunch of extra hp and stats! I have high hopes for smashing some MMM mazes tonight.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Final Fantasy XI: Gobbiebags!

Your inventory size in FFXI starts capped at 30 including gear worn which is definitely not enough space. There is a series of 10 quests which add 5 more slots to your inventory. (They also add 5 slots to each of two different mog house storage types as well.) The quests are all pretty much the same. Get a level of reputation with Jeuno (actually the average of your reputation with the three starting towns) and then trade 4 items to a goblin in Lower Jeuno. The 4 items are always a piece of leather, a metal ingot, some cloth, and a precious gem. These items can be obtained in a variety of ways: crafting, BCNM drops, vendors, and the AH. I did the first in the series recently by buying the items on the AH but I suspect I could have saved a couple thousand gil by buying one of the items from a vendor on the other side of the world. I figure I should look up where everything else comes from since I'm going to want bigger bags again and I might as well buy low if I can. And maybe I can actually makes some moneys selling this stuff on the AH if I actually find a cheap source of them.

Gobbiebag I - fame 3
Dhalmel Leather - level 34 goblin, leathercraft (21), AH 4500g
Steel Ingot - many BCNMs, smithing (55), smithing guild vendor ~4000g?, AH 5000g
Linen Cloth - level 46 revenant, clothcraft (22), AH 4000g
Peridot - many BCNMs, goldsmithing (20HQ), many coffers, a quest, AH 7000g

Gobbiebag II - fame 4
Ram Leather - leathercraft (35), AH 5000g
Mythril Ingot - many BCNMs, smithing (38), AH 7000g
Wool Cloth - level 8 goblin, level 63 ghost, a BCNM, clothcraft (37), AH 5000g
Turquiose - many BCNMs, goldsmithing (20HQ), many coffers, a quest, AH 10000g

Gobbiebag III - fame 5
Tiger Leather - level 34 goblin, leathercraft (61), AH 7000g
Gold Ingot - level 52 goblin, many BCNMs, goldsmithing (51), AH 22000g
Velvet Cloth - level 50 goblin, ANNM, clothcraft (45), AH 5000g
Painite - level 55 pot, many BCNMs, many coffers, a quest, goldsmithing (20HQ2), AH 50000g

Gobbiebag IV - fame 5
Cermet Chunk - chocobo hot and cold, a quest, alchemy (56), AH 2000g
Darksteel Ingot - many BCNMs, smithing (52), AH 8000g
Silk Cloth - 2 BCNMs, clothcraft (53), AH 5000g
Goshenite - 2 BCNMs, many coffers, a quest, goldsmithing (20HQ), 5000g

Gobbiebag V - fame 6
Bugard Leather - leathercraft (24), AH 2000g
Paktong Ingot - smithing (20), AH 10000g
Moblinweave - ISNM, chocobo hot and cold, clothcraft (23), AH 28000g
Rhodonite - goldsmithing (20), AH 5000g

Gobbiebag VI - fame 6
High-Qualify Eft Skin - level 35 eft, level 77 eft, AH 2000g
Shakudo Ingot - level 47 samurai, level 57 ninja, AH 1000g
Balloon Cloth - level 47 thief, level 57 ranger, AH 1000g
Iolite - level 66 ghost, level 78 ghost, AH 2000g

Gobbiebag VII - fame 7
Lynx Leather - leathercraft (71), AH 6000g
Adaman Ingot - many BCNMs, smithing (90), AH 10000g
Rainbow Cloth - many BCNMs, clothcraft (80), AH 10000g
Deathstone - a BCNM, a quest, goldsmithing (20HQ3), AH 10000g

Gobbiebag VIII - fame 7
Smilodon Leather - leathercraft (61), AH 15000g
Electrum Ingot - goldsmithing (42), AH 50000g
Square of Cilice - clothcraft (85), AH 10000g
Angelstone - a BCNM, 2 quests, goldsmithing (20HQ3), AH 20000g

Gobbiebag IX - fame 8
Peiste Leather - leathercraft (81), AH 30000g
Orichalcum Ingot - many BCNMs, a mission, goldsmithing (89), AH 40000g
Oil-Soaked Cloth - clothcraft (78), AH 26000g
Oxblood Orb - bonecraft (74), a mission, AH 10000g

Gobbiebag X - fame 9
Griffon Leather - leathercraft (97), davoi token vendor?, AH 120000g
Molybdenum Ingot - a mission, smithing (91), AH 15000g
Foulard - a mission, clothcraft (98), AH 60000g
Angel Skin Orb - a mission, bonecraft (???), AH 7000g

Apparently there is a quest to get the starting few gems. It rewards 2 gems, unclear if it is random or if you get to choose from a list. The quest takes place in the shadowrealm but looks to be low level. I already have the item needed! I guess I need to look further into campaigns and the shadowrealm.

I'm also pretty amazed at the price difference between tiers. Gobbiebag VI is practically free! I can probably afford number II soon, but unless I get a painite from the quest there's no way I can do III. Even if I do get a painite from the quest I may well just sell it off regardless... But I need more space!

I may also try farming that level 8 goblin who has a 5k drop and see if the drop rate is any good.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

MMM: Take 3!

Aidan made it up to Jeuno recently so we've been 3-manning the starting MMM dungeon. So far we're 5-4. It turns out if the random monsters are elementals we just can't win since we do melee damage and not spell damage. Definitely fun and great xp if we win.