The Second Time Around

Over the weekend I finished up A Realm Reborn for the second time. The first go round took 322 hours over the course of 3 years or so. This time it only took 40 hours over a little less than a month. Of course, that first time around started when Heavensward was the only expansion and I wanted to try out everything the game had to offer. This time I stuck to running the Main Scenario Quests and focusing on one class.

The original plan was to level a healer for quicker dungeon queues which I did for a while. I stopped that after I got my White Mage to 30. For one, I didn’t remember the dungeons after that point all that well and didn’t want to drop people left and right. But the DPS queue wasn’t actually that bad. The longest I had to wait for most of the MSQ leveling dungeons was 12 minutes. The last two dungeons, Castrum Meridianum and The Praetorium, had a wait time of about 25 minutes each. I passed the time by finishing entries in the hunting log I had been neglecting.

Since the last time I’ve run these two dungeons the cutscenes have are now unskippable. The last time I ran these I had to skip the scenes or I got left behind. It was nice to see the end of the story here but the cutscenes felt never ending. Just when I thought it was over, BAM, another cutscene! One of the best parts of all of this was my party members riffing off the melodrama at every turn.

Now that I’m done with ARR I’m on to the Seventh Astral Era Quests. This is where I left off on my last character and the part I haven’t been looking forward to. I got through about half of the quests last time but I couldn’t tell you what the story was about. Maybe paying closer attention this time will make things more interesting. I read that the 100 quests between ARR and Heavensward were reduced to…90 so that’s something, right?

This week I plan on working through these post ARR quests but I’m not in a rush to complete them. The last time I wantedget them over with and ended up burning myself out. With ARR, I found a nice balance by doing a few quests throughout the week and spending a larger chunk of time with the game on the weekends.

This time I’m going to get to Heavensward!

Titan Who?

I spent a lot less time in Final Fantasy XIV last weekend than I was planning. My wife’s 10 year old car finally died and most of the weekend was spent figuring out how to replace it. I was able to log in for a little bit and knock out more of the MSQ and a couple Black Mage class quests.

From my first playthrough of A Realm Reborn, I clearly remember everything leading up to Ifrit. But in between Ifrit and Garuda I was drawing a black. I remembered snippets like the Brayflox Longstop dungeon and meeting a “member” of the Company of Heroes somewhere outside of Limsa Lominsa. But that’s about it. I was drawing a blank on what Titan looked like or what the fight was actually like. Even when I was in there I couldn’t recall ever doing it. Lucky for me, it was easy to figure out what I was suppose to do once I was in there.

I’m sure there will be more large swaths of story coming up that I’ll have no recollection of either. I have no idea what happens between the Garuda fight and the end dungeons with all those unskipable cutscenes. Or anything that happens in between the end of A Realm Reborn and the start of Heavensward.

I’ve said it before but there’s something about the writing or delivery of dialogue in FFXIV that requires me to either pay full attention or miss out completely on what’s being said. So part of it is I’m actively paying more attention this time around and picking things up I didn’t catch before. The other major factor is that I’m playing on PC rather than PS4 this time. I find it’s way easier for me to read on my monitor rather than the TV.

I’m hoping to get some more play time in this week to advance the story some more. It’s a race to see if I can get in to Heavensward and play actual new to me content before my interest in the game fades again.

Preparing for Combat in Melvor

This week has been all about getting myself set up to take on combat in Melvor. From the onset, I had an idea to level one combat style at a time for a bit of a challenge. I chose to start with Range in homage to my original Runescape character way back in 2007. Of course, I chose one of the more involved styles in terms of gearing. It might not be optimal to do it this way but here I am.

I started with leveling Fishing right off the bat. For one, it’s an idle skill that continues collecting while I’m offline and I also know I’m going to need a lot of food.. The added benefit Fishing first is the chance to receive “junk” instead of fish. Selling the junk early on lead to some decent gold gains so I could purchase more bank slots to…store more junk….

At Fishing level 20 I was able to fish in Lemvor Pier which gives a base 1% chance to fish up a special item. These have been gems so far but there was a tooltip that said some special items can unlock additional fishing areas. Since I didn’t have the crafting level to use the gems I sold them for gold. I spent that gold on better fishing rods so I could fish faster and so the cycle continued. I’m currently sitting at level 68 Fishing and 8k food items after letting it run overnight.

Once I had all of this raw fish I needed to cook it. I had saved all of the fish I caught from each level bracket in hopes of leveling Cooking without having to go back and fish lower level fish. This worked out nicely and my Cooking level has kept pace with my Fishing level. With 55 cooking I can now cook Raw Fanfish which is the highest level fish I can catch in an area with a chance for special items.

With the food situation taken care of, I turned my attention to Woodcutting and Fletching. One of the things I’ve always loved about Runescape, and now Melvor, is how skills flow into each other. I needed to level Woodcutting to gather wood to use to fletch arrow shafts and bows. I needed to level Mining so I could gather ore to use for Smithing to make arrowheads. I ended up getting all of the above up pretty high over the week and I can now make up to Mithril arrows. Those should be a nice mid-tier ammo to start fighting the higher combat level creatures.

The last piece of all this was Crafting. If I had gone with melee I could have been progressively improving my armor and weapons through Smithing. That would have given me 4 tiers of armor and weapons to go through. Unfortunately, there are only 2 tiers of ranged armor: Leather and Hard Leather. Leather was pretty quick to get but the full hard leather set requires getting Crafting to level 50 which took me most of the week. Leather can be bought in the shop but it was a bit expensive when I first started leveling Crafting. So I did dip my toes into the combat system since cows drop up to 3 leather a kill. Cows have a combat level of 2 so after the first few they weren’t much of a challenge. It was just a matter of waiting to kill enough cows and making sure my loot inventory didn’t fill up.

So with a full Hard Leather armor set, a few thousand Mithril Arrows, and a Maple Short Bow, I’m ready to check out combat this weekend!

Melvor Idle: Runescape but Grindier

I went down a Reddit rabbit hole last weekend and ended up in the Incremental Games subreddit. Idle games have fascinated me since I discovered the genre a few years ago. On the surface, they seem pointless. Why would I play a game that plays itself? But when you dig deeper there’s a bit more of a strategy/resource management thing going on. Mix that with some theory crafting for efficiency and now we start to see a game take shape. They’re like really, really, slow Tycoon games.

Idle games happen to be one of my guilty pleasure games. I don’t play them often but when the mood strikes I find them endlessly entertaining. The best ones usually have some form of progression, obtainable goals to work towards, and resets that provide benefits for the next playthrough. They also provide both idle and active play. I’m not so much a fan of the “clicker” games because I happen to like my mouse. I prefer the lower action per minute games where I can turn a nob here or there every so often. Or just leave it to sit offline and gather resources.

I highly recommend Kittens and Trimps as examples of, what I would consider, good idle games. And now I can confidently add Melvor Idle to that list. I’ve been “playing” it a ton this week.

Melvor Idle is what you get when you strip Old School Runescape down to the numbers and skills. Or if you had a bot going 24/7… In fact, you could argue that Runescape is just a really needy idle game already and I wouldn’t disagree.

The game draws a lot of inspiration from Runescape. The skills have the same name and they feed into each other which is something I’ve always loved about Runescape. Surprisingly, combat feels exactly the same as Runescape. That’s probably because Runescape’s combat is fairly simple anyways. But the most important part for me is that the progression (i.e. grind) feels fun and rewarding so far. Not only do the skills level up but there are levels inside of levels called Mastery. I’m a bit iffy on how mastery works right now but it looks like a promising system.

At any rate, it’s free, it’s fun, and it’s holding much more my attention than I thought it would!

NIMBY Rails First Impressions

I had put NIMBY Rails on my Steam Wishlist a while ago before it released back in 2019. I had mostly forgotten about it until I saw an email from Steam pop up on my phone at the end of January.

NIMBY Rails is a railway management sandbox game made by the same devs as The Spatials: Galactology. It gives you the tools to create passenger rail systems anywhere in the world using Open Street Maps. It’s a niche concept but one that I’m finding endlessly entertaining right now. I’ve always been fasinated with maps so building on a detailed world map had been fantastic.

The game is in early access right now but is very playable and has gotten a lot of updates in the 2 weeks it’s been available. Right now, there are two ways to play: with money and with unlimited money. If you want to play a tycoon-like management game playing with money is the way to go. You start out with a loan of 1 billion dollars and can start building anywhere in the world. The goal is to pay off your loan and turn a profit to expand your rail networks. Unlimited money offers more of a creative mode but includes all of the management options as playing with money. It even gives you the accounting stats. Unlimited money seems geared more towards people who want to create real-life rail systems as opposed to imagined ones.

Until recently, playing with money was a bit tedious unless you were building in highly populated cities like Tokyo or Mexico City. The time multiplier only went so high so when you ran out of money you’d just have to wait or leave the game running overnight to generate enough capital to start building again. It turns out rail lines are very expensive. A recent update boosts the game time speed up by x10000 and then throttles down depending on what your CPU can handle. This makes building in smaller areas way more viable as the days pass by in seconds instead of minutes.

I appreciate the simplicity of the game so far. A lot of times with niche simulation games you’re given a lot of complex tools and I spend most of my time figuring out what does what. Which tends to get in the way of actually enjoying the game itself. NIMBY Rails gives me all of the tools I need right off the bat to start creating and offers a short quickstart guide to explain the basics.

There are 3 structures you can build: stations, tracks, and depots. Each structure has 4 types: Groud, Viaduct, Tram, and Tunnels. Each type offers different trade-offs in speed, cost, and placement. For example, Tram tracks and stations can be placed anywhere except over water. They’re the cheapest option but have a max speed of 45 km/h. Ground tracks, on the other hand, have the fastest speeds but overpasses need to be built each time they cross a road which adds another 500K for each overpass. That can rack up quickly, especially when getting into or out of cities. There are plans to add more complex tools like single tracks and signals. For now, I’m enjoying the simplicity.

Once you’ve laid some track the management side of things kicks in. You build lines to carry passengers from one station to another. You set the price for the line, adjust wait time intervals so trains don’t run into each other, and constantly have to balance passenger (pax) satisfaction. The happier the pax, the more of them will show up in stations to ride the trains and the more money you’ll make. I’m finding the building more fun than the management right now. But again, the management tools are powerful without being too complicated.

To top it all off there’s multiplayer. With multiplayer, you share a map and, if you’re playing with money, a budget. Everyone can build anywhere but the time multiplier only goes to x30 right now. You can get around this by taking the save into single player and maxing out the speed. The majority of my playtime so far has been spent in multiplayer with Greg. He has a huge interest in trains so when I told him this game existed with multiplayer he immediately bought it.

Back in Final Fantasy 14 Again

Hey Eorzea, it’s been a while hasn’t it? It’s most assuredly been over a year. Maybe even two.

Checks blog posts….July 2019! Well it has been quite some time.

How did I end up here? Well out of all things it started with getting my account transferred in Black Desert. I had intended to transfer and maybe start up a new character there. But when I logged in the character slots were all filled up. Black Desert has a 1 day character deletion timer so I wasn’t going to be able to play right away. I came across the FFXIV icon on my desktop and decided I would resub and play that again instead. Very much an impulse decision there.

So here I am again faced with the decision to start over or continue where I left off. Considering I don’t remember anything from my last visit to FFXIV it was an easy decision. I’ve made yet another new character. This time on the current preferred server Midgardsormr.

So far, I’ve been really enjoying my time back in Eorzea. I decided to start out as a Thaumaturge since Black mage was the only original class I’ve never tried out. On my last character I want to say I may have gotten it close to 30 but never quite made it there. Also, I always thought the level 50 gear looked really cool too.

The plan is to run through the Main Scenario with the Black Mage and run dungeons with a White Mage at least until the end of A Realm Reborn. I never did get out of ARR in 2019 and I think this will be my second, maybe, third run through the base game.

With the boosted XP from the preferred server I’m blowing through the Main Scenario. It’s much more enjoyable this time around and better paced without having to take breaks to level up in between MSQs. My Black Mage is sitting around level 40 while the MSQ is around level 27 right now. Every time I hit a dungeon for the MSQ I’ve been switching over to the conjurer to get a feel for healing again. Which in turn is keeping that class pretty close in levels. This weekend I did all the class quests to get my White Mage job crystal.

One of the things I’m trying to be conscious of this time around is keeping my focus on reading dialogue text. I don’t know what it is about the way FFXIV delivers the dialogue but if I’m not 100% focused on reading it I’ll read the words without really thinking about what they’re saying. I notice when my mind slips I’ll be 3 paragraphs in and have to figure out what’s going on. As a result of all that, I’m picking up on story bits that I hadn’t before. I remembered the story pretty well up until the first Ifrit fight. But after that, everything has felt brand new to me. Which is great because I don’t feel like I’m running the same old content even though I technically am.

Maybe this year I’ll actually get to see what’s waiting outside A Realm Reborn.

February Goals 2021

I guess it’s February now? January must have passed by without me noticing it. But at the same time, when I look back at January’s Goals post it feels like it was a loooong time ago. Almost like I was a different person altogether.
 
I wasn’t gaming much in January. I started the month out strong with all these lofty ideas on what I would do and what games I would play next. And here we are in February and I don’t think I completed a single goal…and that’s OK. I spent most of January reading and finished 4 books. I’m a slow reader so that’s quite an accomplishment there.
 
My interests seem to swing from gaming to reading around this time of year. It usually hits in November when I realize I have X number of books left to reach my Goodreads goal for the year. I guess I caught the reading bug late this year
 
When my interests swing back to gaming there tends to be a bit of a reset in my gaming interests. I was all about the sprawling, open-world, games at the beginning of the month. Now, nothing I listed here sparks my interest at the moment. Well, that’s not entirely true, I’m still spending a few minutes here and there in Immortals: Fenyx Rising.
 
With all that said, I’m taking this month off of goals. I’m sure I’ll be poking around before I find something to hold me for a while. I don’t know where or what I want to spend my free time on right now.
 
 

January Goal Wrapup

 
You know how I know that I wasn’t gaming as much in January? ManictTme lists Google Chrome as my top application for the month…
 
Complete CyberPunk 2077: I had this whole lengthy post in my head detailing why I didn’t finish this game. Then I realized I wasn’t interested enough in the game to write about why I was no longer interested in the game. Long story short, I got 30 incredible hours out of it and I don’t need to be in that world any longer. It has since been excommunicated from my SSD. It will now be resting in my “Games I’ll Never Finish but Will Think About Starting Up Again Someday” pile in Steam (and now I need to go make a collection with that exact name).
 
Finish Athena’s Zone in Immortals: Fenyx Rising: I’m going to give myself half credit for this one. I’ve done a lot of the Vaults of Tartaros, chests, puzzles, and constellations. I’ve only done one or tow of the story quests. I’m still booting the game up here and there to knock out some map objectives.
 
Craft Thallasion, Shaper of the Currents: It turns out I cannot play Trove part time. I’m either all in with a patron pass or I’m not launching the game for months on end. I tried to remember to log in every week to fill up my dragon coin tomes, I did. But I found logging on and only doing that was underwhelming. It felt more like work than fun so I haven’t touched it since.
 

January with the Squad

 
The little bit of time that I did spend gaming this month was with the boys over at Welpsqaudtv. We’ve been playing GTFO again and raging a little bit less. There’s a chance we’re actually getting better at the game! We also played Sea of Thieves as a 4 man group a few times. It’s been fun learning to use the galleon together.
 
Greg and I started playing Tera together this month. I’m actually enjoying it more than I thought I would. I started out playing a berserker but I’ve since leveled a priest up to where we left off. I’m having much more fun playing the priest.

The Next 5 Games of 2021

I did this last year and it was successful the first time around. Not so much the second time I still haven’t played any of these games. The idea is to pick 5 games that I know I want to play in the immediate future. Go through them and then pick another 5. Theoretically, this gives me a nice focused list of games to play that I already own and that I’m interested in playing in the near future. Going through this list might take a while since most of them are open world or really long JRPG’s. We’ll see how this goes…

Immortals: Fenyx Rising

I bought this from the Epic Store Winter Sale quite unexpectedly. I’d bee eyeing this one for a while but I wasn’t ready to pay $60 for it. But $30 was a much more comfortable price for me. I’ve already put in about 20 hours in the weeks since I’ve bought it just going through the map icons and checking things off one by one. It’s been a relaxing experience so far and has great potential to be a drop in for a few minutes everyday kind of game. I’m pulling back on it a bit to devote more time to Cyberpunk 2077.

The Legends of Heroes: Trails in the Sky

I have been trying to start this game for years. You would think at this point I’d stop trying. I like everything about this game but for some reason I’ve always bounced off of it. I started yet another playthrough in November and have gotten farther than I ever have. I’m thinking this one will be my next “mainline” single player game after I’ve beaten Cyberpunk 2077 just to keep the momentum going.

Assassin’s Creed: Origin

I’m having so much fun in Immortals that I thought this would be a nice follow up once I’m done with it. We’ll see how I feel in the next few months when I actually get to this game. I have a feeling I might be done with Open World games by then.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

I played the last two installments of the Tomb Raider reboot a few years ago and greatly enjoyed them. I think a nice linear story will be a welcome break from open world games by then. Plus, it’s on the shorter side, around 8-10 hours. The real challenge will be if I can remember anything from the last two games.

Project Warlock

Greg introduced me to this game a few months ago. I watched him stream it a few times and bought it on sale. I’ve played it once or twice and had a lot of fun both times but had other games to play at the time. This one is kind of out of left field. My thought process here is that after 4 story heavy RPG games I’ll need a pallet cleanser. That’s where this first person shooter comes it. A totally different experience than the games that cam before it.

The last time I made a list like this I font loaded it with short games and ended it with a massive JRPG. This time it’s mostly big games. I’m interested to see just how far down the list I get. I’m predicating that I’ll finish Immortals and Trails in the Sky for sure but I’m iffy on the last half of the list. Mainly, Assassin’s Creed: Origins will I still be motivated to play another Ubisoft Open Worlder? Only time will tell!

January 2021 Goals

As far as I’m concerned, January is the actual start of winter. There aren’t any holidays to look forward to, it’s cold, and, at least here in Cleveland, it’s grey skies until May. But at least 2020 is over right? Here’s to hoping for a better year to come!

December Goal 2020 Wrap Up

I played more Trove this month than I was planning and was able to get two additional Dragons. I’m actually surprised I was able to get enough dragon coins for 3 dragons this month. That’s 900 dragon coins…I got real lucky on daily dragon caches to say the least. I crafted A.T.M.O.S – D-R4C which was a new dragon released this month. I also crafted Tannenbomber, The Harbinger of Tidings mostly because the winter event was going on and it’s the only way to get the crafting materials. I figured I ‘d get the materials at least but ended up with the whole dragon!

Complete the Moonwing Dragon: Got the Aura, got the dragon, and that’s the last Dragon Soul Dragon I needed to complete the badges.

Craft Typhandir, the Sundered Sheild: I was a bit worried about this one. Typhandir takes Chaos Cores to craft and so does Charl the Chaos Dragon which was released this month. You can only get Charl’s fragments from Corruxion who’s in the hub every 2 weeks and you can only buy 10 at a time. So I bought the first 10 and then realized I was short for Typhandir. When you’re looking for chaos cores they seem to be in short demand….luckily, through chaos chests I was able to scrounge up the remaining cores and craft this dragon. Now time to save up cores for Charl.

Craft Shaoran, Sage of the Eastern Ranges: This one was easy since he didn’t need any dragon coins. The Sagely Blue Scales are found in the Forbidden Spires biome from world bosses and dungeon bosses. It was a matter of running around normal U-9 worlds and finding the right biomes on to get the rest of the fragments.

Get into Shadowlands: Nope this did not happen. I did get my mage to level 44 but haven’t gotten much further. I’m don’t regret buying Shadowlands. I kind of figured this would happen but it’s there when I have the WoW itch again

Continue playing through The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky: Technically yes, I played more of this than I thought. 4 hours this month so I did continue it but it isn’t my main game. That’s thanks to CyberPunk 2077 coming out this month. I’m still interested in finishing it though.

January 2021 Goals

Complete Cyberpunk 2077: Currently I’m in Act 2 and have about 30 hours in the game. I’ve been splitting my time between this and a few other games recently but I would like to put more of a focus on completing this game this month. I’m not sure how much longer I have and depending on how much side content I want to do this is going to be quite a large goal.

Finish Athena’s Zone in Immortals: Fenyx Rising: I picked this game up in the Epic Store winter sale and have been playing it heavily. I already have about 20 hours into it and just finished up Aphrodite’s zone. I want to pull back from it a bit this month to leave more time for Cyberpunk so I’ll focus on just completing Athena’s zone this month.

Craft Thallasion, Shaper of the Currents: I don’t plan on playing a lot of Trove this month but I do plan on logging in every week and filling up my Dragon Coin Tomes and buying dragon coins with whatever cubits I get doing that. I already have the fragments so as long as I can get the dragon coins I need this will be a pretty low effort goal.

My Favorite Games of 2020

When I reflect on the beginning of this year it feels like the distant past. I was playing through Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and that feels like ages ago now. When I take a look back at Goodreads there’s some books I could have sworn I read last year that I read in January and February. But in a lot of ways it was a completely different time right? No masks, working in the office, going out in public regularly and eating in restaurants are a thing of the past now.

But through it all there have been some amazing games that kept me sane this year, kept me in touch with friends, and kept my mind off things when I needed it. In no particular order here are my favorite games of this year.

GTFO

GTFO was my group game for a good portion of the year. We bought it back in April and played it once a week until around November. After 43 hours I can say its a good game but one that doesn’t respect the players time. You need at least 3 people but preferably 4 to complete the levels. And with no saved checkpoints, losing after spending 2 hours stealthily clearing the map feels really bad. But the challenge and the almost clears is what kept us coming back for so long. The level switch ups every few months helped to keep things fresh but we never did complete a rundown.

Phasmophobia

This one has become another staple of our Saturday nights. At first it was creepy, it was atmospheric, and it was so different from anything I’d ever played. The first time the ghost talked on the spirit box and the first time the EMF detector hit level five is something I’ll remember for a long time. After 35+ hours the game is no longer scary but it is fun to see how fast you can find the ghost. Finding different ways to harass the ghost, and scaring my friends by throwing balls down the stairs.

Warframe

The last big group game this year was Warframe. We all got really in to it over the summer. I hit a 75% off coupon and bought the largest platinum package with gave me way more platinum than I’ll probably ever need. But when a free game’s given you 200+ hours it really does deserve some money thrown at it. For me personally, Warframe is an all in or all out game for me. When I want to play it I’ll sink in the time but when I’m over it I fall off hard. Our biggest achievement this time around was taking down an Eidolon.

Trove

Much like Warframe I’m either all in on Trove or all out. I played it a ton over the summer when the Delves update came out. I fell off of it in August and didn’t pick it up again until November. Trove is one of those games that always feels like coming home. I’ve spent 4 years with friends and it’s always fun to dip in to. I’m glad to see it’s still getting updates and I hope they continue into next year

Runescape

If you told me in the beginning of the year that Runescape would be my most played game this year I wouldn’t have believed it. Mostly because I tried playing Runescape in January and bounced off of it hard. I still have the post in my drafts and sadly never got around to publishing it. But In August I was introduced to Runelite and everything changed. According to ManicTime I have a 174 hours this year alone and that’s over a period of 3 months and doesn’t include the time I spent on my laptop or my phone. Yes, I even played OSRS on my phone…what a time to be alive.

While Old School Runescape started with nostalgia it passed that early on when I completed the free to play content and branched out into the members content. I was happily chugging along until the Trailblazer League started. To be honest, I went way to hard on the league and burned myself out on the game. I may pick it back up in January but there are a few games I want to get through before I start that journey back up.