Final Fantasy XIV – My Return

I’ve been back into Final Fantasy XIV – what I have previously called the best MMO out there right now – for about a month. I began with a new character, but once I had the hang of playing the game back, I went back to my older character to get a “head start” for the upcoming expansion. Note, “Stormblood,” the next expansion in the series, comes out June 20, with early access for pre-orders beginning five days before release (I will be there).

I quite playing FFXIV almost two years ago. I went on “vacation” for a month back in June of 2015 – right when the “Heavensward” expansion came out, got back into town, and Elder Scrolls Online had released for Playstation 4. I didn’t look back – dropped some gil (in game currency) of to my Free Company (guild) at the time so they could do their airship thing, and jumped ship to ESO. I didn’t regret it, and looking back now, I still might do it over again – I have met some great people since then and it would not have been likely if I had stuck with FFXIV. I comforted myself by saying ESO didn’t have a monthly subscription, though my wife will assure you that I had a monthly sub for ESO.

After some good and bad – mostly weird, experiences with some free to play MMOs, I’m back with FFXIV. I feel like I’ve come home. I will touch on my opinions of F2P versus sub models in another article, but I will say this to all who would rather dish out money to F2P versus a sub model – the excuse that “I will not pay to play,” typically doesn’t jive in the end. But i digress, so here we go.

Coming back into FFXIV – which is one of the deepest MMO games you can play, I had two goals. First, relearn how to play. This was not just my DPS rotation as a Dragoon or the mechanics of dungeons and raids, but everything – from the menus to the UI to how to sell stuff on the market board. I had literally been away for 22 months, playing and learning other MMOs out there, and I was extremely rusty to say the least. My second goal was to be ready for the new expansion the moment that it dropped. To do this, I had to accomplish my first goal, but i also had to complete the Heavensward expansion quests. Unlike World of Warcraft where you can jumo to the new content right away, Square Enix wants you to complete everything – in order – to get to the next area/expansion. This would mean if I did everything solely on a new character I would have to finish the base game main story quests (A Realm Reborn) then Heavensward and on top of that, gear my character out to a respectable item level for when Stormblood dropped – I figured ilvl 250 would suffice. Needless to say, I completed both of my goals, and here is how I did it.

  1. Created a new character on the server I have played on – Brynhildr – leveling him up enough to get to my job skills (Dragoon – Maurader to lvl 15, Lancer to lvl 30), relearned the basics of my rotation, learned the basic mechanics of dungeons, etc, essentially relearned the game.
  2. Got back onto my old character and set him up – skills, etc. Began Heavensward Main Story Quests (MSQ).
  3. Leveled to 60 on Dragoon, finished MSQ
  4. At level 60, constantly geared – first to ilvl 200, then to 230, then to 250 – which is where I felt I needed to be for Stormblood’s release. I did this through dungeons, hunts and finally raids and daily roulette. I will confess I also bought some gear from the market boards to help alleviate the grind. I had a lot of help in running some stuff, as well as answering my questions from my current free company along the way.
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Dragoon – Level 60 / ilvl 250

As you can see, I did it. took me playing around three weeks on my old character to go from level 50 to level 60 as well as raising my gear level once I was at 60. This was with an average of about 3 hours a day over that three week period (maybe a little higher if you count weekends).

It’s not perfect – I can still get better gear. My plan is to continue to do my daily routine – Expert Roulette, Level 60 Roulette, Trials Roulette and Vath Beast Tribe Quests – this will enable me to have enough Tomestones of Scripture to finish upgrading the rest of my gear, minus my weapon, to achieve an ilvl of around 257 before Stormblood releases. Beyond that, I am simply working on leveling other classes, currently working toward a Paladin (tank job) and Black Mage (ranged DPS).

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JZH Gaming – State of Nutz

Good day to everyone!

I wanted to run down what JZH Gaming has been up to and where everything is headed so far. If you follow me on YouTube, you will know that I and those who I play with have been heavily focused on Star Trek Online for PS4. This will still be the case moving forward, but with a few caveats.

First – STO is the “primary” focus, however, I will not be putting in the grind like I have been over the past 5-6 months. I will still be posting builds, still be running Hive Onslaught on Elite, and others as well, but I, and others like me, have gotten to the point where we essentially have everything we need and can get to compete at the highest levels in STO on PS4. our 6 minute Hive Space Elite run is proof of that, as well as subsequent runs of 7 minutes and 6 1/2 minutes respectively with different groups of people. I have been honored to be apart of a great group of people both on PS4 with our fleets – Stargaryen Federation (Fed Fleet) and the Stargaryen Empire (KDF fleet), as well as people on the PC side of things – and those people are linked on my YouTube channel. I look forward to continued interactions with these people moving forward. However, like most people, I am not a one game type of person – I love role-playing games, and have been slowly going through Final Fantasy 15 with my children. I am also looking forward to some games coming out, but more on that in a minute.

The main reason for slowing down on STO – beyond the obvious plateau in ways – is that Cryptic has yet to fix some of the fundamental issues plaguing the game – some – like the tailor and getting stuck while cloaked bugs have been there since the beginning. Others, like the turn rate bug, have been off again-on again issues that for whatever reason, Cryptic cannot seem to get a grip on. I understand the game is F2P, at the same time, myself, and a lot of other people, have sunk a lot of time, money and effort into this game – and lets face it, even if the Temporal Transponder was working, Agents of Yesterday, from a content perspective, was a severe joke – almost as if it was April 1st already. I get it, it’s what PC got, and yes, the new content is great, but it feels lacking. On top of that, the other content that we are all looking forward to – ships – has seemingly been designed to have the “must haves” released in such a way where it feels like every week we are having to buy a new ship to a) master for a trait and b) change our build up once again. One reason I have stuck with the Kelvin Intel Dreadnought for so long is because it works, and it works well – but to answer the question, yes, I have bought the other ship packs across the board except maybe a couple. I get it – Cryptic needs to make money to justify putting resources on the table when it comes to STO, problem is, this problem is not just on PS4 – but goes across the board on all platforms. I will say that with the Badlands introduced with AoY, the grind for marks will not be as bad as it was for Iconian, but that is really the only bright spot besides Temporal Spec coming in – because besides Crystalline Catastrophe, the PvE additions are all a joke, or worse, not worth the time and effort in running them.

I don’t see Cryptic fixing their shit any time soon – and that’s fine – I don’t see myself spending any more money any time soon either. To update – I have all of the ships I have wanted since before STO came out except two lobi ships which are not available yet. I have enough lobi to cover those and also tachyokinetic convertors once those are released. So, from that perspective, I am good.

Now that the bad is out of the way – I am still working on builds, working on the new reputations, working on getting our Hive Space Elite down even quicker – STO just does not have my undivided gaming attention anymore. For what will be sharing my attention, here we go…

Final Fantasy 15 – still taking it slow, partly because I try to play it with my kids around because the like it, AND it is how my dad played Final Fantasy games. I don’t see myself beating it anytime soon, and I probably will not post any videos or have any streams of FF15, but I will be on it from time to time. Still one of the best RPGs I have played since the Witcher 3.

Horizon Zero Dawn – Both I, and altlesjo (my YouTube partner) will be playing this. THIS game I will be streaming and uploading videos – so everyone will have an opportunity to see what some people have called the best looking game on PS4 along with me. I have been looking forward to this for a long time, and I am excited to pop it in tomorrow.

Mass Effect: Andromeda – Comes out in the middle of March – same goes for this game, will be streaming, etc.

Elite: Dangerous – Will release on PS4 in Q2 – no exact date yet, but I have played a trial on PC and watched a lot of material on this game. This looks to be my “other” MMO aside from STO, and i am looking forward to this game a lot as well.

Minecraft – Another game I have always loved – will play mostly on PS4 with a little bit on PC. Cooking up a Star Trek themed escape on Ps4 right now, and some PC friends already have some stuff that looks amazing – one of them is Darth Protius. A STO science guru in his own right, he has put a lot of effort into his Minecraft endeavors. Worth a look.

On a streaming note – I now have the capability to stream through my PC using an Elgato HD60s – so, streams and our J&J Show should be getting a lot better – and a little more complicated.

So – to some it all up – still going to be doing STO, just not as heavy. Look for more variety in content, and as always, keep sending me questions, comments and ideas.

LLAP,
jzhnutz

Guilds and Gaming

I’m a gamer – meaning I play video games. Much to the chagrin of my wife and to the delight of my children, I love sitting in front of a computer screen and allowing an alternate reality to consume my time. I have been playing video games since I was about five years old – from Super Mario Bros., Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy (the original) to Skyrim, the Witcher 3 and Star Trek Online. My gaming “career” has spanned for 20+ years, and I have enjoyed every minute of it.

During the span of my gaming lifetime, I began to play video games online – both games that allowed for simple co-op with friends to massive multiplayer online games (MMO’s), and this expanded my horizon when it came to the games I came to love. I’m a role play gamer by heart – meaning I love creating a character and making him or her my own. This began with a free copy of Dragon Warrior from Nintendo Power magazine to anticipating the release of Final Fantasy 15 next month. With my love for RPG’s I began to dabble in a lot of MMO games, and to date have played a lot of them. In that span I have been a part of corporations (EvE Online), guilds, fleets, etc, and have even chose to start and lead my own. My experience is less then some, but it is still vast, and my take on in game organization of players is not unique.

For the sake of wording, let’s just call them guilds. My first experience with this was in EvE Online, and my current experience is being a guild master in both Neverwinter and Star Trek Online, both on Playstation 4. It isn’t easy being in a guild – there are rules, regulations, and requirements. There is typically, if the game is good and thought out, some sort of guild objective to complete. However, without these guilds the game and experience itself would be incomplete. In some games I like to sit back and just be a part of the crowd, yet in others I like to lead from the front. I have ran successful guilds in some games and had disastrous results in others. My guild in Neverwinter, for example, which I have passed off the day to day duties to a good friend of mine, on PS4 is a leading guild, especially around the guilds that don’t charge for admittance. We do have requirements for membership, but they are not strict – the purpose is to both have fun and better the guild at the same time, and in truth, they go hand in hand. My other guild is a Star Trek Online fleet, which, even though only being out for only about 2 months, has grown and carries a good reputation in the community – in fact, both of these guilds carry weight and a good reputation in the community. We are not perfect, far from it, but we are good. I appreciate the fact that people want to join us and be a part of our group, not because we are elite, but because we are not.

Elitism in gaming is a given. There is always going to be those people who are willing to do anything at all to be the best – from paying a ton of money to cheating. We have guilds in game that ensure they are the “best” by forcing people to pay money or in game materials to enter their guilds so they can boost their guild status – though holdings, guild buildings and guild projects. I understand, everyone wants to be in the best position as possible, yet to me, this takes the fun out of the game. Once you have reached the top, there is only one way to go, and that’s down, and it seems to me to be inevitable.  But I digress from my main point. The way I see it there are four types of guilds:

1 – The Elite

These are the guilds that make you purchase your way in. They are typically honest – they take the money or materials and boost the guild to heights that no other guild can reach otherwise. You instantly have access to the best gear, benefits and the like, and you really don’t have to work hard for it, just open your wallet (or in some games, farm the materials / in game currency). These guilds are great – in their own mind, because they are the world’s first in clears, their guild holdings are maxed or way beyond any other guild. They have the right to look down on the little people because they are nowhere near the pinnacle that these guilds have reached. These guild rise fast, but in the end, simply plateau to quickly – and ultimately get caught up to by one of the next types of guilds.

2 – The Militant

These guild usually start out as type 3 – simple groups started by groups of friends that eventually grow because of relationship and overall appreciation for the games. However, due to wanting to be the best – but not wanting to spend money, they fall into the trap that the elite guilds simply by pass through entry requirements. Members are required to donate large amounts of materials – meaning the grind is real in two ways – the personal grind and the guild grind, and what happens is that people will eventually lose interest in the game all together. Grinding is fun, but when it is all you do, it gets old quick. Yes, grinding is a major part of MMO gaming, but when it becomes just that, the fun is gone, and the stress sets in. (My opinion is that gaming should relieve stress, not cause it, at least not on a continual basis). It usually starts out small, but in the end, because the demand to be the best is so high, the need for grinding increases, and eventually will swallow the guild whole. Unfortunately, in the end the guilds like this never actually plateau, they end up getting half way there and they stop. Guild participation is a must at some level for all members, but these guilds end up taking it too far. People get for the slightest reason – it can be as simple as an officer is frustrated because certain donations aren’t coming in, or because someone is asking a stupid question or whining over something. The thought that we have no idea of what is going on in that person’s real life never crosses our mind, only that we are tired of people’s bullshit.

3 – The Ugly

These are the ultimate failures. Again, typically started by a group of friends. Has typical growth but has no real vision. Unfortunately for the guild leadership, is is just as much the fault of the members they bring in as it is their own. They grow in size only to have a roster full of dead weight. No one wants to kick anyone because they do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, yet there is no active participation, except maybe from a few select people who just want to play the game and could care less about the guild or its functions. These guilds ultimately just fill useless stats by developers – “In 6 months we have 1.2 million players with 1325 guilds!” blah, blah. So, I suppose they are at least good for the bottom line, but not for much else.

4- The Good

The last category of gaming guilds – at least in my mind. To be honest, the have attributes of the elite and the militant – They want to be the best, they want people to participate, they want guild donations, they want active and good members. At the same time, they take the time to cultivate even the most idiotic members – as a friend of mine calls them, “The Potatoes.” They mentor these members as long as they allow it and help them grow into something else. If they don’t grow, they get let go for more viable players. These guilds call for donations and put incentives in place beyond the obvious ones – the growth of the guild. They recognize that people need something for themselves, not just the group as a whole. The guild itself is important, but it always comes down to the individuals that make up the guild. In other words, the guild members don’t get lost in a roster, they are the roster. Growth in these guilds is not as quick as the militant, but it certainly isn’t as slow as the bad. The guild members are happy and they are willing to help the guild grow any way they can. Some help more than others, and these people are recognized. Some only help a little, and appreciation is shown and at the same time they are helped to get to a place where they feel they are free to donate more. There are requirements, rules, etc, yet when these are not met there is an attempt to figure out why and there is an attempt to rectify the problem. These guilds ultimately get to the top, and they get there through hard work and effort. They don’t pay their way to the top and they don’t crack the whip to get there either. These are the guilds that last, these are the guilds that have happy and successful players.

I admit, these descriptions are over generalizations. There are thousands of gaming communities and guilds out there, and to lump them into one category or another is simply too difficult to nail down. I also left off the list my least favorite type of guild or community, and that is the one where the leadership doesn’t even play the game, but rules at the top for no other reason than because they can – not caring for anything or anyone except the number of members on a spreadsheet. This is more of a plantation then a community – and I despise them – but it is what it is. For those in these type of groups, I encourage you to leave and find a home that actually cares. The choice is yours in that matter.

Again, no guild is perfect, and most guilds typically, and fluidly move from one type or another. House Stargaryen, the community I run, as an example has had its militant times – thankfully to our benefit, but sits pretty comfortably in the good zone. In the end, a guild or community should enhance YOUR gaming experience and in turn you should enhance the GUILDs gaming experience – a mutual beneficial relationship. To me, a guild or gaming community should be a place for people who love a particular game or games to come together and participate in that game together. Simple as that. The guild should enhance the gaming experience and not be a detriment to it. Obviously politics and goals will enter the picture, but they should never detract from the game or the gaming experience. They should make it more fun, and not the other way around.