Friday, January 30, 2015

That Familiar MMO Feeling

The title of this post could be taken a number of ways, but I didn't mean it in a good way.  I'm less than a month into Final Fantasy XIV after more than four years away from MMOs... and I'm already getting sick of the grind.

After playing so many single player games I can easily see where they are artificially inflated grind between meaningful events.  I know it's because it's an MMO and they need to extend their content.  They need to keep people subscribed.  But, this amount of extra time and grind would never hold up in a single player game.

I'm already sick of it less than one month in.  I'm pretty sure that doesn't bode well for my future with MMOs.

I knew this was liable to happen if I tried out a MMO again.  I just didn't anticipate it happening so fast.

It makes me realize how much I wish I could check out other MMOs for the core content without all the MMO trappings.  I would love to experience all the storyline quests in Star Wars: The Old Republic but the thought of grinding through levels and bullshit filler quests to get there is infuriating.

I've heard that Star Wars: The Old Republic tends to offer big experience point boosts to their subscribers.  If they had an XP boost big enough so that I never had to do the bullshit MMO filler I might actually try the game out.  But even then I'm still paying a subscription fee monthly, which is lame.

What I really want is a single player version of these games with only the core story content.  I want to buy it once and not have to pay a monthly subscription fee.

I'm just a jaded MMO veteran at this point.

I'll continue with Final Fantasy XIV until I either run out of playtime or finish the main storyline.  After that, chances are good that I will not be renewing my subscription.  The only reason I'm willing to keep giving it my time is that the game is a mainline Final Fantasy title.  Without that, I would have thrown in the towel already.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Goodbye Joystiq, I will miss you

The rumor of the last couple days, backed up by tweets from employees of the company, is that Joystiq is being shut down by it's parent company AOL.

That sucks.

Joystiq is one of the best places for gaming news online.  I've had them in my RSS feed for as long as I can remember.

From time to time, as I've played various MMOs, I've also followed the work of their subsites like WoW Insider and Massively.

Joystiq does such great work and they're one of only three gaming news sites that I actually look at every article they post.  If they're gone their is going to be a hole in my gaming news and I don't know where I'm going to turn to fill it.

The other two sites that I look at every article from are Polygon and Rock, Paper, Shotgun.  But I need to get news from multiple sources.  If Joystiq really goes under I'll be in search of a new general gaming news site.  I would rather not turn toward the Kotakus of the world.  They don't do very good work.  Occasionally they've have an article worth reading, but they fail at being a purely news site.

I'm sad because I know there's nothing I can do about Joystiq.  It seems like AOL just doesn't know what to do with them.  It seems to be the fault of AOL not understanding the property that they're sitting on.  It's definitely not the fault of the journalism.

We'll have to wait and see how this plays out, but it's not looking good.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Final Fantasy XIV: A Few Weeks In

I hit level 30  in Final Fantasy XIV earlier this week and the pacing came to a grinding halt.  And I do mean grinding.

I was jarred out of the main story because suddenly I needed to go start a secondary Class from level 1 and get them up to level 15.  I've been playing an Archer, so in this case the secondary Class I needed was Pugilist.  I needed to get my secondary Class to 15 so that I could pick up an advanced "Job" that goes on top of my main Archer class.

The Class and Job system isn't really explained well in the game.  I needed to ask some guildmates about it and do some research online to actually figure it out.

In the end, I got Pugilist to 15 which let me pick up the Bard Job for my Archer Class.  It took multiple days and it totally broke me out of my groove.

I finally got back to my level 30 main Class/Job which is now Archer/Bard and found that after level 30 the leveling slows down a lot.  No longer could I fly through the main storyline quests that I was having so much fun with.  I was constantly hitting a level barrier where I would have to go grind for another level before I could progress the main quest.

It's been really disheartening.

I actually liked the pace of the game up to level 30, but now it's wearing on me.  I'm constantly grinding through dungeons and repetitive quests just for experience points so that I can level up.  I do it because I want to see what's next in the main story, but I'm not having as much fun as I was before level 30.

I just want to get on with the main quest.

This amount of grinding would not be acceptable in a single player Final Fantasy game.

It's not all bad though.  Some of the dungeons are fun and I finally have enough of them to add some variety to the duty finder (dungeon finder).  Some of these include the Primals.  Primals are big element creatures that are summons from other Final Fantasy games.  They are very fun to fights against.  I hope there are more to come.  I think it's really cool how they've taking these summons from previous games in the series and turned them into enemies in Final Fantasy XIV.

It's also great how my character is a crystal bearer.  It's such a perfect throwback to the Final Fantasy games of old.  The crystal theme is used well in this case and it never feels shoehorned in.

There are a couple other little things bugging me at this point.

I was having a conversation with a friend in-game as I entered a dungeon.  Little did I know, you can't send private messages in dungeons.  Our conversation got cut off mid-thought.  It was extremely annoying.

The last thing to mention is the gold seller problem.  I'm constantly getting private messages from gold sellers trying to sell me in-game currency.  It's a much bigger problem in this MMO compared to others I've played in the past.

I guess I don't have any big conclusions for you at the moment.  I'm over half way through  the main story and these are just my general feelings and thoughts at this point in the game.

I'm still attempting to finish the main storyline before I feel like I can call Final Fantasy XIV "finished".  Hopefully I make it before my paid time expires.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


I'm not a comic book guy.  I never really have been.  And while I love webcomics like Penny-Arcade I don't think I've ever bought a physical comic book in my life.

There have been two times when I waded into the shallow end of the comic book pool.

The first time was when one of my roommates in college gave my PDFs of comic series he thought I would like.  It basically ended up being the entire run of Walking Dead and Y The Last Man.  Neither series had been finished at that point but I read everything that had been released at the time.  While it didn't get me to run out and buy the next entry in each series, it did show me that modern comic books aren't all boring superheroes rehashing the same events and situations.

My second exposure was a year or two ago on free comic book day when I learned about Comixology.  It's an app, web interface, and online store where you can buy comics digitally.  They were offering something like the first issue of 40 different comic series for free.  I downloaded all of the free comics and found a bunch I liked.

In that process I found that a Penny-Arcade spin-off comic about the Lookouts was available on Comixology.  I actually paid for the entire series.  Those were the first, and only, comics that I've ever purchased.

Until last week.

Last week this happened.

Star Wars #1 by Marvel was released and it sold over a million copies.  I guess that's a huge benchmark in the comic book world.  I did some research and found out that typically the biggest and most eventful comics will max out around 250,000 sales.  One million sales is just unheard of.

It's the first Star Wars comic that is canon to the franchise.  Until very recently the license for Star Wars comics was held by Dark Horse.  They've made comics in the universe since the early 90s.  With Disney acquiring the Star Wars franchise they have handed over the reigns to Marvel, wiped away the entire comic backlog from Dark Horse, and are starting fresh.

Everything in the comics from this issue forward is canon and will effect the universe going forward.

If you can't tell by now, I bought it.  I snagged it through Comixology since I'm already familiar with their store.  It's a good start to a series that I plan on keeping up with.

Maybe this is what will finally get me to become a comic guy.  But maybe not.  Maybe I'm just a Star Wars guy.  I'm ok with it, either way.

Monday, January 26, 2015

NES Remix 2

I finally got around to trying out NES Remix 2 on my Wii U yesterday and I found it surprisingly fun.

I bought and played NES Remix 1 when it released but was underwhelmed by the game.  This series takes small portions of various Nintendo Entertainment System games and samples them.  It gives a taste of each game while giving you minor challenges and teaching you the basic mechanics.  Then it gives bonus stages that remix everything you know about the games.

While NES Remix 1 wasn't fantastic, it was an interesting format.  It's major failing was the games that it sampled from.  They were all very early NES games and the majority weren't great.

NES Remix 2 solves this problem by pulling from later NES games.  I'm having so much more fun with this second entry in the series than I did with the first.  It's giving me a feel for a bunch of games that I never tried, which is really fun.  It's also a blast from the past since it gives me a chance to replay bits of games I liked as a kid.

NES Remix 2 is probably worth the asking price on Wii U.  Take a look at it if you haven't yet.

That being said, I don't think I would buy another game in this series if it sampled from more NES games again.  But, if they started diving into their Super Nintendo backlog... that's a whole different story.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Counting Calories With MyFitnessPal

I should really write about all the health/fitness apps I use, but for right now I want to talk about MyFitnessPal.  The others might come up in the course of writing this anyway.

One of the things to do when you're trying to get healthier or change your diet is to start counting calories.  Since I'm doing that right now I wanted to write about this app because it's the best calorie counter that I've found.

It's an app and also a website.  All the information syncs between the two.

It has a huge library of food that is easily searchable.  Any user can submit new food to it.  Other users can then confirm nutritional info as correct and it will end up in their general library for everyone to use.

The last time I used it was over 6 months ago and since then they've added a new feature.  Scanning barcodes!  I can't believe how easy this makes it to track calories.  Just point your phone at the barcodes of food or ingredients as you pull them out to make a meal.  It's database is really good at giving you the exact information for different brand name foods.

MyFitnessPal also lets you set goals and adjusts calorie requirements to help you reach them.  It's nice that it will do that for you and you don't have to manually adjust calorie goals from week to week.

It also integrates with other apps and services.  I use it with Runkeeper and a Withings scale.  It works flawlessly with them.

I step on my Withings scale every morning and my info is synced to their service, which updates my weight in MyFitnessPal.

Whenever I do physical activity I turn on Runkeeper and monitor my running, walking, or biking.  Once an activity is completed it automatically uploads the activity and how many calories I burned to MyFitnessPal.

The MyFitnessPal app also works with the built in step tracker in iOS8.  As I move around throughout the day MyFitnessPal will add my steps tracked through my iPhone to my daily exercise and adjust my calories accordingly.

Basically I'm using these apps in conjunction to automate monitoring my health as much as possible.  It still requires a little bit of work, but with my current setup it's less than 5 minutes of effort for me each day.

I would highly suggest checking out MyFitnessPal.  Especially if you've thought about tracking your calories before but have never gotten around to it.  It's awesome and completely free.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Most Anticipated Game of the 2015

I know we're almost done with January already, but I keep reading articles and posts about most anticipated games of 2015.  And nothing has really released yet this year.

This got me thinking.  What's my most anticipated game of 2015?  When I took some time to think about it I was kind of surprised by my answer.

Bravely Second!

I've obviously been on a Final Fantasy kick lately, and Bravely Default was my favorite game of the last year.  So when I really looked at games targeted to release in 2015 it's Bravely Second that stands out above the rest.

I loved Bravely Default's JRPG style brought to us with some updates for the modern era.  If Bravely Second maintains that and evens out the pacing of the story it should be an amazing game.