FFXIV: Fashionable farewell

My FFXIV subscription ran out yesterday, so the initial part of the project – spending Blaugust investigating the game – has come to an end.

Having played for a month, I don’t think I will stump up for a further subscription. That’s not because the game doesn’t warrant payment, but more because I felt like it was a game that should be played with others. Not surprising given it’s an MMO, but a little surprising given the reputation it has a strong story based game.

As I’ve covered, the story has failed to grab me in the first ~15 levels I’ve played on two separate characters. Which sounds like it’s a common experience when people discuss the original MSQ. The enthusiasm seems to come with the expansion packs, with Shadowbringers in particular getting very positive reviews, but I’m not ready to commit to pushing through the lower levels to reach the expansions and their stronger story modes.

I had thought that the end of the sub meant the end of playing, but thanks to Bhagpuss’s coverage I’ve realised there’s an endless free trial mode. Knowing how the game works now, it’s a very generous trial, much more so that Warcraft’s which ends at level 20.

The trial allows you to have up to 8 characters (though really you only need one), and caps you at level 35. Given you can have all the classes/jobs – 10 combat and 11 crafting – on a single character, that adds up to about a billion levels and many many hours of trial play. So I’m sure I’ll be back once the Classic fervour wears down, ignoring the story but enjoying the world.


It’s certainly a beautiful game, with graphical detail that matches or surpasses many single player games. I still love the Warcraft aesthetic, and I’m even finding the Classic engine is capable of producing striking environments, but FFXIV is quite stunning.

That’s mainly evidenced in the staggering wardrobe choices that are available to players, ranging from neatly simple to incredibly complex, and serious fantasy to ridiculous humour. I found myself constantly stopping everything to take copious screenshots as a player wandered past in a brilliant outfit. And the main gathering area in Limsa Lominsa is a people watching paradise.

In celebration of the players who must spend much time and in-game money creating the displays for us to enjoy, and to sign off on my FFXIV adventures (for now), here’s a selection of the best outfits I captured.

Watching the fashion show pass by
Tall…
…and small
Swordplay
Looks innocent enough –
– oh.
Hers…
…and his
A pretty wide boy
Picnicking
the devil in disguise
A pretty sharp boy
Well accessorised
Dashing and dapper
She’s looking *right* at me
Hunka hunka burning lion
Possibly my favourite, and he’s a fisherman!

#Blaugust29

Warcraft: Midnights Children

As the Classic fever was building, I enjoyed reading Belghast’s excellent post on communication and admiring the great screenshots from his early Warcraft days.

It made me want to dig out my old screenshots from Burning Crusade, but unfortunately they were locked away in Picasa somewhere. I had assumed that they were lost forever due to Google sunsetting Picasa some time ago, but a small amount of research revealed that you could still get them if you could logon to the Google account associated with your Picasa account. Luckily enough I still had that logon and before long I had recovered all the pictures.

Approaching Moroes: There was so much excitement, mounting these stairs for the first time

Now that I had the images, it seemed like a good time to reconstruct the old guild blog, which was a two year history of my first Warcraft guild and our adventures in Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, and, in particular, Karazhan. The blog was also on a Google property – Blogspot. But the broken images made it no longer useful, plus Google’s propensity to shut services down meant it could disappear at any time. It was the same account as Picasa, so I could easily logon and download the post history as an XML file.

I decided the best plan would be to try and migrate the blog to a static Hugo blog and host it on a Galumphing subdomain, which would mean merging the Blogspot text with the Picasa images.

Nightbane: We had a lot of trouble with this guy

Thanks to the internet magic of 2019, there are plenty of tools for doing the Blogspot to Hugo migration. The most promising looked to be this Blogger to Markdown tool written by palaniraja on Github. I installed it on a Mac and it worked flawlessly, miraculously producing a directory full of Hugo formatted markdown files. It even had a very nice feature that merged the blog comments into the single markdown post file, making it much easier to publish as a static archive of the original blog (comments being the bugbear of static site generators).

Next I followed the very simple Hugo Quick Start steps, and was very surprised to find it worked first time. I chose a theme – Solar – that was similar to the original blog, and before long had the site up and running locally and started configuring it in real-time with the Hugo server.

Maiden: Another road block, but joy once we got past her

I did a pass of comment formatting (some of the dates were a bit mangled), and tweaked some of the settings – publishing the full test of each post instead of a summary, and putting it in chronological order so you could read it from start to finish (which is the reverse of a standard blog setup). I also added Wowhead tooltips for good measure, which slows things down marginally on load but with a static site it seems a fair trade-off. Otherwise I left it as it was.

Prince: the end game

The final step was merging the local images back into the blog. That was unfortunately a more manual process, as I had to remove a lot of Picasa HTML cruft, but it didn’t take too long with some judicious Notepad++ mass replacements.

I published the site again, and there it was: Midnights Children, in all it’s non-apostrophed glory. Just seeing it again hit me with a huge nostalgia wave, and reading the posts complete with images of glory and despair was even better. There’s probably only 5 people who are still interested, but for them it’s a reminder of a special time and a special friend.

Epilogue

Coincidentally after doing all this, I read that UltrViolet at Endgame Viable was embarking on a very similar project, albeit more about consolidating multiple online identities and blogs.

I totally agree about the WordPress dilemma – it’s a great platform in a lot of ways, but it’s very slow and kind of stodgy, especially when compared to static sites. It is however very easy to setup, has a strong support ecosystem, and importantly has integrated comments and associated spam protection (assuming you want comments, that is).

I was tempted to move this blog to something simpler, but stumbled trying to find something that elegantly incorporated comments. Disqus seems to be the most common choice, but it seems to have pretty major privacy problems, and all the open source commenting engines seem pretty flakey and hard to configure and maintain.

Like UltrViolet, I’ve stuck with WordPress, self hosting and using Markdown for writing the posts (so it can easily be migrated if need be), and disabling the frustrating new block editor. I even did a test migration of this blog to Hugo using the same tool as above and it worked just as well. Which gives me confidence that I’m not super locked-in should a nice simple option present itself.

I wish Endgame Viable well! It was certainly worth the time for me, though this was more an archival project than a living blog.

#Blaugust28

Warcraft Classic: The dead eyes opened

It’s as good as I hoped – and may even be better.

The Oceanic servers filled up pretty quick, or at least the PVP ones did. By the time I was home from work the main server (Arugal) was full with a 10,000 person queue and 260 minute wait. Blizzard had opened up a second PVP server called Yojamba (which sounds more like a FFXIV server than WoW, but apparently it’s an abandoned Troll isle in Northern Stranglethorn) in the middle of the day, but that too was full and queued.

The most common screenshot on the internet today

As I pondered taking it easy on the medium-busy PVE server Remulos, another new PVP server appeared, and with an awesome name too: Felstriker. That’s a much better PVP name.

So I hopped on, recreated Stroeb the Undead Rogue, and logged into a world of wonder.

During the voice over intro there were streams of Undead emerging from the starting crypt, most with single-barrel names (thanks to the server only just popping), and all moving with purpose toward the first quest hub.

The intro movie is very different to the current one, much more sinister and full of forboding, telling us that the Undead don’t give a damn about “the primitive races of the Horde” (let alone the Alliance), and will slaughter those that would hunt them as monsters:

They will go to any lengths to ensure their dark plans come to fruition. As one of the Forsaken, you must massacre any who pose a threat to the new order: Human, Undead, or otherwise…

One thing I noticed far more was the sound design. Along with the fantastically spooky music and muffled screams of the the intro, the entire zone pulses with a super low heartbeat which you don’t notice until you stop and listen for a few moments. The subtle tension that adds is terrific.

Instead of taking the first quest, I just wandered through the starter area, poking around the edges of the map and seeing what was out there. I soon found Caretaker Caice, who wandered about restlessly with a lantern in front of a crypt, occasionally philosophising about the Undead state. Purely flavour, and purely great.

I started attacking the many Duskbats that roam the zone, and was quickly equipped with top quality Grey gear – I even got Grey upgrades to my existing Grey gear. And, somewhat amazingly, a 6 slot Small Brown Pouch. Who said bag space would be a problem?!

The bat hunting was so fun I ended up levelling all the way to 3 without moving beyond the graveyards and surrounding hills. During this I was entertained by all manner of memory jolts, from weapon and defence skill upgrades to the beginnings of the skill tree adventure.

Before logging off I tried one of the rites of passage of Vanilla by successfully kiting a Dusk Bat down into the spawning crypt.

It all sounds so simple, but there’s something undefinably magic about it. I’m sure a lot of words will be written trying to capture exactly what that is, but for now I’m just thrilled we’re playing.

#Blaugust27

Warcraft Classic: Preparation

It’s almost time. I tried to do some dailies in Nazjatar today but my heart wasn’t in it – Classic is too close.

I’m still unsure of which character to try first. As with many other bloggers, one inclination is to go with the first character I played – my Undead Rogue namesake. She was with me all the way through Kara, only eventually swapping out so I could level a tank for WotLK.

Rogues are both easy and hard. For levelling, stealth allows Rogues to make their way to bosses and quest objectives without having to bother with the trash gauntlets, which is a major time saver. But in dungeons – and raids! – they are super squishy. I remember dying a lot, too much, and as the saying goes you can’t do any DPS when you’re dead.

Another option is a Hunter – echoing my current main, and also an early character of mine. Hunters too are an easy levelling class (once you get to level 10 and can tame a pet) and a it’s always fun to have a companion as you roam around. I clearly remember taking a Hunter into some BC dungeons and running out of ammo mid run, much to my horror, but on the whole they survive dungeons a lot better than Rogues, and bring good utility with their traps and snares. It’s was funny to read that Hunter’s were hands down the hardest class to recreate in Classic – pet management and ammo being the unique features I’m guessing.

My other main interest would be a Warrior. A Tauren Protection Warrior was my main throughout WotLK, and I loved the playstyle whether levelling or grouping. Charge is one of the all-time great abilities, and having plate on obviously great for staying alive. They do suffer a bit from not having any self heals though. And I do wonder if I’m up for tanking with strangers – the tankxiety is real.

In the end I think I’ll rotate around and see what feels best – unlike Method I’m not after a world first in a week. But I would like to find a guild and potentially join in with the raiding crowd so levelling can’t be too slow. Thinking about that possibility also means not tanking as I won’t have the time to dedicate to the gearing that raid tanking requires.

Plenty to ponder, and not much time to do it!


Another thing to decide is how much UI to replace with add-ons. There are plenty of opinions on this, ranging from complete replacement to just the modifying the essentials to not touching anything:

something about the spirit of WoW Classic, a sort of back to nature, seeing the game in a raw or primitive form, makes me feel like Addons might be a bit of a betrayal, a cheat, an option that would deprive myself of the full experience.

BlizzardWatch have been tracking a list their best add-ons, and Curse have hundreds ready to go. If you did want to go with a whole hog, ‘Live’ game favourite ElvUI has been recreated for Classic too.

During BC and WotLK I used to build my own UI from scratch, grabbing bits and pieces from all over the place. I remember using TomTom, threat and damage meters, bags, and floating combat text – though why the latter became so popular is beyond me. My UI back then was a predictable messy nightmare, but I loved it – and loved constantly tinkering with it.

Then I stumbled on the concept of total UI replacement packages put together by players. My favourite for a long time was the very minimalist but very functional GarUI from Garwulf, who still blogs very occasionally but no longer maintains his UI. It was a beautiful UI, fading into nothingness when you weren’t active so you could appreciate the world around you.

More recently I’ve taken it easy and just plonked ElvUI into place, my bag manager of choice, and a few other utilities. Building your own is fun but maintaining it through patches and incompatibilities less so – ElvUI is a happy medium, if sometimes a bit over engineered.

For Classic I think I’ll fall somewhere in the middle, replacing bags and toolbars, maybe nameplates (useful for Threat management on a tank), and some vendor helpers – I noticed during the stress test that the vendor price for items isn’t shown by default, something that’s super helpful when managing bag-rage during the early days when bag space is at a premium. But I’ll try to keep it simple and lightweight – unless the default UI cruft starts to become annoying.

I wish Blizzard had allowed us to logon in the past week or so, even if it was limited to the starter zones, just so we could configure our UIs before launch. There’s no rush of course, but it would have been a fun thing to do while waiting. Not long now!

#Blaugust26

FFXIV: Fishing finally

Instead of fumbling around trying to find my way from Ul’dah to Limsa Lominsa, I rolled up a new Marauder to simultaneously try a new city and a new Class, and be ready to fish the moment it was available.

Ideal armour for Maraudering

Turns out that was probably quite a lot slower than researching how to fly or sail from Ul’dah, but it was also much more informative.

The Marauder is another Tank Class, which was a bit unfortunate but it was the only melee choice for Limsa Lominsa. I had wanted to try a Rogue, but strangely you can’t choose that Class until you’ve already levelled to 10 in another – it seems to be the only base Class with that kind of restriction. Maybe it was added slightly later?

Still, it was interesting comparing the Gladiator and Marauder. The latter wields a big axe, and seems to be more about punishment and fury than the more classical stance of the Gladiator. In many ways they are very similar though, and the action unlock sequence was the same – combo skills, AOE skill, defence buff. One small difference was a guaranteed crit buff which was fun to use despite a appropriately short uptime.

Limsa Lominsa itself was much more alive than Ul’dah, though it was more confusing to navigate with multiple levels and layers – if Ul’dah was Ironforge, this is more like Undercity.

There was dozens of incredibly dressed PCs standing around the main Aether teleporter, mostly just posing and looking cool. I get the feeling it’s a bit of a runway for showing off your new outfits, and I spent quite a long time just standing around there and taking screenshots.

Eventually I drew myself away and went about the business of levelling. The story was better than the Ul’dah mire of politics, with pirates and an identified ‘bad’ guy in someone called Sevrin. There was still an awful lot of courier and delivery quests though, so it still wasn’t particularly compelling. From Kaylriene’s comments it appears that it is well understood that the original ‘Realm Reborn’ questing leaves something to be desired:

For those who haven’t had the…”pleasure”…of playing the base 2.0 and 2.x quests of FFXIV, let me paint a word picture. The game is fun and charming, and has a clear sense of Final Fantasy about it, but questing in FFXIV is not really a gameplay exercise as much as it is a story one. Quests are often simply relaying a message from NPC A to NPC B, or killing no more than 4 enemies, or going to a spot in the world, clicking the interact-able spot, and watching the cutscene that unfolds. That’s not to say they are bad – I like FFXIV’s storytelling overall – but it is definitely not the gameplay-driven questing you might be used to from WoW and the like, where the game simply uses quests as connective tissue to make the gameplay have some degree of reason to it.

As a result apparently the devs are considering a reboot of the early game questing, though hopefully it’s not as world-changing as the Cataclysm event was in Warcraft, which steamlined everything but also permanently changed the environment of a lot of the earlier zones for the worse (Thousand Needles comes to mind). Until then, I think Bhagpuss’s approach makes the most sense: ignore the MSQ and just enjoy the world, which is pretty spectacular.

So I churned through the MSQ chores in pretty good time, skim reading the text this time (having realised just how trivial most of it is from the Gladiator run) and taking advantage of the Aethernet teleports whenever they were on offer (something I avoided on the Gladiator in order to experience the world better). And finally at level 12 I was finished with the Marauder initiation questline and permitted to choose new Classes.

The Fishing Guild – home!

I made a beeline for the Fishing Guild, and before long was the proud owner of a primitive rod and a can of smelly bait. The Lalafell seem to run the Fishing Guild by trying to out-pun each other, which doesn’t have the same appeal as the inimitable Nat Pagle, but at least they do take their fishing seriously.

My first job was to fish up some anchovies to learn the ropes. It’s a much more sophisticated system than Warcraft, like the other crafting and gathering I’d seen in FFXIV. You equip bait, then cast, then wait for the telltale bend of the rod to reel in your catch. You don’t seem to be able to see the bobber in the water, which is a nice touch in Warcraft, but the animation on the whole is much more fishing.

Once you start catching, you start revealing entries in your Fishing Log (I love the Log system in FFXIV, nothing quite beats an endless checklist). Again it’s far more detailed than Warcraft, and more compelling as a result. There are day/night cycles, weather, different baits for different fish, advice not to just stand in one place and fish as they’ll stop biting, etc.

There’s also a wealth of skills to be learnt over time – including ‘stealth’ that allows you to sneak past enemy mobs when you just want to Fish. And you can upgrade not only your rod, but a full set of fishing gear too which has bonuses to gathering and looks entirely the part – it’s fishing gear not just gathering gear, and that attention to detail is lovely.

If FFXIV were my main MMO, crafting would get a lot of attention, with fishing top of the list. For now, with my subscription about to expire, I’m going to enjoy pottering about and filling my bags with fish.

#Blaugust25

Warcraft Classic: Money on the table

As Classic approaches I’ve found it interesting how Blizzard don’t seem to be trying very hard to turn the huge enthusiasm into cold hard cash.

The servers are full to the extent Blizzard are spooling up new ones every day, and the general atmosphere (at least from those not swearing off it entirely) is exactly as Wilhelm put it: all I want to do right now is play Warcraft Classic.

With all this energy, and given Classic is somewhat generously included in an existing Warcraft subscription, you would think that a company as efficient at making money as Blizzard would be doing everything they could to sell stuff.

And yet all I can see that is definitively tied to Classic is the retro t-shirts on the Blizzard merch store. Soft of nice shirts, but there’s only a few.

There was also the 15th Anniversary Collectors Edition, which isn’t strictly Classic but comes pretty close, but it sold out instantly and has never been restocked. Which is annoying for collectors as it was never tagged as ‘Limited’ as far as I know.

The most obvious thing to sell would be a new Classic box which, given the popularity of the 15th box, would be a hit – especially if they ‘threw in’ a mount for the Live game. Warcraft streamers Taliesin & Evitel posted the press kit they received, and it’s exactly the kind of thing Collectors would love:

But while something like a box would have sold like hotcakes before the launch, it’s unlikely to sell after. Perhaps there is a merch onslaught still to come, or maybe they are hedging in case Classic falls flat on its face after the first month (which seems unlikely at the moment).

Obviously Blizzard are counting on new subscriber money, and there’s no doubt there will be a sub spike and potentially some conversion to the live game (we need a better word for that – Blizzard call it ‘Retail’ but that’s too mercenary). But look at that press kit! Let us buy it Blizzard, pretty please?

One good thing about Blizzard ignoring their potential cash cow is that we can reward independent creators like Frenone and Naariel with our patronage instead.

#Blaugust24

FFXIV: Tank training

FFXIV continues to impress with it’s in-game help and training systems.

I’ve reached a level where I can queue for Duties (aka Dungeons/Instances) as a Gladiator tank, and I was tempted to do one, even getting as far as queuing before quickly bailing and saving the poor Duty Finder group from a rookie tank. It seemed a bit soon, and for a new player it would probably be a tough ask having never tanked before.

Requirements: 1 tank, 1 healer, 2 DPS. I very strange huge boss. Familiar.

I was surprised the game was willing to throw me into it, given its propensity to introduce concepts first. However I think I’m slightly ahead of the level queue due to completing all the Hunting Log quests, side quests, training professions, etc. For that reason I hadn’t returned to Ul’dah recently, and when I did I found there was an excellent solo training function available.

By talking to a trainer, I was queued into some solo Duties which introduce you to the concept of tanking step by step. The first was about avoiding enemy tells (the orange warnings on the ground), the next was using combos to draw enmity/threat, then how to draw multiple mobs attention, etc.

I’d already worked most of this out just by running around, but then I am well versed in the MMO combat style and tanking as a concept. If you weren’t this kind of systematic training is a terrific way to help people learn a Class and that Class’s in-game role.

The training was tailored for Gladiators, naming specific abilities and how to use them. Which is very impressive as it means there is no doubt the same kind of thing for every other Class too. It’s a lot of work to put in for the developers, but I think worth it as a way to show a new (or old!) player how tanking, healing, and DPS works. This is something other games could really learn from – Warcraft provides precisely zero help for learning how to tank or heal, or even the basic DPS rotation.

Crossed arms at 50 paces

During all this I’ve been following the M(ain) S(tory) Q(uest) – I’ve even learnt some of the acronyms now – which I’m finding rather uninspiring. It seems to be a story of political intrigue, with various named factions and figures all trying to gain power in Ul’dah. The problem with it is that as players we have no investment in any of the people being talked about, and it does seem like a political game rather than something of world shaking importance which a hero like us (ahem) would be needed for.

I have also failed in my quest to get to Limsa Lominsa to learn fishing. I was pleased when I stumbled on a map reference that seemed to show I could catch a boat there from a nearby town, but when I arrived there the harbour-master told me the way was temporarily closed. I suspect it’s because I haven’t completed some pre-requisite, but it was very disappointing.

Both the political nature of the MSQ and the Fishing failure are making me ponder rolling a second character who starts in Limsa Lominsa, just to see how different it is. I have five days left on my 30 day account, so that might be a good way to spend it.

#Blaugust23

Warcraft: Blackrocked

Tonight our Alliance guild finished off Blackrock Depths, the penultimate Vanilla/Classic dungeon, having finished the ‘Detention Block’ last week.

Plenty of opportunities for a deadly lava bath

Now split in two Dungeon Finder halves, the second ‘Upper City’ section has four bosses you have to kill for the Achievement, but 13 total. Oddly enough, the Dungeon Finder split has made it very difficult to navigate – it more or less leads you to the four achievement bosses while ignoring all the rest. As a result we ‘finished’ in 45 minutes, then spent another 90 minutes unravelling the puzzle of finding the remaining bosses.

Only room for one Empress

Navigation is also not helped by the map changing between floors somewhat arbitrarily, making it particularly hard to work out the path to the bosses. You used to start at the start and work your way through the entire dungeon, which mostly made sense. Now it’s confusing as you appear mid dungeon, have to back track, and use mole machines to get around impenetrable doors.

None the less, it’s a a wonderfully complex and diverse dungeon, a living breathing Dark Iron city, full of everything a city would have: kings, queens, jailers, crafters, gods, and monsters. There’s a huge number of schematics and plans that drop, befitting a Dwarven empire, and rep hand-ins that require you to return things you create in Molten Core.

The Grim Guzzler is as crazy as ever, a bar full of hammered patrons all of who eventually turn on you once you start spilling their beer and spiking their kegs. With predictable results.

Being hammered won’t help

One amazing – and crazy – piece of design in the Relic Room, which has about 15 locked safes. You pick up Relic keys as you venture through the dungeon, which allow you to unlock the vaults for a random loot chest – Blizzard were well ahead of the loot box game here. In one run you won’t get enough keys to unlock all the safes, but there’s a quest boss that only appears if you do – so you have to hang on to the keys and co-ordinate to open the room together later. Not something to do via Dungeon Finder obviously. That mechanic – and many others in BRD – are another reminder of how co-ordination and teamwork were highly valued and required in the original release, even for dungeons.

So many vaults, so few keys

We now only have Blackrock Spire to do, before we can unlock XP and start on the Burning Crusade dungeons. In a fortuitous piece of timing, we’ll run Spire just as Classic launches – finishing up right as we’re starting all over again.

#Blaugust22

Warcraft: Classic appeal

I’ve been trying to work out exactly why Classic has become so appealing.

There’s the obvious things like revisiting the very first outing for a game I’ve devoted long hours to. I wasn’t there at the beginning, so while many of the features are familiar from Burning Crusade, this will allow us to experience where it all started.

Then there’s the somewhat masochistic appeal of having to struggle instead of cruise. As has been well documented, unless you’re raiding ‘ahead of the curve’ the retail version of Warcraft has become a walk in the park when compared to ye olde days. I can’t remember the last time I felt any sense of danger or need to be careful in game, and purple loot is no longer a thrill, it’s an expectation.

Which is not to say the live game isn’t entertaining. There is entertainment aplenty, great storylines, beautiful design, and it still has the capacity to surprise even 15 years later. It’s just that it is now a different game to what it was – again, if you’re not raiding. Raiding has become the sole place where you still have to work hard and have a team.

I started thinking that concept of needing to work with other players gets to the core of why Classic might work, and Belghast’s terrific post musing on MMO communication drove that thought home:

The first MMOs worked and created the lasting relationships that they did in part because we had a serious need for other people. What I mean by that is that in order for us to have a fun night, we needed a bunch of other people to be similarly interested in doing the same thing. This meant that without really meaning it… you yourself were open to doing things that were maybe less than optimal for your evening because it would mean that in turn the other player would be willing to assisting you at a later date.

My fondest memories of Warcraft are raiding Karazhan with one or two close friends and a whole bunch of people I’d never met. We spent hours and hours working together through that epic Raid, slowly improving and progressing, helping each other gear up and talking tactics offline while we waited for the next scheduled run. It was epic, exciting, and the thrill of defeating each boss to allow us to move on was unbeatable.

Taking a team of friends into WoTLK raiding was similarly exciting, and although we only made it into the first wing of Naxxramas before real life struck, that first wing was incredible. We were doing something together through hard work and perseverance, marvelling when our strategy and preparation came together into a well oiled machine. Which didn’t happen often, but when it did it too was an unbeatable thrill.

Of course the same thing could be said to apply to raiding now, but the temptation to just do it in LFR or press a button, as Belghast put it, is often too great. Plus we’re all ten years older, so attention and time is far more thinly spread.

Classic feels like a chance to travel back to a time when teamwork and strong server-based bonds were requirements for success. It’s almost certainly a pipe dream to imagine being able to raid – those ten years aren’t nothing – but even running dungeons and epic quests like Rhok’delar will mean community and communication become paramount, and that might be something special.

#Blaugust21

FFXIV: Lessons

Having discovered professions, my next goal was to hit level 15 so I could catch an airship of some kind to Limsa Lominsa in order to train Fishing. If FFXIV is only going to be a month long project, fishing has to be part of it.

Levelling didn’t take long. Following the main storyline and the nearby side quests netted most of the required experience – and a taunt skill which will come in handy.

Everywhere you go there’s an amazing outfit or mount – or both – to admire

During the questing I answered my question about what happens if you’re equipped for a profession when you encounter an aggressive mob: you run away. I hadn’t worked out how to tell which mobs would attack when you passed through their aggro radius and accidentally drew the attention of three angry ants. Fighting them with my pick wasn’t going to work, and I couldn’t quickly change outfits, so I sprinted away. Luckily they are on rubber bands so I was soon safe, but I learnt the lesson. It does make gathering seem a little hard to do at low levels – it might have to wait until I’m a bit more powerful.

I discovered that my ‘shield bash’ ability is an interrupt for the telegraph abilities of mobs. Smacking them when the ground effect appears stuns them and cancels the special move. Very handy and easier than running out of range. I suspect that later mobs won’t be quite so easy to disrupt, but for now it’s a fun ability. I also polished off the first tier of the Hunting Log, which rewarded a good chunk of XP but disappointingly nothing much else other than a massive banner alert that things were about to get more difficult.

Not as exciting as they seem to think

The final discovery in this play session was that I’ve reached a level where things are starting to be dangerous. I wandered into a camp of small sentient creatures and started mindlessly slaughtering them. There was some kind of glowing purple circle around the quest objective which gave me pause, but so far glowing things hadn’t seemed to make much difference so I pressed on. Suddenly a mini-boss of some kind was summoned and started casting something nasty, at the same time as the remaining trash mobs all decided to finally notice me and start attacking en masse. Bravery and valour took a back seat as I employed the sprint button again to get out of there, barely making it alive. I went back with a more methodical approach and succeeded, though it was still a lot tougher than anything I’d previously encountered.

I also had some close scrapes with some particularly aggressive mantis like creatures and some giant poisonous toads. I was looking for colour cues as to what will aggro and what will let me walk straight through, but I think it’s a small icon next to their nameplate that is the tell. Clearly I’ve reached some kind of tipping point between friendly newbie zone and somewhere with more expectations, and I may well be doing something wrong (or non optimally) too. From now on a more cautious approach is called for – and I should pay more attention to the swirly coloured magical stuff.

When I reached 15 nothing actually happened. I think I was kind of expecting a quest to magically appear, similarly to how flying does in Warcraft. Not that this was flying, but FFXIV has been very good at introducing new concepts as they become available and the ability to take airships to new cities seems to warrant that kind of notice. My guess is this is locked behind a quest chain I haven’t quite completed, like learning Professions was.

So fishing will have to wait – but not for long.

#Blaugust20