Sunday, December 28, 2008

A late entry, it looks like...

And it was a real struggle too...

Not in the sense that it was necessarily hard, but our Dynamis shell was kinda struggling a bit -- and then I had to leave (scheduled -- my friend with her Internet broadcasts, and I have no problem with that)...

But there is a new entry in the top 10, sorta... (and it'll be added for the purposes of the list for those who read the list only)

10A. LATE ENTRY: First relic gear Just kinda one of those things which you just add to it, because it's another one of those things that kinda just takes you another step "up the ladder". I didn't even talk about my new Dynamis LS, Lengendary, and its tireless leader, Kiana.

So, I'm building up attendance points by attending a Dynamis-Bastok run that I know I'm not going to be able to finish because my friend and roommate is going to be broadcasting in the afternoon of the last Sunday of the year (as she has for most recent Sundays).

And, let's be frank: We're struggling a bit. Kiana is recruiting new members (and I'm not *that* far into the process myself), and I'm sucking the joint out for some odd reason. I Dynamis, for the time being, as a 75 BST/37 DNC, to secondary heal the party to allow the main healer to keep MP up.

Problem was, my pet wasn't in as much check as I should. It was basically causing trouble with the AoE effects forcing it into fights I wasn't wanting it in. So the LS was struggling. (They did eventually get the win, but I'll have to grab that some Wednesday night sometime when we do Bastok and I can finish it.)

I do get admonished about it, and I wasn't mad -- but there was a silver lining.

3 small currencies, another Infinity Core...

and a Monster Jackcoat. That BST relic gear was free lot (and the rule is that you can free lot without attendance point cost if no one else spends their attendance points to gain a preferred lot -- and you have to be 65+ in the job which the gear you're lotting for is in), and only one other player lotted (and was easily beaten, but I could've been too).

So, I have a Monster Jackcoat now to aid in Charming stuff when I solo big stuff. It's an achievement -- but I just wish I could be better than I was today.

Friday, December 26, 2008

My Top Ten for 2008

Well, I like the idea I saw on JP Button (which they've put to all the other Premiere Sites and some of us bloggers too... ;) )-- basically, having a lot of players put out their top 10 FFXI events for 2008. Kinda a "long weekend achievement thread", in a way -- as I heard one put it.

A second edit: Since I'm about to put this into the lurch for others to see it, Elmer the Pointy, the erstwhile head of JP Button, asks us all to put this explanation into what the idea actually is:

What is 「10大ニュース」?

10大ニュース (juu dai nyuusu), is literally a list of 10 big(大) bits of news(ニュース) or events that have happened to you over the past year.

In Japan, the end of the year is filled with parties and drinking, much more so than the beginning of a new one. As the next year fast approaches, people will hold a 忘年会 (bou-nen-kai) , or a gathering (会) to forget (忘) the current year (年). This is accomplished through copious amounts of alcohol, and often times, the telling of one’s 10大ニュース. It’s like a personal Top-10 list.

This list can contain any 10 events that you feel have affected you deeply, most often in a positive way. As we all close another year here on Earth, (and thus another 25 years in Vana’diel), I felt it would be fun to combine a little bit of Japanese culture with the community’s penchant for touting in-game accomplishments. Everyone likes sharing their success, so here’s a perfect chance!

Here’s an example of what a list might look like:

You can include equipment you’ve gotten:

10. Acquired Dancer AF Attire
9. Completed all Automaton attachments

You can include things that were special to you.

8. Got promoted to Sackholder in my LS
7. Convinced my friend to sign up for the game

Maybe you conquered some personal challenges, however big or small.

6. Beat all the Level-20 Avatar quests
5. Solo’d all my Scholar Artifact quests

Perhaps endgame is more your thing.

4. Completed Relic Weapon: Claustrum

Or e-peen.

3. SOLO tanked Cerb against ally of DD’s

The more creative of you out there could write from your character’s point of view.

2. Teamed up with Lilisette to catch Cait Sith

And game-related stuff is okay too

1. Opened a new website and received amazing support from the best MMO community in the world.

What’s your 10大ニュース?

End quote.

So I decided to do it. Kinda do the obvious top end first, and then head down from there:

1. My first 75. 14 months ago, I was easily getting burned out by FFXI, I changed from Monk to Beastmaster (partially because I don't trust a lot of partying, and still don't). Sometime in the summer of 2008, I finally "graduated" to 75 status. It was so thrilling to finally do it.

I remember last year's Fan Festival. And I got an idea, at least in my mind, as to how lame of a player I seemed to be because my highest level, at the time, was about 44. Now, I have 3 60+'s and a 57. Still gotta work on some of it, but, you know...

2. Defeating Maat for the first time. I love hyper-excitement in my Final Fantasy -- and that's why I really enjoy the 1-on-1 showdown with Maat for GK5. Took in my Beastmaster, and it took three attempts to best him. Got it done, though -- and very highly satisfied in so doing.

3. Gaining access to the past and Campaign. One of the real frustrations I had before doing Beastmaster to 75 was the inability to access most of the expansion content (based for higher-level players).

Once I actually was able (with my heart in my throat) to run about the first four areas to actually get to a city of past allegiance, then I could start opening maws, utilizing Fortification warps in the past, and actually gaining a nice shortcut to get from Present City A to Present City B (other than Jeuno and Aht Urhgan), a real upgrade to where I was...

Not to mention the storyline. Problem is that damn Adelheid mission.

4. My first Besieged. Kinda the same type of frustrations I had with Campaign, though I was looking forward to Besieged even more. Just a very exciting game dynamic which allows for many different players (and different types of players) to gain XP in an intense setting, which I like.

The only reason I rank gaining Campaign access higher than Besieged access is just some of the frustrations I've put in previous posts about Besieged players going into business for themselves.

5. Which leads to my move to Leviathan. Previously addressed in another blog post (Last Night Was My Last Night on Asura). There's still some chicanery (and, hence, a growing /blist) on Leviathan, but it's clear the players here give a darn about the greater good (to which the personal rewards will come). I heal and raise and enfeeble and DoT the bastards to help us win -- and, then, guess what?? I get XP, IS, and advance my Red Mage toward 60 and beyond. What a concept!!

6. Discovering the Promies as a source of fun and profit... Probably the most important one for me gear- and gil-wise... Almost found this out by accident -- was going through Promyvion-Mea once a week for my Tactics Pearl. All of a sudden, I synthesize the animas for small profit...

But the Radiant Memories at about 12-15K a stack and the Somber Memories at 60K??? WOO HOO!!! Hello to lots of new gear for my jobs. Hello to a decent bank account, finally...

7. Sharlene, my Adventuring Fellow Going through this process actually not only gives me a little boost in having something along which can bang opponents and heal me (and allow me to help where I was having a couple of ruts in my advancement (40s DNC and the like), but it also gives me a quest each week to get to the Promies, where I learned how to make lots of gil, and take my bank account from ~400K to ~1.4M.

8. Fields of Valor Only been out a couple weeks, but I like the concept, a lot!! It gives you the opportunity to take some jobs out of retirement (or augment the secondary ones you have to 61 or so before the last of them runs out), make up some of the difference for when you break out your Adventuring Fellow, or simply make tabs that will help you in various aspects of your adventuring, even when you do party.

8A/9. Treasure Caskets What do I say about these wondrous creations? Not only can they get you temporary items for in the field, but, on occasion, a nice little number mini-game to gain some actual stuff, including some decent gear. Just a nice little surprise to break up the monotony which can get into any Final Fantasy game (just go out there, kill a bunch of baddies, rinse, lather, repeat, repeat, repeat... and eventually you get to a decent level).

10. Opening up all 20 jobs and getting them to level 10. OK, maybe a small fry, but, still, they're all there to be raised up if needed. :)

10A. LATE ENTRY: First relic gear Just kinda one of those things which you just add to it, because it's another one of those things that kinda just takes you another step "up the ladder". I didn't even talk about my new Dynamis LS, Lengendary, and its tireless leader, Kiana.

So, I'm building up attendance points by attending a Dynamis-Bastok run that I know I'm not going to be able to finish because my friend and roommate is going to be broadcasting in the afternoon of the last Sunday of the year (as she has for most recent Sundays).

And, let's be frank: We're struggling a bit. Kiana is recruiting new members (and I'm not *that* far into the process myself), and I'm sucking the joint out for some odd reason. I Dynamis, for the time being, as a 75 BST/37 DNC, to secondary heal the party to allow the main healer to keep MP up.

My pet was being drawn into too many fights, and we were struggling a bit, but, when I left, this was the take:

3 small currencies, another Infinity Core...

and a Monster Jackcoat.

That BST relic gear was free lot (and the rule is that you can free lot without attendance point cost if no one else spends their attendance points to gain a preferred lot -- and you have to be 65+ in the job which the gear you're lotting for is in), and only one other player lotted (and was easily beaten, but I could've been too).

So, I have a Monster Jackcoat now to aid in Charming stuff when I solo big stuff. It's an achievement -- but I just wish I could be better than I was on that day.

So there's my Top 10 in-game. Might do another one FOR the game itself, IMODO. Let you know on that one.

Another rough week...

Started out with such promise too... And my friend got the most wonderful Christmas present I can think imagineable -- and then her glasses broke and I had to talk her off the ledge again. *dammit -- can't the world just lay the fuck off my friend for several millenia now??? PLEASE??*

Well, not much play this week:

Both Dynamis days didn't go off. They did Dynamis-Beaucedine on Sunday, and Wednesday, everyone was nestled with visions of sugarplums.

Then, I get in league with a couple of dicks in Moblin Maze Mongers, and then promptly get my Dynamis LS leader killed in another maze. *dammit again*

At that point, I took a couple days off FF11 and played some FF12.

Now, some promy runs and a double Besieged tonight, and hopefully a lot of rest for a weary friend.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Not a good week, sadly...

And next week probably isn't going to be much better.  Jury Duty (though with a wireless connection -- FFXI at the courthouse??  :) ), Holiday Burnout (can someone please tell both me and my roommate when the holiday season is over?  Seriously, the way we're going, we might not make it!), and all the other stuff has kinda drowned out FFXI.

But, here's how the week went:

Sunday:  Part of Dynamis-Windurst.  Not a bad run -- not sure if they won or not, but had to leave before my friend's broadcast.  Promy animas were dead on the Auction House all week until they finally appeared to clean out today.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday:  Haven't had three so blah days in a long while.  First MMM run:  Bleh.  Basically cycled Fields of Valor-Xarcabard to 61 Dancer (and eventually 60 Dragoon).

Wednesday Dynamis:  People need to show up on time.  Period.  We're lucky we're not losing zones to RMT or something with how late we get.  Not enough DD = no chance at Bastok.  Sunday might just be an attendance day (and, if it isn't, it's probably Dynamis-Xarcabard anyway).  Probably taking a week off to get more people on the Dynamis LS.

Thursday:  Another online idiot sends my friend to the edge for the sixth time in three weeks (as if the Post Office isn't fucking around enough).  If this shit don't stop, someone is going to get f-ed up seriously.  And if these punks online want to take that as a threat from me, go right the fuck ahead.

I've had it.  I've had enough of watching this world get taken over by a bunch of fucking punks who would more likely punch a homeless man on a bench (and that's happened to me too!!) than help anybody.  It's all about being more bad-ass than anybody.

Straight outta Rikers, punks.  Straight outta Rikers.  You don't want none.  I've taken far worse than any of you.  And it's only by the grace of God I'm still here to help my friend.

There's a reason I call anything talking about my friend's experience (or mine) which bring us both to the breaking point "Those Who Fight Further".  It's getting there.  And, if they keep pushing, and I ever get into that space that I was in on Memorial Day of 2007 (don't ask), pray I still have something to lose, like I did then.

Friday:  Group of 5 runs at MMM.  I win 2 runes in my Lootbox.  Woo hoo...

Saturday:  A Besieged gets me close to 57 Red Mage.  Farming in the Promies.

Next week:  God only knows...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Well, at least the update went smoothly... (or did it??)

Before I begin...  (Warning:  There will be foul language in this post.)

I don't know who the rat-fuckers are at the local post office, but either this shit stops, or I'm looking for a new place to live.

About two weeks ago, I used one of my rewards programs to "purchase" a decent set of headphones for the computer I use.  (I have them on right now.)  But the package was clearly damaged (and marked as such) by the United States Postal Service en route.  Fortunately, the outer box was far too big for the actual shipment, and the headphones came OK.  The box that it was shipped in, however, looks like someone kicked it with a steel-toed boot.

But that's nothing compared to the crap my roommate has been through this month (and that's over and above the grieving the holiday season causes her).

First, as I remarked earlier in this blog, her check (when it clearly says on the envelope to send it on the third) came on the fourth, as if the postal dorks decided they wanted to send it whenever they damned well felt like it!

Then, there's a small matter of an order that my friend had sent from New York (it's not that important as to what it is, as she has had various other orders either damaged or basically outright destroyed by the USPS).  That order was scanned "Received" by the USPS on December the 10th.  (She got the shipping number when she contacted the company she ordered from.)

My friend has not received it, and probably will not receive it -- she is out over $60 on an order that she now has to replace.  All this while she's trying to save money to go to Puerto Rico in February!!!

Needless to say, too much more of this, and my roommate will have had it.  If that happens, I wish to go on public record to say that I will not be held responsible for what happens, because I don't even want to think about what's going to happen if my friend finally loses it for good.  I love my friend as a friend, but she can only be expected to take so God-damned much.  My friend only has a very small sliver of life left in her, and I don't want the rest to go now.  She still has that trip to take in February, which means everything to her right now.

Formal complaints have been filed with the post office (one for the package, several more for the attitudes of the people she's had to deal with!), but neither of us expects that to go very far.  My friend got word this morning that, with the company she orders from, apparently there have been quite the number of complaints similar to this with the shipping of these orders through the USPS, which has led us to but one conclusion:

We know that the USPS is laying off workers due to the economy.  We're beginning to get the very sick impression that the United States Postal Service is full of people who are stealing whatever they damned well feel like from people's mail, and damaging whatever they don't feel like stealing.  I'd suggest anyone shipping Christmas presents find another way to ship it, or track your packages very damned carefully.

(And now we both have to wonder what's going to happen with next month's checks for my friend...  If she doesn't go to Puerto Rico, for whatever reason, I'm done here, because she's done -- period.  This shit stops.)


Had to get that off my chest, because apparently the update didn't go so well...

I had actually begun this to actually say the update had gone smoothly.  It was not that large of an update, and Moblin Maze Mongers was in the game for about 2 1/2 hours.

The actual physical update of what they put in the game this morning went OK.

From there, complete cluster....

Basically, this is how it works:

-- You go to Lower Jeuno, to Muckvix' Junk Shop (some may know this as the location of the Gobbiebag expansion quests) and talk to the Moblin Goldagrik.  He will give you a rundamentary Tabula, a Maze Voucher, and two Runes.

You can only do one maze every 24 hours, real time.

-- You then use the Voucher on the Tabula to mark the Tabula.  At that point, you place runes on the Tabula to set up the parameters of the maze.

-- Once satisfied, you walk over to the Chocobo Stables (in Lower Jeuno), and trade the tabula to the shopfront.  At that point, you will be asked to confirm the tabula, and pay a construction fee (in my case, 100 gil).

-- At that point, request for entry is considered, and might take a while if a lot of people are trying it out.

-- Once inside, you have 30 minutes to set up and complete any and all objectives to win a treasure chest with XP, maybe some items, and Moblin Marbles (used to buy runes, Tabulae, music sets, what have you...).  You can talk to one Moblin to buy some support items (if you set the rune for _that_) and to set what music you will use in the maze.

-- Talking to the other Moblin there starts the maze itself, and, from there...

-- I died rather quickly, because Square Enix, though it says it wants to allow solo play in the mazes, doesn't want people to solo in this game, so everything in the maze was about five levels above what I sent in there (luckily, I changed my mind at the last moment and sent my level 18 Ninja rather than my level 58 Dragoon).

-- ... because you can and will lose XP in the maze if you die.

That was bad enough.  What made it worse was what I saw about 30 minutes afterward, after I Home Pointed, changed to Dragoon, and went to Fields of Valor-Xarcabard (again):

A system message.

Moblin Maze Mongers has been suspended due to technical difficulties.  See the Information for more details.

What the Hell is this???  You've had a year to get this ready, you've already delayed the release once.  It's clear this thing still appears buggy as all get-out.

I know we're impatient, but at least give us a timeline, for God's sake...

Sorry, been a long day already.  Hopefully Dynamis will go a little better tonight...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sounds like MMM wait is almost over...

Nice blank post I almost put there...

Log on today to find another maintenance and update on Wednesday (the 17th). Also, from the Update episode on Pet Food Alpha, we find out that the FFXI people knew that Moblin Maze Mongers was going to be delayed -- and "word is" that this update will get us that gameplay.

Why didn't they tell us last Saturday?!?!?!??

Anyhow, didn't see anyone posting on it, so I thought I would throw it in.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

End of Week Generic Blah-Blah-Blah...

Well, the update is almost a week old, no word at all on the time-frame of MMM, and life continues to go on in ways I don't like, but not badly enough for any inclusion here. Basically, I'm well but not that happy...

Anyhow, so what did I do this week in game?

Monday: Update. Lots of wiki-work. Two levels on my MNK that I retired, and soloed my MNK AF weapon fight.

Tuesday: More wiki-work. Farming, etc.

Wednesday: My first Dynamis (Sandy) with my Dynamis LS -- Lengendary. Nice leader, knows what he's doing, and we won _rather easily_. See post below for more. Loot: 8 O. Coins, an Infinity Core, and a skin. A Besieged after that.

Thursday: Farming to get the gil back from the 25K -- my share of the Hourglass, and Campaign to get back the XP to retake 75 BST and to get a buffer for Sunday's Dynamis. (or at least the part I will be able to do before I have to leave at 1:30)

Friday: Basically discovered Fields of Valor-Xarcabard as a good levelling spot for my Dancer and the Adventuring Fellow -- replaces Kuzotz (which cannot do FoV, since it is not from original FFXI). Doubleheader Besieged. Farming in the promies.

Saturday: More levelling in Xarcabard Fields of Valor (both DNC and DRG) and farming in the promies.

Basically, with my 75 BST, I now have a 60 DNC, a 57 DRG, a 56 RDM, and a 46 MNK. 2 DNC levels, a DRG level, a RDM level, and 2 MNK levels. Not a bad week.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My First Dynamis

So how'd it go??

Well, will need to get some XP back to get my BST back to 75, but, otherwise, it rocked!!

We won Dynamis Sandy, with only about 20 people... We got a bit of a late start (so Sundays will be an issue, with my friend doing Internet broadcasts), but I was given instructions which were very clear (assist the DD leader, don't melee the Orc NM's, and watch the pet).

It went basically as smoothly as it could, except for a few deaths when the DD leader disconnected and a few after we had won and continued to farm. But, all in all, a real fun experience. Can't wait to do more!!

Can't remember too many of the relic armor drops (didn't really matter, since I couldn't lot on them anyway (had no LS points to bid for BST drops, and have no other 65's for the "free lot" relics no one bids on)... Still, several of the beastcoins, an infinity core, a good skin... I'll take that -- and a fun experience.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I think yesterday made several things very clear...

I'll start with this one, and get to more as time goes on today... But, before I do:

I guess I'm finally getting into end-game. :) Someone actually recruited me, almost sight-unseen, for a Dynamis linkshell. We'll see how it goes. I just hope I can do well for them, and at least learn about this. Baby steps, one step at a time.

OK, now to the part of the update (other than the postponement of Moblin Maze Mongers) which has everyone up in arms:

Square-Enix, in their continuing fight against RMT, has decided to cut (significantly) the NPC prices of several items which were used as farming items for players to put gil into the system.

And a lot of players are pissed, and probably should be.

Here's the thing: RMT has gotten more and more and more desperate over the course of the last few months -- going so far, in some cases, as to hack into accounts and steal passwords and the like. I think it's becoming clear that, in the eyes of Square-Enix, it is becoming necessary to cut off the flow of "incoming gil" -- that is, gil created by the game (by selling to NPC's).

Consider the amount of work that the Special Task Force has done vs. RMT, and know that they have to have tried to figure out which methods the cheaters were using to get their gil. I think it's clear that they don't want to continue to see gil coming into the system as much as they used to.

Consider another thing they put into this update: The Treasure Caskets. They seem to drop quite a bit more than 1/10. I think Square is actually trying to put a lot of these items, more, into "temporary" usage, rather than permanent items, probably not only to lessen the amount of gil passing through the system, but to help with storage issues. (At least for lower and mid-level players...)

This is not going to go quietly. I could see more than a few accounts leave play because of this -- I'm ambivalent on it, but I can see the consternation.


Edit: Another thing that it makes clear -- they don't want everybody finishing WotG missions.

Bastok especially.

You see, to get to the set in this update, you have to finish all missions and quests (in the mission line) up to one called "Fire in the Hole". Adelheid is a Scholar. A very immature and stupid one.

You are supposed to keep her alive through several waves of Quadav so she can blow up a Turret deep in the mines near Pashhow and Rolanberry in the Shadowrealm.

With as stupid as she is and as frail as she is -- good -- freaking -- luck.

And, if you want the next missions, you have to beat her, and you can only get other Bastokans (or those who have done FitH) to help you.

Nah, they don't want us seeing the story...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Version Update Thoughts

Will be updated throughout the day...

Rats, rats, rats!! The Moblin Maze Mongers got delayed. Rats again.

Was going to try out Fields of Valor, but the Tactics Manual doesn't "spawn" in North Gustaberg for me. I was able to check out a couple of the others by changing to my 75 Beastmaster, and here's what I found.

Each zone has 5 different objectives, and the further into the book you go (you can do any of the 5 at any time), the harder they get. You get monsters to kill and a recommended level set. Succeeding gets you XP and "Marks" to spend for effects like reraises and the like. Cool.

Treasure caskets could be VERY abused. It looks like the down time between casket openings is not more than a couple minutes, and "Too Weak To Be Worthwhile" monsters CAN drop chests. The puzzle for the combination chests is actually quite interesting.

3:40 PM: In my first Training Regimen for Fields of Valor after picking up my Monk AF weapon. Finally broke my 44 MNK out of retirement to take it to Beaucedine Glacier and try all that out. First page: 9 Tundra Tigers, 2 Goblins. This isn't as easy as it looks. Remember, a lot of agg stuff up here. Let you know how it goes later. This is FUN!

And the Treasure Caskets rule too!! :)

8:30 PM: Fields of Valor in Beaudecine is helping my 45 (now) MNK become 46 pretty quick. Got Iron Mittens (L35 handwear -- not great, but not meh) from a brown Treasure Casket (4/5 on opening the combination locks... They can be nasty on the numerical puzzles, so watch out. Lots of wiki updating, etc.

ALERT: Last-Second Removal of Moblin Maze Mongers from 12/8 Update

I know that you don't come here for the news, but, since this posts to The Tarutaru Times Online, I figure some might see it there first.

They've pulled Moblin Maze Mongers from this update, to extend the "Quality Assurance Period". They'll let us know about a release schedule, but it sounds like it's going to be a little while.

Source: (it's right at the end)

Yes, MAJOR disappointment. However, if you read my FanFest reactions blog and scroll down to the Moblin Maze Mongers presentation, it sounds as if they had some major problems during the mass presentation, and I can only think there were so many problems that they could not handle this and all the other issues that an update like this brings at the same time. I'd be surprised if they get this out before the first of the year, now.

Also read in another Tarutaru Times Online blog that some at FanFest had major issues with the MMM demo. If you tried to Tractor someone, all the computers in the party locked. And the problems that the mass demo had were not unique. It seemed like the game would only let you in when it felt like it. Not good this close to the release, Square.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

FanFest reactions blog...

OK, so here's the FanFest thread. I won't have put it up til you see it Saturday morning, but I am gleaning some Friday night stuff while reading the PFA/FFXIclopedia blog and others I can find, while I finish off getting all my jobs to level 10 and get ready for the version update on Monday.

Yes, the update with Moblin Maze Mongers and Fields of Valor is Monday.

So, on with the comments (all info is being grabbed, for now, from the FFXIclopedia/Pet Food Alpha blog):

7:58 PM: FanFest is over.

Not that much news. They gave away prizes to some wonderful artwork and cosplayers (one cute wittle baby as a moogle got some headphones he or she will never use), and then the same pianist who came over last year did another seven-song set.

Certainly an understated event. It seemed like it was more thrown-together than anything, but the fans are probably going home happy (except that the blog basically said that the reviews on the Dev Panel were "mixed", for the same reason I put at the end of my Dev Panel thoughts).

Anyhow, that's it for me til Monday and the version update here on the blog. I can take comments -- just not adspam or the like... In fact, I usually check for a few... Keep your eyes open on Monday as I take my first look at the new stuff. Til then...

Development Panel (3:30-4:30 PM): Well, here it is. Main Event time for any news from the show. Let's see what the Dev Panel has for us this year.

-- Level Sync: They heard about people having trouble forming Level Sync parties, so, in addition to what you've already heard, they plan on making higher-level equipment a bit more valuable in Level Sync and Level Restricted areas.

Be careful on this one, Square-Enix. You don't want the Dunes overrun with Level Sync-ed 75's meriting in the Dunes with overpowered AF and the like. I like the idea behind this, but be careful.

-- Making the process of gaining levels easier: This is where "Fields of Valor" comes in on Monday. Last update, they significantly upgraded the amount of XP for monsters commonly farmed either side of an Even Match (DC <-> EP). Now, they add Fields of Valor to help players along. One thing they have not said in the past: 30 minute time limit to any "training regimen" undertaken in the Fields of Valor.

Let's hope it helps as much as the upgraded XP table has. I look forward to trying it out on Monday. Time limit is probably a good idea. The harder ones might well have to be scaled such that they can barely be defeated in the 30 minutes (remember, once you get to checking "Too Weak to be Worthwhile" on your mobs, you can't just plow through them and have them count for your objective).

Also, "Treasure Caskets". (Also previously announced.) Basically, players will be able, on rare occasion (announced today as 1 chance in 10 -- for every 10 kills you get, you'll get 1 Treasure Casket, on average) to get either an open casket (blue, with temporary items to help out in the field) or a numerical combination locked casket (brown, which might have some decent gear for that area/level). For the combination locks, you get only 4-6 shots to come up with a two-digit number from 10-99. Sounds like it plays like "Clock Game". You give a number, it tells you higher or lower, and you have a set number of picks to get it right or it goes away.

Oh, this can rule the universe for players like me!! I like to kinda grind out and farm a bit in some areas (the promies nor Kuzotz will have this to start, just the _original_ FFXI areas to start), and basically getting 1 of these for every 10 kills (on average) will rule for someone like me who isn't afraid to take 2 hours and kill 60-80-100 EP monsters. YES!! And combine this with Fields of Valor regimens??? WHOO-HOO!!! (That's why I got all 20 jobs to level 10 before this update.)

-- New "Wings of the Goddess" missions: Sounds like, after a long wait, a large expansion in the storyline in this update, so get caught up on your WotG missions through "In the Name of the Father", at the very least. (Whether you have to complete the quests from the last update, though, is not clear.)

If so, get Adelheid to SLOW DOWN FOR ME!!

Sounds like there might be some Jeuno stuff, but whether you gain any real access to Jeuno in the Shadowrealm is not known. Sounds like at least one Campaign reward, but it does not appear to be a new set of ranks or any new real gear.

-- Wedding-related stuff: New Tuxedo. (Can be bought by previously married players.)

Sounds like, with small additions, this is basically the stuff they covered in Japan already. Of course, for those of us on the Net, we knew about a lot of this from the VanaFest coverage.

-- Dancer and Scholar Updates (Dancer Level 2 Merits here): They are going through the Scholar ones they already said in Japan (increasing accuracy for next black or white spell, decreasing emnity for next black or white spell, Enlightenment as a one shot Tabula Rosa, and Stormsurge to help storm effects), but the Dancer ones are new and exclusive to the North American FanFest. I have a level 58 Dancer now, so this should be very interesting.

Here's the new Dancer stuff:

Saber Dance: Increases the probability of Double Attack, however, renders Waltzes useless.

Ouch. That's probably to give them more of a DD feel. Not sure I'd use that too much unless the situation demanded it.

Fan Dance: Reduces physical damage, but not only renders Sambas useless, but also increases emnity.

Look for Raven/Crow gear, which reduces emnity, to be worth a lot after this update.

No Foot Rise: Instantly grants finishing moves to the dancer.

Gotta be a catch to that, as we already have the Steps to do that. That plus the first Flourish could be sick. Might be that it gives you the maximum five in one shot.

Closed Position: + ACC and + EVA when facing the enemy.

That's good too!

Special Task Force: 82,000 accounts banned in the last year, 33.4 billion gil taken out of circulation. They've banned more accounts, with less gil, this year.

For the record, the "street value" of that gil would be somewhere in the neighborhood of about $1,300,000. This probably means they've been able to catch RMT quicker, or the RMTers are trying to come back with new accounts, and getting re-banned.

LOL: The RMT-PWNER!!!! (v. 1.337) Basically tracks the gil -- as they said in the VanaFest thing, they can track it from the person who farms the gil to the "bank" in which they put it to a possibly bigger "bank" account, and so forth... The mechanism, once it identifies the entire tree as RMT, can take ALL THE ACCOUNTS IN THE TREE down at once.

Gotta like that. :)

Fishing restrictions, and, apparently, some fishing of their own, too.

I still don't like that they sic those agg Goblin Bounty Hunters on the rest of us, though. Thanks, you RMT bastards!

Hmmm... "Do not pass Go. Do not collect 200 gil." This is probably the jail functions. Word from VanaFest is that they wanted to do automatic jail functions, but haven't gotten to the point that innocent victims have been taken out of that jail function just yet.

POL RMT spam: Still looking into it.

Future Version Updates: Next Adventurer Appreciation Campaign (7th anniversary of FFXI is 5/16/2009) will have some very nice furniture stuff, as was announced at VanaFest (cardians and Shadow Lord are under consideration).

Not really a big furniture hawk, but, if it has a big enough effect...

Next year's Mog Bonanza (Lottery): Going to be some changes (legal concerns). Going to try to get it to come back, but not until it clears "Legal".

I was wondering if this year's Mog Bonanza completely was up to legal snuff. Sounds like it "may or may not have been".

Campaign issues: The new areas and last tier of medals look to be coming in the future updates.

Waiting for those. Basically maxed out my medal a long time ago!

New Campaign content which depends on control of the area (influence) is coming in future updates.

Was wondering when that might come into play a bit more! Might get some more people to play Campaign to take areas.

Salvage: No large-scale changes planned. Drop rates being looked at.

You're encouraging the cheating bastards, Dev Team. Don't deal with the drop rates until you correct the damage already done.

Player questions:

You should already know what question 1 is...

1) New avatars?

Not until a few patches are put in, but 2 "LARGE NEW SUMMONS" are only a few patches away.

Sounds to me like this is a game balance issue, at this point. But if they can get to the point where game balance isn't completely nerfed, sounds like the wait will be worth it for Summoners with bated breath.

2) More storage space??

*cough* Please hurry with it... *cough*

Sounds like the 80-item cap is a memory issue when they originally put the memory on these items. (Probably the limit they could put into, say, a 512-part situation or somesuch...) They'll look into new ideas.

3) Red mage frontline?? (Discussed a year ago at FanFest)

Lots of job adjustments in the Spring (March 2009?) update. RDM and WHM to get a lot of help.

Could use a little more oomph on my RDM. :)

4) Repops on ??? situations...

Some will get addressed upon examination.

5) An item for finishing the Wings of the Goddess storyline (like the ring you get for finishing Chains of Promathia)?

Still a ways off, because they haven't finished the storyline yet, but they are looking into that too.

6) Treasure Coffer -- making keys into key items rather than regular items which take up inventory slots.

They're looking into that, but the way the chests and coffers are designed might make that an issue.

Having to drop something nice to keep your coffer key while you are on a coffer hunt can get VERY annoying. So I'm glad they're looking into this.

7) Dynamis -- look at the event timers.

Being considered.

Panel over.

Hate to say it: But that's _IT_???

80% of this material was already covered at VanaFest in Japan, so anyone with a reasoned Internet presence in the FFXI Internet community would already have known most of this info. We do get the Dancer Level 2 Merits and some more info on a couple things, but I am disappointed the STF is not taking a long look into MAJOR changes in Salvage, since (without a whole ton of ban-hammers) all real balance in Salvage has been blown apart.

The Premier sites will be posting their interviews. I'll glean anything interesting once I get home. See you soon.

2:30 PM: All right. Back on after I left to let my roommate do an event this afternoon. I'll probably have a brief interruption about the time the development panel starts, but will get to that as I can.

Anyway, let's see what's happened in the 2 hours since I left. (Not much for the rest of the morning I was on...)

Players got to play in The Swarm with the pretty relics and the like. Lucky dogs...

MMM: A Maze Compass (don't know if you get one automatically) is what you use to exit any maze quickly, if necessary. XP and the like is given only in a chest at the end of the maze run.

Pictures (as best they can get) are up in the live blog at FFXIclopedia and

11:40 AM: I stand corrected on the Swarm battlefield. That's only for play in FanFest (and some nice toys the characters get to play with too -- relics, Krakens, etc. :P). Thought that might be a Rolanberry (S) thing for the next set of WotG missions to come out on Monday.

Moblin Maze Mongers presentation: Nothing earth-shattering in the opening ceremonies, so the first development presentation was on the new (and promised last year at FanFest) "user-created dungeons" from the Moblin Maze Mongers which go online Monday.

You need a Maze Tablet (a starter one will be provided upon first trying out MMM in the game), a Maze Voucher (to identify the theme of the maze -- I assume these will be instanced (of course, this could lead to crowding problems come Monday if I'm right), and runes for each square of the 5X5 tablet (identifying types of monsters (by type, size, whether they are aggressive, element) -- some runes can take more than one square).

Hopefully they will be giving us the ability to do solo mazes (as well as parties) at the start -- the demo, apparently, was also a solo one.

Absolute ROTFL moment!!!! The demo was supposed to begin, and they were going down the well to head to the maze, and, all of a sudden: "The hands of darkness prevent you from entering." They got denied to their own demo maze!!!! ROTFLMMFAO!!! They can't do a live demo of the MMM for the audience, so they'll have to PowerPoint it now. Ouch!!! I hope that doesn't give indications of what's going to happen on Monday. I really would like to try this out upon release. (Sounds like they got hit by their own cool-down -- you can only do the maze every so often and they didn't take that into account in their demo maze... :) )

They finally got it loaded up. Pays to be Square-Enix in cases like that.

I like this: You can set your own background music for the maze you are about to play. Apparently, there are quite a few options (at least on the demo).

ROTFL moment #2: He's going to die on the first monster of the demo maze!! Not what you want to do if you want to encourage players to play it! He died!! Oh no... How hard are these mazes going to be, guys? You have a PLD in AF1 dying to the first monster in the maze! Sounds like they put a solo player into a group maze. Square is not on the ball this morning.

Of course, neither am I in-game. While doing all this, I'm in Kuzotz, as I said. 58 DNC/MNK (so sue me, OK?) and 58 Sharlene (Stalwart Shield). Because I'm not paying attention, I have a train of FIVE goblins (two Robbers, three Poachers -- and a sixth linked in later) on my ass, and am working on it.

And then an Antican decided to say hello too. This was meant to be a safe time-killer, so I was fine. Now offing a few more Anticans in retaliation.

On edit: Thought for a minute that MMM _may_ require Wings of the Goddess access (even though it is accessed in *present* Jeuno), since it sounds like it is possible that the zone they used to MMM was a Wings battlefield -- but has been taken by the MMM for use in the present after the Shadowrealm fell, sounds like...

10:10 AM: First small bit of news (most of the beginning is about the new mini-expansions). One of my ideas gets shot out: The new expansions just add storyline. No new areas. No past Jeuno, no past Tavnazia. Everything else said so far appears to be the same stuff that was said in Japan at VanaFest, so those keeping up with that coverage on the Net already know most of it, so I'll can the stuff here.

Saturday morning: OK, now the show is about to begin. I'm posting this just before they start the show at 10 AM. My pick for the most sloshed may or may not have won. :) Looks like everyone is just filing in and getting ready, but the news should start coming hard and heavy pretty quick. I'll be here for most of it (though a couple of computer and Net change interruptions will be apparent early- and mid-afternoon) with reactions. Me? Off to Kuzotz with Sharlene to level her and my 57 Dancer. Show is just about to start.


Friday night: One of the first things I noticed (as I was catching up on the first two hours of live-blogging) was that they had made a comment that this Fan Festival was about half the size of last year's. (About 1000 participants, rather than the 2000 they had in 2007.) Also, the main in-game (demo) stuff was going to be trying out not only Moblin Maze Mongers, but a new battlefield called “The Swarm” (apparently accessible from Rolanberry Fields in the Shadowrealm). Hmmm...

Basically, not much Friday night, so I'm working on my goals of finishing off all 20 jobs to level 10 (so I can teleport with any job to, say, North Gustaberg's outpost – the outposts are where you start “Fields of Valor”) and a doubleheader Besieged on Leviathan, as well as more Promy farming.

Sounds like PFA's Fusionx and I are going to have to agree to disagree on one thing: He told me (in the live blog) that he felt the Special Task Force wasn't going to do that much against the players for the Salvage exploit because he believes it to have been Square's fault. As I said, we agree to disagree.

Most of the Friday night live blog questions are either administrivia or silly about a poll as to who gets drunk the worst tonight. Fusionx is, erm... losing. I picked Ganiman of FFXIclopedia.

8:18 PM Friday: Near end of first half of doubleheader... Gere falls to the Leviathan Mercenaries. First Mega-Boss to go down in my sight. I love it when someone actually cares.

The rest of Friday night: Second half of doubleheader ended badly personally... That Nemean Lion has a mean AoE attack. Died twice to it right at the retreat. Ow. Finished leveling the last of my 20 jobs to 10. Put some stuff on the auction house and got to bed.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Some thoughts about FanFest...

First, a memo to the US Postal Service, Southern California Division:

When it clearly says on the envelope to deliver my roommate's check on the 3rd, that does not mean the check is sent to our post office at our zip code here at that point. It means it's in our box on the 3rd!!

Thank you for your consideration.

With that out of the way, some thoughts on the event Saturday:

-- First, I will be making a post of my thoughts on FanFest, and keeping up with the different blogs as the event goes along (at least minus a break for my roommate to do an event online mid-afternoon). All of the FFXI Premiere Sites probably will have live blogs on the event, but you can also come here to see what I think, should you care. (Of course, this might not be a continuous update if the TaruTaru Online stuff ends up making a new post for every update I make. That would *not* be pretty.)

-- Second, someone still has to try to explain to me why tickets literally sold out within 12 hours (if not within about 3) for this year's show, and I could still walk up and get a ticket for last year the night before. (Not everyone who was there in line to do that could, mind you, but I had waited about two hours in line to do it, plus the length of time it took them to get through us.) If the new venue in Hollywood is _that much_ smaller, then tell us. I'm not saying Square Enix is pulling one on us, but it's just odd.

-- And now, my predictions for the event. (I'd call them some particular name I heard on the radio, but Mike and Mike would send Golic to squish me. :) )

1) There will be, right away, one BIG announcement that everyone will have waited a long time for (not counting anything already said at VanaFest in Japan). Last year, it was Windowed Mode. (And if you don't believe me, download the Day 1 Limit Breaking News from Limit Break Radio's coverage of last year's event -- iTunes would probably be best, but I'm sure it can also be found at Listen for the ovation when it becomes clear exactly what they had put in the "Live Vana'diel" section of their official site on the screen in front.) I think this would have to be even bigger than the new avatar_s_ they promised us. Exactly what? I don't have that much of a clue as of writing, but I'm sure that it would be something very obvious.

2) About the new avatar_s_: Either we'll see at least one of them in the December update (which _should be_ next Monday or so), or else someone's going to ask pointedly at this year's dev panel and the like.

3) I would expect the Special Task Force, as I said before, to take a much more active role -- I would expect a first set of announcements as to how, exactly, they might wish to combat the Salvage exploits of the last several months, the RMT POL message spam, and other problems under their purview.

4) Dancer Lvl 2 Merits? Probably increasing the amount of healing done by waltzes or the intensity of effects of Sambas or something to that effect.

If I come up with any more, I'll edit this post. I'm sure I'll come up with more Predictions Sure to...

*Mike Golic runs into the room to squish me!*

See you later!! *runs*

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Extensions of Earlier Comments, and Questions at FanFest

Basically, some comments on my first weekend on Leviathan, and some other stuff:

First, the blog is now on the Tarutaru Times Online –
A whole bunch of nice blogs on there with a lot of thoughts on Final Fantasy XI. Check the Times and some of these other blogs out.

Second, I would be remiss if I didn't thank my social linkshell from Asura, Monkees. They were basically the only non-financial reason I stayed on Asura the last six months. They were a lot of fun to be around, and we had a good time. Littlemunkey, Soop, Hectorxx, Clatuu, shell leader Vipreubaud, and, of course, the “den mother” of the group, Wilmakitty. Thank you all, and those who I did not name. Keep in touch with me.

Third, at least two other players were the ones who actually gave Leviathan as a recommendation as the writing came, more and more, on the wall. Kobayashimaru is one of them, and I thank him for that. The second was the last person I talked to on Asura, and I didn't get his/her name. Sorry.

Also thanks to all the Asurans on my friend list, and bricks to all those I had on my blacklist.

Goals for the week? Kinda continuing the holding pattern – farming the promies as Dragoon, Besieged as Red Mage, Dancer gets Sharlene to help in Kuzotz, and the 75 Beastmaster is around for Campaign for merits. Waiting for the new update.

Speaking of, that gets to the main part of today's message.

The North American Final Fantasy XI Fan Festival is this weekend.

Wished I could've gone, but didn't have the $40 ticket price for the three-hour time frame that tickets were actually open. I really have to wonder what drew so many people to this event so quickly this year as opposed to the Wings of the Goddess sneak peeks at last year's event (which I did attend).

Obviously, the news about the mini-expansions for 2009 will be one subject, and another will be all the goodies in the soon-to-come December version update (which is NOT tomorrow's maintenance).

I do think the Salvage item abuse exploitation will be a major subject in this event, especially when the efforts of the Special Task Force are brought up. Also, effects to combat RMT PlayOnline message spam (which will probably mean that such messages can only go to and from friends on your friend list, real soon now...) will be high on the list.

I have some other questions that I, personally, would put into the pot for the development team and the like:

Given the present state of the real-life world economy, can you give us a general idea about the stability of the future of Final Fantasy XI?

I realize that this isn't a question a lot of people want to hear. But it's reality, especially given present events.

When the three expansions are all out, will the total content added to the game essentially equal one of the larger (previous) expansions?

That's about the price we'll end up paying ($10 per), about the equivalent of the original release-date prices for the expansions.

Can the new Treasure Caskets be opened by any player “on the hunt”, or are they simply tagged for the player (or the party) who made the kill to spawn it?

For those who do not know (and we're not quite 100% clear whether this is a “Fields of Valor” situation or a general “in the field/hunt” situation), there will be a new feature in the December update for Treasure Caskets, basically drops on any and every fight (whether there might be an “only for monsters who grant XP” restriction is unclear) which can be temporary items for the players, or even the possibility of gear only to be found in such Caskets.

You can understand the concern if these Caskets are openly available to any player who comes upon them. “Thief” would take on a whole new meaning.

To the Special Task Force: Will the recent revelations about end-game players' conduct make the administrators of Final Fantasy XI reconsider the drop-rates (or even the very existence) of some of the end-game mechanics like Salvage?

I have a feeling, save the December update stuff, this will be one of the hottest topics of FanFest. As a player who does not RMT, use exploits, nor use third-party software to play FFXI, I can only hope the “banhammers” rain fast and furious on this. If the amount of kvetching by these end-game cheating bastards is any indication of the number of players who abused these exploits knowingly, I expect the number of bans to be in the thousands.

I think you could even make a case, if it is as prevalent as is feared, that the entire future of Salvage as a game mechanic might be in danger. I've never played Salvage – have not that much desire to after seeing how much cheating is going on. The Special Task Force has to come down hard on this, and I expect some degree of question of this regard to be one of the hottest topics come Saturday.

For the record, a number of FFXI Premiere Sites will be giving continuous updates from the Hollywood Renaissance this weekend, so check them out.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Last night was my last night on Asura.

Game over, Asura. Game – over.

After another Besieged loss, some introspection, and a check on my December finances. I finally made the move.

Here's the account of my last material night on Asura.

We were about to go into a double-header Besieged. Maximum force level (a rarity for Asura, the last four months), Undead first, then Trolls.

About ten minutes before the Besieged, real life takes precedence. My friend and roommate (who is about on her last nerve with the entire planet, and no blame to her for it – with three people dead due to Black Friday, frenemies thinking they (or the NFL – I'm a sports fan, but sick of the corruption garbage) are more important than her grief over the loss of the one person who has loved her in the last number of years, and all that crap which has been imposed on her this year...) basically was being undercut and harassed by people in a simulated club that she is the assistant manager of over the last several weeks. She cares about this very deeply and works very hard there. And when she gets angry, she's worse than me, and not only is that saying something, but I don't want to see her like that. So she gets precedence over even a FFXI Besieged at that point.

Friday's event, she had been harassed, to the detriment of the entire club, by an idiot who basically thought it nice to basically (in pro wrestling terms) “go into business for himself”. He's more important than anyone else, and no one is taking the ultimate actions to get rid of this bastard. Basically, it's either people like that, or her. She can't take this anymore.

What does this have to do with Final Fantasy XI, Besieged, and Asura?

The same damn stuff happens there too.

Once I get my friend settled down enough that I can rejoin the game full-time, the Undead Besieged has been going for about 20 minutes. And, sure enough, party requests and all this garbage are going full-tilt. And my blacklist is filling quickly – I must've put 12 people on there tonight.

I'm also keeping the people abreast, in shouts, of the status of the generals. About 20 minutes after I rejoined, even with Wizard's Drink and a Convert, I run out of MP and rest just as I had told the people that Mihli was 100% health.

2 minutes later, Mihli falls.

15 seconds after that, Zazarg follows her.

Basically, at this point, people are STILL trying to recruit for parties, and the whole thing just begins to degenerate. Especially after about 3-5 minutes, Najelith bites the dust. It is now apparent that the Undead who can even one-shot the Serpent Generals themselves are doing so!

I shout to try to find out the last general's location (Rughadjeen), but, before I can buff up and run there, he's gone too.

Hall of Binding opens, and it's a tense 15 minutes to keep the lamiae and the like from taking the Astral Candescence. Basically, Lamiae #2 and 3 basically are having their way with us, but none of the Undead basically have the idea to just turn around, grab the Astral Candescence, and win the Besieged.

People were basically still trying to zerg (overwhelm) the damn Nemean Lion while the Hall of Binding was open. It was clear that a host of players didn't give two damns about keeping the Astral Candescence, and I let them have it for it.

We actually do “win” that Besieged, if you can call that winning – they did retreat.

Problem is: 2nd half of the doubleheader, Trolls. No generals left, Hall of Binding open, we are toast.

Finally, when it became clear we were completely toast, I lost it and basically asked how many of these players had basically cheated their way to all their Salvage gear.

15 minutes after the Trolls entered, they had the Astral Candescence, for the 49th loss of Besieged for Asura, the most (or 2nd most, depending on updates) of any server.

And the venom was flying. I got several very inflammatory tells from one player, and told him, less than politely, to go screw himself as a sanctimonious... Got a couple players to support me raising Hell, but I had finally had enough.

Well, anyway... At that point, I had to leave for some other real-life issues... But this is all the same thing. Everyone's into business for themselves – no regard, of any kind, for the greater good. Whether it's the simulated club my friend busts her ass for, the Wal-Mart where shoppers murdered this 34 year-old overnight stocker because they just had to have their fucking TV for $40 or whatever..., or this server's Besieged “tactics”, it's clear this is not an uncommon thing. I know I'm not perfect, but, for the dear love of God, at least try!!!

After I logged off, I had some time to think. Wait a minute... If my check gets direct-deposited today... At that point, I ran the numbers, and realized that all I had to do was wait for the check to get direct-deposited, and do some research on the World Transfer Service.

The only reason I had stayed on Asura this long was that I could not afford, because of tight funds, to leave. This month, I finally had enough wiggle to do it.

So... As of a little after 4 AM Pacific Daylight Time this Saturday, November 29, 2008 – I am no longer Starcade on Asura – I'm Starcade on Leviathan.

We'll see how it goes. I hope it goes well.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Yes, it's a game, but, as long as I'm here, I'm here to win it...

There's a reason I want to leave Asura. (The only reason I haven't is that the World Transfer Service costs $25 to change servers, and, being on a limited income and trying to help a roommate pay her rent here is an issue sometimes...)

A little background on how I'm playing right now, first: I have a 75 Beastmaster which I use, right now, for meriting in Campaign (and for anything which requires a 75 to complete). My 57 Dancer is helping my Adventuring Fellow (Sharlene, now level 57 herself) through her quests. My 54 Dragoon is farming Recollections and Memories in the Promivyons (and some of the Memories are quite profitable -- several hundred thousand gil in the last half-month or so).

(Hello to third Mog House Safe expansion, seventh Gobbiebag expansion, Garrulous Ring, Magi Coat and Silken Hat, several expensive 50-ish Red Mage spells, etc...)

And my 55 Red Mage (which I use as my sub for healing and buffing in Campaign) gets levelled in Besieged.

Therein lies the problem.

I now have about 40 players on my blacklist, and they basically all are from Besieged incidents.

Basically, what I have seen on Asura (historically, either the worst Besieged server of all the servers on Final Fantasy XI, or very close) is that the people do not actually care if they win the Besieged or not. They are more interested in the personal rewards or their own character advancement.

This is done in two ways relevant to this rant:

1) You can skill up your weapons and spells and skills in Besieged. (You can not if you are tagged as taking part in Campaign, for the record.)

2) You can basically try to recruit parties for various quests, missions, etc. you wish to have completed. Goes on all the time in Aht Urhgan.

OK. The problem comes in when it's clear that the players take these actions independent of whether the Astral Candescence is kept in Al Zahbi or not.

I mean, we're technically under Martial Law here, and all non-combatants were ordered out of Al Zahbi when the Beastman army breached the final defense line and entered the city.

That means: We have one task -- one -- until the Beastman retreat. Keep the Astral Candescence.

That means you take whatever actions you have to. Fight, a suicidal Diaga (which I've done more than a few, to try to get a mess of monsters off an Allied General), actually Raise someone*, Cure what you can find to be cured, etc.

You don't shout for something which has nothing to do with the Besieged and only to do with your sorry, greedy little character. If you aren't in to fight, get out of the Besieged.

*This also could apply to those people (of whom there are more than a couple in every Besieged, it seems) who die (as is quite expected in the Besieged), and then just lay there. Raises, which are not MP-cheap, are wasted on these people, and their presence takes up valuable resources which do not allow the players who don't have tricked-out computers *raises hand as one* to see all the relevant action going on.

I'm sick of it. If I see it, they MIGHT get one warning. But if a group of people are doing this, then they probably are going to go on the blacklist.

And then I'll let people know to get on task.

That leads to the other complaint:

"Chill out. It's just a game!!"

The fact that I'm a very competitive person is lost on these guys.

The fact that I find Besieged a wonderfully intense part of FFXI is also lost on these guys.

But the fact is: I know I'm in a game -- but, if I'm in the game, I'm here to win it. Otherwise, I can be doing something else (for FFXI, see above!). When the rest of the server decides they don't care whether we keep the Astral Candescence, it restricts my ability to advance in Besieged by helping Asura win and gain a winning streak. At that point, it is my business.

So, as was once famously said: "You play to win the game." In Besieged, either play to win, or get the f--- out.

So how DID you get that character so high?

I was actually going to post a rant about what I see (far too damned often) in Besieged -- and that rant is coming today.

But, then, thanks to the Tarutaru Times Online, I saw an issue that I just have to address, as a paying member of the community.

I was on FFXI about 3 AM Wednesday morning (Pacific Time). We actually were in a Besieged. All of a sudden, I see a significant System Message proclaiming an emergency maintenance on a number of higher-level areas. Most of these areas had to do with either Assaults, Salvage, or they were BCNM's in the past Vanadiel Shadowrealm.

OK. That happens from time to time -- an issue comes up which has to be dealt with now.

But what concerns me (very strongly) is what that issue ended up being...

There apparently was a very dirty little secret about those areas. One could take several parties into some of those areas (I'm assuming the same exploit could've been done in the BCNM areas, so they decided to work those too...), and use an exploit to duplicate the drops (many quite valuable, especially in Salvage), disrupting the game balance and economy in ways I don't necessarily believe I needed to go into.

This upset me. You see, to my knowledge, I don't cheat on Final Fantasy XI and I don't think I, nor anyone else on the game, should have to.

So, with that, I sent the following message to the Special Task Force as a "suggestion or comment":


I am not a happy player right now, except for the fact that I am more than happy, that, even with a 75 Beastmaster, that I have not jumped head-long into endgame.

I was on, this morning (11/26/08 about 3 AM PST) when the emergency maintenance took place to fix what appears to be a big-time cheat exploit (in Salvage and some of the past Vanadiel BCNM areas – where players had been known to use this exploit to increase the drop rate (by duplicating items, apparently) in these areas, especially in Salvage) on the part of what might well be a significant part of the end-game community of Final Fantasy XI. I was happening around some of the community sites and came upon this comment from “Dennis” (apparently Kimiko of the Siren server) on 1UP (name found through the listing on the Tarutaru Times Online):


Personally, I have to give SE credit for patching this issue quickly upon its realization, but at the same time I must take issue with the endgame community as a whole. You all have known about these now for the last several weeks, if not months, and yet rather than do the right thing you all decided to exploit this to your own ends. It makes me wonder just how many of the Salvage pieces that are completed right now are the result of this exploit. You cry that Salvage drops are piss-poor at best? Ok, so maybe they are, but that in no way gives you carte blanche to outright cheat.

This is, apparently, an exploit which people knew of and used for a LONG time.

I am going to put this in zero uncertain terms. This is a job for the Special Task Force. They need to find out who started it, and every player (possible) who knew of the exploit and used it. The use of such an exploit is a clear violation of the FFXI Terms of Service, and every player who knowingly used this exploit must be banned and characters removed from Final Fantasy XI, no matter how many players eventually get tossed.

This not only disrupts the economy of a number of the servers, but also disrupts fair play for those of us who do not choose to use illegal third-party software or exploits or whatever other cheats may exist.

One of the complaints I often make about some of these players (especially when they play with no regard to server-wide events like Besieged, but only for themselves) is that I openly wonder if some of these players only got to where they are by buying their characters. Given news like this, I begin to wonder if taking the players to the next level of that requires certain levels of outside-the-rules cheating as well.

Every player who has knowingly used this exploit must be banned.

Every player who has used this exploit (knowingly or not) should lose all items from the relevant areas, because their actions have not only unfairly gained all such items, but disrupted game economy balance and game balance as a whole.

We pay good money to play this game fairly, and those of us who don't exploit should demand the removal of all who knowingly do. You've got a LOT of work to do, Special Task Force.

Starcade from Asura


The post to which I refer has a link to a forum of high-level players, pages of which are open bitching by high-level players that their dirty little secret got out and got taken care of.

Here's a hint: You cheated. What you did was a violation of the Terms of Service you agree to when you pay your $12.95/mo for that character.

No uncertain terms about it. At minimum, you should lose all items from those areas. If there's any idea that you knew of this exploit and did it anyway, poof goes the character. The Special Task Force needs to delete ALL characters (and I don't care if it's thousands) who knew of this exploit and did it anyway.

They need to take a serious look as to whether Salvage can be, well, salvaged. There's a very real chance they've completely destroyed the balance to that entire part of the game.

I make a "joke" sometimes... When I see things which frustrate me, I openly /shout as to whether some of these players actually bought their characters.

When I hear of conduct like this, I really begin to wonder how they could get their characters that high without cheating.

SE has to ban 6-10K accounts a month (a recent report at VanaFest in Japan last weekend put the number of banned accounts, since the STF started, at somewhere near 400,000) because of illegal situations -- but this needs a special look. This is something, frankly, which may actually force them to take a look at serious actions impacting thousands of characters.

I'm just disgusted. I know that saying "Shame on you." to them does no good -- they have no shame in their game. It's all about "pwnage". They don't care as long as they get away with it.

It's time for them not to "get away with it", but that's going to take a lot of work by the STF.

Starting Again...

I guess I kinda left this thing a little too long and, now, have decided to start over -- this time, as a Final Fantasy XI blog.

My name is Michael, and (for now -- and I'll explain that in about my third post) I play on the Asura server of Final Fantasy XI as Starcade. I didn't start right away, and had a LONG lay-off from the game as my computer access was limited due to funds.

I purchased a laptop about 18 months ago, and got back into the game hardcore. Once my living arrangements stabilized, I've been playing quite a bit.

Right now (as of Thanksgiving Day, the re-launch of the Dark Renegade's Musings), I have one level 75 (Beastmaster), and three more jobs on the 55 range (Dancer at 57, Red Mage at 55, and Dragoon at 54). I'm levelling all three of those, as I'll explain in another post -- but I have two rants to go on first before I really get to anything more on myself.

I like to solo -- and part of it is that I don't trust a lot of the other players (and I'll get into that in the two rants that I will go on).

I don't expect everyone to agree with me nor that I will make that many friends. I do not have a high opinion of a lot of the players whom I've seen (and read about) in recent weeks and months. But, as I told my linkshell in exasperation when I finally decided to take on BST to level up a job to 75, I like this game and play it and pay for it because it's _Final Fantasy_. There's a certain thing about it (and it does translate to this game, in it's own way) that actually does some very good things.

But, before I get to the rants (separate posts), let me give some thank yous:

-- The Vanadiel Podcast Alliance and They are not only an entertaining bunch of shows, but they give a lot of information about the game and the FFXI community.

-- The Tarutaru Times Online. The motivation to blog my thoughts on Final Fantasy XI. (Also, the place where I found the subject matter for my first non-introductory post.) Read some of the blogs referenced here. They definitely have some good thoughts.

-- Square-Enix. I had my concerns about the economic future (RL economy) of FFXI, but it really sounds as if Squeenix is trying to weather the storm and keep Vanadiel going.

Anyway, I have rants to get on to -- so, on with the asbestos suit and out with the flame-thrower...