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The Forbidden Codex of The Pink Beyond - A Sqrl's Journal

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November 15th, 2018


07:42 am - Recordkeeping: Final Fantasy XIV, Everquest 2 ONGOING
So as you might've surmised, I've hurled myself into the deep pits of Final Fantasy XIV again. The game is very quiet right now, as we're deep into a post-expansion realm and most people have finished up the story mode for right now and tucked the game aside, but since I slept through all of Stormblood this is all new to me.

Actually, I'm not even at Stormblood yet. I'm leveling Summoner to 60 in prep for buying Stormblood. Summoner may be my favorite class to play of the several I've tried (Monk and Warrior, with dabblings in others) although I do love all the different class mechanics and gameplay. That said, Summoner gets to make their summons look like fuzzy little monsters called carbuncles (do not search that word without some kind of Final Fantasy tagging appended to it) and as they approach level 60 get to call more and more on the power of Bahamut the great dragon via a power called Dreadwyrm Trance.

Entering Dreadwyrm Trance turns your basic bread-and-butter spell into an instant cast and boosts the power of several other spells, so fights go from "engage, place damage-over-times, cast what's on cooldown, damage spam, manage pet's damage" to "engage, activate Dreadwyrm Trance BLAM! STATUS EFFECTS DAMAGE DAMAGE DAMAGE AHAHAHA AH'M NIGH-INVULNERABLE WHEN AH'M BLASTIN'!" followed shortly thereafter by the post-high comedown of "oh shit boss mechanics I am not actually nigh-invulnerable run run RUN AWJLF" and then you flail around until you can Trance again and start cackling insanely again.

Whenever the summoner is NOT in Dreadwyrm Trance, the summoner will be asking "When is my next Dreadwyrm Trance?" It's the closest thing to City of Heroes brand Scrapperlock I have ever felt.

At level 58, I can't even summon mini-Bahamut to Deathflare my enemies yet. Soon, soon. 60 is almost there.

So... it's safe to say that this is the first time I've really ENJOYED higher-level gameplay in an MMO. Usually I feel it gets overly complicated and unfun as the levels pass, but in this case it's so empowering and so delightful to ramp up into a SUPERPOWERED MODE and just start blazing away that it's revitalized my enjoyment of the entire game a bit. The game may suddenly feel like I've cross-classed into THE MIRACLE PIANO TEACHING SYSTEM but I'm really eager to start passing into the Stormblood content.

-- and of course, FFXIV is still FFXIV, there's still cutscenes and walls of text and NPCs I remember and love.

I've also been dipping back into Everquest 2. A friend suggested we try it -- no, I lie. The conversation went more like this:

Them: "I'm thinking I vaguely kind of sort of want to dip back into Everquest 2 maybe."
Me: "I HAVE ALREADY REINSTALLED AND MERELY AWAIT YOUR CHOICE OF SERVER."

I may have press-ganged myself into their experience a little tiny bit.

So we've been romping around my favorite decade-plus-year-old MMO, discovering new things (like which walls you can just walk straight up at a 90 degree angle for a better view of the zone) and learning old things and just having a great time. It's a vastly different style of game from FFXIV, but I'm not prepared to say either is better or worse.

Even better, with two people, their mind-slaved charm-pet, my hired mercenary, and a couple of familiars out we can actually make progress in EQ2's vicious open world dungeons. We're exploring Fallen Gate, you guys! Not the progression server, the actual dungeon! I'd never been in there before, it's dangerous as hell, but this is a dungeon from (as far as I know) the actual game-launch content that I had NEVER SEEN before. I'm holding myself back from looking up guides because so far there's been a surprise around every corner.

It's a very warm feeling, learning about all this stuff. Online games may be inherently finite, but they give me a sense of wonder that I haven't matched with anything offline that isn't retrogaming as hell. There's nothing like stumbling upon a piece of content you know nobody's touched in half a decade to give you a sense of archaeological discovery.

Plus Everquest 2 just dropped a new expansion AND FFXIV is about to have their Fanfest gathering which will tell us all about the wonders waiting in the future. It's a really, REALLY good time to be in love with MMOs.

I'm just delighted the gaming world is diverse enough to support both FFXIV and EQ2 AND other people's favorite games too, really.

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November 6th, 2018


11:47 am - FFXIV fans, sing along!
Whoooooooooooooo lives in Gridania, under the trees?



Fluffy and tailsy and ears-y is he!



Whose nose is all rubbery, easy to kiss?



Who'll hurl your sweet soul down into the Abyss?



ARR har har.

(guys I have so much free time, you don't even KNOW.)

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October 28th, 2018


10:17 pm - Re: FFXIV
Guess who has no impulse control.



Me. It's me. *wave*

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October 27th, 2018


07:37 am - Great Moments in NPC Dialogue: Horizon Zero Dawn - The Frozen Wilds
"This is my sort of delve! A thousand little problems to solve, a million minute and invisible factors! My father used to say to me, 'Gildling?' -- he called me Guildling -- 'Gildling,' he used to say, 'Don't make the delve harder than it needs to be. The best delves are done in half the time it takes a campfire to sputter out.'

Now my father was a great man, mind you, but dead wrong when it came to choosing a rubric by which to judge delve quality. To find yourself stuck, and then unstuck! To fail, then to succeed! To get lost and find... YOURSELF! That's what makes a delve!"

- Gildun from Horizon Zero Dawn - The Frozen Wilds explains why I keep coming back to puzzle games, MMOs, RPGs and open-world adventure-em-ups.

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October 26th, 2018


03:57 pm - Calling Me Home
I can feel that urge again. Neverwinter is nice and fun for now, but I feel a distinct urge.

When the next FFXIV expansion gets a proper announcement, I will probably put in a preorder for that and go back to Eorzea. It's just... my home game, right now, in the way that City of Heroes used to be. I'm feeling the urge to get back in there and really -suck- at dungeons for a while.

Maybe I'll start an alt.

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October 21st, 2018


12:33 pm - Neverwinter Delivers Delicious Rich Irony
"What title should my character have? Hmm. Orc Slayer, Bandit Slayer, Cultist Slayer ... Ah, how about this one, "Protector of the Living"."

Presumably it means anyone still living after the mop-up phase.

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October 16th, 2018


12:36 pm - Recordkeeping: Yeti's Parole Officer COMPLETE
Keeping the streak of text adventures and interactive fiction alive, here's a Choice of Games number I bought entirely for the premise alone. I do that sometimes.

Unfortunately the stated premise takes a quick hike out the window pretty quickly. The Yeti barely shows up in this game at all, and while you briefly act as his parole officer towards the beginning, you're really working as a peacekeeping officer with the entire Earth as your jurisdiction and various cryptids as your charges. There's a series of incidents ... mothman, chupacabra, a jackalope. Does it all lead towards something? Can your bird-alien superiors keep you on track towards cracking the case, or will your new partner be a hindrance instead of a helper?

I beat this three times in an hour, so it isn't exactly a long-haul game. It's well-written enough but it IS a railroad of a story. You can affect small details here and there, but you aren't changing the plot in any major way except at specific nodes.

Still, I had a good time with it.

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08:00 am - Recordkeeping: Subsurface Circular COMPLETE
A short but narratively strong text adventure (with graphics) that's mechanically all about asking questions and guiding a conversation, but storywise wanders between mystery and Asimovian science fiction.

This is a smart one, much like Thomas Was Alone before it. Michael Bithell's strengths lie in plotting, characterizing with personality strokes across a tight canvas, and in a game design that flows in one direction while giving the player an illusion of choice. Yes, in many ways this is a very linear experience that could be done in simple text adventure format, but it feels like a reactive one. Characters acknowledge things you say later on and you never have just one way to react to a situation personality-wise, even if you may be squeezed in tight puzzle-wise.

For people who enjoy engaging with a narrative's themes and allowing themselves to consider alternative viewpoints, this is a very interesting game. For people who do not enjoy this, I suspect it'll be about 45 minutes of clicking followed by an arbitrary choice and a sense of dissatisfaction.

Also, there's a developer's commentary robot that joins you on the second playthrough. I ended up going through most of the game again to hear what it had to say. One thing I had wondered, post-game, was "Can this be expanded on?" and it was nice to have confirmation that yes, the development team put this together in only a few months ("only") and more elaborate interactions were surely possible. I look forward to picking up the next game in this lineage to see how that goes.

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October 14th, 2018


03:47 pm - Recordkeeping: Strider (2014) INCOMPLETE
Hmm.

Y'know, I really thought I was going to finish this one, but the difficulty spiked up enormously at the end and I just decided "Nah". Up until then it was quite good though. Not quite a Metroidvania, a big area divided into stages that you can revisit later. Good combat. Very strong motion options.

I've rarely seen a game that gives less of a damn if you care about its lore, though. Strider just drops you into futuristic Kazakh City on a hang glider and expects you'll set about choppin' dudes in half. If you want backstory, you have to unlock it yourself via pick-ups. If you don't, get out there and chop.

I think I just ran out of patience here. It's a good game. I just fatigue easy, towards the end of the year.

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October 11th, 2018


10:09 pm - Recordkeeping: Dungeons & Dragons: The Tower of Doom COMPLETE
I blame this game for giving me extremely unrealistic standards regarding what Dungeons and Dragons would actually turn out to be. As a kid, I played the Tower of Doom arcade machine a time or two, so I figured "Oh, Elf and Dwarf are their own thing, fighters can do wacky combo stuff and launch people into the air, there's a ton of combat, you level up by finding money? That's kind of an economic parody... this is really cool!"

Unfortunately that's D&D first edition. By the time I got to it, D&D was no longer about fighters beating the hell out of things, but was instead about mages and clerics being unstoppable monsters of magical doom. And you have not heard insufferable until you've heard some magical asshole describe all the ways his character is better than yours.

That said, the gnolls in this game have long created an unrealistic expectation in me that pixel-art furries would be SUPER ATTRACTIVE so y'know whatever.

I'm just happy to be here.

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