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The preliminary patch notes for 4.3 are out, and I’m really looking to them to pull me back into the game and excite me again. I’ve been kinda taking a break from FFXIV, playing other games, and only logging in here and there to take care of FC stuff… sometimes run an alliance.

I’d love for something in 4.3 to catch my attention. I know that this is supposed to be the final story update for the Doman arc, and maybe that’s a good thing. While I do like some of the characters of Stormblood, I have to admit that overall, I haven’t been as invested in the story as I was during Heavensward. I’ve been hearing a number of other folks echoing this sentiment, so I don’t think it’s just me.

There’s just been too many “Oh, btw, this character isn’t dead” situations happening. It’s been overused at this point. But anyhow, that’s a thought for another blog post. Let’s hopefully get hyped over stuff in the patch notes, shall we?

YEAH!

I’ll take anything that can help me level my poorly lagging crafting jobs. It’s just a plus that they’re beast tribe quests, that I like the Namazu, and think their squeaky-walk is cute. This will get me back to working on my crafting again.

Even more lovely is that it’s located at the Azim Steppe… which is one of my favorite zones for the music alone. I’m glad they chose to do more with it!

Aurum Vale for Squads! YAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

Right?

Yeah… no.

But what IS exciting is seeing Sohm Al on this list. It’s the first above level 50 dungeon we’ll be able to take Squads into. Also, I’m happy that Brayfox Hard made it to the Squad list. It’s one of the few level 50 dungeons I actually know well and like.

So, once this goes in, it’ll be viable to use Squads to supplement Beast Tribes while leveling from 50-60. This means it’ll be quite possible to reach 60 on an alt job completely solo… in a timely manner. Maybe even sorta quickly. I’m all for more solo options.

Aw… yeah! Fish tanks everywhere! This is such a great change. While I doubt I’ll need 6 tanks in my house (you can never tell) I love the option to have more of them. I invested in the biggest tank I could because that’s the only one I could have. Now, I can place some of the smaller tanks and go catch more fish to sell display.

I’ve heard this change is to remove the need to dye glamour specific colors to earn top points… which I’m all for. I was never going to use a rare dye to boost my score a few points for Fashion Report. It was silly that they asked us to. Granted, I did make a little Gil off of selling dye, but I’d rather the game be less complicated in the long run.

I enjoy Fashion Report, and was happy to score a 100% one week, but I haven’t really participated much since I got my Fenrir. Making it less complicated (sometimes just getting the gear is hard enough) will certainly encourage me to play it again.

This is the first step in making Eureka a bit easier for those of us who have lagged behind in levels. And for solo folks. I really would like to eventually do stuff in Eureka, so getting a boost from the challenge log is a nice bonus.

Also a bonus for playing Lord of Verminion. I guess it’s a good time to try to learn that game finally. But “Come Play Lord.” Really?

This is a very good change. Now people don’t have an excuse for leeching off boss fights, and won’t get completely locked out just because they stopped to watch a cut scene in a 24 man raid.

I’m always up for new deliveries! But with a limitation of 12 a week, I guess the last real reason to go to Idylshire is gone. Aside from buying soils with Poetics.

This is a HUGE WIN! Thank you!

FANTASTIC improvement! Thank you!

This doesn’t affect me at all, but I think this is a FANTASTIC addition to helping color-blind folks out. I’m impressed!

YAY!

Absolutely interested in this. We’ll see how it works. I love the idea of helping build up a town in game. I wonder if it’s a server-wide effort, or if it changes based on an individual’s instance (like beast tribes). I always enjoy when instancing is used well.

I’m happy that Squad glamour is getting some more love. Not only that, but it’s great to have another location to access the Armorie and Glamour Commode. Now I don’t have to run all the way to the Inn to work on my glamour. A nice time saver.

This is a nice change. I really need to race my chocobos again.

I still haven’t tried Lord of Verminion, and I keep telling myself I really should. This sounds like a nice change for someone like me… who just wants to play and not deal with competitive play.

There’s a lot of nice changes here, though I still haven’t unlocked this yet. I really don’t want to play music on my keyboard, even if they’re improving it. I’d much rather use an .abc file or something.

The one note I did see is that you can now play in the Grand Company Barracks, which is a perfect place to practice without bothering anyone. I like that.

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One of the gifts I got for my birthday this year (they were all super awesome) was a Nintendo eShop card from my sister. I have a huge list of things I really want to play on my Switch, and a backlog forming, but I’ll never turn down an eShop card!

Death Road to Canada wasn’t really a game on my radar until it released. It just so happened I was looking at reviews of different games while trying to decide what to pick up with my gift card. That’s when I saw that this was a rogue-lite zombie game, similar to Oregon Trail, with a lot of zany RNG story and events.

Oh and it has local two player co-op, which I haven’t tried yet. And it was (is still?) on sale, too!

That checked a lot of boxes for me, so I picked it up. This post contains a lot of pictures since that’s the only way to really express the nature of Death Road to Canada. All the stories you’re about to see are true and really happened.

So far, I haven’t made it to Canada yet… I’ve died to stupid choices, bad RNG, or just zombie swarms for one reason or another. Thankfully, the game has a currency called Zombo points that you earn or find along the way. Using these help you improve character attributes and gear associated with those attributes for your next playthroughs. So even if you die, you still earn things to make your next game a tad easier.

Zany Characters

The biggest feature (for me) had to be the crazy characters who join your party from time to time. I want to talk about a few of these. This section might be a bit of a spoiler (or maybe an incentive to check the game out), depending on your interests.

In my second game, I ran into a fencer named Harrie.

She was a super strong fighter, and would shout things like “Fie! Too slow for me!” as she fought off waves of zombies. I was a little sad to lose that run because I thought I had a good chance with Harrie on my team.

Then, there’s Woof. Someone on the dev team likes dogs (and not cats).

In case you couldn’t tell from the icon (it took me a while squinting at it), that’s a pug dressed in a trench coat smoking a pipe. I’ll not spoil any more of that character’s surprise.

Once, a random Knight joined my team.

She was really powerful… so I was sad she only stuck around for one fight.

Then, finally, there was Stanisla-chan… the Magical Girl. I have a lot to say about this one.

She was super powerful and equip with a wand that shot out magical beams. When my group leader died, I picked her up as the main playable character, and she was tons of fun. She’d shout the usual anime tropes about love and moonlight as she fought.

She also made commentary as we drove.

When she got wounded, though, she eventually started… melting…? Or something..?

It was kinda creepy. In the end, when she died in a pile of zombies, I think she exploded.

Anyhow… those are just a few of the characters I discovered. I know there are tons more I haven’t yet.

Crazy Events

The RNG events can be pretty silly, too. I had a few repeats, but sometimes I got something completely random, or had different options for ones I’d seen before.

They’re worried about a Weegee board in a zombie game.

No more Anime??? Nooooo!

Told you someone on the team doesn’t like cats.

What if I am a nerd, huh? Huh?

Zombie Obama: You’re welcome.

Then finally…

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FINAL FANTASY XIV Patch 4.3 - Under the Moonlight - YouTube
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I know it’s been a while since I’ve written about Pokemon Go. I’ve been a little out of touch with the game for a while, but I’ve kept it on my phone, and I check the news from time to time.

I keep thinking I should get back into it since it’s added things that sound fun — like quests, weather and things. And lots of Pokemon I haven’t caught yet. I wasn’t that into the whole raid thing, but I’ve heard good things about all the newer changes.

I guess this is a sign.

We went out to the local Mellow Mushroom for my birthday lunch today. The fountain there is one of my most visited Pokestops. I just haven’t been in a long while. In fact, I’m so low on Pokeballs that it’s one reason why I haven’t played much.

So, as we were eating, I was spinning the stops and catching whatever random Pokemon popped up. I’m not very familiar with the 3rd gen Pokemon, and I wasn’t paying much attention to what I was catching. I was more interested in getting stuff I didn’t have and filling that “Catch 10 Pokemon” quest.

Later on, I logged back in to review the quests I had (which I haven’t done much with) and see what I caught. That’s when I noticed an odd icon next to one of them.

Hold on a second… could that be?

An actual Shiny Meditite?

Can I just say this is the first ever shiny Pokemon I’ve caught in any Pokemon game. I mean, aside from the one time someone transferred a Shiny Steelix  to me that was infected with Pokerus.

And on my birthday, too!

I guess it’s a sign I need to get back into this game.

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Nintendo sure knows how to spruce up a birthday, doesn’t it? Growing up a Nintendo kid, I couldn’t resist using the above image as my PC wallpaper. They also sent along some cute little paper craft templates, stuff that reminds me passingly of the new Switch Labo stuff.

So, today is my 40th birthday. Time for a little rambling.

I’d like to think that to see me and talk to me, my age isn’t very apparent. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing to say about yourself.

Every time you hit a decade milestone, though, it makes you stop and reflect a bit. I remember being antsy about the idea of turning 30. I was told “30 is the new 20, don’t fret about it.”

And they were pretty much right. I did a lot in the past 10 years to set a foundation under me — pay off bills, start a real career, get a place of my own that I own, buy my first new car… all of those adulting things. I’ve managed to survive it all somehow.

This year, I’ll have both my home and car paid off by fall. I still have some student loan stuff I’m working on, but my finances are good.

I feel like I’m in a position to start saving and thinking about where to go next. There’s still lots to see, do and look forward to. I’ve chosen to do things solo so far, so I have a lot of freedom to come and go as I please. I have good friends and family, and I’m a bit of a hermit by nature, so I’m alright with it.

However, year after year I tell myself that I need to pay better attention to my diet and health. I’m still saying that this year, and I have a feeling I’m going to really need to start to act on that.

Thanks Green Man Gaming… I think?

Anyhow, my sister got me a $35 Nintendo eShop card, and I picked up the new Death Road to Canada since it’s on sale for Switch right now. I haven’t put a ton of time into it, but I’ll be sure to post about it once I have!

I’m struggling to decide what to use the rest of my card on, though. So many games on my Switch wishlist – it’s a good problem to have.

Have a great day!  

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I’ve been waiting to hear information on the Nintendo Switch Online service, like many gamers, since last year. This was originally supposed to launch sometime last fall, but now is set to go this September.

Until that point, we’ll be able to enjoy online multiplayer in games like Splatoon 2, Mario Kart and ARMS without having to pay for a service. We were told from the beginning this would eventually change, but the price point would be affordable.

Now keep in mind that I don’t own any of the new Playstations or a single XBox, so I’ve not been a console gamer where paying for online services costed me extra.

The Cost

The cost is per account, not per system, but there’s a pretty affordable yearly family option.

  • One month: $3.99
  • Three months: $7.99
  • Twelve months: $19.99
  • Twelve Month Family Membership: $34.99 (Up to 8 people)

I personally don’t have a problem with the cost of the service, and will be handing over my $20 without hesitation.

What You Get

Paying for the service provides:

  • Online play
  • Access to free NES games  (only NES? – don’t know yet)
  • Nintendo Switch App
  • Save Data Cloud Backup

I want to take a look at each of these.

Online play. We knew it was coming, the day when we’d need to pay to be able to play games online. I never had any illusions about this, but the fact of the matter is that releasing this service renders games like Splatoon 2 unplayable without it.

It was nice of them to let us play for free during this period of time, but I still feel this should have been in place before these online-required games released. I dunno. Maybe I’m a little sad that I’ll probably never play online Mario Kart with my sister again because she’s not going to pony up the cost to play online. This was never a problem with older Nintendo systems.

I can only imagine how it’s going to hinder things like Pokemon games, which traditionally are greatly enhanced through online features.

I know I sound wishy-washy because on one hand, I don’t think the cost is outrageous. On the other hand, I still question having the cost at all.

Access to free NES games. This is a nice little perk… however… it leads to something that I was afraid was going to happen.

Nintendo has announced there will be no Virtual Console for Switch.

This is a big bummer for me. I mean, Virtual Console was pretty much the selling point that got me to pick up a Wii U back in the day.

Instead of a Virtual Console, they are giving us a Netflix-like service for NES games. Looking at the list, these are all Nintendo-developed games, too.

The games are supposed to have online and even multiplayer features, though I have no idea how they’d add that to a game like Legend of Zelda. I guess that only applies to games where online play makes sense.

It looks like they want 3rd party developers just to put their retro games in the eShop. Some have already, but I still feel the lack of a label like Virtual Console won’t encourage devs to do this quite as much as they would have with the label. I’d love to have some oldskool Final Fantasy and JRPGs on the system, but will companies bring them over to the Switch without the Virtual Console label?

I kinda don’t know how to feel about renting the games instead of owning them. I guess I own most of these in their original format, and do have an NES Mini if I really want them.

I’m choosing to look at this as an extra perk, but still miss the idea of the Virtual Console.

Nintendo Switch App. I have it on my phone somewhere. It’s pretty lackluster at the moment. Theey talk about enhancing gameplay with voice chat, but I’d just as well use Discord, honestly.

Not to mention none of my close friends/family are going to be buying into the service, and I don’t willingly voice chat with strangers, so I doubt I’ll ever have a use for it. I’m sure someone will.

Save Data Cloud Backup. Ah. This is the huge one. The one that everyone has been asking for.

I guess I can understand that save data in the cloud probably costs something for storage. But I still feel like putting a feature like this behind a paywall is a little crummy. I really do think this is a feature that should have been built in and available to everyone from the start… especially since I hear the horror stories of people sending in their Switches to get fixed, only to have their device wiped and returned to them with all content lost.

Or, at least give people the ability to back saves up on a separate drive somewhere if the cloud can’t be free. This is just basic needed functionality… I’ve been able to do this for yeras on other systems without problems.

Not only that, but it’s been hinted that not every game will support cloud saves. So, we’ll see.

TL;DR Final Thoughts

Wow, this all came off sounding a lot more negative than I meant it to be. Please don’t misunderstand… I absolutely adore my Switch. Overall, I like Nintendo bunches. But I still think that there are some things that should have been done differently.

Let me recap: 

  • I’m willing to pay the cost for the service. I feel the price is affordable.
  • If you offer a service for free, even with good will, but then stamp a price on it, some people are going to see that as taking service away. Especially when it deals with games you play pretty much 100% online. If you’re planning on doing that, do it from the start.
  • I’m going to miss the Virtual Console. I do appreciate the offer of renting free old games added in to the service, but I’d rather just buy my games outright. I feel a little squirmy about the direction that’s going.
  • The app is meh to me and remains meh.
  • Being able to back up save data is something everyone should have. If it’s not in the form of cloud saves, at least allow backing up to another drive.

Do you have any thoughts on the Switch Online service?

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Pictured above: Someone’s awesome dragon avatar flying above Erstwhile at the Second Life Fantasy Faire.

My weekend was made up of a combination of mutliplayer Stardew Valley with my sister and time spent at events in Second Life. We attended Relay Stock and said farewell to the Fantasy Faire with a final round of exploration.

I also spent time working on new content for my Water Horse shop. And that’s where this story comes from.

I still feel a little bad about not having “exciting” new content to post here like I have in the past. There just isn’t much to write about when it comes to multiplayer Stardew (aside from the fact it continues to be fun) and making horse content in SL.

So I’ve decided that whenever something funny that warrants a story happens in SL, I’ll work on writing it up here. Kinda like Tales from the Duty Finder… just SL instead. So, here’s my first SL Story.

Being the Dragon

One amazing aspect of Second Life (once you get past the learning curve) is that you can be just about anything you can imagine. The new bento mesh avatars make this a million times better. I’ve talked about how great they are for people avatars and for riding horses. But they can also take the form of infinite other things.

Like this amazing dragon avatar. I actually own this, but haven’t spent time customizing mine yet or writing about it.

Image credit: Second Life Marketplace

And yes, the avatar can breathe fire (and other elements). It’s great fun!

When Dragons Attack

It was Saturday afternoon and the Posse was away. So I was at my home, the Riverwalk Mountain View, working on my newest Water Horse coats. When I’m painting horses, I need to see as much of the coat as I can, so I make the tack and the person part of my avatar invisible. This leaves just the horse… and almost makes it look like I have a horse-only avatar. Like this:

So, I was just minding my own business at home, when suddenly, a dragon (the avatar I posted above) swooped down out of the sky. I knew this was just a person wearing a dragon avatar, and I was looking like a horse… but I did what any self-preserving horse would do when a dragon appears.

I ran.

The dragon chased me.

I live next to the Riverwalk Park, the Renaissance Fair area to be precise, which affords a lot of open area to romp around in. I wish I’d taken pictures of it, but at the time, the only thing I could think of was to playfully run away from the dragon.

I hid in water, he found me. He chased me all over the sim. It was great fun.

Then, I turned around and transformed into my own copy of the dragon avatar.

I don’t think he expected that. But he had a very good response to it. He transformed into something much more massive.

Yes, and for scale, he’s far bigger than the buildings – almost as large as the windmill!

I laughed and gave up, telling him there was no way for me to outdo that. He laughed, too – the first spoken interaction I had from him, showing he was indeed being friendly. I decided to pull out my tiny corgi avatar.

He turned into a raptor. We had another little chase around until we finally ended up laughing and talking.

He asked if I lived here, and I showed him my place. I asked if he usually swoops down on horses as a dragon. He told me that he had a tower nearby and that he’d seen me from the top of it (he also told me later he doesn’t go around watching people usually… I guess my horse just caught his eye).

So, we traveled back to his tower and he showed me around. We climbed it, and sure enough, I could see my plot from the top.

We spent a little time talking, and it turns out he lives in Puerto Rico. He’s been away from SL due to the state of things in his country, and is only just returning. We discussed how things are recovering after the hurricane, and how they’re taking precautions for this upcoming hurricane season. It was a pleasant and eye-opening exchange, actually.

Eventually, the Posse came around, so I said goodbye to my new neighbor. But this just shows how if you go with the flow, random can be good fun in Second Life.

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Stardew Valley launched beta patch 1.3 two days ago. Last night, my sister and I jumped into our first try at a multiplayer game. The verdict – there’s a few small bugs, but overall, Stardew handles multiplayer almost flawlessly… even in beta form!

If you have Stardew on Steam, you can follow the instructions in the official blog post to opt into the beta. The GoG version is coming very soon. And, there IS cross-platform multiplayer between Steam and GoG through using codes to invite friends to your farm.

Once you’ve opted into the beta, you get a new Co-op option on the main menu screen. This is where the fun happens.

You can host and join multiplayer games there. You can also make an existing game into a co-op game, but we chose to start a brand new farm using the co-opt hosting.

We had no problem at all hosting or joining the game via the Steam friends list. No need to open up ports or anything. No muss or fuss. I like it!

Since both my sister and I have many hours of Stardew under our belt, we both approached this from a “I’m returning and remembering how to play this. How is this going to work in multiplayer?” standpoint.

Changes for Multiplayer

The first thing I realized was that the game no longer pauses when you open up your menu — keep this in mind for when you’re down in the mines fighting monsters! There’s no pause time!

The game host can still pause the game, though, by opening up chat (Press “T”) and typing /pause. Since Stardew days are short, and everything revolves around time, this is a huge feature to take advantage of, especially if one of your players dropped connection.

We also learned that certain things, such as going to sleep at night and festival cut scenes, have a built-in feature that waits for the other players to confirm. For example, if I go to sleep and my sister hasn’t yet, I see this until she jumps in bed and confirms she wants to sleep:

This makes it a little nail-biting when your friend is running home at ten-till 1 am.

I have no idea what happens if one player sleeps an the other doesn’t. Do you both get the penalty? Or just one?

Shared and Not Shared

The biggest thing we ran across was figuring out what was shared and not shared.

Money is shared. This means that you need to buy two of everything – upgrades and the like. Thankfully, more than one of you working around the farm can get twice as much done. Someone can be foraging on the beach and another in the mines while another is watering the crops.

It seems like quests, stats, skills and NPC relationships are not shared.

But other things, such as progress made on the community center and clearing floors in the mine, are shared. It’s fun to battle through the mine and have someone else with you searching for the next path down.

Just know that the treasure chest you loot in the mine seems to only give one reward. Not sure if this was intentional or a bug.

Overall

We only ran across a few things that I would consider a true bug. The biggest one was with sounds carrying much further than they should. Sometimes I could hear Vix chopping trees or fighting monsters in the mine when I was nowhere near her.

Directional sound also doesn’t carry very well from the other player. I can hear her walking around on the farm, for example, but can’t tell from the sound what direction she’s located from my position.

These aren’t anything that break the game, and I’m sure these sorts of things will get fixed. Overall, this is a very solid beta, and I’m certainly looking forward to continuing to build our farm. We might even get a few more to join us down the line.

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Welcome to Goals: Let’s Try it Again edition. Last month, I didn’t do so well on finishing what I hoped to accomplish. I’ve been caught up in a flurry of creativity, and haven’t been in the mood for gaming, so I have an excuse.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to get stuff done, though. So, here’s some holdovers from last month.

FFXIV Leveling Goals
  • Level Ninja to 50
  • Level Some Job (to 70)

I’m not sure which job I’m going to focus on for my Roulettes-to-70 next. I started White Mage, but healing makes me anxious. I know I should just stick with it, practice and get it done with, though. I’ll probably do that. Will have to wait and see.

FFXIV Cleanup Quest Goals
  • Ninja – Lv 40+45 Quests
  • Warrior – Lv 40 Quest (maybe a few before that, not sure)
  • Summoner – Lv 60-70 Quests
  • Scholar – Lv 60-70 Quests
  • Machinist – Lv 60-70 Quests
  • Paladin – Lv 60-70 Quests
  • Miner – Lv 70 Quest
  • Botanist – Lv 70 Quest
  • Fisher – Lv 60-something – 70 Quest
  • Check all Crafters to make sure they’ve completed up to Lv 60 Quest at least

This list just got longer since I finished leveling Summoner and Scholar last month. Getting so far behind feels bad. I need to clean up my crafting quests, especially since we’ll get a crafting-oriented beast tribe series later this month. I know I’ll be taking advantage of those!

And… honestly… with the new patch coming out and my fixation on painting horses in Second Life, I think I’ll leave my goal setting right here for the month. That list of job quests is intimidating enough!

Have a great May! 

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