Monday, December 27, 2010

End of 2010

As the end of this year approaches, it's time for me to review the results of my resolutions:

1. Resolution: Weigh 165-170lbs by 2011.

When I initially stated my weight was 195lbs, I found out a short while later my scale was broken. I was actually about 210. While I didn't hit the goals I initially set out to hit (165-170lbs, lose 30lbs), I came close. I'm checking in between 185-190 now, which means I lost 20-25lbs over the course of this year.

Admittedly, my weight loss wasn't at the forefront of my thoughts throughout most of the year and I lost a good chunk of that before March. The good news here is that I made enough minor changes to know I can maintain the weight loss it would seem. If 2011 works out the same as 2010 did, I'll hit my goal of 165-170lbs.

2. Resolution: Database Programming. Learn it. Love it.

Yeah this one didn't go as easily as I thought. Buying and reading books on this subject just put me to sleep most of the time. I wouldn't call myself an expert on the subject at hand just yet, but I made some in-rows.

Learning it: Yes.
Loving it: No.

3. Resolution: Debt under control enough to re-establish my own independence.

This resolution revolved mostly around trimming 3 people off my debtors list. I succeeded in doing this and then some. Now I have just one debtor and that one will take a few more years to pay off.

4. Resolution: Girlfriend moved to KY by the end of July 2010.

Didn't work out. She insists on finding a job before she moves and I'm insisting she won't find one until she's actually here. She's got some other legit concerns as well like medical insurance, etc.

She's actually self-imposed a deadline of July 2011 to move down here now.

5. Resolution: Improve my credit score by 50-100 points.

Great how fast credit can get destroyed but how long it takes to build. Despite having 0 new negative entries and clearing off a few others in 2010, my credit score went up a whole 12 points.

The whole goddamn system is a sham.

6. Resolution: Level at least 2 more jobs to 75 in 2010.

I stated BLM would be my next job to 75. I also wrote that blog post before SE announced they would be lifting the level cap to 99 and before they released Abyssea.

Abyssea changed the way jobs are leveled and pretty much everything about FFXI. While I did get bard up to end-game level (currently sits at 87), I didn't level BLM. However, I don't fret that too much given I can take BLM from 40-90 in a matter of 2-3 XP parties in Abyssea.

Anyway, I got to most of my goals for 2010 or a good chunk of the way there. I would expect to have similar goals for 2011, but I haven't given much thought to it. Eventually, I'll make a 2011 resolutions entry.

In the mean time, hope everyone had a great 2010 and can look forward to an even better 2011.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New DRG Stuff from Dec. Update

Got DRG to 90 last night and had a chance to fiddle around with the new stuff SE gave us. Didn't do any in depth testing, but...

Breath Commands

- Both of the breath moves are actual pet commands and not stances as some had speculated.

- Neither breath appears to be gimped. All of the same factors apply that would normally apply when triggering these breaths normally.

- This basically means I have to start carrying around my Wyvern HP+ set even when I'm subbing SAM.

- They do not share a timer.

- You cannot target other players with Restoring Breath.

These additions are huge for DRG and a bit of a god-send for mages who hate that DRGs are such MP sponges. Being able to cure myself for a huge amount once every minute will likely help ease up MP consumption rates and make DRG a lot more effective from a soloing/duoing standpoint. Smiting Breath is useful not only just for damage output potential, but for manually hitting up magic bursts if the wyvern is smart enough to use the correct breath.

Dragon Breaker

Admittedly, I only used this once last night on Cuelebre. However, the reductions it caused were very noticeable. Looked like the effect lasted approximately 3 minutes as well. Again though, I was just eyeballing that and didn't pay super close attention to it.

AF3 Body + Hands

Shit those things are smexy. The full set is probably one of the best sets of armor I've seen in this game. I was impressed with the original pictures that were shown on the Heroes of Abyssea microsite, but those were on a Hume. On an Elvaan, there's a lot more to see. Screenshots soon to follow hopefully...

And...hopefully getting the +1 or +2 versions of it aren't all that difficult.

Lv.90 Gungnir

So after reducing the relic trials to basically nothing...(really? 80% reductions?), I learned what the requirements were for getting the Lv.90 version of my relic.

For the record, I went into acquiring this particular piece of knowledge with a little bit of hope given how much they had reduced the previous trials, but part of me also had a sense of dread considering just how much time I actually wasted trying to get to this point anyway.

The trial is....

Kill Dagourmarche 5 times.

Don't remember him?

Yeah he would be this guy.


So...after enduring the bullshit that was:

1500 Geirskogul uses on Amorphs.
2000 Geirskogul killshots on Lizards.
2000 Geirskogul killshots on Arcana
2000 Geirskogul killshots on Vermin.
2000 Geirskogul killshots on Aquans.

Then getting no-lube sodomized by their 80% reductions on the trials...

Now I have to trudge into Dynamis-Beaucedine a minimum of 5 times, run all the way up to Nue's tower (anyone who's ever popped attestation NMs know what a bitch this actually is), then kill said NM 5 times.

Nevermind the 500k entry fee (x 5).

Or the 72 hour cool down...

At least it's not 2000 killshots again.

The part about this that bothers me isn't really the trial itself, it's just what the pattern seems to establish. If I have to go kill this NM 5 times, I suspect Lv.95 Gungnir will require me to go kill Gungnir itself 5 times.

Which leaves killing DL or something else Dynamis-related 5 times for the Lv.99 version.

Obviously, SE could throw a curve ball and just change it to something different, but I somewhat doubt it. SE hasn't been very creative in the trials for relics (or mythics for that matter).

Good thing is, it means Rustnarok will be completed and I'll have a buddy to take these down with.

Monday, December 6, 2010

...

I will fkn punch babies.

Hate you sometimes SE.

(Especially if that applies to 2H relics.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Level 90 DRG...Some Other Random Sh*t Too.

We interrupt this long, blog writing hiatus to shoot out a few quick blurbs on the new JAs they've announced for the Dec. update.

Most notably...DRG.

Dragon Breaker (DRG Lv.87 Ability Delay: 10 min. Effect Duration: 3 min.)
Lowers accuracy, evasion, magic accuracy, magic evasion, and TP gain for dragons.

Smiting Breath (DRG Lv.90 Ability Delay: 1 min.)
Orders the wyvern to attack with its breath.

Restoring Breath (DRG Lv.90 Ability Delay: 1 min.)
Orders the wyvern to heal with its breath.


My first reaction to seeing these was FUCK YES!~

You see, I've been wanting a way to manually control the wyvern in the same way a SMN or BST or PUP could control their pets. As it stands right now, the only thing I can do as far as pet commands go are Call, Dismiss and Spirit Link. Obviously I can trigger other things the wyvern does depending which sub I have, but a way to send a wyvern in to attack or to call it back ("pet pulling") would be awesome. I've never understood why SE didn't implement this.

After the initial euphoria wore off, the questions started coming to mind about those breath abilities, namely Restoring Breath. Smiting Breath is blatantly obvious. There's not much you can do with it aside from potentially telling your wyvern to go nuke a target you're not currently engaged to.

Can Restoring Breath be used on other party members in the same manner a cure spell or a waltz would?

Is Restoring Breath influenced in the same manner as Healing Breath? Meaning, load up on Wyvern HP+ gear and boost it?

Will Deep Breathing work with it as well?

All of that will be answered when I hit 90 obviously, but it's at least fun to think about for now. So many possibilities, but, as is the case with any pet...

...the pet has to be alive.

Lv.85 Gungnir

It's getting harder and harder for me to find my way through these trials that SE puts in for relic holders. I knocked out about 250 of the objectives a couple weeks after Scars came out, but then I just had zero motivation to take it further.

With the previous 4 trials, I basically had to piss myself off completely before I was motivated to do them. Then I'd just hunker down for a week or so and pray I didn't Whiffskogul too much.

This particular trial was easier than the rest (except the first one, where I didn't have to land killshots, just use the WS itself). I just couldn't find the motivation at first, then I couldn't find the time. The trip up to Girlfriend's parents afforded me some time to work on this.

It actually afforded me more time than I thought it would.

I now have Lv.85 Gungnir just in time to be slapped with the next trial that will probably consist of 2500 kill shots on plantoids.

"Sh*t My Dad Says"

For the drive to Maine for Thanksgiving, I picked this book up on CD. Some seriously funny shit in there that damn near caused me to wreck a couple times from laughing. It's $10. Go to B&N or Borders or Amazon and get it.

Paraphrasing some of the more memorable quotes:

"Son, you're 4 years old. It's time to shit in the toilet. This isn't one of those negotiation things where we go back and forth. This ends with you shitting in the toilet."

"First thing about driving is that a car has 5 gears. What's that smell? Ok, first thing before that first thing: if you fart in a parked car, that makes you an asshole."

For those of you that don't know, this book basically started cause of a twitter account. Said twitter account can be found here:

http://twitter.com/shitmydadsays

It's been spun off into a TV show I have yet to watch as well.

One Ring To Ru...Yeah No.

"Engagement rings are pointless. Indians gave cows...Oh sorry, congrats on proposing. We good now? Can I finish my indian story?"

I figure another quote from "Sh* My Dad Says" is appropriate for this section...

I got Girlfriend the engagement ring she and her family have hounded me about since they initially met me.

Now I need to figure out how to stall the wedding for nearly 3 years like I did the ring...

Anyway...back to my hiatus...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Gungnir vs. Ryunohige vs. Rhongomiant

Actually, it's just a post about the super weapons in general.







Been seeing a lot of debate over which one is better than the other and not just limited to the Polearms themselves. Great Katana, Scythe, Great Axe, etc seem to be under scrutiny as well.

The part that's been bugging me is that some will simply dismiss one of these weapons as a waste. Don't get me wrong, some are (i.e. Claustrum...), but to simply dismiss one of them because it gets beaten in a parse under certain circumstances is just completely stupid.

People have their reasons for upgrading these things. Most of the time, it revolves around wanting to be the best they can be. Other times, it's handed to them via linkshell contribution (an Aegis or Gjallarhorn for example) because of the undeniable impact they have on the team itself.

I'm of the opinion SE designed relics to be the best weapons in the game. When Mythics were released, I formed the opinion that SE intended for them to be in the same class as relics, just in a different manner. Initially, when the Empyrean Weapons were released, I was irritated at SE's wanting to put these in the same class as Relic/Mythics and seemingly making them far easier to obtain. Obviously that last part has been debunked, so now I'm of the opinion all 3 weapons are in the same class.

Which is better?

Who knows really. There aren't enough of them out there that can actually be parsed together consistently enough to see, but I'd be willing to bet each one would win about the same number of times. While it's fun to present cases based on numbers, etc, most people presenting said cases aren't presenting numbers that are different enough to really justify it.

A good example is a BG thread debating Ryunohige vs. Gungnir (continues into page 8).

There's a lot of math on display in that thread. First, the facts outside of the obvious stats:

Gungnir:

1. 2.5x damage proc (not a high %, probably around 5%).
2. Double Light capability.
3. Higher fSTR cap.

Ryunohige:

1. Can maintain near constant aftermath effect. (100TP Increases accuracy, 200TP Increases Attack, 300TP Occasionally attacks twice (~45%?))
2. "Augments Jump" either forces the crit on Jump or increases it's Acc.


I look at the facts there and immediately think of everything that a weapon's base damage and your level of accuracy affect. It's a lot of stuff. Gungnir's got it beat statistically in every category. Base damage is 6-7% higher. It's got a full time, built in Acc+30.

Mythic aftermath effects do not stack. While having 3 different options at your disposal based on what you're fighting is pretty handy, it takes some serious timing if you want to max your Acc potential. Even launching a Drakesbane with 190TP is going to have it coming up short in the Acc dept. against Gungnir. It's highly doubtful anyone would intentionally launch Drakesbane in the 200-299 range to get the Att+ effect, but even then, if they did, you're probably locked into some form of Acc food and the Gungnir DRG is probably wolfing down Carbonara or Yellow Curry Buns.

Having a full 3 minutes of a rather insane Double Attack rate though is where Ryunohige is going to make up a lot of ground and, in the right hands, possibly even surpass a Gungnir.

But, we're back to the facts. With the inclusion of Spirit/Soul Jump now along with Sekkanoki and Conserve TP, odds are, that Ryunohige DRG is going to waste a lot of TP trying to keep that Double Attack aftermath active. Obviously, having an atma like Eccentric Eve's active is going to mean a lot of fights START with that DA aftermath active, but it doesn't necessarily mean it will remain that way. You also have to look at timing.

Say you have a pretty standard 5 hit build starting from 0 TP and you swing every 3 seconds. In a 3 minute period of time, you will have thrown out a minimum of 60 swings. If every 5 swings is essentially a WS you can use, then you've effectively landed 12 weapon skills in a perfect world.

But the world isn't perfect.

At some point a Ryunohige DRG wanting to maintain that DA Aftermath is going to have to build up 300TP. Without Eve's atma, said DRG is looking at having to swing 12-15 times. If they're smart, use meditate and jumps (all of which the Gungnir DRG obviously has too...), then you effectively halve that number. Either way, that Gungnir DRG is going should be able to launch 2-3 more Drakesbanes in the time it took you to store that 300 TP.

Factoring a 45% Double Attack rate into the equation halves it further if it actually kicks in.

(Which is one thing Byrn seems to miss in his arguments...a Relic DRG can actually use Drakesbane too...)

So which would win? Honestly it's probably a wash.

But the point is, they aren't wasting money or time or resources by upgrading one over the other.

My biased opinion though is that Gungnir would win most of the time, but not by a lot and since both weapons essentially cost the same, I don't really give a shit.

Rhongomiant though...remains to be seen. :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Loot Whore Qtipus

I've been on an incredible run of luck lately in terms of item acquisition...

Einherjar

Loot Whore mode started 2 Odins ago where I picked up:








To understand how I got all 3 of those items in one run, you have to understand our bidding system. The only item I won outright in terms of bids was the E.Body. The other two items had myself and a couple others placing minimum bids of 4. Normally when someone places bids like that, they kind of want an item, but are willing to lot it out with other people. W.Body and Hofud both saw me win the subsequent lots, which is highly unusual for my level of luck at times.

And before Kreoss chimes in about a golden horseshoe shoved up my ass as it relates to my luck, I need to point out the vast majority of my luck is centered around crafting. I don't really consider most of that luck so much as persistence. The only "lucky" craft I believe I've ever had was a pair of Unicorn Leggings +1 back when they sold for 20 mil. Since then, I've been squarely in the center of the odds. My current 0/72 streak on cursed cap+1 is a good example of that. :)


ANYWAY!

E.Body was naturally turned into this:



I got the Crimson Scale Mail as well, but didn't really care enough about it to take a picture. However, I do need to thank Alaistair for making it for me.

Dynamis

AF2 from Dynamis has been mostly irrelevant for a very long time. There are some niche pieces that can be used for various sets and a few that are full time (BLU Body, RDM Hat come to mind), but for the most part, the rest of it is junk compared to what you can get in the slots now.

Since it's introduction though, I've wanted Wyrm Mail +1. Haste on any body piece is rare to find, or likely was until the introduction of the AF3 bodies. If you go by the standard of Acc > Haste > everything else, then you already know I'm at or near the Acc cap on pretty much everything I fight. So the only thing that's really been left has been for me to tweak out things with haste gear.

At any rate, we've not had much luck in Tav runs as it relates to body pieces. We've picked up a few BST-1, WAR-1 and "new" job-1 bodies but nothing really substantial until the last Tav run. With the level cap increasing, Tav is becoming increasingly easier to deal with. Before, taking on clusters was pretty much just a "grab your ass, put your head between your knees and pray" type of endeavor. While they still pack a punch if they blow up, they aren't all out devastating like they used to be 10 levels before. This pretty much lent itself to my simple dynamis philosoph of "more kills = more drops".

We finally had a breakthrough.



Kimille was the one that wanted that forever and it would have completed her RDM AF2+1 set. Unfortunately, she wasn't at the run for reasons related to baby, moving, remodeling, etc, so Rudithina picked it up. I dunno if anyone's tested it, but from what I can tell, there's not a huge gain in terms of stats. It's not like the AF2+1 hat where MND+3 gets added to it, but still, it's a rare drop and it's a whitebox for a piece that a lot of RDMs use.

About 1 kill after that...



Can pretty much see in that picture how I felt after seeing that. Holy shit what a relief. Everyone's got that one item they tend to obsess over. I felt like leaving the run right then and turning in all the stuff for it, but I waited until after the run was over then sat at my PC staring at Sagheera trying to fast forward time a week or figure out a way to hack SE's servers and speed their clocks up.

Anyway, I picked this up this past Sunday:



And this has found it's way into my TP build. Next things on my list at this point are a Bullwhip/Goading Belt (haven't decided which...), AF3+1/2 Hat and Feet and a Lancer's cape. Just with the +1 versions of the AF3, the cap and the goading belt, I will have added 6% to my TP build while not sacrificing much in the way of ACC at all. (+2 from body, +1 from hat, +1 from feet, +1 from back, +1 from belt). That would put my TP build at 23% haste. Bullwhip belt obviously puts me at cap, but I have some slight reservations about how much damage I'd be taking. Getting +2 Hat and Feet would pretty much put me at cap w/o having to worry about the amount of damage I'd take, but there's part of me that wants the Bullwhip belt and the AF3+2 just so I can full time in Ares Body (unless AF3 body is just insanely better).

Anyway, I'm sure I'm not the first on the server with a full DRG AF2+1 set, but I'm glad I finished it.

Abyssea

Abyssea is rather...odd. I love it to death, but I really dislike having to figure out how to handle drops given a lot of the high demand items can be obtained by sending in low man teams to deal with, so it's almost a waste of points trying to control it that way. It's also a waste of time trying to kill these things for anything other than atma purposes during a normal LS event.

With that said, I did some experimentation last night. I grabbed Drakus, Kaelis, Kaylea, Mav and Theora and we ran around to kill a few NMs. Chasmic Hornet, Khalamari, Gangly Green(?) and Bakka were at the top of the lists. The set up was DRG/WHM, BLU/NIN x2, THF/NIN, RDM/BLM, and BLM/Beard. Hornet got killed twice and I picked up:



This made me very happy. I had semi-bad luck with this drop, having killed the hornet at least a dozen times during the course of normal LS events. Was rather convenient for us to kill this since it was often on the way to a gigas pop we were farming and it dropped a semi-decent piece of abyssite to the puller. I knew I'd get it eventually, I just didn't expect it in this fashion.

Short while later, we found ourselves in Highlands looking for the other 3 NMs. Bakka was being taken down by a group of BSTs, so no go on that. Khalamari was up and was an easy kill, especially since Raiden Thrust terrorized it and we pretty much knocked 2/3 of it's life off while it was frozen. Mantle Pierce didn't even hit me that hard, just 600 damage. Killing it netted me this:



Although I have to say I didn't mean to lot that. I have a bit of mixed emotion about this hat. I want cursed cap+1, which essentially gives better modifiers, just no attack and w/o the acc penalty. I tend to think this helm, for non-relic users, isn't going to be as powerful as they think. But yeah, I lotted it accidentally over Mav's 80 point lot and I didn't realize I did until I saw the screenshot above. It was no big deal though, we'll kill it again very soon and get Mav this hat.

Anyway, I'm expecting an insanely unlucky thing to happen at some point soon. Not sure what, but it's completely rare for me to go on streaks like this. Part of me thinks I'm already suffering the bad luck just from the simple fact no one's found the quest to give DRG head seals yet. Most have a suspicion, but nothing confirmed. Just the NMs that drop it that aren't all that much of a pain, just requires more than one person. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shitty Computer Techs Part 2

At this point, I'm rather enraged. Nothing ever goes right with this software. Essentially, I knew how to check and verify the validity of that error that popped up, but I didn't have the expertise or the tools to really fix it. This was especially true since any modification to the SQL backend required a tool only the Xactware techs could use.

So I went to check and sure enough, "xm8_shared" didn't exist. In it's place?

"xm8_shared1"

Worst thing is, I couldn't connect to it at all via the SQL command console. Only thing I could really hope at this point was that the Xactimate backup actually backed that up.

I ended up calling the Xactware techs and spending the next 4 hours on the phone with one who seemed to know how to handle SQL databases with ease. He webex'd into the server and verified the xm8_shared database actually still existed and fortunately, it did. Now the question became how to get it corrected. Changing the XML files that point the client software to the database location didn't work. Recreating the database didn't work. Uninstalling SQL server and reinstalling it didn't work. It was pretty obvious something was there cockblocking the client software from seeing that database.

Eventually, we got the software to work, albeit patchwork. When they'd open it up, it'd still give them an error, but hitting retry or cancel would let them access their data. At that point in the day, that was good enough. They could work and it meant the Xactware tech and I had a chance to step away and think about what we could be missing that's causing that error.

So we basically button up all our work and I go back to finish setting up what started all of this crap to begin with...that Blackberry app. Come to find out, most of it had already set up, I just needed to verify it was working, which it was, so thankfully I didn't have to spend more than another 10 minutes on that.

Tuesday of next week rolls around and I'm still poring over Xactware support docs trying to figure out what could have happened. I get a text from my favorite employee/successful woman stating:

"can't upload estimates, got some due. xact tech says it's a network hardware issue."

Man was I annoyed.

I replied with: "give the xactware tech this case no. and tell him he's an idiot."

How in the hell can one say it's a network issue when clearly everything else on the network is running fine? Internet's fine. Their accounting software is running fine. Their printers are all working fine. Hell, even their remote web workplace was running fine. To further that point, how the hell was said tech webex'd into her damn workstation if the network wasn't fine? Wouldn't you think if there were some sort of network hardware issue something else wouldn't be working as well?

"he says he can't ping the server"

... . . . ."what's his name?"

"devin"

"click start, click run, type 'cmd', type 'ping 192.168.1.2'. does it say 'request timed...' or 'reply from...'?

"reply from..."

"now type "ping 'servername'"

"reply from..."

"tell him to call me."

"ok, but be nice."

"no."


So "Devin" calls me and he sounds pretty much like I expected. Like a complete and total f***ing moron. How the hell did this guy get hired? I could only surmise that he was exceptional at reading flow charts and not thinking, which seemed to fit the bill for most of the level 1 Xactware techs. Anyway...

"Forgive me for saying this, but how can you screw up a simple ping command?"

"What do you mean?"

"You told her you couldn't ping the server and I just walked her through the process via text and pinged it by it's DNS name and it's IP address with successful responses."

"It wasn't replying when I tried it."

"Can you spell ping?"

At this point, I was remoted into the workstation he was remoted into. I told him to duplicate what he did.

ping 19216812

/facepalm

"Does your period work?"

"Yes"

"Ok, you missed about 3 of them in that command."

"Oh."

"Send me to a better tech. I don't want you touch the shit here anymore."

Then I called SCPSW back and told her he was a complete fuck up and to be expecting a call from a different tech, hopefully the one I had been dealing with the previous Friday.

Later that afternoon, I got another text from her stating they had band-aided the problem, but they needed me to talk to them ASAP. I called them up, got the same tech I had from before and was informed that I would most likely need to uninstall and reinstall Xactimate completely from the network along with SQL server before that error would go away.

That didn't sit too well with me. The next day I was going to have to actually be able to do something on that scale was the upcoming Friday, which was 3 days out. That or go burn the midnight oil and pull an all-nighter. So before getting off the phone, I double checked to make sure they were mostly functional and they were. So I scheduled them for Friday and at the very least, it gave them a heads up on how to plan that day as it related to Xactimate.

Thursday rolls around and apparently, another issue has come up and SCPSW has taken it upon herself to talk to the Xactimate techs again before asking me.

On a mostly un-related note, I should probably rethink how I train people in the art of asking for technical support. I probably need to add "If I tell you shit's broken and it will be fixed on X day, don't try to get it fixed sooner or have anyone else screw with it until it's fixed..."

Common sense? Maybe...

Anyway, she managed to get "Devin" again.

"'devin' says we can't open a profile cause of network hardware issues"

/snap

"And you believe him?"

"I don't know..."

"I do. Tell him to fuck off and go shove his head through a monitor."

"That's not nice."

"I'm not in a nice mood when it comes to this issue. Last thing I need is some sort of imbecilic, training wheels wearing, flow chart reading idiot getting in there and making things worse. Tell him to escalate you and to never answer a call from your login again."

"Ok."

About 20 minutes later, I get another phone call from her. This time I'm on 3-way with her and...Devin.

Big. Big. Mistake.

"Hello?"

"Yes, I'm here."

"Oh Hi. I just wanted to say there's definitely some sort of network har...."

"If you say those 3 words again, so help me I will come to your facility and get you fired. Use your goddamn head pal, not your flow chart."

"It can't be anything else if I can't talk to the server."

"Really? Everything BUT your application is talking to the server. Your application was talking to the server before we uninstalled the workstation off that laptop to set up the blackberry app base. Don't give me this shit about network hardware. So unless you can tell me everything the uninstall process does, which was the point the issue was created, stop wasting my f***ing time with your flow chart bullshit."

"I don't know then sir."

"Awesome, a non-flow chart answer. Did you check the firewall? Did it maybe do something to that?"

"Yes, the firewall is off."

"Off? There were exceptions written for SQL and Xactware. Did you turn it off?"

"Yes."

"Are you in the server right now?"

"No."

"What about DNS entries, have you tried changing the XML file's pointer to the server's IP address instead of it's name or running the ipconfig /flushdns command?"

"I can try that now."

Few seconds later...

"Didn't work."

"Ok we'll just proceed as planned tomorrow. You're just going to have to call your insurance carriers and either fax them a copy of your work or tell them it will be there before close tomorrow."

Not satisfied this guy was capable of actually checking those things and somewhat pissed off at myself that I didn't think of the server's firewall sooner, I made a beeline for the nearest computer so I could check for myself.

Normally, when a program uninstalls, it's not going to modify firewall entries on ANOTHER computer. Maybe on it's own if necessary, but not on a different computer. When I had initially set this server up about a year ago, the firewall cost me about 2 hours of time. I had incorrectly assumed that the SQL Server 64-bit installation package would write it's own firewall entries/exceptions, but it didn't.

Knowing the Xactimate installation process was already a piece of shit, I didn't want to leave anything to chance at this point. Upon logging in, I see...

The server firewall is on.

(Good)

The exceptions for SQL and Xactimate commands were missing.

(Bad)

How in the hell did that happen. "Devin" has proved his idiocy yet again by essentially lying about the server firewall and Xactware's developers have some explaining to do. Well they might. I could have been that "Devin" was in there screwing around with the server. I turned the firewall off and magically...

...that error and all their communication issues disappeared. Fucking imagine that. So I write up the exceptions again and their problems are fixed. I wasn't altogether pleased with myself, but relieved at that point that I wasn't going to have to spend an entire day monkeying around with this software again.

At least until I got a call from the owner about 2 hours later...

"Hey we can't find this new profile we signed up for."

"Name?"

"It's for Nationwide."

"And they're on 27.1?"

"No, 27.0"

"Sonofa...Xactware support strikes again."

"What do you mean?"

"They told me when I installed 27.1 that it was just a service pack and no dual license version of it would be necessary. You should have the chat log in your email."

"This mean we're seeing you tomorrow anyway?"

"Yep, just shouldn't be an all day thing..."

To round things up:

- An online chat rep didn't have a clue about the disappearing text issue.
- An online chat rep lied about the need for a dual license version.
- An online chat rep didn't have a clue about "No version selected."
- The Blackberry app installation apparently screws with server firewall settings (not completely verified).
- The rep named "Steve" knows his shit.
- The rep named "Devin" needs to find another profession.
- The rep named "Jonah" needs to learn how to back up all data.

And this is all before I install the dual license version of version 27, which fortunately was a blank database because they haven't done any work with the one, single, insurance company that's still using it. Even then, there were still unnecessary hassles that could have been prevented if the Xactware techs were competent and the developers actually tried to install their software on stuff other than their own machines before releasing it to the public.


And as usual, all force-fed shitcakes have the icing that appears after the initial taste of shit subsides. That icing?

On my way home last Friday, text from the franchise owner where I live...

"Hey, we need 27.1 and blackberry app set up."

...

Cue the Castle Crashers them. I'm out.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Shitty Computer Techs Part 1

Sorry for lack of updates lately. This post would be partially why.

Most of you know, I "work" as an independent contractor for a company here in town. I'm contracted out through my computer repair business that I've been running for the past 10ish years. Over the years, I've built up a clientele that's generally sustained me during my best and worst periods as a business owner.

A few of my clients happen to be franchise owners all working under a nationwide network of insurance repair/restoration specialists. Basically, the company you pay insurance to, contracts out companies like these to do the work. Each of these insurance companies generally require estimates to be written in a piece of software called Xactimate.

Most people will sing the praises of said software. It does what it's supposed to for the end user.

For the techs installing it and, to an extent, supporting it, not so much.

Xactware is the publisher of Xactimate. My first install of Xactimate came back in 2001. That install was easy since this franchise hadn't used it at all and we didn't have to worry about data. Pretty much every update since has sucked major shit.

And not just major shit.

Shit through a coffee straw for at least 10 hours a day.

This is further compounded by their approach to technical support. Before I get into that though, there's more to explain.

Basically, the Xactimate software operates in profiles. Each profile is basically the insurance companies the particular business wants to deal with. State Farm, for example, has their own set of price lists to build estimates with along with a number of other guidelines. All of that is different for someone like Allstate or USAA or Metlife.

The single biggest issue is that when one insurance company starts accepting the standard for a particular version of Xactimate, then the business itself has to carry licenses for multiple versions of Xactimate until the rest of the insurance carriers catch up. This costs extra $$ each month to the tune of at least $50 per user license you want to "upgrade" to a multi-license.

Nevermind the fact the Xactware techs could just make some goddamn software that's backwards compatible. Or at the very least, give them the option to "Save As..." in an earlier version's format. Nope...probably affects their bottom line way too much.

There's also fault with the insurance companies mandating X version of Xactimate or we won't do business with you. Pretty much every other business model I deal with will accept information at least 3 versions old. Quickbooks comes to mind with their internet banking/support/end of life model. You got a version over 3 years old, sorry, no support for you. To me that's fair enough. To top it all off, it's not even a complete number change for versions. Quickbooks at least goes by year for example. Quickbooks 2008, 2009, 2010, etc. Xactimate? 25.0, 25.1, 25.4, 25.5, 27.0... and NONE of them are backwards compatible. So if State Farm says "25.5 only!", it doesn't matter if you're on 25.1 or 25.4, you have to upgrade if you want State Farm reps to do business with you.

That, my friends, is complete and utter bullshit.

So anyway, back to the Xactimate portion of this story. When they release a new version, I cringe. It's never just a simple upgrade. There's always something more complicated involved. Usually I have to uninstall a version that won't be used anymore or I have to uninstall the client software completely and reinstall it.

The version I installed for my customers in late May/early June was version 27.0. Oddly enough, the install went smoother than I had expected. Shortly after the install though was when the problems started to surface. Across all 3 of these franchises and one completely separate insurance repair business that uses said software, they were having issues with "disappearing text".

..ok.

The first I heard of it was when the owner of the franchise in Elizabethtown called me and told me about it. She was irritated that they were having to save their progress essentially every minute or two in order to avoid losing work. She had already done what I had trained her to do prior to calling me. She had spoken with the Xactware reps to see if this was a common issue. The Xactware reps told her:

"It's a Keyboard/Mouse driver issue."

She says that to me and, I admittedly gave it some thought as long as it was an isolated incident. While researching it further, I got it out of her that it was happening on 6 of her other workstations.

The local franchise had it happening on 2 of their workstations.

The Owensboro franchise had it happening on 1 of theirs.

The independent company out of Morgantown had it happening on 1 of his.

So quick math:

10 workstations having this problem across a 4 city area.
7 different sets of keyboards and mice across 2 different interfaces (PS2 and USB).
A generic Keyboard/Mouse driver that hasn't changed in at least a decade.

...and the Xactware rep stood by his Keyboard/Mouse driver issue claim.

So I jumped through his hoops and some of my own. I tested out every possibility from a malware infection, to uninstalling/reinstalling everything completely from one of the smaller franchises to even all out wiping a workstation exhibiting the symptoms and reloading everything, including Windows, from scratch to no avail.

Now I'm convinced it's a bug in the software or some sort of simple setting. After getting nowhere with the Xactware reps, I pretty much just told the franchise owners to just save frequently and wait for the next patch and that if it got too maddening, keep hounding Xactware about it until they fix it.

This brings us to earlier this month. Version 27.1 is now out. During the course of any upgrade, I'll get online with a rep and ask for shit to look out for. Am I going to have to uninstall a previous version? Will they need to activate their license key for the new version? Will we need to install a "D" (for dual license) version of the previous one in case some insurance companies aren't up to the latest version yet? The answers to those questions were No, Yes, No respectively. He even said "this is just a service pack, not a complete upgrade".

I also brought up the disappearing text issue again and my confidence in their support staff dropped further when he sent me a link to a support bulletin that had nothing to do with text disappearing. Matter of fact, it didn't even use the words "text" or "disappearing". It was related to a database issue where estimates would get their names changed.

So I pretty much rescinded to the fact that I was in for a long day. I did the backup before the upgrade and started it. The initial part went smoothly, converting all of their data over to the new version, etc. The subsequent workstation upgrades sucked. The installer kept giving me an error at the point where you select which version to install (27.1...). The error?

"No version selected."

...there's a green check next to 27.1.

"No version selected."

...gotta be fucking kidding me.

So back to the Xactware reps I go. His response?

"You need to rename the Xactimate27 folder located in the Application Data and Program Files directories to something like "Xactimate27Old".

Ok really? WTF does that actually have to do with an installer not being able to recognize a f***ing checkbox?

I put him on "hold" while I followed his instructions. Not believing a damn word of them, I RDP'd into another workstation to test my own theory out while doing his instructions on the actual workstation I was at.

Renaming Directories? Fail. Same error.
Uninstalling/Reinstalling? Win.

Despite seeing this with my own eyes, the Xactware rep said it wasn't necessary to do that. I pretty much cut him off after that and just went about the task I was assigned. The installations on the rest of the computers went smoothly and just when I thought I was going to get out of there relatively quick...

"HEY THERE'S A NEW BLACKBERRY APP I WANT YOU TO SET UP BEFORE YOU GO!"

Ugh...

So I go look at this app. This app looks useful and time saving for writing estimates. Unfortunately, they have to do the following to get it to work:

1. Set up a local install of Xactimate 27.1 on a dedicated machine.
2. Buy an entirely new license key. Note: This is not the same as a client access license to even access the data. This is just the key to install the software and identify your account on the Xactware servers.
3. Buy/modify an existing license.

Ugh^10.

Mostly because I knew explaining this to her was going to be an entirely pointless endeavor, but she'd hound me for the answers to "Why?" anyway.

Although I do have to say it was rather entertaining watching the look on her face when she realized her laptop was going to end up being the guinea pig for this. So...

...I uninstalled the network versions of Xactimate off said laptop. Then as I'm getting ready to install the version she needs to sync up with the app, I start getting people asking why they can't get into Xactimate. I go to a workstation and try to open the software.

"Unable to connect. The database 'xm8_shared' doesn't exist."

...oh fuck/shit/piss/goddammit?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Jumps

Just a quick blurb to point out...

The tweak to Spirit Jump and the addition of Soul Jump essentially gives me 100TP instantly.

Dragoon is broken.

That is all. :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Obsidian Site Down...

Obsidian's website is hosted on a server in or near Dallas. For those of you that don't know...



...that's been the tale of the tape the past couple days. That line isn't moving east or west at all, it's moving north. So far, estimates are that it's dropped 6-15" of rain in the Dallas area. It's name is Tropical Depression Hermine...

Guessing the company that hosts it lost power long enough to drain the battery backups.

That or the webserver is sitting under water.

Time will tell... :)

In the meantime, for those of you wondering, yes we canceled dynamis today. Likely too many people going to be caught up in download congestion hell for us to get it started on time with a reasonable amount of people.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

...That's It?

Day before the update and we get, Walk of Echoes notes, Fishing notes, a blurb about an additional search option and some Abyssea notes. Nothing overwhelming in my opinion. Did we really need more fishing options for Inside the Belly? I hate magian trials with a passion, so that blurb is just useless to me. Walk of Echoes...had to be living under a rock if you didn't at least assume it was going to be changed.

The Abyssea notes however...Horst <3.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not fapping to the Abyssea notes or anything, but it seems SE was listening a bit. Even just a tiny bit.

Now if they'd just let us buy entire stacks of keys in one go, make key items 100%, and let us turn our excess time back into stones...

Kind of a fizzle so far after coming out strong with update notes. Hope the final version update has a number of surprises. Can't wait to see what the stats are on AF3. :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Job Adjustments (Part 2)

As previously announced, the September version update will see the unveiling of a variety of new job abilities, traits, and spells. Besides these additions, existing job abilities will also see wide-ranging adjustments and refinements.

The following adjustments will be made to existing job abilities:

- The warrior ability "Restraint" will no longer prevent the user from dealing critical hits.

- The thief ability "Despoil" will have an increased success rate, and the status ailment inflicted upon the enemy will be displayed in the message log.

- The beastmaster ability "Call Beast" will receive four new jugs:
Curdled Plasma Broth / Goblin Bug Broth / Bubbling Carrion Broth / Chirping Grasshopper Broth

- The beastmaster ability "Reward" will have minimum level requirements placed on pet food as follows, and the healing effect will be increased accordingly for food of higher levels:
- Pet Food Alpha (Level 12)
- Pet Food Beta (Level 24)
- Pet Food Gamma (Level 36)
- Pet Food Delta (Level 48)
- Pet Food Epsilon (Level 60)
- Pet Food Zeta (Level 72)

- The bard songs "Chocobo Mazurka" and "Raptor Mazurka" will be effective in non-field areas.

- Elemental ninjutsu will receive a damage increase.

- The dragoon ability "Spirit Jump" will be affected by the "Jump Recast" merit point skill.

- The enhanced effect of the dragoon ability "Spirit Jump" when your wyvern is present will be increased further.

- Wyverns summoned with the dragoon ability "Call Wyvern" will be able to level up with experience gained in Abyssea.

- Summoners level 76 and above will see a decrease in the amount of MP required to sustain summoned avatars.

- The following blood pacts will have their effect duration lengthened commensurate with summoning magic skill, regardless of whether or not the skill has been increased to its maximum:
Shining Ruby / Glittering Ruby / Hastega / Crimson Howl / Frost Armor / Rolling Thunder / Lightning Armor / Ecliptic Growl / Ecliptic Howl / Noctoshield / Dream Shroud

- The maximum amount of MP drainable using the summoner ability "Elemental Siphon" will be increased.

- The maximum amount of MP restorable with the blue magic spell "Battery Charge" will be increased. This will be accomplished by reducing the rate of MP restoration slightly, but increasing the total duration of the spell effect.

- Your assigned set of blue magic will remain stored even after changing jobs.

- It will now be possible to accumulate TP and increase marksmanship skill using the corsair ability "Quick Draw."

- The duration of the corsair ability "Double Up" upon a roll of 11 will be reduced to five minutes.
*To compensate for this, enhancements to "Lucky 11" rolls are being planned for future updates, so please stay tuned!

- The puppetmaster ability "Deus Ex Automata" will be added.
- Deus Ex Automata (PUP Lv.5 / Ability Delay: 1 min.)
Calls forth your automaton in an unsound state.

- When level restriction results in a puppetmaster's automaton being deactivated in a state of full or nearly full health, the ability "Activate" will become immediately usable.

- The following items usable with the puppetmaster ability "Repair" will provide immediate HP restoration in addition to their existing Regen effect. Their purchase price will also be reduced.
Automaton Oil / Automaton Oil +1 / Automaton Oil +2


A number of things to note here, so going job by job...

Dragoon: All I have to say is, FUCK YEAH!~ Hopefully they make High Jump's merits work with Soul Jump right out of the gate too, but it is SE and they might just want to observe it. The "enhanced effect of Spirit Jump" being increased has my interest piqued a bit too. Right now, with wyvern present, you basically sacrifice your random VIT jump modifiers for 1.5x the TP you would normally get.

For me personally, I haven't noticed a huge difference in terms of damage between Jump and Spirit Jump. More often times than not, I'm between 250-400 on Spirit Jump. Jump was always about the same for me with a slightly higher floor and ceiling. Yes, that means I'm sacrificing some damage every minute and fifteen seconds, but if I'm getting to a WS faster, trust me, I'm overcoming that really easy.

Now they're talking about enhancing that effect further. I won't complain, but I will ask:

What's made them think it was really necessary?

As for the whole wyvern leveling up in abyssea thing, truthfully, I never noticed it didn't. On top of that, most of the stuff I'm fighting in Abyssea tends to wipe the wyvern out pretty quick anyway unless it's just an xp-fest.

Ninja: Elemental Ninjutsu getting a damage boost is something that's long overdue. Likely makes those Group 2 merits a lot more useful as well. If it's a 1% increase, then SE is just cockteasing the poor NINs. However, I don't think it'll be that minimal.

Summoner: Less MP consumption for keeping Avatars out post-76 is always a good thing. I believe this is directly aimed at either trying to extend the life of Avatar Favors or trying to get the SMNs to use their Avatars in melee situations more.

Increased MP from Elemental Siphon is never a bad thing.

The blood pacts blurb I'm not really sure I understand, so if I'm wrong, feel free to correct me. It looks like summoning skill effects the duration of those instead of the effect?

Corsair: Getting TP from Quickdraw = Awesome. The other part...wut?

Beastmaster: More pets each update seems to be the norm. The last batch of pets given to them were rather awesome and the names of these jugs seem to imply they're about to get stronger. Pet Vulture is about the only one I could guess with any certainty. The others seem to imply they're going to get a couple vermin pets and maybe a clot pet?

Not sure what to make of the food. Never really paid attention to their affects to begin with. Adding levels to it seems rather logical unless you used the strongest food early on while leveling BST. Increasing the food's effects as you level up can't be a bad thing and given the multiples of 12 they've gone by, is a new level 84 food coming soon?

Cooks start making some Zeta...I suspect there's going to be a spike in demand.

Warrior: Uh...what? Restraint will allow you to deal crit hits now? Wasn't the point of the JA to begin with the exact opposite? Oh well, if it's just a reduced chance to land crits while still building up WS power, no one will complain.

I still somehow get the feeling SE's fucked something about this up...

Thief: Anytime you add information, it's a good thing. Being able to see what Despoil actually does isn't going to be game breaking, but it's a nice touch. Increased success rate is never bad either.

Bard: Long time coming. Don't know why this song never worked indoors.

Blue Mage: That right there was probably the single biggest reason I never leveled BLU for a sub. I don't want to think about what spells I have to set every single time I change jobs. Despite Mazurka being in the game longer, this particular aspect felt like it was far more overdue than the aforementioned mazurka.

Puppetmaster: Meh, who gives a shit. That automaton's gonna die in about 2 hits anyway. :)

With the update looking like it's going to be Sept 8th and Labor Day in there before hand, I wonder if this is the last bit of update info we'll receive before the actual update. Hopefully not. I suspect there will be Abyssea adjustments (stone counter please...) that they'll announce prior to the update, but who knows. They may just reserve those notes until day of.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Lots of Info...

There's a lot to get to, so I'll just get right to it.

SE's released a couple of bombshells (or at least what most consider to be bombshells) since my last post. I did a lot of job speculation in that post and SE confirmed a few of the things I speculated about. Doesn't mean it's good though.

Job Abilities (Part 1):

Divine Caress: (WHM Lv.83 Ability Delay: 1 min. Effect Duration: 1 min.) If the next spell you cast cures a status ailment, your target will gain enhanced resistance to that ailment.

Did WHM really need yet another buff? A one minute ability coupled with a one minute endurance makes this sound like yet one more thing for a WHM to keep up with. Might be handy in situations where a critter is known for spamming a certain enfeeble or two, but the effectiveness of this is definitely going to be called into question. Does it make you virtually immune? Is it basically casting Bar-whatever? Is it going to work in conjunction with an Accession removal thus making SCH a rather permasub? Who knows...

I do know this...time to shift your focus to other support jobs SE. WHM is a powerhouse now.

Saboteur : (RDM Lv.83 Ability Delay: 5 min. Effect Duration: 1 min.) If the next spell you cast is enfeeblement magic, its effect and duration will be enhanced.

I had semi-speculated about this before and I'll stand by my previous comments. If this doesn't do anything over the caps for enfeebles, it's pretty much pointless. On top of that, 5 min delay vs. 1 min duration...something seems off there.

Spur: (BST Lv.83 Ability Delay: 3 min. Effect Duration: 90 sec.) Grants "Store TP" effect to pets.

I don't know enough about BST to really make an educated comment on this, but I would venture to guess depending how much that Store TP value is will determine just how useful this ability turns out to be.

Tenuto: (BRD Lv.83 Ability Delay: 15 sec. Effect Duration: 1 min.) If the next song you cast affects yourself, it will not subsequently be overwritten by other songs.

This looks like something that was long overdue. Now give COR something like this and you're set.

Soul Jump: (DRG Lv.85 Effect Duration: 3 min.) Delivers a high jumping attack on a targeted enemy which suppresses enmity. Effect enhanced when wyvern is present. The recast timer for Soul Jump is shared with High Jump.

From previous comments, I'm still not particularly sure where SE was going with these jumps. The TP bonus from Spirit Jump is nice and it'd only follow the pattern for TP to be added to Soul Jump, but this pretty much rendered our Jump timers mostly useless if building TP is your thing. Given the extra damage from the VIT modifier on the regular jumps, I'll probably opt to just use Jump in conjunction with Soul Jump for the time being if things play out the way they did with Spirit Jump.

Blood Pact: Ward "Earthen Armor": (SMN Lv.82 Ability Delay: 1 min.) Mitigates the impact of severely damaging attacks for party members within area of effect.

Seems like something was lost in translation here. Is this basically a more potent stoneskin? Does it just reduce damage if you get crit. hit?

Blood Pact: Ward "Tidal Roar": (SMN Lv.84 Ability Delay: 1 min.) Lowers attack for enemies within area of effect.

This sounds rather useful if a critter isn't immune to it. Then again, I'm not sure I know of many things that are actually immune to this sort of enfeeble. SMN may have just found itself a more permanent spot in the tank party.

Efflux: (BLU Lv.83 Ability Delay: 3 min. Effect Duration: 1 min.) If the next spell you cast is a "physical" blue magic spell, a TP bonus will be granted.

Sekkanoki v2.0 for BLU?

Courser's Roll: (COR Lv.81) Enhances "Snapshot" effect for party members within area of effect. Lucky number: 3. Unlucky number: 9.

Haste for CORs and RNGs alike. Biggest question is...how much faster will this kill your Rangers?

Blitzer's Roll: (COR Lv.83) Reduces melee attack delay for party members within area of effect. Lucky number: 4. Unlucky number: 9.

Something long overdue for Corsair. Been some debate over whether it actually reduces the weapon delay (thereby screwing with your TP builds) or if it's just a form of haste. COR is already a valuable asset to have in most situations and, personally, I don't really care if it messes with my delay. I have other Store TP gear options I can pick up w/o sacrificing much of anything else. Swinging faster never really hurt anyone...

...mostly.

Feather Step: (DNC Lv.83 Ability Delay: 15 sec.) Lowers a target's critical hit evasion. If successful, will earn you a finishing move. The recast timer for Feather Step is shared with Steps.

This one has me intrigued a bit. DNC has really found a niche for itself thanks to haste samba, but if this gives them the ability to actually directly increase their party's damage output in a manner that's essentially equivalent to having Minuet or various Corsair rolls, holy shit. If it's something like a 5% increase in crit hits overall, look out.

Job Traits (Part 1)



This will essentially be a few quick blurbs about what each of the jobs listed will be getting.

MNK/NIN: Again, who does skillchains anymore and more importantly, who does skillchains with Monks and Ninjas? Thanks for the boost in damage SE, but unless these jobs are subbin' SAM and abusing Sekkanoki, I can't imagine this will change any perception about their overall impact on endgame in general.

WHM: This should have gone to RDM unless SE is positioning WHM to be a tank. Which is possible I guess...

RDM: See MNK/NIN. Also see, RDM nuking?

THF: DW1 = Hosed. Guess it's a nice option, but back to wielding 1H THF knife while soloing you go THFs...

DRK: Because DRKs didn't have enough ways to die fast. Can't wait to see the effect this has on Kreoss' Ragnarok though...

BRD: Useful I guess if a BRD wants to whip out a Joytoy and take a couple swipes at a bad guy while running through their song rotations. This is also another trait that should have gone to RDM.

COR: Ok, awesome. Now fix their Marksmanship skill.

PUP: Still LOL. Just 99.8% LOL now.

Spells



A number of interesting things in this category. I'll simply go down the list by jobs:

Red Mage: Getting a number of spells. Refresh II is obviously the huge one. Addle can be awesome as long as 99% of the things in this game aren't immune to it. Gain-VIT, Gain-MND will likely follow the same pattern as the Bar-spells and as long as they can be used with Accession, should be useful for RDMs overall. Aero IV also coming down the pipe as well, but that was to be expected.

White Mage: Cura II, Boost-VIT, Boost-MND. Cura could already go beyond Curaga II in terms of healing potency and made it the most efficient AoE curing spell available to WHM as long as Afflatus: Misery was active. Cura II likely continues that trend. I'd speculate it's probably going to be along the lines of Curaga IV potency. Boost-VIT and Boost-MND are like the AoE versions of what RDM is getting.

Paladin: Enlight. Probably screws over Excalibur and Hauteclaire owners a bit, but the bigger questions will be it's enmity generation, duration and MP cost. Seriously doubt this changes much of anything in regards to tanking though.

Black Mage: Likely got the lion's share of ZOMG spells. Aspir II, Aero V, Break, Stoneja, and Waterja. First, Aspir II will probably have the same effect on BLM as Refresh II has on RDM. My thoughts on Break are similar to Addle. Very useful if 99% of the bad guys in this game aren't immune to it. Personally, I thought RDM should have picked this spell up instead of BLM, but that's relatively minor. Aero V was to be expected. The use of -ja has me perplexed a bit though. Are they taking the Cura approach with BLM nukes now? More MP efficient? Damage potentially increased by how much you've dished out? AoE that doesn't draw that much hate? Extra magic burst damage? Time will tell, but as was stated at Vanafest.

BLMs are basically like a fly that just nukes and nukes until it gets swatted down. They apparently now have more tools at their disposal to draw the attention of the swatter.

Scholar: Animus Augeo, Animus Minuo, Water V, Regen III. Those enmity spells could be huge. The rest aren't a surprise at all.

Bard: Ballad III, Earth/Water Carol II, Foe Lullaby II, and Sentinel's Scherzo. Well Ballad III is def. huge. Foe Lullaby is right up there and likely means Horde Lullaby II is coming down the pipe. Lots of speculation on what Ballad III will actually do, but until someone actually sings the song and sees it, no one will know. It's safe to say Ballad III and Ballad II likely are replacing the standard Ballad II/I combo. The 2nd tiers of carols will come in handy against specific monsters (think Tiamat, Sarameya, Krabkatoa etc...). No telling what the hell Sentinel's Scherzo is, but the word "Sentinel" is associated with Monks quite a bit in this game but is actually defined as some form of guarding. Scherzo is a musical term that essentially means "fast".

My guess would be this song does something to one's counter rate.

Dark Knight: They get Aero III and EnDark. Endark is a little bit of a surprise, but not so much since this and it's counterpart have essentially been in the game for a while. Most recently on the Plaga Scythe. I'll still contend this is simply another way for a DRK to get themselves killed faster, but we'll see what happens with it.

Ninja: Myoshu: Ichi, Yurin: Ichi. Uh...what? More tools for Ninjas to carry around? Tons of speculation on what these will actually do. Drakus seems to think they'll follow the Aisha: Ichi mold and do something along the lines of Evasion and Defense Down. If that's the case, do they stack with the other things (like Gungnir's def. down proc or Angon) that are similar in nature? Aisha: Ichi actually turned out really good for NIN, so hopefully these follow the same mold.

Weapon Skills

SE released the a video (seen below) today of more new Weapon Skills. There's part of me that simply facepalmed at the notion of yet another weapon with a specific weapon skill tied to it.



Then there was another part of me that figured most people would never get these Weapon Skills if they tied them specifically to their Emp. Weapons. It's pretty obvious now that SE had no intention of people getting these weapons in a reasonable amount of time, which made me feel better about my (continued) time investment into Gungnir, but do these weapon skills really look like they're added incentive to get the Emp. Weapons? They're still unfinished yes, but I'm still a little baffled at how they're handling these things.

Anyway, screengrabs of each weapon skill and a quick blurb on what I think of them:


Cloud Splitter:


Looks thunder-based...

Chant du Cygne:


Name actually translates to "Swan Song", or last act. I guess you could say the Zorro Z was always his last act in a battle. Maybe fire-based like a number of other sword weapon skills.

Victory Smite:


Combo +1? Even the same sound effect...

Rudra's Storm:


A quick wiki search of "Rudra" shows a mythological wind god. Lines up with most of the rest of dagger's weapon skills and the animation supports this. Although part of me thinks that's an awfully dark tornado...


Torcleaver:


"Tor" is a rocky pinnacle. Cleaver is self-explanatory. The animation is a rocky cleave. Earth-based probably.

Myrkr:


AoE damage? Aside from being a named ripped out of Star Wars lore apparently...I can't really tell if this is a healing or damaging weapon skill. Leaning towards healing...

Jishnu's Radiance:


There's probably some sort of mythological reasoning behind the name of this weapon skill, but for humor's sake, I'm just going to say a developer at SE is a fan of this guy.

Ukko's Fury:


Two-hit? AoE? Hard to tell. They dipped into Finnish mythology for the name though.

Quietus:


I'LL GIVE YOU PRETTY PRETTY...demon wings? Does it do 0 damage if you've got this flowing through you?


Camlann's Torment:


Very cool reference to King Arthur's final battle. Half-hearted animation though. Looks like half a Geirskogul.

Tachi: Fudo:


Likely a reference to the Buddhist god Acala. Fudo is the Japanese version of him. I'll go with the destroyer version depicted in wiki for the inspiration behind this WS. Probably the 2nd coolest animation out of all of them presented in the video.

Dagan:


More flowers! Probably some sort of self-buffing weapon skill as it's club and that's generally what they do. Referencing possibly Dagon, a fish god or nature god in several different mythologies.

Wildfire:


Typical gun WS. Aim, point, blow shit up.


Blade: Hi:


Likely the best animation they've put in for this batch. I mean, who wouldn't get excited at the prospect of sending a dragon straight up the ass of a bad guy? I can't think of a better way to say "Hi" than that really...


Conclusion

I'm starting to get rather excited for the update. Mostly because it's either coming really soon or SE has some bigger stuff to tell us before it happens. We still have Job Adjustments Part 2 incoming (guessing Wednesday). I'm guessing the update will actually happen on Sept. 13th.

There's not much that's been shown so far that's really surprised me, but there are a lot of much needed additions being shown and that's a lot to get excited about.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More DRG Refinements?!??

SE Released this blurb today...


The impending version update will usher in the second stage of the level cap increase, bringing players' maximum attainable level from 80 to 85!

To provide a fitting challenge to players who achieve these newfound heights of power, we will be adjusting monster level and placement in certain Treasures of Aht Urhgan areas to create daunting new battlegrounds.

A host of new abilities, job traits, and spells will also be added for the newly-unlocked levels. Needless to say, these will be designed to provide players with exciting new possibilities while preserving game balance as they achieve even higher levels in the future.

New Job Abilities

- White Mage: An ability offering increased resistance against status ailments.
- Red Mage: An ability that enhances the potency of enfeebling magic.
- Bard: An ability that prevents songs cast on oneself from being overwritten.
- Beastmaster: A new pet command.
- Dragoon: A new jump.
- Summoner: New blood pacts.
- Corsair: New phantom rolls
- Dancer: A new step.

New Job Traits

- Monk: Skillchain Bonus
- White Mage: Shield Def. Bonus
- Red Mage: Mag. Burst Bonus
- Thief: Dual Wield
- Dark Knight: Crit. Atk. Bonus
- Bard: Fencer
- Ninja: Skillchain Bonus
- Corsair: True Shot
- Puppetmaster: Crit. Def. Bonus

New Spells

- Enhancement spells that increase the attributes of party members
- Magic spells to manage enmity levels
- A song that reduces damage taken by party members
- New ninjutsu
- New blue magic spells

These new abilities will be covered in further detail in future articles, so keep watching this space!


Naturally, the part that stood out to me was:

- Dragoon: A new jump.


After what they did with Spirit Jump in regards to it's shared Jump timer, I'm going to approach this with a bit of trepidation. The picture given doesn't really offer any clues.

It begs the question though...

Does SE really think DRG needs more refinements? As it stands, it's only real weak point is it's inability to control the wyvern the same way a BST, PUP, or SMN would control their pets. It's already one of the more powerful soloing jobs in the game. It's not going to win spike damage awards for zergs, but it's typically going to hold it's own.

The addition of Spirit Link modifications, Spirit Jump's bonus TP and Sekkanoki (from SAM sub) have essentially turned this job into a bit of a WS monster. While that's not unlike most jobs that typically sub SAM now, it's set apart by it's ability to shed hate. Which means the DRG is typically alive longer than anyone else.

The number of JAs a DRG/SAM has is already ridiculous. A quick run down:

Spirit Surge
Call Wyvern
Jump
High Jump
Spirit Jump
Super Jump
Spirit Link
Hasso
Seigan
Third Eye
Meditate
Sekkanoki
Ancient Circle
Warding Circle
Deep Breathing
Angon

That would be 16 JA's worth of timers to keep track of. Not complaining, but rather pointing out DRG is already very flexible and potent. While a WAR has the same number, almost every one of their JA's are oriented towards offense. Same with DRK. Now SE is adding another Jump and I really have no idea what it could be. While I suspect it's going to be something along the lines of Lancer, it really wouldn't surprise me if SE just added a 5th jump that shared the timer with High Jump. If this is the case, then it seems rather obvious what 2 of the "super merits" will be once they introduce them. Spirit Jump and "New" Jump timer reductions.

Adding another offensive Jump JA that gives TP on it's own timer will simply break DRG. Not that I would mind being broken in a good way, it just doesn't mesh with their whole "game balance" schtick.

Other Teaser Thoughts

Red Mage

RDM appears to get the shaft again. Magic Burst Bonus? Do people actually do skillchains anymore? Are RDMs actually used a lot for nuking? What's the point of this if the only time RDMs generally nuke is when they're soloing? Seems like it's just a bone to throw to them.

Add that to the fact that Bard is getting Fencer natively and WHM is getting Shield Def. Bonus natively and it just makes you scratch your head quite a bit at what SE's idea of RDM actually is now. That's not to say RDM isn't a strong job and a lot of other support jobs have caught up with or even surpassed RDM's abilities, but it just seems to me SE really has no idea what role they want this job to fulfill.

RDM has generally been a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. It was basically a SCH before SCH existed in this game. It could bounce back and forth between main healer or nuker with ease and solo (albeit very slowly) things no other job could even sniff. In a number of situations, you could even utilize them to tank.

However, with the enmity adjustments to the spells RDMs most commonly used to hold hate, RDM tanking isn't what it used to be. WHM has apparently become the darling mage to SE and has received god knows how many boosts and adjustments over the past couple years. The addition of SCH pretty much gave RDM a rival in terms of efficiency, but SCH has the ability to AoE buffs, mini-convert and has access to higher tiers of nukes. RDM seems to have just become the Enfeeble King while all the other support jobs around it continually receive boosts or spells (via leveling) that made RDM unique.

Again, it doesn't mean RDM is completely useless. I won't turn my nose up at all to them. Depending what they do with that "Ability that enhances the potency of enfeebling magic" they teased, they could be on their way to making a comeback. As Kaelis pointed out to me earlier, if that new JA allows an enfeeble to exceed the cap, it's game on, but as it stands, he can hit the slow cap on monsters with just one merit in Slow II and the use of gear, so that JA is essentially useless. Couple that with the fact that on most stuff that matters, targets are immune to most enfeebles anyway.

I suspect it's all but inevitable that RDM will eventually get Raise 2 and Cure V, both of which will go a long way towards boosting their main healing efficiency again. There's also the blurb in there about "Enhancement spells that increase the attributes of party members". RDM is the current king of Enhancing Magic from a skill standpoint, so hopefully that means they'll be seeing these spells in their repertoire. There's speculation said spells are going to be Brave and Faith, which would be huge, but if that's the case, those spells sound a lot more SCH-oriented than RDM oriented. Especially when you consider most of RDMs "enhancing magic" is related to self-only spells and SE specifically states "of party members".

Time will tell though...

Thief

Thief getting native Dual-Wield is huge. I believe this means they will become a much larger force in terms of offense. Obviously depends what level of DW they actually get natively, cause if SE just gives them DW1, expect lots of QQing and no change whatsoever to their current habits.

Ninja

This is another job in sore need of attention. It's basically become PUP in terms of usefulness. Actually, it's probably behind PUP in terms of usefulness now. They're getting...JT: Skillchain bonus and "New ninjutsu". Three questions spring to mind:

Who does skillchains anymore?

Is "ninjutsu" singular or plural?

Does SE know no one knows if "ninjutsu" is singular or plural and is just being vague?

I hope they get some of the :San spells they've been needing. Utsusemi: San wouldn't be game breaking given most critters people fight have a wide variety of AoE moves at their disposal. With the -PDT katanas in the Magian Trials and the creation of the Versa set (which does nothing in terms of haste...), it seems SE is starting to pave the way a bit to give NIN the ability to survive a little easier. Tactical Parry was a bit of a step in the right direction and Aisha: Ichi seems like a good way to help extend survivability (if it lands).

I may just be a little biased or looking at this from a glass half-full perspective though...

Give them some Enmity ninjutsu, Utsusemi: San and then watch 'em work SE.

Bard

Just when you think Bards hated SE enough...

Along comes "A song that reduces damage taken by party members".

Will that be potent enough to justify losing march, madrigal or minuet? Guess that depends on what you're fighting. In BRD-swap situations, I can see one minuet or a madrigal being given up to have this song placed on. Einherjar comes to mind against foes like King Behemoth. Zergs against guys like Briareus might find this song very useful too. This is definitely something worth watching and testing.

Bard getting the Fencer job trait seems kind of pointless. I don't know of many Bards that actually go out and solo. However, given that Bard has access to a ton of good WS gear, maybe this is a good way for them to blow off some steam over having to change to bard in the first place. Not that they have any real good ratings in weapons aside from the B- in Dagger...

Lolmeleebrd...

Dark Knight

Getting the job trait "Crit. Atk. Bonus". Really? DRKs needed this? Ok...thanks I guess?

(Note to self: Pray third eye isn't a bitch).

Enmity Spell

So which job(s) is getting that? When they say manage, do they mean multiple spells? One that increases enmity and one that decreases it? How much fun could I have by casting a spell that increases enmity on someone? >:D

Obviously, that's only if that spell can be cast on other people. I doubt it's going to be related to Ninjutsu since SE went out of their way to give that it's own blurb. But...

...what if it's a level 42(?) RDM spell? Does this make PLD/RDM much more viable as a tank? Hell, does that put NIN/RDM back in the tank discussion? Speculative at this point, yes, but rather fun to think about.

Conclusion

Nothing real exciting here for now. I would imagine once more details emerge, we'll know just how much of an impact these changes will have. Jury's going to stay out on the new jump for DRG until I actually see a better description of it as well as a lot of the other stuff here.

One thing for certain though: Massive RDM and NIN QQ'ing will be coming.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

MP Grimlock

Finally got my hands on one of these...



Being able to do that makes it completely worth it. :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Productive Week is Productive

Pretty productive week in game. I'll go events first, then personal stuff.

Einherjar

Learning more and more each run that Lv.80 is pretty much the difference between Obsidian needing 30+ people to win and needing 20 people to win. We ended up mauling T3 Saturday morning with 23 people. Granted, the room was kind of a slouch, but usually, the boss fight is the tell-tale sign of how strong your group is. We had Cerb and, while the fight went on a little longer than I would have expected, he still went down with relative ease.

The T3 prior to this one saw us fighting Behemoth with 31 people. Typically, KB rapes most groups. He's the only boss I dread seeing pop. Our 31 man group destroyed him in less than 30 seconds. I'm not sure if we just got a gimp KB, but not even one Meteor went off. Gives me quite a bit of hope in regards to the future of this event.

Abyssea

We knocked out Briareus for the first time using the CS/Stun + Zerg method we commonly use against Dynamis Lord. The fight dragged on long enough that we actually ran out of CS/stun and ended up getting a little sloppy the last 5%, but needless to say, they pulled it out. After finishing him off, we teleported out for a few job changes so we could start hunting other NMs and gathering key items for the Behemoth boss of the plateau. I'm currently missing the Carabosse key item.

We attempted her during the same run, but that fight seems to be more about outlasting that damn fairy than it is anything else. We simply ran out of time since we had burned up a lot killing the Ram NM, the Liege Fly NM, the smaller fairy NM, Megamaw Mikey, Chasmic Hornet and Piasa. This run was easily our most productive out of all that we've done thusfar.

Saturday saw us going into Tahrongi for an XP session turning into an NM hunting session. I just have to say, Adze is a bitch. I hate gnats. I now hate gnat NMs even more. Along with Adze, we farmed up items to pop the manticore NM and we took down Minhocao as well. The good news from this is while farming the manticores, huge gold chest popped that gave me the 2nd item needed to pop Lacovie. Not anything I'm going to pop any time soon, but we have a set. :)

HQ Stuff

Ended up going 1/19 on these after getting another abjuration. This is part of a project I've started to tweak out most of my gear. Especially now that angel skins have finally bottomed out thanks to their addition in Abyssea and MMM (allegedly...). That's something that's been long overdue.



And as they say...

Out with the old...



In with the new...



Now for that damn cap (0/55) and the feet (0/10)...

Trial 1851

Ended up hitting this hard this week. We had Monday off from events and I ended up knocking out something like 300 of them. Wednesday saw me knock out another 300 or so. Friday saw me knock out 500. Saturday night saw me get below 500 remaining and Sunday saw me finish it off.

Naturally, when I saw this...



I knew this was coming...





Naturally, I can only say I really do not feel good that I completed this.



Off to the moogle I go...





Do I feel good that I don't have to grind anything for at least a couple weeks? Yes. It's just hard to enjoy completing this when you know something even more asinine is coming down the pipe from SE. I don't think my trial is the hardest relic trial by any means since I'm virtually whiff-proof thanks to the Spirit Link update, Meditate (if you have a pocket healer) and a few extra TP tweaks to DRG, but it's long and it's annoying. 1851 ended up going by faster than 1850 despite there being an additional 500 killshots.

In talking with Alaistair last night, we both feel like a trial could be something ridiculous like 10,000 uses of a WS as long as they aren't killshots and we'd be a little more accepting. Realistically though, what else can SE come up with for the relics? Going to call my shot right now for next update:

2000 killshots on Beasts.
2500 killshots on Birds.

Birds might be wishful thinking...

Anyway, DRG picked up +1 STR, +1 DEX, +3 Base Damage, +5 Accuracy over the weekend. Will be interesting to see how it stacks up on boss fights and whatnot.

Qtipus' Information

FFXI subscriber since NA release.