Monday, March 29, 2010

Wrestlemania 26 Review

We interrupt the previously scheduled FFXI Update rant to bring you a review of one of the most anticipated Wrestlemania's in recent memory.

Wrestlemania XXVI.

I've been hyped about this for a while. Especially since Bret Hart made his return to the WWE in early January. What the WWE did this year building up to their annual mega-event was a little different than what they've done in some recent years. It seemed like they actually had a purpose for each show to build the stories leading into the event despite the fact that they had a PPV between the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania.

The past few years, these stories have had their seeds planted in January around the Royal Rumble, but kind of got brushed to the side in favor of the stories leading up to whatever PPV they had scheduled for February. Then they'd almost rush the stories between the Feb PPV and Wrestlemania. This year, even the Feb PPV did nothing but build to Wrestlemania. It was a bit of a breath of fresh air from a story-telling standpoint. Granted, it wasn't must-see TV in some cases, but some of the stories were compelling enough to at least make you want to try to catch the next segment of build up the following week.

Before I go further, yes, it's fake. Stories are scripted. Blah, Blah, Blah. If you comment on this blog about it being fake, please make sure you aren't a fan of Reality TV. You have no argument regarding the legitimacy of pro wrestling since they sell themselves as "Sports Entertainment" and not something that's "Real" as "Reality TV" so often times likes to do. Reality TV is more scripted than Pro Wrestling, so if you like Survivor, American Idol, America's Got Talent, any of the food shows like Hell's Kitchen, Top Chef, etc, do us all a favor and STFU. At least with pro-wrestling, there's legit athleticism and stunts happening.

So onto the card itself, in order of appearance.

26-Man Over the Top Rope Challenge:

This was a dark match. They only showed highlights of it later in the show with some dude I haven't really seen or heard of winning it. Good thing they didn't show it in it's entirety...

"ShowMiz" vs. John Morrison and R-Truth

The build up to this one seemed kind of haphazardly put together. The story had only been told for a couple weeks prior with Morrison and R-Truth winning some sort of match that made them No. 1 contenders. These two had never paired before prior to that, so any sort of a team history was negligent.

ShowMiz is a team comprised of the Big Show and The Miz. As much as I dislike Miz, the guy's come a long way. Having a 7'1", 500lb giant of a tag team partner often times means that A) The little guy will always lose the match or B) The big guy will do something stupid that costs them the match.

This wasn't the case when the match started. Good thing it was short. Match ended with Big Show clobbered Morrison with a huge right fist and knocked him out for the pin.

Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Ted Dibiase Jr. Triple Threat Match

These three formed the stable called "Legacy" for the better part of 2 years. Often times, stables such as these end up imploding a lot sooner than this. The premise behind this stable is that every one of these guys are 2nd generation stars with rather popular fathers. Orton is the son of "Cowboy" Bob Orton. Rhodes is the son of "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes. Ted Dibiase Jr. naturally, is the son of "The Million Dollar Man".

I'm not sure why this match was really on the card as it seemed like it could have been told on a Raw or something, but it was still a solid match with some decent story telling. Orton's been on top for a long while and it continued here with him performing a double DDT to both his competitors, booting Rhodes in the head and then hitting Million Dollar Baby with his RKO for the pin.

Personally, I would have liked to see Rhodes or Dibiase win this, especially since Dibiase's pops got inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this weekend too. The results here potentially set up a huge face turn for Orton, who's been one of the better heels in the company for the past few years. Aside from that, it really did nothing to progress any of their careers, which is the measuring stick used for Wrestlemania matches.

Money-In-The-Bank Ladder Match

This match has become a staple of Wrestlemania. The winner gets a guaranteed championship match at any point of their choosing up to a year. More often times than not, the winner here will use his contract to take advantage of a champ that's just taken a huge beatdown, but that's beside the point here...

They expanded the number of participants to 10 this year, which made for a huge clusterfuck of a match. There were some nice highlights, but it fell short of previous matches I believe due to the sheer number of people involved. A lot of the people like Shelton Benjamin and Kofi Kingston weren't really able to get out and shine like they usually do in these matches.

That doesn't mean there wasn't a surprise ending though. The winner this year was Jack Swagger, an up and coming star with a highly decorated amateur background out of Oklahoma. Up until this match, Swagger had a brief run in ECW as it's champ and had mostly participated in gimmick/squash matches the months before Wrestlemania. Safe to say no one saw his win coming. Not sure this will make him more interesting on the mic, but he's definitely got a truckload of in-ring talent.

Christian had it right upon his return to WWE. Swagger's mic skills are akin to Sylvester the Cat of Looney Tunes fame. An arrogant, entitled character is always one that will get a reaction out of a crowd, but... arrogant, entitled character with a lisp? How do you take that seriously in an antagonistic role?

HHH vs. Sheamus

This one had a decent build up. The angle here is HHH cost Sheamus the title by legit pinfall at the Feb. PPV. Sheamus is pissed and decides that to further his name, he'll take on the biggest dog in the yard at the biggest stage of them all. HHH respects this, but warns Sheamus that if he wins, his career will take off, but if he loses, he'll go back to toiling in obscurity.

Both of these men are huge. There wasn't going to be much in the way of technical wrestling here, but they still managed to pull off an above average match. For all the knocks HHH takes about his status in the company being mostly due to his marriage with Vince's daughter, Stephanie, he's still one of the best entertainers in the business today. He's probably put more people over than the rest of the vets on that roster currently and this match was certainly no exception. Even though HHH won, Sheamus put on one hell of a show. Hopefully this means the "Evil Ronald McDonald" that prioritizes his manscaping moreso than his skin tone will be able to use this to keep his stock rising.

CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio

This was another match that had very little build up, but the build it has was borderline creepy/been there-done that. Punk's character is that of an arrogant Jesus. He's formed this "Straight-Edge Society" that preaches about living a life free of alcohol and other influential substances. Punk is very good in this role, often times preaching to the crowd as he walks to the ring.

Mysterio's involvement comes when he costs Punk a chance to be in the Money-In-The-Bank match. Punk obviously takes issue with someone foiling his scheme of using his Straight-Edge members to get him a win, and shows up the following week to berate and chide Mysterio into a match while Mysterio's family is celebrating his daughter's 9th birthday.

Oddly enough, Mysterio's children are taller than he is...

The stipulation here is that if Punk wins, Mysterio has to pledge allegience to Punk's group.

These guys put on an excellent match that should have gone on a lot longer than it did. Seemed like they only wanted to spend about 10 minutes on the match itself. I'm not sure if the powers that be saw the potential for spotlight hogging off the main event, but this one potentially could have stolen the show had it been allowed to develop that way.

Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon

The build up to this moment has been 13 years in the making. There are those that believe that if the Montreal Screwjob never happened, then Bret would have never suffered the concussion that ended his career, his brother Owen wouldn't have died in the ring and Bret subsequently wouldn't have had the motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed along his left side due to a stroke he suffered from hitting his head.

These were all very real things that happened in a mostly fake world.

Seeing this man back in the ring with the spotlight squarely on him is something the wrestling universe has wanted to see for a very long time. The fact that it was Vince across the squared circle from him made it that much better.

Anyone expecting to see a wrestling match here was probably disappointed. Bret can't wrestle to the degree he used to because of his injuries and Vince...well he's 65 years old and could never wrestle to begin with. A bit of a surprise twist here was that Vince "paid" the entire Hart family to be at ringside acting as lumberjacks on his behalf only to find out that Bret outsmarted him. What ensued was a beat down of government mule proportions on Vince. I know a lot of the stuff is fake and pulled and whatnot, but there were some legit bumps that Vince took that, despite his physique, a 65 year old man shouldn't be taking.

I got the impression Vince was really trying to show just how sorry he was to Bret for the events that transpired in 1997. Bret got the moment he wanted out of it. Vince was put in the Sharpshooter and tapped with a huge Hart Family celebration taking place.

My only gripe with this match was that it lasted a little too long...but you don't care because of the respect for Bret Hart.

Chris Jericho vs. Edge - World Heavyweight Championship

Awesome match with an awesome buildup. Edge returned from a blown out Achilles tendon to win the Royal Rumble. Winning the rumble has always carried the stipulation of a guaranteed title shot of the winner's choosing at Wrestlemania. Prior to his injury, Edge had been partnered with Jericho and they looked poised to make a long run as tag team champs. Obviously, blowing out your achilles is never a good thing. Add in Jericho's salty comments about Edge after he was injured and you have the set up for this match.

The match went back and forth with Edge trying to hit Jericho with the Spear (running charge). Jericho ultimately used some ref bashing to nail Edge with the belt and retain. The celebration was shortlived though as Edge finally nailed a Spear and drove Jericho off the announcer's tables and through the barricades around the ring. That was one hell of a bump Jericho took there and had the crowd chanting "HOLY SHIT" at them.

10-Woman Diva Tag Match

Really? This match shouldn't have come this late in the card. I felt like it killed a lot of the momentum the Edge vs. Jericho match had created. It's good the Divas got some love and all, but this really should have happened early on.

On top of that, I get that it's nice for Vickie Guerrero to pay homage to her late husband and all, but is it really that much of an homage when she's constantly getting needled for her size/girth? I know the announcers were probably told some of the move names and whatnot, but changing the name of Eddie's signature "Frog Splash" to "Hog Splash" was a little much. Add in the botched finish and you have a recipe for disaster.

John Cena vs. Batista - WWE Championship

The build up to this match was fantastic as well with Batista settling into his newly minted heel role and lambasting Cena about how much better he was, yet Cena was the face of the company. This match also carried an air of truth to it as every time Cena and Batista have met up in the ring, Cena's been injured in a major way. The last time was at Summerslam 1.5 years ago where an aerial move was converted into a sit-down power bomb that literally broke part of Cena's neck.

As for the match itself, it didn't disappoint. Cena actually showed off a little bit of wrestling skill outside of his normal brawler move set. After a number of hard slams and big power moves, Cena pulls out the win to take the championship away from Batista.

HBK vs. Undertaker II - Career vs. Streak

This, my friends, is exactly what Wrestlemania was built for. Last year, HBK and Undertaker put on a wrestling clinic that I hope all of the young stars of the future look to. This year, rumors had been swirling that either HBK or the Undertaker were set to retire (they're both mid-40s with a ton of injuries).

Undertaker is undefeated at Wrestlemania. Once he hit 10-0 or 11-0, his "streak" became the subject of each of his matches. Someone would always try to step up to end that streak. A lot of people are of the mindset that it should only end in a "passing the torch" type fashion where a younger star that's proven himself, but isn't quite to that elite level yet can use that momentum to further their careers.

Personally, I'm of the mindset that if the streak is going to end, it has to be in a match of these proportions. There's no guarantee that the moment created by ending the streak will live on in infamy if they let a young guy end it. However, you put an HBK across the ring from him and if HBK wins, that is a guaranteed moment worthy of someone of the caliber of the Undertaker.

The buildup to this match was phenomenal. After costing Undertaker his title at the Feb PPV (where Jericho won it), Undertaker sought retribution. He finally agreed to have the match HBK had been demanding for the better part of 2 months with the added stipulation that if HBK lost, his career was over. Thus...

Career vs. Streak.

Quick montage of the story building up.

These guys pulled out all the stops. I thought it was going to be difficult for them to top what they did last year and, early on, it definitely looked like they weren't going to be able to do it. As the match progressed though and finisher after finisher after finisher were executed, it became clear they were building up to something huge. You don't execute finishers that many times in one match and not have something insane planned for the end.

For you non-wrestling types: Finishers = signature moves that usually end the match. HBK's finisher is the Super Kick or "Sweet Chin Music". Undertaker's finishers are the Last Ride (standing power bomb) or Tombstone (pile driver).

Undertaker gave HBK one hell of a last ride. I've seriously not seen anyone hoisted to that height and slammed that hard. Undertaker, being spent himself, didn't cover quickly enough and HBK managed to kick out. Undertaker then Tombstoned HBK yet again (I think this was literally the 3rd or 4th tombstone HBK had taken), but HBK kicked out again.

Undertaker was in disbelief. After pacing around the ring a bit, he stops over HBKs body and signals the end of the match by starting his signature throat slash. About halfway through it, he looks down to see HBK crawling back up to his feet, using Undertaker for support as he's doing so. After yelling "STAY DOWN!" a couple times, HBK looks up at Undertaker and defiantly mocks Undertaker's throat slash. Then he slaps the shit out of Undertaker.

Undertaker fell to the ropes for a brief minute, but turns around pissed off, scoops up HBK, turns him upside down and does this running Tombstone that he's never done before. The force of that move damn near flattened the ring. Undertaker picks up the win, thus ending HBK's brilliant wrestling career.

What transpired next was a microcosm of the sheer magnitude of this event. The Undertaker and HBK both broke character, shook hands and embraced in the middle of the ring. Seeing this happen sent chills down my spine. Undertaker NEVER breaks character. If he comes out to pay tribute to anyone, it's always in character. The cameras were on Undertaker's face after the handshake and hug and we see him mouth "You are one tough son of a bitch." Y'see, Undertaker's character is that of his emotionless namesake. He's only supposed to show anger in the ring.

After the comment, Undertaker got out of the way and let HBK have his moment. He broke down to tears in the middle of the ring as he thanked the WWE Universe for his career. Backstage, he's seen shaking hands and talking with Bret Hart (who he has a not-so-great history with). He's also commenting that while you can never say never, this is about as close to never coming back as you can get. He stated he always envisions himself being involved in some capacity with the WWE, just not in the ring anymore. With that, we see him walk off.

I'm not naive enough to believe that HBK won't be back on TV in some capacity down the road. "Career ending" matches usually do not end with a career ending. In HBK's case though, I suspect there's a lot more truth to his career being done given his injury history and his family.

Regardless of that, there really could not be a better ending to this man's career if it is indeed over. Kudos to the WWE for recognizing this and putting this match on for him and then allowing the participants to show their respects to each other after it was done.


Every Wrestlemania tends to have a moment or two that stands out. While not a perfect 'Mania (I still think 17 or 20 are the standard), it doesn't get much better. I'd rate this one an 8-9/10 for that last match alone along with the Bret Hart moment and some other, very good matches.

Wrestlemania is built for moments like these. The typical live event the WWE does usually has about 10-30k people in attendance. Wrestlemania is always 60k+ (in some cases, 100k+). There are more eyes on the action than at any point in the year. Stars are made and broken on this stage. People always remember Hogan scoop slamming Andre the Giant or Stone Cold passing out in a pool of blood after refusing to submit to Bret Hart's sharpshooter. Or they remember HBK's descent from the rafters or Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero winning titles (despite what happened with Benoit a few years later tragically).

I don't have a clue what they could possibly do for Wrestlemania 27 that could top this though. They're almost out of legends...

The future's bright though. With the right stories and some modernization of their ability to tell them, we should see moments like these for a long time to come.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Post 150

I just happened to notice that I had 149 posts.

Hmm...what to ramble about.

Guess I could start with the current expansion of Obsidian.


We started sky up about 3 weeks ago. Was mildly unexpected on my end to start it before Gawayne had a chance to finish the site, but we had sacks that were ready to go. Glacian led the charge into sky and the first official event we had up there was just some simple farming.

On Friday, we had 14 people up there at any given point in time with a max of 18 at one point. I don't remember exactly, but I'm pretty sure we ended up 2 Diorite, 1 Zip and 1 water away from finishing up 2 sets as we ran the gauntlet.

Saturday after Einherjar, we did an impromptu run where about 8 of us ran up to try to farm up some diorite. Shit just did not want to drop. We happened to pick up a few of the other NMs and eventually got one diorite to finish our first pop set.

Sunday saw us farming for more diorite. After about 3 hours, we got one to drop. With both diorites in tow, we headed up to Ullikummi. As we're clearing a pulling path...we got a third diorite. Calix donanted one to us as well, so we ended up killing Ullikummi 4 times.

All said and done, our first weekend in sky saw us complete 2.5 pop sets.

Last Friday, we did a God run. I remember the first time I fought a lot of these things and I have to say...these guys are a complete joke now. Yeah, they can get lucky every now and then (Byakko's Claw Cyclone + triple attack back to back = dead tank usually), but for the most part, we ran roughshod over them.

We did 2x Genbu, 2x Seiryu, 3x Suzaku, and 3x Byakko. Drops were fantastic too. Byakko dropped his pants every time and we got at least one abjuration that was wanted from all of the other gods.

This means we have something along the lines of 6-7 Kirin pop sets now between what some sacks already had sitting around plus what we got this night. Roodee also organized a mini-farming run this past Sunday to finish off her pop set. We have another Genbu and another Seiryu to do.

Since a lot of people are going to be out of town this weekend, they've scheduled another farming run for Friday. What we're hoping for atm is to get a Kirin run or two scheduled for the weekend of the 26th. I haven't decided if it'll be done melee burn or via the normal "kill-minis-kite-kirin" method that takes 30-45 mins each time. Really depends on who all shows up.

Needless to say, there's been a lot of interest in this thusfar. With generally 8-10 people even just showing up for the impromptu farming runs, I have to imagine there are other members on the fringe kind of watching to see what happens and what type of success we have. With Sea and ZNMs on the horizon, the expansion is happening rather nicely.


Been in kind of a "slump" lately. Makes me think people are getting a little bored with the event. The run on Tuesday saw us get raped by some Ormr with 150k HP...

Guess I shouldn't call 20-5 over the last 25 runs a "slump", but it is when you consider we're usually around 22-3 over a 25 run period. A couple of those losses have been because of boneheaded moves while the rest just simply fall into the category of "Einherjar will rape you without lube at times".

The funny thing about Tuesday's run though...

About 3-4 hours before the run, Inbred and I were talking. He mentioned that he hoped we didn't get what BBQ got earlier in the day (Flayers and Bombs). That got me to thinking that we were about due for a no-lube room too and I mentioned that to him.

Naturally, the conversation jinxed us.

Go figure.

I haven't had to postpone any Odins in a while due to losses though, so there's always that.

There's also the fact that we've just about completed our backup mule plans in the event I can't make an Odin or do something along the lines of what I did a few Odins ago where I broke the lamp on Dantess accidentally.

One more T1 and T2 and we'll have 3 mules on standby along with our normal collection of mules.

On a more positive note, Izman got his blurple-body finally. That would be E.Body #4 for us. Next up on the list is Clubber unless someone with more points decides to start bidding on it. After Clubber, the list gets cleared off a bit and the cost per body probably drops significantly.

Hoping more A.Bodies drop too as Mr. and Mrs. Pun both have the points to nab the next two should they choose to. Mr. Pun will bid on it no question. Mrs. Pun however...

...I wonder if she knows we have a bidding system...she's never bid on anything....


Had better numbers for turn out here the past couple months. I get the feeling once Abyssea comes out, numbers will spike yet again. Maybe we'll see the return of city runs with 40+ people. Probably unlikely as most people don't want to lump a 3-3.5 hour block of time into one event like that anymore.

Personally, with the level cap being raised, I can't wait to see what type of effects it has on Dynamis. I get the feeling once the 99 cap is raised and we start seeing a large number of people hit that mark, we're going to end up seeing a lot of 6 man groups running in and trying to rape zones.

The same thing kind of happened when they lowered the price of Dynamis to 500k, but it wasn't really enough to make life miserable.

Here's to hoping SE realizes this and finally instances Dynamis when they finish releasing the Abyssea stuff.

Speaking of...


This is one thing I'm going to keep my eyes and ears on and try to have Obsidian positioned to participate in this as a shell right from the getgo. Details are limited to that of what came out of Vanafest though. The notion of AF3 is definitely enticing, although Ludaca will probably murder some babies (he's 97 or 98/100 for all the AF2 sets...).

Obviously, this is only speculation, but if this turns out to be a dynamis/einherjar-style event where up to 36+ people can participate in it, Obsidian will be there easily. The question will be how do you handle the points for it. Do you start everyone from scratch? Do you use points from dynamis?

Right now, I'm inclined towards the latter. As much as I hate to say it, most people operate on the mentality of "What have you done for us lately?" When we started up Einherjar, we gave everyone that wanted to participate 10 or 15% of their dynamis run total as their starting points (i.e. 200 runs got you 20 points or 25 points). For a 30 minute event, that was the fairest thing I could come up with to avoid the eventual clusterfuck of even bids that would have happened for probably 15 Odins.

Abyssea looks to be a little different though. While no specific details have been given to the time limits, the initial impression leaves me believing that it'll probably be along the lines of CoP Dynamis. This makes me think a little differently.

That's one of the things that always irked me about players. I don't expect players to do the same events for years on end, but I do think it's nice if they actually tell us when they're not going to participate anymore instead of just disappearing. The other thing that irks me are the people that are just doing the minimums to keep their accounts active. Showing up to 1 run every 90 days or something to that effect.

This would be why I'm more inclined to start using existing dynamis points (if they choose) for a starting point in Abyssea. Players who can't be bothered to actually take responsibility for themselves shouldn't find something that interests them in the game again and then expect to come back to the same standing as everyone else they had when they disappeared. I get the feeling this would be the case if things pan out the way I think they will.

Anyway, I'm off to Kay's for the weekend to be a manslave.

(I lost a bet....)

Someone please have a spare set of balls and a new man-card waiting for me when I get back.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Coming Around

Just a little bit.

As most people have said, FF13 gets better the further you go through it.

I still don't think this is a game worthy of the Final Fantasy moniker though.

I'm currently about 15 hours into this game and the sheer linearacy of this game is baffling. I'm also starting to clue in to a number of rather blatant franchise ripoffs. Because of this, I'm halfway wondering if Square-Enix just threw this game together on a whim because it had been 2.5 years since FF12 was released.

That or they spent too much time on the visual presentation and forgot to actually make a game.

Eidolon Gestalt modes?

Transformers: Beast Wars/Machines ripoff.

PSICOM soldier gear?

Straight out of Star Wars.

Even most of the characters are very similar to previous characters.

Lightning - Squall (VIII)
Vanille - Rikku (X, X-2)
Fang - Paine (X-2)
Snow(e) - Zell (VIII)
Gadot - Wakka (X, good thing he's a minor character thusfar...they didn't even bother to make him look incredibly different...).

...and the list goes on.

I'm not saying it's wrong to draw upon characters that struck a chord with fans over the years (as most of those did to some extent), but that sort of stuff should really be limited.

I came to the conclusion last night that, while the game is getting better about actually letting me play it instead of watch it, it truly feels like I've played through this game before and that's not something I've experienced in any Final Fantasy game. Even as horrible as I found X-2 to be, it still didn't feel like I had played through it before.

Anyway, I'm on Chapter 8 now. Not sure how many chapters are left as I refuse to read anything on the net about it hoping that there's some sort of huge surprise or twist or something that actually makes me appreciate this as a game worthy of the "Final Fantasy" title. I'll probably get through another couple chapters tonight.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Against the Grain

I'm not impressed with FFXIII overall.

I'm three chapters in and I already don't feel like playing it anymore. Some of the issues with the game, I knew about before I bought it. Others, I semi-knew about, but was hoping it was different.

First, my biggest gripe.

The Datalog.

This alone is what makes this game feel like something other than a Final Fantasy game. It was my biggest gripe about FF12. Backstory and information about a game is useful to a degree, but the past two incarnations in the series have pretty much relied on this Datalog type feature to tell the story itself rather than telling it through the use of NPCs or cutscenes.

I don't want to read a novel when I'm playing a video game. I want the novel to be told in a manner that flows with the game play itself. I don't want to have to spend literally hours pouring over the datalog entries as they get added by the dozens. The character datalog and the chapter datalogs are fine. The rest of it is bullshit and still a central part into figuring out WTF is going on in this game. It doesn't take an IQ of 180+ to figure out the general premise, but little details should be told via conversation with NPCs, THEN added to the datalog. Little details shouldn't just be insta-added to the datalog as you get to certain points in the story with the expectation you're going to read them in order to understand what's going on.

My next biggest gripe.

Paradigm Shift.

Maybe this is an old school manner of thought here, but why is it so hard for SE to actually allow us to control all of our characters in an FF game? The past 2 console sequels have take a lot of the play out of the game itself and replaced with with stuff like Gambits and now this Paradigm shift. That was always one of the biggest draws to me for an FF game. Mix and matching parties and abilities and actually CHOOSING WHEN TO EXECUTE THE STUFF MYSELF.

Now we get...


And so on...

Don't get me wrong, I don't really mind the system that's in place for XIII, I just think it takes away from the overall feel of what a Final Fantasy game is supposed to be.

And for the record, yes I know you could technically control the other characters in 12, it just wasn't all that fluid and still relied heavily on the AI you set up.

Next gripe: Linear game play.

FFX was pretty bad about this. XIII is worse. Aside from a few nooks and crannies in the various zones early on, there's no exploration whatsoever to this game. You run through (or back) and into the next chapter. Pretty much every single FF game (other than X) let you roam around on a world map after the initial set of character introductions and plot progression. This is a big no no in the Final Fantasy world. If the zones were huge and had some feel of the unknown to them, that'd be better, but as it is right now (in relation to where I'm at in the game), the zones are pretty much a straight line, with a few battles, treasure orbs, and jump points mixed in here and there.

Next to last gripe: Crystarium

Really? How is this really any different from the license system that was supposed to make characters unique in 12? Aside from what appears to be different classes you can gain abilities for, it still looks like it's headed in the same direction the license boards did. You play the game long enough, all of them end up with the same abilities.

Final gripe: Non-stop cutscenes.

My game clock is sitting around 4 hours at the moment.

I've probably controlled my characters about half of that.

Little overboard on the cutscenes.


So far, I'm not impressed at all with 13. It'll probably get better, but it's been a long while since I lost interest in an FF game this quickly. The game's got some beautiful graphics and cutscenes, as are the norm for most of the stuff SE produces under it's flagship title, but after a while, people begin to see through the shiny and see the game for what it really is... least so far.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I've seen some IM scams before in my life, but damn...really?

I get a friend request for MSN the other day. I'm thinking it's someone from Obsidian adding me, so I accept it. So, probably out of order in thinking here, I decided after I accepted it, I would search through the Obsidian database for the email address... no avail.

No one had that email address registered.

I didn't think much about it after that and figured if it was someone legit, they'd tell me who they were next time they were logged in.

That was about two weeks ago.

Today, I go AFK to take care of some work at the other building and come back to find the following (URLs removed to protect the stupid):

[14:53] Hey there, i'm bored and tipsy..why don't you come check me out on cam, WEBSITE
[14:53] Yay someone to talk to :-) I'm Jen from Miami how are u? I found your name in the msn online members search :)
[14:53] I'm better now that you messaged me ;) my roomates just stepped out I only have a little while alone... ;-) are u alone too? we should cam2cam ;)
[14:54] K here's the link to my cam it's WEBSITE go there and you should see me, just accept my free cam chat invite on the left before it expires, I use this site cause you can't record it like on msn ..
[14:54] my dad would kill me if he found out I was doing this kinky stuff on his computer lol oh I hope u dont mind chatting with a kinky girl!?
[14:54] LOL aw you're cute.. well can u see my cam it was giving me trouble earlier but it looks ok now?
[14:54] yeah i'm horny lolz! u? Wait you're not a stalker are u?? LOL
[14:54] Mhhm u never know lol I have to make sure! babe u sound confident I like that .. maybe we can trade phone numbers after we chat on cam ?
[14:54] :)....nice well u can also just watch me if u's up to u ;) oh babe what's your favorite color?
[14:55] oooh I got the perfect panties for u ;) make sure u fill out your correct b-day k? cause they won't let u in if you can't verify age ;-) I had to use my debit card to verify age but they don't charge, it's just to make sure you're not a kid :)
[14:55] I'm gonna turn off Messenger so my cam doesn't run I really want u to watch me, I'm getting so turned on it's driving me crazy so hurry up lol if u need the link again it's WEBSITE
[14:55] are u in babe?? Let me know when you see me, I'm in my private chat so if you need help finding me just login and let me know when you're in, I'll guide you to my cam room :)
[14:55] k

The great thing about this is...

Whatever bot is running this sent me 3 different tinyurl links and is apparently impatient. All of those IMs in about a 2 minute period of time.

Now to figure out where they came from and have some fun...

(Bullshit Part 4): Qtipus Fought the Law...

...and Qtipus won.

It's a small victory to say the least.

I received a letter from my favorite collection agency located in Mississippi regarding the outstanding "debt" they're trying to collect for their client, the Pearl River County Justice Court.

Quick refresher in case you forgot:

Bullshit Part 1
Bullshit Part 2
Bullshit Part 3

Q gets speeding ticket in July 2003.
Q pays speeding ticket in August 2003.
Q doesn't hear anything for 7 years on the matter...
Q starts arguing with people about why he didn't hear anything.
Q makes settlement offer, gets hung up on.

That brings us to last night. I had a long day at work and I come home to find said letter. Those letters never make anyone happy though I was somewhat happy to see least until I read the contents.

Same boilerplate collection agency garbage. Not the statement of release I was hoping for. Now I knew I was gonna have to argue with someone today.

So I called 'em up and, instead of telling me that they're trying to collect the debt, the lady there tells me that my account has been cleared by the courthouse.


This means one of two things:

1. The court canceled everything.

2. The court is going to come after me themselves.

I had a feeling it was going to be option two. It's kind of like that boss battle where you have to kill all the minions or destroy the armor or something before you can actually do battle with the boss itself.

Seeing as how these people don't seem to be on the up and up regarding their level of organization, I decided I would call the courthouse to make sure things were good. Upon calling them, yes, things were good, but not as good as I was hoping.

Obviously, I was hoping they'd find something that showed I paid the damn thing, but nope..."good" is "we'll accept your deal".

The judge dismissed the contempt of court fee.
The judge dismissed the collection agency fee.
The judge did not dismiss the original amount of the ticket.

"Do you guys take cards over the phone?"
"Done. Let me pay this again and get you guys out of my life for good."
"The feeling's mutual."
"You know I'm recording this right?"
"You're a wonderful man sir, thank you for taking care of this so quickly."

F***ing sleazebags.

So, after hours spent on the phone with people in Mississippi, with my attorney and in conversations about what my next step should be, let it be said...

I pretty much gave everyone who said "I should just pay it all and be done with" the finger and came out better for it. Yes, I lost about $100 that I really shouldn't have lost, but I was dumb and didn't keep good records. To paraphrase Mastercard though...

Speeding Ticket: $100.00
Cost of Time Spent on Phone: $10.00
Cost of Consumed Ibuprofen: $4.00
Turning the Debt Collectors and Court House Employees' lives who fucked up into a living hell: Priceless.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Future

So with all these changes coming to FFXI, there are obviously a lot of questions and a number of different schools of thought. I'm gonna blog about some of them today as they relate specifically to Obsidian.

As most know, Obsidian is expanding it's scope of events beyond Dynamis and Einherjar. A lot of our members are already committed to these events elsewhere. This leads a lot of people to say "too little too late". Part of me initially believed that, but then reality set in.

We started Einherjar nearly a full year AFTER SE made the event reasonable and look at where we're at right now. Yes, I realize that means we have a lot of people who don't want to f**k with kings who have yet to pick up any of the gear from them and a 30 minute event twice a week affords them the opportunity to do so.

It's through that event that we really took notice of people leveling new jobs, that didn't already have some of the gear from sky or sea for it and made the decision to expand.

So far so good needless to say.

We started sky up this past Friday with less than a few days for the announcement and had anywhere 14-16 people there at any point in time just for the farming. Even more impromptu was the diorite farming that happened after Einherjar on Saturday and after Dynamis on Sunday.

(On a sort-of side-note...Diorite sucks.)

End results of our farming were two complete pop sets and about half of a third. Next event will end up being Gods and I'm expecting a larger turnout for that since, in my experience, no one likes to do the legwork.

Which probably explains why we have a number of people in the shell w/o all the sky gear they need...

Anyway, I digressed a little.

This post is about the future.

With SE's announcement of Abyssea and, essentially, AF3, there are many that believe Dynamis will fall by the way-side and accordingly, shells like Obsidian will struggle. I fully anticipate some decline in attendance right when the level cap updates are released because people will be out trying to max their job levels out again. Which there's nothing wrong with.

However, what most don't take into account is the fact that all of the news coming out of Vanafest has regenerated a ton of interest in this game. You can speculate however you want on what their intentions were, but it's pretty clear, they're intent on keeping this game going as long as they can. Just in the last week, I've had several people remark over I.M. that they'll likely reactivate or know someone who is going to reactivate when the level cap gets increased.

There's also a few who don't want to continue playing since they feel like their job or their gear that they've poured years of their lives in to will become obsolete or because they don't feel like going through the level grind again. Personally, I think the number of reactivations/returns will greatly outnumber the deactivations/retirees. This likely bodes well for Obsidian, especially once we get expanded.

Now a lot of this is going to depend on how SE implements things like Trial of the Magians and Abyssea itself, but there's one thing they made abundantly clear.

They want people to enjoy content like Dynamis or Einherjar in smaller numbers. They've stated that implicitly. Anyone concerned about Abyssea killing off Dynamis runs is probably over-worrying this fact. On top of that, depending on how they implement Abyssea, it's entirely possible the shell focus shifts to that with more specific runs aimed at finishing relics instead. Linkshells have to evolve with what the developers are tossing out there. The ones that do not are the ones that fall by the wayside once newer, shinier stuff shows up.

This is one of the primary reasons Obsidian has been around as long as it has. We knew that people generally don't want to invest 3-4 hours of their lives twice a week to killing the same things over and over and over again. Once they got what they wanted, they'd move onto other things. There are few exceptions to this. We kept the door open for the application process and returns to the linkshell specifically for this reason.

With Obsidian expanding into other areas like Sky, Sea, and ZNMs along with the potential for staying ahead of the curve this time in regards to Abyssea, the future is bright. This linkshell is not going anywhere for a very long time.

(Unless you're Gawayne...who has to rewrite the website...but he's already got a line of people waiting to have his babies as a result...including me).

Monday, March 1, 2010

Level Cap Increase Thoughts

The huge announcement out of Vanafest on Sunday was that of something that is literally going to change FFXI completely. They decided it was time to increase the level cap.

Not just to 80.

All the way to 99.

It's going to come in 3 stages over the course of 2010. If I had to guess, we'll see level 80 in June, 90 in Sept. and 99 in Dec.

My initial reaction to this was one of anger. I dislike the grind of leveling a job. It's why, after all these years, I have only 4 jobs at 75. Then I thought about it a bit and realized pretty quickly it adds a rather new perspective about this game.

That perspective would be an entirely new way to play the job that I started playing this game for. Obviously, things still have to be fleshed out a bit, but the thought of a DRG/WAR using Aggressor is very entertaining to me. The thought of DRG/DRK using Absorb-STR or Absorb-TP is entertaining. DRG/WHM or DRG/RDM being able to cast Cure IV and Haste on myself while soloing or even Refresh while subbing /RDM. Imagine the different possibilities from the BLU magic combination when you have 12 more levels of spells to work with when BLU is set as your sub. Your own dispel? (Blank Gaze) An aspir spell? (MP Drainkiss) Or how about your own haste? (Refueling).

There are a lot of possibilities.

On paper, the biggest beneficiaries are going to be the mages. A White Mage that can sub RDM, utilize convert and potentially cast Refresh on themselves is a force to be reckoned with. A Bard that can do that almost instantly becomes a main healer. Accession/Manifestation from subbing Scholar? Mage jobs all of a sudden have access to AoE Aspir. White Mage in particular would have access to an extra AoE Erase or two beyond what Divine Veil and Esuna provide? (On a side note, does that possibly make Esuna nearly obsolete already?) Will a Scholar be able to sub White Mage or Red Mage and cast Hastega? Even better (and a very huge personal annoyance of mine), will be potentially anyone subbing White Mage being able to cast Stona. Even for the Summoners out there with their humongous MP pools, how does being able to cast Cure IV and become an even more effective healer for a party sound?

Red Mages around the world might be able to rejoice at the fact they'll never have to sub Dark Knight again. Hell, most people will since a Red Mage subbing Dark Knight usually means an element of your crowd control has just been severely limited. They'll be able to Chainspell Stun by subbing Black Mage.

What about some combination that most would consider dumb at the moment like DRK/SCH? Manifestation Drain II, Absorb-STR or Absorb-TP? Wow. Einherjar would never be the same.

Again, there are a veritable fuckton of possibilities. I'm not dumb enough to believe that SE is just going to willy-nilly raise the level cap without imposing some limitations on the power of subjob spells and abilities though. I can see them placing something along the lines of 5% haste or 1mp/tic refresh when cast as a sub instead of the full 15% and 3mp/tic.

Admittedly, I was getting bored with FFXI. I came to this realization after hooking up that repaired XBox 360. I wasn't considering quitting the game or anything, but I found myself less likely to log in to do random events aside from the ones that I was already committed to by virtue of my position in Obsidian. This game needed something like this to happen in order to keep it fresh and to keep people paying for it.

The biggest question though is, "Why now?" If SE had truly intended for the game's level cap to be 99 from the getgo and had to work gradually to get there, why wait 6+ years to do it? They've spent all of this time building this game's activities around level 75 characters. Gear is designed for that. Monsters are designed for that. Without existing monster adjustments, a lot of the end game stuff technically becomes "Easy Prey" or below.

Call me naive, but I'm pretty sure SE has taken that into account. The only thing people really have a legit reason to be pissed about is that SE took so long to actually implement this. You get to 75, you move onto the next job if you want or you go merit. People have had that sense of closure or attaining their goals for far too long and now SE has essentially said "Nuh-uh, you're not done yet!"

A number of people have stated this feels like the last hurrah for XI. I wouldn't go as far to say it's the last hurrah. This would normally be the part where I point out the original EQ's long term success and the sheer number of expansions that have been released for it. To this logic however, I say...

If SE can dump a level 99 cap raise on us, they're capable of just about anything and you never know what they'll have in store as long as the game continues to be a profitable one for them.

Lastly, I want to address this:


Anyone who says that has never run a business, doesn't understand how business works and just needs to shove some pie in their pieholes. Go sit in the corner, and never say anything again.

Businesses exist to get you to buy their product. It's ultimately your choice to buy it. Anything anyone puts on the market that requires you to hand some form of currency over for is a cash grab.

Anyway, I came around to this information pretty quickly after some initial anger. Obviously, there's still a LOT left to unfold in how they handle it, but only time will tell and people who have already made up their minds to quit because they don't want to level anymore just need to understand that it's likely not going to be mandatory for you to level to 99. This game is built around 75. Barring drastic changes, I doubt that's going to change much and only the new content areas will likely be affected with it.

I'm not going to be in any rush to get to 99. I'll level when I have time and with friends. That's what the game is there for. :)

Qtipus' Information

FFXI subscriber since NA release.