FFXIV – The Hype Train (Savage)

So, naturally, I’m excited about the expansion. By this time Friday the patch will be live for anyone who pre-ordered. Of course, that’s assuming it comes back up on time from a major 24-hour downtime patch. I personally might not even get a chance to play that day, between the realities of life, the login queues which are already a constant, and the inevitable hotfixes.

The login queue, in particular, is likely to be a problem. If you pay attention to the server status, it’s not uncommon to see primal and aether both locked down during peak hours, with many servers not accepting new character creation. There have been several times where both the Aether and Primal data centers are on complete lockdown, and the login queues, while short, are a constant companion, even on a “standard” world. On the bright side, the servers aren’t showing any major signs of overload yet, and I have every expectation that the afk-kick will be re-enabled. If not this patch, then in the near future.

My brother is planning to main Dancer at the moment, and that will also delay things a bit. We’ll have to get him caught up level-wise before we can start on the content properly. The good news is that since I’ll be running healer, I’ll be able to speed up queue times and just do dungeon spam to hopefully get there in a day or two, and this means I’ll be a little ahead of the curve for level-locked quests.

I am very much looking forward to dungeon progression, though I may come to regret that statement. I’ve been slowly working on unlocking the mentor roulette, which requires you to have unlocked almost all game content. All we have left is the last half of Alexander and we’ll be done.

The best part about that is I’ve seen content I didn’t even know existed, and some of it looks like it would be really fun when done synced. We two-manned most of it unsynced, which is still fun in its own way, especially since we had no idea what we were doing.

Okay, I’ll go be giddy and excited somewhere else. Please watch your step as you board or disembark from the hype train. That first step can be a doozy.

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FFXIV – Ancient Empire Galore

So I’ve been working on unlocking and completing a lot of the side content lately, and among the things I’ve done in the last week are the Heavensward-era Alliance Raids. That’s Void Ark, Weeping City of Mhach, and Dun Scaith, in order.

While this raid series is predominantly about Mhach, it also mentions Amdapor, and I’m aware of Mhach’s involvement in the destruction of Nym from the Scholar quest line. My problem became one of timelines and names, though, because I also did the ARR raid series recently which involves the Allagan empire. Of course, this is FFXIV, what doesn’t involve Allagan empire?

I started trying to make some vague sense of the events of Eorzea’s distant past and put together some manner of vague timeline so I keep it straight. Before I proceed though, I’ll talk about the apparent naming conventions used in the ages to help keep things straight.

First, a given era is named according to its previous calamity. That is, we’re currently in the 7th Era, having recently experienced the 7th Umbral Calamity. The whole Umbral/Astral thing has been annoying me as well, as we’re technically in the 7th Astral Era and the ARR story begins in the 7th Umbral era. Near as I can tell, the Umbral part of the era is the aftermath of the calamity and recovery/rebuilding period, which becomes the Astral part in a vague way once those problems are mostly solved.

This does bring up an interesting question regarding the 1st calamity, which I’m assuming was the initial shattering of our world into different “shards,” while the following ones are allegedly when one of those shards rejoins our world, The Source. I’m not going to get into that here though.

  1. Third Astral Era
    • This is when the Allagan empire is formed. Everything we know about its inventions, technology, history, takes place within this time span. They got up to so much mischief that we’re still dealing with it, including the moon Dalamud and its resident(s), and the Crystal Tower, which is relevant to Shadowbringers somehow. At least a little.
    • The Crystal Tower functions as a manner of solar-powered antenna but lacked the strength to do what they wanted, so Dalamud was created to harness more power to be fed into it.
  2. Fourth Umbral Calamity (of Earth)
    • In their haste to embrace the power of darkness, a massive amount of energy is transferred all at once from Dalamud to the Tower. While this technically accomplished what they wanted, the vast majority of that power was ejected into the surrounding earth causing extreme seismic activity that ended Allag and buried the tower.
  3. Fourth Ara
    • If anything of note happened here, it hasn’t turned up while I was looking into this. This would include whatever events occurred involving the Fifth Umbral Calamity (of Ice).
  4. Fifth Era
    • This is the time period that includes the Mhach, Amdapor, Nym, and technically Skalla, though they don’t come up much.
    • Mhach was a nation that specialized in black magic and especially the summoning and binding of voidsent in order to perform and power various things. Since they were based in the same general area, I imagine them as the grand-father of Ul’dah. They were part of the three-way War of the Magi.
    • Amdapor, based in the forests we now associate with Gridania, developed White Magic as a solution to combat the black magic and voidsent of Mhach. They were the other major power involved in the War of the Magi.
    • Nym was a coastal empire that mostly floated above the surface, giving them a very fortress-like quality. Mhach would eventually trick someone into bringing a bound voidsent inside who afflicted them with a plague that turned them all into Tonberries, effectively removing them from the war.
  5. Sixth Umbral Calamity (of Water)
    • The amount of aether being used in this war, particularly the mismanagement of it all, angered the “elementals” who in turn manifested their rage as Oha-Sok, a sort of elemental primal I guess? Oha-Sok created a massive flood to destroy these civilizations and restore balance, of a sort.
    • Mhach attempted to create a massive voidsent-powered airship, but ultimately couldn’t contain the voidsent and perished in the process of dealing with them.
    • Amdapor as a city and nation was destroyed, though some of the residents managed to survive.
    • Nym put itself in a sort of stasis following its failure to cure the voidsent disease and facing total annihilation by flood.
    • Skalla was built in a ravine, it got extra wrecked. That ravine is the salt lochs found in Ala Mhigo.
  6. Sixth Umbral Era
    • Among other things, this is the time period in which the Zodiac Brave Story takes place. We’re still 1500 years from the present.
    • The survivors in Amdapor live in underground caverns because the elementals of the Twelveswood are still hostile. This ultimately leads to the Pad’jal and the art of conjury, creating a semi-stable sort of peace between them and the elementals. This is the early founding of Gridania.
    • Belah’dia rises in Thanalan, but a difference in opinion leads to it splitting into two separate city-states, Ul’dah, which still accepts magic, and Sil’dah, which doesn’t. War would eventually break out, and Sil’dah would ultimately lose and be all but forgotten.
    • Limsa Lominsa and Ishgard are also founded during this time period.
  7. Sixth Astral Era
    • Near the end of this era we see the rise of Garlemald, after its discovery of Magitek, and they begin a militaristic campaign of expansion. By this point, we’re only 15 years from the present. This ultimately leads to conflict in Eorzea, where they meet considerable resistance and they resort to using the “dark magic Meteor” to draw down the moon Dalamud in an attempt to succeed via total annihilation of the enemy. When the mood entered the atmosphere, though, it broke apart to reveal the primal Bahamut bound within, which proceeded to wreck havoc upon all sides, forcing everyone to quit the field.
  8. Seventh Umbral Calamity
    • The destructive force of this event had a number of effects, particularly revealing other Allagan relics like the Crystal Tower and Omega. It also revealed the ruins of Sil’dah and may be partially responsible for the events that woke the Void Ark.

Okay, run a bit long again. If anyone is interested, I source most of my information from the Final Fantasy Fandom wiki, with some personal knowledge mixed in here and there.

Y’all take care, and stay out of the rabbit hole. I’m lost and can’t find my way out.

Epic Games Store – Free Games Weekly?

So my regularly occurring Something New posts on Sunday, I had been taking advantage of twice a month free games from EGS. I noticed during this sale that they were doing one every week. They’ve really put me in a spot now by announcing they’ll be doing it the rest fo the year.

Now, that’s not to say that this is a bad thing. I’ll gladly accept another 28 free games, though that was about half their library last I checked and I’m curious how they intend to deal with that. I personally expect that we’ll see some repeats by the end of the year.

What it means for me, though, is that I can be a little more particular about which one I cover, if I wish, though the original point was to get caught up and cover the game that was actually still free, in case anyone wanted to check it out. That means I have to download, play, and write between Thursday afternoon and Sunday on a given week because the free game will have changed by the following Sunday.

Ah well, we’ll see. I was looking forward to trying Enter the Gungeon this weekend, so don’t be surprised if you end up hearing about that this Sunday. I actually did play last week’s game, Kingdom: New Lands, I just didn’t get around to writing the post.

It was a pretty good game. Little more difficult than I anticipated, as I never managed to clear the first area and each attempt took close to an hour. After the third or fourth failure, I moved on to other stuff. If nothing else, the gameplay itself was a cool concept and was executed well.

Y’all take care, and don’t mess with EGS. They have weaponized their cash flow.

FFXIV – Spoiler Alert – The Rabbit Hole Deepens

Yeah, I’m not even going to attempt to avoid spoilers here. Like, at all. So, y’know, reader beware.

Yesterday, I wrote about some of the lore bombs that got dropped in the newest trailer for Shadowbringers. Today I’m going to take that, stretch it out, mix in some of trininomad’s comments, and see what we end up with. I’m sure this has something to do with the fact that I’m also working on a poetry explication essay, so my brain is currently primed to read, analyze, and overanalyze. When I quote the trailer, I’m drawing those quotes from this reddit post by u/RainbowMc.

We’ll start with the last line, a well-timed move on Square’s part because we’re all talking about it.

“[Zodiark and Hydaelen] are gods after a fashion, yes…the eldest and most powerful……… of primals…”

While reactions to this were a bit on the stunned side, and the potential ramifications are quite interesting, it’s not like this was an entirely new idea. I’ve seen it put forth before that the Warrior of Light may be tempered by Hydaelen much the same way that others may be tempered by the lesser primals. Since an individual that’s already tempered cannot be tempered again, or untempered, this would seem at least plausible.

I have also seen, in this theory by u/Polenicus, a good argument that The Echo, at least, is not the same as being tempered. He proposes that we see other people such as Tenzen who possess something similar to the Echo without technically being considered a Warrior of Light.

That theory also touches on the real root of these problems, the fact that Hydaelen was previously referred to as the creator of “our star,” or at least co-creator alongside Zodiark. Literally called the “mother crystal.” I’m not sure I buy the idea put forward of a larger “First Crystal” which was broken, creating the “shards” of H&Z, though it does seem to make sense logically.  It has a lot of due with the beginning of those three lines the trailer.

“Through prayer and sacrifice the will of the Star was made manifest.”

Due to the overall flow of that bit of conversation, we are led to believe that this line also refers to Zodiark and Hydaelen. While it doesn’t exactly prove the First Crystal as being false or non-existent, it does show that neither of the H&Z pair can be a true Creator, as they come into existence via prayer and sacrifice. Since non-existent beings don’t tend to pray or sacrifice, this implies that either sapient creature pre-date them or that “the Star” is itself capable of these things without the need for other beings. This would be mirrored in trininomad’s comment yesterday “I suspected that Hydaelyn and Zodiark were never sentient creatures initially but gained awareness thanks to some sort of worship.”

This brings us to the next point, the nature of Aether. We know that everything is, on some level, composed of this energy. When sufficient strength of will is exercised by an individual or group and enough ambient Aether is available then a primal is formed. A physical manifestation of their desire that is in turn capable of dominating the Aether and free will of most individuals. I’ve always had an issue with one of the stated goals of the Ascians that was mentioned in yesterday’s comment “they were weakening Hydaelyn by deliberately encouraging the creation of primals to draw on the aether.”

I had a hard time figuring out how that could be the case because I assumed the physics of our world would hold true in the fantasy one, that when we defeat a primal the aether is dispersed instead of being destroyed. At the very least, this is how it’s said to work in the world consumed by the light.

“The eternal light of these creatures has confounded us for nigh on a hundred years. For each we have put down, another has risen up in it’splace. Born of the self-same aether relinquished by it’s predeccesor.”

Now, maybe my own assumptions are flawed, but I had always assumed that when a primal was destroyed that energy dispersed and any surplus would eventually solidify in crystalline form. Part of the problem, then, is that when primals are created, most of the power used to create them is derived from these crystals, not Hydaelen. It’s possible, of course, that there is a smaller “base” amount of aether drawn from Hydaelen when this happens, which would then be released in the ambient environment instead of being returned to her. The ascians could still whittle away her power in a “death by a thousand cuts” sort of way. Being a primal, the only way she could restore her own aether pool would be to absorb it from living creatures much as the other primals do, though she could conceivably absorb it from the crystals as well if they were offered to her.

This is one of the bits that I’m looking forward to in Shadowbringers. The Thirteenth is a world consumed by the darkness Zodiark and the First is a world consumed by the light Hydaelen. I look at the corrupted creatures, the voidsent, coming from the Thirteenth and look at the corrupted creatures, the sineaters, in the First and cannot help but see it as ultimately malevolent.

“Thats how the Sin Eaters came to be.They were once living creatures. Or people that were caught in the path of the flood. Once the change is wrought, there is no going back.”

“Sin Eaters […] must be fed with aether… living aether.”

They sound as though they are beings tempered by Light, consuming aether to sustain their form, like little mini-primals. If the voidsent are the same thing, what happens to their aether when it’s dissipated in our world? Not really a question I intend to get into here, but an interesting one.

“How many years have I waited for this moment? For the one possessed of Her Blessing?…For you?”

What happens to someone who possesses the Blessing of Light from Hydaelen when they also accept and embrace the Blessing of Darkness from Zodiark? Do they become the Warrior of Balance? Guess we’ll find out next month, yeah?

Y’all take care, if there’s one thing I learned from Minecraft, it’s that we should be careful how deep we dig, especially when digging straight down.

FFXIV – Shadowbringers Launch Trailer and Lore Rabbit Holes

Among the things we saw during the Squenix press conference last night was a new trailer for the upcoming expansion. You can find it here, if you’re interested. I personally prefer the other trailer, but the new one comes with some revelations that have interesting implications.

Right at the end, we have a bit of exposition by our good friend Solus regarding the nature of Zodiark and Hydaelen. He says they’re primals. This has cast some interesting light on a background theory I’ve tried to write up a couple of times and never managed to get into a shape that I like.

See, in Final Fantasy Tactics, we have the Zodiac Stones. These often confer seemingly demonic powers and forms onto those who would wield them, often out of desperation. As it takes place in Ivalice, it has a connection with Final Fantasy XII, which I’ve never played.

I was doing some reading on the “Deep Dungeon” bit from Final Fantasy Tactics when I realized that the updated translation of War of the Lions lists the last boss of that dungeon as Zodiark. A strong enough connection to FFXIV that it got my immediate attention. It also features the wizard Elidibus, who summoned him. Elidibus happens to be one of the Ascians in FFXIV who seek to, you guessed it, summon Zodiark.

In doing the reading about all this, though, I discovered the list of espers from FFXII. At that point, I didn’t know what to do. I had, in the “Scion of Darkness” column a list of the “demons” from Tactics. In the “Scion of Light” column I had a veritable who’s who of Ascians from FFXIV. A connection that holds more or less true within XIV, if somewhat loose and not talked about. The symbols that appear over the Ascians masks/faces, at least, seem to match up properly.

I still don’t know what exactly to do with this information. We know that XIV does not exist in the same timeline as Tactics and XII, though there is some manner of crossover. The alliance raids in Stormblood, at least, set the events of Tactics in a XIV context and taking place a very long time ago.

By all accounts, Hydaelen should occupy the place in the chart that Ultima has, though in the grand scheme of wibbly wobbly aethery primal stuff there could conceivably be room for both. Any primal, regardless of what you call it, is simply energy that has been given form through the desire of many people and their culture. If enough people believe hard enough, and the requisite energy is present, it can and will coalesce into a primal.

Time will tell how it all plays out, I suppose. This presumes that was can trust the words spoken by Solus in the trailer and I, for one, am disinclined to accept them at face value.

Y’all take care, it’s time for me to see my way out of these here Viera hole.

E3 – Watching the Headlines go By

Normally I would be so far up in the E3 coverage that I wouldn’t remember half of it. I’d be able to write a week, at least, on the random bits I found interesting. This year, though, I seem destined to watch from the distance as the headlines roll past.

So far, the single biggest piece of information I personally liked and was surprised by was that Phantasy Star Online 2 is actually going to get an English release. It’s a decade late, really, but better late than never, I guess. In reality, I will most likely have forgotten by the time it gets here in 2020.

Likewise, the other most noteworthy thing I’ve heard so far is that the FFVII.. remake… remaster… whatever it is… got a solid release date. I don’t expect to be buying it, or playing it, especially with the way my schedule feels at the moment.

Looks good in the trailer, though. Combat looks very… FFXV.

Of course, the proper Squenix presentation isn’t until this evening. Bit late for my taste, but I may well try to get a look.

All in all, though, with Shadowbringers coming up I’m just finding it a little hard to entertain the idea of having time for much else. Nintendo might surprise me, though. There are a few cards they could play that would get my attention, though not necessarily my money. Of course, they issued a Cease and Desist to one of the prominent leakers. I assume this is to try and keep things a bit under wraps until the presentation. Such a Nintendo thing to do.

Of course, Ubisoft will be having their conference within a few hours of this post going live, but I’m not immediately aware of anything they would present that’s of interest to me. It’ll be over by the time I get home anyway, so I’m sure that takes some of the wind out of its sails too.

Among the ones I missed, Bethesda had nothing that immediately stands out. We knew TES6 wouldn’t be present, but I had hoped we would see at least a little bit about Starfield, if only because it was due to be released first, as I recall.

Meanwhile, EA is doing whatever EA does in its own little corner. I saw what I assume is another DLC/Expansion for the Sims 4 franchise in the list. I really need to check their store more often and see if I can snag Anthem for an absurdly low price. At the moment I’m holding out for $15, which is half of it’s currently on sale price of $30.

Think that covers the super broad highlights so far, at least for me. Y’all take care.

Opinion – Good Omens

So I’ve mentioned before that I’m quite fond of the various works of the late Sir Terry Pratchett. I have to say, though, that I’ve never read any of his work outside the main Discworld series, including Good Omens.

A lot of people have asked me about it and talked about it, so I figure I might as well go ahead and watch it sooner rather than later. Something, something, spoilers.

Ironically, my wife watched it before I did, and her only comment on the matter was that she “forgot how irreverent his tone was.” I, for one, quite liked it, as did my co-worker.

I don’t really have a lot to say, I don’t think since I cannot compare it to the source material. I do feel that David Tennant plays a pretty good demon and that the overall character and tone are to my liking.

For my time I was quite entertained and laughed at several different points, which is generally a good sign. The pop culture references, while present and numerous, were not overly intrusive.

I’m not overly fond of the fact that it’s broken out into six one-hour pieces, as I don’t normally devote that much time to actively watching video and would have rather had it in smaller pieces. Still, there’s a pause button for a reason, I suppose, and I used it quite liberally.

Anyone interesting in checking it out can look here, I think? Never tried to link to Prime video before. It would also seem that they have The Hogfather, which I’ve seen, and Going Postal, which I have not. I have read both of the respective books, however.

Unfortunately, much like the blog writing has been a bit spotty, my reading time is consumed entirely by class work. In fact, I should probably be doing that, but it’s nice to focus on something else for a while.

Y’all take care, and “be nice to each other.”