Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Adventures Of Pirotess: Crafting Fun With Culinarian

When I played Final Fantasy XI I never really bothered with crafting. I just never had any interest in it and was busy doing other things in the game. Now, with Final Fantasy XIV I've enjoyed all the different things that can be done such as Fates, exploring dungeons, PVP, and beastmen quests. There is also crafting. I had unlocked the crafting jobs, but never really tried them out. I did do a bit on Botanist which I liked, but I got busy doing main story quest content. I decided I wanted to try out culinarian which is a cooking job so I asked people in my Free Company about it and a few of them had done culinarian and were giving me pointers on it and how to get started.

I went to Limsa Lominsa Upper Decks where the cooking guild is located and started the first culinarian quest. Once you've joined the cooking guild you can get many of the basic ingredients from the vendor there to start your beginning recipes. You also need fire and water shards for cooking. This is where my botanist came in handy because I could go to different areas in Eorzea and gather the shards and ingredients I needed. Botanist and culinarian complement each other really well.

Pirotess begins her journey as a culinarian.

I found that I loved culinarian. It's a lot of fun to do. It's easy to navigate in the user menu which is nice. There is a crafting log, so you can make a recipe and get credit for it as well getting experience points for it. You get more experience if it's a dish you are making for the first time. 

The crafting log for culinarian gives you a list of recipes to make.

You have abilities on culinarian to help ensure that your crafting doesn't fail. Steady Hand for example improves your action success rate by twenty percent for the next five steps of your crafting. Maser's Mend is another useful one because it restores item durability while you are crafting. All of these actions require control points, so you need to be aware of how many control points each action takes in order for your crafting to be successful. If you do it right, you can even craft high quality dishes. Craftsmanship is a little more subtle, but just as important. The great thing with culinarian is you can cook up some dishes that increase your crafstmanship for a set amount of time and you can cook up a storm.

Pirotess cooking a dish. The hotbar shows the culinarian abilities.

When you start crafting on culinarian you get a job class quest every five levels. When you're at higher levels, it's every three. With these quests you have to cook a specific dish for the quest and turn it in. It gets a bit more challenging at higher levels because then you have to make a specific dish that has to be high quality. My culinarian is now level 47 and when I had to do one of the more challenging quests it was a tad frustrating, but I was determined I was not going to give up until I got it right. I finally managed it and was pretty stoked with myself for sticking with it because it paid off. 

Pirotess turns in a dish for her culinarian quest.

For me, culinarian is a crafting job that is a lot of fun for me. I like creating all the different dishes and it's something helpful I can do for the people in my Free Company. I've made a lot of dishes for the tanks, the mages, and the damage dealers. I've also made dishes that help with crafting for all the folks that do crafting jobs. The fact that botanist goes hand in hand with it is also very cool because when I see that I'm running low on ingredients, I can just go gathering and get everything I need. My Free Company has a lot of great people in it also who do really nice things like send me ingredients for my culinarian while they're out adventuring. They know that I love culinarian and that I am constantly crafting so it's a win win for everyone. 

I'm also grateful to everyone who gives me tips and pointers on how I can get the most leveling in while crafting, suggesting foods I can use to improve control and crafstmanship, and letting me use things from our house garden for my crafting. Seriously, you guys are awesome and I appreciate you.
I'm glad I tried out culinarian because it turned out to be something I really like and when I'm taking a break from adventuring, I can just craft to my heart's content.  See you at the next adventure everyone!

Pirotess and Snuky, culinarians crafting together!

*Final Fantasy XIV is available to play on the following platforms: PC and Playstation 4

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Adventures Of Pirotess: Stormblood Is Amazing

I just finished the main story for Stormblood, Final Fantasy XIV's recent addition to the game. There is so much to see and do in Stormblood and with two new job classes added, samurai and red mage there's even more fun to be had. Honestly, I loved that they added samurai. Bard and samurai were the first two job classes I ever played in Final Fantasy XI and I loved them so they hold a special place for me.

The new changes to bard are very welcome. I really did not like the way bard was because it didn't feel like bard to me. It felt like a ranger job class that occasionally played songs. Some skills are gone, but others have improved and now bard has actual songs in rotation. I'm especially pleased that I can play Mages Ballad to help fellow healers. I've been leveling samurai now that my bard is level 70 and I love it. Samurai is fun to play and I love all the skills that comes with it. I only unlocked the red mage job class and haven't really played on it yet, but from discussing it with friends who have they are enjoying it a lot.

Pirotess on samurai.

I think the main story for Stormblood really stands out because it has a rich tapestry of strong characters that are likable. I found myself caring about them a great deal and even had a couple of favorites. The voice acting for Stormblood is well done and the ones who stood out to me, I looked up to see who voiced them. I especially liked the voice actors for Lord Hien and Gosetsu. The music in Stormblood is incredible. It's awe inspiring, memorable, and definitely sets the scene for much of the dungeons, story, and boss battles. 

Simply exploring the different cities and towns in Stormblood is fun in itself because it shows how much thought and care went into the designing of them. One of my favorite cities was Kugane because it was beautiful and the music for it was quite pretty. There are plenty of side quests in Stormblood also of course and much of it is fetch quests, but there's a little more depth to the quest givers and a little more story to them that makes it more interesting. There are also aether currents to find in the new areas so you can fly everywhere which for some quests makes things a lot easier.

Pirotess admiring the city of Kugane.

Following the main story there is also a pretty cool addition of being able to swim and dive underwater. You can explore underwater towns and there is a lot of underwater content as part of the main story and side quests. The art work and music for these areas is beautiful. I had so much fun in these areas with my friends and sometimes we would just take a break from adventuring and swim in the new areas. You can use your mounts underwater too which is nice.

Pirotess explores an underwater village.

The new dungeons in Stormblood are interesting. There are some I enjoyed and others I just could not stand because of how insane the amount of area of effect mechanics were. I'm not the best player to begin with, but I try my best so in many of these I died a lot because of the sheer number of AOE attacks and trying to dodge them. This was especially true for the damn primal fights. I truly hated them especially the final one. I don't like primal fights to begin with so having to do these for the first time was not fun for me. The final primal fight for me was the worst. I died many times and I was lucky enough to be running it with friends who knew that I was new to it and were patient about it. Perhaps Square Enix will nerf that fight later down the road, but for now it's challenging and will keep you on your toes.

Pirotess running a Stormblood dungeon.

The story in Stormblood kept me invested because it has great characters and great villains. I think my favorite villain was Zenos because he was so crazy, but there were layers to it. I couldn't stand him and for me that showed just how well he was written as a villain. His obsession with Pirotess and with violence were all kinds of disturbing, but damn did it add a great sense of urgency to the story.

Zenos is all kinds of crazy, but what a great villain.

I kept going with Stormblood because I loved the story and I had to know what happened next. Stormblood did seem like it was over too soon, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Stormblood itself is amazing because of the great story, the characters, and the themes it explored such as freedom, the bonds between us, and choosing your own path. With incredible music, emotionally moving cutscenes, and great acting Stormblood has all the bells and whistles and more. 

Pirotess celebrating with her friends.

*Stormblood is playable on the following platforms: Microsoft Windows and Playstation4

* I will be doing more Adventures of Pirotess as requested. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Adventures Of Pirotess: Fun At The Moonfire Faire

One of the things that I love about Final Fantasy XIV is that there are a lot of great seasonal events. These give you a nice break from adventuring and allow you to just have fun with your friends enjoying everything and getting some pretty nice items from the event quests.

The Moonfire Faire started on August 8th and the event is running until August 26th. I had fun doing this one because it celebrates Summer at the beach in Costa del Sol with fireworks, swimming, and items like the Faire Joi swimsuit. I had a blast doing it with my friends Sekilini and Neji.

The way to start the quest is by going to Limsa Lominsa Upper Decks at x11.5 y13.8 on your map. This gives you the Isle and the Faire quest which takes you to Costa Del Sol. All the towns are decorated for Moonfire Faire and having fireworks. I stopped and checked out all the terrific decorations and enjoyed the fireworks too.

Pirotess watches the fireworks in Limsa Lominsa.

When you get to Costal Del Sol there are two quests you can do for the event that earn you Faire vouchers that you can trade to an NPC for prizes. One quest has you swimming around in the water looking for mortars to light fireworks. The other quest has you delivering battered fish to an NPC vendor. If you aren't a culinarian like me, you can either buy them from the market or have a friend make them for you. I was very lucky that my friend Sekilini crafted some fish for us to trade. 

Pirotess lights a mortar and enjoys the fireworks.

When you do these quests you earn Faire vouchers which you can trade for items. You need 7 for the Faire Joi swimsuite. Make sure you also do the True Meaning of Summer quest for a hilarious discovery about the people running the event. The swimsuit is the big thing, but you can get other items also with the Faire vouchers you earn since the quests are repeatable. The ones that are worth getting are the shaved ice, the Moonfire Faire poster, and the Hyper Rainbow Z Orchestration scroll.
Other items you can get are sparklers and a variety of mini fireworks.

Pirotess celebrates in her Fair Joi swimsuit with sparklers.

It's definitely more fun to do this with friends. Sekilini, Neji, and I had fun doing this together. Afterwards, we just ran all over the beach and swam around in the water. We also did a lot of the float emote which was amusing. The Moonfire Faire is a relaxing event that allows you to have fun and goof off with your friends. It's a great way to celebrate Summer, fun, and friends in the game. 

Pirotess, Neji, and Sekilini enjoying the Moonfire Faire.

*Moonfire Faire 2017 is August 8-August 26.

*Final Fantasy XIV is available to play on the following platforms: Microsoft Windows and Playstation4

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Mother Gamer Plays Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age

I remember playing Final Fantasy XII on the Playstation 2 when it came out and while there were one or two frustrating moments for me, I liked it a lot because I liked the story and I liked the characters. My favorite of course was the sky pirate Balthier voiced by Gideon Emery.

I was pretty excited for Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age because it was the game remastered with some new things added in. So what is different? Those who played the original like myself will recall the game had an unbalanced difficulty spike. You could see the enemies on the map so it was a real time battle instance and that took some players by surprise and took some getting used to. The battle system has been overhauled. It's still real time battle, but the balance is a bit easier so you can do what you're meant to do which is enjoy the game.

There is a trial mode for those who want a hardcore challenge. It's best to wait until you have a full part, but once you do you can give it a try. The game will ask you which save you want to use and then you can go nuts in a series of 100 arena battles pitted against fixed opponents and optional ones. Be warned however, it is best to be fully prepared before you attempt trial mode. There are no shops or breaks, so it's best to make sure you have all the healing items you need and plan your strategy accordingly. If you survive trial mode the rewards are worth it. While you don't earn experience points from it, you do get license points which are needed for unlocking gear and skills as well as getting to keep any treasures you find.

There is a high speed mode in the game. With the push of a button you can move your characters faster. There are also better guides in the game so you don't get lost with the quests highlighted. There is also an autosave feature in the game which comes in handy for boss battles.

The job system has been updated. In the original game, there was a license board and they were basically all the same for each character so they ended up essentially being the same which was a bit boring. That has changed with the updated job system. Now each character has their own board depending on the job you choose for them. Jobs range from Machinist to Knight to Red Mage.

Those are all the new things and they work, making the game more enjoyable and user friendly to those who have never played the game before. It's a nice change and it modernizes Final Fantasy XII in a good way.

As for the game itself. I found myself smiling at the nostalgia of it as I started playing as the main character Vaan and exploring the world of Ivalice. The colors in the game seem brighter somehow and the remastered music is beautiful. I actually sat there for a few minutes just listening to the music because they did such an amazing job with it.

Vaan exploring the city of Rabanastre.

The story is still the same of course and being able to pull up the map with the push of a button so I could see where I was going was nice because in a big city like Rabanastre it's easy to get turned around. The map will also mark on the spot where to go for your main story quest which is quite helpful. Just exploring can be fun in itself because there's so many interesting things to see in each area.

Final Fantasy XII also has one of my favorite Final Fantasy things, Moogles. There are Moogles everywhere and the design for them in this game is adorable. There are Moogles who you can rent chocobos from and there are even Moogles who can teleport you to anywhere in the city and they call it Moogling. I know. It's so stinking cute. I loved it and I enjoyed the fact that no two Moogles were alike. They were all different in their styles, color of their poms, and personalities. 

A Moogle who rents chocobos.

Besides the main quests, there are side quests you can do. There are also special hunts you can do via a special board in a tavern. Once you accept the hunt, you can get information about it and then go look for the monster you're supposed to defeat. Your adventuring primer can give you clues on where to find your target. Once you have completed the hunt, you can return to the NPC who hired you and get your reward usually in the form of gil and useful items.

Successfully completing a hunt. 

There are elite hunts too which you can get from the Clan Hall in Rabanastre from an adorable Moogle named Montblanc. These are more challenging, but the rewards from them are pretty great. As you go up in rank from these elite hunts, the more you'll unlock. Definitely be prepared while doing these especially in regards to making sure your party is leveled enough to take on an elite hunt.

Getting an elite hunt from Montblanc.

The areas you explore for the main story quests are interesting although some of them are a little dark like the Rabanastre sewers. The battle system works really well considering the updated changes. You can only have four in a party, but you can have three members in reserve so if one gets KO'd you can swap a party member in. The gambit function which can be used to program the other characters in your party on how they attack or heal can be turned on or off depending on what you prefer. It does come in handy when you're level grinding or handling a boss battle. As you progress, you can unlock more gambit slots so that you can add more commands making your party as streamlined as you like to your tastes and fighting style.

The gambit function is pretty useful for me. 

There are a couple of things that I'm not so thrilled with in Final Fantasy XII and that is the license board and not being able to change jobs freely. In order to be able to use certain spells, gear, (yes gear) and items you have to earn license points and then unlock them via the license board. This can be a little tedious and frustrating. It's not a huge deal, but it detracts from the enjoyment of the game a bit. With the job system you can only change jobs twice; at the beginning of the story and then a third of the way through the game. For example if one character is a Knight, when you get to the second point of choosing another job you can switch to another job like Black Mage. Those are the only times you can do it so you need to plan and really think about which job you want for everyone and how you want your party set up to be. I do wish you could switch freely, but again it's not a big deal.

The license board unlocks gear, spells, and items.

The story itself is good although some of the lines are a bit corny. The characters are interesting and there are some interesting villains too. The game is beautiful, perhaps more so with the remaster. There's all kinds of things to see and do with the main quests, side quests, and hunts. Most importantly, the game is a lot of fun to play. Veteran players like myself will relish in the nostalgia and appreciate all the new things in it while newbies will enjoy exploring and discovering all the great things Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age has to offer.

Exploring all the things!

*Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age is playable on the following platforms: Playstation 4

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

New Leash On Life With Jake Brady

Ron and I had decided it was time to have a dog again. We loved Sport dearly, but we were missing having a dog in the house. We went to our local SPCA and looked at dogs. Enter Brady. Honestly, I fell in love with him the first time I saw him. He had so much character, just wagging his tail and looking so happy to see everyone. He is a jack russell terrier mix.

We got to meet with Brady and he was so sweet and loved sitting with us. We decided we wanted to adopt him. Ron filled out all the paperwork and we had to wait because he had to be neutered. Then we hit a small snag. They called and explained that we couldn't pick Brady up on his designated day because he had kennel cough and in fact all of the dogs had kennel cough so they weren't letting any of them out until they were sure they were all okay. We had to wait one more week and then we got the call that today was the day we could pick him up. Ron and I had discussed what we wanted to name the dog and decided that we would name him Jake after Jake the Dog from Adventure Time. We liked Brady too though, so we thought that his full name would be Jake Brady. Ron joked that he was going to call him J.B. because it was cool.

We got the same lady that helped us last time and she was super helpful and so nice about everything letting us know that he was doing better and explaining the rest of the paperwork. She loved the name Jake Brady and said she was all for it with a smile on her face. She said that he's a year old and he was found as a stray, but they made sure he's up to date on everything. Jake was so happy to see us and when we went out to the truck, he hopped right in. He was excited to go to his forever home.

Jake enjoying the view.

We got home and we walked Jake around the yard and down the street so he could sniff all the new smells and see the neighborhood. He gave me a happy dog grin when I told him, "Welcome home, Jake!" He was very happy. We introduced him and our cat Loki. Loki hissed at first, but we sat with them and they did get used to each other. No one got hurt, so that's a good sign. It will take a little more time, but the first meeting went fairly well. 

Welcome home, Jake!

Jake is a year old so he's still a young dog. We're going to have to work with him on things like not jumping on the coffee table, but he's young enough that we have plenty of time to work with him and he has shown that he's eager to learn. He loved cuddling with Ron and he gave Ron a high five as Ron told him today is his birthday. He's settling in nicely. I think that perhaps Sport was with us in spirit and helped us find Jake; helped us find each other. We're going to enjoy our new dog and appreciate the differences. This is a new leash on life with Jake Brady and we're looking forward to having wonderful adventures with him. 

Jake and Ron high five celebrating his birthday and forever home day.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Mother Gamer Plays Elder Scrolls Oblivion

Yes, it's true. Skyrim was my first Elder Scrolls game which as many of you know I really enjoyed and had fun with. A couple of friends suggested I check out Elder Scrolls Oblivion and Morrowind and that while they were older games and dated, they were good games because they had great stories. I went with Oblivion first for the Xbox 360 while I waited for Morrowind to go on sale on Steam.

I started the character creation and decided to go with a female Dunmer (Dark Elf) for my first time playing. I liked that there were a variety of choices for creating my character and I could adjust the hair color and facial features easily. Once that was done I was ready to choose the job class and went with a stealth character because that's what I like to do.

Creating my Dunmer character. 

The initial introduction is interesting and I was delighted to hear Patrick Stewart's voice as Emperor Uriel Septim. That scene gives tutorials on how the controls for the game work and how to switch the camera from first to third person. This was easy to follow and it jumped into the story right away once the tutorial was done.

The world in Oblivion is pretty big and with the game of the year edition there's so much to see and do. Besides the main quest there are a ton of side quests as well as quests for the different guilds. This led to a mistake on my part during my game play and a bit of a pain in the ass also. I had joined the Mages Guild early, but I was also doing Thieves Guild quests. I realized too late that one of the Thieves Guild quests required stealing from a mage and sadly I had to kill the mage. That got the Mage's Guild angry at me naturally. I also had forgotten about the fact that one of the quests had me fight some vampires and I forgot to use a cure disease potion and the fast travel made time move ahead faster and turned me into a vampire. 

Atoning for killing a fellow mage and curing the vampirism was ridiculously tedious. This is where your fame and infamy screw you over. If your infamy is higher than your fame, you can not cure yourself of any ailments at any of the churches. Trying to find all the ingredients for curing the vampirism is aggravating because there are so many alchemy ingredients to find. The atonement for the Mages Guild isn't so bad, just boring.  So I scrapped that game save and started over which wasn't a big deal because I wasn't that far into the game. 

I remembered from that experience and got it right the second time and I didn't join the Mages Guild until I was finished with the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood quests. I also remembered to stock pile the cure disease potions. No becoming a vampire for me! I enjoyed just running around exploring and the game itself while dated is actually very pretty. Each town has its own unique look and the scenery out in the wilds looks great too. 

Exploring the Imperial City which looked impressive.

The voice acting for the game is excellent. Besides Patrick Stewart, I was delighted when I recognized the voices of Lynda Carter and Sean Bean. I also recognized voice actors that had been in games such as Fallout and Skyrim. The music for the game is great and fits a lot of the scenes really well.  Battle is pretty good and I liked that I could switch the camera easily when I was using a bow and arrows. Being able to adjust the difficulty level is great too because I tend to go on the easy setting first so I can just appreciate the story.

For the big cities and towns there is a fast travel option which is a nice thing to have. The map is easy to get to, but I wish I didn't have to scroll around to find what I'm looking for. I would have preferred it to open into one big map that shows everything, but it's not a deal breaker. 

Taking a look at the Oblivion map. 

Not everything is perfect in Oblivion. There were some aspects of the game I didn't like such as the lock picking and the persuasion mini game. I know this game came before Skyrim, but I found myself longing for the lock picking mechanics in Skyrim. There is no margin for error with the lock picking and I broke a lot of picks before I got the hang of having a light touch. It doesn't mean I didn't swear a lot whenever a lock pick broke. I did get it right eventually and once my skills increased that happened a lot less.

Early on lock picking is difficult at first. 

Nothing annoyed me as much as the persuasion game. Basically there is a roulette wheel with different actions and you have to watch the NPC's reactions to see which one is the best. You want the reaction where they're smiling a lot FYI and you want to max out the positive reaction as much as possible so they like you and will tell you things like juicy rumors about certain people or places where you can find treasure. You can bribe them with gold to increase your chances a bit. You want the largest section of color to go into the highest response. It can take some trial and error to get that right. Honestly, I'm glad they got rid of it by the time Skyrim came around because it is just annoying to do it.

I started to loathe this mini game. 

You do get a mount in Oblivion. I liked the Dark Brotherhood horse the best. The mechanics for horseback riding aren't that great however. The horse kept wanting to veer left for some reason and it was horribly awkward. I just started running everywhere rather than deal with bad horse steering. I'm glad the game had a fast travel option because that helped a lot too.

One of the rare moments my horse didn't try to kill me. 

The big thing I had an issue with was the thing that was the main part of the story. That's right, the Oblivion gates. The idea is intriguing and the story explanation for them is good, but the execution is severely lacking. Part of the main story is you have to go around and close these Oblivion gates so the Daedra (see demon army) don't invade the world of Cyrodiil and end the world.

I did not have fun doing this. In fact, it was a part of the game I detested. The thing is each Oblivion gate when you're on the other side of it everything looks exactly the same. It's essentially a giant maze with all these towers, monsters that try to kill you, and a gigantic pain to navigate. One of the bigger issues was the fact that sometimes there would be doors I couldn't see because they blended into a rock wall. I found myself backtracking a lot just to find the right tower that would lead up to the mechanism that would close the gate. 

Getting ready to enter an Oblivion gate. 

The Oblivion gates are not a fun part of the game. They're too long and tedious to find your way around them. The only good thing that comes from them is all the sigil stones you get after you close a gate because you can use those to craft fantastic powerful armor or weapons. Towards the end it got to the point where I would just race through the Oblivion gate realms and get to the end, close the gate, get a sigil stone, and repeat.

The world inside the Oblivion gate is pretty in its own way. I just didn't enjoy how it felt like one repetitive giant maze and there weren't a lot of variations between them. I was glad when I was done closing them all.

The sky in an Oblivion gate is pretty at least. 

The things that do work far outweigh the things that don't and I did have a lot of fun playing Elder Scrolls Oblivion. I liked running around simply exploring and picking up extra side quests because they were interesting and the characters were interesting. I loved the story as well because the characters were great and the story itself was well told. I liked the extra DLC also because that was fun and gave me more things to do in the game. I'm glad I decided to play Elder Scrolls Oblivion because it was worth it and in spite of it being an older game, it is a good one. 

Morrowind did go on sale on Steam so I bought it and it looks like that may be next along with some other older games I have in my backlog. So there will be a lot of gaming goodness for me to choose from!

*Elder Scrolls Oblivion is available to play on the following platforms: Microsoft Windows, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood Game Changes and Info

I know that I was pretty excited for Stormblood for Final Fantasy XIV especially with the reveal of some new job classes. The one I was most excited for was samurai of course. When I played Final Fantasy XI samurai was my first advanced job class and I loved it. Bard was the next one and I enjoyed that as well.

With new content and job classes, there are changes to things. The changes for bard make me really happy. While I do like my bard in Final Fantasy XIV, I found myself frustrated often with the fact that it had basically been made into a ranger/mage class. I missed my old bard where it was about the songs and being a great support job. I wasn't thrilled with the idea of being a DPS mage type. The changes with bard now involve more songs and it feels more like my bard from XI which I'm thrilled with.

Siliconera has a great article with videos sharing a lot of good information about what has stayed the same and what has changed with the job classes and with the mechanics of the game itself. You can check out all of it here:

Which of the new jobs is everyone excited to try? What changes do you like best and which are you unsure about? If you've already started, how are you liking the new content? Let me know in the comments. Until next time, gamers!