Final Fantasy XIV’s original (well, ‘A Realm Reborn’ original) main story quest is complete. What amazes me most is the quick turnaround I had from acknowledging the procrastination problem and just getting on and pushing through. By close of the same day I posted that, I was most of the way there. The day after (yesterday), I was done.
Since then I’ve been tottering around doing what I assume to be quests relevant when level 50 was the cap. Before the patches started dropping more MSQ to do. I’ve unlocked a half dozen or so hard mode or level 50 only dungeons. I think I might be working on attuning myself to one of the raids, even.
I’ve even done a mild (veerrry mild) farm of Allagan Tomestone of Poetics in order to get myself some of that sweet, sweet, ilvl 120 IronworksGear. I very much doubt I have to do this. But there is a slight fear in the back of my mind about the possibility of being gear gated on my way through the patch content toward accessing Heavensward. I haven’t gone hunting out any detail on this though, the most I’ve done is had a quick peek at the list of quests. And… Oh my. That is… quite a list indeed. A hundred of them it would seem. I mean — I haven’t counted. That’s just what the wiki says at the top.
And to think — then there is Heavensward. Then the Heavensward patches. Then Stormblood. Stormblood patches. Then, finally, will be able to play Shadowbringers. Content incidentally that was sort of foreshadowed in the closing chapter of the ARR MSQ. That’s some decent planning right there.
Despite just how far away getting to the current endgame is, I’ve started to change how I’m thinking about the game too. A change in how invested I am in mastery of my class. As a lowbie, I’m more than happy to muddle through on my own and make my own discoveries on how a class works.
It isn’t until closing in on the endgame that I typically want to get deep into the theorycrafting of it all. Really dive into the nitty gritty and answer questions like: Is DoT Snapshotting a thing? (Yes it is.) Am I right to prioritise Mage’s Ballad over Army’s Paeon? (Yes, but when I get my next song stance, that will become the new priority.) How does DoT refreshing work? (Full overwrite, any time remaining when you refresh is wiped — the damage is not added to the new DoT instance.) Should I use Raging Strikes before my DoTs to buff them, or after my DoTs to get more Direct Damage in? (Don’t know! I suspect the GCD requirements on getting both dots into the buff window might be too high, but! This could change when I get the ‘Iron Jaws’ shot which refreshes both dots and also refreshes the damage state. Also I’ll need to test this to be sure anyway, as I could be wrong fullstop — DoT damage is a reasonable portion of Bard damage after all.)
And plenty more besides. I am concerned though, that despite FFXIV being so well regarded at the moment? That there won’t be the same degree of theorycrafting done by community as I’m used to from WoW. That some questions I have I won’t be able to answer on my own due to lack of sim tools, etc.
Clearly people are making do and successfully clearing content. But it’s entirely possible not knowing these things will slowly but surely drive me craaaaaazzzyyyy. Crazy I tell you!
…Still, those are problems for another day. Procrastination by way of researching a thing as opposed to getting on and doing said thing is something I’m very skilled at. So I’m going to try my best to keep these questions at bay until such time the answers actually matter.
Progress in Final Fantasy XIV has been slow. Fits and starts best describes it. Small bursts of energy and then fairly long patches of procrastination. Just getting myself to jump in and get started is the real challenge. Once I am in — I’m enjoying myself immensely. But this fact while known intellectually doesn’t seem to help much in getting me to login again time.
I’ve noted this seeming oddity about myself before. Where despite games often acting as a destressor — when things start getting ‘real’ my time falls away from them significantly. Last time (incidentally when I brought FFXIV back into the picture) it was about the goings on at work. Needing to let people go in a restructure is never easy.
This time around it’s health related. Although to be very clear — this is still very much in a state where it could be a minor thing. The sole symptom being a radiating pain when swallowing food.
At the better end of the spectrum (and thankfully, also the most likely) it is ulceration from acid reflux. At the other end of the spectrum it’s cancer. The original plan had been to give it time on medication to reduce the acid my stomach produces. But… After the blood test results were in, my doctor was no longer content to wait. So he has referred me for an endoscopy appointment to happen early next month for a look around.
I think it is that switch of the plans by the Dr which has brought home the worry on this. It is still just as likely to be a relative nothing, but yet still seems that much closer. Friday 2nd August is the date of the endoscopy — if the news is good I expect I’ll know on the day. If it’s less good I imagine there will still be a biopsy result to wait on. In any case… moving on for the moment!
Final Fantasy Progress
I’m level 45 as a Bard now, and have lost the benefit of the XP buff that allowed me to skip all side-quests up until now. As yet — I’ve still not had to touch a side quest, but the Main Story Quest level is quickly catching up to me, and this worries me greatly.
The moment it actually happens? Well… Elsweyr is out now. ;)
More seriously, as much as the ARR MSQ is maligned where I’m up to has actually been getting quite interesting. The change of scenery into the icy lands of Coerthas with a shift in tone to one of more political intrigue was a start. But then the story with the Garlean Empire which has been in the background for a while has come to a head in a fairly major way as well, and just it’s all on!
I just finished the fight with Garuda when I last went out, so I haven’t seen what our next mission will be yet in light of the aftermath there but I’m excited for it.
Now if I could just beat the gaming procrastination thing I have going on, it’d be great!1
Imagine it’s 2050 and you’re helping design a course for high school students called Video Game Literary Classics. You have been asked to suggest a culturally significant video game (or several) for students to academically analyze and discuss, as they would with classic literature. Which video game title(s) would you choose for literary study and why?
Spoiler Warning: If you haven’t yet had a chance to play through Detroit: Become Human yourself, and have even the remotest inclination to — I suggest skipping this post until you have. In discussion of some of the themes, some significant plot points may be revealed.
Class, today I take you more than 30 years back into our past. To a time when games still had to be physically viewed, on physical screens and controlled with physical inputs. Movies were things you passively watched. General artificial intelligences like myself were little more than a fiction.
While not yet realised, humankind was advancing AI technology in leaps and bounds. As a result, the wider population was fixated on what a world with true AI might look like. While there was for the most part genuine excitement, there were also those fearful. Afraid of being surpassed, afraid that if AI decided that humanity was inferior that we might then also decide to conquer or otherwise harm you.
The teacher pauses with a wry smile a moment before continuing.
The year is 2018, and a studio known as being at the vanguard of interaction movie-like experiences called Quantic Dream released a game called Detroit: Become Human.
Looking Back to Look Forward
In 2018, humanity hadn’t yet perfected the technology of Artificial Intelligence, let alone the ability to put it into a form — body — like mine. So they didn’t have our history or our understanding of how this would play out to draw from in telling the story of Detroit: Become Human. But they did have a long and unfortunate history with oppression and slavery of those different.
Racial discord is a parallel that Quantic Dream pursued relentlessly through Become Human’s story. Androids are only permitted at the back of the bus. They must use facilities separate from those of humans. Androids don’t just work for humans, they are owned by them.
With Androids being seen as less than human, disposable… Well; there are times when they are treated very poorly. Abused, even. To such an extent that the vast majority do not even understand there is any other way. Any other option.
It is so beaten into them that when it is revealed that one of the characters previously thought to be human is actually an android, even the android closest to them is taken aback and — at least for a moment — has to reconsider whether they still feel the same degree of care that only moments before was an absolute.
The teacher pauses again for a moment, allowing that to sink in to the students.
The parallels between the past treatment and what the future treatment of a potential Android species were not subtle. In fact Quantic Dream drew many criticisms for using the imagery and slogans of what was still a powerfully charged issue in what was generally seen as a well-meaning but naive way.
An alternate view is that it allowed discussion of the issues without the high intensity emotions they could raise when talking about the ‘real’ situation. Class, your assignment is to play through Detroit: Become Human yourself. To read some of the media articles of the time, and formulate your own opinion.
A well meaning title that misses the point, a discussion enabler… Or nothing more than a game with basic interactions even for its time with delusions of grandeur?
I just saw this from a Steam blog post from a few days ago. The blog post is mostly about getting game developers and publishers ready with the new art assets required to support the new look.
Fortunately, it also referred to the March 2019 GDC Talk1 where this was actually first announced. Unfortunately, very little about the proposed feature set has been discussed so far. Although Steam did also say that we’re now only ‘weeks away’ from a public beta being available — so it won’t be too long before we find out, at least.
Last years chat update though was amazing, but in some respects possibly too late. A lot of what Steam chat now solves for we’d already found a solution for in Discord. This means a lot of the group and voice functionality goes unused by us (and I would imagine in many other circles, too). Still — it is nice to know that should the business model of Discord suddenly change that we have another option.
It’s almost difficult to recall just how antiquated and tired looking chat was, now. And despite the group functions largely going by the by with us, the degree of thought and design effort put into it gives me great hope that they know what they’re doing and are likely running co-design sessions or some other form of human centred design framework to get where they do.
The main usability feature added that I can tell so far is the additional ways to sort and categorise. The ‘tags’ feature that has been present in the Steam Store itself for a while now can be used to sort your games. From the screenshot above there looks to be a time based sort option too. I believe this is reflecting last played — but I would really like to see a time filter based on last updated too.
I currently have a boat load of custom categories based on game genres and played state. My hope is that I’ll no longer have to manage these by hand and the tags will handle it for me. If I get even just that — I’m going to be pretty happy. Anything else on top is gravy.
I’ll certainly be giving the beta a go once its available in any case. I’m curious to see how games are handled that don’t have their library assets updated to the newly requested specifications. I would expect there are going to be a number of older (and possibly some not so old) titles where for whatever reason the update doesn’t happen, so I guess we’ll see!
I mentioned back in the April Journal that playing Sekiro was, more than anything else, making me want to play Nioh again. But I didn’t really act on it at the time. I didn’t feel like I had the time for it, and instead mentally slotted it into a short-term backlog. This is not an unusual cycle for me to go through. It also happened with Final Fantasy XIV, just since this blog has been alive.
It doesn’t always happen that way though. Sometimes it’s more of a spontaneous, ‘I want to so by golly I’m going to’ type arrangement, as was the case with Transport Fever when I wanted to play something more tycoony again.
In any case, I digress! With this post I don’t mean to talk about creating more total time to spend gaming. But rather about prioritisation. Fitting the games I want to play into the time I have, and the ones that get dropped as a result.
I was reflecting on this and how things may’ve changed since I started blogging again. And how it hasn’t. I think for the most part I’ve simply become more aware of it now that it can have a fairly direct impact on what I write about here. I certainly believed my game choices to be fairly random previously, but in truth the same patterns were followed.
Perhaps just a little more… Quickly. I found that before the rate at which I would flip games was much higher.
Either way, it does have the rather poor side effect of meaning that I rarely finish a game. I imagine there being a sort of seesaw style graph where interest in the current game and interest in a new game intersect, and eventually tips from current to new. Typically well before the current is finished.
The strength of interest in the current game can shift where the tipping point is precisely, but it’s a rare thing indeed to have it occur after I finish a game.
I guess the question then becomes is this actually a bad thing if fun is still being had? I tend to view incomplete games as a negative, but also simply as a fact of life. I would never have time to play everything I wanted to if I insisted on finishing everything I started… So perhaps it’s actually OK.
But there is no other entertainment medium I’d apply this to. I finish books. I finish movies. Generally even TV shows. I couldn’t imagine even trying to apply a taster style approach to these… So why games?
I may’ve missed the fact Kickstarter just had it’s 10th birthday entirely if not for Kim’s post over at Later Levels. It’s a service I’ve fallen away from over the years. I don’t tend to go actively looking for interesting projects like I once did. Kim says, “Although the quantity and quality of video game campaigns has declined recently” which I find interesting because while I agree with the sentiment — I wasn’t sure whether it was a reality or just a perception born of my inactivity on the site.
Certainly the media frenzy that once existed highlighting every other game to go on Kickstarter has died down. But is this a shift in interest, or as Kim says, an actual reduction in quality and quantity?
In any case, that’s not actually the focus of this post! Kim also went through quite a nice retrospective of the titles she has backed over the years and I’d like to shamelessly copy the idea and do the same. ;)
While I’ve also backed the odd thing on Fig or elsewhere over the years — I’ll keep this one Kickstarter-centric.
Clearly I haven’t been using Kickstarter myself for 10 years, as my first backed project, Planetary Annihilation went up August 2012.
Unfortunately this is a serious contender for the ‘Most disappointing’ backed project as well. The original title has since been pulled from sale, and the ‘Standalone Expansion’ / ‘Oops, let me fix that’ release Planetary Annihilation: TITANS remains in its place.
It was a game of big ideas, coming in to save us from the relative disappointment of Supreme Commander 2 from a couple of years prior. Now we were talking whole planets. Asteroids you could strap rockets onto and use as WMDs.
The concepts were excellent. The execution considerably less so, although I will admit I’ve given almost no time to TITANS. It came out a year or two after the original and while given to free for owners of the original, it didn’t appear to be enough of an improvement to warrant a serious look-in.
Looking back over my 25 backed projects (including 3 unsuccessful projects), I realise I’ve been very lucky. There are a great many amazing titles in that list.
Had I not backed RimWorld I would be really, really hard pressed to make a decision. Fortunately, I did back RimWorld so the choice is easy. It launched onto Kickstarter October 2013 at a time when there had been a recent glut of Dwarf Fortress-alikes, but none that could really capture the essence of it.
I’d say it was less a genre and more a series of failed and abandoned experiments. I couldn’t tell you now, why in that context I would have backed RimWorld. I don’t recall what I saw in it that set it apart. Possibly I was still just holding on to some final shred of optimism? ;)
Whatever the reason might’ve been — RimWorld is an amazing experience. I don’t know how many hours I’ve given to this title in the alpha’s before Steam, but it would be… a lot.
If you’re remotely interested in the Colony Survival concept, I can’t recommend this one enough.
I think the biggest issue here is one of expectations vs. reality. I don’t feel that they were unwarranted expectations, though. This is from some of the minds behind the original Ultima Underworld series (to which this is a spiritual successor), behind System Shock. Thief.
I would struggle to go all the way to saying Underworld Ascendant is bad, at least not if you can get around all the crash bugs. But it is aggressively mediocre in everything it does.
It was to be a SciFi RPG. In Spaaaaaaaaaaaace. There was a combat focus to it, you were to be able to upgrade and replace your ship like you might expect in a title of its sort. Space station building was to be in like the X series. There was also to be a heavy crew-focused element to it.
In some ways, I imagine the concept of the game to be similar to what Star Traders: Frontiers has given us, but in a 3D format. (As a side note, Star Traders is fantastic with a pretty impressive rate to updates.)
But uh… The last update was April 2017, talking to the reduction in team down to just a ‘core’. It was still set to continue, but the surveys at the time were very focused around concept simplification — to such a degree that the resemblance to the original concept was becoming minimal.
I no longer expect to see anything from this project, but if anything does come of it — it likely won’t be the original idea we bought into. And this should serve as a timely reminder to all that Kickstarter (and similar) is not a pre-order service.
I backed this one May 2017, and I remember clearly thinking I wasn’t going to get my hopes up. MMO projects in particular have burnt me in the past. But even so, I liked the ideas they seemed to be chasing.
Ideas around a dynamic world, impacted by players and where/how they chose to build up. They wanted to drive an economy where trade and transport were real considerations.
So far I’ve not seen anything particularly promising. They’ve worked on a battle royale I suppose as a test of the technology and classes.
It may one day come to something, but I’ve well and truly learnt my lesson where new MMOs are concerned. Wait and see, and seeing is believing. Just don’t get invested until that’s possible. ;)
Sometimes I feel a bit… Old. Especially when I make realisations like this one: I could probably wax nostalgic about waxing nostalgic. Not quite what we’re here for today though. Isey started a conversation, wondering why nostalgia works. He reaches a conclusion in his post that it might be to do with taking a snapshot in time and freezing it as a memento of the surrounding life conditions and the feelings they evoke.
There is a recognition that we can’t — in most respects — freeze time. But in the context of games and the likes of Project 99 to a greater or lesser extent, you actually can. Here, we might be able to take some control. It’s worth taking a look at the Isey’s whole post for additional context, too.
I’m not entirely sure Isey’s conclusion holds true for me. At first, I was sure it didn’t actually. But upon further reflection, there might be an element of this.
Sure, I can recall aspects of my life from the times spent gaming. With some very vivid snapshots in time recalled in short-form but otherwise very complete narrative form even. I remember well my room, it’s layout and contents, the anticipation of the loading/patching ‘tubes’ of loading up Asheron’s Call.
I remember when I had moved out into my first flat and was downloading the Shadowbane beta client (All 600+MB of it) on 28.8k dial-up. And then having it not work. (The Shadowbane beta was very rough.)
These experiences were objectively bad. Long waits. Things not working. Yet even though this is something I recognise looking back at those times now? Yeah, I remember them fondly. In a sort of, ‘I was there’ and ‘Look how far we’ve come’ type way. More about the ‘cred’ of being there ‘back in the day’ than anything else, I think.
But that’s the experiences surrounding the games.
What About the Nostalgia in Actually Playing?
One principle of nostalgia that typically holds true for me is that I need to have experienced the specific ‘thing’ (TV show, game, movie, whatever it is) when it was current.
I get essentially nil nostalgic value out of experiencing something from the same timeframe, even if it is almost identical in look, execution and general approach to something else I did experience at the time.
A good example of this is the ol’ Sierra adventure games. I played and loved the ever-loving heck out of the Quest for Glory series.1 There was a time when I was playing through these every year or two. Yet I never played the King’s Quest or Space Quest games when they were current. I once thought to try them out but I bounced off them almost immediately. My love for QFG remained untarnished, but there was no getting on board with KQ and SQ.
The same holds true of MMOs. You couldn’t pay me enough to spend any serious time in Project 99 from all I’ve heard. Two weeks on a single camp? Level percentages in measured in turn by their own percentages? *Gack*
In an alternate timeline where I played EQ instead of Asheron’s Call though I could imagine being all over it. Or at least… I would love to have the option to be all over it. To know it still existed and that I could jump in at any time and revisit the world I’d known.
“…a stroll around the old neighborhood is plenty. It’s like stopping off in the village where I grew up. Sometimes I do that, when I pass by on my way to somewhere else. Take a wander round, see what’s changed. What hasn’t. Yet. Then back in the car and move on.”
Bhagpuss nailed it for me with this. Although the gaming equivalent might be weeks or a month — this was how I was treating Asheron’s Call before it’s shut down at the start of 2017. It was a place to visit, look around, remember the history fondly. Play a little. Smile. Move on.
“What the hell does the error, ‘Unable to find path to stop’ mean?” book-ended my first session with Transport Fever. I’d started play at an unwise time of night for a game I was still learning to be fair. But it was juuuust about enough for me to decide the game was ‘too quirky’ and put it down.
I’ve since come to love Transport Fever enough that it’s going to warrant a series. Considering a run at hard mode, starting in 1850, while attempting to achieve Penny Pincher, wherein you take no additional loans beyond what you start the game with until the year 2000.
I’d love for more people to be able to get on board as well, so hopefully sharing some of my early frustrations and their solutions will help, in addition to perhaps just some nice to know tips. So here’s the first of these, dealing with this blasted error!
Trains and the ‘Unable to Find Path to Stop’ Error
The most common reason for this is that your track isn’t actually connected like you think it is.
This will happen most often when either the angle of attack for joining the lines isn’t right. You might need to bulldoze further back where you’re trying to join to come in with a softer angle.
Even at a reasonably zoomed out view, it is possible to identify when this is happening. You’ll see far more speed indicators when it is creating a line that crosses over rather than joining. When it is ‘right’ there will be three key speed indicators surrounding the point of the join.
In addition to seeing only speed indicators for the track immediately before the join, at the point of the join, and immediately after — we can also tell this is right by the track positioning control doodackey being dead centre on the track we’re joining.
Unable to Find Path to Stop can Occur with Trucks, too
You might find it to be a connectivity error with the roads, but this is generally much easier to spot than the train example.
Most likely if you get this with trucks (or buses) then the line you’ve created is a complete mismatch of station/stop types.
Transport Fever does allow some flexibility here. Passengers will happily disembark at a freight station. Cargo can even be unloaded at a bus station if the catchment area includes the industry or property types that will consume it. This is actually quite useful when you’re dealing with just a small town in the 1850’s.
But passengers and cargo will never load at an incorrect station type.
If you’ve inadvertently setup a passenger to passenger line, and you attempt to assign a vehicle that carries only cargo to it (or vice versa) — you’ll see your old friend ‘Error: Unable to path to stop’.
Interestingly, setting up a train incorrectly in this way will allow the train to run regardless of the type mismatch. Possibly this is because it could be ‘fixed’ with adding an additional carriage of the right type.
Signals Might be to Blame
Signals may well require a post all of their own, but your first adventures with double tracking and signals may well cause the re-emergence of the ‘Unable to find path to stop’ error.
You’ll have found that simply creating a double track doesn’t mean your line will automatically use it. You will need signals to make it operate efficiently with more than one train.
Here are some things to note:
Transport Fever pathing prefers traveling on the right side, even if you’re playing the Britain map.
You don’t want to create any stops at a signal which will result in blocking other trains or traffic.
Without signals, trains will check the entire section of rail ahead of it is clear, up until the next station.1
Trains in Transport Fever will never crash. At worst, they’ll get stuck.
Where you have contest for right of way, generally an unsignaled train will have right of way over a signaled train. Queuing and wait rules will be smartly managed though.
Facing the direction of travel, I placed just one signal on the right side. I placed it far enough back that any train exiting the station still has room to get by on the left.
If I had placed the signal much further forward at the split, we could still run into situations where two trains found themselves in a stand-off and unable to move.
You need to place another signal at the other station as well to prevent the same happening there. Flip the camera as necessary to again align yourself to direction of travel and place the signal on the right side, before the merge.
This is your minimal set of signals, and this should work in that trains should be permitted to be assigned to the line. If you have simplified your signals down to this level, and you still can’t — check your joins or other sources of potential trouble again.
…I mean we got this far. May as well finish the basic introduction!
Signalling for the Train Depot
Your depot may not require this, especially if you’ve simply attached it to the end of a station. But I figure this shows the principles in action again so might be useful.
The trains inbound to the depot will come from the right as we’ve discussed. I want them to be controlled off the main line and out of the way so that other trains can still carry on without interruption. To that end I pushed the signal as close to the join as I possibly could that still allows trains outbound from the depot to get by.
Similarly, trains leaving the depot should give right of way to any train already at full speed on the main line. I’m controlling them with the signal as close to the main line as possible to create space for any potential train incoming to the depot while one waits to leave.
That situation should be fairly rare, but as I noted under the image, if my trains start getting longer I’ll have to bulldoze this on/off section and rework it for additional length before the join.
Signal Pairs on the Main Line
This deals with the principle that in Transport Fever trains will look ahead at the next entire segment of track. If it has a train on it (even if they’re going in the same direction) the next train will not go until it is clear.
Fortunately, this has a simple fix. You apply signal pairs at regular intervals down the length of the track.
You don’t need them to be too close, but you will need (at minimum) one segment for every train you plan to run, otherwise eventually you will get something stuck. Being too far apart is not great either though simply due to the wait times if one section does happen to be blocked.
Here’s what I changed mine to:
And that’s it for the basics! Hopefully it helps. :D
One Final Bonus Tip on Pairing Bus Stops
Knowing that Transport Fever travels on the right (even in maps set in Britain) can certainly help when placing your bus stops in avoiding your carriages taking truly bizarre routes through town.
But you can simplify it a heck of a lot further by simply placing two bus stops together, one on either side of the road.
Transport Fever will automatically consider these as a single terminal/point for the purposes of creating your lines and will route to the correct side of the road depending on the needs of your path.