On Speculation

First things first, this post is inspired by Bel’s post this morning, and conversations we’ve previously had. I might be the friend he mentions who would drop everything for Blue Mage. With the announcement that Dark Knight is going to look more like the version from FFX-2 than the version from FF11, the doors are open for wild speculation on the other jobs. I have a few ideas of my own, but we’ll start with one already covered.


In my opinion, this is a natural fit for a DPS job to go with the already-existing Marauder class. Marauders have almost everything needed to be a functional DPS class already. They have a long-duration DoT (although the potency is laughable), a slashing resistance debuff and a large DPS cooldown (which is even called “Berserk”) the only thing it lacks that the other melee DPS in the game have (including Ninja) is some form of gap closer, and all of these so far are Job abilities anyway. They’d likely have to give up the defenses of heavy armor in trade for proper DPS stats.

One of the reasons I think this would fit well is because the Warrior quests are all about not letting your rage overwhelm you, and gaining control over it. Berserker quests could provide an interesting counterpoint, displaying the power of what happens if you just let it all out. There are no actual hints of anything like this, so it’s just based on my wild speculation, but I’d like to see it.


There is already at least one NPC who is a master of illusion and strikes with cards. I don’t think a class focusing on such would be unreasonable, although this game doesn’t really need more DPS classes right now. With the Gold Saucer on the way, I think it would be nice to have a class using the traditional dice/cards/slots to do damage to enemies. It’s probably better for everyone involved if the number of negative effects associated with such a class were kept to a minimum, but purely positive things could still work (like Wakka’s attack reels, or Setzer’s dice).

To go along with this is the card-using trickster class from FF Tactics A2. This one lacked the random abilities, and had status abilities instead. They also had an abilities that did increased damage based on the number of statuses, similar to the ability Fester that summoners currently have. Since most of what this job did went to arcanists, it might not get reused.

Red Mage/Mystic Knight

One of the skills that I noticed early on that enemies use, but players can’t use in any way, it the en-[element] spells (like Enaero or Enthunder). These usually go to some sort of mystic knight class,but in FF11 they mostly went to the Red Mage along with a large assortment of other buffs and debuffs. Interestingly, I think this class would best fit into FF14 as a tank. Powerful defensive buffs could make up for potentially lighter armor, and weapon enchants could be switched around depending on situation, possibly for AOE, or increased survival, or other purposes.

Gun Mage

“But Ashgar, Gun Mage isn’t even a Final Fantasy class!” First, that’s incorrect. Second, as that game’s version of the Blue Mage, this would make me happy forever. As far as gun classes go, this one seems quite unlikely. Yoshi-P said that the gun class would be something that people didn’t expect (which immediately made people expect that it would be a healer), but I’m holding out hope for this.

I can dream, right?

On Extra Life Game Selection

Picking a game to play for Extra Life has been somewhat interesting. I decided ahead of time that since my upstream bandwidth is tiny, streaming a random emulated Game Boy Advance game would be ideal, since it allows decent quality at double or triple the GBA’s resolution. Some restrictions came from this, as it would have to be a game I actually have (which rules out the Metroids) and would be interesting in a two-hour period (which rules out the first game I thought of playing like this, Shining Soul 2, or the Mega Man Battle Network series). In the end, there were two candidates for this particular stream. Maybe I’ll record myself playing some of the others later.

The Runner Up

Castlevania: Aria of SorrowAriaofSorrowCover

This was the first actual metroidvania-style Castlevania game I played, although it’s the third that was released for the GBA. Statute of limitations is up on this 11-year-old game, so much like I don’t have to hide that Symphony of the Night has an inverted castle, I don’t feel like I have to hide that the playable character in Aria, Soma Cruz, is the reincarnation of Dracula, although it is the game’s biggest twist. There’s a direct sequel (Dawn of Sorrow) that doesn’t really try to hide it. Going along with this, you have the power of “dominance” over the enemies of the castle and can absorb their souls when you defeat them to use their abilities. (Maybe I like this game so much because it’s like Mega Man.) This would be a decent choice, but it’s been long enough since I played it and it’s a long enough game that I’m not sure I can take an interesting number of bosses in 2 hours.

The Winner

Kirby and the Amazing MirrorKirby_&_the_Amazing_Mirror

I like Kirby games, but most of them are more traditional than this one. The first Kirby game on the GBA was Nightmare in Dream Land, which was a remake of Kirby’s Adventure. This one instead is a take on Kirby Super Star’s Great Cave Offensive but expanded into a full game. It’s nonlinear and requires traversing a large maze of rooms in order to find 8 mirror shards and beat the final boss. Most of the copy abilities are taken from Kirby’s Adventure, which means that updated ones like Suplex and Plasma from Super Star are missing. It’s my all-time favorite Kirby game, so I hope you tune in to see me give it a good shot.

As a reminder, my donation page is here, and the team’s page is here. We (and the hospitals we’re supporting) would greatly appreciate your donations.

On Current Events #4

Time for another one of these, let’s get started.

Extra Life

First things first: Extra Life is this weekend, and I’m participating as a member of the Alliance of Awesome team. You can find my page here, and my stream will be active from 2-4 EDT. I’ll be around in chat while the other members are going, so you will probably hear a bit of random commentary from me throughout the day. All proceeds go to the various hospitals involved, so feel free to donate!


This weekend, I get to find out exactly how excited I should get for the FF14 expansion in the spring. (Possible values range from “Super” to “Rae”.) Last weekend the expansion was initially announced at FanFest in Vegas, although the name came out earlier when it was trademarked. This weekend will be Fanfest in London, and I believe they said more information on upcoming classes will be coming out at that time. There are some favorites I’d really like to see make it to FF14 (Blue Mage, Mystic Knight), but this would also be a good time to introduce some new things to the series (or at least rarely-explored things). Dark Knight and Samurai have already been “leaked”, but I can’t help but wonder what else is coming. Geomancer? Berserker? Cannoneer? Calculator?


I feel like it shouldn’t be required to say this, but people continue to prove me wrong. Don’t harass people, and definitely don’t make death threats. One former Steam Developer is finding this out the hard way, when he posted the following on Twitter and subsequently found his game de-listed from Steam.
Don't Do This
Valve’s statement was quite simple: “Yes, we have removed the game’s sales page and ceased relations with the developer after he threatened to kill one of our employees.” (via Polygon). I’m glad to see that when possible, actions are being taken to ensure that this sort of thing is Not OK. If we can’t get people to think before hitting post, maybe we can at least get them to stop threatening the lives of others.

On Burnout

As much as I wish I was talking about a different kind of burnout, this is a post about Destiny. Sorry Destiny, but I think I’m done. I expressed longevity concerns when I started, and the things I was worried about mostly came true.

Exhibit A: Story

Let’s be completely, 100% clear here: Destiny’s story is completely terrible. You’re given very little background, almost no justification for anything you’re doing, and it doesn’t even end with a satisfying conclusion. It’s vague enough that it opens itself up to a lot of alternate interpretation. I’m on board with the theory that we’re the super enemies in some game not yet made. After all, all of the player characters are undead, and years of games have taught us that killing undead by the dozens is the right thing to do. How can I blame the Fallen/Cabal for trying to do likewise?

I don’t really demand a compelling story from everything I play, but most games aren’t trying to pretend to more story than they actually have. Transistor doesn’t tell you a lot about what you’re doing when you start, but the information is there in the game as you play it (and serves a dual function of getting you to experiment with the ability system). Gauntlet has an excuse plot, but it’s not trying to be anything more than that. Destiny doesn’t even have that, as there’s no real “goal” to work toward or a reason for most of the actions taken by the main character other than “The Ghost said so”. This isn’t really enough to keep me moving forward.

Exhibit B: Progression

Progression in Destiny is not exactly what I’d hoped it would be. Initial impressions of the way that the guns, armor, and subclasses level led me to believe that there would be more in the way of horizontal progression after the relatively low level cap. Guild Wars 1 does this, as you hit the level cap about halfway through the story and continue earning skills that can let you construct a wider variety of builds.

Needless to say, this isn’t how Destiny works, and what you get at the level cap is either praying to the Random Number Generator or a long Vanguard/Crucible rep/marks grind. Instead of making levels feel rewarding, it mostly serves as a “you must be this tall to ride” mark, as you do drastically reduced damage to enemies above your level. I don’t really find it fun, and facing this is pretty much where I stopped.

Exhibit C: Variety

to be fair, I did mention this as a concern earlier. Destiny reminds me of Diablo 3 (prior to 2.0) in that items that are “interesting” are incredibly rare, and not really all that impactful except in a few special cases (which got nerfed anyway). The equivalent of Borderlands Red Text items is either up to an incredible amount of RNG or lots and lots of grinding (for Strange Coins). (Contrast with Borderlands, where you get them as quest rewards sometimes.)

Enemy variety is a bit better, and the fun of shooting things was enough to keep me interested in the game for a good while. It was on reaching mars and realizing I’d already seen everything the game had to offer outside of the Raid (which I had limited interest in) that I decided to drop it.


I know a lot of people find this game fun, and I know others never got into it in the first place, but I’m somewhere in the middle. I suspect that if the above were fixed maybe I could find it fun again, but I’m not sure how they’d convince me to give it a try. As-is, I don’t think Destiny is a long-term game for me.

On Decisions

SPOILER ALERT: This post includes spoilers for Dragon Age Origins. If you haven’t played through it, you should probably stop reading here.

With that out of the way…

As mentioned previously (and on the podcast), I’ve been playing through Dragon Age: Origins in preparation for Dragon Age: Inquisition next month. As you should know by now, the end goal of the entire game is to defeat the Archdemon and thus all of the Darkspawn that make up the Blight. Regardless of the decisions made throughout the game, you will begin the game by going through some sort of tragedy, get inducted into the grey wardens, recruit an army with variable makeup, defeat the Archdemon, and end the Blight. Laid out like that, it all seems rather simple and straightforward.


My “recruit an army with variable makeup” point should be expanded on further, because it’s really somewhere between 50-60% of the entire game. As soon as you leave Lothering, there are 4 plot-important locations you can go to in order to gather support, as well as the capital city of Denerim (which there isn’t a lot of cause to visit at the outset). Each of these four locations contains a main story quest that will generally take several hours to complete, and involves some choices that affect the overall plot and who ends up joining you in the army you end up building. You’ll end up with either the mages or the templars, either the elves or the werewolves, the dwarves (sometimes accompanied by golems, sometimes not), and the human militia.

One of the best things about the game to me is how player decisions affect this process, even though making some of these decisions makes you a terrible person, and some of your party members will call you out on being a terrible person (and attack you in some specific cases). Even then, it’s not unanimous. Sten supports killing off the mages as part of the Mage’s Tower questline (Broken Circle). Wynne objects, and will leave your party and attack you if you start to hint at doing this. At the end of the game there’s an epilogue that describes the long-term effect of decisions like that. I suspect this will have some bearing on Inquisition, but I’m told it has only a minor effect on DA2 in most cases.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Even the 100% required plot events can play out in more than one way. A critical event near the end of the game is the Landsmeet, where Arl Eamon and the player character attempt to get the nobles to reject Loghain’s rule. If you don’t do enough sidequests to get support, you’ll fail and start a massive fight in the chamber. Likewise, this can happen if your choices in the dialogue are poor or if you don’t have the persuasion stats to back them up. I’ve played the game before, but I forgot about all of the elements that went into it; I had to do this 4 times to get the result I wanted in my most recent playthrough.

In Order:

  1. Forgot to turn in a number of sidequests at the bar in Denerim, failing to gain support of two noble families, enough to swing the vote against me. Oops.
  2. Turned in those quests, and then navigated through the speech incorrectly, resulting in the crowd supporting Loghain instead of me.
  3. Successfully navigated the talking portion, and then had Allister duel Loghain. Alistair kills Loghain in the cutscene if he wins, preventing any possibility of marriage to Anora, who will not marry her father’s killer.
  4. Did the speech, killed Loghain myself, Alistair & Anora arranged to get married, everything worked as planned.

For those of you that haven’t explored everything the game has to offer, I won’t talk about much more, but many of the other events in the game can also unfold multiple ways, even if it ultimately leads to the same outcome. Bioware’s other major recent game series (Mass Effect) is not quite as good at showing the consequences of your actions during the game, and it’s really the best thing about Dragon Age Origins. Here’s hoping Inquisition measures up.

On Familiar Territory

Knowing that Dragon Age Inquisition is coming out soonish, and I don’t have a save file to work with, I’ve been replaying a bit of Dragon Age Origins. My first playthrough was marked by bugs galore and a game that crashed roughly every 20 minutes, so I’m hoping that it does better this time. Despite that, I really liked it. The game is currently on sale on Steam until Monday, so if you haven’t played it before now’s a good time to check it out.

dragon age logo
My current dilemma is whether or not to go through the game as a rogue or a mage. (My advice to anyone playing the game for the first time is to play as a mage, for the record.) As a rogue, you have the ability to do the assorted roguish things (opening locks, picking pockets, disarming traps) without depending on another party member for it. Rogues do a lot of single-target damage if they can position for a backstab (or with the right talents, facestab on incapacitated targets). Rogues also get the benefit of being able to pick their origin, with the Human Noble and Dwarf Noble as standout choices.

Mages, on the other hand, are overpowered. Their control is unparalleled, their burst damage is unmatched, and their utility is outstanding, even regarding the plot. With the arcane warrior specialization, they can become incredibly strong at the only things they aren’t normally good at, melee combat. However, the specialization that would normally appeal to me is complete garbage, and I hesitate to play one because of it. Also, the Mage origin story (the only one mages have access to) I find less interesting in the long run than some of the other choices.

I’m sure I’ll get far enough with one to abandon the other eventually. Even in single-player games I’m an altoholic.