On Achievement

One of the things that came up in the podcast is my continuing progress through Final Fantasy 14’s Zodiac Weapon quest. About 2 hours before the podcast, I managed to get to the final stage before the relic weapon turns into something else, Sphairai Nexus. It’s been a long trip, and there’s still a decent amount of work to do before it’s “finished”.

Nexus Get
It’s very shiny.

Because It’s There

At this point in the game, there’s not much point in completing a zodiac weapon to actually use. The advice I give to players in our free company hitting level 60 is that you should get your relic weapon because the quest is kind of cool and because it represents probably the most convenient weapon you can get on hitting 50. Upgrading it once to the “Zenith” stage gives you an i90 weapon, and this is good enough to get you through to the next non-relic weapon upgrade. If you’re sane, it’s better to pretend that the questline doesn’t continue past this point.

After the Zenith stage, the relic quest starts going into the Saga of Zodiac Weapons, and the effort/reward ratio is a bit skewed toward effort. Nearly every patch that introduced a new tier of gear added a stage to the quest, and all of these are quite time-consuming (but mostly not terribly mechanically difficult). Most players doing this quest now (including myself) are doing it just to say that they have. There’s just something satisfying about having a goal and working toward it, regardless of the actual utility of this goal.

If you see this, you've gone too far.
If you see this, you’ve gone too far.

Not the First Time

Even in games that don’t have a real achievement system, I tend to find and make goals for myself. I notable example was in WoW, where I made a point of collecting keys. I played a druid, but I made up for a lack of lockpicking skills by carrying around every key I could get my hand on. This included the key to Tempest Keep, long after it became unnecessary, along with not-key keys like the Medallion of Karabor and the Drakefire Amulet. On a very related note, I was pretty pissed off when one of the Cataclysm patches removed 90% of the keys from the game.

For a while, if a key existed, I had it.
For a while, if a key existed, I had it.

I did other insane things in WoW, although I never got a title for it. I was a holder of the Scepter of the Shifting Sands, even though it had absolutely no purpose to me. I managed to get the entire Feralheart Set, and wore it around town (and then used it as a transmog, once that became a thing that was possible). The relic weapon quest is just really another part of this, one more facet of my desire to achieve things because they’re there. I don’t intend to stop anytime soon.

On Things Left Unfinish

This is a response to the second talkback topic for 2015’s Newbie Blogger Initiative.

There are really multiple parts to this, and I’d like to address them individually because I don’t see them as the same thing. The (somewhat loaded) question for this week is “Early Access and Kickstarter – Do you support unfinished games?”. As in a lot of things, the answer isn’t a simple yes or no.

Get it?

Example A: Kickstarter

To date, I’ve backed a number of kickstarters, and only one has completely failed to deliver. Kickstarter is responsible for the watch I wear on a regular basis, and one of my favorite games of 2014. Kickstarter in some cases is a chance for products that wouldn’t normally see the light of day to get funding, usually because publishers aren’t willing to invest in those types of games anymore. (No one wants old-school RPGs or adventure games anymore, right?) In some cases there’s some publisher interest, and kickstarter serves as the proof that someone is willing to spend money on it. Either way, it’s a chance to quite literally vote with your dollar, even though sometimes people don’t keep their campaign promises.

That said, there are some major duds. There are a few examples of projects getting mismanaged so badly that the money runs out, and nothing gets made. Clang, Yogventures, and the Stomping Land all come to mind. In these cases, saying your paying for something “unfinished” is too kind. If I knew then what I know now about kickstarters likely to produce a quality product, I probably would not have backed Aura Tactics. Making games takes a fair bit of money, so you should be wary of campaigns not asking for a lot of it. Making games also takes a fair bit of experience, so you should look for some indication of this, either previous games shipped or a solid proof of concept. And finally, if anyone in the pitch has Molyneux Syndrome, you should probably steer clear.


Example B: Early Access

On the other hand, I pretty much universally distrust games in Early Access, and I’ve only paid for two directly (although I’ve gotten a few because of kickstarters). I also consider Founder’s Packs to fall into this category. In both cases a developer is asking for testers to give them money for an opportunity to see how the sausage is made. It turns out I’m okay not seeing how the sausage is made. Starbound is a nice example, I think I’ll like that game once it’s done, but I don’t have a whole lot of interest in playing all of the “incomplete” releases along the way. Jim Sterling has had a lot of success picking games from Early Access and telling you why you shouldn’t play them (there have been a few exceptions).

It seems like for every game like Warlocks, there are a bunch of other games trying to sell minimal effort projects that will never be “completed” on Early Access. Steam’s Early Access page currently only shows the best of these, filtering out games on some unknown criteria somehow. Steam currently has a bit of a curation problem, and while Early Access isn’t entirely to blame, it certainly isn’t helping.

starbound outpost

Example C: MMOs

MMOs by their vary nature are unfinished games. No matter what the payment model is, there’s always an expectation of expanding content; the games that can’t do this are the ones that tend to fade away. We tend not to think of these as being unfinished, but several developers have mentioned that the real work on an MMO continues well past launch. In essence, they’re never finished (except in those few unfortunate cases where a game shuts down).

So going back to the original question, I absolutely support unfinished games. It’s just a question of how unfinished.

On Giant Steps

It’s not exactly a secret that the most recent Trial in Final Fantasy 14, Steps of Faith, isn’t exactly popular. I think it would be a lie to say that this is because it requires coordination or punishes mistakes harshly, because there are actually a lot of trials (even ones required for the story) that do this, like Shiva or Ultros. Today’s patch, 2.57, brings some changes, mostly by reducing the damage that a lot of the hazards do and reducing the health of most enemies (including the main enemy, Vishap), which should make it a bit easier to finish the trial before you fail. What it doesn’t change is why I dislike the trial in the first place:

Even if you know you’ve failed, there’s no way to start over until all of the events “finish”.

Vishap Wins

Super Meat Boy Philosophy

If you’re not familiar with the platformer Super Meat Boy, it’s a game that’s filled with spikes and saws and missiles and other things that will kill you, and asks you to get to the goal as fast as possible without dying. You die in one hit, so it’s a pretty hard game. The thing that makes it playable at all is that there’s maybe two seconds between dying and restarting a level. (I mentioned this in the Darkest Dungeon podcast). As a result failure isn’t that big of a deal, because before you even have time to think about it you’re starting again.

Steps of Faith is not like that. It’s the only trial that doesn’t end if your entire group is dead, it has its own unique failure condition when the dragon makes it all the way to the end of the bridge. In addition, if you miss certain things (like the giant harpoons), your chances of victory are very low, and you still have to let the entire sequence play out. This results in the time it takes for a successful run to be comparable to the duration of the duty finder lockout for leaving (30 minutes), so people frequently leave when they get it via roulette. (I haven’t seen a case this bad since Oculus, which WoW eventually started bribing players into doing.)

meat boy

Looking Forward

I don’t know if the nerfs are going to help this, but that’s really just a matter of magnitude. They may have reduced Vishap’s health to the point where you can beat on him the whole time and still win. I personally think the only required change would have been allowing the fight to reset if all party members were dead (or some other way to reset the fight). It’s a new day, and we have people in the Free Company approaching this fight again, so I suppose we’ll see in the future.

Vishap Loses

On Schedule Slip

It’s the first week of the Newbie Blogger Initiative, which means I’ve now been doing this for a year. I haven’t kept up nearly the schedule that Belghast does, or even my own personal goal of twice a week. It used to annoy me that people would post about missing posts in webcomics, but when you previously did something regularly, it kind of stays on your mind. Unless you plan out time every day to do something like this, Schedule Slip is probably going to happen. This remains true if you write your posts ahead of time, unless you are diligent enough to keep a buffer of more than one post.


For me, my posting got a lot more irregular when I moved, and lost the ability to write and publish things during lunch. Even before I started my new job (and I had actual free time), I didn’t realize how important it was to my posting to have a time period set aside every day to do it in. Other things I’ve written about already. I have 3 drafts that I could finish and publish half-written. There’s a lot of “not good enough” that I feel about these, but really, I shouldn’t have to.

Then there are the other reasons. Just this past week, Tam and I had technical issues. Travel happens, and personally, I’m not the biggest fan of writing a post on an iPad. Life gets in the way sometimes.


For me the solution is going to be setting aside time on specific days to drop everything and write more. The blog posting is a nice supplement to Aggrochat, and appearing on the same website is an added bonus. Bel gets around it by posting every single morning. Tam does something similar, but on weeknights. I think that might work better for me, so I guess I’ll find out if I can have more output this month.