Asobee: Final Fantasy XIV — The Gold Saucer!

Patch 2.5 for Final Fantasy XIV released recently adding the Gold Saucer, Triple Triad, and chocobo breeding/racing. Since Final Fantasies 7 and 8 were a couple of the most formative games for me growing up (PSone era was a good era), this incited quite a bit of nostalgia in yours truly. And sooo, Sarah and I made our way to the Gold Saucer just as soon as we could, and recorded the whole thing! If you still remember breeding your first golden chocobo to get KoTR you should definitely check it out! And if you don’t… you should anyway.

Asobee: Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep Episode #1

Hello! Did you miss us? Roy and I are finally settling down after our move to Tokyo, and one of the first things we wanted to do is revive our short-lived Let’s Play series, Asobee.

A lot of time has passed since our last update, and a lot of things have changed. One thing that was a constant during the craziness of the past year was the Kingdom Hearts series. We beat the 2.5 HD Remix shortly after we moved, and we are looking to start something new with Birth By Sleep, which neither of us has played before. Please join us as we amble our way through a game that is considered to be one of the best in the series.

Episode Description:
Whoa, it’s been a while, eh? Asobee is BACK and this time Roy and Sarah are playing Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. Watch as we try to understand the light, the darkness, why Nomura hates shirts, and more! (Plus balls)

Reflecting on Opposites

Jeez, it’s been a long time. I’ve tried to write something here over the past few months, honest. But I just haven’t been able to. Maybe I’m afraid to start the site up again, maybe I’m afraid it’s officially the end. I’m gonna try and ignore those thoughts for now and just push on with this post.

I’m living in Japan now. Tokyo, to be more specific. Staying at a friend’s apartment that, as of the new year, will be my permanent place. That’s still a strange thought to me but it’s been starting to feel more real lately.

Last night that feeling was especially strong. I was having a beer while putting together a cat condo. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, cat condos are these wooden structures covered in fuzz for cats to climb and sleep on because cats like to go up high and they’ll shit all over your new Japanese apartment if they can’t.

Anyway, the instructions were all in Japanese. This was a first for me. But that wasn’t even the reason I messed up a couple times. Or the beer. The pictures going along with the instructions weren’t the best. For instance, the base of the thing is a rectangle but it appeared as a square in the instructions. So I had to backtrack at one point–unscrew some screws I had tightened with the confidence that I’d never have to un-tighten them. This kind of mundane task with its minor frustrations is one that made me realize: this is really happening. I’m really setting anchor in another country.

 My favorite beer I’ve had in Japan. Most beer here is pretty similar but flavorful microbrews are becoming more popular.

 From here I am predicting a snowball effect: it’s only going to feel more and more real. In December, I’m going back home to bring Sarah, our dumb cats, and whatever worldly possessions we can carry with us. Like a couple of pioneers, only without the hats. Maybe we will buy some of those hats. (Speaking of spooky hats, Sarah has something in the works you’ll definitely wanna check out if you’re into webcomics. I’ve been collaborating to some degree but it’s all her. I don’t want to give anything away, but yeah it’s gonna be dark and awesome.)

Get this: We actually have to walk the cats through the body scanners at the airport. My guess is that they want to be sure we haven’t inserted a condom filled with uncut Colombian cocaine in… one of their orifices.

Christ, the thought of having to drag my asshole cat through a crowd of disgruntled airline commuters… Well, it’s hilarious now but I know it’s going to be miserable when it happens.

I’m sounding negative, aren’t I? It’s almost like I didn’t hear myself say, “I’m living in Japan now.”

Let me tell you about living in Japan. The food… No, look at me. I’m serious here. This is serious. Right in the eyes. The food… is amazing. It’s actually shocking to me to eat somewhere and not love every morsel.

There is such an obsession with quality here when it comes to food. It’s as if the people who run the many restaurants I’ve been to know how great it is to eat a carefully prepared, fresh dish made by someone just for you. And they genuinely want to give that experience to you. Or rather, that is the ONLY experience. Shouldn’t it be?

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The opposite of this, to me, is a place like The Cheesecake Factory. They are big in America, where everything is big because fuck you we invented cowboys.

To enter a Cheesecake Factory is like walking into–literally–a factory. It’s huge. Noisy as fuck–hope you didn’t want to hear anything because the only sound your ears will perceive is the steady roar of too many fucking people. Oh, but you can just make out the staff singing Happy Birthday to a child who’s eating himself into an early grave. His parents hate Obamacare.

The menu is a tome, because having more options is always better. The food is probably reheated from frozen by chefs you’ll never see in a kitchen you’ll never see. They’re just going through the motions to get paid because they work in a factory and that is what factory workers do. If they could be replaced with machines, you better believe they would be.

Factories are great because they are efficient, and efficiency means more money! More suckers entering the gaping maw of a Cheesecake Factory means more money right to the bottom line by the time they slide out its loose anus covered in a sticky film of Coke Zero.

So anyway. Japan’s approach to food is the exact opposite of The Cheesecake Factory. And I’m not saying places like the Cheesecake Factory don’t exist in Japan, I’m just saying the Cheesecake Factory is a great symbol for some unfortunate American values that permeate more than just the restaurant industry.

Here I eat relatively affordable food regularly. Often with fresh vegetables. Today I went to a restaurant that celebrates the green onion. Some places tell you what country their meat is from. You can often see the person cooking your food and they usually appear to be enjoying their work. And they’re good at it. And best of all, most places are small. They have to be because making food with any amount of care just can’t be done on a factory level.

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 Eating lunch with some Fantasy Life

I love food, and so does Japan, so, yeah, this all makes me extremely happy.

I also have a great job! I’m officially working at 8-4 on video game localization. I respect and admire the people I work with, a feeling totally foreign to me. It makes me want to better myself and do the best work I can.

I hear people talk about games and the industry and gossip and predictions all day. I meet people who’ve worked on games I love and I can get the inside scoop on how those games came to be. There is a lot of drama behind a completed game, let me tell you…

The opposite of this was the worst job I’d ever had. I worked at a call center taking insurance claims over the phone. That meant 8 hours a day of talking to hysterical people about water damage, car accidents, and dog bites. But the kicker was, I couldn’t really DO anything. I was wholly powerless. I just took the data and passed it on up the chain of command.

You’re probably a normal, well-adjusted person. But let me tell you… There are a lot of fucking crazy people out there and they all have 3 things: insurance, a phone, and too much time on their hands.

I very nearly went insane. I started taking boxing classes and doing prison exercises in the “mental health” room during my breaks and I think if my alter ego invited me to create a fight club I would have obliged.

I poured myself into this blog during that time. It was my reason to feel like I mattered or that I was doing something that mattered or to cling to something that mattered to me. Because the lack of purpose or identity I had day to day robbed me of all that.

And then I came painfully close to getting, what I thought at the time, was my dream job (also in the gaming industry) out in LA. I’m much wiser now and know that LA is a putrid cesspool of self-centered, materialist assholes and an ever growing population of homeless people. My heart goes out to both groups. I hope they can get the help they need.

But working at that call center. And then being turned down for that job. That was the single lowest point in my human existence. I actually got the denial email while on a call at work.

One night shortly after all this, while out drinking with friends, I got pretty drunk and decided to punch a stop sign with all my inebriated might. Eh, that stop sign was asking for it. Naturally my knuckles were all mangled for a while. I still remember picking at this one flap of skin while on a call at my desk. It was hurricane season and a big one had just hit Missouri. Dark times.

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This is an actual photo of me everyday

But now I have, arguably, my dream job! I work on amazing games with amazing people and learn new skills all the fucking time! Don’t give up on your dreams, kids. God, that’s such non-advice isn’t it? Well, to anyone actually looking for advice… I’d say you just make things and do things. Don’t just sit there, consuming things like the gaping maw of the Cheesecake Factory. When in doubt, look to the Cheesecake Factory and do the opposite.

But yeah, moving, huh? There will be things I miss, for sure. My family, which is really just my mom. The rest of my family might as well move to LA, they’d fit right in (hah). My mom is amazing and probably the single strongest and most compassionate person I know. Oh, and trees. There aren’t many trees in the city–I sure do miss seeing lots of green. Shucks, I never was one for city life but I think I’ll make a go of it.

So anyway, this is me letting you know where I am in life. I don’t know where the blog will go from here. I’ve got a lot on my plate at the moment, but I still love writing and video games so who knows.

Thanks readers–thanks blog–for giving me a purpose in my darkest times, and helping me get to where I am. I love you all.

Dark Souls 2: Which Class Should I Start With?

Dark Souls 2 is out in less than a week, and I need to decide my starting class! Before I begin, two quick disclaimers:

  1. I’d be lying if I told you that your starting class is critically important in any Souls game. Skill and determination play a much larger part.
  2. Not all the facts are in yet, so I’m just going off of what the community has managed to dig up. Please don’t blame me if something ends up being fabulously wrong down the road.

Before we can talk about what makes one class better for you than  another, we should start with…

What The Stats Do

I’m dividing the game’s 9 stats into 2 categories: offensive stats and support stats.  Offensive stats are those which increase the damage of scaleable weapons or Miracles and Sorceries.  Now I know there is still a lot of confusion around this term, so I will explain — if you already know, simply skip ahead.

What are scaleable weapons?  I just wanna HIT stuff!  

Easy there, Billy. We’ll have you clobbering undead in no time, but first you have to understand why there are all those LETTERS on your weapon.  I’m talking S/A/B/C/D — remember those from Dark Souls? Those are telling you how greatly your character’s stats are affecting that weapon’s performance.  You just need to figure out which letter goes with which stat (there are icons which make this clear).

You want to equip the weapons that bring out your highest stat, not the ones that scale based on your lowest! For this reason, it’s wise to pick one offensive stat to go with based on how you like to play.  Settling on an offensive stat is probably the most important decision regarding your character’s growth that you can make.

OFFENSIVE STATS

  • Strength: Smash everything! Strength is generally reserved for the game’s biggest, hardest-hitting weapons which are usually slow and best used while wearing heavy armor.  Guard Breaking is a new feature in which you, well… break the guarding posture of your foe and initiate a punishing attack similar to a backstab or a riposte.  The higher your strength the easier it will be to execute this trump card.
  • Dexterity: Most Dexterity-based weapons aren’t big, they require close range (daggers, katana and the like) — but they get RESULTS.  Status effects like Bleed and Poison scale based on Dexterity now.  This is the trump card of a Dex-based character.  Get in close and quick, and leave them with a gaping wound filled with poison.
  • Intelligence: Everyone laughed at you for your love of books. Let’s see who’s laughing when you’re raining thunderbolts upon them with your totally cool (not really that cool) wand!  But there’s more!  Intelligence now scales the power of Fire-based weapons.  That means if you want to swing around a flaming sword — and do it right — you gonna want youse some booklearnin’.
  • Faith: “And you shall know my name as the lord, when I lay my vengeance upon thee…”  That’s what you’ll be saying when you whip some divine justice out on your foes — probably wielding a Talisman of some kind to do so.  Or maybe just heal yourself so you can conserve Estus Flasks for the heat of battle!  But there’s more!  Faith now scales the power of Lightning-based weapons.  That means if you want to poke foes with a Lightning Spear, you best go down to the river to pray, studyin’ about that good ol’ way.

Important Note re: Weapons: A lot of weapons that work well for one offensive stat may require a few points in another in order to equip.  For instance most longswords are designed for Strength builds, but require a bit of Dexterity.  Min/maxing is all well and good, but at the end of the day your weapon’s moveset is of the utmost importance.  If you’re not comfortable, swinging it, then you prolly gonna die.  So don’t be afraid to toss a few points into another offensive skill just so you can equip the weapon that works for you.

 

SUPPORT STATS

Support stats are those which don’t directly contribute to damage in any way, but you kinda totally need.

  • Vigor: You’re brimming with life, and would like to keep it that way. Vigor raises your max HP and nothing more.  Mostly important if you imagine yourself ever getting hit.  If you’re fast on your feet, you can probably keep your Vigor on the low side.
  • Endurance: Increases your Stamina.  Stamina is used for evading and blocking, so this is pretty important since if you’re not doing one of those things, you’re doing the other.  This stat is even MORE important now that you can exhaust your stamina. By executing any action that would bring your stamina below zero, your character will become “dizzy”.  When this happens, other players can do one of those punishing, unavoidable, and highly demeaning attacks to you (see riposte, backstab, etc.).  I honestly can’t think of a play-style that doesn’t benefit from Endurance.
  • Vitality: This adjusts your Equip Load. The main benefit of having a high equip load is that you can execute different evasive rolls depending on how burdened you are.  Less burdened = faster, farther roll.  More burdened = slower, weaker roll.  I think you also run faster when not uber-burdened as well, but I’m not sure.  If you’re the type who wears light gear, you can keep your vitality low. Likewise, if you have EXTREMELY effective defenses — I’m talking a shield that can stop a truck — you can avoid evading entirely.
  • Attunement: They STILL won’t take you seriously? Is it the wand?  It’s the wand isn’t it. Beef up your Attunement and you can smite them with your magics before they can utter a laugh!  That’s right: Attunement boosts spell casting-speed.  It also increase the number of spells you can equip.  Spells are  finite after all, needing to be replenished at bonfires.  Attunement is pretty worthless to those who just wanna swing big weapons — though it never hurts to enchant said big weapon?  Alternatively, Attunement could be ignored for those who want to use their high Intelligence or Faith for only Elemental weapons.  This one is really only important if you’re casting offensive spells.
  • Adaptability: This stat is new and fairly mysterious.  Current theories suggest it helps increase how well your character can evade — as in the number of invulnerability frames.  If this is true, Adaptability will be massively important to characters who want to be nimble.  What we know for sure about this stat, is that it increases defenses as well as resistances to status effects like Bleed and Poison.  Truly, all characters will want to dump some points into Adaptability.

Now let’s take a look at our starting classes and see how they excel and where they are lacking.  All the following data is coming from this wiki.

THE CLASSES

Warrior – “I know I want a Strength build with some wiggle room.”
Highest Offensive stat: Strength – 15
Highest Support stat: Vigor – 7
This class is designed for a standard Strength build.  All stats related to magic and most support stats are average.  If you know you want big weapons early on, and that’s about it, this isn’t a bad place to start.  This class is pretty forgiving if you decide to throw in a splash of either Sorcery or Miracles down the line.

Knight – “I want to be a Strength build and an iron wall.”
Highest Offensive stat: Strength – 11
Highest Support stat: Vigor – 12
Lowest stat: Intelligence – 3
The Knight has a ton of HP and high Adaptability (which I suppose is why he doesn’t get a shield).  Knights are also pretty awful when it comes to Magic, with the 2nd lowest investment in Faith, Intelligence, and Attunement.  I honestly like the support stats on the Knight better than the Warrior — I am thinking with a minor boost to Strength and Dexterity (and a shield) this character could be a better starting point for a pure Strength build.  Could also be a contender for a Miracle-casting knight.

Swordsman – “I want to start strong & fast, and I’m confidant in my abilities.”
Highest Offensive stat: Dexterity – 16
Highest Support stat: Endurance – 8
Lowest stat: Vigor – 4
This character is set up to hit hard early on, with the highest offensive stat and weapons (yup, two of ‘em) that are already upgraded.  However, having the lowest Vigor score of any class, terrible Vitality, AND sad Adaptability make the Swordsman exceptionally vulnerable.  Did I mention no shield as well? Yikes!  With 7 points in Intelligence and 6 in Attunement, becoming a Dex/Int hybrid seems like a good bet, but spreading this character any thinner too early on is dangerous IMHO.  A big Adaptability boost might be sufficient to make up for the lack of other support stats, with this character relying strongly on evading.

Bandit – “I have no interest in magic, just weapons (Strength or Dex)”
Highest Offensive stat: Dexterity – 14
Highest Support stat: Vitality – 11
Lowest stat: Intelligence – 1
The Bandit is a weird one.  I love how this class is as dumb as a brick!  You could probably take this character in either a Strength or Dex direction, though I think the support stats are better for a Strength user…  Despite a high Faith stat, the Bandit is BEST suited to completely ignore magic entirely: its combined Faith, Int, and Attunement is only 11 points.  That means this is the best starting point for any players looking to entirely ignore casting Sorceries and Miracles.  The Bandit, like the Knight and Warrior, seems pretty forgiving for a first playthrough since it can go in multiple directions easily.

Cleric – “I want to cast Miracles and maybe play as a holy knight.”
Highest Offensive stat: Faith – 12
 Highest Support stat: Vigor & Attunement – 10
Lowest stat: Endurance – 3
A Cleric is best suited as a miracle spammer, with the option to become a Miracle-casting Knight type down the road, thanks to decent Strength, Vigor, and Vitality. The low Dex stat will limit this character to Axes and Maces as your only offense for a while.  If you can wield these weapons well, you could probably get away without boosting Dex very much at all.  No better place to start if you want to be a holy knight type or a Miracle spammer.

Sorcerer – “I want to cast Sorceries and maybe become a quick Dex build.”
Highest Offensive stat: Intelligence – 14
Highest Support stat: Attunement – 12
Lowest stat: Strength – 3
The Sorcerer and Swordsman are both strong on offense right out of the gate, relying on evasion to keep them alive (they both have 10 points invested in Adaptablity and Endurance).  Low strength means it could be a while before this character can wield a sword, but Soul Arrow should be enough to keep you alive.  The Sorcerer could either stay the course of a Magic caster, or become a Dex/Int hybrid, much like the Swordsman.

Explorer – “I know exactly what I want, I just need the items to get me there.”
Highest Offensive stat: Strength/Dexterity – 6
Highest Support stat: Adaptability – 12
Lowest stat: Faith & Intelligence – 5
Haha, this one is my favorite!  I think I decided about halfway through writing this that I want to be an Explorer.  OK, so here’s what this job is all about: high support stats and low offenses.  Why? Well, this class is described as coming “equipped with many items.”  This means (most importantly) consumable items that deal damage to foes, a la Firebombs in Dark Souls.  The basic premise here is to use those items until you find a weapon that suits you and then pump whatever offensive stats you need to utilize it!  Cool huh?  This character really is designed to be an explorer!  I can see this becoming a favorite of speed-runners, or those who want to get a key weapon as early as possible.  For this reason, despite my excitement, Explorer may be a better bet for a second playthrough.

Deprived- “I’m naked lol.”
All stats: 6 (and this character is naked teehee)
Originally I was excited that this class was Soul Level 1, since I assumed it would offer great freedom in character building.  In reality, I’m thinking the only real benefit is the novelty of being naked.

So. Now that I’ve written all this, who’s it gonna be? Jeez…

Here is what I am thinking:

  1. Sorcerer or Swordsman: Both characters start as glass cannons, with great offenses and a reliance on evading to survive.  Both can potentially become effective Dex builds with a splash of  Sorceries on the side.  This is basically what I want for my first character, it’s just a question of what I want first: upgraded swords or Soul Arrow.  
  2. Bandit: I have a weird idea with this guy, but hear me out.  I’m thinking he could be a Faith hybrid who never actually casts Miracles.  Rather than pump up his Attunement to get a slot, I could ignore the stat entirely but pump Faith with the sole purpose of having a strong Lightning weapon.  Leaving my Intelligence at 1 and my Attunement at 2 would make me really happy, because that is some effective Min/Maxing.  The points I save from investing in Attunement can go into support stats or towards equipping the perfect weapon.
  3. Knight: This class starts out pretty resilient, and could probably carry me far enough into the game to take it in one of several directions.  I could see it becoming a pure Strength build, a Miracle-casting knight, and even a Faith/Dex hybrid.  This may be one of the most forgiving classes as long as you know you want to ignore Intelligence.
  4. Explorer: It’s totally possible that as soon as I find an awesome weapon with my first character, I will start a new game and try to run to it.  The Explorer is designed to do just this.

Wow, this got realllly long.  Sorry about that!  I hope in wading though all this you have a better idea of how you want to start in Dark Souls 2.  The Souls series can certainly induce anxiety with its infamous difficulty, so not having to worry about your starting class come March 11th should be a huge relief.  Good luck out there, don’t let the game crush your spirit. Or, in other words… “You have a heart of gold… Don’t let them take it from you!”