Saturday, July 14, 2007

And thus, Boswen was born! (An old tale revisited)

Iceday, April 27, 1026. 11PM

Get the accompanying music:
*Click me, click "Download to Computer" and play me through your favorite music player.*

And lo Boswen did arrive in the great realm of Bastok on that historical day. A great hero was born who cared not for fame or fortune, but for the hearts and lives of his people. Boswen did enlist as an adventurer early in the morning and thusly proceeded to cast many an horrible fiend into an horrible pit of Hell. By strength of sword and bravery of shield Boswen did hasten to enhance his skills against the foul beasts of the air, evil creatures of the sea and vile monsters of the land. Many unjust souls he did send to their maker. Never a kind-hearted one would he harm, but as he grew stronger, he continued to observe the ruthless wrath of the Evil One and his minions.

After much righteous shedding of blood, Boswen began the seemingly great Odyssey back to town from the Konschtat Highlands. That night he harkened to the tale of a Great War of 20 years past, wherein the Evil One enlisted the aid of most of Vana'diel's beastman, such as the troublesome Quadav. The plague of their race waited outside the very doorsteps of Bastok seeking to steal the life, kill the friends, and destroy the hope of the newest recruits. These villainous Quadav preyed on the helpless new adventurers who had ventured out past the average worms and bees of the area to seek harder prey that would be worthy our their new found but over-estimated skill.

*Play me*

Boswen tirelessly pore over the teachings of his companions and other great ones that had come before him for many days and nights. He strove to grasp the wisdom of the ancients and make use of the knowledge that so many before him had gained through much sacrifice. After many hardships, Boswen was finally granted the class of Paladin. With even more fervor than before, Boswen honed his strengths and continually increased his defenses.

*Play me*
(Original: music157.bgw)

After an innumerable extent of moons has passed, Boswen was asked to investigate the whisper of a traitor in the midst of the San d'Orian knighthood. The trail eventually led him to slay not one, but two evil orcs with the help of many trusted companions. As a reward for his efforts, Prince Trion himself awarded Boswen with an honorary knighthood and a new piece of armor befitting of a great knight.

*Play me*

At that very moment, Boswen stood up and said, "I swear to forever protect the weak and the powerless and never allow the shedding of innocent blood while I still have breath my lungs. Ne'er again shall I allow such calamity to befall my friends as what happened twenty years ago! I shall become the bane of all that is evil and the curse of all that is undead!"

*Play me*
(Original: music190.bgw)

Committed to the service of my God, my country, and my companions, I set out that day with my loving wife and my colleagues to continue to hone our skills and prepare for the battles to come. Yes, my friends--I, set out to do these things. For it is I that have been watching over you and protecting you as I wove this tale for you. Our merry band of adventurers has grown ever stronger and ever larger since that day long ago. But one thing has never faltered--my commitment to all that is good and true. Ever shall I strive to protect to innocent and banish the evil from this realm.

*Play me*
(Original: music159.bgw)

Alas, my tale must come to an end for now. The powerful potions I have received from the Aht Urhgan guild of Alchemists is beginning to fade and with it goes my memory. I can feel my very thoughts solidifying behind what fast becomes a sleep induced barrier. As my mind drifts off into the land of dreams, I pray that it stays in Vana'diel, far away from the Nightmare of Diablos's dreamworld, Dynamis. But do not be afraid, good readers. For I go to where my mind may weave another tale for you. Fear not, I shall return again one day. You, dear reader, shall be my audience and I shall once again be your gleeman. Grace, mercy and peace be with thee until we meet again. Fare thee well.

Note: The original .bgw files from whence the midis were made can be played by downloading a plugin named "in_ffxi.dll" for Winamp. Most FFXI music data (i.e. the .bgw files) is located here or somewhere near here (based on installing FFXI to the default location):
C:\Program Files\PlayOnline\SquareEnix\FINAL FANTASY XI\sound\win\music\data

Friday, July 6, 2007

My musings thus far

Lightningday, October 08, 1025. 5:30 AM

My jouneys have taken me to even farther and wider lands in the last five years here on Vana'diel. There is a beautiful carol here that whispers in the wind throughout several areas of the land. I have many a story to tell, brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, I am in need of some good rest and strong brew to help recall those distant memories. I have heard the tales of veteran Alchemists that live in the terra firma far to the east our own region. The people of that expanse are said to have created many new concoctions through methods unbeknownst to us here in Quon and Mindartia. Perhaps one of these elixirs shall be the solution to my ailing memory. Though my days here have now numbered more than 13 years, my memory does not fail me for lack of youth. Nay, I have always struggled to conjure up much that is dear to me. This infernal contraption of a brain which I have been given is a constant thorn in my flesh. It remembers the simple things but often refuses to muse over that which is paramount. Perhaps I will one day see the reason for my ailment. All things happen for a reason and to the tune of a supernatural plan.

Meanwhile, I shall be sitting at my Desk, trying to recall one of my latest and grandest adventures. My last party as a Ninja took me from level 48-54. It was quite a show! Problem is, it happened about two months ago. With hope, I shall recall it from memory eventually and let said memories leak onto my keyboard, as a particular Windurstian Galka would have put it.

Perhaps I can seek the help of a local alchemist. I am in need of good mind or intelligence potion. Maybe even a charisma potion as well, though I must be careful not to overdose on said potions. I cannot seem to get the creative juices flowing. Methinks a trip to beautiful Purgonorgo Isle would be quite inspiring! Or perchance I shall visit The Sanctuary of Zi'Tah. As I lay there in the magnificent forests, it is almost as if nature itself produces a gentle melody. My experience (and long suffering ^^) as a Paladin has taught me how to be in harmony with the various wildlife there. It is as if all is tranquil while I am there. I have garnered the respect of all creatures great and small. Not a single one will attempt to harm me, for they know that all such endeavors will surely fail. Perhaps one day my skills as a Master of Beasts will even allow me to befriend them in my continuing struggles against the evils that plague this land.

In my journeys I have encountered a phenomenal photographer who has captured the very essence of our world. Such talent could only be matched by a writer as equally awe-inspiring as Selece's portraits. In a majestic attempt to meld these great talents of image, writing, and sound, I have began my own project, starting with this thought. Only time shall tell what tangled web I shall weave. You, dear reader, shall be my audience and I shall be your gleeman. Gace, mercy and peace be with thee until we meet again. Fare thee well, friends.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

New heights

Windsday, June 30, 1020. 1 AM.

And so it was time to begin our party. (No, it didn't take 4 days for them to arrive, I just haven't had a chance to right about that night until now.) Our Trio's Corsair had finally arrived, as had a Summoner friend of ours. Next came a Red Mage and a Dark Knight, both of which we found in Jeuno before we left. Things went wonderfully for several hours, but then our Summoner had to leave. I never learned how, but somehow she managed to hookup a spare linkshell to a baby monitor. We all heard the cry of her young child and tried to finish off the last mob quickly.

"I'm sorry, all," she said. "I have to go. My baby needs me. It was good partying with you all. See you again!" And off she went, instantly warping back home to her daughter.

It was a great few hours, but we all wanted to stay and fight, the bloodlust not yet subsided. So, I did a shout on my pearl and asked some of my companions in Jeuno and Aht Urhgan to see if they saw anyone that wanted to join us. I was pleasantly suprised to find that one of Eponine and I's friends piped up on our linkshell and wanted to bring her white mage. Unfortunately, the dark knight had to get up early for school and our Corsair was begining to fall asleep between dice rolls. Firing a powerful gun half-asleep is a dangerous combination. I told him to go home and get some rest before he shot someone in our party or simply got mauled by accidentally shooting one of the Antican near our camp in Quicksand Caves. We promised we'd help him catch back up to our level later.

So the DRK and our COR left, and we found a RNG and a replacement COR. The Japanese Corsair I invited didn't seem to understand much of what I was saying. I cut him some slack, being that English seemed to be his 2nd language, but this guy just seemed a little dense. He rolled good dice for our mages and our melee, and only busted his rolls once or twice. He took a long time to get to camp, but he usually dit decent damage to the mob. He just seemed kind of out of it, like he was on autopilot or something.

He was surely hitting the mob plenty accurately enough to have been able to peform a weeapon skill well before I was ready. (As a Ranger, I was already ready before the melee!) And yet, I would tell him I was ready to skillchain with him and get no response. I tried telling him gently at first, then more loudly in case he was hard of hearing (and also partly out of frustration, I must confess). It seemed he would perform his weapon skill compltely randomly--sometimes when I was ready, sometimes when I was not. Luckily, I had the Ranger backup skillchain with me.

I was tempted to kick the new Corsair a few times, but I couldn't find anyone else that wanted to join an experience points party. Most Japanese I've partied with are fairly intelligent, so it was quite a shock. Apparently our Summoner's child went back to sleep after it was fed, and so her eldest daughter was able to continue babysitting. I wanted to reinvite her, but her spot was already taken.

We continued killing the local giant spiders and giant bettles for several hours and most of us made level 47 before we all agreed everyone was too tired and that we should all go. We had some nice highlights, though! Our whitemage casted several Banishga II spells that seemed to hurt the beetles quite a bit. I even got to inflict some strong damage with my second tier elemental Ninjitsu. The party particularly enjoyed my "Blinded by Ninjitsu Science" chant when I blinded the mobs with Kurayami: Ni. They weren't sure where, but they all said it reminded them of something from a far off land.

Yeah, it was fun doing more experience partying, but not so much of the blitzing this time. When Trei and Epo and I first started (back when I was a RDM for the group), it seemed like experience points were coming at an astronomical rate. We all got signet, partied as a trio most of the time, used our exp bands, and had Corsair's roll active at the end of most fights. After the jungles I switched from my crazy RDM/WAR tank to a more fitting WAR/NIN tank. I stayed this way until mid-way through the Crawler's Nest, at which point I finally caught up to my Ninja.

The monsters have gotten progressively harder, as expected. We came long ago to the conclusion that we could no longer effectively gain experience on our own. Perhaps it would be better stated that it is now much more efficient to recruit the aid of three more members and take on the local beasts as a full party. Maybe there will come a time again where many tasks can once again be done by only two or three of us. We shall see what the future holds. Well, I suppose that's long enough of a letter for now. I hope to hear from everyone soon! Take care.

Age old conversations

Darksday, June 26, 1020. 10 PM.

"The sky is dark, but the night is still young! There is much to be done tonight, sweetheart," I whispered to Eponine. As we sat there in the cool desert breeze waiting for our party to arrive, we pondered an age old discussion: Which was "better" Paladin, or Ninja? "I enjoy the Ninja class, but as hard as I try, I cannot put myself in harm's way between our party and the beasts here."

"Well, I wouldn't go that far, honey. You do a great job of keeping the attention of these brutes on you and away from us. Ninjas just don't know how to cover their team in an emergency like a Paladin can--it's like you forget that ability or something when you ask your moogle to change your class. Luckily you can still provoke the mob's attention with your warrior support role. That always helps. Besides, we've traveled all the way to Aht Urhgan as our team of my Red Mage and your Paladin, darling. We've only come half as far or so as a Bard and Ninja team. I'm sure you will shine as a Ninja in the days to come just as well as you have as a Paladin... except, um, err... minus the shiny armor and stuff," she said, giggling.

"Heh. Something like that, I hope. I can still be your valiant knight on the inside even if I hide in the shadows, right?" I asked.

"Of course!" she exclaimed. "You'll always be my knight in shining armor... as long as I can always be your fair maiden!"

"There could never be another, my dear. You will always be m'lady. But truly, how do you think I fare as a 'Brave Sir Ninja?'" I joked.

"Actually, I think you've been doing quite well. And I wouldn't say it's all because of your armor, either. Surely it is of great help, and many thanks are still owed to all those who helped us get it for you. But it is you who makes it all work. Your training as a Paladin has given you much knowledge to bring to the table of the Ninja. You have strengths and weaknesses with each class, sweetie."

"Yeah--my Ninja relies and casting shadows to prevent damage, and thus fast hitting mobs like the Mandies in the jungle can prove a triffle more difficult than other mobs. My Paladin, however, relies on straight defense and vitality to take less damage, as well as the ability to magically heal some of that damage away. However, I have limited mana with which to heal myself as a Paladin, whereas I am limited only by the amount of gil I wish to spend on shihei as a Ninja. So my Ninja might be able to survive longer against the same mob... that is, once I reach the same level as my Paladin?"

"Perhaps, but everyone needs a team, darling," she replied. "While your Ninja may often need less support from the mages to heal you, your Paladin has much more natural abilities to keep the attention of our prey focused on you and you alone."

"This is true.. and this will remain true even once both my Ninja and my Paladin have reached level 75. However, I'd have to say that as an average geared Ninja, I will be naturally better at dealing damage than I could as an average geared Paladin. Those shuriken, for example, are quite handy," I remarked. "Well, perhaps we can ponder this more later. It seems our party has finally arrived, dear."

Friday, April 6, 2007

A new milestone!

Lightningday, June 16, 1019

Hello! I'm back--and in less than a tenth of the time than my last post! Wow, more than six years went by between my last post and the one before it. This time around it is less than six months later. My, how the time flies. I'd bet it's only been a week's time back on Earth. Time seems to pass much faster here, but somehow we have the energy to adventure for several days at a time without the need for rest. It is quite a magnificient phenomenon...

Anyways, I have reached a grand milestone in my career here. I've joined the ranks of Artisan Goldsmiths and exchanged the credits I've earned along the way for my Guild Apron!! As I placed the top proudly around my neck and quickly tied the ropes, I instantly felt more powerful at my craft and wondered what I should do next. This new found power would not only help me create better, stronger armor, but because of it, I would be even better at protecting my companions and keeping the attention of our prey focused on me. I pity the poor souless creatures that would dare try to harm me now. I feel even worse for the beastman that DO have a soul, for I shall be even greater now at vanquishing them and banishing their soul to hell.

Well, maybe it isn't that useful, but it's still a great milestone. It will be easier to increase skill in any future attempts and I will have slightly better chances at making high quality items with my craft. And, I will be much more recognizable as an accomplished Goldsmith. It's not that I desire the fame (well, maybe a little). If my countrymen need something hand-crafted with skill that only a Goldsmith can master, more of them may now look to me for such assistance.

Remember, me dear friends. For as long as I have breath, I will always be happy to lend my assistance in any way for which I am able.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A short hello


Wow! Has it been six years here already? I feel like I've only aged a few months! Even so, it's good to talk to you again, dear friend.

Much has happened to me since last we spoke. I'm an even stronger Paladin and a higher-ranking Bastokan now. Beating up those back-talking Colibris and those fire-breathing crawlers ("Erucas" they call them on that continent) has taken quite a toll on me. My dear wife Eponine has been faithfully fighting alongside me for quite a while now. Those first few levels went by very quickly, some lasting as short as an hour. Our moogles tell us we're about half way to level sixty-three now. She plays the red-mage class very well. Without her incredible gift of healing, I would have quite literally died many times along the way. My companions and I have not had much time to venture out to the new continent lately, and so I have taken up the ways of the Warrior and the ways of the Ninja again.

My gear had become quite dusty lying in mog house for a good couple of a years or so. Thankfully my moogle was able to get it dry-cleaned for me. When last I played warrior I was using a some military weapons I bought from someone who did something called a "Garrison." Since then I've done my inner Warrior's artifact weapon quest and purchased something called a "Combat Caster's axe" to go with it from a generous Mithra. Yeah, not exactly very exciting, but the partys I got in with this equipment were a blast! I've been in a set party on various jobs with a Corsair and my faithful wife (this time joining the fray as a Bard) since we were in Valkrum Dunes. I played as a Red Mage until we left altepa and then decided that my Warrior would better compliment the party. Now that we've caught up to where I left my Ninja, I can be an ever better compliment to the party. All I have to do now is smack a few million gil worth of items out of the local wildlife...

Well, I must go for now. Other duties call. It was good to talk to you again, friend. Perhaps I will write more again soon.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Completion Part 3 (OOC)

So a friend reads my Part 2 post and says "We all need to find a new game to play, hopefully one that doesnt suck the life outta you." I know he meant well, but he's also one of the players who left FFXI to play PSU. Of course, he also comes back to FFXI a lot too (11 days straight so far), but won't admit that "he's back." :P

So yeah, about that... That's an interesting topic. Eponine and I have sworn off other MMOs. We love playing FFXI and I have no doubt that her and I would enjoy PSU or maybe even WoW (the game to which half of Bob's LS [our co workers] moved) or whatever... However, once we're done with FF11, we're done with MMOs--permanently. I don't want to join another MMO only to see all the friends I make eventually leave that one too. I could then go join that new MMO and probably end up leaving the previous one behind (again) without feeling like I finished it (again). Then I'd have to learn yet another game (again), only to leave that game in a few years too (again), etc... It's an ugly cycle in which we don't wish to participate. MMOs have such a vast amount of content, that I could probably never feel like I have "completed" them. That's important to me. I like getting to the end of an RPG and watching it say "The End." I feel like I've completed something. I might not ever see that with FFXI--especially if we were to quit now after all our hard work. It's funny, I didn't want to play FF11 when I first heard about it and learned it had a monthly fee. Believe it or not, I was also (originally) turned off by the fact that EXP Parties seemed to be a large majority of the game. I actually rated leveling much lower than everything else in previous RPGs. I liked fighting the bosses and fighting each of the normal mobs two or three times each, but I hated the random battles. I liked the mini games and the storyline and the music much more. I might (big maybe) have still bought most of the games if they were just long 40-60 hour movies with boss fights and mini games strewn in between and what not... (That's probably pushing it a bit far, but you get the idea). Nowadays I love joining the set party every week (or so) to level up my PLD with them. It's great fun. I don't think I enjoy the "pickup parties" in my other jobs quite as much, but I do enjoy them. Maybe when I get them closer to 60 I will enjoy them more, but probably not. I think it's just the social aspect of getting to party with my friends (all of which in that set party I know from real life) that I enjoy :)

So, yeah. This MMO (like others, in general) is sucking the life out of us. It's not that I neccessarily mind this problem, and it's not happening so fast that we can't recover or that our real life is ruined somehow. In fact, I've voluntarily played FF for something crazy like 152 Earth days so far (since March 2005), and I still want to play more. But there are simply so many other things that we used to do BEFORE we played FF11, that we don't want to be involved in another MMO after this. Sure, we'll probably just fill our time with other video games, movies, tv, board games, or whatever, but we won't feel rushed like we sort of do with FFXI. And I'll probably enjoy talking to my coworkers about the events in the MMOs they play, and watching videos on YouTube about it (i.e. living vicariously through them, haha).

There's soo much to do in this game that I wonder if I'll even be able to finish the main storylines (missions) before the player base fades. I hate to admit it, but I can see the effects of this too. Apukohai mentioned to me that a few nights ago during a peak play time, there was only 100 people seeking to level up a job.

I wouldn't say FFXI has become a grind for us or anything. I still tend to play during a large majority of my free time, but I enjoy it and I do it of my free will. I don't do it because I feel I need to do it. Eponine generally only plays when I play, but that's normal for her. I enjoy it a bit more and she needs a bit of a break from it when I'm at work (i.e., she's not an addict like I am :P). (Oh and FYI--we're not total geeks. (lol) We still have a wonderful social life! We go out on a date (outside!) every two weeks, goto church every Sunday, and do other various things that aren't related to the game.)

Also, because there is just SOO much to do, I haven't taken the time to enjoy many of the other offline games I've bought. I have the following sitting on my shelves (in Chronological purchase order, to the best my memory serves me): LUNAR: Silver Star Story Complete (PSX Version), LUNAR 2: Eternal Blue Complete (Also for PSX), FF1 - FF6 (Spanning several re-release CDs for PSX), Enter The Matrix (PS2 Version), Wild Arms 3, Star Ocean 3: TtEoT, FF7:DoC, FF12, XenoSaga 3, Matrix: Path of Neo. Yes, that's 15 games. I probably am missing some, but that list will prove my point well enough. Most of those games listed have been played for 5 hours or less. FF12 (40+ hrs so, purchased on release date 3 months ago) and FF7:DoC (only 10 hours or so, purchased even longer ago) are the only exceptions. Several of those titles have not even been opened yet!! It's not that I can't stop playing FF11 to play those games, it's that I simply don't. I played most of them when I first bought them, and others were purchased as much as a year prior to when I started playing FF11. (Those games I just hadn't had a chance to get to, as I was enjoying other games that I had purchased... And because I started FF11, I haven't yet taken the time to play them.) I could easily put down FF11 and play the other games at anytime. During exteneded maintenance or when I am geared up and waiting to do some event (and don't feel like doing anything else while I wait to exp with someone or do a mission, or whatever), I do play them--but those times are rare. There is simply SOO much to do in FF11, that I have allowed it to consume a large majority of my time. It is like crack, I will readily admit my addiction, and I like it. If I join another MMO, I have no doubt that I'll do the same thing again. Everyone who has left tells me that their new MMO can put "picked up and put down in an hour" or what not. They say that WoW or PSU (or whatever) doesn't take as much time as FF11 does. Maybe that's true, but it wouldn't be for me. I'm sure I'd voluntarily let it suck me in and I'd enjoy it like the drug that is FF11.

So... in reply, I must say {No thanks.} You guys will always be a close group of friends with a special place in my heart, even if you all leave Vana'diel one day. I will never forget all the great adventures we have had and the many more we will hopefully continue to have in the future. But here in Vana'diel is where I must finish my days. When the last of us has left, I will cherish the memories we all had together, but where you go I simply cannot follow.