Joined 01/23/2012

Fuzzy pickles!

59 Posts

So I’ve been a bit absent from the Cheerful Ghost community for a little while, and it’s largely because I decided to pick up FFXI again. Now that I’m about two weeks into my return to the game I wanted to post some thoughts on how the game has changed since I quit in 2009.


Leveling in FFXI use to be a long process. After soloing yourself to about level 10, you needed a full group (six people) in a balanced party of 1 tank, 1 healer, 1 support, and 3 damage dealers and a good camp to farm higher level monsters (higher levels gave more XP). If you had a good party you could expect to gain a couple levels per night of solid leveling. Holy crap has that changed! Leveling is insanely fast now compared to the last time I played. First of all, I soloed two jobs to 15 without breaking a sweat. One of my jobs, I took from 20 to 30 in two hours with one XP party in Gusgen Mines (which, I might add, use to be a BAD place to try and xp).
The difference is there are now Field Guides / Ground Tomes scattered around the world that offer you little auto-repeating quests that grant you bonus xp and gil (money) for every X amount of mobs you kill. XP party’s now exploit these quests for insane XP by forming an alliance and just slaughtering everything in a zone. It doesn’t matter that you only get 20 xp per mob when every 6 kills nets you a bonus 1k. There’s no party dynamic in leveling anymore, you just throw as many people at the mobs as you can and if you have curing abilities you help keep everyone healthy.

This was probably the most jarring change for me. Part of the reason I picked the game up was because I missed playing in a party, skillchaining and magic bursting with other players. That said, the new leveling system I think is a benefit to the game. Because of how strict the old party set up use to be, certain jobs had trouble finding groups to level with because of a general overabundance of damage dealers and a lack of healers and tanks. That’s not an issue anymore. Plus even in 2009 people had generally given up on skillchains / magic bursts in favor of just spamming abilities.


The community in FFXI was always its strongest asset. Because the game forces you to work in a group early in the game it is very easy to find a linkshell (guild) or another group of players to join up with. Outside the game, back in 2009 there was no official FFXI forums, so the community built their own sites/forums to help each other and collect/share data and information on the game. Although there are official forums now, it looks like people are still mostly active on the fan sites.

The player base itself has shrunk considerably, but that’s to be expected for a game that’s so old. Back in 2009 at any given time there use to be around 3k-4k on the Cerberus server, I checked the population the other day it was around 1.2k. However, Square Enix has announced a new expansion for FFXI, so it’s expected that we’ll see an influx of new and returning players. Plus they’re adding 2 new jobs, so there will be a lot more low level people for me to join up with (hopefully) soon.


This has always been FFXI’s biggest weakness, and unfortunately it still is. Making money, especially for low level characters, is still difficult. Although it looks like the wild inflation that wrecked the economy back when I was previously playing the game has been largely fixed, new problems have popped up that are probably related to the decrease in the player base. Low level gear is almost non-existent on the auction house and I’ve struggled to keep my character in gear appropriate for my level. Either the items are too expensive or they’re just not there. I’ve actually bought several pieces of gear from NPC merchants, which use to be unheard of because the players could craft better, cheaper armor and sell them on the auction house. However due to the speed that you level in the game and the fact that you level on easier mobs, having maxed gear is much, much, MUCH less important than it use to be.

Also, some items that are vital to completing quests without high level help (Sneak oils and Invisible powders that let you avoid aggroing mobs) are ridiculously expensive now. I’ve been talking with higher level players and they have told me that making money is a lot easier later in the game, but that doesn’t really help me yet (or other new players).

Another hurdle to making money I’ve noticed is that due to the smaller player base (and therefore lower demand) items take longer to sell on the auction house. On the other hand, I’ve noticed that competition for farming mobs is almost non-existent. Monsters that I use to never see wandering around because they were farmed for items I now see in an abundance.

Overall impressions and some side notes:

Overall, I’ve actually been having a lot of fun rampaging through Vana’diel again. The game is so much easier now. Level caps have been removed from a lot of content, making it possible to solo a lot of missions / quests that you otherwise couldn’t before. Leveling is ridiculously easy now, possibly even easier than other MMO’s like WoW. While I’ve certainly hit a few snags along the way, none of them have been that bad. Having said that, a lot of my ease is because I have experience playing the game previously. While the game has made some serious strides towards making the game more welcoming to new players, especially the addition of a new low level quest line that provided some basic gear and some significant starting money, I still think a total newbie would have some problems if they don’t have at least one more experienced friend also playing the game with them.

So my wife and I use to play FFXI from 2004 to around 2009. We've decided we are going to relive the glory days (so to speak) and pick FFXI back up at least until Summer is over and have some fun going through all the low level stuff on a new character. I know at least one other CheerfulGhoster out there had FFXI too, so I wanted to extend an invite to anyone who wants to join us on the Cerberus server. My character name is Taion and my wife is Ktara and we're currently based in the city of Bastok (but we have the means to bring you to us if you want to start somewhere else for any reason.)

If anyone has never played FFXI before but wants to join us, let me know and I'll pick you up a Gold World pass that lets you start out with some extra items to get you started. (returning players are ineligible I believe, sorry). FFXI costs $20 bucks as a download for the full game and all expansions.

If we get a couple players I'll even make us our own CheerfulGhost linkshell (guild).

I'm going to do something different this week for Retro Tuesday. This week I want to hear everyones stories about your very first video game experience. I'll start off the discussion.

Although it's entirely possible I had played games earlier, my first real memory of playing video games was when I was around 4 years old and my parents bought us a NES, complete with Duck Hunt, Gyromite, and ROB the robot (pictured above). :)

Even by 1987 standards ROB was pretty lame, but to 4 year old me it was "OMG A ROBOT IN MY LIVING ROOM!!!" I was pretty hooked. I think there were only two games that worked with ROB, and as it was I only ever had Gyromite. When you were playing Gyromite you would need ROB to press buttons on the controller to open and close gates for you so you could advance around the stage and avoid enemies. You'd pause the screen (which made the screen turn blue) and then the next button you pushed ROB would mimic the action about 5 minutes later. :P But, still, OMG ROBOT!

Then my parents bought Legend of Zelda, and it was all over for me. :)

Scott Pilgrim vs. Smash Bros.

Captain Falcon is not impressed!

Note: Picture is from Bryan Lee O'Malley's blog. Here was the attached description: "this was drawn specifically for me by Aaron Ancheta, junior assistant on vol 6."

Hey CheerfulGhosters out there, anyone taking part in The Secret World beta test this weekend? I got an invite and will be on at least Friday night if not the rest of the weekend.

Ok so I'm not sure if this game qualifies for "retro" but it is pretty old at this point, so I'm busting it out for Retro Tuesday.

If you're unfamiliar with the Harvest Moon franchise, this series of games usually revolves around working on a farm and turning it from a rundown field of rocks and tree stumps into a profitable ranch, all while trying to get married and make friends with your neighbors. It sounds really lame but the games are actually a lot of fun. It's one of those rare games that is fun without any kind of fighting at all.

This was the first Harvest Moon game I ever played and from what I've read on-line it's considered by a lot of fans to be the best in the series. Growing your crops and raising your animals is surprisingly fun and so is trying to squeeze as much activities into each day before either time runs out or your character collapses from exhaustion. The pacing in this game is really done well. The days are just long enough to let you accomplish several tasks each day but short enough to keep you rushing from one activity to the next and keeping the game moving quickly.

There's also a constant feeling of progression which is nice. Whether your expanding your house, adding more animals to your barn, leveling your tools, increasing your characters energy, training your horse and dog for their respective races. or wooing the eligible ladies in the village you constantly feel like you're accomplishing something to improve your character or your farm. It's also very easy to get wrapped up in the game and not realize a couple hours have gone by.

Unfortunately this game hasn't made it to the Virtual console, so if you want to give it a shot you'll have to track it down on amazon or eBay for the N64. Of course there are other means to acquire the game, but you probably already know that. :)

For my contribution to retro games Tuesday I'm busting out one of my favorite games. On the surface this game actually doesn't look that great. The graphics are kind of lack-luster compared to some of the other SNES games that came out around the same time and the game play is pretty basic. However the game is absolutely dripping with humor and charm. There's a lot to praise about this game and I'd like to point out a few of my favorites. I'll try to do so without giving any spoilers away for the few of you who might not have played this (*cough*Jon*cough*).

The humor in this game is great. The game is not afraid to poke fun at itself or RPG's in general. At times the humor is a little surreal/bizarre but if you can sit through a Monty Python movie then this shouldn't bother you. :)

I love that the game has a modern (well, 1990's) setting instead of the usual fantasy setting. It really made the game stand out and I actually can't think of any other modern setting RPG's off the top of my head. Plus pizza makes a much better healing item than a potion in my opinion. (I also always get a craving for pizza whenever I play this...)

I know I called the graphics lackluster earlier, but actually I really like the art style for the game. Especially the art in the strategy guide. Speaking of...

This game came with its strategy guide and it is amazing. The guide is written like a travel guide and includes news paper articles for the different towns you visit, advertisements for the various shops, and all kinds of special little things that make this, in my opinion, the greatest strategy guide ever. Seriously, if you can manage to track down a copy of this game with the guide and you won't have to sell a kidney to buy it, do so!

Oh, and you can fight New Age Retro Hippies. They even have their owns special theme music!

I could confess my love for this game all night but I'll go ahead and stop here. It's really unfortunate that they are not offering this game on the Wii virtual console or as a DS/3DS port, so if you don't already own the game you'll need to track it down on eBay or find a ROM file for it. Still, if you want a fun RPG from the SNES's prime days I cannot recommend this game enough!

Did I mention that the guide also came with scratch-n-sniff cards that smelt like bosses/characters from the game? 'cause it did!

I actually meant to post this as part of Retro games Tuesday, but I kept getting side tracked so now it's a day late.

This was the first RPG I ever played (unless Zelda/Zelda II counts). Unfortunately I missed the opportunity to pick this up for free when they were giving it away with a Nintendo Power subscription but I picked it up as a used game a couple years later. I loved that you could explore just about anywhere you wanted to. For the most part your only restriction was that monsters got tougher the farther you traveled out.

As a kid I loved this game, but unfortunately it really has not aged well. I tried playing it again a couple years ago and the amount of time you need to spend grinding mobs to level up gets old really fast. But this game brought me many hours of fun as a kid so I can't help but still love this game. Occasionally I'll load up the ROM and play for a few minutes, just for the nostalgia. :)

I never really got into any of the other Dragon Warrior/Quest games. Did any of you guys play any of the sequels? Were they any good?

Minecraft gets a lot of love on this site (and rightfully so, that game is great) but I thought I'd bring up another, somewhat similar game. I picked up Terraria last summer during the insane Steam sales that were going on after a friend recommended it. I've heard some people call this game a Minecraft clone, and they do share similar themes, but really they are two very different games.

Terraria plays like a 2D action/RPG/platformer with a heavy emphasis on combat and crafting. While overall I like Minecraft better, there's a lot more "game" in Terraria. In Terraria as you build houses and meet certain criteria NPC's will move into your village. For example: Once you amass a certain amount of money a Merchant NPC will move into one of your houses. In addition to adding new NPC's to your village, you also have to defend it from monsters. Monsters spawn during day or night, but the enemies at night are stronger and more dangerous. Every once in awhile you'll also have a "blood moon" where waves of Zombies will invade your village and can even break through doors to get to you and your villagers. I've also read that after certain conditions are met you can have a Goblin army invade, but I've never had that happen yet.

There's also a fair amount of character progression. As you explore you'll find better armor and weapons as well as items that increase your health and magic reserves. You'll also find specialty items like a grappling hook which is basically the hook-shot from Zelda. Your character also persists between worlds unlike in Minecraft, so if you start a new world anything in your inventory carries over with you as well as your health/magic levels. You can also find a piggy-bank that can be used as a multi-world storage to transfer other items between your worlds which is a nice touch.

The crafting is very simple too. Whenever you open your inventory there is a list of all the items you can currently create with the items you have and if there's any crafting items near by (such as a work bench or furnace). Just click on the item you want to make and you're done!

There's also some pretty crazy boss battles. So far I've only fought one boss character and that was after I summoned him by accident. The boss, which was a giant flying eyeball, pretty thoroughly kicked my butt several times before i finally took him down.

The weakest parts of the game for me are the creative and exploration aspects. Because the game is 2D even the biggest most grand castles or houses feel, well, flat and kind of boring. Exploration is, well, I dunno why I didn't really like the exploration that much. There is a lot of stuff to find in the game and there's treasure everywhere. Navigating underground is kind of a pain until you find the hook-shot because it's pretty easy to get stuck in a hole or cavern that you have to dig/build your way out of. Also, enemies constantly respawn so you have to keep clearing them out while trying to look around and after awhile it can feel a little bit like a chore.

Overall the game is great though, and the graphics and gameplay give it a fun retro feel. I've never played it with anyone else, but like Minecraft you can set up a multiplayer server and play with friends. And last but not least, the game is also pretty cheap on Steam and I see it go on sale pretty often (I paid $10, I've seen it as low as $5 though). I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who liked Minecraft but didn't like the combat, or for anyone looking for a good retro action/RPG experience.

I got this game for Christmas and I finally convinced some people to sit down and play with me. (Side note: It should really not be that hard to convince people to try something new!)

This game is awesome! We had so much fun even though it was our first time playing and we lost pretty bad lol.

The premise of the game is that four diseases have broken out in different parts of the world and the players work cooperatively to treat the diseases and eventually find the cures for them. On the players turn they have 4 actions they can spend either moving around the map or treating cities that have been infected. Your objective is to discover all four cures before one of the various losing conditions are met. Each player is also randomly dealt a special "role" for the game, which grants them a special ability or trait. For example: you need 5 cards of the same color to discover a cure, but the Scientist only needs 4.

After a player has spent all their actions and drawn their player cards, they have to take on the role of the Infecter before the next players turn. First you draw a number of infection cards based on the current infection rate, which increases as the game goes on. Each card drawn adds one disease marker to that city. If a city already has 3 markers on it then an "Outbreak" occurs and that disease now spreads to all the surrounding cities. This is where things get crazy, because this can set off chain reactions with the surrounding cities if they also have three disease markers. This is how we lost our first game. :)

Hidden in the player cards are a certain number of Epidemic cards (you choose how many to put in there depending on how difficult you want the game to be). When one of these cards are pulled it increases the infection rate and also immediately places 3 disease markers on a city. You then have to shuffle the infect card discard pile and place them back on top of the deck.

It's game over if one of the following occurs: You need to place a disease markers but are out of that color, you have no more player cards in the deck, or if a total of 8 outbreaks have occurred.

Once a disease is cured, it becomes easier to remove markers from the board. If a disease is cured and you successfully remove all the markers of that color, the disease is eradicated and you no longer have to place any markers of that color on the board.

What originally got me interested in this game is the cooperative nature of the game. Either all players win or all players loose and it really does take a lot of coordination among the players to keep the various diseases in check while trying to find cures. All the different roles the players can be assigned work very well with each other and create a sort of synergy with the players if used right.

The games seems more complicated than it really is. No one in my group had ever played this before but we all picked it up pretty quick. All in all we had an awesome time playing this game. It's very intense and things spiral out of control very quick, but in a good way. :) I would highly recommend this to pretty much anyone who likes board games, but especially someone who wants a very different type of board game. I give it a big two thumbs up! d (^.^) b

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