Let’s do this!

I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time. What “this” means exactly is still coming into focus. The gist of it is that I want to start focusing on growing our blog again. I feel like over the years this blog has been nothing but reactive, and though we have evolved, it has been because we are acted upon by outside forces rather than taking the reins. As a result, things haven’t been as great as I would have liked.

When we first started, MMORPGs were still in their hyping heyday. All we had to do was mention a game and we would have thousands of readers, instant first-page Google rankings, and developers banging down our door.  Things started to unravel a bit from there. The hype machine died, people matured (we matured), RSS feed readers went away, video killed the radio blogger star (Youtube and Twitch), Graev got busy doing other stuff leaving me to blog alone, and the MMORPG industry tanked hard. The environment has undoubtedly changed.

I still believe in blogging as a medium people enjoy and seek after. The internet is full of sh…tuff. When people have questions about games or want to learn more, I have always believed bloggers can provide that personalized touch. I love Googling, “How to make Money in WoD 6.2” and having lots of personal blogs come up with people’s strategies. I’m even okay seeing the websites like Icy-veins or WoWhead with guides. I love seeing people create original, helpful content. I get nerdchills from this stuff.

A few months ago you guys got me thinking about focusing on work and careers. Some of you mentioned how you put time into your careers and suddenly skyrocketed. I recently did the same. I not only got a promotion with more income, but I also started my own company on the side and partnered to start an additional side venture. I feel the need to justify why I’ve been neglecting my writing and gaming like I have, and that’s the best I can do.

Here’s how we’re going to get things going again.

You’re going to start seeing something new like this at the end of each post just about the comments:

Subscribe for Gaming Updates

I’m growing my email list. No, scratch that. I’m STARTING my email list. I know what you’re thinking: Keen has been blogging for almost a decade, he’s a marketer, and he hasn’t been building an email list? Yeah, don’t get me started. Look guys, subscribe will you? You’ll be notified each morning if I posted a new post the previous day. If I didn’t post something the previous day (shame on me) then you won’t get an email. I’ll never spam you. What I’m also going to do is give those people who subscribe first dibs on Beta key, game keys, and just about any goodies we get. I get so much crap to give away, and I want to use it to bribe entice you to give me your email. Once you give me your email, you won’t see that box anymore.

You’re also going to see more videos. Stop laughing. No seriously, you’re hurting my feelings. Yes, I’ve said it a dozen times. I know. You’re laughing again. I’ve upgraded my internet now and I can actually stream. I can also actually record my iPhone/iPad/etc now. That means lots of videos regardless of the platform.

I’m ramping up my coverage of new games. I need to do a better job of getting you guys TIMELY information. None of this reviews 2-3 months after a game launches. I also need to cover older games, weird games, odd games, etc. I need your help. Tell me what you’re interested in. Comment. Start a conversation. Stop lurking — there are 600 of you return visitors lurking every single day.

There will also be some technology changes around here. Just like my email opt in stuff, I’m going to start cranking out some pretty cool things to grow the blog. I’ll reserve those reveals for later.

Lastly, I’m bringing Graev back. I’m going to tie one of those elvish ropes around his ankle and drag his smeagol arse back here kicking and screaming. He plays 100x more games than I do. He’s also 100x better at most of them. I need him. You need him. Email him: graev@keenandgraev.com and tell him to come back. I think I’ve almost got him, and you can help.

There’s more to come, guys. I’m going to have the best Legion coverage I can provide. I’ll be cranking out the iOS game coverage — In fact, I have a few developers pushing me beta versions that they’re going to let me share. I want to start writing more tips and useful info like I used to. Remember that LOTRO guide? That thing brought in THOUSANDS of people every month, and my data shows a 25% conversion of those visitors into regular monthly readers. That’s insane, and proves I need to do that more. Time to stop being lazy, and time to put into practice here what I help others do on a daily basis.

Let’s do this!

WoW & FF11

Little bit of an update on what I’m up to for you guys. Right now I’m playing two MMOs: World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy 11. It’s the oddest feeling swapping between these two radically different games.

Where I’m at in WoW

I’m still on the Fenris server. You’ll recall I returned to WoW and followed my friends here to the Alliance side after spending most of my previous years as Horde. Thankfully, this server is PvE so I don’t have to worry about the ganking I experienced on Emerald Dream. I’m playing a Monk right now, and while it’s decently fun, I just don’t see myself playing one for too long. I was glad to see that Legion is announced for the end of August, and that I’ll be able to hopefully start my Gnome Hunter in the prelaunch patch in July (hoping it comes in July).

Right now I’m level 88’ish questing in Pandaria. My friends and I were leveling pretty tight together for 1-70, but due to play time conflicts and ::cough:: patience issues ::cough:: one person shot up quickly to 90, and has since jumped to 97 in like a day. Our spread looks like this: 85, 88, 98 (probably 100 now). My friend who is 85 hates questing — I do too, can’t blame him there — so he’s leveling slowly through BGs and the occasional dungeon.

With 4 months to go until Legion, I think I’ll keep my sub active. I have 3k gold to my name and I would like to see that number grow substantially before Legion launch. I’ll likely fiddle with my Garrison a bit and experience the Alliance side of WoD. I can already tell you that I think I like Alliance better. Something about the way everything looks appeals to me more than Horde.

Noobing it up in FF11

I’m playing on the Nasomi FF11 server with some of my other friends. I still have no idea what I’m doing. I orginally rolled my Taru RDM in Bastok, but decided that I would go San d’oria instead, so I deleted Keen and rerolled. Getting to level 5 really took no time at all, and I’m already level 7.5 again after just an hour or so of grinding. I’ve changed my mind and decided that instead of SMN/RDM I’ll go RDM/WHM. I think that’ll be a really good support character and welcomed into groups.

FF11 is way more complex than EQ. In EQ you simply pick a class, level up, and get abilities/gear. FF11 requires a lot more from the player in terms of decisions and what to do. I find myself at a complete loss, but that’s part of my adventure I suppose. Right now my goal is to slay rabbits until I can’t stand it anymore, then hopefully reach level 10 or so and head the this renowned “Dunes” place where supposedly grouping is easier.

The interface is FF11’s biggest problem. Everything from targeting to executing abilities takes an extra step. I feel like I’m slow and clunky to respond as I try and figure out something as simple as targeting a member of my group. I’m using a controller to make the experience feel less wonky, and with macros I think I might be getting the hang of it somewhat. I created a macro where if I press left trigger then A, I can cast cure on myself immediately — that’s pretty useful. I just have to figure out how a group will even work, and what’s expected from me. Should be interesting.  Again, if you have any FF11 tips — quests I should do, items I should look for, places I should go, etc. — please let me know. I’m a sponge ready to soak up the useful knowledge.

Playing FFXI on Nasomi

keen-ffxi-nasomi

A couple of members in the K&G Community insisted that I give Nasomi, the new(ish?) FF11 “community” server, a try. I thought it was pretty new, but looking around I think it has been here for a few years. I know that people are starting to talk about it more, and there’s a lot of buzz around the population growing with new players to almost 1000 people. Now, I’m one of them.

It took a lot of insisting for me to finally buckle and go through the rigorous installation process. The detailed instructions are 12 pages long. Having played FF11 when it very first came to NA, I can tell you it wasn’t very easy back then either. PlayOnline sucks.

I’ll skip the boring details of my epic installation adventure, and how it took hours to get my controller to work, and get right to the details.

My character is named Keen, and I’m a Red Mage. I decided on Red Mage because I like the idea of being good at lots of stuff. I know that RDM are decent combined with other classes — or I hope so. I’m probably going to do RDM combined with Summoner. Can people confirm that this is a good combination of classes?

FFXI is confusing. I come from the EverQuest era of MMORPGs, so I’m typically okay with little to no hand holding, but this is on a whole different level. Much of the confusion stems from the UI, which is designed to hide menus behind menus behind odd labels. Using a controller makes it seem less wonky (keyboard/mouse forget about it), but that’s just the controls. Finding things in-game confuses me. Knowing what to do in-game confuses me as well. I pretty much had no idea where to go or what to do.

Thankfully I’m playing alongside one of my friends. He is guiding me by the hand around all the places in town where I’m supposed to go. Otherwise, I think I might still be running around trying to find out how to leave the city.

I reached level 5 last night. Seems like leveling up is similar to EverQuest: Go out and kill stuff. I like that model! I like it even more when I’m in a group, which apparently starts around level 13. I’ll give it a shot until then and see what the game is supposed to feel like.

Anyone else playing? Anyone have FF11 advice? I’m going in pretty open-minded while hoping that find that MMO experience I crave.

Kingdom Hearts Unchained X Tips

Graev KHUX

So apparently Graev is like a savant at Kingdom Hearts Unchained X (KHUx). He’ll downplay his awesomeness by saying he’s the worst player in his group (like a guild) but last I checked he’s in the top players (the above image is old) in the game. I started picking his brain for all kinds of tips and he schooled me on how to become great at KHUx.

Know Your Medal Types

I completely glossed over this earlier, but the medal types are Red (Strength), Blue (Magic), and Green (Speed). Red beats green, green beats blue, and blue beats red. Enemies will come in different varieties and can be countered more easily when using the appropriate medal type.

Level-up-medals

Level Up & Evolve Your Medals

Here’s something I didn’t really know much about, but apparently leveling medals is not only important — it’s imperative. Huey, Dewey, and Louie are used to level up medals corresponding to their color. Leveling up my Mickey Medal, I want to use Dewey medals. These get dragged into the Mickey Medal and combined into it (with some Munny) to create a stronger version of the medal. Once max level, the medal can evolve using special medals like the Three Fairies — also conveniently color coded for the 3 medal types.

get-better-medals-in-khux

Get the Daily Deal

When starting out, the Daily Deal (600 Jewels for 3 Medals) is really good. I received several 5 star with ability medals that have propelled me waaaay ahead. Considering how easily they flood you with gems early on, this can be a good way to spend them.

avatar-board-in-khux

Unlock Bonuses on the Avatar Board

Definitely visit the Avatar Board and spend your Avatar Coins to get bonuses. Don’t worry about going for the cosmetic upgrades, unless you really want them. The bonuses are worth it because you’ll get more AP (used for running missions), more HP, and more Keyblade cost capacity.

Play Lots During the Grand Opening Celebration

All month long the AP cost for all quests is HALVED. That means you’ll be able to do twice as many missions before having to stop and wait for AP to recharge. Yes, this is a gimmick to get you to spend money to regen your AP. It’s a common mobile game tool to limit how much you play in order to get you to pay to play more. But when you unlock the Avatar Board bonuses and play during this event you’ll be grateful you didn’t wait — especially for those special evolve mission rewards.

Class Orders Won’t Be Garrisons, But Close Enough?

WoW Class Order Hall Missions

I haven’t followed WoW’s Legion expansion development very closely, but seeing that I am now back in WoW and playing on a weekly (not daily) basis it might be time to start following it a bit more.

You might recall from my last trip into WoW that I liked the Garrisons introduced in WoD. I also enjoy games like Stardew Valley, Harvest Moon, etc., where I’m building up something and nurturing a city form or whatever it may be. I like having my own space and upgrading it based on playing and making decisions. I thought most of the Garrison features were quite nice.

My biggest gripe with the Garrisons were that the rest of the game didn’t matter. Looks like Blizzard agrees that this was a main problem — perhaps most people agree? In the three months I played WoW, I think I went to Orgrimmar or a main city once — ONCE! My last month was spent logging in to send my guys out on missions, running a dungeon or two, but mostly just focusing on my Garrison’s rewards. They were too good not too, and as a result deflated the rest of the game.

I realize that Garrisons are/were quite polarizing. People either like them (like me) or they loathe their very existence. This loathing came into light yesterday when a WoW designer/dev commented on recent statements from Alpha testers that the new class Order Halls were starting to feel the same way. Watcher (the dev) seems pretty open about making it fact that “mission tables” are not the plan, and that questing (this big epic quest story thing) will be the main reward mechanism; AKA getting out in the world and having a quote, “proper MMO experience.”

I’m glad to see Watcher noting that there are players who enjoy aspects of the mission-table experience — that’s me. I like the idea of the epic stories tying into my experience. I seem to be getting the best of both worlds.

Class Order Halls and their missions are on the top of my anticipated-feature list.