Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Damned Foreigners...

I know I've spoken ill of reality TV in the past. Honestly, I think it may very well be the worst thing to ever happen to television in the history of the world.

Besides Full House, obviously.

Even though I generally hate reality shows, Susan and I both enjoy watching the Amazing Race.

In case you've never seen the show, the basic premise is that teams of two race around the world completing challenges in each destination. The last team to finish each show gets eliminated.

Now, me liking this show is not necessarily contrary to my dislike of reality television. The Amazing Race is about as far from reality as you can get and still call it "reality TV".

Unless you make it a daily habit to fly from country to country and complete insane and often painful events while local people laugh at you.

So... You're probably wondering why I'm bringing this up.

Well, Susan and I missed Sunday night's episode, so we had to catch the rerun.

No, I didn't download it through one of those bad, bad torrent sites. What would make you think such a thing?

Anyway, we downl... Watched the newest episode last night and I noticed something funny.

One of the teams, a pair of women who were friends, were racing through China trying to complete this leg of the race. As they went, they of course had to deal with many local people.

This is the funny part... One of the women started complaining that no one spoke english.

In China.

She was actually getting incredibly angry and rude because people in a foreign country dared to speak a foreign language.

Does that make even the smallest amount of sense?


Apparently, at no point during the race has it occurred to this woman that SHE'S THE FOREIGNER.

She's jumping in cabs and asking people for directions, stopping people on the street and asking for help, and all the time she's getting mad at them and making fun of them because they don't speak English.

Seriously. I'm not even exaggerating. She was snapping at people and making comments about them just because she was the useless one in the situation.

How dare someone in China speak Chinese? How dare they?

They must be stupid.


Because someone in the conversation is stupid and it's either:

a) the guy speaking Chinese


b) the crazy American lady running through town eating pig testicles and yelling at people because she can't understand them

Must be the Chinese guy, right?

Speaking Chinese in China... Can you even imagine?

I'm not saying this is something all Americans do when they travel. No, sir. Most people expect people in a foreign country to speak a foreign language.

That's downright logical.

Even the other teams on the race are pretty accepting of the readily obvious language barrier. They're nice and kind and do their best to communicate.

Sure, they have problems, but they don't take it out on the locals. They realize they're the problem.

Not this lady. No, she freaks out every episode yelling at people because they don't speak English.

The other racers must, apparently, be too polite to point out she doesn't speak a second language either.

I mean... I know I'm an asshole.

A big one.

But even I draw the line at openly mocking someone for not speaking English in a non-English speaking country.

It probably has something to do with my extreme dislike of prejudice.

Or the fact that I'm not retarded.

Monday, April 27, 2009


You may want to sit down because I am about to blow your F&%@ING mind.

Are you sat down?

Yoichi Wada, the president and CEO of Square Enix announced today that... You're not going to believe this... That SE takes too long to make new games.

I realize you are no doubt stunned by this announcement. I will give you a few moments to try and resolve this unbelievable news.

In other news, the president and CEO of Take Two announced that Duke Nukem is taking a little while to be released.

SE saying they take too long to produce games is like finding out water is wet.

This is not news.

Apparently, the people upstairs (and by upstairs, I mean three floors up and 5133 miles to the left) thought that this would be a stunning revelation for Square Enix fans.


I'm not saying that this is necessarily true or untrue, but Final Fantasy XIII was originally shown in 2006.

Two thousand and six.

Currently, it is 2009.

Carry the two... Find the remainder... Calculate the integral...

Yeah, that's three years for one game.

Now, I'm sure this is going to be one hell of a game. If the bajillion screenshots and previews have anything to say, it's going to make every other game look like someone threw up on your television.

But three years?


Three years is a friggin' eternity in today's world. We're used to instant gratification, instant satisfaction.

I wouldn't have to wait three years for a kidney.

I could have adopted TWO children from China in three years.

As amazing as the game will be, I don't think that in any way justifies waiting three years between games.

Yes, yes. I know they released games in between.

Still doesn't mean three years makes sense.

Now, before you start saying things like "good things take time" and "they're focusing on producing a superior product" or "shut up, [GM]Dave, you over critical bastard", let's remember that I'm on your side here.

I'm not saying they should start popping out Final Fantasy shovelware every other month. The brand obviously deserves the respect of producing highest quality titles.

The Crystal Chronicles series notwithstanding.

But there has to be some happy medium between high quality and excruciating development time.

I would settle for a few jaggies if we could shave a year or so off the schedule.

Hell, stop making every character look their clothes were chosen by blind clowns. That would HAVE to save some time.

"Needs more buckles. Start over."

Honestly, if there's anything worthwhile in them admitting that they take too long, it's that we finally know that they have noticed it, too.

It's not just us.

Maybe we'll start seeing new FF games more than every three years.

Yeah... I'll just be over here holding my breath.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Old Days...

Something odd happened today.

Are you ready for this?

I got bored.

I know. You'd figure a guy who plays video games all day, feeds people to a dragon for a living, has a wife and child at home to entertain (read: annoy this shit out of) couldn't possibly get bored.

You would be mistaken.

One of my ever so endearing personality traits is that I can go from zero to bored in a matter of seconds. I'll just finish logging out and already be looking for something to do.

Susan enjoys this trait oh so much.

I believe her exact words were "Would you stop walking around and find something to do? You're driving me insane."

So, I decided to go through my old video game collection. You know, fire up the old system and relive my youth.

All of my retro video game collection is kept in my gaming room.

In case you're not married, this roughly translates to "a cardboard box in the basement."

Apparently, a vintage NES just doesn't go with our decor.

I have no idea what a decor is.

I don't remember buying a decor.

Damned decor.

Anyway, I was going through my old games and decided to dust off the old NES. Setting it up was remarkably easy.

Step 1) Hook up cables

Step 2) Insert game

Step 3) Remove game because it didn't work

Step 4) Blow into NES until I was ready to pass out

Step 5) Pass out

Step 6) Wake up

Step 7) Reinsert game

It's just that easy.

Do you know what I spent the afternoon figuring out?

Video games used to be F&%@in' hard.

I'm not talking challenging here. As we've discussed, I actually enjoy games that present an honest challenge to the player. I like games that take skill to master.

Yeah, not these games. These games are just plain hard.

Cruel even.

Jack Thompson should really be going after the people who used to make NES games because if these things didn't lead to violence, then nothing will.

I started out with Contra. It was always one of my favorites and seemed like a good way to waste an afternoon. I popped the cartridge in (then took it out, blew on it, and put it back in) and that familiar screen from my childhood scrolled across my TV.

Withut even thinking about it, my fingers started tapping out the Konami code from muscle memory.

I can't remember to pick up milk, but I remember the Konami code.

For fun, I decided to try playing the game with just three lives instead of using the code to get thirty.

It'll be fun, my brain said.

My brain is a damned liar.

There is no way anyone could finish that game on just three lives. It just isn't possible. If you say you did it, then you are a liar.


I think the code was put in there because they knew there was no way in hell anyone would ever see the end of their game without it. They spent all of that time working on it, they might as well help people actually get there before they throw the damned NES out the nearest window.

Did I see the end of the game? Yes.

Did I do it on three lives? No.

Most games today will give you three lives and you probably won't even need two of them. Between health packs and extra lives and whatever else, you just really don't need them.

Not Contra.

After finally beating the game, I decided to pop in a nice, simple looking game. Maybe a game that would be really straight forward.

So, I pop in Silver Surfer.

I must not have ever played this game as a child because if I did, my beautiful NES would be in pieces and buried next to my parents house. I would have smashed that thing to dust.

The Silver Surfer game is just a slap in the face. I mean that literally. The game jumps out of the NES and comes over to the couch to physically assault you.

As I understand it, the Silver Surfer is gifted with near limitless power. As the harbinger of Galactus, he needed to be practically god-like.

Unfortunately, he has only one weakness.


Yes, the man who can fly through outer space and fire energy blasts gets murdered by some drywall.

Why even have guards around your fortress? Just don't open any freaking windows.

Boom. Surfer beaten.

Congratulations, Silver Surfer. You were just defeated by the nice people at Home Depot.

This game is not challenging. This game is just outright painful to play.

I guarantee that there is no end to this game. The game designers made a handful of levels just in case and then said screw it because there was no way in hell anyone would ever make it anywhere near the end.

The end of the game is actually the time you decide to stop torturing yourself and turn the damned thing off.

Since I was already inflicting so much pain on myself, I decided to just keep going. At this point, it was me versus this infernal machine and I wasn't going to lose to no damned 8-bit bitch.



Screw. You. Battletoads.

The Battletoads were a disgustingly awful rip-off of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I mean, they didn't even bother finding an animal in another phylum.

Dev1>> Hey, what's a good animal to base this thing on?
Dev1>> Dogs? Cats?
Dev2>> Turtles?
Dev1>> No, no, no.
Dev1>> We're already copying the turtles.
Dev1>> We need a different animal.
Dev2>> Hey, what's the closest possible thing to turtles?
Dev1>> Toads?
Dev2>> Do you smell that?
Dev2>> I smell money.

Like any copied product, the Battletoads suffered from an inferiority complex.

They made up for this by starring in a game designed to kill anyone who even tried to play the damned thing. If you even looked at the controller, your brain would shut down.

I tried my best to beat this game. This wasn't boredom talking anymore. It was the epic struggle between man and machine.

Actually, it was between angry man and most evil game ever created.

And... In the end... I was victorious.

Oh, I didn't beat the game. Oh, F&%@ no.

But my trusty friend, Mr. Hammer, helped settle the score.

Damned Battletoads.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

International Traumatize A Child Day


How exactly do I find myself getting roped into these things?

I have tried very hard to develop my reputation as the type of person you should not trust a child to. We are all, I'm sure, familiar with my tendency to both drink and make very poor decisions.

One usually leads to the other.

Would you trust a child to me? Would you trust me to take care of your child for a day?

I didn't think so.

Susan barely lets me take care of my own offspring.

Honestly, I can't say I really blame her.

So, you could pretty much assume no one in their right mind would ever, ever, EVER leave their child alone with me.


You know what they say about assumptions. When you assume, some lady is going to show up and give you her kid for the day.

I'm sure, you're all familiar with my nephew Jerry.

Jerry called to inform me that April 23rd is International Take Your Kids To Work Day.

This, I can only assume, is part of the plan by teachers to educate children without teaching them any actual marketable skills or abilities.

No math for you today, Billy. You get to go watch how they make flanges. Yes, flanges.

This will prepare you for the future.

So, Jerry decides to call and ask if he can go to work with his Uncle Dave. Good old Uncle Dave.

I'm sure the fact that his Uncle Dave spends all day playing video games didn't even cross his evil, little mind.

Jerry>> Uncle Dave?
[GM]Dave>> Well, that really depends.
[GM]Dave>> Tell me what you want first.
Jerry>> Well...
Jerry>> My school is doing a take your kid...
[GM]Dave>> Domino's Pizza.
[GM]Dave>> Can I take your order please?
Jerry>> Uncle Dave...
[GM]Dave>> My name's not Dave.
[GM]Dave>> My name's... Uhh...
[GM]Dave>> Mario.
Jerry>> Wow.
Jerry>> That was a little sad, Uncle Dave.
[GM]Dave>> Yeah, I froze up.
Jerry>> Anyway, my school is doing this take...
[GM]Dave>> Domino's Pizza.
[GM]Dave>> Can I...
Jerry>> I didn't want to have to do this.
Jerry>> Can you put Aunt Susan on the phone please?
[GM]Dave>> ...
[GM]Dave>> Well played, Jerry. Well played.

We decided that he would get to go to work with me.

By "we decided", I mean "Susan threatened to cut things off."

As I happen to like all of my "things", I figured it was best if I just went along.

Apparently, Jerry's dad's job just wasn't exciting or interesting enough. I guess kids just don't want to grow up to be letter sorters any more.

His mom is off work right now and Jerry wasn't allowed to go with her because "Stay at home mother isn't actually a job."

Don't even look at me. That's what the school told him. I know better than to say stupid shit like that for fear one of those stay at home moms decides to iron the side of my head.

Originally, I thought we were going to have a problem. See, Jerry lives in Oakland and I don't, so I really didn't understand how this was going to work.

Luckily, his mom decided to come and stay with us for the night.

What's the opposite of "Yay"?

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't like Anna. She's a really nice lady.

Unfortunately, it's hard to appreciate that when she's sleeping in bed with my wife and I'm sleeping on the couch.

I really could have sworn I paid for that bed...

Anyway, Jerry and I got up and went to work together this morning. By which, I of course mean that Jerry was up at the crack of dawn and running around making noise.

I almost killed him, but that would havr required me actually getting out of bed.

Luckily, he managed to find the TV and that kept him quiet so that I wouldn't have to throttle him to death.

Television: world's cheapest babysitter.

When I finally dragged my ass up and went to work, I found out exactly how long the car ride is. I found that out because I stared at the clock the entire time we were driving.

He wouldn't shut up.

Question after question after question. What are we gonna? When are we gonna? How are we gonna?

It might have been cute if I wasn't trapped in a car with him.

As I was, I stared at the clock begging the minutes to fly by and wondering if I could possibly kill myself with the little car lighter.

I do have to admit... Seeing his little face light up when we walked into the office was a real treat. His eyes glistened with joy and hope.

Oh yes, this is really preparing kids for the workforce.

I introduced him around to everyone and then we went to my desk and sat.

And sat.

And sat.

Jerry>> Umm...
Jerry>> Are we going to do anything?
[GM]Dave>> Shhhh.
[GM]Dave>> We have to wait for a GM call.
[GM]Dave>> It's a very quiet sound.
Jerry>> You mean that ding sound?
Jerry>> It's been going off every couple of minutes.
[GM]Dave>> Jerry, Jerry, Jerry...
[GM]Dave>> you just don't know how this works.
[GM]Dave>> We make them wait for 26 minutes for no reason.
[GM]Dave>> Then we pretend to listen to the problem.
[GM]Dave>> Throw in a few vague references to and we're done.
Jerry>> Aren't you going to investigate?
Jerry>> You know, find the bad guys?
[GM]Dave>> We don't like to talk about the bad guys, Jerry.
[GM]Dave>> We treat every player as an individual.
[GM]Dave>> And they're all bad guys.
Jerry>> All of them?
[GM]Dave>> Pretty much.
[GM]Dave>> There is like... One guy...
[GM]Dave>> But he thinks this is WoW, so we don't bother him.
Jerry>> Okay, but when do we get to the fun stuff?
Jerry>> Like the video games and the banning people?
[GM]Dave>> Oh, work's not really like that.

It really is like that, but I at least have to teach the kid that school is important.

You know... The school that decided not to teach him and, instead, threw him out into the street.

Okay, bad example, but I'm trying to be the nice guy.

I'm not used to this.

Jerry>> Do you have to do well in school to be a GM?

This is a difficult question to answer. On the one hand, if I say no, he might lose some motivation to achieve.

On the other hand, if I said yes, I'd be lying.

Eh, I lie all the time.

[GM]Dave>> Uhh... Of course you do.
[GM]Dave>> We use school stuff all the time here.

Don't ask where. Don't ask where.

Jerry>> Where?

Screw you, Jerry.

[GM]Dave>> Well... We...
[GM]Dave>> Oh, we use math to do our reports.
Jerry>> Like what?
[GM]Dave>> Mostly adding and subtracting.
Jerry>> I already learned all of that.
[GM]Dave>> And we have to do the... Advanced... Calculus...

At this point, a couple of nearby GMs turned to look at me.

There's no point to learning Calculus. There. I said it.

You know it's true.

Jerry>> Wow.
Jerry>> That sounds hard.
[GM]Dave>> Oh, it is.
[GM]Dave>> George over there is in charge of... Geometry.
Jerry>> Geometry?
[GM]Dave>> Yeah... We have to...


[GM]Dave>> Crap.
Jerry>> Do you use geometry in the game?
[GM]Dave>> Yeah, sure.
[GM]Dave>> That's as good an answer as any.
Jerry>> This is really cool.
[GM]Dave>> Really?
Jerry>> Yeah, I love math.
[GM]Dave>> Well, you better study hard then.

At this point, people are stifling laughter.

Everything was going really well. Jerry was learning a lot and I actually felt like I was helping him learn something, maybe turning him into a better person.

Then... Then, I had to use the bathroom.

I know I wasn't gone that long. I know that and yet, by the time I got back, Jerry was stood on my desk surrounded by people and yelling "Banned!"

The little cardboard sword someone fashioned was a nice touch, I'll give you.

By the time the day was over, I'm pretty sure I had completely destroyed any chance Jerry had of growing up to be a responsible adult. He now believes work is fun and interesting.


I mean, how many people really get to spend all day playing video games?

Oh, shut up. I mean other than me.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ding Dong...

Florida Unemployment Rate Jumps 0.000005 %
by [GM]Dave

In breaking news, Florida's unemployment rate skyrocketed by five millionths of a percent this morning. This remarkable jump had been predicted months ago, but only today became official.

The list of people who lost their jobs and, ultimately, their livelihoods today is long. Quite long.

Here is the entire list, in full:

John Bruce Thompson

While many recent job losses reflect the ailing economy, this particular downsizing relates more to a spectacular lack of any marketable or interpersonal skills. Several people on the list did have specialized training and degrees, but those credentials were revoked making them practically unemployable.

Useless, if you prefer.

One individual on the list commented that this wasn't the end and that he had his opponents right where he wanted them.

The Supreme Court of the United States responded by saying:

"Actually... Oh, this is embarrassing... This is the end.


The. End.

Go to Google Maps and type in 'The End' and you will find directions to your current location.

Destination: The End. Population: You.

Seriously. It's over.

P.S. Stop faxing us."

It will take some time for the full ramifications of today's massive job losses to be felt. Many of those affected may have trouble coming to grips with this new reality.

They're probably sitting there right now, in Florida, trying to tell themselves that everything will be okay.

I, for one, hope that all of those affected come to terms and perhaps manage to sleep well tonight.

'Cause motherf&%@er gotta find a new job tomorrow.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Race Of The Century

I don't know if you've been following it, but recently, there was a race that could very well change the face of the world as we know it. This race could completely redefine our society, our people, our culture.

The race between Obama and McCain was monumental. It was historic and inspiring.

Not the race I mean.

No, that race pales in comparison to...

Ashton Kutcher Versus CNN.

Truly a battle of the cultural icons, this race pitted a trucker hat wearing moron against a practically useless "news" network.

Apparently, in an obvious bid to try and stay socially relevant, Ashton Kutcher challenged CNN to a race to see who would be the first to have 1,000,000 followers on Twitter.

Epic, I know.

I mean, a race to see who could get the most random people to click on a button. That could be as influential as an internet petition.

Mind... Blown.

Who would win? Who would lose?

Who cares?

This was a two way race because they couldn't find a third person who was that pointless.

Who in the hell could justify this as a race that was deserving of being newsworthy?

Wow, a million people are dedicated to finding out what Ashton Kutcher had for lunch.

That's not news. That's a reason to doubt our society as a whole.

The most offensive part of the whole race is that the Kutcher team started to campaign that it was the choice of the internet community, that it was our responsibility to ensure he wins.

Umm... What?

First off, the whole thing was a race on the internet. There is no offline version of Twitter. Offline Edition

To follow Ashton Kutcher, please send 10,000 self-addressed stamped envelopes to...

If Kutcher was the choice of the entire internet community, CNN would have zero followers. Everyone else would just watch the channel.

Second, I don't remember us getting together and choosing Ashton Kutcher as our new demigod, our golden child born of human parents and the god of internet popularity.

Yes, he did have that delightful Punk'd show, a program devoted to slightly embarrassing other generally useless celebrities and improper contractions.

Still, I don't think that elevates him to near godlike status on the internet.

Though he did post a picture of Demi Moore in her underwear once. That was groundbreaking as his Twitter account became the only place you could see that.

Well... That and all the movie she's appeared naked in.

Putting a picture of a half-naked woman on the internet... Can you imagine?

That would be like throwing a cup of water into the ocean.

An ocean of boobs.

Wait a second... Mental picture forming...

What were we talking about?

Oh... The Twitter thing.

I'm pretty sure Ashton Kutcher would be among the last people that would be chosen as a representative of the internet.

That race would be a three way tie between Chuck Norris, Stephen Colbert, and a picture of a cat with a funny caption.

Any one of those things would have absolutely decimated CNN.

Not that that should have been difficult.

I'm willing to bet a full half of CNN's followers are old people who thought they were ordering MedicAlert bracelets or Matlock DVDs.

How else can you explain nearly a million people choosing to follow a news channel that would give 24 hour coverage to Paris Hilton if she sneezed too hard?

"Holy Crap! They've been covering this Octomom lady for the last 8 hours straight, but I better check their Twitter account to see if any news has broken during this commercial!"

Honestly, I'm not sure who I hate less in this situation.

I wouldn't even know about it except EA decided to give Kutcher's 1,000,000th follower a shitload of free games. This, of course, propelled it into the sphere of information I find important.

Basically, there are four criteria:

a) free stuff

b) video games

c) free video games

d) porn

So, in a move that made this race even more pointless than before, EA was basically bribing people to Follow Kutcher.

Kind of defeats the whole point when people are only signing up to win free games.

At least up until that point, all of his Followers were genuinely interested in Ashton Kutcher.

Wow... I didn't realize how sad that was until I typed it.

This kind of race illustrates exactly what is wrong with our society: our obsession with following the lives of useless, vapid people.

That and Ashton Kutcher.

And... We're Back

All of the fan packs have been sent out. If you didn't receive one at this point it means:

a) there was some non-[GM]Dave related mix up

b) you forgot to donate

c) an evil wizard stole it

d) you don't actually read the blog

Problems 'a' through 'c' are not my fault and, as such, are not my problem.

Problem 'd'... Well, that pretty much solves itself because since you don't read the blog, you don't know that you missed anything.

Then again, how would you even be reading this?

How would you even answer that question?

Why am I even typing these pointless questions?

Why are the rest of you even reading them?

Seriously, you're still reading.

You can't stop.

I'm really not going anywhere with this, so you can stop reading.

Go ahead.



This is entirely pointless. Those questions were obviously rhetorical.

Don't you know what rhetorical means?

If you actually tried to think of the answer, then you don't.

I'm going to do us both a favor. i'm just going to end it here and not type any more, so you can stop reading.


And... Stop.

Haha, I bet you thought I was going to type somethi...


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

EVERY Year?!

Okay... Sorry for the delay on the fan packs, but my wife just informed me recently that they expect you to pay you taxes every year.

I know. It's ridiculous.

Next thing, they'll want us to fill out a bunch of paperwork...

Oh, crap.

Anyway, part 1 is sent out and part 2 should come out tomorrow assuming the government hasn't had me shot by then.

Here's hoping.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Theme Week - Turnabout Part 7

And yet another week of forced gaming comes to a close.

This is like some odd Saw-esque torture we've arranged here. I'm being forced to play my beloved video games, but in perverse and unusual ways.

Are you hoping I'm going to learn something from all of this? Maybe that I'll learn some valuable lesson about being a better person and blah blah blah.

Not f&%@ing likely.

What I have learned is that you are a cruel and unusual people who seem to take a disproportionate amount of pleasure from my suffering.

I have also learned that the deep chasm between WoW and FFXI isn't as deep or... Chasm-y as I thought it was.

Shut up. That's totally a word.

Playing the first 20 levels of WoW was a pain in the ass.

The funny thing is so are the first 20 levels of FFXI.

Maybe it's the price you pay to get to the good stuff. Maybe it's a gauntlet we all have to run before we get to the parts of the game that make it all worthwhile.

Maybe video game developers are just mean, terrible people that wish only pain on the rest of humanity.

I'm kind of leaning towards that one.

The thing is that I never noticed the epic pain in the ass that is was when I was actually doing those 20 levels for the first time. Yes, I acknowledged the inherent annoyances of the system, but that was all lost in the tide of "Holy Shit! This is AWESOME!"

Every bunny slaughtered was a victory. Every path taken was an adventure.

Sure, a lot of those "adventures" involved getting horrendously murdered by goblins, but that just made the successful ones all the better.

The 20 levels were new and, because of that, they weren't as bad as they could have been.

So why did I not enjoy the first 20 levels of WoW? Why did I have to find things to like instead of ignoring the things I didn't?

Why weren't the first 20 levels of WoW like my very first 20 levels in FFXI?

The same reason my recent "first 20 levels" weren't the same.

Because I've seen what they could be.

I've seen a system that works and where a lot of those little annoyances have been corrected either through progresses in the game mechanics or self-correction by the gamers as a whole.

The game itself just gets better in the later levels because there are different challenges placed on the player and the community just gets better at handling those challenges.

I've seen a better game.

I've seen a game that I love playing.

Going back to the very beginning, back to a time before it gets better, poses the same problem as playing WoW for the first time.

They're not my game.

Everyone assumed my obvious bias towards FFXI was going to make this entire week a moot point. Most people figured I'd find no fault whatsoever with the game and go on and on about how awesome the game is.

The weird thing is that it was my bias that made those levels such an epic pain in the ass.

I was playing my game and wanting to love my game, but the problem was that it wasn't my game.

Instead, this is the crap I go through to get to my game. This is the stuff I try and minimize by heaping huge piles of gil and high level friends on top of so I can spend as little time as possible away from the good stuff.

Maybe I hated WoW because it wasn't FFXI.

I'll grant that.

But I hated this past week because it wasn't FFXI either.

Is it worth going through those 20 levels to get to the good stuff beyond it?

Oh Hell Yes.

That's not even a question. I'd level 20 accounts through the Dunes just to get to the good stuff and still feel like it was more than worth it.

Maybe WoW gets better, too. Maybe you hit level 21 and everything changes and it's so epically different it's like playing a completely new game.

Many of the comments suggested that is true.

I really hope it is.

Did I prefer the first 20 levels of FFXI?

That's hard to say.

Both experiences were vastly different. One was designed to be much easier on the player, but I felt that cheated the player out of any real challenge. The other was so challenging that many things felt more like a burden than an accomplishment.

I'll let you figure out which one is which.

I'll give you a hint: the easy one begins with W.

And rhymes with World of Warcraft.

I guess the decision really comes down to what kind of gamer you are. Personally, I need the challenge to keep me going. I need to feel like I beat something that was worth beating.

It's like taking a karate class with a group of children. Can you really feel like you've acheived something by beating the crap out of them?

Now don't get me wrong. I know you'd probably have a lot of fun beating the crap out of them.

Little tiny arms flailing.

I realize I'm greatly exaggerating the situation, but hey, that's kind of what I do.

All I know is that I chose FFXI and, if I had to do it again, I'd choose it again.

Luckily, I don't have to choose again.

Later this evening, I can delete a certain Hume White Mage and pretend this whole thing never, ever happened. I can go back to my main character and my end game activities and never have to do this again if I don't choose to.

Or unless you make me.

You wouldn't do that though, right?


Man... This really seemed like a good idea at the time.

I like All Seven, But...

I just wanted to quickly thank everyone who has donated recently. Your donations allowed me to take my lovely wife and lovely daughter out to a lovely buffet yesterday.

This place had everything. Bacon, turkey, ham, beef, shrimp, and more bacon.

There may or may not have been salads. There were rumors, but I never bothered to actually find out.

Susan ate a respectable amount. She selected certain favorites in portions that were proportionate to a regular, if somewhat large, meal.

I... I did not.

This is one of the things you should know about me. I am completely unable to control my portion sizes.

If I am left in a room with food that I am free to take with no thought to amount or serving, I will eat that food until someone removes me from the room.

Most likely forcibly.

A buffet is not so much a meal to me as it is a challenge. A mountain to be climbed, if you will.

That mountain just happens to be composed of food.

See, the premise of any commercial relationship is that a business offers goods or services for a set price. Both parties involved, the business and the customer, hope to get the better of this deal.

The business always wants to offer less for more money and the customer always wants to get more for less money.

The buffet is the great equalizer. The buffet is a challenge laid by the business. They set a price and you determine what value is to be had.

I do so love a challenge.

To me, there's a specific strategy to the buffet. They like to place a lot of brightly colored, low value items near the front of the line.

That way, you fill your plate before you even get to the good stuff. You tell yourself you'll get the rest on your second trip, but then you fall into that same trap the next time around.

Not me.

I go for the high value targets at the very beginning. This sometimes involves me bypassing entire tables, islands of salads and vegetables, to get to the meat of the matter.

Or to just get to the meat.

Since it was a brunch buffet, I knew there would be a nice mixture of both breakfast and lunch foods. Therefore, I designated bacon as my primary target and set turkey and other lunch foods as secondary targets.

Potatoes or hashbrowns would be engaged as targets of opportunity.

I was probably going to have to take a few slices of watermelon as hostages, but, if everything worked out, they'd be released unharmed.

Over the course of the next two hours, I consumed 7 plates piled high with bacon, fried potatoes, and stuffed turkey smothered in gravy. Just to prove I was serious, I also ate a plate of fresh waffles.

Just because I could.

By the time I finally stopped eating, I was in actual physical pain. I mean severe pain.

I actually had to use the bathroom just to have enough room to inflate my lungs.

It was the greatest meal ever.


So, since it was you guys who made it possible, I just wanted to thank you profusely. Your donations made it all possible.

I'll be sure to mention you to the doctors performing my first coronary bypass.

That will probably be some time next week.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Theme Week - Turnabout Part 6

A few people have asked me why I'm leveling so slowly.

Theoretically, most people could get to level 20 and well beyond in a handful of days. Levels really don't slow down until you get upwards of 40, so it really shouldn't be taking me this long.

You'd be right. I've taken new characters from 1 to 20 in less than a day.

Sure, I didn't sleep that day.

Or eat.

Or breathe more than was specifically required.

But it can be done.

The problem is that I have other requirements to my daily life that must be fulfilled in addition to this new project.

I have my daily employment that helps me provide my family with the basic necessities such as internet access and bacon.

I have my carefully cultivated addiction to leveling my main character.

Also, there's this little person who lives at my house and requires constant supervision to keep from killing herself with a plastic bag or Daddy's "happy juice".

This leaves very little time for me to actually level this damnable White Mage.

I assure you that it has absolutely nothing to do with me hating his stupid little guts.

Honestly, I never realized how much I had come to rely on the advantages of my own high level characters and my own high level friends.

Apparently, I had blocked out the memories of the soul-crushing early levels as viewed by a new player.

Funny how we tend to do that, huh?

It's a lot harder than I remember. When I look back at when I first started, all I remember is running through green fields and seeing lots of cute and fuzzy bunnies.

I mean murdering... Murdering lots of cute and fuzzy bunnies.

Sure, I still remember the hellish Dunes levels.

I have nightmares about them sometimes.

But it all seemed so much... Nicer in my memories.

Nothing brings this more to my mind than the arbitrary line in the sand of level 18: the subjob quest.

This is one of the things I always felt WoW lacked. I missed the idea of having a secondary job class to bolster the abilities of the first.

Plus, it has provided fuel for countless forum flame wars and, really, isn't that what's it all about?

The quest to get a subjob, however, is a gigantic pain in the ass.

Apparently, someone at SE decided that the best way to design this quest was to put the quest items on:

a) an enemy that everyone kills

b) an enemy that people don't necessarily kill

c) an enemy that is fear embodied for anyone under level 20

The first two don't bother me so much. Crabs are the target of choice for the majority of Dunes parties so getting that item is easy.

Sure, damselflies are a pain to fight (stupid glowy purple ball of death), but you'll probably kill enough of them to get your item.

Then there's the Ghouls...

Ghouls are the only mobs in Valkurm Dunes that drop the final item. They are also tremendously difficult to kill at the level where you need to kill them.

Think about that for a minute.

Pretty much the only reason anyone fights Ghouls is to get their subjob items.

That's it.

Now, the easiest way to handle this is to get help from a high level friend (or wife) and have that friend (or wife) kill Ghouls while you make a sandwich and think deep thoughts about the nature of life and whether or not you could eat a whole pack of bacon before your heart exploded.

Answer: yes.

Unfortunately for me, I'm not allowed to ask for high level help.

Not that I'm blaming anyone for that.

Answer: You. I blame you.

Instead, I have to organize a ragtag band of hapless idiots into a Ghoul killing machine.

This is harder than it sounds.

It's hard enough to get a Dunes party that can actually kill crabs and crabs hardly put up a fight. They pretty much just stand there and splash water at you occasionally.

They're like the Magikarp of Vana'diel.

Now, you have to take that same barely functional group and try to get them to kill undead skeletons wielding dark magic that feed off their very life forces.

Good luck with that.

After countless (actual number: 6) failed attempts at forming a working Ghoul-killing group, I thought I had it down. My party managed to handle a Ghoul in a fairly efficient manner without anyone dying or wetting themselves.

That's a big deal in Valkurm.

So we spend a couple of hours getting everyone their subjob items. We all have the first two items which just leaves 6 magicked skulls.

Pretty soon, it's down to me and the tank left to get the item. Two more and we're done.

It's a good thing too because night was due to end very soon and we'd have to wait until dark again.

Yeah, they only come out in the dark. How incredibly convenient.

We tear our way through a Ghoul and, just as it's about to die, I see another Ghoul just over the next sand dune.

Easy peezy.

And, as luck would have it, the one we just finished killing dropped a skull.

Everyone else passes except the tank and I. We both lot and, in a very close race, he wins the skull.

I'm unhappy, but not overly as another Ghoul is standing right there.

He's right there.

I could spit on him if the devs ever listened to me and put in a spitting emote.

We're just about to charge headlong into battle when...

Tank>> Oh, sorry, guys.
Tank>> I have to go.

Just like that.

No time warning. No letting us know anything. He gets his item and then abandons us.

I'm in the middle of typing about the Ghoul standing at theoretical spitting distance when then icon above his head turns into a red ball.

He DC'ed.

More accurately, he faked a disconnect so that he could leave without looking like a total asshole.

Which, of course, made him look like a bigger asshole.

So, now I'm standing in the Dunes, in a party without a tank and no magicked skull.

Things couldn't possibly be worse.

Thief>> AGGRO!

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, "Aggro" is a word used to describe an enemy attacking a party member.

It is generally followed by a number of explanation points, as well as running and/or death.

I'll give you three guesses what happened.

If you answered "he made it to safety and then found a new tank and got his subjob item"...


Not really, no.

Basically, I got about three and a half feet before I was horribly raped by a skeleton.

This is when I coined a new term: SkullF&%@ed.

Rather fitting, don't you think?

I F&%@ing hate the dunes.

To SOME Readers...

To everyone who celebrates it, Happy Easter.

To everyone who doesn't... How've you been? Good? Good.

And let's all remember what Easter is all about: tons and tons of discounted egg-shaped chocolate the next day.

That's something we can all believe in.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Theme Week - Turnabout Part 5

Okay, I'm going to ask a question here.

Have I done something to hurt you people? Have I wronged you in some way?

Are some of you perhaps practitioners of the dark arts?

Or avid hobbyists of the slightly dim arts?

I ask this because apparently you people have cursed me.

In the comments leading up to this week, several people mentioned me joining a n00b LS. That's a technical term meaning a linkshell full of retards.

Very technical.

We all laughed when you said it. Haha, [GM]Dave in an LS full of idiots and he can't do anything. Can't ban them. Can't feed them to Jormy.



I'm laughing on the inside.

Right next to the swirling vortex of hatred that is supposed to be my heart.

During one of my terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE Dunes parties, one of my party members asked me if I wanted to join his linkshell.

If I had spent any amount of time thinking about it, I might have asked how exactly a level 18 Warrior with no subjob had become a sackholder for an LS, but after hours of substandard parties, I wasn't exactly thinking straight.

Anyway, I said yes.

Part of me thought it would help out with the whole "new player perspective". Kind of like Jane Goodall going to live with the chimps.

Part of me apparently hates the other part of me.

I think it's my spleen. That guy has always been a troublemaker.

That boy just wasn't raised right.

See, that's funny because your spleen is on your left side. It's basically below your left lung.

Get it?


Shut up. Let's see you make a funny spleen joke.

So, I say yes and, before I can come to my senses, the guy trades me a yellow linkpearl.

As in short bus yellow.

Then... Then I equipped the pearl.




Seriously, if I have offended any witches in the crowd, send me a message so I can apologize properly.

It was, without a doubt, the best simulation I have ever seen of stepping into a grade 6 classroom during recess time.

And all of your favorite n00b stereotypes were there.

The "I never read the manual" guy

Ikantreed>> How do you check your map?
Ikantreed>> Anybody?
Ikantreed>> I can't get out of North Sandy.

The "perpetually begging" guy

Havnogilz>> Can anyone spare a few thousand gil?
Havnogilz>> I need a new sword.

The "internet memes are always funny" guy

Rickroller>> Yo dawg, I heard you like swordz.
Rickroller>> So we put a sword in your sword...
Rickroller>> So you can sword while you sword.

The "I'm pretending to be a girl, but not fooling anyone" guy

Shim>> Oh, goodness.
Shim>> I just spilled lotion all over myself.
Shim>> It's so slippery.

The "only person dumb enough to actually fall for it" guy

Sukker>> I could help with that if you want.
Sukker>> I've got soft hands.

And my perosnal favorite of all the n00b linkshell stereotypes...

The "I'm level 23 and therefore an expert on the entire game" guy

You're all familiar with this guy. He reads the forums and considers himself an expert on every job class and every event.

He does not let his lack of experience or actual information get in his way.

He's got forum posts on his side.

Player>> Anyone know the best body armor for Dragoon at 75?
Player>> A friend wants to know.
MrExpert>> Oh, that'd be the Assault Jerkin.
MrExpert>> Everyone knows that.

Ten bonus points if you knew that answer was wrong.

Remember: if you keep track of your points over time, it really won't make a difference because I'm making this up as I go.

The expert loves being in n00b linkshells because it's the only place anyone will listen to him.

Now, I was listening to him.

And I couldn't do a damned thing about it.

Sure, I could just take off the pearl. I could be blissfully unaware of the ignorance he was spreading to newer players.

Player>> At what level should you head to Kazham?
MrExpert>> Level 23.

No, I couldn't do it. I just couldn't do it.

Not out of some sense of duty or altruism, mind you.

I couldn't do it because in two weeks, I'm going to have to deal with the retards he has so carefully cultivated. Fields and fields of morons running rampant through my game.

No thank you.

I don't think my liver could take it.

The only thing to do was stem the tide of brain damage at its source.

Usually, this would be simple to handle. A few minutes of witty banter followed by a scenic tour of Jormy's digestive track and problem solved.

Unfortunately, part of the curse is that I'm not allowed to use my GM powers or hungry purple dragon.

My only recourse was to reason with him.

... Yeah, that went about as well as you'd expect.

Maybe I could just offer the correct answer and that'd be the end of it.

Dave>> Actually, it'd be best if you waited until level 25.
Dave>> You're a Monk, so you'd probably have trouble at 23.

Not so much.

MrExpert>> You don't know what you're talking about.

I've never seen irony so thick.

Dave>> You should stay in Qufim until 25.
Dave>> That's the best plan.
MrExpert>> No, no, no.
MrExpert>> Qufim is 17 to 22.

Qufim at 17...

This is like someone telling you you can get a driver's license at the age of 12.

I.E. very stupid.

Dave>> Mandies have high evasion.
Dave>> You're lucky if you hit them at 25.
MrExpert>> That's crazy.
Dave>> Then you should feel right at home.
MrExpert>> What do you know, n00b?
MrExpert>> You've been playing like what?
MrExpert>> 5 days?


Dammit, dammit, dammit.

My kingdom for a purple dragon.

Or an incendiary device.

It's kind of hard to argue with an incendiary device.

Not impossible, but it's hard to enjoy your victory as the flesh is burned from your body.

Unfortunately, since I have neither of those things, there really wasn't a lot I could do.

Not for a few days at least.

I argued with him for another few minutes, but soon realized it was ultimately futile. Just like his junior high teachers, I understood that he could not be taught.

Instead, I jotted his name down on the growing list next to my monitor.

The very long list.

I could probably just save time by making a list of the people I'm not going to ban.

It'd sure be a hell of a lot shorter.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Theme Week - Turnabout Part 4

Today was...

Today was an odd day.

I completely expected Valkurm to be terrible. I've leveled White Mage through the Dunes before and even with the benefit of top of the line gear and a subjob, it was still hell.

Party after party of idiots, retards, and powerleveling. I saw parties with two or even three high level White Mages taking care of the healing.

What wasn't pointless was frustrating. What wasn't frustrating was mind-bogglingly idiotic.

I was prepared for the worst.

And yet... They still managed to surprise me.

This is another of the big differences between FFXI and WoW, but not necessarily one that bothered me so much. With potions, healing foods, auto-healing, and a myriad of healing abilities, keeping your HP up is relatively easy in WoW.

In FFXI, you pretty much put your life in the hands of your party's White Mage and hope for the best.

Now, as a melee, I talk about how all of those things take the challenge out of the game. Taking damage and being healed is part of what makes the game exciting.

As a White Mage, I'll tell you that that is bullshit.

It's kind of annoying to know that one bad call and my party is going to get gangraped to death by angry crabs and ugly fish.

Feeling a little bit of pressure.

Not for my party, mind you. That's there freaking problem.

Unfortunately, if they die, then I die.

I've tried surrendering.

It doesn't work.

So, each time I join a party, I just hope that I will be able to provide enough healing.

This, it turns out, can be ironic.

I zone into the Dunes and my party flag is barely up when I get an invite.

This is the part where most people immediately say yes and join the party. Other than where they are, there's not really a lot to know.

Unless you're me.

[GM]Dave>> Do you have a tank?
Leader>> Yeah.
Leader>> And a back-up just in case.
[GM]Dave>> Nice.
[GM]Dave>> What about a support healer?
Leader>> Not to worry.
Leader>> We've got that more than handled.

I should have asked what he meant by that.

I really, really should have asked.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Anyone who has ever partied in the Dunes is thinking powerleveler.

You'd be wrong.

That's only borderline stupid.

This... This was nowhere near the border.

I check the party and find out I do have an adequate support healer. Seems the party had a second White Mage to back me up.

Thatd be great.


If he didn't also have a White Mage backing him up.

Yes, my low level Dunes party had three White Mages.

Given the importance of a single White Mage to the party dynamic, three White Mages must be great, right?

Not really.

Our party consisted of three healers, two tanks, and only one damage dealer.

One damage dealer.

The good news was that no one died during our first fight.

The bad news was that the fight took almost ten minutes.

I think he eventually died of natural causes.

Or laughter.

White Mages are terribly important to many party set ups. The most basic party relies on a White Mage as the sole source of healing.

Unfortunately, White Mages are about as physically intimidating as a six year old girl.

At least in WoW, most of the healing classes can at least hold their own in the damage department. Healing isn't quite as vital and, when push comes to shove, most classes can throw down.

Not so much for the White Mage.

We're in charge of keeping the whole party alive and we're entirely incapable of defending ourselves in any real way.

Well... I'm pretty sure I could bleed on them.

If they're not careful, they could slip.

Other than that...

Yeah, that's about it.

I will admit that this makes the game more challenging. It means you have to rely on yourself much, much more.

That makes all the difference.

It also makes you feel better when you're face down in the dirt.


Relying on yourself is for suckers.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Theme Week - Turnabout Part 3


Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but I love killing low level NMs. Even if I already have the item they drop or if they drop crap items, I still have to kill them.

It's like an obsessive-compulsive thing.

Most of the time, someone else is in the area camping the damned thing, so I leave it alone. As much as I like it, I try not to be a total asshole.

In that regard.

But, if no one is around, I just have to kill the thing.

Drops a level 2 hat? Kill it.

Drops a level 4 sword? Why the hell not?

Drops a level 7 pair of boots? Oh, hellz yeah.

All the FFXI players know exactly what I'm talking about. Just outside the gates of Bastok, in the lovely rocky hills of South Gustaberg, there lives a pain in the ass NM named Leaping Lizzy.

I may or may not have mentioned her.

Well, this leather-faced lizard bitch drops a seriously nice pair of level 7 boots. It's kind of a pain in the ass to get them, but they are worth it.

I always have to kill Lizzy if I see her.

I have to.

Usually, I don't even think about it. As soon as the name pops up on my screen, I hit the attack button.

See, this is where my "experience" and "bias" teamed up to kick my level 13 ass.

I was running back to Bastok for some supplies and just happened to run past Lizzy's spawn area. Everything was nice and quiet and there wasn't another player in sight.

I'm just about to reach the top of the hill when who should pop out from behind a rock?

Yeah. Lizzy.

Out of a combination of reflex and sheer stupidity, my hand flew and I clicked on attack.

This, it turns out, was a mistake.

If I was a Monk, I could have at least had a shot. Pop off a Hundred Fists and the fight would be over pretty quick.

But no. I had to level White Mage.

I smash Lizzy in the face with my staff (read: stick) and it didn't even phase her.

Her HP bar may have moved.


Unfortunately, that was the high point of the fight for me. A few swings later and I'm eating dirt.


The funniest part is White Mages can't even wear Bounding Boots. Assuming I had won (which I did not), I'd have been left with Boots that would be entirely useless.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

The only bright side to this whole thing is that it can only get better from here.

Tomorrow: Leveling in Valkurm Dunes

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Theme Week - Turnabout Part 2

You know what? Screw White Mages.

Yeah, you heard me. Screw 'em.

I never realized what a pain in the ass it was to level this job right from the get go. When I leveled White Mage on my main character, I always had someone to power level me through the boring levels.

But noooooooo. I had to do this with no help from other people.

Instead, I've spent two days smacking bees, ugly lizards, and giant turtle freaks in the face with a tree branch.

And the scenery... What can I say about the scenery?

Seriously, what can I say about it? Gustaberg has two basic geographical features:

1) rocks

2) more rocks

That's it.

Sure, there are some rocks that are bigger than others, but I don't really think that creates breathtaking views.

Now, don't get me wrong. I like big reddish-brown rocks as much as the next guy.

Geology rocks!

I can't believe I just said that...

But two days of the same damned rocks is starting to wear thin.

I know I talked a lot of smack about WoW, but I have to give them that the surroundings were at least a bit more vibrant. They had grand vistas and exotic plant life.

They had more than just rocks.

Some of you are probably wondering why I'm still leveling on my own. Even leveling White Mage, it didn't take me a terribly long time to reach level 10.

While I could start moving toward Valkurm, I'm trying to put that off for as long as Humely possible.

See what I did there?

I know White Mages are highly sought after in experience parties, but that's the part that worries me. Valkurm parties are bad enough when you're a melee who just hits things.

Yes, yes. I will be going to Valkurm. I'll be partying as a White Mage with no subjob and lousy gear and I will be obtaining all of my subjob items without any help from high level friends.

I will probably also be drinking quite heavily.

You can understand that I'd like to avoid this for as long as possibly.

Plus, the soloing is helping me build up at least a small amount of gil. I'm not raking in the millions or anything, but I've got enough to cover vendor spells and new clothes.

I will admit the amount of inventory space is very much appreciated. 30 spaces may not seem like a lot to the FFXI veterans, bit it's way better than the 16 I started with in WoW.

Thinking about it though, the whole inventory thing is a double edged sword. In WoW, all you had to do was wait for an enemy to drop another satchel to increase your inventory. Pretty straight-forward.

In FFXI, you need to take on several annoying (and possibly expensive) quests to increase your inventory space.

So you get way more space, but you have to work way harder to get it.

I'm not sure how to really judge that one.

While I found WoW to be way too easy, a lot of the things I'm dealing with as a "new" player are more annoying than challenging. The having to rest between battles of course adds to the challenge, but does it add in a constructive way?

I'd say it was more inconvenient than anything.

Does that really reflect a challenge? Do people climb Everest because it's slightly inconvenient?

I don't remember it being this annoying to level through the early stages of any job. I mean, I know some jobs went slower than others, but this is just plain frustrating at times.

Sure, I know it all gets better because I've been there before. But if I was a new player coming in, I don't think I'd be so understanding.

A new player coming in would have to deal with a lot of annoyances with no real proof that things would get magically better in the mystical "end game".

I enjoy it much more than WoW, but at least WoW wasn't frustrating just for the sake of being frustrating. That's just plain wrong.

I mean it's not like I'm mean to people for the sake of being mean...

Actually, that does sound a lot like me.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Theme Week - Turnabout Part 1

This was a lot closer than I thought it was going to be. You guys also picked the option I thought would lose.

Apparently, your love of FFXI outweighs your love for my wacky highjinks.

I don't know how to feel about that.

Now, some of you seem concerned that this won't be a fair comparison. You think that my obvious bias and extensive experience is going to skew my perspective.

Well... Yeah. That's not even a question.

I will, however, give an actual play-by-play of my experiences and TRY to give an honest review. Despite all of my complaints about WoW, I will admit that FFXI isn't exactly perfect.

So, I will not spend a week explaining how awesome (so awesome) FFXI is.

Besides, I can always find something to complain about. My inherent bitching should be able to overcome any bias I may or may not (read: definitely) have.

See? Me being a rage-filled asshole is actually beneficial.

Did you read that, Susan? Huh? And you doubted me.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Day 1: I think I've been here before.

See? This is what I'm talking about here. I didn't have to waste hours upon hours waiting for the game to update itself. My client was fully updated and ready to go, yet again proving that FFXI is vastly superior to WoW.

I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Obviously, FFXI was already installed and fully updated on my computer.

Hell, I'd install it on the microwave if I could.

My first problem was creating a character. I wanted to try something different than usual.

Hey... Did you know you can start in a nation other than San d'Oria?

Who knew?

Choosing a race wasn't that hard. Funny story: I've never created a Hume character before. Pretty much all of my characters have always been Elvaan.

I never really got the whole Hume thing. You go out and buy a role-playing game with a rich, detailed history steeped in fantasy and magic, and who do you decide to play?

A human.

Wow. Creative. Way to think outside the box there.

Maybe for Halloween next year, you can go as yourself. That'll be wacky.

Thus, I figured playing as a Hume would give me an adequately different experience.

Actually, I figured playing Mithra would be way more different, but screw that. If I wanted to spend time and money having perverts rubbing up against me...

Well, I guess then this would be a vastly different blog.

You probably don't want to think about that very much. Either it'll make you uncomfortable and that will be awkward or it won't make you uncomfortable and that'll be REALLY awkward.

So, I chose a Hume character with a hair style that seemed to be a nice combination between my own and Zell from Final Fantasy VIII.

The character creation is really interesting. You can choose from a variety of faces (of which people only choose two) and a wide range of skin colors from caucasian to slightly tan caucasian.

You know, your character's face has no actual bearing on gameplay. Unlike the real world, your physical appearance in no way affects your success in a given job.

Still, you'll spend WAY more time than is necessary picking a face.

And a name... Oh dear lord.

Do I have enough unnecessary vowels in there?

If there's anything J.R.R. Tolkien taught us, it's that you can never have enough vowels in a name.

Yaerawyn, third son of Vaerawyn, descended from the white king, Grynaevyramin.

That's just good writing.

I'd have a name with nothing but vowels, but every time I try and pronounce it, I sound like I'm having a stroke.

You could just pick a stupid name like Hotdog or Refridgerator, but I find it really takes away from the fantasy. Can you really feel proud seeing "The Dynamis Lord was defeated by Hamburgerhelper" scroll by on your screen?

Kind of takes away from the moment.

Okay... A job. What job is going to be the most frustrating for a new player?

So, White Mage it is then.

After I spend WAY too much time creating a character I think I can live with for a week, I finally log into Bastok.

Yes, I chose Bastok.

This really wasn't a country preference thing. I just wanted the race-specific ring.

Bastok schmastok. A free ring is a free ring.

Considering you only start with "armor" made from 100% cotton and a large stick, maybe that ring is worth starting out in Bedrock.

I get my little adventurer's coupon and went to do the same thing I do with every new character.

I throw that shit away.

The idea behind it is nice. Give the players a quick 50 gil to get them started.

Unfortunately, 50 gil is just ever so slightly better than absolutely nothing. It's not even worth the trouble of turning it in.

Hell, I could just send myself...

Oh, crap.

You'd think I would have thought of this ahead of time.

Not really.

Every character since my very first has started out with practically unlimited resources. Any time I needed anything, I could just switch accounts and send a few hundred thousand gil.

This... This is new.

I have nothing. No gil, no equipment stored up on a mule...


When I was playing WoW, I thought everything was a little too easy. Everything dropped items and you made money really fast.

Starting to miss that.

It's been a hell of a long time since I had to save up beehive chips for gil.

Now, I'm stuck trying to find whoever the hell I'm supposed to give this coupon to. I should probably have paid more attention to that opening cinematic.

A big yellow question mark would be super helpful right now.

I'm not sure if I'm kidding.

More realistic and challenging, sure, but it's damned hard finding NPCs without some help.

So not worth 50 gil.

I drew the line at begging for money, though. Yeah, I know a lot of new players ask people for gil, but even I have my limits.

Instead, I spend hours smacking hornets in the head with the stick I was provided.

This is multi-purpose as it both provides me with money AND I'm leveling up at the same time.

Unfortunately, neither one of those things is happening very quickly.

I forgot how slow this was.

Smack a bee, smack a bee, rest to full.

Smack a bee, smack a bee, rest to full.

Do you know what's fun about low level White Mage leveling?

Neither do I.

This is a job that shines in a party. As a healer, White Mages are critical in most party set ups.

That, however, isn't particularly helpful when you're trying to solo your way up to party levels.

I've got the defense stats of an egg wrapped in tissue paper and the attack rating of a slightly annoyed kitten.

And I'm stuck beating down overgrown bees trying to get enough gil to buy a slightly less pathetic shirt.

At least when I was playing WoW, every three or four hits, something would drop new gear for me.

Now, I'm scraping crystals together to buy pants.

Seriously? You guys prefer to see me suffer like?

You voted for this?

... This is going to be a very long week.

Monday, April 06, 2009

[GM]Dave Wants Your Opinion

Yes, you read that right. I'm looking for your opinion on this one.

No, no. I don't want your opinions about WoW, Twilight, or whatever other thing you're just waiting to give me your thoughts on.

Actually, it's about theme week.

As several of you have e-mailed to point out, it's time for another fan pack. It's been about a month since the last one and people seem to be getting a little anxious about getting them.

I waited a little longer this time because I don't want people getting sick of them.

Now, as a lead up to the fan pack, I was going to do a theme week as chosen by last month's highest donator. We spent a fair amount of time discussing various topics, but she just couldn't make up her mind.

She decided that the best way to handle this situation would be to put the choice to you.

This is called the "pussying out" method.

I kid, I kid.

Her two choices were between:

a) Turnabout is fair play

I would have to start a new character in FFXI with absolutely no help from any of my in-game friends. They're not even allowed to know it's me.

I... I can't even use my GM powers.

The idea is to review FFXI from a new player's perspective as I reviewed WoW. By removing as many of the biases as possible, could it put my WoW experience in a new light?

Note: I will still be taking names of players who aggravate me and, when the week is over, I will deal out retroactive vengeance.


b) The worst things I have ever done

This would basically be seven days of the worst, most terrible things I have ever done either in-game or out.

From my precocious childhood to the guy I punched in the face for trying to sell me a Used copy of a game that cost $5 new, which of my terrible deeds would rank among the worst?

There are so many. It's hard to choose just seven.

So, basically, the comments section of this post will act as a simple poll. 24 hours from now, I will read the comments and the theme for this week will be chosen be popular demand.

And, as usual, anyone who donates $5 or more to help support the blog will become an instant member of the official [GM]Dave fan club (applause here). One week (-ish) from today, a brand new fan pack will be sent to all members of this very exclusive club.

Membership also includes your choice of novelty hat when the revolution comes and my plans for world domination come to fruition.

Do you really want to be the only one without a hat? Do you really?

I should point out that anyone without the aforementioned hat will be busy toiling in the spice mines.

All proceeds go towards the care and feeding of the biological weapons installation that my wife and several blood tests confirm is my child.

The person who donates the most will be given the opportunity to participate in the blog in a way of their choosing including (but not limited to) story ideas, writing your own post, telling me how much I suck, having someone killed, or giving a counterpoint to one of my reviews.

Note: All counterpoints are the opinion of the person writing them and, in the case that they disagree with the opinion of [GM]Dave, are patently wrong.

You even get to pick your very own theme for an entire week's worth of posts.

Or... You get to let everyone else pick your very own theme for an entire week's worth of posts.


I'm very open to the opinions of others.

Note: [GM]Dave is not open to the opinions of others.

How could you ask for anything more?

Remember, if you act now, you'll be done faster than if you acted later!

What are you waiting for?

... Seriously. What are you waiting for?

Now, as I told my wife on our wedding night, "LET THE POLLING BEGIN!"


Yeah, she didn't find it funny either.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Putting Words In My Mouth

You know... I never actually said that I didn't play any April Fool's pranks this year.

A lot of people assumed that. Something about losing faith in my lack of humanity...

Not so much.

If you look again, I was simply pointing out that we've lost that spark, that sizzle that made April Fool's pranks worth it in the first place.

Sure... I could have walked up to my best friend, said look up, and then kicked him in the balls.

I've done that many times.

His birthday was the funniest.

But, if I'm going to be presenting this to the world as a whole as a prank that's worth them watching, I've got to do more.

You guys deserve nothing less.

That's what got me so mad in the first place. Every damned website was riddled with hundreds of completely unfunny pranks.

No, I had to go beyond.

Thus, I spent weeks crafting the perfect pranks to play on all of my friends. Like Batman, I spent countless hours researching my friends and determining their weaknesses.

I'd like to say that I felt some guilt while doing it.

I'd like to. It'd probably mean I still had some scrap of decency to hold onto, some final vestige of conscience that would mean I could still be saved from an eternity of hellfire.

Apparently not.

It's fine. I've heard it's a dry heat.

I decided to start with one of the guy's from work. Most of the guys I work with are at least acceptable as coworkers. They're generally good guys.

Not Phil.

Phil is pretty much universally hated by everyone. I'm not really sure why, but I think it might have something to do with him being a total douchebag. He constantly has to tell us just how much better he is than the rest of us. He even goes so far as to stand behind people and tell them how to do their own job.

Just so you know, a good April Fool's joke can also be used to dole out karmic retribution. FYI.

The most important thing to know about Phil is that he is very serious about his reports. He is meticulous in his paperwork and always hand delivers it to our supervisor.

On Wednesday, an extra sheet of paper might have "accidentally" found it's way into one of his reports.

That sheet of paper may or may not have contained a photoshopped image of Phil giving new meaning to the term "customer service".

I have no idea how that happened.

Next was Brad.

Brad is the kind of guy who can really take a joke well.

Also, he's relatively slow which means I could probably outrun him if necessary.

There are few things Brad loves more than his Xbox. He spends so much time with that thing you'd think it was an artificial respirator.

And by that I mean he's hooked up to it and gives him the semblance of a life.

Bah dump pssshhhhhh!

Thus, the best way to break him would be through his Xbox.

While he was at work, I snuck into his house and, using a variety of YouTube vids and modding pages, I swapped the green power LEDs for red ones. Then, all I did was replace his harddrive with an empty shell I had purchased very cheaply.

Boom. Homemade Red Ring of Death.

I knew his warranty had lapsed and that he couldn't afford to get the thing repaired.

The hardest part was not laughing when he called me freaking out. I mean, the guy was having a fit. He was sobbing uncontrollably while rambling on and on about losing all of his data.

I probably should have felt bad.

Yeah, I didn't think that sounded like me either.

Finally, when it came to Susan, I had a lot of options to choose from.

My first instinct was to fake an affair, but that would probably be going way too far. It's hard to tell, but I think that crosses a line somewhere.

Plus, if I do ever happen to have an affair, I at least want to be surprised by her reaction.

Kidding, kidding.

When it came down to it, I knew my wife's biggest weakness was FFXI.

Who would have guessed, right?

One of the things that bugs Susan the most is how people treat female gamers in general and Mithras in particular. Basically, Mithras are constant targets for unwanted sexual advances and obscene messages.

She hates that so much. She'd probably have switched races long ago if she didn't love being a Mithra so much.

That made it all the funnier when I changed her race to Taru.

It really wasn't that hard. I didn't even have to use my GM powers. All I did was copy some files from one folder to another and she logs in as a male Taru.

Actually, it was pretty easy. About as easy as using custom skins to replace equipment.

I know that because the next thing I did was replace every Mithra equipment file with a custom nude skin I found on a modding site.

I have no idea why someone would take the time to make such a file, but it came in handy.

Then again, that's probably why they made it.

There's a pun in there somewhere, but you probably shouldn't look for it.

There's really nothing funnier than watching someone who has such a strong opinion about the proud and noble Mithra logging into a world where she's a Taru and every Mithra is running around stark naked.

Boobs as far as the eye could see.

She, however, did not find it so funny.

On a related note, I found out that I can easily outrun my wife.

See, April Fool's Day is supposed to be about raising the bar. It's supposed to be about carefully crafting a prank of truly epic proportions designed to break the human soul.

What can I say? It's a skill.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

International "Be An Asshole" Day!

Can someone explain something to me?

Why in the hell are we still doing April Fool's Day.

I'm being serious here. I think it's safe to say that we've worn this damned holiday into the ground.

April Fool's Day is supposed to be a day of subtle and witty humor. A day full of misdirection and trickery.

It is not a day for you to be an absolute asshole.

That's every other day.

Somewhere along the way, we seem to have lost the spark that defined this day. People used to be inspired to creativity and intelligence.

The following are not creative or subtle April Fool's Day pranks:

Ha ha! I punched you in the groin!

Ha ha! I took your insulin!

Ha ha! Now, you're pregnant!

These are not pranks. These are you being a dick and thinking that that's funny.

The entire point of April FOOL's Day is that you are supposed to FOOL someone. You're supposed to create a situation in which they believe something that is not true.

They're supposed to feel FOOLish.

It's in the damned name, people.

They're not supposed to be injured, humiliated, or bleeding.

You've sort of missed the point.

No, now people think April 1st means you can do whatever the hell you want as long as someone else gets the crap kicked out of them. Kick him in the face, throw a bucket of water on him, and then toss in some antiquing for good measure.

Truly, sir. You are a comedic genius.

And if it's not beating the shit out of someone, it's making up the most obviously fake news story and acting as if everyone hasn't already figured it out before you're even finished talking.

Do you know the most annoying place in the world on April Fool's Day?

The internet.

Don't get me wrong. I love the internet.

We're very close.

But April 1st is the one day of the year that I can't stand reading anything on the internet. I just feel like turning off my computer and going outside.

Yeah, you heard me. OUTSIDE.

I know.

Now, you're probably thinking that this sounds like my perfect holiday. A day dedicated to screwing with others just sounds damned near perfect for me, doesn't it?

I'll give you that.

Then again, I screw with people every day.

It's just such a pain in the ass to try and actually read any of my favorite news sites when I'm hip deep in obviously fake bullshit.

Oh, hey... Warner Bros bought the Pirate Bay...

That seems perfectly reasonable. Let me just click on that link.

Oh, it was an April Fool's Day joke. Man, you really had me going there for a minute.


We all get it, okay? We know it's April 1st and there's going to be fake news.

There is, however, a difference between FUNNY fake news and the majority of what people put up today.

Jon Stewart... Funny.

Stephen Colbert... Funny.

Your story about Dane Cook starring in the next Star Wars movie... Not funny.

It takes a very special kind of humor to craft an April Fool's joke that is:

a) creative

b) intelligent

c) not annoying as F&%@

I'm not saying that you're not funny. I'm just saying that there's a pretty good chance your joke isn't THAT funny.

You'll notice that I didn't even bother with an April Fool's joke.

I totally could have. I could have put up this huge post about hate mail or quitting the blog or Susan dying.

But I didn't.


Because it wouldn't have been funny.

Three words in, 95% of you guys would have said "Yeah, yeah. April Fool's. Whatever." Then, you'd have to read the rest of the post that isn't even remotely funny if you know it's not true.

We're so jaded at this point that it's not even worthwhile putting a joke up. The majority of us took everything they heard or read today as being an April Fool's joke.

You know it's true. Your best friend could have called you to tell you that your mom just died and you would have called bullshit on him.

Ironically, this only becomes funny if she actually did die.

Otherwise, it's just sad.

Honestly, if I ever decide to turn to a life of crime (which is always a viable career option), I would commit all of my crimes on April 1st. You'd never get caught because no one would believe any of the witnesses.

"Uh huh. Yeah... Robbing the bank... He's got a gun... Suuurrrrrrreeeee."

We're all over it. We've grown beyond finding any of these jokes even remotely funny. We're so far beyond it that we readily assume anything you say today is an absolute lie.

You actually have to prove it's not a joke.

And none of it is funny anymore.

At best, we can muster up a half-hearted pity laugh before we look upon you with disdain.

How about next year, we just forget the whole thing and not even bother? We'll all get up, go to work, and just pretend it's like any other day.

Maybe it's time we all grew up a little bit.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go play video games until I fall asleep.