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Death Anniversaries   Leave a comment

I don’t know if American culture practices death anniversaries. I’m from the Philippines so it usually involves gatherings and mass held at the cemetery where your love one is interred. It’s my father’s fifth death anniversary today. Each year I get less sad about it. I’m not in the Philippines to make the same celebration so I just keep him in my thoughts and pray for him.

I’m done.

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Posted September 15, 2019 by StupidSystemus in Personal

Perspective   Leave a comment

Life overwhelms you sometimes. Work, relationships, family, finances… things can get stressful and make you worry. But it’s all about perception.

You could feel like you’re worried with what’s next in your life. But you probably don’t realize you’re already in the middle of what you used to look forward to.

Count your blessings. Look at what you’ve accomplished. Realize where you’re at right now. You can do this.

I’m done.

Posted September 14, 2019 by StupidSystemus in Musings

Final Fantasy XV – A Playthrough   Leave a comment

I know I basically lambasted this game in my review and I didn’t really expect much. However, I’m still going to finish this game for reasons. I’ve been playing most RPGs with a guide in hand to help me along the way. When it comes to JRPGs or just huge open world games like Fallout 3 or the Assassin’s Creed games, I’ve got a strategy guide on the ready to get all the collectibles and game objectives for perfect playthrough. Back in the late 90s and 2000s, I used to buy strategy guides. Now with a really fast Internet and more developed online presence, there’s really no reason to buy strategy guides when you have a gaming community contributing strategies for the game for free.

That said, I’ve been pretty relaxed with Final Fantasy XV. I’m treating this unlike any of the Final Fantasy games i’ve played before. I’m going about it my way like a sandbox game. Maybe that’s how Squeenix designed it: to be a Final Fantasy game that is not as rigid and linear as past games.

Anywho, I’ve been doing side quests for the most part of my current 35+ hour playthrough. Actual game time is probably closer to 30+ actual hours of gaming. I’m still on Chapter 3 of the main story and already pretty high level. I logged in close to 12 hours of progress between Saturday and Sunday night this past weekend when tragedy happened: I accidentally overwrote my current save data with an older one.

Balouve Mines

The following day, I checked what quests I had to redo. They’re not much, but they’re still a pain to do with driving, running, riding a chocobo to the destination and fulfilling the quest. Prior to tackling these quests again, I remembered the various treasure spawn points in the game that I’ve come a cross. Some of them hold key items for fetch quests to upgrading weapons.

The in-game map is filled with icons from information supplied by chefs and cooks in the game (they not only cook you food, but they hand out hunting quests and provide info about the immediate area about active quests, treasure, parking and pitstops, or item spawn points).

So while I’m redoing these quests, I’m also scouring the area for these spawn points to activate scripted events that I may not know of (like photo op quests to take photos of scenic views with the gang). One of the treasure locations is near an abandoned train track which I encountered earlier in the game in Chapter 1. I thought it was just a backdrop with nothing of value. I decided to follow the train track and it lead me to an abandoned mine. These function as dungeons in the game and hold the royal weapons that your main character must collect to help in his battle in reclaiming the thrown of Insomnia and bring back the crystal (because it’s not a Final Fantasy game if the crystal is not in danger).

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It turned out to be a high level dungeon with very low level minions (goblins that push mine carts your way for damage) and a high level samurai like boss. I beat it and recovered a royal weapon (a cross bow). This was not marked on the map so finding it by accident was a really nice experience.

Castlemark Tower

There’s a photo quest that I had to redo about taking a photo of an ancient royal burial site/tomb. When I finished this quest in my lost save data, the site was ransacked with a note from the Hunting HQ people in the game saying the weapon was stolen by daemons and brought to Castlemark. I didn’t know what it means so I just ignored it for now. I figured I’d run into it again later in the game when I’ve unlocked more features like summoning gods.

(Note: Daemons are creatures of the night which are mostly high level and more dangerous than creatures during the day. The lore of the game is that there’s an unknown malady causing longer nights for the world of Eos and daemons rule the dark)

In my quest of redoing these quests, I was trying to catch some fish with the main character and realized a map location which I went through last week to hunt a monster that only appears at night. There’s a circular structure in the area, so I decided to go over there with my chocobo in daylight. It turns out be an abandoned castle and was, in fact, Castlemark Tower. The game map updates it as a dungeon location, but there is no entrance to go inside. I remembered the message from that ransacked tomb about daemons. Since daemons only appear at night, I waited at a local camping ground (save points and camping in the game where it tallies all the experience points you accumulated and levels you up, including your skills). At night time, I went back to Castlemark Tower and some of the walls and floors are illuminated. The entrance is also now open and I was right that it only opens at night.

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This dungeon has some seriously high level enemies, confusing layout, and moving wall blocks. The final boss is a dragon (Jabberwock). Beating it netted me a greatsword from the past king whose tomb was ransacked.

Conclusion

So what do all of these have in common? Despite not progressing the main story, I’m actually enjoying the side quests and random/surprise encounter in the game. Final Fantasy XV is very different from past Final Fantasy games. I was really used to the rigid linear storytelling. I was also used to knowing what would happen next with a strategy guide, but playing this game blindfolded, in a way, has been refreshing.

I’m going to continue exploring every inch of the map that I can get to, hoping for more surprise encounters like the Balouve Mines and Castlemark Tower again.

I’m done.

Posted September 11, 2019 by StupidSystemus in Diary of a Gamer, Games

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Acquiescence   Leave a comment

I don’t think anyone really fully accepts things or events that happen which they don’t like or hurts them.

You say “I’ve accepted that some things are out of my control” out loud, hoping that it leads to action. But more specifically, you’re reluctantly accepting and keeping silent by not making any objections.

Internally, you’re torn. You so badly want that closure, but it’s out of reach. They say hell is torture. Well, replaying the events in your head leading up to how things went down and came to be, imagining how different it would be if you’ve said or done something else instead. You keep tearing yourself down. You build yourself back up with reassurances (you probably couldn’t have done anything different or it would always lead to this). Rinse and repeat.

This is torture. This is hell.

I’m done.

Posted September 11, 2019 by StupidSystemus in Personal

The Lost Odyssey of Final Fantasy XV   Leave a comment

I just started playing Final Fantasy XV for the PS4 after holding off on it for so long. The game has been in production since 2006 and was planned as a spin-off title for Final Fantasy XIII. It shares the same mythos found in that game, but set in a completely different world. The game was retooled and became a main line title in 2012 and was finally released in 2016 after numerous delays.

The game starts with words from the developers saying this game is made for new and returning players. That’s supposed to say “trust us, you guys,” but I’ll have to see it for myself.

You’re thrown into the story of events already happening sometime in the future for a few minutes. Then it cuts back to the present with the main character and his friends heading out of the huge castle with barely anyone (non-playable characters) around, sent off by the king and his advisor with encouraging and hopeful words for their journey and the task at hand. Your car breaks down and your characters push it to the nearest shop. Cue in Florence Welch (Florence + the Machine) and her rendition of “Stand by Me” swells in the background as the camera pans and zooms out, showing the horizon of this big beautiful, yet somewhat empty world. Then the title, “Final Fantasy XV,” is on screen. You reach the stop called Hammerhead and met with a plucky character with a Southern American drawl for some reason, named Cindy, who becomes the game’s mechanic for your main characters. Her grandpa is a character named Cid. From here on out, you get to interact with the world and experience the game’s battle system.

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You control the main character, Noctis, prince of the kingdom of Insomnia, during onscreen battles while your friends, Gladiolus, Ignis, and Prompto help out. You can issue commands to your friends or execute linked attacks. You gain experience and on leveling up, gain AP which you can use to fill up your character’s skill grids. These grids unlock more powers, skills, and abilities that help your character. Typical Final Fantasy flair for the most part. But that’s basically it. This huge world is filled with side quests right from the start of the game. You can indefinitely hold off on main story and do as much of the side quests as you want, except for those locations that are blocked for game and story reasons.

When I did decide to continue with the main story, I was shown clips of negotiations going horribly bad for the King of Insomnia with no sound or context. The next thing, the main character wakes up in bed from where they were staying and hears the news from his friend that his kingdom has fallen. This is where you start to see the cracks and where the developers hodgepodge-ed material from FF Versus XIII to fit the story of FFXV, or whatever story they have cooked up to finish and justify the 10-year development of this project.

I’m 17 hours into the game and barely touched the main storyline. I’ve been doing most of the sidequests and developing my characters’ levels and skills. This is why I miss the old Final Fantasy titles: Story.

I don’t know if it’s the limitations of the tech back then, but story/mythos was center stage on top of gameplay. The more recent FF games seem to have focused on gameplay while having trouble executing a coherent story. I saw the same thing with Kingdom Hearts 3, which underwent its own development hell. I just don’t feel a connection with the characters right now. In previous games, you spent a lot of time learning about the story and the characters. You can play mini-games, but side quests were off-limits until further down the line. In FFXV, you’re basically doing your own thing from the get go like Fallout 3 or Fallout 4. Maybe it’s the whole “open world” strategy that has worked well with titles like Grand Theft Auto or Assassin’s Creed, but it’s not working out for this game when the story is incomplete to begin with. Assassin’s Creed, especially, has a well-established mythology that sprinkles all that information throughout the game. Previous FF games pepper you with this information. FFXV lazily attempts to do that and right now, I just don’t care about these characters.

Hironobu Sakaguchi, the father of Final Fantasy, left Square-Enix and formed his own company. He created Lost Odyssey for the Xbox 360. The game is praised for its story, but people were turned off by the outdated turn-based battle system. I think that’s what’s missing in these more recent Squeenix JRPGs. When you play a Final Fantasy game, you’re supposed to feel like you’re on this epic journey… an odyssey. I’m hoping at this point where I’m at in the game picks up the pace and the story. But based on numerous anecdotes and reviews from people who’ve played the game and its numerous DLCs over the past few years, I’m not hold my breath.

I’m done.