So last weekend I had big plans for this week. Lots of stuff to do in FFXIV and try to make some progress in Pokémon Blue. Let’s see what became of that shall we?

  • Level Monk to 35
  • Level Machinist to 35
  • Level Armorsmith to 20
  • Level Blacksmith to 20
  • Complete Scholar Zenith Relic (2.0)
  • Get to and defeat the second Gym in Pokémon Blue (this will be my train game!)

As far as levelling went, I had a very succesful week. Both my Monk and Machinist made it to level 35 (and quite a way into 36 aswell) and I managed to get my crafters to level 20 aswell. I haven’t really had the time to pick up the Scholar Relic quest, but seeing as April isn’t technically over yet I could just start and maybe finish it tonight.
I did make some progress in Pokémon aswell, just not as much as I had hoped. With the arrival of both Tides of War and Illidan I’ve been reading much more than I have been playing games and thus booked less progress than I had hoped.
However tomorrow starts a new month, and as I’m happier when I have stuff scheduled to do I think I’ll make goals for the month of May and see how many I can actually achieve.

Goals for FFXIV

  • Level Monk to 50
  • Level Machinist to 50
  • Level Alchemist to 30
  • Level Armorer to 30
  • Level Blacksmith to 30
  • Level Culinarian to 30
  • Level Goldsmith to 30
  • Level Leatherworker to 30
  • Level Fisher to 30
  • Level Miner to 30
  • Finish Scholar 2.0 Relic Zenith
  • Finish Monk 2.0 Relic Zenith

Goals for Blizzard Games

  • Get rank 20 in Hearthstone
  • Finish second wing of League of Explorers
  • Unlock third wing of League of Explorers
  • Finish Diablo 3 chapter 4 for the season
  • Play Overwatch! (I got early acces to open beta)

Other Goals
Both Gaming and otherwise related, I want to do all of this aswell.

  • Finish reading Illidan
  • Finish watching Gotham season 1
  • Defeat second and third Gyms in Pokémon Blue
  • Play through two additional worlds/mission clusters in Ratchet and Clank
  • Wrap up some personal stuff related to University.

As you can see I have quite a list for May. Luckily for me a lot of these goals are “easily” attainable. For instance all the crafters in FFXIV I want to level are already above level 20, which makes me confident I can get atleast a few of them up to level 30 aswell.  Rank 20 in Hearthstone is something I aim for every season aswell, so nothing new there. I really want to get a bit more time in on Ratchet and Clank though and also on atleast one handheld game, hence I picked Pokémon Blue.
At the end of May we’ll see how far I’ve come with all of this.  I hope quite far! I do really love ticking things off my list…

As I find myself playing Hearthstone and League of Legends (and to an extent Heroes of the Storm) again I feel like I’m getting sucked in the “free to play” controversy. I know a lot of people have opinions about how “free to play” certain games actually are and I’m probably somewhere in the middle stance wise.
When it comes to a game like Hearthstone, the buy to win is a relatively simple one: throw in cash, get way more cards than someone who doesn’t pay a dime and play good decks very early on. It’s a way to get a head start over everyone else who doesn’t want to put money in the game and makes sure you always have the newest cards. Be it from a newly introduced Adventure or from an Expansion set like the Old Gods one that is launching this week. Yet for Hearthstone that is kind of where the advantage stops. You’re able to get a headstart on people yes, but if you have all the cards that are around you will eventually be caught up on by people just playing a lot. Trump (Hearthstone streamer) has done many series about how he’s able to rank up with a random deck without spending a cent and just funneling all the ingame resources into building a good deck for one class. That’s also immediatly the restriction you have to work around: at first you are only able to really focus on building one good deck if you want to be able to compete with others.

In Heroes of the Storm and League of Legends the “buy to win” is a bit more complicated. In Heroes of the Storm it’s mostly being able to buy Heroes with real money, thus building a big roster early on which guarantees champion versatility and earlier acces to ranked play. Other than that money buys purely cosmetic rewards which boils down to just having a cooler mount or a cooler skin for a champion.
In League of Legends it’s the same principle. but with a twist. They have a runepage system which requires you to buy runes with the ingame currency. You could argue this is fair for everyone, however. You can buy boosts to that ingame currency with real money, thus making it easier and faster to earn said currency. This allows people to be able to get good runepages faster and more of them to boot.
It boils down to the same thing as it does in Hearthstone. It gets you a headstart on the people who do not want to pay anything for a game, but eventually you will be caught up on.
You may argue that you can buy an experience boost in both Heroes of the Storm and League of Legends, but again, this is only in getting a headstart. You are max level faster, your heroes are high level faster. At some point you don’t level any further and there goes the advantage.

Does this affect me?
The short answer is no. The long answer is a bit more complicated. I’ve only zoomed in on the games I personally play that make use of real money to get ahead. I know in a lot of games the “buy to win” is very real and damaging to the playerbase. League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone provide the exact same gameplay experience to buying and non-buying players. You dont unlock additional content from funneling money into them that can’t be accessed otherwise. You don’t obtain a fast advantage over the non-paying users, especially over time when these people catch up.
The only thing you really earn is a headstart and, in all three games, cosmetic items that can only be bought by money.
So for these particular games I am of the opinion that people can throw money at them all they want, for whatever reason they want. It does not affect me or how I experience the game.
And that’s really the way it should be no?

We are almost 5 months into 2016 and I’ve decided to look back at the Gaming Goals I’ve set in January and how far I’ve come so far.

In FFXIV I’ve been making steady progress. I’ve leveled up my Bard to 60 and have turned my attention to some other classes aswell. Most notably my Astrologian made it up to level 52 and my Monk will probably sit very close to level 35 today after I’ve done my level and guildhest roulette.
In the old relics department I only really need Scholar. Monk and Warrior done still, which isn’t much at all. I’m planning on picking up Scholar somewhere this week and then it just depends on which classes I level up first to get those last two relics.
Next to my battle classes I’ve also leveled up my Botanist to 52 and I’m slowly but surely leveling up my crafting classes. I expect all of them to be atleast level 20 by the end of the weekend, with currently only Armorsmith and Blacksmith sitting sub level 20. Ixali dailies help a lot with this!

In Blizzard games I’ve opened up another wing of Naxxramas on Hearthstone and I’ve been commited to getting all the card backs for this year, not having missed out on one so far!
I’ve been barely playing Heroes of the Storm though and am unsure if I can make the goal of battling up to rank 1 (or as close as possible).

As far as all the other games go, I’ve only made real progress in Donkey Kong and Mario on my 3DS with finishing the first world in both of those games. All the rest have more or less fallen off the radar since I’ve been purchasing new games that have drawn my attention, like The Division and Ratchet and Clank.

So, what’s in store now?
For this week I really want to finish up a few things on mostly FFXIV. As  said in my previous post I want to get both my Monk and Machinist up to 35, but seeing as that goes a lot faster than I thought I’m adding a bit more gaming goals for this week to close out April with a bang! So here’s a small list of the things I want to work on this week:

  • Level Monk to 35
  • Level Machinist to 35
  • Level Armorsmith to 20
  • Level Blacksmith to 20
  • Complete Scholar Zenith Relic (2.0)
  • Get to and defeat the second Gym in Pokémon Blue (this will be my train game!)

As you can see, enough to do, but not too much for a week. I really hope I can accomplish this all before May 1st, but seeing as I expect to be able to level both the Monk to 35 and the Armorsmith to 20 this weekend it should be more than doable.

 

Yesterday I finally managed to upgrade my Ninja relic to the second stage of the Anima chain. Now they’re pretty and glowy and purple and I’m super happy with them. It also helps that they went from an item level of 170 to 200, boosting my overall itemlevel from 200 to 205. I might even be brave enough to stick my nose into the new Alexander content.
I’m really feeling the FFXIV vibe again, chasing achievements on my Botanist and Weaver and getting back on track with the Anima Relic quest on my Ninja. I’ve been selling some stuff on the market board aswell, pushing up my total gil to 3 million. In turn this allows me to buy the crafted items I need to further upgrade my Relic. A real win/win situation overall.
Together with poking about in achievements I also really want to continue leveling the few battle jobs I still have sitting below 50. Monk and Machinist are the first on my list and my goal for the rest of April will be to get the Monk to 35 atleast and the Machinist as close to 35 as possible. Which basically leaves me with 8 days to accomplish that. Due to them sharing a gearset I decided to level them in tandem, so I would only have to buy the gear upgrades once, and then discard them forever.

Wacky Guns Galore!
Wednesday I finally got to pick up Ratchet and Clank, as it didn’t release in Europe until April 20th. I have been very excited for this game for a very very long time. In my opinion the Playstation 4 really lacks good platformers. Although I personally enjoyed Knack a lot, and it’s the only game I truly finished so far, I know the console was really yearning for a high quality platform game. And boy does Ratchet and Clank deliver.
I’ve worked my way through the first two worlds now, trying to complete all the missions along the way and picked up a nice collection of guns already. There’s the flamethrower as shown above, I have a gravity type bomb gun, a regular gun and a grenade thrower. I need to discover the Bouncer gun I got especially from pre-ordering the game still… I was a bit slow with entering the code in PSN.
Knowing the game series, but never really having played it, makes this game enormously entertaining for me. The humour is great, the gameplay is fantastic and the difficulty level is cool. I just started it on “normal” difficulty and have been figuring stuff out along the way. The game sort of has a mini tutorial but you’re on your own when deciding what weapon works best on what creature.
So far I’ve noticed the small gun is great for small mobs, the flamethrower is cool for groups that come storming at you and the grenades should be tossed at big mobs and ships. Atleast I was skilled enough to rescue the Mayor of a small town!

So yeah. I have a pretty busy schedule this coming weekend and week. Next to working for 4 days and celebrating Kingsday I will be mostly found on my PS4 putting my time in either FFXIV or Ratchet and Clank… And I’m not regretting that one bit.

Literally getting my feet wet
When I came home on Wednesday evening I was in for a nasty surprise. Getting upstairs and into my bedroom after dinner I discovered quite an amount of water on my bedroom floor, courtesy of a leak. A combination of a partially clogged gutter near my skywindow and a ridiculous amount of marble sized hail proved to be a fatal combination to handle for the outside works thus “flooding” my room with water.
Luckily for me the area with my bed, desk and clothes closet was spared, thus leaving me breathing a sigh of relief as I saw all my electronics being intact and not having to deal with a wet bed. The only real victim of this whole ordeal has been the rug I used for under my deskchair, which is now sitting in the outside garbage bin because it was completely soaked. It didn’t give up without a fight though, seeing as it left behind quite a big chunk of rubber remains that I have for the most part scrubbed off the floor yesterday.
All in all not the best two days for me personally.  I have been quite sore all over today due to having to scrub the damn rubber off the floor and assisting my dad with maintenance work on my roof. Having to hold a tilted skywindow over your head for about 20 minutes is a real test to your arms, can tell you that much.

Picross Madness
I posted earlier this week about My Nintendo, Miitomo and the rewards program and mentioned that I had gotten The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess: Picross game.
I really love Picross. It’s one of those games that has you think about your moves and keeps your brain healthy. Combine it with a game series I’m really starting to get into and you have a gem of a game. I’m currently over 2/3rd of the way completed when it comes to the game. There are three modes of play: Picross, Mega Picross and Miicross.
Picross is the original game with the numbers and squares. You can opt into hints or not and after the inital tutorial there are 45 puzzles to complete ranging from 10×10 squares to 20×15 squares.
Mega Picross is the same puzzle buildup only with a twist in the puzzles themselves. Instead of having rows and colums seperately with numbers they have replaced some of them with numbers that span two rows or colums at the same time, making the puzzle a bit more challenging to complete (See picture below, it’s from Pokémon Picross but the same idea).

The last play mode option, Miicross, is a very large picture broken up into about sixty 10×10 puzzle grids. Solve them all and you unlock the picture.

So far I’ve completely solved the normal Picross mode and the Miicross and am now steadily working my way through the 10×10 grids in Mega Picross mode.
I find it a really nice puzzle game to play. I play it at home to relax after work or when I just don’t feel like starting up any of my machines. It’s also a nice way to spend the 15-20 mins on the train every day, making me be at my destination before I even notice.
The music is nice and not too annoying when played constantly and the graphics, as far as they matter, look good. The only downside so far has been that with the bigger puzzles the squares you need to tap to fill in get smaller and especially around the bottom edge of my screen it sometimes doesn’t really tap the right square, causing me to make an error and thus giving me a time penalty.
Time is  a thing is this game in so far that if you go over 30 mins in solving a puzzle you will not unlock the coloured picture. Going over 30 mins has proven to be almost impossible though, unless you keep on making mistakes so they have been really easy with that.

All in all I’ve really been enjoying this game and I feel like it’s a very good way to spend my first 1000 platinum points of the My Nintendo system. I’m currently saving up to get WarioWare Touched aswell, because free games are always awesome! And it will leave the programme at July 1st. With harking in around 200 coins every week though I should have that game on my 3DS in no time at all and have room to get both the Mario and Donkey Kong themes for my 3DS aswell.

About two or three weeks ago Nintendo launched their long awaited new rewards program: My Nintendo. Meant to replace Club Nintendo, they did a complete overhaul. Where in Club Nintendo you would get codes with purchases of games and consoles, that you could turn in for points and ultimately goodies the brain behind Nintendo decided to go a new route for their rewards program, calling it “My Nintendo”.
Going about it a little differently now Nintendo has installed two seperate currencies for their rewards program: Platinum and Gold coins. Platinum coins are mostly earned with attaching your social media accounts to My Nintendo, logging in the Nintendo E-shop and Miiverse every week and using the newly released Miitomo app (more on that one later).
Gold coins are earned when buying games in the Nintendo E-shop. I don’t think you can get gold coins when buying physical copies of their games, which is kind of a shame. I guess this is Nintendo’s way of pushing people to buy their stuff digitally.


Now what do those coins actually buy?
Platinum and gold coins can be exchanged for various things. For the gold coins it’s mostly discounts on games on the Nintendo E-shop for the WiiU and the 3DS.
Platinum coins are a little bit more diverse. So far you can get discounts on games, just like with the golden coins, but you can also get 3DS themes, ingame stuff for Miitomo and an entire free game: The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess: Picross. This game is exclusive to My Nintendo and costs 1000 platinum points, which you should be able to get in about a day. I opted to buy the game, and one of the 3DS themes, and it cost me 1200 platinum coins in total. I’m more or less totally addicted to this picross game and am well on my way to finishing it completely. But for the 1000 points I decided to spend on the game I could have gotten Mario Kart 7 and ToL: A Link to the Past with 20% discount on the Nintendo E-shop, lowering the prices of those games to respectively €36 and €16. Not a bad deal at all and something I am saving up for right now. Plus if I buy those games I will get gold coins… Which will give me discount on other games again. It’s a nice little circle that Nintendo has created and a better rewards program for someone who likes games rather than silly accessories (feel free to disagree with me). The only thing I dislike is that there is no rewards for buying physical games, and I personally rather have a physical copy than a digital copy so that’s kind of sucky.

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An App to tie it all together
Right after My Nintendo launched Nintendo’s first app ever launched aswell: Miitomo. It’s an interesting app and best described as Nintendo’s take on social media. It boils down to creating a Mii to resemble you, adding friends and then getting to know eachother better by answering questions and reading other people’s answers. Together with a secondary game of being able to put your Mii in the most interesting outfits, and being rewarded for changing clothes constantly, it’s an app to keep you quite busy. For me it’s been very nice to get to know my Twitter friends better and I have tried to get some of my IRL friends to use the app aswell, just for the entertainment value.
Add up that you can earn atleast 15 platinum coins per day by just using Miitomo right it’s also making me use the app a lot so I can earn rewards for my gaming systems.

A very smart marketing move by Nintendo and a very addicting app for people with a lot of friends I’m really happy to see them making progress and branching out with their company.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a Picross game to finish.