Ubisoft Summer Camp 2019 Dutch edition!

A few weeks ago one of my best friends took part in a Facebook giveaway to win entrance to the Ubisoft Summer Camp 2019 at the Dutch Ubisoft offices. To both our surprises he won and I was the lucky +1. So last Tuesday we made the journey towards the Ubisoft offices that were located near Utrecht.
I left work early because it started at 18.00 with a walk-in from 17.30. After traveling for a bit and searching an industrial area we managed to locate the building where Ubisoft was located. Due to the Dutch division being relatively small they had a small office space. Something we like to call “drie hoog achter” in Dutch to signify the relatively small and well hidden location of said office space. Then again, no development takes place at the Dutch offices. It’s really just customer service and social media management so you can’t really expect a full building like their HQ in France.

We were greeted by a few Ubisoft employees and entered what could only be their break room. They had setup about 15 PC’s and various Playstations, a stocked fridge with tons of drinks, a popcorn and cotton candy machine and enough chairs for everyone to sit on. As people were slowly trickling in we were told the purpose of the evening. Basically we got to sample a number of games that hadn’t come out yet, we were going to have a small competition, lots of pizza and just gaming fun in general.

The competition opened with a 20 questions quiz about Ubisoft related things, me and my friend ended 7th place, playing Trials Rising and playing a Trackmania Turbo track. Eventually two younger boys won the grand prize and they were really happy with it. As for the games they had on offer… We played some Trackmania, some Trials Rising and some Roller Champions which is probably going to be Ubi’s counterpart to Rocket League. I’m not gonna delve too much into detail about this game because they were pretty strict with us not being allowed to make recordings and stuff. In essence it’s a 3v3 game where you’re on rollerblades in an arena and it involves scoring points. That’s all you’ll get out of me.

All in all me and my friend had a nice evening. The Ubi employees were nice. We met up with all kinds of people who enjoy games aswell. We got to play some games, we had pizza and we ended up going home with a goodiebag. I’m not a huge Ubisoft fan, most of their IPs don’t really speak to me, but they are one of the nicer companies here in the Netherlands when it comes to social media presence so it was really nice to spend an evening there. They had nice decorations up with Rayman greeting all visitors that entered the 3rd floor where they were located. You could see that all the people who work there were passionate about what they do and it rubs off on the guests. It was a good evening out and I’d do it again next year, even if it means it will take me two hours to get home again (in Dutch standards this is a lot since you can basically get out of the country in 2 hours).

Finally a small FFXIV update. My Black Mage hit level 80 last Monday. I’m going to retire that for the rest of the expansion, I really don’t get along with the job, and this weekend I will start leveling Red Mage. After that I should be done and have the title “Soul of Magic”.

Catching up in Nazjatar

As stated in my Gaming Goals post from August 1st I want to get back into WoW and work my way through Nazjatar and Mechagon and unlock flying. Like Syp over at Bio Break I’ve been on a hiatus from the game, although not quite as long as he has been. I think the last time I’ve actively played was when I was still living with my Dad and right before I moved so that would be the end of March. I’ve touched the game briefly here and then after that but nothing that really warrants the label of a fulltime return to form. Now that the FFXIV expansion hype has slightly died down and I’m settling back in a less time consuming routine there I can devote my time to WoW again, among other games.

I had already cleared my questlog and dove into the first tiny bit of Nazjatar earlier but yesterday I sat down and played the zone, and Mechagon, in earnest for about two hours. In that time I discovered the dailies/world quests system that make up these zones and was I reminded that I would need to put in a bit of work if I want to unlock flying in earnest. The whole idea of having a buddy in Nazjatar is nice and I’m happy that I’ve immediatly gone and explored the entire zone since it rewarded me with various flight points that I can take as shortcut to get stuff done. I think the zone itself is nice and I can’t wait to advance in the story and work my way up to the inevitable raid.
I also really like the Benthic gear system and how it allows me to catch up gear and itemlevel wise to other players. My Rogue, who I’ve picked to take through these zones, was hopelessly behind on gear but with the Benthic gear I already managed to drag my itemlevel up to 370. Not anywhere near the current “good” itemlevel but it’s a start at least.

Thematically I enjoy both Nazjatar and Mechagon, although I enjoy Nazjatar a bit more. The elven ruins littered here and there and all the outlandish underwater creatures mixed in with the overwhelming naga presence really sets a good atmosphere. The part where there are still elven ghosts has an amazing soundtrack. Everything really sets the stage for whatever big thing Aszhara has planned and I love it. I’m happy it’s not a truly underwater zone, like the Vashj’ir experiment back in Cataclysm, but I do think that Blizzard kind of missed an opportunity for some underwater content.. Maybe in the way that FFXIV has succeeded, but only with the ability to fight underwater. A girl can dream right?

I’m still settling into all the new stuff they’ve added, like the overhauled Heart of Azeroth system and both the new zones aswell as just getting reacquainted with playing WoW in general. I need to get used to my keybindings again after playing almost exclusively on a controller for the past month, aswell as the combat system and my UI. I also need to remind myself that the looting system is different and the community is very different from FFXIV and I have way more casual goals here than I do in FFXIV. I’m not really scared that I will get sucked back in again seeing as I have no active raiding group and none of my friends really play anymore so my ties to WoW have gotten significantly weaker compared to a few years ago.
The real big elephant in the room is that I hope to have my flying and all content done before Classic WoW launches towards the end of the month. I really want to peek my head in there, I will probably roll a Human Warlock, and I’m sure that I won’t have the “stamina” to play both Classic as modern WoW at the same time. This sets me on a bit of a timer to get stuff done so once my Black Mage dings level 80 tonight I will probably dial down on the playtime in FFXIV and up my playtime in WoW at the same time so I can get done what I want on time. I’ll keep you all posted how that works out.

Living by checklist

You’ve undoubtedly already seen it from my August gaming goals posts but I am a checklist type of girl. I live by checklists on my job, for games and at home. It’s a habit I’ve picked up early on in life when I started to play Rollercoaster Tycoon and Zoo Tycoon back when I was still a kid. You see I would do the park challenges and they all came with “checkboxes” that needed to be marked to complete said challenge and open up more difficult park challenges. I would write down what I needed to do and cross it off the list when I was done with it. I took this habit with me to my MMO’s, especially World of Warcraft, for when I needed to craft a particularly annoying item. I’d write down what I would need, in which quantities and where to get it so I wouldn’t have to toggle between screens constantly.

Nowadays in my adult life I tend to make checklists based on my emails at work. I take inventory of everything that comes through my email and the standard tasks that need to be done and then make a priority checklist with the most urgent and important stuff up at the top and the stuff that can be done later at the bottom. Along with carving out blocks of time in my planner this is what has caused me to not go completely insane for the past year or so. Seeing as how I deal with a lot of departments and people in my current job it’s important to stay organized and level headed. It also helps that when I cross things off my checklist I have a bit of a “look what I did today” list for my boss to keep her happy aswell. It gives a bit of insight of what everyone does on a given day and that in turn tends to lead to a better distribution of tasks among colleagues.

In my personal life I tend to use task lists on chore days (like today) and when it comes to what I want to do gaming wise. This helps me achieve what I want during the day and helps me focus my time and energy better on what I want to do. I’ll make a list of all the chores that I want doing and stripe them off one by one as I finishe them up. I do the same for gaming related things. Today for instance I wrote down all the roulettes I wanted to run in FFXIV and the dailies that I wanted to do. It helps me have a sense of what I’ve done and how much I still need to do. Of course I can’t always do everything on the list. So I prioritize there aswell. What laundry do I need to do first? Do I really have to vacuum/dust today or can I go another day? Do I have any other interfering plans that means I have to move over some chores to another day in the week.
The same goes for the gaming stuff on my checklist. How much time do I have? What will take me longer, what won’t take me that long? What is the payoff for doing X over Y? In the end though I try to make my lists in such a way that I’m able to check everything off during the course of a day. Unlike work though I don’t really set aside times for what I do when. I tend to do my chores earlier in the day usually but today I spent my morning doing roulettes and dailies on FFXIV instead, giving me the rest of the day to clean my house and do groceries.

I know it sounds boring to “live” like this but in all honestly it helps me in getting stuff done. When you’re away from home for work from 8-6 five days a week and also want to maintain an inkling of a social life besides spending time on your hobbies it’s pivotal that you have some sort of planning system in place. For me it’s checklists and it’s worked so far. I’m slowly trying to combine it with setting aside special “time blocks” for certain things like I do at work. And that works for my evenings when I have even less time to use. However I believe in having the weekend be the weekend and as such I don’t want to plan certain timeframes. For then a checklist for the entire day, or half the day, will be enough.

Of family barbecues

I just got home and technically it’s already August 4th here but I’m just gonna roll with it and pull the “it’s August 3rd in the US still!” card and just make this post count as my third of August post. I had hoped we would be home a bit earlier but I should know better by now, my Dad and his partner like to stay late at any family gathering so this one was no exception. Don’t expect a long post since I’m still slightly intoxicated, I just wanted to throw something out there.

I was supposed to write this blog post before I headed off to the barbecue but real life managed to get in the way of that and thus I’m sitting down and mostly just whacking one out so I won’t stray off my schedule. I haven’t really done much in the way of meaningful gaming over the last two days anyway so might aswell sit down and talk a bit about our family barbecue and how I absolutely love going to these types of things since it gives me the opportunity to unwind and relax with my cousins who I don’t see that often anymore.

You see, my mom was born into an exceptionally large family, she had seven brothers and three sisters totalling the number of children to eleven. All of the aunts and uncles had kids and I’m somewhere in the middle age wise. This meant that we always had tons of fun playing together as cousins on whatever birthday or gathering that was happening. Unfortunately due to age and other things you grow apart and start seeing eachother less and less. Most of us are somewhere in our twenties to fourties now and we see eachother only a few times per year, if even that. We do however make a point of getting together once per year for a big family barbecue and it allows us all to catch up, have good food and a good time in general.
Today it also involved copious amounts of alcohol. There may or may not be a movie going around of a table full of wacko’s singing along to a Dutch song because at some point we were all to inebriated to care, except for the designated drivers of course. I may or may not have been singing really loudly along aswell and this may or may not have been caught on film. I love my family all the more for it.

All in all I’ve had a really good time and we really should do it more often. Family is important, especially the ones that accept you for who you are. For now though everyone is going their own way again untill the next time we meet up. Which will probably involve more alcohol but maybe less singing.

Go with the flow

Random cat pic from the Googles

This week has been my first week back at work after having my two week staycation and man I’m absolutely wrecked. I’ve not been sleeping well all week and having to get up early every day doesn’t really help with that. I keep waking up at random intervals and I have a very hard time falling asleep to begin with. I’m not really sure why since it’s not melting temperatures outside anymore and I’ve actually had to close my windows due to it being too cold otherwise.
I think one part of this is because I have applied for a new position and I won’t hear anything about it for the next three weeks. I’m trying to let it go but it’s hard because I know I will be severely disappointed when I don’t get it. On the other hand I had to deal with the usual “crap” that comes with being away for longer than a weekend. Working headoffices for a large retail company means you only have two types of workdays: busy and extremely busy. There is never a dull moment but this also means that I tend to get home feeling completely worn out, especially when having to “catch up” with stuff that happens over a two week absence. As direct result of this I’ve been falling asleep after dinner almost every evening, either on my couch or on my bed. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle really. I come home from work, fall asleep after dinner, wake up around two hours later wondering what year I live in, be awake for a bit and then go to bed where I can’t fall asleep. When I do fall asleep I wake up multiple times per night and then the alarm goes off and I’m tired before I’ve even gotten out of bed.
I hope it’s just a getting back into the groove of things week and that things will feel more normal next week but for now I’m happy it’s the weekend and that I get to sleep in and not care about waking up in the middle of the night when there’s an alarm set to go off.

Due to me falling asleep a lot I’ve not really been able to do what I want during the evenings. My chores have all been postponed and I’ve put in way less time into gaming and being active than I hoped I would. It’s not like I’ve not done anything at all besides sleep in the evenings but I’ve not taken any of the walks that I wanted to and I’ve maybe put in 30 mins of game time if that per night.
Today isn’t much better with it being a League of Legends evening.. I’m spending most of it knackered out on my couch watching TV. I guess things will turn around a bit tomorrow and Sunday when I’m hopefully more well rested and in a bit better state of mind to get stuff done. I also have a big family BBQ to go to so there’s that.

So sorry for this being a bit of a lackluster post but I’m just honestly overwhelmingly tired and I can’t wait till I get to roll into my bed and drift away into dreamland.

Hello Blaugust and gaming goals

So we’ve finally made it to what is offically the first day of Blaugust this year! July has been a bit of a wild ride for me with time off, Shadowbringers launch and hosting a friend for a week. It’s the reason why I didn’t really want to tie down on a “goals for the month” post. However August should be calmer and thus I feel like I can actually devote some time to setting goals for the month.

MMO Goals

  • Cap weekly on the new tomestones in FFXIV and get healing gear upgrades
  • Level my Black Mage to 80. Level my Red Mage to 80
  • Level my Alchemist to 70. Level my Culinarian to 50. Level my Botanist and Miner to 80
  • Poke away at the ARR Relic chain for the White Mage weapon. I really want more transmog options… I’m currently at the Atma step.
  • Play through Nazjatar and Mechagon content in WoW and unlock flying
  • Play some GW2

Non-MMO Goals

  • Play through and write about FFVIII, not necessarily finish it though
  • Play through and write about Spider-man on the PS4

So as you can see for August my main focus will still be on FFXIV and getting stuff done there. Otherwise I want to put some time in the new WoW content and some time in general playing Guild Wars 2. Finally I already announced I wanted to be playing FFVIII and Spider-man so I will be doing just that. I’m hoping to finish Spider-man this month, I’m not aiming to finish FFVIII but I do want to make some decent progress.

All in all I think all the goals I’ve set are doable, I just need to be smart with planning my game time to achieve all of them.

I booked a trip

As kid we never really travelled much outside of the Netherlands due to my mom not being able to withstand really hot temperatures. I’ve tried to make up for that during my teens and early 20’s with lots of city trips and short vacations to Norway, Sweden, Tenerife, Mallorca, Portugal and Italy. I’ve also been to Paris, Berlin and a part of England.
I love touring around Europe and I think one of the next places I want to visit is Barcelona or Valencia in Spain. However I also have a few dream trips that I want to do now that I can still enjoy them seeing as I’m young and I have a decent amount of vacation days to spend every year (thanks boss!).

I’ve had a few destinations in my head that I really want to visit and on top of my list is Japan. I’ve been considering it for a while now to just take the plunge and go and yesterday I finally made the decision and booked a 22-day group travel arrangement for March 2020. It’s still a very long way away but I’m already very much looking forward to going. I’ll be going with a big travel agency and we will be going with a group of around 10-14 people. The journey will take me from Tokyo via Kyoto to Nagasaki. All hotels and excursions are included, as are the flights, and one night we will even be staying at a temple where we will eat dinner and breakfast!
It’s one of my dreams come true and a big motivation for me to work on getting fit again because I obviously want to be able to do all the things and not be left behind because of my poor stamina and condition overall. One of the reasons I picked the end of March is because it’s going to be cherry blossom season (or sakura in Japanese) and I really, really want to see all the gorgeous pink trees and take tons of pictures of everything. I’m also hoping that I’ll be able to go to the Eorzea café and maybe a Pokémon café. I’m definitely going to a Pokécenter store and maybe a few other anime themed stores and retro gaming stores. There’s just so much you can get and do there that you don’t have over here and I can’t wait to explore everything.

The one thing that kind of scares me a lot is that I will be going on this journey alone. I will be grouped up with a bunch of strangers and will basically have to fend for myself in a country half the world away where I don’t speak the language. I think it’s going to be one of the hardest and possibly most rewarding trips I will ever take in my lifetime and I’m 100% sure I want to do this. Yet I’m also terrified. What if anything goes wrong? What if I get sick or have an accident or my luggage gets lost? I know that I will be with a group and that we have guides who know Japan and can help where necessary but still these things go through my head.

All in all I have over half a year to prepare for this trip and to look forward to it. It’s going to be the first time that I’ll be on a plane this long and it’s going to be the first time I will travel on my own anywhere outside of the Netherlands where I won’t be meeting up with friends abroad. I’m mostly hoping that my dream trip will be just that. I guess we’ll see when I get there!

Exhaustion strikes

So I’ve been back at work and the first evening of falling asleep the moment I’m home has happened. It’s always a major struggle getting back into my proper work rhythm after I’ve been off work for more than a week but this time it feels even worse because I’ve had an exceptionally lazy vacation, meaning I’ve lost the tiny bit of stamina I had acquired with my normal schedule. So I’m rebuilding this, and more, and it’s making me very much tired. It also doesn’t help that I was up hunting mosquitoes untill 01.30 in the morning last night I guess but still.

It’s one of the few things I dislike about my job at times. When you get back from vacation it’s always a struggle to get to a point where you are all “caught up” on current work and circumstances. I’ve been dutifully slavering away at my slightly exploded mailbox since people figured it was okay to start mailing me again on Thursday/Friday to get things in motion on Monday. Next to that I have my regular tasks that need doing so I’ve been quite swamped with all of it. I managed to make it to about 50 “unread” mails though so I guess there’s that. I’m really hoping that I can get the last bit down tomorrow and be all where I need to be again.

In gaming news, the newest patch of FFXIV hit today, bringing with it the new Tomestones and the Savage mode of the Eden raid. The reward for defeating the final boss is an awesome four seater mount and I may actually want to try to clear it just for that, if I can get into decent PuG groups. For tonight though I think I’m going to stick to clearing the normal version of the raid and start doing expert roulette again for the new tomestones and not play my Black Mage for a night. I made it to level 75 on that playing yesterday evening, aswell as getting my Alchemist to 65 and my Culinarian to 41.
Another good change was the rate that Trusts gain experience from the dungeons you do with them. It’s going to be a less torturous road to get them from 70 to 80 now and I may even use them a bit more as I’m leveling up the rest of my dps classes to circumvent queues and still get leveling done when I’ve exhausted my roulette options.

I’m still quite curious how the Relic Weapon grind will look this expansion. Square Enix hasn’t said a word about it yet, which is rather worrisome. It feels like they launch the weapon much later every expansion and if this one is going the way of Eureka in Stormblood it will mean that I’m probably once again going skip out on it. I really didn’t enjoy Eureka and I’m in no way up for the same sort of grind again. I rather go back to the ARR and Heavensward types of Relics but I guess time will tell how things turn out. I would be very disappointed if they didn’t do any Relics this expansion but with the ever growing amount of jobs it wouldn’t surprise me. I mean they already took job quests away… Maybe Relics are too much of a hassle aswell.

Schedules and ponies

So today is officially the first day of my “new” schedule for Blaugust. I’ve roughly made up my mind and settled upon the following for weekdays after work.

17.30-18.00: Come home and wind down a bit. Maybe head over to the store for dinner or something else.
18.00-19.00: Dinner time! This spans cooking, eating and doing dishes
19.00-20.00: Blogging time. I’ve carved out an hour mostly so I can start a bit later if needed but mostly so I have enough time to sit down and write a proper post.
20.00-22.30: Activity for the night. This will mostly come down to gaming but I’m also planning to take more walks and get exercise so whatever goes really.
22.30: Shut down and get ready for bed.

By sticking to this time schedule I’ll get enough time in to play the games I want, have time to cook/eat and still have time to blog and go to bed at a reasonable hour. Let’s see if I can make this work!

All the pretty ponies!

Throughout my years playing FFXIV I’ve never managed to get any of the primal mounts when it was current content. I was really happy to land in an FC that did a few farm nights leading up to Stormblood and I got a few ponies and birds then but never really pursued it any further. While I was doing my crafting dailies yesterday I figured that now that we are level 80, soloing the original primals in A Realm Reborn content should be a piece of cake now and seeing as I only needed the Shiva and Ramuh ones I decided to set an hour aside to farm those.
Shiva was peanuts for my Summoner. I barely took damage, especially with the shielding that the Titan egi provides and I managed to get the mount to drop there in two runs without dying. Ramuh was a bit trickier since he does the tankbuster move. Once I figured out how to survive that, it killed me two-three times, I managed to down him pretty easily and to my surprise the mount dropped from that first time I killed him.
This meant that I finally had all the ponies and could do the quest to obtain the Kirin mount, earning that achievement in the process. The quest itself was okay. You go to the Yoshida guy in Mor’Dhona who has a quest for you once you obtain all the primal mounts. He then gives you a whistle that only one worthy can blow and asks you to do this at an overlook so you can make pretty screenshots as Kirin appears before you. It was simple and short and you walk away with a badass looking mount in the end. I think the scene I captured above was one of the better ones I could get with all of the ponies gathered around.

I’m quite happy that I finally got all the mounts with all their awesome primal music. I think the Shiva one will be my go-to for a bit now since I absolutely adore the music from it, but really I could put all of those mounts on my favourite roulette and not be disappointed by whichever would come out.
The next step will be figuring out how many people you need to get the birds from the Heavensward fights. I’ve already obtained a few there but still need the ones of Bismarck, Sophia, Sepiroth and Nidhogg. If it’s doable with two or three people I may just convince a few buddies to tackle those fights in the coming weeks.

Tonight I will probably turn my attention back to leveling though. My Black Mage hit level 74 yesterday and I want to get it to level 80 as soon as I possibly can, purely so I don’t have to play it anymore. I honestly really don’t enjoy myself on this job and I want to be done with it sooner than later. I just don’t understand how I can fit in Flare and Freeze in my rotations, not now I’ve barely figured out how Blizzard and Fire 4 work. The numbers are pretty but I’m way to distracted with not letting Enochian fall off and having to move in the middle of my casts to really enjoy it. So I’m gonna just grind through the levels, do the 80 quest when I get there and then call it a day and start leveling my next job.

Blaugust prep!

Today the first day of the Blaugust schedule started and we are calling it prep week. I know it’s not officially August yet but nonetheless it can’t hurt to start a few days in advance laying out what I’m planning to do for Blaugust exactly. Writing a blog post every day isn’t necessarily as easy as it may sound, especially when you don’t have a variety of topics to write about. So today I’m going to talk a little bit about how I want to tackle the every day blog posting and what kind of posts you can expect from me over the coming five weeks.

FFXIV progress posts. This will probably still be my main game over the coming weeks. With the new tomestones out on Tuesday and me wanting to atleast attempt to do some Savage content next to leveling up my jobs I will probably have enough to write about for a decent amount of posts. Most will probably be just a quick insight of where I’m standing at the moment progress wise but I may write about a questline or encounter here and there that I feel needs some spotlight.

WoW/GW2 posts. Now that I’m wanting to dedicate less time to FFXIV I can dedicate a bit more time to the other two MMO’s that I have installed on my PC. In WoW I’m mostly planning to explore the 8.2 content and earn flying aswell as catch up to the raid content that I’ve missed so far. In GW2 I want to continue leveling my Elementalist and hopefully push past the level 25-30 barrier that most of my characters seem to end up stuck on and hopefully be able to turn the adventures there into some entertaining posts about how much I suck at this game.

FFVIII and Spiderman posts. As I mentioned before I intend to play through FFVIII. I’ve never finished a mainstream Final Fantasy game and so I figured it was time to pick one at random and just work my way through it. Apparently I picked the one with the most convoluted battle mechanics out there but I’ll make it work. I’ll be taking notes and screenshots as I play through the game so I can make more indepth posts about the story, how far I am and what my opinions of the game are so far. I intend to do the same for Spiderman on the PS4, although that is a much shorter game so I’m probably not going to post about that one a lot.

General topics. I have a few gaming and non gaming related topics that I want to talk about aswell. I’ve taken the habit of writing my ideas down and then sitting down at a later moment to turn them into proper posts.

Next to topics I’m also working on a “posting schedule” so that I can sit down and write a blog post around the same time every day. I’ve also taken note of days where I won’t be able to post on my scheduled time or at all so I need to make sure I have a few extra posts lined up to post during that time. The big problem that I’m facing with here is that I’m horrible at sticking to schedules. Something I’ve been struggling with for a big part of my life and something that I’ve been meaning to change forever. So I’m using the Blaugust opportunity to do so and create some new, healthier, habits for myself so my days will maybe go a bit smoother and more enjoyable than they are going now.

All in all I feel like I’m more prepped this year to participate and succeed in posting every day than I have been in previous years, so let’s aim to make it work!