A Christmas Carol

I’m writing this post as Sisqi is courageously doing the grocery shopping while I’m at home with a bit of a cold. I’ve been dragging this bug for a few days now and it has turned into a runny nose with shivers kind of sick (Sing Soft Kitty!). Being sick in December has become some sort of tradition for me and I’d be a bit lost if it wouldn’t happen (as long as it’s not Covid, of course).

Anyway, we’re having an amazing end of 2021. We’re playing many games and, so far, our favourite is Marvel’s Guardians of The Galaxy. That game is incredible and we’ll probably write a lengthy post about it in January. 

We’ve already been through a big chunk of our TV schedule for the end of the year and the movie that we’ve enjoyed the most is Finch with Tom Hanks. As for the TV shows, we’ve watched the final season of Lost in Space and it is definitely at the top of our list.

But December isn’t over yet and we still have many great things in stock for the coming weeks… Oh, I almost forgot, above is a picture of the Lego tribute to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that we’ve built Wednesday morning. Tis the season!

Edit 1: We don’t have Covid, yay! We just tested ourselves.

Edit 2: In the Christmas Lego above, there’s a secret compartiment that allows you to store super secret stuff. That’s so cool! Now, to find something secret to hide…

Lego Haunted House

This is a timelapse of us building the LEGO Haunted House (10273). 

We wanted the house to be ready for Halloween but we didn’t think that it would be that big, so we’ve spent the entire 30th of October assembling it. We’ve watched the complete first season of Sulphur Springs on Disney+ (great show), Frankenweenie and Final Destination 3 during the build. 

Just as in the previous timelapse (Building the Falcon), I made the music and I still didn’t have the time to edit the track, I just bounced the loop with Logic Pro. 

The video ends on a picture of the completed house but it doesn’t looks as great as it does in real. Also, it kinda sucks that the video stops so abruptly, I’ll find a way to make it smoother in our next timelapse, which will probably be the new LEGO Christmas House (Santas’s Visit – 10293). I’ve almost spent more time creating the vignette with Affinity photo than making the video on Imovie.

As a side note, I’d like to give a big thumbs up to Affinity Photo which replaces nicely Photoshop. We didn’t renew our Creative Cloud subscription because we want to stay as far from Adobe and it’s subscription system as we can. I don’t really do any in depth photo editing, I mostly use the software to correct the levels and add a stroke around the text. At that level, I don’t have the feeling to have lost anything by leaving Photoshop.

Building The Falcon – Timelapse

We’ve finally done it, the Millennium Falcon is complete! We’ve been working on it every Sunday morning and we had a ton of fun. The entire timelapse was recorded on an Iphone 11 pro max and the 29 parts were assembled on Apple Imovie.

I made the background music loop on Apple Logic Pro X with an Akai midi keyboard. I wish that I could have edited the track a bit further and that I could have made a live recording instead of bouncing the loop but I was a bit short on time and I still have much to learn abut Logic Pro.

We have purchased a 3D printed stand from Wicked Brick and it will be placed on top of the cabinet that you can see right behind me. It will still have to wait January because we’ll first use it to display the LEGO Haunted House (10273) that we’re about to build for Halloween and, later, the Winter village which will stay until the end of December.

Snory & Hoofty & Poofty

Throughout the years, I’ve swapped factions and races. So, the time has come to re-introduce my hunter as she is nowadays.

Her name is Snory, she’s a Void Elf BM Hunter on the EU server Argent Dawn. You can follow this link to visit her armory page and better see her transmog gear.

I’ve been mainly playing this character for all post-Cataclysm expansions and I can say that Beast Mastery is my favorite hunter specialisation. The rotation makes sense, it’s fast, it’s ranged and it remains fun even when a fight requires to move a lot. It’s a real jack of all trade since you can easily top the meters in group content (LFR hero lol) and solo pretty much anything in the game.

Her professions are Mining and Engineering, which explains why she’s transmogrified as “techno” Hunter with Mimiron’s Repeater as weapon. my greatest wish in the game would be to get Mimiron’s Head as mount to complete her style (yep, back to Ulduar).

My total /played time with my hunter is over 152 days, which means 3642 hours and that’s only one of my characters. I could calculate my total WoW /played time, but some things are better left unknown…

Pet Battle World Quests: Shadowlands

Since we’re trying to complete each day all the Pet Battle World Quests that award Polished Pet Charms, I have created a page with all the pet battle strategies that Sisqi and I use in Shadowlands. They are not always the most optimal strategies, but they work even with a rooster of not-so-rare pets. So far, all the battles from Shadowlands are covered and I’ll soon add the strategies for BFA. That page is accessible via the “Links” menu located in the brand new top bar of the blog (ooh, shiny).

Patch 9.1.5. Makes Me Happy

Sisqi and I are having a blast in Shadowlands. Between the Anima hunt, the mushroom quests, Torghast, the covenant upgrades and Korthia, our daily routine is really fun and diverse. However, reading the developer update made us very excited for the things to come. I’m also glad that Blizzard continues to be the kind of developer who listens to the feedback, despite the negative vibe spread by the toxic community.

Well, that’s a lot, but what makes me really happy is:

  • 21 new soul shapes (mostly critters), I wanna be a squirrel and a cat;
  • Soloable Islands expeditions (we didn’t give it enough love during BFA);
  • Recyclable Shadowlands legendaries (bye bye boots, hello pants).

Also, I’ve already re-installed Hearthstone on my phone, because there’s no way that I would miss on the gorgeous new mouse mount!

Streamers Are Full Of Sh*t

I never enjoyed streamers, I don’t find them entertaining. They call themselves “content creators”, but they’re only a bunch of backseat drivers who never created anything (free speech feels good!).

When a game is popular, they’re on the first line, singing its praises but, when the game loses in popularity, they’re the first to lead the hate charge. The human brain is wired toward negativity, it’s a biological fact, it’s what makes us look for cars before we cross the streets. Medias have been abusing this facts for hundreds of years by serving us all the bad things happening in the world through their news shows. Streamers are doing the same, because a negative video simply brings more views.

The problem is that, by gaining a greater audience, they gain the power to influence the trend. Do you honestly believe that Final Fantasy XIV would have such stellar numbers if streamers wouldn’t play it? The problem is when a nobody uses that power to damage a game or a company for profit or just because he got cocky over an insult on Twitter.

When the scandal against Blizzard first appeared, the amount of streamers to jump on the hate train was incredible. The same people who profited their games for over a decade suddenly became a linch mob. Now, they’re already tempering their speech, realising that World of Warcraft is still a great game and that it is still popular. The “I will never return” has already turned into a “I still enjoy the game”. Wait for the next patch or the next expansion and you will see those hypocrites posting WoW videos again.

So, where’s the integrity in all that? Well, that’s simple, there’s none. If you’re looking for integrity, just stop watching video game streamers, they’re just trying to pay their bills, mostly at the developer’s expanse.

Final Fantasy XIV Feels Bad

Sometimes, you realise how good something is after you’ve tried something else… Well this is exactly what happened to us. We were a bit burned out of Shadowlands, then came the Blizzard scandal and the huge “let’s quit WoW” trend that followed. So, out of curiosity, we gave FFXIV a try.

Final Fantasy Online was released in 2010 but we’ve never felt that it was something for us. We’re not fans of anime, we don’t like their aesthetics, it doesn’t match our idea of heroic fantasy. However, the hype got us and we felt that we had to give the game a chance.

The first thing that I can say is that, if you don’t like steaks, no sauce will make you love them. Well, it’s the same with games. No matter how you look at it, Final Fantasy is, at its core, a Japanese game with anime-like graphics. But I thought that I could close my eyes, put the steak in my mouth, chew and Swallow… I was wrong!

Graphics

The first thing that prevented me from enjoying the game is the lack of details in the landscape. For example, when you walk in a desert, it’s just plain yellow, you move on a yellow flat plate that’s supposed to feel like a desert.

The lines are too straight, the buildings feel like they’ve been drawn with a pencil and a ruler. There are entire cities made out of a bunch of textured polygons stuck together that resemble houses and castles but that’s it, there’s no charm.

Music and Voices

The music is miles away from what was composed for World of Warcraft. Most WoW themes have created memories that I will remember forever (Lament of the highborn, Aldrassil, Coldridge Valley,…), while FF14 themes are tunes that I want to forget.

We started by muting the music that launches automatically every time you ride a mount. Then we muted the combat music, which makes the game feel like Pokemon. We ended up by muting the entire sound, we couldn’t take it anymore.

There’s almost no voice acting, and when there is, it sounds bad. World of Warcraft’s voice actors can pride themselves for the amazing job that they do. FFXIV voice actors should rethink their career choices. Most of the time, it sounds so ridiculous that it triggered uncontrollable laughters.

Text

Each quest comes with pages of text . If you don’t read it, the game easily becomes shallow and if you do, you end up reading the worst literature that I’ve ever read in my entire life. The localization team apparently decided to go for some “old English” style, the results is a annoying to read, and there’s a lot of it.

Dungeons

Honestly, how can anyone find FF14’s dungeons good? Their design is uncharacteristic and the bosses are uncharismatic.

If you wanna see what I’m talking about, you could compare two starting dungeons from both games: The Deadmines (WoW) and The Copperbell Mines (FFXIV), the difference of quality is so huge, it’s embarrassing.

Gameplay

From the start, killing mobs in WoW feels amazing. Whether you hit them with a huge stick or you curse them from afar, WoW’s gameplay is smooth, fast and addictive.

FF14’s gameplay, when you get to experience it (between the hours of text reading), feels clunky. You will often read that you have to wait the last levels to experience the real gameplay of Final Fantasy, but no matter how many buttons are added to the action bar, weaving easily gets tedious.

Ridiculous

Everyone who plays WoW knows of Muradin, Sylvanas, Anduin, Ragnaros,… In FF14, I don’t even know the name of 2 NPCs, and if I do, it’s because they’re so ridiculous that I can’t forget them (unfortunately).

The name of the places are horrible: Limsa Lominsa (I had to google to spell it right), Costa del Sol (yep, I swear),…

I have to say something about the gear… Why even bother with dragons and castles, only to have us stumble upon a dude dressed in Summer attire? I completely breaks immersion.

Conclusion

Of course, my opinion isn’t objective but this is my blog and I don’t need to be objective. Now, I must admit that a great part of my negativity towards Final Fantasy comes from the fact that I’m not into anime. I love western fantasy, the one from Dungeons & Dragons.

But, regardless of my preference, I think that FF14 suffers of a huge lack of quality. From its gameplay, the way the lore is passed on, the graphics, the music and the overall charm, it feels like a cheap asian rip-off. Coming from WoW, it’s as if you’d be walking inside of a fake Chinese Disney park after visiting the real thing for years.

Trying FF14 has brought us some good though, it made us realize how spoiled we are with World of Warcraft. Since we’ve tried FF14, I’m even more amazed by the quality of Blizzard’s MMORPG. So many things are over-the-top, from the smooth gameplay to the music and the polished graphics, but the thing that matters most to me is the charm of the world and Eorzea doesn’t hold a candle to Azeroth.

Meanwhile at Blizzard

Year after year, World of Warcraft has lost its popularity. There’s always been negative people but their voices were lost in the ocean of positivity that was surrounding the game. Expansion after expansion, the game has lost its identity, trying to satisfy too many different types of gamers. Victim of its own success, WoW entered a slow and painful descent, no king rules forever.

Keeping a good PR when only haters can be heard is a difficult job, especially when your product so heavily depends on its community. So, when a developer publicly calls one of the last big streamer “an a**hole”, it’s time for damage control. It never happened and, ultimately, the streamer left for another game, taking with him hundreds of thousand followers.

As one’s misfortune often benefits another, FF14 reaches now a total of 22 millions accounts. The store even has to place people in a queue, only to purchase the game.

As if it wasn’t enough, California sues Activision Blizzard over a culture of ‘constant sexual harassment’. I’m not gonna quote the entire lawsuit, but we’re talking about lack of support by HR to the victims, encouragement of this behaviour by the CEO, J. Allen Brack, and even Alex Afrasiabi being called the Bill Cosby of Blizzard. It goes as far as the suicide of an employee after a week-end/relationship with her manager and her bullying at a company meeting.

From in-game protests, massive unsubscribes and tons of flaming forums, I can tell you, internet reacted accordingly to the gravity of the situation. There can be no compromise toward this kind of attitude, there’s no place for frat boy culture in this world.

Since the departure of its former CEO, the Californian company has only shown disregard for its community and its employees. I remember the last Blizzcon of Mike Morhaime, when he said about J Allen Brack “You think you know him, but you don’t”. I often wondered what he meant… I think that I know, now.

I know that Blizzard isn’t the only company with an horrible behaviour towards women but, if we want the world to change, examples have to be made and Blizzard prepared its own gallows by first angering its own crowd.

Deep Sea Creatures

I’ve added the Deep Sea Creatures kit to my Pirate ship Lego Scene. It was nothing planned but, since we’re both vaccinated, we’ve visited the new Lego store that was recently opened in Brussels and I couldn’t help myself… At the store, they had a pirate scene and the boat was surrounded by small blue and white pieces to imitate the waves around the ship and I’m wondering if I shouldn’t order a few (hundreds) as well… As always, the kit was fun to build, especially the great white shark with all its teeth.

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