Gotta Go Fast – Tokyo TA and Tidbits

skullhead.jpg

The September 21st update added a new time-attack quest set in Tokyo. Just gonna do a brief write-up of it as well as go over some additional tidbits concerning the content update this October.

Tokyo Time Attack


This one is a bit more of a parkour-ish obstacle course than the other time attacks. While there’s no real puzzle to solve, you’re still going to need to learn where enemies spawn particularly for the boost-ring sections. You’ll also need decent platforming and timing skills as well as very high damage output for the final block. This quest is not particularly friendly to certain class combos, particularly anything dependent on striking weak-points.

Enemies will grant EXP but they will not drop anything. As such, they will not count towards collection files. There is also no new Client Order for this quest.

dynamic_entry

Enemies are a bit of a mix in terms of stat mods. All enemies placed around boost rings have reduced HP, though for some you’ll still need to have passed between 2 rings in order to one-shot them with the kick. The rest of the enemies have their regular free-field HP (not the slightly reduced Arks Quest variety), which is particularly important for the final block.

Platforming

platforming

There are two sections in the quest which will require you to do some platforming (not counting the first one which is just to introduce you to the concept). The first is easy enough, though the final jump will require you to hit jump at pretty much the last second to make it.

The second is a bit rougher, as you’ll need to avoid being bombarded or you’ll lose your runspeed as well as having to land on much more narrow platforms. Your controller best be in good shape if you’re not using Mouse and Keyboard!

The final block is a fight against Train Ghidoran. As said, this is using Free-Field levels of HP so it is very durable. What’s more is as time goes on more and more enemies will spawn; starting with 2 tanks, then adding in helicopters and roadrollers. The longer the fight is, the harder it’ll be!

Thoughts

It’s a fun enough quest, though it will be particularly rough on some class combos due to the nature of Train Ghidoran and lack of weak-points on many enemies. The quest essentially favours high-burst short attack time classes or any that can crowd-control Ghidoran effectively. As such, the likes of Banish-Graptor combos won’t be of much use here as Train Ghidoran doesn’t really expose itself for long enough for them to even hit.

Is it worth running over others for your weekly TACOs? Honestly no, but it’s short enough that you could run it for something different to do so it’s a bit like Traces of Darkness in that respect. Naberius 2 and Harukotan remain the most efficient ways to do your weeklies for now.

New Skill Rings


 

So turns out there were a bunch of other skill rings announced during TGS that sorta escaped the main show I guess, which Gheaven covered here. Most of them seem to be support oriented, I’ll go over them quickly;

L / Just Reversal JA Combo

  • Just Reversals will gain a Just-Attack window

R / Just Reversal PP Gain

  • Recovers PP on successful Just Reversals.

A lot of Just Reversal oriented rings coming up it seems, two  of which are L / Rings. I doubt that JA Combo will be interesting enough for people to want to socket into 12* units, mind.

R /  Healing Guard

  • Heals you and others close to you when you successfully activate a Just-Guard effect.

Not really sure who this ring is for, as melee-weapon types generally have access to Healing Guard anyway. This ring just enables those who don’t run a Hunter sub to use it I guess.

R / Wide Support

  • Like Techer’s Wide Area Support; greatly increases the area of Resta, Shifta, Deband and Anti.

Again, I’m not sure who this is for. Force typically won’t be able to use it because they run Techer sub and you probably don’t want to get buffed by a Bouncer/Hunter… though I guess any Shifta is better than no Shifta! Pretty sure there are better rings that a Bouncer is much more likely to be wearing, mind.

The most interesting of this bunch is “L/Non Weak Bonus“, which will allow Launcher attacks to count for Weak-Hit Advance bonuses even if they’re not hitting weak spots. This is a significant buff for Launchers as you might expect, though I do wonder what limitations may be put on it. Weak-Hit Advance specifically boosts damage from shooting attacks, but not all Launcher Photon Arts are. Crazy Smash for example is R-Atk scaling striking damage, which may mean it won’t benefit from this ring. In any case, Launcher users rejoice because your weapon is going to be a lot more effective once this ring arrives.

These rings will be added with the rest some time in October.

Custom PA/Tech Details


With the release of the official update page came a few details about the upcoming custom PA/Techs. Lets go over them

Sacrifice Bite: Type Zero

  • Speeds up the photon absorption
  • Boosts the power and range of normal and step-attacks

So that blade-extension effect was not just for show! As a Hunter main I’m obviously fairly eager to see how much of an effect this has on my play-style. The additional range and power should mitigate the PP issues that Sword can suffer from.

Straight Charge: Type Zero

  • Hold the button to continue sailing through enemies while dealing constant damage
  • Constantly drains PP while in use

Nothing really new about this.

Parallel Slider: Type Zero

  • Allows you to shoot while moving around in a hovering motion.
  • If used mid-air, will allow you to gently fall during the attack.
  • IT’S JUST LIKE ONE OF MY ANIMES

The mid-air detail is new, though I don’t think Ranger really has that much trouble dealing with airborn enemies. Might make the pre-broken knee portion of Magastu more fun if you’re incline to use anything other than End Attract I guess?

Sharp Bomber: Type Zero

  • Allows you to shoot while jumping forward as well as backward.
  • Charging the attack greatly increases its power

Nothing really new about this.

Strike Gust: Type Zero

  • Holding the button extends the rising portion of the attack.
  • Removes the charge portion, so you’ll be able to spam this attack more often

I don’t know enough about Jet-boot usage to really comment on this, though removing the charge portion of the attack does at least give them a directed quick-fire attack which I believe they sorta lacked? Correct me if I’m wrong on this.

Safoie: Type Zero

  • Before casting it closes distance with the target
  • Makes it easier to land the attack
  • More powerful when charged

Ramegid: Type Zero

  • Causes orbs to orbit you
  • Enemies will take damage at set intervals on contact with orbs
  • The charged version will have shorter intervals.

No new details for the techs. Much the same thoughts as before; these are both seemingly engineered to make melee Techer’s life easier.

Class Rebalance


 

So turns out those two new skills heading Summoner’s way in October were indeed not the “Class Rebalance” listed on the long-term schedule. Sega made a post here on their update page for October laying out all of the changes. With thanks to translations provided by this PSOWorld post.

General

  • All stances will have their time limits removed and become infinite.

The main thing I have to say is why the fuck did this change take 4 and a half years to implement? Even more bafflingly so after they introduced this very feature for Wand Lovers all that time ago! Stance skills should have been this way from the start, so this is a welcome quality-of-life adjustment it’s just it kind of makes me despair that it took them this long to realise timers on stances were not a good idea…

Hunter

  • Improved guard-cancel timing on Rising Edge

Should help with preventing incoming damage when using this; as being locked into the animation and having an attack go from tell to finish before you can guard did kind of suck.

  • Larger AoE and slower fall on Nova Strike

Nova Strike already has decent AoE I think, so I’m curious to see how much larger they intend to make it. Not sure what function the slower fall would serve…

  • Improved Just-Attack timing, reduced PP cost and increased speed of Stun Concide

Why?

  • Improved guard-cancel timing on Guilty Break

I guess this adjustment is to make it a better travelling PA as right now it’s a little awkward for this (you can only cancel just after the first strike has started, giving it a kind of stop-start effect.)

  • Improved JA timing on Ignite Parrying

Not entirely sure of the purpose of this change, unless it’s to make it easier to chain Ignite Parrying together.

  • Improved JA and guard-cancel timing on Kaiser Rise. Adjusted timing of attack damage.

Again, I assume this is to make it easier to spam the attack.

Hunter got the most changes of all the classes. All fairly minor changes, eh? This is going to be the trend for the rest of this balance update as you’ll see.

Fighter

  • Improved speed of Surprise Dunk

So double-saber users can throw themselves into the action more quickly I guess.

  • L/Knuckle Chase now affects Quake Howling when used midair

Odd change, not sure why they did this. Perhaps knuckle users would be more informed.

Ranger

  • Improved cancel timing and added i-frames to Impact Slider

Gunner

  • Improved JA timing and Stlyish Roll cancel timing of Dive Roll shoot when using TMGs

Braver

  • Reduced hit-stop of Katana Gear counter

Was this even that big of an issue? I admittedly am only a casual Katana user at best, but compared to the hit-stop I experience on other weapon types I can’t say I ever really noticed this.

Summoner

  • Sped-up attack timing of Cery Chaser
  • Sped up attack timing of Cery Fall and increased period of time enemies are stopped

A bit of help for Cery, which is a pet I just don’t see used that often anymore. Not helped that I believe Maron Chaser is considered superior to Cery Chaser, but I’m not experienced enough to say if that’s true or not.

  • 12* pets can now be raised to Lv110

I take it this means that you’ll be able to visit Pietro for Pet Limit Breaking with 12* pets now. The current cap for 12* pets is lv95 and there’s a fairly significant stat gain between that and 110. Essentially, this is a big buff to 12* pets, though honestly I could swear that 13* pets are more common.

Sakai’s Favorite: Gunslash

Yet more changes for a weapon class that no one uses now and no one will use after.

  • Improved JA timing of Step Attack
  • Improved JA timing and cancel timing of Tri Impact Type Zero
  • Added I-frames to Thrillerplode
  • Improved speed and reduced hit-stop of Slash Rave
  • Improved cancel timing of Kreuzanschlag

All improvements, all things people likely won’t notice because no one uses Gunslashes seriously.

So yeah, overall these are a bunch of minor tweaks and quality of life changes. Slightly disappointing as there’s a bunch of Hunter and general issues I’m aware of that I’m sad they didn’t address and I’m sure those more specifically experienced with other classes feel similarly. I guess I expect a class balance to shake up the meta slightly, which in this case the only two classes this may have a chance of happening for are Hunter and Summoner I feel. Wether the changes for either class will turn out to be all that significant or not we won’t know until they’re out I guess.

Of course, while the class balance changes are mostly minor the addition of L/Non Weak Bonus and some of the Photon Art crafts may shake things up significantly enough on their own! That’s all for this post; it ended up a bit longer than I intended but there were a fair number of little tidbits this time. As always, let me know if there’s anything I got particularly wrong.

 

Towards the Future: Elite Blocks

gettin_upstaged

Sega is considering adding special blocks which will require players to have cleared specific content before they’re allowed to enter. The aim of this is to filter out unskilled players so that they can design more difficult content down the line without the issues that this presents right now. Currently, their idea is to have the requirement be to have cleared Heaven and Hell floors 1-5, but this may change in the future as its still under discussion. This lock is allegedly going to be treated as a kind of “entrance exam” for the harder content they want to do.

The Scrub Problem


It’s something that seems to have been on some players’ minds for some time, but now even Sega is considering a solution to this problem. So you want to run endgame content, to team up with your peers and take down tough enemies that would either be too difficult or take too long to do by yourself? So you hop on down from your campship and lo and behold, your peers are carrying un-grinded blue weapons or whatever 10-11* junk they happened to find and are proudly adourning their ungrinded unaffixed Gal Griffon units. Then you check out their classes and find that if they even have a subclass at all it’s a completely bizarre one like HuFo or SuRa and it’s only lv10 or so… shit.

Yeah running things like Mining Base or any lv80 raid boss that isn’t Yamato with people who freshly reached lv75 but haven’t addressed their gear yet can be a wholesomely frustrating experience. There’s not much you can do about it personally, as you’re at the mercy of real RNG essentially as to who you end up with when you join a group. Thankfully, the problem is largely mitigated by the fact that most runs can be carried by a handful of well geared players but this does present somewhat of a design problem for Sega.

Now I’m gonna go on record by saying that I don’t hate people who are under-geared by default and most shouldn’t either. Generally speaking, they’re not joining runs to ruin your day and the vast majority are not joining your run to be a “leech” either. They may be genuinely unaware that their gear matters all that much (thanks to how PSO2 is designed, this is fairly common) or that their performance is sub-par or it could just be that the very quest they joined is their only choice to get the gear they need for varying reasons. I may go into detail discussing this in another post..

For Difficulty’s Sake


Sega’s stance with PSO2 has been one where veterans and scrubs alike can play together. There’s nothing wrong with this goal on the face of it, it’s just that it does limit their design somewhat. They can’t make harder content because of it, I mean in the grand scheme of things the recently buffed Profound Darkness is incredibly easy and that’s already annoying enough with a party with enough fresh 75s in it. Imagine if there was a run which required everyone to be well built, well geared and deeply familiar with their class as a baseline? It’d be an utter nightmare to queue for.

The addition of some kind of filter should in theory help alleviate this problem, though difficulty in its own right is a complex issue. Designing hard content for a multiplayer game goes beyond just challenging people’s gear and knowledge; it involves teamwork too.

As a good example, look at Challenge Mode: Mission Start. Clearing this quest requires predetermined roles to be filled, which are often negotiated at the start of the quest. You need someone to tag unkillable bosses, someone to pick up VR capsules, someone to be taken by the Fanji who can burn down Dark Ragne quickly among other things I’ve likely forgotten. PSO2 in general doesn’t really have many teamwork mechanics, there’s only really a few I can think of that actually work:

  • Techer Shifta and Deband
  • Zondeel
  • Zanverse
  • Weakbullet

That’s it. Those are really all the viable team-work mechanics (that arent “do damage”) and they can all be done by 2 different classes. If you combined those two together you’d get the fabled “ultimate support” but you should probably never run that build…

Now, before you start, yes I know there are other skills that are “teamwork” oriented but I said “viable”. Unfortunately, most of the skills in the game outside of these just aren’t effective enough in the current state of things to really be useful. Chain is a bit of an outlier, as you minorly benefit from others using normal attacks in order for your Chain Finish to be all the more powerful.

Essentially, PSO2 has three roles a player can fill:

  • DPS
  • Techer
  • Weakbullet – the giver of which is also a DPS

That’s it! This isn’t actually a criticism in case it sounds like one, I don’t necessarily mind things being like this as I have my issues with games employing the old “holy trinity” system among other things. It just means that they’re much more limited in terms of what they can design, because there aren’t really many roles for them to exploit from just the classes alone.

Again, this isn’t necessarily a problem. Like imagine if there were 12 different defined roles that players needed to fill. Can you imagine how much of a nightmare it would be to cobble such a group together from randoms?

Anyway I think I’ve ranted enough about this aspect. The thing to take away from this I feel is the players want harder content, the devs want to give us harder content, but due to how PSO2 is designed this won’t make things easy to pull off.

The Entrance Exam


So ignoring the difficulties of making difficult content, is the entrance exam they propose appropriate? Would it work? Are other tests more appropriate or is the whole idea potentially bad for the game as a whole?

The proposal is for the “Solo Extreme Quest” Heaven and Hell floors 1-5. Anyone who has run the quest should know that 6-10 is considerably harder than 1-5 which is a fair enough point. It’s not a terribly high bar to pass but it is a bar; there are plenty of players who, with the gear they turn up to endgame raid quests with, couldn’t even do that! So in theory it could act as a filter against fresh or lazy lv75s.

Of course the community has proposed their own ideas, including having floors 6-10 be the requirement, clearing XH Traces of Darkness in less than 8 minutes (solo), doing a direct build/gear/affix check before you’re allowed to enter among other things.

A potential problem with having an entrance exam be too strict is it may filter out otherwise decent players that aren’t specifically built for the entrance exam. Glass-cannon DPS will find Heaven and Hell 6-10 extremely difficult compared to a tankier build. You wouldn’t want an MPA filled with tanks though would you? Similarly, XH Traces of Darkness is awful for builds that would otherwise be a god-send to your MPA.

So what about gear? It shouldn’t be difficult to check for +10/+40 on weapons, or +10 on armor. It gets trickier when you then add in crafting, weapon rarity, weapon potentials, element choice and build synergy. Then there’s affixes! There’s all sorts of issues with affixes as there’s not really a “one size fits all” build for them. There’s also the issue that under the current gearing meta, affixes add a barely significant amount to your DPS anyway (most of it is coming from your weapon and build). Even if you could add such rigorous checks, you still run the risk of pigeonholing people too narrowly, again filtering out players that may be beneficial to your raid group.

Then there’s builds. As you can imagine, creating checks for builds could be a very complicated problem; especially again as you might want someone to be in what would otherwise be an inefficient build (say, TeSu) but is otherwise a very powerful support character (TeSu has the strongest Zanverse in the game as far as I know). Even the simpler check of class/subclass is prone to letting bad players through; FiHu sounds like a safe bet but they could be a wierd Guard-Stance build oriented around Chase Advance. Or a FoTe who still thinks it’s 2012 and is running a Lightning focused tree using Photon Flare.The specific builds are unimportant, the big thing is testing based on a build is prone to ignoring useful edge-cases and may make dangerous assumptions on “accepted” builds.

Essentially, pigeonholing by having too strict a set of entry requirements would limit their ability to design challenging content in much the same way as letting everyone play together regardless of build or gearing would. It’d be a self-defeating system.

Finally there’s the question of is this healthy for the game in the long term? Consider the case where we have a good, reliable entrance exam that filters out the scrubs. Great, the veterans can all band together and play hard content in harmony. But what’s preventing them from playing the easy content this way too? Consider an easy-ish raid Emergency Quest comes along. The veterans all pile into their elite blocks to avoid the filthy noobs, you now have nothing but noobs piled together. This could make runs much more frustrating for them than they need to be and it may even trap them in progression hell if they actually need to complete those quests to graduate into the elite blocks.

If handled right, having a pile of noobs together could work out, because as they can’t be carried by a veteran it could force them to learn how to play the game better. This may also highlight their gear/DPS shortcomings and force them to gear up so they themselves can get better runs. So it’s not all potential doom and gloom, I’m just not 100% convinced it’d actually work out this way.

Anyway, this was a long-ass rant. I felt I had a lot to say on this subject but ultimately it’s just my opinion. I’m likely wrong on some things. If you made it this far, thank you for reading and I hope what i wrote was enjoyable or thought provoking in some way.

Arks League

MARVELOUS

Well now I’ve actually managed to catch some I can share my thoughts on yet another new system.

Overview


Essentially, it’s a more formal version of an Interrupt Ranking with more tangible prizes. You’re matched up with 19 other players and given a task to complete. This will usually be killing specific mobs, but it may include finding items among other things. You’ll be given up to three hours to do as well as you can, after-which there’ll be a 30-minute period before you can then claim your prize. Note that you’ll be matched based on the current character you’re logged in as!

she_who_took_Seaphys_desk.jpg

Mimi is the Arks League administrator. You can find her next to the Daily Order NPC Faina. 

If you’re online as the league starts, you’ll be matched with people randomly. If you log in after, it’ll match people together in the order they logged in. You will not be placed if you log in 15 minutes prior to the current round ending. The league ends at the same time regardless of when you logged in.

Scoring

The scoring, if there is one at all for the objective, is pretty simplistic. Here’s a quick rundown of the ones I’ve seen so far:

  • 2 points per kill for “kill a mob of a given type” leagues, regardless of enemy level or size.
  • 1 point per kill for “kill a specific enemy” leagues, regardless of level
  • 1 point per item found for “get a specific item” leagues.

When I say regardless of level, I mean a level 61 enemy is worth just as much as a lv80 one. For size, a Dark Ragne is worth the same as a Dagan for example.

arks_league_menu

You can check on your standing in the current league at any time by bringing up this menu.

Prize Pool

Stargems! Actually quite a lot of Stargems if you manage to place in the top 3. It’s spread out as follows:

  • 1st: 100SG
  • 2nd: 50SG
  • 3rd: 30SG
  • 4th-10th: 10SG
  • 11th-20th: 5SG

Note that to qualify for a prize, you’ll need to get at least one point or otherwise clear the objective at least once.

You can collect prizes by speaking to Mimi 30 minutes after a round ends.

GIMME_MY_PRIZE

Choosing this option will let you collect your prizes. Stargem tickets are consumed upon acquisition.

Matchmaking

There are two main factors in matchmaking for Arks Leagues, though for the most part it’s completely random.

The first is that you’ll be matched based on the highest class level on the character you’re currently logged in as. This will prevent new players from being matched with those who have capped.

The second thing is the time you logged on. You’ll only be matched with people who logged in around the same time as you and a little bit after you. This presumably helps ensure that you don’t get set at a disadvantage because you had real life obligations to attend to. This is also the most abusable part of the system as it is, which I’ll get into at the end of the post.

Techniques


 

So how does one do well in an Arks League? I’ll be up front, a good amount of it is pure luck but enough is usually within your control that you can do well in a League if you play smart. The actual techniques are going to vary depending on what the target enemy is, so this is going to be general advice.

Enemy kill leagues always seem to require the enemy to be level 61+. As any enemy is worth the same amount of points, it’s best to try to kill enemies as close to that level as possible.

For kill leagues. the biggest deciding factor in how well you’ll do is your kills per minute. Nothing else matters, so you’re going to need to work out a way to maximise this. Ultimately, you’re going to have to do some research into this yourself because there’s no telling what targets future leagues will have. So I’m gonna note down some bullet point general advice to help with kills per minute:

  • If you have a large enough group, doing a 12-man MPA farm can be a very efficient way of getting certain enemies. This works well on enemy type and some specific enemies if they have a high spawn rate in a Multi-Party zone.
  • If you have 3 other people, you can hit up Super-Hard Advance Quests.  This can be extremely effective for enemy type leagues if you can consistently pull off PSE Bursts. I do not advise running Desert or other SHAQs which have multiple enemy types for this.
  • If you have 1 other person, consider hitting up Arks Quests and Free Fields which have bosses. The extra person will trigger trash mob spawns in the boss room, which can often be a large amount of the target enemy type. You’ll want to rush these unless the target enemy happens to spawn along the way.
  • Consider quests which have set spawn layouts. This includes Time Attack Quests, Story Quests and Extreme Quests. This can be the most effective way to get some enemies, so it’s worth having all of Story unlocked (at least Episode 4 stuff). Remember, it’s kills per minute you want, so once you have killed a certain number of the target enemy, consider if it’d be quicker to continue or restart to get that spawn again.
  • Look at quest records to see which ones have a high incidence of the target enemy. Not recommended as this is very luck dependent, but for some enemies you may not have a choice.

Item leagues have so far been enough of a rarity that as far as I’m aware no real techniques exist. They’re not level dependent, so common sense would suggest that doing them on the lowest level you can would be the best way to do it.

Finally, something that works generally well for Leagues at the moment is to log in late. As long as you’re more than 15 minutes before the end, you can still qualify for the prizes and you’ll be matched with other people who logged in around the same time. This means you’ll only have to keep your efforts up for say, 20 minutes instead of 3 hours.

 

Thoughts


 

It’s just another method you can get Stargems with, though a particularly effective one. As the matchmaking is random however, it will depend on the luck of the draw a bit. Sometimes you’re going to be placed with players you have no hope in hell’s chance of competing with. However, if you at least try you ought to be guaranteed a spot in the top 10 and if you do the bare minimum you’re guaranteed 5SG.

Is it worth it? Well 100SG works out to roughly 500yen. If you’re lucky and you log in late, that could be a mere 20 minutes of playtime for 500yen’s worth of gems, which isn’t bad. That said, if you’re playing your absolute hardest and 1st-3rd are getting more than twice your points/min or are getting times you cant hope to compete with then I would just throw in the towel. Go for the top 10 in that situation, because it isn’t worth risking your health for a few dollars’ worth of a virtual currency! If people in your group aren’t trying that hard, then put the minimum effort in to maintain 1st, 2nd or 3rd as the payout is quite a lot higher than 4th+. Of course this assumes you actually want Stargems, if you don’t then this system is worthless to you.

It’s kind of clumsy, honestly. The biggest problem it has is there is no incentive to log in earlier for the events, as you’ll have to work considerably harder for the same reward; 3 hours of grinding vs as little as 16min of grinding. I feel like they’d need to give people a set amount of time, for example from logging in you have 30 minutes to get as good a score as you can. It could still match you with people who logged in around your time, it’s just this way the playing field would be a lot more level overall. I suspect this would be a lot more taxing on their system but as it is the current system is incredibly open for exploitation.

The system does have some potential to incentivize running older content, though notably they seem to pair leagues up with scheduled Emergency Quests which rather defeats the point of that. It’s like Collection Files all over again…

Anyway that’s all I have to say about Leagues for now. Thank you for reading and let me know if I got anything particularly wrong in the comments.

 

About This Blog: Thinking Out Loud.

I’ll start this off by saying this blog isn’t going anywhere yet. I’m still enthusiastic enough to write for it, though lately it’s had kind of stiff competition from other things I’ve been wanting to do. For this post, I’m really just gonna be thinking aloud to sorta open up potential discussion about what I could do for the site.

Related, this is my 300th published post! So wahey for that!

300post_celebration

Never thought this thing would go on this long. My first post is back in 2011 which just blows my mind, where did that time go? In light of reaching this milestone, I guess taking the time to have a little self-analysis might be kind of appropriate. I want to keep making posts, so let’s have a think about how I could make things better going forward.

 

How It’s Doing


I gotta say, when I began writing this I didn’t expect anyone to read it. Why would they with other sites about? Who’d want a wordy editorial blog when you can get a to-the-point complete picture of the news from other places?  Despite this, this place gets a fairly regular amount of traffic. Nothing big, but in the region of about 15-30 views an hour. In total, I’m sitting on 650,000 views. That is over 5 years, so yeah like I say my traffic is minor but to me that’s still pretty crazy. I’ve never made anything that’s gotten that kinda attention before. While writing the blog, I’ve always kinda had it as a personal goal to hit 1,000,000 views and I still kinda wanna hit it.

Point is, while my traffic is relatively small I do appreciate the readership I get and I do feel bad when I haven’t written anything in a while. Thank you very much to all those who’ve been reading.

In terms of my enthusiasm? I will admit, there have been times where I’ve burnt out a bit on the game. I’m sure most of you have, too. Episode 4 has been a particularly divisive one, with all sorts of disappointing features and approaches the development team have taken which has made some people quit the game entirely. Personally, Episode 4 hasn’t been a deal-breaker for me, even if there are things I feel pretty let down by (Stargems I’m looking at you in particular). That might be the subject of its own post down the line though so let’s keep this roughly on topic.

Writer’s block is also a thing that happens!

 

The Blog’s Purpose


The main purpose has been and still sorta is my opinions on stuff. As I say in my now ancient “About” page, I’m really not suited for picking up on news as it comes out. That said, often I either don’t have opinions on something or I just don’t feel my thoughts on specific subjects would be terribly interesting to read.

That said, I’ve been into Overwatch lately (a team-based hero shooter from Blizzard) and with that I’ve been watching a fair few Youtube channels on it. Things like Unit Lost, Force Gaming and others I forget the name of. They fairly frequently share thoughts on all sorts of aspects of the game, from news to thoughts on features among other things. Most of these things I could do here for PSO2! Seeing them has sorta rejuvenated me but I still feel I need to take a fairly objective look at how I do things to explore the following questions:

  • What can I change about how I write blogs that would make it easier for me to more regularly make posts?
  • What kind of topics could I write about that I don’t currently that I could write about?
  • What kind of topics would I like to write about but can’t due to certain barriers?

Something to make clear. I don’t see this as a competition. For one thing I am no competition to other sites, but really competing for popularity is never what I set out to do. I don’t care if this site gets little to no traffic or even if it got none at all. It’s fun to write and as long as its fun I’m gonna keep doing it. From a more professional point of view, it’s about sharing thoughts on a game I love and want to see do better in the future. In that light, other blogs on the game are more my peers in that we’re all supporting the game in our own ways.

 

What can I change about how I write blogs that would make it easier for me to more regularly make posts?


I really do want to make more regular posts, but the posts I make tend to be very long and take a very long time to make. Often I have to dedicate an entire day just to writing one post, which would be fine if there wasn’t other things I’d be wanting to do. So one thing I’m considering doing is splitting my posts into smaller chunks or just making a conscious effort to keep things as brief if I can. Brevity is the soul of wit, so it’s said.

So what kinda target could I make? Well I’m not satisfied with one post per month. I really feel like I could bring it up to 4 a month again if I wanted to, but I’m not going to force myself to make posts on things for the sake of posting. That’d make for potentially flimsy posts as I’d have less fun writing it.

So in terms of what I think I could do to help myself out:

  • Keep blog posts shorter.

Sometimes a long post is unavoidable and I’m sure the 45th Broadcast write-up will be long. The odd long post is probably fine, but I can’t keep the blog regularly updated if it takes 1 or 2 days just to make the post.Not with other things going on in my life too!

  • Techy stuff.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an option for me. Something that would make life easier would be to have access to CSS features so I didn’t have to copy and paste chunks of html code to make posts or be stuck with the limited contole over the sidebar I have for links to other sites. It’d also be nice to have my own domain so my URL isn’t as long, but that’s a more minor thing.

I might be able to do this in the future, but for now I have zero income so I can’t really. I also don’t really want to stick adverts in here to generate money for it cause I’m not really comfortable with money getting involved in something like this (I don’t really get the traffic to make that a viable option anyway). As long as it’s free, it’s my impartial opinions only subject to my personal biases and nothing else. I don’t feel pressured to write just to keep advertising income up.

Still feel like I could do something to tidy up that mess of links I have though, hmm…

 

What kind of topics could I write about that I don’t currently that I could write about?


Right now I write about my thoughts on major new features and the odd bit of speculation whenever a juicy bit of data-mining comes up. Occasionally I’ll post some thoughts on the odd bit of info that crops up elsewhere, which mostly comes from G-Heaven but occasionally from other blogs too.

drafts

A sample of some of the posts that never made it. I’ve got about 56 different draft posts laying around, some consisting of notes and others approaching 2000 words. 

Occasionally, I’ll think of things to write about but either don’t because I’m not convinced what I’m writing is interesting or I’ll give up because another blog wrote about it already or someone posted about it on a forum. That’s an attitude I need to lose, because my opinions are always gonna be slightly different to others; my insights are going to be different.

  • Perhaps be less fussy about specific things to write about.

While there are times when there’s a bit of a drought in content updates which makes for slim pickings in terms of things to write about, there are a few things even lately that I felt I could’ve written about but didn’t. Thinks like the Odin fight, the healing nerf during the Limited Quest, how they handled Beach Wars 2016, what I think about Arkuma slots among other things. To go further back, how the skill rings shook up some classes, the state of my main class (Hunter!)… In short, I think lately I’ve been too short-sighted on the things I could write about for the blog and I could easily fix this.

There’s also game design aspects and thinking about things from a game design point of view. I’m an aspiring video game developer; I’ve made some small incomplete games and most of my time right now is spent studying to sharpen skills to improve my game design. One of my worries has been that this blog may eat up time I could be using to develop my skills, but if anything analyzing a game ought to work to my benefit. I could discuss what I might do to improve it, make thoughts on what the aims of the developers might be for certain decisions and other things. Maybe even throw some game theory in there as I pick that up. As I learn more about that kind of stuff it might actually get more interesting to write about that stuff, so it’s something to seriously consider.

So I think going forward, I need to be less worried about if something’s already been covered or not. I could expand on the topics I cover; making sure that they are in fact topics I can comment enough on and  I could expand by approaching things from a game design point of view.

 

What kind of topics would I like to write about but can’t due to certain barriers?


There’s a few things I’d like to write about more but I simply can’t do them justice. Mostly it’s the language barrier; because as I can’t understand Japanese there’s a lot of blog posts and speculation from Japan that I never get to see or can’t be confident enough in machine translation to write about.

One major topic this language barrier prevents is story. I basically can’t comment much on story stuff; at least not to any great detail. I can get the general gist of a story and get some extra tidbits through machine translation and discussion with other people, but the finer details are very difficult for a foreigner to obtain. Those details could make certain speculations pointless, as it raises questions that may have been answered long ago (such as “where the heck is Matoi anyway?”).

Then there are things like opinions on classes. I don’t play every class equally. I don’t use all weapon types on the classes I do play equally. So often, I have to consider second-hand opinions when discussing things I’m not familiar with. This doesn’t make for terribly good writing, as I’m not confident in the things I’m sharing and the information may not be accurate. It doesn’t help that PSO2 is very restrictive in terms of what builds you can try out due to skill-tree resets being locked behind a pay-wall and affix load-outs being prohibitively expensive to try.

I also can’t comment too much on the meta. I’m not a top-end player, nor do I really communicate with people who are in the top end of things to get some reliable opinions on the intricacies of what’s strongest, weakest, niche or whatever.

Naturally this limits what I can do in terms of guides, though I can at least consider writing guides as a base to help people out instead of worrying about “how to be the best of the best”. “How to be competent at PSO2” not “How to win interrupt Rankings or get 5 runs of Mining Base: Incursion”.

Now some of these things I probably could write about anyway as long as I disclose that the information may be flawed. I can argue opinions on things as if they were true, as long as it’s clear that it’s definitely a “what if” and not a “what is“. It’s OK to be wrong as long as I admit I am and I remain open to the fact that I could be wrong. I feel like I do that anyway, but it’s something to keep in mind especially for the kinds of topics that fall into this category.

 

Things I Likely Won’t Write About


What I generally don’t post about is news if I don’t have any thoughts on it. I’m not good at it for one thing and I can’t speak or read most Japanese. It’s also not terribly interesting to me to write about anyway, which I quickly found back in the day when I did used to make news posts. It’s fine because other sites do this very well so I’m not letting anyone down.

I’m not interested in writing about PSO2es. It’s not that I hate the game; it’s OK for what it is, it’s just much of it is again a language barrier thing. I also don’t feel I really play it enough to have any real opinions on certain things. There are some really dedicated players of that game however and I’m surprised there’s not an english blog out there specifically for it.

I’m not going to post about PS:Nova… at least until I get to play it. I don’t have a PS:Vita so that’s a bit of a problem! It’s also all in Japanese, though there are rumours that a translation project may begin for that. If I get to play it, I might post about it because honestly it may be interesting to compare it to PSO2 much like it was to compare PSP/PSP2i to PSU back in the day.

I’m not likely to post about PSO2:SEA specifically. The main barrier is the IP block which prevents me from investigating things for myself. I don’t really know my way around VPNs well enough to address this.

If an American/European version ever happens, I would be interested in writing about it. This is assuming there aren’t any barriers introduced like what happened with PSO2:SEA.

I also won’t write about PSO3 or PSU2 or whatever ends up being the followup to this game; at least not on this blog. If that happens and I’m still interested in writing for it I’ll likely just start up a new blog!

THE END


Alright, so this turned into a long ramble which yes I know this is one of the very things I said I feel I need to work on. If you made it this far through the article, thanks for listening to my thoughts and I’d be interested in hearing what you might think I could do going forward too.

Ultimately, I write for the joy of writing. It feels good for the soul. I just felt taking a little time to analyse myself and how I do things here may help improve things for me and the blog.

43rd Broadcast Thoughts

TEAM_BETHOR

As always, you can read the bullet-point rundown on Bumped here. I’m just gonna be sharing my thoughts on any particular part I feel anything about. So I’m not going to be talking about PSO2es and the additional lolis it’s gaining or the Anime character CD. That said, still quite a lot I want to talk about so strap in and get comfortable if you want to come along for the whole ride.

To start off, here’s a trailer for content coming up in July

Includes a new casino game,  yet more Gunner themed outfits and this year’s Beach Wars quest which sees the return of Emperappy as well as a titled Chrome Dragon as its end-boss.

Casino Coins for Star Gems

What’s that? 1 Star Gem per day isn’t enough for you? Fear not, as you’ll soon be able to buy Star Gems with Casino Coins for the following amounts:

  • 5 Star Gems for 5000CC
  • 10 Star Gems for 9,800CC
  • 20 Star Gems for 19,400CC

So you’ll be able to have a free roll at the Star Gem scratch for the low low price of 77,600 Casino Coins! Who knows, you might even get Casino Coins as a prize from the Scratch! You’re always wanted some of those!

So yeah, fairly obviously this is meant to be a bonus and not so you can use the Casino to gamble your way to victory on the SG scratch. That said, it still feels like a steep price for what it is, but I admit that even I’d be tempted to drop excess coins on it unless some good rare-boss triggers came up.

As an aside, in late July it seems you’ll be getting 1 more Stargem per account per day for simply logging into PSO2es. So they do seem intent on adding extra ways for players to earn gems, so over time the scratch may become more viable for free players. Right now the odds are still stacked against you if you want a particular outfit from the scratch.

 

Final Fantasy 14 Collab Stuff

Miqo’tes, Relic Weapons and more!

Most of the cosmetics stuff looks great and I’m sure this is going to be a popular scratch when it’s out. Again, it’s a bit of a shame there was no female armor among this lot but that would have been a mere cherry on top of a great cake for me.

The Limited Quest

The center of this update is going to be a quest set in the Ruins that’s essentially another all-star dungeon-style quest with set encounters. Featured enemies include Dark Falz Angel, Anga Fundarge and Guar Zigmorde among many others. Odin awaits at the very end of the quest.

Enemy drops are all pooled into a crystal at the end of the quest, much like with the recent Easter quest and the Mining Base Defense quests. That means you must clear the run in order to get any items at all.

Odin

Odin himself works much like he does in FF14, with all his AOE and spear mechanics in place. He also retains his Zantetsuken ability, which is an outright DPS race. If the MPA fails the DPS race and Odin gets to use Zantetsuken at all, the quest immediately fails.

Weakbullet is jammed on Odin, which is fast becoming the standard for PSO2 bosses it seems like. Really if they feel that strongly about Weak Bullet I’m not sure why they don’t just give the skill itself a direct nerf, except perhaps because they’d need to rebalance a bunch of existing content which expects Weakbullet at full strength (such as Magatsu).

Healing effects are also reduced during the fight, which I assume is an attempt to make the encounter feel a bit closer to how it was in Final Fantasy 14. If it’s just using the same method they use for Extreme Quests however the likes of Megiverse and HP-steal weapons shouldn’t be affected. Automate Users may want to be aware, however.

I’m really not a fan of the way this guest is engineered. Because the quest fails when Zantetsuken fires and because items are only handed out for clearing you will lose an entire quest’s worth of drops. Given this is a DPS check right at the end of the quest, for me this seems far too punishing. My worry is if the DPS check is too brutal, then after a short while it’ll be extremely difficult to actually get a run going at all as people furiously check each other’s gear and quit out of panic.

Could you blame people if they did that though? It’s not a short quest, so embarking with a group you know might fail the DPS check is a potential complete waste of your time and boosters! You will gain no items for doing so and you will make no progress with Collection Files either. If the DPS check is brutal, this is a disaster waiting to happen. If it’s forgiving however, it might be alright. The encounter looks fun enough without the DPS check. Yeah, you may argue what’s the point in a DPS check you barely notice as why have the check at all and I actually agree with you! Mostly because I detest DPS checks, however. For PSO2, this normally boils down to “how many people can get away with carrying the entire MPA”, as in how many people with the optimal builds and great gear are needed before the quest isn’t doomed from the start. Or I suppose the inverse question would be “how many people in terrible gear can the DPS check tolerate”?

In short, Sega better be careful about the design of this quest as could create an extremely toxic environment with the wrong numbers.

FF_Odin

Comes complete with FATE JOINED message. FATEs are essentially FFXIV’s equivalent of Emergency Trials, so it’s a nice touch.

Odin will also spawn outside of the quest in regular Free Fields. Not sure if his Zentetsuken remains in-tact and I certainly hope it doesn’t retain its quest-fail mechanic! As someone pointed out on Bumped, it sure would suck to spawn into a map where a random Odin somewhere in the area uses Zentetsuken, resulting in an instant quest fail the moment you warp down there. I mean even if it doesn’t fail, getting randomly one-shot because an Odin across the map got to use the move would still be very irritating.

Weapons

The relic weapons themselves are going to be camos, not drops. There is going to be a weapon collection for this quest however and it’s a new weapon series called the “Aura” series.

aura_weapon

What’s interesting about these weapons is more the implications it has for the game than their power. In terms of attack, they sit about the same level as Revolucio weapons. I judge this based on the Wired Lance shown, which boasts 1350 S-Atk at +35 (after removing affixes). Their latent is entirely focused on bosses however, offering a 12% boost to damage dealt to and a 15% damage reduction from bosses.

As you can imagine, this makes them relatively useless weapons in general but the interesting part of this is that they directly compete with Ideal weapons. In the case of the wired lance, the difference between Ideal Scissors and Aura Wired Lance (can’t interpret its name) is about 142 S-atk. Of course, the Ideal weapon latent is 18% damage to bosses vs Aura’s 12%. So does 142 S-atk cover the difference of about 6% damage? I’m not expert enough in the damage formula to say, but gut feeling says that the two weapons would end up fairly comparable. That fact alone is interesting, because it makes Ideal weapons redundant; at least for as long as this collection file is active (until late August it seems).

While challenge mode has had a bit of an incentive issue for a while now (Ideal weapons are already outclassed by other weapons even for bossing) to have yet another thing come along and erode it even further is kind of sad. Some of my fondest memories of PSO2 come from Challenge Mode…

 

AMERICA – FUCK YEAH

So yeah, they teased the next field and it turns out it’s Las Vegas in the good old USA. I’d joke that PSO2 is finally coming to America but I already did that. So did literally everyone else so… ahem.

Based on the enemies we’d seen in the data, Las Vegas was a strong guess and it turned out that one was correct! Other guesses were just America in general, Paris and Akihabara. I would not have been surprised with any of those outcomes.

Anyway, it’s just as crazy as the Tokyo reveal and I adore it, check out the trailer:

The music is “Neon Days” by a group named Rumblebee, who seemingly previously did music for Sonic Riders.

The chief thing you’re going to notice (besides all the FREEDOM) is that this map has more vertical space than any map released so far. Seeing as the ARKS can’t fly, in order to facilitate this they’ve introduced a chicken-walker style mech called the “Rideroid” that you can use to fly around the map. Vegas also seems to be enormous compared to what we’ve had so far, though that may be a misleading artifact due to the way the trailer was shot.

LV_esca_tower

Notably, but not surprisingly, the Las Vegas field has an ESCA tower just like Tokyo. 

Given the nature of the map, I’m pondering if it might not have the same random generation that all maps have had so far or even any at all. I’m not against this idea, as a properly hand-crafted map would be a refreshing change for PSO2, it’s just this seems like it might be the death of the old style of Free Field quest.

I should say, I don’t think the old style of Free Field quest is perfect by any stretch. I always felt like a free field shouldn’t even have a boss and should instead just be about freely wandering an area til you get bored. The boss arenas should go to a set map like they did with Train Ghidoran’s Arks Quest. In my opinion, the Kuronia and Tokyo fields becoming point grinds was not the right direction to take them as it runs counter to the philosophy of “run at your own pace”, never-mind the really irritating way Tokyo handles its spawns. Hopefully Las Vegas doesn’t handle its spawns in the same way, and with the shift from grinding stones to doing collection sheets there should be no need for a point system.

Enemies

As is tradition, let’s take still shots from the best video we can find and have a look at the enemies and, where possible, try to match them to data-mined names. As is always the case, these are caps taken from a live-stream so the quality of the images is going to be very muddy.

ball_cowskull

Let’s start with the first enemy shown, which is a thing walking on a ball. There is one enemy with AI that has a ball and that’s Phantom Pierrot A. The AI file suggests it also has a knife attack.

That thing in the bottom right seems to be a cow’s skull. While this could be Phantom Buffalo, it seems Buffalo’s AI includes the ability to stomp. I guess a skull could stomp, but these are phantom enemies so for all I know the little guy could suddenly grow a ghost body or something.

Clowns and Jesters

 

By appearance, I would assume this pair of clowns are the two Phantom Pierrot variants. There do seem to be two different enemies here, with the red jester in both of them.

Judging by the AI, however, it seems that both of them are in fact Phantom Pierrot B, as it’s the only one with a chainsaw attack and balloons. Unless one is a rare variant or they decided to split this into two enemies I’m not sure why the two are different colours.

In case you don’t know, a “pierrot” is essentially an old pantomime character which was a kind of sad clown.

Phantom Sniper

I did not expect this to be a rabbit riding the sign for a gun shop, but then who would have? There are two variants of this little guy, one of which  seems to be the sniping variant we see above and the other can fire rockets. We only seem to see the sniping kind in the trailer.

Phantom Biker

Big beards, mullets and leather. Just about everything I wanted out of this enemy.

The AI for this guy is surprisingly complicated, but despite  this there’s only really a couple of methods that stand out. It seems to have dashing attacks as well as the attack it uses in the trailer, which I assume is it’s “drift cutter” ability.

Phantom Caravan

Now, I’m making an educated guess that this enemy is caravan as it aligns with the overall circus theme the map seems to have going for it. Do a Google image search for “Circus Caravan” and you’ll see what I mean.

caravan

It has an attack where it fires something, a “cracker” attack and some slashing attacks. It also may be able to grab the player. It’s possible that it’s using the firing attack during the trailer, where it seems to be shooting balls all over the place.

Phantom Goddess

phantom_goddess

The boss is Lady Liberty riding a Sphinx. I mean, we had various guesses as to what “PhantomGoddess” would turn out to be but I don’t think any of us expected this! It’s dumb as hell and I love it.

Now, PhantomGoddess is one of the earliest datamined enemies for this area and is in fact the source of the speculation that this field would take place in Las Vegas. In particular, she has a number of attacks based on Roulette, attacks involving the Eiffel Tower (seemingly using it as a lance) and of course the Sphinx. These and of course the statue herself were all things present on the Vegas strip, which is where the assumption that the next field may have been Vegas came from. From the AI I’ve seen so far, I don’t see any suggestions as to what status effect it might be weak to however it’s a boss so naturally its AI is long and complicated so I may have missed something. It does appear to have a phase shift at 60% HP.

The rest of the enemies in this section are enemies that are presumed to belong to this field either thematically or because they arrived in the data at around the same time. However, they seemed to be missing from the teaser.

Phantom Maxwell

Has “red shot”, “blue shot” and it may have some self destruction mechanic. Beyond that, I really don’t have a clue what kind of enemy this could be. I just can’t associate “Maxwell” with anything related to the theme of the field and googling so far hasn’t turned up anything.

At least, it didn’t turn up anything for those themes. What it did turn up however was a scientific concept known as “Maxwell’s Demon“. I won’t detail too much, but the important thing is that it’s concerned with violation of thermodynamics by way of separating out hot and cold particles. There was a game based on this concept called “Maxwell’s Maniac” in which the goal was to separate red and blue molecules into color coded chambers. I suspect it’s not a coincidence that this enemy has red and blue shots!

Phantom Laplace

Again, much like Maxwell, “Laplace” as a name just doesn’t ring any bells for the overall themes of “America” and “Circus”.

Laplace does seem to have quite a number of abilities however, including a barrier of some kind, slashing and shooting attacks, the ability to summon things (summons “N” and “B”) and routines to keep track of and to go to its summons. It appears the summons are either Maxwells or it’s just that it has special routines for Maxwells in particular, I’m not sure. The complexity of its AI honestly puts it as a fairly good candidate as a mini-boss or even a boss.

So yeah, evidently Laplace and Maxwell are fairly closely related. So the question is raised, “Does Laplace turn up when I search up scientific stuff?”.Well, it doesn’t turn up in science (outside of the concept of “Laplace pressure”) so much but it does seem to come up a lot in mathematics. In particular, probabilities and statistics.

So we have potentially a  mathematician/scientist theme with Laplace and Maxwell. This seems to be a fairly sharp departure from the overall themes in Las Vegas which makes me ponder if this pair of enemies may actually belong to a future field. Notably, Laplace has some routines specific to story mode.

Notably, Och Miller is a member of Mother Cluster who is a progeny mathematician. So odds seem pretty good that this pair of enemies are related to her.

Phantom Vulture:

Seems to have the ability to stick to targets and may include group-AI abilities. It contains a few grouping methods, but it’s possible that instead of having an enemy with actual flocking behavior it may be.that it’s spawned by a commanding enemy, similar to how Vardha summons Kindidds and Angel summons birds which he subsequently commands to explode.

Phantom “Track”

I guessed a long time ago that there was a good possibility that this would be an american themed field. With that in mind, I figured “track” was meant to be “truck”, especially given we already had a train in Tokyo. Its just “a” in Japanese sounds more like the “uh” sound in how most english speakers would say “Truck”, hence why they might spell it as “track”.

However, I didn’t take into account that roller-coasters were a thing, and seeing the focus on one during the trailer did make me consider the possibility that it’d be a bunch of rollercoaster cars attacking us or something. However looking at the AI it does seem like it is indeed a truck, in particular a circus truck.  Its AI file is big compared to regular enemies, suggesting it may be a mini-boss. It attacks with its “carrier car”, has a “horn bazooka” and can drift. It also has methods “Circus” and “Circus Attack”.

Phantom UFO

Las Vegas is a city in the state of Nevada. Another thing that exists in Nevada is “Area 51”, so yes UFOs are quite thematically appropriate for this field. So while no UFOs showed up in the teaser I’m fairly sure this will be in Vegas.

Phantom UFO has a number of abilities, including multiple laser attacks, a method named “UFOCatch” and a “LittleGrey”. In case you’re unaware, Greys are very much a pop-culture icon in the US and the most common depiction of aliens in that region. Though the greys themselves don’t seem to be separate entities from the UFO,  they do have attacks and theres a few routines for their height as well as “greydown”. Given how a common depiction of flying saucers has them grabbing things with tractor beams  I’m surprised there don’t seem to be any grab or hold attacks.

Phantom Dog

Bark! The AI has a dash attack and a “fire” attack.

Phantom Roach

It has an AI file but it’s completely empty. While it’s true that Goldrahda-type enemies are all labelled “Roach”  as well, it’s likely that in this case it means an actual cockroach. This enemy was only recently added, so there’s a chance this won’t show up in Vegas.

 

 

Questions Corner

 

Much like last time, Twitter user @kami_pepe reposted the summaries of the questions and their answers. Special thanks to Mewn and Espiokaos for help interpreting these. Let me know if theres anything drastically wrong.

Q: How do you know the breast-size of characters for the Arks Report?

A: It’s stored on characters as numerical data, so we just calculate the size based on that!

I’m glad the Japanese are asking the important questions.

Q: Sachiko has moving fingers! Will you be adding finger posing to PSO2 anytime soon?

A: There are no plans to implement this. 

Presumably the main problem is they would have to add finger bones and rigging for every single outfit in PSO2, which would be a massive undertaking for such a relatively minor feature in the grand scheme of things. They’d also have to animate the fingers for most existing animations, which is a fair amount of work in its own right but not as taxing as rigging the 100s of costumes they’ve released. This I’m afraid is just going have to be something you’ll have to hope is present in PSO3 instead, whenever that happens.

Q: Why can’t we trade SG items?

A: There are two reasons for this.

  1. Because if we didn’t, people with multiple accounts would take advantage of it given we distribute SG for free.
  2. SG Scratch is aimed at only a portion of the userbase, so allowing trades would go against our intents.

Their first reason seems a little nonsensical to me. For one thing, you can already do this with FUN points. I mean, I guess FUN Scratch doesn’t typically last for 6 months, nor does it ever contain costumes but it can occasionally contain desirable haircuts, accessories and such, all of which are trad-able.

For the second reason, it’s possible that the system is engineered so that people are meant to log in every day. Letting people trade would mean people would just buy what they wanted instead. If this interpretation is accurate, it’s an irritating reason indeed especially given that right now even if people did log in every day they wouldn’t have nearly enough Star Gems for the amount of attempts they’d need to get what they want.There is of course the possibility that it’s aimed at whales which has its own unfortunate set of implications… Either way, I’m more convinced by their second reason than I am their first one and indeed I feel it explains their motivations for the first. A system that wants you to log in every day would potentially fall apart if you allowed people to trade.

Q: What are we supposed to do with duplicate items from the SG Scratch?

A: We plan to implement a way for you recycle duplicate items at a later date. For now,keep any spare items you have in storage! We’re sorry about this, there’s no excuse for expecting you to hold on to duplicate items. 

So yeah, if you have any duplicate items or just generally SG items you don’t want I guess, hold onto them! I mean goodness knows what the eventual recycling items will end up being, but it’s better to hold on and be disappointed than to destroy your items and regret it later.

It’s anyone’s guess as to what items they’ll introduce into such a recycling shop however. I severely doubt it’ll result in a trade-in for additional Stargems, but hey that’d be appreciated!

Q: Why is there a 120 Casino Coin ticket in the SG Scratch?

A: The scratch will be up for six months, so it’s going to be a long-term thing. As you can get SG for free, you’ll have plenty of time to amass the Star Gems you require.

This is a particularly funky answer as it doesn’t really address the question at all… Assuming interpretations are correct it seems that the intention is for you to take an exceedingly long time to get what you want from the scratch. Unfortunately, as I’ve pointed out many times now, if you’re depending on the login bonuses logging in every day will give you an uncomfortably small shot at getting what you want.

Generally,  I’m not at all satisfied with their answers justifying this terrible system they’ve concocted. However, as said elsewhere in this post, it’s plausible we may gain more ways to get Star Gems at time goes on, which may bring things into the realms of obtainable for dedicated players. As of right now, it doesn’t matter how dedicated you are as even if you used all the currently available methods to get Gems and logged in every day for the whole 6 months, you still basically have a small chance of getting what you want. That alone is criminal, and I hope the Japanese continue to pressure Sega over this system.

 

Ultimate Amduscia!??!?

 

There was no mention of Ultimate Amduscia, but fear not because it definitely is not canned.

As of the latest patch, PSO-World user Shadowth117 was able to piece together this shot by swapping out some of the client’s files with some recently added assets for Ultimate Amduscia.

UldDuscia

As you may recognize, it seems to resemble Caves 3 from PSO. Of course, this is a work that is still heavily in progress and the file-swap may have altered the look of the area in unintentional ways, so this does not represent the final product at all. The little glimpse is appreciated, however.

Another thing that was added which suggests they’re working on it still is a new enemy showed up in the client, named “ult_waker_beast”. “Ult Waker” is the internal name given to Anga Fundarge, which may suggest that Ultimate Amduscia may arrive with a brand new variant. All the data can tell us is that it has a tail, has biting attacks and still uses bits like Anga Fundarge does. “Beast” is normally used to describe creatures similar to Rockbear (such as Wolgahda) but given it has a tail and bites, it may not be or resemble a Rockbear re-model at all.

So yeah, it’s still being worked on. Who knows, we may well be getting a teaser trailer for it in a live broadcast or two! Will be interesting to see what they intend to do with it with the apparent death of the stone grind post Episode 4.

The Stargem Scratch – PostRelease

Qounah_Banner

Figured I’d be done with this but I guess this is what happens when you get invested into something made by professional disappointment merchants.

Alright so the SC Scratch is out. So how is it? Was all my ranting for nothing? No! Because it turns out it’s a complete shitshow so much of what I ranted about before remains valid. Because of that, there’s basically no need to rant again as I still feel the same way.

What we can do however is whine about the odds of getting what we want, as Sega now has to list the actual percentage chance of getting each individual item on their scratches. You can find the complete list here on the official site but here’s a summary:

  • 20.8% – Fenale Costume
  • 14.4% – Male Costume
  • 5.6% – Hair/Accessory
  • 12.8% – Music/Voice/Sticker
  • 4% – Affix item
  • 36% – Booster Item
  • 8% – 120 Casino Coins

For these numbers, I rounded up to 1 decimal place. Due to rounding issues, the total won’t be exactly 100%. Now I want to say I appreciate Sega doing this but I have a feeling that they may have been forced to do it…

Additionally, none of the costumes are recolourable. So if you get a colour you don’t want you’re stuffed. I dreaded this could be the case due to them not aligning with the known colour channel I’d seen on Persona’s outfit. That’s such a scummy limitation to place on something you can’t trade away.

What’s more, you may have noticed that they added Affixing items into the mix. This is in addition to the filler they announced before, which means they thought that the filler I was on about last time wasn’t enough!

…Anyway, it’s tempting to rant again. If you really want that rant go read my last post, cause I’m basically about to repeat what I said then.

 

The Sacrificial Whale

Over in Japan, one whale decided to take one for the team and roll 108 attempts at the scratch. These 108 attempts netted them at least one of every item and they helpfully decided to post the quantities of everything they got.

It’s er… it’s not terribly pretty. Especially when you consider that all those attempts set them back about 228 quid ($324) in StarGems. Holy shit.

Out of their 108 attempts, they got 44 filler items, 34 costumes and 30 items related to Dark Falz that I can’t be arsed to categorize. So they were on the lucky side if my odds posted above are an accurate reflection but they weren’t too far off. Also the highest count for an individual item is 12 Casino Coin tickets. Yikes.

So yeah, it seems like even for whales this system is genuinely shitty. I don’t think I’ve seen one positive reaction to this scratch, but of course the system isn’t going to change as long as whales like the above are actually willing to throw down cash on it anyway. If it turns out they’re not, then we might see a change…

In the meantime? This fucking blows. They’re taking the piss with the 80 SG cost, trade limitations, the filler items and the odds they’ve set with all this. I’m hesitant to even drop my free SG on this and I really want some of these outfits, but I know plenty of people are rolling which means things are going to remain this bad probably.

The Stargem Scratch – PreRelease

sara_goin_for_the_facepalm

Man I was already salty about this, but I recently found out a couple more things that just make me all the more irritated at it. Time for another rant on this subject.

If you don’t know, the Stargem Scratch is going to work just like the regular AC Scratch, only it’ll use Stargems instead. Also the items obtained through it are untradable. All sound terrible so far? Well I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know that the Dark Falz costumes and accessories will be exclusively available through it. Well OK, if you didn’t want those costumes anyway you probably are pleased to hear this or at the very least neutral, in which case good for you! I feel especially bad for the Apprentice clone characters out there, though!

Costumes

Alright, so last time I brought this up I argued that maybe the scratch wouldn’t be so bad because it has a smaller pool of items to pick from, right? I mean you have 5 costumes, related accessories, hairstyles, maybe other related items. It still didn’t bode terribly well if you were a freemium player or even a premium player not willing to spend beyond the subscription fee but it was in the realms of obtainable. Throw some gems gained from Bingo Cards and stuff and you’d probably get what you want eventually.

IMG_20160608_002610

Well there was another factor that I didn’t anticipate and that was colour variation. Now I don’t know if the costumes are re-colourable, but I do happen to know via modding that the Falz costumes have one colour channel. These outfit variations do not seem to be limited to that channel, which is a little foreboding. This indicates that you now will also have the additional burden of having to get the costume you want AND the colour you want. It went from a pool of 5 costumes to a pool of 30, which is pretty irritating.

On the plus side, they added colour variations! Like let’s not forget that having this variety is an unexpected surprise, as I’d have been pretty OK with them just leaving them as their default colours. I’m just arguing that due to the limitations they’ve placed on the SG scratch that this inadvertently makes life rougher on those gunning for a particular look.

Filler Items

Getting an outfit at all among hairstyles and accessories getting in the way, then getting the right outfit in the right colour you want isn’t bad enough odds. So they added in a bunch of filler items in the form of drop, Meseta and EXP boosters and a Casino Coin ticket.

84433

At least the music disks and voices are appropriate, but the rest are blatant filler. That said, there’s a chance that these boosters might actually stack on top of other boosters so the items themselves won’t necessarily be completely useless. That’s not going to be much comfort for those who waited 1-2 months for enough Stargems to maybe get a costume they want only to end up with a goddamn Meseta booster or those who spent money on Gems only to get 120 Casino Coins… Seriously, that’s fucking terrible.

End Rant

Look, I get it. Stargems are meant to be a cash-shop currency. It seems like a bit of a un-necessary step here especially given you have to buy AC and then buy Stargems with that AC in order to play this scratch, but in spirit it’s really no different to regular AC Scratch.

I won’t deny it, good deal of my saltiness is I was waiting for these costumes to come out and that I can’t just get them like I can get literally any other cash shop costume. The main problem I have with this is the items are untradable. Why is this restriction needed? As you can’t trade away the items you don’t want, you’re at the complete mercy of RNG. So those who are whaling it are getting screwed because they can’t make Meseta off the excess and those who are throwing SG at it whenever they can have the odds seriously stacked against them due to the costume variations and filler items.

Let’s not forget that it’s 80SG a go. This is 40 days’ worth of SG if you’re Premium, 80 otherwise and this is assuming you log in every day. Worst case of course, as this isn’t taking SG gained from Bingo Cards or other sources into account. So you’re looking at 1-2 months a go unless you’re willing to throw down extra cash for the privilege, which when you’re already paying a subscription fee feels a little scummy in my opinion.

SG_date

So it’s already bad enough that they’re untradable, they’re also time-limited like all other scratches. If the screencap from the trailer above is accurate, you have until the 14th of December to get what you want, which is considerably longer than most scratches. That said, if you’re limited to just the SG you get for logging in, you will get about 4 shots at the scratch if you’re premium and maybe 2 if you’re freemium. Yeah, that many attempts for logging in every day for nearly half a year. That’s real fuckin generous of you, Phantasy Star Crew!

Incidentally, the SG scratch is actually slightly cheaper per attempt than AC Gold. Each attempt at AC gold is around 3 quid ($4.30) and each attempt at SG is roughly 2 quid ($2.89). Except AC Gold isn’t filled with filler items, You’re only getting costumes or accessories! It might be fairer to compare it to regular AC scratch at 1.29 GBP ($1.87) which would mean that SG is actually more expensive, but then its hard to gauge its relative worth given the regular AC scratch has more filler items and we don’t know the odds on each individual item. So in terms of real money value, it’s hard to say at the moment but at least you can sell the items you don’t want from either AC scratch!

Anyway, I went on longer than I intended. The tl;dr is the SG scratch is bloated a bit with some filler items and their untradability combined with slow acquisition of the currency and limited nature of the scratch makes it seem scummy to me. Cheers for reading, hopefully have something cheerier to write about in the future!