Me and my loyal Chocobo steed

Phase 3 for FFXIV:ARR has at last ended after 5 weeks, and it was easily the most anticipated for testers because it finally opened up two major areas of the world and introduced three new classes to complement the Lancer, Archer and Conjurer: the "offtank" Marauder, fist-fighting Pugilist and "DPS mage" Thaumaturge.

For more details about FFXIV:ARR itself, be sure to hit up bluexy's preview if you haven't done so already. He had the stones to roll with a Roegaydn that looks like Ganon with a toothbrush moustache, you know!

Yours truly decided to roll with the Thaumaturge (THM), because I wanted to try my hand at the "black mage" with command of FF staple spells like Blizzard, Fire and Thunder. Though categorized as a "DPS" class even by the game's "Duty Finder" feature (the FFXIV:ARR equivalent of World of Warcraft's Dungeon Finder), I never felt I was hitting anywhere near as hard or as fast as the Lancer, Archer or Pugilist by sheer virtue of the casting times for all spells. Indeed, I felt more like a "support" DPS whenever I ended up partying with others or just joining into the thick of random scraps on the field; whittling down health of mobs with constant attack spells and DoTs.

To be sure, big and loud AoE spells are also the THM's calling, but these can often work against you and/or your party by drawing in enmity from too many foes at the wrong time; best to use these in moderation when you know you can wipe out groups of enemies fast enough before they have a chance to return the favor (usually twice as hard, as I've found to my dismay on certain occassions!). Party members will likely appreciate the THM more for crowd control, with early access to Sleep to cut down on the number of mobs players will draw when they aggro in dungeons and let tanks and other, more dedicated DPS take out the rest bit by bit.


A "Full Party" of 8 players; the more members, the more powerful the Limit Break one member can execute

The abilty to "cross class" abilities allowed my THM to function as a healer by casting the Conjurer's Cure spell when needed; indeed, in many of my early dungeon runs with random players, I found myself shoehorned as the ONLY healer in the party, a job that really should go to the Conjurer! Good thing the THM has a very cool mechanic to regenerate MP by gaining "auras" of Umbral Ice whenever they use the Blizzard spells.

Fire spells will similarly grant you an aura of Astral Fire which increases the potency of your Fire magic (your workhorse attack spell) but steadily increases their MP cost before they get so expensive you have to either: wait for the Fire aura to wear off or (even better) "transform" it into an aura of Umbral Ice via the Transpose ability. You can see the synergy: cast Fire spells which steadily become more powerful (and costly MP-wise) thanks to Astral Fire, then Transpose into Umbral Ice to gain the MP back.


Etrian Odyssey's FOE track seems appropriate here. Also we seem to have attracted a most curious onlooker

My typical "rotation" as THM was to apply DoTs with Thunder, keep casting Fire to build up Astral Fire stacks and enhance their power, then when I run out of MP, Transpose into Umbral Ice, maybe cast a Blizzard to ensure the Ice aura sticks while I reapply the DoTs, then Transpose that aura back into Astral Fire and begin launching Fire spells again. It keeps the fingers busy, and the mind sharp as you need to keep an eye on the cooldown on Transpose. :)


Some FATEs get downright busy, which can make it hard to decide what to target and what is the best way to help others out

Which is great you have the chance to use all of these in big bad encounters where you don't have to worry about healing the tank (letting any actual Conjurers on hand to do their thing while you can do yours as THM). In truth, in many FATEs I was simply outgunned by the other DPS classes who would demolish any mob I happed to be targeting before I could even get far enough into a "rotation"; at best I would be able to apply the Thunder DoTs on trash mobs before they get hopelessly slaughtered by everyone else, not necessarily a bad thing but kind of downer because you're so tied down by spell casting times.


Many FATEs pit you against powerful foes like this Golem; I like to call them the FFXIV:ARR equivalent of Super Badasses, but they're really the replacement for NMs from FFXIV 1.0

So it's a bit of love/hate I have with the THM as it stands. It's a fun and very unique spellcaster class I've learned to appreciate when I was able to get in the zone with it, but sometimes I couldn't help but think I should've focused on levelling Conjurer instead given all the heals and Raises I saw myself doing in dungeons and in FATEs.

To be sure, FFXIV:ARR's Armory system allows you to be whatever class you want at any time simply by equipping a weapon used by that class. Indeed, that's the only way to learn abilities from other classes that you can then "import" into others (there are restrictions of course; the THM cannot use the Conjurer's group healing spells for example, and the Conjurer cannot use the THM's Fire and Ice spells). The only challenge is that the levels are separate for all your different classes, meaning you need to grind them up individually.

Well that's a wrap for beta phase 3 and my time as a THM! If the Arcanist really does make it into Phase 4 (the open beta rumored to be ready early August), I will want to try my hand at that because you get to start in the scenic Limsa Lominsa as that class! :) If not, I will probably focus on levelling Conjurer instead because I so love to cure what ails ye TEEHEE. :suikiasmile: But seriously, I want to at least try my hand at summoning Carbuncle cuz I WANNA BE THE VERY BES-*message terminated*.


My THM's final moments before everyone got wiped at the end of P3. I hope she served the Immortal Flames with pride

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So, the new Nintendo DS refresh is out in North America after launching in Japan and Europe. The new features of the DSi intrigued me enough that I decided to see if I could snag one of my own. As it turns out, unlike the Wii, the DSi wasn't very difficult to get at retail at all. I even managed to get the color I wanted, black. The blue looked a little too neon for my tastes, despite being a North American exclusive. To be sure, I believe the blue color was not random; it strongly resembles the blue previously used on the Wii box and in the Wii menus.



No, I didn't get no lovely cakes or gift boxes. I had to get mine from the stores, like the peasant I am!



Upon firing up the DSi, you'll be asked the usual system setup options. Additionally, you have the choice to take a snapshot you can use as a wallpaper for the top screen of the DSi when in the system menu. Here's what photos from the DSi look like when transferred to SD card for use everywhere:



Barely cellphone camera quality, as you can see. More for silliness, I suppose. And what silliness you can have; when going into the Camera menu, you're also invited to try the photo tutorial where you can take a picture of your magnificent self and play around with it using several customization options.



I stuck with Graffiti, as I could use it to hide my hideous face further enhance my GORGEOUS features as you can see:



Played around with the audio, and initially couldn't figure out how to get the darn thing to play music files off of SD card despite them being in AAC format. Did some research and discerned that .m4a files created by iTunes worked, and having purchased something off of iTunes a little while ago, I decided to give it a shot and transfer it onto the SD card. Loaded it up on the DSi music player, and it worked! I'll need to do some more research into this. In the meantime, it appears iTunes will be your friend for DSi music playback; just get the program to convert your desired tracks into AAC format, and copy them over to your SD card.


Nice little visualization I chose. :)

Downloaded the DSi browser after linking my Club Nintendo account to my DSi account. Neoseeker certainly looked... interesting through the DSi. Actually it didn't look too bad at all! Takes a little work to browse, but you can swap the screens to choose between navigating a smaller or larger portion of the webpages. Seems to run out of cache really fast though.

Of course, I played some games too. :P So far I haven't noticed a marked improvement, though the color reproduction might actually be better. Audio is also a little clear, so hey, maybe things will work out gameplay-wise! :laugh:

That's it for now. I dig the cut of the DSi's vibe, but maybe I'm just a damned N-tard after all.



It shall be engraved upon your soul, Tsukasa!!!

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So, word has spread of Marvellous' and XSEED's Rune Factory Frontier website being open for perusal. I do have interest in this Harvest Moon inspired series, having purchased the first game on the DS (haven't gotten around to the sequel, unfortunately; waaay too many DS games coming out now), so I paid a visit out of curiosity. Much to my amusement, there was a link to the "Rune Factory Frontier Compatibility Test". As in Harvest Moon, the Rune Factory series presents players with a chance to start a relationship with one of several female NPCs. Just for kicks, I decided to give the test a shot!

Based on my choices, the quiz selected Lara as a potential soulmate. No, not that Lara.



Wow, I wish finding a soulmate was this easy!!! Ha ha ha, I just might pick up the Wii game now! Then maybe I'll find out if I wasn't really just fooling around while taking the quiz! XD

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What's inside this ginormous box I had to wait a few days to pick up from my local post office?




Why, it's an equally ginormous PVC figure of Hayate Yagami from Magical Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, produced by Alter and now shipping to manchildren everywhere!







btw that last picture made me realize how much I suck ass at taking photographs. And here I thought I was gonna be cool with my DSLR I picked up a year back. :(


Anyways, after much unboxing and plenty of Bob-the-Buildin', the figure is ready for display. I apologize for the overpowering lighting and fairly out-of-place locale to be taking snapshots. I tried my best to get the colors accurate through custom white balancing. =\ And yes that is the dinner table, complete with snacks and tabasco sauce.







Nice little touches like these are appreciated:


Represent! Lieutenant Colonel Hayate Yagami is ranked SS in Lost Property Riot Force 6!


Awww, Hayate even comes with her unison device to help control her l33t powers, Reinforce II ("Zwei"):


Even Reinforce II gets attention to detail! Like most recently released figures, this set was made in China so my hat's off to the workers who had to produce tons of these for Alter. I also suck ass at macro photography. Maybe I should stick with point-and-shoots with macro mode. :(





Don't mess with their Unison! Yes, Hayate's hair color is different since she comes with a whole different head. The only difference between the two "option parts" is the hair color to represent her Unison with Reinforce II.







Well that's a wrap this time! I laughed when I finally received the figure, then cried when I realized I had nowhere to put it. Had to do much moving around, for my room is a nightmare.

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I got into the closed beta for Cave Online Entertainment and Atlus' Shin Megami Tensei inspired MMORPG, Shin Megami Tensei Online: Imagine (whew). Aeria wil be the North American operator for the game, and you can visit their page here. Maybe I'll write a bigger feature for the game when I get deeper into it, but for now I thought I'd share some impressions of Imagine thus far.



First off, if you're into PvP as seen in Warhammer Online, this isn't the game for you since Imagine so far seems strictly PvE. I haven't encountered an area yet where players can duke it out online, but I've just started so I can't say for sure.





Combat: Pretty basic so far, you have the regular "Attack", as well as "Rush" for taking down opponents on the defensive and "Spin" for crowd control. You can chain Attacks together to send enemies flying, and you can also go into defensive and counterattack stances, so there's some element of strategy. It actually reminds me of some of the stuff I pulled off in the last MMO I tried, Mabinogi. Countering enemies charging at you is always good stuff.

You can also learn magic which for better or worse retain their Sanskrit names from the other MegaTen games, so if you know the difference between Agi, Bufu and Garu you should do fine. :P





Character Development: There aren't any classes in Imagine, though there are three general routes to developing your character: as a fighter with melee proficiencies, a gunner with ranged attacks, and a "mage" for attack/support/healing spells. In truth, you can specialize in any combination of these proficies, through distribution of skill points you earn when you level your character up. But in general, it's best to distribute points to your stats to suit a specific battle style; spreading points out amongst stats evenly usually isn't a good idea.

You can also rank up your skills simply by using them, and you can even choose which ones will actually get experience to level up. Again, there's only so much experience you can gain for skills, so it's best to focus on ones that suit your character build. Even conversation skills can rank up, which helps with Demon Contracts.



Demon Contracts: Every MegaTen game featured the ability to converse with Demons and coerce them to join your side. It's one of the series' most defining features, so it's good that Imagine keeps it. The basic way is to contact the Demon you wish to befriend by talking to them over and over again until they warm up to you and transform into an "egg" you can download into your handy DB computer. Then you can summon them later at the cost of "magnetite", which you earn by fighting and defeating Demons. Demons you summon can help you in battle when you access their attacks and skills through the shortcuts, and you can even switch to controlling the Demon yourself if you want.

You won't always be successful in your attempts; sometimes they'll run away, get angry and attack you, or things will just end up going nowhere. You might get an item instead, which isn't bad. It's a little confusing at first, but the game does provide guides on how to get things done, but it's mostly reading until you try it yourself.



Game Flow: You're not just wandering around aimlessly; you are given quests by NPCs, and I've run into a few optional ones as well. There's some variety to these; there's even fetch quests. After an early mission, you'll have the chance to explore dungeons. You buy items in the shelter (essentially one of the towns in the game) to create one at a specific areas, meaning dungeons are instanced by player or party. This reminds me of the system in Mabinogi, and perhaps you've played other MMOs like this too. I haven't fiddled around with this yet in Imagine, but I'll definitely give it a shot while the closed beta is still running.







So far Imagine seems alright. There aren't too many people online while I was checking things out, but it is still in closed beta. Already other guys are kitting their characters out with new gear and Demons, so I'm getting jealous at how much time they're able to put into the game even though it's closed beta. XD I'll try to post more impressions later.



No MegaTen/Persona game is complete without this fellow! ^_^

shin megami tensei online imagine megaten demons mmorpg pc gaming related

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Hiya everybody, sorry I'm late to this party. Congratulations to the Neo code monkeys tekmosis and huntyr for pushing out the new tag and blog system for Neoseeker. They've really put a lot of effort into this, and the next few weeks will see them grind even more into it! Hopefully everyone will put both features to good use!

As for me, I've been here longer than I care to remember. Really, I should've run away fleeing by now, but I'm a sad, lonely man even without Neo. If we haven't spoken already, I help out with the game profiles and FAQs; if there's something you like to see on Neoseeker, why not take part as a contributor? We always appreciate the extra mile you guys put in for Neoseeker. If you have any questions, feel free to fire off a PM to me. Hopefully I'll answer within the next decade or so!

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