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When is forgetting things a concern?

For a few years now I have noticed that I have this growing tendency to forget things. It seemed small at first. Forgetting to clean the kitchen after dinner, or forgetting to buy something while I was at the store. It seems, however, that it has gradually gotten worse as the years have passed.

At first forgetting to post to my blog was a nuisance. I had been unable to maintain it for so long because of things that happened in my life, that I forgave myself the lapses in memory. I would come back to the site, see how long it had been since I had last been to it, shake my head, and promise myself that things would be better going forward.

And I meant it. I have always had every intention to keep the blog updated, but then… in recent years… I would forget about it. I assumed that it was stress. I still think that stress is probably the culprit. I know stress can mess with you in all sorts of ways, and both stress and forgetting things have gotten comparatively worse in recent months.

And when I say forgetting things I do not just mean forgetting the blog, but forgetting… everything.

I will forget bills that are due. I will forget I was to call people. I forget to make myself breakfast, lunch or dinner. I have hidden it for a long time, told myself it was not that bad, but… when is forgetting things cause for concern?

I tried to keep a notebook of things I needed to do. Unfortunately I keep forgetting that I have the notebook of things not to forget, so the things in it never get taken care of. At this point I am not sure what to do, but I have decided that I am going to try to keep a bit of a record about what is going on here at my blog. Years ago, when I was a caregiver for my father, my mom suggested that I write about the things that were going on in my life on my blog. She said that if I was going through it, someone else probably was as well.

So, I am going to start trying to keep a closer watch on my memory issues with updates here, maybe it can help someone else who is having similar issues not feel quite so alone, maybe it will help me understand better what is going on and how to stop the absent-mindedness that seems to be plaguing me. I’m doubtful of that – since I paused to get something halfway though writing this post and forgot I was writing it.

Maybe this is the point when forgetfulness should be something to be concerned about?

Return to Final Fantasy XIV

Things have been really rough in my life in recent months, but I have decided that I am going to do the best I can to find relaxation where I can and one of the places that I have found the most solace (as well as perhaps the most heartache not related to everyday life), has been Final Fantasy XIV.

Those who know me, and my characters there, will know that I have a few characters spread across a few servers, but most often I can be found on Balmung server playing on either Krys’a or Tris’tan.

Given how harsh life has been this year, I placed serious consideration into giving up the game. $14 a month for a subscription is a lot of money when I am barely scraping by one day to the next and struggling just to keep myself fed and the power and Internet active. But then I stopped to consider it a little more. 

Five Years and a Lifetime

I’ve been playing Final Fantasy XIV for a long time now. The game is getting ready to celebrate their fifth year anniversary, and I started playing it a bit under a month after the launch of A Realm Reborn. I would have started playing it sooner, but sale of the game on the PlayStation store was halted and I was unable to get to town to purchase a physical copy of the game until the beginning of September 2013.

My love for Final Fantasy goes back decades, to the original game released oh so long ago; which I stayed up well past dawn on multiple evenings to play. I have spent a good part of my life loving the worlds of Final Fantasy, so I know that I will still love the world for as many years as remain to find adventures in it.

Moving To Balmung

After about a year of playing, I found myself considering whether or not to continue playing the game. That was when I realized that it was well suited to be the backdrop for roleplay. A brief search online brought back a number of results that indicated not only the game was well suited to roleplaying, but that there were actually servers that had become unofficial roleplayer servers. The biggest, Balmung, was closed to creating new characters, so I made a character on Gigamesh. After a few weeks of playing on that server (and finding it hard to find anyone else that was actually roleplaying there), I found out that I could transfer a character onto Balmung.

Stepping onto Balmung for the first time was something very new to me. Up until Final Fantasy XIV, I had not played MMOs since the early 90’s. I had not been exposed to the world of roleplaying online for at least 10 years. So to step into an open area like the Quicksand in a MMO and be surrounded by people who were not just playing the game and RPing, but who were interacting and holding a full-scale, drop-in drop-out, living city roleplay session … I knew that I would be happy playing Final Fantasy for years to come.

Ups, Downs, and Everything In Between

Things were not easy, in either life or the world of the game. As things shifted between going well and situations that left me spiraling into depression in my life, I was also experiencing both high points and depression-inducing pains in the gaming community.

A few times the drama that builds within groups hit the point where the groups I gamed with dissolved entirely. Stress from the lives of the players behind the characters caused misunderstandings and hurt within groups that left things in turmoil. Add in people that left the game to deal with things in their own lives and my time in the game has been a steady shift from one group to another in search of a group of roleplayers with which to build stories together.

Unfortunately, the search was made rather complicated by the story I had crafted for Tris’tan, making him a difficult character to find a group that he could fit in with for very long.

My own life hit a bad period at the end of 2017, and while I was absent the group I played with all sort of went their own directions because of various reasons. This left me questioning if I should even return to the game.

Old Favorites, New Characters, and More Stories to Tell

In the end I decided that I love my characters too much to just toss them aside. I will be looking for new people to play with, but until I have found them I have decided that I will continue the adventures of both Krys’a and Tris’tan as well as begin fresh adventures with a new character or two.

As part of my return to the world of Final Fantasy XIV I will begin creating short stories based on my characters, stories that I will share in a special area here at Phantascene.

I did some looking and found the Materials Usage Licence for Final Fantasy XIV, which outlines:

“The use or distribution of the Materials from Final Fantasy XIV and/or Final Fantasy XIV-related services, on your or third party homepages, blogs, social networking services.”

The guide is specifically about the use of material by those creating videos connected to Final Fantasy XIV, however, in the absence of finding information specific to the creation of stories (fanfiction), I am going to adhere to the guidelines of the above usage licence in the creation of stories about the characters I have created in the game.

Why Create Stories?

As I said, I have spent years creating the characters of Krys’a and Tris’tan, and in that time I have come to love those characters and the world in which they were created.

I want to explore the characters, and with the generous permission allowed by Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd, I am able to turn my love for my Final Fantasy XIV characters into exercises of writing to expand my skills as a writer.

I love writing, I can not imagine not writing, and I know that I am not alone in my love for finding unique adventures beyond the official stories of the game. So this is my way of giving back to my fellow fans that have helped make Final Fantasy a series to be loved over the years and a game which I hope will be a source of relaxation and refuge to me and fellow fans of the series for many years to come.

These stories are my own little peeks into what the world is like for my characters, and I would dearly love to know where I can find the work and adventures of others who create stories – especially if the characters pay a visit to my FC in the game, which will play a strong role in the stories I write.

So please, bear with me as I work to create stories and share the adventures of my characters. Offer feedback on the stories if you feel a desire to, including criticisms of my writing. A strong motivator to me for creating and sharing these stories is to improve my skills as a writer, so feedback on what I am doing is greatly appreciated.  And finally, please understand that, should it be brought to my attention that these stories, in any way, fall beyond the scope of use permitted by Square Enix Holdings Co,. Ltd. then I shall comply with any request by Square Enix to remove them from the site.

FINAL FANTASY XIV © 2010 – 2018 SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved.

What Parents Need to Know About the Dangers of Video Games

Imagine for a moment, if you would, a group of concerned parents gathered in a room with civic leaders to discuss the dangers that something poses to their children. Times are changing quickly and many parents are feeling a growing concern for their children, a concern made stronger by the concerns that people they consider experts express on how children are being driven to lie, steal, and skip school in order to play addictive games.

Worse, precious resources that are vital to the safety of America are being used by the manufacturers of the machines that are being used to corrupt the morals of children.

If you are a parent, then chances are you might breathe easier to know that a law was passed that put a stop to the proliferation of such morally corrupting devices. Police staged raids and even went undercover, arresting store owners who were discovered to be in possession of illegal devices.

Raids on a variety of businesses that included bars, bowling alleys, amusement centers … even candy stores, routed out over 2,000 machines in New York city, where the mayor and police gathered with news photographers to do a very public display of smashing the illegal devices with sledge hammers.

Other cities followed the example that New York set. Milwaukee, Chicago, Los Angeles… In Los Angeles, Proposition No. 3 passed with about 161,000 votes for and 113,000 against the ban, and The Los Angeles Times reported:

Mayor Bowron and his Police Commission urged the adoption of the anti pin-ball law on the grounds that the machines are used for petty gambling, so widespread that the police are totally insufficient in number to enforce the law.

By this point anyone from Los Angeles will probably be scratching their heads over this Mayor Bowron. Most readers, I hope, will have caught the “pin-ball” in that quoted passage.

Yes, everything I have written here is the truth, it all happened in the 1940’s over the game of pin-ball and concerns that it was corrupting children and turning them to crime. You can read about the Pin-ball ban in New York at the History.com website, and about the ban of pin-ball games in L.A. at the L.A. Times website.

The concerns about gaming go back well before the introduction of video games, and the history of video games is filled with controversial periods where one group or another has raised concern about the dangers of video games or the violence that is to be found in video games.

What parents need to know is what games their children are being exposed to, and to take a pro-active role in monitoring not just what children have access to, but how the children react to the things that parents can not supervise.

Many parents are understandably concerned that children will be able to play inappropriate games at a friend’s house or have some other access to the games that the parent wishes to keep out of their hands. The reasoning then becomes banning the games to protect the children, but that is an extremely dangerous path to take. There needs to be a compromise between the availability and freedom of expression of games created for older gamers, and  the addressing of concerns parents and others have for the well-being of children.

For now the best solution remains for parents to be pro-active in the lives of their children and to study the types of games their children have access to. A parent does not need to play every game their child plays, such an effort is all but impossible with so much variation in the gameplay of RPGs and the online interactions of many of the more popular games, but parents can seek out communities of gamers who are happy to offer their insight on the various games and answer questions.

If you are a parent reading this, then please, feel free to ask me anything you are concerned about and I will do my best to find some kind of answer to help you better understand the games that you are concerned about.

Critical Outbreak Back-down in The Division?

I have been going into the mission at the Hudson Refugee Camp on Challenging Difficulty with the Outbreak Modifier set to Critical Outbreak, only to have the party immediately reduce the difficulty and Outbreak setting after the mission starts. I am not sure if they are trying to game the system or what, but it is annoying after the fifth time in a row I join a Challenging Critical Outbreak only to have them reduce it to a Hard Outbreak or even Normal Outbreak run. You need to go on at least Severe Outbreak to get some of the comms, so I do not know what they are up to.

I know one good group I joined a couple of days ago, as I joined I heard one of the guys say on mic, “Well, I’m not backing the difficulty down. There we go, we just need one more now.” I was highly amused by that, and at the same time delighted because I enjoy the runs on max difficulty, but it seems like there are a lot of people that do not like the difficulty of the higher settings.

I know the Outbreak contagion makes a lot of people growl on the mics during missions, because they do not like having the enemies close in and infect them to death, so I can only guess that is the reason for people backing difficulty down when I am joining. They probably already tried and failed Critical Outbreak and went back to the normal Outbreak setting instead.

How to Get Masks During Outbreak in The Division

I’ve been playing the Outbreak Global Event on The Division and it seems like there are a lot of people who are confused about how the mask acquisition works, so I have put this post to help people figure out how to get each of the three masks.

Clean Up on Outbreak Trench Mask

This one is fairly straightforward. You just need to kill off Cleaner Bosses. The big tough guys at the ends of the missions. I’m not sure if cleaner bosses in the Dark Zone count, but someone said the ones in West Side Pier endless wave missions count for it. I have not confirmed either one, I mainly go for the ones in Hudson Refugee Camp because that is easiest place to get the shotgun head-shots. (more on that below)

Need An Aspirin? CBRN Mask

The one that seems to confuse people the most is the Need An Aspirin, mainly because people do not understand the marking system. The game has a marking system that allows you to tap up on the D pad to cause enemies to pulse, but when they say Marked Enemy in this event they mean that you need someone to shoot the enemy in the head, then you shoot them in the head. This is a true sniper’s mission because you need a spotter to mark the target, then you shoot them and it is an instant kill. For this mask you need to find someone who has a mic and can guide you to the targets they are marking, or you just have to be persistent and watch for the marks to appear. Some last for only a half a moment, others for a few seconds, but if you’re quick you can follow up on other’s head-shots to get these even without a buddy playing spotter on a mic. You’ll need to go into one of the missions and set the difficulty of the outbreak to Critical Outbreak, then just watch for a blue or orange box to show up near the enemy level indicator next to their health bar. If you get a clean head-shot while that head-shot marker is up then it will count for the mask.

Too Close for Comfort Chemist Mask

This one is not that difficult to  work toward. You need to go into an Outbreak Mission and set the difficulty to at least hard, then set up Severe or Critical for the contamination level. I take the Showstopper, but any shotgun will work. Go into Hudson Refugee Camp and in the last area there will be multiple waves of chargers with ax and shield, they swam in through where you entered the level at. Go to the right when you drop down and up onto the platform. Set up a flame turret to stop the ax men as they come up the stairs, then stand at the back of the opening aiming down or at the top of the steps aiming back down them and aim for head-shots on the ax wielders as they pause to swat out the flames.

Division Dark Zone Rogue Plague

There is a bit of a plague problem in the Dark Zone with Rogue Agents , and unfortunately I think it will only get worse over the next week. That is how long there is to go on the Rogue Agent objectives for the Dark Zone leader boards.

I am currently almost to the first tier, and that is with minimal Rogue activity by me. Most of my score comes from taking out named enemies in the Dark Zone. I have been pulled into being Rogue a few times, but I presently only have 1 Rogue kill and 1 Manhunt Survival, so the Rogue actions clearly are not required to get a decent placement on the leader boards; it is just one way to get placement.

Which is good, because I do not really care that much for playing with the Rogues, mainly because I run a sniper build so am horrifically squishy, a point that I think is getting to be known around the DZ given how often the Rogue Agents break from the person they’re after and swarm me if they notice me. I will leave the area just so I am not giving Rogues easy kills, because they should have to work for those kills, not just slaughter the easy targets like me. But then, I’ve seen more than a few people go Rogue, take me down, then go after someone else thinking they were going to get an easy kill only to discover that I’m only slightly squishier to them than they are to a properly geared up Agent. Those moments are highly satisfying to see.

I’ll be sneaking around in the Dark Zone at odd hours in the week ahead, but I’ve taken to often wearing the Commando Beret in place of my cowboy hat when I’m in the DZ, still got the leather jacket and old ratty jeans though.

Division 2 Beta Signup: Hope to see you in Washington, Agents

I signed up for The Division 2 beta today and am more than a little excited at the news that the game is scheduled for launch next March. This will be a game I plan to pre-order and is one of the few games I am genuinely excited to see in 2019. I’m currently playing The Division as a means to reduce stress and am hoping to see a lot of new Agents enter New York, or older Agents return, between now and March 2019. I’ve seen a few people in the game and communities that have said they just came back from a long hiatus, and with the second game set to be released I am anticipating a boost in interest in people who had considered getting the first game since its launch.

Looking at the information on The Division 2 I am a bit torn, however, as I see Survivalist with a crossbow and I also see a Sharpshooter class. I main Sharpshooter in pretty much any game I play in, but anyone that knows me knows I am far more inclined to stealth and survival by wits than I am rushing enemies, so the Survivalist has also really caught my attention. I am hoping to be part of the beta so I can get a feel for each of the two classes and see which one I want to focus on when I get the full game.

For now I will content myself with slipping around the Dark Zone and seeing how many new players I can help get their gear out past the onslaught of Rogue Agents that are currently making the Dark Zone a nightmare. I am really hoping that since this event focuses on Rogue actions, that the next one will focus on decimating the Rogues Agents.

Shades Goes Rogue

Since today was my birthday I decided to spend it how I wanted to… by playing videogames. I spent the whole day playing The Division, and during that time I got into a group with some folks that went Rogue. It was not the first time I’ve been in a group that suddenly went Rogue, but I decided to go with it. First time ever the little popup on the screen said Rogue agent ShadesDaughter killed someone. The guy rather had it coming, since they had been going Rogue before that and harassed me earlier on, and they were clearly really tough and going after lower geared folks, so I considered it to be a situation of going Rogue to bring a Rogue agent hiding in the ranks to justice.

Later on I got into a party with a fellow that had gone Rogue against my team, and me him and a couple others got to a level 5 manhunt and cleared it. Sort of made me wonder what the fuss was about, sure it gives you a few boxes, but they were not anything I could not get easier without the manhunt and just extracting loot.

Overall it was fun, mainly because we were in mics and having fun talking more than anything, but it has made me contemplate going Rogue more, so… if you see me in the DZ and I am wearing a mask rather than just the filter, I might be hunting double agents and there is a chance I may go Rogue if my group does. Better odds, though, I’ll just take off and try to survive it, but it will depend on the situation.

Was overall a good way to spend my birthday, though.

Dark Zone woes – Caches lost because of wrong turn

So, I work at home and during my breaks last night I played The Division. Nothing serious, just run into the Dark Zone and grab a single area of Division Tech, then duck into a safehouse or checkpoint and go back to work. As I was making my way along I ended up collecting a few items, then scrapping things to pick up better things. I realized suddenly I had nothing but caches. It has been over a year since I have had that so I was seriously thinking an evac might be a good idea. Unfortunately, the Rogues were out by then and I could see two groups harassing others. I went into hiding and logged out, did some serious work for a while, then logged back in to check the situation. Coast was clear, sure enough those early morning rogues had left for school. I went out the door and was told, “You can’t take contaminated gear out of the Darkzone,” and there was all those cache’s flicking along in a line down the screen as they were incinerated. O.O

I hissed and swore and grumbled and wished that if you had a pack it gave you some kind of “Are you SURE You want to open this door?” Warning other than a slow button hold. By the time my tired brain realized I was at the wrong door my stuff had already been yanked off my back by that dang guy in the checkpoint and tossed into the furnace.

Live and learn and go back in to grab more gear. At least I did not lose that haul to Rogues, but it’ll probably be a year before I ever have another loot lineup like that again.

Division Rogues camping Extraction Points

Yesterday I noticed a new trick the Rogues in the Darkzone have started doing. It is probably not a new trick, but it is one that I had not encountered until yesterday.

My first observation of Evacuation Campers was a fellow standing up on some crates watching over an evac point with the chopper there to get loot, but there was no loot on the rope and he did not have any to be lifted out. I know he was targeting anyone that tried to use the lift because he had been a rogue agent at that same area when I had lifted things out a little while before I encountered him there.

My second encounter with evac trappers was two kids, financeranger and killinit4real666. I was up bebopping around looking along the furthest north wall when I saw a chopper call at the evacuation point up there. I did not have anything worth taking out, usually all I have is junk pickups anyway, but I had seen another player in the area. We had passed one another a few times, saluting one another each time. I thought maybe they were trying to evac out, so I went down to help them get their stuff out.

I walked into the area and saw financeranger, not the person I had seen before. I moved a bit slower, watching him and the guy behind him. Then killinit4real666 spoke up on his mic, “We got one, we got one.” I heard a “Whew, we got one.” from financeranger as I moved back out, and something else from killinit4real666, but missed what they said as I was moving back up topside.

But, yeah, uh, no.

(I have a screenshot of them that I was going to post here, but for some reason I can’t get it uploaded.)

The two were baiting in players so they could take their gear. I backed out and left them there. Went over to the checkpoint and teleported down to another area. Which shows how literal junk my pick was, did not matter to me that it was lost in teleporting.

Rogues are a part of the Darkzone, it’s not something that will change despite how I think it could be improved to be a bit better for those who are casual players trying to get better gear, but I have no patience for the Rogues that can only succeed by moving in packs of 8 or sneak ambushing people at evac zones. Those two types are a bad mark on good rogue agents. And yes, there are good rogues out there. I’ve had more than a few folks I have encountered in my helping people get gear out who will help lower level players lift out their stuff, then salute them, go rogue and let the poor sap have a head start before chasing after them as the player tries to escape the rogue. Or will pop them once with an extremely low end sidearm to assure they are not killed, let them get some distance, then the hunt is on. But just finding a solo player, that is struggling to get gear, and going 8 level 99’s vs one lvl 45? That’s not rogue agents, that’s just immature jerks laughing as they harass new players to the point the new player quits even going to the Darkzone, if not quits the game completely.

I know there are folks out there who find their fun in making people quit games, even people with the mentality that they have played the game long enough that it is theirs alone and any new person needs forced to quit playing it, but that is not a healthy mindset to have in a game if you ever want the game developers make a new game or if you want the server to be kept online.

New players mean new people buying the game, which means the game survives longer. Instead of chasing the newbies out, the long-time players should help and encourage them so the game thrives.

And if ya see the cowboy sniper show up at your evac, don’t worry, I’m just there to try to help you get your loot out. And if you let me get mine out, well… I won’t mind if you want to go rogue after the evac and see who’s faster through the mean streets of the Darkzone. Just play nice at the evacs, and don’t t-bag me or dance like a moron if you win the fight, and I’ll laugh it off and probably even compliment you for a good chase.

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