Sprinklers in the Rain Blog

Has FFXIV Stopped Sucking Yet?

SquareEnix is launching a Welcome Back campaign for players with inactive accounts to give FFXIV another spin for a ten-day free-to-play period. But is it worth bothering?

Garuda

It’s no secret that Final Fantasy XIV experienced one of the most disastrous launches in the history of MMORPGs. SquareEnix has gone through extreme lengths to win back player loyalty: The entire staff was replaced, the game went free to play for a year while they got their shit together, and they’ve gone as far as remaking the game from the ground up for re-release later this year. Many of these changes have occurred live, and it’s already a drastically different game than when it was launched.

The last year has actually been a pretty exciting period for FFXIV. Patches have been frequent and massive, to the point of a practically new game being introduced every few months. The battle and crafting systems have been redone, and continue to be refined based on player feedback. Classic Final Fantasy jobs were introduced. Grand Companies replaced Levequests as the main source of content, bringing with them raids, beautiful cutscenes, and primal battles with series mainstays such as Ifrit and Garuda.

But who the fuck cares about what they’ve done, people want to know if it’s any good. Is this shit worth coming back for? Of course, I can’t answer for everyone, but what I can do is tell you what I really enjoy about FFXIV, and what I’m still disappointed with.

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Is Buffy’s Transition to Comics Any Good?

Buffy 8x01When news first hit that Buffy would officially continue with season eight in comic book form, I, well… hit the roof. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been much of a comic book reader. But more Buffy? Real Buffy? Like canon, with the original writers and everything? And this time with no budget constraints? Still my heart! I can’t breathe! I’m even willing to read comic books for this.

I preordered my issues the moment they became available. A marathon of the seventh season held me over as I counted down the days. But when The Long Way Home arrived, boarded and wrapped, I couldn’t open it. Faced with Jo Chen’s gorgeous cover art of Buffy, confident and indomitable with the words JOSS WHEDON printed above her head, I got cold feet.

What if it wasn’t that good? Actually, what if it was terrible?

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Blogging – Serious Business

Make money with your blog! Google Adsense in your header, in your sidebars, in your footers, in your hair…

Find a niche and create content exclusively to it! Passionate about a lot of things? Then have a lot of blogs!

Ensure your title perfectly describes everything you blog about for maximum Google exposure! If you don’t do this, you will FAIL.

In fact, write all your blog posts like you’re writing meta tags! Your first sentence should basically be comprised entirely of keywords. You think proper English is better? That’s fine, but remember: FAIL.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Remember when blogging was simple? I do. The golden years – opening my LiveJournal client, writing whatever the fuck I wanted to write about, and oh: the instant gratification. But then Facebook was invented, Six Apart ran LiveJournal into the ground, and the rest of the blogging world shifted into this twisted monster that insists, “You’re not starting a blog, you’re starting a business.

I started a blog and Twitter for my pseudonym, attempting to follow “the rules” while adhering to a stiff and formal writing style, because – it’s my fucking pseudonym. Might as well call it a brand. People can Google that shit. I managed to dry heave two posts before I gave up.

So: sorry to anyone who subscribed to that blog and the total lack of content there. I’m even more sorry if you continued to check for posts and got one of the lovely Trojans that materialized in my absence.

While cleaning that up, it occurred to me: Why the fuck do I care? Who cares about the rules, and making money? Why am I trying to run separate identities? Why confine myself in a box as a book reader, or a Joss Whedon fan, or a gamer? I enjoy all of those things, and I want to write about all of them without maintaining a billion blogs to match.

So that’s what I’m going to do here. No hiding behind names, or catering to audiences. Erase This is a personal blog, but don’t worry – I’ll try to keep it interesting. You won’t find me talking about what I ate for breakfast here. If you’re only interested in Final Fantasy posts and not interested in, say, my Book Reviews, you may subscribe to category specific RSS feeds in the respective category sections.

Thanks for reading, and please don’t hate me.

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The Inheritance, and Other Stories – by Hobb/Lindholm

If you’re a fantasy reader, chances are you’ve heard of – if not read – Robin Hobb, author of the Realm of the Elderlings (Farseer, Liveship Traders, Tawny Man trilogies and Rain Wild Chronicles) series and Soldier’s Son trilogy. You may be less familiar with Megan Lindholm, a name largely out of print and difficult to find in the United States, despite the critical acclaim for her forays into short fiction and various fantasy/sci fi novels in the 80’s. The author is one and the same, jumping from one pseudonym to the next depending on the style of writing she’s aiming for.

The Inheritance is a collection of stories from both personas: a nostalgic look into the past with seven previously published stories, and three new stories. From the dark, fast hitting stories she throws at you as Lindholm, to the sprawling and slow stewing dramas as Hobb, the difference in her writing styles become abundantly clear as you read. Lindholm raises challenging questions without being overly preachy, and as ever, Hobb’s slices of life are something to immerse yourself in and savor.

I’ve been a huge fan of Robin Hobb’s for years, but I’m loathe to admit that the only thing I’ve ever read of Lindholm was Wizard of the Pigeons and her short story, Cut. Hardly a scratch on the surface of the library she has to offer there. A reader accustomed to her epic fantasies may be surprised to find stories here about vampires, aliens in Seattle, or female circumcision. My favorite was Strays, a moving tale of a poor girl living with an abusive step parent who finds an almost magical refuge in the stray cats of the city. The ending, which would have been ridiculous had it been written by anyone else, sent me upright in my chair and heart pounding.

“She was already broken, already damaged past repairing. If you can’t fix something, then don’t worry about hurting it even more. The boys knew that. She wasn’t worth saving from them. It was like jumping on the couch that already had broken springs. She was just a thing to practice on.”

She takes us back to the world she introduced in Realm of the Elderlings for three novellas. Cat’s Meat being an entirely new story with an antagonist to make Joffrey Baratheon look like Justin Bieber on muscle relaxers. In typical Hobb fashion, these three stories take their time and consume as much page space as Lindholm’s seven. Of the three, I maintain that Homecoming is one of the best novellas I’ve ever read. The ground covered and the amount of character growth and development in such a small piece is nothing short of amazing to me.

Of equal interest are the author’s intimate “inside looks” in the preface and introducing each story. She discusses the choice to distinguish her writing styles with a psuedonym, and goes into the real life stuff that went into the development of each story – all garnished with excellent advice for writers from a seasoned pro. Even if you’re not a fan of Hobb’s, or a fan of fantasy, this book is worth a look if only for the autobiographical nature of the forwards.

“Writing fiction, my friend, is a game of sleight of hand that a writer plays with her- or himself. The writer takes key events, dazzling pains, gasping joys, and unutterable boredom and weaves them into a story that is always, inevitably, about the writer’s own life.”

The major downside of this collection is that most people buying it are doing so for Robin Hobb stories. Of the three, only one is new, and the other two are readily available in other forms. The real treasure here is the Lindholm stories, most of which have been out of print for years, and the author forwards. This should not be a deterrent, however, if you’re a hardcore fan or simply unfamiliar with her works as Megan Lindholm. Each story here is of the highest quality, and you may find (like me) that you enjoy many of the Lindholm stories even more than Hobb.

So if you’re looking for some quick fantasy to read, want to try some of her earlier work as Lindholm, or are just looking for a sample of the author in general – The Inheritance is a moving, thought provoking collection that deserves a place on any fantasy reader’s bookshelf.

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