Happy Snapshots: On Impressions, Depression, and Why Bloggers Aren’t Perfect

Happy Snapshots: On Impressions, Depression, and Why Bloggers Aren’t Perfect

So far, the last half of this year kind of sucks.

As a lot of you know, August saw us saying goodbye to my grandmother. It was the first time I’ve really experienced the death of a family member, at least in a capacity that I actually remember. I didn’t do so well with it, and lost myself in fantasy worlds for a while.

I’m also reliving a lot of that right now. Less than a month later, Shane’s grandmother is in the same situation, and although I’m not as close with her as I was with my grandmother, it’s not easy seeing my family going through the same thing.

It’s like rewatching a painful cutscene, where you know what’s going to happen but are completely powerless to stop it.

I’ve been doing my best to be strong, and part of that is admitting that it’s affecting me more than I thought it would.

And I’m not going to hide that fact.

We all live with this impression that the people we see on the Internet live perfect lives. It’s something that many of us in younger generations have lived with since the advent of Facebook; people only post the best parts of their lives on social media, so it’s easy for us to think that that’s the entirety of their lives because it’s all we see.

Little snapshots of the happy moments.

It’s something I try to be cognizant of, especially when I’m looking at my own social media feeds. But I didn’t really think that people thought of my life like that until an actual friend of mine—someone I’ve known in real life for almost 20 years—started shaming me for constantly gaming.

Obviously, that is not all I do. I have a full-time job, a family, a home to maintain, hopes and dreams. And I know that, but because gaming is what I post on my Instagram account (you know, the one dedicated to my gaming blog), that’s what she thought I did.

She thought I lived in a perfect world, where I had no responsibilities like cleaning or chasing after toddlers.

For me, and for so many other bloggers out there, this isn’t the case.

Let’s never forget that the people we see on the Internet are real people. They have real lives, they deal with real problems and real emotions. They have real stories. Their lives aren’t perfect, and sometimes, they’re not okay. They deal with depression, anxiety, stress—everything that a normal human deals with.

And as far as I’m concerned, it’s perfectly okay to admit that.

I’ve always been pretty open about my own struggles with depression, which I’ve had on and off since I was 19. I don’t go out of my way to bring it into a conversation, but I don’t try to hide it. And I don’t think anyone should have to.

It’s something that so many of us deal with, and hiding it only makes it worse. It’s okay to admit you don’t have creative ideas right now, or that you’re struggling to find any interest in your regular activities. It’s okay to have sad days. And it’s okay to want to shut yourself off until you’re feeling better.

That’s what I’m dealing with right now. And even though I might struggle to play my favourite games for longer than 15 minutes right now, this too shall pass—and I’ll be back to myself before long.

So for all my fellow bloggers out there.

I don’t know how you deal with things, and I don’t know what you’re going through. But I hope, if the time has to come, that you don’t feel like you have to hide it from the world.

The whole point of blogging is to showcase what’s important in your life, and sometimes, that means sharing a situation that significantly affects you. You never know who will end up needing to hear your story.

3 Noobs and a Warpriest Walk Into a Bar: Tales of My D&D Group

3 Noobs and a Warpriest Walk Into a Bar: Tales of My D&D Group

This week, I wanted to bring you guys an update on the fun shenanigans that my group has been up to in D&D. But the longer I sat and stared at the several things I wanted to talk about, the more I realized that they all kind of belonged in the same story.

And in light of the fact that all our games lately have been one-shot campaigns, one of which did in fact start with the group of us walking into a bar, I figured I’d write the stories in the same style. So bear with me, here we go!

Tales from the borderlands

As you may or may not know, Shane took up DMing about a year ago. Too many table-runners in our last group led to quieter players not actually getting a chance to play, and that’s no fun to sit through for several hours a week.

Instead, we started playing with a few regular players, and started Kingmaker about six months ago. We were eking our way through the campaign, exploring the wild marches and claiming them for ourselves.

It was slow going—we had exactly the number of players needed, so if one person couldn’t make it, we couldn’t play. And throughout that time, we were too dependent on Shane’s NPC cleric, whom we nicknamed Jhod the Toad because he would flee and/or panic at the first sign of conflict.

But then, one of our players got a new job, and couldn’t make it to regular games anymore. We were one player short of a campaign.

Enter the new players

A few months ago, one of Shane’s friends had expressed an interest in joining our game and bringing his wife along to try it out. So when our player got his new job, Shane put Kingmaker on hold, and invited them to do a one-shot campaign with us.

That way, they could get a feel for the game, and see if they liked it before we threw them in the metaphorical deep end with Kingmaker.

They were extremely excited, and within days, came over for help building their characters.

After six hours of research, rolling stat grids and planning, we had a brand-new minotaur fighter and half-elf druid.

Not a game of “healers adjust”

Typically, when I create a character for a D&D campaign, my primary goal is to find a way either to do as much damage as possible, or manipulate other characters as much as possible. May or may not be a learned trait from a previous DM letting me build a witch with a 51 INT.

As I looked at our new druid and fighter, and knowing full well our other still-quite-new player would want to build a rogue, I couldn’t help but think back to Jhod the Toad.

I knew in that moment that if we were going to have the slightest hope of surviving Kingmaker, we were going to need a regularly scheduled healer—and it was going to have to be me.

Now, I’ve never been much of a healer type, and I’ve had more than my fair share of squishy casters who can only take one hit before they’re demolished. So playing a straight cleric was off the table.

Instead, I decided to build the best of both worlds: A warpriest, a magical being with all the healy magic of a cleric and all the tanky smash-ness of a fighter. And as one experience with someone who assumed I’d heal non-lethal acquired from anti-party shenanigans proved, that tanky healer was not going to adjust.

Just wanna roll D20s all niiight

The first few games with our new players went amazingly well. The one-shot Shane chose gave us plenty of opportunities for all the magic D&D has to offer—roleplaying, brawling, solving puzzles, you name it.

In fact, they loved it so much that they kept wanting the sessions to be longer and longer—and eventually, the idea of a 24-hour game came up.

It took some coordinating and a long weekend, but we did manage to make it happen. I loaded up on groceries, found a fold-up table we could use in the living room where we’d be more comfy, and set up with a full dossier of my character. Only three of us players could make it, so Shane had to bring in an NPC for us, but it was a very successful night!

We only lasted about 19 hours (only), but in that time, finished two one-shots and got ready to start our own foray back into Kingmaker.

So that’s what we’ve been up to! Now it’s your turn. What fun adventures have you been up to in your games?

How to Float Walls and Partitions in FFXIV

How to Float Walls and Partitions in FFXIV

Lately, I’ve been getting lots of questions and comments on my how-to videos for housing glitches in Final Fantasy XIV.

So today, I wanted to answer one of the most common questions I hear about it: How can you float things like partitions?

It’s a little more time-consuming than most glitches out there, but when you get down to it, it’s really just a slightly different version of the new wooden loft glitch. This technique is an incredibly useful one for any aspiring home designer in FFXIV, and is the only way to float floor items like Hingan sideboards as well.

So without further ado, here is how to float partitions and walls (and any floor item) in FFXIV!

A Letter from Erin: On Denial and My Radio Silence

A Letter from Erin: On Denial and My Radio Silence

This week’s post is a bit more of a life update than what I normally write, but I think it’s important for me to say.

As some of you know, shortly after I posted about why I’ll never regret not finishing my idea about D&D, my grandmother passed away in the hospital.

Since then, so many of you have reached out to me to make sure I’m okay, and I honestly don’t know if I even know strong enough words to express how much that means to me. It’s been kind of hard for me to express how I’m doing, so indulge me for a moment while I share what’s been happening and why I’ve been relatively radio-silent.

My struggle with denial

The last few weeks surrounding my grandmother have been an emotional roller coaster—one day we thought we were losing her, the next the hospital was sending her home. Following her death ten days ago, I’ve been somewhat in a state of denial. I know that’s not necessarily healthy, but at the same time, I’m not ashamed to admit that’s what happened.

Instead of facing the facts of what had happened, I lost myself in my games. I guess I thought if I closed my eyes and didn’t look at it, she’d still be there next Christmas. I wasn’t really present in those games; although I remember a few things, I couldn’t focus well enough to be able to come up with a topic for today. I just played them because well, that’s what I do.

For a while, that strategy worked.

I very happily lost myself in alternate worlds, constantly falling off the Moonfire Faire jumping puzzle in FFXIV and almost party-wiping us in D&D because an absent-minded cleric is not the healer you want on your team.

It wasn’t until last Friday I realized what was going on.

I had completely closed my eyes to everything. I couldn’t think about my grandmother, I couldn’t bring myself to work on my blog—something that almost always helps take my mind off of whatever else is happening in my life. I couldn’t even concentrate long enough to write a gosh-darn Instagram caption.

That was a hard thing to realize, because I knew as soon as I looked at one thing, I’d have to look at all of them. And on Friday, that’s what I did.

I had a full-out tear-filled meltdown because of everything. I cried over my grandmother, I cried over not having a dress for the funeral, I cried out of frustration for not having a single solid memory in my head that I could share with my dad for his eulogy.

It was the worst feeling.

My hope for you

Back in July, I wrote about why I thought escapism wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. And I stand by that opinion; video games can be a great way to unplug after a rough day.

But the way I used escapism, it was a bad thing. I didn’t turn to my video games to get out of my head for a bit; I was using them to ignore what I was feeling and hopefully push life back to normal as soon as possible.

I sincerely hope you don’t have to, but if you ever find yourself in the same position as me, I hope you can take my experience and find the balance I couldn’t. As much as it’s perfectly healthy to turn to our normals in tough times, we shouldn’t turn to them to hide from tough times.

5 Steps to Making Money with Gardening in FFXIV

5 Steps to Making Money with Gardening in FFXIV

There are a lot of ways to make gil in Final Fantasy XIV—and gardening is definitely one of the more finicky routes. It takes a lot of know-how, time, patience, and lots and lots of strategy to be able to turn a profit with a garden.

But it’s also one of the most easily sustainable ways to make gil, because it’s basically a passive income setup. If you plan and plant your garden juuuust right, it can pretty much manage itself. No long grinds for materials, running out of crystals for crafting, missing the timers for rare gathering materials.

So today, by popular request, a quick guide on how to set up your garden to make money!

Step 1: Train your retainers.

You’re going to need two things to make money as a gardener: You’re going to need seeds, and you’re going to need dirt.

And so you don’t hemorrhage all the money you make getting supplies, I highly recommend training at least one retainer as a botanist, and another as a miner. Your botanist can help you find most of the seeds you need, and your miner can help you get Grade 3 Thanalan soil way faster than you can get it. 

It’s especially useful for anything on an unspoiled node (like Grade 3 Thanalan soil)—where you can only get one every 70 IRL minutes, your retainers average 40-50 minutes per venture depending on their level.

Step 2: Get a garden.

This seems obvious, but what I really mean here is to get the right kind of garden. And depending on what you decide to grow, there are two right kinds of garden.

For most gardening projects, you’re going to need a deluxe gardening patch, which you can get from housing merchants.

You can try to use the small and regular gardening patches, but they’re not ideal because

  1. The individual plots are so close together that they can bungle any crossbreeding you try to do. And since crossbreeding is the key to making money here, that’s not exactly what you want, and
  2. They have fewer plots, which really just limits how many gil-happy plants you can grow.

The other garden you’re going to need is a set of flower pots, whichever style you want. I personally like the riviera ones just for the way they look. You won’t use these for crossbreeding, but they’re really helpful for growing elite crops that can’t actually crossbreed.

Step 3: Decide what you want to grow.

So. Here’s where we get into the fun part. There are two ways to make money with gardening, and the method you want to use will define what you choose to grow.

Method 1: Farming luxury crops

Farming luxury crops means growing expensive items, like jute or chocobo fruits, with the intention of either selling them as-is or crafting them into even more expensive items. Many of these items are only available through crossbreeding, and most of the crafting you’ll do for this will require you to be level 50 with the respective crafter.

Good options: Jute, Thavnairian onions, any chocobo fruit, broombush, umbrella fig

Method 2: Farming luxury seeds

Farming luxury seeds means crossbreeding crops into expensive seeds that you can’t get any other way, with the intention of selling them as-is so others can grow their own crops.

Good options: Jute, Royal Kukuru, any chocobo fruit, any of the deity flowers like Azeyma rose

Both work equally effectively, and you can even combine the two depending on what you want.

Once you know the style of crops you want to grow, it’s time to research. Head to your local marketboard and search through the listings and histories for your chosen crops to see how they do, and decide which you think will do the best long-term.

Important: Gardening is not a quick turnaround, with many of the luxury crops taking upward of seven IRL days to grow. Make sure you don’t base your decision on recent price spikes!

The two I grow on a regular basis are jute, which is needed for a lot of the high-end crafted housing items (including my go-to combed wool rug), and Thavnairian onions, which you need to level your companion chocobo past rank 10.

Step 4: Figure out how to grow them sustainably.

As I mentioned earlier, gardening is very finicky. And that’s why it’s good to research and know what you’re going to do to grow your crops before you get started. Otherwise, it can be a very expensive mistake!

It’s also important to figure out how to grow them sustainably, because then your garden will be a consistent source of gil without needing to spend all your money on replacement seeds.

Your best friend here will be FFXIV Gardening. I started off growing my two regular crops by referring to a couple of infographics on that site, and have made a few tweaks to the guides based on what works for me. For example, the Azeyma roses in my jute rotation are always ready exactly a day before the jute, which gives me a ton of seeds and a chance to plant Althyk lavender, the secondary crossbreed that refills my rose seeds.

This means that I never actually have to buy replacement seeds, unless I happen to run out of Althyk lavender (which is dirt cheap compared to the other seeds I use).

Step 5: Price them properly.

So you’ve got your seeds and your crops and you’re ready to sell them. How do you price them so people will snap them up?

It’s not just a matter of making sure you post a market-competitive price (be careful not to lowball, because people will undercut you and you’ll lose out on all your gil). It’s also about the size of the stack you sell.

Too often, I see people trying to sell things like jute seeds on the market in massive stacks. On an average day, these seeds go for anywhere from 40,000 to 75,000 gil—which means that no one is going to shell out for a stack of nine.

Your best bet when selling high-end seeds and crops is going to be either selling them individually, or in batches of four. Thavnairian onions, for example, are a good one to sell individually; although people will eventually need 10 of them, they tend to cost upward of 500,000 gil. So people will only want one at a time.

Seeds do better in batches of four. Typically, people who buy seeds are doing so to try to grow their own crossbreeds, so they’ll only need four at a time maximum for their deluxe gardening patches.