Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Chrono Trigger DS: Spoiler-Filled Post About the New Ending

As both my previous post and the title of this post suggest, spoilers ahead.  There is one non-spoiler that I can put here, though.

The method of accessing this ending is via the bucket in the End of Time.  Once you've completed all three Dimensional Vortices, using the bucket will show a menu allowing you to go to The Day of Lavos, as well as the new boss fight, called "Time's Eclipse".

I'll give you a jump break to hide the spoilers.  'Cause I'm nice.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Year in Review

Uh, so.  My 2014 kinda sucked.  MAGFest, and then buying a 3DS and Bravely Default were literally the only things that kept me going.  I'm going to have to exert some effort on the "getting a job" front in 2015, methinks.  The story of why 2014 sucked actually starts at the end of 2013, so here we go.

I mean, my contract at Silverchair ended abruptly, five minutes before close-of-business, on the week of my birthday in 2013.  I was basically just shoved out the door, not even given a chance to say goodbye to the team members I'd spent the majority of the year working with.

Then I got myself a health insurance plan from yonder and had to cope with their extremely clunky website and insistence on having a credit report for "identity verification".  Having no credit card and no desire or need for one, I don't have a credit report.  As it turns out, there's an alternate method of "identity verification" that's far easier, you just photocopy a valid photo ID (say, your drivers' license) and mail it to a specific address.  So whatever, all that headache was over with.

I trusted my dad.  I did.  But he let me down.  He was handling the selection of the plan and the subsidy amount, and didn't give me the full subsidy.  He claims "it's better that way because you can get a tax credit the next time you file taxes", but...  I dunno about you, but I'd rather spend less money now than pay more now and get refunded later.

Anyway, MAGFest happened, where I went crazy and bought a SNES and some games, including Chrono Trigger.  A few months later came the 3DS and Bravely Default, which as I previously mentioned, would carry me through the majority of the year.  This entire time I was feeling pretty horrible because of shenanigans with roommates, specifically a roommate's girlfriend who may very well have not had a place of her own and as far as I'm aware, wasn't paying a share of our rent.  She probably should have, given the amount of time she spent in our apartment.  Then the lease ended and another headache began.

That headache would be convincing my parents to let me move back into their house.  They've got this horrible habit of trying to completely dismiss me when I'm asking a tough question.  In this case, the tough question was "would you rather have me be homeless than move back in with you?"  They refused to answer.  Not even kidding.  If someone's accusing you of preferring your son to be homeless over having him move back in with you and you don't immediately say you'd do what it takes to prevent him from being homeless, you're a bad person.

Anyway, so I've been back here at my parents' place feeling incredibly weird ever since about mid-August.  I went to a job fair where nobody was taking resumes and defeating the point by telling everyone to apply online.  I'm going through the headache again too.  I wanted to apply for a different plan in 2015, to see if I could get a lower premium since I don't have any fucking money, but their site said "lol I see this perfectly good 2015 application that you've fully finished filling out, but I'm going to insist you haven't finished it and extend your 2014 plan instead".  So basically, this death trap of a website is going to cost me a lot of money having to basically wait until February to be able to pay a lower premium.

I don't even know how I'm going to afford parking at MAGFest.  Maybe I can try to reactivate my NEET gene and get ~$100 from my mom to cover parking and hopefully some small amount of merchandise.

Speaking of MAGFest, that's another headache that I haven't ever really brought up before now.  For the last several years, I've worked teardown.  The internal system that keeps track of everything, including staffing hours, goes down a few hours after closing ceremonies, during which I've always been hard at work helping pack shit up and get it to trucks at the loading dock.  So I never got to turn in my shift sheet until after the system had been taken down so that it too could be packed into a truck.  Operating solely on the promise of someone in registration that my shifts would get entered, I've always thought I'd been good at that point.

Except I've never been good at that point.  The person who promises they'll enter my shifts never does, and thus I have to bash some heads to get back into the system every year.  This year, I'm finally tired of it.  Not only have I not signed up for teardown, but if I don't end up in the system for 2016's MAGFest, I'm completely done with MAGFest.  Not even going as an attendee.  Staffing Operations knows this, because I emailed the department head directly.  As a staffer doing at least 30 weighted hours, I get a comped hotel room to share with three other staffers.  Also part of the deal is that I also qualify for the staff food room thanks to an earlier weighted hours goal.  If I'm not on staff, I can't afford the hotel room, much less the food I'd need to keep myself alive while I'm there.  Parking is also expensive, and I've only been able to cover that in previous years because staffers get a discount.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas 2014

So, usual "loot" post.

My aunt and uncle always give me a variety of food.  In the bag this year was two different mustards (cranberry mustard and sweet hot mustard), three cheeses (cheddar, a smoked cheddar/swiss blend, and a jalapeƱo cheddar), two summer sausages (one beef, one turkey), and some crackers.  Also in the bag were a few of those strawberry candies with the wrapping that looks like a strawberry.

Up next, my mom got me a shirt with some geeky stuff on it (not posting a picture, you'll have to see me wearing it in real life to see what it says!) and a couple volumes of manga (UQ Holder and World War Blue).

My dad got me two different kinds of jerky.  One was a sweet chipotle beef jerky, and the other was a basil citrus turkey jerkey.  They didn't make it past noon.

And finally, the grandparents pretty much always get me gift cards, and this year was no exception.  I now have a gift card for Buffalo Wild Wings, and a gift card for Wal-Mart.

Overall, pretty good stuff.  I never ask for a lot, anyway.

Tomorrow is the annual gathering to eat lots of wings and drink lots of beer, this time taking place at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Chrono Trigger DS: 2300AD Dimensional Vortex

Same thing as before.  Dimensional Vortex already sufficiently covered in a general manner, so we'll break on through to the specifics.

Ha ha.  "Break".  And I'm using a jump break.  Ooooookay.

Chrono Trigger DS: 1000AD Dimensional Vortex

I feel like I summarized the Dimensional Vortex areas pretty well in my last post,  so in this one I'm just going to jump straight to explaining what you get out of this Vortex.

Did I say "jump"?  Tee hee...

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Chrono Trigger DS: 12000BC Dimensional Vortex

The three Dimensional Vortex areas open up once you beat the game the first time.  You don't actually have to start a New Game + and get back to the end-game to get to them, however, you can just reload your save and have at it.  Two of the three locations require the upgraded Epoch to reach them anyway.

The Dimensional Vortices take you through a few random areas when you first go in.  Most of the areas you go through are recognizable locations from around the game, but included in the mix are completely new areas that have hidden chests with some new loot.  Once you get through this random sequence, you get to that vortex's area proper, and can run around fighting things and looting chests until you've done everything it has to offer.

Each Vortex also has an end area where you fight a boss, and the game will force certain characters into your party for these fights.  After beating that boss, the character that was forced into your party will get permanent stat boosts to Speed, Hit (Ted Woolsey translation master race), and Stamina.

After completing all three Vortices, you can go to The End of Time and select the bucket to trigger the new final boss battle and see the new ending.  It pops up a menu, so you can still go to The Day of Lavos if you so desire.

More details after the break.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dungeon Siege Singleplayer Annoyances

So for a long time, all I'd ever played of the original Dungeon Siege was its multiplayer.  It was fun playing it with friends, or even soloing, and so my impression of the game was based off of that.

However, it's got a perfectly good singleplayer campaign sitting right there asking to be played, and I'm currently partway through it.  The party system is unlike anything else I've ever used, and carries a number of annoyances within, which I will attempt to enumerate here.
  1. Switching weapons and spells is awkward.  This is because you press 1, 2, 3, or 4 to select melee, ranged, and your two spells, respectively.  However, pressing those keys switches everybody, even if you only wanted to change one character's selection.
  2. In battle, the characters you have selected matter.  Only the characters you've selected will attack or perform whatever action you've set forth, and in the heat of battle, changing your selection to order individuals around and then selecting the group for later group orders is incredibly awkward.  The ability to select party members by clicking on their character models also means you'll be accidentally switching your selection around all the time.
  3. You can't dump aggro, or really modify it in any way.  This is especially annoying when everything decides to aggro on your backline instead of the melee guys who can actually take a hit.  This is compounded by this next issue.
  4. You have to distribute health potions (and mana potions) to everyone who needs them, in advance.  It's tough to know how much you're going to need to heal during battle, and some characters naturally need more potions than others.  I'd use healing spells more regularly, but...
  5. You have to manually switch each spell caster between their two spells.  You also have to shuffle spells around their spell book(s) to make sure you can select what you want.  In addition, when you change spells, it stops them from acting for a brief but tense moment.  When I toggle to my healing spell, I want it casted now, not three seconds from now.
  6. There's no AI for your party.  You have to control everyone yourself.  Considering that you can have up to eight party members, this gets very complicated, very quickly.  A mage with a damage spell in one slot and a healing spell in the other won't do anything other than what they're currently set to do.
  7. Characters automatically equip items they pick up if there's an empty slot for it.  This means, as you're using the auto-loot key to grab everything that's dropped, you have to manually go through and remove all the bows off of your melee characters and casters.  This is all so you can press 2 and have only your ranged characters pull out their bows.
  8. The resurrection spells require you to level up their respective spell types first.  To hold you over until then, there are one-time-use scrolls of resurrection that anyone can use, but what if you don't have any?  You're screwed.  This alone makes it very important to keep a spell book full of resurrection scrolls in all your characters' inventories.
  9. Merchants are few and far between.  I have a mod installed that doubles the size of my characters' inventories, and I'm still running low on inventory space, annoyingly far away from town.  There are zero random merchants in designated "safe spots" around the game.  Especially considering everyone in the second town is dead, except for one recruitable guy, and he's not a merchant.  This means if you run out of space in the second dungeon, you have to run all the way back to the first town.  And there's no fast travel, town portal scroll, etc. to speed things up.
  10. Having multiple party members actually makes the game harder.  You'd think it would make it easier, since more characters = more sources of damage.  However, due to how the game hands out experience, per-character-per-hit rather than per-kill for the entire party, a character that gets in more hits is going to get more experience.  If you're only playing one character, that character then gets all the experience and levels up much faster than if they had anyone fighting alongside them.
  11. Having packmules doesn't completely alleviate inventory space issues.  Again, I have a mod that doubles my characters' inventory space.  I also have both of the packmules that you can purchase from the first town, and I'm still running low on space uncomfortably far away from a merchant.  Also, in battle, if you don't set the packmules correctly, they'll run around and aggro more stuff onto your party.
  12. Inventory space issues are further compounded by the fact that items can take up multiple inventory slots.  I've never liked this in an inventory system (see: Diablo, Diablo 2), because you quite easily run into a situation where you have enough open slots for the item, but because they're not the right shape or orientation, you can't put the item into your inventory.  These types of systems hardly ever have a way to re-orient an item to fit it into your inventory, but there is at least one mainstream example of being able to re-orient an item (see: Deus Ex: Human Revolution).
  13. Enemies will chase you ridiculously far from where you originally encountered them.  This hurts a lot, especially given how the game likes to throw huge battles at you and the aforementioned fact that you have to micromanage each individual character in your party during battle.  I've had to lead an obnoxiously large group of spiders a very long distance away from where we were fighting so that I could juke them and get back to the area to revive my dead party member.
  14. Reviving an unconscious party member doesn't heal them enough.  This makes mid-battle revivings almost impossible, as enemies will beat on an unconscious party member with the hopes of killing them, so you heal them and they begin to get up, then they get hit and fall over again.  It's not fun.
  15. The singleplayer is basically the multiplayer, but with only one player.  You have to manage all the characters in the party yourself.  Due to everything above, this task is vastly different from other games where you have multiple party members in singleplayer.  It's even different from dungeon crawlers like Eye of the Beholder and Legend of Grimrock.
It's still a good game, but I still recommend the multiplayer over the singleplayer.  It just makes more sense.  Heck, you can even play the singleplayer campaign in multiplayer.  Multiplayer does forfeit a lot of things, like the cutscenes, voice acting, and ability to hire party members and packmules, but it's still the way to go as far as Dungeon Siege is concerned.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Project FINISH HIM!: BattleBlock Theater

So the first game I've completed out of the FINISH HIM! category I have on Steam is BattleBlock Theater.

For anyone who doesn't know, it's a platformer with lots of death, humor, and cats from The Behemoth, who also brought us Castle Crashers.  To be honest, I bought it just because doing so unlocks Hatty Hattington in Castle Crashers, but to my credit, it looked like a fun game to begin with and I probably would've bought it anyway.

It is indeed fun, though it gets kind of frustrating in the later levels.  It's a "how the heck do I do this?" kind of frustration, not a "there's absolutely zero room for error" kind of frustrating.  In other words, it's frustration that lasts 20-30 deaths and then suddenly something clicks in your brain and you figure out the completely insane thing they want you to do.

There's more gameplay to it than the singleplayer story mode, though.  You can play the story mode co-op, and there's some versus modes, bonus levels, and then community created levels courtesy of Steam Workshop.  I've only played the singleplayer, because reasons.

I did, however, cheese a bit of local multiplayer in the versus mode.  Doing so gets you gems, out of an infinite supply.  With gems, you can unlock more player heads.  It kind of sucks, it's a grand total of five gems per match, each player head costs 15 gems, and there's a shitton of player heads.  Someone at The Behemoth really, really thinks players like to grind.  Some players might enjoy it, but in a platformer?  Probably not.

The game's story is fairly simple, but the narration is hilarious.  You can re-watch each chapter's cutscene as many times as you like from a menu that's kind of buried.  The narrator also commentates your gameplay, or to be more precise, your deaths, with such lines as "that was good, but...  do gooder." and "you're doing it wrong, do it right!".

The graphics are simple and effective.  If a block has a special purpose, it looks different from the rest.  Secrets are hinted at with differently-colored blocks that you can walk through, or something in the environment being slightly different from its surroundings.  The art style is basically what you could expect if you'd played any of The Behemoth's other games.

The music is great, and the ending song is incredibly quirky and catchy.  I had to adjust the balance of the various sound volume sliders so I could hear it better.  That and sound effects that get layered multiply in volume, so you'll want to turn that SFX dial down, especially if you use headphones.  There's a few levels that really offend in that department, much moreso than the others.  For the majority of the game it's not an issue.

The controls work well.  It's the standard Behemoth "we recommend a controller to play!" with a picture of a 360 controller, but there's also keyboard controls.  My only complaint is that the cooldown on switching weapons is way too long.

Worth noting, the Windows system requirements listed on Steam are completely ridiculous.  I'm running the game on a 2GHz single core CPU with DirectX 9, and it runs beautifully.  Minimum requirements are definitely below what they claim.

Overall, I'd recommend getting the game, but wait for a sale because it's $15.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Chrono Trigger: Beating Lavos With Just Crono

Disclaimer: SNES/PS1 item names used here.  DS-only players can deal with it.

So by now, it should be reasonably well-known that on a New Game +, if you use the sparkle on the right telepod at the Millenial Fair, you can fight Lavos at the earliest possible point in the game and get the developers' ending.  At this point, you only have access to Crono and Marle, so most people just go in there with them and don't consider trying to solo Lavos.

To be fair, they may not even know it's possible.  During the scene with the telepod, Marle actually leaves the party once you talk to Lucca.  You can then use the sparkle to go to the Lavos fight.  Don't talk to Marle after talking to Lucca, doing so will trigger the next part where she gets sent to 600 AD, and it'll be too late to trigger the Lavos fight.  You can verify that she's left the party by bringing up the menu, it'll just show Crono in your party.

Because I can, the rest of this is after the break.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Chrono Trigger DS: First Round of Tabs Done

So apparently Ayla had an item equipped that was giving her +10 Magic and I didn't notice when I made the table.  Whatever.

I beat Black Omen twice, so I could charm PrismDresses off of Queen Zeal.  Not getting a third PrismDress because hopefully I'll get that Elemental Aegis for Lucca...  Anyway.  Dumped all the tabs that I had into people (intelligently, of course).  First priority was getting my Spekkio party ready to go.  Maxed speed on Crono, Robo, and Lucca, then tossed on all three Haste Helms and beat Spekkio right then and there.

I'll have Marle's speed maxed on the next playthrough.  Marle and Lucca will take nine Spekkio fights to max their power, and maxing Magic on everyone will happen whenever.  Implying that doing Spekkio runs isn't about getting Magic Tabs.

I guess I could mess around with getting tabs out of Arena of the Ages, but that's not really necessary.  I've done the multitude of Spekkio runs twice before, I can certainly do it one more time.

You know what this means, right?  It's time to take Lavos down and progress on to New Game +.

Edit: I started New Game +, and got the first two endings: the developers' ending, and the one you get for beating Lavos immediately after coming back from 600 AD.  This isn't going to be an ending-grabbing playthrough, though.  I'm just grabbing all the endings up to and including the End of Time, and then going into Spekkio runs.  That way, once I have the tabs done, I don't have to worry about those first few endings.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Chrono Trigger DS: Going Through Black Omen

I know I said last time that I wouldn't swap in the table until I had progress to report, and even though I didn't say what I considered that progress to be, I originally intended that progress to be when I actually started using tabs on people.

However, I'm partway through Black Omen, at the room with the Nu shop and the fast travel out of Black Omen.  I've gotten the Haste Helm from the chest, I charmed more Gold Studs than I really need, and I've charmed every Panel I've fought thus far to grab Speed Tabs.

To be honest, I just want to get this table up, so I'm putting it up now.  It shows the number of tabs that each character still needs to max out each stat.  It doesn't take my current inventory of tabs into account.  It also ignores stat boosts from equipment, including the +1 Speed that Magus' Gloom Helm gives him despite it not being listed in the item's effects.

Side note: if the table doesn't render properly, it's because your browser sucks.  I haven't actually bothered to check compatibility on the CSS pseudo-elements I'm using to style it.  This is part of my "design stuff only for standards-compliant browsers" initiative.  That's really the only sane baseline for web design.  Browser-detection code/hacks and code to cater to those noncompliant browsers is ugly and inefficient.

Tangentially related: I fired up Chrono Trigger on my SNES and beat Lavos with just Crono, just for the hell of it.  I took the Gold Stud instead of the PrismSpecs this time.  Doing so makes it harder.  Even after the damage boost from the PrismSpecs, the fact that Luminaire is consuming 20 MP per cast instead of 5 means that you have to use recovery items that much more often.  The perfect recovery item to use is an Elixir, to top off both HP and MP.  With MP depleting faster, use of an Elixir to get MP back keeps you alive as an ancillary benefit.  However, with a Gold Stud, you now have to consider the amount of damage that each of Lavos' attacks carries, and intelligently decide when to heal (and recover MP as an ancillary benefit).  Also, without the PrismSpecs, the left bit in the third form won't die to one Confuse.  It takes two, slowing you down by a turn and giving Lavos more opportunity to throw things at you or use Time Warp.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Bravely Default: Secret Adventurer Boss

Reading around on the internet, I found that there's a secret passage behind the locked chest at the end of Dimension's Hasp - B10, that leads to the Adventurer and the fox that you see throughout the game.  Here, in this secret room, you can challenge them to a fight.  If you see this and go "ooh, me want", then turn encounters off so you can just run down to them without having to deal with enemies on the way.  You may also want to equip Dungeon Master for the trip, because Dimension's Hasp does contain environmental hazards and traps.

Jump break?  Jump break.  Read all about the battle after the break.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Chrono Trigger DS: Done with Geno Dome

Got everyone to level 99.  I already tweeted this screenshot, but here it is again, for posterity.

Yeah, I know.  Pointing my phone's potato camera at my 3DS' screen produces a pretty bad picture.  Whatever.  More after the break, because I don't use jump breaks enough.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, Episode One, and Episode Two

This finishes my playthrough of the Half-Life series.  Technically I ragequit Half-Life: Opposing Force, so maybe I'll go back to that someday and try to see what I was doing wrong.  Anyway, here's my thoughts on the three games in this post's title.

Half-Life 2: Lost Coast

This is less of a game and more of a release-polished tech demo for HDR effects in the Source engine.  For the uninitiated, HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and to put it simply, it deals with realism in lighting.  Having realistic lighting can make a game's atmosphere so much more believable, and in a game like Half-Life 2 which is supposed to have realistic graphics, getting the lighting right is crucial.

This game is a short mission where you work your way up a cliffside, to a church, so you can stop a gun from shelling a nearby village.  Once you've done that, you take out one last group of Combine including shooting down a helicopter, do some light platforming, and it ends.  However, you can play through it with the developer commentary on, and get an insight into Valve's design choices and the technical details, as well as any difficulties that arose.  It's pretty neat.  I recommend doing two playthroughs.  One serious, just to experience the content, and the second with sv_cheats 1 and god mode enabled, with the developer commentary.

So, if it's so short and playing through it twice is recommended, then why does Steam say I have 2.5 hours of play time?  Well, I was derping around with sk_max_rpg_rounds 100.

Half-Life 2: Episode One

Episode One is a direct continuation from the end of Half-Life 2 proper.  You see how the heck you and Alyx get out of the citadel, and then work to get away from the citadel after a brief trek back into it to get some crucial information, during which time you get the awesome version of the Gravity Gun.

In addition, I made it a bit more challenging on myself by going for, and obtaining, the achievement "The One Free Bullet", which requires you to complete Episode One while firing exactly one bullet.  Other ammunition types, such as grenades and rockets, are acceptable, as are the Gravity Gun and the crowbar.  Also, a big source of damage is Alyx, who follows you around through the vast majority of the game.  Where do you use that one bullet?  To break a lock, fairly early on.

The final area, a train station, is incredibly hectic as you have Combine trying to surround you, and a Strider in relatively close quarters taking potshots whenever it can.  It makes for quite the challenge, even if you aren't going for the one bullet achievement.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two

Episode Two is a bit more challenging, and a bit longer.  It houses the achievement for carrying a garden gnome from the beginning of the game to the end of the game.  It also makes a reference allllllllll the way back to the beginning of Half-Life 1, when you blow up Dr. Magnusson's lunch in the microwave.

This time around we get acquainted with a couple new Combine enemies: the Hunter, and the Advisor.  The Hunter has a ridiculous amount of firepower and only a few weapons are really effective against them.  The Advisor, well... it can telekinetically lift its prey up and kill it.  You only encounter one Advisor, ever, although more are shown in the ending.

Speaking of the ending, it's a huge cliffhanger.  Since Valve can't count to three, we'll never know how things go from here...

So, that garden gnome.  As my previous rant would tell, it's a bitch to transport in the car.  I did some poking around on the internet, though, and found that you can cheese the loading screen at the end of that segment to despawn the helicopter.  All of this would be so much better if the garden gnome would actually collide with the seats in the car, but no, it goes right through them.  So, your objective is to end up with a screenshot similar to this one.

However, since that's my screenshot, it happened, but I DIDN'T GET THE ACHIEVEMENT.  FIX YOUR GAME VALVE.

Overall Thoughts

Lost Coast is interesting.  Episode 1 is a nice addition to the story and is quite the challenge, even with Alyx backing you up.  Episode 2 is frustrating in parts and ends on a giant cliffhanger, but is still good.

Side note: ugh Valve y u no let us disable "Change weapon on pickup".

Monday, November 24, 2014

Chrono Trigger DS Stuff

So, over on the right, I've added a new little box thing in that column, titled "Chrono Trigger DS".  Right now, since I'm working on maxing out everyone's level (and getting Magus his techs, which will happen naturally once he's in the party), it's showing character levels and my current party.

It won't always show character levels, though.  It'll reflect what I'm currently doing in the game.

Once I'm done doing stuff, it'll disappear.

Since that doesn't get preserved historically very well, I'll do summary posts every now and then, such as the remainder of this post.

Geno Dome grinding is going on strong, and I've got Crono/Ayla/Robo up to level 96.  Getting Ayla to 96, of course, grants her the Bronze Fist, which makes her critical hits deal 9999 damage.

When I was doing this on the SNES cartridge, I wrote a PowerShell script to calculate how many more grinding runs are left until the next character level and tech, given the grinding location and XP/TP remaining.  It's fairly extensively documented, and I may release it here when I'm done with the XP/TP grinding.  It's aptly named ctgrind.ps1, and all of its directions use the item names and terminology from the SNES/PS1 versions of the game, which are the names and terminology that everyone's used to.  It does cater to the DS version wherever it's truly relevant, but it was written mostly for the SNES/PS1 versions.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

An Exercise in Tedium

I'm playing Half-Life 2: Episode Two, and trying to get the stupid achievement for keeping the fucking gnome from the beginning of the game until the end of the game.

All is going well, but then I get a car.

Surely, there's a spot in the car where I can put the gnome and have it reliably stay in the fucking car, right?



Well, no.  Valve, in all their infinite wisdom, gives you nowhere to put the gnome in the car.  This means that every time you go around a corner, over a hill, jump, or just whenever it feels like it, the gnome falls out of the fucking car.  So regardless of what's happening around you, you have to stop, go find the stupid thing, and put it back in the fucking car.

Then, after the bit with the first Advisor, of course the game spawns the Combine's car in my car, pushing my car forwards, and ejecting the gnome from the car.  So I get through the fight after the Advisor, I have to go find the damn thing and put it in the car, WHILE UNDER FIRE FROM A FUCKING HELICOPTER.  Had enough of stroking your dicks yet, Valve?  The challenge here is to keep the gnome until the end of the game.  The tedium is getting it to stay in the fucking car.  The extra source of tedium is the completely unnecessary helicopter that rains death down upon you if you stop to look for the damn gnome after it falls out of the fucking car.  Also, you don't have any weapons with which to take down the fucking helicopter, and it's an open area, so it gets all the angles on you that it wants.

Fuck you Valve.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Chrono Trigger DS: Geno Dome Time

That's right, having finished Lost Sanctum and gone around doing sidequests, I'm up to Geno Dome grinding.  On SNES/PS1, I always recommended having one character equip the Berserker while using the Rage and Fury Bands on the other two.  However, one of the additional items from Lost Sanctum is the Valor Crest, which raises a character's hit rate as well as giving them a 50% counterattack chance.  So, my recommendation on the DS version is to use that alongside the Rage and Fury Bands.

With everyone having a counterattack chance, it goes faster.  Ayla's up to level 72 and has the mostly useless Iron Fist.  I still think it'd be more useful if she got it at an earlier level, perhaps when she was still at the point where she could land the critical hit necessary to inflict Confuse without also killing the target.  Whatever, level 96 is what matters anyway, because it's all about dat 9999 damage critical hit.

Speaking of 9999 damage critical hits, I've read that one of the new items that I have yet to see is a weapon for Robo that enables him to do 9999 damage critical hits.  I don't know how useful it'll be since he doesn't land critical hits all that often, but it's interesting.

Since Robo has to be in the party the entire time we're in Geno Dome, I basically ignore him.  He'll max out eventually.  Thus, the first party is my mainstay: Crono, Ayla, and Robo.  Once they're maxed, the next party is Robo, Frog, and Magus.  When they're maxed, I switch back to Crono, Ayla, and Robo to max out Marle and Lucca from out-of-party XP, which, as I've mentioned in the past, is faster than having them in the party due to their low regular attack damage.

Once everyone's at 99, then I'll finish Geno Dome and get Robo's equipment, and then work my way through Black Omen and beat the game.  The thing with the extra equipment in the DS version is: the ultimate equipment everyone's used to from the SNES/PS1 is still the best, until you're in New Game + and have the Dimensional Vortex available.  Being that I haven't gotten to that point yet, I don't know precisely when Dimensional Vortex gets unlocked or what time period you have to go to in order to enter it.  Regardless, within is brand new ultimate equipment to play around with, as well as an extra ending.  Should be fun.

There is something new, though.  There's a sword called "Dinoblade" that you get from Lost Sanctum, that's better than Frog's Brave Sword.  So basically, when saving his penultimate sword for New Game + now, we have a slightly better option.  Also, Lost Sanctum has a successor to the Hero Badge: the Champion's Badge.  In addition to the standard Masamune critical hit rate up effect, it also halves Frog's MP costs.  I guess that would be useful if more of his magic was useful, but that's a separate rant.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Chrono Trigger DS: Thoughts on Lost Sanctum

Now that I've finished the first bit of extra content that was added in the DS version, here's some thoughts.

It would be apt to say that the Lost Sanctum feels tacked on, because, well, it was tacked on.  However, there's more to this than that.  It just doesn't feel like the rest of the game.  Even entering and leaving the place, the landing spot for Epoch is incredibly finnicky.  Particularly in 65,000,000 BC, where it looks like you have a giant area to land.

Going in and out of the area is also a pain.  You come in through a beam of light, then your characters slowly walk downwards a bit and bunch up before you gain control.  When leaving, you have to answer a confirmation prompt first.

However, it doesn't stop there.  The areas are full of unavoidable encounters.  I know, the rest of the game has plenty of unavoidable encounters, and it wouldn't be an RPG if you didn't fight things on occasion, but...  Lost Sanctum is basically a series of fetch quests, meaning you'll be going in and out of these areas repeatedly.  So you'll constantly have to deal with the same unavoidable encounters over and over again.  It's especially irritating since the rest of the game sets the example that if you avoid making contact with the enemy's sprite, you won't have to battle.

I have no problem with the fetch quests themselves, they're all fairly simple and straightforward, and make use of time travel in one manner or another.  However, you absolutely must talk to the NPCs.  It isn't like other areas of the game where if you know where to go and what to do, you can mostly avoid talking to NPCs, except when that itself gets you something.  Here, the NPCs have to hold your hand and tell you exactly what to do every step of the way.

The enemies in this area have an abnormally high number of counterattacks that trigger whenever you attack them.  Elsewhere in the game, if an enemy has a counterattack, it's a simple issue of being at proper range (Yakra), or a counterattack phase of the battle where you can just heal up instead of attacking (Heckran), or you can hit another part of the enemy to avoid it (Lavos Spawn).  But here, there's nothing to do except eat the counterattacks.

Also, this area is basically a giant plot hole.  The Reptites were wiped out of existence in 65,000,000 BC after you storm the Tyrano Lair and Lavos falls.  This is evidenced by the ending you get if you defeat Lavos before finishing the Tyrano Lair, where everyone's a Reptite.  After you finish the Tyrano Lair, defeating Lavos gives you the next ending, and everyone's human again.  The Reptites are clearly supposed to go extinct, yet this area is full of them, and they survive until at least 600 AD.  Within the realm of the story, it makes no sense for the Reptites to be here.

Last but not least, let's talk about Lumicite.  What is it?  Some sort of fictitious substance that you can turn in to an NPC and get a piece of armor for Lucca.  How do you get it?  By defeating a Wonder Rock, that's a palette swap of the other rock enemies you see throughout the game.  How do you find this Wonder Rock?  By getting extremely lucky.  Its spawn rate is ridiculously low, and it's the only thing that can ever be different about the enemy spawns in each area.  The sad thing is, on one of my first few trips through the forest area, I saw it.  I SAW IT.  But I was already tired of enemy encounters in the area, so I avoided it.  Had I known what it was, I would have definitely fought it.  I haven't seen it since.

Overall, Lost Sanctum gets you some neat loot that wasn't in the original game, and isn't too difficult even with the counterattack-happy bosses you have to fight.  It's kind of annoying to go through because of the unavoidable encounters, but the rewards are worth it.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Changing the SSID in SpillPass-Pi

Why would you want to change the SSID you're using for HomePass?  Well, the Nintendo Zone system combines the SSID with the MAC address when choosing which StreetPasses to send to you, so using the same MAC with a different SSID will give you completely different StreetPasses.  This becomes important when you're desperately trying to finish a panel in Puzzle Swap and you're not getting anyone who has the pieces you need.  Changing your SSID can get you a better chance at the missing pieces.

Since SpillPass-Pi pretty much isn't documented at all, I'll make my best attempt at describing this process.  I'll even go so far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like.

I mean, make it simple enough that you don't really need any Linux knowledge to do it.

The hardest part of doing this is connecting to your Raspberry Pi so you can make the changes.  Here, you have two options:
  1. Connect a monitor and keyboard.
  2. Find its IP address, and use an SSH client such as PuTTY (for Windows) or the command-line ssh client (Mac OS X, Linux) to connect.
I personally connect via SSH, but that's because my router always gives the Raspberry Pi the same IP address whenever SpillPass-Pi rotates MAC addresses.  If yours doesn't, you'll get your connection interrupted every five minutes.  It's for this reason that I'll recommend connecting a monitor and keyboard instead.  There is a rather weird issue with connecting a monitor and keyboard, and that would be that the default keyboard layout isn't the standard US QWERTY layout.  It's still QWERTY, but some of the non-alphanumeric symbols are moved around.

To log in, the username and password are the same as the web interface:
  • Username: root
  • Password: SpillPassPi
If logging in via SSH, in PuTTY, type root@<IP of your Raspberry Pi> into the "Host Name (or IP address)" field and click "Open". Enter the password when prompted.

If logging in via SSH, with the command-line SSH client in Mac OS X or Linux, just type ssh root@<IP of your Raspberry Pi> and press Enter. Enter the password when prompted.

If connecting a monitor and keyboard, you'll have to press Ctrl+A and then D to get to the login prompt.  From there, you can just type both the username and the password.

Anyone with Linux knowledge can tell you how bad it is to be logging in as root, but apparently nobody told that to spillmonkey.  You'll need root privileges for this anyway, so just beware: you can seriously mess things up with root if you don't follow these instructions verbatim.  Also, Linux filesystems and commands are case-sensitive.

Now that you're connected and logged in, all you need to do is edit a text file and reboot.  For the purposes of this example, we'll be using this SSID: NZ@McD1
  1. At the prompt, type nano /etc/hostapd/ and press Enter.
  2. Look for the line that says cat > $CONFIG_FILE <<EOF
  3. On a blank line just above that line, type SSID="NZ@McD1"
  4. Now press Ctrl+X, and then press Y to save the changes and exit.
  5. Finally, at the prompt, type shutdown -r now to reboot your Raspberry Pi.  When it comes back up, it will be using the new SSID.
The more Linux-savvy out there may realize that you don't really need to do a full reboot.  That's fine.  I just wanted to make things as simple as possible, so that anyone could do it.

What's that, you want to change back to the default?  Well, that's easy too.
  1. At the command prompt, type nano /etc/hostapd/ and press Enter.
  2. Go down to the line you added in the above instructions, and insert a # before it.  Using our example above, the line will now read #SSID="NZ@McD1"
  3. Press Ctrl+X, then Y to save and exit.
  4. Type shutdown -r now at the prompt and press Enter to reboot.
The # character makes the line a comment, which prevents that one line from being executed.  In the future, if you want to change the SSID again, all you need to do is delete that character and then change the SSID.

Another trip around the sun

Edit: Well, fuck you, WMG.  Changed to a lyrics video instead.  Bonus: it's now the uncensored version of the song.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bravely Default: Strategy with my End-Game Team

I posted a rather lengthy documentation of my end-game team, preferring to say things in paragraphs instead of presenting bulleted lists.  However, I didn't really touch on how to use it, for the most part.  I pointed out specific parts of the game where you'd want to do specific things, but no general advice.  So here, we have general advice.  This will mostly be a guide to the Salve-Maker/Spiritmaster, because party support takes a lot more expertise than beating the crap out of things.

Every turn will begin with the Salve-Maker/Spiritmaster doing something.  What exactly this is, however, depends on the situation.  Generally speaking, there are some go-to actions that you'll want to pick one of to lead off, depending on your knowledge of the enemies and general gamer intuition.
  • Use Compounding and combine a Beast Liver and a Dragon Fang, in that order, to make a Giant's Draft.  Now do this four times, and hit everyone in the party with one.  Doubling max HP puts everyone that much farther away from death.  This is my bread-and-butter first move when I don't know what else to do.
  • Put up Enigma.  If the enemies have potent sources of elemental damage, this will allow you to sidestep it, in most cases.
  • Fairy Ward.  Only a few enemies are bothersome with the status conditions, so this may end up being an action you use either just before or just after removing a status condition from an ally.  Protip: if you're good on health, you can leave Poison on for a little bit before removing it.
  • Fairy's Aid on the Vampires.  Combined with their Monster Ability Up and Pierce M. Defense support abilities, this should be enough to hit the damage cap.
  • Stillness is to be kept around as a "fuck you" button.  Although, to use it properly, you need to anticipate whatever large source of incoming damage it is that you want to completely negate.  Regardless, it's useful because it buys you two turns to heal up and buff the party, should you need them.
There are several Compounding recipes that are of use, after your priorities (whatever they may be, remember this is entirely dependent on the enemies you're fighting) are in place.
  • Potion + Phoenix Down = Resurrect
    • When things are going south, this will get someone up and heal them in one go.  The heal is subject to Healing Lore, so they'll come up with a maximum of 9999 health.  You'd be wise to follow it up with a Giant's Draft if you were using them on the fight.
  • Hi-Potion + X-Potion = Font of Life
    • Some enemies, particularly bosses, can dish out death faster than you can react.  If you can't strategize your way around the damage, hit the entire party with these to induce the Reraise effect.  You'll have to claw your way back into the fight, so having to use these is a sign that you should be doing something else to avoid the damage.  Still, if you use one at just the right time, it can save you some headache.
  • Insect Antenna + (elemental item) = (element) Bane
    • If Monster Ability Up, Pierce M. Defense, and Fairy's Aid combined aren't enough to hit the damage cap, chuck this on the enemy.
  • Demon Tail + Dragon Fang = Shadowflare
    • Some enemies are weak to Dark.  While in most cases you'll use one of the (elemental) Bane items on these enemies so your Vampires will have a weak spot to hit, if you have spare turns with your Salve-Maker, you can throw this at them.  It deals 5000 dark damage, and with the weakness in play it becomes 7500 dark damage, which is pretty decent all things considered.
Then, of the "rarely used, but sometimes comes in handy" class, we have the following:
  • Resurrect
    • This is the Salve-Maker ability, not the compounding item.  It will resurrect everyone who's dead, which is useful if your Salve-Maker happens to be the only one alive.
  • Widen Area
    • Sometimes you'll get hit with a party-wide status condition before you can put Fairy Ward up, so widening a Remedy is one step back to the beatdown train.
    • Widening an X-Potion, with Healing Lore involved, is also of general usefulness, especially if you're having to claw your way back into a fight after taking a particularly bad hit.  3000 health to the entire party!
  • First Aid
    • This is a pretty decent heal, that defers until the end of the turn.  Even if you have other actions set before it, the Salve-Maker will let everyone else, including the enemies, do their actions before using First Aid.  Note: If you queue this up multiple times in the same turn, it will intelligently choose a target and continue to heal whoever needs it most.
I already touched on the strategy I use for the Vampires in the more drawn-out battles, but I'll reiterate it here.  On the first turn, both of them use Free Lunch followed by three of whichever spell you're casting.  On the second turn, however, one of them uses White Wind, follwed by three of whichever spell you're casting, and the other uses Free Lunch (again, intentionally, even though they're already under its effect), followed by three of whichever you're casting.  Now that you have their use of Free Lunch staggered, continue doing that.  Both Vampires will alternate using White Wind, which in the vast majority of cases, should keep your party topped off on health.

The fact that they can keep the party at full health while still being able to dish out large amounts of damage is what makes them so powerful.  In an MMO, such a situation would be deemed imbalanced and patched away in a hurry.  But wait, exactly how much damage are we talking about?  Assuming you're hitting the damage cap, in one turn, one Vampire can deal 29997 damage.  Two of them combined can deal 59994 damage in one turn.  Most of the bosses you encounter during the later chapters only have around 80000 health, so two turns and they're toast.  The final boss has 200000 health, and 9999 damage * 3 uses per Vampire * 2 Vampires in party * 4 turns is 239976, so that means that in four turns, with wiggle room to get Fairy's Aid and potentially an (elemental) Bane up, you can kill the final boss.  It's that powerful.

This party build is also useful against all those high-level Nemeses, with the right strategy and minimal tweaking.  As I've already posted about, it can kill Early Spring; Teddy in six turns, factoring in two turns of Stillness.  That level 25 Mammon that everyone is sending because of the Elixirs?  Once you've got one you keep protected to get money, the rest die to three spells.  Leviathan being annoying with its phase where its M.Def is 9999?  Not an issue, thanks to Pierce M. Defense.  Level 80 Belphegor gets stuck casting Sloth and Diffusion Ray over and over while you use Enigma over and over and your Vampires kill it and heal the party.

There might be more damaging builds out there, involving Dark Knights or whatever, but this one is definitely viable and easy to use.  No matter what's thrown at you, you've either got a counter for it, or a way to deal with it.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Chrono Trigger DS: Lost Sanctum

After you escape the Blackbird and get the upgraded Epoch, the game unlocks its new content.  I ventured over to 65,000,000 BC to see what was up, and after finding the incredibly finnicky landing spot, I inspected the Lost Sanctum.

Initially, it's empty.  If you explore around as I did, you'll eventually find a forest full of monsters.  Killing all the monsters liberates the reptite citizens of this village, and they give you a series of jobs that involve time travel from 65,000,000 BC to 600 AD, where the citizens of that village give you more jobs, and by virtue of time travel, things you start in 65,000,000 BC will be finished.

The jobs, as I've called them, are basically a series of fetch quests.  Doing them gets you money, equipment, power/magic/speed tabs, and more.

As far as the areas you'll be doing these fetch quests in, I have a complaint.  There are unavoidable battles, seemingly placed directly in any path you might actually want to take.  I get it, it's an RPG, I'm supposed to fight things.  At the same time, I just want to get the fetch quests done and it makes absolutely no sense why I can't run past things.  These unavoidable battles strike much more of a nerve than the unavoidable battles elsewhere in the game, simply because you experience these far more often.

Having seen what this is like, I think I'll hold off for just a little bit.  I need to go revive Crono...

Edit: as it turns out, I'm almost done with it.  So I guess I'll go finish it and then revive Crono.  Now to get that Wonder Rock to spawn so I can get the Lumicite so I can get the Elemental Aegis for Lucca...

Friday, November 7, 2014

StreetPass Games Done

That certainly took a while.  Having a HomePass setup definitely made it quicker.  Some people call HomePass cheating, but I don't.  It doesn't reduce the challenge of accomplishing everything, nor does it reduce the amount of work you have to do.  It simply lowers the barrier to entry.

So, everything ever:
  • Puzzle Swap: 1637/1637 pieces (for North America)
    • When I originally posted this, there were 1177 puzzle pieces.
    • When I got my New 3DS and system transferred to it, there were 1502 puzzle pieces.
  • Find Mii and Find Mii 2: All accomplishments (including "Clear Find Mii in 30 Miis or less") and hats/outfits.
  • Mii Force: All plaza tickets (this implies all lost treasures collected, all target scores beaten, and all stages beaten without losing a pod).
  • Flower Town: All plaza tickets, gold on all jobs, 80/80 breeds, 305/305 colors, gold watering can.
  • Warrior's Way: All plaza tickets, Castle rank 20, 9,999,999 troops (set up so that an army of 50k+ infantry, 50k+ cavalry, and a small group of archers can defeat it by spying twice, field conditions allowing).
  • Monster Manor: All plaza tickets, beat floor 50 and the true final boss for the hat.
  • Ultimate Angler: All plaza tickets (this implies 160/160 species caught)
  • Battleground Z: All plaza tickets, all rare zombies defeated
  • StreetPass Birthdays: All plaza tickets (this implies 366/366 birthdays)
  • Exchange Booth: All hats/outfits and speech balloons claimed, Exchange Booth closed once again
I'll have more work to do with each Puzzle Swap panel that Nintendo releases, and of course if they add any more games.  With each new panel I'll try and remember to keep the piece count updated, as well.  But until the next new panel or game, feels good man.

Side note: if Puzzle Swap and the Find Mii games can detect when there's nothing left for the player to do and decide to not show their exclamation points with each group of StreetPasses, why can't the DLC StreetPass games do the same?

Edit (2015-09-25): Added Ultimate Angler, Battleground Z, and StreetPass Birthdays, just to mark them off as complete.  Because I now have two 3DSes, this post is only representative of my original efforts, which I system transferred from my Old 3DS to my New 3DS.  Any new puzzles will be marked here until I finish everything on my Old 3DS once again, and then this post will be retired and a new one encompassing both systems will be created.

Resuming Chrono Trigger DS

With Bravely Default only having a few minor things left to do, relating to sending Rejuvenation and trying to get the most out of an inferior moneymaking build for the hell of it, I have a lot more time to play the DS port of Chrono Trigger.

It took me a bit to adjust from Bravely Default to Chrono Trigger.  I had to go through menus and remind myself that I did indeed have all the techs and was ready to continue the story by entering Magus' castle.  Magus himself was a pushover as always with my usual grindy playthrough.  I worked my way through Tyrano lair to 12000 BC, did everything I could do, then activated the pendant and got banned from the time period.  Went and grabbed Epoch so I could go back there and continue the story.

However, you know me.  If there's something on the side that I can do, I'll do it.  It's the main reason that Bravely Default took me so long.  One of the things I did in 12000 BC was telling the woman not to burn the sapling that she'd been given.  I knew that doing so was part of activating the Fiona's Villa sidequest, however, I didn't know that it in fact activated it right then and there.  So when I arrived in 600 AD to go prime some sealed chests, I saw the vortex in the desert.

I've never had any major issues with the Retinite, grindy playthrough or not.  For whatever reason people always say to try and leave the core alive, but it's always the first thing I kill.  If there's any adverse effects for killing it, either I don't notice them, or I'm so good at coping with them that I don't notice them.  My party for it this time was Crono/Frog/Robo, with Frog and Crono using Water 2 and Confuse (the DS version calls it Frenzy), respectively, and in that order.  Robo was strictly on standby for Cure Beam and Heal Beam.  Anyway, I went on and successfully stopped the machine from crippling Lara, and got my Green Dream.

All that is well and good, but I thought that even though you can activate the sidequest early, it didn't actually show up until you reached the endgame where the rest of the sidequests are available.

Also, while I was hopping back and forth between 600 AD and 1000 AD, I bought the Jerky and gave it to the Porre elder's family, so that the mayor would be nice to me later on when I'm doing the Sun Stone sidequest.

Anyway, it's great to be back playing this classic RPG.  Going from a modern classic in the making whose mere existence justifies dropping $200 on the console necessary to play it, to a classic that's stood the test of time (har har).  It's a bit different, yes, but it's all good gaming in the end.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bravely Default: Final Thoughts

So, now that I've finished Bravely Default, the game that I bought a 3DS to play, it's time for my final thoughts on the game.  No major spoilers, just some minor stuff relating to story pacing.

Bravely Default definitely did not disappoint.  The game's art and environmental design make excellent use of the stereoscopic 3D.  The music is fantastic.  The sheer range of options for setting up a party... incredible.

One thing that I kind of already touched on: a lot of people give Bravely Default flak for the second half of the game.  I like to think that those people are incredibly hasty to form an opinion, and then blindly stick to that opinion in the face of anything the game has to offer or that other people might say about it.  Acknowledging that, I rather enjoyed the second half of the game.  Whereas the first half of the game was the party's journey to save the world, the second half was where the party slowly begins to understand what's really going on and discovers what their true task is.

It does seem repetitive, but the game uses the repetition to gradually uncover parts of what's really going on.  Plus, the repetitive nature of the last half of the game makes the player realize that they'll have to formulate a party in order to have a fighting chance.  A randomly cobbled together team might be able to do well, but sitting back and thinking about how your characters complement each other, both in job composition and with regard to special abilities, is crucial.  I know for a fact that in the first four chapters I was just using a cobbled together team where each member was only really thinking about themselves, and only tangentially complementing the rest of the party.  Partway into chapter 5, though, while making a party build to farm Megalixirs, I happened upon a setup that I soon realized worked wonders elsewhere, with a few tweaks here and there.

The mere possibility of having any number of completely functional parties makes the game playable for a wide range of players with different play styles.  It also lends the game well to more playthroughs later on down the road.  "Let's play through the game with THIS setup!  Let's have the game show us where its strengths and weaknesses lie!".  The game goes as far as to have you select exactly what you want to carry over into a New Game +, which facilitates this.

Basically, the further and further I got into this game, the more I liked it.  I admit, at first I treated Brave Points like a gambling system where you hold back to unleash a mega-turn, or take that mega-turn in advance and hope you don't die before you can go again, but it really goes beyond that.  Given the range of abilities in the game that affect BP one way or another, you eventually realize that it's a resource you have to manage, and perhaps one that's more critical to your success than anything else.  As I made clear in the post where I described my end-game party build, I ended up going with a team that didn't use MP at all, and that used up to 4 BP per character per turn.  At the same time, there are a myriad of MP management options and had I not wanted to use the spells I was using, I might have gone with them instead.

One thing I didn't really make much use of were the social aspects of the game, that utilized Friend Codes and StreetPasses.  I really only fought Nemeses and used them to my advantage.  I never once used Abilink, dabbling in it a little right after the game told me about it, but ultimately deciding not to use it.  I used the friend summons a little bit early on, since you do get a steady source of them from the Update Data command at a save point.  I bothered to set up a move to send to other people in case they wanted to use it, though.  Also, I made very little use of Sleep Points.  Occasionally I'd Bravely Second just before the end of a battle to pop a Phoenix Down on someone so they'd get experience, and of course I used it to send moves that break the 9999 power limit, but that was it.  You can pretty much forget that Sleep Points and Bravely Second even exist, and the game won't be any harder.  It's simply an extra option for the player, to be used at their discretion.

I did find the placement of certain support abilities to be a bit odd, though.  Notably, you can get Dungeon Master within about the first 10 minutes of gameplay, and never have to deal with environmental damage for the entire game.  Conversely, you get Experience Up far too late in the game for it to be useful.

Overall, the game's flaws are incredibly minor.  If you like JRPGs, it's a game you shouldn't overlook.  If you don't have a 3DS, it justifies the purchase of one.  I put in almost 200 hours and enjoyed every minute.  I think at this point, getting the sequel, Bravely Second, is a given.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bravely Default: My End-Game Team

With the amount of boss fights in the last four chapters, you'll need a solid team to take them on.  This one fits the bill quite nicely.  It would be a "glass cannon" build were it not for the rock solid support it carries.

Because, as a friend of mine put it, I am a "power-player", this build requires mastered jobs across the board.  You want to have all your options open to you.

We deal lots of damage with this build, and that's accomplished by having two Vampires with Swordmaster as their job command.  The genome abilities White Wind, Firaja, Blizzaja, Thundaja, and Aeroja are what they'll be using most.  That's right, our damage dealers are also our healers.  White Wind is simply the best healing spell in the game, and it's too good to pass up.  These guys use the Swordmaster's Free Lunch to make all their spells free, so that 99 MP cost of Firaja, Blizzaja, Thundaja, and Aeroja (collectively, the -ja spells) is completely a non-issue.  In fact, this build uses zero MP whatsoever.  It uses BP, free abilities (including those which have become free via Free Lunch), and items.

As for support abilities, the only real requirement is Monster Ability Up, but a close second is Pierce M. Defense.  Other useful ones are Drain Attack Up (for BP-denying non-boss, non-undead enemies), Status Ailment Amp (a fair number of the genome abilities inflict status conditions), and both Absorb P. Damage and Absorb M. Damage.  Stop Immunity also comes in handy towards the end of the game...

Equipment is simple.  Boost that M.Atk as high as you can.  I have two Magic Knives on each, with a Circlet, Black Robe, and Heike Gloves.

To make this party build not a "glass cannon" build, it needs a lot of support to make it survivable, and we gain rather high survivability from a Salve-Maker whose job command is Spiritmaster.  Whether you're compounding things together, protecting the whole party from elemental damage or status conditions, or boosting the Vampires' elemental attacks, you'll want this character doing something every turn.  What exactly needs to be done is entirely dependent on the enemies you're facing.

Compounding up some Giant's Drafts is incredibly useful, both for increasing survivability, and boosting the heal from your Vampires' White Wind.  Inducing an elemental weakness on enemies adds extra damage.  Some enemies are weak to Dark, so making some Shadowflares would not be a bad use of your time.  One item you can make through Compounding is called Resurrect, and resurrects the target with 5000 HP.  This 5000 HP is subject to Healing Lore and Holy One, making it handy if someone gets knocked out.  Just remember to follow it up with a Giant's Draft if the battle necessitates them.  Last but not least, if you truly need them, Resurrect (the ability, not the Compounding item) and First Aid are great for recovering from an adverse situation.  Widen Area is of use as well.

As for the Spiritmaster side of things, Enigma, Fairy Ward, and Fairy's Aid are your go-to abilities.  Stillness comes in handy in the odd fight, like against anyone who uses Reflect.  Use it after Reflect goes up, and wait it out while buffing and healing the party.  Reflect usually only lasts three or four turns, sometimes five.

Support ability-wise, Holy One is useful because it stacks with Healing Lore, although your primary source of healing will be from the Vampires.  This character can make use of any amount of extra Speed you can afford to give them.  Also helpful against the Time Mage is Stop Immunity.

As far as equipment goes, speed is key.  You want this character to be able to set up something on each turn, before anything else happens.  Thus, I have two Falcon Knives, a Red Cap, a Kenpo Gi, and Hermes Shoes on this character.

Last but most certainly not least: This build is far more powerful if you can spend lots of BP.  Thus, I have a Performer with the Freelancer job command.  Basically, every turn, this character will use My Hero followed by Mimic, to give the rest of the party 2 BP.  In some cases, you'll want to Examine before starting things up proper, so having Freelancer around covers that as well.

One absolutely critical support ability for this character is Hasten World.  The My Hero + Mimic combination doesn't work without it.  Other than that, you can bring whatever you want.  I took the decidedly odd route of Shield Lore, Dual Shields, and then one slot that I rotate between things depending on what I need it to be.  If I don't need anything in particular, I slap on Speed 10% Up.  This is also a good place to put Dungeon Master to avoid environmental damage and traps.  Just remember to change it out before a boss fight.  The same note about Stop Immunity applies here as well.

Because I took the dual shields route, this character wields two shields.  I use a Bloody Shield alongside an Aegis Shield.  Keeping with the theme of defense, we round out the equipment with a Royal Crown, a Crystal Vest, and a Barrier Shroud.

With this setup fully in place, you'll be able to use 4 BP with all characters on every turn.  This equates to 28 uses of the -ja spells in two turns.  Assuming they all deal 9999 damage, that's 279972 damage, which pleases me greatly.  However, because of defenses and having to debuff the enemy and buff ourselves, we'll pretty much always not get that damage figure.  Still, it should be relatively high and well worth it.

The main weakness of this party is physical damage.  Even with the defense-oriented setup, the Performer/Freelancer will still eat damage.  Our only real recourse is to use Giant's Drafts to make the party be farther from death at any given point in time, and then use copious amounts of healing, which White Wind is quite proficient at doing.

Choosing a -ja spell to spam is fairly simple.  Look at the enemies.  Assuming you've been using Examine on everything the first time you encounter it, boss weaknesses should already be known by this point.  If there are no weaknesses, or the weaknesses are Light and/or Dark, pick the one you like best.  Otherwise, go with what exploits an already present weakness.  For Orthros, since one of its heads is weak to fire and the other is weak to water, you'll want to induce one of those weaknesses in the other head, and then spam the matching spell.

One of the best things I've been doing with the Vampires is staggering their use of Free Lunch in fights with physical damage that I have to worry about.  This way, on every turn after the first, one of them uses Free Lunch, while the other still has it active from the previous turn.  The Vampire with Free Lunch still active uses White Wind followed by three of whichever -ja spell you've chosen, and the Vampire using Free Lunch follows it up with three of whichever -ja spell you've chosen.  This builds a potent source of party healing into your actions on every turn, while still maintaining a high damage output.  The result is that enemies have to really try to get your health down low, and most of them aren't up to the challenge.

As far as what to lead off with on the Salve-Maker, it's entirely dependent on the battle.  If the enemy has lots of physical damage, one Giant's Draft per party member.  If they have elemental damage, Enigma.  If you're worried about status conditions, Fairy Ward.  On the second and third turns you should generally use one of the remaining ones that I've mentioned, unless you know for sure you can take the enemy down quickly.  You can use Fairy's Aid twice in one turn to boost both Vampires' damage output.  Try to induce an elemental weakness either just before or just after that.  Then, it's down to using what's right for the situation, refreshing buffs/debuffs as necessary.

One boss to watch out for is the Swordmaster.  If he uses Know Thine Enemy and he's by himself, your group-cast-only -ja spells will count as a single-target attack and he'll counter if he chose one of your Vampires.  To deal with the inevitable, throwing Reraise onto your Vampires would be prudent.

During the boss gauntlet of Chapter 8, two battles stand out among the rest.  The one with the Salve-Maker, Conjurer, Summoner, and Spell Fencer is tough because the Salve-Maker will use Fire Bane on your entire party just before the Summoner uses Promethean Fire, which can result in an instant party wipe.  The solution I found was to use Giant's Drafts on the first turn.  You'll be way down on health on turn 2, but use two White Winds from the same character (the second one will be twice the power of the first), and Enigma, and you'll claw your way back up in relatively little time.  Keep the damage output as high as possible and you'll prevail.

The second battle that stands out is with the Red Mage, Arcanist, Spell Fencer, and Vampire.  Your success here depends entirely upon using Fairy Ward on the first turn.  Do so, and you win.  Omit it, and you lose.  It's your call.

With support ability modifications and adapting your strategy to the situation, this build works for a good number of the nemeses as well.  The level 99 version of Mammon is a bit tricky since you have to use Stillness at the right time to avoid Death Claws, but assuming you manage that, it's possible.

Monday, November 3, 2014

srs bsns tiem

So, as you might infer from the sanity meter over on the right, I'm unemployed, and I need to change that.  However, as soon as I start the process of looking for jobs and actually going out and applying for them, I reach a brick wall.  Mostly a psychological one.  My "fight-or-flight" instinct seems to be hardwired to "flight", to the extent that I will go somewhere with the intent of applying and end up leaving without applying.

Even if all the circumstances are correct, i.e. I know they're hiring (which is a chore to figure out these days), I'm dressed for it (discrimination based on the clothing I'm wearing, go!), I have my resume, and a pen.  If I forget even the smallest thing, for instance, a pen, the whole thing's a bust and I have to leave.

Recently I've heard a disturbing term pop up, and that would be "overqualified".  The notion that you can get turned down for a job because you're "overqualified" makes absolutely zero sense to me.  Any employer who does this is flat-out ignoring the reason why the person applied to work for them in the first place: they actually wanted to work for them.  Regardless of that person's qualifications, if they have the desire to work for you, you should consider them.  Having to revise one's resume for each individual employer one might apply to is an exhaustive process that wastes time, money, paper, and printer ink.

Then there's the issue of references.  Apparently, you can't get a job these days without them.  Also contributing to this is the trend of not accepting personal references, and instead requiring professional references.  How does one get started in a system like this when they have no professional references?  Even the simplest of job categories, food and retail, wants references these days.  What are they going to get?  "Oh yeah, he can push buttons and read numbers from a monitor like nobody's business"?  "His receipt-tearing skills are second to none"?  Anyone who can read and has fingers can use a cash register.  The rest of a food/retail job's proficiencies belong entirely in the new-hire training process.

I've had a lot of bad experiences with employment, which certainly doesn't help.  I consider even the jobs that I've had as bad experiences because I've never once gotten a job through the "standard" application and interview process.  Either I've been hired on the spot when I turned in an application (Giant), or I got the job because of someone else putting in the good word and it was guaranteed that I'd be working there (Sperry, Batesville Broadband, Silverchair).  Every time I've tried to go through the "standard" application and interview process has resulted in me not getting a job.  Plow and Hearth, an outdoorsy-style retail store, turned me down despite one of my friends working there and putting in the good word for me, sending me a cheeky postcard that said I wasn't qualified.  Not qualified for retail, are you serious?  Barnes and Noble gave me a phone interview and an in-person interview before deciding that no, they didn't need that extra person in receiving and then eliminating the position.

My actual on-the-job experiences have been extremely varied.  Giant was bad, they constantly pressed me to get faster and faster regardless of the quality of service, going so far as to give me printouts showing how slow I was, while not offering any actual usable advice on how to solve the problem.  Sperry, both times I worked there, was bad, because they flat-out ignored my resume.  My resume basically says "hey, this guy is right at home with servers, networking, and web design, he'd probably make a great helpdesk guy or general IT guy", but no, they noticed that my dad was an engineer and stuck me in engineering, where I knew absolutely nothing about the things I was working on.  Batesville Broadband was just a horrible company.  It went under shortly after I left, and not because I left, but because it was flawed from the core.  Silverchair was a good experience, I got to work with the same people for most of a year, but because I was contracted, as soon as I finished what they hired me to do, I was out.  With zero warning and zero opportunity to say goodbye to any of the team members that I'd spent that "most of a year" working with.

Don't even get me started about online applications.  You'd think they would be right up my alley, being that I largely prefer communications via the internet to communications over the phone or in-person.  However, I've never once had a single online application get off the ground.  The processes are exhaustive and far more time-consuming than applying in person, especially if they use Unicru.  Then, assuming you persevere and finish the application process, they just don't respond.  At all.  I could have easily gotten a job at our local Best Buy since I was applying while they were still building the thing, but I sent in several applications, none of which were responded to.  Long story short: if you tell me your job application process is online-only, I'm gone.  Sorry, not going through the headache.

Job fairs are no better.  You'd think that if you were meeting representatives from lots of different employers in person, that you'd have a better shot because they can actually see that there's a human out there who needs a job and can do the kinds of things that they need done.  But nope, haven't heard back from a single one of those jobs I've applied for either.  The most recent job fair I went to was a total joke, nobody was taking resumes and everyone said "apply online".  If you're going to take the time to show up at a local job fair, why don't you also take the time to allow people to apply in-person?  It makes going to a job fair completely worthless if all you really need to do is look at the list of employers in attendance and go to their websites.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I really, really want a job.  A nice secure one, that pays enough that I can get a decent apartment and move out of my parents' house for a second time.  However, I have to force myself to go out and actually do anything about it, and if even one thing goes wrong or is out of place, I'm out of there.  That's precisely what happened today.  I noticed an ad from a few days ago on Craigslist saying that Bodo's was hiring at all three locations, and I figured "what the heck, I'll go apply".  However, walking towards the office where I'd have to talk to the guy and say "hey, can I apply to work here?" it felt like there was just a wall of pressure that got too great to allow me to go any closer, and since my nagging fight-or-flight instinct was already going "flight flight flight", I bailed.  It probably didn't help that the door was closed.  I got a bagel, hoping it would calm me down, but it didn't.  Also, I'd forgotten my pen, and I know that employers are incredibly fickle about things like that.  "Oh, he can't even remember to bring a pen when he's applying for a job, he can't be all that serious, we'll just ignore his application and anything he has to say", or something similar.

My brain is wired with so much logic that I get extremely disappointed when the world doesn't operate with any consideration to logic whatsoever.  Can some aliens please come and take me to a world where logic is actually a thing that governs the actions of people, businesses, and governments?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bravely Default Nemesis Strategy: Early Spring; Teddy

This nemesis is three automatons that use Overclocking to raise their Aim, P.Atk, and Speed, and then on the next turn use Rocket Punch to knock off significant chunks of your party's health.  They have 200000 HP each, and if you can survive, you can get up to three Unearthly Buns, which can be used to raise stats.  This is another good candidate for a nemesis to send to others.  Keep one set to send, and then fight any others you get, just like with Mammon.  It's less common, but... it's still out there.

Recommended party setup:
  • Two Vampire/Swordmaster
    • Recommended support abilities:
      • Absorb P. Damage
      • Monster Ability Up
    • Equipment:
      • 2x Magic Knife
      • M.Atk boosting equipment
    • Recommended Genome Abilities:
      • Thundaja
      • White Wind
  • Salve-Maker/Spiritmaster
    • Recommended support abilities:
      • Absorb P. Damage
    • Equipment:
      • 2x Falcon Knife
  • Performer/Freelancer
    • Recommended support abilities:
      • Absorb P. Damage
      • Hasten World
So.  Between Hasten World and the Performer/Freelancer, the Vampires and Salve-Maker will be able to use four actions every turn.  Absorb P. Damage isn't fully necessary, but it helps.

Thankfully, the automatons follow a set attack pattern, and we can use this to our advantage to minimize the damage taken.  Here is the cycle:
  1. Attack (light damage, but if they gang up on someone it'll hurt)
  2. Self Repair (each one heals itself for 9999)
  3. Overclocking (each one gains P.Atk 150%, Speed 150%, and Aim 150%)
  4. Rocket Punch (each one deals massive damage, twice)
  5. Repeat from step 2
My setup actually kind of helps them in that they benefit from Hasten World.  Otherwise, there would be a turn of downtime for them after the Rocket Punches.  Hasten World may also be smoothing over other places where they would otherwise Default to gain BP.  Your mileage may vary.

The following set of actions is based on a level 99 party with mastered jobs and the recommended equipment.  If you're lacking in one area or another, it might take longer, but just remember to use Stillness on the turn after they use Self Repair and you should be fine.  Enemy action for each turn is in parentheses.
  • Turn one: (Attack)
    • Vampires use Free Lunch and then Thundaja three times
    • Salve-Maker uses a Giant's Draft (Beast Liver + Dragon Fang) on everyone
    • Performer does My Hero followed by Mimic
  • Turn two: (Self Repair)
    • Vampires use Thundaja four times
    • Salve-Maker Default
    • Performer does My Hero followed by Mimic
  • Turn three: (Overclocking)
    • One Vampire uses Free Lunch followed by White Wind to top up the party, mostly because there's nothing else to do, the other Defaults
    • Salve-Maker uses Stillness
    • Performer does My Hero followed by Mimic
  • Turn four: (Rocket Punch)
    • Vampires Default
    • Salve-Maker uses Fairy's Aid on the Vampires, just to pass the time
    • Performer does My Hero followed by Mimic
    • Note that Stillness wears off at the end of this turn
  • Turn five: (Self Repair)
    • Vampires use Free Lunch and then Thundaja three times
    • Salve-Maker Default
    • Performer does My Hero followed by Mimic
  • Turn six: (Overclocking)
    • Vampires use Thundaja four times
    • Salve-Maker Default
    • Performer does My Hero followed by Mimic for funsies
  • Win
When I originally wrote this post, I completely forgot about Stillness.  You have to cast it a turn early, just after they use Self Repair, because they raise their speed high enough that they'll go before you on the turn when they use Rocket Punch.  This works out better anyway, because after Stillness has completely nullified the damage we wanted it to nullify, it's gone and we can get back to business.

Even without Fairy's Aid, Thundaja hits for 9999 most of the time.  Fairy's Aid makes it pretty much guaranteed, but the difference is negligble.  With this setup, levels, and equipment, they die in 23 uses of Thundaja, the rest are just there for insurance.  Their use of Self Repair honestly doesn't matter.  It counteracts one Thundaja, and you can dish out fourteen in two turns.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to

When I saw one of the typical seasonal anime charts, this series intrigued me, so I checked out its manga.  Less than 24 hours later I'd caught up to where the scanlations were, and enjoyed every page.

I just got around to watching the anime, and it was pretty good.  It stayed true to the manga, which for comedies is something that studios kind of ignore.  The voices worked for each character, too, so no problems there.

Then I sat there and thought about it.  Given that the length of each individual episode was 13 minutes, and that it was a 12-episode series that was as true to the manga as possible, it made me think.  Particularly, that the project of animating this manga got put on the studio, and they didn't really want to do it.  So they put in the bare minimum effort, making a 12-episode show with short episodes, and in making it as true to the manga as they could, ensured that people would at least enjoy it.

My issue isn't the adaptation.  It was great.  But therein lies the problem: it could have been so much better.  The short episodes always felt as though they ended abruptly.  As a viewer, I was just getting going with each episode's viewing experience when the episode ended.  Also, looking over the chapters of manga, it looks like they picked and chose random chapters to animate, leaning more towards getting things that people who'd read the manga would expect.  It's clear they weren't trying to make a bad production of it, but at the same time...  I keep coming back to the word "effort", and pairing it with such descriptors as "minimal".

Moral of the story: just stick to reading manga?  That does seem to be the more enjoyable option these days anyway, since 90% of anime these days is moeblobs and fanservice.  It's kind of why I've stopped watching anime each season.  The only sure bets are comedies, but even then, you have to weed out the fanservicey ones.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Half-Life 2

There was a bit of a time delay between my post about the first game and its side stories and this post, wasn't there?

Well, I had some motivation to play Half-Life 2 recently.  An LPer that I follow is playing through the entire Half-Life series, and loves to talk about level design and various other things that can easily spoil the game.  Being that I hadn't played Half-Life 2 yet, I started playing it when he was about 75% of the way through Half-Life: Source, with the goal of staying ahead of him.  A success was had: I just finished Half-Life 2, and he's a mere few episodes in.

Half-Life 2 did a lot of things better than Half-Life 1.  The Source engine, first and foremost, is way better.  Second, there's that one checkbox, buried in the options, that enables fast weapon switching.  That option makes switching weapons in the middle of a battle so much easier.  I don't know how anyone could ever play with it off.

The graphics and music are amazing, and as far as controls go, it's a PC FPS, so you have all the configurability you need should you want to change something.  I took the experience a step further and played the entire game using my Logitech G930 headset's 7.1 surround mode, of course with the relevant option in the Audio options set, and it was amazing.  Being able to more precisely hear what direction enemies are coming from came in very handy towards the end of the game.

Half-Life 2's one major innovation in the FPS genre, the Gravity Gun, is quite the fun tool.  I imagine it was just as fun for Valve's level designers, being able to design parts of the game around providing things for the player to shoot at enemies with the Gravity Gun, as it was for me, the player, shooting sawblades and toilets at my enemies.  The upgrade it gets towards the end of the game makes it even more powerful, where it also becomes your only weapon.

The Gravity Gun is made possible by the game's physics engine.  Pretty much any object in the world around you is a "physics object", and can be affected by explosions, or impacts with other objects.  There are several spots throughout the game where you'll have to use objects to hold something down or lift something up in order to continue.  It all works pretty well.  I do have one minor complaint, though, and that's that you can't sprint when you've grabbed something with the Gravity Gun.

On multiple occasions, I found myself in a situation where I felt like the way forward wasn't clear.  Either I was told to go somewhere, or informed that a crate of rockets that I could use on the Striders was somewhere in the area, but I wasn't really set in the correct direction.  The resulting running around like a chicken with its head cut off, and in the latter case, the repeated deaths, was rather frustrating.  This is a hard one to suggest a fix for, because we don't want to hold the player's hand too much.

Overall, if you like FPSes and want something more heavily story-driven, but without the idiocy of the modern Call of Duty games, look no further than Half-Life 2.  It's an excellent experience from beginning to end.  Also worth noting, it goes on sale during pretty much every Steam sale ever, so chances are you can pick it up for cheap.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Bravely Default: Farming Megalixirs

Megalixirs are incredibly useful for NOPE-ing out of a bad situation since one of them will refill the entire party's HP and MP.  Wouldn't it be nice to have all of them, ever?  Well, I've arrived at a party build that can get you all of them, ever.

If you're in Chapter 5, you can do this.  You'll need to set down next to the keystone in Eternia.  The enemy you're looking for is a Guzzler, and comes in a pack of three.  They have two items available to be stolen, Eye Drops, which are common, and the Megalixir, which is rare.  Therein lies an issue: this process can be quick, or very slow.  It's all up to the RNG.  I have two possible solutions to this, but I need to get to Chapter 6 to set up the other one, so for now, this is the build I'm currently using.  This is an Auto Mode build, and as such uses no MP or items.

While I say "Alarm Earrings or Normalizer" under Equipment for everyone, I really mean that you want two of each equipped across the entire party.  Not a heck of a lot else matters equipment-wise.

Tiz (Vampire/Swordsman) - BP Denial
  • Support Abilities
    • Drain Attack Up
    • Hasten World
    • Speed 20% Up
  • Equipment
    • Alarm Earrings or Normalizer
Agnes (Salve-Maker/Spiritmaster) - Support
  • Support Abilities
    • Holy One
    • Speed 30% Up
  • Equipment
    • Yggdrasil Staff
    • Blessed Shield
    • Alarm Earrings or Normalizer
Ringabel (Any Slow Job/Thief) - Thief
  • Support Abilities
    • Master Thief
    • Rob Blind
  • Equipment
    • Alarm Earrings or Normalizer
Edea (Performer/Freelancer) - BP Battery
  • Support Abilities
    • Speed 30% Up
    • Speed 20% Up
  • Equipment
    • Alarm Earrings or Normalizer
You'll notice that Ringabel has Thief as a secondary and is carrying Master Thief, eating up three support ability slots.  Seems a bit weird, given that I could just make him a primary Thief and have those three slots available to put other things in, but there isn't really a clear-cut choice, unless you want to run my other variation that I can't set up until Chapter 6.  I want him to be slow enough that Agnes can get Fairy Ward up before he does anything.

Once you're on the ground at the keystone, jack up the encounter rate to +100% and run around.  If you encounter enemies that aren't Guzzlers, have Tiz Brave three times and use Free Lunch, Firaja, Firaja, Firaja.  Set Ringabel to use Godspeed Strike, and Edea to Brave and use My Hero and Mimic, just in case.

Once you encounter the Guzzlers, it's time to begin.  This of course assumes that they don't get any pre-battle bonus.  It's possible to recover from them getting a pre-battle bonus, but it takes a while and you may have to revive people.

Also, since the Guzzlers do get their first turn, it's important to note that one of their moves is Run Away.  One or more of them may run away before you get the chance to get their Megalixirs, and there's not really a lot you can do about it.  If this happens to you, simply adjust the number of times Tiz uses Brave and Battle Thirst accordingly.  I've written this for the best-case scenario.  I did try to use Paralyzing Pollen on them in my opening turn, but that's still down to chance, even with Status Ailment Amp.

First Turn
  • Tiz
    • Brave 3x
    • Free Lunch
    • Individually target each Guzzler with Battle Thirst
  • Agnes
    • Fairy Ward
  • Ringabel
    • Brave
    • Shake Down 2x
  • Edea
    • Brave
    • My Hero
    • Mimic
Once that's all set up, hit Go and see what the Guzzlers' first turn is like.  They'll get to have their first turn no matter what, but after that, as long as Tiz is alive they won't be able to act.

Recovery (optional if you heal between fights)
  • Tiz
    • Brave 3x
    • Free Lunch
    • Individually target each Guzzler with Battle Thirst
  • Agnes
    • Brave up to 3x
    • Use Blessed Shield as an item as necessary to group-cast Cura and heal everyone back up (if someone's dead, revive them first)
  • Ringabel
    • Brave
    • Shake Down 2x
  • Edea
    • Brave
    • My Hero
    • Mimic
You may need to repeat this, just to top off everyone's health.  You don't have to top off everyone's health, but you'll have to remember to heal between fights.

The Farming Begins
  • Tiz
    • Brave 3x
    • Free Lunch
    • Individually target each Guzzler with Battle Thirst
  • Agnes
    • Fairy Ward
  • Ringabel
    • Brave
    • Shake Down 2x
  • Edea
    • Brave
    • My Hero
    • Mimic
Agnes doesn't really have to use Fairy Ward, but if she does, it'll be up when you transition to the next phase and you'll have less to worry about.  Anyway, set this up and press Y to engage Auto Mode.  Watch the top of the top screen closely when Ringabel uses Shake Down.  For each of the Guzzlers, it'll say "Eye Drops x 2 stolen!", "Megalixir x 2 stolen!", "You couldn't steal anything.", or "They weren't carrying anything.".  Let it go until it just says "They weren't carrying anything.".  Press Y to turn off Auto Mode, and once you can set a turn up again...

Kill 'Em All
  • Tiz
    • Brave 3x
    • Free Lunch
    • Individually target each Guzzler with Battle Thirst
  • Agnes
    • Fairy Ward
  • Ringabel
    • Godspeed Strike
  • Edea
    • Brave
    • My Hero
    • Mimic
Set this up and press Y to engage Auto Mode.  Ringabel will slowly kill off the Guzzlers one at a time, and then you're done.

As for how it could be made faster, I really don't know if this would work, because it's a big tradeoff.  If Ringabel is changed to a Thief/Freelancer, he can use the Freelancer's Prayer to boost his chance of successfully stealing.  Prayer does cost 8 MP, but the Conjurer support ability Steady MP Recover more than covers for that.  The big tradeoff is that you sacrifice one Shake Down to boost the chance for another to work.

At any rate, this build works perfectly well as-is, and since it got me a full stack of Megalixirs, it can do the same for you.