End of the Walker

I finally found a way to get Final Fantasy 14 working again thanks to a GitHub gist. The author essentially replaces the Final Fantasy 14 Protonfixes launcher script with one that installs FFXIVLauncher into the same Wine instance Steam uses to invoke the game itself. It then uses this launcher instead of the broken one Square-Enix demands. Since Steam invokes the script within Proton, the replacement launcher passes the expected steam account ID to Square and everything magically works.

I have no idea how long this will be the case, but everything was functional long enough for me to complete the Endwalker expansion and make some good progress into the 6.1 post-game patch as well. The entirety of Endwalker was very good, and the way everything is resolved was about what I was expecting. I still think Shadowbringers was the “best” and is certainly my favorite, but Endwalker tied everything up in a neat little bow.

I was slightly annoyed while in the post-game though. There are certain item level requirements in the 6.1 patch that match or exceed available equipment at the end of the game in the main story quest itself. This means I had to take a detour to grind raids and dungeon instances for equipment just to continue the storyline. I’ve never had to do this before, and it makes me wonder what changed. Is it just because I’ve finally caught up with the contemporary release? Is it because they’ve decided to “encourage” players spend more time in side content? I doubt I’ll ever get a real answer to this, but it struck me as strange.

While driving up to meet the inlaws for Easter, I stumbled across The Boys of Summer while channel-surfing through the few paltry stations transmitting to such backroads normally reserved for particularly energetic static. Under normal circumstances, I’d have been listening to a podcast on Spotify or some random sampling of albums I’ve favorited. Instead, I got a blast of nostalgia that invariably incurs my melancholic nature. There aren’t really a plethora of songs that do this to me, but there are several such as Toto’s Africa that I’ve never really stopped to consider. Is it the music itself? The lyrics? My own misspent youth which just happens to coincide to when these songs were popular? Some combination of all of these?

I suspect it’s the combination, since a lot of music from the era will evoke a halcyon keening for better days, but precious few make me genuinely maudlin. I don’t just think of my past, but mourn it, like an inescapable wave of despair must sate itself with some tiny shred of my soul. I suppose, were I meditating, I would welcome the feeling and simply acknowledge it as part of life, and let it go with a wistful smile. But traversing a lonely road with only my thoughts and a song about a lost summer coupled with achingly evocative music, and my edifices crumble.

Perhaps I should let them. It’s not exactly a lesson, but one of the recurring themes toward the culmination of Endwalker is overcoming the Song of Oblivion. In the game world, it is a crushing refrain meant to free all life from the inevitable despair wrought by existence. Our heroes are not so easily cowed, of course. Yet, I liken this fictitious harmony to one of those mentioned here. How tempting, to lose oneself in misery of missed chances and wallow in the past.

Consider Johhny Cash’s cover of Hurt:

Or perhaps Precious by Depeche Mode:

How easy it is to rail against the unfairness of life, or all we’ve done wrong, and how simple it would be to give up and rest. That’s the finality the Song of Oblivion promises: an escape from the pain of knowing. One thing all of this music has in common is that each song is proof of a life lived, with all of the associated highs and lows, despair and triumph. Perhaps things could have gone differently. Maybe they should have, if life was fair.

We all know how that line of reasoning ends, and end up back where we started, wishing we could try again, ‘round and ‘round forever seeking resolution. These songs always threaten to trap me in that cycle, and it’s extremely difficult to escape that kind of event horizon. I’d rather appreciate the flawed beauty of a life moving forward, than cease living to futilely embrace one perfect moment, or descend into the true oblivion of Nihilism.

I’m the kind of person to contemplate such a topic on a cold Easter night. It’s why I tend to read, play video games, or watch TV instead. Because I’m also the kind of person to flee uncomfortable realities.

Until Tomorrow