It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged regularly. I’ve never stopped gaming, but for some reason Twitter has become the main place that I talk about that part of my life. I do miss interacting in comments and having a sort of ‘living memoir’ for my gaming experience, so I’ve decided to commit to blogging on here more often. I don’t really expect to devote time to long-winded prognostications about the industry and where it’s going, but instead just blab about my experiences and thoughts on whatever game(s) I’m currently enjoying. So, hello again! I feel glad to be home.
Since Warlords of Draenor launched, World of Warcraft has been my main stomping ground. At this point, I’ve grown a bit fatigued with the whole thing and have been searching desperately for another MMO to get lost in. Since Belghast and Jaedia and a smattering of bloggers have found their current home in FFXIV, I decided to join up with them. The highest I’ve gotten in FFXIV was about 22 or so, just high enough to get my chocobo on my Lalafell White Mage. This time, I’m going Scholar, so I started with Arcanist and have been having a good time so far.
Every time I peek my head back into FFXIV I am enamored all over again with the look of the world and the charm of the characters and dialogue. Belghast said something in Free Company chat about how FFXIV is one of the best and deepest games that does a piss poor job of presenting things to players, and I think that’s pretty spot on. I’m thankful that I have a FC to ask questions of, because things aren’t presented with a pretty bow all the time.
We’ll see how long it lasts, but so far I’m really enjoying myself.
There’s a new service going around that’s like part social network for gamers, part streaming service called Forge.GG. I just got my invite today and haven’t tried out the streaming yet, but the service seems slick and the UI is nice. So far, I’m kind of underwhelmed by the quality of the streams that are being uploaded though. They don’t make the games look all that great, so we’ll see if I stick around. Feel free to follow me if you’re on Forge!
(First off, an apology. I have basically all but disappeared over here, but life + work + other projects have come into play, and good ol’ CuppyVille has to sit aside while more important things come first.)
When we last spoke, I was pretty enamored with WildStar. I even made some kind of proclamation on Twitter that it was definitely going to be my “main MMO” for months, and I canceled my WoW subscription for the first time in months. But to be fair, by all accounts it should have been my main MMO. I loved the world, the art style, my character, the combat, the housing, the crafting — literally everything about the game. It had the polish that I love, a fresh fantasy/sci-fi hybrid feel that I was enjoying, some humorous elements, and ticked all the boxes on my mental checklist of “things I love about MMOs”. I liked my Esper and I thought she was adorable and fun to play. I had a guild of likeminded people that I was playing with (fellow bloggers & feminists too) that should have kept me firmly solidified in the game. But I got to level 16 and then just didn’t want to play anymore.
I’m not the only one who has talked about this. That Angry Dwarf mentioned that he believes MMOs are habit-forming, and that once you break the habit they’re really hard to get into. I think this hits right at home for me. When I’m logging in nightly, I’m enjoying myself. But if I miss a day or two because of real life, I lose my desire to log in and play. And once the desire is gone, it’s really hard to rekindle the inspiration I need to log in and make any progress on my character.
Liore offered up similar sentiments over on her blog. She was super into WildStar and she’s always been a staunch supporter of a variety of MMOs, but she too has lost her desire to play the game. She’s even gone so far as to declare MMOs as dead (which she clarified in the comments — she meant they’re dead to HER) and is no longer going to be playing them at all. How has the industry gotten to this point where we have MMO community influencers such as Liore saying that they don’t even want to play MMOs at all anymore?
It’s gotten to be a joke with my friends — how long will Cuppy actually play any given MMO for? An hour? A day? Maybe a week? In that time, I’ll be tweeting and taking videos and making screenshot albums and joining guilds and writing about the game at length. Completely immersed for the moment, but then I’m unable to stick with them. For awhile I’ve been declaring that as some fault of my own, and sometimes I think my friends assume it is a trait that only I possess. But if you read the comments on those articles, if you read Twitter, it’s not just me. Sadly, I feel relieved about this because I’m glad to know that I’m not someone who is a “bad gamer” who has ADD who just can’t stick with something. I mean, look at my gaming history. I played EverQuest so hardcore for YEARS that I basically flunked out of my first semester of college while raiding with one of the top guilds in the world. My love for these games (and blogging about them) is what lead me to transplant myself to California from Minnesota so I could spend the rest of my life working on them. I ran one of the leading server forum communities back in the day for my EverQuest server. I created fanart, fan fiction (yeah, yeah), videos, podcasts, went to fan conventions. I moved onto WoW and gave that game a steady four years of my life as well, raiding throughout vanilla and TBC and flying across the country to meet up with my guildmates. Clearly I possess the capability to devote myself to a game and stick with it, but why have the last few years been so full of malaise?
Guild Wars 2 was a fantastic game. The art was beautiful, I liked the combat, and it was innovative. I made it to level 25 and quit. Lord of the Rings Online was always intriguing and had some systems that I truly admired (music, costumes, horses) but I couldn’t stick with it. SWTOR wasn’t that great of a game, but I cared a lot about my Bounty Hunter’s story up until the day I didn’t. FFXIV was AWESOME, but once I realized that I’d end up running out of quests when I want to do a second/third job, I felt exhausted with the idea of grinding and gave up before even finishing my first job. ESO was a decent game with interesting stories, but I didn’t make it to max level there either. ArcheAge was a ton of fun in alpha (and I’m still planning on playing it) but one day I just decided I couldn’t keep playing it if I was going to have to re-do my progress when the game goes live. I have played EverQuest II off and on since launch and my highest character EVER is level 45. RIFT never held onto me, even though it too was a good game. Aion, TSW, Neverwinter, I’ve played them all and stuck with none of them. You get my point.
But millions of people still play WoW. New players who stumble across these games still love them. I’m a numbers girl and I refuse to believe that MMOs are dead when millions of people across the world are enjoying them. Is it possible that those of us who’ve been around since the beginning are just exhausted with the same game mechanics and can’t commit to something because everything is so derivative and we’ve already done it? Wilhelm talks about how he’s having great fun in WoW right now because that’s where his friends & family are. Is the MMO scene just too fragmented now, and since everyone is playing something different we’ve lost that sense of community with our real life friends? Check out the r/MMORPG subreddit — it’s filled with people looking for a new MMO to play because they’re bored with the one they’re playing, and 90% of the people will be looking for a new MMO again within a month. This is a rampant feeling, so how do we solve it?
I actually think the MMO world is very fragmented. “MMO players” are lumped together into one bucket, but everyone actually wants radically different things out of their games. Some people want choice, and sandboxes, and want to be able to change the world and leave a mark on it. Some players want PvP and are passionate about it, but of those — only some want hardcore PvP where death matters and the others want to be able to casually dabble into PvP without too much negative consequence…and of those, some only want open world PvP and others want arena combat. Some players want a life-encompassing immersive experience that commands hours per day, while others want to jump into a game ‘casually’ and make meaningful progress. Some players want housing and farming, but only some of them want it instanced, private, and safe while others want it to non-instanced and take up physical space in the world. Some players want to raid, and some of those want to raid with friends but others have no friends and want to easily connect with other people in-game and still accomplish end-game content. Some players care about costumes, and pets, and collecting things. Some care about achievements, and some completely hate them. Some people read the story, love the lore, and even roleplay — while other players click through quests as fast as possible. The list goes on and on.
All of this boils down to the fact that no game, no matter how good it is, will appeal to all MMO players. I read people like Tobold and Keen (both of which I respect quite a bit for their opinions) making sweeping statements like “choice should matter” that don’t really read as opinion pieces but instead as broad generalizations that are completely false as they pertain to my gaming style. The fact of the matter is, that some people’s MMO preferences are in exact odds with each other. One game can’t necessarily accomplish both. And WoW is still a titan because it tries (and has succeeded) at mostly being everything to everyone. Sure it misses here and there, but overall — it’s a game that rewards you for how you choose to play. Other games are trying to copy that method, but without the budget and the longevity that Blizzard has been afforded, they’re unlikely to hit the mark on the nose.
Anyway, I’m rambling and I’m not sure where I’m going with this — other than to say that I think Liore, the Angry Dwarf, myself, and all the other frustrated and bored MMO players out there haven’t found the game we’re looking for because it either doesn’t exist yet, or it already existed years ago and feels archaic at this point. Just because these MMOs keep launching doesn’t mean we will like them — but we try them because “dammit, we’re MMO players” and they seem like they have everything we’re looking for. But they don’t, they’re missing potentially small-yet-important elements of what makes an MMO stick with us. I don’t want to say I’m done with MMOs forever because I have loved before and know I am capable of loving again. But I do need to start being more careful about how I’m spending my money, because buying every MMO on the market isn’t a viable strategy for me anymore. Just because it looks good and people say it’s good, doesn’t mean I’ll think it’s good. I am better off tackling my 200+ game Steam backlog than buying boxes of new games I won’t enjoy for longer than a week or two.
Not a whole lot of time to post….but I just wanted to say that I’m super excited that I got my very own CHOCOBO finally 🙂
I spent some time doing Grand Company Levequests today in order to finally get the last 1,000 company seals that I needed to turn in for my Chocobo mount. I named him Krogan, which is also my dog’s name (and Mass Effect fans might recognize the word as well, hehe). I giggled at how cute he was for a good 15 minutes, and then smiled in pleasure at the cute little song that plays while I ride him. I am super happy that I got my Chocobo. Now here’s hoping I have more time to actually play FFXIV, because I still think it’s a damn fun game. 🙂
I didn’t get much time to play today because I had a lot of work + shopping to do, but I continued along my main quest for awhile. I’m halfway through 19 now and I not only completed the Copperbell Mines dungeon, I also did a duty afterward that had me rescuing a “Desperate Damsel” from potentially having to give sexual favors to a male bully. *eyeroll* Not my finest FFXIV moment. The dungeon was good though. So far no one has died in any dungeon I’ve healed, which I guess is a good thing. It seems that perhaps they’re tuned slightly easy, which is fine by me because as Keen says, there are a LOT of MMO newbies playing this game. People don’t understand concepts like pulling order or aggro. It’s kind of cute, but I’m sure it will get annoying at some point.
Mostly I just want to share screenshots, which is why I’m posting. I’m still in love with the day/night cycle, the sunsets, the picturesque views, and the SKIES in this game. I find myself taking a ton of screenshots and since I have nowhere to put them, I’ll share them here with the 2 readers I might still have.
This weekend is pretty busy. I don’t expect to have time to play until Sunday, but I really want to get 20 and get my chocobo this weekend. We’ll see…..
Tonight, the main quest of FFXIV had me venture into two different dungeons. They were pretty neat! They both had some kind of prereq mechanics like unlocking things before you can enter the next room, which I didn’t have to worry about since I was hanging in the back healing. I did Sastasha and The Tam Tara Deepcraft and they were both varied and interesting.
Healing as a CNJ is fun. I only have two heal spells at my disposal right now, and I love love love targetting with the controller and healing without using a mouse to target. It’s surprisingly easier and I feel more effective than I ever really did with a mouse/keyboard. I love swapping to cast my Aero (DoT) or my Stone (DD) without losing my main tank target.
I also dinged level 18 tonight, so I’m pretty sure that means I only have two more levels until I can ride around on my Chocobo!
Well gosh darn it, just when I thought I had moved away from MMOs (yeah right) this little surprise popped up. I feel bad for being such a naysayer before FFXIV even launched, but I’ve heard it all when it comes to pre-launch hype. I didn’t expect that I’d be playing FFXIV, much less enjoying it even half as much as I am.
I’m a level 16 CNJ (Conjurer) now, which isn’t very impressive compared to everyone else’s levels. However, I was busy most of last weekend and the server clogging wasn’t worth the frustration for me to try to log in most nights last week. However, this week Square Enix patched the game and increased the server concurrency, which means that I can log in on my first try now. That is a surprisingly wonderful upside. Because boy oh boy do I have fun when I’m actually playing.
I’m not sure FFXIV is a game for everyone. When I think about gamers like my husband, I don’t think it would appeal much to him. The world is neat and the graphics are pretty, but the gameplay is a bit more obstructed than other games. What do I mean by that? Well, not everything is explained up front and packaged up with a neat little bow. My husband is very much the type of gamer who is annoyed by convoluted UI, or complicated game mechanics that require research out of game (or asking people) to figure out. And that’s perfectly okay — I actually think MOST gamers are like that. I do think that the game could use a bit more explaining so I can spend more time just playing and less time reading r/FFXIV or asking people things in game. There are some things that took me awhile to understand, such as aethernet attuning, targetting with the controller effectively, class/job system, travelling across cities. There are other things that I still don’t understand, like gathering/crafting, materia, breaking down items vs. selling them. I am sure when I need to understand them I will, but right now they’re kind of big mysteries to me.
That’s not to say that I don’t think FFXIV is an amazing game for a subset of players. Clearly it’s doing very well with many, many, people playing and enjoying it. I actually think it’s a wonderful game for people who really love to explore, love to grind (and I don’t mean that negatively), have ADD and like to do a number of different things, don’t like locking into choices permanently, and like to rekindle that old-school MMO feeling. Seriously, while I am playing FFXIV I am incredibly reminiscent of some times in EverQuest. Except the community doesn’t seem as nice, since basically every modern MMO has reduced to ridiculous comparisons to WoW and various immature rants. But I digress.
I have a linkshell and a Free Company now, which is nice because I have people to talk to who are more fun than the general populous. Linkshells are basically a way of having multi-guilds of sorts. You can be a number of different linkshells which are chat channels. Free Companies are traditional guilds, though at this time I don’t know what benefits they offer over linkshells.
I’ve done a number of Duties (which are like mini dungeons from what I can tell) and healing is really enjoyable on the Xbox controller. I find that I can play for longer sessions without my carpal tunnel hurting me, which is great. I’ve mostly been doing just the main story and class quests, along with levequests and duties and FATES thrown in. It’s just such a relaxing game. I’m still trying to learn my way around Limsa Lominsa….since I have Gridania down pat but now I need to actually explore the other cities.
So, that’s about it. Still having a blast, really enjoying this game. Have some pics.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is a game that basically snuck up on me. I mean, I knew it was coming, and I had friends who were raving about it a few months ago. But as someone who never played a Final Fantasy MMO, my gut instinct told me that it would be a heavy grind-fest that wouldn’t appeal to me. I have to say though, that I’m really glad that I decided to pick up this title. It is filling a need that I didn’t realize I had — I want to be lost in a whole new world again. I was a disbeliever, but boy have I seen the light.
Not everything is perfect, and I want to start with the bad before going into the good.
The server login issues are absolutely atrocious. I’d say it’s probably right up there in the list of Worst MMO Launches of All Time, and that’s not a banner I hand out frivolously. First of all, right now, the majority (all?) of North American servers are locked to anyone creating new characters. This means that if I want to play with friends who were a day late to buy the game, they can’t join my server. If we wanted to go reroll new characters on another server, I couldn’t play on anything but EU or JP. To make matters worse, if I wanted to make a new character on the server I am currently playing on, I cannot. Even if I were to delete my character, I’d just lose my spot on that server and wouldn’t be able to make a new character. And new servers aren’t coming up until NEXT WEEK. That is just plain unacceptable to me. How on earth am I supposed to recruit friends and evangelize the game to other people if I’m trapped on the only NA server available to me and friends can’t make characters in their own region? Gah, it’s just so bad.
But that’s not all. All the servers are also FULL, which means that when I try to log in with my little Lalafell (shown above) on Sargatanas, I get “This world is full, please try again later” errors. Not a server queue — that’s technology that’s just TOO modern. The solution is to mash Numpad-0 over and over again until the game lets me in.
That’s not all. There is no idle timeout, so players are literally clogging the servers because they don’t want to log out and lose their spot. I’m guilty of this as well, because I don’t have time to be mashing a keyboard for 20 minutes straight trying to get past the login. Cities are full of people just idling around AFK. I just don’t understand why Square Enix hasn’t learned anything from previous MMO launches, both theirs and all the countless other launches they could have learned from.
Okay, so with that out of the way, you’re probably wondering why I’d even keep playing this game with this kind of feedback? There is something seriously magical that I feel while playing it, that I honestly haven’t felt since vanilla WoW or even EQ1. I am having troubles putting actual words to my sentiment, but I’ll try to highlight some of the things I really enjoy.
The first is that there are so many options. I’d hesitate on using the word ‘sandbox’, but once you reach level 10 the entire world is yours to explore. Want to solo quest? That’s totally possible with hundreds of available quests that aren’t seeming to ever end. There are FATEs, which are basically like rifts. There are Guildleves, which are daily quests limited to 3 per 12 hours that stack up to 100. There is the Hunting Log which gives you XP for killing particular mobs. There are dungeons and PvP. There is a Duty Finder that always gives you level-appropriate things to do. The crafting and gathering are both robust separate classes that can be leveled independently of your main adventuring class, like EQ2. I don’t think anyone is going to run out of things to do.
The class system is also really neat. Once you get to level 10, you can start leveling up different classes by switching to their class-appropriate weapon. This eliminates the need for alts, because with enough time you can literally have one character gets to max level in every class. There is also a job system that allows you to level up a couple different classes and use the abilities from them to create ‘hybrid’ classes of sorts. It’s all very complicated to explain but pretty easy to understand once you get in the game.
The armor varieties seem really wide so far. I’m level 11, and I’ve gotten several upgrades that dramatically change my appearance. Just from looking at the outfits that other people are wearing, I can tell that between the armor models and dye options make for a huge variety of appearance looks. I’ve seen people making some pretty awesome looking outfits (and some pretty hilarious ones too).
The world is pretty beautiful. I’m hesitant to say this, but it’s very reminiscent of Vanguard in terms of the art style. It’s more colorful than Vanguard though, but not in an unrealistic sort of way. There is a ton of attention to detail that makes the world really exciting to explore. The creatures are interesting looking, the world is unique and quirky yet gorgeous.
I’m playing with a gamepad/controller, which is an entirely new experience for me. I’ve never played any console MMO or used a gamepad with a PC MMO before, so this is a huge change. It took some getting used to, but now I absolutely love it. Aside from having difficulties with targetting mobs, I love being able to sit back and get extra comfy while playing. I’m to the point now where I don’t want to ever go back to having to use a mouse & keyboard! That’s how natural it starts to feel. It also gives it that familiar true Final Fantasy feel.
The stories are interesting and the cutscenes really draw attention to them. The characters are witty and fun and I find myself not wanting to skip any text whatsoever so that I don’t miss any of the story in my main quest. That’s pretty powerful.
Combat is nice. It’s basically standard hotbar combat, but it’s been slowed down which actually makes it feel pretty tactical rather than button-mashy. Abilities don’t come flooding at you like candy, so each one feels special and important and critical. I like that.
There are a ton of fast travel options such as returning home, ferrying, using teleports, sprinting, mounts. Nothing feels inconvenient to me in this game, which is a nice change from some other MMOs.
Basically, Square Enix didn’t do anything drastically different with FFXIV. If you’re entrenched in WoW and still enjoying it, there is no reason to leave and play unless you’re a big FF fan. But if you’re looking for a new MMO to explore that takes a ton of the best features and quality of life from successful games, and puts it in a really unique and storied IP, definitely try FFXIV. But not until they sort out their server madness….whenever the heck THAT is. Few more screenies below!