Towards a bright future

I’m excited, again. This is a result of a few events since i last wrote.

Time is running

First of all, i haven’t had much time to play all through september until the middle of this month. What i do then is what i should always do: fire up the games i like to play in this moment. See, since i know i won’t be playing for longer than, let’s say, 1 hour , there’s not much of a point to “force” myself into those MMORPGs i decided to treat as “main MMO”- if i’m in the mood for some The Secret World atmosphere, so be it.

As a result, i’ve played that one in those weeks where my weekly average playtime was about 3-4 hours. Sometimes i started something else- like Lotro, for example, and even Star Wars: the old republic (which i still find surprisingly enjoyable, but more on that later). So these 6-8 weeks freed me up, as a result, my list of MMOs i play grew back again.

The other game

Now, there has been Syl’s NBI armchair game designer – or how that other MMO keeps ruining my gameplay experience and i wholeheartedly agree, as someone who falls into the same trap more often than not. I keep thinking about how nice it would be if MMO x borrowed feature a from MMO y with a twist of MMO z’s way of handling things. Or i bemoan missing stuff, thing the game developers have done wrong and so on. As a result, every MMO experience feels incomplete.

I like them all in one way or the other- well all of those i covered here- from Fallen Earth to EVE, Vanguard, TSW, Rift, Lotro, FF14 and so on- they’re all great in some ways and lacking in some others. Being in one of them makes me miss some others. Or even think about that MMO that is sure to come out “soon” which will be a perfect fit for me. I used to think about ArcheAge in that way, and before i really liked GW2, but it turns out that none of those is perfect. And believe me, Black Desert won’t be perfect, as well.

I think this mentality has resulted in what i’d call the first deemed-failure-before-release MMORPG, ArcheAge. If Jef is thinking of jumping ship to another MMORPG that’s even further down the line (with no word on NA/EU release whatsoever), many others will be already done with ArcheAge.

So i’ve come to the conclusion (before reading Syl’s posting, but his words really fit perfectly) that one should enjoy those MMOs that are out there- there’s no point in always chasing the next release- which i think the community’s been doing since the release of Age of Conan.

The Secret World should be a hit

When playing TSW, i always think that this poor game is neglected because of…well, i don’t know. Maybe because it launched too close to GW2, maybe it is because it’s a bit rough around the edges or maybe it is because those who tried it found it to be “more of the same”, a mistake quite easily made when you give the game only an hour or so.

When you dive in, though, there are so many points where TSW innovates and tries new stuff that one would think all those players who scream for “something different” (myself included) should happily be playing The Secret World. The quest system might look like “more of the same”, but it isn’t. You’d have to give the game a little bit of your time to realize that, but the quests in TSW are very interesting story-wise and they offer a lot of variety.

Also, The Secret World is a game where it really is about the journey- i think one could run through everything in a quite short amount of time, but that wouldn’t be the point.  I agree with Syp that story-wise, the Secret World is as good as it gets in MMO space.

But even if you’d play through the experience and were “finished”, with the releases of content (Issues) down the line, you could always expect to return to TSW for a short time- and i’ve heard those storylines are really great. The business model is a very good one, as well. You don’t need anything from the shop (except additional content) and you don’t suffer any restriction compared to subscribers. In a way, it’s quite like GW2′s business model- without the lockboxes and with stuff you’d like to buy in the item shop.

What i like very much about TSW, as well, is the balance in group/solo play. TSW doesn’t force you into grouping up (unfortunately it forces you to do some of the stuff solo) except for dungeons, but a group is really handy because the fights in this game take some time. If you can get a friend to join you, it’s more fun and easier.

I am glad i’ve “returned” to The Secret World, it’s a great experience that works very well with my gaming schedule and playstyle. Of course, if another game beckons me again, i’ll be there. And by now i already know when this is going to happen and with what game.

A good guild

I’ve always thought that guilds play a big part when it comes to longevity of an MMORPG- and right now, i’ve made a good choice. In the past, i’ve made no experiences with guilds despite almost always joining one in the games i play. Most of them were chat channels, the german guild i joined in Rift was a chat channel where tidbits of voice chat conversations would sometimes appear.

I think a guild should be more, though. And it’s not about going to dungeons or getting help, it’s about building community. At least if a guild is always recruiting it should always do community building. How much that can be, i learned in the TSW cabal i just joined.

There’s a cabal meeting every month- i can’t remember when i last was member of a guild that did guild meetings, possibly the ones i co-founded / co-lead. Guild meetings allow the members to meet up, see the characters of the other people even when they are at different stages in the game. Also, you can catch up to news about the guild, talk to the other members and stuff like that. It helps. Especially in a game like The Secret World that doesn’t really allow you to chat and play along simultaneously.

There’s also a newsletter/magazine published by quite a talented member of the community- it covers everything from news to articles provided by other members.

And the third reason i joined is a sub-group within that community that wanders different MMORPGs every few months. If interest is high enough, recruitment for the guild founded in that game will commence and it will become a part of the community. So Multigaming and game-hopping are built in.

What i like is that there is a vision, and there is an idea how to follow through on this vision. It’s neither a casual nor a “hardcore” setup in this guild. I feel great with these guys, and while probation is still ongoing for me, i’m already confident that i’ll stay with them in the long term. If they don’t kick me, that is ;)

Soon we’ll embark on a new adventure in a new game, and i’m pretty excited to start with this group of people.

Darn it, my list is filling up again

Now, concerning myself. I started this Blog with a few games and a resolution for myself: i’d pick one of three candidate games- ArcheAge, EQ Next or The Repopulation, stick to my choice and keep this blog as a journal-type recording of how i got to select the MMORPG in question and how i experienced it when it released. In the meantime, i wanted to stick at least to my resolution, since i don’t have much time and wanted to experience at least one MMORPG to the fullest before moving on.

Moving on, though, has become somewhat unlikely. I still look forward to all three of these games, but something’s telling me they won’t be exactly what i’m looking for, as well.

Plus, there’s another thing: the sticking to one MMORPG at a time doesn’t work for me. First, i chose Rift, but Rift being what Rift is, it still didn’t provide me with the experience i was looking for. Many people describe Rift as being quite soulless- and i think for me, this is the problem with the title, although the accusation doesn’t hold itself when you enter expansion terrain. The content of Storm Legion has lots of soul.

So i moved on from Rift to find a surprise- Final Fantasy XIV, a game that has lots of soul, as well. I can’t see a downside to this selection- the game is an experience coming quite close to what i’m looking for- there are things i like very much- the dependency on others in economic matters as well as progression, the fact that gold sinks >= gold fountains (the balance has yet to be found, though), it is great.

As an addition, Firefall offers a different game experience- quite action oriented, quick, and a deep experience nonetheless. Plus, at this stage, it suits very well as a second MMORPG- there’s still lots of development to be done, it will not be provided very quick and vertical progression is not very long. I still like Firefall a lot, even if i didn’t get around to play it for quite some time.

The same goes for FF14, i have to admit. It’s been more than a week ago that i played it; there has been real life stuff in the way, other hobbies (watching football/soccer), meeting real friends at the weekend, so all in all, i clocked 8 hours game time last week, 6 of which have been in FF14, while the other two feature a new, old newcomer and my biggest surprise in released MMORPGs from last year: the Secret World.

Hanging out in Kingsmouth
Hanging out in Kingsmouth

This week, it looks like TSW will win the fight for my gaming time. In general, i think this is a good thing- see, i did buy the grand master pack shortly after release, but really didn’t play it enough to justify the expense, and i am generous on that front. While Funcom didn’t devalue the lifetime subscription in my book, i didn’t do as well on my end. So playing it again is a positive in this regard.

As in many others. The Secret World is a much underappreciated effort done by Funcom. It’s an MMORPG with loads of good stories in it, a good, but not very good, fighting experience, a great way of progression- at least for non-raiders and/or content locusts and some very interesting mechanics above that. What FF14 is for 2013, TSW was in 2012- the biggest positive surprise in MMORPG gaming in my book.

I haven’t really decided yet whether i’m going with my “old” character on the english RP server or with the new one on the german server. The german server seems to be business as usual for german servers- it’s quite silent and not so very populated, but i have to say i enjoy Sword+Fist more than Sword+Assault rifle. Also, i enjoy taking my time in the zones i visited earlier, but the decision to stick it out with the new character could turn into a bad decision when i realize that progression is too slow, when i remember all the missions and know how much of that is still waiting for me before i enter new territory.

So, all in all, i’m back up to three MMORPGs- Final Fantasy 14, Firefall and The Secret World. It seems i’ll achieve none of my goals when starting this blog, but at least the third reason for opening it up at the time i did will present itself soon enough- the Newbie Blogger Initiative 2 is going to start in a few days, this time mentored by the two sites Contains Moderate Peril and T.R. Red Skies. I wanted to join that, so i probably will, because i think this initiative is a great way to encourage new bloggers like me and foster the MMORPG/gaming community.

Edit: i’ve decided on continuing my “old” character, Eliza “Lisah” Ruben, on Arcadia and updated the Group up – page accordingly. As always, feel free to contact me in- or out of game.

5 ways to make your gaming experience more social

They put the multiplayer part out of the MMO. That’s what they- meaning us- say. Is it true, though, or is it just us who go about differently nowadays than we did 10 years ago in the time when MMORPGs rose to fame?

I was thinking about The Secret World quite a lot, recently. For one, in my opinion it was the big hit in 2012. Unapreciated, underrated and with a release date too close to GW2 to make an impact. But it is just such a bold move from Funcom- they really tried- and in many ways succeeded- to bring change to a tired themepark formula. With many great additions in this game, there’s one part that i think gets overlooked a lot: it’s just so group-friendly, without tossing soloability aside. Maybe it is my build, but the time-to-kill in TSW is considerably higher than in most other MMORPGs- and this is where a group comes in handy, especially when it’s a small group of 2-3 players. With 5, it can go too fast, but it’s still very much enjoyable.

And yet, you don’t see small groups running around the zones, at least i don’t. There aren’t many requests for grouping up besides going for dungeons. This is one reason why i think it’s more “us” – the players- than “them”, the developers, who are going solo nowadays. With my newfound focus here in the blog as well as when playing MMORPGs, let’s take a look at 5 ways to make one’s experience in MMORPGs more social.

1. Be your nice self

Yeah, it’s obvious, right? No, it isn’t. I know many nice players who think all other players in MMORPGs, besides those on their friendslist or in their guild, of course, are asshats. They steal loot and resources and act like a jerk when you are new to a dungeon or the game itself and make mistakes in group content because of that. When those players use the dungeon finder equivalent in their game, they stay silent- but what we should do instead is the opposite- be friendly, communicate with others, offer advice (instead of criticism) and add loads of people to our friends- and blacklist (won’t go into that very much, this should be a positive posting).

How many times was your gaming experience ruined by some kind of jerk? I’d guess at least on some occasions this happened, and you took notice. But there are many times when your gaming experience has been enhanced, as well. That one guy or girl who helped you with your quest? Or the group member who took his or her time to explain an encounter in a dungeon? Yeah, they’re there. Next time, try to be that guy.

And if you think “i have to rush to those resources to get them, because everybody else is so rough and will just steal it”- stop that line of thinking, now. Because if you walk into this mindset, the next time you rush to a named mob or resource node, you’ll be the asshat “stealing” someone else’s stuff. Instead: invite to party, group up, chat, ask, tell, add to friendlist, be social.

2. Open your eyes

Now the first part is mostly valid in dungeons while this one concerns our behaviour in the world. When you see someone having trouble, give them a hand- i know this used to be troublesome and sometimes it still is. Once, i was in a group in Lotro and we saw a single player challenging the named mob we wanted to attack next. We decided to lend im a hand when it happened: before he tagged the named mob (the player was busy with adds), that mob attacked one of our groupmates and got tagged by us. This was not our intention and we waited around with the other player to lend them a hand when the mobs respawned, but it was still unfortunate. Nowadays, things like this don’t tend to happen anymore. When you play a game from 2012/2013, the mob tagging system has become different- usually, you won’t steal anyones XP or quest progress.

So help others out.

3. Fill your friendslist

It’s easy to assume that you won’t meet anyone again in the game. That’s how we perceive this nowadays, we are used to filling our contact list from the guild we’re in- but those guys you meet in the world? They’re at the same stage in game as you are. If you’d be like me and everyone else is much farther into the game than you are, maybe you’ll meet someone on your travels whose pace is closer to yours. So when you meet someone who acts kind- either following points one and two of this list or reacting positively when you do so, add them.

4. Group up

Don’t wait for others to ask- and don’t ask if anyone “needs help” in Zone or guild chat- ask if anyone is willing to group up to do x, y or z. Offering help is nice and all, but with the soloability of games nowadays, few people will actually respond.

If you’re in a guild, no matter what rank you possess in this guild, pay attention and don’t always group up with the same people. Cliques in a guild are a problem on many levels, but when you’re playing with the same people all the time and your group is full, you isolate yourself and/or others. Especially newcomers to your guild will feel left out.

If your game supports on-the-fly public grouping, whether in a official way (Rift, parties are formed) or inofficially (GW2, no groups are actually formed, but you play together with others), the temptation is high to just think of the other players as “content”. They’re not. They’re people. Say something. Or at least emote after the fact. Don’t ignore other players.

5. Find or form a guild and stick with it

Guilds have been changing recently. GW2 and FF14 allow you to join multiple guilds or guild-like structures. You shouldn’t really do this, though. The key is to find one guild that fits to you and where you can blend or even step in. If you’ve got a lot of time, you might be able to do that in more than one guild, but if you’re like me, that won’t really be possible.

Now, joining a guild can be achieved in different ways- i think the most promising approach is to just play the game, join group content / group up in the world, filling your friendslist and finally joining the guild of one of your friends. The upside to this approach is that you already know at least one member of your new guild.

Another way of doing things is to find a guild in the forums. It is a somewhat good approach, since you can sort out which guild advert suits you in terms of concept, language and playstyle. Still, i think if you have the time, you should go with the first approach, it is indeed more promising. While i have joined good guilds in this way, i’ve found the guilds either founded or joined out of friendship to other members have more longevity and fun.

There’s a new way- Massively started a new column to fit players to guilds. I welcome the idea behind that, so i’d like to encourage players and guilds to join the activity there.

Doing it wrong

Yesterday, i read the massively opinion column titled “Maybe it’s time to admit you don’t like MMOs” and it made me think- about the general perception of MMOs, their communities and my interaction with other players in the games themselves.

I came to the conclusion that i’m doing it wrong- i mean, in Final Fantasy 14 i am member in what seems to be a great linkshell/free company. My interactions with the other members have been saying “hi” and “bye” as well as one dungeon run, which was fun. In Firefall, i had fun doing stuff with one or two other players, but when our army grew to be bigger than the squad size of Firefall, i became reluctant to log in.

Finding excuses for solo-play

Now, i know what this blog’s title suggests, so i am aware of how these games are meant to be played, but there always seem to be obstacles to experience these games this way. For me, it comes down to:

  • Voice Chat. I don’t like voice chat. Yet, in many guilds using it is de facto mandatory. In my Rift guild, for example, guild chat would always just entail fragments of conversations that happened in voice chat. Yes, i might use voice chat once in a while, but don’t expect me to launch it with the game. I might want to listen to music/podcasts or whatever. Voice chat directly affects my ability to relax and enjoy an evening of leisure.
  • Log-In times. We have a toddler in the house. When he screams, i’m afk. When my wife needs assistance, i’m afk. Often, when i log in, i don’t know how long it will be- it could be 2 hours, but it could also be 15 minutes. I don’t want to ruin someone else’s evening by signing up for a dungeon run i can’t finish- or doing something in the party and let them wait for my return in a quest hub.
  • My own mood. I play these games to relax. I take my time, i play them slow- my Conjurer in FF14 is level 22 now and will remain there for a time because i want to catch up with my botanist and weaver classes. If i were to group up with my level 22 i could suddenly find myself being at level 30 without progressing in the storyline and my crafting jobs getting far behind. Playing at my own pace in groups becomes running after someone else very quick. I wouldn’t want that.
  • Other people’s progress. I’m slow, others aren’t. One reason i haven’t done very much with my linkshell is that many are in their 40s or at max level (they played 1.0) and therefore what they do isn’t available to me.
  • Other people’s playtimes. I guess this goes hand-in-hand with my last point, but there’s more than just the progression. I’m always somewhat surprised that even players who call themselves “casual” play 4 hours each day. As i mentioned, i average at about 10-15 hours a week and i consider that playing quite a lot. In Firefall, i saw how others in my army spent every free minute available to them in the game- when i see that, i think to myself how quickly they’re going to burn out and leave the game- and true enough, last week the guild leader played 2 and a half hours Firefall. As i said, right now i think Firefall is a great game, but you have to consume it bite-sized, or you’ll be burnt out when the really cool features come into play.

Resolutions

Good excuses, right? Well, no, maybe not. Maybe, if i don’t want to play with others i should just start up one of my many single player games i didn’t finish (or pretty much didn’t even start them). Sure, MMORPGs nowadays are soloable and especially the gathering and crafting bits of FF14 lend themselves very good to solo-play.

Maybe i should just scrap crafting first and just level my most advanced class to 50 as quick as possible. But then i wouldn’t be able to craft equipment for myself during the levelling process. Also, endgame is usually not what i’m playing these games for. When i reached endgame in Rift in June 2011 i just quit- doing daily quests or repeating the same dungeons over and over again doesn’t appeal to me. Levelling as quick as possible is also not what i’m there for. So that’s not going to work.

I made a resolution, nonetheless. I want to party more, and usually, when i do, i get something out of it. The other day i helped another player in a really dense spawn point- he was going to fill his hunting log, but no matter how he’d do it, he would pull 3-4 enemies to get to his targets. So, as a healer, i asked him what he wanted to do, grouped up and helped him achieve his goal. One more member on my friendslist.

So i want to do that some more- go around with open eyes and help players i see having trouble. I did that before, as well, but it was a case of throwing out one or two heals and going my way. Also, i should ask in linkshell chat if somebody wants to group up- either for my most advanced class or for some of the classes i want to play down the line. I mean, there’s many of them. Just for adventuring classes, i aim to play:

  • Conjurer
  • Arcanist
  • Thaumaturge
  • Archer
  • Pugilist
  • Lancer
  • Gladiator

All this to get the jobs of White Mage, Black Mage, Bard, Monk and Scholar- more or less in that order.

Making (and keeping) friends

One problem, of course, is that none of my friends play MMORPGs. Many players just enjoy group content with either real life friends or acquaintances from the game(s) they’re playing- none of the two are available to me, for different reasons, many of them my own fault. If you jump around in games and guilds very much, you’ll have a hard time making “online friends”. And when you do make them and let the connections somehow fall apart (as i did with the guild i co-founded in GW2), that’s your own fault, as well. Maybe i’ll talk more about that last mistake some time.

This blog

Now, there’s a topic for a series of blog posts that fits right into this blog’s title. Party business- how to put the multiplayer part back into MMORPGs from the perspective of a casual player.

I haven’t written for some time, because when commenting around at the last post i realized that the reason i started this blog- or the topics i wanted to cover- aren’t really hot anymore. EQ Next is a thing of the past- i’ll look into it again either when SOE scraps P7S1 or when i cave in and decide that making an account there isn’t the end of the world. With EQN, there’s another thing: i can’t shake the feeling that this will play very GW2-like. ArcheAge seems to become a lot more themeparky than expected and The Repopulation seems still to be far off.

Final Fantasy 14 caught me by surprise- i didn’t expect to enjoy it so much, but as you can see above, i have goals that last for quite some time- for me, at least- and i didn’t even mention crafting. But i’ll have to put some thought into how i’m going to develop this blog further, since it really doesn’t bother anyone what i’m doing in my MMO and so the journal-type i was using isn’t of much interest. That’s not to say i won’t continue like that, but there will be another theme to my blogging, and right now i think it’s going to be somewhat community-focused, which might be an odd thing to do for someone who’s doing it wrong.

Final Fantasy 14: First goals accomplished, new ones ahead

So, Final Fantasy 14. Let’s summarize what i wanted to do:

Get retainer access

To get retainer access in Final Fantasy 14, you have to advance far enough in the storyline. Depending on how much you get sidetracked, that might be around level 17 to 20. Before you get to the corresponding quest stage, you’ll be partaking in three mandatory low level dungeons, suited for Level 15 (Sastasha, around Limsa Lominsa), Level 16 (Tam-Tara Deepcroft, around Gridania) and Level 17 (Copperbell mines, around Ul’Dah) respectively. They didn’t seem too hard, although i experienced a wipe or two and you’ll even have some basic boss mechanics other than tank’n’spank to find out in the last one.

Copperbell Mines
Copperbell Mines

All in all, Dungeons in Final Fantasy 14 are fun. The long cast times are making me as a healer kind of nervous, but most of the time i was able to heal just fine, even when more than one party member was attacked. It got troublesome when i was attacked, though. What i like about these early dungeons is that they are quite forgiving- if the tank fails in getting the attention of the mobs around the party, it’s not as if this will result in a sure wipe. The design of the Dungeons is outstanding, in my opinion. All three of them were fun to move through and very atmospheric experiences.

Once you are done and have retainer access granted, you’ll have to talk to NPCs specialized in hiring retainers for you. The first one comes free of charge, i don’t know about the second one. I think two are the maximum, but that’s not certain, because i haven’t tried to hire a second one and only seem to recall having read about the possibility of hiring two somewhere. Retainers not only function as your access to the auction houses of Eorzea, but also as your bank vault. As such, they are a very valuable thing and were up in my priority list because of that. You really can’t craft in a comfortable way if everything you gather and produce fills up your inventory. Fortunately, the retainer comes with a big space to store everything you want to store, so that’s good.

This game is beautiful
This game is beautiful

And, as a side note: i don’t want to bash free-to-play here, i enjoy it as much as everybody else, but to just get a large bank space without even hinting at the possibility to buy the space with real monies is one of the things where i nowadays think to myself how good that feels, immersion-wise.

Managing the inventory in Final Fantasy 14 seems to be quite a task, i’ve come to realize. It’s not easy to remember or know what kind of items are still needed or wanted, what is good for what situation and so on- and throwing stuff away or selling it doesn’t cut it all the time, either, because before you know it you switch classes and run around in your undies.

Anyways, i got retainer access, so mission accomplished in this regard.

Bringing the other Classes up to par

That would be level 19, where my Conjurer class is. But i formulated this goal thinking i might go for Scholar, but i really don’t think i will. I took a look at the Arcanist’s skills and it doesn’t really look like this would be “my kind” of class. So i’ll switch around and become a White Mage first. It’s the main healer, which isn’t exactly what i set out to be, but i’ll be fine in good company. The community is still very good, i had a fun run in one of the dungeons where every party member was new to it. And i formulated stretch goals, but more on that later ;)

I brought the Botanic and Weaver up to 13, i think, which was somewhat time consuming, especially gathering almost 200 cotton bolls and then crafting them to threads. But it was still fun, because by raising the quality of stuff you craft you can raise the earned experience for that item. I think the cotton brought me 6 or 7 levels.

Hanging out
Hanging out

Switching over to the Arcanist as main class won’t happen soon- as i said, i’m going for White Mage and have other plans afterwards.

Finding a linkshell / free company

I found both. Granted, i had to forsake my good intentions and take a look at the forums, but from my first experiences and reading linkshell chat, they seem to be a nice and funny bunch of people.

The stretch goals

So here we are, i’ll have to revise my goals again. So here they are:

  • get on top of inventory management
  • study the markets, level my crafting professions further
  • get an overview of ways to progress in the game
  • Level the Arcanist class to 15, the Conjurer to 30 and continue as a White Mage to 50
  • Start dabbling in leatherworking before hitting 50 in Conjurer/White Mage, Botanic and Weaver (which is my first goal)
  • Begin as a Archer to eventually become a Bard
  • get to know the linkshell i’m in

I read that it is quite hard to get Gil when you are at max level, so continuing to craft is one of my priorities. The other one is to level up my White Mage/Conjurer, as well, to not be too spread out before i reach the top in one area. The dabbling in Leatherworking is meant to provide a help when i switch over to play the Archer and finally become a Bard, which is a group buffing class. Further down the line there are other jobs that are attractive, as well.

Good times ahead
Good times ahead

Since wednesday i haven’t had any issue with logging in, by the way. And, boy, did i log in :) I’m having more fun in this game right now than i had in a long time. With the addition of a linkshell i think i’m going to enjoy, the outlook is great.

Is ArcheAge dead on arrival? Is Final Fantasy XIV’s launch bad?

So, i’ve been quiet for a few days due to real life stuff, not much game time and no “hot topic” to discuss. I’ve played some Final Fantasy and will come around to that. For now, i’d like to focus on two impressions i had after reading articles and comments of the two games mentioned in the title.

ArcheAge

It seems XLGAMES go through a restructuring period after Archeage didn’t become the huge success they expected it to be in Korea. This is a rumour, mind you, and it is clearly stated as such in the article’s title. The news itself doesn’t need to surprise anyone- it’s a familiar path newly released games go through: from being a new hope to good sales, dropping subscriber numbers, transitioning to free-to-play and laying off staff- that’s the way things seem to go in the MMORPG business right now. It is unfortunate, but when you take a look at the last MMORPGs that released as pay-to-play products- namely The Secret World and Star Wars: the old Republic; both didn’t make it to one year as a purely pay-to-play game. So it’s not a surprise that ArcheAge shares their fate, right?

In that line of thought, i wasn’t surprised when the game went f2p in Korea, although i still have some worries with a Sandpark/Sandbox being free-to-play. Fallen Earth does a great job with that and i don’t know what Archeage does in Korea. Also, despite AA being one of the formerly 3, now 2 future releases of sandboxes i’m watching out and waiting for, i didn’t follow the developement of the game in Korea – i read two reviews of the game with one’s conclusion being “meh” and the other seemingly having a good time and hopes for the game, but i don’t know how they’re making money now or what changes from the earlier advertised vision were made.

I don’t think steam-driven hot rods are a huge shift in design philosophy, but what i read in the comments of the linked article worries me; for instance, the removing of a durability system for gear. Now, i’ve mentioned it before and i’m going to reiterate that: to have a player driven economy, items need to vanish into nothing just like they came into being out of nothing. If the game’s not doing that, the economy won’t work. In a themepark, it doesn’t matter much- you can do something with interdependency of crafters instead of the markets. But we all know how that turns out: it will be “time” that sells in the auction house- resources, for example, are going to be more expensive than finished products…and why is that? Because they vanish and it takes time to get them back.

Also, nevermind that goats used to be the moneymaker in the game- that happens, design mistakes are going to be made and corrected, but the general impression in the comments seems to be that Archeage got “dumbed down” to themepark levels with sandpark possibilities. I don’t know what these changes would be, but from reading Massively a lot, i know the commentors who stated that and know that they aren’t talking out of their backends.

Archeage went from being the new hope of MMORPGs to DOA in the comments of Massively without even being released in NA/EU. That has to be a new record. Also, this makes me wonder about us, the players and customers in this genre- now we are dismissing games before they even release, and that doesn’t bode well, in my opinion. I’m going to continue to wait for ArcheAge, although i have to say: tough luck, Final Fantasy XIV ARR is great and i like it a lot, so any new game would have to compete with that.

Final Fantasy XIV

Talking about that one, the free trial seems to be extended for 7 days. And also, today marks the day they want to get over their launch issues which are: too many players want to play the game. As with Archeage, it’s the comments that really make this article interesting, since the extension of the free game time is not surprising after many players, including me, had difficulties with playing the game.

To call this launch “failed” and attacking Square Enix for not implementing a “proper queue” or afk timers is a bit harsh, in my opinion. MMORPG launches usually come with their share of problems- in Guild Wars 2, my guild had to invite everybody everyday for almost a week and there was trouble with the guild chat and other stuff. The auction house and the forums were deactivated; you could play the game, but with a guild starting its life the problems with the guild interface were extremely bad, but it had to be expected to some extent. Also, huge spikes of players after release are nothing new and i actually think developers are in the right when not opening up servers like crazy in these days only to find them depopulated after a few months.

So i couldn’t play it in the evenings, which is my time to play during the week, and my last time playing it was sunday morning despite wanting to play sunday afternoon and on the evenings since then. I tried, got 1017′d and left. Guess what? I watched a movie and read a book instead and it was fun. I’m looking forward to playing FF14 for quite some time, and the staggering launch won’t change that. And in a year or two, when/if i’m still in Eorzea, the launch won’t matter in the slightest.

What matters is the game- and this one is great- it is interesting to explore and play. I can’t really understand why people are so disenfranchised by a few evenings of not being able to play as to pass on this game just because of that. If you want to enter a new MMO smoothly, just wait 2 weeks before buying it.

Aleport

Aleport

Game time: Final Fantasy XIV

I was ingame, though, and i experienced the first bits of group content, which i liked very much. There are two downsides: one is the small group size- i like 5 people being a party- and the other one is me being a healer. Both are minor, the latter my own “mistake” for playing Conjurer first. Right now, i know the Arcanist is more up my alley, but i don’t want to play that up to 15 before going on in my story, although it wouldn’t take that long, i guess.

But my first goal is being able to sell and store stuff, so i am “rushing” to get retainers. With my gaming schedule being a bit weird, in the way that i don’t usually know if i’m going to play for 30 minutes or 3 hours, it’s not easy to plan for the mandatory Dungeons you have to enter in the storyline of the game. I went into Sastasha and am now approaching Tam-Tara. When i know my gaming session will be short, i just gather up some herbs and lumber as a Botanic. The next time, though, i’ll want to fight stuff. I know i’m not going into a dungeon before the weekend, so i might be switching over to Arcanist again and see where it leads me.

So, again, here is my revised list of goals in Final Fantasy XIV ARR:

  • get retainer access by advancing in the storyline
  • bringing the Arcanist up to par (probably Level 20 by then)
  • bringing the Botanic and Weaver up to par (probably Level 20 by then)
  • switch over to Arcanist as main class
  • find a linkshell/free company