WoW tokens, unfair monetization and random things

So, i’m having otitis, which does some things for me. First, i’m not really in the mood to play right now- i don’t know why but i feel kind of “isolated” in myself right now because i can’t hear properly. Furthermore, i can’t listen to audiobooks, because, well, putting headphones in sick ears must be bad. This results in me reading Peter F. Hamiltons “Judas Unchained” instead of listening, because frankly, it’s so good i don’t want to take a break- so that also cuts into my game time- in the end, this means i don’t really have much to write about. But still, there are a few things happening.

WoW Token

World of Warcraft is introducing its own ingame-subscription-currency you can buy with real money and sell for ingame gold. I guess this is a good move for Blizzard, it probably will further increase revenue and customer loyalty, because my guess is you’ll have to play a considerable amount of the game to be able to have your subscription continued for “free”.

Of course, it isn’t free. Someone has to pay for the token- and this is where i don’t really like these subscription currencies, because they end up as a way for new/casual/slow players paying the subscription for more hardcore/veteran/power players. One could say that this is fair because, well, the veterans probably already paid Blizzard a lot of sub and expansion money, they play the game and are “content” like the free players are in a f2p game. I still don’t like it. Besides some kinds of f2p model incarnations, the MMO space is a place where people who play less pay more (per hour played).

I don’t think that’s fair and i’d really like to see someone offer some kind of “in-game-subscription”, either at an hourly rate (with an optional way of paying a flat fee for a “normal” sub) or just make the “30 days sub” so that these days will only be used if you log in. It’s obvious, though, that this wouldn’t be in the best intentions of the publishing studio. First of all, it doesn’t put pressure on the players to log in as often as possible- in contrast, if they’d substract 1 day subscription just for logging in, many players would think twice if they wanted to play on any given day. And they wouldn’t get all the money they gain from people who forget to cancel their sub in time.

Last but not least, i do wonder- is gold really something that you need if you play WoW? Aren’t there some dungeon tokens and other alternate currencies at work for getting loot from dungeons etc.? What would you need gold for? I haven’t played the game in quite a long time, so i don’t know, but i have to say, excluding maybe Guild Wars 2, ingame gold has never been an issue for me (not even in FFXIV….yet).

Star Wars: the old republic promo

SWTOR gave all former subscribers 7 days of subscription time. Being me, i took advantage of that offer, of course, and did 2 or 3 quests, played 1 or 2 hours and haven’t been back yet. I’d like to see the story in this game, and from time to time, i really like to log in and play- i was especially impressed with the way dungeons work in regards to the communication options- they’re interesting and since you don’t get your dialogue options in every time, you might see the story develop from a different angle than you would if you were alone.

They also have an offer up that gives 60 days subscription, 2400 Cartel Coins and the Shadow of Revan expansion- for 35€. That’s actually quite a good deal and i’m thinking of maybe taking advantage of that and become a free/preferred player going forward. There are some nasty restrictions, but i have accumulated some shop currency to maybe make it worth a try to play without a sub.

On the other hand, there’s Final Fantasy XIV and i don’t really need anything else- especially considering the fact that soon, Cities: Skylines will be released and i’m hopeful that this is going to be a citibuilder worth playing….so, there’s really no need.

Other games

Crowfall

There has been the start of the Crowfall Kickstarter campaign and it has been wildly successful. I’m not in on this, because i’m not really a pvp player, but the premise looks interesting. I’m also quite a huge fan of A Game of thrones, and they are for sure trying to take advantage of the hype around the books/tv-series. While i’d like my MMOs to be virtual, persistent worlds, in this case i find the resetting of the worlds very interesting. This might be the reason for me buying it…when it releases.

Scree starts building a guild for this game and i have to say, i really look forward to reading more posts about the planning and realization of his guild. So far his “Series on the creation of a Crowfall guild” has three posts up. Guild leadership/creation and the inner workings have always been one of my favourite topics in MMO space and i think it’s a topic that’s somewhat too rare on blogs (i don’t know why that is, really), so i really appreciate Scree writing about it.

Skyforge

Just a short paragraph concerning Skyforge. I think it looks decent and may even provide a nice gameplay like, for instance, Wildstar/Neverwinter. For my tastes, it seems quite shallow on the virtual world front, but then, not every game needs to be- sometimes a change of pace is nice. The setting seems interesting, although i have to say i’m not a fan of “becoming god”- while i’m not very religious myself, i don’t think we, as humans, should strive for that- and, yes i know, it’s just a game, but it doesn’t appeal to me very much in games, either.

They’re selling founder packs and surprisingly, they’re reasonably prized. I’m tempted to opt into the lowest tier- but then again, why would i do that? We’ll see.

Final Fantasy XIV

Sometimes, i do play FF14- and i have made some progress, mainly bringing the Weaver to 20, the Botanist to 21 and the Conjurer to level 11. Next time, i might start the first experiment in growing my friendslist- by running FATEs for some time. I don’t know if this is a good way to socialize in the game, but i’m curious to see if it works.

The guild project

The guild project is moving away from Everquest 2 at the end of the month and it seems we’ll be starting up in Age of Conan. Well, i like the game, but i think it will make it hard for me to plan for the group (or even groups)- it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of group content in the form of dungeons and something like that. I know that you can enter Elite versions of all the zones- but i don’t know if it will become more interesting that way and also, what would we do if we were to split in two groups? If you have any suggestions or experience  in regards to playing AoC in a full (or even small) group- content-wise, i’d appreciate it if you’d let me know about them.

4 million accounts and a free weekend

So apparently there are 4 million registered accounts for Final Fantasy XIV- i think you can call this a success, even more so considering the V1.0 disaster. There’s a free weekend coming, although i think there’s a typo in the newspost- it’s stating the dates from 02/27 to 03/09, which would be more than a week. Now, i don’t want to complain, but i always think that these weekends should be free to subscribers, as well. Of course i can understand the desire to get old accounts reactivated, but i also feel that companies should do good on their existent customers, as well.

4 million accounts

This is interesting. Of course we don’t know subscription numbers, but my guess is that FF14 has proven itself as a success, which begs the question why this game seems to be doing just fine with a subscription model. I think there might be a few factors at play here.

Cultural reasons

Well, this is an uninformed opinion, but i read somewhere that FF14 is basically the MMORPG in Japan. I don’t know if this is true, especially since it seems like the most populated servers are in NA/EU. Still, it could be a reason.

Content

The delivery of meaty content additions is always stated as a reason for Final Fantasy XIV’s success, and this is surely true and one of the most important reasons for it doing so good for itself. It seems there’s always something substantial coming in patches- since i’ve been keeping an eye on the game again, there’s been housing, 2 new classes/jobs and of course the Gold Saucer. And that’s not even factoring in new dungeons, the continuation of the main storyline, new dungeon modes, quests and so on, which are mostly taking place in endgame. Endgame is not in sight for me, so i tend to skip those content additions. But as you can see, there’s always something coming even for low-level or inactive players. Next up is the expansion, i think. And if we’re still thinking in roughly 3-month-spans, it seems to be coming in may (which is good for me, maybe i’ll be able to prepare in this time).

Momentum

The “social” momentum, i think, is one of the main reasons for WoW’s success. And it seems FF14 has gained the critical mass of players necessary to benefit from this factor, as well, and it’s a factor not many MMOs have going for them- mostly new launches, but they lose traction fast. FF14 is in its second year, and it’s growing. Just look at how many bloggers are in this game now, having a good time, and to me it looks like there are always bloggers and people coming back/trying it.

It’s slow

Let’s use the phrase “designed downtime” here. Actually, there’s none of that in Final Fantasy XIV, since you don’t have to wait for boats/ferries/airships, but FF14 is a slow game. It is relaxing. It enables the players to form, build and maintain social relationships. There are also systems that encourage asynchronuous social play (like tending the garden in the guild house) or socializing in game, like the newer additions of Triple Triad and Chocobo Racing. Since housing is semi-instanced, you might also get to know your neighbors in the district your house is in.

It “gets” and gets the MMORPG audience

All of this leads to FF14 catering to MMORPG players instead of gamers in general, a mistake some of the newer MMORPGs made. MMORPG players are happy in FF14, and they should be- it offers almost everything the subgenre (Themepark MMO) has to offer- in spades, at that. Now, themeparks may not be your thing and you want an MMORPG with huge, open zones, few instances, a completely player driven economy and stuff like that? I agree, i’d like to see that, as well. But there’s only EVE doing that. And FF14 offers enough “virtual world” stuff that it earns its place, in my opinion, of course, as the best currently available MMORPG- it’s a complete, broad experience, and i’m savoring it right now, taking my time, making use of all the systems and i try to resist the urge to race to 50 in preparation for Heavensward while still keeping an eye on this goal.

I tried to express this a few times already, but i’ll just repeat: i think, with the lack of high profile releases in this year, many MMORPG players are going to “settle” in 2015. There’s no game coming out that “does everything right this time, really”, so we’ll be playing what suits us best instead of looking for the perfect game. It’ll come and if you’re truly unhappy with the genre, i hope one of the more focused titles coming out will be for you.

If you haven’t tried FF14, you really should. I can’t even compare it to another MMORPG- i mean, the WoW comparison was used, but i don’t think they have that much in common- maybe the dungeon/raid-type endgame progression, but there’s more than that in this game. And i’m kind of looking forward to what they’ll be adding content- and more importantly system-wise after Heavensward released, because, really, i can’t think of much that’s still missing in FF14.

Gold Saucer first impressions

Actually, it’s more like a second glance. Yesterday, i visited the Gold Saucer two times- the first time i was very, very enthusiastic about what the Gold Saucer offers, even commenting here that it might be the “end of my levelling”. I went in a second time, and while i’m still enthusiastic about it, i have regained some hope in still bringing my character up in levels. First things first, though.

Overall impression

The Manderville Gold Saucer looks just like what one would expect a casino to look like in a fantasy world like Eorzea. It’s kind of loud, right now very overpopulated, flashy, colourful and there seem to be things to do everywhere.

The info counter
The info counter. Notice how my carbuncle stopped being the most flashy/annoying thing on screen.

The Gold Saucer is designed like most things in FF XIV – it’s somewhat big, but also compact in the sense that there are quite narrow corridors to pass when you go from one attraction to the other. As usual, there’s also a lift- in this case, it’s being used to access the chocobo racing.

Activities

So far, i’ve managed to do three activities more than once- Triple Triad Challenges, Chocobo Racing and the Mini Cactpot. All three are fun in their own ways, but to be honest, i think maybe the most involving game to be found here is Triple Triad, the collectible card game.

Triple Triad

Now this game has quite the potential- first of all, it’s about collectible cards. Then, it is a very easy to understand game- two opponents face each other on a 3×3 grid on which to place their cards. The cards are divided in decks of five, one deck is provided for you after getting access to the card game. Each of these cards has four numbers written at the bottom of the card- the four numbers represent a “value” given to each direction- up, down, left and right. You place the cards and “flip” cards of your opponent that have a lower value on the corresponding side. After all cards but one are placed, the player who “owns” the most cards wins. Easy enough, right?

This can be a huge (and enjoyable) time sink.
This can be a huge (and enjoyable) time sink.

You can challenge NPCs as well as other players- more on the NPCs in the next paragraph, but let’s think about challenging other players- this opens up so much in terms of social gameplay- see, first, it offers a great opportunity for roleplayers. They can sit in a bar, play and roleplay. I’m not really a huge fan of roleplaying around game systems or ignoring lore, game mechanics and other things and prefer RP when it makes use of the ingame systems, complementing them with just enough made-up-stuff that’s necessary to make it work. So this card game is right up my alley in terms of RP. But even if you ignore RP- i’ll just say “Guild Triple Triad Tournaments” or even “Open Triple Triad Tournaments” for the community- i wrote about how a guild needs level-agnostic activities planned and scheduled every once and again, so here’s a game system that makes meeting, talking, playing around and getting to know each other so very attractive.

You can challenge other players in these locations:

  • The Manderville Gold Saucer
  • Limsa Lominsa – Upper Decks, Adventurer’s Guild (X:11 Y:11)
  • New Gridania, Adventurer’s Guild (X:11 Y:13)
  • Ul’dah – Steps of Nald, Adventurer’s Guild (X:11 Y:9)
  • Eastern La Noscea, Costa de Sol (X: 33 Y:31)
  • South Shroud, Buscarron’s Druthers (X:17 Y:19)
  • Central Thanalan, The Coffer & Coffin (X:19, Y:20)
  • Coerthas, The Observatorium (X:26, 28)
  • Mor Dhona, Seventh Heaven (X:21, Y:8)

To the NPCs- they’re scattered around the landscape, not only in the Gold Saucer, so you can meet and challenge them all over the world, at least theoretically (haven’t looked out in the game world yet). Although i have to say, with the starter deck i couldn’t really manage to beat all of the NPCs in the Gold Saucer- only one, to be exact, and maybe having a shot at another one. The two remaining NPCs seem to be off limits with the starter deck. So you’ll need to get additional cards.

New cards can be obtained through MGP (the Gold Saucer currency), by winning matches against NPCs or participating/winning in tournaments that are held in the Gold Saucer. Right now there are 80 cards and different rulesets in the games.

Conclusion: this is longterm-happiness-stuff. Of course, since it’s the latest patch, right now everyone is in the Gold Saucer and playing around with these things. But when the dust settles, i think the card game will hold itself very good and for a long time- the devs can add cards, NPCs, rulesets, locations and so on. Also of note: it’s great to see how enjoyable such a system is when it isn’t tied to a cash shop- in f2p games, stuff like this will be monetized- while i don’t take real issue with this, i still think it’s very relaxing to have such a system without having the feeling to miss out somewhat if you’re not spending money.

Chocobo Racing

I’ve run two races in Chocobo Racing. To be able to participate in the races, you’ll have to:

  • talk to the NPC at Chocobo Square in the Gold Saucer
  • travel to the black shroud and talk to an npc there
  • talk to that same npc again (don’t miss this or you’ll have to travel back and forth again….not that this happened to me or something)
  • go back to the Gold Saucer, register your racing chocobo and finish the training course

On the track, the chocobos run by themselves. You have the option to accelerate your chocobo, but it might get depleted (?), so you’ll have to take a break in acceleration. Using acceleration will also make use of the stamina of your chocobo and if you reach 0%, you’ll not be able to accelerate anymore. You can also steer the chocobo to the left and right of the track, thereby making use of an “ideal track” or to reach bonuses/abilities that spawn on the track. There’s speed boosts as well as some “skills” to debuff the other participants of the race.

It’s too early to come to a real conclusion here- it seems to have some potential, and if you could access the races as a group- well, see above. Guild Racing Events would be a nice thing, too. There’s also the breeding aspect, where you can look for a good partner for your chocobo and let them breed a new racing chocobo. But i’ll have to look into this part of the minigame later.

Mini Cactpot

Oh, this is easy. But this is also something one could do each and every day, in the beginning or in the end of a session. It’s simple: you buy a card containing a 3×3 grid of numbers. One number is visible to you and you can select three other numbers to display. Based on what you see, you can make a guess and select one row (horizontal, vertical or diagonal) and your prize is determined by the sum of the numbers in your selected row. Simple enough, isn’t it? Yes, but it’s fun in being a combination of riddle and luck.

All in all, great fun and great opportunities arise with all that stuff that is available through this patch. I’m really looking forward to trying it some more, but i think some levelling will come first- of course, excluding one trip to the Gold Saucer just to play Mini Cactpot ;)

Oh dear, Manderville Gold Saucer arrives today

I’m not a Final Fantasy fan in particular. I bought FF13 for the PS3 just to see what all the hype is about with this IP and couldn’t really get into it. So i don’t know about the Gold Saucer in FF7, but oh boy, why are they doing this?

Now, don’t misunderstand- i love the idea. Adding even more systems and ways to spend a session is a great thing. It’s just that i can’t seem to focus on something as it is and it looks like the Gold Saucer is going to be another time sink and another distraction for me. The last week hasn’t seen me much in game- with first our son being sick and then both parents- but i managed to get some things done.

What i’ve been up to

I levelled Ermina a little bit- up to level 6 in the Archer class. I tried adding some of the people who commented on her birth-post to my friendlist, but alas, one has to be online to be sent a request. Also, i noticed that the ingame mail works only for friends, so i couldn’t contact Belghast with a request to join the FC that has been built there. I’m not so sure they’ll have me, so i wanted to talk to him in the least intrusive way possible. Anyway, maybe i’ll be able to join that FC at a later point.

Starting out
Starting out

I’ve been playing Deidra, my main, as well. She’s quite all over the place now, but i’m catching up on the main story questline and some crafting jobs, as well. The Botanist is level 21, the Carpenter is level 10, the Weaver is still 19, but still making progress as i finish delivery orders for my Grand Company, the Arcanist is level 24 and the main story questline is now at 23. So i’m getting there, slowly.

Looking forward, i might bring a second class up in levels- it dawned on me that it might be a good way of solving the main story quest-problem where you outlevel it quickly if you do a dungeon, or side quests, or anything at all. The Conjurer is a safe bet, of course. I think Deidra is level 6 there, needs to be brought to level 15, anyway, to get the Scholar class, and if i level it a little bit more- say, to level 23, i can continue the main story quest using the Conjurer while the Arcanist can then level in a “normal” way and at a faster pace.

The hunting log is next for the Arcanist- Deidra’s standing close to Skull Valley, anyway, and it’s there i’ll be able to find 3 of the 4 mobs still missing for the current tier in the log.

These days, i'm listening to Peter F. Hamiltons Commonwealth saga. Nice coincidence to meet Sylphs in FF14, as well.
These days, i’m listening to Peter F. Hamiltons Commonwealth saga. Nice coincidence to meet Sylphs in FF14, as well.

I’ve also found another goal to achieve with both my characters- i want to grow a friendslist. I’m not so sure yet how to do that, but i’ll be on the lookout for ways and will talk about my ideas and how they work out here.

I’ve got to say one thing, though: the longer i’m playing FF14, the more it becomes the “one” MMORPG i play- i have almost no desire in launching something else, these days. I’m not forcing myself, there’s no need to, because first it doesn’t work, anyway and second there’s always something to do and/or achieve. Sometimes, though, i’m not so sure what i can do when i don’t have much time- so to say i’m looking forward to today’s patch is somewhat of an understatement. I’m glad i renewed my sub, this game is shaping up in very good ways (although i still think it’s far from perfect).

The Gold Saucer

When i didn’t know about Heavensward, the Gold Saucer was a reason to get back into Final Fantasy XIV- well, that, and housing. Now housing is a more long-term-goal, which is fine, but i was also worried that the Gold Saucer might be something where you need to be level 50 or something- i’m glad it isn’t so.

Reading the Patch notes, there’s the Quest “It could happen to you” in Ul’dah, Steps of Nald (X:9 Y:9) that grants access to the Gold Saucer. You’ll need to be level 15 and have completed the “Envoy” quest of the main story questline to be able to accept this quest. This will, it seems, grant you access to the Gold Saucer. Arriving there, it seems you’ll have to take a quest for every activity that is to be found there.

I went in and it was great.
I went in and it was great.

It’s funny, FF14, while being very popular (at least that’s my impression), is a game where it’s quite hard to find information on systems, guides, or something that is a little bit deeper than just stating that something is there. These are the activities i found right now:

  • Chocobo Racing – a racing mini-game with a seperate progression path for your racing chocobo and elements of popular cart-games
  • Triple Triad – a collectible card game in FF14 (oh boy)
  • Cactpot – a daily/weekly lottery style game
  • GATES – a series of live events, ranging, i think, from jumping puzzle style events to dancing and fighting
  • Minigames – some games you might find at funfairs

By the way, this is a patch from V2.5 to V2.51 – i’m really looking forward to see what they’ll be doing with a whole expansion. Also, can’t wait to log in!

Yesterday, Ermina Wynne was born

So i made a new character in Final Fantasy XIV. Her name is Ermina Wynne and she’ll be starting as an Archer. I wasn’t sure where to create her- it was a tie between Cactuar and Balmung (the community-designated RP server). But since i don’t really RP, the FF14 community is quite nice everywhere and i know some bloggers play on Cactuar and generally praise this server, i went with Cactuar.

I don’t know what sense it makes to have another character in FF14, though- i am too slow as it is, and that’s with just one character. My guess is i’ll approach her differently in some way. First off, i’ll go for Bard with her- i read it’s somewhat of a support class with good dps, which seems nice. I’m curious if i will be able to mow down mobs faster than before. If/when i join a Free Company, i might change her to healer, but we’ll see about that. Then, i’ll try and keep the levels of her professions closer together. She’ll need to hit level 10 before she can start other jobs, so after the Archer is level 10 i’ll see what other jobs she’ll take to this level in Gridania before continuing the Archer line. I also think it wouldn’t be too bad to have a second combat class close to the level of her main job, if only because i can then continue the main storyline quests with different classes and thereby maybe even go faster- on my main, it’s this storyline i keep trotting through that slows down my progression on the main job.

Furthermore, sometimes i’m torn- see, joining a “german” server and/or a german guild is convenient, it’s easy. I think my english skills are ok and it comes out easily enough, but still, reading and writing in german is sometimes just more relaxing. But then, the german community is often quite….hm, passive. For example, i think Belegaer, the german RP server in Lotro, was the biggest server in Lotro before the f2p transition (for sure in europe), and yet, the community action takes place on Landroval. This is not the only reason i sometimes yearn for a more international community.

Anyway, as of now, you can also find me as Ermina Wynne on Cactuar. Would be great to meet some of you there!

The good and the bad future

Happy new year! These days, we’re celebrating chinese new year….well, to some extent, at least. Our son is sick, so i get pretty much no time in games and/or writing about them right now, but i want to try and take this opportunity to do some of the general “predictions”-stuff one does when a new year begins.

All my 2015 predictions have already been proven true. Well, granted, i only made one, an easy one at that, so that doesn’t say too much. Today, i want to take a quick look at the genre and what i think we’ll see in the near future.

MMOs are going back to their corner

The gold fever years are over. The success of World of Warcraft made other developers think they can recreate what Blizzard has done- and all of them have been proven wrong. We could, of course, look at why WoW was successful where other games weren’t, but to be honest, i don’t think we’ll find the answer to this question in the game alone. The timing, the fanbase…it was the strike of lightning and Blizzard should be thankful for what they’ve got- as do we all, because it has been a great decade for MMORPGs. Nowadays, while you could say WoW’s influence hasn’t been all good, we have a lot of choice in MMORPGs that wasn’t there before WoW was released. Yes, all these games are in the same subgenre and if you prefer another subgenre, this kind of sucks. But within this subgenre, there is a lot of choice. One could even say too much.

I think in the near future- and this isn’t a very brave prediction, either, we’ll come to see MMORPGs being put into their place once again- not only do developers stop to chase WoW’s numbers, but they’ll also stop to chase the same player base. We might see some closures, and most likely some of them will hurt. It seems we aren’t seeing “AAA” MMORPGs from western developers for the forseeable future, maybe with the exception of Everquest Next. MMORPGs will become smaller, and this is a bad and a good thing at the same time.

It’s bad because the community/fanbase/number of potential customers will shrink, which will lead to some other difficulties, as well, but i think those who like MMOs and/or MMORPGs, a distinction that will soon be more prevalent, are in for some good years to come.

The genre matures and changes

We will see more games like Destiny, The Division or The Crew- single player games with MMO features and maybe some persistent parts of world building and progression being part of the experience. I think these games will concentrate on providing a great and diverse gameplay experience with selected parts of the “massively multiplayer” genre who add to the fun of the game.

MMORPGs will move in the other direction- they will concentrate on providing the “massively multiplayer” part in addition to persistent worlds and progression while providing an adequate gameplay experience. I think this is great for everybody who loves MMORPGs, because the genre stops chasing every player on the planet and start providing great games for their niche.

We see this happening right now- while there are no real Triple-A games coming, there are a lot of indie games in development who concentrate on some parts of the genre instead of trying to cater to all- Shroud of the Avatar, Camelot Unchained and the Repopulation are games that are very different from each other, more so than, say, SWTOR and Lotro. I’m pretty sure this is what the next 5 years will be about- diversification, providing great experiences for a niche while the mass market will integrate MMO-y stuff in AAA games.

Being niche is a good thing

MMORPGs are big games, but they grew into monsters after WoW’s success. These games cost tens or even hundreds of million dollars to get created, and they want to hit the mass-market. It’s not enough for them to cater to only one group of players, they have to get them all- and if possible, even non-MMO-players, as well. So what they’ll do is provide multi-vitamin juice concentrate- everything’s in there, but it doesn’t taste as good as the real thing.

So by concentrating on smaller playerbases and smaller feature sets, the development process will be cheaper and faster while providing better experiences for their customers. Now, i’m no economics expert, but i think specialization in a market is considered a good thing there- for every actor.

The communities will change for the better

A smaller community will be more tight-knit. I think it was in 2013 when some blogger asked the open question if (MMO) blogging was dead- replaced maybe by streamers, social media and things like that. Since then, i think the community has grown and has become better- there are things like the Newbie Blogger Initiative, bloggy Xmas, there’s some kind of blogger’s guild and community, so one could say the blogging community might have had some losses, but regrouped and is growing again.

Events like the almost-closure of Massively have pulled the community together even stronger, so there’s that. I think if the games we all like get more specialized and provide focused experiences for their niche, the smaller communities themselves, but also the bigger MMORPG community will grow and even get more friendly. After all, if PvPers/Raiders/Crafters/Roleplayers don’t ruin my game anymore because they have their own game to play, the game i chose will provide a better experience for me- everybody wins, even the developers, if they don’t misjudge the amount of players they’ll have (hello, Wildstar).

Things i’m looking for in a guild

These days i’m pretty much a FF XIV exclusive player, but i have to take the fact into consideration that i didn’t have much time to play lately. Things like these happen when you have a toddler in the house- if he doesn’t sleep well, so do you. If he doesn’t feel good, you’ll be glad to go to bed early in the evening. This has been my last week or so. I did get into Final Fantasy XIV, though, and did some things.

For one, i’ve been continuing the main storyline and i am now only 2 levels below my Arcanist class level- so there might be a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m also catching up on my Botanist and Weaver (levels 20 and 19, now) and, thanks to that Massively Overpowered article, i realized i missed out on the challenge log until now and got access to it yesterday. The challenge log is pretty much the same as the daily achievements in Guild Wars 2, only on a weekly basis.

Guild Wars 2 event

To be totally honest, though, and i hate to think about that, but i’m of a mind to reroll somewhere. See, i’m on Shiva, which is what you might call the “german server” in Final Fantasy XIV. I also joined the Free Company of the multigaming guild i’m part of and they’re a small, relatively tight-knit group of friendly, dedicated FF XIV players. For some reasons, i’m not really happy there- to put it short, the heavy use of voice chat makes the FC chat quite silent, everybody’s at max level and i don’t really know anybody. I also don’t know what we’re up to and there seem to be no activities geared towards getting to know each other better while being on different levels.

This general sense of unhappiness is always dangerous for me: i’ll start thinking of ways to improve the situation, maybe make a suggestion or two to the guild leaders while thinking they’ll be annoyed by me and sometimes, i even fantasize (again!) about founding a guild on my own- which is a stupid idea, i haven’t got the time. Last time i tried (Archeage), it was a huge failure. So maybe i’ll start looking again in the close future.

Now why would that possibly mean moving to another server? To be honest, i’ve found most german guilds to be basically the same thing: they’ll say “real life comes first”, “casual friendly”, “RP friendly”, “good community”- and when you take a closer look, it’s people playing a lot (by my measures), always hanging in voice chat, ignoring everyone else (doesn’t have to be on purpose), no roleplaying and the recruitment process basically consists of writing a “hello” post of two paragraphs in their forums and getting in.

Hanging out in Kingsmouth

I’ve seen something else when i was in an international guild – the one where i stole the “free-to-play game travellers” project from i do in the multigaming guild, but there have been other issues. So, what would i want out of a guild?

Real real-life friendliness

I can understand the will to not have too many inactive accounts in your roster, but to me, this contradicts the part where guilds want to build a “tight-knit” community. Say i join a guild, everything’s nice and cozy, then i don’t get to play for 2 weeks and get kicked out of the guild. Why would you do that to a “friend”? Wouldn’t you be happy to see him or her return to the game at one point in the future?

Moderate use of voice chat

This one is hard to measure, but while i don’t think one should found a “no voice chat” guild, i’ve always found it hard to connect to guilds/people who are constantly on voice chat. They’ll play and talk in their group, guild chat will be silent and there’d be no chance for me to get to know the players.

I couldn’t tell you why i don’t like to use voice chat- i think it comes down to these reasons: when i have time to play, that means i’m in my “free time”, which doesn’t take a huge part of the day. So i’ll want to relax, maybe talk to my wife, maybe listen to music/podcasts or maybe, when our son has trouble sleeping in that time, i just don’t want to take the chance to wake him up. So while i don’t have a strict “no voice chat” policy, you’ll almost never find me launching voice chat in the same moment as a game. Usually, i launch it because of group activities where everybody else is on voice.

When i’m somewhat comfortable in a guild, i might launch it more often, but it’ll never become standard procedure. And if i’m in a guild where everybody already is on voice, the guild chat is silent, chances are i’ll be quite a loner.

Active guild chat

This is somewhat connected to the point above, but i’ve seen the empty chat in other guilds, as well. As one could imagine, since i write about MMORPGs on a blog, i like to discuss things- game-related, community-related and so on. Guild chat should be active, there should be something to read and/or contribute to. If i’m a new member, i won’t start conversations- i’m new, after all. As an introvert, i’ll always watch the other members first and see where i fit in. If there’s nothing to read and/or there’s only achivement/item spam or functional ingame-requests (“anyone want to do a dungeon?”), i find that boring.

Level-agnostic activities

There have to be ways to get to know each other and take part in guild activities that aren’t depending on characters level. There are a lot of things one could do- for instance, one time i tried to organize a guild market- everybody who wanted to participate posted some items (one set) in the guild forums he or she wanted to offer to other members, posted the required materials, maybe collected some stock before the event and all “passive” participants could go to that market and get these items made for them by either providing the materials themselves, buying them from the auction house or maybe because the crafter donated them.

This was great!
This was great!

Or one could do a simple guild meeting somewhere in the game world- maybe in different places everytime, or maybe with a weird twist (the international guild i was part of had a guild meeting with only dead people in TSW).

As i said, there are many things one could do, and to me, providing these events is essential to build and maintain a great guild.

Recruitment

Now, isn’t that funny, how i can just post what i want out of a guild here? I can almost hear you sigh and say: well, just do it yourself, then. I’ve tried- and here’s another thing i saw when taking the role of guild leader: most members won’t give you credit, offer feedback or help you out in doing/providing these things. I’ve found that many players mainly join a guild to reach ingame goals, which is fair enough, but when your guild charta says something like “we value our community higher than ingame goals”, well, then that implies something else- at least to me.

So there has to be some common sense in recruitment. I’ll be honest; i haven’t found the right way to do it, either. If you grow slowly, chances are your guild will be empty before it’s full, if you grow too fast, you’ll have lots of active players who don’t know each other. If you make potential members jump through too many hoops, it might put off people who would be great additions to the guild roster. Saying “no” to applicants or kicking someone who doesn’t really fit is a tough thing to do- i had a hard time doing that when i had to, but i think it is very important for the longterm-health of your guild and community.

Conclusion

So i don’t know, maybe i’ll go looking for something like that, although i do think the people in my guild are friendly people and that there is a good core and two of my oldest “online gaming” friends are members there (they won’t play FF14, though, or at least not both of them), and while i wouldn’t like restarting, it feels to me as if i’d get so much more out of Final Fantasy XIV if it wasn’t such a lonely affair. Yes, i solo often, but that’s not quite the same as playing alone.