The PvE MOBA, offline persistency and the system-driven MMORPG

There have been a few very interesting opinion pieces out there for a couple of days. I’d like to- somewhat- chime in and express my own opinion on that matter. First, let’s take a look at what we’ve got.

I think it began with Ravious’ “Modicum of Interaction”, where he described his experience with starting on a pvp server in World of Warcraft and came to the conclusion that what he really wants in an MMO is persistence and interaction.

A day later, Bhagpuss described the “pinball machine in an arcade” analogy as being fitting to his own feelings- that you’d want to play in a world where other people play, as well, because it feels alive. He also states that MMORPGs have changed- they’re not new anymore- not in the way they used to be. It wasn’t about features, graphics or somesuch- it was all about the wow-effect of other players from all over the world connecting to the same shared online world. That was the feature that sold MMORPGs. It doesn’t, anymore, and Bhagpuss is ok with that.

The same goes for Syl and her entry of “MMO heartbreak”. She agrees that the MMO experience has changed but that there are still “rainbows to find”, that there’s still interaction- it changed somewhat, but it’s still there.

All these posts are worth a read and i encourage you to go and read them if you haven’t- in my opinion, all of these put the finger on the wound many of us feel while being positive in their base tone.

Another post that’s going to be related to this one is Belghasts “Chase for a PvE MOBA”, as well as the Massively Overthinking column on Massively Overpowered concerning the popularity of MMORPGs.

New MMO games

I think we need to further break up the MMORPG genre. You know the opinion that’s always going to pop up as soon as content becomes soloable? If you don’t like to group up in MMORPGs, play singleplayer games, they’re better for story. This “argument”, if we call it that, leaves the pinball-in-the-arcade and the reading-in-a-cafe out of the equation. I’d like to turn it around and state that if you like small-group-instanced-content, there should be a genre for you.

The lobby dungeon experience

Interestingly, there isn’t. I think Forced did something to that end, but i’m still left wondering why we don’t have a game yet that’s based solely on dungeon experiences. The “world” and the “quest” part of MMORPG development are the money sinks in developing an MMO, so i wonder why nobody has thought of getting rid of that part and instead offer something akin to, say, Left for Dead or Payday in the MMORPG realm. This should be possible, right?

You would have to be honest about it, though- if you’d call this kind of game an MMORPG, it would get a similar treatment to Skyforge, which is being criticized for lack of an Open World while on the other hand- and that’s a very early impression- being quite ok for what it does. Even i went into an adventure by way of the group finder. It was a nice enough experience, although i’d have to say that my SWTOR companions are more talkative than the other players i grouped up with.

There could be a few ways to do a game like this- maybe go for the isometric view and create a co-op Diablo/co-op MOBA or go the 3D route and create and distill the dungeon experience from MMORPGs into a new game. You can even keep many of the MMO tropes- maybe a bit of grind, levels, content gating, gear, the trinity- and get rid of the more costly and fluffy parts- loads of text quests, maybe crafting and, of course, the world. Just cut it off. I would also leave out the single-player option entirely, although that could become a problem when the game matures.

The strange part? Even when i prefer open world MMORPGs, i think i’d like to see some kind of game like that emerge. They could do dungeons in different sizes for different session lengths and even go “hardcore” with raids or dungeons that last multiple hours.

I don’t know if this comes close to how Belghast expressed a PvE MOBA would be, but i think it would be a great addition to the genre. Right now, i wonder if there aren’t games like that out already- couldn’t you play Diablo 3 or Marvel Heroes this way?

The persistent and interactive singleplayer experience

Another way to evolve would be to go the route of Elite: Dangerous and further down the line Shroud of the Avatar– give players the option to experience an online world by themselves and have persistency and interaction become indirect, possibly through an ingame-economy. In Elite, i can fly around solo, but actions of all players influence the universe i’m living in- by trade prizes, faction balance and so on. I can play alone and it’s not exactly the “pinball machine in the arcade” experience, but there’s more interaction and interdependency in Elite than in many themepark MMORPG’s questing game.

The MMORPG: cut off rides and provide systems

I think- and in a way we already see this with games like Crowfall, Camelot Unchained and the Repopulation in development- that distilling MMO experiences in new subgenres would free the “real MMORPGs” to get back to a design that focuses more on giving players systems instead of themepark rides. MMORPGs could become more world-like- and cheaper in development, in the end, if they stopped trying to give players a linear experience and went on to being “everything-boxes”.

The funny thing is that i think a good MMORPG would cater to many different play-styles while on the other hand, the current themepark MMORPGs are making the mistake of trying to cater to too many play-styles. In the end, i think it’s the way content works in these games right now that is a hindrance- it’s designed content- designed for soloer’s, casuals, hardcore players, for crafters, traders, dungeon-delvers, raiders and so on. Everything is “handcrafted”, which makes content development slow and expensive. If you’d have systems that could provide the same; a good ingame-economy, open world bosses, dynamic events done right, maybe mob settlements that grow from being a single-player experience to being a raid experience, you wouldn’t have the need to handcraft all these experiences.

Backpacker: World of Warcraft’s Teldrassil

World of Warcraft has a few qualities, which shouldn’t be surprising since it’s still the most played MMORPG out there. For me, two are very noticeable- the fluid gameplay/combat/movement and the second one, the world/zone building. It’s not only the graphics and Blizzards ability to get the most out of their decade-old-engine that WoW still looks good- it’s because of the zone design. So i decided to start a “backpacker” series for that. It’s easy to do, too, since you can play World of Warcraft for free up to level 20. After some research, i came to the conclusion that a Druid would work best, what with the travel form and such. It might be possible to explore zones much further into the level bracket when playing this class.

Leaving Darnassus
Leaving Darnassus

I don’t know where this plan is going to lead me- maybe even into a subscription, but if i’m honest, the last times i started playing WoW, the questing got to me. It’s always the questing- with Rift, Lord of the Rings and WoW. While Rift has decent alternatives to level a character, i don’t think one could say the same for WoW. Sure, there are dungeons and they’re great experiences- but i wouldn’t know why i should play the instanced part of the game to experience the open world. And questing is slow. Exploration doesn’t seem to be rewarded with xp, so leveling through exploration and crafting/gathering is not a good alternative. So you’ve got questing, pvp, pet battles, gathering and dungeons as ways to level.

Gathering could work. But it would take a lot of time, too much for me, even when i could combine it with grinding mobs.

Anyway, the possibility to level a character to 20 without paying gives me the option to travel through quite a few zones. I’ve always been an Alliance player, so i’ll use a Nightelf Druid for this, even if that means i’ll be starting on the wrong continent. I think i can leave for Stormwind come level 10 (already there, but haven’t looked if i can take the ship over there).

So let’s take a look. I don’t really know how long this lasts, but WoW’s zones are believable to me, and that’s the great advantage. In Lotro, for instance, the third zone you’ll play in will consist of one village/inn and some ruins as homesteads for people. I don’t know why these people don’t build and seem to be content in their ruins, but it strikes me as odd. In WoW, which i didn’t experience a whole lot (until Un’Goro in TBC’s time), the zones leading up to Un’Goro seem…well, despite it being a fantastic, sometimes odd world, it seems more “civilized”. I mean, villages look like villages.

The starting village of Shadowglen
The starting village of Shadowglen

Look at that- that’s where your life as a nightelf begins- it might not be exactly as big, but the whole layout is similar to the faction capital of the Guardians in Rift, Sanctum. I’d like to highlight that i don’t want to devalue Rift by stating this, but simply to state how much i like these sort of things. And it’s an exaggeration, of course. Sanctum is still bigger than Shadowglen’s center.

Another thing that i didn’t remember – and that might change later on – is that World of Warcraft really is generous with space/landscape. In other, more modern games, mob density is quite high- it’s for the sake of accessibility, of course, so that you don’t have to search for the mob you need for a quest or compete with other players for the same mobs, but if you look at zone design from that perspective only, what remains is a functional map. When you leave room for all kinds of things- villages, wildlife, trees, the odd cavern, rivers, lakes and whathaveyou- the zone looks and feels a whole lot more believable.

Lake Al'Ameth
Lake Al’Ameth
To Dolanaar
To Dolanaar

WoW’s zone design always impressed me. Sure, i like my fantasy worlds even more “open”, even less “zoney” and not as “themepark-styled” (thinking about the “haunted house zone” for levels 20 to 30), but there are few games providing that- the last one i know was Vanguard, which had a great world albeit with its own flaws. Other games are good, as well- Rift and Lotro’s worlds are open, and especially Lotro offers great landscapes that still hold themselves very good in terms of graphics, Final Fantasy 14’s zones are of a very good design, as well, but they feel quite small.

Exploring Teldrassil

Dual Wielding: pay-to-win edition

Dual Wielding: A series featuring two bloggers writing on one topic and answering the question, “If the pen is mightier than the sword, what happens when you dual wield?”

Don’t miss out on Ironweakness’ take on the subject.

Free-to-play as a business model comes in many forms. You’ll have the mostly free experiences of games like TERA and the free-to-play-but-we-really-want-you-to-subscribe model of games like Star Wars: the old republic. Whenever free-to-play is mentioned, there’s another term coming up: pay-to-win. Almost every developer that transitioned one game from sub to f2p will have the pay-to-win question in their FAQ. The answer is always the same: no, this game won’t be pay-to-win. The interesting part is, that when you think about it, this is both an impossible thing to state and true in every case. In the end, it depends on two things: the player perspective and the game design perspective.

What is pay-to-win?

Wikipedia has the following to say:

In some multiplayer free-to-play games, players who are willing to pay for special items or downloadable content may be able to gain a significant advantage over those playing for free. Critics of such games call them “pay-to-win” games.

I have to say that i agree with this definition but would add that gaining an advantage in most themepark MMORPGs isn’t something one should worry about. For the advantage you buy there has to be some impact on someone else who didn’t pay- this impact doesn’t really exist in most of the current MMORPGs.

What is winning?

This is another question you’d have to answer in order to really understand and define pay-to-win. In a recent “Perfect ten” column on Massively Overpowered, Eliot Lefebvre wrote:

[…]what qualifies as a “winning” advantage varies between person to person. If you really try at it, you can argue that paying for anything at all is winning because it involves getting an advantage you wouldn’t have playing completely for free.

That’s because (themepark) MMORPGs aren’t lobby shooters; in most cases, you don’t fight other players much and even if you do your pvp battlegrounds, it’s not an even playing field at all- players can join them when they are in a certain level bracket. A level 11 player will have trouble fighting- and winning- against a level 19 player. In times when World of Warcraft didn’t give out experience points for playing battlegrounds, there were “pvp twinks”, mostly level 19 and geared in a way that “normal” level 19 characters didn’t stand a chance against them. So if we’re talking normal battleground pvp and even open world pvp, it’s rare that every player is on an equal footing. And when/if they are- by game design- the devs won’t sell statistical advantage for their version of pvp.

In most other cases, it’s a matter of definition and what your own goals in a game are. If you’re an achievement hunter and a certain achievement will grant you some gear with just the look you want for your character, you could consider it pay-to-win if another player was able to just buy that stuff from the ingame store. If World of Warcraft sold flying in Draenor, plain and simple, you could consider it pay-to-win, as well.

Good MMORPGs are of the “Win. Your way.” kind- there are all kinds of goals to strive for. Since you can’t really define winning, “pay-to-win” is equally hard to define and, in most cases, both true and wrong.

Impact

On the other hand, there’s no impact. If you went out of your way to get that achievement for the cosmetic gear, that’s your experience and you’ll probably like the way to get there as well as feel rewarded when you finish it. It’s the experience, the journey, that counts here. Your journey wasn’t worse or less fun if “Killerrabbit1337″ bought the same item in the store.

In most themeparks, there is no impact. Even if i were to buy a set of raid gear in Rift, all it would do is allow me to access content faster (or at all). In most cases, i couldn’t sell the gear on the auction house because of it being bound on aquire.

But, of course, there are ways to impact other players. And this is where, in my opinion, pay-to-win is a thing- and it’s a thing to be avoided. This is the case when it undermines fundamentals of how a certain game works. Let’s say you’re designing a crafting and economy oriented MMORPG- then selling crafting materials and/or the ingame currency would be a bad, bad thing, because if a player were to buy loads of crafting mats from the ingame store, he or she could hurt the price of these items in the auction hall. So there’s impact on all the other crafters who’d like to sell their goods in the auction hall.

So, in my opinion, for a game to be considered pay-to-win, there must be impact on other players either through pvp or the ingame economy. Using this definition, i can only think of two games i’d consider pay-to-win: EVE and ArcheAge.

In EVE, progress is measured in two ways: skill points and ISK, the ingame currency. While there is no way to increase skill point gain, you can simply buy ISK by buying PLEX and selling it on the market, giving you a huge advantage for instance in choosing what you fly- after all, one of the big rules in EVE is “don’t fly something you can’t afford to lose”- so skill point being equal, i could use this way of getting ISK to fly a better ship into battle- and that includes pvp.

In ArcheAge, a game i haven’t really followed up on after being disappointed by hacks and cheats, there are the labor point potions in the store. Labor points are used to craft and even to open up certain loot. As i wrote in another post, it’s a mechanic i like to a certain extent- by using up your labor points, you are encouraged to specialize/concentrate on certain aspects of the game/crafting. Labor point potions increase your ability to craft items- and while ArcheAge has somewhat moved away from being a crafting/economy centered game, it still is one of the huge qualities this game has. So buying labor potions allows the buyer to create more items, thereby influencing the ingame economy.

The future

Right now, there are several upcoming games i take a huge interest in. Namely, the Repopulation, Shroud of the Avatar and to a lesser extent Shards Online and Albion Online. Most of these games might be quite crafting/economy centered or allow for such a playstyle, at least. There are many ways to ruin these kinds of games when they are free-to-play or microtransaction based in general. Jewel has already voiced some of her concerns regarding the influence of free-to-play on Albion, and i agree.

I have seen how stuff like that, especially coupled with hacking/exploiting/botting can ruin a game experience for some players, but all i can do is hope the devs know what they’re trying to achieve with their games and try to keep the impact on the game design as low as possible.

Conclusion

Pay-to-win can be everything or nothing. Once again, i find myself agreeing with Eliot here, who also stated this.

When you can’t define conclusively what is or isn’t enough of an advantage to qualify as “winning,” you are using a term that you have to define before you make any use of it, which makes it inherently useless.

So the whole post is useless. The term is useless- in my opinion, as well, because we should talk about the business models in a more distinctive way. We can’t absolutely state that game x is “pay-to-win”, we always have to explain why we think it is. So the better way to say the same thing would be to state that “i don’t like the business model because they sell item x,y on their ingame store and it makes me feel like striving for the same goal ingame isn’t worth it, anymore”.

Project Trinity: june finished, up to july

June went over quite ok for Project Trinity- at least i think so. Raptr is having trouble tracking FF14 when you launch it in DirectX 11 mode, but i think it has been the most played MMO for me last month. I played a bit of SWTOR, as well, and some TERA. The Secret World fell somewhat on the wayside, but really, that is to be expected in these summer months.

The last week has been crazy here- yesterday we almost broke heat records in the city where i live- we had 40 degrees celsius (104 Fahrenheit), the nights didn’t cool down under 25 degrees celsius (77F) in some cases, so all we did was finding ways to escape the heat. So there hasn’t been much writing and playing lately, and this might stay that way until the middle of this week.

Well, summer’s generally the reason for this blog being a bit quiet at the moment- i don’t play that much and what i play is not much of a new experience.

Final Fantasy XIV

I went in, again, with a new character and created an even newer one to join Belghast and the Greysky Armada on Cactuar. This time, to change things up a bit, i started a Pugilist. It’s a nice enough damage dealer and quite fun to play, but i’m not entirely sure i’ll stick with the class (this character will be the last one, i hope)- the Arcanist seemed to suit me better.

As said, i haven’t played as much as i’d have liked, but progress comes quick now with the main story xp buff we were getting since Heavensward’s official release- i read somewhere that you only have to do main story quests now to get your first class to 50, and so far, this seems to be the case.

Star Wars: the old republic

I’m with a new character here, as well- or not new, but i’m not playing the trooper, which would be the one that progressed furthest. I like the Jedi Sage, i think it is what i expect of an MMO class i like to play.

Games of july

This month, i’m going to change things up, again. FF14 will remain the game i call my “main game”, although i always feel this one is the least preferrable when i don’t have much time- at nights like today, when i play an hour and half, maybe, more likely just an hour, i feel FF14 to be a bit too “complicated”. So we’ll see- if Raptr tracks that game, else i’ll guess, if it will become the most played this month, as well. SWTOR still remains there, as well.

For the third game, this month i chose Rift.

There are many things i like about Rift- the soul system, for one. The combat/gameplay feels good, almost as good as WoW’s combat. There aren’t many games that can do something like that. Rifts “housing” is crazy with all kinds of possibilities. The dungeons are fun and instant adventure, pvp and so on are viable alternatives to the quest grind. Also, after playing some of it, i can’t help but think about that when it released, everyone (read: me) thought the world to be very small. But compare even launch-day Rift’s Mathosia with almost all the worlds that came after, and suddenly, it seems vast. Also, it’s an open world, not zoned stuff.

I also think Trion has done a great job with the game. Sure, you could moan about some entry-level raid gear being sold in the store (over 200€ for two weapons), but this doesn’t really bother me. If someone’s stupid/rich enough to spend that kind of money on two weapons, so be it. But Rift has grown/improved significantly since launch, Trion added one of the most amazing housing features out there, they adapted the game to newer industry standards and they continue to create content/improve the game. Before Square Enix, Trion’s handling of Rift was the role-model on how to do a sub game/how to support your game after release. I still feel Trion does a great job on Rift and there aren’t many studios that improve their games like they did with Rift.

And lastly, i went in to check it out a bit and had fun. I know it’s not going to last if i do things like i always do them in Rift- the questing always gets to me- but i’ll be there as long as it lasts.

Being supportive

Yesterday, Trion Worlds teased a new game. If you go and take a look at the comments on Massively Overpowered, as well as on mmorpg.com, you’ll see a lot of negative comments for a game that’s only been teased as of right now. We don’t know anything besides some art piece that serves as a background for a homepage. Of course, these comments don’t attack the game, they attack Trion Worlds- and it makes me sad. Compare that to the positivity we saw when it was announced Trion would publish ArcheAge and you’ll see Trion has a problem on its hands there.

trion_worlds

But it’s not only Trion. Daybreak can’t get a break, as well, especially since it was announced that the dev priority is now in EQ Next and not Landmark anymore– but it’s been negative ever since they went from being SOE to being Daybreak and a few high-profile employees left- or had to leave – the company.

Of course, Blizzard is making us pay subscriptions and for mounts in their cash shop while delivering content at a very slow pace and taking away flying for most people. We don’t like Perfect World because of their monetization schemes. We dislike NCSoft for closing City of Heroes and/or Tabula Rasa (this is the one i miss dearly). Carbine is quite bad for delivering a raid endgame, ArenaNet has lost goodwill, as well, maybe since the perceived lack of delivering something akin to their design manifesto, maybe for overprizing HoT or something else entirely. Bioware turns SWTOR into a single player game and uses a f2p model where they make the customers pay and Funcom overpromises and does launches bad.

I think, right now, the only company who’s somewhat seen in a positive light is Square for closing and reopening Final Fantasy XIV. While i think they deserve the praise, i think we shouldn’t behave like that.

In defense of ArcheAge

I don’t really see Trion at fault here- i mean, one could say that they should have looked at how exploits, hacks and so on work in that game- but in the end, they delivered a product we were wanting very badly. I think the hacking/exploiting was the main problem in AA, this is what sucked the fun out of it for me- because i felt that crafting and so on was made worthless if someone else could just cheat his or her way out of the system, especially with housing spots. But this stuff isn’t really in Trion’s hands.

Something tells me i'm going to take another look at this game
Something tells me i’m going to take another look at this game

As for the cash shop? I don’t know. Yes, selling Labor point potions might be a bit much, but i don’t see it as critical- first of all, the labor point system was in place since before the game went free-to-play. Personally, i like a system like that, because there’s a stop gap on what one account can do each day. It allows dirty time casuals like myself to not lose contact to others so quickly and it also makes players prioritize what they spend their LP on. You can learn and level all crafting professions in AA- labor points is used to maintain interdependancy in the game. If they didn’t have that, crafters could just craft everything by themselves instead of trading with other players. This might be what we want, but in my opinion, this takes away some of the fun that is to be found in MMORPGs.

In defense of Trion

Myself, i really like Trion. I still do, even if i was quite disappointed at how ArcheAge turned out to be, as well. But if you’d take a look at their other games- you know, those they actually developed, namely Rift, Defiance and Trove, i think they are doing a decent job, especially with Rift and Trove. If you think Trion is a company desperately trying to “steal” your money, you should take a look at Trove. Regular, meaty updates that take player feedback into account and a monetization that is quite fair. I don’t begrudge anyone trying to sell me something, i simply decide whether the game is fun to play and if what is offered/the prize it’s asking is worth it to me.

We are customers, not fans

Massively Overpowered had this article about MMO terms that should just go away- for me, there are two terms that rub me the wrong way- first, it’s when someone calls playing an MMO “work”, as in “i worked so hard to get gear x,y and now they’re nerfing it”- you’re not working, you’re playing a game. The second one is “fans”. While it might be true in some ways, i think it creates a slightly off mindset. If you think about “fans”, the first thing that comes to mind are sport teams- for us over here it’s soccer/football, for north americans it might be american football/baseball and so on.

Now, fans of teams get passionate, they do. When things aren’t looking so good for their team, they’ll look for someone to blame, will probably find someone and will want him or her gone. But these fans always want the best for their team.

In the other direction, i think it makes devs feel to safe when they think about us, the players, the customers, as fans- there might be some fans to each games- i think all those who create fan sites should be considered fans- but the main body of us? We’re customers- devs/publishers will have to offer a product that’s worth its prize.

We should be more fan-like

I’ve stated before that in my personal opinion, MMORPGs are in a decline. It’s not the license for printing money everyone thought it to be in 2006 to 2010. MOBAs used to be it, but i guess that time’s over now, as well. Maybe survival is next (i think we’ve only seen indie survival games up until now). 2015 turned out to be a better year for MMORPGs than i thought when it began, but this is for existing MMORPGs, mostly. There are quite a few indie MMORPGs in development, and some of them might even be great (Repopulation and Shroud of the Avatar, looking at you here), but if we are honest about it, few of them, if any, should be considered Triple A. Those times seem to be gone.

I think we should be more positive with the people/devs who provide us with games from our favourite genre. I think especially developers, so those guys actually creating these games for us, are very enthusiastic about what they’re doing- because frankly, i think there’s more money to be made elsewhere with the skillset they have. I have little doubt, as well, that people like Scott Hartsman, Joel Bylos, John Smedley and so on love what they’re doing. Maybe sometimes they’ll make tough decisions we don’t like, but they’re doing this with the best intentions for their company, even if it might seem that it isn’t in our- the customer’s – best interest. But i don’t think we can blame them for that- making games is also a business.

We might not be “fans” of certain games or certain companies, but we are fans of the genre and would benefit greatly if the genre was doing fine- in quality and quantity.

If all these companies we “don’t like” are gone- who will provide us with the games we love to play?

So i’m looking forward to seeing what this new Trion game is, give them credit for what they’ve done with Rift and Trove, at least, and just hope it’s something ambitious- either self-developed or published- we need that.

By the way, the best guesses i’ve seen so far seem to indicate it’s possible that Trion might be publishing Lost Ark in NA/EU.

Edit: It looks like Devilian Online is a better guess.

I’m stopping to look for guilds…and more

Final Fantasy 14

I finally managed to go back to Final Fantasy 14 – as i mentioned, i wasn’t really in the mood to play this game due to a lack of time. When i returned, i had to find out- yet again- that my inactivity led the Free Company i found earlier to kick me out. Well, both of them did that- the international one and the german one.

FF14 is a game that takes time- usually, i’m totally fine with that, in fact, an MMORPG should take its time to play- but it shouldn’t waste mine. FF14 does just that in many ways and that’s why FF14 is a poor game to start playing in times where you know you won’t be able to put a lot of time in. Now, a lot means different things to different people- for me, that amounts to about 10 hours a week, preferably a little more. If i feel confident in being able to put that time into FF14, it’s a great game- if i’m not, it’s a waste of time to even launch it, since it can happen that things one should do in the leveling process take a while to get rolling.

So i haven’t logged in in quite some time- my new Free Company had big leeway- 6 weeks absence wouldn’t do a thing, but after that, you are going to be kicked out of the FC. Of course i could just raise my hand and tell them i’d like to rejoin, but there’s really no point because i know they’ll kick me again in the future. I don’t think i should need to tell the guild that i won’t be logging in for some time- i’m an adult, there might be times when i simply can’t or won’t play and i think good guilds should factor this in.

I’ve always been of the impression that in-game or out-of-game acquaintances are the best way to form and maintain a guild- forum advertising, applications and somesuch don’t really serve for the community of people i’d be looking for. If you’re short on time, like i am, it seems getting into a guild and forming relationships there doesn’t really work. It’s better to get to know someone and join his or her guild because you already have some roots and a contact there. I think Belghasts superguild works kind of like that- know someone of them and they can make a recommendation/vouch for you and you’ll be able to join the tribe.

Watching the sun set over Limsa Lominsa
Watching the sun set over Limsa Lominsa

There will be a lot of other guilds out there working quite the same way- and if i were to found one again, i’d go with the same process. So now, i decided that i simply stop looking for a guild and instead stumble upon one while playing the game. Or not, we’ll see. Of course, this means i’ll have to put the effort i usually put into forum-digging for a guild into in-game relationships, which again might be a good thing. There used to be a time when friendlists were longer than the guild member list, it’s time to get back to that.

Useful links if you’re playing FF14 for the first time

So when i saw that, i decided i needed to create a new character. I know, i know. This is one of the many flaws in my way of playing MMORPGs- i play a game, maybe take a break and have a hard time getting back into that character i used to play. Normally, it’s the skill bar that confuses me, but that is a thing that’s manageable- one can read descriptions and try them out on mobs. With FF14, it’s more than that- since you have threads everywhere, the question i don’t have an answer to when relogging into an old character is her position- what was she doing, what was she planning to do next, where does she need to go? And so on. This can get out of hand and whenever this happens, i feel that it’s just easier to begin a new character since i’ve not progressed very far into the game anyway. The farthest character had her main adventuring level at 26- this is something that can be achieved pretty quickly.

And so i needed to decide on a server, again. But since Heavensward early access was going on, many of the servers were shut down for new characters. However, this is not a permanent or even daily thing- every 3-4 hours, servers opening and closing for new characters switch around. There’s a way to get help with that, namely worlds.nyxstudios.moe . Not only can you see which servers are available for new characters, but you can also subscribe for e-Mail notifications, so whenever a server changes its status you’ll get an eMail.

I don’t know how many times i looked for “essential quests” for Final Fantasy 14. The most basic gameplay features are unlocked by way of the main storyline, but there are some things- like dyeing your gear, forging materia, access to the Gold Saucer and others that you’ll have to unlock through sidequests. Since you can do all sidequests only once while being able to level all classes with one character, i try to avoid sidequests as much as i can for the first class. But i don’t want to miss out on game features- so in the end i found this useful list of quest- and level-locked content in Final Fantasy 14, and that’s a great help if you’re looking for something like this.

There’s also a basic leveling guide with some general advice to be found. If you’d like to know how to best level crafting, Aywren has put together really great tips for leveling gathering/crafting classes in FF14. She also has some nice postings up with impressions from the Heavensward launch.

If you’re looking for Heavensward impressions, i can recommend these posts:

Aywren – Heavensward Launch day recap (no spoilers)
Aywren – Heavensward day 2 recap (no spoilers)
Belghast – It’s finally here
Belghast – Learning to fly
Belghast – Making story matter
Belghast – Lord of the Hive
Lucek – Heavensward first impressions (possible spoilers)
Nomadic Gamer – Heavensward is here
Nomadic Gamer – Heavensward 1st weekend

Do you remember that NBI talkback challenge? Right now, i really envy all these people playing in the expansion.

One less expansion to worry about

The pre-purchase for Guild Wars 2’s expansion Heart of Thorns is available now. There’s three editions to buy: Standard Edition for 50$/45€, coming with the base game and the base expansion, the Deluxe Edition for 75$/75€, coming with a few extras, including one character slot and the Ultimate Edition, coming with everything the Deluxe Edition has and 4000 Gems.

I’ll buy in when they have a 50% discount on that prizing. See, Aywren has all the arguments (great post by the way, you should read it), so i will simply state that i feel like i’m not getting my money’s worth when the base game is included. Because i don’t need the base game anymore- interestingly, if they’d put the same price out, excluding the base game, i might have bought it, so i don’t really think it’s too expensive. But done this way, i feel like i’m paying for something i don’t need. I mean, as far as i know, and please correct me if i’m wrong, i can’t even give the base game to someone who hasn’t bought the game yet. I’d have a friend to whom i might give it if it were possible.

gw008

Other than that, i’m of the opinion that the code or whatever we get when buying the expansion should add a few character slots for those who already own the game, and i think three would be a good number. Or maybe gems…or something. As it stands right now, that part of the investment will simply go the way of the dodo and i’m not fine with that.

I am not unhappy about that, though- with SWTOR’s expansion coming, my commitment to that game by subscribing for 6 months, Final Fantasy’s expansion coming this week, which i also bought and Trove seemingly sucking me in some more as well as the Repopulations pending release and at least some peeks at Skyforge, Blade & Soul and Wildstar f2p, i already have more on my plate than i could possibly digest this year.

So with Heart of Thorns, i’m waiting for the christmas sale and/or some course correction by ArenaNet.