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

Getting sidetracked in FF XIV

Yesterday i was able to log into and play Final Fantasy XIV ARR to finish my airship-travel story mission. At least that was the plan- what i found out is that the tip given by Massively, namely to have a plan, is a good one. Or else, you’ll find yourself having fun on all sides without making a lot of progress.

For a player new to the game, like me, “having a plan” is not very easy, though. Now i am somewhere in my level 15 with the Conjurer class, only to find out that the Arcanist is somewhat able to heal- so maybe i should’ve started with that. Furthermore, with time i learned that you can use skills cross-class- i knew this was in V1.0 of the game, but i hadn’t prepared for that in ARR. So i guess i could build up a class for myself- like a melee DPS with some healing attached. But when it comes to jobs, you can only use the cross-class skills of certain other classes. There is a nice Google spreadsheet that shows these restrictions/possibilities, although there is no mention in here regarding the use of cross-class skills of the third class in addition to the two you need to start a second-tier job.

The Bismarck
The Bismarck

One thing i’ll stick to is to get to Level 20 with my Conjurer class to get retainer access. One of the things i did yesterday was to look a bit more into crafting, and for that to be continued, i need retainer access to buy and sell stuff as well as store items somewhere else than in my inventory, although inventory space in FF14 is generous.

So my plan was to continue the story mission- and i have to confess, in more than two hours, i barely made it before logging out. Of course i had to pick up the Arcanist class in Limsa Lominsa, and while i had it activated, i had to do the starter quest of this class- and of course, there are the beginner quests in Limsa Lominsa, as well. Those teaching you to use the NPC-market, emotes and so on. I had to do some of them, as well. Before i saw it coming, i had gained Level 7 of the Arcanist.

Balcony of the Bismarck, Limsa Lominsa
Balcony of the Bismarck, Limsa Lominsa

The restaurant in Limsa Lominsa looked nice, so i had to venture there, as well- there, at the Bismarck, i could pick up Culinarian- not my first choice of crafting, that would be the Weaver, but i always like cooking professions in MMORPGs, so i picked that up, as well- and did the starter quest.

After all that, i finally continued to Ul’Dah, which was not like i expected it to be. The city seems to be all interior, i expected a more open space, but what do i know? Maybe there’s an outdoors part of the city i didn’t venture in yesterday. So i continued the story quest there and picked up the Weaver, did the starter quest and continued weaving until i gained Level 6 of that class, as well- and had to realize i didn’t pick up the leatherworker profession in Gridania, which would have been somewhat useful.

Limsa Lominsa by night
Limsa Lominsa by night

There’s no point in trying to be self-sufficient at first, i think. Maybe i’ll pick up the professions feeding into the Weaver- i already am a Botanic, and before i logged out of the game i returned to Gridania to pick up the Leatherworker class. I really can’t wait to add “the market” to my gaming experience.

Final Fantasy XIV is as wide as a themepark is going to get- the progression system in classes, jobs and professions is so open that, with my available play time, i can play this game for years- and that’s even without counting stuff like housing, dungeons or PvP, which are all parts of the game, as well.

I’m still trying to figure out my account troubles, though. I’d guess buying ARR should get me 30 days of game time, and i’ve been sent a code to register- but it states i’ll be asked to enter that when i log into the game the next time, which doesn’t happen, or enter the code in the account management, but i don’t know where to enter it and i don’t want to waste the code. Furthermore, wouldn’t there be something in it for me after having bought both ARR and 1.0? I wouldn’t mind if this was not the case, but if there was a possibility, i wouldn’t want to waste that, either. But i’ll be more than happy, when the time comes, to sub to this game in 6-month-intervals. I don’t expect neither ArcheAge nor the Repopulation in that time, and to be frank, right now they’d have to be really great games to completely steer me away from the fantastic experience that is FF XIV ARR.

Another thing on my to-do list: i need to find likeminded people and join them in their linkshell or free company. A guild enhances the game experience by a large margin. This time, i don’t really want to scan the forums and join a linkshell or free company that sounds right- instead i’d like to do it the old-fashioned way: getting to know people and then join their guild. On the other hand, that could be asking to much when you are only a casual player, because getting to know people takes time, and there’s not a real downside to joining a linkshell, since you can join more than one at a time. Plus, Balmung being a northamerican server, there’s the added difficulty in finding a linkshell or free company with an active european player base. Ah well, i guess time will tell how this is going to work out.

Firefall is a great addition

Forget what i said. It’s no use to choose to stick to just one game/MMO at a time, when said MMO doesn’t satisfy all your gaming needs. It makes sense to stick to as few MMORPGs as possible, though, because game hopping as a casual player doesn’t really help anybody- not if you like your MMORPGs to have depth, a wide array of activities and longevity- which is, for me, a cornerstone and one of the main reasons i like the genre.

But sometimes, a game comes along, that fits the scenario you’re in very well. For me, this game is Firefall. While Final Fantasy XIV ARR with its truckloads full of content is my main-MMORPG for now, there are times when a change of pace is in order- or when there’s launch- or patch day and i know i won’t be able to play FF14 (i tried, yesterday, but wasn’t able to login, as expected).

Our army continues to grow, i think we are 8 now. With the restriction of 20 characters per army, there’s no reason to go out recruiting or anything. We guess we’ll fill the other 12 seats naturally with time. We went out and did some ARES missions, thumpers and one Tornado in a full squad, which was fun.

Yesterday was a bad day, though, because my main game had launch day issues and Firefall had Patchday issues. We had some fun regardless.

Now, here are the reasons why Firefall is a great addition to my MMO-diet:

Easy to get in and play

You don’t have to prepare very much in this game if you just want to have some fun- log in, join the online guildmates or place a thumper if you are on your own. Or just run around, do ARES missions or invasions or whatever. You can jump right into the action.

Somewhere in New Eden
Somewhere in New Eden

Still deep

While it’s easy to get in, there are a lot of things to grasp in this game- how does crafting work? What do i need to jump into melding pockets or the instanced area? You can upgrade your equipment and so on. There is a lot to do, but you don’t feel forced to do that quickly, because you are not missing out on gameplay features just because you haven’t progressed very far. Sure, crafting the key to the instance or the pockets might take some time, but there’s no hurry.

Don’t powergame your way through it

If you play this game to “reach the end”, beat it or just to progress your character, you will be finished with Firefall in no time- and chances are you’ll be burned out when the game will be in shape for “release” and miss out on something great. Red5 have a plan, but it will take time to implement it. Firefall is a very fun game, and if you’re having fun, play it all you want- there’s enough to explore, beautiful landscapes, great missions and content, but when you set out to “beat” the game, i’ve got a feeling it will be over very quick.

Squad fun

A vision

Red5 has a vision for this game, and they try to stick to it. This is one thing that makes a good MMORPG- and Red5 are willing to hold their position- the durability system is one thing where one can see that- some, or many, players didn’t like the introduction of breaking items because it made the game “grindy”, but Red5 feel it is a good thing to have in their game and i tend to agree- without removing items out of the economy, there will be no economy. And also, this gives players “something to do”, because Red5 won’t be able to provide content at a very quick pace.

All in all, i’m looking forward to Open Beta stage 2 and the future of the game- with this developer, i’m quite optimistic. I don’t know when Red5 will reach a state of the game where they are comfortable to call it “V1.0”, but i think, they will arrive there and the game will be very good by then.

When you add FF14 on top of that, right now, i am one happy gamer (who would be even happier if i could play FF14 or understand Square’s account management system).

Final Fantasy XIV ARR Release day

Today marks the official release of FFXIV ARR, which is a good oportunity to link to some guides besides talking about my experience in the game.

Progress and falling in love

I managed to play some time yesterday and finished the level 15 story quest that unlocks airship travel. Lavena Weekes is now in Limsa Lominsa and on her way to Ul’dah. I guess i’ll pick up what i want to pick up in Limsa (mainly the arcanist class, but maybe some others, as well) before moving on. I’m also kind of in a hurry to get to Ul’dah, though, because i’d like to explore the city. That’s the great thing when you don’t know anything about a game you start anew: everything is open to be explored. I have no idea how Ul’dah looks, so i’m looking forward to going there.

Getting the airship ticket
Getting the airship ticket

While i haven’t had the trouble Keen and Belghast had logging into and playing the game, i’ve had some issues, as well. Yesterday i got kicked out of the game when finishing the aforementioned quest to get airship access and couldn’t get back in. Over the weekend there had been downtimes and problems with instancing. So i guess this is a rocky launch, but it is to be expected, somehow. We’ve seen better launches, i’m sure, but it is obvious that the interest in FFXIV is quite high at the moment and that will possibly not last forever. While it’s unfortunate for those who weren’t able to play as well as for Square Enix because this might be a missed opportunity to enchant some new customers, this will pass and we’ll be able to play without problems, eventually. I hope there’s something to ease the pain for those who were affected by the issues FF14 had and has.

So i didn’t play as long as i liked, but i got something done. My trouble with the Ixari quest was solved by attacking everybody but their leader. After that, the story quests had contained mainly story, surprisingly. And i have to say: i’m falling in love with the story in the game, as well. It has a mild “Star Wars” taste, what with that landing ship and a Darth Vader type guy talking through a mask (although, many NPCs in FFXIV wear a mask- what’s up with that?), but i enjoy it immensely.

Using the airship ticket
Using the airship ticket

As for my own goals, hm… i might rethink them, again. See, i learned that you get skills of levelled classes when you play other classes, whether you do so in the confines of a job or not. So i might want to pull off a melee DPS character with some healing. But actually, i could do that after pursuing the White Mage or Scholar. We’ll see. For now, my plan is to look around in Limsa Lominsa and Ul’dah.

Guides

If you’re new to the game, it can be quite overwhelming. My general advice is: read the help texts, they’re not just about WASD movement.

Here are some guides worth reading:

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide – here you’ll find just about anything you might want to know about playing the game- it’s a very extensive, but hugely informational guide. I think there’s a mistake regarding the White Mage, though, because it states Gladiator as second class and i think it really is the Arcanist.

Crafting FAQ – a basic guide to crafting with important information (when & how to start and so on)
Crafting Basics – a more extensive basic guide to crafting.
Crafting and Gathering dependency – if you want to know which gathering job feeds which crafting job, this is the link to follow.
Tipps for Beginners – general advice by Massively’s FF14 columnist
Preparing for launch – some general information to get you started
Game information on neoGAF – general information about the game

So, what to do today?

I guess i’ll go with Firefall today- there has been a big patch and i don’t really expect FFXIV to launch without some issues. I might try it anyway 😉

Game Time: Firefall and Final Fantasy 14 weekend

Last week i was a MMORPG player without a game. That’s not a new state for me, i’m in that waiting phase for almost 3 years now. Of course i’ve played MMORPGs, but without much dedication. Then, incidentally, a friend of mine started playing Firefall and decided to inject some life into the game and a longstanding, but gamewise inactive guild on friday. And there’s also the early access to Final Fantasy XIV.

Firefall

We created an Army for us and frankly, i didn’t expect others to join us. Part of that has to do with our more recent history of going into and out of games in quite a rapid succession, so many members lost faith in the community being able to form an active guild. While some of the members are close, they started viewing the community as forum-only. Not surprisingly, forum activity is quite low nowadays. Surprisingly, for now we seem to have grown to 5 members, if i counted correctly, with two invites pending. I guess we’ll see a first result in about two weeks- if we are still playing the game, and do so together, we have achieved something.

Firefall is not very beginner friendly, besides there being a tutorial and beginner missions. Once you are in the world, you’ll begin wandering around freely and some things are not self-explanatory. For instance, there’s this type of ARES mission where you have to bring some coloured items with you and it seems to me that the mission fails when you don’t have those items. But i wouldn’t know where to get them. Some other members tried starting a race and had to realize they don’t know how to summon a vehicle yet.

I guess it'd be fun with a vehicle
I guess it’d be fun with a vehicle

Mind you, finding out stuff is part of the fun to be had in this game. I’m looking forward to more of this game. What i like here, is:

  • while it’s not easy to understand the game mechanics, it is an easy game to pick up and have some fun with others. Without level- and gear restrictions, you can play together as you want
  • it seems there is content for almost any group size- even with ARES missions or other singleplayer content, there’s nothing wrong with some other people being around
  • getting to know the mechanics is fun

Final Fantasy XIV

On the other hand, there’s Final Fantasy XIV ARR. With the early access beginning on saturday, i clocked about 6 hours this weekend and my good feelings about this MMORPG are getting deeper. My newest discovery are story missions that take place in an instanced battle area. For now, i’ve met about three of these, and i guess the first one’s just an introduction to the feature while it gets more difficult afterwards. These quests actually consist of more or less just one fight- but i met a group of bandits, had the mission fail on me because i didn’t realize one of the enemies is a healer (the mob’s tag had been the same as the other mobs’ tags- you had to look at the enemy to find out he’s a healer).

After continuing this quest chain you come to a fight with “bird-men” – my first try failed here, as well. You go into this fight with a group of rangers and there are many enemies around- i have no idea how to succeed here- i guess there would be two options to try out next: bring the main guy down and hope that the mission will succeed or concentrate on healing the rangers. I’m not very confident one of these approaches will do the trick, though, so i’ll be looking forward to figure out what to do.

Up there
Up there

 

And this is great- first, the mission feels epic in scope- i don’t know why that is, but i guess it comes down to the fact that you’re not supposed to be the “chosen” to free the land from all evil, but just an adventurer lending a hand. The mission and quest texts, not only in this one, support that- there are also NPCs that are annoyed by all those adventurers around. The whole game supports you in immersing yourself in the experience.

I’ll have to change my goals, though, mainly because i learned that you’ll get retainer access only with level 20 (don’t know whether this means doing the Level 20 story mission or getting to the level), so i’ll do as follows:

  • Bring the Conjurer to Level 20 to get retainer access
  • Go to Limsa Lominsa and enter the Arcanist guild
  • Go to Ul’dah and enter the Weaver guild
  • Level Arcanist, Botanic and Weaver to 20

So yes, there’s much to do and it will take some time to reach these goals.

Final Fantasy XIV ARR: I love the game!

Now, i’m going to make it quick, for a change. I’ve been playing Final Fantasy XIV today- a lot, i think. Raptr is telling me i played over 4 hours, which is very much for me, indeed.

I managed to reach Level 14 with my Conjurer- i’m sure you could be quicker about it, doing duties and all, but i take my time, read the story/questtext, look at the gorgeous scenery and so on. Then i had to do a duty call to progress in the storyline and that’s where i stand right now- the duty server is not working. No harm done, i chose to play as a botanic for a while and reached Level 10 with that one.

There’s a lot of things i like in this game, as i mentioned, but what impressed me the most tonight can be summarized by the following screenshot.

And that was that
And that was that

If you think this was just the beginning of a long chat complaining and moaning about missing functionality on launch day, you’re wrong. I was there for another 5 minutes and nothing else came up. If this was the only thing happening in the chat, it might not be something worth mentioning, but i read people talking about Animes, other TV shows, other games – and nooo, no WoW here- Rift was mentioned once (for the good launch), but i didn’t know the other games- ok, there was something about the Witcher, but an in all it read like game enthusiasts chatting about their hobby.

Furthermore, the community seems very helpful and newbie-friendly, at least as long as the question asked is not something that would be quite obvious if one read the help popups. But even then there’ll be someone offering a nice response.

FF14 - climbing trees
I had to go up there, of course

Other than that, i received /bow and /salute emotes whenever i healed someone, and i did that quite often. When i saw someone in trouble or with a lower than 50% health bar, i threw a heal at them. I’m sad to say that there hasn’t been a group invite, though. But with so many players in the area it wouldn’t make much sense to invite everybody who’s on the same quest. And also, i could’ve invited someone, as well. With this community, i might just do that some time.

The community reminds me of the Lotro community when the game was still pay-to-play. It’s still very good over there, especially on Landroval, but boy, did the FFXIV community impress me today.

Game time: Firefall

Whoa, now that was interesting. I tried to get into Firefall two or three times before, without success- i think mainly because i didn’t really know what to do. Firefalls PvE is entirely dynamic, in this game you have to go out and seek out the fun yourselves.

But when a member of a german multigaming community where i’m in asked for some people to join him so he can found an Army and show the Army tag ingame, i went in with him. And that made a whole lot of a difference. First, regarding that community: i’m with them since Global Agenda released early 2010- they are a really casual bunch. So casual, in fact, that they didn’t bother building up a guild in any game since SWTOR.

My personal opinion is that this is a pity and they/we should be represented in the games we do play. It’s a guild with some history- they made a name for themselves as a RP-focused guild in Tabula Rasa as well as Vanguard and Fallen Earth, but it’s not easy organizing those who are still active in this community in a single guild. But sometimes i still watch the forums and am in direct contact with the leader- which is the one who asked for support in Firefall.

So in i went. It’s not really easy getting the grip of the user interface and the underlying mechanics in Firefall- it’s quite a special game, but when we went out to do some ARES missions, i had fun immediately. Playing in groups and/or guilds always makes MMORPGs more fun. At first, it was a confusing, because he always saw missions i didn’t see and didn’t know why i didn’t see them on my map. It became clear that one has to find the SIN uplinks to have missions pop up in the corresponding area.

Firefall - Sunken Harbour
Firefall is quite beautiful

I had to leave after we had some fun in the world and while trying to figure out how to spend my XP- in Firefall, you use your experience points directly to progress the battleframe (class) you earned that experience with. When i returned, i changed over to engineer and went out to level the engineer, which i guess is my preferred battleframe. In the course of two hours, i was once again in a pickup group (which makes for 2 times in a week compared to 0 times the rest of the year) and we had some fun with squad thumping and a melding tornado. Both of which were insane action.

Afterwards, i set out to get the SIN uplinks- each one of them grants a generous amount of experience and i think it’s a good way to make a start in this game- by “unlocking” missions of all areas. I logged out having gained 100k XP in the engineer battleframe and after an evening of immense- and intense fun.

There’s quite of a downside, though: i can’t really see them making money. The game is in open beta and free-to-play right now, and of course they sell “starter packs” and sold founder packs before. But the ingame cash store is….well, this game is too free. You can buy some XP boosts, a lot of fun items and two types of transportation for “red beans”, their shop currency. One doesn’t have to buy anything. If i understand correctly, some battleframes are going to be sold, as well, so there might be that.

Another thing that bothered me: with my founder pack i also bought 20$ worth of red beans- 168 of them. The motorcycle you can buy for red beans, as well as what you’d call a “teleport to home”-skill in normal MMORPGs cost 175 red beans, so…yeah. By all means, though, 20$ for this game is a steal, and i shouldn’t be too hesitant to stock up on red beans. Furthermore, you can craft this vehicle in game, as well. It costs about 200k chrystanite- a resource gained by defeating enemies and doing missions- after yesterdays session, i had 3k of them. It would take some time to get the vehicle, or, you know, i could just buy it.

Now, Firefall is not “main MMO” material for me, it somewhat to free and too restricted at the same time for that. But i am sure this hasn’t been the last time i logged in- i’m really looking forward to seeing New Eden again (isn’t that what the EVE “world” is called?).

First of all, though: today’s early access day 🙂 I’ve added a contact page to this blog, so feel free to hit me up in one of the games i’m playing, on steam or via raptr.

FF XIV ARR early access anticipation rambling

Clash of business models

This week was all about payment models- again. There have been numerous blog postings regarding that topic as well as discussions in the corresponding news articles of Wildstar’s and The Elder Scrolls‘ announcements of going with a sub at launch.

To highlight a few:

These three entries actually represent very well what i’m thinking about this topic- i mean, first of all- i’m wondering why we are still discussing this topic with such a temper. It should have been proven by now that it’s not one of these models that is “right” or “wrong”, this comes down to one simple thing- is a game worth the monetary investment it asks for or not? And how much time do i want to invest in the title?

If there is one title that i’d play exclusively, without feeling like missing out on the fun of all the other MMORPGs- and each one of them has its strengths and weaknesses, i’d have no problem paying for a subscription. Now, when i play 5 different MMORPGs, i won’t pay a sub in each of them. I don’t think we- as customers- should take a stand for one business model over the other, we should make a point by paying for games we like. Take the Repopulation, for example. It’s a title i could see me paying a sub for judging by all that i know about it- but it’s a f2p game. Should i not play it now, although it seems to be an incredibly deep experience, because i don’t believe f2p and Sandboxes mix too well? Should i just assume it’s going to inhabit some bad business like lockboxes or “pay-to-win” items? I don’t think so.

On the other hand- should i not buy TESO or Wildstar just because they’re pay-to-play? If i thought they’d be longterm candidates, i should buy them- but there’s something else to take into account with these two: how confident am i that they’ll stick to subscriptions? For me, i’d say: not confident at all- we already know TESO will have an ingame-shop on top of the subscription- which rises another question: one strong advantage of subscription games, usually mentioned by proponents of this model is that you don’t have a cash shop intruding into your game experience. When they have one, this advantage is gone. Of course, the pay-to-play faction now says something the free-to-play-faction used to say when they were in the minority: the badness of the ingame shop depends on the items sold. No it doesn’t. Sure, when there are only account services in there, that would be fine. But these things get handled by customer support traditionally. Setting up an entire system (ingame shop) for these doesn’t make sense- so there’ll either be some different items in there, as well, or this is Step 1 of going something-to-play later on.

From a business standpoint, i can understand the decision of Carbine and Zenimax, but from a player’s perspective starting p2p and going f2p/b2p after a year is not fair play. It would be different if they just lowered the box price and give the client out for free after a year while still charging the sub.

I’m still waiting for a business model that lets players pay less when they play less.

Regarding quality being the “cure”, i’ll say this: if you are the kind of player missing the deeper and more longterm-oriented games from the early generation- like UO or EQ, for example, i’d agree- if/when a game wants to be “deep” and cater to a loyal customer base, pay-to-play would be the way to go. If you want to dabble in many MMORPGs at the same time, there’s no “cure” for b2p/f2p, as these models themselves are the “cure” for subscriptions. This is not a question of quality, but about design philosophy and targetted audience. No one could sensibly argue that GW2 is not a quality game- it is, it’s just not what i’d consider a MMORPG- and even if pressed, i couldn’t answer why that is. It is a quality game by all standards. 

 Anyhow, enough of that.

Preparing for FF14 ARR

Regarding Final Fantasy XIV ARR i get more excited with each passing day. Although i learned that somehow i wouldn’t have had to purchase the new version, because i bought FF14 1.0 – it’s really no big deal, i paid about 8€ for that one, but still. I’m hoping to be able to gain more included game time- as i learned from neoGAF (via asianinaction, thanks very much), somehow i could be eligible for quite some sub-free time. 30 Days included in the client, free play until September 9th for owning 1.0 (if they know i own it- somehow Square Enix’s account management system doesn’t make much sense to me), 30 days for registering ARR…maybe. Well, if it comes with only 30 days, i might try to get some more, but i wouldn’t be terribly mad, since i guess it’s my own fault.

So, i’m making plans. It seems to me, after reading some guides for the Paladin, White Mage and Scholar on ffxivguild.com that i’ll be going for Scholar first- which means i’ll set my first ingame goals as follows:

  • continue to play my Conjurer until i finished the level 15 Story Quest and gain access to airships
  • Level up my Botanic skill to 15, as well
  • travel to Ul’dah to start with Weaver crafting
  • travel to Limsa Lominsa to begin levelling Arcanist

As for my choice of starting with Scholar as second-tier job; i don’t like to be the main-something in groups. Tanking is not for me in every case, healing is fine and i tend to not totally suck at it, but it still comes with responsibility that i don’t really want. When something doesn’t work out good i’ll have feelings of guilt that don’t really mix well with enjoyment of MMORPGs in general and group content in particular.

But i think others feel quite the same way, and that’s the reason why i enjoy being the back-up plan very much. From what i read, the Paladin is going to be some kind of Tank, while the White Mage is a good Tank Healer. So, with the Scholar being good in group heals, i’m going to start with that.

Of course, my level of anxiety lowers significantly when i’m in a Dungeon with guildmates, but i’ll be entering FF14 solo. I hope to find a good guild (linkshell and/or free company) with time, though.

Regarding servers, i chose Balmung. It’s a northamerican legacy server which has been selected as unofficial RP server earlier. I read a lot of good stuff about the community and somehow i expect to find the FF14 equivalent to Lotro’s Landroval. I just hope there are other europeans over there, as well.

So, tomorrow is the big day. The early access begins at 2 a.m. PDT (which is 11 am Berlin time) and i’ll be ingame as soon as i can. To all those who are waiting for early access / release as well: have fun in the game!

Game time: Waiting for Final Fantasy XIV ARR

So, i was able to fit in two gaming sessions in the last two days- who would have expected that? With my new shiny arriving on saturday and the newfound freedom to play what i want, i went into two different games.

Star Wars: the old republic

Yes, you read that right. I mean, i bought the game and it’s “free-to-play” now, so why not? Unfortunately, the client is really big and it took some time to get even to the minimal needed download to play on a starting planet. After that was accomplished, i went in with a new character on my “preferred player” account.

The “rumours” stating that SWTOR is very restrictive to free players are true, though. Although i didn’t feel very much in my first evening playing up to level 5, there’s a lot crossed out even for preferred players- you’ll be greeted with a screen showing you right off the bat that you are only preferred and not a subscriber. While i think it is ok to inform players about the restrictions they face, it’s really not welcoming when you see what you don’t have before even selecting or creating a character. The next thing crossed out were most of the available races- but i’d run with a human, anyway, so that didn’t hurt much.

All in all, game-client-wise, it was not a pleasant stay: long download times, two or three crashes and the restrictions presented to you in a “in-your-face” manner. The stay in the game, though, was surprisingly pleasant.

I came to realize i like the graphics- style-wise as well as judging by the look- the quest presentation is very good, as well. If you take your time with it and watch those voiceovers, you’ll start to care for your quests. The dialogue options further increase the feeling of involvement, so that was great. And then, something really surprising happened: i was on a quest, and somebody else was on the same quest. Within seconds i had a group invite! Now that’s interesting, i thought- that hasn’t happened to me at least in this year, maybe even in 2012. I had a nice time in that group until i realised that it was late and i would have to go offline.

All in all, i think SWTOR is a nice “play-to-finish” MMORPG, but don’t fool yourself when going in- i think a sub is the best way to experience this game. There’ll come XP reductions, limited dungeon- and warzone-runs and so on. While i was surprised when i went in with an open mind instead and had a good time, i think i won’t log in again.

Guild Wars 2

This game used to be my big hope for the genre, and for some time it looked as if it would be what i expected it to be. But then, quite suddenly, actually, i got the feeling i was working with a neverending to-do-list of daily and monthly achievements, renown hearts, vistas, points of interest and waypoints. I liked the dynamic events, although they didn’t influence the game world as much as i had liked.

When i went in yesterday, my character logged in while a dynamic event happened around her. I didn’t know where i was, my inventory was overflowing, i had popups because of my achievement points and no idea how to play my character. So that was somewhat troublesome. When i beat this event and tried to defeat the champion to enter a balloon for the queens jubilee, i already had enough of that. The gameplay is nice and all, but GW2 is too fast paced for my taste.

Final Fantasy XIV

I read some nice articles about this game in the last few days- to mention two of them, there’s Keen from Keen and Graevs gaming blog answering common questions regarding FF14 and ZAM prepares us for launch.

What i got out of it: first of all, i can’t wait! There are so many systems and experiences i don’t know in this game that it’ll be a joy to discover them. For instance, i knew there was some kind of multiclassing- in the sense that one character can do it all, but also in some synergies between classes.

What i didn’t know is that some of these combinations form second-tier jobs, and now i’m torn- will i become a Paladin, White Mage or a Scholar? I have no idea how they all work out, and the difference between the White Mage and the Scholar is only in changing around Arcanist and Conjurer as primary or secondary class.

I really like hybrid classes, though, so i’ll want to build something that’s able to heal and do damage- i’m quite unsure which of these three will be my best option. The most fun i had with any class in any game was with the druid in WoW when he got the Bear- and the Cat-form and i could do anything in a dungeon – primarily DPS, but healing and/or tanking when an add attacked the main healer or somebody else. Great times! Unfortunately, those didn’t last long because at that time, you had then to decide where to go with your druid. A combination of two out of the three roles was still possible, but being mainly DPS and helping with tanking and healing wasn’t really viable. So that would be great, maybe the Paladin is the way to go? Hm, we’ll see.

The thing with FFXIV is, i can see a long time ahead and i don’t even know a thing about the game – i just know that i’d like to play one of these three second-tier jobs and be able to craft myself some armor, at first. So i know, let’s say i’ll stick to Paladin, that i need to level my Conjurer at least to 15 (by doing story quests which also unlock the first dungeon and airships ), the Gladiator to 30, and the corresponding gathering and crafting jobs accordingly. With my gaming speed, this can take some time.

Oh, and “Spiritbond“? Didn’t know about that one, either. Great!

So, i am really looking forward to that one.