2015 has, similar to 2014, been all about dabbling in a myriad of MMORPGs. There are so many downsides to this approach to MMO gaming that it could become a … Continue reading Games for 2016
Project Trinity: calling it quits in august
I’m late on the whole Blaugust thing, so i think that ship has sailed, although i might be looking into how it works and maybe join the ranks because participating might be fun. I’ve been away for the last three weeks, at a place where i couldn’t read my mail, use Twitter in a meaningful way and read/write WordPress blogs. No, i haven’t been to the moon, only china. I’ve been following the news, though, mainly through Massively Overpowered and i’ve read some of the non-Wordpress blogs.
Anyways, three weeks gone from any MMO gaming opportunity does change one’s point of view. Interestingly, the games i’ve missed aren’t Final Fantasy XIV or Star Wars: the old republic but open world games like Lord of the Rings Online and World of Warcraft as well as full-featured themeparks like Everquest 2. Of course, all three of these games also featured heavily in the news- EQ2 with its TLE servers, Lotro with the coming server merges and WoW with the expansion news- so that might also be at work here. With WoW, i can honestly say that i wanted to play even before news of the expansion broke. I still do want to play, but the subscription is keeping me at bay for now. What i might do, though, is to level the classes i’m most interested in to 20- that would probably be the Shaman, Druid, Priest, Monk and maybe Paladin.
Still, with all this longing for the mentioned games, i still don’t want to leave SWTOR and FF14 behind. While i don’t have very pressing goals in FF14 for now- the expansion has launched and i’m way behind the curve again, i do want to level one character- possibly the Jedi Sage- in SWTOR to 60 before the expansion hits in october.
And then, there has been news, as well. Bad news.
Funcom is looking for a merger/acquisition. Now, we all can take a guess what that will mean for the future of Funcom’s games. Personally, i’m hoping for the best, which would mean no jobs lost, all games remain intact and get the same kind- or even better- attention in the future. But i wouldn’t bet loads of money on that outcome. So, while i really don’t know what the outcome will be, i’m kind of bracing myself for shutdown. And that would be bad on so many levels. Especially The Secret World is a great game, i’ve come to respect Funcom for what they do. I’ve also found it quite sad, really, Funcom is one of these companies providing us with games from the genre we love. I think it’s time to ask ourselves some uncomfortable questions- concerning business models, for instance. Or maybe not- maybe they’d be in an even worse state if their games would still follow the sub model. What i’ve found really disheartening, though, is that- again- there’ve been comments welcoming these news, thinking that it would be well-deserved and things like that.
So, TSW needs to go back into my rotation. It might not- and let’s just hope that won’t be the case- be around much longer. The same goes for Lotro, really. We don’t know when it’ll end, but i think the best guesses would lean towards a 2017 closure…maybe. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, either.
Coincidentally, those are the only two games i ever bought a lifetime sub for. At least for Lotro, i got my money’s worth. For years it had been my “return-to” MMORPG and i loved it- Lotro is one of the most relaxing MMORPGs out there. It’s also very atmospheric and the landscapes still look stunning. I’ve never made it through Moria, though. With TSW, it’s even worse. While i feel i got a good deal there, as well, neither my /played time nor my progress could serve as proof for that.
So when i thought about ways to shrink that roster down to my usual three, i realized that it isn’t really possible. I want to experience FF14, SWTOR, TSW, Lotro, EQ2, maybe WoW and/or even more games when i feel like it. I also want to make some progress in all of them. And there’ll be releases this year, as well. Wildstar f2p, Blade and Soul, the Repopulation.
For now, the most pressing concern is to reach level 60 with my Jedi Sage before the SWTOR expansion hits. With 12XP, i think it’s very possible, even for me, if i concentrate on the story mode and leave other things like crafting, the strongholds etc. out for the time being.
Lotro is for fun, but i’d really like to progress through Moria to see what lies on the other side. It’s also the game i’ve been playing since our return home on tuesday.
For now, i’m done with forcing myself into a schedule/a roster of MMOs, and i’ll simply do and play what is fun to me. “Of course”, you’ll say, because that’s the way one should do it- but there’s still the knowledge that i don’t really play that much- reaching significant progress in all these games with my available time might be quite difficult. I’ll try it that way, anyway.
When the closure of Tabula Rasa was announced, i was quite sad- i really, really liked the game and miss it to this day. Then, i decided that i wouldn’t continue to play it as i’d lose my characters/the game anyway. Nowadays, i often wish i would have decided the other way round- to try and experience as much as possible. With the news coming from Funcom and a refound love for Lotro, i’m not really in the mood to limit myself right now.
Dual Wielding: the ideal levelling process
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.
This time, Ironweakness’ and i chose to tackle another subject- the ideal levelling process. For me, this is a difficult topic since i never really finished levelling in most of the MMORPGs i play- so voting for a longer levelling experience seems to be quite the opposite of what i’d want- but since i am someone who likes MMORPGs to be “virtual worlds” with a heap of different activities and a somewhat robust economy, a longer levelling experience makes sense. So here are my thoughts on how levelling should be- in my opinion, of course.
I do like the arbitrary level number next to my character’s portrait. It’s an easy way to gauge overall progress of that character in the game. I don’t think that journey ever ends, though, so the concept of a “max level” doesn’t appeal to me. Just take a look at the achievement list in your favourite MMO – the developers agree! But they put another arbitrary number on achievements instead of making use of the existing one, character level. I could, of course, use that arbitrary number to see where i stand in regards of overall progression within the game, but i don’t really see the point in adding another value instead of using the one that has always been there to do exactly that.
Let it take forever, because there would need to be a soft cap applied. I’d prefer the soft-cap-max-level to be high, though, to allow for tangible progress early on. Let’s say your maxlevel is 255; just let it take 3 months of ingame time to go from 254 to 255, i don’t care. It shouldn’t be reached, anyway.
Of course, the problem is skill/class progression, which is often tied to the levelling process, but that’s a topic for another day. For now, i’ll make it short and simply state that i prefer skill progression over class progression because it allows for horizontal character progression- see EVE or The Secret World, for instance.
Uses all activities
If we take another look at achievements, the funny thing is that there are achievements for almost everything- yet, in most games, the only things that grant you “experience” to raise your level are killing mobs and completing quests. In my opinion, everything an MMO offers should contribute to your characters’ progress in levels. Good examples are Guild Wars 2, where pretty much everything you can do rewards experience, but also Final Fantasy XIV by use of gathering/crafting classes and SWTOR, where, as far as i know, most things you do give some progress to your characters, although it won’t always be towards levelling them but provide the player with alternate currencies.
Is heavy on story
But please don’t let me be the chosen one. I want to see an MMO-story that actually makes use of all the other players out there and it doesn’t make sense that we’re all superheroes, demi-gods or immortals- if we were, we were the ‘normal’ ones in the setting and the world dynamics would change.
Story-heavy MMORPGs are often criticized for being too solo-centric, but i feel that, while this might be true for the MMORPGs that are released, it doesn’t need to be this way. There are great, story-heavy movies/books out there that don’t just focus on one character. The key is that those characters have different opinions, different goals and different motivations behind their choices. In my opinion, we could do this in MMOs.
I think Star Wars: the old republic actually gives us a glance at this possibility- when you are in flashpoints, dialogue opens up. As in normal quests, the player characters will be prompted to answer. Every player of the group may choose an option to his or her liking, but what is actually said- story-wise, is decided by dice roll. This allows for situations where something happens, story-wise, that wouldn’t have been your personal choice and is still very interesting to observe.
So i don’t think it’s impossible to do. Of course, creating story takes some time, so how much story there is for players to experience should differ from game to game (and budget to budget), but if you’re a themepark MMO, story is part of the package.
Gives weight to activities
This ties in with the previous point- not everything there is to do in an MMORPG is totally epic stuff- there’s going to be the basement full of rats, the odd delivery quest, the filler content. And also, baking bread, smelting iron and so on. A game that wants to provide a good levelling experience gives weigth to activities- for instance by not throwing tens of quests at us when we enter a “quest hub”.
The Secret World and Guild Wars 2 do great in this regard- TSW only allows the player to have one story mission, one main mission and up to three item missions active at the same time, making each mission seem more important and easier to follow. Missions in The Secret World are often multi-tiered, as well. Guild Wars 2 doesn’t have quests, at all, and makes heavy use of location instead. Be in place A and there’s this thing to do, in place B it’s another one (often even providing multiple ways to finish these quests- by collecting items, killing mobs and so on), dynamic events are location-based, as well. Only your personal story and daily/monthly achievements are similar to what you’d call quests in other games.
Doesn’t change at endgame
The ideal levelling process doesn’t suddenly change the game surrounding it when it’s finished- “endgame” and “levelling” should basically be the same game. I see no reason why raids should be a max-level-activity. Sure, if the levelling process is short and players enter and leave the corresponding level-brackets very quickly, it doesn’t really make sense to create complicated content before max level. If, on the other hand, the bracket in question takes time to traverse, there could be dungeons/raids or whatever for earlier levels. If you take a look at EQ2, for example, it does a great job at providing content for all group sizes at almost all levels- this should be the norm.
I think if we’re talking about a linear quest-driven-progression, there should be multiple ways to level through the content. World of Warcraft and Everquest 2 are great examples – you could level multiple characters without entering the same zones (or minimizing this) on more than one of them, because for every level bracket, there are more than one or two options in playing. But even if we’re looking outside of zones, crafting, exploring, gathering, these are all activities that should be rewarded by raising that arbitrary number of character level.
Milestones: branching out and leaving Nar Shaddaa
I’ve made some progress in Final Fantasy XIV and Star Wars: the old republic. I’ve written about it before, but cutting down to three different MMORPGs a month proves to be the right decision for me. Granted, right now i play only two of them, but that’s even better! I feel invested, i want to get things done in both of them and when i have the time and mood to play, i just have to decide on one of them and get it started. Having 8+ MMORPGs installed can leave me open to analysis paralysis, so sometimes i didn’t play at all, even if mood and time were present.
Right now, though, this isn’t a problem anymore, because i decide based on factors like social mood (i’m not in a guild in SWTOR…yet), available activities/goals and time to play as well as time of play. Yesterday evening, for example, i didn’t get to play until 10 p.m., i found that to be too late to launch FF14, so i simply booted SWTOR.
Anyway, in Final Fantasy XIV i reached the point where i can join multiple class guilds in the game. This is the point where the game begins to get complicated for me, since there is so much i want to do with one character but i shouldn’t get too wide-spread to still gain significant progress on the classes i play.
Doing class quests and story quests mainly has worked out fine, so far. I’m even below the current level of main story quest at the moment, so i’ll have to do something else next. But the opening of other classes means that it’s time to catch up, as well. For now, i’ll stick to conjurer and botanist mainly, maybe with a bit of dabbling as a carpenter.
Later on i will join the weaver’s guild, as well. Playing catch-up this early means i don’t have 20 levels of gathering before me like last time. I’ll simply level the Botanist up to 13 and keep it in pace with the Conjurer. The Botanist isn’t able to gather Weaver-relevant materials until reaching level 10, though, so i might use the wood i gather to get there to get the Carpenter started.
I think reaching level 30 is entirely possible before Heavensward launches next month, and that’s my main goal right now- then, i’ll take a look at the machinist and the astrologian as they are possible main classes for me. But i’m not in a hurry to get there- it would be detrimental to my enjoyment of the game and i simply hope catching up in terms of main story questline isn’t as bad as it sounds.
I also took part in the first weekly FC meeting, which was interesting. I think guilds too often neglect this part of meeting up, taking a look at each other, maybe taking a screenshot and just telling members what’s happening in the guild, introducing and promoting new members and so on. Many guilds rely on the forums, the fact that “everybody’s using voice chat anyway” and don’t value the social atmosphere of an ingame meet-up. Needless to say, i liked it very much and got a few laughs out of it.
Leaving Nar Shaddaa
In Star Wars: the old republic, Soofoo the Commando finished the class storyline on Nar Shaddaa. I can’t say i’m too sad to leave this place behind me – it has a nice look, but it’s a city-planet (again!) and full of narrow corridors/streets (again!) on map islands strewn around the planet map (again!). I like more open areas, but i think i’m getting used to them in SWTOR, as well. Despite the fact that Lotro’s Moria looks airy, open and free in comparison, i can’t say the corridor-thing wouldn’t work with SWTOR. After all, the movies themselves play in similar areas quite often.
I still look forward to a snowy planet, though (not Hoth, the other one), as that would be the landscape i prefer the most- unfortunately, snowy wood- and mountainlands haven’t been done too good in MMOs that i know of yet. Maybe SWTOR and FF14 will finally make amends in this regard.
Nar Shaddaa is also very….colorful. I really don’t envy the population – it’s loud, the light pollution shoots through the roof and it’s all just shady business, which is the point, i guess.
My plans for 12XP
Funny enough, the official homepage had a banner on the 12XP-site yesterday that read “it’s live right now”, so i went in to get something started only to find out it hasn’t yet. It’s always a difficult thing in europe to find out when something goes live, exactly. May, the 4th could be everything- it could be live right now, since it is today’s date; or it could even go live tomorrow, depending on the time it will be implemented in the US.
Mhorgrim made a comment these days and made me think about ways to make use of 12XP in a good way, for me. After all, i have two goals for SWTOR that are quite opposing to each other- on the one hand, i’d like to be where content updates are- at the level cap. On the other hand, i’ve not yet experienced planetary storylines, like to craft while playing and generally like to take my time- to an extent. So for now, i think Soofoo will remain 12XP free.
I’ll use 12XP, though, to explore different servers. Having made the move on FF14 from the “german” server to the biggest EU server, i can tell you the difference can be huge. Phoenix is full of characters everywhere i go. It makes a lot of a difference to see all the other characters around you, so i want to try and explore more populated servers. I’ll also see how it would and could work out on a NA server, i want to take a look at guilds and maybe start somewhere where i feel there’s a good one that might fit, and see about the roleplaying community. Transferring those characters to one server after i might decide where to land wouldn’t be much of a problem.
Concerning classes- i might give the mirrored imperial commando a look. The imperial agent is one thing on my to-do-list, as well. And the smuggler, the sentinel- so there are four classes and storylines i’d like to take a look at. I think i’ll go with the Sentinel/Consular first and try to get it to level cap as quick as i can.
Right now, i’m really enjoying my time in SWTOR. So much so that i can’t see myself dropping it by the end of the month. It even grows on me, but that might be because whenever 12XP hits, i can essentially level on my own pace. For instance, i could do class quests when i outlevelled them (to slow my progress) or do them on-level (to quicken it), or i could disable the bonus entirely. My guess is that i’ll make use of all three options, and that’s great.
Project Trinity: april’s gone, now onto may
Moving on with my plan to cut my MMORPG rotation down to three MMORPGs per month, i’ll also try and look closer at what i play. Thankfully, i’ve still got Raptr installed, tracking all games i play, so it’s easy to give the previous month a review.
It is worth mentioning that i began this project in mid-april, so forgive me if this list contains more than 4 MMORPGs (3 of my own choosing, 1 in the guild project which currently is Age of Conan). So, last month i played:
- Star Wars: the Old republic – 14 hours
- Age of Conan – 9 hours
- Final Fantasy XIV – 6 hours
- Elder Scrolls Online – 4 hours
- Guild Wars 2 – 3 hours
- Neverwinter – <1 hour
Adding all that together, i spent about 36 hours with playing MMORPGs in april. I like, however, how SWTOR gained the top spot here- i played it almost exclusively in the second half of april, with some FF14 thrown into the mix (all FF14 hours have occured last week).
I have to say, it seems as if Project Trinity is working out just fine for me- not only do i cut down my attention into fewer games, but i’m also more invested in them. After all, 20 of these 36 hours have been played in the second half of the month, while Age of Conan’s time was pretty much constant over the weeks, so the second half wins with about 24:12 hours over the first half of april.
I hope it will continue like that. As i’ve mentioned, this month will see Final Fantasy 14 as my main MMO and SWTOR & ESO as side dishes- to be honest, i expect to play FF14 and SWTOR for about the same amount of time and ESO to fall short to these two. The reason is simple: i have projects in FF14 and SWTOR, but not so in ESO.
After Eliot’s article on Massively Overpowered where he wrote about catching up to the expansion in time as a fresh level 50, i am so not in a hurry anymore. What he wrote about seemed to be a lot of content to do even when you reached the current cap, not all of it what i’d call engaging content- that the least it did was to assure me i’ll not be ready for the expansion when it hits. I might be able to play the new classes with release, though.
But that’s fine with me- it puts me in a place where i won’t be telling myself i’d “have to” play lots of FF14 to catch up and instead free me up to play more SWTOR where i have some plans for 12XP when it hits.
Doing it wrong
Yesterday, i read the massively opinion column titled “Maybe it’s time to admit you don’t like MMOs” and it made me think- about the general perception of MMOs, their communities and my interaction with other players in the games themselves.
I came to the conclusion that i’m doing it wrong- i mean, in Final Fantasy 14 i am member in what seems to be a great linkshell/free company. My interactions with the other members have been saying “hi” and “bye” as well as one dungeon run, which was fun. In Firefall, i had fun doing stuff with one or two other players, but when our army grew to be bigger than the squad size of Firefall, i became reluctant to log in.
Finding excuses for solo-play
Now, i know what this blog’s title suggests, so i am aware of how these games are meant to be played, but there always seem to be obstacles to experience these games this way. For me, it comes down to:
- Voice Chat. I don’t like voice chat. Yet, in many guilds using it is de facto mandatory. In my Rift guild, for example, guild chat would always just entail fragments of conversations that happened in voice chat. Yes, i might use voice chat once in a while, but don’t expect me to launch it with the game. I might want to listen to music/podcasts or whatever. Voice chat directly affects my ability to relax and enjoy an evening of leisure.
- Log-In times. We have a toddler in the house. When he screams, i’m afk. When my wife needs assistance, i’m afk. Often, when i log in, i don’t know how long it will be- it could be 2 hours, but it could also be 15 minutes. I don’t want to ruin someone else’s evening by signing up for a dungeon run i can’t finish- or doing something in the party and let them wait for my return in a quest hub.
- My own mood. I play these games to relax. I take my time, i play them slow- my Conjurer in FF14 is level 22 now and will remain there for a time because i want to catch up with my botanist and weaver classes. If i were to group up with my level 22 i could suddenly find myself being at level 30 without progressing in the storyline and my crafting jobs getting far behind. Playing at my own pace in groups becomes running after someone else very quick. I wouldn’t want that.
- Other people’s progress. I’m slow, others aren’t. One reason i haven’t done very much with my linkshell is that many are in their 40s or at max level (they played 1.0) and therefore what they do isn’t available to me.
- Other people’s playtimes. I guess this goes hand-in-hand with my last point, but there’s more than just the progression. I’m always somewhat surprised that even players who call themselves “casual” play 4 hours each day. As i mentioned, i average at about 10-15 hours a week and i consider that playing quite a lot. In Firefall, i saw how others in my army spent every free minute available to them in the game- when i see that, i think to myself how quickly they’re going to burn out and leave the game- and true enough, last week the guild leader played 2 and a half hours Firefall. As i said, right now i think Firefall is a great game, but you have to consume it bite-sized, or you’ll be burnt out when the really cool features come into play.
Good excuses, right? Well, no, maybe not. Maybe, if i don’t want to play with others i should just start up one of my many single player games i didn’t finish (or pretty much didn’t even start them). Sure, MMORPGs nowadays are soloable and especially the gathering and crafting bits of FF14 lend themselves very good to solo-play.
Maybe i should just scrap crafting first and just level my most advanced class to 50 as quick as possible. But then i wouldn’t be able to craft equipment for myself during the levelling process. Also, endgame is usually not what i’m playing these games for. When i reached endgame in Rift in June 2011 i just quit- doing daily quests or repeating the same dungeons over and over again doesn’t appeal to me. Levelling as quick as possible is also not what i’m there for. So that’s not going to work.
I made a resolution, nonetheless. I want to party more, and usually, when i do, i get something out of it. The other day i helped another player in a really dense spawn point- he was going to fill his hunting log, but no matter how he’d do it, he would pull 3-4 enemies to get to his targets. So, as a healer, i asked him what he wanted to do, grouped up and helped him achieve his goal. One more member on my friendslist.
So i want to do that some more- go around with open eyes and help players i see having trouble. I did that before, as well, but it was a case of throwing out one or two heals and going my way. Also, i should ask in linkshell chat if somebody wants to group up- either for my most advanced class or for some of the classes i want to play down the line. I mean, there’s many of them. Just for adventuring classes, i aim to play:
All this to get the jobs of White Mage, Black Mage, Bard, Monk and Scholar- more or less in that order.
Making (and keeping) friends
One problem, of course, is that none of my friends play MMORPGs. Many players just enjoy group content with either real life friends or acquaintances from the game(s) they’re playing- none of the two are available to me, for different reasons, many of them my own fault. If you jump around in games and guilds very much, you’ll have a hard time making “online friends”. And when you do make them and let the connections somehow fall apart (as i did with the guild i co-founded in GW2), that’s your own fault, as well. Maybe i’ll talk more about that last mistake some time.
Now, there’s a topic for a series of blog posts that fits right into this blog’s title. Party business- how to put the multiplayer part back into MMORPGs from the perspective of a casual player.
I haven’t written for some time, because when commenting around at the last post i realized that the reason i started this blog- or the topics i wanted to cover- aren’t really hot anymore. EQ Next is a thing of the past- i’ll look into it again either when SOE scraps P7S1 or when i cave in and decide that making an account there isn’t the end of the world. With EQN, there’s another thing: i can’t shake the feeling that this will play very GW2-like. ArcheAge seems to become a lot more themeparky than expected and The Repopulation seems still to be far off.
Final Fantasy 14 caught me by surprise- i didn’t expect to enjoy it so much, but as you can see above, i have goals that last for quite some time- for me, at least- and i didn’t even mention crafting. But i’ll have to put some thought into how i’m going to develop this blog further, since it really doesn’t bother anyone what i’m doing in my MMO and so the journal-type i was using isn’t of much interest. That’s not to say i won’t continue like that, but there will be another theme to my blogging, and right now i think it’s going to be somewhat community-focused, which might be an odd thing to do for someone who’s doing it wrong.
Final Fantasy 14: First goals accomplished, new ones ahead
So, Final Fantasy 14. Let’s summarize what i wanted to do:
Get retainer access
To get retainer access in Final Fantasy 14, you have to advance far enough in the storyline. Depending on how much you get sidetracked, that might be around level 17 to 20. Before you get to the corresponding quest stage, you’ll be partaking in three mandatory low level dungeons, suited for Level 15 (Sastasha, around Limsa Lominsa), Level 16 (Tam-Tara Deepcroft, around Gridania) and Level 17 (Copperbell mines, around Ul’Dah) respectively. They didn’t seem too hard, although i experienced a wipe or two and you’ll even have some basic boss mechanics other than tank’n’spank to find out in the last one.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 😉