Tag: FFXIV

Resolutions for 2015

Well, only the MMORPG-related, of course.

Spend less

2014 was an expensive year for me in MMORPGs. Developers monetize the feeling of missing out i always get when there’s some kind of early access/beta or even expansion and new releases very well nowadays. Others may dislike the chaos that are the first days in an MMO, but i like how everybody’s interested and sets foot in a new (part of the) world of a particular MMO. That’s why i’m always inclined to join as early as possible. So in 2014, i “preordered” Landmark, ArcheAge, the Repopulation, Elder Scrolls Online, Galactic Strongholds (actually, i only subbed to get it, but still), Wildstar and Elite: Dangerous. I also stocked up store credits in Rift when the new expansion came. That’s some serious money for games i play in a (very) casual manner. In case of ArcheAge, it was a total waste. I don’t know, this one makes me sad, because i like the crafting/economy part of this game but feel it is totally borked.

So in 2015, i’d like to spend less on that stuff, although i know that Everquest Next, should they release a founder pack with alpha access will probably make it on my list, and there’s at least one expansion that’s beckoning me, Heavenswarth for Final Fantasy XIV. But even so, i hope to be more careful this year.

Be ready when they come

I’m sure this’ll be a moot point for EQ2, because that game’s too big for me to get to the “end” of the available content before the new expansion hits, but in general terms, i’d like to be where the fun starts with a new expansion. Right now i can think of SWTOR and Final Fantasy XIV where i’ll want to at least be level-capped when new content hits. EQ2 would be a bonus, but as i said, there’s not much hope.

Also, this isn’t new. Last year, i was hoping to get settled into one, and only one MMORPG. I was quite sure that by this time of the year, i’d live happily ever after with ArcheAge, but it wasn’t to be. So this year, i’d like to be at least a little more focussed and try to ignore those who most likely won’t expand this year. I could add Lotro here, but i’m so far behind the curve in that one and don’t really like Moria that i don’t think i’ll even try.

Don’t forget this blog

Yeah, i posted very infrequently since i started this blog and i’d like to change that. I can’t write every day like others do, but still, i want to keep it active. Also, more pictures please.

Continue my guild project

Well, i copied an idea from an international guild i was part of and brought it to a german multigaming guild. Basically, we move between f2p games every 3 months. We use a poll to determine which one it’s going to be and then meet up once a week to play that game together. Right now, we’re in Everquest 2. Reception of the idea was very good, with 15 players signing up. A couple of weeks later and we’re down to 4 players. Anyway, i think such a project is good to have in a multigaming guild, because it brings the players closer to each other and lets them play together for a while.

Be more social in game

I don’t really know how to do that. If in a guild, i’ll try and group up more often, or at least chat. Also, i’d really like to make use of a friends list again- the last one i used as intended was back in WoW, since then it’s mostly just prep-work to get a guild set up.

Don’t overstretch, focus (a little)

….please? For now, i’ve said goodbye to the idea of playing just one MMORPG at a time, it seems it just isn’t my style at the moment. But with my available time for gaming, it would really befit me to not have 5 MMORPGs to choose from every time i find myself having some time. Also, when i’m not focussed, i tend to sub to multiple MMOs and sometimes even forget a subscription (a few days ago i discovered my FF14-sub still being active). So, please, dear me, try and stay a while.

Goodbye Vanguard, welcome back FFXIV and nice to meet you, EQ2

Welcome back

So yeah, it’s been a while since i posted. I guess having a baby at home gets in the way of gaming and especially blogging about it. So what happened in the meantime? Not much, of course. Last year after my last posting i didn’t play much- i think Raptr counted 30 hours, mostly in SWTOR, if i remember correctly. This year i saw ESO and Wildstar coming and going (for me). I knew they weren’t games designed with me as a player in mind before going in, but i couldn’t resist. Needless to say, i dropped both of them. Also, we moved. New job and all that.

So here i am, still trying to figure out and find “my” MMO home. The three candidates that made me start this blog still haven’t released yet, so there’s still hope for me. A lot more of it, to be frank, because SOE dropped ProsiebenSat1, so EQN is on my radar once again.

On a side note: i stumbled across old (guild) friends of mine and rejoined a german guild because of them- the guild/community i joined last year is the best organized guild i ever encountered and they offer great community-related stuff, really great people, i can’t complain. The new, german one is a lot more casual in their together-ness, but they’re also very nice. One thing i miss is some structure- but honestly, i never was in a german guild that also had a good organization (maybe i’ll post about that another time).

Goodbye, Vanguard

When the year 2014 came, i had a bad feeling concerning Vanguard. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but some news coming from SOE made me think Vanguard might be nearing its end by the end of 2014. So i subbed, thinking i might spend 2014 with getting to know Telon in my own pace. One week after i subbed, SOE really broke the news about Vanguard closing. But much sooner than i thought. With a closure in the end of july, there was no hope for me to see as much of Telon as i’d liked, so i stopped playing. But that’s not the point.

A huge loss

The point is; i think Vanguard was the last of the more old-school, world-orientated MMORPGs out there. It had an open world, a great crafting system and diplomacy. There are other games with an open world, of course, but they also have that “zone”-feel. Go from Elwynn to Westfall in WoW and it isn’t a slow and steady but a sudden change of landscape. There’s only one game i know of that doesn’t have that as much- and that’s ArcheAge.

Also, character progression should take almost forever. That’s how i like MMOs- open world, a variety of activities, a good ingame economy, lots of opportunity to socialize. I’ve never been one to “finish” MMORPGs, Rift being the only game i maxleveled a character, but still…endgame is not for me. At least not the WoW-inspired raiding endgame.

So the loss of Vanguard made me think about that, and that’s why i knew ESO and WS wouldn’t be for me, but i didn’t know what else to play. Also, i wanted to make a “decision”, to stick it out with one MMORPG for quite some time. But which one. As it stands, i am now committed to two games.

Final Fantasy XIV

I liked FF14 very much when i visited it- there was one thing i didn’t like, though: i thought levelling crafting was a huge grind. What i didn’t know is that you can do these Levequests for gathering and crafting, as well. Those help with progress, a lot. Also, my new german guild is also actively playing it, so i am not alone. I’m really looking forward to playing this to level 50…and i will!

Everquest 2

News of the new expansion made me curious, once again. The player base seems to be very excited for the expansion coming 11/11. I don’t really know anything about EQ2, but the excitement carried over nonetheless. Everquest 2 is mentioned very often when it comes to full-featured themepark MMORPGs. The housing and crafting systems also get a lot of praise. Also, it is the successor of Everquest, to which Vanguard was the spiritual successor. Somehow i thought, maybe this is the game one would play if Vanguard was no longer available.

I decided to get All Access, as well. The perks SOE gives out aren’t that interesting for me, yet, but still…and now we are coming out of a member-double xp weekend that was so well-timed that SOE might have read my mind (went All Access one day before they announced the double xp).

I’m playing a Warden right now (Broshia), got to level 16 and just started levelling as an artisan. I haven’t decided on a crafting profession, yet, but i think it might be tailor.

In the case of EQ2, i plan to play it as “second” MMO. Soon there’ll be ArcheAge (my guess is a release in late september), so it’ll become third. I like it so far and think i should have looked into it much sooner. I can also see it being the “casual”, “fall back to” MMORPG that in reality gets the most of my available play time.

Doing it wrong

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

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

Finding excuses for solo-play

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

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

Resolutions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making (and keeping) friends

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

This blog

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

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

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

Final Fantasy 14: First goals accomplished, new ones ahead

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

Get retainer access

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

Copperbell Mines
Copperbell Mines

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

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

This game is beautiful
This game is beautiful

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

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

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

Bringing the other Classes up to par

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

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

Hanging out
Hanging out

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

Finding a linkshell / free company

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

The stretch goals

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

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

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

Good times ahead
Good times ahead

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

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

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

ArcheAge

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

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

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

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

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

Final Fantasy XIV

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

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

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

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

Aleport

Aleport

Game time: Final Fantasy XIV

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

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

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

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

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.

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: 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.