I’m stopping to look for guilds…and more

Final Fantasy 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Back into FFXIV, backwards

This weekend i decided to get back to Final Fantasy XIV “early”- i planned to re-enter the game in may, so that would have been next week. Although the plan is to have it as “side MMO” this week, i have some things to do already.

The backward project

When i re-entered, i had four options on how to do it:

  • the reasonable way: continue my character, stay in the FC and the server i was in
  • the american way pt.1: continue the level 6 archer on cactuar, try and join Belghast’s FC
  • the american way pt.2: create a new character on Faerie, join quite a well known social FC over there
  • the backward way: find an FC first, join their server with a new character

As you can guess by the title, i went in backwards. The thing is, a good player community is essential to my enjoyment of an MMO. The old server was Shiva, which is what the german community chose to be the “unofficial german server”, which isn’t so much of a problem if there was an FC that really stuck out. There wasn’t. On Faerie, there is the FC “Orange Pekoe” i was interested in joining, but in the end i was simply afraid to join an FC and a server that operates outside of my timezone.

In the end, i found a nice-sounding FC on Phoenix, coincidentally the biggest EU server population-wise, created a character, applied to the FC, was accepted, joined up and received a very warm welcome. One of the reasons i joined that FC was the tone of conversation which seemed nice, open but also pretty direct and the fact that they don’t use voice chat. It turned out that they recently have set up a voice chat server, but i think it won’t be much of a problem because the FC’s culture is already established without one. I liked what i saw so far.

New plans

Of course, that means starting at level 1 and pretty much give up on being ready for the expansion content-wise when it hits. There were a few mistakes i made on my last character that i’d like to avoid this time. Concentrating on one class/job to get it as far as possible isn’t my play style, so gathering and crafting will be included in this round as it has always been.

Elezen in Gridania

For now, i’m picking the main story quest line first in everything i do- i’m level 9 now and have done maybe 3 or 4 quests that weren’t storyline quests. There are two reasons for me to go at it this way: first, i don’t want to outlevel the storyline quests as much as i did last time- it was a pain to get the story from level 20 to level 24. The second reason, of course, is that FF14 gates content behind the story; the faster i progress there, the earlier i can pick up a gathering and crafting class, get a retainer, a chocobo and so on.

While it is somewhat…hm, stupid to do all that again i feel that if the new FC turns out as good as i hope it to be it’s worth it. Also, it’s still almost two months until the expansion hits, so there is hope i’ll be able to level to 30, at least.

Another painful experience was to get the gathering/crafting jobs up to par with my adventuring level- i think part of the reasons why my excitement for the game went down was that i basically played catch-up from all directions. So this time, i want that gap to be smaller. So i’ll pick up the botanist class as soon as possible and directly join the level of the adventuring class. I’ll do the same for weaver as soon as i have access to the airships. So my goal this time around is to have class quest, story quest, adventuring level, gathering class and crafting class at about the same level all the time. If it turns out to be hard to do, i’ll immediately get a second adventuring class up to the level of the storyline.

Overall, i have to say i had a great time- again- in Final Fantasy 14. It’s fun, the community is nice, Phoenix is packed with players and feels very much alive, the FC is fun and even though i do the same stuff i already did at least twice it feels good.

MMO setup for this week and may

So, in line with my plans to have one main MMO and two side MMOs, this week will still see SWTOR in the top spot, with FF14 and ESO as additions to play when i’m not in the mood for SWTOR. In may, the focus will shift to FF14, SWTOR will become a side MMO and will be accompanied by Elder Scrolls Online, again. The last one is tough, since GW2 was also close to getting a “side MMO” spot, but right now i’m betting that the expansion won’t hit in may and that i’ll have ample opportunity to put it in the rotation before it is released.

Right now i’m very confident in this way of doing things- choosing one main MMO and two side MMOs for distraction and different moods will work out just fine for me. Of course, there is a ruleset: i’ll allow myself to change side MMOs on a monthly basis. The main MMO is allowed to switch, as well, but it would move from main to side MMO before dropping out of the rotation. And it should also be fixed in its position for a longer time (3 months?). This way, i can experience one MMO in as deep a way as possible for me while still having a way of picking other MMOs to play and having somewhat of a focus there, as well.

It also occured to me that in search of an MMO home, there aren’t many possibilities really. An MMO home has to offer so much, but in the end, even for me, it’s the “endgame” that counts- but not in the usual sense of dungeons and raiding. On the contrary, if it’s just that, it’s not enough.

What to play and going buy-to-play

The recent weeks didn’t see much of MMORPG playtime. I was sick, playing singleplayer games, sick again and on vacation. I briefly considered taking an MMORPG sabbatical for some time, because right now i just feel i’m not in the mood of playing regularly. Gaming, and especially MMORPG-related gaming, tends to become so much of a focus in the private life that launching a game becomes the standard option of things to do in free time- and i don’t want that to be the case anymore. I don’t want to “automatically” sit in front of the PC as soon as i have some room to breathe, because in these last weeks, i found that to be suffocating. I don’t know if you can relate to this, but that’s where i’m coming from right now.

So now i’m going to give gaming a lesser focus in my free time. It won’t be the standard option anymore- see, raising a child for the last two years saw me getting out of touch with some other hobbies of mine- reading and watching tv-series or movies, for instance.

Anyways, this is still my gaming-related blog here, so let’s take a look at what i’m planning right now.

Final Fantasy XIV

As it happens, each and every time i play this game, somehow when i lose focus and momentum, interest goes full on zero. There are reasons for that, of course, the main one being that this game, despite its mechanics, also doesn’t appeal to me on many levels- the relatively small zones, the kind-of-grindy gathering/crafting, the cuteness and the fact that it is- well, i don’t know how to put that in words, but i find it cumbersome, sometimes- it’s almost as if everything in FF14 needs to be done in a deliberate manner.

Another reason is, of course, that i don’t have social ties in the game. Right now, i’m kind of waiting for my current guild to kick me for inactivity (they will, despite me being in the community) and i will look out for other groups when i return to the game next month.

Now, having already bought the expansion (it’s quite cheap on greenmangaming VIP, by the way), i plan a return somewhere around may to make an effort and see where i will be when the expansion hits. Having done that is one of the reasons i didn’t make the titular deliberate choice of going buy-to-play yet, but i kind of expect to do so come the end of the year. Or maybe not. Deliberate choices in MMOland don’t go particularly well for me.

EVE online

Now that’s funny, considering the above paragraphs and the contemplation to go buy-to-play (i’ll muse on that later), but as of today, i returned (if you can call it that) to EVE online. See, EVE is the only MMO out there that provides the features i’m looking for in an MMO- the local/regional markets, the player driven economy, distance being a part of gameplay. They had an offer to reactivate for some discount, and this time i took it- after being three years absent from the game.

Most everyone will tell you that EVE is not a game to play casually and/or solo, but to be honest, i don’t really believe that. EVE is a game where you set your own goals, so when i set my goals accordingly, i don’t see why one couldn’t play it casually and/or solo. Of course, i don’t know the game very good, the learning cliff is still waiting for me, and i fully expect to fall off of it again, but i’ll give it a try nonetheless.

Here are my loosely drawn-up goals:

  • get some capital by doing the tutorial(s) and maybe some mission running to get a feel of the game
  • start mining
  • at some point, i’ll do station trading- when i feel i have some money to play around with (the mining should help with that)
  • way further down the line i want to become a manufacturer- as far as i understand it right now, miner – refiner – industrialist is my preferred “progression path”, if you can call it that- the goal is to become an industrialist and trader. The path should help me getting an understanding of the process involved as well as capital. I also don’t know if being an industrialist really is soloable.
  • maybe i’ll take a look at exploration

I’m at the beginning of this process, my current capital is 8 million ISK (haha! :D) and i’ll need to learn a lot. It’s going to be slow, as well, but this time i didn’t want to miss the offer- i missed it two or three times already and every time i wanted to get back into the game it wasn’t valid anymore. We’ll see how it goes.

Elder Scrolls Online

Some project also “requires” me to play ESO, and i’m glad for it. I’ll not talk too much about it now, but i’ll start a Templar (continue my level 7 Templar) in an attempt to re-explore the game and try to be a combination of healer and dps, as i always try to be in MMOs.

Age of Conan

The guild project will move to AoC tomorrow. As it looks right now, we’ll be almost two groups of people who play and i’m really looking forward to it.

The Secret World and Guild Wars 2

TSW brought itself back into my MMORPG diet with its New Player Experience. I like what Funcom did there and plan on playing TSW on an irregular basis.

Guild Wars 2 fits into my “going buy to play” plan and would be a good addition to the other two b2p games out there- Elder Scrolls Online, Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World would be a great combination of games to play- if one was in the mood to play, i think these three games combined provide almost everything an MMO player needs, if paying a subscription fee is not what this player is looking for.

Going buy-to-play

Yeah, the title is misleading in this way. I’m not. But remember when i wrote about priorities in the first paragraphs? Subscriptions really don’t fit into this- for me, at least. When i’m paying a sub, it’s not that i want “as many hours as possible” out of the games, but there’s still the nagging feeling of “i’m paying a sub. I should play that game (if i’m playing at all)”. It seems a waste to pay a sub for FF14 but launch Guild Wars 2, for example.

Most free-to-play games are hybrids with an optional subscription. When i play, say, SWTOR, i will sub up because i find the experience to play it without subbing severely lacking. The same would go for ArcheAge, if i were to play that game.

So that’s when i thought about going buy-to-play, and if my EVExperiment doesn’t work out, i might still do just that. The b2p games out there are of a high quality, they don’t have intrusive cash shops, they don’t try too hard to make you subscribe. Buy-to-play is the business model that fits best with my priorization of gaming in my free time.

If i were to make the deliberate choice of only playing b2p games and it would make my (gaming) life so much easier- first, i might not always be tempted to take offers the f2p/p2p games put out, there would also be a very much smaller selection of titles that i’d consider to play on a given night when i want to play and there would be no pressure at all- imagined, self-imposed or otherwise- to play more often than i’d really like to. It would be a good choice for me.

For now, though, there’s still the EVExperiment and Heavensward in my plans.

100 days and 25 levels to go

Final Fantasy XIV - Heavensward

 

We have a release date. Preorders for Final Fantasy XIV’s first expansion, Heavensward, will open on 03/16, headstart will happen on 06/19 and official release will be 06/23. If you’re interested in what it contains, just head on over to Massively Overpowered for an overview. There’s new zones, three new classes/jobs, flying, 20 new Triple Triad cards and one or two new races.

100 days

I have thought about the best possible way for me to handle that release date. It’s a little bit farther down than i expected (by a month or so), so it should make me confident i can be level 50 in that time. But i don’t really know about that. I could, of course, push for it, and in some ways i might do that- but if i were to “rush” to 50, there’s also the chance that this hurry might kill my enjoyment of the game.

Instead, i’ll just keep doing what i do. First, i’ll try and get the Conjurer up to the main storyline level by way of normal levelling. The Arcanist will not do that anymore- instead, i’ll also play this class “properly”, to gain levels faster, but also to open the game up for me. The Botanist and the Weaver will try to hold the pace of the Arcanist. Until the expansion hits, i’m going to ignore all other combat classes and “Alts” (sorry, Cactuar) and limit the other crafting classes to a slow burn, by maybe doing quests for my Grand company.

25 levels

My Arcanist is level 25 right now, and i’m curious to see how far i’ll go before the expansion hits. Of course it would be very nice to be in the flow of the players with release- to be where everyone else is, to experience this MMO with many other players around who are also new to the content. We’ll see if i can make it. My strategy so far amounts to these things:

  • this is going to be tough, but i want to get my levequest-allowance below the cap. I always have 100 and it really shouldn’t be there. So i’ll need to play a few days in quick succession and do at least 10 of these things to get the counter down. I think when i do that, i’ll level quickly. I’ll probably use it for the gathering/crafting, mostly, and for the Conjurer to bring the class up to par.
  • Ironweakness told me i should keep an eye on the Challenge log to level quicker- i’ll do that. Thanks for that!
  • I’ll try and run dungeons/guildleves more often. Still haven’t got access to Hatali, so i guess that’s one thing my Arcanist can do now

And here’s the kicker: in reality, i don’t need those 25 levels that quick.

Or is it five?

Of course i’m interested in the new zones, they look great, and big, and interesting. But so do- in my opinion- the snowy zones i’ll be doing, i think, in the mid-thirties. But there are other things in this expansion, as well, namely two of the three new classes that i find interesting enough to try them.

The Astrologian is a main draw

My main interest goes toward the Astrologian, although we don’t know that much about how it works- which is a good sign, in my book, because it’s such a new concept that, while i’m able to guess the direction this class is taking, it’s not an educated guess. We know the class will use a deck of cards in some way- probably as skills, but really, i don’t know. I mean, there is Triple Triad, already, so i can’t see them working in a class that makes use of a CCG-style skill system, but something in this direction is my best guess. I do like the look of the class, however, and that’s a thing i can’t say about all classes (the Scholar outfit, for example).

And then, there’s the Machinist.

The surprise entry

I didn’t count this class in, because i thought it would be a pure dps class- but at PAX East, it was hinted that it can be played in a support-role way, as well, depending on what gadgets you use while playing- and this makes it interesting to me.

Both classes won’t make use of a base class, but you will need to be level 30 to access them. This makes it so that my real goal before the expansion is level 30, and i’m pretty confident that i’ll make it. I’m going to preorder the expansion, don’t know if i’ll do that in this month or later- this also depends on what you’ll get in the preorder and the two editions (only two editions! That’s modest nowadays).

Free-to-play?

Haha, oh no, they won’t do that. Of course not. Just watch and read all those blogs- i’ve been following some of them for a long time, and i can honestly say that i’ve never seen all these people being more or less in the same game- but right now, it seems “everyone” is playing Final Fantasy XIV, the game has gained the “WoW momentum”- it doesn’t need WoW numbers, it doesn’t really want that, but it’s gaining ground and is the one and only successful subscription MMO released in recent history. So i really don’t know why you would ask that question.

 

WoW tokens, unfair monetization and random things

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

WoW Token

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

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

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

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

Star Wars: the old republic promo

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

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

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

Other games

Crowfall

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

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

Skyforge

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

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

Final Fantasy XIV

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

The guild project

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

4 million accounts and a free weekend

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

4 million accounts

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

Cultural reasons

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

Content

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

Momentum

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

It’s slow

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

It “gets” and gets the MMORPG audience

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

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

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

Gold Saucer first impressions

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

Overall impression

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

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

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

Activities

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

Triple Triad

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

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

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

You can challenge other players in these locations:

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

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

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

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

Chocobo Racing

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

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

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

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

Mini Cactpot

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

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