Tag: gametime

Random thoughts

Misc

So my last post was published about 2 months ago. The thing with blogging, and i guess with playing MMORPGs in general is that it’s a hobby that drives itself- at least that’s the way it goes for me. If i’m enjoying myself, find a purpose in a game or writing about playing them, my time in game as well as writing here goes up. If there’s some kind of obstacle, be it work, RL-stuff, singleplayer games, other hobbies, interest in playing and writing goes down. The last two months have been a mix of those things- while i’ve still been busy in the MMO world, the real world also needed attention. Since this place is for MMOs, let’s focus on that part.

The guild/community

The (MMO)-time around and after that last posting went into planning and setting up the guild/community i’d like to build with a few friends. We developed a ruleset, actually quite similar to what the Remnants of Hope have in place, played different games in our dedicated group (The Secret World, for instance) and waited for Wildstar’s free-to-play transition to happen- to then begin recruiting and growing the community.

Unfortunately, for now it doesn’t seem to work out so well. We’re getting along, and what we have- the dedicated group of people who know each other- is great, but there are two things that didn’t go as well as we thought they’d go.

Recruitment, for instance. We put in a process similar to what i’ve seen elsewhere- submit an application form, go into a 4-week-probation while jumping some hoops (forum posts, ingame activity, stuff like that) and close that up with an interview. This process mainly had two goals: first, to dissuade people who weren’t really interested in the kind of community we want to build (reducing applications), and second to keep member counts low and find out whether recruits were a good fit.

As it turns out, this doesn’t seem to fly with the german gaming community. Of course, there could be more reasons for having received only one application in the first month of Wildstar f2p (and that one not fitting with our goals), but combine this restrictive recruitment process with a very small (5 people) and casually playing community and it seems to go nowhere. I’ve been part of a newly founded community before, and that one also started small (3 to 5 people), but we’ve never had that kind of trouble. In fact, we started recruitment in Guild Wars 2’s beta and were already 20 people when GW2 launched.

So for now, we’ve removed that recruitment process- at least officially. We’ll watch for the same stuff behind the scenes, but we don’t discourage people to apply for membership anymore. Of course, there’s not much need to. The first month of f2p is behind us, the number of players looking for a guild is low, the german parts of the Wildstar forums not very active anyway. We don’t expect a sudden rush into our walls anymore.

All the better, though, because it seems all of us are busy elsewhere. Wildstar activity isn’t very high, there’s a lot going on in other games and real lives, as well. So right now, we’re not really looking for more people, although it wouldn’t hurt and could inject some life in terms of activity in Wildstar if some people would join in. We’re still aiming for the “small and cozy tight-knit” type of community and i’m done with looking for other guilds- i’ll continue to try and build the community we started in the way we’d like to build it. And i’m patient. It’s not really about Wildstar activity or member count. What’s important for me is the situation 5 years down the road. I want that community to still live at that point, maybe with a roster of 10-20 players who are really close andplay different games together.

Wildstar

Talking about Wildstar- it’s great. It’s fun to play, it is interesting and it can offer wildly different things to do from session to session. It’s also the first MMO where my crafting ability is further developed than my adventuring ability. A little playing of the market and i’m sitting on my first platinum at level 22. Don’t know if that is very good- probably not- but i do know i wouldn’t have that much ingame gold if i wouldn’t have traded with other players.

The most fearsome costume i could find
The most fearsome costume i could find

Sometimes, it’s too much. When Shade’s Eve and the Hoverboard event were live, there were so many things to do that it was staggering. I’ve played a “normal” session yesterday, following the world- and zone story in Galeras and it was huge fun and almost liberating to simply ignore the event stuff. I’m still surprised by the size of the zones. Galeras is huge and varied.

Wildstar is also one of the few games where i can see a real endgame for me: collecting things like mounts & pets, costumes, recipes, building up the housing plot, soon hopefully the neighborhood as well as some pvp and pve-related stuff, diving deeper into the story, explore maps and making some ingame gold all seem viable options for endgame activities in Wildstar.

So it’s been great fun and it’ll continue to be- i’ll go slow, because i’m done with planning my freetime around MMORPGs, even if i want that community of ours to grow and prosper, level to 50 in Wildstar and so on. I won’t try and force things down my throat anymore.

Guild Wars 2

In that sense, something strange happened. One night we went into Guild Wars 2 in our dedicated group- and i loved it. In contrast to The Secret World, where the fact that we we’re running in our dedicated group is the main source for the higher enjoyment, in Guild Wars 2 it was the zones and the fact that it was fun to play and easy to remember. I’ll make it short- i caved, despite my best intentions to wait for a discount for HoT i bought it and i am glad i did.

Star Wars: the old Republic

The story of Knights of the Fallen Empire is really, really good. I’m in chapter 5 now and while i’m asking myself where the MMO went, i’ve heard that it will return once one has finished all the story bits. As a matter of fact, i’ve heard more than once that SWTOR is now more MMO than ever. I’m looking forward to seeing that and thanks to that gifted level 60 character, i can.

Hacking terminals

I’m sorry, but the 12XP game experience wasn’t for me, so i didn’t play anything to level 60. Playing without the 12XP boost felt a waste at that time, playing with the boost made me dislike all the travelling and fighting in-between the story. It’s the same for KotFE, really. Whenever the story stops to let me “play”, i’m kind of annoyed and want to get back to the story as fast as possible.

Now, i think Bioware has it right: there’s the story to follow in the 60+ level bracket, and if you play on the core worlds, you’ll be able to follow the planetary storylines as well as the class stories comfortably. While i haven’t tested it yet, i think this is the ideal pace for SWTOR to be an interesting, engaging and varied MMORPG. Of course there’s other helpers. Level-Syncing is great, as are soloable dungeons.

MMOs from asia

6 years old and still going strong and being beautiful

Now, there’s a topic for another day. I wanted to write about that, today, but this will need to wait. Some time last week, i started asking myself if there’s a reason why asian MMOs and the Korean audience are so different to us. I was looking at the korean audience, especially, because it’s quite easy to find out what the top MMORPGs in Korea are at any given time. Even if that site is in Korean you can find out the games easily when using Google Translate. So Lineage, Blade and Soul, Maple Story, Aion and Icarus are the Top 5 MMORPGs in that list. You’ll also be able to find World of Warcraft, ArcheAge and TERA quite quickly. The thing is- i looked into that Top 5 and was surprised at how different a european toplist would probably look. Surprise turned into curiosity, so right now, i’m also dabbling- and i really mean dabbling- in Aion and TERA (and maybe some closed beta).

I’m thinking that these games must have something– and don’t even try and tell me it’s all about slow PCs and internet cafés- there has to be more at work here. Systems, gamer culture, gameplay, whatever.

Got my chocobo!

So i finally got my chicken to ride on. As said, it involved a few days/sessions of questing, gathering and crafting, which is ok, i guess, since i gained a few levels in everything. I’ve made it a policy that when i need, say, 10 items of something, i’ll go and collect 1 stack (99) +10 of it. This way, i’m levelling up continuously. Today i got my Botanist up to level 20, which is now quite close to the level of my highest adventuring class.

And here’s what i have got as reward.

My Chocobo
My Chocobo

Well, at least i’m lucky enough to already have spent lots of money for FF14 despite being utterly low-level, so i also have the Behemoth to mount.

My Behemoth
My Behemoth

Now that’s something totally different, isn’t it? Honestly, i don’t like either one of them. One is too cute, the other too badass, but i do like how comfortable my character looks on the Behemoth, so i guess i’ll go with that for now. One thing FF14 does really right: your character just looks great in almost every position and occasion.

Talking about looks

I also finished the barber questline, which took simply travelling to the capitals and talking to some of the crafter guild leaders. Once you unlock the barber, you can summon him by using your bell in your inn room.

Deidra before
Deidra before

This way, you’ll be able to gain access to new hairstyles and -colors which have been added to the portfolio or made usable by all races. I did a quick do-over and when i was ready, Deidra looked like this.

Deidra after
Deidra after

Going on

See, there was something i totally forgot: there are the hunting logs, as well. Hunting logs, to simplify, are lists of different kind of mobs you’ll have to go and fight (it’s not the same as the hunting jobs where you hunt named mobs). They exist for every adventuring class and do give considerable XP.

Also, as i mentioned, i hit level 20 with my Botanist, so there’ll be a new class quest waiting for me in Old Gridania.

Right now, my to-do list in FFXIV looks like this:

  • get and finish the Botanist class quest
  • continue the main storyline until it reaches the same level as my Arcanist is (yeah, still not there)
  • level up the Weaver, so that i can craft stuff that’s level-appropriate for the Arcanist
  • craft some gathering and crafting equipment- i feel my Botanist is underequipped at the moment
  • gain access to Halatali, which is a dungeon, and i learned that you’ll have to do a quest to gain access
  • finish the hunting log for the Arcanist
  • see what other classes have open/available class quest
  • get the quest for putting magic stuff into items (needs level 19 crafting profession)

…and that’s just to continue to “play the game”, it isn’t actually doing something, it’s getting the stars lined up so i can continue to play the game. This game is crazy, but i like it. In fact, the longer i play, the more i like it and the more i want to be somewhat “finished”, as in max-level in one profession and finished with the storyline. I like to play the game somewhat “focussed”, but it just offers such a breadth of activities, already in this early game, that i get distracted and try to progress in many areas at once.

There is so much endgame in sight for me it’s dazzling: crafting, gathering, playing the market, adventuring, getting other classes levelled, exploring dungeons and so on. I really feel “behind the curve” on this one- and it’s not only the level, but it’s also that i can’t seem to even grasp everything that’s in there- in that veign, it is quite similar to Everquest 2 (even more than it resembles WoW, i think).

Busy in Eorzea

So Final Fantasy XIV is a subscription game. By design, the developers want us, the players, to take time achieving our goals. But also, and i like this side of the equation, they want us to have many goals to aim for. I’m really a lowlevel player, bein level 23 with my Arcanist, but i have so much stuff to do. The most annoying part, i have to confess, is travelling back and forth for the different quests. So here’s what i’m doing at the moment.

Get a chocobo

If i had one other problem with FFXIV, it would be the sometimes so very much apparent candy-cuteness, like with the “mounts” they use.

The standard "mount" in Eorzea
The standard “mount” in Eorzea

I guess it’s a matter of tastes, but i don’t really like riding around on a chicken. But there are other mounts available, as well, so i’ll see to that when i have gained access.

As with so many things in Final Fantasy XIV, you’ll have to unlock the ability to ride while doing story missions- after choosing your grand company, one of the first quests they’ll assign to you is to get a chocobo. You’ll need to get 2000 seals, though, to buy some writ from your grand company shop. 2000 seals doesn’t sound much, but it is. Or maybe it’s just because i’m so low level in everything. You can do different things to get these seals- i hear you could just do Fates, but what i’m doing is- i’ll get out to the first grand company levemete (?), get two duties, which are basically just-for-you-quests in the open world, each one good for maybe 250 seals.

Then i look at the crafting and gathering missions that grant seals. Right now, i’m able to accept one for every crafting and gathering job i began with my character, and while the crafting experience these missions grant are very good, i’ll only receive about 200 seals for doing three of these quests. So i’ve been doing that for the last 3 sessions in game.

Crafting

Which leads me to this: so i can take a mission for every crafting and gathering profession i have? Why didn’t i begin all of them in the first place? What i’m doing now is to get into every crafting guild the moment i encounter it. I mean, i’m interested in crafting, anyway, so where’s the harm, right?

Also, since you unlock the crafting professions while doing story missions, you are behind in your first choices. Basically, you’ll be level 12 or 13 when you are able to pick up crafting- and then you’ll have to play catch up. My highest crafting-related profession is the Botanist, and it’s level 19. So there is a slight problem in that i can’t craft very useful stuff for myself, because i lack crafting experience.

As i’m sure i’ll try out different classes at one time (Monk, Archer, Bard, for instance), i want to give the other professions at least a little headway. So i’m going to pick up all crafting-related classes in the next few days, because i’ll be in every capital anyway.

Good times ahead
Good times ahead

The Barber

And that’s because there’s a quest to unlock a barber shop in the game, where you can change pretty much everything appearance-wise, except race/gender, of course. This quest begins in Limsa Lominsa and sends me to all three capitals, and i’m not really sure it’s finished after that.

Storyline

Also, of course, i want to follow the story line to make these quests as high in level as i am- right now, my story quest is still for level 20 characters. I haven’t done any quests besides these, what’s mentioned above and some crafting since “returning” (realizing i still have a sub) to Final Fantasy XIV, but the missions have only gained one level.

There’s just so much

When Final Fantasy XIV re-released, many people were complaining that there are few ways to level your character. Quests can only be taken once, after all, so what i read was that you’d get one profession to maxlevel and the second one would have to do Fates, all the time. Maybe that was true then, but it’s very different now.

I do like when there’s stuff behind quests, when you unlock something, explore something and all that. But it doesn’t really mix with the way i level right now- for instance, i avoid doing quests, because i want to keep them for later classes. But that could mean i miss out on some hidden feature until i discover the related quest.

All in all, it’s a great game and i’m looking forward to the next dungeon, the day my crafting professions catch up and the day i will accept normal quests again.

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

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

ArcheAge

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

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

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

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

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

Final Fantasy XIV

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

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

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

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

Aleport

Aleport

Game time: Final Fantasy XIV

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

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

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

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

Getting sidetracked in FF XIV

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

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

The Bismarck
The Bismarck

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

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

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

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

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

Limsa Lominsa by night
Limsa Lominsa by night

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

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

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

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

Firefall is a great addition

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

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

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

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

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

Easy to get in and play

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

Somewhere in New Eden
Somewhere in New Eden

Still deep

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

Don’t powergame your way through it

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

Squad fun

A vision

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

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

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

Game Time: Firefall and Final Fantasy 14 weekend

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

Firefall

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

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

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

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

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

Final Fantasy XIV

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

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

Up there
Up there

 

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

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

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

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

Final Fantasy XIV ARR: I love the game!

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

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

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

And that was that
And that was that

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

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

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

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

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

Game time: Firefall

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

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

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

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

Firefall - Sunken Harbour
Firefall is quite beautiful

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.