Finding the Fun in Final Fantasy 14

As a mmo player away from mmo’s for a while you get these urges. Urges deep down that feel like some kind of deep dark hole sucking up everything else around it, it needs to  be filled but you have to find the right thing to fill it with. (boy it was hard writing all that without overt innuendos)

Anyway, I say this because that’s where I’ve been lately. I have quite a few awesome games I’ve been playing lately but for some reason they just weren’t enough. Sometimes I would just stare at the desktop looking at these icons, occasionally starting one up before turning them off again. The are great games but not the experience I want at the moment. I want a mmo, I want that familiar feeling to fall into once more. It’s that particular style of gaming comfort I’ve found I can’t be without for too long now.

I needed something and there are a few options to pick from. I tried Guild Wars 2 for a bit but it just didn’t click. Didn’t fulfill the particular whole inside. Firefall a little and yeh, not quite there either. Elder Scrolls will be soon but I still don’t really hold much hope in it keeping my interests. I enjoy it to an extent but it just never felt right for some reason. The secret world is fun, and it certainly fills a certain corner of what’s missing but I only need short fixes of that particular part.

That brings me to Final Fantasy 14 which I’m currently playing and filling up that familiar space once more. I still have the same issues as when I tried it way back at release, but now after being through the big modern releases I’m starting to forgive those elements are was fairly critical of before. The modernised mechanics and elements they have are great, but they were just missing in other areas and fell apart as a whole experience. Final fantasy seems to get it mostly right but what it does is very well-integrated and makes sense as a whole experience.

They have cute cat girls too

They have cute cat girls too

I’ve been incredibly impressed with a few other aspects as well and I think this is what has been drawing me more into the game.

First even though I haven’t been watching the game too closely I have been incredibly impressed with the rate, quality and quality of the content that has been added since release. They have offered a wide range of new activities, new fluff items to procure, mini games to enjoy and keep you in-game. New challenges to overcome. More important than that though is what they have been adding seems to avoid the usual pitfall of obsoleting areas of the game. If anything it all seems to support itself.

Following on from this point is that I was rather amazed that most of those early zones still had a lot of activity in them. There were a range of people traveling around. Occasionally High level characters doing particular leves, or whatever that thing they do is. Crafters gathering their wares. Reasonable amount of people doing dungeons as well, even in my own peak time. Those Fates (dynamic events) seem incredibly popular as well. It is fantastic that they’ve created an activity that always seem to be quite useful to all people play. It’s just experience but due to the, what I originally thought of as restrictive,  lack of quests and methods of leveling alternatives keeps these events and the zones active. With this design it also means you have a great activity to do with friends (like the cutest Murf you ever did see) of any level that is useful to all involved, it’s very well done.

A wild murf appears

A wild murf appears

I was a little skeptical about the community too. Many have been saying how great it has been for them but, I still suspected that certain usual mmo troll attitude to an extent. Boy was I surprised when I tested this theory in a dungeon when I said at the start that I was new and my first dungeon run. I mean coming on, I was the tank as well so that was bound to get a rise. Nope, nothing but helpful and supportive the entire way. In any other mmo that would be an immediate party kick or drop group.

The other thing I am thankful for at this early state of play is having a decent trial period. The one failing, I think, of a lot of these sub mmo’s lately  as here it gave me enough room to experience enough of the game to get a decent impression. And here I am now, a day in and already a level 20 Marauder

Guest Post: A Primer for Good Grouping

Yay, a blogger friend that also started during last year’s Newbie Blogger initiative has a guest post for us and he made it into a rant just for little ole me… I’m so proud.

C T (Christopher) Murphy is a self proclaimed master of geek culture, writing words of absolute brilliance and insight on games, books, and TV. Hmm, maybe not that God like but he has certainly produced some really intriguing pieces that critique and amuse. Sadly he hasn’t been writing as much anymore which really is a shame (hint hint Mr Murphy) but what he does is pure quality (unlike my dribble) and there are plenty of posts well worth going back over if you have the time.

Just take a peek at one rather fancy looking profile with all the links including google, twitter, Facebook and the blog. Also, pop over to the Geek Force Network where you can check out some of his more recent work, one of which even got me back into anime again.

A Primer on Effective Early Grouping in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

It’s that time again, boys and girls! Out of the abyss of nothingness (or in this particular case, out of a stillborn corpse not mourned by anyone), a new world has been born (reborn). With it comes new experiences (that you’ve had before), a new world with new people (that you’ve met before), and entirely new gameplay to sink your teeth into (which you’ve most assuredly played before). I have had an absolute blast in my brief time exploring the wilds of Eorzea in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, save for one exception: the grouping, in all its vanilla-classic MMO glory, has been utterly abysmal.

Don’t be a dick:

I am not sure if reaching max level in the original release of FFXIV makes you worthy of some veneration for your patience or if it is a complete indictment of your lack of taste, but I am sure that it has absolutely no bearing on an almost entirely different and far superior game. It is no excuse for you to lord your superiority over me or anyone else as unlucky as to be queuefucked ((the act of having your brief window of time in which you may be able to get an entire game/instance/match completed completely ruined by a typical internet jerk)). It’s a new game, people are going to play it like its new, and we don’t need a long, rude lecture on how you came to be in control of the entire universe. Unless you are in control of the entire universe, in which case, I am most sorry Lord Emperor Douchebagus.

In a similar vein, just because you have played World of Warcraft for the last six years does not make you an expert on the genre. It also doesn’t give you, again, the right to be a dick about things. I have been playing MMORPGs since I was 12. If anyone has the pedigree to be a hypercritical prick on the internet it is me. But do I? Only when I blog, not when it really matters inside the dungeon!

Case in point, last night I was running the game’s very first dungeon. Within two pulls, I noticed a slight issue: there is no focus fire. Somehow, my two DPS and my Healer are finding ways to kill the entire wave at the exact same time without any AOE (which sounds like it would take more coordination and cooperation than simply shooting whatever is low, but I digress).  Given that this is the first significant grouping experience of the game and the game is just releasing today, my patience with new players is fairly high. And unlike the early dungeons of Guild Wars 2, the A Realm Reborn’s first dungeon is very forgiving and requires very little skill to complete.

My healer wasn’t so patient. While I am tanking my heart out, he announces very proudly and with no hesitation, “hey assholes stop being newbs and focus targets”. When his sentiment turned into, “if u dont focus I wont heal u” our Lancer decided to bite back with this bit of wisdom: if u dont heal I will use potions. That might be a viable strategy if he didn’t immediately walk into a large group of mobs in the next room while the rest of our group was still finishing a pull. SIGH. The ensuing argument included a lot of ‘Go back to WoW’ and ‘I can out DPS you as a Healer’ and ‘u tryhard faggot’. The Lancer decided to just autofollow us through the rest of the instance without doing any DPS and the Healer mellowed out to congratulate me on the loot I managed to get.

One dick is a problem, but two dicks? Twice the problem! If you don’t want to play with someone then leave, not torture the other two especially nice people who only wanted to finish the run in peace. I did get my peace and quiet once we wiped: the Lancer refused to leave so the Healer left for him.  Oh well, I will run it again another day.

The actual primer:

Now that the most important piece of advice I can give you has been covered thoroughly, here are a few other bits of wisdom that haven’t changed since I started playing MMOs, especially not ones as safe as FFXIV:ARR.

    1. Attack what the other guy is attacking. FFXIV:ARR dungeon groups consist of one Tank, one Healer, and two DPS. In other words, assume the other DPSer is a moron and just follow his lead as if he is your Main Assist. Healer and Tank? Do whatever you need to do.
    2. Wait a few seconds before you roll your head across the keyboard. Look, I know you want a leg up on the currently non-existent DPS meters, but save your PUG Tank a heart attack and let him get a little aggro before you start spamming your burst.

Bonus Tip: if the Tank has never been in melee range of the mob you want to attack, don’t shoot it.

  1. Have Fun. It is depressing that, after my decade+ playing MMOs (or really any game on the internet), people still need a reminder to have fun. MMOs have only gotten easier to pick up and play since I started too. Fifteen minutes running a dungeon is not worth getting angry, no matter how egregious that Bard’s stat allocation. Relax or, if you must,  walk away when you start to heat up.
  2. It’s just a game, but please take it a little seriously. Cracking a joke or having to take a piss in the middle of a run is fine, but don’t leave the entire group hanging for ten minutes because your friend broke out the bong. Also, even when you are doing something for fun, that doesn’t mean you have to deliberately suck at it. Take some pride!

While I doubt I have changed hearts and minds, I can at least queue up for my next painful run with a clear conscience now that I’ve given the Internet a few friendly reminders on the absolute basics of MMO grouping. If you have any more rules to suggest or you just want to talk about a particularly egregious rule breaker, leave a comment below.

The Year of MMO Development and Rebirth

2013 has pretty much been the year of MMO development and marketing. There have been constant teasers of videos, screenshots, concept art, and mechanics being unveiled throughout the year that make me drool with excitement at times. Some great titles are out there like Archeage, Black Desert, Wildstar, The Elder Scrolls, Everquest Next, World of Darkness and a couple more but they are all in development and now that Wildstar has put out a 2014 release date it looks like the year is pretty much over for interesting new releases.

In terms of play time it seems the biggest winner of the year is Guild Wars 2 which has run for the entire year pretty much uncontested by anything resembling a popular product… well beside you know, the giant shadow in the corner. GW2 released in 2012 though so it is kind of disqualified here I guess. Anywho I thought I’d do A recap on the year now that in terms of mmo releases it’s pretty much over

  • Firefall

This is of course my pick of the year as I’m honestly hard pressed picking out a product I had more fun in then it. I just like the shooty gameplay, the non forced progression, and the focus on crafting and economy which no mmo has done this in-depth for years. It’s an mmo I have written about a lot lately that has a strong vision and one that I am interested to see more of.
Firefall Purple Sunset

  • Final Fantasy 14

A recent release that I’m kind of impressed with so far but rather reserved with certain mechanics and how it ends up. It offers a lot of that old school mmo feeling with the long cast, tab target combat, the extensive questing and just the general mechanics. This could be a good or a bad thing.. haven’t decided yet but it’s one of the better mmo’s of the year  which if you think about it is a rather depressing thought.

    ffxiv

  • Neverwinter

It started out as a game with a certain amount of promise but ended up extremely dissatisfying. The combat was ok but forgettable, the dungeons meh, balance issues of the trinity a big complaint, and the instanced nature felt entirely restrictive. Oh and that micro-transaction system, wow is it intrusive.

  • Defiance

Trion’s Frankenstein experiment melding a mmofps with a T.V show. I don’t think anyone was expecting the T.V show would be the better of the two but there you go. It started out ok except for the rather linear feel but lacked the extensive content you might expect. Then troubles with the studio occurred, jobs were gutted, the game went extremely cheap and we are only just getting it’s first DLC Pack now. It was kind of fun while it lasted even if that excitement was relatively short but unfortunately I don’t give this experiment much more time to live

    Defiance 2013-03-24 17-22-22-09

  • Darkfall

The game that is trying to provide what most PvP players have been searching for all these years, an alternative to Eve that offers a brutal but interesting open world experience. Unfortunately it fell extremely short of that mark by having sub standard combat, some of the worst graphics an animations I think we’ve seen in a decade, and sandbox features that were lacking, broken, or half-baked ideas at best. It is slowing improving although not enough that it’s every going to gather more than the extremely niche and hardcore audience it has now.

    DFUW swamp

  • Age of Wushu

This could be good although I wouldn’t know. I had issues with a couple of its time based mechanics which completely screw over anyone not in America, I could play on an Asian server but then you have to deal with the extreme language barrier. Seems extremely complex with some with a decent amount of skill customisation and a few interesting open world PvP based mechanics.

  • Warframe

I’ve played this on and off over the year and its a decent ftp dungeon crawling shooter. There are certain crafting elements to it, the level design is interesting (if repetitive) and the general gameplay is fun in short bursts. Not a very nice cash shop though.

The Others

Then there are a plethora of titles that haven’t really garnered much attention and I really have no interest in trying

  • Dragons Prophet
  • World of Warplanes
  • City of Steam
  • Runescape 3
  • Ragnorak Online

Best of the year are pretty much those that went free to play in this period like Rift, Tera, The Secret World, and SW:ToR  if you count a relaunch the same as a release, it certainly helps them gain attention comparable to a release. It has been a rather disappointing year for many mmo gamers and those of use to having a glut of titles to pick and choose from.

Everything seemed piled into the year before and this year only had a filler of second-rate titles; they certainly entertained for a time but nothing comparable to those big releases. The single player titles have been great though- just wow, and I still have a backlog and there’s more coming. Well while I’m traveling Eaorzea, shooting bugs in New Eden, and occasionally dropping into the mists of GW2  I’ll be looking forward to the new year with a certain eager hunger bordering on insanity.