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Final Fantasy Frustrations

ffxiv gear grindThere’s a lot about FFXIV that I like but as time goes on I seem to discover more and more things that are turning me off of the experience. I figured I’d share some brief thoughts on some of the game elements that are starting to bother me.

Dragoons & Jobs In General

I love the Dragoon job in FF Tactics games and other FF related titles but Dragoons in FFXIV are really disappointing. They may get three jump attacks but they are all on rather large cooldowns. The main damage one, which doesn’t even do that much damage, is around 40 seconds while the stun is around 90 and the AoE is something like 300 seconds. It’s frustrating that you only get to feel like a Dragoon only some of the time and not even to great effect. The stunning jump just seems completely worthless, too. It has a longer cooldown, does less damage, and takes WAY too much time between activation and execution to actually interrupt anything. I was also really disappointed when I learned that there were no breath attacks at all.  I started a Black Mage and I’m having a bit more fun because I feel more like a traditional Black Mage than I ever did a Dragoon.

The job system in general is just really disappointing. Once you actually unlock a job it is little more than a title and quest-line. You are still essentially just your base class except you get a ‘special’ ability every 5 levels. It pretty much makes the addition of more jobs rather unexciting. Like if they added Time Mage or something to Thaum then you are pretty much entirely the same as a Black Mage except you swap out 5 quest-line abilities. I don’t find the idea of that to be appealing at all. They either need to completely re-haul their class system, which they wont, or come up with some kind of advanced job system. [Read more...]

All Raids Should Be Flexible

wow flexible raids

Three days ago Blizzard announced a new raiding difficulty: Flexible Raids.  Flexible falls between Looking for Raid and Normal difficulty, and scales depending on the number of players you bring along. You can bring 11, 12, 13, etc., and the content will scale in difficulty.  I think flexible raiding is a wonderful idea, and I wish it would replace the entire themepark raiding system.

I know I’m probably alone where I stand on themepark MMOs and their end-game content. I think that if I can bring 12 people to a raid, and you can bring 20, that doesn’t entitle you to better loot.  Blizzard obviously agreed when they equalized all loot drops between 10 and 25 man modes.

I would love if every raid was equal difficulty: Challenging.  Why should anyone feel forced to take more people for better loot?  Why should anyone feel forced to only have 10 people they want to raid with?  No matter the size of your group of friends, I think the difficulty should scale and be flexible, but the loot should all be the same — after all, if the difficulty is equal regardless of numbers, the loot should equal the challenge and be equal for everyone.  I think the only exception is a looking for raid environment where you throw a bunch of people together who don’t know each other; this one I’m okay with being significantly easier with a lower grade of loot.  Let that be a learning tier or an ultra casual tier.

Hard modes can and should still exist.  Hard modes should provide better loot.  They are hard and should provide a challenge for groups to aspire toward.  These shouldn’t be 40-man raids, or designed to be inaccessible.  If one group can bring 14 people to a hard mode then that 14 people should be challenged just as hard as a group who with 25, and if a group of 100 wants to do a hard mode together then they should be challenged at the same level as the hard mode 10.  That is the beauty of flexible raiding.

The Endgame Philosophy

The Endgame

The Endgame

I was asked in an email by one of our readers to discuss the term ‘Endgame’ and why I dislike its use when referring to mmorpgs. First and foremost I want to say that it’s not so much my dislike for the word but for what it has come to stand for in the industry. Aside from mmorpgs not really having an “end of the game” and being “ever evolving and changing” there really isn’t anything wrong with having terminology for that stage of the game where you reach the max level and begin working on the final pieces of implemented content.

To kick things off I want to give you a basic dictionary definition that you can think about while reading.

1. Games. The final stage of a chess game after most of the pieces have been removed from the board.
2. The final stage of an extended process or course of events.

In MOST mmorpgs the majority of players will spend the bulk of their time as a subscriber in the ‘Endgame’ stage. This is also the stage of the game where most players will quit. This has given cause for devs to start shifting their focus onto this stage of the game because they want to retain the largest amount of players for as long as possible; it’s common sense.

Why is this bad? I can’t claim that this is always a bad thing but in many cases developers have become so consumed by the ‘Endgame’ that the following things can happen:

1. The game doesn’t even BEGIN until the ‘Endgame’.
2. Devs are driven to treadmills, grinds, and other forms of easy mode game design to meet the demands of ‘Endgame’.
3. Expansions, content updates, and general development cease to maintain the same level of quality in non-endgame updates.

I’m not going to open a can of worms by calling out any games in particular but I’m fairly certain each of you can identify a game that has been stricken with at least one of the above downsides of the ‘Endgame’ philosophy. I strongly feel that developers should stop focusing entirely on the last few levels and the last bit of content players will experience and develop their ENTIRE game as though their subscriber-base depended upon it. Going back to the dictionary definition I gave you earlier you’ll read that, by definition, endgame is the “final stage after most pieces have been removed from the board”. Therein lies one of the biggest problems. A game of chess is designed to end but a mmorpg is not. One would hope that by the endgame most of the pieces or parts that have made the game what it is are not lost to the player as they are in a game of Chess.

The ‘Endgame’ philosophy has only hurt how mmorpgs are being designed and I hope to see the emphasis returning to the ENTIRE game soon.

(Note: I am in no way saying that developers should not be constantly thinking up and developing content for those who have reached the “high level” content.  After all, that is where I too spend most of my time. )