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FFXIV Progress – Finally!

I think I’m getting my second wind in FFXIV.  I actually made progress for the first time in two months by completing Titan HM which is the last step I needed for my Relic.  It took so long to obtain that I already have the Tomes of Mythology needed to Zenith (+1) my staff.

My plan now is to tackle Crystal Tower — the new “raid” added for players to gear up in prior to moving on to Coil (the original, harder raid).  Apparently CT is very doable in a PUG via the raid finder.  I tried last night to no avail for 30 minutes.  Maybe I was queueing at a bad time.  I plan to queue up tonight with guildies, and hopefully see even more progress by the end of the week.

I’ve mentioned this several times in the last few months, but I’m completely over the idea of raiding.  That’s why it took me so long to get Titan HM down.  Even in a perfectly good group with people who will carry me the whole way, I sit back and watch how they treat each other.  Everyone is uptight, rude, and easy to read as a self-interested / self-serving / self-righteous (wanna-be) elitist.  I was totally there myself a few years ago.  Gotta get that gear!  Gotta be the best!  Gotta move to the next step!  Gotta keep moving and making progress, go go go!  Sheesh.  If you really want to have a good laugh, watch the videos of the “best” raiding guilds in WoW and hear how they scream at each other.

I joined a PUG group the other day and sat there for one wipe.  As soon as we died, the bickering started.  It took maybe three whole seconds for me to log out and go do something else.  I didn’t even have to think about it.  That’s how I know I’m ready for a change.  That’s why I haven’t gone back to WoW with some of my friends.  That’s why I would rather play single-player games I got during the Steam sale.

Back to FFXIV.  I think I’ll be able to do Crystal Tower and see the mid-tier content because of how easy it is, and maybe even casually gear up some mythology stuff with tomes, but I think that’s about as far as I’ll ever get in PvE.  I’ll probably move on when EQN Landmark alpha starts.  I’d rather dig holes, chop wood, hoard supplies, and build a city.  That sounds relaxing and fun.

MMORPGs of 2013

As 2013 comes to a close I want to reflect back on the MMOs I played this year.  It was a weird one for MMOs, and I think this restrospective is quite telling.

Ultima Online Forever

KGC Haven First House UOF

KGC First House UOF

I began the year playing UO Forever, a player-run shard.  Practically the entire Keen and Graev Community played together, and we met a dozen new friends.  I was reminded of how glorious it is to be able to focus on nothing but gathering materials and crafting.  In its prime, UO was able to provide such a fulfilling experience to so many different playstyles.  I was one of the top crafters on the entire server, placed the very first house, and became one of the richest players with the largest merchandise selection.  The highs of building a player city, and the lows of being ganked repeatedly by other players, were a great way to start the year.  This year’s adventure in UO lasted about 3 months.

Defiance Shadow War Objectives

Defiance was a flop for us.

Defiance

Graev and I were originally uninterested in Defiance.  Then, out of nowhere, we must have been bored enough to pay attention and get interested in playing.  We played the beta for a bit, and slightly after launch, and quickly realized it wasn’t for us.  We couldn’t get past how generic the game felt, and ultimately decided not to play longer than a few weeks.  I’m pretty sure this is the way most people felt.  Neat idea, pairing with a TV series and all, but overall “meh.”

 

Project 1999

KGC in Crushbone camping the Orc Trainer.

EverQuest Project 1999

My next stop this year was yet another player-driven MMO server: EQ Project 1999. I think I played twice this year… I’m still trying to remember.  I’m positive I played back in April, but I think I went back sometime during the Summer as well.  I played as a Dwarf paladin and a Gnome Enchanter, and rekindled my love for Norrath.

Together with members of KGC, we camped Crushbone Orcs, Crocs in Oasis, Aviaks in SK, all sorts of stuff in Kunark, the bowels of Guk, Sol A, and more.  I remembered why I love games that require players to group, and why it’s so awesome to have a massive world all about PvE.

FFXIV Christmas

Keen during FFXIV’s Christmas Event

Final Fantasy XIV

FFXIV launched in August, and for the last four months has been the MMO of choice for me and the community.  FFXIV started really strong, albeit more themepark than I had hoped.  The leveling content is solid, and perhaps one of the more polished MMO experiences outside of a Blizzard product.  The class system truly embraces the themepark model by allowing one character to essentially be everything.

Where FFXIV has fallen short for me and a lot of the members in our community is the the end-game.  FFXIV focuses on raiding the same bosses over and over, and for a while had a huge leap in difficulty between the grind and hardest encounters people wanted to see.

Thankfully patch 2.1 finally came out this month which added PvP and Housing. I confess myself disappointed by the incredibly high prices for housing and dumbed-down and unbalanced PvP.  Overall, I don’t know how much longer I am going to last in FFXIV if they don’t do more to make the game about Final Fantasy instead of about being a theempark.

As you can see, 2013 was… an off year for MMOs.  It makes sense if you think about it.   This year has been entirely about waiting for the next big thing.  EverQuest Next Landmark, WildStar and The Elder Scrolls Online all officially launch in 2014.

The best things to come out of MMOs for me in 2013 were the friends I’ve made.  I’ve made at least a dozen new friends — most now a big part of our gaming community — and hope to continue playing with them for many years to come.  That’s why I play MMOs, and even in a year like 2013 it’s nice to know that people still make these games worth playing.

I’m curious to hear your impressions of 2013′s MMOs.  What did you play?

FFXIV Patch 2.1

FFXIV Patch 2.1 launches tomorrow.  Tonight the game is offline in preparation, and our community (KGC) is preparing to go in and enjoy ourselves.  We were a bit shocked this week to learn that housing prices are… a tad out of our range.  We have been preparing for the last few months diligently to raise the funds necessary to buy the biggest guild house.  We figured something like 20-30 million would be realistic.  Turns out, the housing we want costs 100,000,000+ Gil.   To say we are disappointed is an understatement.

Most of us have stuck it out in FFXIV for housing and the hope that one day there will be neat Final Fantasy themed content.  If we’re unable to get the house we want, we’ll have to settle for a smaller house, PvP arenas, and some of the small-group dungeons.

Some of the neat features I think are worth noting:

Level 50s doing low level dungeons will be able to make as much gil as when doing high level dungeons.

Bottom line, I love when themepark games make things more accessible and thempark’y.  I wish every dungeon in the game gave max-level players the loot they want.  Why not?  Why not scale dungeon difficulty and drop tokens? If I want to go to Disneyland and ride Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain all day long, that’s my prerogative.  Disney doesn’t tell me I can only ride it twice, or at the beginning or end of my day.  I know it’s an awful example, and the themepark metaphor can only be carried so far, but that’s my MMO themepark philosophy.

Holy was nerfed because speedrunners placed a lot of pressure on White Mages to DPS. Healers are healers, not DPSers.

This one’s pretty funny.  I’m a White Mage, and rarely did speed runs, but I still felt pressured to holy spam.  I say remove it altogether.  I love well-defined class roles.

Tomorrow I’m going to try out the PvP and give you my impressions along with housing (if we get one) and other changes.  Stay tuned!

Update on Final Fantasy XIV

It’s been a while since I gave you guys an update on where I’m at in Final Fantasy XIV.  I think the last time I wrote I was in the middle of what is still considered the be the “end-game.”  I’m sad to say I haven’t made much progress. Over the last month I really lost the drive to do any end-game activities like push to progress into an overly difficult raid tear, or repeat the same dungeons ad nauseam.

FFXIV’s biggest failing in my eyes has been its attempt to  try and fit a mold.  Players have been conditioned for so many years to look for certain things like raiding and gear treadmills.  When those things aren’t present, the players think that a game without them can’t possibly exist.  By creating a game that appeals to that demographic, they closed the door on a demographic that I belong to: The people who simply don’t give a [...] and just want to log in and have fun doing something that’s simple to jump in and jump out with friends.  That’s why I play themepark MMOs.

A big question I’ve been kicking around in my head is whether or not FFXIV is a 3 monther.  There are MMOs created with massive design flaws and are destined to be 3 monthers.  Then there are games like FFXIV that didn’t have to be 3 monthers, but fell into that category due to a lack of things to do at the end-game.  So yes, FFXIV is technically a 3 monther.  The development of new content has been really slow coming.  I think it’s been a month of sitting around wishing they would add something I want to do.

That’s an important distinction to make.  There are some 3 monthers where I simply lose all desire to play the game.  In FFXIV’s case, I definitely want to keep playing but I want to do things that sound fun to me.  I came up with a bunch of ideas like Gold Saucer, Chocobo Races, and content like FF Tactics.  I’ve even talked about wanting to fly around in an airship and control it with friends.  While those things may eventually come, they aren’t coming quick enough.

FFXIV-Housing

Thankfully housing comes in like 2 weeks.  That will bring a much needed change of pace for me.  Instead of logging in each day to simply craft and make money, I can log in and decorate my guild’s house and have ways other than combat and dungeons to interact with my friends.

I’m hoping for more activities that feel like Final Fantasy, and less that feel like they are designed simply to keep the raiders playing.  FFXIV isn’t a very good raiding game, I think it should stop trying to be one.  Despite any current success it may enjoy, going down this path for too much longer will lock them into a short-term strategy from which they can’t recover.

My fingers are crossed that the upcoming major patch changes things up enough that I want to play alts, work on a house, and feel like I’m playing Final Fantasy.  I want a Final Fantasy world where players want to simply ‘exist’ instead of ‘play-through’ everything.

How to bring more Final Fantasy into FFXIV Content

FFXIV dungeons and content in general are very mechanic based.  Move out of fire, avoid cone attacks, remove a debuff, and DPS before insta-kill move triggers are prevalent.  Although very much a themepark MMO, one of the attributes blatantly missing from FFXIV dungeons is the use of the Final Fantasy theme.

There are tons of great Final Fantasy themed events and dungeons I have rolling around in my head.  Instead of just being about killing trash monsters to get to the next boss, the ‘dungeon’ could be an ‘experience’ to play through. Heck, who’s to say they even have to be like dungeons at all?

FF1 iOSTurn-based Combat
A dungeon, a boss, or simply an event could be played out entirely in turn-based combat just like the traditional Final Fantasy style.  The enemies would be on the left and your party could be staggered on the right.  Each player would take a turn to using abilities.

Random Encounters
Another throwback idea is randomly being jumped by a group of monsters as you make your way through a dungeon.  Maybe mix in the overworld monsters making contact to start battles.  This mechanic can be implemented somehow to be a lot of fun in a upcoming dungeon.

FF TacticsFinal Fantasy Tactics
Tactics uses a movement grid.  Characters take turns moving on the grid and receive bonuses based on where they are positioned (terrain, position, etc).  It’s like traditional FF combat with movement on a grid.

Active Time Battle System
In a ATB system everyone has a gauge and once the gauge fills up.  Once full, it’s your turn.  This could take into affect skill speed and let players strategically have to use their bar. This adds a depth to the turn-based system and could also be a lot of fun.

ff7 chocobo raceChocobo Battle Race
Not every dungeon has to be about traditional combat.  Here’s an idea going outside of the box a bit more.  What if the entire ‘dungeon’ was a race on the back of chocobos.  Players could obtain powerups to fire off at each other and simply have a lot of fun racing at high speeds.  I see it being really similar to Mario Kart.  The winner could get some tokens or something.

Arena Fight
In Final Fantasy 7′s Golden Saucer there’s an arena that players can enter to battle monsters..  Square could always add specific mechanics to the fights like “don’t do X” or “only do Y” to spice things up and make the battles not just normal combat in a confined space. Introduce new mobs every week or month and adding different battle mechanics is a great way to keep simple content like this interesting.  Playing through the different arena battles could give all sorts of prizes ranging for vanity items to tomes.  We know they’re working on adding the Golden Saucer anyway so this is a perfect opportunity.

This is the type of content I would add to FFXIV if I was in charge. Out of the box ideas meant to excite and get players eager to do more than run through dungeons repeatedly.  More ‘Final Fantasy’ and less ‘MMO mechanics’.  Thoughts? Ideas of your own you think would make for great content in FFXIV?