How I Killed MMOs (can FFXIV get them a rez?)

Have you ever wondered how the expansive, immersive virtual worlds in which we used to play and live turned into the slick, plastic pieces of disposable entertainment we have today? I was right there, yelling and screaming about it. Kids today. Get off my lawn. Why, back in my day, we…

Here’s how I figured out it was me that ruined things.

I was at Best Buy Sunday. I haven’t been in ages; they’ve moved everything around at my local store. As Lisana noted the other day, QR Codes are everywhere. I felt sorry I hadn’t brought my phone.

I was at Best Buy to get Final Fantasy XIV (currently patching). They had one of those stations where you could play those plastic instrument games — they had DJ Hero and Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock set up. I haven’t played Guitar Hero in years, but I used to be a fanatic about it. I strapped on the plastic guitar and started it and —

My God, there was a STORY to it! Some sort of fable about a washed-up rocker who becomes a demon or something. I didn’t get the whole story, as I was looking around on the button-light plastic guitar for the SKIP THE STORY AND GET TO THE MUSIC ALREADY! button. Eventually the music starts, I play through it, and then MORE REALLY LONG STORY until the next song.

LE YAWN.

As I got frustrated at the long cinematics between songs, I just had to put down the guitar and walk away. Maybe if the story had been less lame, but it seemed the game missed the point. Plastic Instrument games are for listening and interacting with the music, not for tiresome neo-legends about Satanic rockers. Didn’t we just have Brutal Legend for that? I mean, if I want to see a boring story about Satanic rockers, I can just re-watch the Tenacious D movie.

I’m absolutely the same way now about MMOs. I don’t want to wait. I want to skip the boring parts and get right to the fun parts. Boring time is time I could spend doing something else. I don’t even bother pretending, when I start a new MMO, that I’m there for the long haul. Wizard101 has been the exception, here. I sub to WoW for a couple months every year or so, plan and enjoy some F2P RPGs until something else comes up, but — I’m going to be playing any given game only a few weeks, I’m never even going to see whatever end game you have cooked up. The first time the game gets boring for me, I’m gone.

I started playing Final Fantasy XIV this weekend. The intro quest was a long, languid look into the lore of the forest city of Gridania. It included one battle. Now that quest is ended, and I’m sitting in Gridania wondering what to do next. I see people crafting, but I have no idea how it is done. I don’t know how or where to get new quests. There were some plot threads left hanging — like, how is my character going to get rid of the taint that makes the forest hate her, when all the NPCs who were going to help clear the greensin have all forgotten about me?

In short, in FFXIV, the game has left me no options EXCEPT to take things the slow way, explore, and hope to stumble upon a next step. I could go the web and find the next step already written out for me, with guides and arrows and hints and suggestions and 8×10 glossy pictures with a paragraph on the back explaining each one in great detail with times and dates and ….

I’ll probably end up doing just that. But for a few nights, at least, I’m going to try playing FFXIV as it was meant to be played, as a world where you don’t have a path laid out for you.

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Tipa

Web developer for a Connecticut-based insurance company that's over 200 years old! Also a bicycler, a blogger, a kayaker, and a hunter of bridges.

17 thoughts on “How I Killed MMOs (can FFXIV get them a rez?)”

  1. Not to be “that guy” but I think you mean 8×10 glossy pictures with a paragraph on the back of each one… now I’m gonna go have a Thanksgiving dinner that can’t be beat.

  2. I stopped at that same point in FFXIV. Everyone’s doing something off in a corner. How do I do that? So I stopped playing. I hope to give it another chance soon, but it seems like a game for people who already know the world and how to play in it… and that’s not me.

    Also, I’ve turned into a quest-text-skipper, too. I kinda hate that I do that.

  3. Don’t wait be a buzz killer, but quest text in FFXIV is important to read. I know you want to get to the good stuff but being as a main feature of FFXIV being its story it’ll be like eating a sandwich without bread.

    Someone new to the series will probably have to adjust a bit and get use to how the game works. Its one of things once you up and running you know exactly what you need to do.

  4. I don’t disagree; the story, settings and music are why i play FF games. I have been obsessively talking with every NPC and going where suggested.

    At this point in the story, I have been told to avoid the Forest and especially the wildings. Instead, I am to hang out in town. Which I can certainly do for days, weeks, months, but I am hoping I will stumble onto the story again, or at least figure out how to get new quests

  5. I lost 60 lbs by eating sandwiches without bread.

    I always want to try games where they don’t tell you anything (like when Myst first came out) but always I get frustrated and look up the guides. Then i get bored because I’ve read too much and the game is ruined for me. why do I do that?

  6. I believe the correct quote is “8×10 color glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one”. The reference to Alice’s Restaurant made my day.

  7. Alice’s Restaurant FTW!

    I was ecstatic about the release of FFXIV specifically because I expected it to be a little obtuse and force me to poke around and explore. I love it … for two weeks. Then the grind started to get to me, the annoyance of the RNG being occasionally brutal ( level 13 Weaver broke a level 7 synth and lost thousands of gil in items instantly ), and trying to deal with what was then a very broken and useless, yet essential to the game, market ward and I had enough. I will probably try it again eventually, but I think I am done for now.

  8. Keep an eye on your journal, as it will probably point you to the next part of that quest. (You don’t actually need to stay out of the forest very long.)

    I’m curious, given my position, to see how you react to FFXIV over a longer span of time. Personally, I love it, but I’m also very aware that it isn’t for everyone. It seems to have taken the route of not removing the boring parts, but making anything that could be a boring part more interesting.

  9. Pretty much all the negative reviews I’ve read about FF XIV have made me more interested in the game. The pace is very slow, there’s the grind, travel takes a while, there is no ‘golden path’ or hand holding. All the things I loved about EQ classic. I’m just waiting to see if they can fix the major issues like the interface lag that are real show stoppers to me.

    Although I didn’t play for long because of RL commitments at the time, the best part about FF XI to me was the punishing challenge when it was first released. I remember being so incredibly frustrated at the game at times when I died, but in hindsight, those were the best parts because of the emotions the game managed to evoke. Real similar to EQ when you were terrified to die, when having an unrecoverable corpse at the bottom of the well in Befallen meant you were out of luck unless a higher level group happened to come by (sometime in the next 6 hours if you were lucky). These “slick, plastic pieces of disposable entertainment” may be fun in an arcade type of way, but they certainly can’t match the emotional roller coaster EQ (and the first FF XI) used to put you through.

  10. I loved FFXI up until the level break quests. I’d join a group, people would get their bits (in order when they joined the group), and then the group would break up before my turn. This happened so many times that I just quit.

    Tonight, in FFXIV, I taught myself how to mine — no help or guides, I was so proud of myself. I definitely feel that sense of being lost that I had wandering in the forest of Toxxulia as a night-blind Erudite wizard who didn’t know one thing about the game (like, what do these amusingly but opaquely named spells DO? I thought O’Keill’s Radiation was a DoT and cast it on every enemy I fought).

  11. “At this point in the story, I have been told to avoid the Forest and especially the wildings.”

    No, they said for you don’t go DEEP in the forest. It is not the same thing. There are nasty things living deep inside the forest and the conjurers (druids) respect the elementals and nature’s creatures. And next time no moogle will come save you.

    [take note I made no spoiler, because you done the first and second quests]

    One advice: there is no world chat, if you want someone for talk you need enter a linkshell.

    By the way, what server are you playing?

  12. Yeah, I did do some battle leves and mining around Camp Bentbranch without any hassle, I figured that would be safe. I am on the Mysidia server.

  13. Well, I am at Lindblum.

    I repeat the advice for you go look for a linkshell. The world is huge [try go from Gridania to Limsa Lominsa and you will see it] and you can feel alone because there is no world chat.

    By the way, don’t worry if the other players from the LS explain for you some things, for example how to craft. Play with a LS is how the game is meant to be played. FFXIV can be more solo-friendly than FFXI, but it is a “social” game to the core. That is the reason some people named it a “sandpark” game: it have the questline from a themepark game, but the player have the freedom for choose what to do as a sandbox game. And as a sandbox game, the world is made by all players.

    Everyone can see this if think why they made crafting so much important for the game. And the crafting system be so complex (I think only “A Tale in the Desert” have a more complex crafting system). That is something typical for games that try be more “social”.

    [just a note, and a little spoiler: the crafting process is not random as some people said, if you know what you are seeing]

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