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.
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.