Daily Blogroll 12/14 — Take my game, PLEASE! edition

FFXIV opens with a fantastic character generator, shows you a wonderful cinematic that soon includes you and segues smoothly into the tutorial. You soon are dropped into a crowded inn with quest givers that you will come to know very well. They give out your “guildleves” — kill quests, and your “local leves” — crafting quests, and finally your “field leves” — harvesting quests. Your remaining days in FFXIV will consist of filling up on leves, going to the place they tell you to go, killing trash mobs, making items you won’t be able to keep, and whacking away at harvest nodes.

Once in a very, very long while, you will get to continue the story for a short time — and then it’s back to the leves, hoping for the next bit of the story. Or perhaps to rise high enough in level to see anything but the forest. In a game that almost begs for exploration, it keeps such things as the ferry to other cities, riding chocobos and even travel deep into the forest outside Gridania locked away.

FFXI had its issues — a lot of them — but for the most part, I had fun. Nothing stopped me from exploring (and dodging high level monsters). FFXIV, on the other hand, constantly teases with the fun stuff just over the next horizon. Except over the next horizon are more badgers, bees, animate fungus and so on to slaughter, mindlessly.

If a MMO player had to choose between FFXIV and WoW, I can’t think of anything that would compel them to choose FFXIV. They’d miss questing, an explorable world, any goals, dungeons, etc. They would gain a limited ability to mix and match class abilities to form a custom class of their own choosing, but then, with Rift coming out which goes crazy with customizability (and includes leveling by quests or rift chasing or PvP), it’s not easy by any means to build the case for the game.

Now they’re tossing the game’s director and producer, taking the game back to the workshop for a complete overhaul, and not charging for a subscription until sometime next spring. That puts it just after Rift’s launch, and just before SWTOR’s expected launch in April. I have no idea what they could possibly do to fix the game. It is SO BEAUTIFUL! I guess my only suggestion would be to put some of the fun stuff closer to the start of the game.

On to the blogroll.
Continue reading Daily Blogroll 12/14 — Take my game, PLEASE! edition

Daily Blogroll 12/8 — Holy NDA, Batman! edition

Superhero comics have to be the most consistently grim form of literature imaginable. Here you have people with cosmic supernatural powers, and those powers bring them no joy. Instead, they are crushed by tragedy after unthinkable tragedy. Their lives are living nightmares, and for most heroes, there is no peace even in death. Satan once bet God that he could shake the faith of his most pious worshiper, a rich man named Job. God said sure, go for it, and Job was robbed of his wealth and his family. Satan went on to wrack Job with terrible illnesses, but Job struggled on, never losing faith. We see that in the Book of Job was written the very first superhero story.

I guess this is a sort of roundabout way of celebrating the lifting of the DC Universe Online NDA. But what of The Agency, the other SOE Action-MMO property? News of both, and more, after the break.
Continue reading Daily Blogroll 12/8 — Holy NDA, Batman! edition

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.