I bought Crysta (FF XIV)

Well, yesterday I took the plunge and used PayPal to buy 2000 Crysta to pay for my FF XIV account with. For those playing along at home, that’s $20 worth. It still bugs me that if I cancel after that month I’ll have left-over credit, but it doesn’t bug me enough that I’m not going to play, and I’m more comfortable with buying Crysta via PayPal then I am with signing up my credit card to that ClickandBuy system. Plus this way if I get distracted and stop playing I won’t auto-renew since I won’t have enough Crysta.

The expected hate has arrived in spades and I’m trying my best to avoid it. A lot of it is coming for common garden variety trolls, but even thoughtful people seem unable to parse the idea that there are people who are genuinely enjoying FF XIV. People whose opinions I usually respect, like Justin Olivetti (you may know him as Sypster) are jumping on the anti-FFXIV bandwagon, saying I’m getting the feeling people are defending a really bad game in FF14 because it’s Final Fantasy — would they put up with this elsewhere? (via Twitter).

People said the same thing about LOTRO when it launched: that only reason people liked it was because they were Tolkien fans.

So these people (the trolls I mean) who don’t like the game take every opportunity they can to mock it or trash it, of course. It’s as if the existence of a game they don’t like offends them in some way.

Maybe FF XIV is a really bad game for Justin. That doesn’t mean it’s a really bad game for everyone. I’m having fun and it doesn’t have anything to do with it being Final Fantasy. I’ve finished exactly 1 FF game in my life (X) and I didn’t like FF XI much at all. What I do like about it is the freedom it gives you. You can be any class, and you can (slowly) respec at will; so far the only real limits have had to do with inventory capacity.

Does it have some horribly broken parts? Absolutely. Virtually every MMO launches with something broken. FF XIV maybe more than most games; if you’re looking for polish then give it some time before trying it. Actually I strongly urge almost everyone to wait until there’s a free trial to give it a shot anyway. Most modern MMO players aren’t going to like it because it is very different in a lot of ways.

But it also has something that’s pretty rare these days: a rich crafting system and player-driven economy. If you love your monsters to be loot piŮatas you’re going to be *miserable* in FF XIV. Virtually everything is player-crafted. Seriously. So if you want to made a grey leather item (a leathercrafter skill), you need grey leather, right? To make grey leather you combine a sheepskin (combat drop), some willow chips (carpentry, comes from a willow log obtained by a botanist) for tanning, and grey leather dye. To get grey leather dye (alchemy) you combine linseed oil with some slate-grey bugs (yech) that you may find while mining. You get the linseed oil by harvesting flax (botany).

If that process sounds appealing to you, then you might be a FF XIV candidate. This kind of stuff tickles the hell out of me. It’ll drive most casual MMO players batshit crazy. You can do all of those steps yourself if you want to level all the jobs, or you can trade/buy sub-components from other players. Some sub-components can be purchased from NPCs, but most of them can only be obtained via player-crafting. Sadly one of the horribly broken systems is buying and selling, so a lot of dealing is done the old fashioned way…by talking to other players *gasp!* There’s a first pass at a revamp of the bazaar system coming soon but I suspect they’re going to need more than one before they’re done.

If you aren’t interested in crafting, then again, this is probably not your game. There’s such a heavy emphasis on crafting that you’d be missing more than half the game if you didn’t partake.

Y’know what else is funny? Remember everyone screaming bloody hell about the fatigue system? No one who is playing is complaining about that now, because it’s almost impossible to hit the limits. Ditto insta-travel. The teleport system uses “anima” which regenerates over time, another fact people were freaked about before launch. Well it turns out you start with 100 anima and short ‘ports use 4, so you could do 25 short-distance teleports in a row before running out. I don’t know why you’d want to do that.

I don’t know if longer teleports cost more; I assume they do but I’m not sure how much. No one seems to be complaining that they’re running out of anima, though.

I’ve been playing with a controller lately, which is a godsend given that Minecraft borked my shoulder (I have an on-again, off-again problem with my left shoulder…maybe bursitis or something). It’s a very comfortable game to play.

Anyway, I played last night until about 2 am and was up at 8 am to play more; I can’t remember the last time an MMO hooked me like that. Today I finally did the big road trip to the other starting cities to tag the stones there so I can teleport around. There’s a ferry ride along the way that was just stunning (though I’m sure I’ll never take it again since it did take about 5 minutes). I don’t know if it’s always like this, but when I took it night had fallen and there was wild thunder and lightning storm; some of the best weather I’ve ever seen in a game. When Limsa Lominsa finally loomed out of the darkness looking like some ancient broken volcano, lightning forking down around it, it literally gave me chills.

So yeah, I love this game. I might hit a road block and lose interest next month, this afternoon or in two years. Who knows? But for now I’m enjoying myself and am contemplating a second account for two-boxing. I’m really looking forward to seeing what improvements and additions Square-Enix adds over the coming months and years.

Oh, one last thing…for all the hate, the game seems to be plenty populated. At least the Besaid server is. So I’m not the only one enjoying myself.

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10 thoughts on “I bought Crysta (FF XIV)

  1. I couldn’t stop thinking of this debate last night. I ended up breaking it down like this:

    When people LIKE a game, they talk about it because I believe that when you like something, you want other people to like it too. So when people talk trash about a game, what do THEY hope to get out of it? In MMOs, if the buzz is positive, more people may decide to try it. They may like it (they may not). if they DO like it, then they get a game they enjoy, and the devs/pubs get paid, ensuring even a small bit that the game will continue, and the player’s enjoyment may continue. Win-win.

    But who benefits from just hating on a game? It can’t be as simple as people WANTING a company to fail, and to have to lay off their employees, and I would’t go so far as suggest that people are really doing more then venting in a lot of cases, but when people are CONSTANTLY down on a single product, I really, really want to know what they hope that harping on a theme is going to get them personally. Why does it matter to them SO MUCH that they have to take time to write something downright insulting? It’s not just this title…the question can be applied to ANY negative comment on any game or any product, really.

    Some will say that they have every right to criticize, and thats true. Constructive criticism is fine, and should be encouraged, but I have yet to see anything constructive in any criticism this game has received. To be perfectly honest, I get the feeling that a lot of people are behaving like my daughter does when her feelings are hurt, and she’s only 9.

    I personally TRY to stay positive about these products. None are perfect, and one size does not fit all, and I think we’ve all been around the block enough time to know this by now. I also believe in something my mother told me, which is that if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. It takes a better person to just walk away when one would rather take the low road and throw a tantrum on the Internet in a way that nets them no gain in any way.

  2. Awesome for some positive feedback on the game. I too, am enjoying the crafting system. But I really can’t wait till I craft myself some good gear and then do the later mission quests, which sound interesting.

  3. My question over Twitter wasn’t stating that I thought it was a bad game — I have not played it, and as such, I have no first-hand knowledge of FF14 — but that I’ve been observing what appears to be a tidal wave of incredibly bad reviews, user experiences and criticism that even fans can’t quite refute. Against that, I’m also observing people who genuinely like it (which is cool) but it seems like they’re defending it blindly — as in, this is Final Fantasy, it’s supposed to be different, shut up, your criticisms are invalid just because.

    I really don’t personally hate FF14, I don’t want it to fail, and I have friends and fellow bloggers who are digging it. I don’t get anything out of tearing down a game, but I think it’s important for us as a community to critically examine these titles — both the good and the bad — instead of putting on bias blinders and leaning one way or the other without conceding any ground. Take, for example, Fallen Earth. Not a perfect game, had a lot of valid criticisms against it at launch, and it wasn’t for everyone. Yet I loved it, played it, and stuck up for it — but at the same time, I acknowledged its flaws and genuinely wanted the dev team to improve the game so that it could have an even wider audience.

    I’m not seeing this attitude with FF14 fans. It’s almost like they’re telling themselves that their game is a special and unique snowflake that is just so different it can’t be compared, contrasted or held up to any standard other than itself. And the only conclusion I could draw from that is that it’s being treated as such because of its IP more than anything else.

    This all said, I really do want to hear more about why you and others love the game, what you’re finding compelling about it, and what you’d like to see improved so that it could reach the players who have been turned off by some of its features.

  4. Let me try to clarify — it’s been a long weekend and my brain is fuzzy.

    If this wasn’t a Final Fantasy title, but just another fantasy MMO that hit the shelves, I really do think it would be seeing a lot more critical examination by all parties.

    I’m wondering if people do hate it just because it’s Final Fantasy, or, like myself, won’t give it a chance because they don’t like the IP.

    I’m wondering if people are defending it too much because it’s Final Fantasy, and excusing glaring faults because they simply want to will this game to succeed.

  5. I think the IP issue cuts both ways, though. I played Fallen Earth too, and in spite of its flaws I enjoyed it. But when I said I enjoyed it, no one questioned whether I really liked it for the game, or whether I liked it for the IP. They trusted that there was something to like there.

    The fact that it’s Final Fantasy makes the “Is it because of the IP?” question particularly weird because there is no single Final Fantasy IP, as far as I can tell. I played and enjoyed Final Fantasy X, and tried FF XI, XII and XIII and none of them seemed to take place in the same world (nor did I stick with any of them very long; each was a disappointment). Yeah, there are always chocobos and some of the diminutive races recur, but it isn’t like saying “Do you like LOTRO or SWG for the game or for the IP?” because in both those cases its a very strong IP.

    I’m liking FF XIV, now that you mention it, for the same reasons I liked Fallen Earth: I love crafting systems and both games have this whole giant subsystem built around gathering materials and using them to build gear, with very little in the way of complete items drops. You either make your gear or you buy it from another player, and making gear is non-trivial.

    I also like it because I’m always feeling progress. Whether it’s a physical level or a job rank or just completing a piece of gear I’ve been working on, every time I log in I come away with the feeling that I’ve accomplished something satisfying. I play MMOs for the journey; I rarely get to level cap and when I do I generally quit. For *me* MMOs are about the satisfaction of building: whether I’m building a character or an item.

    I also like, and this is the hardest for a lot of people to understand, that so much isn’t known. Big chunks of the game are still kind of a puzzle and it’s fun reading different theories and trying them out to see if they work, and if they don’t, can they be tweaked to work. A lot of gamers want to see all the numbers so they can plan out their characters and know they’re doing the right thing, and most games support that. Having a game where there are parts of the crafting system that still seem a mystery, but one that I’m slowly building my own theories around…it’s a nice change of pace. I do NOT want every game to be like this, but I can embrace this weirdness in this one game this one time.

    Of course the problem is that as things get puzzled out, websites get written about how they work, and then the game just seems dumb because the info is available, just not in the game; this is an issue that FF XIV is already facing and I’m not sure how S-E will solve it in the long run. But for now there are still puzzles to solve and I’m finding that really fun.

    Does the game have flaws? Hell yes it has flaws. It has tons of flaws. But here’s the problem with me, a fan of the game, talking about the flaws. If I mention them, the haters seize on that mention and discard everything else in the post and focus on the negative. Look at some of the Massively posts on the game; people who have something positive to say about the game are shouted down like mad. And we’ve all seen that happen in our blog posts for any number of topics. There’re plenty of people slagging on the flaws of FF XIV. I don’t feel the need to focus on the bad stuff; I think that’s covered quite well elsewhere.

    But the game is certainly playable and for me at least, extremely enjoyable.

    And since I’m enjoying it, of course I want it to succeed. But if you read my posts on the game, I’ve been very, very careful about recommending it because it is so unusual. I’m not calling it a special and unique snowflake but ask anyone who has played it and it does have a very different feel to it, the same way EVE has a very different feel. Sometimes it’s fun to learn new things, even if the new thing is as trivial as a new game interface system.

    The #1 thing they need to fix right now is making buying and selling easier, and my understanding is that they are doing that in the next update, though I’m not convinced their first fix is going to go far enough. The 2nd thing they need to do is offer more flexibility in key-bindings so people can tweak the UI to be comfortable; they took a baby step in that direction when they put in the hardware mouse cursor at launch but there’s a ton of work to be done there. And the 3rd, and biggest thing they need to do, and I’m not sure they’ll be able to do it, is optimize the code. The game requires a beast of a machine to run smoothly, and I’m not talking just a good graphics card. You need a good CPU too.

  6. Okay, some points.

    1- “Thereís a ferry ride along the way that was just stunning (though Iím sure Iíll never take it again since it did take about 5 minutes).”
    Just a small tip: your anima will end. You will take that ferry more than one time. In truth, I never saw that ferry empty of players. And some players use that 5 minute ride for fishing, go figure…

    2- “I donít know if longer teleports cost more; I assume they do but Iím not sure how much. No one seems to be complaining that theyíre running out of anima, though.”
    To other zones the teleport is 6 anima. However, anima refresh at low rates, so sooner or later your anima will end.
    IMHO, they need implement soon chocobos and flying ships. However, they have other priorities now, as eliminating the crashes and making the market system better.

    3- “But it also has something thatís pretty rare these days: a rich crafting system and player-driven economy. If you love your monsters to be loot piŮatas youíre going to be *miserable* in FF XIV. Virtually everything is player-crafted.”
    IMHO, that is the reason why there are players liking the game and why there are players that simply hate it. The economy is tottally player-driven. It have a extremelly complex crafting system, I think only “A Tale in the Desert” have a system more complex. And crafting is not an easy “one-hit” button system. Crafting need strategy and I see a lot of people that cannot understand how crafting works and say the system is random. After a player learn how to play the crafting mini-game the crafting process will fail less (higher rank recipes than a player crafting rank give a considerable chance of fail that any crafting strategy will not win) and it will give more HQ. Just a tip here: at rank 10 the crafting abilities start to appear.

    4- “If you arenít interested in crafting, then again, this is probably not your game. Thereís such a heavy emphasis on crafting that youíd be missing more than half the game if you didnít partake.”
    I guess it is more than half the game, it is two thirds: the game is one third crafting, one third harvesting and one third adventuring. I am taking botanist and mining too, but not fishing, and you see a lot of people fishing at all places, and I assume they like fishing, because you are forced to play any class.

    5- IMHO, the main problem with the game are the controls, that are not intuitive and diferent from any other MMO, and the player-driven economy. FFXIV is a “sandpark” and not a themepark, and there are a lot of people just want a themepark. A player will not find a shield droping from a wolf, but need buy it from other player, and some people just want things droping from mobs or getting them from quests.
    And the trade system made the things more complicated, because players don’t find easilly a retiner or player selling the gear and items they need. I was trying to craft boots for me, but I had to waste a lot of time for find brass nails at a retainer. However, while I had a lot of work for find a crafting component, it is relativelly easy to find a retainer or player selling bronze mail armor and you can see a lot of melee players using it, at least one piece, so the market system is not so broken how the people say.
    When they revamp the Market Wards this week things will be better, it will be easier find the items you need. That will help the lives of players that just want buy things and not craft it and that will help the lives of crafters that just want buy a component for crafting. But a system for see what the retainers have to sell beforehand will be apreciated.

    6- IMHO, a revamp to the Market Wards, that is coming this week, will make the servers less laggy. There are too many players just logged, afk, selling things. If the market system goes easier, people will just put a retainer for sell things and log out.

    7- “What I do like about it is the freedom it gives you. You can be any class, and you can (slowly) respec at will; so far the only real limits have had to do with inventory capacity”.
    That is a point I saw no critic say. You can play everything you want, you just need change the weapon/tool. Everything you advance will contribute for a physical level, that affect your stats.
    There is no main class and you can use any ability from any class you have, so all classes can be “multiclass”. If you want your gradiator self-heal, easy, just advance thaumaturge or conjurer to rank 4 (circa 20 minutes playtime, 10 minutes if a friend help you) and you will have a healing spell that you can slot with your gradiator abilities. If you want some melee AOE for your pugilist, just advance marauder some ranks.
    FFXIV offer total freedom, you can mix any ability you develop, you can choice any class. It is a game you really don’t need alts if you want try any other class.
    So, IMHO the harsh critics come from people that NOT played the game, but “heard” from others about it. I know it because no one write a line about the total freedom that the game offer.

  7. I love the freedom of the game design. I fully expect it to be a different sort of MMO. That’s the point, and why I like the ideas of FFXIV.

    The sub and my own lack of time (OK, and a high end PC rig) are what keep me from the game, but with those barriers down, I’d be playing the game today.

  8. I was glad to see someone throw A Tale in the Desert into a discussion of crafting. I have never quite understood why more games havenít pick up pieces from Teppyís vision of how crafting should work. Blacksmithing and Glass Blowing where you make the product in a manner similar to the real thing, banging on metal or blowing, moving and rotating glass in a furnace. Actual skill made the difference and the ability to produce high quality products made you, as an individual, stand out in the game. Paint making where every player in the game has a different set of recipes which you have to discover for yourself. Cooking became a community wide science project.

    I know not all of that will work in all games but there are elements which I think would make almost any game better. I am one of those loving FFXIV and in particular the crafting. It is interesting, gives you reasons to go places and do things to get the materials you need and improves social interaction to get those higher level mats you need.

    I do, however, wish they would expand a bit on the quality side of the crafting. As far as I know the only real effect from producing a +2 item is an increase in durability. To me that is not enough incentive to spend a lot of tie worrying about the quality. I wish there were stat improvements that resulted from making a higher quality. I understand that each piece of equipment having different stats would create a large server load and contribute more to the lag issues, but I can wish for it anyway. Of course if they moved more of the game to the client side, a lot of the lag problems would be solved.

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