Final Fantasy XIV Crash & Burn

The last time I wrote a proper post here was June 10th and at that point I’d been playing FFXIV for about 10 days. And until about a week or two ago, I’d been playing it every day, pretty much exclusively.

Then I skipped a day for some reason. And another day. Then I logged in for about 10 minutes and that was that. I may be done with FFXIV for now.

This always happens to me; it’s my cycle of Discovery, Ridiculous Enthusiasm (accompanied with “gonna play this 4-ever!” giddiness), The Routine and finally, the big DROP happens. I think I need to learn to acknowledge when playing has just become due to habit rather than desire, and maybe step back at that point. If I play a few times a week rather than every day maybe I can keep the enthusiasm up. Makes sense, but y’know, at my age I’m not sure I can learn new tricks.

They don’t look like trolls but believe me, they are.

What really killed FFXIV for me was the Horrible Hundred; the huge swathe of quests that happen after you finish A Realm Reborn and before you start Heavensward. During these (which took me a few weeks to get through) there is almost no multiplayer content. A few raids and dungeons, but mostly you run around doing fetch quests.

Back when these were new people were probably mixing them up with doing dungeons for fun, but with the “Road to 70” buff I was already so over-leveled that I didn’t want the XP that would come with doing anything extra. I just wanted to get to Heavensward so every night I’d log in, feeling vaguely irritated by how much these quests sucked, but determined to get through them.

And I did, finally. And then Heavensward began and it was more of the same. Heavensward, at launch, was meant to take characters from level 50 to level 60. I was level 60 before I started it, meaning now the Heavensward quests are trivial. The ‘correct’ course for me would be to level a 2nd job, and I thought about leveling a healer but now it’s been so long since I’ve done MP content that I’m facing my natural resistance to doing it. I was a social gamer for a while, though!

Plus as soon as I stopped logging into FFXIV I started remembering the 5,000 other games in my backlog, frontlog and sidelog. (OK I exaggerate a little.) I’ve been bouncing around from Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to Dragon Quest Builders 2 and then to Days Gone (among others.).

The best thing about playing an MMO is that you save money on other games, but the worst thing about playing an MMO is that you miss out on so many other games.

My only real regret is that I bought TWO 60-day time cards in order to get two Fat Chocobo mounts for 2 characters and so my sub is paid through to something like October.

The good news for everyone else is that in patch 5.3 (which is out sometime later this year I believe) the developers are going to streamline this early content to make it faster to get through. There are no real details of that, but if you’re considering picking up FFXIV, I’d urge you to wait until 5.3. Right now the grind is really depressing. And despite what some will tell you, the story does NOT make it worth it. (Well obviously that’s my opinion.)

I had a good run, though. Hopefully before too long I’ll be ready to jump back in for a while. I do come out of it with some fond memories….

I don’t know these people but they invited me to their wedding, which was ADORABLE!
I joined a guild and lasted like 6 weeks before my inner introvert drove me to leave.
Of course eventually I gave in and created a Viera.

Final Fantasy XIV makes me a better person. Sort of.

Recently Square Enix was running one of its “come back to Final Fantasy XIV” promotions. If you were a former player you could get a week of sub time just by logging in. As the period for this was winding down I figured “Hey free time, I better use it!” so I did.

I’ve always loved the world of Final Fantasy XIV. The weird creatures, the ridiculously overwrought dialog, the cute female characters [ahem, not sure I should admit that one]. For me it really leans into the “fantasy” part of the title.

I’ve always disliked Final Fantasy XIV because of the forced grouping. In order to unlock things in the game you have to follow the Main Story Quests and these send you to group dungeons fairly often. I simply DO NOT like playing with others, particularly strangers. It makes me super anxious because I’m afraid I’ll do something that negatively impacts other players and I hate looking stupid in front of people. [Yeah don’t think this stems from altruism; we all know me better than that. I just don’t want to embarrass myself.]

Busy starter cities
I was happy to discover that the ‘starter cities’ are still nicely populated

But I started playing and thanks to a “Preferred Server” buff I flew through the levels and the quests and within a day or two I was faced with queuing for dungeons. I summoned my courage, queued up, started sweating it out. When the Duty (as they are called in FFXIV) popped I almost declined it, but I didn’t. And I found that at this point you are essentially carried in low level dungeons. Bosses die so fast (since most of your party will by max level) that you don’t even have to worry about special mechanics.

This, I guess, is the beauty of FFXIV rewarding high level players to replay low level content. And for me it made a huge difference. That first dungeon wasn’t so bad. Just to be safe before I did another I watched some YouTube videos showing the special features/tricks of the next few dungeons, then I pressed on.

Questing
All these people are doing a level 15 or so quest. The little filmstrip icon next to their name shows they are in a cut scene

Before this gets stupid long, let me summarize. I learned that low level dungeons are generally stress free. I learned that letting folks know “This is my first time” often actually gets you helpful advice. And I learned that if the party wipes, it’s generally not the DPS dude’s fault (that’s me), it’s just over-exuberance on the part of the tank, and people shrug it off, slow down a little and finish the fight.

Somehow I’ve now gone from dreading these dungeon runs to looking forward to them. Now my gripe is that queue times are too long for a DPS and I’m thinking of starting a tank or healing job. Now I’m often the first guy who says “Hi!” in group chat; I’ve become, dare I say it? Social. I joined a Free Company (guild). I joined a Linkshell (group chat). OK so it is the Novice Network linkshell that is pretty impersonal, but still!

I don’t know what this is, but I didn’t mess with it. It was level 50

I feel like after playing FFXIV for a while, I’ll be able to go into any other MMO and queue up for group content and not sweat it so much. I’m sure at some point I’ll have that experience of someone getting mad and rage-quitting or calling me names because I suck, but already I have a nice body of experience that shows me that is the rare exception and not the norm. Honestly for the most part, people don’t talk at all except maybe a hello at the start and a ‘thanks for the party’ at the end.

That said, I’m still having a blast with FFXIV. I’ve re-subbed and will keep playing for the foreseeable future. Which reminds me, I should probably cancel my SWTOR subscription. 🙁

Putzing around in Final Fantasy XIV

In a way I picked the worst time to return to Final Fantasy XIV. There’s a new expansion officially out on Tuesday and early access started Friday, I believe. Not only does this mean the servers are congested with login queues and disconnects, but the game was down for a full day. Once you get logged-in, dungeon queues for us LOLDPS noobs are extra long since the expansion added two new DPS jobs and lots of people are trying them out, ergo more LOLDPS dorks fighting over the slots made available by the tanks and healers.

All this would be fine if I’d come back for Stormblood (the new expansion) but I didn’t. FFXIV expansions are aimed very squarely at level-capped characters as far as I can tell. I haven’t bought the last expansion yet (there’s very little in it for people like me) let alone the new one. So first I have to “finish” the base game and then I can buy and play through Heavensward and only then will Stormblood be on my mind.

That time I was a girl…until some creep started sending gross tells.

So that’s a lot of bitching in a post I wanted to write because I’m having so much fun! In spite of the crowds and all that, I’m really glad I came back to the game. I’m playing it mostly on my terms, which means I’m not racing for level cap as fast as possible. I play FF XIV because I’m delighted in the world. It feels a little like a virtual Renaissance Faire to me, with the NPCs and their overwrought dialog, and of course all the crazy costumes.

So sometimes I ride my chocobo from one citystate to another just for the fun of seeing what I’ll see along the way. Today I decided to take up carpentry, and one of my first tasks was making maple shields. I could have purchased the material but where’s the fun in that? So I went off to train as a botanist so I could go gather maple logs to make into maple lumber. Then I needed bronze rivets, which required becoming a miner to gather copper and tin ore, then becoming a blacksmith to smelt that ore into bronze ingots, and from there to bronze rivets. Then I finally went back to the Carpentry Guild and made my shields.

Now clearly that’s not an efficient way to play and it’s not something I would do if I seriously wanted to level up carpentry, but for me it was fun to do. That’s pretty much my FF XIV philosophy: do what’s fun.

Now I DID join a Free Company (guild) after one of the Mentors reached out to me. She happened to contact me just as the Novice Network that I talked about a while ago took a turn for the worse as more and more noobs/returners piled in and started treating it like general chat. She told me her Free Company was a ‘learning FC’ so I joined. I’ve since learned that she just trolls the Novice Network for warm bodies, but it turns out I don’t care. I interact with them very little — the odd ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ — but I get some buffs from being in the FC and now I don’t constantly have to deflect random FC invites. I know they’re recruiting in an attempt to get enough people to do Stormblood content and that’s never going to be me, so I might get booted. Or maybe not. They all seem pretty chill. Whatever happens is fine. I guess they have a guild hall and stuff but I haven’t gone looking for it.

I had to do dungeons in order to unlock the ability to ride this cute and cuddle mount

One of my biggest beefs with FFXIV is that it forces grouping on you in order to unlock stuff like Chocobo riding. This time around I’m trying to roll with this stuff and it’s working OK. I’ve done 5 dungeons now and each has caused a little less anxiety. I’m getting better at targeting with the controller (I’m playing 100% on PS4) and I’ve been doing my homework and reading dungeon guides before I go into each one so I’ve at least had a clue as to what, if anything, I need to do special. So far (knock on wood) the PUGs I’ve been in have been silent beyond maybe a “Hi” at the start. No one has been yelling at anyone else. So far.

I bought a 60-day time card which at the time was kind of a bummer because I doubted I’d use all the time (I couldn’t find 30-day cards at Amazon) but it turns out I might. I mean I’ve still got a ways to go in the first month so things could change, but FFXIV might be what gets me through the summer gaming drought.

I have the toughest time paying attention to the orders that Minfilia gives me.

Final Fantasy XIV is really welcoming to us noobs

Through an unexpected sequence of events I won’t recount here, I’m back playing Final Fantasy XIV.

I have the weirdest history with FFXIV which I also won’t recount, but for all intents and purposes I went back to the game as a total noob. Couldn’t remember how to play so I rolled a new character and I’m playing exclusively on the PS4 (so far at least).

FFXIV has always indicated noobs (they use the more polite term Novice) by putting a little seedling icon next to the player name. You’re considered a novice for 168 hours (14 days) or until you hit some point in the story that I’ve already forgotten. I ~think~ it is the end of the main story questline from the original game at launch.

In addition to Novices, there are Mentors. Mentors are players who have offered to help Novices, but there are guidelines for who can become a Mentor. You have to have accomplished certain achievements in game and there are different types of Mentors (Trade Mentor, PvE Mentor, PvP Mentor or just plain Mentor). Here’s a list of Mentor requirements.

When a Mentor and a Novice group up, they both get a 20% experience bonus (up to level 20), so there’s an incentive for the two groups to interact.

Additionally there’s a persistent chat channel called the Novice Network. It’s only open to Novice players and Mentors. It’s supposed to be a channel for getting questions answered. The only flaw in the system I’ve seen so far is that a Novice has to be invited into the channel by a Mentor. My new character was level 20 or so by the time he’d encountered a Mentor to invite him in. I’m surprised Novices aren’t auto-joined to the channel.

There’s a new (to me anyway) NPC in the starting hubs called a Smith and they’ll tell you all about Novices and Mentors. At level 15 they’ll also direct you to the Hall of the Novice. This is essentially a series of solo mini-dungeons that teaches you how to play an MMO as your class. I’m an Archer so I got sent through the DPS series of tasks. The Hall taught me to avoid telegraphed attacks, taught me to attack the mob the (NPC) tank was tanking, taught me to pull adds off the healer, and so forth. I knew all this stuff but I imagine if this had been my first MMO rodeo the Hall would’ve been a great learning tool, plus you get some new gear for going through the mini-dungeons (you can do them all in maybe 30 minutes, tops).

If you don’t choose to do the Hall of the Novice at 15, you’ll get sent there before Sastasha, the first dungeon that you unlock. Since I’d already done the Hall, I’m not sure if doing it is mandatory before Sastasha or if it is just recommended.

In addition to being a Novice, you may be a Returner. A Returner is someone who has returned to the game. In order to qualify you have to have one class to at least level 50 and have been gone from the game for 45 days. Returners get the same bonus exp and access to the Novice network. They have a little flower next to their name.

I don’t usually interact with other players in MMOs (ironic, I know) but when I was randomly invited into the Novice Network I accepted. It’s a pretty active channel and at least for the short time I’ve been in it, quite civil. It’s definitely kind of chatty…I saw a long discussion about Pokemon games taking place in it. But when I did ask a question or two I always got an answer, and often several.

This experience drew me out of my shell a bit, and by Sunday afternoon I’d dug out a bluetooth keyboard so I could talk in the Novice Network more easily (typing with the controller isn’t ideal). I saw that there’s a linkshell that extends the Novice Network; I guess folks were making friends in the NN and then getting kicked out thanks to no longer being a novice, and so they created a player-run version to keep in touch.

This is the outfit that attracted creepy tells from some sleaze

I played a ton of FF XIV over the weekend and had 1 bad experience (playing a female character and having some creep sending my tells about how sexy I was) but other than that, my experience with the player base was very positive. I ran 3 dungeons, they all did not go perfectly, but no one was giving anyone grief about it.

Overall the way FF XIV welcomed me as a player kind of re-kindled my love of MMOs.

I switched over to a male character but I guess I just can’t help being dead sexy! 🙂

The mixed blessing of FF XIV’s cross-platform support

fat_chocoboFinal Fantasy XIV is unusual in that it is an online game where PC, PS3 & PS4 players all play together on the same server. If you have a FF XIV (and have purchased clients for multiple platforms) you can be playing on your PC, log out, go to the living room, turn on the Playstation and log in with that same character and keep on going.

In a lot of ways this is pretty awesome. At long last you can play on your preferred PC platform but still go adventuring with your friend who’s a devoted console player. Or if you’re like me you can just bounce back and forth between playing on the couch and in the office, depending on your mood.

But there’s a negative side to this as well. I actually prefer playing on the console but I have to confess I feel a little bit uptight about it, at least when it comes to group content. I LOVE doing solo quests on the Playstation but I’m just not as efficient with a controller as I am with mouse and keyboard, particularly when it comes to quickly targeting things. Partially this is a matter of practice but it’s hard to argue that anything is easier than just pointing and clicking with a mouse when you need to target a specific mob.

Then there’s communicating. If everyone in my group is on teamspeak then I’d have to drag out a laptop or something to log in. I can use a keyboard, of course, but that means setting the controller down when I want to say something. Perfectly acceptable while soloing but in a boss fight in a dungeon those lost seconds could be crucial.

If I was on a server that only had PS4 players everyone else (well most everyone else, it certainly IS possible to connect mouse and keyboard to the PS4 and play that way) would have the same disadvantage when it came to controls. Ideally the game would have native voice chat for parties so everyone could communicate that way, but if not we could use the Playstation’s Party Chat to communicate.

But I’m playing with PC players, and I suspect primarily PC players, and I’m really sensitive about screwing up other people’s enjoyment of a game. So when it comes time to do group content (and FF XIV forces you to do group content if you want to advance the story and unlock things like using mounts) my enthusiasm for the game wanes. I don’t want to be fumbling around trying to target the right mob while the rest of my group is doing all the work, and I don’t want to be that guy who never speaks because I can’t fight with the controller and use the keyboard at the same time.

I’m really looking forward to Planetside 2 on the PS4 and Neverwinter on the Xbox One, because both are games I’ve enjoyed and (as far as I know) both intend to silo players so that everyone you’re playing with will be on console. Hopefully both will also come with native voice chat support.

In the meanwhile, back in FF XIV, I’d love for Square Enix to add some kind of ‘solo mode’ for the required storyline dungeons so that players like me can at least get through them and unlock chocobos and such. This weekend I started leveling my 8th or 9th character. I always get to It’s Probably Pirates (the first required dungeon) and quit playing. And oddly even though this is my 8th or 9th time through low level content I still really enjoy my time in that world.

I guess I should bite the bullet and play through that content on the PC and just get it over with, because I want to ride my chubby chocobo!

FOTM: Final Fantasy XIV

kittenSo as mentioned in my last post, I went back to playing Final Fantasy XIV. I kind of resist admitting to “Flavor of the Month” temptations since it feels like there’s a negative connotation to that phrase, plus it gets thrown around a lot. I hear my friends referring to FFXIV as “FOTM” that everyone is going back to, but at the same time most of the chatter I see on Twitter is about going back to WoW to get ready for the next expansion and from my perspective that’s the game that “everyone” is going back to.

Not that any of this matters. What matters is having fun. If you find it fun to change MMOs twice a week then go for it, flavor-of-the-month or flavor-of-the-week accusations be damned! Anyway I’ve always been fond of FF XIV. Fond enough that I’ve been subscribed since launch even though months went by without me playing it. It was always something I intended to play ‘any minute now’ and so when I saw Dusty talking about the game it finally got me to log in. He was playing on Diabolos, I think, so I decided to roll a new character there. I got my dude just the way I liked him but oops, Diabolos was locked for new characters. So I randomly picked Marlboro.

At the same time Scarybooster was playing and he was determined to get to level 20. Only he was on Cactuar. Meanwhile Dusty went on vacation. So after a couple days on Marlboro I re-rolled AGAIN on Cactuar to lend moral support to Scary. That was Monday the 11th.

When I played FFXIV last Fall I got to about level 18 before running out of steam. My issue with FFXIV is that dungeons are mandatory. Let me explain that. Features of the game unlock as you play through the main story quest, and to do that you have to complete quests that require you to do dungeons. I had originally rolled a Gladiator not realizing it was a Tank (ie high stress) class so I really balked at doing the dungeons. I’m a determined solo-ist and I’m fine with skipping dungeons in most MMOs, but FFXIV pushed me out of that comfort zone.

Last Monday I rolled a Thaumaturge and quickly ran him up to 16 or 17 but I wasn’t really feeling it. I never play casters but I was just trying something new. So I switched jobs to Pugilist and he is now 22 and has done the first three mandatory dungeons. I did them with PUGs and they were all pretty fun once I got in them and got going.

I find that my anti-social anxiety actually peaks while waiting for the Duty Finder to pull together a group. I almost canceled my first dungeon queue several times, but once I got in there the group was asshat-free and it was a good time.

The second one was less so but I found that as a DPS as long as you’re not stupid people at worst don’t notice you. Not stupid, at these low levels, basically means don’t run ahead of the tank and activate dormant mobs, really. I can do that. I got a Player Commendation doing that dungeon so I must’ve either done something right or someone took pity on the new kid (when you roll a character in FFXIV there’s a little sapling icon next to your name so people know you’re new).

But what has really surprised me is that in a week I’ve leveled one job to 17 and a second to 22 and I’ve pushed the main storyline well past where I had it last fall at launch, even though I played for much longer at launch.

I don’t know if Square-Enix has reduced the leveling curve or if it’s because I’m playing differently than I did back then, but I wanted to share my playstyle with others because I seem to level faster than my friends newly come to the game (one evening I was playing at the same time as a friend was and in the time it took him to gain 1 level I gained 4).

My new system boils down to: Don’t be a completionist when it comes to Quests. Follow the main storyline quests and do just enough other quests to keep you at a good level for the main storyline. If you’re level 15 and you’re doing level 10-12 side-quests you’re both wasting your time and you’re ‘using up’ quests you might want if you decide to switch to another class later.

You can get a lot of experience doing Fates and completing your Hunting Log, as well as doing Guildleves the 1st time (you get bonus exp the first time you do them ) and doing them via the Duty Roulette (again, bonus exp for doing them that way). Eventually you’ll unlock the Challenge Log and that’s another good source of exp.

For your gear, keep it upgraded by buying gear from NPC vendors. It’s cheap and you’ll outgrow it really quickly. If there’s a level-appropriate quest that gives you gear you need, by all means do it, but it seems to me quests give you the same gear that vendors sell, at these low levels.

Once you start doing the dungeons you’re likely to get gear from them that is better than solo quest and NPC sold stuff, and you get tons of exp doing those things. So you might want to re-run them (again, using Duty Roulette for bonus exp).

In addition to gaining levels there’s a bunch of stuff you can unlock as you go. I found this great list at GamerEscape that tells you when and how to unlock stuff. Via that link I was prompted to go unlock the silly dances, the wolf and coerl (cat) minions (non-combat pets) and the oh-so-flamboyant Aesthetician (Barber). Not only are these unlocks pretty easy and a fun diversion, they also give you experience.

Basically it feels like everything you do in FFXIV is giving you experience and quests are only one of many ways to earn it. So don’t bother doing quests that are lower level than you unless they unlock something specific you need, and you’ll level up like the wind!

Clothes make the (wo)man

Earlier this week I was playing some Final Fantasy 14 and chatting with friends when Scarybooster, who is new to FF14, got his subligar. The subligar is the bottom half of a gladiator get-up. You can learn (a little) more about subligars in the real world on this Wikipedia page about the history of the bikini but for the purposes of this post, let’s just say it looks like leather underwear.

Of course Scary being Scary, hilarity ensued as he went on about his butt cheeks hanging out of his underpants and so forth. Another friend, Oakstout, who was hanging out in chat but not playing, said that he wasn’t sure he could play a game where you had to wear such ridiculous gear.

I am ~almost~ in agreement with Oakstout, but not quite, and I think I’m exactly who the subligar was designed for. I wear it because when you get it, it’s the best armor for that level. But I hate how it looks, so that gives me an incentive to level up and get better gear to replace it.

In general FF XIV goes old-school with gear. You are ‘born’ wearing decent looking street clothes but soon you find yourself in what are essentially burlap sacks (‘hempen’ clothes) and oven mitts and stuff like that. But then you see a level 50 person strut by looking really cool and you have this aspirational moment of “Whoa, I gotta level so I can look like that.”

I feel like this method of coaxing players to level up used to be a lot more common than it is now. Just one more way FF 14 is a bit retro. I kind of dig it, but I also completely understand folks like Oakstout who aren’t interesting in spending $$ to look like a fool in a game.

Then there’s also the issue of gender. I am guessing that people who frequently play female characters don’t give the subligar a second thought. Female characters so frequently wind up wearing ‘armor’ that barely covers anything that the subligar (it is a ‘unisex’ bit of gear) probably seems conservative in comparison. That’s just a theory. Would appreciate comments on that.

Here’re a few subligar shots… when paired with a war harness they do look slightly less ridiculous then when you’re wearing one with a leather jacket or something:

FF XIV: Pushing me out of my comfort zone

I’m not much of a joiner. Although I love MMOs I don’t often join guilds or groups since I don’t like feeling obligated to others. I’m pretty selfish when it comes to my leisure time and want to do what I want to do when I want to do it. Yeah I’m kind of a dick. I’m also a classic introvert and I find that spending time with people drains me, even when I’m having a lot of fun doing it.

When FFXIV launched I chose the Gladiator class because he was a melee class, and I enjoy a good dust-up. I don’t remember if I even researched the job enough to know it was a Tank class; when you solo all the time “role” becomes pretty meaningless.

But Square-Enix fooled me. They built a game where grouping is required, assuming you ever want to unlock everything the game has to offer. At level 15 your “Story Questline” takes you to your first instanced dungeon, and completing the story questline leads to unlocking things like mounts. My first thought was that I’d just grind levels until I was over-powered and then solo the instances, but you can’t (at least I don’t think you can) because you get scaled down to an appropriate level when you enter them.

I remember clearly when I hit this quest. It was late on a Saturday night back in September or thereabouts. I thought “Well it’s almost 2 am… I probably don’t want to get involved in this tonight, I’ll do it in the morning.” Sunday came and “something came up” and I did’t play FF XIV. Monday came and something else came up. Tuesday thru Thursday came and went. Then October, November, December and January came and many things came up and I never went back to do that quest. Every month Squenix sent me an email saying “You’re going to be billed for a month of access in a few days” (I wish more MMO companies did that!) and every month I’d think “I really want to get back to FF XIV…I’ll keep the sub.”

A week or so ago I finally bit the bullet. Of course by this time everyone else doing these instances has done them a dozen times and they expect everyone to know what they’re doing. I admitted this was 1) my first time doing the instance and 2) my first time tanking (in FFXIV…in the past I’ve tanked with friends in other games), and I could hear the groans flowing over the internet. Fortunately one of my groupmates was patient and gave me advice and we got through the instance with no deaths, but the whole time I knew I was doing a crap job of tanking. By the time we finished I was so stressed I was sick to my stomach. And then I realized another dungeon instance followed. So I logged out.

But I really wanted to see more of this game. So I came up with a new plan. Be a brain-dead DPS. There’s not much stress on a DPS as long as they don’t do something actively stupid and I figured even I could avoid that. So I switched jobs to Archer and started leveling that up (FF XVI lets you do all jobs on a single character).

You really can’t do any grouping until you hit level 10. Well I guess you could form a group but there’s no real point to it. At level 10 you unlock Guildhests which are repeatable group quests, like mini-instances I guess. As soon as I hit level 10 I started queuing for them with my archer. Sadly until level 15 there are only two of them to queue for (that I’ve found anyway). But the levels go very quickly.

Last night I repeated these things 4 or 5 times, and I think this was a good decision. Standing in the back firing arrows let’s me get used to reading the Party Window and target windows so I can quickly see who has aggro and who is in danger of getting/losing it. I’ve been playing around with the various markers and setting up some /assist macros and things like that.

I’m also getting used to the idea of just joining 3 random strangers to enter a battle. Sometimes everyone says hi, sometimes no one does. Sometimes people chat a bit at the end, usually they don’t. But so far no one has been an ass, and that’s important to me too. If I have enough good-neutral experiences in random groups, when I run into a bad one (and we all know that’ll happen eventually) I’ll at least be able to have good experiences to compare it to.

Now I’m actually looking forward to hitting level 15 so I can go back into that dungeon I did as a Gladiator. And I’ve been thinking about switching back to tanking at some point, too. This is way outside my comfort zone but so far at least, I’m enjoying myself. And I’m kind of vaguely proud of myself for overcoming my reluctance to do group content and trying to embrace the fun of it.

Heck I have half a mind to actually join my friends in some kind of multiplayer game!

chocobo_riding

FFXIV – Another free month

So a new post at the Final Fantasy XIV Lodestone says that Square-Enix is giving subscribers to the game another 30 days of free trial.

However I haven’t seen this mentioned at any of the gaming blogs, and in particular Massively has been mum on the topic, which has me second-guessing my understanding of what’s going on. Or maybe I’m just reading the wrong blogs.

The post is dated today and specifies that it applies to “All users who registered a FINAL FANTASY XIV service account and purchased a character by November 19, 2010.” so unless I’m missing a loophole it means that everyone is getting another 30 days, gratis.

November 25th is the tentative release date of the next big batch of improvements (details here) and maybe S-E just wants everyone to see where the game is going…I dunno.

I’m happy though. Now I can keep dabbling for another 30 days without spending any additional cash. So yay!

To MMO or not to MMO; that is the question

First of all, I wanted to thank everyone for their thoughts on my “Age & Blogging” post. I’m going to keep that topic here but I’ve kind of paralyzed myself now… so many people chimed in that I feel like I have to come out with a strong post to start off the series! LOL But it’s slowly been forming in my head, so please bear with me.

But for today I’m back to gaming and wanted to share a dilemma. Square-Enix sent me an email this morning warning that my free trial period to FF XIV is about to end. First of all, a big kudos to them for drawing my attention to this fact. I can’t tell you have often I’ve forgotten to cancel MMOs I’ve stopped playing and then had them auto-renew: money out the window.

I like FF XIV and as I mentioned here before, I bought Crysta to pay for a month of subscribing (this was before S-E gave us an extra 30 free days). So I’m set to pay my way…

Except ever since we brought the puppy Lola home, I haven’t really touched any MMOs. Life was busy before she joined our household and she makes it busier (though generally in a good way). This past weekend I had some free time and I could’ve logged in, but instead she and I (and Angela, on Saturday) went for a couple of long walks in the nearby state park.

When I do have some time for gaming I’m never quite sure if it’s going to be for 10 minutes or an hour. So logging into an MMO feels too time-consuming. I want to play something I can jump into and have fun with in the first few minutes of firing up the game.

Now that Lola is getting into some patterns of behavior that ‘chaos’ in my day is easing somewhat and I could probably go back to MMOs, but now there are all these single player games that I’m interested in. (I mentioned on Google Buzz that I have a bad habit of buying too many games when I have no time to play…as if buying a new game could somehow scratch the itch of wanting to play.) So I have Fable 3 and the rest of Undead Nightmare in Red Dead Redemption and Rock Band 3 w/Keytar and The Shoot for PS3 Move and Amazon had a great deal on Enslaved: Odyssey to the West… all of that purchased in the last month or so. And of course Minecraft.

So it makes no sense to spend my Crysta on a month of FF XIV now; I have all these single player games that I splashed out for, after all. But on the other hand I don’t want the game to vanish while I’m waiting to find time to play it. That happens to me all too frequently. Gone are the days when one can assume an MMO will be there when you find time to get back to it. Today it’s play it now or accept the fact that you may never play it again.

Smart money is on canceling FF XIV and if I get an MMO itch, going to LOTRO or DDO or something… a game where I don’t need a monthly sub, so if I play for 20 minutes/week I won’t be wasting cash. But man, when I was playing FF XIV I was *loving* it. But it also occupied all my time…it’s a time-sink of a game, unlike more typical ‘bite-sized experience’ MMOs that we see today.

I’ve got a couple more days to ponder this decision… but I really think I’m in the mood to play a game that has an ending, just to get some stuff off my plate. Here’s hoping FF XIV will stick around long enough for me to find time to go back to it!