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Just not sure what to say anymore.

So it has been a while since I last published a blog post.  In the meantime several things have occurred.

Warlords of Draenor has technically launched.

I say technically here because as far a Blizzard is concerned the initial set of content was included at launch.  However IMO it is not a complete launch as all of the world map that is visible is not accessible.  Additionally all of the raid content that was promised in the first tier of raiding did not even become available until just recently.  BRF should have just been a completely new tier rather than a 1/2 tier higher and available 2.5+ months after launch.

The biggest complaint I have is the same one I had about WoD during all of its development and a major gripe about MoP.  It was the paradigm they decided upon for flight.  You know that one feature all of the development team can’t seem to design with it included and therefor hate the feature.  It was also one of the few discernible differences between World of Warcraft and many of its competitors over the years.

Many or all of the MMOs since WoW have had questing in one form or another with varying degrees of success.  Everyone has dungeons, many have some sort of Cosmetic feature for showing off gear.  Many now are implementing a place to call your own for either yourself or your guild, sometimes both.  Something that WoW lacks.  But with a few minor exceptions the one feature WoW had over all the others was flight and not only at level cap like in MoP.

MoP and WoD with all of the other improvements in many other facets of the game has been a major step backwards for Blizzard, unfortunately too many of WoW devs and or staff seem to be looking at the game through the eyes of 2004 (Vanilla) and not through the eyes of someone looking at the current market.

I remember at Blizzcon 2014, when I accompanied my Wife on a tour of Blizzard HQ, hearing about the really fun “Hang Gliding” quest/activity in Nagrand.  The designer of it was excitedly telling us about it.  I feel bad for them as I have not done a single one of them.  After looking at how to start and how to get to the gliders and the minor rewards/items obtainable from it, the ROI of my time was just not worth it.  I loved Nagrand from tBC it was my favorite zone followed by Netherstorm.  The Nagrand in WoD I despise.  I hate the layout, I hate the paths through the zone, I hate everything about it due to it being a pain in the ass to get anywhere without having a flying mount.

I recently let my second account lapse after reactivating it for a WoD launch and I was distracted with Garrison farming on both accounts but after doing daily cool-downs in the Garrison for 16 characters every day for 2.5 months I can’t stand them anymore.  Being stuck in World of Queuecraft and only able to reliably preform Garrison actions while waiting for the all important Queue to pop.  I am completely bored with this expansion.  I don’t enjoy jumping puzzles as the frustration for useless gear is not worth it.  I hate exploring when I have to go halfway across a zone just to get a path to go around the mountain at the start of it, i.e. where I enter the zone.

So as I was saying that I do not know what to say anymore is essentially for 2 reasons.  First in many ways WoD has improved WoW greatly in many aspects of the game so other than minor complaints there is not much to say.  Secondly the one major complaint I have with WoD, I know will fall on deaf ears as the Devs have major blinders on when it comes to flight.  The key concept that they just don’t get is flight like player housing and other things along both of these lines are about player choice and the ability to play the game in what ever way we the players feel like.

Now this rant on WoW, which I have said will fall on deaf ears was necessary because it leads to the second thing for me that has occurred since last posting.

 

Heavensward Trailer for FFXIV – 3.0

I saw the Heavensward trailer and have since reactivated my FFXIV account to start gathering resources and get back in the flow for the expansion.  It is strange after World of Warcraft the next set of games that I have spent the most time playing are all of the Final Fantasy games.  It was strange in that when I re-installed and starting playing again and logging in with the music it felt like returning home after a long time away.  Now it was like returning to my hometown as like with my IRL home town it has rapidly become a nice place to visit but remember all of the reasons I left in the first place.

So why am I going to through all of this pain with FFXIV when most of the other systems are better in WoW:WoD?  Simple 3.0 will be adding several very large new zones where flying will be available to players.  With content and zones designed with Flight in mind.  Something that WoW and Blizzard has not been able to do for over 8 years.  Having the freedom fly around a zone is an important feature to me as a player as it shows that while quest design may railroad me into a set path, how I follow that path in the map will be completely up to me once flight is unlocked.   Oh and by the way it looks like the quest to unlock flight will be something incorporated into questing in the new zones so should be a feature that is not for Level Cap only.

So FFXIV has Guild Housing, Player Housing, and soon flight.  Will I play long in the new expansion, who knows.  I find myself getting bored with games faster and faster anymore as they are all clones of the Same old Shit without iterating much on making them fun or interesting.  And as Wildstar found out, difficult/challenging leveling experience only appeals to a small percentage of the MMO Market and is not something you should aim a AAA MMO at.

Well this is enough grumping for now.  I will post more much sooner next time I hope.

Posted in FFXIV, World of Warcraft


FFXIV:ARR vrs WoW:(MoP & WoD) The Title of Abbreviations

So what does that title mean?  For those that may not recognize all the abbreviations, in long form the tile is as follows.  Final Fantasy 14 : A Realm Reborn versus World of Warcraft Mists of Pandaria and World of Warcraft Warlords of Draenor.

Before getting into this quagmire of a topic sitting on top of a mine field, I first want to say this is not a post about which is the better game and which sucks or is awesome.  Also the information on WoD is still quite limited as there are no versions of WoD not sitting behind NDAs.  So all we have to go on is Blizzcon and the Water cooler posts by various developers. I am going to get into 2 main topics that are split into a total of 3 areas: Alts as Different Characters, Alts as different Roles, and Travel.

I was originally going to talk about the in-game markets/economy but changed my mind after really looking at them.  While the time for the market implosion is different in each game they both end up in the same place and are therefore remarkably similar.  The leads to the only game to contrast them with is EVE Online and that a topic worthy of a separate post so that will come later.

 

Alts as Different Characters

Both games support this in that it is possible to have multiple characters on a given server and play with the same group of people on either character.  In WoW it is trivial how quickly this can actually be done anymore.  With the various xp/level changes that have occurred each expansion, sometimes in the middle of the current one the time to reach max level has been greatly reduced over the years.

For example in earlier posts I mentioned that I had 10 max level characters in Wrath of the Lich King and 13 or so in Cataclysm.  Hell I could even make a 3 way versus: Wrath & Cata versus MoP & WoD versus FFXIV.

So in FFXIV:ARR each alt character has a bit of story line quests and dungeons that must be completed to unlock various aspects of the game and dungeons along the way.  This is fine if everyone is at about the same level but I have noticed as I fell farther and farther behind the “main” leveling curve those restrictions became more and more frustrating.

I am sure if it had not been for the great multi-game community I am a part of I would have quit by now.  I have since volunteered and recently became an Officer in the FFXIV guild.  I was in the same situation in WoW for different reasons, it was the social connections that kept me playing long past when I had become quite embittered with the game.

So in summary WoW is still the better game for Alt Characters, especially since some things have moved to the WoW Account level rather than Character level.  The leveling experience while more quest grind-y is much faster and the fact that you can access all systems through pure solo play is a nice feature set.

 

Alts as Different Roles

Now this may seem to not make much sense why I am making distinction between Alts as different Characters and Alts as different Roles.  I did it because what 1 character can do in WoW versus FF(XI & XIV) is drastically different.  There is however similarity when you compare how some class types in WoW have the ability to perform different roles in the Holy Trinity of MMO encounter design.  The FF games are more like EVE Online than many of the other current MMOs on the market.

Specifically in WoW if you want to play a Tank and pick Druid you can do so.  Also because you are a Druid you can also with a re-specialization or alternative specialization: DPS (Ranged), DPS (Melee) or Heal.  However if you wanted to be a Warrior for Tanking, Rogue for Melee DPS, Mage for Ranged DPS and Priest for Heals, that requires you to have 4 characters all of equal gear level so tons of dungeon running, reputation grinding or what ever other mechanics for gear acquisition Blizzard puts into the game.

Final Fantasy games on the other hand allow one character to be any class with mechanics in place to switch between them while out of combat.  So if there are 11 classes like there are in WoW today you need 11 wow Characters to play any class or 1 character in Final Fantasy.  You still need to level up each class individually but you are not on a separate character with separate mail, bank, AH and other storage accesses.  It also means that when you get gear not suited for your current class which is BoP it does not get wasted like it does in WoW or almost any other MMO.  WoW could implement it by changing all or most BoP to BoA but I have been asking for that for years, so I am not holding my breath on that one.

Additionally another reason one can sometimes have many alts in wow is for crafting, back when crafting was actually worthwhile as a source for gear and making in game currency.  Since in WoW you can have 2 primary professions per character with about 10 different professions including gathering activities.  There are 3 gathering classes in FF and 7 or so crafting which again can all be learned and leveled on the same character.

So in the area of role/class flexibility Final Fantasy games are light years ahead of other MMOs when it comes to being able to focus all of your time on one character but not be gimped by class restrictions.

 

Travel

I have posted about travel a few times in the past and was planning on bringing it up again, however as I will sometimes take a few days writing these posts and I write bits and pieces here and there, one of the WoW developers gave an interview and due to their phrasing set off a firestorm.

The response from Blizzard to the firestorm boils down to “trust us”.  Well at least for me not anymore and by temperature in the echo chamber of the forums not many other do either.  The key from all of this is the consistency in which Blizzard is inconsistent.  Rather than stating a goal and vision and let the player-base be involved from the beginning they end up working on fixing issues 1-3 patches behind.

While I wish many of the players lost in MoP were due to flying restrictions and no implementation of a book of Pandarian flying like cold weather flying.  I know that is not the reason.  Additionally while many like to say it was the leveling speed accessibility in Cataclysm that drove players away due to boredom anyone with half a brain should know that is false as well.  The reason so many left in Cataclysm is due to 3 things.

  1. The implosion of the social network on servers and guild.  The raid changes at the end of ICC to implement the Cata model were disastrous.  It just took 6-9 months to see the full effect propagate throughout the player-base.  I have harped on it before and will leave it there.
  2. Competition from other games.  WoW is 10 years old, there have been many similar games that have come out during that time.  Some more successful than others.  Some catering to specific niches in the play model where WoW attempts to do them all.  It is refreshing playing in FFXIV:ARR and knowing that PvP is a side game, and that nerfs to abilities are applied as PvP only and do not really change the PvE game.
  3. The economy stupid.  MoP came out in 2012 and Cata came out in 2010, employment for the key game playing demographic 18-35 year olds has been underwhelming for 4+ years now…. Any excess savings anyone had prior to the economic issues in 2008 have well since been depleted for many around the world in that age bracket.  Games and culture that requires expendable income have all taking a header for several years now MMOs are not a special case.  I am being very careful hear because I don’t want to start an economics or political discussion, which are both buttons that can cause rambling rants.

Anyway I know Blizzard is doing the wrong thing with flying and travel in WoD for one very important reason.  My wife, Lissanna @restokin, and I agree on something in WoW.  I want flying all the time and think in many ways Cata crossed with ICC would be the best expansion paradigm possible.  She is willing to have flying at max level only, and I agree to that compromise with the caveat that there should be a BoA book for alts.  I can say one thing with certain, had there been a BoA book for my alts I most likely would not have canceled both of my accounts in WoW 6 months and 1 year ago for each account.  I may not have been happy today in MoP but I most likely would at least have 1 active subscription.

** Edit ** I dug up some of my old travel related aids for actually analyzing flight path design and placed the pages back under my Misc Items Section.

Posted in FFXIV, MMOs, World of Warcraft


FFXIV ARR : Early Impressions

Overall my experience was positive, and I reservedly like the game.  I say reservedly for 3 main reasons, RIFT, SWTOR, and TERA.  I really liked these games and dove in head first and burned out on them within the first 3 months of playing them and stopped logging into them within a month after that.  Also while I had a lot of active play time this weekend after patching the client I was trying to take my time and not push to far too fast.

 

The Bad or Where Things can be Improved

Many of my annoyances before and during the Open Beta really comes from how poorly designed Square Enix, Lodestone and all the related websites are.  The second stems from how paranoid SE seems to be about Beta information.  I can understand that during closed Beta that the Beta forums are not accessible to non-Beta web users however when the Beta had gone Open it is time to allow “READ ONLY” access to the forums.  So that people that are interested in what is going on can at least see the patch information and any other special announcements that only seem to be made there.   However this changed a bit after the forums were carpet bombed by users with a few log in errors so the only information resource was Twitter….

The other major issues that I noticed that I think is at the root of  all the concurrency issues and log in issues SE faced this past weekend stem from 1 little overlooked “feature”.  That being while logged in you can go idle/inactive AFK for hours and not be kicked out of the game and or authentication server.  If there was proper garbage collection of Inactive sessions on servers then a large part of the log in issues would have corrected themselves after an hour or so…  WoW has this problem if you get DCed and try to log in again too fast, however after the idle time would force kick the account the user would be able to log in again.

SwordArtFinalFantasyXIVARROnline

 

So in honor of the concurrency issue and some account would never log off the server I made a mash-up image of the 2 main characters from Sword Art Online (SAO) anime with a FFXIV landscape in the background.

 

The Good

Before I get into mechanically what I liked about FFXIV, I must say that the world is utterly stunning.  I for a very long time have disliked hyper realistic looking scenery and character models, and from what I can tell version 1.0 I would have despised for the same reason I am liking the game now.  The difference is a new game engine and a metric ton of optimization.  The game looks great even on lower graphics settings which I did switch to from time to time depending upon where I was.   The 2 cases was extremely wide open spaces where you could see a long way off, and the other being when I was in the crafting guild areas and there were 30+ other players all trying to craft grind at the same time in front of the supply vendor.

I honestly after playing in the open beta feel about this game like I did after giving WoW a try on a friends account, who did the log in for me so there was no information sharing.  If Blizzard has a problem with this they should not, considering from Summer 2005 through July 2011 I had at least 1 account active the entire time and for several years of it 2 accounts active all from that one introduction to the game.

Class/Job System

To those that have played many of the Final Fantasy series this one is not very surprising and if you played FFXI then you just like well duh that is how it was there.  However I have not come across another MMO that has anything like it with one caveat, EVE Online.  In all three games you can do everything the game has to offer on one character and you don’t lose abilities by switching to something different.  So unlike every other MMO I have played I do not need to roll my army of alts to get my crafting production chain up and running.  I will still have 1-3 alts but they will be truly alts and extra storage space and not extensions of my “main” like in WoW, RIFT, SWTOR, TERA, ect…

Pace of Combat

This is a refreshing change compared to the pace set in WoW, NWO, RIFT and other current and recent MMOs.  The only combat that is about at this pace is EVE on average.  EVE goes from watching a Glacier move to where nano seconds matter in a the half-life of Antimatter.  However I only hear that at higher levels the pace picks up a bit, the key reason being you have more abilities to choose from, not necessarily because there are 40 mobs running in every direction shooting fire on the floor while dodging tornadoes, which that description reminds me of a raid encounter in Firelands the last Tier I ever tried to raid quasi seriously.

In every fight I have done in the game so far when the mob was going to use a special attack it was clearly telegraphed in animation and cast notification, additionally the area of effect was clearly marked on the ground.  You also had 2-5 seconds to respond to it versus the 1 – 2 seconds WoW seems to have devolved into.

In then end I plan on giving FFXIV a fair try meaning at least 30 days and most likely 4-5 months.  The game when I am playing it is fun and engaging and does not make me feel like any of my efforts are wasted.  The only issue at the moment is the Server Farm boss and the massive amounts of players trying to log into the game all the time in the NA/EU data centers.   Last night rather than fight with it, I just rolled on Alexander JPY region server and got a Marauder to level 10.  When server transfers become available, hopefully free initially due to all of the server fiascoes that we have encountered during Early Access and Launch, I will move the character back to Behemoth where my other 2 characters are located.

 

Posted in FFXIV


A “New” Game? FFXIV ARR

So I have been quiet the past couple of months with no posts, which is essentially for a few reasons.

Most of my focus here has been on World of Warcraft with other MMOs on the side, this is now changing because I have completely let my multiple World of Warcraft accounts go completely inactive.  I will not go into detail about my reasons at this time but the sum of it all is that with current design trends I just don’t give a damn anymore about anything in WoW.  Lissannna keeps telling me that I should only play WoW after about the 2nd raid patch because then they start to shorten or speed up the gear acquisition process at that point to let people catch up.  If I only find the game worth playing in the 2nd half or final 3rd of an expansion what is the point in playing that game at all. The answer is simple IT IS NOT WORTH PLAYING AT ALL IF THAT IS TRUE.

Let me clarify my bold statements here, I am referring on a personal level not that WoW sucks and everyone should quit.  I am saying that if you as a player are just not liking the content then quit and speak with your lack of subscript monies.

Now I will hold off on the debate about that statement and deliberate on it more in a later post as I do plan on posting a bit more often now, that I have finally figured out what I want to do with my spare time.

In addition to finally resolving my issues with WoW, I went back to EVE Online for a bit and after finally getting the reputation required to install some Jump Clones I promptly got bored as I did not have a specific new goal to work on.   So my EVE account will be going inactive at the end of August.  I also created characters in Neverwinter by Perfect Worlds and have been enjoying how much like D&D that game actually feels like.  I don’t think it will hold my interest for very long unless a few friends and I get a guild going soon, but have to wait for a few to get back from War,  Look up Pennsic if you want to know to what I am referring.

To be honest I am actually surprised by the game that has now caught my attention and will be going into my reasons in another post, especially after it launches and I can give my opinion after playing it.  I have pre-ordered Final Fantasy XIV : ARR, after watching the trailers and downloading the graphics test and running it on a few different setting and being pleased by the performance on my machine with the level of detail that is still available at medium.  I will also admit that after getting back into anime pretty hardcore that past month and watching Sword Art Online, the world in FFXIV really reminds me of the Anime which is part of the allure.  I would be interested in knowing which parts in the anime and the game are inspired by each other or a common source, potentially FFXI (Final Fantasy XI).

It is funny because Final Fantasy XI is one of the MMOs I refused to play because I was such a fan of the old FF games I refused to play an MMO version of it.  Now that was 11+ years ago and the gaming industry and the games themselves have changed greatly.  One of the reasons I have stopped being a video gamer to the extent that I was versus now am is due to the console wars over the past 15+ years.  I HATE with the heat of a million suns, how you need to buy every fucking version of console and handheld to be able to keep up with the game or story line.  So rather than waste all of the money on the consoles I just quit playing any game that had to have a console version then a slightly newer game on a hand held then the next version on the next gen console.  I can not wait to see how the gaming world is changed if STEAM ever gets its shit together and releases the console they have been talking about that allows everything that is on PC to be played on that console and vice-verse.

Well that is enough ranting for now.  Some of the other features of FFXIV that are somewhat in common with FFXI and EVE are the direction that I think the MMO market needs to move into and will go into more detail “soon”.

Posted in FFXIV, MMOs, World of Warcraft


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