Category Archives: WoW

Welcome to FFXIV: Don’t rush the MSQ

It’s official: everyone I know is trying out FFXIV right now, stubborn WoW evangelists included. And i’m not surprised, FFXIV deserves all the credit it’s gotten since Shadowbringers and it doesn’t look great over at Blizzard Activision right now. Many bloggers have commented on the current shit storm so I’m not going to say too much about it. Other than maybe this: while I’ve held both Blizzard and their upper management in low regard for years now, I never suspected just how foul the corporate C-level of Activision is. As if the contents of the lawsuit weren’t harrowing enough, all the other info pouring out on this has left me somewhat speechless. If it’s one thing I do not need in my life it’s my MMO gaming being directly or indirectly connected to some of the worst US government types. What the hell has happened to this industry if it hires such people? I am still processing.

With that out of my system, let’s get back to why you don’t want to rush your FFXIV beginner experience.

The journey is the reward

Coming from WoW which is different to FFXIV in how it runs its themepark content, I’ve had many friends reach out to me these past weeks asking how long exactly it would take them to catch up to current content. While I don’t like the reasoning behind the question in this particular case, I totally get it. My answer is therefore always the same:

I’ve been playing FFXIV regularly for 7 years now and I still don’t know half of the content going on in that game. Some stuff I’ve heard about and some I am still literally discovering myself. This is partly due to how the game has been developed with many of its core features added incrementally over time (and not always advertised in the best way either). It’s also due to the fact that, as also mentioned in my last post, FFXIV is just incredibly broad with lots of different activities to sink your teeth into, catering to a wide range of players.

What ties all these different activities together is the main story line in FFXIV, aka the MSQ. While WoW was originally designed with endgame in mind and lore fluff was added later, all aspects in FFXIV revolve around or get enhanced by its central narrative. The MSQ is a large part of why some people play and it serves as a fine guide through the leveling process as well. The primary NPCs have been the same since ARR and by now, they mean a lot to the developers as well as the community.

FFXIV united

That is not to say that there is not a max level with classic PVE endgame content waiting for FFXIV players. But that’s just it – it is happily ‘waiting’ for them. The MSQ is a central part of the game, so it’s really not something you want to rush through or skip if you’re trying to establish a long term connection with this MMO world. It is also just very fine content and storytelling that gets better and better after ARR (yes it really does and it’s worth hanging in there!). As for endgame and things like dungeons, trials and raids, they are literally not going anywhere. There will be time aplenty to do them with either your friends or in pugs and they won’t be decaying for years to come. I’ve explained how some of this works here but one probably just has to experience FFXIV to understand how smoothly it all works out.

Enjoy the world of Eorzea

As someone who is in FFXIV for its wider allures and relaxed atmosphere, I’ve personally come to love the MSQ. Between following the story as well as enjoying dungeons and raids, exploration, housing and glamour endgame (the real endgame *cough*), I feel the game achieves a great balance between different activities. I think some WoW players are worried that this means the game lacks cooperative content or difficult encounters, but once you tread into savage territory and above none of that applies. These features just don’t get advertised or emphasized nearly as much by the FFXIV community because they’re just that, features among many others (if you think FFXIV has no complex raids, I suggest checking out this channel and watch some savage guides). Eorzea is not a vessel for endgame raid content.

For further analysis and in case you’re currently still on the fence, I recommend this great rundown by Jesse Cox on Youtube. It’s one of the best, most detailed and fairest comparisons of WoW to FFXIV I’ve encountered. See you on the other side – we have Moogle hats!

(P.S. I am on Cerberus EU – feel free to say hi to Sylvara Fallstar any time! The server is currently quite busy but new characters can still be made if you try early mornings or after server maintenance (Tues 4am EST).

Pugging in FFXIV

I’ve been in contact with several of my old WoW buddies recently who are teasing me back to Azeroth. It’s a completely different game than it was when I left in 2010 and from what I gather, the current expansion isn’t well received. At the same time, the pull of old friends is mighty and they seem to be enjoying the mythic content in the game. I am however still playing FFXIV and have only finished all the post-Shadowbringers patches last night. What a fantastic expansion this has been – I sincerely hope Endwalker can live up to its reputation!

Shadowbringers Finale

Talking back and fourth with my buddies I’ve told them a lot about why FFXIV, in my humble opinion, is the superior game these days. Them being generally curious about it, that has led to some interesting discussions. One major point that seems especially baffling and inexplicable to WoW players, is the friendliness and casual attitude in FFXIV and especially its pugs. This is one of the biggest differences between the two MMOs and has been for a long time. Nobody really seems to be able to explain why.

Apples and Oranges?

My few ventures back into the WoW 5man pugging scene have been almost absurd. All of the groups were radio silent for starters. When I joined a party and tried to get a grasp of a new dungeon, half the group had already sped on to boss number one. Generally, the tank didn’t seem to give a crap if the healer kept up and boss rooms just lock you out these days if you’re late. To my big chagrin, skipping as much as possible within the dungeons has also become common place which leads to frustrating scenarios for newcomers. Again, nobody cares about that. It’s what’s made me quit GW2 back in the days and it’s equally bad design in WoW.

The difference to FFXIV pugging could not be more pronounced, as my screenshots above illustrate. These are not my ‘top screenshots’ by any means, they are in fact just screenshots of the pugs I did last night. It is common place for people to greet each other, tell if the dungeon is new to them, ask the healer if big pulls are okay, end runs with a GG or cheers. As a healer, I’ve literally been in groups where the tank apologized to me when someone died. This has been my FFXIV experience for over 6 years. To date, I have pugged hundreds of dungeons and had maybe three unfriendly pug experiences that I can remember.

So why is there such a huge difference between WoW’s and FFXIV’s community? On the surface, both games have the same approach to pugging, with dungeon finders, ilvl-requirements and cross-server grouping. So it cannot be explained by these game mechanics. Personally, I believe it’s many design factors, some more subtle than others, that directly and indirectly turn FFXIV into the friendlier environment.

My Theory(-ies) on FFXIV

The daily pugging system in FFXIV is the heartbeat of many players’ every day routine. Running dungeon roulettes for marks always awards the latest token armor currencies (which ranks between normal raid gear and savage raid gear) and serves as a fantastic counter to content decay. There is none in FFXIV; the majority of dungeons, trials and raids get run every single day by thousands of players. This ensures new players can get through the main storyline of the game, while providing everyone else with rewards as well as varied locations. Needless to say, the routine factor makes people pretty laidback about pugging and most players are familiar with all the dungeons in the game. Dungeon design is mostly straightforward and linear, so there’s not much to skip along the way and they generally take no more than 15 minutes.

Among the things that FFXIV excels at, playstyle variety and social engineering are center. There are numerous non-combat activities as well as vast solo play content that attract a very wide spectrum of players. No matter your preference or age, FFXIV offers plenty of options for you to pursue activities and get great rewards. For this reason, the community feels very broad to begin with and endgame feels flat. Newcomers have various ways to get into the game with combat tutorials, mentoring systems and NPC parties to get them started if they so desire. New players are marked with the sapling icon and dungeon runs award player recommendations for friendly or helpful behavior. Wherever the l33t competitive players are in FFXIV, they make a tiny percentage and keep to their dedicated static groups for ultimate content.

Speaking of the l33t kids, Square-Enix does not officially allow DPS meters in FFXIV. I have never once encountered anyone talking about DPS or spamming numbers in any type of public chat, as it risks getting reported. While DPS mods exist and are quietly tolerated, players don’t talk about them publicly and keep them inside their dedicated FC and static groups. Which is exactly where meters belong! The same goes for achievements which are not a relevant thing in FFXIV. Nobody inspects you to decide whether they’ll have a good pug with you or not.

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Interview with Yoshi-P @ Destructoid

Last but far from least, FFXIV is a Japanese title with a Japanese dev team. This cannot be discounted by any means and gets very visible in the great three-part A Realm Reborn documentary on the rebirth and re-design of the game. Yoshi-P and his dev team approached FFXIV with a certain ethos and cultural background that values social conduct and boosts certain behaviors in the game as well as shaping communication. Overall, this dev team still feels very committed and emotionally invested in the game whereas WoW is long past its prime and A- and B-Teams. My heart legit broke into pieces watching parts of this last FF Fan Fest.

Your mileage may vary

It’s a mixture of things that make MMOs enjoyable to us. When it comes to providing ample opportunities for casual and fun content as well as accessible dungeons, FFXIV hits the sweet spot for me. When I log into the game and sign up for a couple of roulettes, I am guaranteed to wind down and enjoy myself after a long day of work 99% of the time, rather than being wound up and frustrated by a stressful group or toxic player. The game won’t force me to join elite content for great rewards and there’s no ramp-up of systems with unlocks and pre-requisites that push me into one linear grind. If you don’t feel like running dungeons, there’s plenty of other things to do and the game is good at catching you up between content and armor tiers. While it’s far from perfect in all respects and I’ve had my gripes with it in the past, I guess it’s safe to say I won’t be converted away from FFXIV any time soon.

WoW Classic: Are you yearning for the good old, bad days?

As revealed during this year’s Blizzcon, WoW Classic is coming summer 2019 and will be part of the regular WoW subscription, with no additional costs to subscribers. An exclusive Blizzcon demo of the game has been released in which players get to either quest in the Barrens or Westfall as a level 15 character, for a limited amount of time. Having followed discussions on the demo and supposed leaked screenshots on youtube and twitter, it really appears Blizzard are going for that mostly unaltered vanilla experience. All the while we must ask ourselves if we are truly ready to return to 2004.

WoW Classic: Are you yearning for the good old, bad days?

Kotaku published a very amusing first impressions post on Classic WoW, aptly titled “The WoW Classic Demo Is The Hell We Asked For“. Already the first paragraph had me laughing and cringing because so much about vanilla WoW is tortured nostalgia to the veteran player, an emotional struggle between yearning for our early days and knowing better. Really, I know I know better – but I also know that there is an undeniable, irrational pull towards Classic WoW. Lord, save me from myself!

I once wrote a rather detailed account on the struggle that was vanilla WoW raiding. I wrote it for myself more than anyone, lest I forget how brutal and time-consuming it truly was. We tend to forget these things, we forget how there wasn’t a guild bank or a keyring or dual specs. The list is endless.

As an MMORPG player with limited amounts of time these days, I am mostly over the grim satisfaction mindset. The virtue of suffering that was a badge of pride in oldschool games, holds no fascination for me. Look, I have done it all, had it all, what could I possibly gain from WoW Classic?

WoW Classic: Are you yearning for the good old, bad days?

Old Westfall with buddies.

But then I also remember why I cannot stomach WoW today and suddenly the notion of an Azeroth without achievements, dps meter min-maxmania and flying mounts sounds very appealing! I would probably hate the graphics but Blizzard are letting players opt-in the new character models, at least (which I think is a wise choice). I can see myself walking down that road from Northshire Abbey once again. I can see myself stop at the Lion’s Pride Inn, wondering if I should go kill Hogger next or murder murlocs at Eastvale Logging Camp while looking for that dead soldier. I’d like to see Stormwind as it once was, a smaller city without harbor. I’d like to hitch a ride on the Deeprun Tram because it’s still faster than flying to Ironforge.

And then, arriving at Ironforge I would undoubtedly make for the auction house which is where it would hit me full force: there is no guild I belong to, no guild spot where we used to hang out, no familiar guild tag hovering under my character’s name. My friends are all gone and there is no Syl, the holy priest, without them.

So I’m thinking if I was to return to Classic WoW, I would probably have to roll a vastly different character with a different name, indeed maybe this would be the time to roll horde. In any case, that’s a big “if”!

Monty is very skeptical of all this WoW business!

LOTRO 10 Year Anniversary: Community

Roger has a special post up remembering his past 8 years in LOTRO for the game’s currently ongoing 10th anniversary event. I joined LOTRO late in 2013 but I recognize the special nostalgia and fond memories of the early player from my own time with WoW where I was a regular from the US beta up until the beginning of Cataclysm. That is a very long time to be invested in an MMO world. Looking back even as an ex-player of WoW today, there is so much to be thankful for but nothing more important than the people: the social encounters, the friendships and the guilds.

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Without community, MMOs are just a very large online world. A beautiful world for sure and one that’s worth exploring but hardly worth sticking around for years and years. More so even that virtual property, I believe the thing that glues us to MMOs are other people – the only truly unscripted thing that shall remain unpredictable forever.

Early MMO camaraderie, as described by Roger, is a special thing that tends to wane as MMOs become more streamlined and well explored. Internet databases have done their share of replacing some of the social interaction and seem to grow ever faster for every new game that gets released. I remember a time in WoW when everyone knew everyone on a server and world chat would buzz with support. That was long ago in WoW and long ago in LOTRO.

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Stranger things will happen at 2am in the Prancing Pony…don’t ask

As a recent LOTRO return however, I can say that at least for Laurelin, “the EU RP server”, server channels are still fairly active and friendly. Zone chat is dead for some reason and maybe it was never a thing, but you do generally get advice in world chat. Places like the Prancing Pony are well frequented and always good for a stop to listen to a bard play or take part in shady night time activities. There is also an inexplicable amount of generous and supportive players in general who will whisper you after a noobish question or come meet you to y’know…trade you gear upgrades for no reason or let you copy their cosmetics for the wardrobe. Both has happened to me within 3 days of play.

It seems relatively difficult to find groups for old content however which is something I struggle with in Moria. LOTRO’s dungeon finder seems to be a completely ignored feature by a majority of folk, so I was encouraged to use LFF chat for Grand Stair and Hall of Mirrors. It took the better part of Sunday afternoon just to find 5 other people willing to run HoM twice since that is the required amount of runs to complete the quests there. It was a very friendly and fun group however and I ended up getting invited to their cross-fellowship channel.

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Despite some grouping difficulties, just having company out there to chat or listen to and knowing you’re not alone, creates much of my enjoyment in MMOs even when I’m running solo (the other important parts being exploration and world building but you knew that already). Now that I’ve re-subscribed to LOTRO and intend to make up for lost time in Middle-Earth, it was an obvious next step to join a casual but active guild once more. I had been part of a bunch called the Grey Guard in 2013 who were kind enough to accept and not kick me after 3 years of absence, but it’s been very quiet after my return and I’ve felt rather lonely and behind even more so than in 2013. Thankfully, a kind offer by Roger to join his long term kinship has arrived at what seems the perfect time! I am back in the saddle and back among people who still enjoy an MMO they’ve been attached to for years – a warm and familiar feeling.

The Long Shadow of World of Warcraft: Titan and the Legacy Server Question

In the wake of the much discussed Nostalrius server closure, Gamespot published an interview with Blizzard’s Overwatch team about the great failure that was Titan, as part of a history feature for Overwatch. Titan having been this great hush-hush project for so long, with only a single Kotaku article shedding some light on its demise at the time, I found both the timing and takeaway of this new interview quite fascinating. It is rare for a developer of Blizzard’s caliber to come out and talk about screwing up projects of such magnitude in candid fashion, with notable commentary by Jeff Kaplan and Chris Metzen. Yet if youtube comments are anything to go by, it was another smart move on their end in terms of marketing Overwatch and generating some more trust and curiosity within the player base.

The Long Shadow of World of Warcraft: Titan and Legacy Servers

What the Titan interview is too, is a rather ironical look at the long-lasting after-effects of the monster that was created in 2004 – World of Warcraft, proclaimed hero and villain of mainstream MMORPGdom depending on whom you ask. Over the years many a case has been made against WoW for hijacking the creative diversity of the genre, causing a plethora of unfortunate clones or ill-budgeted AAA-titles crashing in one treacherous MMO bubble. What isn’t discussed nearly as often however are the negative side-effects of WoW from within, for a company and creative enterprise. WoW may be the best thing that ever happened to Chris Metzen and Co. but it “happened” to them in the same bewildering, unforeseen and uncontrollable way it happened to the entire market; a child of chance and momentum as much as creative genius and industry know-how. An alchemy that defies simple re-creation.

That fortuitous chain of events led the team at Blizzard through the same process it would lead anyone that could not be prepared, from a time of unstoppable force and hubris to a place of shattered dreams and identity crisis when it came to Titan, crushed under the real MMO giant that remains World of Warcraft. The irony is strong in this one. WoW casts its long shadow to this day and left the staff soul-searching and scavenging Titan’s remains to come up with Overwatch, a completely different, much smaller game to complement their genre palette. Thus a team used to the dizzying successes of the past stood humbled, as Chris Metzen points out in the Gamespot feature.

The Long Shadow of World of Warcraft: Titan and Legacy Servers

Among MMO bloggers there goes the saying that “there is no WoW killer other than WoW” and indeed, nothing can seem to affect this title’s weight, not even the next Blizzard MMORPG. This must create a challenging emotional ambivalence even among those closest to WoW and most blessed by its many rewards. And I can’t help but think it also plays a role in Blizzard’s unaltered disregard for WoW legacy servers; something that surely makes sense business-wise and in terms of fan service. But if we then consider a crew of people who are simply tired of old WoW and eager to create new experiences, experiences not continuously outclassed by a 12 year-old zombie that just won’t stop rearing its insistent head, well then we can empathize more with that decision.

You run legacy servers when you’re actually happy to keep the past alive. At this point, I don’t get the feeling Blizzard are content to be defined by the successes of WoW’s heyday and this weighs heavier on their mind than a couple more subscriptions.

About that Black Desert Online Learning Curve

Five days into Black Desert Online, including some beta testing and headstart, my current state of mind is best described with this picture:

Black Desert Online learning curve

HALP! (click to enlarge crazyness)

I still don’t know what the fuck I am doing. And that is probably a good thing too, given how I generally find new MMORPGs too easy, too repetitive and too been there done that. Really, BDO is doing a lot of stuff its own way; I can’t say how effective or worthwhile it all is yet, but between node and worker management, haggling and raising amity with NPCs, one million gazillion crafty things and sub-menus for every possible resource, horse breeding, AFK-fishing, shipyards and feeding pets while looking to unlock the perfect residence, I have my hands full and then some. That Black Desert Online learning curve is no joke even for seasoned players.

Sandbox musings

While browsing the official Black Desert Online forums, I chanced upon this provocatively named youtube rant by WoW raider Kungen – ye, that dude that ran/runs Nihilum and raided with Ensidia for a time. I honestly never payed much attention to WoW’s 1% although there was a time when I statistically would have belonged among that group, albeit much further down the ladder from our Scandinavian overlords. In the few interviews I ever read back in wow.com’s time, most of them seemed aloof and not in touch with anything.

Anywho, after several minutes of WoW tirade Kungen goes over to waxing lyrical about BDO, its great sandbox premise and horizontal endgame “progression”. I confess, I found the video rather entertaining for all the ways he hits and misses various points related to his general WoW malaise. He is quite obviously incapable of relating to what constitutes the majority of WoW’s non-hardcore player base. Where there’s only “easy peasy mythics” left for him in today’s endgame, other players would argue that the game has added a lot of non-raiding related content over the years, from achievements to pet battles and the garrison. That doesn’t interest Kungen because raiding was the greatest in vanilla and after that, the game gradually went to shits. Here’s where I agree with him: WoW took a big turn for the worse after the conclusion of the Arthas arch in WotLK; I too am a Cataclysm-unsubscriber. And I hate flying mounts in WoW, they rank right after achievements for me.

The rest is mildly amusing, given how this hardcore player fails to realize how his playstyle adds to his own detriment in MMOs. He probably level 50+ during the BDO beta too or something, so I wonder how long the enthusiasm is gonna last. But hey, it’s nice that even the “WoW elite” (…) can appreciate Black Desert Online for doing things a bit differently.

Who are the MMO Core Players?

brief exchange today between myself and Gazimoff on WoW’s fluctuating player base, got me thinking about the often referenced „core players“ in MMOs. Although there’s unfortunately no data on who today’s longtime WoW subscribers are and when they started playing, it’s reasonable to assume that WoW has a core of the faithful, made sticky by longtime relationships, memories and trophies accumulated over the years. Social ties and virtual property are an important glue for MMO retention and WoW hit the market like a blazing star in 2004.

But really all sarcasm aside (I’ll try!), who are the core players in WoW? Are they the ones who never unsub, never fluctuate? Are they the all-abiding, undemanding that Blizzard need never worry about? Are they the so-called fanboys and fangirls?

What constitutes core and how many core players are there in an MMO like WoW? Is it enough to remain subbed for a certain amount of time to qualify or invest a certain amount of money? Is it the current 5 million players or much less than that – 1 million, 500’000 players? More importantly, how long until we’d find out, how long until the last non-core player is ready to quit WoW and never look back?

What does it take to reveal an MMO’s core?

Questions, questions!

OTC – Big Deals Edition: The Challenges of Virtual Poop, Undertale and DPS Meters still suck, thank you!

You guys, I actually used “poop” in a topic title! *Achievement unlocked!*

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The big deal that is pooping in ARK

I’ve been playing some ARK over the past weekend after finally upgrading my old graphics card to a 970. The game is beautiful but also rather straightforward and boring, to the point of where I am calling over-hype. Coming from the suspense that is 7 Days to Die, ARK still has a long way to go before it catches my survival fancy – “just surviving”, as in making sure you’re not starving, isn’t a good enough reason to sink hours into a game and build fortresses for me. That’s all well though and I will return to ARK once it received more content love and fixing.

Of course one very under-reported, hilarious feature in ARK is your character’s defecation mechanic which has caught many an unsuspecting player by surprise. It also spawns fantastically comical forum threads such as this one which was my main inspiration for looking into the topic. For those who don’t know how it works, just a brief summary: player characters in ARK randomly poop all over the place with a “you defecated” message popping up on your screen and an overly realistic bowel sound effect going along with it (eww). Also, you can pick up player poop and do things with it! There’s apparently a way to initiate pooping yourself (I did not know this), rather than being taken by surprise when your character relieves himself in the middle of your base like he’s part of the livestock.

This is noteworthy because most games never dare venture into the no-go zone that is human poop, no matter how high their authenticity bar is set otherwise. I only remember encountering virtual pooping in the Sims and Conker’s Bad Fur Day myself in the past. Even toilets as part of game settings are kind of a big deal, as was recently deliberated in this RPS article. Cross-reading different ARK forums, there’s plenty of players utterly aghast at this, nevermind all the violence and moral decay portrayed in videogames otherwise but…..poop? No way! I actually got a buddy of mine to play ARK and he is turned off so much by the defecation thing, he’s already stopped playing. I couldn’t stop laughing after it “happened” to his character the first time around!

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So many places to do your business!

Now, I am possibly the last person to ask for poop mechanics in videogames, or any simulation of mundane bodily functions for that matter, since I’m all for the idealized, stylized and aesthetically pleasing fantasy environments! The fuss over something as trivial as poop in a game like ARK cracks me up though; I guess I’m okay with the fact that my human body does that sort of thing and so does yours because y’know, we’re part of nature no matter how fancy we dress and talk. We tend to be fine with “manure” (different word for poop!) from beefalos when playing Don’t Starve, so let’s try be a little less Martha Steward about the whole thing, shall we?

The Tunes of the Undertale

Undertale, a successful Kickstarter project that’s been created for the most part by one guy named Toby Fox, has recently been released on Steam with a bang. Not only is it difficult to find anything but raging reviews from players and journos alike, the fact that many would go as far as calling it the best RPG they ever played or at least among the best, got me curious to check it out myself. Only about 1 hour in and without wanting to spoil anything, I think it’s safe to say that lovers of the (J)RPG genre will find this to be an interesting journey for its toying with player expectations, tongue-in check approach to classic tropes and unorthodox approach to round-based combat. That is, if you can get over the minimalistic graphics. I’m not even sure how much I like Undertale yet myself but there is something about it I need to get to the bottom of.

What’s already won me over is the game’s soundtrack – a whooping 101 tracks of oldschool goodness composed by Toby Fox again (that guy!), and available for only 9.99$ on his bandcamp site. If you’re at all into retro VGM, this is for you and one great deal for the buck!

And MMOs are still better without DPS meters

Most players who have ever spent a decent amount of time in FFXIV: A Realm Reborn will at some point talk or write about its incredibly friendly community that seems at odds with the current WoW-based MMO standard. I have mused on this not too long ago and so have other bloggers, and it requires no great leap of logic to grasp that FFXIV’s lack of (acknowledged) DPS meters, as well as its very forgiving dungeons for the most part, have a lot to do with it. FFXIV relies heavily on social engineering in many different ways and pugging is as essential to the player experience in this MMO as it is in WoW and other games, toxic hells that their LFGs have become. I have lamented the state of pugs in WoW as well as in Guild Wars 2 in the past and Eri did in fact recently write a similar review on returning to Tera.

Now Rohan linked an interesting experiment from reddit in his post yesterday, in which some guy parsed both the harassment and the DPS for pugs in both FFXIV and WoW. Bottom line: the jerks in WoW are often also the “good” players (no doubt using meters as their justification). In FFXIV on the other hand, in case of a bad pug it’s more likely that the loudmouth is also a bad player (that’s simply never detected). So far goes the result of the experiment.

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More dps whyyyy…look I have a pretty angel!

It’s easy enough to believe this data. Like Rohan, I fail to see how any of the two options are superior in theory because well, I generally don’t want any jerks in my pugs. Doing well on meters doesn’t entitle you to be a jerk. Where I disagree slightly is the bottom line that the two approaches to meters are on the same level / cause equal inconveniences; in reality I am a lot less often subjected to harassment in FFXIV than I am in WoW by virtue of how the FFXIV devs handle meters. And this is a big deal.

Would you rather deal with a 5% chance of getting ebola or a 70% of getting SARS?  The 5% suck but are preferable to the 70%! Naturally, these are my uncorroborated percentages to illustrate approximately how often my pugs have been awful in FFXIV vs. WoW. Source whatever you like, it would surprise me greatly if you didn’t end up with a huge disparity between these two titles. I must have done a 100 runs myself in FFXIV by now and I recall precious few group disbands either, outside those 2-3 single raid boss encounters everyone seems to loathe.

Of course the question of whether bad players matter much towards outcome, factors into this and once more FFXIV appears to be more laidback and forgiving where the majority of its puggeable content is concerned. I mean look….the 4-man dungeons aren’t exactly difficult. I am still undecided whether WoW’s dungeons are truly that much harder to warrant meters – I’ve a feeling this is not the case. The amount of harassment in WoW happens because meters are readily available and because people can. So, I’ll take a few loudmouth players in FFXIV who are “also bad” any day, if it means a much friendlier overall community.

So, how is FFXIV “better” than WoW? [#Blaugust 12]

Yes I’m doing it, am comparing two popular subscription MMOs with die-hard audiences, some of which are very very vocal. Wish me luck!

I’ve drawn a comparison between FFXIV’s and WoW’s endgame lately, both of which are rather lacking in their straightforward, gear-grind focused approach. However, it seems FFXIV often gets compared to WoW for all sorts of things and I’m not exactly onboard with most of them, given that I’ve played its predecessor in 2002 long before WoW launched. There is plenty of MMO tradition in SE’s two titles for sure (same as for WoW) and no doubt the dev team analyzed WoW during ARR’s development (especially for re-launch). But FFXIV has its own spirit and way of doing things.

The venerable King Mogglemog XII

The venerable King Mogglemog XII

If I keep saying FFXIV is the better overall game than WoW, I should at some point explain why that is or rather, why it is for me. As an ex-WoW player and now-FFXIV follower I am totally biased, just like everyone else is. So agree with me or not, these are my reasons to prefer playing FFXIV over WoW today, in no specific order:

  1. Regular content: Over the course of 1.5 years between re-release and Heavensward expansion, ARR has known a respectable number of content patches. Steadily, SE have released new encounters, dungeons and driven the excellent story forward via questlines. The newly released expansion has already had content added to it. How many content patches did Warlords of Draenor have again?
  2. Great writing and stakes: I have gushed about how uncompromisingly SE handle storytelling in FFXIV. You can certainly dislike storydriven MMOs like that but at least they’re doing it damn well. In this, the game is second to no one and you’ll find detailed reasons in the post I just linked, if you care to.
  3. Superior LFG experience: Or maybe I should just say superior community because it is unbelievable how 98% of all PuGs in FFXIV are just the nicest social encounters ever. EVER.
  4. No stupid ass meters: There’s an unspoken rule in FFXIV that if you use any meters, you need to keep quiet about it. If not, well everyone’s too scared to go there. Apparently (although I cannot locate an original source) SE have taken a clear stance on dps meters: use them for yourself only or fall under the harassment offense. How awesome is that??
  5. World feel / graphics: FFXIV is a zoned world very much like WoW is but in terms of that authentic world feel, from how terrain is crafted to the texture of rocks, light and shadow or the sound of things, right down to how NPCs behave, it is simply the much superiorly crafted world. This is obviously a question of graphics style, engine and power too. FFXIV is a newer game than WoW is.
  6. Lousy Achievements: The lackluster achievement system in FFXIV remains unobtrusive and rather inconsequential in the greater design of things. Quite a few players have moaned about this since day one, while I want to kiss frogs and marry princes because it’s so wonderfully ignorable!
  7. Cosmetics/gear: Myeah, let’s move right to point 8.
  8. Housing and other whimsy: Not the greatest housing model in the world, FFXIV still let’s you have your own space to decorate and has equipped guilds with their own, individual hubs and more recently airships. WoW sports garrisons which I actually quite liked…they just don’t make up for housing. Furthermore, FFXIV includes experiences like the Thornmarch encounter or barber NPC Jandelaine, which I’d like to call wonderful experiences in wild japanese humor and whimsy. Harris Pilton and Indiana Jones questlines are mildly entertaining but that stuff is plain madness.

If you’re fuming at this point because I’m being very unfair to WoW, I’ll readily make the following concessions: there’s pet battles and plenty of cool mounts to collect, flex raids and a much, much better account management system with actual player connectivity across realms, regions and games even. Also, WoW let’s you use parties, mounts and pets at the same time – a feat of epic proportion for FFXIV it seems.

The mogstation really is teh worst and we all know this but it’s not like I log in there every day. This is largely the thread where I tell you why FFXIV > WoW for my personal intents and purposes and yup, I have a clear winner kupo!

MMO Regrets [#Blaugust 11]

MMO regrets, I have them. Maybe you have some too. Over a decade of dragon slaying and getting to know people from all over the world by doing so, has been mostly a mad and fun ride, yet looking back there’s also a few things I would do differently. Or maybe not. In any case, here are three of them in no particular order:

  • Not getting a lifetime sub for LOTRO; players have paid between 200 – 299$ for their lifetime subs at some point, depending whom you ask. LOTRO wasn’t in such a great place back then and it still isn’t, unfortunately I came to it way later and so that was never an option. Given that LOTRO is my favorite MMO that I’m not playing, I wish I could log into ME sometime without re-subscription hassles. If you have a lifetime sub for LOTRO that you’re not even using, don’t tell me!
  • Returning to WoW for Cataclysm; I had said my goodbyes to WoW and my long-standing community there at the end of WotLK and it was a perfect finale to a mighty fine run of six years. The goodbye thread in our guild forums was epic kleenex time. But then I came back after Cataclysm launched, yeah I was that person. I came back for entirely the wrong reasons and against my better judgement. It ended in some personal disenchantment for me where few people were concerned, experiences that I really could’ve done without. So not long after, I logged out once again and told hardly anyone about it.

“And so I did. In Elwynn, my lovely, where the journey began. In Elwynn, where my personal anniversary event quest for Adrenaline was stationed. In Elwynn, where the Crazy Cat Lady will go on taking in strays and the murlocs will gurgle forever at the riverbank of Eastvale Logging Camp, long after I have left. In Elwynn, with Goldshire at its heart where all paths lead to greater adventure. A good place to rest.” (“Where do you go to die?”)

  • Losing some of the faithful; I’ve written at some length about how the changes to WoW’s raiding scene over the years basically turned people into assholes. Okay, let me rephrase that: they increasingly put competitive raidguilds into the position of having to choose between raiders and good friends, loyal guildmates. I am talking about myself here – I wish we, the leading team, had had the good sense to drop the allures and just be a little more casual. I know it’s never as simple as that because you also feel obligated to your ‘top players’ but much of that wouldn’t have happened had Blizzard not decided to cut raidsizes from 40 to 25 and 10 and emphasize individual performance over collective achievement.  In any case, it’s why I won’t ever go back to WoW and its raidmeters and over-analyzers who have no room for diversity. Good is good enough, MMOs are not a job!

“This is not a message for those who are still in WoW striving for glory irrespective of cost; by all means, knock yourself out. You have your own path to follow and maybe it will lead you to a similar place, maybe not. But I am not that person anymore, I am glad that I’m not. Friendships are precious and fragile – many people are worth knowing and caring for outside our immediate realm of ambition. So long WoW, you have nothing left to teach me. (“Why I’m not playing WoW anymore.“)

I guess it’s fitting that my greatest MMO regrets come from the game I invested most of my time and heart in. What saddens or bugs you looking back on your time in virtual worlds and communities?