Perceived Difficulties

I should be studying for my midterm, but whatever. I am here writing out my thoughts because the official Final Fantasy XIV forums simply likes to incite some anger in me that just doesn’t want to go away.

Last night I had checked out the forums before going to bed and was dismayed but the large amount of Final Fantasy XI 2.0 sort of threads that have been making itself popular as of late. Whether it is from people wishing to troll, trying to be sincere, or whatever… I am starting to want to smack them all.

First thing is first: this perceived leveling difficulty in XI has to stop. The first job may take 3+ or it may not. But the leveling therein after actually takes far less if you: a.) know what you are doing and/or b.) have a group that is either carefully put together to get you through levels quickly or you just have a set of friends interested in blasting through the levels quickly. And, no, this not by even exploiting level sync camps, but through using lesser known camps that actually rake in a good amount of EXP.

Yes, leveling is fast in XIV without even knowledge of so called “exploits” of differing camps or a power leveler. But one of the biggest factors in extending the time people were able to cap out their jobs in XI was the fact that people would sometimes wait for DAYS for a party and get no invite. Either people would turn down invites if they came from particular jobs or would gloss over the DRG sitting there for several hours with his flag up.

That doesn’t make the game hard. It makes the game frustrating! People have quit the game because they honestly couldn’t level jobs they wanted to because the majority felt that so and so job weren’t good enough. Remember when DRG was lolDRG? And many people either switched to another job or quit altogether? I know I do. I remember when it happened for SAM, too. That isn’t a way to bring back or retain players! It is sure to drive them away to the point of insanity!

Another thing is EXP penalty for death. This one has me shaking my head because this is also as frustrating and affects the game very differently than it does for shelling out gil to repair gear. First of all, losing out on EXP did mean that people were forced to try things to not die. And, well, that is pretty much it. Because once you get people into the mindset that they can’t or shouldn’t die because they would lose a lot of EXP from doing so, then you have people who are pigeon holed into a particular set up or strategy and are afraid to go outside of that paradigm to try something different.

Yes, you can argue that it would be the same either way and I wholeheartedly agree. However, there is a subset of people who actually LIKE to attempt things in unconventional ways. Strange as it may seem, I am also one of them. I had remembered a time when BLU wasn’t used very much for CoP and then that changed somewhere along the way after I had written about using a trio of BLU to pretty much annihilate a portion of CoP content. I get high off of the success of doing something that a lot of people who have grown to accept isn’t possible to BE possible. But trying those things out is hard to talk people into if they are constantly worried about losing chunks of EXP, and deleveling a level or two or maybe even three (I have seen the later happen). Coupling this with the aforementioned topic of length of time to put together a mandatory party or getting invited to a mandatory party, and you will find that of course people would be resistant to the idea because then the game becomes more like a job than an actual game. The only bonus of loss of EXP by death is that it allows the players to be able to be added to the pool of people to EXP party with for the remaining few levels, but only for those later levels and not for the earlier levels where people often struggle to find groups for.

EXP loss by death and longer duration of leveling a job don’t make the game any more difficult unless you wish to define difficulty under the idea that you are struggling to find a party, get EXP, or even to be able to successfully pull off a battle without death. But if the definition of a struggle falls under trying to think of new or interesting ways of tackling an enemy or group of enemies, then I think we are working more about the actual game difficulty versus player induced or mentally perceived game difficulty.

Either way, I just want FFXIV. I want the spirit of XI, sure. The sense of adventure and immersion of being in a expansive world with engaging story that grips you and begs more of your precious time away from real life. I may not have the time, but I would love to have a game like that. And to be honest, XIV is slowly becoming that. It may not be an identical twin of XI but I am ok with that. I love what XIV is doing and how well it is doing it so far. Why change it to something archaic and that is out of touch with a growing population of aging gamers?

Frugal Microwave Popcorn

I am currently taking a Chem class in which we talked about a chemical called diacetyl. It is typically found on butter flavored foods such as microwave popcorn. Now, in small concentrations its not bad for you. When is it bad? When you’re working with it, inhaling it constantly, and you find yourself with something called Bronchiolitis Obliterans aka popcorn lungs. Now, if you are like myself and my professor, you’ll pause, gawk, stare, and maybe blink. Obliterans. Kinda like obliterate? Its not exactly the same, but it does give you a hint as to what is going on: your lungs are messed up and its irreversible. If its severe enough, you pretty much need a lung transplant in order to survive.

There is more to the story, of course, so I highly recommend checking this article out and googling others like it.

So now you are staring at this entry going, “wtf? What does this have to do with Frugal Microwave Popcorn?” I’m getting to it. Our professor pretty much gave us a quick, cheap way of eating popcorn and still from a microwave if we didn’t want to deal with other alternatives. She suggested this to assuage our fears and to give us options in case some of us were of the super paranoid type, wanted cheaper alternatives, or just wanted healthier options. Here is that recipe:

Frugal Microwave Popcorn
1/3 Cup of Popcorn Kernels
2 tbsp REAL Butter
½ tsp Salt (or seasonings of your choice)
Place all ingredients in a brown paper lunch bag. Fold top down twice, and “tab” to keep it closed. Microwave for 3-4 minutes or until pops are 3 seconds apart. Enjoy.

1) Use bacon grease instead of butter
2) Seasonings: cinnamon sugar, Italian seasoning, chili pepper, powdered parmesan cheese…

To Play or Not to Play FFXIV

I have a bit of time (ten minutes, really), and I am going to try to type out as much as I can to cover something I am asked every once in awhile by former players or players who have never touched the game with a yard stick: Is it worth playing FFXIV right now?

The answer to that question is complex, because ultimately the answer is up to the player themselves. What I can and will do is to provide a guideline as to what the pros are of returning now and why you might want to come back, reconsider, hold off, or find an altogether different game. Again, I am typing this with a ten minute limit so I might exclude some things or my wording might be off. Feel free to leave questions and I will address them as soon as I can.

1. You can experience content before it goes extinct with the arrival of version 2.0. I can’t remember off the top of my head if this includes two particular Primal battles, but if it does then you might want to get on if you are interested in those particular fights or weapons.

2. Leveling is VERY fast right now. Yoshi-P has mentioned that the rate of leveling will be culled back upon the arrival of 2.0. At the moment there are people who are wearing achievement crowns (actual equipment pieces) for completing level 50 on both Disciple of War and Magic classes. You can use a PL’er but its NOT that necessary unless you are struggling with finding a full party of 8. Find that full party and you can seriously go to town with the rate of exp you will be raking in.

3. See what the game looks like before its huge graphical overhaul. Again, it goes hand in hand with #1 and 2.0.

4. There have been GREAT patches coming out. Traditional jobs have been implemented and add a lot more variety and interesting play to the current system. Classes are by no means obsolete and it is up to the player to decide if the use of a job or class will best suit their needs in their solo, light, or full party make up. Two more patches are also being released that will include more content, wide scale PvE called Hamlet Defense, and then the tweaking of previously mentioned jobs.

5. It is CHEAP. Just get a six month subscription and you’ll be paying for the equivalent of a DS/PSP/3DS/Vita game!

1. The client is still buggy as hell. Be prepared to test your patience.

2. There is still no mailbox or “real” AH. There is a makeshift one, but it still might drive people crazy with the archaic way of having to put things on sale.

3. 2.0 client is coming in six to seven months. You’ll get a preview of it at E3, but before then we have no idea what the client looks like or anything! We have hints here and there, but that’s all we have.

4. There might not be a lot for the super hardcore to sink their teeth into. There is content, but the breadth isn’t as wide as some other games out there. Sure they have been out there longer, but its something to take note of when considering what you want to do. Though most likely getting the Ifrit and Moogle weapons for ALL classes is something many strive to achieve for before they are potentially gone (again, I am not 100% certain).

And there you have it. My quick and nitty guide to the pros and cons of returning. If you do return, hit me up on Gungnir. I don’t play often (curse you studying and work!), but I do try to lend a helping hand when I can if you just give me a poke on Skype or twitter. :)

Counting Down to v2.0

There is no secret that sometimes I am frustrated with FFXIV. Often my frustrations are directed at the player-base, once in awhile the dev team, and then there is the wait for 2.0 to arrive. Though it is about 6 months (give or take) before the 2.0 client lands, I sometimes feel as though I am going to hyperventilate with anticipation of what the client will bring. Unlike another well known MMO, there is currently no idea of what the client looks like, plays like, or if anyone outside of the Square Enix offices is beta testing it. All we know is that it simply EXISTS and in some ways that is scarier than remembering how Final Fantasy XIV originally launched over a year ago.

In no particular order, here is what I am hoping the promise of 2.0 brings:

1.) A less buggy and more responsive client.
There are instances when I am literally sitting on the edge of my seat: when the system takes too long to recognize something in intense situations, spells and/or abilities not executing properly, easily cancelled skills from moving when I hadn’t intended to move, and when I need to quickly get an item and the client doesn’t want to detect that I am indeed standing in front of the invisible wall to buy items from inside the Market Wards.

2.) Better music.
I talked about this on the latest Sequence Break XIV episode – Black Mages Don’t Wear Pants, and they did promise a mish-mash of new and old music and even music to distinguish day and night. Awesome! But I am still holding my breath that people such Naoshi Mizuta, Masashi Hamauzu, Hitoshi Sakimoto, or even Yoko Shimomura from Kingdom Hearts, Parasite Eve, and *gasp* Super Mario RPG! The first three genetlemen have worked on previous Final Fantasy titles, and Shimomura is rumored to be working on music for Versus. Don’t get me wrong, Uematsu is great! I love the guy! But there are also FANTASTIC composers that work at Square Enix that don’t get as much recognition as he does and do just as a good a job.

3.) More content (quests, missions, HNMs, instances, etc).
I don’t think this needs much explanation. It IS being added with each patch, but I am hoping we can see a greater increase of this and not just the cleanup of the client we currently have.

4.) Linkshell Administration
I am not making it a secret that I wanted to get rid of someone from my LS to the point of first creating a bounty on his head to have him kicked and then dissolving the LS when the first plan didn’t work out (thankfully we are small enough for this to work out just fine). The thing is… I don’t think I should have to wait for: a.) the person to be online or b.) to be standing directly next to him in order to boot him. In most cases, yes, the leader should be able to talk to the member before booting them. But then you have some vermin who just won’t go or will fight being booted out no matter what. LS Leaders need to have the option to boot people like this and save themselves the headache of having to hunt people down who no longer deserve to be in their LS.

5.) More epic fights.
I know this ties in with #3, but it also deserves its own spot. Because I miss having fights that are a real struggle against and that need more than a bunch of archers, black mages, or what have you thrown at it. Plus, being able to team up with others in greater numbers also has its place and is rather fun at times, too. Yes, I am fond of and am a huge supporter of smaller parties but I also like banding together as an alliance to get things done. Something about that is just satisfying, since it is often many people working together as a team to get something incredible done.

There is probably more, but there is one thing I am hoping won’t change:

The Graphics.
Yeah, let me take a moment to duck and hide from the stones being cast. I understand that the graphics, as beautiful as they are, is also a huge part of the problem for people wanting to play the game. They simply cannot play the game because the system specs are too high for their PC to be able to handle, and some will have to drastically reduce their graphics to Commodore 64 levels in order to play. For those of us who are able to handle the game in all (or most of) its glory: the game looks simply breathtakingly awesome. I find that the way my Lalafell looks is so beautiful compared to graphics in most Western MMOs out there. Part of it has to do with the different sets of styles for Eastern and Western studios, but the intricacies of my armor, the environment, and the general look and feel of my character is something I love dearly. I sat for FIVE MINUTES just noticing all the intricate detailing of my WHM AF. Its kinda insane how much work they put in that!

At the end of the day, however, I am still very excited for the arrival of 2.0. It honestly can’t come soon enough…