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Archive for May, 2014

With Wildstar coming out, I know that I’ll be leaving FF14: A realm reborn for a while. Unlike so many other times, I’m not leaving because the game is bad or because I have a list of changes that need to happen. I’m leaving because at this moment, a new MMO to discover is more fun than grinding at endgame in a game I’ve done most of the content for, including the majority of Extreme modes and raid bosses.

While not a perfect game, there are a few things I’m taking out of my time in A Realm Reborn that I wish to see in other games. So here’s in no particular order, my list of features I wish MMO developers will steal.

Difficulty is not related to accessibility.

That’s probably one my biggest discoveries. For years, Blizzard has explained to us that the inclusion of story/normal mode and the lowering of difficulty in instances were to make the entire game accessible to everyone. In a sense, they were right that lowering difficulty does allow for more people to see it and I won’t debate here whether easier or harder makes for a better game experience.

FF14 content is harder than most current MMOs out there. In fact, it’s pretty similar to Burning Crusade in terms of difficulty and even the leveling is not as forgiving as WoW currently is. Does it change how many people see the content? Not as far as we can tell. Did I hear or see anyone complain how difficult content prevented them from seeing what the game has to offer? Never…

What I did hear though when people complained was the age old complains about grinds and finding groups. Difficulty? Never.

So dear developers, don’t equate difficulty with accessibility. Sure extremes can hurt but it doesn’t mean you have to nerf everything for the sake of accessibility. Harder content will still be seen by players if the path to get to it is logical.

Less to no trash can be a good thing in end-game

Realm Reborn endgame is quick… There’s very little trash, sometimes none and bosses can be accessed pretty rapidly. If you know what you’re doing you’re done under an hour, pretty great for farming. If you’re learning the boss, you don’t have to navigate an entire dungeon to get there and everyone is back up and ready pretty fast.

I can hear the Devs talking about story set-up and building atmosphere. You can still do it. The primals themselves are single fights in FF14 but they get set-up for a long time by the main storyline that you have to complete to get to them. So when you do get to them you’re already familiar with the why and how and the atmosphere. And this set-up work even better for the hard and extreme modes because at this point you already know the story and just want the fight so getting to it directly without being subjected to trash and other time sinks you don’t need.

Make us visit and revisit your world!

This is something that WoW did great at the beginning but lost somewhere along the way. MMOs offer the unique opportunity to create living, breathing worlds. When we level, you need to make us travel through it by foot, boat, horse and other crazy contraptions. Don’t allow us to skip part of the world just because it takes time. At least not in the beginning. If I have to go to a lost village in the forbidden woods, I should have to actually travel through those woods and feel like it’s dangerous.

Don’t stop at the leveling part either. By endgame send us back to the zones and make us travel a bit from time to time. Final Fantasy was great at this, every so often I had to go back to an old city or village to meet NPCs, go back to a low-level zone to explore a desert in order to track down a fugitive or what have you. It made the game feel so much more like world and reminded me that there was something out there other than that city hub where I would wait for my group finder.

I’m not saying to drop all manners of travel, especially at endgame. I’m saying to send us out there from time to time.

So here it is, three things I wish developers will steal and that will be included in more MMOs. A Realm Reborn has a reputation for being old school but when you look at this list I realize that what I’d like has nothing to do with being old school, just good ideas.

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So I’ll be playing Wildstar soon! A few more days… can’t wait. And I have to say I’m pretty happy that one of my biggest hurdles when it comes to new MMOs won’t be that bad this time.

I’m talking about finding a new guild.

One of the downside of being a long term MMO player who has gone through a number of guilds and play styles, from hardcore to casual, from simple member to guild and raid leader is that you’ve gone through the motions… multiple times. One of the things that annoy me the most now is that initial time in any guild, where you don’t know anyone and have to “prove” yourself, that you’re not an ass or a pervert or a noob or a whatever-else it is this guild doesn’t want.

Worst, since we have experience on what works and doesn’t work in a guild we tend to try to join well-established guilds or new guilds made by groups of experienced players that we know will try to keep the drama to a minimum. The issue though is that said groups want to keep the good thing going and are generally wary of newcomers. So we’re back to the age-old issue of “proving oneself”.

In the last year alone this has caused me to jump game twice. Both times it wasn’t really anyone fault that it didn’t work out in the sense that they didn’t know me and I didn’t really know them. Between gear grinds and having to prove to everyone you actually know what you’re doing it actually killed my interest in the game. I wasn’t playing a game anymore; it felt more like a never-ending job interview. I already have a job, it’s stressful enough as is and I don’t want to have to do interviews to play games.

But on the other side of the spectrum I’ve been in the raid leader shoes and you have to evaluate new people wanting in, whether they’re from outside the guild or a social member wanting to make the switch. The damage if you don’t can be pretty nasty. It’s even worse when it’s a social member because then you expose yourself to a whole slew of new problems and drama. There’s a whole discussion about social membership to be had in there for another time.

So… long detour to say that luckily with Wildstar that shouldn’t be too bad of a problem. The good folks at Chili and Cornbread will allow my rotten husk to hang around with them and I know a lot of these people from over the years all the way back to Eff the Ineffable. Plus there’s some Effers on the Dominion side so I’m covered.

By joining up at game start, I won’t have a gear difference to overcome and we’ll have time to get to know each other as we level. I really want to find that magic again we’ve had back with Eff the Ineffable and I’m hopeful I’ll find it with Chili and Cornbread. Big thanks to them during beta and we’ll be seeing each other in game.

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