Category Archives: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Liquidating Position In FFXIV

ffxiv characterYolari the Miqo’te reached level 50 this week in Final Fantasy XIV. She had a great time adventuring through Eorzea as a Summoner, but now she’s XP-blocked.

Square Enix is making me buy all xpacs through Steam now (as discussed in a prior post), and I’m not paying $40 since the xpac is on sale everywhere except Steam (i.e. $25 at Best Buy). I’ve checked into Steam 3x per week for the last month or so.

No luck. Cancelled sub. I’m ready for a break anyway.

Syp at Biobreak is also taking a break and wrote a fine critique today that I agree with, so this kitty can react and riff off his ideas. (It’s only fair.)

The strength of FFXIV is the story, but I agree it takes too long for the characters to feel human, and therefore to become likable, and therefore for drama to get going because you care, and therefore for tension to raise its seductive head.

Tension happens from conflict (or frustrated romance) between characters, when characters deeply want to kill each other, have sex, or both. Is every single one of these NPCs single? Are Biggs and Wedge even gay?

Maybe it’s a Japanese cultural difference. Maybe Japanese high schools aren’t filled with pranks, squabbles, jealousy, name-calling, face-slapping, and unbridled lust. Syp said he has a deep sense of these characters’ motivations, but for me they fell short up to the point of the level 47-48 story.

On the other hand, I agree on the cutscenes. In the last week, I’ve groaned with impatience during scenes, clicking the popup boxes quickly, wishing the plot would move forward to something interesting. This really isn’t me.

And of course, when I finally broke down and skipped part of a long scene, I skipped two important plot twists, and I didn’t know what my ‘companions’ where talking about in the next scene.

In the same scene, a lot of story tension was lost (Minfilia was rescued in an excellent and fun quest sequence), and I was called upon to embark on a grand campaign to save the world.

If no one I care about is in imminent danger of being pillaged, raped, kidnapped again, or burned at the stake, then talk to the paw, OK? Apparently Thancred is possessed by evil, but he’s expendable, I say! Let’s suit up in bikinis and enjoy the beach.

Yolari the Miqo’te is a special character with an amazing look and style, and cute emotes. I’ll miss her, and I’ll want to return soon when I’m in the mood for more JRPG, and when I have more time and energy to save the world, and when I can pay the going price for Heavensward plus sub.

I ended up completing all dungeons up to level 50, 175 story quests, and my cross classes for Summoner, in a little under two months. Dungeons were the best way to have fun and make progress. I skipped optional side quests, intending to save them for another class later.

I’m inspired right now by the hubbub over the transgender character controversy in the new Baldur’s Gate expansion. I might try BG:EE again, and try not to get murdered by bears and brigands over and over. We’ll see. The fun of gaming stops when it’s tooth and nail torture.

I’m not quite ‘out of the woods’ with my real life problems either. As always, I’m making progress with my personal RPG project. I posted a few new art pieces on my DeviantArt page.

Happy gaming, and may the goddess bless your adventures, whatever they may be.

Never Buy An MMO On Steam

ffxiv screenshot
This has always been my rule, to avoid issues. Two days ago I broke the rule and bought FFXIV:ARR on Steam. This stupid kitty is already paying the price.

Today I bought the expansion (Heavensward) on the SE website, and they refuse to register the key they gave me. I have to buy the expansion and all subsequent expansions on Steam now, apparently, or re-purchase the main game.

This might be my first real problem with a game purchase, unless you count Daikatana (nearly unplayable), or the original (nearly unplayable) launch of FFXIV, for which I paid full price. Congratulations, Square Enix.

I went to FFXIV this week because I finished Skyrim plus Dawnguard. I’d planned to try Elder Scrolls Online again, since they are adding nameplates and making grouping “less painful“, among other things.

(The wording of the Massively article title is appropriate.) So I cleared 55GB of space on my SSD to install ESO, and 55GB was not enough. I’d totally forgotten about the 100% voice-over.

A 100% voiced MMO is like watching a badly lip-synced animated movie based on a book that was never published. It just can’t get the lore and characters across. Elder Scrolls has the in-game books, but they are mostly disconnected anecdotes.

If no connections are made or reinforced in the player’s mind (building on what he or she already knows) then an opportunity is lost. Imagine a novel that stops and tells little stories on the side periodically about random people elsewhere in the setting.

It’s going to be hard to read, even if lusty Argonian maids are involved.

Even the most silly side quest can strongly develop the characterization of a place, a race, or a character. All content should tie into the main stories or characters somehow, some way, just like in a well-crafted novel.

I’m having fun with FFXIV:ARR so far. It’s quirky, creative, story-based, and greatly improved. I can play any classes and jobs on one character. They have nameplates. They have a functional Auction House.

FFXIV originally launched with a far worse auction system than Elder Scrolls, but the (replacement) devs had the sense to fix the issue, instead of stating that they will never, ever add a real auction house (Elder Scrolls).

Despite repeated player crying, begging, and quitting since launch. I’ve seen a few players say they won’t come back unless there is an auction house. That’s just one of the tick boxes for this kitty.

Skyrim/Dawnguard Writer’s Reaction

I really enjoyed Skyrim after installing the right mods. Dawnguard was a very impressive DLC. My overall impression of Skyrim was that I wished the companions were fewer and better, and the story was more about my character and choices. Dawnguard nailed all of that.

The character of Serana was excellent in her role as a vampire storyline sidekick. This is a really effective plot device, also used to great effect in LotRO with Nona (and then abandoned, inexplicably.)

Serana’s comments and banter add great flavor, although she sounds too sweet and mild. This is surprising because the voice actress, Laura Bailey, also does Jaina Proudmoore in WoW. Jaina’s more commanding, arrogant tone that would have been more appropriate for a vampire princess hundreds of years old.

The transformation of the player character into a vampire, the childe of Serana (the option I chose at the end after taking Castle Volkihar) also has a silly zero seriousness.

“Oh, you want me to make you a vampire? Ok, if you’re sure! Get ready!”

It was the same as getting married in Skyrim. Maybe the devs were targeting the lowest common denominator, which is apparently a ten year old playing a Nintendo game. In both cases, some sort of meditative ritual quest wouldn’t have killed them to implement. Maybe their enormous pantheon became the problem.

Another observation is that Skyrim overall focuses heavily on the vampires, werewolves, rogue, Daedra, and werewolf factions, while neglecting the good and light factions. I really enjoyed the spiritual path quests in Morrowind (Tribunal, Imperial Cult). Maybe I somehow missed the Skyrim priest and paladin-themed quest lines.

Skyrim as a whole was a scene of universal violence and corruption, with everyone trying to kill everyone else. The moral grey areas are fertile ground for great writing, but the darkest shadow can only be found by contrast with the brightest light. I kept waiting for the titular “Dawnguard” to flesh out and ascend to greatness and holiness.

You get new skills, a new and powerful transformational form, and new combat modes for being a vampire, but you get nothing for being a Dawnguard. The imbalance is awkward.

I’ll probably play ESO when I transfer my backup hard drive to my main PC, something I’ve been putting off for a year. For now the kitty will see what FFIV brings.