Thursday, September 9, 2010

Final Fantasy... not a review

Final Fantasy is getting no shortage of coverage from me. If I was only as famous as Tobold it would matter… Anyways here is where I stand. I found a “patch”, it’s a patch not a hack, that changes how the mouse pointer operates. When you use the stock game interface the mouse has some sort of software lag; not sure of the technical specifics behind it. The bottom line is the mouse pointer is very sluggish and unresponsive. This patch lets your computer hardware take over the mouse pointer operation thus resulting in near perfect mouse control.

The controls for Final Fantasy are… unnatural. I won’t call them bad because I don’t think they are necessarily bad. The controls feel very logical for a console game but considering we are on a PC that has been a point of contention for most gamers trying out Final Fantasy XIV. I guess I’m more forgiving than most. When I first logged on to FFXIV and heard how hard the controls were I didn’t look at it as a handicap, I looked at it as a challenge. I spent 30 minutes messing around with the controls, moving my character, navigating the menus, and checking hotkeys. After the 30 minutes I could control my character well enough to do anything I needed to do.

It’s strange, everyone keeps rattling their blogger cages screaming for something that isn’t a WoW Clone and when they get a new UI that takes some time to learn they scream that the system isn’t intuitive. As a long time MMO gamer, not willing to call myself old yet, I can’t help but notice the similiarties between this and when I went from EverQuest to World of Warcraft. The controls were foreign, unnatural, and yet I learned them. Yes FFXIV’s controls may not be an evolutionary step forward in UI design but that doesn’t mean it’s a step backwards either.

My point of contention with FFXIV… lag. I’m not sure if it’s my computer or the server I’m trying to connect to. I honestly feel it’s both. My computer did fairly poorly on Square Enix’s benchmark test. I can’t turn the graphics up very high without destroying my frame rate and causing a lot of screen tearing… the more I think about it the more I think the majority of my issues are from my computer. I’m not sure if I can handle anything more than the starting areas… and honestly I can’t really handle those at the moment. I know my computer needs an update, the processor is 4 years old and it wasn’t top of the line when I bought it. I’m short on funds right now though and can’t afford the $500 or so it would take for an upgrade.

Write your own Quest Contest!

I had a cool idea, write your own quest. So if anyone is reading this lets have some fun. Write your own quest, or quest chain. It can be as detailed as you want. Try to have a little story to it and maybe some quest dialog. I’ll post mine tomorrow.

The winner will be a featured post... so I mean that's worth trying for right?...RIGHT!?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Popular means good... the end.

You know the more I think about it the more I can't help but think there is a slight fallacy to the argument that just because it's popular doesn't mean it's good. It's often used to describe some aspect or overall ideology of a MMO.

I say that if something is popular, then it is good. The only caveat being you may not like it. For example I don’t like World of Warcraft that much but it’s widely popular around the world. I prefer the Warhammer Online. Does this mean that everyone who likes WoW is somehow only caught up in viral marketing of its popularity or do they genuinely think WoW is a good game? Well more than likely compared to the competition they feel WoW is the best game for them. For one reason or another… or one feature or another WoW offers them something they think is “good”. Me on the other hand I don’t think those features are good. However that doesn’t mean WoW isn’t good.

I think a great example (note not an analogy) is the Sundance Movie Festival. A lot of great movies come out of there that barely make enough to cover the cost of production. The reason is that a lot of people don’t want “those” types of movies. They don’t want something artsy or extremely surreal and thoughtful. They want simple escapism.

I think that is where the misconception occurs. People think that because WoW is popular and simple it is only popular due to viral marketing. While that may be a portion of the case it remains popular by retaining those subscriptions. That means every gamer that plays feels that WoW is BETTER than every other MMO on the market because they remain with WoW for one reason or another. Sure they may make excuses why they still play WoW but in the end they still play WoW.

What does that mean? WoW is popular because it’s good to the most people. Warhammer Online is good to a much smaller group of people.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Schadenfreude and the delusional gamer

I’m perpetually in the middle ground. Very rarely do I get so caught up in my opinion or beliefs that I can’t on some small level understand someone else’s opposing beliefs. The problem where I do experience this sort of fanaticism is when I am confronted with incidents of schadenfreude. I understand some games won’t be good. The combat can be unresponsive, sure that could be game breaking for you. The User Interface could be unintuitive, again reasonable to complain about. You don’t like the graphics, the classes, the IP, what have you? I’m fine with that.

What I’m not okay with is hating a game for being something different. Just because it’s made in the East doesn’t automatically doom it to failure in the category of “Asian grinder”. When Warhammer Online was in beta our guild was talking about it. Two members who had not played the beta kept posting in the Warhammer thread that the game would suck and that it was a WoW Clone. I constantly edited out the vulgarity and had to constantly send them messages. It was okay to not like the game, but you can’t say it sucks without trying it. You can see the graphics are unappealing or the IP doesn’t interest you, but you can’t comment on game play if you never played it. I was called fascist for it. I thought it was fair. The fact that they hated Warhammer Online so much drove me to greater heights of defending it. It actually led to my denial of how bad… buggy the game was. (For the record it was a good game with an unfathomable amount of bugs)

This brings us to the present. I’ve been very on the fence with Final Fantasy 14. I’ve done my best not to get excited about it. I’ve heard many bad things from friends who have been in beta. However on a Facebook thread, all my gaming friends have a group, someone start posting about how bad it would be because it was an “Asian grinder”. He hasn’t even played it yet. This led me to ALMOST reply back defending the game… wait I think I will…

Okay back. I didn’t defend the game but defended grinders. That’s what gets me though; because this game isn’t what they are use to its automatically black listed. It’s a Final Fantasy game, there is going to be some form of grinding. No scratch that, it’s a MMO that hasn’t been our for 5+ years, it has to have grinding.

People look at World of Warcraft today and think, leveling is so fast and smooth every MMO should be like this. They seem to overlook the fact that WoW has been out for 5 years and everyone has already experienced that early content. That’s why Blizzard is about to revamp all of the pre-50 content. World of Warcraft has a lot of content at all levels. It has had 5 years of release to aquire this content. They can afford to speed people through low levels without worrying about people getting bored. New MMOs can’t do that. Imagine if Vanilla WoW had the leveling speed it does today. Imagine the complaints people would have had about the lack of content or the ease of it. The only reason people don’t complain that leveling is to easy in WoW is because they have other things to do.

I’m smart enough not to blame Blizzard for this. It’s the gamers who are making the judgments. I really think that either the mentality of these people needs to change or they will never find another TRUE MMO enjoyable. They will only find happiness in short instant action games. WoW is great at letting the casual gamer with no time do something. However that has caused the WoW gamer to forget what a MMO starts out like. They don’t remember the grind. They don’t remember the bugs. The only know the now.

This seems off topic from what I meant to write about. Bottom line is I can’t stand people who want things to fail because they are different. I can’t stand people who don’t keep an open mind. I think FF14 is going to suck but I’m still going to try it. Not because I blog, I don’t write nearly enough to be called a blogger, but because I’m a gamer who loves MMOs.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

FF14 Honeymoon... is it worth it?

I’ve wanted to blog lately, which is nice, but I’ve actually been busy. Oddly enough my free time at home is very limited so unless work is slow I don’t blog. Work is normally slow, as I work in the IT field, so it often leaves me time to blog and do school work. (I’m taking online courses for a BA)

I’ve been starting to follow Final Fantasy XIV more. I always had half an eye on it and an ear out for when it would launch and if it had an open beta. Well it does. The problem is no one can seem to get in the beta, so I’m waiting in line like everyone else. No big deal though, this post isn’t a bitch fest.

What I started thinking about, and what got me excited about FF14, is the Honeymoon Phase. With every MMO you start to play there is this brief moment of awe during the first few weeks. It is often called the Honeymoon Phase because like in a relationship, you ignore all the negatives and just enjoy the wondrous newness. (Side note I was watching the History of Sex last night on History and the Honeymoon wasn’t always as fondly regarded as it is today)

No matter how bad a game, well almost, the Honeymoon Phase still exists. It’s the explorer in us. We get to discover the new UI, how to control your character, interact with people. You get to explore a new starting city and combat system and more often than not you get to fight new kinds of monsters… or rodents. The only MMO that I did not play for at least a month was EVE, and that was partially because it was a free trial and that it was simply too complicated to ever reach the Honeymoon Phase.

So the more I think about it, the more I wonder if I should just preorder FF14. I currently haven’t preordered it for a few reasons. One being I’m still playing StarCraft 2 every night, another is my computer failed the bench mark test; the biggest though is I haven’t heard anything good about it from friends in the beta. However I got to thinking, if I know I will have a Honeymoon with it, I may as well pick it up.

Now the cost benefit analysis. FF14 will cost $49.99 to buy, so roughly $54 after taxes. 1 Monthly fee at roughly $15 will get me 2 months of play time. So for $70 I can play for 60 days, that is $35 a month or roughly $1.16 a day. I average a 3 hour play time 7 days a week so that turns into $0.38 an hour. Realistically I would probably get tired of it by the end of October but then re-subscribe next year.

In a little over a week I’m going to be in a class for 30 days for the Military. I’m going to stay at my Mom’s so I don’t have to drive 1 ½ hours every day and I’m planning on taking my computer. We will see how bored I get with SC2 while I’m there. Right now I think it’s 50/50 on me buying FF14 but time will tell.