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MMOre

2010-09-10

Let's discuss Final Fantasy 14, shall we?

I haven't played too terribly long just yet but I wanted to offer up some initial impressions thus far.  First off: it's beautiful to look at.  Anyone who's seen a screen shot or some in-game footage knows that already, but still.  I've become jaded when it comes to how a game looks as, more often than not, a screen has been doctored or touched-up and the final product, while still not bad necessarily, doesn't quite match up.  This isn't to say that the first thing I rail on in a game is graphics, far from it.  Grew up when I had a dot on a screen and I liked it and some of the best games still are of the 8-bit variety so graphics do not a good game make.  Anyhow: they're great.

As someone who played WoW long enough, FF14 is not in any way shape or form user friendly.  The game more or less dumps you into the world and allows you to find your way.  This isn't necessarily a terrible thing but given the scope of the world and your tiny place in it, it's daunting to say the least.  Rather than come across an NPC with a giant yellow ! over his head telling you where you need to aim, you're left to navigate a fairly thick menu system to figure out what the controls are and haphazardly click on various named NPCs to reach the next cut-scene for whatever quest you might be on.  So that sucks and after around 3 hours or so I still don't really have much of a concept as to what I'm able to do.  I'm getting by (though, mind you, I died 3 times in a row my first combat outing as there, again, isn't really a tutorial of any type to speak of and no manual to tell you what to do) and slowly learning my way around.  Admittedly, there's a nice feeling of accomplishment to that but I have a strong feeling I'm going to be either woefully underpowered or not utilizing my abilities in the way I should - perhaps both - which is going to make for a frustrating initial experience.  I do enjoy travelling what of the world I've seen (a wee bit of forest, a forest camp, and a city) and it feels genuinely vast though FF 11 did too.  I suppose all MMOs do on the outset but some still manage to retain the bulk of their scope even after you get some decent travel abilities (again, FF 11), though some like WoW tend to shrink the world pretty rapidly so I'm partially hoping that doesn't happen here.  Time will tell.

Going back to things I don't quite understand, I'm a little unsure of how leveling works.  I started a Conjurer which is fancy talk for "blow things up" or "mage" though I've heard through the grapevine casting classes are difficult to play.  Nice knowing I'm already overwhelmed and in charge of a gimp(ish) job class.  Nice.  Anyhow:  after doing a quest, I'm now Conjurer Rank 2 with a Physical Level of 3.  The Conjurer bit I understand as you can switch your job as you'd like and that just lets you know where you are there but the Physical bit throws me.  I suppose I could get my Google-Fu on to track down what's what but a part of me argues with a game of this scope, there should at least be a little hand-holding.  Perhaps that's just me.

I can't tell quite yet if I'm really enjoying myself.  I'm intrigued, most definitely, and I'm curious to see what's under the hood but whether or not I'll pick it up on release has yet to be determined.  I know almost nothing about the game in terms of end-game content, what to expect, any of it - which is exciting to a degree - but there's a distinctly punishing game waiting underneath that I know is going to come out and bite me.  Mind you, my first MMO was FF 11 but then I arguably didn't know any better.  Now, I understand the concept of ease to a degree and 14 doesn't really feel like messing with that sissy stuff just yet.  As long as it's not all gnashing, I'll be okay. 

I'll wrap this up.  Enjoy your Friday and hopefully come Monday I'll have a better sense of what's what to convey to you.

Beta testing.

2010-09-10

So FFXIV is in Beta testing, which has always intrigued me a little bit. I've run Beta before, and about 9 times out of 10 they use their Beta testers to work out kinks and occasional bugs.

But what happens in the case of people like Mr Blue? If there's an entire clan of frustrated nerds who can't figure out how to play the game (and these aren't your grandparents we're talking about - these are people who know gaming) do they then change the game based on the Beta? Leave it in Beta until they develop a better tutorial system?

And then there's the international perspective. What if the Japanese boards are lighting up with how intuitive the game is, and how it feels 'just right' to them? Is that then a cue for the developers of a more targeted market? More girls with cat ears perhaps?

It's an interesting thought, Beta testing in a global marketplace and having an unsatisfied fanbase. I sure am curious to see how it all plays out.