FFXIV, An Alts Only Experience

This draft has been sitting around for nearly a month since I left FFXIV again. I thought I’d go ahead and share it today.

screenshot.116When it finally occurred to me that I had no main, everything else about Final Fantasy XIV clicked into a intimately knowable place. The MMO has managed to be a lighthouse among dark, dangerous seas. With so few other MMOs I want to play, I keep returning to FFXIV for periodic marathons where I seemingly make a ton of progress, but don’t really. That’s actually a good thing.

For the longest time now, I have lost the sense of meandering that makes all MMO games work. I approach them all with a razor focus that tends to expose their weaknesses. Sure, with concentrated play sessions you can progress quickly, but toward what? It turns out, not much.

FFXIV remains a MMO I love, though I know my younger self would’ve hated it. Unlike the MMOs I grew up with, I can only stand FFXIV for about a month at a time. In that single month, I always get a ton of things done, have a lot of fun, and walk away with plenty of screenshots. But it’s still only a month.


I have cancelled my subscription yet again. I didn’t get any Heavensward content finished, but I did get a Monk from 30 to 50, a Warrior from 43 to 50, saw some great holiday content, and leveled some other classes to unlock cross-class abilities. It was really awesome.

I am not done with Final Fantasy XIV, but I am done with it for right now. I could maintain the subscription, but I am trying to walk away from video games that linger on in my ‘things to play’ list while simultaneously losing their fun or becoming a bit mundane.

Perhaps there is another argument hidden beneath this post about the state of MMOs and how they no longer exists as worlds I wish to live in, but instead games I play like any other games. I won’t spoil my good cheer though. FFXIV is a great game, “true” MMO or otherwise.



It is one-hundred percent official: I am running in a half-marathon next Spring. On Tuesday this week, I spent my lunch break camping out on the Run Disney website, and, $199 spent later, I am in (and so is Diane).

Jawa Murf

Star Tours on Foot

Despite my wavering aversion to all things Star Wars, I am excited about this race at Disney World. It’ll be Dark side themed, which is a huge plus, since Light side characterization rarely exceeds the ‘exciting’ precedent set by other noble characters, like Superman or Sturm Brightblade or Eddard Stark.

More than just the theme or the opportunity to get a sweaty selfie with Darth Vader, I am curious about the competing part. The race has a pacing limitation since it’s intended to be a bit more casual, but accomplishing a half-marathon will still be an achievement for me. I’ve never raced before, but I am told the volunteers and even other racers are some of the most cheerful, encouraging people ever. I have to imagine the adrenaline will buff my speed.

I do have concerns too. The working out is going okay, though it is amazing how much time going for a run four times a week soaks up. I am lucky to live fairly close to the gym, but still. Plus, part of the stipulation was that I need to try my hardest to race with a costume, which means I have to figure out how to dress like a Star Wars character without setting myself up to melt, chafe, or break an ankle. Anyone know what Imperial Officers wear to work out?

Destiny Again

When I am free of work or running, I have been addicted to Destiny again. It’s still not the game it should be, but at least it is finally a game worth losing a few hours to. The whole ‘Halo as a RPG’ thing still doesn’t do much for me, but the FPS mechanics are so solid and I haven’t had any FPS to mindlessly matchmake my time through in a long while now, so it is filling a big hole.

Beard, Please

Beard II

It’s week three of growrth, so we’re getting close to the phase where I am allowed to shave off my horrible neckbeard. I keep hoping my beard will make a connection, but the hairs are so tiny and light that it may be a while yet before something happens.

Worse, Diane was pointing out some white hairs, and my beards inability to be a singular color has me worried that my dreams of a luscious, masculine face are doomed to failure. Those white hairs blend right in with my skin, and help make me beard look patch or, worse, draw deeper attention to just how weak it is!

From start to finish, it only took me six months to beat Rogue Legacy’s last boss.

Maybe this has happened to you before, but it happened to me recently and I wanted to talk about it. A while back, I downloaded Rogue Legacy on my Playstation 4. While I had always heard great things about the game, I didn’t take to it when I first acquired it on PC. Yet, after it came out on Playstation Plus, and I gave it another look, I found it to be a fun enough experience.

It was fun, but it wasn’t perfect. It felt a bit too repetitive at times, which is pretty bad for Roguelikes as they are repetitive by design, though aren’t supposed to notice. In Rogue Legacy, the same enemies come at you over and over, only they change colors or make them bigger to show how much more threatening they are. You also fight unique bosses, but they were dull.

The real heart of the game is failing just enough that you bring home tons of gold to progress. In Rogue Legacy, gold can be used to acquire talents, purchase unlocked gear or runes, or be put toward a few other useful features. It’s a system that works well. I always felt encourage to make a run, even if I weren’t so certain how well I’d do, as most runs resulted in some degree of forward progress.

Back then, I managed to get pretty far in the game – to the last boss, in fact – but I didn’t beat it. He isn’t the hardest final boss ever, but he presented enough of a challenge that I got tired of trying. I could’ve grinded more gold, but I lost interest in that too. Pretty soon, I had forgotten about the game altogether.

That is, until a couple of weeks ago, when I decided to pick it up for a bit and realized I had never finished it. It took a few tries (mostly to refresh how to play the game), but I did it. The game ended, a New Game+ mode unlocked, and I deleted it forever.

If it had been a book or a RPG, there would be no hope for me picking it up again that late. I’d feel too lost. Since it was a fairly straight forward action-platformer though, it didn’t bother me too much. The villain monologued long enough that I got the gist of the plot, and I slayed him without too much hustle or bustle.

Rogue Legacy_20150823235847
Have any of you ever lost interest in a game mere moments from the finish line only to return weeks/months/years later to take those few steps?


Murf IRL

My priorities have taken a sudden shift as of late. With the new job, my free time has gone from a lot to precious little. It has been a trial by fire in learning how to keep all the plates in the air while maintaining my sanity, especially with all the side commitments I have.

Thus far, the job has been quite pleasant. Everyone is nice and respectful. I’ve been stuck in the training process thus far, so my daily routines tend to be a bit lecture heavy at the moment. In a way, it’s like condense an entire semester of coursework into a single week. I am not sure how much I am retaining, but once I go live with a mentor, I should begin to understanding exactly what it is I will be doing every day.

At the same time, Diane and I have a couple of special commitments we are making. In the past several months, we’ve let our physical health dip a bit and have begun to gain weight. I’ve especially been feeling it. In addition, her sister is really gung-ho about running (I enjoy it too, but I’ve let the hobby slide), and she wants us to compete with her at this Star Wars-themed (Dark Side specifically, so I can show emotion while I run) half-marathon at Disney World next April.

Diane and I can both find creative excuses for not exercising, so we’ve made an agreement to keep one another on the straight and narrow. Last Sunday, we did our first roadwork, and on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, we joined a gym and hit the treadmills. I am not too far behind where I was the last time I had a gym membership, but it is going to take a lot more than that before I am ready for a whole half-marathon!

In addition, we’ve made a bet on this year’s Iron Bowl. If Auburn (her college) wins, then I have to ride Space Mountain. I am told Disney Land Space Mountain is more pleasant, but Disney World’s bobsled-style seating in the dark didn’t set well with me or my stomach. If Alabama wins, then she gets to take on the Tower of Terror with me. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the ride when I went on it for the first time last May, but Diane always looks for an excuse to not go on it (including that time).

As for the blog itself, I’ll have an update in the near future once things settle down and I find a new routine. As it is right now, I work 8am to 5pm every day, and do at least three hours in the gym during the week. I also have to finish my MMO Games columns on Thursday nights, or do roadwork on Sundays. Plus, I am considering playing D&D for the first time ever on Saturdays and I am still playing a couple hours of Terraria every Monday. It is hard to find the time to play games, let alone play them enough that I feel like writing about them or even have the time to do so.

Finally, I give you the beard after another week of growth. I think it is coming along well! I’ll be excited when I’ve hit that four week point and can clean it up a bit on the neck.


As you can see, not much has changed, though it is getting somewhere! Slow and steady, right?

DPS is dumb. [Reader Responses]

Yesterday’s post resulted in some really awesome comments. It also resulted in a little flak for my deliberately condescending opinion and views. I apologize if anyone was truly offended, but my hatred of DPS has only gotten worse over the years as new MMOs continue to bore me in this particular category.

I didn’t really have a chance to respond to anyone’s comment, so I am going to do so now in one big swoop.

Before I begin, remember this disclaimer:

This is a biased opinion. I feel that I am both informed and experienced enough that my views are worth sharing, but that does not divorce what I say here from my specific point of view or the emotional baggage I may or may not state outright. Take offense at your own risk, and disregard me as you see fit.

Unfortunately, I doubt dedicated, unidimensional DPS classes and builds will ever go away because they pander to such a large proportion of today’s MMO playerbase. You can give them tricks to help a party out in other ways, but in the end the hardcore types will expect the same things of them – break the meters or get kicked. It’s as much a problem of entrenched perceptions and attitudes as it is a problem of content design.

Thanks to The Iron Dagger for this one. I agree wholeheartedly. I am a powergamer myself, but that’s for me personally. I have a lot more leeway for other players, especially since each person comes to a game with their own approach. I’m not about to start kicking people because they can’t squeak out another 3% damage, especially when execution is sloppy all-around.

I am extremely party-minded when I play DPS (or any other class). My best friend is a White Mage, so when we run stuff together, I’ve learned as much as I can on how to make a run easier on the healer as a DPS. Several times within the past month, we’ve had tanks do stupid things that cause their own death, and I’ve been able to tank/dps the situation as a Dragoon to prevent a party wipe (note, my friend is a very good healer and much props go to her for keeping me alive).

This is from Aywren. I’m combining it with MMO Gypsy’s comment below:

But your way of playing a DPS, which is pretty much my experience, is not included in Murf’s scenario. The good DPS does not exist. There’s only good tanks and good healers and sucky DPS in order to maintain the attitude that DPS are superfluous. :)

Quality of play is irrelevant in this discussion, regardless of role. That includes bad Tanks and Healers.

Imagine a family vacation. The two parents are your Healer and your Tank. The three kids in the backseat of the car are your DPS. Whether those kids behave and make it an easier ride to their destination or not, it is still entirely up to the two parents to get everyone there.

Arguing about responsibilities is exactly what I am doing. In most group-based content (as in, not strictly tied to high end, organized, premade play), DPS has a minimal level of responsibility to everyone else in the group. Sure, they can take on more personal responsibility, perhaps even going beyond what Healers and Tanks have to personally contribute, but success isn’t typically dependent on that.

Content design is ultimately the bigger problem, but as long as everyone expects a primary role whose only true job is damage, I don’t see content getting better. As long as DPS exists, then other roles aren’t allowed to contribute significantly to damage since that’s the DPS’s role. Those roles (Healer and Tank) are also stuck feeling far less sexy since they aren’t free to race meters, can’t coast in most groups, and don’t have to stick to a consistent level of play (DPS has a low skill floor, though often the highest skill ceiling).

I think everyone kind of agrees that DPS can and should be useful; Murf wants a role beyond “damage machine” and Arwyren points out some situations where they can be. So it falls to the developers to design games that encourage that.

Courtesy of Clockwork, I definitely agree. There have been past MMOs where DPS reliably had other responsibilities to take on in addition to their primary role. That may be enough in the future, but I am not sure it is necessary anymore. I want a different member of the trinity precisely so the fun of doing damage can be given back to everyone, and not be held hostage to those who most often have nothing better to do anyway.

“DPS is a byproduct of doing your job” – 100% agree. This is exactly how EQ did it when I first began playing MMOs. There was literally only one class that was “DPS” and that was the Rogue, which only obsessive people who had to play a “thief” class in every game ever made bothered with. And even the Rogue had two key non-dps responsibilities – opening locked doors and dragging bodies back to be rezzed.

Thanks to Bhagpuss for this gem. I am also glad I am remembering EverQuest accurately.

Crowd control should matter. Buffs and debuffs should matter. Hybrid options that allow off-tanking, off-healing, etc., should exist. I think allowing dedicated damage dealers to exist hurt the chances of these things coming back greatly, however. There’s less thought put into building a group and less variety in how a group functionally beats content as a result.

The current WoW trinity is odd, and I am always bemused when people act though it was always that way. Back in TorilMUD the basic trinty was a tank (who was also primary DPS), a healer to keep his health bar up, and a support class to use damage mitigation spells such as stone skin.

TAGN shows his age here, but I am thankful for it. When I started off, I started with Ultima Online which had tanks in the sense that someone may grab a shield and try to body block a monster, or healers in the sense that the mages had the utility to cast ranged heals. I don’t want a more open system per say, but older MMOs like EQ did allow a certain degree of flexibility that no longer exists at all. Even the days of “Oh, we have more AOE in this group, so let’s burn down bigger groups” versus “More single targets, so let’s CC and focus” seem mostly behind us.

CoH had buffs, debuffs, and cc, in addition to tank, heal, dps, and reduced dps competitiveness with zero dps meter. It was more about watching what your team was doing and choosing options that synergized with team progress and goals.

Jeromai brings up City of Heroes here, which I miss greatly. If it had less repetitive content, it would have easily been my favorite battle system and approach to a Holy Trinity. Buffers and Debuffers packed some serious punch in that game, and Crowd Control was allowed some degree of use even against higher level mobs. I loved it.

Dunno what your group expects of you, but our DPS are expected to interrupt, stun, and contribute heals/taunts if needed/possible.

This came from Pixelkaffe on Twitter, but I am going to include it here.

I don’t disagree that DPS has a need and can exhibit real use and skill, but my original post was a bit broader in scope and a bit more focused on the typical experience of a casual player (a place I find myself more and more). I’d absolutely love if the bare minimum experience still required DPS to interrupt or CC in most MMOs. The Burning Crusade’s Heroics were a nice balance for me, though I would’ve cut the trash in half and dropped respawns entirely.

Thank you everyone for your responses and debate. I appreciate the lively chat that followed here or on Twitter. I apologize if any of you DPS fans took it personally. As with anything I want to exist, I don’t mean for it to be the only thing that does exist. I’m all for a MMO that caters to me (no DPS) and the continuance of MMOs that cater to any of you who do like DPS.