jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

The following essay was originally posted on the Final Fantasy XIV forums, where it will probably be eaten alive.

Full disclosure: I played FFXI for seven years or so, starting in 2004. I love FFXIV, but for different reasons than I loved FFXI.

When I started playing FFXI, I was completely taken in by its graphics, its community, and even its timesinks. It taught me the ferry arrives in 15 minutes, you need to have food to go levelling, and be careful ninjaing past Valkurm Dunes goblins. I took it all without questioning it, because this was my world and I wanted to go on adventures in it. And when it came time to do Divine Might, I /shouted and rallied my friends until we were herding 18 cats, which to me was the bigger challenge than the actual boss fight itself.

I'm glad that I have those memories, and I think the world needs more sandbox (or sandbox-ish) games. FFXI and EVE Online are "niche" titles, but with surprisingly loyal players. And if FFXI's slowly shrinking while EVE's slowly growing, it's partly because FFXI's based on 10-year-old tech and went neglected for years.

I'm not sure it's possible to build into a game, by design, the kinds of emergent gameplay those two have to offer. I don't think you can queue up in the Duty Finder, for the kind of unforgettable experience that was my friends and me beating FFXI's Ultima with 10 seconds left on the timer. I don't think scripted, themepark games should replace sandbox ones, and I think it's sad that 1.0's fans and SWG's fans lost theirs (multiple times, in the case of SWG).

But I also think they're unfairly romanticized. And I think sandbox fans like me tend to gloss over their faults, and give other people the sense that we think we are better than "casual" gamers, which are really just "anyone not as invested in ___ game as I am."

I think we should stop doing that.

For every one who has glowing memories, there are a lot more who remember a bewildering and frustrating game. For every one who remembers discovering how to beat a tough boss fight, there are a hundred who looked it up on FFXIclopedia (or Erecia's guide, remember that?). Sometimes you want to do it yourself, but you want to be told how to do it. And sometimes, you just wish the darned ferry would get here already.

For every day I spent having awesome adventures, I probably spent ten getting my head handed to me in Valkurm, or running around doing tedious crap and waiting for JP midnight. We don't remember this stuff as well, but they're all that the people who quit remember, which is why FFXI and EVE both have so many haters. Not because the "casual" gamers weren't "hardcore" enough to "learn to play," but because the games disrespected their time and money investments, and failed to fulfill the promise of being an awesome Final Fantasy / Internet Spaceships adventure.

Who made that promise, and how they made it, we could probably argue about. But FFXI and EVE are simply not like the games next to them on the shelves, and someone who bought FFXI thinking it'd be like FFX would be in for a rude shock.

(Just got my FFX/X-2 preorder, BTW. It's gorgeous.)

FFXIV:ARR, I feel, fulfills that promise. Say what you want about it, it is a Final Fantasy game, complete with boss fight and ending sequence. It's just unique among FF games in that you can keep playing after you beat it, unlocking more jobs and teaming up to defeat superbosses, and the developers keep adding new features and storyline quests.

I think their "ideal player" is a core FF gamer, who's new to the MMO world. I think that's the person they design for. And while I sometimes miss not having stuff spelled out for me, I'm also not sure what the difference is between having to research crafting recipes and food stats on FFXIclopedia, and having the game's UI just tell me. Beyond the fact that one of those things makes me do the same work as FFXIV's devs, unpaid.

TL;DR Sandboxes are fun, but people aren't worse gamers than I am because they don't want to do unpaid dev work.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

"To be really concrete, 10 times as much content comes from the user base for TF2 as comes from us," [Valve CEO Gabe] Newell said. "So we think we're super productive and kind of badass at making TF2 content, but even at this early stage, we cannot compete with our own customers in the creation of content for this environment. The only company we've ever met that kind of kicks our ass is our customers. We'll go up against Bungie, or Blizzard, or anybody but we won't try to compete with our own user base, because we already know we're going to lose.

"Once we start building the interfaces for users to start selling their content to each other, we start to see some surprising things," Newell added.

http://www.polygon.com/2013/2/1/3941274/gabe-newell-steam-box-talk-ut (Trigger warning for ablism)

On the one hand, this is sort of inspiring because it's a corporate leader who Gets It about fanwork being valuable. Team Fortress 2 players are actually making money from their creations.

On the other hand, it's really not "democratic" so much as it's an entire market completely owned and controlled by one company, which exists at that company's whim. TF2 fans have no legally-recognized right to the title, or to sell their in-game hats for it.

EVE Online's players at least have a democratically-elected, officially-recognized council, with a say in what goes on in New Eden (and with representatives whose character can reflect that game's brutal playerbase (TW for suicide)). All that TF2 fans have is an unusual privilege.

Newell goes on to talk about how all of your MMO achievements are tied to one company:

The future of the Steam marketplace, Newell said, is to ensure that goods can be more permanent in a player's collection; that they can be transferrable and exchangeable between titles. He called to fault the MMO model of player progression: Characters level up, purchase new items, then when you play a new game, everything you worked for is gone. Game creators currently have a "whimsical notion" of player's property rights, Newell said.

"It's like, 'Hey, I'll sell you a house, and you can do a bunch of work, paint it and put furniture in it, and then, when you go to a new house, we're going to burn that one down,'" Newell said.

It's ironic that he should say that, though, because that's how the whole of Steam works. Buying games from Steam is like renting a game console at the store and leaving all of your purchases there with it, and losing access to them forever if your identity changes or you get banned somehow. I had to abandon several games because my account was forever tied to an old, pre-transition identity, and there wasn't a way to change that which I saw.

I'm glad that someone's thinking about how these things affect people, and taking their rights seriously instead of being classist and ageist. I'd feel a lot better if it wasn't a white cismale guy in charge of a corporation and trying to figure out how to make money from it, though.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
I realize EVE Online caters to the griefer crowd, the paranoid scheming and infighting crowd, the "internet spaceships are serious business" crowd that sees themselves as Loki-esque trickster gods. When what they really do is choose the easiest targets available and press their biggest, most obvious buttons, in a game that uses its lore and its atmosphere to lure in the suckers for them without their even having to do any work.

I realize FPSes cater to the douchebag crowd, the "cry moar" crowd, the "your tears are delicious to me" crowd that sees themselves as professional e-sports athletes. When what they actually do is find games that let them grief their competition mercilessly while they're still newbs, so that they never have to face them at full power and have their precious e-peen shrunk down.

I realize the likely response to this all is HTFU, which I've learned is EVEspeak for "I can't be arsed to inconvenience myself."

And I realize that griefing and playing for dominance are seen not as extraneous, but as a vital part of the game most people here signed up for.

But I personally don't enjoy being spawn-camped. I don't enjoy spawning next to players from the opposing team and instantly dying to them. I don't enjoy being sniped out of nowhere. I don't enjoy running around trying to figure out what's going on and running into a vastly superior force. I don't enjoy spending 90 percent of a Skirmish mission trying to claw my team's way back from the grave and dying a million times. I don't enjoy losing to a team that seems to have bought its way to victory, and having to figure out how to spend my fake moneys. And I especially don't enjoy being humped by the guy whose armour I just repaired, or cringing the whole time I'm on the war barge and hoping some guy doesn't invade my personal space.

Improving my skills would fix some, but not all, of the above problems, for a value of "fix" which means "shoddy hack that should not have had to be implemented." Most of them I see as the consequences of extremely poor game design. I have more fun playing a generic-brand Modern Warfare I picked up for $0.99 than DUST 514 most days, even though I like the atmosphere and the lore of DUST better.

I'm trying to play a fun, heavily thematic first person shooter which is one of the few that will let me play a female character. And I'm getting a steaming pile of crap where the FPS part's only part of the game, and the rest of it is getting bullied and ganked in between reading a spreadsheet.

I'd already figured out that the only two kinds of EVE players are sadists and suckers. I think that applies to this game as well, I think that's intentional, and I think the design reinforces that. I'm not enjoying the time that I spend in-game, and I'm not going to recommend it to friends.

But hey, I got the voucher for it in my new PS3 box, and I sound obviously hurt and upset. So I guess both the developers and the players are happy with that. Glad I could make your lives better.

About us

~ Fox | Gem | Rei ~

We tell stories, paint minis, collect identity words, and share them all with our readers. If something we write helps you, let us know.

~ She / her ~

Subscribe

RSS Atom

Tags

Style Credit

Page generated Jul. 27th, 2017 06:48 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios