Warcraft Classic: Preparation

It’s almost time. I tried to do some dailies in Nazjatar today but my heart wasn’t in it – Classic is too close.

I’m still unsure of which character to try first. As with many other bloggers, one inclination is to go with the first character I played – my Undead Rogue namesake. She was with me all the way through Kara, only eventually swapping out so I could level a tank for WotLK.

Rogues are both easy and hard. For levelling, stealth allows Rogues to make their way to bosses and quest objectives without having to bother with the trash gauntlets, which is a major time saver. But in dungeons – and raids! – they are super squishy. I remember dying a lot, too much, and as the saying goes you can’t do any DPS when you’re dead.

Another option is a Hunter – echoing my current main, and also an early character of mine. Hunters too are an easy levelling class (once you get to level 10 and can tame a pet) and a it’s always fun to have a companion as you roam around. I clearly remember taking a Hunter into some BC dungeons and running out of ammo mid run, much to my horror, but on the whole they survive dungeons a lot better than Rogues, and bring good utility with their traps and snares. It’s was funny to read that Hunter’s were hands down the hardest class to recreate in Classic – pet management and ammo being the unique features I’m guessing.

My other main interest would be a Warrior. A Tauren Protection Warrior was my main throughout WotLK, and I loved the playstyle whether levelling or grouping. Charge is one of the all-time great abilities, and having plate on obviously great for staying alive. They do suffer a bit from not having any self heals though. And I do wonder if I’m up for tanking with strangers – the tankxiety is real.

In the end I think I’ll rotate around and see what feels best – unlike Method I’m not after a world first in a week. But I would like to find a guild and potentially join in with the raiding crowd so levelling can’t be too slow. Thinking about that possibility also means not tanking as I won’t have the time to dedicate to the gearing that raid tanking requires.

Plenty to ponder, and not much time to do it!


Another thing to decide is how much UI to replace with add-ons. There are plenty of opinions on this, ranging from complete replacement to just the modifying the essentials to not touching anything:

something about the spirit of WoW Classic, a sort of back to nature, seeing the game in a raw or primitive form, makes me feel like Addons might be a bit of a betrayal, a cheat, an option that would deprive myself of the full experience.

BlizzardWatch have been tracking a list their best add-ons, and Curse have hundreds ready to go. If you did want to go with a whole hog, ‘Live’ game favourite ElvUI has been recreated for Classic too.

During BC and WotLK I used to build my own UI from scratch, grabbing bits and pieces from all over the place. I remember using TomTom, threat and damage meters, bags, and floating combat text – though why the latter became so popular is beyond me. My UI back then was a predictable messy nightmare, but I loved it – and loved constantly tinkering with it.

Then I stumbled on the concept of total UI replacement packages put together by players. My favourite for a long time was the very minimalist but very functional GarUI from Garwulf, who still blogs very occasionally but no longer maintains his UI. It was a beautiful UI, fading into nothingness when you weren’t active so you could appreciate the world around you.

More recently I’ve taken it easy and just plonked ElvUI into place, my bag manager of choice, and a few other utilities. Building your own is fun but maintaining it through patches and incompatibilities less so – ElvUI is a happy medium, if sometimes a bit over engineered.

For Classic I think I’ll fall somewhere in the middle, replacing bags and toolbars, maybe nameplates (useful for Threat management on a tank), and some vendor helpers – I noticed during the stress test that the vendor price for items isn’t shown by default, something that’s super helpful when managing bag-rage during the early days when bag space is at a premium. But I’ll try to keep it simple and lightweight – unless the default UI cruft starts to become annoying.

I wish Blizzard had allowed us to logon in the past week or so, even if it was limited to the starter zones, just so we could configure our UIs before launch. There’s no rush of course, but it would have been a fun thing to do while waiting. Not long now!

#Blaugust26

FFXIV: Fishing finally

Instead of fumbling around trying to find my way from Ul’dah to Limsa Lominsa, I rolled up a new Marauder to simultaneously try a new city and a new Class, and be ready to fish the moment it was available.

Ideal armour for Maraudering

Turns out that was probably quite a lot slower than researching how to fly or sail from Ul’dah, but it was also much more informative.

The Marauder is another Tank Class, which was a bit unfortunate but it was the only melee choice for Limsa Lominsa. I had wanted to try a Rogue, but strangely you can’t choose that Class until you’ve already levelled to 10 in another – it seems to be the only base Class with that kind of restriction. Maybe it was added slightly later?

Still, it was interesting comparing the Gladiator and Marauder. The latter wields a big axe, and seems to be more about punishment and fury than the more classical stance of the Gladiator. In many ways they are very similar though, and the action unlock sequence was the same – combo skills, AOE skill, defence buff. One small difference was a guaranteed crit buff which was fun to use despite a appropriately short uptime.

Limsa Lominsa itself was much more alive than Ul’dah, though it was more confusing to navigate with multiple levels and layers – if Ul’dah was Ironforge, this is more like Undercity.

There was dozens of incredibly dressed PCs standing around the main Aether teleporter, mostly just posing and looking cool. I get the feeling it’s a bit of a runway for showing off your new outfits, and I spent quite a long time just standing around there and taking screenshots.

Eventually I drew myself away and went about the business of levelling. The story was better than the Ul’dah mire of politics, with pirates and an identified ‘bad’ guy in someone called Sevrin. There was still an awful lot of courier and delivery quests though, so it still wasn’t particularly compelling. From Kaylriene’s comments it appears that it is well understood that the original ‘Realm Reborn’ questing leaves something to be desired:

For those who haven’t had the…”pleasure”…of playing the base 2.0 and 2.x quests of FFXIV, let me paint a word picture. The game is fun and charming, and has a clear sense of Final Fantasy about it, but questing in FFXIV is not really a gameplay exercise as much as it is a story one. Quests are often simply relaying a message from NPC A to NPC B, or killing no more than 4 enemies, or going to a spot in the world, clicking the interact-able spot, and watching the cutscene that unfolds. That’s not to say they are bad – I like FFXIV’s storytelling overall – but it is definitely not the gameplay-driven questing you might be used to from WoW and the like, where the game simply uses quests as connective tissue to make the gameplay have some degree of reason to it.

As a result apparently the devs are considering a reboot of the early game questing, though hopefully it’s not as world-changing as the Cataclysm event was in Warcraft, which steamlined everything but also permanently changed the environment of a lot of the earlier zones for the worse (Thousand Needles comes to mind). Until then, I think Bhagpuss’s approach makes the most sense: ignore the MSQ and just enjoy the world, which is pretty spectacular.

So I churned through the MSQ chores in pretty good time, skim reading the text this time (having realised just how trivial most of it is from the Gladiator run) and taking advantage of the Aethernet teleports whenever they were on offer (something I avoided on the Gladiator in order to experience the world better). And finally at level 12 I was finished with the Marauder initiation questline and permitted to choose new Classes.

The Fishing Guild – home!

I made a beeline for the Fishing Guild, and before long was the proud owner of a primitive rod and a can of smelly bait. The Lalafell seem to run the Fishing Guild by trying to out-pun each other, which doesn’t have the same appeal as the inimitable Nat Pagle, but at least they do take their fishing seriously.

My first job was to fish up some anchovies to learn the ropes. It’s a much more sophisticated system than Warcraft, like the other crafting and gathering I’d seen in FFXIV. You equip bait, then cast, then wait for the telltale bend of the rod to reel in your catch. You don’t seem to be able to see the bobber in the water, which is a nice touch in Warcraft, but the animation on the whole is much more fishing.

Once you start catching, you start revealing entries in your Fishing Log (I love the Log system in FFXIV, nothing quite beats an endless checklist). Again it’s far more detailed than Warcraft, and more compelling as a result. There are day/night cycles, weather, different baits for different fish, advice not to just stand in one place and fish as they’ll stop biting, etc.

There’s also a wealth of skills to be learnt over time – including ‘stealth’ that allows you to sneak past enemy mobs when you just want to Fish. And you can upgrade not only your rod, but a full set of fishing gear too which has bonuses to gathering and looks entirely the part – it’s fishing gear not just gathering gear, and that attention to detail is lovely.

If FFXIV were my main MMO, crafting would get a lot of attention, with fishing top of the list. For now, with my subscription about to expire, I’m going to enjoy pottering about and filling my bags with fish.

#Blaugust25

Warcraft Classic: Money on the table

As Classic approaches I’ve found it interesting how Blizzard don’t seem to be trying very hard to turn the huge enthusiasm into cold hard cash.

The servers are full to the extent Blizzard are spooling up new ones every day, and the general atmosphere (at least from those not swearing off it entirely) is exactly as Wilhelm put it: all I want to do right now is play Warcraft Classic.

With all this energy, and given Classic is somewhat generously included in an existing Warcraft subscription, you would think that a company as efficient at making money as Blizzard would be doing everything they could to sell stuff.

And yet all I can see that is definitively tied to Classic is the retro t-shirts on the Blizzard merch store. Soft of nice shirts, but there’s only a few.

There was also the 15th Anniversary Collectors Edition, which isn’t strictly Classic but comes pretty close, but it sold out instantly and has never been restocked. Which is annoying for collectors as it was never tagged as ‘Limited’ as far as I know.

The most obvious thing to sell would be a new Classic box which, given the popularity of the 15th box, would be a hit – especially if they ‘threw in’ a mount for the Live game. Warcraft streamers Taliesin & Evitel posted the press kit they received, and it’s exactly the kind of thing Collectors would love:

But while something like a box would have sold like hotcakes before the launch, it’s unlikely to sell after. Perhaps there is a merch onslaught still to come, or maybe they are hedging in case Classic falls flat on its face after the first month (which seems unlikely at the moment).

Obviously Blizzard are counting on new subscriber money, and there’s no doubt there will be a sub spike and potentially some conversion to the live game (we need a better word for that – Blizzard call it ‘Retail’ but that’s too mercenary). But look at that press kit! Let us buy it Blizzard, pretty please?

One good thing about Blizzard ignoring their potential cash cow is that we can reward independent creators like Frenone and Naariel with our patronage instead.

#Blaugust24

FFXIV: Tank training

FFXIV continues to impress with it’s in-game help and training systems.

I’ve reached a level where I can queue for Duties (aka Dungeons/Instances) as a Gladiator tank, and I was tempted to do one, even getting as far as queuing before quickly bailing and saving the poor Duty Finder group from a rookie tank. It seemed a bit soon, and for a new player it would probably be a tough ask having never tanked before.

Requirements: 1 tank, 1 healer, 2 DPS. I very strange huge boss. Familiar.

I was surprised the game was willing to throw me into it, given its propensity to introduce concepts first. However I think I’m slightly ahead of the level queue due to completing all the Hunting Log quests, side quests, training professions, etc. For that reason I hadn’t returned to Ul’dah recently, and when I did I found there was an excellent solo training function available.

By talking to a trainer, I was queued into some solo Duties which introduce you to the concept of tanking step by step. The first was about avoiding enemy tells (the orange warnings on the ground), the next was using combos to draw enmity/threat, then how to draw multiple mobs attention, etc.

I’d already worked most of this out just by running around, but then I am well versed in the MMO combat style and tanking as a concept. If you weren’t this kind of systematic training is a terrific way to help people learn a Class and that Class’s in-game role.

The training was tailored for Gladiators, naming specific abilities and how to use them. Which is very impressive as it means there is no doubt the same kind of thing for every other Class too. It’s a lot of work to put in for the developers, but I think worth it as a way to show a new (or old!) player how tanking, healing, and DPS works. This is something other games could really learn from – Warcraft provides precisely zero help for learning how to tank or heal, or even the basic DPS rotation.

Crossed arms at 50 paces

During all this I’ve been following the M(ain) S(tory) Q(uest) – I’ve even learnt some of the acronyms now – which I’m finding rather uninspiring. It seems to be a story of political intrigue, with various named factions and figures all trying to gain power in Ul’dah. The problem with it is that as players we have no investment in any of the people being talked about, and it does seem like a political game rather than something of world shaking importance which a hero like us (ahem) would be needed for.

I have also failed in my quest to get to Limsa Lominsa to learn fishing. I was pleased when I stumbled on a map reference that seemed to show I could catch a boat there from a nearby town, but when I arrived there the harbour-master told me the way was temporarily closed. I suspect it’s because I haven’t completed some pre-requisite, but it was very disappointing.

Both the political nature of the MSQ and the Fishing failure are making me ponder rolling a second character who starts in Limsa Lominsa, just to see how different it is. I have five days left on my 30 day account, so that might be a good way to spend it.

#Blaugust23

Warcraft: Blackrocked

Tonight our Alliance guild finished off Blackrock Depths, the penultimate Vanilla/Classic dungeon, having finished the ‘Detention Block’ last week.

Plenty of opportunities for a deadly lava bath

Now split in two Dungeon Finder halves, the second ‘Upper City’ section has four bosses you have to kill for the Achievement, but 13 total. Oddly enough, the Dungeon Finder split has made it very difficult to navigate – it more or less leads you to the four achievement bosses while ignoring all the rest. As a result we ‘finished’ in 45 minutes, then spent another 90 minutes unravelling the puzzle of finding the remaining bosses.

Only room for one Empress

Navigation is also not helped by the map changing between floors somewhat arbitrarily, making it particularly hard to work out the path to the bosses. You used to start at the start and work your way through the entire dungeon, which mostly made sense. Now it’s confusing as you appear mid dungeon, have to back track, and use mole machines to get around impenetrable doors.

None the less, it’s a a wonderfully complex and diverse dungeon, a living breathing Dark Iron city, full of everything a city would have: kings, queens, jailers, crafters, gods, and monsters. There’s a huge number of schematics and plans that drop, befitting a Dwarven empire, and rep hand-ins that require you to return things you create in Molten Core.

The Grim Guzzler is as crazy as ever, a bar full of hammered patrons all of who eventually turn on you once you start spilling their beer and spiking their kegs. With predictable results.

Being hammered won’t help

One amazing – and crazy – piece of design in the Relic Room, which has about 15 locked safes. You pick up Relic keys as you venture through the dungeon, which allow you to unlock the vaults for a random loot chest – Blizzard were well ahead of the loot box game here. In one run you won’t get enough keys to unlock all the safes, but there’s a quest boss that only appears if you do – so you have to hang on to the keys and co-ordinate to open the room together later. Not something to do via Dungeon Finder obviously. That mechanic – and many others in BRD – are another reminder of how co-ordination and teamwork were highly valued and required in the original release, even for dungeons.

So many vaults, so few keys

We now only have Blackrock Spire to do, before we can unlock XP and start on the Burning Crusade dungeons. In a fortuitous piece of timing, we’ll run Spire just as Classic launches – finishing up right as we’re starting all over again.

#Blaugust22

Warcraft: Classic appeal

I’ve been trying to work out exactly why Classic has become so appealing.

There’s the obvious things like revisiting the very first outing for a game I’ve devoted long hours to. I wasn’t there at the beginning, so while many of the features are familiar from Burning Crusade, this will allow us to experience where it all started.

Then there’s the somewhat masochistic appeal of having to struggle instead of cruise. As has been well documented, unless you’re raiding ‘ahead of the curve’ the retail version of Warcraft has become a walk in the park when compared to ye olde days. I can’t remember the last time I felt any sense of danger or need to be careful in game, and purple loot is no longer a thrill, it’s an expectation.

Which is not to say the live game isn’t entertaining. There is entertainment aplenty, great storylines, beautiful design, and it still has the capacity to surprise even 15 years later. It’s just that it is now a different game to what it was – again, if you’re not raiding. Raiding has become the sole place where you still have to work hard and have a team.

I started thinking that concept of needing to work with other players gets to the core of why Classic might work, and Belghast’s terrific post musing on MMO communication drove that thought home:

The first MMOs worked and created the lasting relationships that they did in part because we had a serious need for other people. What I mean by that is that in order for us to have a fun night, we needed a bunch of other people to be similarly interested in doing the same thing. This meant that without really meaning it… you yourself were open to doing things that were maybe less than optimal for your evening because it would mean that in turn the other player would be willing to assisting you at a later date.

My fondest memories of Warcraft are raiding Karazhan with one or two close friends and a whole bunch of people I’d never met. We spent hours and hours working together through that epic Raid, slowly improving and progressing, helping each other gear up and talking tactics offline while we waited for the next scheduled run. It was epic, exciting, and the thrill of defeating each boss to allow us to move on was unbeatable.

Taking a team of friends into WoTLK raiding was similarly exciting, and although we only made it into the first wing of Naxxramas before real life struck, that first wing was incredible. We were doing something together through hard work and perseverance, marvelling when our strategy and preparation came together into a well oiled machine. Which didn’t happen often, but when it did it too was an unbeatable thrill.

Of course the same thing could be said to apply to raiding now, but the temptation to just do it in LFR or press a button, as Belghast put it, is often too great. Plus we’re all ten years older, so attention and time is far more thinly spread.

Classic feels like a chance to travel back to a time when teamwork and strong server-based bonds were requirements for success. It’s almost certainly a pipe dream to imagine being able to raid – those ten years aren’t nothing – but even running dungeons and epic quests like Rhok’delar will mean community and communication become paramount, and that might be something special.

#Blaugust21

FFXIV: Lessons

Having discovered professions, my next goal was to hit level 15 so I could catch an airship of some kind to Limsa Lominsa in order to train Fishing. If FFXIV is only going to be a month long project, fishing has to be part of it.

Levelling didn’t take long. Following the main storyline and the nearby side quests netted most of the required experience – and a taunt skill which will come in handy.

Everywhere you go there’s an amazing outfit or mount – or both – to admire

During the questing I answered my question about what happens if you’re equipped for a profession when you encounter an aggressive mob: you run away. I hadn’t worked out how to tell which mobs would attack when you passed through their aggro radius and accidentally drew the attention of three angry ants. Fighting them with my pick wasn’t going to work, and I couldn’t quickly change outfits, so I sprinted away. Luckily they are on rubber bands so I was soon safe, but I learnt the lesson. It does make gathering seem a little hard to do at low levels – it might have to wait until I’m a bit more powerful.

I discovered that my ‘shield bash’ ability is an interrupt for the telegraph abilities of mobs. Smacking them when the ground effect appears stuns them and cancels the special move. Very handy and easier than running out of range. I suspect that later mobs won’t be quite so easy to disrupt, but for now it’s a fun ability. I also polished off the first tier of the Hunting Log, which rewarded a good chunk of XP but disappointingly nothing much else other than a massive banner alert that things were about to get more difficult.

Not as exciting as they seem to think

The final discovery in this play session was that I’ve reached a level where things are starting to be dangerous. I wandered into a camp of small sentient creatures and started mindlessly slaughtering them. There was some kind of glowing purple circle around the quest objective which gave me pause, but so far glowing things hadn’t seemed to make much difference so I pressed on. Suddenly a mini-boss of some kind was summoned and started casting something nasty, at the same time as the remaining trash mobs all decided to finally notice me and start attacking en masse. Bravery and valour took a back seat as I employed the sprint button again to get out of there, barely making it alive. I went back with a more methodical approach and succeeded, though it was still a lot tougher than anything I’d previously encountered.

I also had some close scrapes with some particularly aggressive mantis like creatures and some giant poisonous toads. I was looking for colour cues as to what will aggro and what will let me walk straight through, but I think it’s a small icon next to their nameplate that is the tell. Clearly I’ve reached some kind of tipping point between friendly newbie zone and somewhere with more expectations, and I may well be doing something wrong (or non optimally) too. From now on a more cautious approach is called for – and I should pay more attention to the swirly coloured magical stuff.

When I reached 15 nothing actually happened. I think I was kind of expecting a quest to magically appear, similarly to how flying does in Warcraft. Not that this was flying, but FFXIV has been very good at introducing new concepts as they become available and the ability to take airships to new cities seems to warrant that kind of notice. My guess is this is locked behind a quest chain I haven’t quite completed, like learning Professions was.

So fishing will have to wait – but not for long.

#Blaugust20

Warcraft: Saving Baine

Spoiler alert for Patch 8.2

Today I finally did the Stay of Execution scenario, months behind schedule, and it was superb. Long an advocate for the Tauren, and for Baine Bloodhoof to become our next Warchief, this solo dungeon make it all the clearer that he is the right choice.

I unlocked it by finishing up some quests in Nazjatar, not really knowing what was going to happen – somehow I’d managed to avoid spoilers for all this time. I was shocked to find that Sylvanas was about to execute Baine for ‘betraying’ her when he reunited the newly Undead Derek Proudmoore with his sister Jaina.

A Shamanistic vision shows us that he is imprisoned below Orgrimmar (in a repurposed dungeon based on the Siege of Orgrimmar raid), and we need to act immediately to rescue him. We’re joined by Thrall and Varok Saurfang, heroes of the Horde and stars of the Safe Haven cinematic, and it’s a thrill fighting alongside the two elder Orc legends.

But that’s nothing to the shock of who we find half way through the mission.

Jaina. I was genuinely surprised, which I guess says something for how little attention I pay to the streamers and data-mining lore-reveals. It’s a nice feeling to find a game you’ve played for so long can still take you by surprise, and a reminder of just how strong Blizzard’s lore and writing team can be – and a reminder of why we keep playing.

Jaina is there to rescue Baine too, not just because of the Derek Proudmore moment, but because Baine is good people. He, of all the participants in this war, doesn’t deserve a traitor’s death. The confrontation between Thrall and Jaina is beautifully played out, as they – and we – unite to rescue Baine from Sylvanas’s prison.

A faction leader, disgracefully strung up by Sylvanas. No honour here.

The in-game cinematic that finishes the scenario is one of Blizzard’s best. Jaina and Thrall gazing down on Thunder Bluff, fearing Sylvanas’s retribution, and both reflecting on the terrible cost of the years of conflict and death.

Thrall’s regrets in particular struck home with me, his sorrow over the death of Baine’s father Cairne, and all the conflict and ruin that has wrought. Jaina’s reaction to Thrall’s pain is magic, and brings great hope for future peace between the two warring factions.

I still hold some slim hope that Sylvanas will somehow be shown to have been acting in Azeroth’s best interests, that rousing Azshara and N’zoth was required in order for the factions to unite and defeat the larger threat. But the descruction of Teldrassil has probably put paid to her reputation ever being rehabilitated. Her time is over.

If anyone can heal the rift between the Alliance and the Horde, it’s Baine Bloodhoof. And if Sylvanas really does try and burn down Thunder Bluff nothing can save her from our retribution.

#Blaugust19

FFXIV: She’s crafty

I’d forgotten that upon reaching level 10 I could start to train in the gathering and crafting professions – or Disciplines of the Land and Hand in game terms.

It wasn’t only level 10 that was required, it was that plus finishing the mandatory Gladiator introductory sequence. I almost felt guilty being tempted when my Guildmistress told me that much as she hated to say it, I was free to go and train in other Classes.

What I didn’t realise was that training the Hand/Land classes was the same as switching to an entirely different Combat Class. When I trained as a Miner I suddenly lost all my Gladiator skills, my action bars swapped, and I was suddenly near-naked in the middle of the Mining Guild.

Now I understand why so many people are semi-dressed when they are crafting

Working out how to dress more appropriately, I soon found the ‘Recommended Gear’ button on the UI, which very smartly worked out what gear I should equip for my current Class. And then I could save that as a Gear Set, and switch between Combat and Profession equipment with ease.

I was equipped with a Mining Pick and had a single action available called Prospect, which promised to reveal mining nodes on my minimap when active. This is very different to my experience in other MMOs where gathering and crafting are very much secondary skills, requiring only a tool or two in your inventory. Here you become a miner, or goldsmith, or tailor, etc.

At first I was sceptical that this was a good idea – having to swap entirely to a new load out and skill set just to mine some ore seemed quite cumbersome. And it means that you can’t just spot a node as you’re adventuring and gather it on the move. You need to set out specifically to gather, or craft, and abandon your combat role entirely.

I do worry what would happen if you set out with mining pick and sub-optimal armour equipped, only to encounter some aggressive mobs that needed your full kit to counter. I wonder if you can swap mid combat, or if it’s like other games where once you’re engaged you’re locked out.

Mining pick equipped, I ventured back out into Thanalan and soon found my first node. They are much prettier than Warcraft that’s for sure.

Tempting

I duly started picking away at it, and discovered that FFXIV has a much deeper crafting system than I expected. One you find a node, you can choose what you want to try and extract from it, and what the chance of recovering each possible reward is.

This kind of blew my mind, as this made gathering is a game in itself, with chance and gambling and decision making instead of just mindless clicking on shiny nodes. There’s a full list of levels and skills to be learnt, quests and objectives, and I presume you could play the game as solely a crafter if you were willing to forgo combat.

I’ve always been intrigued by Bhagpuss’s reports of the full crafting storyline in EQ2, and it looks like FFXIV has at least some semblance of that, though whether it goes quite as far as EQ2 does is yet to be seen:

It’s completely viable [in EQ2] to have characters who only craft and still have a well-developed, structured throughline from creation to cap that includes everything an Adventurer could expect. There are signature questlines at all levels, side-quests, storylines, upgradeable gear and tools, important NPCs to meet, titles to earn, achievements, you name it. There are even craft raids.

Training Mining also unlocked a Gathering Log full of lists of items to find while Mining. Similarly training Weaving created a Crafting Log, though it was more functional, containing recipes for how to make gear and accoutrements. Crafting an item involves chance, material wear, and action bar skills in order to make the object you desire. The animation is also pretty great, a full spindle or needlecraft pad appearing for weaving, and accompanying over the top excitement when you successfully make a ball of twine.

Exploring this has opened up a whole new world within FFXIV, and I found myself excited to start progressing the profession chains – perhaps even more than following the actual storyline. The fashion, armour, and weapons you see just wandering around Ul’dah continue to be astonishing, and I assume that much of it is created via crafting, no doubt at great expense. The bigger capitals and endgame hubs must be a sight to behold, and I can imagine setting up as a crafter of exclusive goods must be an excellent earner and satisfying game in and of itself.

Wonderful and beautiful design

My only regret is Fishing isn’t available in Ul’dah, for that I need to travel to somewhere called Limsa Lominsa – and to get there I need to get to Level 15 apparently. I’ll do that on my Gladiator given I’m 12 now, unless Gathering ore becomes more interesting!

#Blaugust18

FFXIV: Motivation

I dipped back in to FFXIV today, spending some time following the main story questline.

At my low level it doesn’t seem to be terribly different from the non main story quests, or at least the objectives aren’t. One had me handing out exactly four treats to starving children, another dealing with precisely three bad-guy Lancers. Meanwhile the side quests were more or less the same – collect eight ribs, investigate four bits of ore on the railway tracks.

The main difference was that there were occasional cut scenes (still unvoiced), and the reappearance of the Handsome Stranger. I faced down a gigantic animated clump of boulders, and a mysterious black robed figure marvelled at my apparent skill in defeating it. So there is the hint of something larger brewing, though it’s hard to follow exactly what that is.

Not so handsome now

I found it quite hard to stay motivated, though it’s hard to say whether that’s the game or I just wasn’t in the mood for MMO style gaming. While I enjoy the open world of an MMO, sometimes the tight confines of an on-rails single player game can be more absorbing, or at least more distracting.

The other thought I had was that it would be more fun to be doing this in a group. I found the same thing in GW2 and SWtoR, where I would have fun playing solo to a point but then drift away and never complete any characters.

In SWtoR it was often because it seems a waste missing out on the group conversation options, which is one of the underrated features of the game. Playing in a group allows you to independently choose the dialogue option you want, and then a random roll determines which choice ‘wins’. It makes questing much more interesting as you often get to see responses you wouldn’t otherwise have chosen.

In GW2 I think it was more the same kind of problem I’m feeling in FFXIV, namely uncertainty about exactly why I’m doing all this if I’m not playing with friends, or heading to an endgame where I could.

The thing that makes me question that theory is WoW, where I will more often quite happily play completely solo, working on alts or grinding out reps and rewards on my main. The difference being that there’s a group of us that noodle about every so often, and with who I had a brief and vaguely glorious period of raiding, and one day might do so again.

He should be able to wear those bunny pants too

I wonder if were I a GW or FFXIV veteran instead of a Warcraft one I would find WoW had the same issue. Or, more likely, I’m just having an off day and I’ll be back in the chocobo saddle tomorrow.

#Blaugust17