FFXI Burnout: {You can have this.}

[Final Fantasy XI] Being the new guy, I was eager this morning to sit down at my computer (the one I get paid to sit in front of and pretend that I am working at) and see if there were any comments. Lo and belhold, there were! I was prepared to soak up the love and adoration of my fan base, and embrace the kudo’s they were raining down upon me.

Then I woke up.

It appeared from the comments that the general problem with Final Fantasy XI is the grind. When one feels that the time input does not equal reward output in-game (there is probably some kind of scientific equation to be found here, if I understood equations or science). I hate to say this about my favorite game, but this is the state of nature in Vana’diel. FFXI is a grind. More grind than most MMO’s. The problem for me is that I love the grind, but this removes me from the perspective of other gamers (you know, like “normal people”) that don’t. We just can’t connect on the same level. So I engaged in some self-reflective thinking on the issue and even if I can’t justify the level of grind I was hoping to put some perspective for others as to why the grind exists.

The first thing to come to mind is that FFXI, unlike almost all other MMO’s currently available, has a truely international playerbase. More specifically, it is an MMO that was not designed with the American teenager in mind (can’t really think of a reason that is a bad thing). It was designed with the ravenously obsessed Japanese player in mind. I have heard that there may, in fact, be some cultural differences between Americans and the Japanese. There are somethings here that wouldn’t fly in Japan, and there are somethings there that, well, defy definition by American standards (although I have heard that Poki is yummy). The Japanese players enjoy a level of tedium in their games. Japanese games are generally longer, harder, and, by American standards, boring. That being said there are quite a few Americans that engage in, and thoroughly enjoy, these kinds of games. OCD has become a term of art in America, and these people would be the poster children. FFXI provides an opportunity to delve into a world of obsessive/compulsive behavior derived from a thousand years of neurotic and repressive Japanese social hierarchy.

FFXI definitely was not designed with the casual gamer in mind. The problem for me though is this: should an online game be designed for the casual gamer? At the current time, the game most designed with the casual gamer in mind is taking the world by storm. The latest I have heard is that Blizzard has enough people playing World of Warcraft to establish themselves as an independent nation-state and receive recognition by the United Nations. The problem with this is sustainability. The casual gamer not only plays less frequently than the normal MMO gamer, but is also more likely to permanently leave an MMO. I am not trying to doomcast WoW, more explaining the staying power of FFXI. FFXI continues to expand, but this is not observed by those that don’t cover the game or have left the game. FFXI can not capture all the gamers in the world, but for the ones they do catch, SquareEnix has sunk their hooks deep.

But I suppose this is all metacommentary at best, a useless waxing of my superior obsession. I mean, how can you not enjoy repetitively slaughtering the same innocent Couerls for hours on end? Wait, don’t answer that question.


3 thoughts on “FFXI Burnout: {You can have this.}”

  1. if you look at other final fantasy games, the single player ones, you’ll find that the japanese ones are slightly on the insane side. Compared to their western counterparts, many have more, heaps more random encounters, harder bosses etc.

    but then again, in japan, you can buy school girl panties from vendor machines that dissolve in water, so yeah, not everything japanese is bad.

  2. I was going to say something about the obsession with dirty school girl panties but I could find a way to make it rhyme with Poki without an FBI investigation.

  3. For me, it wasn’t necessarily the grind. I could stomach the farming. The only problem was that the equipment never made me feel unique or “uber.” You would notice a slight increase in your abilities, but none of the stats in FFXI are too terribly drastic. In FFXI, things sort of progress steadily and mostly balances itself out. Not to mention the armor in FFXI is incredibly linear, which comments on how linear each character build is. A thief is a thief. A white mage is a white mage. There’s generally not any other way to play your job, except subjobs, which add slightly to your character but are never that huge of an impact to where your whole playstyle changes (excluding such combinations as PLD/WAR, where the subjob actually makes the main job viable, but in most cases this is not true). In some way, I like this steady progression and linearity (that a word?) in armor and leveling. It’s almost melodic.

    My problem with FFXI was not the game itself. No indeed. The game captures an essence of a real world, despite the total lack of environmental interactivity and jarring zones, that I’ve never seen before. My problem had to do with the people, or perhaps I should say the game’s requirment of people, though it was generally the people that made it bad.

    I thoroughly enjoyed finding a good group and sitting in one place for a couple of hours killing enemy after enemy. Again, it was melodic (I played bard, but there’s no pun intended). You sat, you had conversation, and you worked like a group. But that’s the good groups. The bad groups is where it gets you. You know, that one person who likes to pull maybe a few seconds too early, that person who feels the need to cast a certain spell when it’s not necessary or helping, those people that like to tout how good they are. You know what I mean. This doesn’t just have to do with grouping up to get experience either. Finding people to do any quests basically REQUIRED a linkshell, and a good linkshell on top of that. The FFXI system in no way makes it easy for you to find people who want to do the same thing as you do and in many of my cases, I ended up having to resort to high level help. A lot of the level 1-50 or so content is impossible to find someone who is not a high level to help you out unless you have lots of friends, which I tend to not have. Effectively, you aren’t doing quests in the game the way it’s intended until you reach the high levels when high levels are actually you. My linkshell had a good community, the problem was getting them to do anything. Any time I tried, we failed in getting it together, even if the event was posted up in the LS message for weeks.

    Call it bad luck, I just didn’t feel like trying to find new friends and my online regiment wasn’t so steady that I could join up with a static group.

    I personally don’t think the problem is grind, I think it has to do with execution. Somehow make it easier for people to get together, even if they aren’t in the same LS, that don’t require means such as shouting for an hour in Jeuno. Perhaps you can make it more intriguing for people who have done these quests if you make the rewards actually WORTH it. Many of the main things in FFXI offer no good rewards beyond maybe a level cap raise or something that can’t be repeated, but they rarely offer good LOOT! I think there’s a lot of content in FFXI that just isn’t fooled with or is easily skipped/power leveled through. I think if FFXI could just make things a little more user friendly, it could have kept me.

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