Monday, April 13, 2009

Theme Week - Turnabout Part 7

And yet another week of forced gaming comes to a close.

This is like some odd Saw-esque torture we've arranged here. I'm being forced to play my beloved video games, but in perverse and unusual ways.

Are you hoping I'm going to learn something from all of this? Maybe that I'll learn some valuable lesson about being a better person and blah blah blah.

Not f&%@ing likely.

What I have learned is that you are a cruel and unusual people who seem to take a disproportionate amount of pleasure from my suffering.

I have also learned that the deep chasm between WoW and FFXI isn't as deep or... Chasm-y as I thought it was.

Shut up. That's totally a word.

Playing the first 20 levels of WoW was a pain in the ass.

The funny thing is so are the first 20 levels of FFXI.

Maybe it's the price you pay to get to the good stuff. Maybe it's a gauntlet we all have to run before we get to the parts of the game that make it all worthwhile.

Maybe video game developers are just mean, terrible people that wish only pain on the rest of humanity.

I'm kind of leaning towards that one.

The thing is that I never noticed the epic pain in the ass that is was when I was actually doing those 20 levels for the first time. Yes, I acknowledged the inherent annoyances of the system, but that was all lost in the tide of "Holy Shit! This is AWESOME!"

Every bunny slaughtered was a victory. Every path taken was an adventure.

Sure, a lot of those "adventures" involved getting horrendously murdered by goblins, but that just made the successful ones all the better.

The 20 levels were new and, because of that, they weren't as bad as they could have been.

So why did I not enjoy the first 20 levels of WoW? Why did I have to find things to like instead of ignoring the things I didn't?

Why weren't the first 20 levels of WoW like my very first 20 levels in FFXI?

The same reason my recent "first 20 levels" weren't the same.

Because I've seen what they could be.

I've seen a system that works and where a lot of those little annoyances have been corrected either through progresses in the game mechanics or self-correction by the gamers as a whole.

The game itself just gets better in the later levels because there are different challenges placed on the player and the community just gets better at handling those challenges.

I've seen a better game.

I've seen a game that I love playing.

Going back to the very beginning, back to a time before it gets better, poses the same problem as playing WoW for the first time.

They're not my game.

Everyone assumed my obvious bias towards FFXI was going to make this entire week a moot point. Most people figured I'd find no fault whatsoever with the game and go on and on about how awesome the game is.

The weird thing is that it was my bias that made those levels such an epic pain in the ass.

I was playing my game and wanting to love my game, but the problem was that it wasn't my game.

Instead, this is the crap I go through to get to my game. This is the stuff I try and minimize by heaping huge piles of gil and high level friends on top of so I can spend as little time as possible away from the good stuff.

Maybe I hated WoW because it wasn't FFXI.

I'll grant that.

But I hated this past week because it wasn't FFXI either.

Is it worth going through those 20 levels to get to the good stuff beyond it?

Oh Hell Yes.

That's not even a question. I'd level 20 accounts through the Dunes just to get to the good stuff and still feel like it was more than worth it.

Maybe WoW gets better, too. Maybe you hit level 21 and everything changes and it's so epically different it's like playing a completely new game.

Many of the comments suggested that is true.

I really hope it is.

Did I prefer the first 20 levels of FFXI?

That's hard to say.

Both experiences were vastly different. One was designed to be much easier on the player, but I felt that cheated the player out of any real challenge. The other was so challenging that many things felt more like a burden than an accomplishment.

I'll let you figure out which one is which.

I'll give you a hint: the easy one begins with W.

And rhymes with World of Warcraft.

I guess the decision really comes down to what kind of gamer you are. Personally, I need the challenge to keep me going. I need to feel like I beat something that was worth beating.

It's like taking a karate class with a group of children. Can you really feel like you've acheived something by beating the crap out of them?

Now don't get me wrong. I know you'd probably have a lot of fun beating the crap out of them.

Little tiny arms flailing.

I realize I'm greatly exaggerating the situation, but hey, that's kind of what I do.

All I know is that I chose FFXI and, if I had to do it again, I'd choose it again.

Luckily, I don't have to choose again.

Later this evening, I can delete a certain Hume White Mage and pretend this whole thing never, ever happened. I can go back to my main character and my end game activities and never have to do this again if I don't choose to.

Or unless you make me.

You wouldn't do that though, right?


Man... This really seemed like a good idea at the time.


At 7:44 PM, Blogger J. Scarper said...

[this space is taken.]


At 8:16 PM, Blogger Ricardo said...


Maybe I should donate and have you play Guild Wars, you'd love it!

well there's the whole "not having a credit card of my own" thing kind of stopping me lol

At 8:23 PM, Blogger Katherine said...

Thank you at least for bringing attention to the great White Mage suffering. ::huggles:: I hope it wasn't too too awful (and yes whitemage does get better as you go on, you really should try it on your main char)

At 8:30 PM, Blogger Fleed said...

We're going to make you go to 75 on Dark Knight.

At 8:59 PM, Blogger Strings said...

Heh... are we going to get a post about you "dealing with" people like the Know-It-All?

At 9:23 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Personally, I'd look at it this way. You were PAID to go through your tribulations. You didn't die, and the best I can see, that buffet made it, at least in part, worthwhile.

If you feel inclined to disagree, I suggest taking an additional look at that massive pile of bacon.

Side note: Bypasses are buy-one-get-one-free.

At 10:42 PM, Blogger Blueyez said...

While I was very entertained by your week of torture I think I'm a little disappointed too. In all those posts I see very little actual leveling and new experiences. Maybe it's just me. Oh well, there were lessons learnt at any rate and fun was had by all (all being your readers watching you suffer). I agree though that, like everyone else, I'd really like to see some vengeance on tank boy and know-it-all. Let the hilarity ensue...

At 10:49 PM, Blogger Totema said...

See, I knew this would happen. Making a new character on a game you're already familiar with is not the same thing as playing a new game. You keep your past experiences in mind and make comparisons to them.

But on one hand you did happen to run into a lot of bad luck in the entire experience. I dunno, I usually have a somewhat successful time whenever I'm forced to level there. It's actually pretty rare for me to be constantly forced into a party full of autistic children, and when I do I usually disband ASAP and look for another one a while later. And it's also pretty unlucky that your first linkshell with the character happened to be full of noobs. There's usually at least 1 or 2 higher-levelled people that know what they're talking about in the linkshells I've been in.

Anyway this whole week proves my point, which I had already expressed when I voted against this topic. And to think I could have heard about your most malicious deeds ever committed.

At 10:50 PM, Blogger Totema said...

And yes I would also like to see how you deal with the Know-it-All.

At 11:37 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

I think it is a lot worse the second time around because there's so much LESS to experience. The first time you play you have nothing but the clothes on your back and that ridiculous coupon. But there's a whole new freakin' world to explore! Weird NPCs to talk to and then ignore, unfamiliar quests and missions, and then leveling.
What you did was straight leveling. It took me forever to get to 75 because I was always doing other things. Most people go to 75 before they started crafting seriously, I did it reverse.

You started already knowing the terrain, the music, the mechanics, the everything. Leveling from 1-20, or 1-75 for this matter, without the hookup from your higher levels can suck. Leveling from 1-75 without everything being a fun and new experience can also suck.

Btw, WoW doesn't change until end game at 80. FFXI changes a little bit every 10 or so levels as you can do more and more missions and progress the story (oh yeah, something else WoW lacks).

Btw I did not vote for you to suffer, I voted for you to play the beginning of FFXI again. Being a whm, well, that was all you.

At 1:11 AM, Blogger Ulric said...

Don't forget the "Hume's black list".

Anyway, great analysis. Same for me, except that I choose WoW. And it wasn't that easy at the beginning of the game. It change for easier the last years.

At 4:08 AM, Blogger Codexx said...

Being primarily a WoW player (with experience playing plenty of other MMOs previously), I have no idea where the Endgame of FF11 picks up.

WoW, however, I can divide into a few sections.

1-20 depends heavily on which starting area(s) you play through, and is more of primer to play around with your class, which you'll actually start to learn at level 5, and then up through 15 will be getting some good abilities. By level 20, you just want to move on, but this is where the class is defined, even if the first 20 levels are mediocre, and go at a very slow pace.

Levels 20-30 are hell. What few entertaining quests there are in this area are fun because of the text. The tasks you are given are as boring as they can possibly make them. I spent months around level 30 because I'd rather do PvP than go out and quest. It's one long grind to 40.

40 is where everything gets magically better. Casting classes that are a pain early on actually become "good". Using a tanking spec becomes viable, thought not optimal, for leveling. By this point, you've filled out the talent tree enough that you're decently unique.

60-70 is a major change of pace, with some new quests types and such, though these ended up being mixed in and ultimately overused in some places while underused in others.

70-80 is by far the most interesting.

Hitting level 80 is wonderful. Sure, your class is the same as it was at 79, but the way you play it will change dramatically. This is primarily what keeps people playing, and what allows the most dedicated(read:people with more time, patience, and drive to grind than me) to create new characters and level them through the hell that is the first 40 levels.

As an aside, Wow has a place similar to these "dunes". It's called Tanaris. You go there around level 40, and it's a barren sandy wasteland with all sorts of mobs walking around everyone, and all the encampments are far from quest hubs, and the enemies are all clumped, and often more powerful than you. There's even a quest where you must collect 30 artifacts buried in sand mounds. Most of the paths you frequent will have a couple spawns. There's an ogre infested area of ruins in some obscure place of the map you'd never go, covered in about 15 spawns of those things. Tanaris is the second thing that almost made me give up WoW. If the whole "your class sucks and you need to grind to level" thing wasn't fixed by 40, Tanaris would probably have been worse. I think I've run Zul'Farrak more times than any other dungeon, except maybe Karazhan, and I never want to see either of them again.

Dave, if you know anyone who plays WoW, ask them to let you play one of their higher level characters. Try a hunter(pet class) or make a Death Knight, who starts at 55, has a special starting area that is made of pure, concentrated, manly, evil awesomeness, and after that you can go straight into Outland(the 70+ zone). It's a fun experience, and you get to slaughter some people while you're at it.

At 4:55 AM, Blogger Kiwi said...

While I wouldn't recommend borrowing a friends account, its just slightly against the ToU for the game. I'd have to agree. Tanaris and maybe Silithus are freaking hellish. Silithus can be summed up easily.. Bugs.. lots and lots and lots of bugs. It's the whole point of the zone. To have lots of bugs. and be the pre-area for a Raid instance.

If you prefer a stabby class, similar to FFXI's "Thief" class. Go Rogue. ^_^

If only FFXI had a better Recruit-a-Friend program. Grab a friend RAF your accounts together and go blow through any starting zone 1-20 in about 3hours.. if you're being lazy. Heh.

At 6:45 AM, Blogger Scott said...

I agree. WoW is easy for the leveling portion the actual challenges in World of Warcraft is the Raiding, PVP and added as of Wrath of the Lich King Achievements.

Some people find the achievements corny but you can get titles if your into them or neat mounts various other things as well as feeling like you have actually accomplished something that was a challenge. (yes some achievements are about as bad as getting exp for finding a farm lol.)

At 7:53 AM, Blogger Silly Girl said...

I wouldn't say WoW is terrible leveling up, but quite frankly with the amount you can do with each class (and depending on the character you make) it can be very different. Sure, leveling up can be a pain in the butt; it's worth it though. I've been playing since '05 and I've enjoyed my time with it. And sometimes people need the levels, for the people who buy accounts off eBay, it's really obvious most of the time that they have. Sure, there's lots of levels to get through, but at least it get's you to know your character and how to play it. +shrug+ Just things I've noticed.

And just for comparsion, I downloaded the trial for FFXI and thought I'd try it out. I've played the Final Fantasy games, but haven't had the chance to play FFXI yet, so here goes nothing :P

At 9:24 AM, Blogger Music-chan said...

You know, at the end of the day, it's not about which game is better (lots of people would disagree but screw them), it's about which game YOU enjoy.

Making fun of WoW on the blog here is funny, because it's not really serious. Friendly rivalry, if you would. But so many people go to other games and spend their ENTIRE TIME THERE talking about how WoW is such a shitty game and aren't they glad they're away from it. Well, if they are, why do they keep TALKING ABOUT IT?

Play the game you enjoy, even if getting to the game you enjoy can be a pain in the ass sometimes. ;D

At 9:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best part of WoW is leveling. One you get to endgame content you realize PvP is stupid because you get one shot, and then you realize PvE raids are too easy or just like every other encounter.

At 9:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I should add onto my last statement saying this:

I played wow for two years, thankfully I found my way to FFXI and I have enjoyed the game for the past three months now.

At 9:46 AM, Blogger Tristan Kain said...

It would appear that pretty much everyone wants to hear what sort of poetic justice and/or dragon-related torture some of your more annoying antagonists are about to encounter.

Personally, I'm interested in hearing if any of the more recent features added to "help new players along" (like Field Manuals) made any impact on a truly new player.

At 10:48 AM, Blogger Army said...

Very nice post. Kudo's to you, Dave, you're awesome.

At 2:01 PM, Blogger jasonx254 said...

Theres a thing about wow...Once you get to the point where You've done every single dungeon thats even remotely challenging at lvl 80...

You run out of shit to do =.=

After the third lvl 80 char it's nigh impossible to bear that same old grind on character you cant stand because you're better at your main.

I've been forced to quit wow for 2 reason, the main one being its filled with a bunch of cock sucking fuckwits with the brains of a kiwi fruit and the loyalty of nazi to a jew.

The second reason being is that it is quite literaly the same shit, day after day after day after day after day after day etc etc etc etc so and so forth repeat until the end of eternity.

Theres no real challenge once you hit top end. All thats left is...the grind *shudders*

At 3:50 PM, Blogger Leut said...

I'd suggest you have to play a Galka DNC at least up to level 60 so you'd have to humiliate yourself in that god awful outfit.


At 8:33 PM, Blogger Saifer said...

Note to Codexx : Um, 4 forgot to mention the Instances u can do between lvls, besides Zul farrak and the other 1 u mentioned.

At 6:49 AM, Blogger Warewulf said...

I think you should torture MrExpert by having him answer a series of basic knowledge questions, and for every one he gets wrong, he gets fed to a certain friendly neighbourhood dragon. Except replace 'friendly' with 'starving and grumpy'.

As for the experience of playing over, that's exactly the problem. It wasn't an experience.

Starting a new game is usually the funnest part; you get to explore, learn everything about the game, get the taste of leveling for the very first time and using those fancy new skills or spells for the first time. It's also in meeting those all too rare competent players who become your friends for the long haul.

People have tried to get me to start a new character because I was bored on my current one in games before, and fail to understand why I say that's even MORE boring than doing the more redundant things that I need to do to keep going as is.

In addition, as this is my first time posting a comment on your blog, Dave, I'd like to say that your bleak outlook and cynicism are a welcome laugh, as I often share your opinion of humanity in general.

At 8:39 AM, Blogger MinorAgentofChaos said...

Y'know, that's why I didn't think the turnabout would be such a fair test -- Dave's not a newbie, he's an oldie playing a new toon. So a lot of the WOW-THIS-IS-COOL factor is gone.

WoW & FF are geared for two different types of gamers; WoW is definitely for more casual players and that's where it's aiming its market, though it has its share of hardcore players -- aka assholes. That's not a slap at any FF players -- it's just my experience of the WoW hardcores.

The general consensus is that the first levels of WoW are a pain; that wasn't MY experience of them when I first started. I loved 'em -- it's the community and its focus on soloing (and the damned idiocy of high levels running lowbies thru the low-level instances) that makes it a pain.

I'd love to try FF, if it ever came out with a Mac version.

At 6:21 PM, Blogger SC said...

The most fun you'll get out of WoW is levelling 1 to (I loved 1 to 16 pre-BC) 80. Then once you're level 80 it's all a big grind, same thing over and over every day/week. Raids/daily quests/battlegrounds/grind.

True story.


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