Final Fantasy XIV’s Housing F&#kapooloza 2017

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I played Final Fantasy XIV since 2010’s alpha. I recruited a large group of friends into playing around 1.23, Realm Reborn, and Heavensward’s launches. I’ve enjoyed its many successes, minus one thing: housing.

When the playerbase exploded around Realm Reborn’s hype and launch, I was surprised to see Balmung turn from a relatively tiny community into the very same server some players on Mateus are complaining about being too large right now. 

The housing areas were bought out so quickly I never had a chance to get a small plot. When apartments were released, I managed to get one – on the sub-ward – after staying up until 2 am on a work night, waiting in a long queue, then panicking after being glitched behind the new building. A few of my friends snagged an apartment as well. Most of my friends didn’t.

Some of my friends had to buy the game/its expansion, set up their subscription, make their character on another server, then pay about $15 for a transfer to Balmung to get around its closed-but-not-entirely-closed-gates-of-entry. We wanted to play together. We found a way to. Then were were stuck because changing servers would cost a crap ton of money.

Then Square Enix released their New World and World Population Balancing Incentives. This meant a new start on a new server – Mateus – and the possibility to finally own a damned house. When I transferred I had about 1.5m, so I started working toward hitting the 2m mark, and so on. Balancing that and work has been really hard lately, but things were looking up.

Then news spread that wards were quickly filling. My new Mateus friend, who owns a lot of land, said he’ll loan me the rest of the money if I could find an small open plot.

I checked Lavendar Beds. Nothing. Traveled to Mist. Nada. Close to tears from frustration, I teleported to The Goblet. Nich.

As my blood pressure rose, I noticed something different about Goblet, Ward 12. The entire ward was owned by two people. I logged out and haven’t logged in since. Queue rant:

Going against the flow of the average MMO community

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Some players have been defending Martyr and Seraph’s “ownership” of these homes when they bought them. At the time Mateus was low pop, so its players had ample opportunity to participate in housing-only content. Most houses on that server were never utilized until the recent world balancing initiatives.

Meanwhile, most players in servers like Balmung and Gilgamesh have had a comparatively difficult time dealt with an impenetrable and brutally frustrating lack of housing space for years.

This is indicative of Square Enix’s distribution of server resources actively disparaging the way that FFXIV’s community has settled itself as a staple and longstanding MMORPG. Instead of supporting its players settling en masse on a few major servers (Worlds 1 and 2 on RuneScape, Proudmoore and Dalaran on WoW, Freeport on EQ2, I could go on and on), SE has proven incapable of properly supporting its larger servers with more housing instances. Or queue times. Or pretty much anything. Yoshi-P and their team have had years to fix this. A band-aid does not fix a flood.

The Balmung RP community has been in turmoil. During 1.0’s failed launch, the unofficial roleplay server, chosen via player vote, was Besaid. That server was fused with Fabul (I think it was Fabul) to make Balmung, the very server SE is now shutting down new characters/transfers for. Roleplay communities rely on new blood to continue thriving, and this group managed to stay organized and active for longer and at a much larger scale than usually seen in MMOs. Now they’ve settled on Mateus. How ironic.

I’m far more interested in supporting FFXIV’s RP community than I am in Martyr and Seraph’s “ownership” of server resources that should have been allocated to Balmung and Gilgamesh in the first place. I’m concerned about new players and Free Companies missing out on some of the key social tools that make FFXIV more than just an occasionally-multiplayer Final Fantasy game.

Seraph Altima and Kotaku

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(From Kotaku)

Martyr and Seraph don’t own anything. Square Enix has rights to all its property, including the very characters whose names I’m mentioning. They’re paying a subscription fee every month like everyone else.

This last Thursday, Kotaku released an article about this whole mess. In it, Seraph said something that got me thinking.

Of course, some players still think they should be able to get those houses. “Not everyone needs everything in-game,” counters Altima. She argues that she’s not depriving anyone of housing; the plots were empty for years before they took them. “For example, not everyone deserves the Savage raiding mounts if they don’t do Alexander.”

Last time I checked, the Alexander raids aren’t Moonfire Faire, Little Ladies Day, or any other limited-time event FFXIV has every year. Every player, newbie or veteran, will have access to Alexander savage raid mounts as long as online services are provided. Alexander raids, unlike housing, does not have a hard cap on how many players can participate before the gates are closed indefinitely.

This isn’t about whether or not players need or deserve player housing. The issue is about access. And she is depriving players of access to housing, regardless of what she says. The system she’s taking advantage of is completely broken.

Her Tumblr post swathed in ego and self-justification doesn’t win her any sympathy from me. Here’s a gem before I move on:

And then SE closed Balmung and Gilgamesh, and Mateus was invaded. And suddenly, people care about Mateus housing for the first time in nearly three years. Suddenly, people think we are *the* worst people. Because how dare we enjoy the game in the manner we chose to enjoy it.

How dare we?

How dare you.

You, who finally deign to set foot in my home. You, who hated Mateus for all the same reasons I felt it was perfect. You, who would take away the last year of memories I’ve made with one of the best friends I’ve ever known. You, who don’t care about the fact that we have cultivated something unique, interesting, and amazing, because you feel it denies you the chance to throw up a hideous paissa wall and plop a chocobo stable and a garden plot in front of an otherwise unused black hole with Dragonsong screeching away in the background. You, with your head so buried in your cliques that you thought we came from Balmung within the last month and achieved all this thanks to SE’s allowance of free infinite gil transfers, not realizing we wanted to be here, that we love it here, that we worked our asses off for all this from nothing but the million gil each we were allowed to bring with us from our mains.

How dare you.

The people harassing her and her friend need to stop. That said, after reading the entirety of her Tumblr post I don’t feel as bad about it happening in the first place. Just being honest.

An Issue with Access

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Access is important when it comes to providing a paid service. The FFXIV player pays a monthly fee to gain access to, and support the ongoing development and maintenance of, FFXIV’s player housing system. It doesn’t matter if that player has a house or not.

Player housing is one of the most requested features in any MMO. Housing is as much a selling point for MMOs as survival systems are for open world games.

In my opinion, every player who pays a monthly fee should have the ability to save up gold – either alone or together in a guild – and buy a house. With no issues, using systems developed and supported into the game.

FFXIV’s player housing “market” has developed as a result of the game’s issue with access. Players take advantage of the lack of available plots and sell them/trade them to other players by quickly “opening up” access to the plot publicly, or by transferring ownership of free companies. This will not do either, especially compared to other MMOs that have more accessible housing systems (most of these games don’t even require subscriptions).

Players have been advocating restricting houses to one character and guild per data center, but the housing plots would still be finite and too few.

Square Enix has implemented a system that limits how many houses are available, and continues to allow players to buy multiple lots. The blame rests completely on Square Enix.

Taking a Long Break

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Yoshi-P announced that the new housing zone, Shirogane, will be released with the 4.1 patch. Adding another set amount of finite instances won’t stop richer players from owning and selling multiple houses, thus perpetuating a system that actively prevents other players from participating in a large chunk of content that they pay to support.

Also, I’m not staying up until past 2 AM on a work night for the chance that I’ll get a house. I expect housing in Shirogane will fill faster than normal (on Mateus) for these reasons:

  • It’s the first patch after the expansion launch; the playerbase will continue to peak until it inevitably declines in size around the launch of 4.2 or 4.3.
  • Players are receiving millions of Gil by giving up their apartments during transfer, or leveling an alt character to 30. (I heard buying boosts also gives Gil.)
  • 4.1’s far-off launch will give players ample time to save up Gil, so there will be considerably more competition.
  • Shirogane is really, really Japanese. It’s kawaii no desu ne uguu sugoi. It’s so anime it hurts. Physically. Where my heart used to be.
  • Lots of talking about housing gets players thinking about getting a house.

I don’t feel comfortable continuing to pay a monthly fee to support this. It goes against my values as a gamer and consumer. I’m especially not okay with the idea of paying to support assholes like Seraph Altima. Since this shitstorm started, I’ve had difficulty finding the urge to log in. This is sad because Stormblood is a really great expansion when it comes to pretty much everything else.

As much as I want to finish the story, I’m unsubbing. I can’t take it anymore. I’ve waited years for a house in this game, while at the same time reading in FC/LS chat about people owning upwards of 4-5 houses at the same time. My friends have waited years to get a FC house – after scrounging up 7m, all the houses are gone on Mateus.

I won’t resub until every player or guild who wants a house has complete access to gaining one, given the effort. Those of you reading this don’t have to agree with me, but I hope sharing my perspective will at least get some people thinking.

Will Black Desert Succeed?

This week’s post will be a quickie. I want to publish a long-winded article every week, but the trials of life have been building up lately and I have to spend some quality time squashing them into little, manageable bits.

So Black Desert is finally launching!

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I played around with the recently-released character creator and have had flashbacks to Sims 4’s spectacular Create-A-Sim. It feels natural to me, like molding something out of clay. It’s a lot more satisfying, too.

I’ve heard a lot of great things about this game. So why do I feel so ambivalent about it? Because I don’t know if this game will be different enough, and I can’t trust that it will succeed.

There are just too many examples of sandbox-esque games going sour. Mabinogi has been a train wreck for years now; ArcheAge has been rightfully lambasted; Pathfinder Online is clawing its way out of development hell; Final Fantasy XIV’s reboot was developed as a WoW clone on purpose; and EverQuest Next’s silence is just as telling as it is heartbreaking.

I’m not even mentioning the superfluity of open-world gankfest paradise games like Mortal Online, or games much older than FFXIV that “themeparked” their gameplay like Star Wars Galaxies’ infamous NGE update.

As much as I want – deep in my heart – for the genre to innovate, I can’t trust current industry leaders to actually pull that off.

I really don’t know what to think about this game. Maybe I’ll be surprised?

Too Much Skyrim

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I still remember the day The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim launched in 2011. It was a magical time full of wonders and new, memorable experiences.

It was a wonderful time to be a gamer. It was a wonderful time to be alive.

During the golden age of Skyrim’s modding scene, countless mods were released every day. Looking back, most of them were garbage – but that didn’t matter. The community was using a game we universally loved to express our creativity and vision. The mods that stood the test of time are testaments to the hard work, creativity and passion of the modding community.

But everything has its limits, and I’ve finally reached mine. So let’s take a trip down memory lane! Continue reading

First Impressions: Blade & Soul

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After waiting impatiently since it was announced in 2009, Blade & Soul was finally released in North America and European Countries.

Last weekend my friend Derek and I binge played the game, only stopping on occasion for food and sleep. Now that my character is level 23, I feel like I’ve had enough of a taste of Blade & Soul’s mechanics to write about my first impressions. I tend to schedule articles for publishing on Fridays, but I think it’s best to release this while my thoughts are still fresh.

Prepare for a fresh batch of unadulterated honesty.
Continue reading

Mabinogi Won’t Fix Itself

I have a long history with Mabinogi. The following discussion is aimed for people who have experienced the game at some point. If you have not played Mabinogi, I recommend not playing it and waiting until I move onto another subject. There was a time when I could recommend this game, but that time is long gone.

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My first MMO wasn’t World of Warcraft or any of its clones – it was RuneScape, a freemium sandbox MMORPG with amazing player freedom and quests full of cutscenes and memorable characters (I will always remember you, Zanik). Since I was a poor kid at the time, the only way I could venture into new territory was to try free-to-play Korean imports.

I started Mabinogi around the time Goddess of Light was released. I was much younger back then, and a bigger fan of anime than I am now. After countless bad experiences, I finally found a game that had the freedom that RuneScape had, but with better graphics and a condensed single storyline.

One Long Recap Later…

Fast forward to now. The game I loved is now a shell of its former self. The engine has become considerably worse, more outdated and buggy than ever before. Whatever balance this game had has been completely ruined by new talents, AP overload, and the ill-conceived “Renovation” updates. Continue reading

Update: Blade & Soul Prelaunch Weekend

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I know I just recently posted that I wouldn’t buy the founders pack for Blade & Soul.

Well… I kinda did. I bought the Master’s Pack.

Money is no issue here – it’s about spending the weekend playing with my friends. It’s been difficult to spend quality time with them lately – starting my own business and being part of countless projects and initiatives can do that to a person. When I get home from work, I tend to gravitate towards the couch – most of my job involves socializing and while I may be good at it, I’m still an introvert-by-nature and I need the recovery time. So I can work efficiently. It’s a vicious cycle.

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I may or may not have spent two and a half hours creating this character.

I try not to be flip-floppy about my opinions, but when I saw the opportunity to make up for lost time I had to take it. One particular friend of mine has been waiting for the game for as long as I have. So we’ll be playing together!

We’ll be ingame on the Old Man Cho server starting tomorrow, January 15th at 10 AM PST. My ingame name is Edge, so feel free to send a PM!

Gaming in 2016

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Finally! It’s a new year, full of new opportunities. There’s a slew of new game releases, a world full of new clients for my business, and constantly-shifting drama culminating in the 2016 Presidential Election! #FeelTheBern

This year marks some big game releases and updates to existing MMOs that I’ve been waiting a long time for. Here are the top games of 2016 that I can’t wait to play! Continue reading

Sims 4: Free Updates we Desperately Need

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Since the game’s launch, the developers of The Sims 4 have taken great lengths to provide free updates that add desperately-needed features to the base game. Examples include pools, ghosts, and the dishwasher. With updates like this, numerous gallery updates, and the occasional new hairstyle or clothing option, I’d say the developers have been doing a great job.

There is still a lot left to do, though. Here are three ideas for free updates that I believe we desperately need: Continue reading