Final Fantasy XIV Guide Launched

With the game officially releasing tomorrow, it’s time to announce the Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn guide.  This guide is akin to my original FFXIV guide, in that it’s based on my own personal experiences and is therefore much more useful for mid- and low-level play than endgame content.  I will continually update it as I advance, so keep checking in for more information.  The most useful features are the recipe lists, which will tell you not only where to find the components for a recipe, but will tell you where to find components for the components; and the armor filters, which let you remove the clutter and focus on what’s important for your class (particularly for Disciples of the Land and Hand).

Final Fantasy XIV Guide Redux

I’ve been having a lot of fun in the FFXIV beta, so I couldn’t resist revising the old guide and putting it up.  They’ve better organized the game this time, so the guide is likewise a bit more straightforward.  This one has all the nice features I have in my repertoire, and should be very fast even when there’s a lot of data.

That hints at the issue with the guide, though: there is, as of this writing, almost no data.  In truth, there is just enough to design the guide structure.  Once open beta starts, I will start adding to it in earnest, but for now it’s mostly conceptual.  Also it looks like the fact that the new game actually tells you things inside the interface means they won’t be releasing all the crafting and gathering information to level 50 on the website.  I’ll add what I can, which is at least level 30 in every job, but this is likely to remain a mid-level guide for a while.

In other guide news, I recently revised the cross-referencing logic in the guide, and made cross-guide cards a bit nicer.  Cards for the current guide no longer have color strips, and those from other guides now say the guide they’re from on the strip.  For example, see the history of the Masamune (at least in the games I’ve covered) on any Masamune page.  If your display supports it, cross-referenced cards will appear in the reference bar instead of taking up valuable space in the main area.  Enjoy!

FFXIV Improvements

I had been on hiatus from FFXIV for a while, but with the recent patch 1.23 and the Realm Reborn announcement, I’ve been trying to get a few things done.  I’m concentrating on things that won’t be going away once 2.0 hits, which means more useful crafting information and less scouting the countryside for monster drops and such.  This means a lot of information is incomplete, but I did add two new features which should be of great help to crafters and anyone who likes to use food.

If you’re a crafter, you are no doubt aware that many crafting materials are themselves crafted.  Tracking down exactly what you need to create a given item can be fairly complicated.  To help with this, all craftable items now list every known method of obtaining the required crafting materials.  Not only that, this feature goes multiple levels deep, so it will also list materials required to create other materials (or those required to create yet more materials, and so on).  This data can be a bit cluttered at times – for instance, any recipe using table salt will list a wide variety of fish because table salt can be created from sea sand – but it should still be very helpful.

The flip side to this is a bit simpler to read: these pages also now list anything you can create with a given item, even if it requires multiple crafts.  For instance, the mythril ore page still lists that mythril ore can be crafted into mythril ingots, but it also shows everything you can make with those mythril ingots (again, multiple levels deep).  This feature is more useful for gatherers, since it lets you see at a glance which materials are potentially useful. To facilitate finding crafts of appropriate level, these recipes are sorted by their level.

The other new feature is an “optimal level range” display for food.  If you go to the page for a specific type of food, it will list this optimal range for each stat it benefits.  What this range means is that, if the stat in question falls within the listed parameters, this food will give the best possible bonus to that stat.  In many case, multiple food types will give the same bonus for a given stat range, so these ranges do overlap.  (This makes it easy to transition from one food type to another.)  Best of all, if you take a look at the page for a given stat, it will list every food that enhances that stat, along with the optimal ranges, in order from lowest to highest.  This should make it very easy to determine the best food for a given class or job.  Of course, I can only compare a single stat at a time – it’s up to you to decide which secondary stats are worth concentrating on.

How Things Change

Just yesterday, I was hard at work updating my FFXIV data and guide functionality.  (Incidentally, the filters on the armor list are pretty sweet.)  Today, I’ve cancelled my subscription.  It’s still active until they start charging, and I’m notoriously bad at sticking to these sorts of decisions, but for now I don’t expect this guide to be updated past 1.20 for the foreseeable future.  What follows is a post I wrote explaining what led to this decision, which I present here for the curious.

I just cancelled my FFXIV subscription, despite thoroughly enjoying the game. I feel like this is the sort of contradiction that defines my MMO experiences. I’m too casual for hardcore players, and too hardcore for casual players. I like to play with friends, but I refuse to join a linkshell (guild). Someone recently asked me why I even play MMO’s, and I haven’t been able to answer that one for a while. I have given a lot of thought to the inherent conflicts I have with MMO’s, though.
Solo vs. Multiplayer
You’ll see a lot of people on the FFXIV forums complaining that there isn’t enough to do solo. I tend to agree with these people in principle. The usual answer is that the “M stands for multiplayer,” which is a pretty reasonable response. I mean, if you want to play solo, why are you playing an MMO? (Answer: because MMO gameplay is, by design, addictive. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make here.)

The FFXIV content that frustrates me is the endgame content. There are two types: big boss fights, and instanced dungeons. Both require a full party of eight people. Now, given that the game is an MMO, there’s nothing inherently wrong with having a content that can only be experienced with other players. That is, arguably, the whole point. As a result, I haven’t really been able to pin down why this content frustrates me so much.

The simple truth is, this is not multiplayer content. It is guild content. Sure, I could theoretically do all the endgame content shouting for groups in town without ever joining a linkshell. The same was true of FFXI. In practice, this takes too long and has a very low rate of success. If I want to do all the content in the game, I am effectively required to join a linkshell. I have had nothing but terrible luck with linkshells in FFXI, and I don’t really want to get into that in FFXIV. I don’t want to play on a schedule, I don’t want to grind content endlessly, and I don’t want to repeat content I’ve done over and over so I have a chance to do something I do want. I just want to experience the game.

I think this is the real argument many “I want to be able to solo” players are trying to make. I want to play solo as in on my own terms, without obligation. I’d be more than happy to join pickup groups if doing so didn’t take so long. They are supposed to be adding a cross-world raid autogroup mechanism ripped from WoW at some point. I didn’t really understand the appeal until now – something like that may get me back in the game.

Casual vs. Hardcore
The solo vs. multiplayer argument is pretty straightforward. Casual vs. hardcore is much harder to define. Some define casual as not playing very much, or not caring about how good they are, or not wanting content to be difficult. Most hardcore players would call me casual, but none of these apply to me. I’m seen as “casual” because I don’t want to play the game for the game’s sake. This is the main reason I’ve quit FFXIV – there is no goal. Sure, I could get more combat classes to 50 to broaden my options for endgame content, or get crafting and gathering classes to 50 to support the materia needed to get truly elite gear, but to what end? I don’t want to fight Ifrit 30 times until I get all the weapons I need to go on to the next thing, I want to fight him once to say I did it.

The problem is, because I do play a lot and I do care about being a competent player, I don’t really get along with the typical casual player. This is the main basis for my linkshell problems. Linkshells are either so casual they accomplish nothing (thus defeating the one real purpose they have), or they are too focused and hardcore to appeal to me. Middle-ground players like me may exist, but I’ve never been able to find them in numbers, let alone a linkshell full of them.

The Bottom Line
I’ve kept playing FFXIV because it’s fun, and has gotten more fun patch by patch. The newly balanced classes make combat really tight and exciting. But to what end? I’ve finished the main plot, and have no hope of doing endgame content. The game is now squarely focused on endgame content, so what reason do I have to play at all? The sad truth is that it’s just a waste of time. And it’s fun, but not nearly enough fun to justify that.

Incidentally…
Why do MMO’s still have levels? I mean, if the whole point is to get to max level and do endgame content, why have levels at all? What purpose do they serve? I feel like whatever game eventually dethrones WoW is going to be one that realizes that leveling is an outdated mechanic.

Final Fantasy XIV Guide

The FFXIV guide has actually been up for a while now, but since the new patch was imminent, I didn’t think it was worth announcing.  Well, 1.20 has arrived, and the guide has been updated for it.  I used the patch notes to handle all the gear conversions, but there are some unlisted tweaks and I’m not certain everything is accurate.  I’ll be updating as long as I play, though, so it should be pretty close at least.

I want to make clear that I’m not trying to compete with the various wikis or anything.  This guide is pretty much just for me.  Why?  Why not!  Actually if I’m being honest, gathering information is the most enjoyable part of FFXIV (that is not an endorsement, lol).  I plan to keep adding more information and more lists as time goes on, but I’m not going to be giving constant updates.  The important things – all the recipes and gear stats – are already present.