Dark or Light

In Good Company - Finding Your Place in FFXIV

Michael O’Connell-Davidson Posted:
Columns 0

There’s only so many different ways you can say Stormblood’s just around the corner — but with mere weeks until the expansion comes out, it’s hard to think of much else.

If there’s one thing that keeps me logging into the game right now, it’s the relationships I’ve struck up over the past two years. Don’t get me wrong — I’m excited as hell for the expansion, and there’s still loads of stuff I need to do. But nothing is quite as entertaining as the friends I’ve made, and I doubt that’ll ever change.

But I appreciate I’m in a privileged position. It wasn’t so long ago that I was staring at artwork people had commissioned of their groups and wondering why I was having such a different experience. Truth is, figuring out where you belong in an MMO is tough. If you’re trying to find where you belong, then here’s what I’ve learned.

Most free companies are bad, so leave if it’s not working out

I’ve been playing MMORPGs for a long time, and it’s a fact of life: most guilds are pretty bad, no matter what game you play. You might think you’re in the best free company in the world, and indeed you might well be — but I’d say that the best free company in the world for one person is hell for another. I love my FC; I know many people who have left who didn’t love it, and that’s fine.

So with that in mind, don’t waste time in an FC that sucks. This isn’t EVE Online; there’s no record of the free companies you’ve joined or any espionage to worry about. Give a free company a try, and if it’s not working out, jog on to the next one. If they deliberately try to make it awkward, chances things were gonna awkward eventually anyway, so don’t look back even if they pester you.

… But if you find a good one, stick with it

Sounds obvious? Not so. Good free companies are rare, but they’re never perfect.

Let’s say you want to give savage raiding a try, but the FC you’re with doesn’t have a static (a pre-set group) attached to it; a lot of statics do require you join an attached free company to get in, particularly those that recruit on official forums. You might find yourself tempted to join another FC to satisfy that ambition and leave the people you’re with behind.

But it’s much easier to set up what you want to do within the boundaries of a good existing free company rather than joining another one. Raid groups — indeed, groups for just about anything — are much more common than people you can have a natural conversation with. If your FC isn’t doing something you want to do, then talk to the people around you and see if you can set something up. Even if they’re not interested in what you do, they might be willing to do it because they like you personally — which is a much stronger incentive than high-level gear that’ll become obsolete when the next patch rolls along.

Beware big FCs

They say there’s a cognitive limit to the number of people you can form relationships with at any one time — 150, AKA Dunbar’s Number. I don’t know how true that is, but I think it’s safe to say that if there’s more than 150 people in a free company, then chances are there are segments of it that are entirely foreign to each other. If that’s the case, what’s the point of being joining an FC in the first place? You might as well be in the novice network.

If it’s got over 100 members (and it’s not dedicated to a minority group on a server, such as Dynamis, the Russian-speaking FC on Cerberus; I think those make a lot of sense), there’s a good chance it’ll suck. If it’s got 500 members and there’s only ever 20 online, it definitely sucks. You might be having a good time, but you’re missing out on the benefits of having an FC where everyone’s active. Either encourage the higher-ups to purge people who’re inactive and refresh the membership or move on. There’s no point being notified when people log on if you don’t know who they are or what you can do together.

If everyone’s an officer, it’s anarchy

I do a lot of stuff with my FC, organizing events and contributing where I can. I talk and I’ll help people if I’m available, and I’ve even brought some new people into the fold. But I’m not an officer — and that’s the way it should be.

The thing with permissions is that people give them out as if they’re some kind of reward. They’re not; having to invite people or decorate the house isn’t a perk, it’s a hassle. More to the point, it creates an upper-class within a free company of people who have fancy titles and powers but no authority. It makes it easier for people to rob the vault blind, and makes people who aren’t officers (and have no business being officers in the first place) wonder why they’re not being promoted.

In an ideal world, you shouldn’t have more than 10% of the company promoted — hell, below 5% seems perfect, depending on how big you are. As long as someone with powers is online once every few hours, that’s really all you need. You shouldn’t be in a position where it’s absolutely necessary for someone to be online all the time in case war breaks out, and if you’re really worried, Discord is there for people to ring the alarm anyway. On that note...

Get Discord

Having a way to speak outside of the game is a must. Having a group of people you can chat to about a game you care about when you’re playing it is great — but being able to organize things in advance when you’re not is awesome, too. More than that, if you’re comfortable chatting to people in-game about stuff other than the game, then chances are you’re probably comfortable chatting them in a different environment, too.

My FC’s always had a Facebook group and a forum, but it was Discord that really brought us together, and it’s what’s keeping a lot of us engaged in the pre-Stormblood desert. I don’t really know why, but I’d guess that a game-focused instant messenger isn’t all that far from in-game chat. If you’re in a free company that doesn’t use Discord (and doesn’t have a Whatsapp group or something similar), lobby your officers to set up a server. If nothing else, it’s probably the best voice chat solution out there.

And if all else fails, there’s always fansites

The official forums, Reddit, Bluegartr — it doesn’t matter who you are, there’s going to be a congregation of people online who have roughly similar goals in FFXIV to you. Hell, we’ve got a forum, too.

You might not be on the same server or even on the same continent, but if you’ve got questions or you’re just having trouble connecting with the people you come across, chances are someone will share your opinion on bad Duty Finder tanks or DPS meters online. There have been dry periods where I haven’t been particularly interested in the game but I’ve still checked the Reddit or Gamerescape daily, and I’d always come away feeling like I learned something — even when I thought I’d already seen everything.


Michael O’Connell-Davidson

Michael O'Connell-Davidson is MMORPG.com's FFXIV columnist. Follow him on twitter @mikeocd.