I like the journey of character advancement. While I know that a subset of the gaming community enjoys crafting (Hello to Foomerang!), and some other folks like raiding, my favorite activity in online gameplay has more to do with knowing I’m getting stronger or seeing a marked improvement in my ability to play.
This reinforces itself when I play FFXIV with every increased level in crafting, gathering, and fighting. This is also present when I level a new weapon or frame in Warframe, or perhaps even when I see my ISK go up in EVE, but it’s a special sort of case in FFXIV, because there’s an obvious story component involved when I choose to do certain things.
To wit, I’d like to spend this week discussing why I don’t think the rush to get to any sort of endgame in FFXIV, whether it be in the various combat roles or the crafting and gathering metagame, is as fun as just seeing yourself progress in a slow-measured pace.
As you can probably expect, this is just me sharing my opinions on how I go about playing FFXIV and, to some extent, other games during my downtime.
I welcome everyone into the comments section, and hopefully, you can also share what you deem to be fun to do in the games you play.
Time constraints and finding fun
Back in 2006, when I started playing World of Warcraft and was not gainfully employed, I would engage in 10- to 14-hour binges on WoW.
As I grew older and found myself with less time to play and more work to wade through, I realized I had more fun seeing the character change through progressing in various ways.
My invisible mental joy-meter pings whenever I teeter towards the crest of a new level or towards the resolution of a questline, so finding games that soothes that internal need is my personal idea of fun.
There’s also fun to be had in completing tasks I spontaneously create for myself while playing. For instance, in Heavensward, I enjoy doing older content or leveling things I haven’t leveled yet just to experience new storylines. I’ve made it my personal mission to get Summoner/Scholar to 50 from level 26 just to see what tales or lore I can learn from them and unlock in my “The Unending Journey” inn journal.
Game-hoppers and content locusts
With my needing only one character to experience the story in FFXIV, I’m happy actually game-hopping after some notable progression in the story or in my crafting and gathering levels..
Regarding game-hopping, this means I would have a rotation of games I can invest serious time into individually over three weeks to a month. I would then switch over to a new game to avoid burnout and to keep things fresh, experientially. This is easier with free-to-play games, obviously, but then I allot a portion of my monthly income from my jobs to pay for this hobby.
Currently, this means, jumping from EVE Online to FFXIV on the PC, and now trying out Destiny on the PS4 while engaging in beast tribe dailies on FFXIV to get some lagging crafting jobs to 50.
This is in direct opposition to what some in the gaming industry call “Content Locusts.”
Content locusts, as a rough definition, play through a particular game to complete everything as quickly as possible, then get bored and leave because they’ve exhausted everything they wanted to do in the game.
While this does mean I’ll tend to be a patch or so behind in FFXIV, it also means that I get the benefit of seeing the game from the viewpoint of a catch-up player, which tempers my mindset a bit.
It also means I won’t fall into the trap of eventually having some existential crisis thinking, “Why am I grinding for gear that’ll be obsolete in an expansion I won’t see immediately.” though with FFXIV’s content update schedule, there’s a lot less of that crisis going on unless you are of the appropriate hardcore audience for such backbreaking content.
The metagame is fun too!
Back when The Devil’s Advocate was running on MMORPG.com, I had an article about finding fun in the metagame of games. This was in March 2012, so this was pre-FFXIV 2.0.
In it, I wrote that “meta-activities are abstractions from the game you're playing and are used to complete or add onto the game's sense of enjoyment, persistence, or scale.” I still think this holds true and, in the case of FFXIV, perhaps the metagame is one of the more rewarding aspects of community building.
Take, for example, the FFXIV subreddit, which has replaced the FFXIV forums for me as a centralized location for English-language information. Aside from videos, memes, boss strategies, theorycrafting guides, and news. I also find people discussing the community at large.
Keeping myself abreast with all the happenings, as well as engaging in discussions with my fellows, regardless of server, feels like a fun, safe social activity I can participate in without feeling anxious or antsy (I am obviously not an extrovert).
Sure, I likely won’t end up being a server or world first killer of anything anytime soon, but I will be contentedly happy. For all the above reasons, I find myself enjoying FFXIV, even when I’m not actively playing it.
Besides, when you’re feeling happy and content, why rush to rid yourself of that feeling, am I right?