As some of you may have heard on this week’s podcast I have started playing the MMORPG World of Warcraft. So far, the experience has been a good one for me, and I am having tons of fun playing with staff members Scott Mundy and Lusipurr. But there was a time when I was playing a MMORPG much more difficult and much less fun then the one I currently frequent, a game entitled Final Fantasy XI Online. I started playing FFXI Online in the winter of 2006, stopped logging in frequently in early 2009, and finally let my account that autumn. In that time I found that, although I had a love for the Final Fantasy series, the MMO itself was a completely different beast. Now, instead of the single player console experience, for the first time I was exposed to a very hardcore online game that had a deep lore, a healthy community, and complex mechanics to which a complete noob like myself would have to quickly adapt. So I started on my way with FFXI Online, and in retrospect did not get a lot done in two years. When I started FFXI, the only MMO I had played was Maple Story with a few friends from school. Now that I was all alone, I had to make my way in Vana’diel in the complete dark. After a week of playing, I was finally level ten and had go to the infamous “Dunes” which is where I had to deal with other players who, to put it kindly, were not as common-sense aware as I seemed to be at the time. With Final Fantasy XI‘s story, I only ever got to rank five in my home city and never completed any of the expansions. The one thing I remember from FFXI‘s story is not even a story element. Everyone who has played FFXI knows about the “Promy” battles from the expansion Chains of Promathia. Well I went through “Promy hell”. The first two, Dem and Mea, went fine and after the first few tries the group I was in beat them. Then they went on to do Holla, and I had to leave. The next weekend, I tried to get “Promy” Holla done, and, after four failed attempts, we gave up. Over the entire time I played FFXI I never beat that damn battle, and my record was 0-18 before I left the game. I only had one level seventy-five job, which was White Mage. I started working on Scholar, but by that time I was altogether fed up with FFXI. However, before I left, there was a three- or four-month period where I just let my account sit around. I was in this state of denial in which I thought I still wanted to play FFXI but just needed a break. In the end, I had to make the heavy-hearted choice to let my Tarutaru White Mage go, never to be played again.
In my two or so years away from FFXI and MMOs in general, I never really missed being a part of an MMO community. Every now and again, I would get a small wave of nostalgia when I would hear a podcast where they would talk about FFXI, but I would always remind myself of the hardships and annoyances I had with the game. One day, everything clicked and I finally figured out why I had such a hard time with FFXI. I realized that I was not ever playing with anyone I knew. I would always struggle to find people to do things with instead of having of couple people that I could ask, in the real world, for help. So from that point on I made a resolution not to get back in the MMO culture unless I had a couple of friends that I could play with. About a year went by, and soon after being hired by Lusipurr.com, a few of the staff members picked up Final Fantasy XIV Online, and I did so as well. Playing FFXIV only lasted for a little over a month, because Square Enix thought it would be a great idea to make people start paying again for their unfinished MMO. We all left in protest. That is not to say my time with FFXIV was unenjoyable, but it was so fleeting that I barely got a sense of the game as a whole.
Now, almost a year after that, Blizzard had a week long summer sale on all things World of Warcraft: everything one would need to start WoW for only thirty dollars. A day or so after this sale started, our very own Lusipurr informed me that, if I started playing, he would start a new character as well and we could level and quest together. So, I opened up a attle.net account and started the free version of WoW. After the first day, I realized I was spot-on with my realization about MMOs. In the next couple of days, Lusipurr and I were able to get Scott Mundy, who has already been playing WoW for some time, to join the server we were both on. Now, I had everything I could have wanted: experienced players who could help me with my learning curve, and people who knew the lore and could help me catch up on the massive story that WoW is trying to tell. Even when Lusipurr or Scott are not online, I can still level up my crafting or doing daily quests. So far, out of the three MMOs I have played, I think it is clear to tell which one I have had the best time with.
In conclusion, which do you prefer: the unknown of going into an MMO that is not played by anyone you know, or having someone there to help with the learning curve?