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Making Friends
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You know one thing I won't miss about the holidays being over? Pepsi Holiday Spice. Oh, it's good...for your first two glasses or so. But if you stay up all night in fron ton a computer or TV screen guzzling soda like I do, you need more longevity in your pop. After about a liter, PHS begins to make you feel like you have actually eaten a spice cake. And after the whole two-liter is gone, you might just throw up. That would still be ok, were it not for that lingering spice taste.

Special thanks to Adrienne Beck for Japanese translations.



Send Me a Letter




Column Archive




Freakin' Hot Rena Tanaka Picture of the Week

Paragon City Becomes More Heroic
City of Heroes

City of Heroes has expanded again, with Issue 3: A Council of War. NCSoft has listed all of the features on the game's official site, some of which are also listed below.

New Zone: Striga Isle (Security Level 20 – 29 recommended)

  • Smugglers on Talos Island and Independence Port can secure passage for anyone Security Level 20 or over to Striga Isle, an island just off the coast of the United States in international waters. This criminal haven is rumored to be a stronghold and training center for Council troops.
  • Heroes interested in investigating the island are advised to contact Stephanie Peebles near the docks.

New Villain Group: The Council (All Security Levels)

  • An internal coup d’etat has shattered the 5th Column, and from their remnants, a new villain group, the Council has emerged. Rumor has it that the Council is not as new as we would be led to believe. Heroes are urged to investigate every aspect of this new group across all Security Levels. Find more information on The Council here.

Zone Events

  • Dock workers in Independence Port have gone on strike until their safety from a Giant Octopus can be ensured. To make matters worse, Independence Port and Talos Island citizens are reporting sightings of ghosts haunting the waterways. (Levels 22 – 29 and 20 -27 respectively). And here you thought you were the only one with giant octopus problems.
  • The Clockwork King is hard at work on something big in Kings Row. (Levels 5 – 10)

Epic Archetypes

  • Upon attaining level 50, players will unlock the first Epic Archetype available in City of Heroes. The Kheldians are a race of energy beings that have made Earth their new home. Kheldians and their dark cousins, the Nictus, attach to humans and form a symbiotic relationship with them.
  • It's possible to play one of two new Archetypes; Peacebringers are the typical Kheldians, while Warshades are reformed Nictus who now fight for good. Peacebringers are Natural Origin, while Warshades are Science based.
  • Peacebringers and Warshades have only one Primary and one Secondary Powerset to choose from, but these powersets have more powers to choose from than a normal powerset.
  • Kheldians and Nictus both have a severe vulnerability to a specific type of energy. Unfortunately sinister forces have made every villain group in Paragon City aware of this, and even supplied some with weapons that can severely hurt Kheldians. Be wary of villains wielding strange weapons, and the mysterious Void Hunters.

Avid City of Heroes fans need not even weigh a decision on whether or not to give this expansion pack a try, because it is completely free. In one last bit of CoH news, the Paragon City Weather Center is reporting some wintery weather moving into the city soon. Read the full details of the forecast at the game's website, then be sure to equip your long underwear before going outside to save the city.

Catacombs Features Major Graphic Overhaul
Dark Age of Camelot

Mythic's newest expansion to the popular Dark Age of Camelot franchise features many upgrades in the areas of content, classes, options, and other things, but I recently noticed the grand upgrade to the game's visuals. Thus, as is my duty, I will show them to you. Click these before-and-after shots to see the overhaul at work.
Before and After 1
Before and After 2

Dark Age of Camelot: Catacombs hit shelves this past December. More information and media can be found by looking at RPGamer's coverage and visiting the game's official site.

Featured Games 
MMORPG

Planeshift is not yet a complete game, but an up-and-coming title that MMORPGamers like Stefan Teijgeler will want to keep an eye on. Why? Planeshift is a completely free MMORPG that plays in full 3D, built from scratch by a group dedicated to providing a quality open source game. The creators said, "We want to give FREE access to everyone, without the need to either purchase the game or pay a monthly fee. Servers and bandwidth will be donated by sponsors."

Some features of the game, as listed on the official site include:

  • Support for nearly all platforms: Windows (XP, 2000, ME, 98), Linux, Macintosh
  • 3D graphics and rich sounds
  • Drag-n-drop objects between world and inventory (similar to Ultima Online)
  • Thanks to the open development process, the game will be expanded endlessly for years to come
  • Unlimited professions through skill system
  • Completely original magic system
  • Hundreds of spells
  • Create your own house, castle, and realm
  • 12 races with unique traits available for character creation
  • More

The team, made up of 40 people spread throughout 25 countries, recently upgraded the game with the "Crystal Blue" client, which can be downloaded here.

The ability to play as long as you want without paying a dime, in a game such as this could be considered a godsend by those wary of stepping into the world of MMORPGs.

Short Stories 
Wish

Mutable Realms has begun publication of an in-game newspaper covering Wish. Called the Ganedan Chronicle, Mutable Realms said of the paper, "Live Content is the primary defining feature of Wish. In the ongoing Beta 2.0 test we publish a daily newspaper, which contains clues to what may come to pass, as well as summaries of what happened on the previous day. The events described within the paper are actual in-game events and refer to real players. We now mirror this paper online in our newspaper section. You can read all five daily papers there. New papers will be added daily."

The internet version of the newspaper can be read here.


Eternia

The Japanese beta testing for Namco's Tales of Eternia Online, which was scheduled to begin soon, has been put on indefinite hold. The company's announcement says the staff needs more time "to improve the quality of our product." Accordingly, the official release of ToE Online has been changed from Spring of 2005 to "unannounced." Until the eventual beta phase and release date, Japanese-speaking gamers can check out the game's official site.


FMO

Square Enix has announced what will be going on with Front Mission Online in the next few months. The currently-running closed beta test, Phase One, will be completed and shut down as of January 6th, the game data being reset. Phase Two, another closed beta trial will start up a week later, on January 13th. Participants in the Phase One beta test will be allowed to join Phase Two, though they'll have to start over with a new character. New players hoping to join in will require a "Beta Kit."

Guild Wars

The team behind Guild Wars has announced that the next free beta weekend to start on January 7th. To prepare for the event and obtain more information, stop by Guild Wars OGaming and find out how to get free beta keys, pre-order information, profession guides, and more.

Media Place 

So yeah, no reader screens this week, so I went crazy-go-nuts on official screens. The first shots come from Tales of Eternia Online. #22 down there is a picture of the game's rescue system, which allows one player to carry another on his/her back to escape from danger. Keeping with a bit of physical realism, carrying someone will make running more difficult.




And the next screens come from the opening video of Fairy Land. Well, actually, the one on the bottom right side is the picture of fighting a "Year Beast" that Bucket Mouse submitted.

Don't make me come to your house and drink all your soda, or replace it all with Pepsi Holiday Spice. I'll do it if I don't get screens of your MMORPG experiences! Seriously, just use a given MMO's screen captures system or your "Print Screen" button to copy a shot into an imaging program. Attach the sucker to an email to rage@rpgamer.com and we're in business.

Readers Speak 

And I got many more letters about Final Fantasy XI. They're good, but a few of them go over the same points that have already been covered for the last two columns, presented as if the point in question is something entirely new. I appreciate all letters, but if you're going to write in, please double check your letter for things like:
1) "Idiots are in every MMO"
2) "It all depends on your linkshell"
3) "You have to wait 60 hours for the game to get good"
Or any of the other drums that have already been beaten. Just make sure your letter isn't something we've already gone over multiple times, please. Thank you. I saved the best letter for last.


Returning Customer


I think some more things that you forgot to mention was how the handled the servers upon the US release. To me, one of the worst mistakes they did was make the servers US and JPN. By doing this everything was already set. The economy. The whole balence of power deal. Back when I first played FF11 and the whole, "Wow, this is awesome." feel started to go away. Hmm, I think it was somewhere around when I got my dark knight class. I started to realize that what was the point?

What was the point? Everything was pretty much discovered already by the JPN players. The economy and balence of power were set long before when the Japanese on my server played. The world of Vanadial was set in a mold already by the Japanese community, which was horrible because I had to pay tons for newbie gear and spells...

I think a major factor in the whole level grind mentality is because of the combined servers. If people had no idea what it's like at a higher level. Maybe they wouldn't have grinded. Course like you've said alot of the players have never played an MMO and quite possibly don't know how to enjoy a game for what it is.

I had played EQ previous to playing FF11, and I don't know why I didn't feel this way with that. EQ was already set by players way before me, but going into the world of Norrath kind of had a adventure feel to it regardless. The economy was at least balenced, and it was atleast easier to get cash. In Norrath it was like, "Oh, thats awesome." or "Finally I can cast this or do that." I don't really recall that feeling in FF11. Maybe it's because everyone can pretty much be the same thing, and the noobie zones, and the zones around it weren't that interesting. I don't know if I'm alone in this but what was the point in making the zones in FF11 so freakin large when they had nothing in them? Least EQ had SoW. FF11 has no type of spell like SoW which I constantly complained about.

Now, I'm playing EQ2 and I'm loving that. It's community is in a world of it's own. Still better then FF11's though. The world is beautiful and the new adventures never cease. If FF11 is for noobs and beginners. I'd say MMOs like EQ are for players looking for a real sense of adventure.
-Bryan

HEATH
I'm not quite sure what those quoted things in the last paragraph mean, but if it's related to a positive feeling attached to accomplishment, I'm gonna have to say that's part of every MMO, FFXI included. If it's something I didn't get, well then I'll just give you a thumbs-up, I guess.

Anyway, good to hear that you are indeed enjoying Norrath (and, as a message to the haters, I would congratulate him no matter what game he just started playing and enjoying). So your (very summerized) beef is a lack of lasting appeal attached to FFXI, eh? Well, looking down at a few of these next letters, I'll go ahead and thank you right now for the fresh material.


Room Without a Window


I'll have to break the ice here, in favor of FFXI, instead of bashing it more like everyone else seems to enjoy doing.

HEATH
I think "break the ice" is means "get to know people," not "go against the majority." But, anyway, the letter...

The community isn't crap, don't tell me you haven't found a friend or two or maybe your own circle of friends? Blame the game system, i blame you for not trying harder, i play the game for 3 months ish and i've made many friends and we created our own linkshell, i didn't go out looking for friends, they showed up, these are the people i play with, chat with, get help from, and provide help to, i think someone's spending too much time looking for them, yes.. i think that's the problem.

HEATH
Whoa, what's that beeping?


Wow. I wonder why it's doing that...

And since you've totally played the game with me, you're trustworthy to make that analysis. Oh, wait. I'll tell you this though, if I were an umpire, I'd yell "strike one," because that's a swing and a miss. This is not an issue of friends. This is an issue of community in general. If we judged communities by our own friends, they'd almost all be top notch. Were that the case, I would have to give a positive nod to FFXI, since I belong to 2 linkshells made up of players I respect.

Pickiness? Again we're blaming the game system, ha! It's a fact that people won't just choose any average joe to a party, this isn't new, this only means that FFXI isn't a game for the casual hack and slash player who spent 2 hours to reach LVL50 in any game, it takes a bit more to be accepted in parties,

HEATH

And, that "more" you're decribing isn't "more" of anything at all. It has only been described as using a possible one or two sub-jobs with any given job. Frankly Mr. Shankly, the customization in Final Fantasy XI is a joke.

Most FFXI parties you run into will be made up of cardboard boxes. Characters with very little unique about them. If you know someone's main job, you can almost always guess his subjob within 2 tries. Cardboard boxes. Don't get me wrong; they are made of a fine cardboard which is nice for drawing on and you can stick you arm through the hole in the side and make the box move around a bit, but in the end it's still just a box.

BILL O'REILLY
Oh I'm fed up with his garbage, Heath. Cut his mic!

HEATH
Hold on, Bill. Let's let him actually finish what he's trying to say.
the game is tough, true and if you're trying to score a record by reaching the end game lvl without breaking a sweat, you'll see that it's pratically impossible, because it takes more than grinding yourself and exp all day, if you lack semi-decent equipment and knowledge, you're just another one of those guys that's gonna get disappointed and then quit the game, because you didnt work hard enough, or you just wished people gave you items for free.. go play some runescape, that's the game for you. Oh and don't forget to shout PLZPLZ GIVE MONEY OR ITEM FREE THXLOL, as soon as you login.

HEATH

...

If you got the impression that I go around asking for money and items, you've got the wrong picture. And, I'm not going to fall for your attempted pattern-break (as it is called). What you've just attmpted to pull is called an "ad hominem arguement," where instead of debating the actual point, you just try to make crap up about the other person. Nice try, though.

FFXI is not for everyone, it's a fact, so, if you feel like it's too hard for you or it's too 'this' or too 'that', then you're wasting your money playing it, because you're not one of the people this game was made for, quit it, and leave a message on your favorite message board letting everyone know your reasons, like half the world gives a crap.

Pedro Ferreiria

HEATH
Hahaha. There you go again, not even talking about anything that was part of the debate we opened. I admire your courage, young one, but you aren't going to come in here and win anything by spouting your off-target, perhaps hormone-assisted anger. Well, then again, I suppose I can award you with this. You earned it, champ.


Smile and Nod


heath
i haven't seen the rant but from the respondants you posted i can gather that it was justified.

in regards to the dunes, yeah, it's not a fun place to be. it's gotten worse of late since many of the newer players are getting powerleveled. i'm sure you're familiar with the concept. low-level character gets followed around by a white mage and constantly healed as it fights critters that by all rights should be taking it's head off. these players, by the time they hit the dunes know NOTHING about a party and it's dynamic, and thus they suck at partying. i never got powerleveled, i worked my way up, and i got lucky, my server is very japanese player heavy (for the record it's Shiva) and since the language barrier isn't much of an issue for me, i got parties with lower leveled JP players and i learned how to function in a party, and learned a few new good swear phrases for when shit hits the fan.... in short powerleveling is a huge problem. sure it may seem you're doing the new player a favor, but in the end it's not helping when the tank doesn't know it's his job to get the tar beaten out of him...

which brings me to gil-sellers. sure they are a problem, but the bigger problem is the base greedy of some players. i would argue that even without the gil-sellers there would still be some player charging )and getting) an insane amount of loot for a special item like the monster signa. greed is bad.

finally. there is a sense of commmunity, you either luck into a good one or make it yourself.
patrick conley

HEATH
I definitely see your points, Patrick. Forgive me, as I don't really have much to add to them, nor do I have any completely contradicting observations to counter them with. So it looks like I must simply print the letter, smile, nod, and recommend that readers read it. If typical pattern continues, they will. Thank you for the submission.


It had so much potential


I recognize the disclaimer that you are merely expressing your personal frustration at what you perceive to be the downfalls in FFXI's community, but I would like to respond to it anyway. Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.

Forgive me for saying this, but your rant was very short-sighted and childish =/ I'm curious as to how long you played and what levels you achieved before you decided to complain about the quality of our community. You admit to having good experiences to the contrary of your rant; why do you focus on the bad and not give any credit to the good ones? We all know that there are jerks that can't be helped, and great people who bend over backwards to help you out. I realize it's difficult to judge something based on anything but your own experiences, but you can't blame the entire community for giving you some bad experiences.

HEATH
I knew while writing that disclaimer wouldn't do any good, and it appears I was right because even people that claim to have read it fail to understand it. Allow me to quote you: "Why do you focus on the bad and not give any credit to the good ones?" followed by this gem: "you can't blame the entire community for giving you some bad experiences." To this I say "..." I made enough references to positive experiences.

Who you encounter at any point in time is mere circumstance; unfortunately, it seems you've encountered a number of people with whom you find fault. You have to remember there are hundreds, thousands of people who are skilled players, would be more than happy to Raise you, or lend you 500 gil, or help you with a particular mission, at any given time. They're just not always around when you need 'em ;)

HEATH
Really? Why thank you for the startling revelation. Being that it is my job to play a ton of MMORPGs as well has keep an ear to the ground of most of their communities, I had no idea that the game was made up of more people than just a few. None at all. Okay, I'll knock off the sarcasm ^_^

So anyway, this is far more than someone "not getting a raise"--it's about a game whose community is primarily (note: not entirely) made up of people who are giving the game a bad rep because of countless instances similar in nature happening to myself and many others. Just read our message boards. What else is interesting is that the people that stick up for the community are the same people I've been talking about--the ones who are playing their first and last MMORPG. Meanwhile, most people who feel the same way I do have been aroud the MMO block. Gee, isn't that interesting?

This is fairly obvious, but two people can play the same game in the same community and have vastly different experiences. I played the beta version of WoW, as did my brother; his character was frequently buffed by other people, helped with quests, and saved from aggro. He did his part in helping others too, buffing them, saving them from aggro and clearing out monsters. My character saw no such help; high-level people kept taking monsters I needed to kill for quests, didn't buff me, didn't heal me, didn't help me with quests, didn't save me from aggro or clear monsters away so I could safely retrieve my corpse, when I was taking time to help others. I'm not going to pass judgment on the entire WoW community for that, just because it was my misfortune not to meet a helpful soul during my time there. I daresay WoW brought in a bunch of RTS players who haven't a clue how to play a MMORPG, too XP

HEATH
And you're probably right about that last bit, but it seems WoW is different enough that the RTS gang can still function on that game. After all, cooperation is available in shooters, too, which often appeal to that same crowd. But anyway, on your point of not judging the WoW community, you pretty much said that you're in no position to do that. You said yourself that your brother had an awesome time. Any of the brothers I have (not by blood, but, you know) are unanimous with me in our stance on FFXI.

I play a level 55 WHM/BLM on Ramuh, and FFXI was my first real MMORPG; I bought it because of the name Final Fantasy =P

HEATH

*Chalks up a point*

I am a hardcore RPG player who began with FF and DQ on the NES and plays just about everything in the genre. (The reason I never played any other MMO seriously was I'd always get PKed right off the bat XP) But that doesn't make me any less of a player than someone who played other MMORPGs; vets of other games still have to take time to learn FFXI's system and world, just as newcomers like myself must. Being an EQ player for five years doesn't automatically entitle you to the knowledge of what the best subjobs are for Warrior, how to get to the Boyahda Tree, or the steps to complete mission 5-1. It doesn't automatically make you generous, hardcore, competent, or able to cooperate with others to accomplish a goal. It is the responsibility of the individual to educate themselves in how to play their classes and work with others; if they don't, then it is the responsibility of more experienced players to teach them what they should know. If they ignore advice that is kindly given and well-intended, then it is their own fault and there is no help for them. Every game has these types, and obviously FFXI is no exception.

HEATH

*Recapping the points of that last paragraph*
Let's see: irrelevant, nothing to do with my point, missed the mark, not quite the real topic, and I already went over that last bit something like 17 times. Nice.

Seriously, how many people out there are going to write in and say "Every game has these types, and obviously FFXI is no exception"? I mentioned several places in the last two columns (and, if you're an avid reader, you may remember a few columns previous to this, also) that "bad people" are in all MMOs. What I find great is that those words seem to be the main weapon in the defense of FFXI, even though no Vana'defender has even addressed my point about there being a lop-sided ratio of these people in FFXI.

I find it surprising that you criticize people for a lack of comradeship, and then proceed to tell us that people should be able to sub whatever they want, screw the needs of their EXP party.

HEATH

Oh, and I suppose we should all have blond hair and blue eyes, too? Also, the comment on my plea for comradeship leading to "screwing the needs of the party" only helps my case further. If there are only so few ways to be a "good" party member, what's the point? Play an offline RPG for that. For an MMO, that sucks.

In that portion of the rant, my main focus on the people in FFXI was that most don't realize MMORPGs are about creating your own unique adventure and doing so with a million other people who are creating theirs, rather than the bending over a table for other people who want to use you for EXP people decribe as being so fantastic. A concept you're probably not familiar with, being that FFXI is your first MMO ;)

People who level their subjobs properly and sub the classes of most benefit to their main job show that they care about the needs of others. If I met a Paladin/Ninja, I'd know right away that s/he doesn't give a damn about keeping his/her party members alive; if they did, they would know that they need to sub Warrior for the Provoke ability. NOT having Provoke means that I the Tarutaru White Mage will almost certainly die. I sub Black Mage on my WHM because the extra MP I get can save my party's life and decrease downtime, and it gives me spells like Tractor (and eventually Escape) that can aid my party members. WHMs being as in-demand as they are, I probably could have subbed anything I wanted at lower levels and still been invited, but it would have been selfish of me. I would be prioritizing my desire to be a WHM/whatever over making a useful contribution to my group's efforts, slowing down their rate of XP gain and perhaps even leading to someone's death. I am guessing you've never played a job past the lower 30s or so, if you don't recognize that certain subs serve your group far more; when you start needing 7,0000, 20,000, 40,000 XP to go to the next level, it becomes very important to make as efficient a group as possible. Otherwise, leveling is a tedious chore and it's easy to become discouraged with the game.

HEATH

See? See how ya are? You said "properly." The game is flawed. In the last column, we established that the overabundance of "bad" people in general and the game itself team up to create an overall discouraging experience. On the game's part, there should be tons of routes to take that still create a functional character, like any other decent MMO. And, hey, it's cool if people who only associate with the most hardcore of players want to band up and exclude others who seek the pure fun of adventuring, whatever. We've covered this already, like most everything else you've said so far.

If you want to level a class using a subjob that is perhaps less than ideal, I suggest that you solo or make a party consisting entirely of friends who are okay with that :< Like it or not, you will be the weak link of the group and that hurts the people you party with; this is why people might not invite you if you chose a poor subjob. Why should they help you level if you haven't considered their needs and subbed the class of most benefit to your main job? You are costing them time and XP, and I've never had the opportunity to befriend anyone I met in a bad party. It's hard to become friendly with group members if things are constantly going wrong; rather, it's the parties performing well that start chatting with each other and becoming friends.

About THF, let's be honest -- you're not really a DD until you get Sneak Attack, and invites will be more or less out of pity unless you advertise good equipment and food. It's hard to justify inviting a 13 THF when you could invite a 14 DRK instead, and I really feel for people who have trouble getting invites. But Sneak Attack + Trick Attack + Viper Bite is a wonderful thing to behold, and you perform a vital service for NIN and WAR tanks who may have trouble holding hate. Just stick to it through the rough times and do your best; you'll have the last laugh when you're rich thanks to your Treasure Hunter and ability to pick locks on treasure chests ;)

HEATH

You know what's great? I don't even have to debate with you--you keep making my points for me. Keep talking.

I have a wonderful group of friends on FFXI who've done a lot to help me out, and they make the game worthwhile to play. When I look over my list, this is how I met just about all of them: A) I randomly cured and buffed them while they were soloing, and we got to talking. B) We were in a great EXP party together, started talking and became friends. C) I helped with some quest or mission, or gave them advice, money or items. You complain about not experiencing much help, but say little of how you have helped others; either you are very modest about such things, or you haven't done much to talk about. If it's the latter, you can't complain about the mood of the community if you haven't put in your two cents to educate and assist others. If you conduct yourself in a kind, generous and patient manner, you WILL attract good people, and inspire others to do the same. I don't think your point of that White Mage being amazed that you bought them new equipment means getting help is uncommon in general; it means he was very grateful for what you did. I've made this mistake before of feeling pity for people who seem overly grateful for small favors, but really it just means that they're nice people who don't take such things for granted. We should never, ever take even a small favor for granted; it's demeaning to people's kindness to think that help is somehow owed to you.

HEATH

You're right, I generally don't go off on "oh, look at my charity" tangents because that's not what real charity is; I mentioned the equipment thing for example purposes. That, and such ravings would make me look like even more of a pompous ass than I already am. But, just between you and me, yes, I find a great deal of joy in making another player's time in a game more enjoyable. Mainly because I'm trying to give others what I felt when I first met members of The Gathering, or the days of my youth in Ultima Online.

It seems to me that your real problem with FFXI is you just plain don't like "the masses" -- the people who only dabble in a genre and don't play everything in it in hardcore fashion. I'm very sorry, but you have to understand that sometimes people's interest in a particular hobby or their funds doesn't stretch far enough to make them hardcore. It's perfectly acceptable for someone to only like Final Fantasy games, or not have the money to check out niche titles like Fire Emblem (which I simply adore.) I may be a hardcore console gamer, but I'm a casual computer gamer and anime fan. I don't have the money, the time, or the dedication necessary to check out every worthwhile game or series in those genres. Certainly my knowledge of anime and computer games is nothing impressive for that reason, but I don't feel that I should be put down just because I'm more interested in other things. You can criticize the guy who thinks he's teh 1337 god of RPGs because he beat FF7, but don't put down the person who says "Well, I like Final Fantasy, but really I'm more into anime."

HEATH

...yes, yes, the biggest problem is with "the masses." With the assistence of my readers writing emails, I've revealed problems with the game, but the main focus, and title of this whole thing was "People who play FFXI are not people who play MMORPGs," which keeps getting proven more and more accurate with every email I get.

I would like to hope my points will make you reevaluate your opinion of the community that has treated me so well, but really, it's not my problem; it's your loss =P I noticed that one of the few positive letters in response to your rant was someone from Ramuh; perhaps you should consider making a character there ^-^ Whatever you think of my letter, I sincerely wish you all the best and hope that whatever community you play in, it treats you well.

-Elhana, 55 WHM/27 BLM, Ramuh server

HEATH

Indeed I also wish they'd make me reevaluate, because as it stands, I'm a bitter jerk. But I'm justified in being so.

Check it out; you valiantly (and, to your credit, intelligently) defended FFXI, but here's the thing: you're exactly one of the people I complained about. Your first MMORPG is FFXI, which was purchased for the FF name, and just take a look at the gameplay tips you gave. Basically, you described a game that has very little to do with one really being what they want to be; you described a game in which a player must play a certain way in order to have any fun at all, be socially accepted, etc. That's no game anyone should have to be a part of. That's the kind of stuff people get paid for, not pay to do themselves.


Straight to the point


FF XI was my first and last MMORPG. I have never encountered such jerkish people in all my online play time. Heck people are less a-holes on xbox live! The only decent players in FF XI were the japanese who were almost always nice enough to cure me or raise me from defeat. If i could communicate with them i would still be playing today, but as is I will never touch this game again.
evan

FOREST GUMP

Mamma always said, "Life is like an MMORPG; people are jerks." And that's all I have to say about that.


Read this letter


Hey there, Heath!

As a player of FFXI for more than 100 days in game, I know full well the extent of the game's faults and its strengths. Because of the nature of it being Final Fantasy game to begin with, its going to attract the younger, less mature audience. It didn't take me long to realize this, and I fully expected immature, brainless, and egotistical people to become fed up with the game and leave forever. Much to my dismay, this has not happened. Instead, they fly through the levels faster than the mature, intelligent, and caring players. Then they exhalt themselves as elite and won't invite you into parties unless you fit into their criteria.

The trick to the FFXI community--just like Tatianna said in her previous letter to you--is to recognize the immaturity for what it is, and actively seek out social groups and linkshells that fit your personality. The Friend List is there for a reason, use it wisely. I have rejected people from my Friend List before. Bad people and players need to be weeded out.

Having said that, I am fully aware that finding people of like-mindedness can be a daunting, frustrating, and overwhelming task. Sadly, many good people become disallousioned with trudging through the fodder of immaturity and leave permanently.

Personally, I had such a difficult time with finding a network of friends that a female friend and I ended up co-founding a linkshell of close-knit friends. It started with 4 of us, and over the months we have added responsible, mature, and otherwise great players from multiple nationalities. Not only am I happy with the result, I sometimes just log in to talk to these friends just for fun. They keep me going, help motivate me, and add a bright spot to an otherwise dim community.

I'm not disputing the fact that most of the FFXI community is utter trash. I'm saddened and disappointed that people are like that. I still cling to the hope that bad players will move on to other activities (such as World of Warcraft), but I fear that this hope is in vain. What I am saying is that there are good communities that exist. Its just that you have to look for them.

Wenrick
Character: Saard -- Ramuh Server

HEATH
That is the absolute best FFXI letter I have received. You're unbiased, you see both sides of the case very clearly, you fully understand both viewpoints, and I detect no BS at all. Let this be a model for everyone. You win the column.

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It's not so much that Holiday Spice is a bad soda, it's just that I can't guzzle large amounts of it like the taste make me want to, and that makes Heath sad...and vomitty. Oh yeah, the news!

Well, it looks like MMOs are becoming more affordable, what with the new CoH expansion being free for current subscribers, and Planeshift looking to be the best free MMO to date (and yes, even free games can be excellent). That's definitely positive for the genre.

So anyway, the last three columns have formed a nice discussion on FFXI. What's funny is I was in IRC with a friend who said, "hmm, I was in a good linkshell and I still didn't like FFXI." Heh. It can continue if you like, but please bring something fresh to the table, rather than recycling previous points.

And since we talked about sodas, tell MMORPGamer what you like to drink while you play MMORPGs. Play sessions can last many hours; what's your hydration method of choice? I like to go for the classic Mt. Dew in the early going, then follow it up with some kind of fruit juice. Kinda weird, yeah, but it works. As always, anything else you can come up with is welcome...especially screenshots. See you in a week!


My name is Heath Hindman, and you can throw your stones, but I'll only bleed for you for one day.

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