Tuesday, May 29, 2007

On CoP

I write the following rant, because I feel like I need to clarify the reason why some issues, namely the upcoming difficulty downgrades on CoP send me into cautionary tirades in various venues of FFXI conversation. I also want some folks to understand why I'm not regularly online every night.

When I began this blog, I did so with the intention of bringing something different to the table.

I wanted to chronicle my experiences as a FFXI player who is part of a demographic that is as much underrepresented as it is largely insignificant in size to the overall population in most MMOs, much less FFXI: the parent gamer. But not just any parent gamer, mind you.

Not the parent gamer whose kids are out of the house. Certainly not the "I'm so hip I play MMOs with my kids" parent gamer. I mean the sleep-deprived, newbie parent of toddlers, living in a home that still smells faintly of diapers. The parent who begins to realize the lifelong art of juggling increased priorities -- among them career, parenthood, love life, physical health, free time, and (blessed) sleep.

As a part of this odd group of gamers, I'm faced with a choice when I stare at the Playonline screen: do I want to spend the 2.5 to 3 hours of free time that I have tonight playing an MMO? And "spending" that time is really what I do. It has a cost, consisting exactly of what I could be doing rather than carrying out a virtual life in Vana'diel.

In the brief span of time between my kids' bedtime and my own, I could read one of the slew of books I've deceived myself into thinking I actually have the time to read. I could watch a good film with an appreciation that can't really be achieved during the kids' waking hours. I could continue to hone my writing, or finish the odd number of poems I began years ago. I could have a meaningful, uninterrupted conversation with my wife. Hell, maybe I could play something other than FFXI for a change.

What I think some of the other adults playing FFXI don't understand is the impact of this trade-off. We can't just come home from work, put in a few hours, log out, and go do something else in RL. Those few hours are it for some of us.

This frames the game in such a way that the quality of my RL sometimes becomes inversely proportional to the rate of my accomplishments in Vana'diel. And this realization affects how I, and others in my situation, play the game.

Sometimes, though probably not as often as I sanely should, I choose not to make the expenditure in favor of FFXI, and I shut down the machine. Sometimes I do this for extended periods. These outages usually aren't planned. They're just the result of the constant juggling act, and FFXI has to hit the floor every now & then.

But I'm patient, and realistic, and continue to chip away at the game for my own pleasure, my own little spot of Zen order in all the chaos. When I do decide to log in, my usage of the 3 hours at my disposal also becomes a bit of an economic exercise (though not an unpleasant one), between EXP, crafting/skilling, missions, and linkshell activities... when I do have a linkshell.

This sporadic and slow approach to FFXI doesn't always lend itself to strong longstanding social connections in the game.

I have several close friendships on Ifrit that I consider myself extremely lucky to be a part of, but I could just as easily see someone in my situation wandering through the game for years without gaining firm social ties. Part of it is the piecemeal nature of our commitment to the game, but much of it is also due to the social gap between those with parental priorities and those who constitute the leisure class of FFXI: the early twenty-somethings with expendable time.

We just live in very different worlds, and when we connect it's usually a serendipitous occasion.

So... I say all of this because I want people to understand that it's hard and sometimes nearly impossible for some of us to get certain things done in this game. And doing them isn't just a matter of determination, or ingenuity, or perseverance, which I know many of you have demonstrated with your considerable accomplishments. It takes either a fluke or a nearly unacceptable cost to the quality of our RL hours to complete the task.

I'm not whining. Believe me, I know what whining is... I'm simply stating the truth.

So before some of you take too hard a stance on what you consider to be acceptably or justifiably difficult in the game, separating the proverbial wheat from the chaff in FFXI, consider that there are people for whom content such as "Sea" has been out of reach for quite some time, and for perfectly valid and inevitable reasons. SE's recent announcement might very well be a good thing for them.

I'm not even really speaking for myself, since I probably still wouldn't have the time for a Limbus group. But I know there are parent gamers out there who would make significant contributions to such groups. Consider Lifthrasir's flawless Promyvion runs that I recounted awhile ago. I personally think that the largely adult leadership of that group had quite an impact on how those forays into CoP played out.

On behalf of players such as these, I say bring on the kinder gentler CoP. Let veterans' reactions to the opening gates of Sea stand as a testament to their own self-worth.


Moe said...

Excuse my ignorance Froh, I'm young but I have ot admit you have completely opened my eyes to this possibility. You have responsibilities and this game is...a game. I say you just sit down and tell your wife you love her and look upon your seed and realize the good you have done. Then do some poetry, I'm just terrible at the stuff so go have fun.

Christine said...

Wonderfully said Fro... You hit each and every point perfectly. I only play this game for 2-3 hours every other day and there are LOTS of things I haven't accomplished yet or even learned about. But I'm okay with it. I honestly admit my sole reason for playing this game are the wonderful, funny conversations that I have with my close friends; including you :)
We're slowly gaining ground once more and we'll start chipping away at those other seemingly elusive rewards soon :)

Again, well said...

Katella said...

You are so very right! Also being a parent with responsibilities, I totally understand and agree with what you have said. It is a game I play for enjoyment.

Because of real life stuff, I have always moved slow compared to the "level grinders" There are too many people to count that I've helped when they first started, that now are on thier third or fourth 75 level job. While I haven't even got one job their yet.

But I'm ok with that. I love my family, really enjoy my time with them, and they take presidence over any accomplishments in-game.

I have a lot of goals in game, and it is like you said, a fluke when I can conquer them, but it almost makes it even that much more of a accomplishment to me... because I don't have the time that seemingly "everyone" else has to do it.

Murrdoc said...

Fro...you described EXACTLY the situation that I'm in when it comes to FFXI. If I didn't know better, I'd think that you snuck into my work and recorded one of my many verbal rants on this very subject lol. Lex has already posted that she can relate, and I know that Quan is in the same boat as well. We do what we can, when we can and should be proud of what we can accomplish with the limited availability that we have. One of the reasons that I've got so many jobs at various levels is that I don't have the time to seek for hours on end waiting for a party on my "main". If I have 3 hours to play, I want to make the most of it. Which usually means hooking up with Lex and duo'ing jobs somewhere in Vana'diel lol...be it the dunes, or the jungles or wherever we can go that's level appropriate. The point for me is that I play to have fun, and seeking hours for a party during the non-peak playing time is most definitely not fun =/

Of course, I enjoy the company of my friends as well and there's nothing I enjoy more than adventuring with my friends. Whether it's a NM fight or getting exp, it's that much more rewarding when you achieve goals with people you like to hang out with^^

That being said...you should know that you're welcome to exp with Lex and I (or any of the Roughnecks) whenever we're on. Lex is very close to leveling her mnk to 20, my smn is 20 and I think your whm is 19-20. Quan has an 18 blu and Mal has been leveling all kinds of job up to 18 as well, so a Qufim party is most certainly in order! I'm currently in the process of tackling (and hopefully defeating lol) the level 20 mini-avatars (a personal goal I've recently set) but that won't stop me from helping you out with leveling your whm through the hell that can be Qufim^^

Getting back on topic...I personally can't wait to see the adjustments made to CoP. I sense a Roughneck side-project on the horizon >.>

/salute Fro

Well spoken, my friend. Well spoken indeed.

(btw Katella...I can totally relate to your statement too lol. I've been passed by a TON of people who have subsequently hit 75 on multiple jobs, while my highest is still 65. However, I don't let the grinders get me down lol...I'm still proud of what I've done, and I /salute you as well)^^

Anonymous said...

Coming upon your blog was a chance encounter, however, I'm very happy that I did indeed.

Well written and throughly inciteful. I agree with your points and understand your side of the issue. I also understand the veteran's side, but, I think both are equally weighted.

I def. feel connected when you speak of the connection between RL accomplishments and FF accomplishments. Its a difficult juggle, esp with you being a parent and all. For that, I /praise your fortitude to be able to carry both.

A mentor of mine in FF quit the game recently. Although I do not know the exact reason, I suspect it to be partially the fact that he was a realtively new parent and was unable to do all the Sea and CoP events. He was playing a long time and somehow feel into a sand trap. He played 4 hours a night, 3-4 times a week.

Ive found myself in the same situation now, starting work. I come home and I only have X number of hours before bed, and then to the next day of work. Commiting time to FF is hard indeed sometimes.

Keep on writing, theres some good resonance in your words. Good stuff. I'll be sure to add you to my blogroll.

- Hyourin of Bahamut

raidenn said...

Yeah COP is too much work really.

Paul said...

Don't get me wrong, I really want to get it done...

I just don't think I have the resources at my disposal right now.

What annoys me is that some people assume that the resources and time that they have are available to all players, and it just isn't true.

Anyway, thanks all for the responses. It's good to know I'm not alone in thinking this.

Murrdoc said...

Case in point:
After HP'ing into Whitegate last night, one of the more...shall we say..."vocal" players was once again in /shout mode spouting an expected diatribe on how he's superior to everyone else. Specifically,
"/sh oh, that's right...SE nerfed the CoP areas for the noobs and now RMT will be all over Sea"


For the noobs...meh...whatever. Yay for /blacklist. lol