Apparently writing about the general MMO blog community is very much on trend right now, and who am I to resist a good trend?
For those who don’t know, as of last week I’ve joined the excellent writing team at MMORPG.com with a weekly blogosphere roundup column called “Tales from the Neighborhood“. I already read a billion blogs each week so it seemed like a natural topic! I am a huge believer in the power of the hobby blog and the great posts it can produce, whether informative or speculative or just plain wonderful wordsmithing, and it’s my pleasure to read and share some of the highlights. I’m also making an effort to not just rely on my own blogroll each week. It would be easy because all of the blogs on that list are awesome (yes Murf even you), but this is a good opportunity to explore new sites and read new things.
When this column was first announced there was a bit of rumbling that somehow now I was in competition with Bel, who writes a similar feature for MMOGames.com. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Bel and I are good friends and linking back to blogs is great for everyone who writes one. All big MMO news sites should have a blog roundup, and they should have someone from the community write it. Bel and I (and Syp) write different styles of columns about different topics in different ways, and it’s totally awesome.
Anyway, my column is published every Wednesday and if you like blogs you should go have a look at today’s entry and maybe discover some great writing that’s new-to-you. :)
Today is my last day at my job of almost five years. Tomorrow I become unemployed, or ideally more accurately… a freelancer.
— Jessica Cook (@Liores) March 31, 2015
Part of my reason for doing this, honestly, is need. I’ve been looking for a full-time gig in Seattle but I haven’t found one yet that I think is right. That’s okay — I’m not going to rush into a job that I don’t feel great about.
Part of it is just the way the tech world works. For the last 20 years I’ve been working in a series of start-ups, usually focused on e-commerce. Seattle is booming with such businesses, but start-ups are a young person’s game. I don’t want to work 14 hours days in an office anymore. I don’t want to be part of an organization that’s half-business, half-cult. And I don’t mean that as a slight: start-ups are frequently successful because of their evangelist employees and their fervent belief in a product or service.
In turn, I think the dotcom start-up world doesn’t necessarily want me so much anymore either. They look at my resume and see a 40-year-old woman who might have a family, and for many sleek tech companies that just isn’t appealing. I’ve seen a number of random comments online lately about how people over 40 don’t understand the internet or we’re all just soccer moms on Facebook and even though it isn’t true — I was running a chat board on stacks of 2400 bps modems before you were born, sonny! — it’s going to become more and more of an uphill battle each time I need a new job.
I’ve been putting the wheels in motion for this change for a few weeks now, and it’s already pushing my boundaries in new and exciting ways. Self-promotion is essential and something I’m not entirely comfortable with yet. I had a meeting with a new client last week to discuss their needs and I was as amazed as they were to discover that yes, I do know what I’m doing and I can actually help them.
And despite the note of terror that might be running through this post, I am infinitely excited for the future. I love writing, I love learning about new things, and I have no problem putting in the odd 14-hour day when it’s my own name on the line. I’m a bit of a control freak (cue false shock from my friends) and the idea of being fully in control of my schedule is thrilling. I welcome more variation in my projects, and I see the hustle to find a stable stable (hmm) of clients as a challenge to be gloriously beaten rather than some glum task.
Don’t get me wrong: If Bioware called me up tomorrow and said, “We’re putting together our community team for Mass Effect 4 and we need you, Liore” I would say.. well first I would ask how they got my number, but then I would say yes. But barring that I think it’s time to make my own opportunities.
It’s all up to me now. Oh god, what have I done.
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Earlier this week I wrote a list of Five Irritating Things About Final Fantasy 14 and folks in the comments contributed some excellent additional suggestions of their own.
One frequently mentioned irritation was not being able to queue for Duty Roulette while you have your chocobo companion out, which is indeed totally ridiculous. But there was one piece of grit that bothered people above all others, something so totally irritating that I was actually shocked that I didn’t think to include it on the original list. To explain, let’s look at my chat log from the first 10 minutes or so of last night’s game session:
The pink text indicates whispers/tells, and as you can see it’s allllll gil spam. In my experience every other channel is 100 percent gil spam free, but whispers are just a mess. Some people in my Free Company just dump all whispers to a separate chat tab to be reviewed later, and many have turned them off completely which is kind of weird if you think about it. I use whispers all the time in other MMOs, but that whole channel has been rendered useless in FFXIV.
It makes me wonder how a lack of private one-on-one messaging could subtly affect a game’s culture. Everyone I’ve encountered in FFXIV, whether in the Free Company or a random dungeon, has been extremely nice but I suppose even if someone did want to whisper me about what a noob I was they would be out of luck. It would also funnel conversation to public or semi-public channels — you can’t tell just one person about that rare mob spawn you discovered, but instead are compelled to inform everyone in the area.
As much as I can theorycraft possible positive aspects to not having private message functions, at the end of the day the army of gil spammers is pretty awful and turning off whispers is far from a great long term “solution”.
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Liore and Aurelia are both old hands at city builder games, and they are equally in love with Cities: Skylines. Mad props are given to civil engineers who take the time to create virtual intersections, and Aure tells the dirty truth about Liore-topia’s sewage system. While Elly and Aro are not particularly into city builders for various reasons, they do get particularly excited when talking about all the horrible things they did with their Sims back in the day.
Arolaide has a copy of the Final Fantasy 15 demo, and we all talk a bit about the evolution of Cid from grizzled mechanic to wearer of hotpants. Is Final Fantasy going a little overboard with the sexy? And what is the deal with the whole roadtrip scenario, anyway?
Also, Arolaide drank $1000 of beer over the weekend and lived to tell us all about it! Liore played Tropico 5 and is not terribly psyched about it! Elly tries yet again to make everyone watch Dungeon Siege!
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* DOA: Dead or Alive on Amazon Prime (with affiliate link)
* The Final Fantasy 15 trailer on YouTube
* Timboh’s Marvelous Interchange Emporium on Steam workshop
* Polygon on the Changing Looks of Final Fantasy’s Cid
* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years
Starting tomorrow (at about 8 a.m. EDT) check out my new column on MMORPG.com, titled Around the Neighborhood! Every Wednesday you can find highlights of some great and interesting writing from the MMO/RPG blogosphere. I’ll leave the exact posts for people to explore tomorrow, but you can expect to see mention of In An Age, Gamer by Design, Casual Aggro, and more. Hooray!
I love Final Fantasy 14, right? It’s so nice to feel like I have a home and a Free Company. But even great games aren’t perfect and just like with every other title there are things that irritate me. (Sometimes a lot. It depends on how much coffee I’ve had that day.)
1. Fieldcraft Leves
In Final Fantasy 14 you can level all three gathering skills, or fieldcraft as they’re known in the game, and in fact you probably will. But unlike other games once you get past about level 20 you want to give up on actually going out and gathering because the XP needed to level is just too extreme. Instead, players should use “Fieldcraft Leves” — aka a kind of daily quest — to earn XP. And while that’s fine, it just doesn’t feel as satisfying to me as a reasonable grind out in the wilderness.
2. No Costuming Until 50
It kind of sucks that we can’t start costuming until our first level 50 character. I may be a mere level 39 who tends to just run around rather than complete quests, but I have a sweet pair of level 7 hipster glasses in my bags and I want to wear them noooooow.
3. You Can’t Ride a Horse and Have a Chocobo Companion
Final Fantasy 14 gives players the option of having their chocobo along as a battle companion who can be specced to heal, tank, or DPS. And while that is super cool and very helpful while questing or running FATES, for whatever reason if you have a chocobo companion active you must also ride it as your mount. I love the “Summon Random Mount” button, but not being able to use it with a companion is a bummer. Sometimes you just wanna ride a unicorn around like a smug white mage, y’know?
4. No Duty Finder Roulette with Friends
One of the best ways to earn XP in FFXIV is running the daily Low Level Duty Roulette, which sends you to a random low level dungeon. Unfortunately, you can’t queue for this in a party which means you never get to run the daily duty with friends. And I don’t just mean a full group — even you and a single friend are unable to queue together! I understand what the design goal is with this set-up, but it’s still irritating.
I know, I know, clipping is probably unavoidable in MMOs what with all the different costume pieces and customizable player characters, but that doesn’t make my current hat and staff combo any less disappointing to behold.