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It was one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I’m not quite sure what spurred it. Some self-destructive impulse, or was it an unfulfilled goal from my past, begging to be completed. I’ll never know what drove me to make the purchase, perhaps I’ll never know. At the register, I kept asking myself if this was something I really had to do. I asked more than enough friends for advice, several times and they all told me the same thing, “no”. I didn’t listen, and handed the cashier my money.

Final Fantasy XI, or as it became known to me “Final Fantasy XI-2:Back 2 Vana’diel” was almost as good as it was the first time I visited, which really isn’t saying much.

I wasn’t doing this for fun, I don’t think anyone could. There was something else driving me.

About 4 years ago, I had first played this dreadful game. I knew I wanted nothing more than to have a level 75 any job or class. It was something that I knew I’d have to work for, and when I finally earned it I would be the envy of every man, woman and child on my server. That first time I tried I ran into some complications, boredom being one of them, and I soon quit the game. An expansion was later announced then released and the Blue Mage was finally added to the game. That was what I had always wanted and it had to be mine, but at what price?

Going back to Vana’diel was sad and tragic in a way. Bastok, which was my home town when I had played so long ago, had become a ghost town. With random Bastokians running back and forth, none were to party with me.

Me posing near Bastoks Flag. (Circa 2008)

Me posing near Bastoks Flag. (Circa 2008)

Instead, a friend agreed to power level me, and the grind soon began. It took days, countless hours all for me to reach a level, in what I can only now call, one of the most tedious experiences of my life. Fights with lizards and goblins were epic struggles as I valiantly swung my Onion Knife and used my one dagger skill, “Wasp Sting”, all for a measly 100 or less experience. All the while these creatures were at least 3 levels above me. I soon realized that at first, what seemed so easy, was really far from it.

Soon after starting up again news broke about the epic boss fight that took over 18 hours and my mind, as well as a lot of others, had been blown. Not because the boss fight was 18 hours, but because they spent 18 hours and they didn’t even defeat it. It’s crazy that a fight like that could happen in a game, and it’s also crazy to think that an MMO would punish it’s loyal subscribers with such a test of endurance. After reading about that boss fight here, I quickly cancelled my subscription. Some say I did it out of fear, others say it was just “common sense”.

It was unfortunate to realize, and hard to admit to myself, but the Vana’diel that I fell in love with so long ago was now dead, empty and rife with decay. Reports claim that the denizens of all the major cities had left for Juno, a major trading city far across the continent. Unfortunately I never had the chance to see it. It would have been at least another two months until I could hit the prerequisite level 30 needed to get my chocobo license so I could get there without worry.

Sometimes when I close my eyes, I can still see the Vana’diel that I remember. How it was bustling with life, people chatting away with each other and forming groups. It was truly a beautiful thing to see an MMO achieve what every single one of them try to do. A sense of community.

I learned only one thing through my lesson. The glory days are over, the boring game that was great because people played it is now just a boring game. But in my heart, Vana’diel will live forever and someday, someone will tell the tales of my days there and how I truly lived.

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