So Much Better With People

The AMA Experiment

Yesterday my good friend Syl started a thread over on the Blaugust Nook with a very simple purpose.  The idea was to generate writing prompts by asking the person above you in the thread a question.  It seemed like an awesome idea, so I joined in the fun asking the first question, which then left me open to be asked a question.  Wilhelm from The Ancient Gaming Noob chimed in after me and gave me a really excellent question, because it is honestly one I have thought about before but never actually written anything on.  Without more rambling… here is the prompt.

For a lot of people, starting off in MMORPGs changed the way they viewed and interacted with video games. I often defer single player games in favor of online games now due to the fact that games with other people are… or at least seem… more interesting, even when I am playing them solo. Did starting off with MMORGPs change your relationship with video games?

Brief History of Belghast

PSOBetterSo I feel like in order to answer this question appropriately we have to go a ways back into my history.  I grew up in a small town, but more so than that… I grew up a significant distance outside of the city limits.  This compounded with the fact that I had no siblings, meant that I really didn’t have anyone to play with.  As a result I got extremely adept at entertaining myself, but when we hit middle school… the prime era of sleep overs, I pretty much took every opportunity to stay over at someone else’s house or have someone at mine.  It was awesome to be able to play games with friends, but my reality was that I was mostly a single player gamer the majority of my time.  As such I tended to favor mostly single player titles like role playing games, and zelda like adventure games.  These would let me explore worlds by myself without the need of an additional player to bring the fun.

In college I did my fair share of LAN gaming, but the majority of my time was still spent playing single player titles like Fallout on the PC.  My first real “MMO” experience was Phantasy Star Online on the Dreamcast, and I ate that game up.  Even though communication was not that big of a deal, I spent so much time exploring the worlds with other players.  I even went so far as to get a PC keyboard adapter that I could hook up to my Dreamcast so I could make communication easier.  During this time I was still playing a significant amount of single player games on the PC and devouring every single Japanese Roleplaying Game that was released on the PS1, PS2 or the Dreamcast.  Then my “jumping into” Everquest happened, as I was asked to play a friends secondary character during a Vox raid… and from that point on I was pretty much hooked.  Gradually I just stopped playing anything single player and instead devoted every single moment of gaming time to whatever my current MMO crush happened to be as I moved through EQ, DAoC, Horizon, and City of Heroes.

So Much Better With People

ffxiv_dx11 2015-08-05 19-43-27-08 Something else happened during this time, that ultimately disconnected me from single player game experiences.  Games became so much more cinematic, and quite honestly this was not a good thing as far as I was concerned.  There were so many times I wanted to plunk down in front of a game, boot it up and just start playing.  When I played my role playing games, I absolutely expected to have a serious time commitment.  I did not however expect to have to wade through cut scene after cut scene just to play a platformer.  So I became even more immersed in my big online worlds that let me wander aimlessly and find my own enjoyment.  I also found myself favoring games that were extremely similar to the online worlds I was playing in.  Games like the Elder Scrolls or the three dimensional Fallout games provided me that big open world I craved but allowed me to explore offline.  The problem is there was always something missing.  These are games that I have devoted hundreds of hours to playing, but there is always a point where I start thinking to myself…  this world would be so much better with people.

Ultimately even if I am in “alone in a crowd” mode, I enjoy seeing people roaming around in the same world I am inhabiting.  Maybe this is an artifact of my early desires to have someone to play with, or a side effect of being recruited into Everquest in the middle of a bustling and thriving guild.  In any case I always end up missing the people when I am playing other games.  So as a result there are lots of single player titles that I want to play through, to experience the story…  but they ultimately sit in my steam library unfinished and in some cases not even started… because I would rather be online interacting with people that I care about.  Fairly recently I have found that hanging out on Teamspeak while playing single player games helps a bit.  It allows me to chat with people and feel like I am part of a larger community, while still indulging in single player worlds and experiences.  Similarly streaming a single player game to twitch feels like I am in some way making it a multiplayer experience by sharing it with others.  So to answer the original question… yes MMOs have changed the way I play single player games, by simply making me not satisfied with being in a world without other human beings to interact with.

Belghast the Healer

Lack of Rundowns

Over the last few days the whole post rundown concept has simply not been sustainable.  As I said yesterday I have had a whole bunch of technical issues with my two primary machines, leading me to be super late with my blog post.  As a result the whole rundown thing just hasn’t been in the radar.  At this point since I am having to edit them back in later, I am wondering if it really is sustainable for me to keep doing.  My morning blogging ritual gives me thirty minutes to an hour of time to work in a blog post.  The verification and retrieval of the links takes almost that long as well because ultimately I end up reading the posts as I go.  So on the week days I simply do not have enough time to keep up the practice.

The first few days I simply edited the list in at work over lunch, but the problem is my work world has gotten significantly busier as well.  All of this frustrates me since I want to find a way to showcase all of the awesome posts other than my ubiquitous retweets.  What I really want to showcase is the fact that out of the 45 or so participants…  35 of those have not missed a single day.   Then we have another batch that is also awesome of bloggers who started late but have been faithful ever since.  My biggest hope is that this spirit of community and shared purpose extends past the month.  I know the Newbie Blogger Initiative as it has run on, has gotten to be that way… in that I am still in regular contact with a lot of the people I mentored during the month.  I posted awhile back about the lack of community out here in the non-game-specific space… but hopefully we are changing that one blog at a time.

Running for Grand Prize

Began Late but Not Missed a Day Since


Belghast the Healer

ffxiv 2014-08-06 14-41-38-651 Yesterday I managed to get to level 16 on my conjurer, the required level to start the Duty Roulette process.  Now you have to realize that I have not really healed anything in years, at least not a dungeon.  Probably the last time I regularly healed was during the Burning Crusade on my Paladin in World of Warcraft.  That was roughly seven years ago, and it is a role that I tend to shy away from.  The reasoning is my very first MMO experience was as a Cleric in Everquest, and it pretty much burned me on the role from that point out.  That said I like to always have at least a healing option in my stable of alts, and since I now have every possible role other than healer… I figured it was time to do something about that.  So I channeled all of my bravery and queued for the Duty Roulette…  there is honestly something about that name that is so much more fitting than “finder”.  When you hit the button you really are taking a huge chance on what exactly you are going to get in the process.

ffxiv 2014-08-06 14-45-58-060 Thankfully for my very first dungeon I got an amazing group.  I seriously probably could not have assembled a better “starter” dungeon group than I ended up with.  We had dps that never pulled aggro, and a tank that managed to pick up every single add without fail.  There was never a point at which I drew healing aggro on anything, and I literally did not have to heal anyone other than the main tank.  In the back of my mind I knew this was a rarity as far as random dungeon groups went, but I was thankful to have it as my “breaking in” period.  For the most part everything went smoothly and we made it to the end of Tam-Tara Deep Croft in what felt like record time… without skipping any content in the process.  I was thinking to myself that yeah, I could maybe do this healing thing.

Reality Sets In

ffxiv 2014-08-06 15-13-03-480 So if I got the idyllic situation for my first run, my second run was the absolute worst possible situation.  We get started and the tank is the only one of us not communicating at all.  Like people tend to be pretty friendly and I open every dungeon run with a simple “Hey Folks, How Goes It?”, which usually starts up some chatter as we do the dungeon run.  The tank was completely silent, and sat there for a few minutes and then suddenly lurched forward without warning and pulled.  My immediate thought was console player, since they tend not to respond to anything… ever… or if they do they respond in very short single character replies.  It was a gladiator tank and he proceeded to start beating on a single target, and ignoring everything else in the pack.  The moment I cast a single heal it all magnetized to me and I essentially became the main tank at that point.  Problem was that the target he was on… he wasn’t really tanking either and the first time a dps started attacking it they would pull it off of him.

ffxiv 2014-08-06 16-44-12-862 After a few pulls like this the tank proceeded to AFK, at which point the group kicked him and we cleared the way to the first boss without a tank at all.  It was me, a thaumaturge and a pugilist and I healed through the damage.  When we got another tank it this one was wearing most of the relic armor set, so my hope was that she would do all of the things that the other tank wasn’t.  Turned out that she was an extremely competent tank and the rest of the run went smoothly.  By the time group three had rolled around I was starting to feel my wheaties, and thought I could take on anything.  I didn’t really struggle last night until I encountered my first group wanting to use weird tactics at the expense of the healer.  In Halatali on the final boss, there are these adds that need to be killed before they get to the fire in the center of the room.  If you don’t catch one it does an AOE burst on the entire party.  My group ignored these completely and as a result I had to heal through constant AOE burst damage… Medica was my friend.

More Chill Than Tanking

The major reality check that I was not quite prepared for was the fact that it is so much more relaxing to heal than to tank.  Granted that might just be a me thing, but I feel like I am constantly having to watch everything and make sure I have aggro on it all as I play a game of “bejeweled” making sure all of the gems are bright orange squares.  Healing on the other hand is more like playing whack a mole, and that invokes so much less stress.  I have to make sure I am not standing in shit, and then I have to make sure all of the bars are full.  That’s it, that is my only focus and I feel like I can relax considerably.   Sure there are moments where you have to work hard to top everyone off, but that isn’t “every single pull” where I feel like as a tank you are constantly struggling to maintain threat over your party.  At this point of course I have only healed the first few instances which admittedly are much easier than the ones to come, so we will see if I change my opinion significantly as I go.

ffxiv 2014-08-06 22-13-56-942 The long and short is that I am embracing this new role and enjoying myself.  In the video at the beginning of this block I heal three different dungeons and all of the groups go relatively smoothly.  I am glad that my party cannot hear my stream of consciousness commentary, because it would likely piss a lot of them off.  Ashgar was talking about getting commendations so much faster as a healer, and I can see that to some extent.  During one of the dungeon runs I got three commendations, meaning that I got every one available.  However there are multiple dungeons I have walked out of without a single one, which is something that is super rare for me as a DPS.  I feel like tanking is the flashy job that everyone appreciates…  not dying is significantly less tangible.  As a tank I have always appreciated my healers, because they are the lifeline that allows me to do the batshit crazy things I do.  I feel like there isn’t as much appreciate for healers from the general public.  You only notice the healers when they are doing a poor job.

Writing Prompts

I’ve been stressed and busy the last few days and as a result I have not added any new prompts to the stack.  However as I have seen a few people dipping into them I thought I should add a few more to the pile.

  • What is the most thankless job in gaming?  I am trying to keep this broad on purpose because I am not meaning the holy trinity.  There are so many roles from ore farmer, to sniper that are played in various games.  What one gets the least credit?
  • What is your favorite appearance item or set of items?  Everyone has something that they keep in their inventory just because they love the look of it.  What is yours?
  • What does MMO mean to you?  This term gets used broadly, but doesn’t really have a firm definition.  What does it mean to you and where do you draw the line between traditional online games.

#Blaugust #FFXIV #Conjurer