Saturday, 22 October 2016

Beyond Heavensward part 4: Further Skills to pay Further Bills

I dont make it a secret that i love crafting in MMORPG's even if most of them tend to have garbage crafting systems. Luckily FFXIV is one of the good standouts. I love the way crafters are their own valid jobs. Have their own gear and can purchase housing to make a quasi store and so on. I know a few people in game that only play as crafters and love it because it doesn't make them feel like they are a combat class not 'really playing' like so many other games in the genre. That said however i still think there is more that could be done with the systems in Stormblood and i'm here to ramble a while about what i would like to see based on my own likes and dislikes with MMORPG crafting systems.

To begin with lets talk about what got my interest to begin with. For the most part it would probably be early anime based on MMORPG's like .HACK//Sign, though Log Horizon is a more recent well known example of my point. It showed crafters in an online game to be valid players who had different goals more focused on creation than destruction and who's items where lovingly crafted for other players who would need a reliable weapon or tool when out and about exploring the world. I wasn't into games like D&D as a teen so wasn't really experienced with role playing of any kind but the idea of a none combat shop owner in a virtual world seemed like fun to me and still does. Its why i enjoy the Atelier games on the PS3/PS4 so much. 
Sadly however my early experiences in Online games basically summed up crafting as: farm stuff just to make the same stuff for a few ranks till you reach a new material to do the same with till max rank when you make one thing for raiding and thats it. Which to be blunt sucks. Then FFXIV comes along and after the 1.0 debacle it really was not on my radar as WoW kept me happy as it had yet to hit its massive late Mists of Pandaria quality decline and 'The Decade of Lightning' really put me off Final Fantasy as a whole at the time and so i had no interest in FFXIV. That is until i saw a new none combat preview. It showed a lvl.1 Botanist in the central Shroud. They used skills to search for trees, 'mined' some logs and returned to Gridania. Then they switched to a lvl.10 Carpenter and suddenly their gear and 'weapon' changed and they knelt at a log to actually work on it in real time. They were using moves to shape and craft the item towards a final product, tweaking it as they went in hopes of producing a higher quality item as the final result. This reminded me of an itch no game was scratching so i ended up looking into FFXIV 2.0 and the rest is history.

Since then i have seen an alliance of German Free Companies create a grey Market of player goods after a huge French free company decided to undercut everything to 1 gil to crash the market back in 2.0. Seen people actually become the go to guys and gals for certain goods who are known by name as "The really good Blacksmith who gets the HQ stuff every time" and eventually the ability to turn home plots into shops -even if they sadly remain unused 99% of the time since its basically just a retainer interface as of right now. Its a great start but i think in 4.0 we can take the ideas we have further.

 So what do i mean? well by this point as Master Craftsmen on their way to lvl.70 i think more focus should be made on players creating their own stores or workshops. We have already seen items added like the player forges that increase your ability while working at them. With a new housing location and hundreds more wards coming in Stormblood perhaps its time for the long forgotten turn of the century idea of player ran Shopping districts to make a return to form?
 Imagine a place like Uldah only instead of the majority of buildings being walls with doors that never open they can open to little arcades where players skilled in crafting can rent a space or store and peddle their wares and to keep it fresh you must pay a rent/upkeep fee to hold your spot thus ensuring you are putting out product to make money. Think of heading into town looking for a particular item and instead of hoping the market board has it you ask around for a good Alchemist store or something and other players direct you to a small free company ran building where retainers stand at the counter as FC members bring in materials for their friends in the back to process. Really bring the industry side of crafting to Eorzea y'know? Make crafters desired but also make crafting a desirable goal to play as.

The trouble with this however is twofold. On one hand players in the west hate interacting in MMORPG's, its crazy i know but thats the post WoW world we live in. You dont go out and look for other players, you que for something and then back to solo play. They already added Materia Melders in cities even though i had no trouble back in 2.0 finding a crafter to meld the Materia for my Stardust rod questline. People just don't want to interact that often unless they get a good kick in the pants or carrot on a stick. Which sadly means these player houses you see turned into Cafe's or a Blacksmiths Workshop remain empty for the most part. Retainers standing about in silence waiting for customers that never arrive. Perhaps its different on JP servers but for the EU ones housing seems largely for FC's to laze about and shoot the shit between structured content and little else. Which i think is a tremendous shame.
Then on the other the developers themselves basically treat crafters as the gil vaccums that put out some new green quality gear and vanity clothes each patch to get gil out of Combat jobs hands and spent again on materials. Which is really kind of boring when you think about it.
This i think is where Yoshi P's team should look for the future of crafting. Player shops in cities could be a huge recourse hog or simply a lag issue. But allowing people who purchase a housing lot to decide "Do you want to make a Free Company House or a Player Shop?" would be a wonderful step in the right direction. Let players decorate and design clerks to serve customers. Let them advertise them on a new board by the market boards. Maybe remove the selling fee percentage to incentivise private player shop selling over the market board. In a virtual world all these high level crafters should have something to shoot for beyond the next end game Tool and gear set. which in turn gives beginners the inspiration to being crafting themselves with their own dream to shoot for in game. Its probably never going to happen however since the audience of most mmos nowadays are so anti social in an ironic way but player ran shops is my most wanted Crafting change for Stormblood.

Thats not to say its the only thing to think about of course. We dont know if the cross class system changes will effect Crafters as well, which would mean almost all the crafting Macros might simply no longer be viable and for a brief time the number of HQ products will shrink as people rush to figure out the new winning formula to make the best items. Though maybe that might be something of a refreshing new expansion clean slate feeling for crafters who knows?

Personally i feel we may see more new Collectible style sub skills but i imagine the 1-50 baseline will remain the same as it ever has. Though i dont think we will see the return of crafter job gear sets ever again. They were nice flavour wise but took up so much space by the time you got all the jobs to lvl.50 and having one Ironworks set wasn't just space effective that saved a lot of Gil on Materia infusing to boot.

Beyond that i think its time to really look at what some jobs offer. Take Alchemist for example. When Deep Dungeons were announced players expected a huge boom in the production and sales of all kinds of potions and in the end the dungeons showered you with them for free. I havent crafted a potion since as i have 99 X or Mega Potions at all times thanks to running DD just to get the potshards and level alt Combat jobs to 50. That sucks. Its a cool job that supports a lot of other crafting jobs but seems to really exists at endgame just for 3 or 4 types of stat boosting potions for Savage raiding and little else. Why not give the jobs things to do differently? Perhaps Alchemists can make explosive potions you throw in combat for added damage? Or perhaps an 'oh shit' potion that makes you and your party invisible and drop out of combat in the world for a few seconds if you are fate farming in the max level zone and an agg train rolls in?
These are just ideas off the top of my head but you get the idea. Give crafters reasons to make items to keep in the inventory 'just in case' they could use them. It may be a balancing issue to ensure they arent OP enough to become mandatory or weak enough to be never used but making crafters feel like they have an impact beyond farming Gil at the Marketboard is something they could really use looking forwards.

 In terms of player identity and the notion of recognisable crafters i think an element FFXIV sorely lacks is some form of customisability on the crafters side. Why not tweak the system so a player made version of an item has "Made by Edgelord Adjectivenoun" in its description? or naming items? So two Blacksmiths could make a sword for a paladin but based on their skill the stats are different but so are the names? perhaps even letting you alter the colour using a dye? so while it is both technically the same sword made with roughly the same items the player adds their own twist to it. So if you get a purple NIN dagger set with a song lyric for a name and high crit you know it was made by a person and they gain a reputation for their wares?
Really give the player some pride to see players using their creations in town and out in the field. Right now its so ephemeral for everyone to make identical gear, throw it on the marketboard and see it turn into gil and thats that and back to the crafting menu again. Creations we care about, player reputations based on product quality and server communities are a way to make an already great crafting system even better!

Lastly, and i imagine this would not be that popular an idea, i would like to see more ideas worked into the 'well fed' system. I'll always look back in a "what might have been way" at an idea from the earliest days of WoW that was cut. Players would rest at campfires for buffs, make torches to light dark areas and eat to stay strong. Basic survival and nourishment systems that were really stripped back and largely forgotten. 
 But what if they weren't? Culinarians can make lots of different foodstuffs, Blacksmiths can make stoves, Carpenters and Botanists can get a campfire going. One of the comfiest feelings in FFXIV is settling down with a bag full of freshly farmed ingredients and cooking up lots of food as CUL or mixing up some items as ALC or working on desynthing some treasures as BSM. Imagine if they expanded on the idea of your characters resting and maintaining their health? Perhaps a food system where you starve and lose a percentage of stats and well fed that boosts your stats for a few hours? People could survive on buying lemons and bananas from the city vendors but those folks with high CUL or a FC friend who does could stay stronger for longer by eating more extravagant HQ meals. The demand for crafted items would increase e.g Sugar made by Alchemists or new pots and pans made by Smiths and the like. Systems like these would add more flavour to the world and really are no more intrusive than needing to spend gil to repair every few hours of combat or crafting.

I guess my big hope for Stormblood is just to use the Crafting jobs to add more flavour to the world and make it more like a real MMORPG like those shows i watched as a kid promised and less of a single player world where players are just passing each other by and never stopping to say helo and ask directions.

Maybe a hopeless thing to wish for, but a crafter can dream can't he?

Monday, 17 October 2016

Beyond Heavensward part 3: RDM and its possibilities

Fan Fest has come and gone and amongst all the reveals for Stormblood no bit of news has had people talking more than Yoshi P's shirt alluding to Red Mage being one of the jobs in the next expansion.
It could be a troll on his part and we are getting BLU or something instead but assuming RDM is soft confirmed the question remains: what kind of Red Mage will it be? because unlike jobs like Black Mage or Ninja RDM is a job that has had many incarnations in the Final Fantasies games and its spin offs. So lets take a look at a few possibilities for what could be the next Job you unlock in FFXIV!

Possibility #1: The "Vanilla" Hybrid. -  A true hybrid. Another Mage that uses a sword but still is largely based on rank 1 and 2 BLM and WHM spells. Listed in games past as a "Jack of All Trades, Master of None" but ultimately in MMORPG terms not really exciting enough to warrant the resources for balancing, designing and so on for what is always going to be 'the not as good at its job' Mage.
Likeliness: Not at all likely 

Possibility #2: The "Mix master" Hybrid. - Seen more often in spin offs an titles like Bravely Default/Second this from of Red Mage is similar to #1 however as well as using low level BLM and WHM spells they can combine them to make new options eg a Fire 2 which afflicts the enemies caught in the blast with a damage over time fire damage spell. Could be an interesting way to let players take what they know in a different direction. Though ultimately in terms of time spent vs output its again not different enough to be a new MMORPG job in a game with BLM and WHM already.
Likeliness: Not likely 

Possibility #3: The Swashbuckling Dandy. - Most fondly remembered from Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XI this form of Red Mage is a melee fighter. Using a Rapier, a Rapier and buckler or Dual swords this flavour of Red Mage is a swordsman with a musketeer meets colonial frontiersman theme. Fighting in close quarters and buffing/debuffing based on en spells currently used in game by all breeds of Beastman tribes this brand of Mage would still be using BLM/WHM spells but in different ways. Instead of casting Fire to damage an enemy you could cast En-Fire to light your rapier aflame and deal additional fire damage or use En-Water to increase your speed and add a hp regen. Still using the BLM/WHM spells in name but in an entirely different way. In previous talks about RDM Yoshi P stated "it will come should we ever add a support role" and assuming PS3 being dropped allows for far more engine updates its not impossible that BRD,MCH,RDM and others yet to be revealed could become a 4th role as support. With MCH being a ranged physical support and RDM being a close combat magical support.
Likeliness: Very LIkely 

Possibility #4: The Tanking Mage. - The wild card of the lot since most agree that if they ever add a Mage tank then BLU would take the role. Never the less the image of a rapier and buckler with limited healing and damaging magic does have the beginnings of a possible tank role for Red Mage instead. In FFXI a RDM with a NIN sub job became a popular tank build for solo'ing group content out in the world of Vanadiel and some are wondering if the same may happen again now to balance out another sword and board tank against the two two hand tanks and one sword and shield type we have now. A magic tank could be the breath of fresh air tanking needs however the team has said Samurai or Beast Master may be more likely to take the role next and as mentioned BLU inspired by characters like Raubahn feel like they could pull off the defensive up front mage far better.
Likeliness: Possible but not expected

 So thats the 4 possibilities doing the rounds right now. A lot of it based on assumptions of what the upcoming expansions 'combat system overhaul' will be but for we can only judge on what works in game, what roles are still unfilled and what doesnt overlap too much with others.
My personal opinion is that RDM is going for the Fencing support type and like NIN will be played less for straight DPS but for its utility it brings to a fight. Though bare in mind RDM was my first job in FFXI so with some experience of a FF MMORPG version of the job already working that may colour my expectations some what.

What are you expecting for RDM in Stormblood? New range? new role? or riding the Swashbuckler train right to the station?

We should know by the Japan Fan Fest but its always fun to speculate. Personally i cant wait, new Jobs are what brings me back time and again and i know i am not the only one.

Random 'King Crimson' reference here

-Which may also be a Vento Aureo reference, but in this case a little more of the RDM variety.

So. Stormblood. Its real. Its the expansion and it is coming in summer next year. Surprisingly still not for Xbox One, unsurprisingly however it is not coming to the Playstation 3. Square Enix is finally dropping support and as of the day of patch 4.0 attempts to load the game on PS3 systems simply will no longer work.
The good news however is from today till December 31st PS3 owners who have yet to upgrade will be able to do it now completely free of charge, including collectors editions. Which compared to Bungies "we will give you a bit of a discount but you need to give us more money" approach is very nice, though for a sub game i suppose it all evens out in the longrun.
Its a little sad to see the PS3 era end. To know the copy on my shelf is now just a disc with no use which is odd since i still have my "Vanadiel Collection" of FFXI and its first two expansions i can reinstall and play any time -for now at least- and it feels like the last vestiges of 1.0 are being put to rest in a way. Its officially a PS4 game now with a last gen version running on borrowed time for a few more months. Thats a strange feeling. Though with the PS3 hardware being around 12 years out of date it is a necessary thing. Last gen was the longest console generation in history and while graphics are entering a period of diminishing returns for increased polycounts the background numbers need more power to simply do more things and the PS3 was really holding the game back development wise, hell they are even suggesting you abandon 32 bit OS's on pc as well at this point. Hopefully this means bigger events, bigger areas and jut more freedom to add or change new systems.

Speaking of changing systems how about that "battle system overhaul" eh? half the internet thinks the games turning into Tera and the other half think its going back to FFXI like either of those will ever happen. Personally i think the dropping of the PS3 allowing for larger background changes means we are finally getting a 5th dungeon party slot for supports. Being BRD, MCH, RDM and maybe DNC. Since Yoshi P has mentioned RDM before and said "when we add support jobs" and lo and behold he made a big deal and taking off his hoodie and showing everyone his Scarlet Witch shirt this Fan Fest which isn't exactly the most subtle way of saying RDM confirmed as he did with a Batman shirt for DRK last time around. If RDM is support then at least 3 jobs could be considered as such which is equal to the number of current healers and could justify expanding the party system to incorporate a 4th role people have been desperate for since 1.0.
Beyond that all we know is that the Ui is now going to change 'based on Job' which may mean something similar to many UI mods for World of Warcraft that allow players to change their windows and menus to suit the theme of their class e.g a Druid has wooden looking windows with leaves around the border or something. Accuracy may be gone completely for Healers and cross jobs skills will now be a set list for each role to cut down on clutter and usless abilities. So if you are a tank you can select provoke wether you leveled up a Gladiator enough or not.

Part of this overhaul comes from the new level cap of 70. Which is gonna be a doozy if they increase the exp requirements too much, i still have 3 combat, 2 crafting and 1 gatherer below 60 and while not super hardcore im not exactly the most casual player either. Doing it all again is going to be a slog if it is a huge exp jump. Still with new levels comes new abilities and since this game is reportedly almost 50% PS4 users this raises concerns for button space on a Dual shock 4 to say the least. So they are taking a hard look at skills like featherfoot and armour piece to see if they would be better served as passives instead of an off GDC filler button that takes up space.
For those of us that came from WoW which became a victim of its own ability bloat leading to overzealous pruning, class homogenisation and extremely bare bones class identity by the time i and around 48% of the userbase quit all this news is a little worrying i'll admit. HW classes feel like they are in a good spot right now (even if i think PLD at any level is dull as can be) and the idea of a huge shake up is worrying since this happened a few times before in WoW and one day a class you loved would simply not play at all the same way anymore and it was no longer something you enjoyed playing which sucked to put it mildly. For now all we can do is wait and see.

Story wise its no surprise that this is a story heading into Ala Mhigo to help the Stormblood rebels fight off the Galean Empire. This time around the MNK job will be the focus as DRG was to Heavensward and so far we have seen a soft confirmation of Red Mage and some things suggesting Dancer and a hard confirmation of multiple jobs in the expansion. The new High Legatus enemy Zenos Yae Galvus suggests Samurai so thats also being talked about but i'm still on the fence with this one.
The new hub will be the Rhalgr's Reach which should sound familiar to anyone who levelled a MNK in ARR and looks like a larger, more ornate version of little Ala Mhigo where the forests of the Black Shroud and the deserts of Northern Thanalan/Paglth'an meet so right from the hub the choices of areas seem to be very north or south verdant or sandy in nature to choose. However the concept and live in game dev video showed areas of woodlands, swamps, deserts, mountains and sea. One image has been pointed out as bearing an uncanny appearance to the haunted woods from FFVI where players fought the Ghost Train which as you can imagine has players excited.

The new areas will be connected to Gridania via Gyr Abania and Bealsars Wall that has tantalised players since 1.0 will finally be breached leading into a swampy region that is now just as filled with Garlean constructions as Ala Mhigan ruins. The Garlean Empire has been in control for 20 years. Many have acclimated to them and the children dont know anything life but one under the heel of the Empires rule. The Stormblod revels however remember when Ala Mhigo was "The Shield of Eorzea" and want to route the Empire from their lands and retake their homeland for themselves and all the refugees stranded in Thanalan.
So basically what everyone expected really. Not exactly a huge surprise but a necessary step in the story and a chance to restore the human capital? i imagine Hyur players will be really engaged with this since i can't name another mmo where Humans have no land of their own to call home and i'm sure that resonates with the players.

Outside of the story and new Jobs we have Eureka, the Forbidden Land a more exploratory and 'jump in friendly' Diadem 2.0 with world bosses, Notorious Monsters and will possibly be used for the 3rd XIV Relic instead of grinding tomestones, which would be nice. To grossly understate it. Along with new Primals (Doomtrain and Magus Sisters are my guesses) and "At least as many zones as Heavensward" and flying is making a return along with the aether system used in Coerthas/Dravania.

Overall Fanfest gave a lot of announcements but not too much concrete information with Yoshi P stating "if i dont save some stuff for the JP and EU fanfests they will kill me" and promises a bunch of new reveals in live letters and even in game in the next two months. Personally i am thinking Yda will be given a more prominent role in Heavenswards final patches and Alisae will be revealed to be a Red Mage which naturally would raise the question "Red Mages are not Sharlayan Magicians so where in her travels over the last few years did she learn the art?" Perhaps she will introduce us in the next patch to the future RDM class trainer? or perhaps in XIV Red Mage are brand new and she is the first and will herself be our teacher?

Stormbloods reveal has left us with a lot of speculation and food for thought, but over the next couple of months a lot more infos going to come in, for now all the internet can do is speculate and wonder.

But thats always half the fun isn't it?

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Dawn of the Final Day.png

Its late Thursday night as i type this. The day before Fan Fest 2016. Where con flu will spread, Fat Chocobos will be mounted -hopefully unrelated events- and we will be hearing the announcement of version 4.0 of Final Fantasy XIV and the games second Expansion Pack.

At this point its half predictions and half very likely expectations. We know that Square Enix has trademarked the term "Stormblood" for something and with no new game announcements its looking as though this is our expansion title. We also know Ala Mhigo is the next big story hook as we will finally see the Human Capital which was not even in the 1.0 Version of the game after all these years. Aside from that however its all a blank slate and educated guesswork for tomorrow. So how about some late night, the night before the day after guessing games?

First off i think its safe to say Playstation 3 support is finished. It was intended to end at 3.0 and quite frankly it should have ended there. It sucks for PS3 owners i know but it has reached the point where the 12+ year old hardware inside the PS3 simply cannot deal with FFXIV. The consoles were freezing up as far back as Leviathan and World of Darkness, they were crashing at the Void Ark and from what i have heard recently the final Alexander fights simply hardlock the console entirely. The PS3 had a rocky start but its become a stellar console with an amazing library of games but it is simply too old. Its had one of the longest lifespans of videogame hardware in history and its just not capable of running things designed for large scale multiplayer content anymore. It could barely deal with single player games like Metal Gear Solid 5 by the end and things like Alexander Prime and Ozma are just too much. Even the "Magic of the Cell processor" could only keep up for so long and i believe 4.0 is the time we see Square Enix finally give up the ghost and retire the version for good. Which considering the ads on the Playstation Twitter for a FFXIV PS4 edition sale listed as "the perfect time to upgrade" right before the 4.0 reveal i think thats a telling sign that the PS3 support is coming to an end in the next few patches.

Next up we need to talk about classes. I've said before what i think will occur in terms of place fillers should the class to job system return but since then more and more interviews suggest it isn't going to happen. So even though i would love to see Conjurer get Geomancer so everyone has some offensive capabilities it sounds like thats not the case, so what do we expect in that scenario?
For one thing the roles suggest Dancer or a new job like Machinist. Simply because the only Job left other than Dancer that heals is Chemist and thats a little too close to Alchemist in this game. Therefore it makes sense that a new healer job in 4.0 must be Dancer or something new. In terms of role based predictions i am still confident this is the safe bet for healers.
As for other jobs a lot of the community are expecting Red Mage and Samurai. Personally i think Red Mage is a sound bet for tomorrow. We are getting a dps job, thats a given. Following Machinists physical ranged dps with a close range magical dps like the fencing variant of Red Mages is a perfectly logical choice that i would expect -and it was my first FFXI job so i would love to give it a try! but that said, and i know this is a band aid ripping off situation for many, i don't think Samurai is going to happen.
See heres the thing. Samurais are desired to the point it makes people crazy. Ever since 1.0 "S-samurais the next job!" has been the mantra and people have been so crazy for this job there have been dozens of faked screenshots suggesting its "coming in the next patch for real this time, swear on me mum!" and it never does. We have seen one Samurai in game from Doma and thats it. Not an order willing to impart skills like Ninja. One guy. Which granted is kind of the same as the Dragoon story in a way but on the whole feels to constrained. In your story YOU are the azure Dragoon but there are plenty of other Dragoons. Thus far there is one Samurai and thats it. Not exactly the start of a new trend sweeping Eorzea is it?
While they could always simply address this with "the rest of them are in Ala Mhigo with the resistance" the last patch suggests this is not the case and the left behind Ala Mhigans are barely hanging on and resisting the empire completely alone. So while it would be nice to be wrong (i main NIN like a good piece of weeb garbage filling the stereotype remember) i sincerely believe Samurai isn't happening. Not just for lore reasons but because half the people want a dual wield melee dps and the other half want a spear using tank and a lot of recent comments about no class to jobs because of the balancing mess of Scholar and Summoner makes me think Samurai wont be a class upgrade like Dragoon but its own thing and right now they can't do that without upsetting half the people going crazy for its addition so its still on the drawing board. Thats my guess at least.
Of course there are also more theories that "Stormblood" will have a more Viking inspired theme and as such Final Fantasy 3's dual wielding axe/hammer using tanky job the Viking will be making its reveal tomorrow.

So new jobs are expected, Ala Mhigo is expected and PS3 support being dropped is looking extremely likely. I guess the only other reveal is the last untouched frontier for the game: Will they finally sort out a deal to bring XIV to the Xbox One? if there was ever a place to announce it that would be here and with MS's current Xbone/Windows 10 cross play strategy it would make sense to bring it over, if only Microsoft could finally deal with the 'cross platform play' issue thats been holding it off for the last few years. Personally i'm no fan of the system for a lot of reasons but there were lots of FFXI players on Xbox 360 and they have been very vocal that it sucks to see Playstation consumers get the next online title in the series while they simply get a "Not right now" reply for over 4 years and counting.

So here we are. Tomorrow brings the Fan Festival and while tie in events to things like FFXV and the FFXII rerelease are to be expected the real bread and butter is 4.0 and i guess by this time tomorrow we will know if "Stormblood" is our next big adventure or not. Till then sleep tight Warriors of Light, its a big day tomorrow!

Monday, 10 October 2016

Three Thousand, Seven Hundred and Two.

3702. Thats a small number in terms of MMORPG playerbase numbers in any regard. Unless you are Wildstar i suppose. In XIV however thats pretty damn small. After all its the 2nd biggest sub MMORPG after World of Warcraft. Thats not small numbers is it? but in comparison 3702 certainly is.

See the census is in and if you happened to complete the Youkai Watch event, which has recently finished and its rewards can no longer be claimed, then you are one of 3702 players worldwide that has gotten that above pictured Neon Nightmare that is the Whisper A-Go-Go! mount. So yeah, savour that exclusivity i suppose.

You could wonder why but i think its rather obvious isn't it? It was the grind of it. People saw the increasing number of Legendary Youkai Medals required and the rough estimates of around 1700-2000 Fates to attain enough -personally i think it took me around 500 so either they upped rates or those estimates were waaaay off the mark- and people were simply scared away from it.

 That and it probably didn't help that Youkai Watch has been something of a dud in the West. At the time of writing the second game has been announced but compared to its "This could be the replacement for Pokemon!" reaction in Japan the western reception to Youkai Watch has been largely unnoticeable. It released to no fanfare or critical praise, review scores didn't exactly suggest anything groundbreaking and the sales were pretty low. Perhaps the roots in Japanese folklore being more prevalent than the Pocket Monsters more eased in folklore roots just has no appeal outside its native region? Regardless this was a tie in event for a game in the west that is already being forgotten as the 3DS reaches the end of its life cycle and Pokemon Sun and Moon is really the last big hurrah for the system and choosing between Youkai Watch 2 and that isn't going to be a hard choice for anyone under the age of like 30.

So thats the thing though right? Its not a Square Enix title, its not a title popular in the west and there must have been enough data from the Anima Relics at that point to suggest people at large have tired of the grind heavy nature of Heavenswards none story content. So why put it in at all for us? theres other regional things we have missed. Every MMORPG has them. For years completionists in WoW were haunted by the images of a Gold Pig pet on their forever incomplete pet lists from a China only Coca Cola promotion for example. Lots of events are region specific in online games. Hell back in my teens i was way into Maple Story and that actually had region specific zones! So why add Youkai Watch to western servers at all?

Simply put? Filler. Of course there is the fact that our server divides are a lot less important than other games where regions are locked and you must rebuy a different version of the game to play in different regions but even with that in mind i believe the event as a whole was not just an advertisement for a 3DS game that had long since released in Japan and somewhat bombed in the West. I think it was a good way to try and give players a time consuming activity in one of the largest dry periods in the game to date. Did it work though? ehh kind of. I breezed through getting the Minions in a weekend and then ended up getting a couple of weapons a week over two months after the fact. In objective terms all those fates got me a lot of exp. for alt Jobs i am still levelling and the insane number of Grand Company seals bought enough maguffins for multiple Hyperconductive Relic quests to be completed when the nerf hit.

I can't exactly say this was a fun experience however. It was basically equivalent to leveling Miner or Botanist for me. Throw on a podcast or a Lets Play video on my Laptop and watch/listen while mindlessly grinding enough fates hoping a coin would drop till i had enough and left it for a few days and then repeated till i was done. It wasn't exactly hard, or even that tedious. It was mediocre and inoffensive but ultimately not fun or that rewarding and i just did it because it was a dry spell and i am a completionist. Its over, i got one of 3702 copies of this mount and years from now people will say "dude where did that ridiculous mount come from?" and will probably sigh and make some comment about 'a lot of hours wasted thats where' and thats really all you get from this event. A few neat weapon Glamours aside that is.

Ultimately though i don't think i will miss this event like i have missed some of the others including the FFXIII ones and i cannot stand Lightning at all. Its over and i got all the rewards. Checklist complete right?

Though when its said and done the amount of people i saw regularly venting how "This has actually put me off buying Youkai Watch and i was planning to before this!" might be suggesting that this event may in fact have had the opposite of the desired effect for this brand exercise. Can't win em all i suppose.

Still with this out of the way and the Unidentified step nerfed the game is once again lacking a big grind outside of the Umbrite. Which just makes me worry whats in store for the next Relic stage. Thats a ways away though and for now i can relax and finish leveling up my last few crafters and combat jobs before the expansions over.

Till the next grind hits that is. Which i will complain about but i know i'll do it. Gotta chase that shiny carrot and all that.