Saturday, 23 June 2012

SE's special attack

At VanaFest 2012, SE finally launched a special attack to save dying FFXI: New expansion pack, with new areas, storyline, and new jobs.

There are already rumor about SE going to release new expansion, new zones and new storyline few days ago. But they certainly used a bigger move than I expected: New jobs. Of course new area and new storyline is welcomed, and would certainly give some new life to this 10 year old MMORPG. But new jobs, that's a bigger special move than above all else; it's unexpected, hard to execute, and certainly a kill them all desperate but cheap special move, shows dev team's determination to save this dying game.

By releasing new jobs, they're going to face a challenge that they're unable to solve for years: job balance.

For past years, FFXI's player base decreased fairly fast, and every once a while we heard "This game is dying" voice. In 2009 we heard this game is dying, SE's new mini-expansion is unable to save it. So SE used their first special move: New lv cap to lv 99, plus new Abyssea Expansion.

Abyssea not just introduced entirely new game mechanics, but also changed a lot of old FFXI fundamentals that made the game interesting for a while: Super high WS dmg, low man friendly content, fast obtainable gears, invincible brew, crit-hit dmg pwned all etc. But most important of all, it's "Relic for Causals": Empyrean weapons. Empy satisfied causal and average player's dream to obtain a top tier weapon. Golden rule of MMORPG No.1 is, you play if you want an item. For those who is unable, and will never get a relic at 75 era, Empyrean weapon is something made ppl stay a lot longer. For a game that stayed at lv 75 for years, a new lv 99 cap is also interesting, made players wonder what will the game be like at lv 99.

Of course, novelty doesn't stay long. After everyone and their mother got their empy, and tired of Abyssea thing, you see ppl started quitting again. Lv 99 era isn't nearly as exciting as Abyssea era. Although SE been handing out quite a lot of items post Abyssea, such as Dyna revamp and solo-able relic, or Neo Nyzul fix and hand out top tier armor that can be done in weeks, none of those item stop the decrease of population.....and certainly it's not enough to. They tried to come up with new event legion, apparently it was also quite a failure. What are everyone going to do after they obtain all those best gears again? Made more gears to trash old gear? Or just let them stay on top tier so everyone quits after they got them? Any new event, it either has to hand out top tier gear to attract ppl, or they will be unpopular like Legion, new limbus and WoE. Either way it isn't gonna work, unless there's something big, and able to change the game fundamentally, that doesn't rely on handing out items.

In that way, 5th expansion, plus new job seems to be one of the strongest, and yet most risky solution. Just when nobody expect SE to add anymore expansion, let alone new jobs, SE decided to make this move, shows how desperately they are to save this game, that they have to use this cheap move.

I'm always against adding new jobs in this game tbh. This many jobs, it just doesn't work in a MMO, unless SE has the ability to come up with events with more freedom to use different job combo.

At this point of games, only a few, really few jobs that shines in EG group event, and there are some jobs that doesn't have much use in EG, and pretty much are play for fun/solo type of job. EG job is pretty much WAR DRK SCH BRD WHM COR SMN only, with some use of PLD, BLM and THF, every other job is really just play for fun, play for love or play for solo.

In terms of melee DD, WAR DRK dominates the realm of melee DD, with SAM MNK fairly close if player has good gear, and DRG can only catch up if you have Mythic+super elite gears. So we already getting surplus of melee DD jobs, that some job ended up having to sit out unless you're truly dedicated. I rarely invite a DRG to VW, unless it's a pimp DRG that I know of or unless I'm fighting T3, which it will die in 1.5~3 min regardless of setup. I almost never invite it to Prov run though. I also often skip SAM in Prov, seeing majority of SAMs I pt with falls behind DRK WAR in Prov, I stopped caring about it. And I have to admit I mostly invite MNK to prov for proc.....inb4 you just pt with gimp SAM MNK etc, an average geared DRK and 2hr reso WAR is just stronger than average geared SAM and MNK in prov.

The realm of melee DD is just like this, strongest survive. Of course you can argue that each DD has it's own unique aspect, such as MNK has blunt dmg, DRG has piercing etc. But at this point of game, it's just not that relevant.

Adding even more melee DD doesn't really work no? It's either has to be as strong as WAR DRK, or it will become next loldrg, a job nobody want you to play unless you have Mythic.

There are other melee jobs, such as PLD NIN BLU that should take the tank position, but sadly tank is rarely used now and more like "holding" NM nowadays, thanks to the flaw in enmity system.

In terms of ranged DD, we have RNG, and pretty much RNG is best at it.(Pretty certain other ranged or pet job isn't as strong as RNG atm). Not that ranged dmg is that good nowadays, but it's unlikely we'd need another ranged job when melee TP burn>all now.

In terms of mage jobs and support, BLM are best nukers, but nuke dmg is rarely needed nowadays when melee TP burn>all. WHM is best healer, so no point to add another healer and become more subpar healer when we already have RDM and SCH. SCH is there for embrava and stun, and slowly replacing BLM's stun duty and BRD's magic haste duty. RDM is supposed to be the debuff/buff job, but debuff in this game is fairly pointless, and no game breaking RDM buff at all, making RDM one of the most irrelevant job on the job list unless in some rare occasion you need CS. COR is there to buff DDs against higher lv NM if attack uncapped, nothing more, nothing less, every other buffs are irrelevant.

And for pet jobs, ppl use it in WOE the most, rest aren't all that useful besides solo sadly.

Rest of the jobs, especially the hybrids, PUP BLU DNC, are play for fun and replaceable(BLU can proc in VW, so technically it's still a half EG job though)

The problem is, this game has every type of jobs and every role covered. And majority of events already has most optimal setup. With majority of player has multiple job leveled, pretty much everyone already using optimal setup for every event. There are just no room to fit in any new job at all, either it's going to be a new game breaking job and making old job shitty, or become new PUP DNC RDM that no one really care about it. The events in this game, just doesn't have room for different strat when it comes to efficiency.

So why are SE adding new jobs when this game doesn't NEED new jobs?

A cheap move to save the game, obviously.

Adding new job is certainly exciting, and will add more chemistry to the game. It will draw attention, a lot of attention. But in practice, it's mostly a move that is just there to tell the world to come back and play FFXI a bit more, but nothing else. It won't solve the fundamental problem of this game, that everything has an optimal setup, and certain job will be dead or replaced as time progress. I can still see the tragedy of RDM coming, hot mage at 75, slowly become lolRDM when SCH getting more and more mage spot in event. I can see 3 years later with even more new event, some job still get to sit out of the new event, except before it was 10 jobs sitting out, 3 years later it's 12 jobs sitting out. I can see ppl will lv 2 new jobs when they're out, play with them, have fun with them, try them in EG, after a while nothing will change still, EG event will still be dominate by a few jobs. Either new jobs replaced old jobs and become new most optimal setup, or it never get to replace old job and have to sit out.

I call it cheap move because adding new jobs will never solve the fundamental problem of this game, despite it gets ppl's attention. 3 years later I can still see players QQing on official forum; "Fix this job, fix that job, this game sucked I'm quitting".

Are there any way to solve this fundamental problem? Sadly I can't think of any, besides delete some jobs on the job list, or maybe making active event 100 instead of 3, so every job gets a bit of advantage in certain event. But then new problem will occur, players must gear for 5~10+ jobs if they want to do all events, won't have enough inv for all jobs they have, and must abandon elite play style.(Elite play style means only gear 1~2 jobs, has a lot of situational gears, and gear those 1~2 jobs very well with perfect gear every slot and swap situational gears for everything)

Either way, I only see new job creates more problem, more jobs get to sit out, more people get to abandon elite play style due to lack of inv.

However, since SE is unlikely to solve the fundamental problem of this game(and many MMORPG in general), I guess keep going for it is the only way to save this game. Ignore all the job balance, ignore all the so called "lol jobs", and just let it be for the sake of fun......hey, despite ppl lol@ PUP, there are still PUP lovers too.

We already have too many jobs, now we get more.

Isn't it nice?

Or isn't it an nightmare?

Saturday, 16 June 2012


Anyone who've play long enough with me will know that I'm obsessed with collecting VW parse data. I collect parse data not just in battles I've fought, but also collect parse data if someone I know of was in a pt I wasn't in. Ganu and Ager often send me provenance parses before I even ask, even if I'm not in the pt.

One main reason why I'm obsessed with collecting data is probably because parse analyzes each player's capability and traits in the pt with numbers. Before I started collecting parse data, I never know each players can have such wide array of different trait in a MMO. If I'm in the pt, I was often too busy to observe. But after reading parse data, it gives clear idea of what kind of player each player is. Are you a player that only epeen with dmg and never proc? Or are you a player that always proc, and proc faster than everyone else? Do you die a lot in VW? Or you somehow always survived? Do you click macro fast enough? Or often fall behind in macro clicking speed? Do you often forget to pop temps and food? Do you WS on Pil and waste TP when shield is up? Do your DD just fall behind everyone else's in terms of dealing dmg? Or your DD always top the parse by a large margin, or somehow dealt more dmg than everyone expected your job to do? Are you a player that just focused more and make less mistake, or you make more mistake than everyone else?

After I started collecting parse data, I get to "know" many players on this server, which sometimes I find it interesting to observe. I guess, I'm just interested in the "software"(play style, traits) of each player, not just "hardware"(gears, jobs)

However, I often meet many player that is against VW parse, for various reasons, thus time to clarify.

1. If you parse, you see WARs spamming Ukko and don't proc.

This is No.1 excuse against parse. So let me say it this way, if you see a EV/HQ when enemy HP at 90% and don't proc, you're a retard. If parse is stopping you to proc, then you're a retard. It's not parse's fault that the player doesn't proc, it's player's fault.

But NQ proc isn't worth the effort if you're a DD, and if NM HP at 5%, and still 45 sec remaining on fana+ red capped, then it's not worth the effort to do HQ/EV when enemy is going to die in next 10 sec too.

2. Your dmg isn't important, getting your job done is more important.

But for majority of jobs in VW ally, doing dmg is also part of your job.

3. You can't do anything about it if parse shows someone's DD is gimp.

If that gimp DD is me, then I can try to fix it after reading the data. But if it's other pt member, it is true that if I'm not pt lead, or if pt already started fighting, I can't do anything about it. What I can do is next time I should avoid inviting that person as a DD on anything important.

The fact is, after I "know" each player, I can do a rough estimate on how fast this pt can deal dmg in set time frame, and estimate the success rate of this pt. For NMs like Provenance Watcher, it's best to kill it in under 2 min, if it last over 3.5 min the chance of wiping will increase quite a lot. And there are certain amount of dmg pt must do in 2 min if you want to kill it that fast. Same for B.rex, before weaken items added, if pt can't kill B.rex with 1 HQ proc, the chance of it becoming a drag and zombie fight will increase.

I also noticed, the player who parses often has stronger DD ability in VW, I believe it's mainly because player that parses are more willing to play aggressively and care about dmg output more. Since parse also shows human error and every mistake you make, those who parses are probably also focused more and makes less mistake.

For example, after I got parse data from Ganu, I noticed I made more mistake than he does: Higher death rate in VW, slower QD/WS speed and so on. This forced myself to focus more to improve my performance, revamp my macro(since I don't use spellcast/windower, macro is often one reason why I fall behind) and so on.

Before I started collecting parse data, I usually focus on the gear grind aspect to improve my job. Now I realized that gear doesn't mean everything.....I added new recast echo, added dusty wing macro, and dmg taken- set macro right beside WS macro, and started to spam macro button before WS animation goes off. Those aspect aren't something I cared about back then.

4. Why do you care?

Why do you care about having optimal output and focused this much for 1% difference? Why do you play MMO and avoid making mistake like a rl job? Why do you care at all, it's just a fucking game.

I guess it depends on your personal philosophy about playing a MMO. Personally I take COR very seriously and treat it like a real job, or a piece of art work even. I always ask myself "Are there any way to do better?", and never satisfy with my performance. I will never tell myself "You're doing good enough", I always tell myself "I can do better than this". The moment I tell myself I'm doing good enough, it will be the time I stopped improving.

Once I joined Someone else's Provenance pt, before enter dragon BC I rolled a No.9 chaos and No.6 fighter on DDs. Pt lead asked, "Is your roll ready?", I replied, "If you're ok with No.6". He said "sure". Then 1 member go afk for 1 min, I decided to use this time to try for better number. After he came back from afk, my pt already had No.11 No.10 buffs.

Honestly, getting No.6 or No.10 doesn't make very big difference in a 2.5 min fight. I'm not going to get any extra reward from doing this. Is it dumb to care this much in a MMORPG when you're not going to get paid or something?

Maybe it's just how I live with this job, I guess. The title of this blog is "A life of pirate", thus playing this job probably already became part of my life.

Sometimes I do feel frustrated, when I can't get certain gears, or when spellcast/windower users just WS/QD faster than me. Sometimes I wonder why it's this tiring to play a game. But the satisfaction it brought once I got my desired outcome is also unmatched. I guess that's the main reason to play MMO to begin with.

5. Parse is there to make other ppl feel bad and inferior, it's just there to boost your self-esteem.

Yes, it's right, parses are for elitist epeens, for satisfaction value. But so does playing this game and do everything else. I can argue that doing every event in this game, like VW, dyna, abby etc are for self-esteem and satisfaction value. You grind a gear like AF3/empy/relic/VW drop, you feel satisfied after you got it and made those who does't have the gear jelly, that's exactly the same thing as parse. You go help friend/lsmate to get their stuff done, you feel satisfied that you have the power to help ppl, that's exactly the same thing as parse too. The sole purpose of playing MMO, is already for self-esteem but nothing more.

And whether other player will feel bad and inferior, it's their problem. If they care about their performance, they will feel inferior. If they doesn't care, then they won't feel anything. The fact is, you can't stop someone from feeling inferior. Even if they don't feel inferior in MMO, maybe after they log off they will still feel inferior in certain area. The only way is to deal with it and get over it. You can't really stop any human being from feeling inferior tbh.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Atmacite setup research

So after I gained 3 atmacite access, I've been messing around with most optimal atmacite/roll setup for COR in VW, since I strictly use COR only in provenance nowadays and almost never use anywhere else.

Basically, I treat atmacite as 3 buff slots, rolls are 2 buff slots, and there's extra embrava buff slot that may or may not be up. Song buff slot=AGI always, so it can be ignored. And I've been debating with Ganu about the most optimal setup for the atmacite+roll buff slot for WF spam. Only talking about WF here because I rarely do other VW and use last stand nowadays.

The Atmacite buff slot has several choices: Coercion(regain+3 AGI+3), Destruction(MAB+15), slayer(AGI+10, fire elemental attack+15), Assailment(MAB+20, Addle+15%), Discipline(save TP+20, AGI+3).

The roll buff slot has 3 choices, Save TP roll, MAB roll and regain roll.

So the question is about aiming for TP gain or aiming for dmg, and if aiming for TP gain, regain or save TP?

As for atmacite, Atmacite of slayer is pretty no brainer. The amount of dmg this atmacite added is just too huge that other TP atmacite isn't going to catch up. As for Assailment, I didn't upgrade it. Not just it costs over 5 mil in gil to upgrade, there's also addle+15%, which isn't confirmed whether it will affect magical WS or not. Considering how broke I am, risking 5M on unconfirmed effect is something I can't do atm. So I go with destruction instead, which is much cheaper but no risk with addle.

So the 3rd slot is the debate between regain v.s save TP. So does rolls, if I use save TP atmacite, I pretty much have to use Misers roll also. If I use regain, then the only roll that benefit myself will be regain roll+MAB. So it's really debate between Coercion/destruction/slayer + tactician/wizards or Discipline/destruction/slayer + Misers/wizards or tactician, until I can fully upgrade Assailment.

Basically, a No.11 Misers+discipline gives about 28 extra TP. A No.11 regain roll+coercion gives 8TP every 3 sec, thus it needs 4 tick 12 sec for regain combo to beat save TP combo. Without embrava, sometimes it does take more than 12 sec to gain 100 TP, but under the effect of embrava, it's hard to imagine I can't WS faster than 12 sec not to mention there are temps. One /ra shot takes about 8 sec including /ra lag, so it's perfectly possible to WS faster than 12 sec under the effect of embrava with no lag and jam up on macros.

So pros for save TP combo:
Probably wins if I WS faster than 12 sec, which is entirely possible under the effect of embrava.

Have to have BOTH save TP roll+atmacite up to have greater advantage than regain combo. If I happened to reroll melee buffs mid-fight, or roll gets dispelled, save TP combo will be inferior to regain combo. Also save TP combo has 2 AGI lower than regain combo.

And regain combo is exactly the opposite, Pros:
2 extra AGI, still functional if 1 roll gets dispelled or if I reroll melees.

Doesn't give more TP than save TP combo with embrava effect or if pt just happened to proc none stop.

Now say if I use save TP combo, the 2nd roll is wizards v.s regain roll.(But if I use regain roll, 2nd roll is always wizards since save TP roll is useless without atmacite).

This debate is much like old DA roll v.s SAM roll. DA roll always adds dmg regardless what number you get, while SAM roll only adds dmg if your number shaves 1 hit off. In a short fight like Provenance dragon, regain roll may or may not add extra WS, sometimes it does, sometimes any jammed macro,slow reaction or just TP overflow regain roll may ended up doing nothing. While wizards always adds dmg to all WSs regardless the number.

Thus in short fights like dragon, under the effect of embrava, I tend to do save TP combo and wizards roll. Without embrava I tend to do regain for faster WS. Based on last Dragon zerg parse,, my WS frequency isn't entirely falling behind embravaed melees and still able to hit 3k~3.4k WF on dragon without resist.

After Assailment is done, it may be another research needed if removing 3 tick regain for extra 20 MAB is better or not.

I have to agree, timing JA and just DDing in general on this job is, well, hard. No matter how I try to time my JAs, there always seems to be a better way to WS faster etc. But maybe that apply to all jobs, that no jobs are easy to play without lots of thinking and focus.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Next step

It's been 1 week since I'm done with Neo Nyzul(Thaumas 5/5), and I can't help but start thinking about the future of this game.

I have to say I'm quite impressed with the performance of Thaumas. It's a huge improvement compare with my TP set pre-Thaumas. In dyna I often engage one EP mob, and dropped it's HP to 5% before proc before I even notice, 3 months ago when I started solo dyna, my TP dmg wasn't anywhere close to this back then, with the addition of lots of DEX and items like rancor collar, it has noticeable improvement.

However, during certain conversation with Moghat ppl, I've been wondering, or maybe somewhat worried, about the direction of this game is going.

Basically, I 5/5 entire set of gear in about 1 month. Although I did some run before optimal setup was discovered, but after I finish Almace and started static with 2x SCH, took about 1 month to 5/5, which is one of the fastest 5/5 endgame gear in my life.

Look at other 75 era gears that I have 5/5:

AF2: Took me 10 months to 5/5 my BLU and COR relic, about 1+ month to +2 and finish EXP trial for COR.  NQ was done before dyna update though, now that you can enter dyna everyday solo, probably can 5/5 in a month. However, now that NQ AF2 is also no longer that great for many jobs.

Campaign set: Took me 4 months of campaign to obtain 3 pieces starting from rank 1 and 0 AN, and a couple more months to get 2 more piece to finish the set. Campaign body was the best COR melee body back then, pants being 2nd best and feet sidegrade, those 3 were the main piece I trying to obtain, after I got head/hands it took more than 8 months total. It's however much faster to grind AN nowadays though.

Assault set(Yigit): Took me 2 assault statics to finish 5/5 too, so that's probably 8~9 months.

Hydra armor from Dyna-tav: Took me a couple of days of EXPing in Tav to 5/5, but that was after dyna update when those armors now total shit. If it's 75 era probably need months too.

Other incomplete gears:
Crimson gear set(w. abj): Got my 1st piece of crimson greaves 2.5 years ago, now still missing body to 5/5.

Homam: Did limbus for 5 months to get my pants, homam set stayed at 2/5 for years.

Athos's: Spammed VW since they're out for 5 months, still missing head.

Salvage: Never have more than one piece of Morri feet...........

ZNM Enki set: Never have more than one pieces of legs too..........

Compare with the above mentioned, Thaumas not just takes least time to complete, also provides biggest upgrade and widest utility. Personally I use it for 3 different WS(WF, last stand, Exenterator) and melee TP, for all those category it's major improvement, not just sidegrade. And it literally trashed majority of old gears I owned.....My Athos's is mostly evasion set(body/feet) only with little use since I can cap eva in majority of situation when evasion needed with just thaumas. Athos's legs took me a while to get and spreadsheet shows it only possibly beats Thaumas in very few occasion. And Athos's set is still new, out for 5 months, already became a set of gear that's not all that useful, that's why I still don't have head. I don't even know if anyone bother to do VW now, as many of the VW gear is fairly pointless to have and never drop, the reward/effort ratio isn't nearly as good as Nyzul.

Considering it's being reported even none-optimal setup with NIN DNC WAR MNK SCH SCH can beat F100 with 20 clears on their first run, and you can pick your own gears after F100 clear, and really only need 1 month or less to clear 5 times, it's fairly safe to say Nyzul is another "hand out items" event like Dyna revamp and Abyssea. Hand out items means you have a lot more chance to get that gear by doing the event and reward/effort ratio is slightly better than 75 endgame.

About 2 years ago SE released Abyssea, with new lv cap gears like AF3 and empy, which trashed old gear by a large margin, and fairly fast to obtain, ppl been saying SE hand out items in Abby.

Then there came dyna revamp, a mostly boring grind, but able to solo a relic in 1~2 months, this is SE's move to hand out relic.

So majority of player either do Abby for empy/AF3, or relic.

Then there came Nyzul V2, after some adjustments everyone and their mother on the street has F100 gear too, which trashed majority of gears came before it, even newer AF3 and VW, that is as broken as ebody back at 75, but much faster to get and much more bandwagon. This is SE's move to hand out top tier armor.

Now 95% of player is either doing Abby, grinding relic in dyna(ADL included), or doing Nyzul when they log on.VW, legion and WoE much less popular now, when they require more effort to put a group together and reward/effort ratio not as good.

Now that if any event doesn't hand out items, nobody want to do it.

I've been wondering what's SE's next move. More revamps, and there really isn't much to attract more players unless SE hand out top tier items again.

So it became a loop, SE do more revamp, hand out more items, while player base getting smaller everyday. If reward/ratio isn't as good as abby/dyna relic/nyzul v2, nobody wants to do it, complained, and quit because they're tired of killing same VW for 500 times and no drop. And when they do hand out items, player finish everything in 1 month and have nothing to do again and quit.

I guess it's finally time for this game starting to get stuck in a wall. SE is unwilling to put more resource into anymore content, it seems that player base just shrinking really fast, majority of player on my server are JP now, and about 1.4k ppl on my server on NA prime time, which is much lower than 1 year ago when server just merged.

I wonder what next step would be? The idea of limbus doesn't sound attractive, and after I finished nyzul my life is pretty much reduced to dyna+provenance only(since provenance never give me shit). Maybe I should try legion, or maybe I should secretly lv a 3rd job and play with it for the sake of it, as the point to keep playing getting smaller and smaller everyday when player base getting this small.