Slave to the Game

Deadly Dailies

I find it very interesting that the format that most mobile games use is that you have to come back every day.  They usually also give you a daily thing to do as well, to keep you there so that you’ll hopefully spend money on stuff that you want.  Now, you likely already know that I am one of those people that like to spend money on random stuff I want in a game.  So…this isn’t great.


It’s different when something is subscription based, and that’s all there is to it.  Ultimately, if I cannot play for the day, that is fine.  Sure, I didn’t use that one day I paid for a subscription, but I’m not going to tear myself apart for it.  There are also weekly dungeons and stuff in games like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, or Final Fantasy XIV.  But again, less pressure because it’s a weekly thing.  

Games that are free like Genshin Impact or Hearthstone have dailies that they give you.  And while Hearthstone’s piles up to three at a time, Genshin’s dailies are extremely important.  I’ve actually decided to stop playing Genshin, which is a huge thing for me, because it has a strong cultural impact and I want to support Chinese games.  They deserve better love.  But all these games that want daily things done for them are starting to eat into my time.  By the time I have finished all the dailies for my games, I have no free time left.  That’s just it.  There’s no more of the day left after I get back from work, and it’s really cutting into my single player gaming time.

Not to mention the stress of it all.  Knowing that primogems from the dailies in Genshin were my only access to getting more characters, going in every day was a must.  Guild Wars 2 gives you two pieces of gold and achievement points, of which the latter is harder to come by.  However, both of those are still not a huge deal.  They’re important, but I’m not kicking myself for missing a day or three.  I think part of the stress of Genshin was that I started on Day 1 and I didn’t want to lose that streak.  

And now that I’ve stopped…it’s been extremely relieving.  This actually happened with Fire Emblem Heroes as well.  I don’t regret any of my time in both games.  I enjoyed them a lot, especially Genshin Impact.  But I can’t keep up with the time I have left in my day.  I spread myself thin trying to go to work, practice art, keep up with entertainment media, and do chores.  I usually paraphrase the line from Bill Watterson: “There’s not enough time to do all the nothing in the world.”  

I get myself so worked up about getting skins in games where I don’t play with people.  I usually play solo, even in multiplayer games.  I think for me it’s more of a “dress up” thing than it is presenting myself to people.  This means I still care about doing the time-limited stuff.  It still eats at me now, that I’m missing out on stuff in Genshin Impact and I have to push myself out of that mindset.  I guess the feeling of missing out is very real.  Worse even, Genshin Impact’s events also include lore and story elements, so if you miss out on that, you’ll never get to play that story.

However, I just can’t commit to this sort of binding anymore (says the person who plays Final Fantasy XIV).  I think it really started eating at me when I was looking at my subscriptions for streaming services and realizing how unsustainable it was getting.  I’m not “financially successful”, so I probably shouldn’t be writing about video games or something.  I’m starting to cut down on streaming services and other subscriptions because I can’t afford it anymore.  It goes both ways.  In a way, subscriptions really aren’t that much money.  Like, an hour’s worth of work, but many subscriptions start piling quick.  Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Discovery+, HBOMax, Humble Bundle, World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, and so many other possibilities almost without notice.  It ends up becoming several days worth of work.  I don’t have all those, thank goodness, but look how fast it happens.  And don’t forget the subscription to life, like food and other monthly paid services.  Even if some streaming services are shared in a group it still is so much money in the long run.

It really is that feeling that I might not have the means to play catch up and be with the crowd, but I also would like to not be homeless.  Also, ironically, all this talk about subscription and demanded time makes me realize mobile games really should not be isolated for this.  Many games are like this and we should stop stigmatizing that only to mobile/free-to-play games.  I always mention how we should be healthy about our approach to video games and life, and yet here I was slaving away my time.  I’m glad I noticed, because the stress relief has been very helpful during a stressful time outside of video gaming.  Playing what I want to play has been so cathartic, and it makes me wonder what other underlying stress comes from me restricting myself.


I feel like all this focus on fomo really diverts people’s gaming away from fun.  Fun almost always requires that you’re not worried about time and meta-efficiency.  Until time begins its stretch into the eternities, we mortals have to make sure that we’re not burying ourselves in the chains that we believed bound us to our passions.  

Stay safe out there, I’ll see you next time!
Elise

Why I Love: Final Fantasy V

Ancestry

I played Final Fantasy in order.  As fun as the first four are, they haven’t aged too well.  Each one brought strengths to the table, and I feel like Final Fantasy V is the culmination of what they’ve learned.  Let’s take a walk through Final Fantasy’s life up to this point.

Final Fantasy
I played through some of this on mobile, and then I played through the whole game on the GBA collection.  I tried to play through this with the idea that turn-based RPGs were not overflowing with games.  You know how in a lot of RPGs, especially JRPGs, there are monsters where they just change the color palette and call it something different?  For some reason I LOVE that.  With less limitations on space, that could be more of a lazy thing nowadays.  It might be because I studied biology and simple things like that can mean crazy histories within a species.  I always imagine what it took to reach that point in the video game world.  I think that sort of “imagination running” keeps video games so alive to me.

The first game doesn’t really do a good job of telling you where you’re supposed to go and what you’re supposed to be doing, especially in the GBA version where there are bonus things to do that I thought were part of the original game but were totally not.  It’s an annoyance now, but it’s also nice to see the gaming world how it was back then when game guides were totally a thing.  Calling friends or those help lines were really a thing back then!  Without them, you’re forced to explore every bit of world to try and get you where you need to go, which would be a lot more fun if there were more things to find.  Haha.

That takes me to one more point.  Back then, I don’t know how many people actually owned a lot of games.  Remember when constant sales weren’t a thing?  Remember when games costed a ton?   So having a game last really long, whether through wandering around or grinding (or both at the same time) is actually fit for the time.  Or you can …go outside and stuff.

Final Fantasy II

This was also played on the GBA collection.  The proficiency system.  I love it.  It might not be the best thing ever, but that mechanic was enjoyable to me.  They don’t really use this system that much up to V, but they were definitely exploring their way through RPGs and I think this is a nice result of that.  It could have been worse. 

There were also more people of significance.  People that apparently meant something.  …my memory is very fuzzy concerning story.  It still wasn’t as significant as Final Fantasy games now.  

But I still liked it!

Final Fantasy III

I played this one on…PC.  A billion classes.  Okay, not a billion, but there are a lot more classes, and this is when Final Fantasy decides they can do whatever the world they want with making more classes.  That’s okay with me!  You can pretty much do that with all the characters too.  That was kind of…strange to me.  But this was still a fun experience with understanding how we can go about leveling these classes to benefit the party as a whole.  Also, on the 3D versions, the chibis are really cute.  I really like the battle theme in this one.

Final Fantasy IV

This is where story and characters start getting into being…well, a story and characters with meaning.  I was actually invested in the characters and the world.  It was still a bit confusing at times, but a lot less so than the first game.  At least I had more motivation to see what would happen next.  I played that remake one on PC, so I think this has the time-based battles.  It was kind of difficult to adapt to after three games in regular turn-based style, but I think it’s worth the change.

Final Fantasy V

V is most of these things combined.  Unfortunately, I had to play the fuzzy version on Steam, but it didn’t affect things too much.  It had a good story and characters that I really liked.  The classes could be interchanged and I could still customize them to what I wanted my party to be like.  It still keeps a good final fantasy feel.  A lot of the emotion I get from playing V is because I went through the journey of the first four, and we can look and see how far we’ve gone.  Especially in franchises, the games do not exist in a vacuum.  The journey beforehand most definitely affects the way we see the games when we play them.  

That being said, I think it’s arguable that Final Fantasy IV should have a spot on the ULTRA.  It sits in my Honorable Mentions right now, and it is the first game to actually start that list.  I’m not as knowledgeable on game design of turn-based RPGs as I am with other games, but I really think the turning point for Final Fantasy started with IV.  V is proof that the developers can build on what was learned in the past, even if a game didn’t turn out to be perfect.

I think the thing that companies struggle with today is learning from previous mistakes.  Some really have become executive amalgamations for the money, and although developers deserve pay, it can degrade game quality by quite a bit.  Even worse, it may break down the morale of those wanting to make games that did their best only to have it shot down by the decision makers.  

Humans can’t really improve unless they make mistakes, and we can’t move on from our mistakes if we cling to them.  As consumers, we have a direct connection to video games that makes us extremely powerful.  It is good to take action when a game dares to siphon the money out of us, or does something absolutely terrible design-wise.  We also have the power to do some bad things to companies, like holding grudges for…well, ever.  Companies may not be our friends, but they really can’t get better if we don’t let them.  Thankfully, the vocal minority is the one shouting and claiming unfair designs or things like that when things are actually okay.  I think sometimes we need to take a few steps back and remember that companies consist of human beings who have motives and dreams of their own.  They’re dreamers, perhaps even more so than us in this industry, because they actually make the games, and yet we hold the power of the industry.   

The best kinds of companies build on previous games and know what they should improve on by themselves.  I see this in Square / Square Enix as they go along Final Fantasy.  Mistakes will come.  Sometimes there will be such mistakes that really knock a franchise off its course, but I think proper experimentation and getting themselves back up are what makes companies even stronger (if the executives are willing to part with the money again to try).  The best companies don’t necessarily look for what players want, but what they need in order to have fun.  We see this in some of the best designed games out there where fun is brought to the table in a way that gamers don’t realize they wanted.  Although the early days were rough, Final Fantasy V (and yes, IV,) are good examples of that.

I love the far and wide opinions of the Final Fantasy series and how different people like different eras.  What are your favorite eras?

Final Fantasy V is ranked 125 on the ULTRA.  We’ll see you next time on What I love!