So, I'm sure most of you will have heard by now that FF14 is to be an MMORPG, and is scheduled for release next year. I'm quite excited at the thought; I hope that the developers can learn from their mistakes with FF11 (some of which are so integral to the game that only by making a new game from scratch can they hope to resolve them, e.g.: most NMs, defence formulas for PvE), and the thought of being there from the start is pretty cool. Plus it has mithra! But at the same time, some of SE's decisions worry me; their relationship with the playerbase being chief among them (see: the recent enfeebling "adjustment"). So, while I am apprehensive, I look forward to an open beta.
What is prompting me to write this entry, though, is the discussions which have resulted. Some people have started to do very good Chicken Little impressions, with the sky falling down, as they realise their "achievements" will be erased. To them I say what I said to my linkshell earlier: there is more to "achievements" than levels, items, and missions. These are merely convinient benchmarks to measure ourselves with, a numerical indicator of progress with fixed start and ends. However, they ignore perhaps the primary "achievement" that one can hope to do in an MMORPG: that of making friends and contacts. This is so intrinsic to MMORPGs that it's easy to over-look it, and it's so hard (impossible!) to measure that many will ignore it, but I consider it the best thing to "get" in any game of this nature: far better than your sword of blue-box is that friend who will follow you wherever, and laugh about it when you die a hopeless death surrounded by enemies. No one picks up an MMORPG thinking "I'm gonna play this game to get a Maat's Cap!"; they pick it up thinking "playing alongside other people in a game like this sounds fun!"
Put another way, "getting stuff" is not the main goal in this game; it is a side-goal to that of "having fun with other people".
Furthermore, consider: is your armor on an MMORPG "better" than your armor on an offline video game? Should it matter? When you finish an offline RPG, do you feel upset that the time you spent completing side-quests and gearing your characters is "wasted", as some are doing with regard to FFXI? No. You realise that "getting stuff" is only a part of the game - the "how you get stuff" is just as, if not more, important. It's easy to forget that.
Which leads me to my next point, which is what worries me. When FF14 comes out, what will happen to my friends who play FF11? Will they all move? I doubt it. Will they all stay? I doubt that, too. The inevitable conclusion is: I will lose contact with friends. That bums me out a little. Sure, I will inevitably make new friends, find new groups, and so on, but still, I rather like the people I "hang out" with right now. It feels a bit like the last year of school, with people anticapting their drifting away into different realms and losing contact. It's exciting, but a bit upsetting, too.
But, such is life. Social groups move on, evolve, mutate into new ones, and ultimately end. Just another way in which internet culture mirrors that of "real life".