The Mog Log: Back in the high life again

The good news is that both Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV should be back online as of Friday. (I'm writing this on Thursday, so watch some last-minute wrench get tossed into the works.) The bad news is... well, really, that's all the news over the past couple of weeks. While the team has been working, it seems like improving a video game hasn't been at the top of anyone's priority list in the wake of the earthquake and subsequent devastation.

If I hadn't made this clear enough last week, that's pretty much the only reasonable response to what's been happening. It's astonishing that anyone has even been going on and working on the games, much less actively keeping players up to date about the status of the servers.

There's the distinct chance that you weren't able to log in as soon as the servers went live again yesterday, and even if you did, it was mostly a matter of checking back in and lounging for a few moments. So let's take a look at some of the ways to re-acquaint yourself with the games.

Get back to basics

One of the best elements of both Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV is flexibility. You don't need to create a new character to enjoy the starting game again, nor do you have to make another one each time you want to try a new class. So take advantage of that fact and start playing something you've never tried before, from level 1 on up.

Maybe you unlocked an advanced job an eternity ago and just never bothered leveling it. Maybe you can craft a fine weapon or crafting tool for a discipline you hadn't bothered exploring. Or maybe you have none of the above and would be stuck just like any other level 1 schlub, without any special toys to set you apart. The thing is, that's where the magic started for you.

Seriously, would you have kept playing if there weren't something magical about hunting rarabs in Ronfaure?

Usually there are endgame pressures and a leveling curve and so forth to keep you focused on the more important issues rather than just playing around in starter regions. But if there's one thing the shutdown has forced everyone to do, it's take a break from the pressure of HNMs and Abyssea and so forth. (Or from the higher-end faction leves in FFXIV, although that's not as regimented a progression system at the moment.) You won't be under any pressure this time around, and you'll be free to just enjoy the game again on your own terms.

Get out in the world and start from basics. Recapture all of the fun you had when starting a new character, even if it's just for a few hours of nostalgic bliss.

Event time

Of course, it'd be odd if you had no way to communicate with your linkshell during the downtime. Even though the forums are a recent addition to the game, players have long since found ways to keep in touch outside of the interface -- and by the time you're reading this, odds are good that the servers will be up again anyhow and allowing you all a stream of communication. So take advantage of that fact and start planning an event with your in-game friends.

Note that I'm not necessarily talking about the usual endgame events. I'm just talking about something for fun, a trip to a far-away and dangerous region or a low-level mission romp or even something abjectly ridiculous. The latter is obviously easier to do in FFXI due to the game's wider variety of activities, but while you can't hold a chocobo race, you can have a footrace from Ul'dah to Gridania or a naked level 1 discipline-grinding party.

That last one sounded way dirtier than it ought to.

A lot of the friendships that form in-game wind up following you outside of the game, but your first reason for interacting with these people is the fact that you share an interest in an online game. The best way to celebrate that shared venue's being available again is by spending some time with these people, preferably in a low-stress environment where everyone can just enjoy the fireworks (so to speak). Kick back and enjoy the ride.

Take a stroll

This is my personal choice for the first thing to do once I log back on. I'm going on a trip to places I haven't seen in a while, some of the strange and alien vistas from both Vana'diel and Eorzea. And while this does tie into just a bit of recapturing the magic from when you were new to the game, there's something far more simple going on here -- the server outage should have taught all of us a lesson.

The worlds that we inhabit with our characters are not half as solid as we'd like to pretend. Outages like what happened are exceedingly rare, but they're also entirely within the realm of possibility, and under the circumstances, the real world takes priority as it should. But that doesn't erase the memories formed from these unreal places or the importance that they hold, even though they could be gone in the blink of an eye.

I'm not suggesting that taking down the servers was a bad move. I'm saying that it drives home just how close the games we love always are to non-existence. Once the servers go down for good, there are no more second chances. It's a lesson that players for many games have already learned, inevitably the hard way.

So I'm going to take a trip to Ru'lude Gardens once I get back online, because I've always felt like the area has a calming and pleasant atmosphere. It'll be quiet, but that's just fine by me. It's just the sort of homecoming I want.

I hope everyone's enjoying himself back in the games, and feel free to let me know what you did when the servers came back on in the comments or by mail to eliot@massively.com. Thanks for all of the comments on last week's installment, as we had some really great feedback and better information on the state of events.

From Eorzea to Vana'diel, there is a constant: the moogles. And for analysis and opinions about the online portions of the Final Fantasy series, there is also a constant: The Mog Log. Longtime series fan Eliot Lefebvre serves up a new installment of the log every Saturday, covering almost anything related to Square-Enix's vibrant online worlds.
This article was originally published on Massively.