When the lights go off in Eorzea

The current version of Final Fantasy XIV is redefining the term “lame duck.” This is a duck that is so lame it can no longer move under its own power, relying instead on a specially trained squad of ducklings to occasionally move its head toward food. How it trained the ducklings, I don’t know; that’s not really the point. It’s not a perfect analogy.

We’re very close to a final character copy and a server shutdown, at which point… the servers get turned back on again, I guess. Naoki Yoshida quite openly stated that if there is a large enough chunk of players who wanted the servers back on, he will make that happen, even though nothing more would get saved. This raises a variety of questions — chiefly, why anyone would want to keep playing the game with the explicit understanding that the whole game is getting rolled back before too much longer, but I’m not one of the ones who voted for the reactivation.

But as we enter the final phase — which is basically just through early next week, if you’re not keeping track — it seems as if it’s worth discussing the servers going down and then coming back on. Really, what else do we have to occupy our minds regarding Final Fantasy XIV right now?

One last hurrah.Pressing business

If you haven’t been keeping track of dates or just had allowed them to slip from your mind — as I had — it’s worth noting that any urgent bits of progress you feel the need to get finished before the second version of the game launches will need to be completed by October 31st. That means that you’re running out of time, or more accurately you are more or less out of time and need to put the finishing steps on what you’re doing.

Personally, I didn’t have a whole lot left that I felt the need to clear up. I may go and turn in a few last quests just for the sake of completionism, but there were several accomplishments that I knew I wasn’t going to have the time or the drive to clear before the version changeover. I accepted this as the price of doing business, essentially. Any major projects you have yet to start are probably going to go unfinished as well. When you return, it will be to a better place, hopefully.

There is one pressing matter that you may wish to look into, however: If you’ve been lazy and forgotten to get guild mark refunds, take care of that now. Seriously, log in, travel around, get the refunds you need. Where isn’t all that relevant, since all of your marks are going to be converted to gil, but you don’t want to miss out on that extra coin, do you? Of course you don’t. And any last few bits of dated gear that you want to buy should probably be taken care of quickly, although how relevant that will be is a tad more debatable.

After Wednesday, you can still take care of a few last elements, but none of them will matter. The game will come crashing down, and you’ll be left to wait for the servers to come back in in the near future… at which point I’m not sure what you can still accomplish.

I should be happier that miqo'te get their own outfit to cosplay as Ashe.  I'm not, though.Practice runs

I said earlier that I can’t understand the impulse to have the servers turned back on, but that’s only half true. Part of me completely understands because if this is the one game you play, the prospect of it turning off for four months or so is probably disheartening. You don’t want to be deprived for all that time; you want to be able to log back in and enjoy the game, even if you intellectually know there’s no point to playing.

The question becomes how long that mindset will persist, however, because I assure you that within about a week, you’re going to look back at what you did over the past week and ask yourself whether any part of it matters.

MMO achievements are tricky things at the best of times. Readers of my other columns will know that I’m facing several years of work and accomplishment gone like dust in the wind at the end of November, the sort of thing that puts the lie to the concept that these games are long-term investments. I’ve spent a lot of money and time in City of Heroes, but when it turns off, away go the things I worked toward.

But even then, I played with the tacit understanding that every step in the game was a step toward something. Maybe I wouldn’t make huge gains, but I would at least be making some progress toward an overall goal. I wouldn’t just get a chance to go out and level again without any hope of that mattering, and that’s exactly what’s going to happen when FFXIV comes back online. That’s not a lame duck, it’s an undead monstrosity lurching around and waiting for the final bullet that puts it out of its misery.

In theory, this could be a time to revitalize and rebuild the community. But the only people who can log in are the people currently playing when the game was turned off. Ms. Lady, for instance, couldn’t come back and tool around to see whether the game was more to her tastes now. The community’s fractured status isn’t going to be fixed by this gesture.

Nor does it have the usual saving grace of a beta — namely, the opportunity to practice a bit more. The game is changing so significantly that we’re not going to be able to transfer a lot of our skills over. More time practicing with your Paladin won’t mean you’re any better with the finished product.

So I can’t see myself playing the game much after the end of the world. That leads me to wonder what exactly the point is, but maybe it’s just not for me.