[FFXIV] Random Acts of Kindness are Contagious

“The unkindness of your own relations has made you astonished to find friendship any where.” [Sense and Sensibility; J. Austen]

One of the few things that weren’t tuned down in FFXIV compared to its more unforgiving predecessor FFXI, is that dying still remains a firmly inconvenient affair in terms of getting your character resurrected. Granted, the harsh EXP penalty is gone but in lieu of graveyards or self-rez options in FFXIV, players can either return to their homepoint (which is frequently on the other side of the world because you only die on those field trips off the beaten path) or well, lie around and hope for someone to rez them that has the required ability. In order to be found, a shout in zone chat is necessary together with <pos> to tell potential saviors of the day your exact position. This is of course fairly embarrassing but will save you time and money in case you are heard.

And to my great astonishment, I am always heard. No matter what time of the day, no matter the zone I am in, ever since embarking on this journey the community in FFXIV has been nothing but quick to respond, friendly and supportive. The few times I have died on my glass cannon caster, it took no more than 20 seconds for a player to get back to me via whispers, letting me know they are “on their way”. Never have I been mocked, always am I being welcomed to the game and buffed up by the usually far more advanced players. I don’t know if it’s just Cactuar or the general culture in this particular MMO but yes, everyone is suspiciously nice in FFXIV and I can’t help but wonder along with my fellow bloggers: what makes this one so different?

A typical FFXIV encounter.

A typical FFXIV encounter.

The player from above conversation who rezzed me so graciously, then also went on to invite me to their linkshell and insisted I accept a 25’000 gil welcome present to help this newbie on her further travels. I cannot remember the last time this happened to me in an online game; it’s both humbling and sad to realize I’ve forgotten how such random acts of kindness feel in MMOs.

What influences server culture? Is it about content and game mechanics, the way social play is encouraged or rewarded? Is it about more niche audiences versus jaded mainstream ones, as suggested by Liore? No doubt, it’s several factors come together that must work in unison longterm to make cooperative culture a thing – and yet, as a newcomer who knows precious little about rewards and the social engineering in FFXIV at this point, all it takes is a handful of positive experiences to make me want to become active part of a better community! I want to add my share not because of tokens and rewards and achievements but heck, because this feels like a world of human beings and I’m learning how to be one again myself. That’s awesome! Need a rez, anyone?

17 comments

  1. Oh, I agree! FFXIV community is one of the best I’ve experienced. In over a year of playing, and I can only remember a small handful of times I’ve dealt with an unfriendly player. That’s having run countless dungeons and many Crystal Tower raids.

    While working on earning my chocobo seals on Cactuar, myself and another low level character wanted to try to take on one of those big-boss 30-min FATEs. We tried, and realized it was far beyond our capabilities. So, he called a high level FC member to help.

    Even with a high level friend, we couldn’t down the FATE. So I made a call in /shout to ask for help with the FATE as the POS. I didn’t expect much… but then, to my surprise, a whole sea of high level folks popped out of nowhere to help us finish the fate. Earned a minion from it, too. It was awesome!

    1. Sounds like an average day in FFXIV to me :) from the moment I joined linkshells, I’ve had people pro-actively approach me about helping me with quests and dungeons, it’s nuts. I keep wondering if they’re bored or something :D

  2. I never thought of asking for a rez, tbh. I’ve always just taken the home point, then teleported back since teleports are cheap. Now I shall have to yell for rez’s instead.

    Of course, since I’m in i100 gear anymore and people know what it looks like, somehow I doubt I can get away with the “I’m a noob” excuse……

    1. Honestly I don’t think it would make any difference, someone would always come as long as there are people who can hear you.

      And asking for rez was very standard in FFXI; that’s probably why am still doing it, never even occurred to me not to.

  3. Never even occurred to me to ask for a rez when I was playing FFXIV. Not sure I even knew there was a rez spell in the game! I can’t remember any time when it seemed remotely necessary either. Deaths were very rare and travel was easy.

    As for the player in the conversation screenshotted above commenting on the unfriendliness of GW2, that just exemplifies how all these perceptions are colored by personal experience. I never miss the opportunity, for example, to make my claim that LotRO’s roleplaying server (the name of which I have blanked from my mind) has the most unfriendly, alienating community I have ever had the misfortune to encounter in an MMO, which is, I believe, the opposite of what most people tend to say about it. GW2, on the other hand, has one of the most open, welcoming and friendly communities I have been lucky enough to play among.

    Just takes one or two early encounters, good or bad, to set these opinions and thereafter scores more on the opposite side won’t change anything.

    1. Well you missed out then! :P hehe….sometimes my homepoint is faaaar away and then it’s much nicer to get rezzed. And obviously makes for some great encounters.

      And while I agree that first experiences color our lenses, there’s absolutely such a thing as server/game culture and there are better and worse MMO communities. I can sign up for PuGs all weekend long in FFXIV and never ever have a bad run – fat chance of that in WoW, let alone having the will to follow global chat. It’s worlds apart from what I am consistently experiencing in FFXIV. So it’s not just starter impressions, keep a record over weeks and months and you’ll get some startling results.

      And WoW today doesn’t even have the worst pugs ironically, Wildstar is a vicious game when it comes to dungeon runs. As for GW2, I liked the overall community but dungeon runs were hideous – so bad in fact I blogged about them at some point. I still have nightmares about Arah…

  4. I think there’s a lot of factors involved, but I do wonder about expectations being a factor here. If people expect the “L2P Noob!” crap, it may simply become a self fulfilling prophecy.

    1. On an individual level, I don’t believe in self-fulfilling prophecies because between WoW, GW2, WS and FFXIV I have my own longterm observations. These games have different cultures but they also have very different technical approaches to things like party setup or LFG or meter-mania. I can do my very best in some games and still encounter indifference at best and hostility at worst.

      What is certainly a factor however, is social dynamics in a literal sense (maybe that’s what you meant too): I wonder if there’s a perpetuating element in the way an MMO starts off, with a certain reputation and in FF’s case decades of following, which all contribute to ‘an idea’. If an MMO launches with such an audience at its core, they may very well influence server culture so profoundly, that newcomers will naturally follow that lead – basically, the opposite of a downward spiral?

      1. Well, in terms of grouping dynamics and whatnot, SWTOR and WoW are very similar, yet have different cultures. The asshattery that I’ve seen in WoW is significantly reduced in SWTOR.

        I think a decent part of that is due to the reputation each MMO has gained over time. WoW attracts a different kind of player than SWTOR does in a social context; the WoW player who looks at SWTOR and says “there’s nothing to do…. LAME!!!” really means is that “I’m not allowed to do the things to mess with people that WoW will let me do.”

  5. It’s rather amusing that the FFXIV player disses GW2’s community, when many newbies who begin the game keep oohing and aahing over the fact that they can get a rez from anyone (ie. no special class required) unasked (your dead skull shows up on the minimap for anyone who feels like it to respond.)

    I would much rather celebrate the fact that /more/ MMO communities are turning towards being NOT like WoW’s, without toxic mapchat and a friendlier community that doesn’t feel obliged to be super-competitive with each other.

    And perhaps analyze why, via how the designers have tweaked their game. GW2 has shared loot and shared nodes to reduce that sense of competitiveness, for instance. What does FF14 have? I vaguely heard there was some kind of mentoring or reputation system, but is that it?

    The major difference seems to be that there’s less need to talk or type in GW2 and that wordless gestures of kindness are more commonplace, so people just pop off to do their own thing after extending that brief help, if they’re not the chatty type. (Some still do, though, lingering in the newbie zones to give newbies that exact experience.)

    This may then affect a more social player’s perception, who wonders, “Why won’t anyone talk to me?”

    Perhaps FF14 has a game that more neatly filters out loners and soloists from the community – how much success can they achieve in the greater scheme of things, if someone doesn’t dungeon or raid or join groups in FF14? – leaving only the highly social to interact with each other?

    1. Definitely. While the rez mechanic doesn’t quite work the same way in FFXIV (it’s not as easy because not everyone can do it and they can’t just see you on the map), I always liked GW2’s approach to rezzing. The overall community in GW2 seemed interesting and diverse but the dungeons/PuGs were absolutely horrid, especially for newcomers. :) And that “every man for himself skip & run”-culture seems to persist. I can understand how off-putting this has been for some.

      As for FFXIV: I am not the specialist but the game has a ton of social engineering and makes sure players of all levels have reasons to play together. It’s not just dungeon commendations (in order to reward good/nice people in PuGs) but random daily dungeons across all levels that scale down, outdoor events that scale down and the whole multi-job & multi-level approach to classes which makes it easy to play together. Quest items/kills are shared and the world is littered with elite mobs that highlevel players will still want to hunt down, so they’re always around to help with stuff. And that’s just to name a few things!

      1. Another possibility that I am wondering about is the style of combat between GW2 and FF14. I haven’t ever played 14, but I did try 11 for a very short period of time. Is it still JRPG-ish and have long pauses between selecting what skill you want to fire off or somehow a little more strategic?

        GW2 on the other hand is very action-y tactical, which doesn’t lend itself easily to typing long sentences mid-combat, when you need to be constantly moving to not get killed.

        So besides attracting a different mentality of player (i.e. i would imagine a more time-rich and patient player would be more attracted to a slower paced game, while a twitchier action-inclined player is more liable to be content with bite-sized interactions and get impatient if an activity kept them waiting for 30 minutes, just for the sake of socializing) based on its combat style, there may simply be a lack of technical ability to do so.

        It may be interesting to see if social dynamics change any once Heart of Thorns introduces guild halls. Will players end up hanging out in the halls socializing with guild mates more? What impact would this have on socializing in the open world?

        Some of it is self-selecting too, in an established game. Different players need differing amounts of what’s considered friendly or no. It’s not exactly fair to force another into socializing with someone with much higher social needs either (the perenial irritation of soloists when listening to groupaholics demand devs force others to play with them.)

        I have been pondering whether to request a switch to a more social TTS guild for a while, OCE has two, one for folks wanting to use it as a social guild, the other for folks with another guild they’re more inclined to rep (i.e. won’t see guildchat in another guild – yet another annoying technical limitation, beyond the 500 member limit.)

        And just haven’t decided if a constantly scrolling guildchat is more preferable to the peace and quiet I’m currently enjoying now. After all, I can still voluntarily join arranged activities when I want to, leaving it a lot more in my control. /hermit.

  6. ” I cannot remember the last time this happened to me in an online game; it’s both humbling and sad to realize I’ve forgotten how such random acts of kindness feel in MMOs.”

    This, a thousand times, THIS.

    Until I read this post, I hadn’t thought about all the times in my earlier MMOing days when I was helped by total strangers for little to no reason. In EverQuest, I was given hand me down gear just out the starting gate. In Ultima Online, a scribe tossed me an almost complete spell book as soon as he saw I was new. Heck, even City of Heroes had the always-fun costume contests that people threw just for the fun of it.

    I guess I have become so complacent by how these communities have changed over time, that I have stopped to see how much goodwill has been lost. FFXIV thus far does still have that magic.

    I’ve personally taken a much sounder approach to random dungeons. While part of me does want commendations, I am also tired of being the pushy, ‘tell someone how to play’ sort, and I won’t stand by if those exist. I want to meet people and have social experiences, so I start chatting in groups immediately. I haven’t made any longterm friends yet, but the dungeons have been a lot more entertaining!

    1. The dungeons in FFXIV are so slooooow and boring hehe, but I really don’t mind. :) I don’t actually care for the commendations either, so am just having a very good time in there chatting with players and emoting.

      And we’ve definitely become complacent or well, resigned. But the moment you chance on a place where people are different, you realize within yourself that you still have all of these capabilities and always had them….say what you want about MMOs with solofriendly content and achievements and loot, there’s no greater satisfaction than helping others or making somebody’s day by random acts of kindness. Something that in the real world too, we are more and more getting out of touch of because rat race and money.

  7. I love that everyone is so nice in FFXIV. It’s a great change from some of the toxicity. Like, there’s even few, if any, trolls on social media that I have seen (yet). And it’s amazing. It makes me want to give back to the community and help others more than I would already be inclined to. :)

  8. I fondly remember the times in Dark Age of Camelot were high level players were going on rez duty in lower level dungeons for a few hours. As a low level player I very much appreciated being ressed instead of losing tremendous amounts of experience. And as a high level player I would go on and do the same for other players once or twice a month since I remembered how welcome that service was.

    Yeah, haven’t seen that since then, mostly probably because of the instanced dungeons nowadays. I don’t play FFXIV though.

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