Kelestria the Paladin in darkness.

Better Left Unsaid

Wordlessness is a virtue; I am its champion. As a paragon of silence, I speak when I have something to say. I have a short tale to tell of reaching the pinnacle of Paladin power: I achieved level 50 on my main job in Final Fantasy 14, completed the Main Scenario quests, and have begun the Elder Game of increasing the item levels of my equipment. There are also a staggering number of side quests on which to embark and post-operative plot threads to unravel. Assorted beast tribes offer dailies whose completion increases your reputation, advances their particular side story, and unlocks access to vendors with unique wares. In a display of great compassion for those of us afflicted by completionism with varying degrees of severity, the game’s designers have mercifully limited the number of available dailies to six.

I’m currently prioritizing the tribe that offers crafting quests. Crafting is its own game mode; I’ve got Fishing at 45/50 and might even level some others to cap. This is rather exceptional given that I typically don’t give crafting a second glance in games after having checked it out just to see what it’s all about. There’s a complex interplay among the nested shopping lists of ingredients in each trade’s telephone directory of recipes that requires you to slow down in order to enjoy the crafting mini-game. Even as such, it’s still not my thing, but if I’m able to acquire a substantial number of levels in the “Disciple of the Hand” classes incidentally through the completion of quests and such, I can probably convince myself to grind out the rest. The Hand classes offer the ability to enhance combat equipment, after all, and desynthesize dungeon drops into materia that can be sold on the market board. I’m not entirely pragmatic, though: the only reason I was able to level up Fishing so high was because I liked the idea of casting my line into sand dunes at level 35 and the clouds at level 45.

Serendipity gives instruction on the art of being a goldsmith.
Serendipity and her otherworldly mentor-assistant lecture me on the finer points of goldsmithing.

The story does not interest me at all. I guess I’ve outgrown the grind-paced stories I enjoyed on my Nintendo in my teens; my only connection to a game like Dragon Warrior IV which paces a tech-limited story with repetitive combat is nostalgia. (Chapter IV: The Sisters of Monbaraba was my favorite.) Nowadays, Final Fantasy-style stories function as fertilizer for the fiction that I create in my head while going about my mundane day in the real world. The scenery, mechanics, and polish are compelling but not entertaining. As much as I like the aesthetics of specific characters and their costumes, the world in which they exist is a beautiful, cloyingly tropified, fourth-wall-smashing, never-ending succession of overly dramatized unseen protagonist-observers and dei ex machina with whom I cannot connect. I am connected to my character. The real story, for me, is the daydream in my mind in which I am free to mold and shape reality to my liking based on what I’ve seen and experienced as my character in Eorzea. Like Elite Game Master Doug Douglason, I do not just create adventures – I become them.

Kelestria the Paladin in light.
Solkzagyl, former Captain of the Sultansworn and now a free paladin, to Jenlyns, current Captain of the Sultansworn: “You forget that we are paladins! Wheresoever our duty leads us, we go – and do so of our own free will. To abide by one’s own sense of justice is to embrace the paladin’s creed. Sworn or unsworn, we are paladins true, and the only true oath we swear is the one we swear to ourselves.” It was thus that I affirmed that I had made the right decision in becoming a Paladin.

The huge amount of long cutscenes in this game would have filled entire CDs back in the 90s. The dialogue, as always, is well written. The plot builds up slowly and satisfyingly such that anyone who cares to follow its threads faithfully will feel the weight of significant plot developments. It’s this weight that is the background hum to the story of my accession to higher levels of conquest. It is fitting that my cat-paladin’s words do not appear in the story. I fill in these gaps mentally and allow them to germinate in the background. My protestations about being voiceless when first meeting Thancred and Lady Lilira in Central Thanalan seem a distant memory now. I don’t mind at all: if the dialogue authors had filled in the gaps it’s likely they would have done it the same way I would have.

I am currently completing the first step of my relic weapon, a class-specific instrument of combat which can be repeatedly upgraded via a series of increasingly grindy requirements. It’s a real-world manifestation of Murf’s idea for gear that levels up; I’m neutral with regard to its implementation. As long as my numbers go up, I’ll feel like I’ve made meaningful, quantifiable progress. I’ll take care of making personal connections with the story, thanks. The social connections have been there all along – Eri has tanked low-level dungeons for us and I’ve tagged along with Chestnut and Chaide. I’m now in a position where I can start to do some of the content that our Free Company’s myriad of level 50s have been cycling through regularly. There’s one individual who’s leveled up every available class to 50. It looks nice on their profile information screen, but I’m not sure that I would have the wherewithal to do the same. I do have the stamina and willingness to tank everything and anything for anyone in the Free Company, however. (Don’t let my silence put you off.) I’m just trying to figure out what to do first. There’s so much to do in Final Fantasy 14 that I honestly don’t know where to begin.

A valley shrouded in mist and darkness.
Bringing light to a world in eternal darkness is just one of many tasks waiting to be undertaken.

Ultimately, I’m a quick-and-dirty, sleeve-hearted player. I couldn’t convince myself otherwise, no matter how hard I tried. Some people, like Tobold, prefer to challenge their readers intellectually and dislike reading personal blogs. That’s fine with me, but that’s not me. I enjoy all types of personal, ranty, intellectual, story-time, and analytical blogs. When it comes to games, though, the ones I like best are those that pour coffee on my brain. I don’t mind playing a Mesmer at all. At times I think that perhaps I’m not sophisticated enough in my gaming tastes to fully appreciate its power and potential.

With regard to games that are not my current crush, I’ll be resubscribing to WildStar in the near future, in large part due to the fact that I’ve been missing it. My current commitment to MMO monogamy has not given me time for anything else. When I first read the financial projections released by KDB Daewoo Securities some months ago, I sensed a sudden and brutal end for a brightly-burning love on which I intentionally overdosed. I hope the preliminary information is true and that we’ll see a free-to-play conversion coming up. The value is there for a subscription, in my mind, but the price point is too high, even with the C.R.E.D.D. option. Whatever the case may be, I’m going back to take a flurry of screenshots and I hope to join the Black Dagger Society with my blogging friends. I’ve dropped out of all my guilds except my personal guild in Guild Wars 2. I’m really not interested in guilding up in games these days unless it’s with cool people I know from outside the game. If there’s anything the Final Fantasy 14 community has done for me, it’s been to disabuse me of the notion that one must put up with negativity in order to see the latest and greatest content. Nope.

With that, here’s my entry for week 3 of Murf’s Newbie Blogger Initiative 2015 Screenshot Safari in the Landscape category. I’m supposed to describe why it fits that particular theme. Here’s my wordless description:

A dimly lit lake with an ethereal purple glow on a quiet night.


3 thoughts on “Better Left Unsaid

  1. I generally enjoy the Silent Protoganist far more as well, for the same kind of reasons. My mind actively fills in the gaps, transposing in what I believe the character would think and feel and in turn this helps me build the vision of my character over time and feel more connected to them. I’m not sure how well it would go without it. The narrative experience within TSW was better due to the character silence. And then there are mmo’s like swtor and even though you had options there I never felt like they really fit my character, and it felt like more playing a puppet rather than guiding my avatar.


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