Bloggy XMAS Day 2: Self Discovery and Personal Growth in FFXIV



This post is part of the Bloggy Christmas MMO & gaming and blogosphere event.

In this world, there are some things you do every day and never think twice about. For example, drive a car to the grocery store and chat a little to the cashier as you check out. Those things are simple, right?

To you, maybe. But to others, these small things may be mountains to overcome. Folks who are anxious may find driving or shopping intimidating journeys to surmount. Folks who are shy or socially awkward may find a challenge in dealing with strangers, or trying to sound somewhat normal when talking to that cashier behind the counter.

Why do I start this otherwise positive-meaning post with these thoughts?

Because in the fantasy worlds of our MMOs, there are people who find aspects of the game really intimidating, while other people breeze right through them without a thought. I’m one of those people who find some things difficult. My crippling issues are a combination of shyness and perfectionism. I’m aware of my issues, but they still prevent me from taking part in MMO content, specifically group content.

I’m afraid to group with people I don’t know well. This is because I’m afraid that my performance in a group will somehow fail their expectations, or cause the group to fail in their objective. I’m scared of the ridicule and the min-maxers who might /kick me and belittle my gaming skill. And this keeps me from attempting group content in all MMOs that I play.

Except for FFXIV.


I love the trend of MMOs that are moving towards providing solo-specific content. I like the freedom of being able to pick up a game and put it down on my own schedule. I don’t feel pressured to play to a certain level, or be geared to a certain point – if I fail a quest, I’m the only one who is effected. I can read the quest text slowly, watch the cut scenes and progress at my own speed.

What’s not to like?

And games like GW2 with solo-grouping public events? Those are wonderful for me. The whole idea of being an anonymous part of a group – working together with people to achieve something, but no one really knowing I’m there – is so perfect for me. That’s why I loved the GW2 zerg events, even if other people didn’t. I could still do things with people, but I didn’t have to worry about the pressure of performance.


That all changed when I started playing FFXIV over a year ago.

One of the reasons I decided to play FFXIV was because of my rough experiences in FFXI… which I had to quit due to the whole game being forced group content at the time. I just couldn’t handle it. I even rolled Red Mage and spent hours grinding at-level creatures to try to make my solo dreams work. I never achieved a chocobo. I think I may have reached level 20 at the most. When I unsubbed from FFXI, I put down MMOs for a long time, frustrated with forced grouping.

So when FFXIV came out, with the possibility to redeem myself and earn the things I never could in FFXI, I rose to the “challenge.” I was such a happy camper to discover so much of it could be soloed. There were FATES, too, those dynamic events where I could rampage across the land in a group of people, but never needing to group. And of course, there was the Final Fantasy nostalgia which the game does so well.

There was just one little snag to it all. To complete the main storyline (which I wanted to do, because I enjoy the story), I had to overcome my fear of PUGs to group in dungeons at certain points in the story.

Gently Nudged Out of My Comfort Zone

“Enter the Duty Finder and complete -Dungeon Name Here-” became the bane of my FFXIV experience. Remember how I talked about how something easy to you (using Duty Finder to complete a dungeon) could be difficult for others? This was my big challenge.

I spent at least 5 minutes working up the courage to click the Find Duty button every time. And when I did, I watched the Duty Finder window, almost paralyzed with anxiety. My hands literally shook through the first few dungeons. Of course, it didn’t help that I was playing the healer in the beginning. Dumb choice for a first timer.

But you know, despite that, we always made it through the dungeon just fine. I always spoke up and let people know that I was new at this, though I did take time to read about the encounters in the dungeon, and sometimes watch videos, before I went in. I tried my hardest to fill whatever role I was there to play, and people were usually very nice about it. These were days before the commendation system, so a nice “Thanks” was all you got to let you know you did a good enough job.

After I finally beat Brayflox as a new Bard!

Still, though I was making it through the dungeons one by one, it was a terrifying experience. I remember putting off running Brayflox story mode for months (yes, months), which stopped my progression cold. I even pondered quitting the game at that point, realizing that I’d have nothing but a series of dungeons and primals ahead of me before I could reach level cap.

Instead, I made a job switch from White Mage to Bard. I discovered the Bard’s play style, while usually not what I’d pick, was forgiving and an excellent choice for someone like me, who needed to learn dungeon mechanics. Somehow, I began to progress again, counting each victory in a dungeon as a personal success.

This game was pushing me out of my comfort zone, and I wasn’t giving up. I was succeeding!

I was also learning things about the community and other players. I discovered that there were other people who were new to the dungeons, who seemed relieved to hear me announce “Hey, this is my first time.” Many times I heard “Yeah, mine too.” Or “My first try on a tank. Please be gentle.”

These people weren’t those raging leetists that I feared. In fact, I saw very little of that at all… well up until you hit things like Brayflox HM where people wanted speed runs and got nasty if you were new or held them up.

I started to realize the people I was afraid of grouping with are just people, too. And though it took a long time, I found it easier and easier to click the Join Duty button when I needed to do a dungeon.

Self Discovery and Character Growth

When changes came to the dungeon roulette earlier this year that allowed you to work on getting more Myth Tomes per run, that ended up being the best way (at the time) for me to earn my ilvl 90 armor. I bit the bullet, and started running the daily roulette dungeons.

Now this… again, is something small for others… but something huge for me. To willingly opt into running a dungeon, with a PUG, even a lower-leveled one… that’s just not something I’d have done a year ago. And yet, I began doing it every day (sometimes twice, as I was trying to gear up an alt).

And I discovered something about myself. I discovered I was a pretty good teammate. In fact, I was able to use my knowledge to teach other new players the dungeon mechanics. I was the voice that said “We can do this” during someone’s first Titan fight when the other DPS started moaning that we wiped the first attempt (we did it the second try). I was the one who patiently explained boss mechanics to new tanks and cheered for them when we beat the encounter. I was the one who challenged myself to fight Garuda again to help out frustrated guild mates who had failed it over and over before. And we won.

duty complete
I took a lot of “Duty Complete” screenshots… because that means I overcame my fears! 🙂

There were times where I realized I was having fun, too. Running dungeons that I knew well due to repetition, with a good solid group, was now a breeze. And it felt good because everyone performed well, got the job done, and earned the Myth reward.

Earning my ilvl 90 armor for my bard, Zuri, was more than just the armor. It was a confirmation that I could do this. That I could overcome shyness that cripples interacting with other people and my enjoyment of the game. That I can not only be part of a group, but I can teach and encourage to other new people, who may be just as nervous as I once was.

I eventually went on to earn my relic weapon for Zuri, and I’m now working on that content with Tai. These are things I couldn’t have done a year ago.

Now, does that mean I’ve completely overcome my fears? Hahaha… not a chance! I may not be scared to click the Duty button anymore, but I also don’t run dungeons unless I have to. I still read up ahead of time and admit if I’m new. I’ve never attempted Coil or Extreme Modes of anything, and I really don’t want to. I balk at the idea of rolling an alt (despite my normal altaholic ways) because I know I have to work through all those dungeons again. I can do it, but I’d rather not. I’ve also not worked up the courage to play a tank, even though I like tanking. XD

But, I think I’ve come a long way. And I’ve seen it trickle over to other games that I play. For example, in ArcheAge, I was quick to send a group invite to other people who were all waiting to fight the same boss mob as I was. We’d join up, get the job done, and be much happier than if we had sat there and waited forever, competing to strike the first blow when the mob respawned.

Simple, right? I would have been too shy to do that before now.


I’m still a very shy person. I’m still an introvert and a bit of a hermit IRL.

This was what I expected. It didn't happen, though.
This was what I expected. It didn’t happen, though.

But I’m starting to learn, with the help of MMO gaming, that my fears are the real enemy here. Not the community, who I always thought would be these nasty leet “LOL NOOB” gamers… and turned out to be pretty okay. I still view new group content as a challenge to overcome – more internally than a test of my gaming skill.

It’s giving me the courage to face my group-fear. And it’s given me the courage to write about it here, where everyone can read these personal experiences.

So in closing, this holiday season and beyond, be kind to your PUG mates, especially the new ones who are putting forth effort to learn. You never know how your patience and encouragement can empower someone else.


  1. It’s nice to read about facing and conquering that natural fear of new groups or running dungeons with strangers! Congratulations on progress done!

    1. Thank you very much! It’s really a wonderful feeling of achievement (and a bit relief) to complete a dungeon run successfully. I’ve run across a lot of very understanding people that have really helped me along, too. 🙂

  2. Congrats on the progress you did. I can remember when I faced dungeons as a solo player. If it was a pug and I was alone… I really got frustrated, though today I can say it depends on the community. You meet a lot of those so called l33t people, but all in all even then you meet people who help and explain a lot of things.

    There may be some who expect you to know all but… there is a saying in my country, don’t know if it’ll translate well into english. “The bull forgot how he was a calf.” Meaning they forgot they were beginners too. Only thing I can say, don’t take those peoples’ opinions to heart, no matter how discouraging they are. When I realized that it became easier for me to join pugs and I had my failing ones over the years 😉

    Still even today I prefer to have someone I know in the group… even if it is only one person… haha I seem not to be over it completely.. I’m having fun, pug or not and I think that is what matters.

    Sorry for ranting, once more congratulations on your progress. ^^

    1. I, too, usually try to duo games with someone – often Syn. But I have more play time than she does – she’s often at work late or away on work related trips. So, I tend to have a solo and duo character for that reason.

      I actually started playing FFXIV before she did, and was just about to quit the game (due to frustrations above) when she admitted she wanted to come play. That’s when I started Tai and began duoing with her. Dungeons were a lot less frightening with at least one friend, and it helps that she plays the healer. 🙂

      FFXIV low level roulettes still don’t allow you to group up, however. So all that is forced solo. I understand why they did that, but it’s a real pain for people like us who really just want to duo the dungeons.

      1. Yeah, I can understand that. The reason I’m not that keen on the daily roulettes because they’re solo. Still I have other things to do if I want to play FF or the other games 😉 I rarely play alone now, Aria keeps me company as you know. Also it’s not that bad getting a group, at least in FF, I haven’t made so many friends and acquaintances in any other game as there. ^^

        1. That’s good to know! I’ve kinda been distracted by other games right now, but once the Christmas event rolls in, I know I’ll be back! 🙂

  3. Glad to see you’re able to “come out of your shell” a bit. I’m an introvert, but I’m not “a shy one” so I can’t completely relate to your former difficulty in hitting the “Find Duty” button, but I’m in complete agreement that the people I’ve met in the game have been very understanding of my noobness.

    And FWIW, I thought I wanted to be a BLM, but now I’m finding I quite like Bard as well. Sure both are RDPS, but the Bard gets to kite around…..

    1. Switching to Bard was the best thing I’ve ever done in that game. It multiplied my enjoying (both solo and grouping) by sooo much.

      I’ve leveled two melee DPS – Dragoon and Ninja – to level cap, and still prefer Bard hands down. It’s just much, much less frustrating to play. No positionals. Lovely kiting. Easy to remember rotations. A bit of utility for the rest of the party.

      Good luck with your Bard! 😀

  4. Wonderful. I am glad you have managed to get even more enjoyment out of your games by overcoming this obstacle. 🙂

    Hope it continues to provide a great experience for you.

  5. I think it’s not a stretch to say that most bloggers are introverts, to various degrees. It takes a different mindset to communicate thoughtfully through writing over time, than say, face to face with other people. Your post certainly rang some bells on my side and FF14 is a pretty solid example of a game that gradually eases you into meeting other people.

    1. Yeah, I’m a lot more laid back than some of the folks in PUG groups who are just looking to bust through content as quickly as possible. Often, I’m new to dungeons that people have run a million times already since I don’t run anything I’m not forced to. I’ve only run one hard mode dungeon (Brayflox), for example, so all the rest of them are completely unknown to me.

      FFXIV is pretty gentle in teaching you dungeon and group mechanics. Honestly, most of the story dungeons are pretty easy in a solid group – with a few tricky fights here and there.

  6. Yay ‘Wren! 🙂 I’ll admit I’ve never done a PUG dungeon on an MMO myself… though in my case, it’s more a matter of ‘it doesn’t really interest me’ than anything else.

    1. Hey, do what you enjoy! No problem with that. You seem to keep yourself plenty occupied with single player type games, and that’s cool, too!

      1. Yeah, I do gravitate much more towards single-player games. I think tabletop games ruin me for MMO’s–they just seem like a pale imitation of a good D&D game or something. That and I am just more into turn-based games in general.

  7. I stopped PUGing at some point because I found a great guild full of fun people, making the PUG way too much of a gamble. Even to the point that if there were no guildies, I would simply not do the dungeon rather than find a PUG.

    But before that, I had run many dungeons in PUGs, and generally with a good experience. Still, I guess there were enough bad experiences that I stopped pugging as soon as I had guildmates to frequently run dungeons with.

    1. Yeah, Free Company members did a lot to help me through my relic weapon quest the first time around. I remember enough that it makes it less stressful for me now that Syn and I are working on that for Zeb and Tai.

      Not PUGing isn’t always an option in FFXIV. For example, the daily low level dungeon roulettes force you to go solo and use the duty finder to randomly draw a dungeon group. This is mostly to encourage high level players to play older dungeons to provide low level and new players people to group with. It works well, and keeps these dungeons running, since they’re required to complete the storyline.

      If the game allowed you to group for those roulettes, then guildies would just group up and blast through them. Which defeats the purpose of trying to give new folks a group to play with. So I understand why there’s no PUGing for that scenario.

      It also happens to be one of the better ways to earn currency to purchase your high level armor. So there’s always an incentive for people to run low level instances in FFXIV.

      1. That’s actually a really cool feature. I’ve always found it sad that with level-progression, certain zones and dungeons just became unused and desolate, even though it’s enjoyable and well designed content.

  8. FFXIV is a very good one to start with. The community there is pretty great, as opposed to a more established game like WoW where everybody is always in such a hurry. I will not tank or heal in WoW, because of the same fears you have. Sometimes I try at low level, find it stressful, and shelve it again and again. No matter what, however, I strive to be the team member that nervous folk love playing with, because it’s so much more fun for everybody if folk are enjoying each other’s company not being vile to each other, right? 🙂

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