MMO Gaming Contentment: Learning to Be Still


You thought you could find happiness
Just over that green hill
You thought you would be satisfied
But you never will-
Learn to be still

“Learn to Be Still” – The Eagles

540 Day Vet Rewards

Last night, in FFXIV, I logged in to find my newest veteran rewards waiting for me. This was my 540 day, Rank 8 reward including the fun Wind-Up Gilgamesh and the Hildibrand portrait (which promptly went up in my house’s front room). I want to note that I pay for my FFXIV sub by the month, so these aren’t vet rewards that are pre-gifted for a 3 month subscription.

The idea that I have actually stuck with a (subbed) MMO for 18 months (plus the first free month?) is really, really unusual for me. I tend to be a restless game-hopper, especially in the age of F2P games that all struggle to earn your initial interest… and some that trap you through whatever means of guilt and obligation (“I’ve spent too much on this game to stop playing now, even if I’m not enjoying it”).

But lately, I’m learning to be still, dedicating myself to focusing on one game. I find that I’m enjoying the game all the more.

Shopping Around

I’m not going to say that I spent all 18 months completely dedicated to FFXIV, however. Last year was a tantalizing run with many new games that all sought to win the MMO community over. First there was ESO and WildStar. I participated in the beta of both games, and even though I had peer pressure to play ESO in particular, I passed on both of them. Mostly because I was already playing a sub game (FFXIV), and I couldn’t see myself paying another monthly fee.

This seemed to work to my advantage – I don’t feel like even if I’d tried to get into either of them that they would have stuck with me for whatever reason. I like some of the elements they offered, but as a whole package, I didn’t find them as pleasing as FFXIV was as a sub game.

Then there came ArcheAge.  Oh, how I really wanted to love the sandbox ArcheAge was offering, and spent a LOT of time (and some money) trying to make it work for me. I even overlooked a lot of weak elements (story) and features that didn’t appeal to me (open world PvP). It was far from my ideal game, but I tried to enjoy it for what it was.

Sadly, what it ended up being was a massive cash grab full of bots and exploits. So, after a few months into the game, I parted ways. I’ll note that I didn’t leave because I was bored, didn’t have stuff to do, or lacked interest – this was purely a game that I can’t support due to the poor management and shady monetization methods. I don’t regret that choice one bit and have no desire to return to that world.

Other co-op games (Starbound and 7 Days to Die) also captured my interest, and a good amount of time. But I’m not counting non MMOs in this article. So there! :p

Learning to Be Still

I didn’t make too many resolutions this year, but the one that I did (and was quite serious about) was narrowing down the number of MMOs that I’m playing. I decided to focus on FFXIV, in particular, and get caught up on the end game content. I also resolved to pick up the foundations of our Free Company and rebuild it with folks who have similar interests and goals.

ffxiv_03062015_232139As mid-March comes slowly upon us, I can honestly say that I’ve made a strong amount of progress for my characters and our FC. These things have not been easy for me – I’ve had to face a lot of my own self-created worries that prevented me from achieving… and understanding what I really could achieve. So, again, FFXIV has been an experience of self-growth in many ways.

And while I feel a little scattered on what I should focus on within the game – is having too much to do in an MMO really something to be sad about? (I think not!) – I’ve felt much more content overall to make FFXIV my home. I’ve got so much to work on with the Heavensward expansion on the horizon. So much, in fact, that I’ve hardly even paid attention to other ripples in the MMO pond lately.

The GW2 expansion? I’m happy for the folks who really want this, but it doesn’t excite me at all. I mean, Heavensward has flying dragons and griffon mounts… who needs limited hang gliders that you have to work up masteries to fly?

Crowfall? Best of luck to the dev team and folks who are excited for this. It sounds like it has a lot of neat concepts, but the competitive nature that the game is built around isn’t my thing, so I don’t see myself playing it.

ESO going B2P? Happy for the folks who will enjoy it, and who are looking forward to trying it again. Something about the design and feel didn’t mesh with me before, and I doubt it’ll pull me in now. I’m not going to swear off trying it, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

So, what’s your method of MMO gaming? Do you need a game rotation to keep you from getting burned out? Or do you enjoy the depth of sticking with a particular game over a long period of time? 

Learn to Be Still by The Eagles 


  1. Stillness is something I still need to learn. Great lesson to bring up. I wish it was in FFXIV. As you say, Heavensward looks amazing visually and the flying mounts look incredible, beyond the norm for Final Fantasy. Also, airships! Ugh.

    I wish Heart of Thorns was going to be stunning in the same way. I can’t leave that active combat though.

    1. It IS really hard to achieve stillness. We’re constantly being bombarded by so much information, so many ads, so much news, and so many games. It’s easy to get swept away.

      I think I’ve decided I just need to draw a line in the sand. I have to make a choice and be happy with what I have. I’m not going to say that I’m never playing another MMO outside of FFXIV again. But I do want to set out to explore the depths of the games I play, and not just be passing resident skimming the surface and lead about by the whims of hype.

  2. I like to treat a particular game as a home base, then explore other worlds I fancy.

    For me, despite not owning a home in FFXIV yet… Eorzea is home…

    That said, I really need to increase my levels more so I can do more things.

    1. I hope in the future they tweak housing so that it’s available to more folks. The housing system is the one thing I really have qualms with in FFXIV. It’s such a pretty world, I think people should have a (less expensive) way to make it home.

      1. Indeed.

        I’m stuck trying to increase my gil past the 1.5M point.

        I want a whole house to myself, so the lack of money (and space to set up my home on Gilgamesh server) is a sticking point for me in an otherwise fun game.

        Anyway, I’ll add this blog to my Feedly roll, and look for your twitter account. Perhaps we can chat there?

        I’m on there as @vbarreirojr

  3. It seems, as I’ve been learning the last few weeks, that my way of playing MMO’s is something along the lines of “Play seriously for a week or two, then play something single-player seriously for a week or two to scratch my other gaming itches.” 😀 Apparently, if I don’t try to play an MMO exclusively, but instead interweave it with other games, I can hold interest in it better.

    1. But we know you’re a special case! XD Anyhow, glad to know that you’ve found something that works for you. I saw you got to level 40! That’s doing pretty good!

      1. I am a rather special fellow, aren’t I? =P I’m actually up to level 41 now, looking to do Stone Vigil (my progress in the story finally caught up to my level a little while ago). Then maybe I’ll finish my game of Warlock 2…

        1. Stone Vigil is fun times. See if you can’t catch Syn and I for that one. I’ll probably be able to tank it on Tai, and he really, really needs the experience (as in XP and actual experience) anyhow.

          He’s 47 right now and very sloooowly squeaking his way towards 50. Leveling alt classes are a real pain. X<

        2. I always prefer to run dungeons with you guys when I can. 🙂 Thursday night is probably the earliest I might be able to–if not then, it’ll be Saturday afternoon/evening. Or maybe next Monday.

  4. Heheh! I’ve just put up a post that says pretty much the exact opposite! I feel I’ve been spending WAY too much time playing mostly one MMO lately. There’s SO much more out there and yet it so easy to slip into a rut of just logging into the same one and playing like I did yesterday and the day before.

    Lots of relatively short sessions in many MMOs is the secret to contentment, I think. I know it but I’m often too lazy to follow through.

    1. No worries! I’m happy you’ve found something that works best for you. I just know if I start wandering between games, I’ll forget about one after another and never come back. Then I feel awful for not making progress when I do remember it, and then really never come back. XD

  5. Gah, I miss just playing one game as a main focus. I really want to try and get back there. I miss gaming with longer term goals.

    I’m hoping TSW(once the experience is patched) or FFXIV can fill that. Going to give it some effort and see if it sticks.

    1. TSW just dropped that patch today. And now, after writing this article, I feel temptation to try out the new experience there. Might take a day out on the weekend to check it out with friends. It’s not a terrible thing to hop into other games every once in a while, as long as you keep a main focus somewhere, huh? XD

  6. I think FFXIV is a great “home base” for MMO wanderings. There is much less of the end game race to complete current content before it is made obsolete by the next patch, so it gives you breathing space to go and explore other MMOs without feeling like you’re missing out too much.

    In contrast, there are several MMOs that are great for just jumping in every so often and playing for a few hours a week/fortnight/month. TSW is the perfect example here, and SWTOR and LOTRO are also great for that very slow, steady progress without needing the commitment of a guild or group to fully enjoy.

    There is definitely merit in having a “home” MMO. Even though that is my desire, and I plan to make Star Citizen my home if/when it finally releases (EQNext was the original plan but recent events have basically sunk that idea), I still can’t accept the idea of limiting myself to one game. I always want to spread myself too thin.

    Basically I want to have every MMO I play (and enjoy) be my home, with deep ties to a guild and regular group activities with friends. I just need, like, 7 times as many hours in the day. >_> I’m not asking for much, I only want it all!

    1. Oh, I didn’t intend to say that I would never, ever, ever play another game while playing FFXIV. I’ve picked up TSW here and there, even since January.

      I guess I intended to say that when you start following the hype of what’s coming out soon – which can often be a lot of new games – and hopping from one to the next, you never can find that depth and MMO “home.” Last year, it was easy to get pulled into all the big new releases, for example. But I now wish I had spent more of my time focusing on the game I already had, and that I knew I enjoyed.

      It used to be that when you picked up a MMO, you thought of it as a long term investment and a world to make your own. Now days, we seem to just sample things for a few months, then jump to the next latest and newest (I’m even guilty of this). I want to stop this behavior in myself, and I’ve found focusing on one game and seeing what all it has to offer is a good way to start.

      *Note: Granted, sometimes folks are hopping games after a month or so for a good reason. The game failed to meet expectations, or just didn’t have enough content to keep interest. In my case, I have more than enough content in FFXIV, and I’m quite interested in it, so it’s more a thing of me being a spaz. 🙂

      1. Oh certainly, there is a huge difference between game-hopping because you are bored or dissatisfied with your home MMO, and exploring other new games with that security of having a home to go back to whenever you want.

  7. Stillness is something I can relate to. After all I have been playing WoW for years, before hopping games several times and finally deciding to stay in FF for good. Though it was not my first attempt at playing the game.

    What I learned from that can be summed up in a few words. It doesn’t matter how fun or in-depth a game is. For me at least a game has this pull if there are people I click with. I mean the community can be fun and all but there will always be people you feel you are connected somehow and they make the game a place you want to stay or come back to.

    If that element is lacking then you will continue game hopping no matter how much fun you have in it. After a while, maybe a week, month, sometimes even after a day, you will just quit because the community didn’t click or you have no one to relate to. Here I do not mean friends, but random people met in game you can play with.

    I mean a game has to be fun and interesting for me to play it, but what keeps me in an mmo are the people I play with. Heck I came back to FF because there were people I wanted to play with. My first try kind of failed due to reasons… half of it was people the other personal issues.

    I know this comment may be a bit chaotic but I hope it gets the point across 😉

    1. I agree – community is a huge element that can hold people in a game. Part of why I decided to dedicate myself to FFXIV is because I sensed we could work to build a form of community of (hopefully) like-minded folks.

      Dealing with people, you’re always going to have some hit and miss. But we’ve been doing pretty good so far. Hopefully you feel the same!

  8. I would like to find a happy medium. I played WoW only for several years and tried to take that mindset into other games but nothing has stuck more than a month or two. Now I’m trying to focus on 2 or 3 at a time because I find it helps keep me attached but not obsessed (something I’m prone to become if my focus is too narrow).

    However I’ve kind of gone off the deep end in the opposite direction, trying to juggle too many titles and that isn’t working either so I’m going to try and make a decision to focus on 2 and set aside the rest for now.

    I wish FFXIV would become a “home”‘ MMO for me, but it never sticks. On paper it or Rift look like they should be perfect for my preferences but I can’t connect with them for some reason. I have found playing FFXIV + X (whatever game that might be) keeps me interested in FF longer, but the times I’ve focused on it solely I’m only interested for about a month. But then I could say that about every game I’ve played over the last year or two. Either I can’t find a home MMO or that single-game focus doesn’t work as a playstyle for me anymore.

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