The Carry

A tale as old as time, and one that can be hilarious or frustrating. All multiplayer games have this, even board games. There are those that have a passion for the meta and those that are checked out. When success is determined by the whole, then this can lead to friction.

In challenging content, the group enters with an understanding that each member needs to bring something to the table. Top-end raiders need the best gear, potions and strategies. Many games avoid any random group generation for this, as the skill levels are next to impossible to figure out… or if they do, then MMR is the way to do so (with accompanied gripes.)

In non-challenging content, the group rarely has any understanding and there are opportunities to simply check out. Especially if the content is repetitive and seen as “filler”. Maw runs from WoW/Legion were a good example. FF14 MSQ (pre 6.1) was the same, where cutscenes were 3x as long as the actual content. The interesting bit is when randomness is applied to the challenge.

FF14 has a random group finder for raids. Raids that are scaled down to a given level. Some raids are extremely under-tuned so that you really don’t have to pay attention to anything. Others have 1 shot mechanics that require group coordination. Access to these events is gated through the main quest, so it is entirely possible to have a first time player surrounded by veterans.

While not a challenge to spot the AFK players, it can be hard to tell the difference between a new player or a troll. The sprout icon (indicating less than 168 hours, or not having completed Stormblood) is sometimes an indicator, but unreliable. Hell, there are times where you simply forget the mechanics because there’s just so much frigging content to begin with! There are 13 Alliance Raids, and over 30 Leveling dungeons…that’s a very absurd amount of content to remember.

FF14 doesn’t support mods like other MMOs do, and it doesn’t have meters either, giving a much more cooperative approach to content. Mythic+ runs simply do not exist, which is a glorious thing for the social glue of the game. In the 10 years I’ve played, I’ve seen less than 10 vote kicks total. Lucky if I saw less than 10 in a week while playing WoW.

Now, that’s not to say that I didn’t need to adjust my own expectations here. Moving from the go-go-go mindset into a more relaxed approach was jarring. I had to re-evaluate why I was playing, so that the journey was as valuable as the goal. That a 5 minute delay (if that) doesn’t matter. That if the tank did go LD/AFK, that the group honestly could still progress rather than fully stall. This mindset doesn’t apply so much to the end game crowd exactly, as the purpose of the game when all your classes are 90 is way different, but for the core game it slows it down just the right amount. Enough so that people generally have ample patience with “slower” players, where info is shared and bad puns.

And when the stress levels drop and you have more opportunities to chat with players, it tends to make for a much more pleasant environment. I’ve got enough stress in my day to day life, no reason for gaming to be one of them.

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