Wisdom of Nym: Elitism and playing properly in Final Fantasy XIV

    
62
Myth: Lalafell have to be irritating cutesy-boop piles of crap.
There was a thread on the official Final Fantasy XIV forums back about… I want to say a million years ago? Maybe two million? The point is that it was back closer to launch, which is far enough to functionally be ancient. It was a thread all about how the original poster didn’t like to DPS during instances and thus did not do so, because at the end of the day that wasn’t the job of the healer. That playstyle was not fun for the poster. They were not obligated to do DPS.

Forums being what they are, this resulted in what I’m going to call “lively debate” because it implies less name-calling. But the fact of the matter is that the poster in question was right, as I said when asked at the time. The player was correct that the healer’s only actual role was keeping the party alive. Swapping into Cleric Stance on the regular to add in DPS is not part of the healer’s job, it’s an option, and saying “I do not enjoy this option and will not play this way” is entirely valid.

But it’s also wrong, after a fashion. Which is why I’ve been turning it over in my head for a while.

Since most of my characters show up in these articles, I figured it was overdue to refer to some dudes.Let’s say I have the choice of bringing one of two players along for a dungeon as a healer, Albert and Bruce. Bruce is of the mind that he’s there to heal, that he doesn’t need to swap into Cleric Stance and deal damage to trash and bosses. He’s a fine healer, no one will die with him as a healer. Albert is also a fine healer, and no one will die with him in the role, but Albert is also comfortable stance-swapping and busting out some additional DPS during the many pulls when the tank has sufficient threat and durability to last out a few hits without dying.

The reality is that while neither player is bad at their role, Albert is better at it. A run with Albert will go faster than one with Bruce. Things will die more efficiently. Albert will be paying more attention to the details. And yet neither player is actually playing the game incorrectly. They’re both queueing up and playing as healers, not insisting that White Mage can totally fill a DPS role; by all rights, they’re both fine.

If you sat down and talked to Bruce about the fact that he could be doing some damage, you’d be labeled as an elitist. If you refused to go with Bruce, you would also be an elitist. I find that interesting, too, because arguably the former is the opposite of elitism.

Out of all the many games on the market, FFXIV is one of the most restrictive in terms of player choice, something I’ve talked about before. It takes actual effort to make bad choices with the handful of options available to you. Yes, you could allocate all of your bonus points for Ninja into Strength or Mind, but you have to be trying with vigor to be that far off-base. It does not take a great deal of skill to determine what the intended and correct method of play would be.

The result, I’ve noticed, is that people tend to pick very small hills to die on, differences of playstyle that mean very little in the larger scheme of things. “I’m not going to swap to Cleric Stance,” for example. Or “I’m going to use Sneak Attack whenever it’s off cooldown.” Since there are no real options in terms of how you build your character in a macro sense, the differences come down to fine points of playstyle.

We have learned, over time, to not critique other people’s playstyles, because it usually is elitist and rude as hell. And we’re back to Albert and Bruce – really, giving Bruce a hard time over how he players isn’t helpful, is it? It’s his character and he can play however he wants. He is, indisputably, not wrong about the idea that he can choose to use Clric Stance or not.

But on some level, he is wrong insofar as the choice he’s making is quantifiably worse than the alternative. Albert is the better healer not because he heals more, but because he plays more adroitly within the context of the game as it actually exists. Bruce is succeeding chiefly in making sure he’s ready for healing crisis scenarios that never actually take place in the game.

There are right ways and wrong ways, always. Acknowleding them or failing to doesn't change that.

To my mind, telling Bruce that he would be a better healer if he did contribute DPS isn’t elitist, it’s informing him that there are better choices to be made in the context of play. Refusing to go along with Bruce because he doesn’t DPS or critiquing him because he’s not providing enough DPS, by contrast, would be elitist. The former option is trying to help another player play the game more efficiently in a macro sense, the latter is setting up a standard and refusing to accept anyone who doesn’t live up to that standard.

Furthermore, if Bruce had perfectly valid reasons for his choice – for example, having a high ping and an unreliable rig that meant he might not be able to swap out of Cleric Stance reliably – that’d be another story. And if Bruce could conclusively argue that there was an appreciable benefit to him staying out of Cleric Stance, that would be valid. That invites counterpoints, and I’m picking this particular issue for a reason, but the point is that there can be concrete reasons for the choices being made.

The bright side, I suppose, is that Heavensward added a healer for people like Bruce – no one really expects an Astrologian to contribute much additional DPS, they’re not very good at it.

Ultimately, it’s an interesting issue for FFXIV specifically, as we’ve developed a culture wherein the fine points are off the table for critique when there are no larger-level choices to debate. And I don’t think it’s something with an easy answer, either. I think we have people playing the game who want to play a certain way that the game does not cater to for whatever reason – there are people who really want to play Warrior and Dark Knight-style jobs as DPS, or play versions of Machinist/Bard as pure DPS rather than DPS/support with an ersatz cast bar.

By giving players a set of options and not lots of choice to play around within that framework, there’s not much to do. You cannot, for example, make it clear that your White Mage has specced deeply into healing and thus offers no substantial DPS increases; the right way to play involves tossing out some damage. Your options then become playing the job as it’s meant to be played – something the game makes rather clear – or opting to play with sub-par choices in the hopes that it doesn’t matter too much in the long run.

Which it doesn’t, but at the same time, it does. Life is so marvelously complicated.

Feedback, as always, is welcome down in the comments or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next time around, I want to talk about my own dissatisfaction with the game’s most recent patch while asking what the heck is wrong with me. (I promise, it’ll be more entertaining than that sounds.)

The Nymian civilization hosted an immense amount of knowledge and learning, but so much of it has been lost to the people of Eorzea. That doesn’t stop Eliot Lefebvre from scrutinizing Final Fantasy XIV each week in Wisdom of Nym, hosting guides, discussion, and opinions without so much as a trace of rancor.
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Haru_chan
Guest
Haru_chan

In the interest of there being at least one Devil’s advocate here:

This isn’t a matter of Bruce not wanting to DPS.  And it isn’t a subject of play style, my subscription versus your subscription, or whether or not you’re having fun.  The way in which FFXIV is designed is such that when Bruce says “I only want to heal”, the underlying reality is Bruce is saying “I want to be able to sit and do nothing when I’m not required to heal and all of you need to be okay with that”.

This prevailing belief that DPS is somehow above-and-beyond the meta of healers and tanks or that using party utility skills — clearly provided to all DPS even in minuscule ways — exists outside the bounds of standard DPSing doesn’t make people who disagree with that “elitist”.

It makes people who defend it undeniably selfish.

Let’s ditch the healer example.  It’s played out and too often loses the real plot (which is “what happens to the 3 to 7 other people that are silently expected to give their 100% so that the healer can give less?”).  And I am aware that “expectation” appears to be a straw man argument, but please bear with me to the end.

Instead, you have two tanks, Charles and June.  For sake of all else being equal, both are Warriors, a tank that carries the silent expectation of frequently stance-dancing to maintain aggro and survivability.  Charles relishes this — he enjoys the balancing act of active buffs and (relatively) big numbers.  June believes that tanks are meant to do exactly that and spends her entire play time in Defiance.  You now have the option of taking one of them into a single-tank raid.

Charles will keep his buffs active, will proactively contribute to DPS, and maintains a solid lead on aggro.  June, too, commands the threat chart and is unerring in her use of buffs, but has no desire to use Berserk or take a single step into Deliverance.  All said, the load for healing on each of them is equal for the two healers in the group — Bruce and Albert.  There is all the same likelihood in each case that a heal will be missed or a cooldown incorrectly blown because all are human and given to margins of failure, but that lion’s share of time spent being what each truly believes is a “good player” should otherwise be assumed as equal.

And here we come to the reality of the situation:  it is, nearly never, a matter of choosing between two players of equal skill and differing approach, but of choosing between players of differing passion.  

See, having Charles as your tank means that two of your trio that “should not bear the burden of contributing damage” are now doing exactly that and every one of their failures teaches them lessons on two fronts — DPSing and tank or DPSing and healing.  This also gives the DPS room to breath because they, too, are human and given to the same potential for mistakes — but it does not give them cause or reason to not use their utility or skip over abilities.  Because, whether people like it or not, and to counter the amount of times I see “only 5 minutes” as some bastion of explanation:  “only 5 minutes” is often the difference between winning an 8-player encounter or losing to an enrage timer.  It is also the difference between taking 4 tank busters or 3, or 2 raid-wide spikes of damage versus 1, or enduring a phase all over again instead of skipping the next step.  

Time matters.  However small, time always matters.  And if you don’t believe that’s the case, then you’re not old enough or wise enough to have your opinion on temporal states taken seriously.

Now, keep in mind that having June as your tank does not increase your margin of error for survival — Charles is not forsaking his awareness of mechanics, either, and both tanks respond to busters and raid-wide damage and pools of orange in like kind.  But, now, Albert is the only one taking the purported “risk” of contributing to the overall speed of the fight.  This tightens up expectations for DPS, because now two players are playing “the way they want to play”… which means the margin for how the 6 other people wish to play have been infringed upon.  All else being equal, where Charles and Albert may have been able to make up the difference for a Bard that does not see the merit of Wanderer’s Minuet or a Summoner that favors Ifrit or a Ninja that, despite his best efforts, misses the odd Mudra, Albert alone does not stand a chance of bridging this gap.

All because we are discussing the merit of Bruce and June to be allowed to play their jobs the way they wish to be played.

Your actions and decisions actively impact the lives of those you encounter — this is an MMO and often do people forget that there are other humans, with beating hearts and minds rife with thought, embodied in the avatar locked into combat with them.  And it is unfortunately that Bruce is so adamant to do what he wants that he will willingly blind himself to how it damages what other people want, just as it is wrong of those others to expect that Bruce do as they expect so that they can spend less time playing as the game was designed, among a bevy of players who actively struggle to improve themselves in all aspects.

So I present this:  if requesting that Bruce put aside his wants for the betterment of others is elitist, then Bruce’s arrogant selfishness in his refusal is the far greater sin.  Should he be berated and attacked for this?  No, because two wrongs do not make it right.

But to defend him?  Then you should be prepared to defend the Monk who doesn’t AoE, the Bard who doesn’t sing, the Machinist who doesn’t use turrets, and the Dark Knight who doesn’t know of Grit.

Which means this is a thread of either elitists or hypocrites, with no ground to be gained between the two.  There has to be middle ground, but it will not be found by purporting that Bruce or June are not openly, if ignorantly, negatively impacting the lives around them with their choice.

But what would I know.  My idea of fun is making it fun for the people around me by giving my all.  Apparently, I have no place in “playing games”.

Pawn
Guest
Pawn

Square stated specifically that new content is worked around the fact that 0 dps comes from the healer and only dps necessary to hold aggro from the tank. All dps should come from the dps. If you need extra dps to complete a dps check then the dps need to better learn their jobs.

AGx
Guest
AGx

There’s a problem with the thought process in this article and it starts right here: “If you sat down and talked to Bruce about the fact that he could be doing some damage, you’d be labeled as an elitist.” This is incorrect. This does not make you nor label you as an elitist. What labels elitists as elitists, with regard to the example, is the part where they argue their point and refuse to back down and take the situation for what it is: a difference of opinions. Even though I agree with the point that adding DPS makes you a more valuable player to a group, it never just ends with that difference of opinion. In most cases you are right, Bruce is wrong, and not only do you need to make sure Bruce knows he’s wrong you need him to know why he’s wrong and you have to make him feel bad about it. It’s that attitude that adds the label and it’s just all too common.

Now, on to this: “If you refused to go with Bruce, you would also be an elitist.” This is only half right. IN essence, an “elitist” is the guy who only shows up for the All-Star game. He only plays with the best of the best. A perfect group. That you’re unwilling to play with someone less than perfect means, yes, you are an elitist. If you don’t view it as a derogatory statement then, no big deal, right? But you do, obviously so you know there is something wrong with being that way. So why do you? And why are you defending it?

scottokemon
Guest
scottokemon

MiraParaMaya 

“I think what he means is AST gets less returns on actively DPSing in Cleric Stance than the other two classes” 

I totally agree with this! And I really wish they’d fix our ability to do DPS without draining MP, but I doubt it will happen. However, to me the column was actually saying that AST is the class for ‘Bruce’ ie people who ‘don’t want to dps’, which I’d argue against. AST might have lower personal potential, but you should still be doing it – every little bit helps.

“they get quite a bit more from just paying attention to their card buffs, which they really, really should be doing anyway”

You can dps and keep up with your cards as they are oGCD. You can get full potential of cards + contribute a bit of dps as well. I have met ASTs through DF who don’t do either, though, and play the job like a slightly weaker WHM. No idea why, but there you go

MiraParaMaya
Guest
MiraParaMaya

scottokemon To be honest, if an Astrologian ignores the card buffs altogether, they would be missing the entire point of the class – however, AST’s dots don’t seem to hit as hard as, say, a WHM’s – on paper, their dots look almost equal, but Aero III is an AoE which inherently makes their damage exponentially better, especially coupled with a few casts of Holy. Gravity also looks equal to Holy on paper – but the spammable stun part of Holy makes it much more useful for avoiding damage. SCH is just better than both of them though – just by having the ability to use Bane to AoE packs.

I think what he means is AST gets less returns on actively DPSing in Cleric Stance than the other two classes, and they get quite a bit more from just paying attention to their card buffs, which they really, really should be doing anyway, especially with the buffs to Arrow, Bole and Balance’s duration, as well as Spire and Ewer’s change to mana/TP recovery. You can’t really do much with just putting single dots when you don’t have a way of proliferating them in packs, and you get more return with Gravity anyway – and for single target, just applying dots and maybe one or two casts of Malefic II might be enough, and even then it might be risky because of Malefic II’s expensive cost, especially in some rough bossfights.

You can even cut out the active DPS just by playing with the cards, and you’ll probably make up the DPS difference. If you get lucky with the cards, anyway, you might just draw spear five times in a row.

Sorenthaz
Guest
Sorenthaz

IMO if someone isn’t willing to be serious about mastering all aspects of a class role then the guy next to him who is serious about it deserves precedence for endgame content and so on.

Vexia
Guest
Vexia

wolfyseyes It’s still just as effective against my eyes as it’s ever been!

scottokemon
Guest
scottokemon

“The bright side, I suppose, is that http://massivelyop.com/tag/heavensward added a healer for people like Bruce – no one really expects an Astrologian to contribute much additional DPS, they’re not very good at it.”
That’s… not entirely true. In four man content (which is what you seem to be talking about) you can use synastry, collective unconsciousness, time dilation and celestial opposition to set up beastly HoTs on your tank and then switch to applying DoTs/getting a few casts of gravity in.
You’re also missing the point that we are juggling card buffs at the same time as healing which add to the party’s dps – something that someone who just wants to heal might not want to do.
Saying that AST is for people who just want to heal is misleading.

Ekphrasis
Guest
Ekphrasis

Same view as DugFromTheEarth.
It’s about fun – or at least it should be.
I have no right to tell anyone how to enjoy their leisure time and the reverse is also true.
Occasionally play styles will be incompatible but people need to stop being aggressive our rude just because others don’t conform to one way of playing.
I quite enjoyed FFXIV but the dungeon speed run mentality contributed to me stepping away from the game.

DireTaco
Guest
DireTaco

h4 Except that if a healer says “I only heal,” you will still complete the dungeon. If a BLM says “I only cast Fire magic,” they will very quickly run out of MP, it will take over half a minute for them to regain enough MP to cast another Fire spell, and they will do so little damage that they will be effectively dead weight if not damaging the group’s ability to finish the content outright.

A healer’s job is to heal. A DPSer’s job is to deal damage. A tank’s job is to soak damage. As long as they do those basic jobs well, the party should be able to clear content. Now, when the healer begins to deal damage, or the DPS buffs the party, or the tank throws out some well-timed heals, then you’re clearing content with style.

On the whole, I agree with the article. A player shouldn’t be ragged on for meeting basic expectations, but should be encouraged to do as much as possible.