By audioBusting 12 Comments
This is going to be a pretty boring blog post, in which I painstakingly detail the first six or so hours of my Final Fantasy XI experience, which was pain-inducing and mentally taxing to say the least. I am bored and tired for reasons I will detail (again, painstakingly) in the following paragraphs, and I want to impart a realistic amount of boredom and tiredness to mirror how I feel because I am spiteful and somewhat upset. I hope this at least could be a PSA for FFXI being on sale until June and for how to get the game going.
Part 1: Buying the game.
Even though it was literally only yesterday, I cannot remember what pushed me to check the prices for Final Fantasy XI anymore. I saw that it was having a big discount, and I wanted to purchase it immediately. This was not an impulsive decision, mind you; I've been planning to buy this game for a long time. I heard the stories of how unique and intriguing the game is, and ever since I fell in love with Final Fantasy XIV I felt curiosity to see what came before it. The prices seemed a low enough barrier of entry, and I heard that it had been updated to allow for more casual low-level play, so I went ahead and tried to buy it. What I did not expect to be so high is the cost in time and effort, as this became the start of quite a journey...
The first hurdle is not so complicated. There are two different versions of the game, Final Fantasy XI: Seekers of Adoulin and Final Fantasy XI: Ultimate Collection Seekers Edition. The former is $5, the latter is $10. Seeing the word "Ultimate Collection" made me think that it is a collector's edition-type product. I thought, I'd buy the base game just for $5, but $10 doesn't sound too far off. I looked at the product details to see what's in the Ultimate Collection (Seekers Edition). It seems to just contain the game and add-ons. Wait, then what's in the other one? The former appears to contain only the last expansion pack, Seekers of Adoulin, which came out two years ago. There is no way to buy the base game of any other expansions by themselves, hence my confusion. Good thing I cleared that up, I'd have ended up wasting $5 otherwise...
So I put Final Fantasy® XI: Ultimate Collection Seekers Edition into my "cart", and went straight to checkout. I chose to use Facebook login; the Square Enix store account is somehow different than the Square Enix membership account. I started filling in my billing details into the form... only to find that they list only NA/US countries in the Country field. I live in Australia, so I thought that meant I cannot buy the game. I looked at the URL. "store.na.square-enix.com". Oh, this is a NA-specific store. I guessed I'll have to look for an Australian store.
Part 2: Buying the game for real, wherever it is.
Putting the words into Google quickly lead me to where I was supposed to go. It seemed like the European Square Enix and North American Square Enix have completely different storefronts, and the Australian store is a subset of the European store. They don't even have the same store layouts or accounts system. You have to use the Square Enix membership account on the European store. I went straight to the search box, typed in "final fantasy xi" and... nothing? It lists the lone expansion pack, Final Fantasy XI: Seekers of Adoulin, in between Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIV Online. Where is the Final Fantasy® XI: Ultimate Collection Seekers Edition that I seek?!
I tried Google some more. I found the European product page, but opening it just redirects me back to the Australian store front page. I found the FFXI website, which redirected me to another FFXI website, which is a Flash website. The "Buy Now" button redirects me back to the NA store. I found another FFXI website for Europeans, which also redirects me to a FFXI Flash website but for Europeans. I clicked the "Buy Now" button. It redirected me to the Australian store front page. What gives?
Fortunately, I finally did find the product page for the FF®XI:UCSE. I had to manually find it in the products listing from the navigation bar. Games -> PC Downloads -> MMORPG. And so I found it, the darned $10 thing that I wanted. (One nice thing so far is that it is 10 Australian Dollars, which is less than 10 US Dollars!)
Part 3: Installing the game... among other things. And waiting.
The purchasing process was painless and as expected. I logged in, filled in my address, paid for it and voila. I was a new owner of Final Fantasy XI. Yay.
It gave me a download link to a downloader, which started downloading the game. It was about a 5GB download. I went about my evening while waiting for it to download. Some of said evening involved making a tuna melt, eating it while watching Mad Men, and then making another toasted sandwich while watching more Mad Men. Mad Men is pretty good. The sandwiches were alright, too. Anyway, I eventually returned to find the download to have completed.
The downloader launched an extractor, which failed extracting because the downloader and the downloaded extractor were in different directories and that messed things up. I manually launched the extractor, which extracted an installer, which I then launched. The installer then launched seven separate installers one by one, one for each of the base game and its expansions and another for something called PlayOnline Viewer. I did not know what that meant, but I figured it must be important since it was set to be installed by default (unlike the DirectX 8.1 installer.) The PlayOnline Viewer installer installed PlayOnline Viewer and something called Tetra Master. That was also set to be installed by default, so I allowed it. I liked the splash artwork for the installers for the game.
That installation process took longer than I wished it did. I had to keep pressing "Next", "Install" and "Finish" for every single component, so I stayed at my computer. It must have taken almost an hour. I did not pay attention to the time as I was listening to Mouth Sounds and having a discussion with a friend about a 90's anime show in which a young bee gets separated from his queen bee mother. Was he abandoned or was there a villain involved? I could not remember. I brought the show up because Yoshitaka Amano, the illustrator of the FInal Fantasy artworks, apparently animated for that show.
It finally finished installing the game, and I tried to launch the game. There are no executables to be found in the game directory. I assumed that the PlayOnline Viewer has something to do with it, so I launched that.
Part 4: Registering an account. Or two. I'm not quite sure.
I was surprised to find a program menu reminiscent of early 2000's sci-fi video game menus. The UI and sound effects are very pleasing. The music was quite intense. It had a jazz musician flipping out on a piano over some sort of drum and bass track. I waited for it to finish updating itself, and it gave me an option between registration and login. the login screen is... well, it had a lot of fields and only two of them had anything to do with Square Enix membership accounts. What puzzled me more is the register button at the bottom of the screen, as if I was on the registration screen by mistake. I went back and chose registration, and was told to register through my Square Enix membership account settings.
I switched to my browser and logged into my Square Enix Membership account -- which, by the way, is kind of a pain to use in FFXIV without one-time passwords, which is also kind of a pain, but a lesser pain, but that's another story. There's a big FFXI/PlayOnline button, so I clicked on that. It then asked my for my PlayOnline registration code. Uh, huh?
I looked for the receipt in my email. It's quite an extensive receipt, with many codes and ID's and such. Near the bottom of the receipt (not counting disclosures and copyrights and such, so more like right in the middle) are registration codes. I say "codes" because I have three different ones. (I still do not know why I have three of them.)
I put in the first code, and it just gave me a PlayOnline account. With a password and everything, all in plain text and sent to my email. At this point, I could not care less anymore.
I put in all the information I had to the PlayOnline Viewer. There is one field that I do not know what to fill with: "Member Name". Member name. What is that supposed to even be? Member of what? It's not the PlayOnline ID, there's a different field for that. It's not the "Square Enix account ID" either. Is this like a public account handle? I put in my handle.
It made some funny fake modem noises while it tried to verify me. It registered successfully, then asked me to type in a new public handle for my PlayOnline account. Um. I typed in my Member Name.
A cool menu with another cool music popped out. There seems to be way too many features on this thing (a mail service AND a chat service?) I clicked on Final Fantasy XI.
A PLAY BUTTON! I clicked the play button.
I clicked the new play button. It told me that I do not have a "Content ID". I had no fucking idea what that even means.
Going back to the FFXI menu, there was an option for "Content ID'. There is a button labeled "About Content ID". Two of them, in fact. The other one is called "Expanded Services". I felt a little fear of missing out some content, but I just pretended that did not exist. "Content ID', apparently, is what they call subscriptions... I think? But... don't I have a free 30-day trial? I tried one of the other buttons and it told me to go to the Square Enix account management thing. So back there I went.
No mention of Content ID. They seem to call it "options" on Square Enix account land. "Service option"? Something to do with "options". The free trial only kicks in after you put in your credit card details... so I did, and immediately canceled the subscription. The subscription list updated with something labeled "Free Trial" and a green dot next to it. Green is good, right? Green means go. So I went back to PlayOnline Viewer, logged out and logged back in because that's what it told me to do.
Part 5: Launching the game!
I pressed "Play". I pressed the other "Play" button. It said "Downloading Content ID list". It said that I have Content ID. Yes! Finally, I can...
So here I am, ranting on the internet while I wait for the PlayOnline Viewer to download those files. If you read this whole thing... thanks, I guess? "Sorry" is more like it, I suppose. It is now after midnight. I just want to play the dang game. I am so tired. I hope this will all be worth it. Good night.
So, this happened right after posting:
It was probably my internet connection. That's what I get for complaining, I guess!