The Open Beta for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is a bit of an odd duck in itself but my own participation or lack thereof is odder yet. I'm finding the whole thing immensely confusing so far. Not the game itself, which is elegantly old-school and entirely comprehensible. No, it's the getting to play it part that's puzzling me.
I started to detail the problems I've had so far pre-ordering, registering and accessing the game but by the time I'd done five paragraphs on the delights of just changing an email address it was apparent I'd be talking to an audience of one and even I was bored.
Suffice it to say that Square Enix's reputation for gnomic inaccessibility is very far from an urban myth. Having exhausted the options available through the SE Knowledge Base and my own patience I'm now waiting on a reply to a Customer Service ticket in the hope of at least getting the details of my account correct before I can move to the next stage of trying to get the pre-order code so I can play the damn game on the 24th.
None of this stops me logging in and playing right now, of course. That would be far too logical. My beta login works just fine. I made a character last night just so I could get a look at the Housing test area, which as I read the SE runes is only there for open beta not launch.
Just making the character brought its own problems and not because of the wealth of options on offer. The uncertainty over my account details made me wary of starting a character that I wanted to play. Progress in Open Beta carries over to Launch but I can't be certain the account I'm using for beta will do the same. The "one character per server" issue, about which I was very concerned despite the "all classes on one character" design, makes character creation seem like a much bigger deal than usual too.
Fortunately it turns out I'd misread that part. It's not, as I'd thought, one character per server plus a separate monthly fee for each character thereafter, which I think was how it worked in FFXI. In fact the basic $12.99 subscription offers one character per server up to a maximum of eight but for a very small increase to $14.99 the limit jumps to eight characters per server up to a maximum of 40. That's a vastly better deal and If I play beyond the free month (which also allows eight characters per server) then I'll be more than happy to pay that extra $2.00.
Then we come to the servers themselves. There are a lot of them and they're nearly all full.
Wait! No they aren't!
Wait ! Yes they are!
For Open Beta there's some kind of real-time throttling. Once you've made your character you pick the server you want (and you can play anywhere, there's no region-locking) and check if it's taking new starters. If it's greyed-out it's full but don't despair: wait three minutes, hit the Refresh List button and if enough people logged out you can slip into someone's still-warm slot.
The relaunch of FFXIV hasn't been getting the degree of attention of, say , the GW2 launch this time last year or the recent EQNext reveal but there really is an enormous amount of interest. The servers (and as I said there are a lot of them) were packed in all the closed betas and now Open Beta is here they are just heaving like anthills.
I'd tried four or five times for the server I wanted without any luck and it was getting late. Given my concerns over permanency I decided to send the character anywhere that would have her just so I could get in and have a look around so I opted for the only place that would have me, an EU server the name of which I've already forgotten.
And I still couldn't get in. There were so many would-be Lalafells and Mi`Qotes hammering on Square's battleship-plate doors that the rivets were popping. I got a log-in bug that looked unnervingly like it might relate to the account issues I'd been having until a reassuring Google suggested lots of people were getting the same. The recommended fix was a simple client restart, which was just as well because mine had frozen.
And stap me if when I logged back in the very server I'd wanted in the first place hadn't thrown its doors wide open. Serendipity, silver linings etc.
So here I am with a character made and named in haste in the expectation she'd either never make it to Live at all or if she did it would be on a European server where I'd never see her again, only to find that now she's on the server where I plan to make my home.
Sod's law says she'll probably not only make it through to Live after all but end up being the character I play the most.