The title of today’s strip comes from a hilarious story of my youth, one that still get brought up from time to time.

Years and years ago, back when burning CDs was a thing that people did, I used to make my own often enough that I found it difficult to keep track of what was on what. For whatever reason, “CD 1” was insufficient at identifying what tracks a particular CD contained. Instead, I elected to take a different route.

Above: A small sample of my work. That’s “Kill Big” on the bottom right, in case the glare obscures it too much. Also, my handwriting was pretty awful back then.

As you can see, I’m not very good at creating names.

Despite the ridiculous nature of the names, they were sufficient enough to remind me what I had put on there. There was a certain pleasure watching the reactions my friends had to the CD titles. However, there was one CD in particular that I had crafted that caused the biggest reaction.

“Another Lonely Night” was a CD that was not steeped in any depressive themes, as the name might imply. “Another Lonely Night” was not a CD filled with emotion music that might be there to get oneself through a difficult night after being rejected from their crush. The title of the CD came from a line in a Dance Dance Revolution song called “Freckles”

The CD had the aforementioned “Freckles” track on it, as well as other songs, such as “Get your Freak On”, a few Castlevania songs, some DDR music, and some other songs from bands Pedro and I liked at the time. Of course, this information was absent to everyone else but myself, so when this CD made it’s debut on a long road trip to Purdue University, Pedro wondered if there was something going on with me. There wasn’t, and the CD was almost thrown out the window right there on the road.

The CD is brought up from time to time, and it’s always a funny story to explain to friends. In a way, I’m sad that burning CDs went out of style because each CD took a certain amount of effort and care to create, from finding the right songs to fit together to scrambling to locate a song that is just the right length to top off a disk. Those were golden days, my friends.

In other news, I’ve started my Final Fantasy XI account back up again. FFXI was the first MMORPG I really cared about. I played Everquest at my cousin’s place from time to time, but my character’s existed on his account, and my time on them was limited to a few hours at most on the weekends. It wasn’t until 2004 when I picked up FFXI for the first time. I’ve gone through several iterations of my character “Ghenn” (a misspelling of Atrus’s father Gehn from the Myst games) over the years, never making it past level 22 during my early years in the game due to constant re-rolling, and MMO hopping.

That’s me!

I’m playing a Tarutaru (the bad ass on the right) right now. I’ve had a lot of fun since I’ve come back, as they’ve made several improvements to the game that it desperately needed. The biggest one is level synch, which lets you lower your level down to that of other people, while letting you still gain experience points to level up your character. This is huge, because it lets you always party up with your friends regardless of how far behind or ahead you might be at the time. I’m pretty low level, but Pedro and our friend Chris are able to play with me even though they still have their higher level characters from way back in the day.

The second thing that they did was put in these books that have the equivalent of WoW kill quests, where you hunt down x number of creatures and at the end, you will gain XP and Gil. You can also set them to repeat as well, so you and a friend can hang out and grind XP at your leisure. It’s a departure from the way things used to go, which was that you’d gather up five other people and head out to areas and chain pull monsters way above your level and attempt to kill them as fast as you could one after another to create an XP chain that gave higher amounts of XP the longer you kept the chain up. You can still it the old fashioned way if you really wanted (and make no mistake, it was pretty awesome), but you now have a choice in the matter, and back in the day you didn’t (unless you were a certain job like Beastmaster).

FFXI’s a different beast than WoW. In WoW, the only game is the end game; They couldn’t give a shit less about anything below the starting level of the first new area of the current expansion (Hellfire Peninsula in BC, Howling Fjord/Borean Tundra in WoTLK, Hyjal/Vash’jir in Cata, and finally Jade Forest in MoP). In fact, they make sure your time in the lower level areas is as short as possible, as they make leveling quicker in each expansion and offering quick travel options (hearthstone, mounts that fly, flying taxi service, portals to the faction capitals, portals to the expansion areas, etc). WoW has no problem destroying their older content to make leveling as painless and brain dead as possible if it means they can get you in the newer areas.

In FFXI, things are a bit different. For one, travel is a bigger deal. At level twenty, you have to do a quest to earn the right to ride a chocobo. This quest takes a total of six days in game (or six hours IRL) to complete (this does not need to be done all at once. You may pick at it at your leisure), and even then, until you raise your own chocobo, you’re only able to rent a chocobo from certain locations and ride for a limited amount of time.  White Mages can teleport groups to places called Crags that are in certain regions in the game (but each person must first come to the crag and find a fragment of the crystal located there to be able to teleport there), and from there you can ride a chocobo the rest of the way to your destination. Alternatively, you can also teleport to outposts scattered throughout the world, but you first have to undertake a quest to take supplies to these locations (which you can’t do until your home country controls that area). As a result, the world is a lot larger; when you can’t simply mount up on a flying creature and soar the skies, skipping past any and all danger and ignoring the world below, you appreciate the effort put into the world a lot more than you would normally.

The world is very much more dangerous in FFXI than WoW. In FFXI, it’s not unlikely to find out that your level 10-16ish area has level 24 creatures in it that can and will wreck your shit if you look at them foul. When the weather turns a certain way (such as when a thunderstorm rolls in), elementals show up in the area that are typically harder than anything around the spot they spawn in, and they shake off physical attacks pretty well (oh, and they’ll aggro you if you get too close as well). At night, the undead spawn, and they also tend to be harder than the stuff you’re leveling off of. FFXI requires you to be mindful of your surroundings and be careful how you go about your leveling. Failure to be careful will result in your character’s death, XP loss (which can de-level you), and being put in a weakened state for several minutes upon revival. If you don’t get back up from a Raise Spell, you can either wait for one or simply go back to your home point, which typically will be in one of the capital cities, and it will more than likely be a bit of a trip back.

In WoW, everything’s pretty much safe; You won’t run into anything that you couldn’t handle yourself in an area (and as of Cataclysm, just about all the group quests in the game have been dumbed down so that you can faceroll it by your lonesome). Unless you are in a higher level zone than your supposed to be in, you’re probably going to survive. Even if you do die, it’s not like you can’t just run back to your body and return to business as usual. PvP realms add some danger, which is much needed, because Blizzard wasn’t going to provide it.


See above: A quest with absolutely no chance of failure, where in I simply fly around and shoot things until I land next to the quest NPC to turn the quest.

FFXI makes you appreciate the effort and work you put into put into your character because of the hardships you will inevitably face. When you finally make it to Jeuno for the first time, and the music comes in, and you see a plethora of high level players in impressive looking armor, you’ll experience a joy that has been lost in the newer MMORPGs, where travel is not too much of an issue and it’s all about getting you into the action as fast as possible.

I don’t mean to come like some kind of elitist, because I’m not an elitist and I understand that a lot of people enjoy games like WoW (I used to as well), I just feel like WoW kind of gave up on making a consistent world awhile ago (such as Outland, Northrend, and the zones introduced in Cataclysm unintentionally being in different time periods apart from the rest of the world) and focus only on getting you to the new content as fast as possible and with as little effort required to get there as needed. Combine that with other inconsistencies like the Pandarens you play as not being seen as Pandarens when you go to Pandaria (Pedro was pissed every time a Pandaren NPC asked his Pandaren Monk if he’s adjusted to the Pandaren culture yet), or the idea that Warlocks are universally despised and hated in the story, and yet warlock players are not treated with any sort of contempt or disgust by NPCs and have a blind eye turned to them every time they summon a demon in town (or in front of the king himself!); not only that, but they always have a place in town where they get to hang out and learn demonology (and the NPCs know! Guards will tell you where the trainers are in a city!), and in fact, the Night Elves, who above ALL ELSE hate warlocks and demons and have Demon Hunters don’t seem to give half a shit that werewolves are teaching demonic arts right in their capital city!

Above: consistency.

Wow, this post ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated! There’s a lot more I could talk about in regards to FFXI vs WoW, but I feel like that’s best saved for another time. If you’re ever on FFXI’s Ragnarok Server and see a Tarutaru named Ghenn, don’t be afraid to say hello!

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