My current occupation only gives me some 36 hours a week to do my own things, and with this change of environment, said free hours have grown to be very precious.
Which begs the question, just what has Tuuf been doing in-game, anyway? To be honest, I'm not sure myself. Nothing substantial, nothing that I feel worthy enough to write a blog post about. I've just been slowly chipping away at working on my Black Mage, picking up the occasional merit point here and there, and I've since funneled the proceeds from my Noble's Tunic into a Mahatma Slops and Prism Cape.
In terms of purchasable BLM gear, I just need to pick up HQ versions of the various pieces, and get myself a Sorcerer's Ring, although without access to any Zenith gear, the Ring doesn't look mighty tasty at the moment.
But anyway, I digress.
I was doing my usual rounds of people's blogs, when I came across this entry, entitled "On CoP" by Frohike.
His words strike home to me. Admittedly, I do not know much about Frohike, being on a different server, so all I know comes from his blog and his comments. What I do know is that in his real life at least, he is happily married (at least, I certainly hope he is! :D) with a baby son to take care of. As he explains in his entry,
I'm faced with a choice when I stare at the Playonline screen: do I want to spend the 2.5 to 3 hours of free time that I have tonight playing an MMO? And "spending" that time is really what I do. It has a cost, consisting exactly of what I could be doing rather than carrying out a virtual life in Vana'diel.
In the brief span of time between my kids' bedtime and my own, I could read one of the slew of books I've deceived myself into thinking I actually have the time to read. I could watch a good film with an appreciation that can't really be achieved during the kids' waking hours. I could continue to hone my writing, or finish the odd number of poems I began years ago. I could have a meaningful, uninterrupted conversation with my wife. Hell, maybe I could play something other than FFXI for a change.
What I think some of the other adults playing FFXI don't understand is the impact of this trade-off. We can't just come home from work, put in a few hours, log out, and go do something else in RL. Those few hours are it for some of us.
What Frohike writes echos my current real life quite well. With not a lot of time to do my own things, the opportunity cost of logging in increases. At the risk of sounding /emo, my one (and a half) days that I have a week need to be divided amongst all my responsibilities, my family, my friends and relationships both online and offline.
But when you only have (okay, for practical purposes) one day a week, how do you spend it? The question that faces me each time I log in is, "what can I accomplish now?"
I fully sympathise with those struggling to maintain their packed RL schedules on top of FF. I know a common complaint about FF is its time-consuming nature, and that has become even more apparent to me lately with my limited time. Suffice to say, with the clock ticking, I'd rather not spend my time sitting in my Mog House looking for a group, or staring in front of an empty screen camping some NM. Thus, I've just been soloing, making little progressions here and there on my own.
Sadly, for the most part, these little progressions are just that- little. An ENM here, some solo there, farming organs or crafting materials, and that's it for the week.
Oftentimes, I find myself wondering what all this is for now. I only log in four days a month (if even that), and I've seen people level up and overtake me, and subsequently, outperform me because they are able to participate in endgame activities while I am not.
It's good that SE is moving away from massive timesinks like the original Dynamis areas onto something that's more friendly for those with tight schedules. But how much of FF's timesink nature is inherent within its basic idea that everything should be done in a group environment?
For now though, the news of increased merit capacities have got me interested in pursuing the two jobs I love the most thus far, BLM and RDM. The real question though is how much can I really hope to get done on my own, and should I just ditch everything and start anew with a different job instead, or even a different game?