I don't want the majority to enjoy it. I want it to be niche, like MMOs used to be. I don't want it to become a flavor of the month MMO. This game over all others has reminded me of my old school MMO days the best when I was hanging in EQ or FFXI when it was first released and the MMO community was small, friendly, polite and everyone was interested in exploring and interacting together instead of chasing levels.
I had very different experiences back when I played EQ and FFXI at their respective launches. Virtually all the players I interacted with were excited about having a new game world, but first and foremost their focus was raising their level as fast as possible.
In EQ they wanted to group and camp the orc camp in East Commonlands. Group and camp the dervish in North Ro. Go and camp for crocodiles in the Oasis. Go and camp.... etc.
It was the same in FFXI. Group up and camp rarabs, or group and camp those giraffe things (name slips my memory), group and camp goblins, or fish, or crabs, etc etc.
Notice a trend? Sitting in one spot and killing mobs as they spawn or are pulled to the group is not exploring, and in my opinion it is not fun. As with most MMO's, I don't recall players being chatty in those groups, because they weren't there to socialize. They were there to get XP. As soon as XP would slip, players would abandon groups for another one.
And not to nitpick, but back in the day Everquest was
the flavor of the month MMO. It was the largest of the English-speaking MMO's for quite a while, and was pretty much the WoW of it's day. Lineage 1 was the only other MMO that matched (and exceeded, I believe) its subscription numbers back in it's "glory days", but the majority of it's subscriptions were overseas.
As someone who started played MMO's before "Brad's Vision" and Everquest were even first publicly discussed, that pre-Everquest time is what I'm
pining for. Back before Everquest shifted the MMO genre towards the forced-party equipment-centric grind-to-endgame job that the genre became.
In some ways FFXIV reminds me of the old Ultima Online days, before EQ's influence on MMO's. Not so much in the actual gameplay, but in the freedom given to the player. It's about creating an online world
, rather than an online leveling gauntlet. Back over a dozen years ago we were already smiths sitting around town making weapons and armor, which we would then sell on our private merchants. Or miners chipping away at mountainsides, leading our packhorses back to town as they were filled to the max with raw ore. Or tailors making outfits and dyeing them in our guild colors. Or sailing around the ocean on our personal boats, fishing or exploring isolated islands. That
is what MMO's are about. They aren't about levels. They aren't about forced grouping. They're about being able to log into an online gameworld that is populated by hundreds or thousands of other players, and feeling like your character belongs there. The games that focus on grinds make you feel like you're a tourist, and that your character doesn't actually belong
there. It's just visiting.
Something a lot of people may not realize is that Ultima Online had no quests. You couldn't even form
groups, since there was no group system. It had no levels, but instead a skill system where you would get better at skills by using them. You could raise your skill to 100.0 on your own rather easily and quickly, but because the "grind" wasn't the focus of the game, that was irrelevant. You could also kill mobs on your own, but that was also irrelevant, because it was rare to see anyone adventuring alone. This was partly because of the dangers of other players picking you off if you're alone, but also because it was fun to play with others. You weren't forced to, you wanted
That's what FFXIV needs. It doesn't need to militantly dictate how players should play the game. It should make all options viable and enjoyable, then leave it up to the player to decide how they want to approach it. Whether you level up faster solo or in a group shouldn't even factor into the equation. What should matter is are the players have fun?
You say you want to recapture that feeling where players were interested in exploring and interacting together rather than chasing levels, but the whole time you have been arguing about exactly that. Players can already group up to explore and interact, but the concern that you've expressed time and time again is that solo players shouldn't level faster than grouped players. It almost seems like you're being your own worst enemy by arguing for exactly what you don't think players should be focused on.