Category Archives: Final Fantasy
I was reading Beau Hindman’s latest Free for All column earlier and a thought occurred to me that I wanted to put in writing. In Hindman’s post, he was, in part, discussing how the free-to-play movement can be seen as the latest experiential phenomenon to take hold to the world of MMO gaming.
While free-to-play games have had a long-standing history in the realm of MMO titles available to the world, there’s been this stigma that a free-to-play MMO is is some sort of lesser being in the realm of gaming, that it is relegated to the realm of “inferior” products. We know now, through experiencing various MMO pricing models and hybrids of such models of payment, that high-quality and “less-than-high-quality” MMOs can be found in all points of the pricing spectrum.
Now, you may have noticed that I’ve placed quotation marks on some of the negative modifiers in the previous paragraph, and there’s a good reason for that. It all goes back to my personal belief that I, as an individual, have my own preferences and mindsets in life and I cannot truly say that one thing is absolutely abhorrent for everyone. Even the basic ideas of death and poverty or the basic emotions of joy and sadness are so wildly divergent in what they mean to people (such as in terms of what constitutes certain ideas, or what triggers an emotion).
As such, a corollary to my personal belief would be that the “bad” game does not exist. There are simply games that fewer people enjoy and games that a larger group of people enjoy. The sweeping generalizations that Syp recently talked about regarding gaming have to be taken out if we are to better understand why people can feel similar emotions when faced with completely different and possibly opposing stimuli.
For instance, let us take stock of Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIV and Trion Worlds’ Rift.
When I first installed Final Fantasy XIV on my computer, I played for four or five hours and pretty much left the game entirely because it did not capture my attention. Information on the game and its various activities was scarce, and if you were the type of gamer who honed his skills on World of Warcraft, the lack of question marks to indicate quest givers would drive you insane.
On the other hand, when I first heard of Rift and played the beta, I was also not thoroughly impressed, until launch grew closer and I realized it was essentially a highly polished and technically proficient game with an intriguing storyline. If you check my Rift articles here on Games and Geekery, you’ll notice I meander between thinking the game is “meh” and thinking the game is awesome for having tanks that can self-heal.
If you fast forward to last week though, you’ll notice I barely posted anything. The simple response to this is that Rift could not hold my attention and I was madly searching for a game to occupy my free time. On Saturday evening, I decided to play Final Fantasy XIV again on a whim. I created a new character, rolled on a new server, and looked for the old guild I was chatting with online about the game. I played FFXIV for, as it happens, 14 hours straight that day (a feat that only happened once previously when I went raiding in vanilla WoW).
This week, I was reading through other blogs, and Elementalistly’s entry on how he feels about Rift kind of got to me. It wasn’t that I was offended by his post. Quite the opposite really.
You see, I was beginning to feel the exact same thing he felt when it came to Rift, only I was experiencing what he was feeling with Final Fantasy XIV, the game Elementalistly and I once both found to be less than stellar.
When I compare the two games on a purely technical level, I find Rift to be a clear leader in terms of customer-centric accessibility and polish. Final Fantasy XIV is not perfect, and still remains free-to-play so long as Square Enix deems the game to be in a state that is below their standard of what a good game should be.
Despite this, however, I know that there are people like myself who currently feel about Final Fantasy XIV the same way that Elementalistly feels about Rift. We’re all having fun in the games our preferences and predilections lead us to, and it shouldn’t matter how much you play, how much you pay, or how off-beat your tastes are.
The important thing is that you are happy with what you’re doing, whether it’s when you’re playing an MMORPG, when you’re writing that fantasy novel masterpiece about the adventurous marmot with nunchaku, or when you’re enjoying Direct TV Specials in the comfort of your home.
Square Enix’s various online game websites recently announced that the company would be temporarily suspending services for Final Fantasy XI and XIV beginning today, March 13, 2011, as a result of the earthquake and tsunami that affected the country recently. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has asked its customers to not use power unnecessarily in order to conserve electricity as TEPCO has noted they “expect extremely challenging situation in power supply for a while.”
Square Enix has complied with the request and will be shutting down their game servers to conserve electricity, providing updates as more information becomes available. The company also added that “players will not be billed for any PlayOnline service throughout the April billing cycle,” though that will also be updated as additional information becomes available.
It’s quite unfortunate that this had to happen to Japan and to Square Enix. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan as they go through this trying time.
Following the break is a list of all the affected services of Square Enix’s online division as taken from the FFXIV Lodestone.
Just a quick note for those folks who were wondering about Final Fantasy Type-0, which I talked about for a short bit a few weeks ago.
Siliconera reports that Final Fantasy Type-0 isn’t actually a new game, but rather, Final Fantasy Agito XIII sporting a new name. According to the report, Type-0 is set to become a spinoff of the Final Fantasy universe and will not be a part of the Final Fantasy XIII continuity anymore, seeing as there’s actually Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2 to think about.
Final Fantasy Type-0 will be coming out in Japan this summer, and will span two UMD discs in length.
Due for release this year on the PS3 and Xbox 360.
This seems like a good incentive to finish FFXIII to me. Of course, if you hated the Final Fantasy XIII, you’d have reason to skip the sequel entirely.
What did you think of Final Fantasy XIII? Let me know in the comments, so I can debate the merits of Leona Lewis’ voice.
EDIT: Siliconera has an update on this. According to what appears to be 4gamer.net’s Twitter account, a trailer for FFXIII-2 will be made available on January 20.
The FFXIV Lodestone has announced that everyone who has made a characted by November 19, including those folks who already had a free month courtesy of the first trial period extension, will be getting an additional extension of thirty days.
The devs write,
This month’s version update, tentatively scheduled for November 25, marks the first step in bringing about significant improvement to FINAL FANTASY XIV, guided in large part by the feedback you, the players, have provided. We are adamant that you should be given the opportunity to experience these changes firsthand before deciding to fully commit to the game.
Honestly, I’m not sure how this is going to pan out. This could be the first step in making FFXIV a more accessible and thus, actually lucrative MMORPG.
Personally, I want FFXIV to succeed. I’m not sure, however, if I will be swayed by a second free month of play, seeing as I barely got five hours in and felt completely let down. I suppose I’ll have to see for myself if their updates will change the face of Eorzea for the better.
I spent a good three or four hours last night playing FFXIV on the Besaid server instead of the server I intended to go to, which was Lindblum, because for some reason the game wouldn’t load my Lindblum character due to an issue with either my connection or the place in which I lagged out which was smack in the middle of the damn tutorial instance.
I also turned down just about every setting to get to this point in the game where I could load things adequately. Again, this was either due to my connection issues or the game is just that demanding.
Regardless of these issues, I had fun.
I spent all that time crafting and gathering in leves in order to get enough money to purchase a spear and become a Lancer, and have yet to actually kill anything. That’s an interesting change from most games, as I still feel I progressed as a character despite not killing stuff. Best of all, I set my own goal and completed it outside of normal questing, which is something I always wanted out of a game.
One strange caveat to this game, however, is that the metagame is insanely perplexing. You can’t alt-tab out of the game from full screen (unless you do windowed mode, which allows this fine) or you’ll force a shutdown of the game, so you might actually spend a fair bit of time researching the game and where to go or who to talk to in order to find what you want. This is either annoying or a refreshing change of pace, as you need to really plan accordingly when you want to play if you intend to make something of yourself.
Personally, I want to like the game, but the user-friendliness of World of Warcraft rears its head when I think about it because I’ve been spoiled by the accoutrements that have come with the major MMO beast.
One thing I can say for sure at the moment, however, is that regardless of which game I play, either FFXIV or WoW… both are buggy at the moment, which is annoying for sure.
PS: If you want to find me, I’m Victor Stillwater of Besaid.
There are a couple of perspectives we can look at when it comes to Square Enix’s announcement of an extra free month coupled with further refinements to the game itself through patching.
One perspective would tell us to look at the coming free month and its associated changes as a form of promise. That is, if players promise to stick by FFXIV for another month, then it is hoped that Square Enix’s changes to the game will showcase their dedication to crafting a game that is friendlier than FFXI.
Another perspective would have us look at the overwhelmingly negative critical reception towards the game, thus seeing that this free month and its associated patches are an attempt to staunch a bleeding wound of potential lost consumers.
The truth, which is shrouded in PR-speak, is probably a mixture of the two perspectives. The director’s message and FAQ have been carefully crafted to show gratitude rather than remorse, making it seem as if Square Enix is coming from a position of strength. Square Enix’s stock has, in recent days, been slowly dropping, which may show that the confidence placed at the release of FFXIV has begun to dwindle.
As such, it would appear that the free month is a gamble the company is trying to make to maintain a strong long-term subscriber base.
Of course, this all speculation, mind you. There’s one other perspective I have yet to touch upon, and that’s the perspective of a 27-year old gamer who’s waiting for October 20 to come around as his aunt is visiting and is bringing him a copy of FFXIV. Two months of FFXIV is nothing to sneeze at, and if anything, I’m quite grateful for the opportunity to play a game that’s in a state of interesting change.
As my connection to the internet is kinda wonky now (random disconnects and general slowness of connection), let me just link and copy.
Square Enix Message Follows:
First of all, we would like to thank you for joining us in the realm of Eorzea, and hope you are enjoying your adventures.
Since the official launch of service on September 30, 2010, we have received a wealth of constructive feedback from the FINAL FANTASY XIV community, and the development and management teams would like to take this opportunity to express their sincerest gratitude. For those who purchased the collector’s edition and began to play one week before official service began, the month-long free play period is drawing to a close. Considering the nature of much of the feedback we received, however, and the current state of the game, we have decided to extend the free trial period for all users. Please continue reading for further details.
We would like to assure players that the world of FINAL FANTASY XIV is constantly growing and evolving, and the voices of the community are essential to that process. The development and management teams are carefully considering all player feedback, and working diligently to implement whatever changes and additions will serve to make Eorzea a better home for adventurers. We humbly ask for your continued support to this end.
Today, we have released information regarding forthcoming version updates. For further details, please view the following Lodestone Topics:
?Version Updates Coming Soon! (10/15/2010)
( http://lodestone.finalfantasyxiv.com/pl/index.html )
?Ask the Devs! (10/15/2010)
( http://lodestone.finalfantasyxiv.com/pl/topics/detail?id=c07a85c2f170a53057f5a39f56e6fc02b03b1184 )
?Message from the Director (10/15/2010)
( http://lodestone.finalfantasyxiv.com/pl/topics/detail?id=f2cf790e548828eb22d3c4dff5f04bf0793632b5 )
Free Trial Extension Details
All users who registered a FINAL FANTASY XIV service account and purchased a character by October 25, 2010 will be eligible.
*Character purchases must have been carried out no later than October 25, 2010 at 23:59(PDT).
*Accounts terminated due to User Agreement infractions are ineligible for extension.
*Holders of multiple service accounts may receive extensions on all accounts.
An additional thirty (30) days, for a combined free trial period of sixty (60) days.
*Free trial period end dates and initial billing dates will be automatically extended. Users are not required to take any action.
*Extensions will be for a period of thirty days regardless of billing cycle length. Regular billing will begin upon conclusion of the extended free trial.
*Should automatic renewal of options be disabled, the free trial will still be extended.
*Users notified by automated mail of either the end of their free trial period or the beginning of their billing period will still receive the extension.
*Extensions will be processed by the Square Enix Account Management System on or around October 19, 2010. An official announcement will be made at that time.
*Information regarding new billing period dates will be available via the Square Enix Account Management System.