Category Archives: Final Fantasy XIV
Two pieces I wrote came up this week for people read on MMORPG.com. One was a discussion on progression via levels and skills for Devil’s Advocate, and the other was my explanation for why Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn might very well be a defining moment in MMO history.
On the one hand, commenters on my Devil’s Advocate Post mentioned Asheron’s Call as a game that sort of fulfills the melding of Levels and Skills, and due to my never having played it, I completely skipped it as a talking point.
I felt embarassed. At the same time, I was thankful. Someone had pointed out an issue with my article and it had given me an idea to sort of compare Asheron’s Call and Project Gorgon. It was a good angle to take, and one that I’ll explore for the next Devil’s Advocate.
On the other hand, I also received a comment on the FFXIV post that reads:
You sure did gush a lot for a non biased column.
How much does one of these columns cost a company?
For me, I can read this as trolling, but after the Eurogamer issue that occurred recently, it touched a nerve. As I’m also starting a job at Rappler, a social news site in the Philippines, on November 1, it made me anxious to have my ethics as a writer put into question. Basically, it really stung.
I responded thus,
Just so you know, this isn’t the Devil’s Advocate for this week, and as far as I can remember when I wrote it, I did not mention that I was unbiased.
I like the Final Fantasy brand. At the same time, I will admit that I was disappointed by FFXIII and FFXIV. The information given so far for the game gives me hope, and the potential of a game like this to be a defining moment in MMO history makes me pause, because it can cost tons of jobs and change lives if it fails.
I am enthusiastic for the game based on its potential, but at the same time, I’ve played enough games to know that the potential for something to be good does not make it good unless I try it and make that distinction for myself, based on my personal opinion and my understanding of the situation.
The idea that I am some sort of paid shill is a hurtful insinutation on your part, and while I would defend your ability to say it on this forum if push came to shove, I will not stand by and accept your accusation. Frankly, as a fellow person on this planet, I am hurt by your words, and I honestly hope that you would actually consider the gravity of what you’re saying to me or to anyone else in the future.
In any case, this is just sharing on my part. I take great pains to make sure my pieces are well-written and meaningful, but there are really a ton of variables I can’t account for. I know I should let it pass, but it really soured an otherwise happy day.
Some twitter friends of mine were discussing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn because of the recent trailer reveal, and my name was brought up.
In a nutshell, I suppose it’s time to info dump based on what sources I can remember and what I know about the 2.0 incarnation of FFXIV.
1. FFXIV 2.0 is an entirely new client built from scratch, with a graphics engine that can run on more machines. (More info here)
2. As far as I remember, Naoki Yoshida once mentioned that the focus of the game would be shifted to require less levequest grinding and focus on actual quests with stories. If the design intent remains the same, then 2.0 should have more quests, with leves as a secondary source of experience and items.
3. When FFXIV in its current incarnation “ends,” the data of characters from the old client will be transferred from the 1.0 game into the 2.0 game, though some of it will probably be tweaked for manageability. Character data will not be saved past November 1, 2012, and the FFXIV 1.0 servers will be shut off on November 11, 2012 so they can focus on testing 2.0. (Source)
4. Alpha testing will start off as being for Japanese players only mostly so response to any issues is quicker, but will eventually branch out into other countries. (Source)
5. Gameplay-wise, we don’t know much, though the gameplay has been changed in many ways since FFXIV launch compared to now. I’ve heard that Yoshida does want combat to flow better and be faster, so he’s making sure we start off with a full TP bar rather than an empty one. Also, there’s jumping now, as well as new classes and jobs (Arcanist/Summoner is 2.0 specific, but FFXIV does have jobs for the existing classes which will be ported over)
As with any game, there are wonderful and not-so-wonderful things to think about when you’re playing it. The following are some of my issues with Final Fantasy XIV in its current state, as well as the plan the Square Enix Development Team has with that particular aspect of the game moving forward.
1. The same tilesets for the world you’re traversing, all jigsawed up.
Simply put, I dislike how the world was created using a handful of tilesets to represent an entire living, breathing continent of a world.
THE PLAN MOVING FORWARD: DESTROY THE WORLD. BWAHAHAHAHA. Then rebuild using more tilesets, presumably.
2. Levequests are your bread and butter means of gaining experience.
Levequests are essentially repeatable quests people can do to gain experience for their various fighting, gathering, or crafting classes.You gain back 4 levequest allowances every 12 hours, and can stack these allowances to 99 to power through levels as needed.
The game has quests, but those are few and level dependent, and while you can sometimes get a hefty stack of gil from them, as well as some gear, the levequests are the bread and butter means of gaining experience.
THE PLAN MOVING FORWARD: From what I’ve heard, the plan moving forward is to give people more quests and make levequesting a more optional experience for everyone. Options are good, and being able to do quests more for great stories appeals to me immensely.
3. The usable, but annoying-to-use User Interface
To leave your party in the game, you need to open up your menu, click on “Party,” go to “Party Details,” then click on “Leave.” It works if you’re using a controller, but as a keyboard + mouse guy, it’s a bit annoying to have to go through the same hoops.
Now, that same bit of logic runs through some other actions, like changing your gear. It is usable, but it’s not fun.
THE PLAN MOVING FORWARD: DESTROY THE WORLD, then make a newer UI that works with modern sensibilities but doesn’t sacrifice accessibility for console/PC controller gamers.
Right now, I’m playing Final Fantasy XIV and having quite a bit of fun. The old annoyances I had with the game that made me leave before have been mitigated significantly, and Square Enix’s team for the game is really working hard to show people that the Final Fantasy MMO is a force to be reckoned with.
Things I personally love about this game in its current state:
1. Structured Freeform Progression: This is the term I use to refer to how Final Fantasy’s leveling system allows you to be the kind of fighter, harvester, or crafter you want to be.
Changing the tool in my hands changes my class, and there’s a certain satisfaction in leveling up new crafting classes just to see LEVEL UP flash on the screen. Basically, it melds the structured leveling progression of most MMOs with the freedom to not be pegged as a particular class if you feel like switching.
2. Simplified Crafting
Originally, FFXIV’s crafting system damn near forced you to multilevel crafting classes if you wanted to be self-sufficient. To make something of a low level in a certain crafting field, you had to be a high level in a different field (or know who to talk to) to get his stuff you needed to make your own stuff.
Recipes have been streamlined to require fewer components from other fields or at least need specific items from a different, equally or lesser leveled tradeskill. Old recipes still exist though, and those recipes have a “dated” prefix to refer to them being part of the old echelon. You can still try and make those items for XP if you wanted, actually.
3. There’s finally an explanation for seemingly random shit.
There are two resources that seem to be very useful now, and they are http://ffxiv.mozk-tabetai.com/ and http://mooglebox.com. One is a great item, loot, and recipe compendium, and the other has a gathering tool that explains what you have to do in the gathering minigames to net specific items from gathering more readily.
4. The Future and its Story
The game is gearing up for a reboot called A Realm Reborn. They will pretty much wipe the whole damned planet out and literally shut down the servers prior to launch to move all the characters onto new servers for the reboot.
The best thing about this for me is that they have a freaking story explanation for the entire event, where (if memory serves) someone teleports every person on the planet to the end of time and then throws them back into the future of the world after a meteor crashes onto the world. Something like that. Basically… you get a cool lore entry about the sundering of Eorzea as a private reward for sticking by the game.
Anyway, if you feel like playing the game before the reboot, sign up and join my character Victor Stillwater on the Masamune Server. Cheers!
… and I’m feeling good.
2012 is a new year, and if the naysayers in this world would have it, the last year for humans to exist on the planet.
I don’t want to believe that. I mean, there’s so much to be thankful for.
Like Free Speech, and its counterpart, Using Words Responsibly.
Like Being Happy, and its counterpart, Choosing to be Angry.
And GAMES! Oh so many games!
This year, I choose to speak my mind more about the things that interest me, even if it makes me uncomfortable to open up in that way.
I will play the games I want and I will enjoy (or not enjoy) them at my leisure.
I will respect the minds of others, even if I disagree with their ideas.
I will not limit myself to one avenue of thought, and I will open up to other ideas and not act in a passive-aggressive manner to people of perceived authority.
I will not let the negativity of others invalidate what I feel towards a game.
I will balance my gaming with healthier pursuits.
I will finish that first book that’s been in my head and evolved since I was a kid.
I will define who I am by what I do and think, and not by what people think of me.
I will play more Final Fantasy XIV and maybe even get Final Fantasy XIII-2 on the PS3.
I will experience games I never thought to try out. That may include superhero MMORPGs.
I will keep writing about games!
I will stay smiling and awesome, the way I envision myself as being for the rest of my life.
I have written this piece with no particular logic in mind, so the thoughts here are mostly emotional responses to the games I’ve played. Apologies to anyone who feels slighted by any poor word choices I have made here.
In August, I played a total of four MMORPGs. There was Rift, Xsyon: Prelude, Everquest 2, and Final Fantasy XIV. Each MMO I picked during that month seemed to have one thing in common that wasn’t actually particularly common: they were all in a weird state of upheaval.
To my knowledge, my playtime with Rift was spent more on July during the Waves of Madness world event, a prelude to the arrival of patch 1.4 during the first week of August. When 1.4 came around though, I spent a few days and felt the change did nothing to keep me enthused: slightly revamped soul trees, PVP additions, and the addition of stuff for high leveled players to do, while definitely useful for keeping the 50s entertained, did nothing for me as a level 30+ player who wanted something he could own.
On a whim, I then bought and subbed to Xsyon for a month, hoping that then lure of terraforming and nearly limitless crafting would make me want to stay. This game is in a state of upheaval, even within its playerbase, because aside from crafting and killing four creature types (that’s what I was told) and dodgy PVP, the game was about barren of things to do as, well, a post-apocalyptic Lake Tahoe would probably be. Two days later, the unsubscribe button was promptly pushed.
I played Just Cause 2 for two weeks afterwards… that was a fun distraction. but a completely different thing to discuss.
Following some documented troubles with subbing to Everquest 2, I managed to get in a subscription and play before Game Update 61 became available. While the changes to the game as a result of the update did not greatly impact me (I even completed the Beastlord prelude quest that came with the update), it troubled me how everyone else felt bad because of how this game update was handled, prior to and during its introduction into the game. This was a state of upheaval that affected me because it hurt a playerbase that loved the game more dearly than I did, so I opted to temporarily try something else this past week so that the developers could remedy the situation accordingly.
To that end, I chose Final Fantasy XIV to occupy my time. So far, I am finding that not much has changed since I last played, but from my experience, what has changed has been important and it’s revitalized that love I’ve always had for the potential Final Fantasy XIV had to please people.
There are two things that have consistently gnawed at me during my time playing FFXIV. The first thing that tore at my imagination is the fatigue system of ability gain, and what it would be like to have that abolished: would it make me want to play more of the game, less of it, or the same amount as a result? The second issue that ate up my brain was the panic of playing a combat class: simply put, the system they had in place when I last played made me feel like a sitting duck because I was always waiting for Stamina to recharge to perform an action.
Patch 1.18 removed fatigue from the game’s leveling system, allowing casual players like myself to enjoy leveling up while not penalizing those who wanted to spend more time developing their characters further. It also ushered in the beginning of sweeping changes to the entirety of the battle system, beginning with the revamping or outright removal of specific skills and the abolition of the Stamina system, as well as adding something most MMOs take for granted these days: auto attack.
I see four upheavals at work here in these four games. There is an “upheaval” which is more of a small quake that did nothing but agitate the PVP playerbase and ruffle a few feathers (Rift). There is an “upheaval” that is more like terraforming, in that it is deliberate and slow to progress and, ultimately, rather like watching grass grow (Xsyon). There is an “upheaval” that wounds the playerbase severely because it came hastily, and with repeated, significant aftershocks as the world attempts to right itself (EQ2). Then there is the positive “upheaval,” in which certain foundations are taken down, and the ground is broken again to usher in a determined rebuilding and restructuring of faulty foundations (FFXIV).
The change happening in FFXIV is astounding, because the plans are being laid out in developer letters in a way that informs everyone of a concrete, long-term plan for rebuilding. I know other developers are open with their plans for a game, but for me, seeing someone literally explain how the foundations for a new “home” are being built, (specifically the plans for patch 1.19 that were written on August 15, and for 1.20 and 1.21 that were written a few hours ago today) with a projected timeline and explanations as to the reasoning behind specific actions, is a very positive way of introducing change to a community that has already suffered from the pain of a nearly a year’s worth of disappointment.
They’re revamping the battle, experience, and mob claiming system, adding new modes of transportation, introducing further tutorial quests, creating additional, unlockable job classes through questing, and making crafting more accessible and more fun (THANK GOD) to a wider range of players by simplifying certain crafting processes. They literally have a monthly plan that they are working hard to follow, and they have an excellent team that translates these producer letters so that they come out on the same day they’re made worldwide (at least, that’s the impression I’m getting). These guys have waaaaaay more discipline than I could ever imagine from myself.
The funny thing is, they know this upheaval and rebuilding is going to hurt. In a post made yesterday regarding the revamps coming to claiming and engaging enemies, producer Naoki Yoshida wrote (translated into English, obviously),
I want to make it clear now that I believe there is no way to settle this argument in a way that everybody will be 100% satisfied with.
In this one sentence, I feel the burden of being a producer, as this translation would imply that he concedes that the changes the current team is making will not please everyone and potentially please no one. He even goes on to explain what he thinks various portions of the playerbase are thinking:
This is an extreme example, but even for non-online, stand alone games, there are players who enjoy completing the game even if they use cheats to obtain all items or max out their levels. However, other players feel that this is a waste of time and that it defeats the purpose of buying the game. As such, this is a difficult issue to address.
In MMOs, there are players who would like help with leveling, because they want to play with other players as soon as possible. There are also players who would like to help new players level up, so that they can play with them. These players don’t want strong restrictions on power leveling, nor to be confined to parties with major level differences.
In contrast, there are players who believe that, “Players grow together with their characters,” “If other players are power leveling, leveling up becomes meaningless,” “Power leveling will become a necessary part of the game,” and “Power leveling will disrupt areas for proper party play.”
Even without considering RMT and people who level up other players’ characters for profit, this issue is the cause of a lot of friction. For online games, RMT and people who level up other players’ characters for profit will both certainly exist, so they must be considered. This is a good point of discussion, but opinions will vary based on perspective, so it is difficult to reach a definite conclusion.
He then explains their current battle plan for this particular system, acknowledging that not everyone will be pleased, but also explaining that the team is doing something for people with a particular mindset and explaining that mindset to everyone:
…as a current generation MMORPG we would like to do something about,
“new players who would like some help, because they want to play with their friends as soon as possible, as well as players who are willing to sacrifice their own time to help out new players get involved in the game quicker.”
To return to my metaphor, the upheaval is painful, but the reasoning behind the rebuillding process is there, and he hopes everyone will accept the mindset they have in order to make the game fun for more people.
To a gamer with my mindset, this certainly reads in a tone that I’d want every developer to adopt when they know they’re not going come into opposition from the fanbase (which is to say, “every developer out there”). As a result, I’m excited to see their development plan come to fruition, which is a lot more than I can say for the way EQ2’s most recent upheaval came to be seen.
It’s been a while since I covered Final Fantasy XIV. I’ve been reading up on the news for it, but there was nothing particularly of note until just recently.
A few hours ago, Naoki Yoshida posted a new Letter from the Director on the Lodestone website and this letter was a rather substantial one for one reason. He added a two-minute video showing of the auto attack function that’ll be making it patch 1.18 of the game. While it’s not 100% perfect as of yet, citing the need “to make major revisions to enmity algorithms, tweak the motion of certain actions (as seen in the above video), and also rebalance a handful of them,” among other things, the news is quite exciting, to be sure.
In any event, you can expect the following changes in the lineup for the future of Final Fantasy XIV:
- Auto-attack functionality will be prioritized in 1.18.
- Attack motion diversification and fine-tuning are planned for 1.19.
- Battle classes only will receive auto-attack.
- The stamina gauge will be abolished with the introduction of auto-attack.
- Recast timers will be adjusted for certain actions obtained via quests and guild marks whose action costs were managed solely through the stamina gauge.
- Certain actions dependent on the stamina gauge will have their effects adjusted.
- Characters will be made able to switch between passive and active modes while moving.
- Multiple attacks during auto-attack is also being planned for the future.
Sadly, the testing means that the changes will not take effect as soon as originally planned, and Yoshida estimates “two more weeks beyond the anticipated mid/late-June release date” before the changes to the battle system can be released. I guess July should be an interesting month, then, don’t you think?
As a tourist to various MMO and single-player gaming worlds, I find myself looking forward to a ton of different games every year. This year is no exception, though I can say that I am looking forward to seeing a ton of MMO goodness within the next year or so.
Based on what I’ve gathered, you can find a list of five MMOs I’m raring to play below, listed according to when they’ll be released.
1. Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising
RELEASE: June 21, 2011
This game is supposed to be rather niche, but has the potential to be quite interesting. Since it uses Roman mythology and history as a backdrop of sorts, it’s already painted itself into quite a specific audience compared to other fantasy settings. The one thing I think that really makes me interested in this game is the Estate System.
This estate system basically gives players the ruins of their old home, which they would then have to develop through the course of the game by gathering loot, investing in it (I’m assuming here) and basically making a name for themselves. It should be nice to see a full-blown estate with statues and stuff, and seeing it grow from a ramshackle tent community into a small chateau is going to be mighty interesting.
2. The Completely Revamped Pay-to-Play Version of Final Fantasy XIV
RELEASE: Unknown, though incremental updates are paving the way.
As I’ve said before, Final Fantasy XIV is not perfect. However, with a new director helming the project and the game taking an altered course through the sea of MMO games available to the gaming market, I hope that it won’t be too late for FFXIV to make a resurgence as a game more people will find worthwhile to play.
The changes and revamps are supposed to include an improved combat system, less harrowing crafting, and tons more content for people of all levels and ranks to enjoy within the game.
3. Guild Wars 2
RELEASE: According to the GW2 Website, “When it’s finished.”
I think many MMO players are excited for GW2, mostly because it promises to bring a high-quality MMO experience without having to pay for more than the box or digital download for the game, meaning that some non-essential aspects will be fueled by microtransactions.
Of course, that’s not the main reason why GW2 is interesting.
I’ll let the video below explain it better:
4. Star Wars: The Old Republic
RELEASE: Possibly within 2011, if recent reports are accurate.
I’m also excited to try this game out, but then again, I’m more a fan of Trek than Wars. There is, however, a big part of me that wants to step into the shoes of a stormtrooperish looking outfit so I can start doing the Dancing Chewbacca.
Whatever the Dancing Chewbacca is (I hate spelling Wookiee as I tend to get it wrong).
RELEASE: Honestly, who knows?!
This game is currently in closed beta testing in Korea, which means that we may not see it until a long time after. That said, the game is supposed to promise a sandbox attitude to the themepark traditions, seeing as you can make class combinations, craft houses, and basically do what you want when you want.
Of course, these sorts of promises have been made before, so I suppose we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, below is a video of the game:
In trying to come up with a worthwhile title for this post, I’d basically exhausted my mind thinking of a title that did not have overt references to this particular science fiction franchise.
I think using my name in reference to a portion of the canonical space in that universe fits the idea of an unorthodox title.
What’s this all about, you say?
Well, I still have a sub to Rift, and I was thinking of cancelling the sub and not letting it renew since it’s a three-monther, so I was trying to find a game with a sub that I could enjoy casually as an alternative to playing Final Fantasy XIV.
I had settled on two possibilities before bed: heading to the stars courtesy of Star Trek Online, or going dystopian with the help of Fallen Earth. While I had played Fallen Earth previously, my connection issues with the game made it rather unplayable and turned me off from purchasing the game this round. As such, Star Trek Online became the de facto winner in my mind for “next MMO to try” when I got out of bed.
I’m currently downloading a patch for the game, but I’ve settled on a course of action that should be quite interesting.
If you’re a long-time reader, you’ll know that my favorite Star Trek series has to be Voyager, and it’s not because of Jeri Ryan playing Seven of Nine. It was because I thought Captain Janeway was an awesome Captain who upheld the ideals of the Federation in the most trying of circumstances, and because Robert Picardo was an excellent Emergency Medical Hologram.
Well, because of this, I’ve decided to take the long road and play a Science Officer who uses a Science-based ship, working my way to get the equivalent of the Voyager spacecraft and eventually retrofitting said Voyager-class spacecraft into its final form by the end of the series.
As members of the game community come up with new, exciting stories on the Foundry, I’ll also be taking a look at them and hopefully reviewing them for you. That said, I’m in no rush and, so long as I have FFXIV and STO to keep me company, it should be an interesting couple of weeks here over at Games and Geekery Headquarters.
There’s just one thing though.
What the heck do I name my first ship? SUGGESTIONS MOST WELCOME!
I was supposed to put up a third installment of the Final Fantasy XIV Extended Look today, but it seems Square Enix had other plans for me.
The development team for Final Fantasy XIV finished their scheduled maintenance a few hours ago with the implementation of an incremental patch known as Patch 1.17a.
According to the information posted on the Lodestone, this patch adds new sidequests and a new means of acquiring rewards and skill points for players. Known as the Guild Tasks Board, the system will apparently allow players to perform missions for the guilds of Eorzea. Finding the required items and turning them into the proper NPC will yield rewards and skill points for the active class at the time when the task is completed.
In addition to some bug fixes and system tweaks, the patch also includes a stylistic element, providing a 3-D visual notice when one is in a group with four or more members.
The full patch notes can be found at the link posted above, and I will update the third part of my extended look, namely a feature on the current state of questing in-game, once I’ve investigated the Guild Tasks Board and tried it out for myself.