Archive for the ‘Final Fantasy XIV’ Category

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FFXIV: New Jobs Video

March 19, 2012

I know, I know, Final Fantasy XIV should be all rights be dead and buried.  The game is an utter and complete failure on so many levels.  Yet, Square-Enix is intent to try and make a decent game out of it.  Will it succeed?  I for one seriously doubt it, but only time will tell.

They are doing one thing right however.  By playing towards the nostalgia of its formerly loyal Final Fantasy XI playerbase, they are attempting to entice more and more players to give the game a chance.  This video released a few days ago proves that there is still a bit left in that cave to mine.  Showing the 5 new “jobs” of White Mage, Black Mage, Monk, Warrior, Dragoon and Paladin in their new “job specific gear” (hell we all know its just Artifact Gear).  Take a gander at the coolness that could have been something better if Square-Enix had listened to its players and actually took their time in developing their game instead of pushing it out in a disaster of a state.

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FFXIV: Firefall Faire=Sunbreeze Festival?

July 20, 2011

The producers over at Square-Enix released a little information about Eorzea’s version of the Sunbreeze Festival event that became so popular over the years in Final Fantasy XIV.  This year we get real bikinis for the girls and a new name, “Firefall Faire”.  Hell, if you go out looking for the pictures of the “Galka” is even wearing a bikini.  I guess that man-bra is needed for them.

It’s really sad to me that they are spending so much time and effort doing all these events and not nearly as much trying to fix this game.

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SE Shuts Down Servers – An Opportunity?

March 18, 2011

The devastation in the wake of Japan’s earthquake/tsunami and ongoing structural issues have prompted many Japanese based companies to shift or cease operations temporarily.  Square-Enix is one of the major ones making news with their shutdowns of both of their Final Fantasy MMOs for an open-ended period of time.

While press releases from Square-Enix have indicated that both services could be back up and running as early as March 20th, these are far from solid restart dates for either game.  With electricity concerns and rolling black outs in effect for much of Japan, this time frame could be pushed back.  Now the question is, when that day comes that the power company re-stabilizes itself, should Square-Enix flip the switch back on for both games?

We all know that Final Fantasy XI is going to get turned back on as soon as it possibly can be.  Even with a considerable amount of XI’s playerbase leaving the game since last year’s FanFest and its announcement that the level cap would be increased by 24 levels.  Many players were excited by this news and many other players were dismayed and left the game.  Reports have the game’s subscription levels dropping from the 500,000 mark to around 100-125,000 currently.  While this is a significant loss over the course of a calendar year, the game is old, takes very little development dollars and the income greatly outweighs the cost.

Its baby sister however is not doing even that well.  With less than 100,000 boxes for Final Fantasy XIV sold in North America and Collector’s Edition boxes still sitting on store shelves 6 months after it’s release, FFXIV was the biggest flop in the last 5 years of video games.  The game is in its 5th Free Month.  Should SE take this as an opportunity to take the game offline for an extended period of time and do some substantial redesigning and fixing of issues?  Should SE take this as a sign and an excuse to take the game offline permanently?

I honestly do not think SE will keep XIV off longer than XI, but they should.  The game had so much potential and many former XI players and WoW players alike looked forward to the game for 2 years.  Until the day we saw the final open beta push that is.  This is the definition of opportunity.  We should see a closing of the game for at least 6 months and a relaunch.

If not, then we should see an apology and a closure.  Final Fantasy XIV had potential.  It never lived up to it.  It tried to do far too much innovation without innovating things people wanted changed.  The game was never supposed to live in the same MMO market as WoW or Rift.  It is/was a game that was meant to be different from the get go.  It just never made any of its basic game systems the “good” kind of different.

So, Square-Enix look upon this as an opportunity to fix the game and bring it down for a month or two (or six).

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Been gone too long..

February 17, 2011

With the release of FFXIV and it being pretty much Dead on Arrival, I took a step back from really posting.  To be honest, I had hugely high hopes for the game and its utter and total failure to bring even a modernized and playable version of FFXI to the table was more than a huge let down for me.

WoW is a game that just ends up bringing me back into the fold.  Not because WoW is an awesome game, but because other games just do not do anything WoW does with any polish.  I honestly, loved the “Asian Grind” that was the original Final Fantasy MMO.  FFXI had its grind, but it mitigated that grind with a heck of a lot of good story, cutscenes and missions that mattered both to the player and to the world at large.  Armor, Weapons and other rewards you got along the way, often times stayed with you for a long period of time.  A character in the game was permanent and was “all-in-one”.  You “owned” your character much more because you could grow with it.  Want to play a mage today?  Sure, just go to your Moogle and change jobs and level up!”  There was no rolling or rerolling when you wanted to change it up.

I was looking forward to that more than anything in FFXIV.  Alas, even that portion of the game was botched in my mind.  From the first day I entered the Alpha, I wasn’t impressed with the new “Armory” system of choosing your job.  Crafting as a “Class”?  It never made sense to anyone and it just didn’t work in the end.

That brings me to the simple fact about FFXIV.  It won’t recover.  The new development staff may be trying to tell us of all these changes they are making to the game.  However, it’s all smoke and mirrors and the game will probably never make it out of its “free to play” time it currently sits in.  While I know a handful of people who still play the game and are having fun with it, that is a small majority.  What those players have to say about the state of the game still holds true.  It’s not a great game, it’s not a good game, it’s just a game of hope.  They are holding out that the devs give them what they are telling them they are going to get.  Hope is all they have, because the rest of the MMO market consists of a handful of older games, that most have either played or have no interest in, WoW, or a couple of new games like DCUO or Rift.

Most players left WoW for XIV because they were tired of the Amusement Park mentality Read the rest of this entry ?

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Square-Enix Sends Out a Notice!

November 16, 2010

Many of us who have been subscribers to Square-Enix’s massive failure of an opus received an automated email over the last 48 hours instructing us to cancel our account b the 20th of November or purchase Crysta so we may begin paying for service.  Today we were giving a yet another reprieve.

Today, we have decided to extend the free trial period an additional 30 days. Please refer to the following for more details.

We have also added a Topics post detailing a portion of the content heading your way in the two large-scale version updates slated for late November and mid-December. 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. We encourage everyone to view today’s post, as well as the previous Topics post from November 11 outlining the development team’s roadmap for the coming months. Further details regarding payment options and future version updates will be posted as they become available.

With this addition of another 30 free days of service, the boxed version that a lot of us picked up in September now totals 90 days.  Square-Enix had gotten a lot of flack as of late, because the proposed major November patch date was 2 days after most players time was to run out.  Moving this date through til the 19th of December should give players a chance to experience the content of both the November and December patches.  Square-Enix is hopeful that the changes in these patches will garner enough goodwill from players that many will give them a second chance.  With an average server load of 1500 players and dropping daily, they had better pray and work a lot harder and a lot faster if they are going to stem the tide of cancellations.

The most telling part of this sequence of events is that this news came out mere hours after the company reminded players that their free time was about to come to an end.  The conspiracy theorist in me has to believe that they saw the sheer numbers of people who took this reminder as a cue to cancel their account and decided that if they were to keep this game from closing before their PS3 release next Spring, they needed to do something quickly.

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FFXIV: Best Metaphor for FFXIV Ever!

October 21, 2010

A friend of mine sent me the most apt metaphor for Final Fantasy XIV…

“Say some really hot chick (or dude) comes up to you and says ‘hey let’s have lots of loud dirty all-night sex, but we have to cover ourselves in 25 layers of plastic wrap, so that we don’t catch any STDs or RMTs from each other’. it may sound like an exciting proposition at first, but when it comes around to the realistic execution of said loud dirty all-night sex with hot chick (or dude) you’ll find that there’s just too much useless crap in the way of your fun.”

This is as spot on a view on how the current game is as anything I have read so far.  Even today’s Kotaku review couldn’t do it better.  Kotaku does make the point I am hearing from many of the people I have met during my MMO travels, “Square Enix is still trying to figure out how to make them work. Many players may have the patience to wait and see how things pan out. I do not.”

I certainly do not have much patience left with Square-Enix and their “really hot chick” of a game.  It’s unfortunate that they did not do what the community pleaded with them to do and push this game until it was ready for a real release.  With a complete game from level 1 to level 50.  Instead we got a broken game that works fairly well at level 1 and falls apart by level 10.  I am still unsure why SE did not learn from the mistakes of Mythic, Funcom and to a larger extent NCsoft.  Each of those companies did learn something from the game release before them.  They just didn’t learn enough to make their games worth while over the long haul.  This is not 2002.  You can not prance out a game that even the developers do not know what their complete concept is.  You can not release a game with failures in the core systems.  Sure as heck can not release a game where communication, travel, economy and skill gain are all in the process of being fleshed out.  This is 2010.  The time to communicate openly with your playerbase is here.

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FFXIV: Are the proposed changes enough?

October 18, 2010

With the recent posts from the developers over at the official Final Fantasy XIV: Lodestone site I ask you, “Are the proposed changes and additions enough to keep you playing the game?”

My answer is an honest, “I am not entirely sure”.   Taking a moment to disect what has been announced as in the works for the late-November update we can see that there are a number of much-needed changes to the game’s systems coming soon.  Unfortunately, these seem way too far off for most.  Yet on the bright side, SE has given us all another free month to tempt us to stay and give them a chance to right the ship.

1) Map Changes.

Amongst the map changes are additions to the map system that are much needed.  However, the vast majority of these features were already available in the previous FF MMO.  Making it an incredible disappointment that they were not in at launch of XIV.  Things such as the simple ability to continue to read and type in your chat window while viewing the map is a big deal.  Plus, the ability to use to share your relative map position with other players is all fine and dandy.  However, there is STILL no mention of being able to see party member locations on the map screen.  This is the most egregious failing of the map system.  Beyond the old style, artsy maps with no easy way of moving from map to map, lacking the ability to view party member locations adds a huge level of annoyance to party game play.  Where there is already enough annoyance to be had due to other issues.

2) Chat Windows!

This is where we are finally seeing them flesh out something completely.  Adding the ability to create and specify specific chat windows is something every new MMO has had and is expected.    Toss in the addition of the old FFXI Cntrl-R reply keybind and the system only lacks a few text commands to be fully functional.  Personally, since we can now see every linkshell channel at all times, it would be nice if we had slash commands such as /l1, /l2, l3, etc in order to communicate with our non current LS instead of having to recognize which LS and take the 30-60 seconds for the menu system to switch our linkpearl.

3) An actual Loot Window

I must admit that beyond the fact that the loot window is embedded in 3 different menu systems currently, the loot system in XIV is not a hugely problematic one.  Having the ability to bring up the loot window with a single keystroke will help tremendously.  That being said, there are few things that need to be added into the Loot system beyond just this.  Items are given to seemingly random people on their drop.  Kind of like there is an internal roll system at play.  However, for larger bosses with r/ex items we are going to need a quartermaster/master looter system as well as the ability to /roll or /random on items in the loot pool.  Relying on the niceness of the random guy that was given the item into their pool is simply a bad idea for longterm play.

4) Targeting…

Targeting has been horrible since day 1 in this game’s Alpha test.  This is one of those changes that makes me continue to believe that this game is still being considered to be in Open Beta by its developers.  Targeting was one of the largest problems brought up during testing.  Demands for keybindings for targeting everything from the nearest NPC, nearest PC, nearest monster as well as each separate party member were left unheard during the test phases and we are only now getting them?  These were mainstays in the games predecessor and should have been there since day one.  Why these can not be patched in before Thanksgiving is beyond words.

5) Keybindings

All I have to say is, “OMG Finally!”.  We are finally going to be able to remap the horrible camera control keys the way we want them to be.  We bitched, we griped, we complained to deaf ears about these issues since they were changed sometime in the Alpha.  Most keyboard players even went as far as to use an application that made windows think the arrow keys were in fact the JKLI keys because it was so horrible.  Sure, they did give us the ability to change our bindings, but we were so extremely limited in doing so.

That’s a good deal of changes they are making.  In addition, they are going to be “streamlining the UI”, trying to remove lag where they can and populating the world with more monsters.  They have many planned additions to the game and a near complete revamp of the Synthesis system’s UI including a much desired recipe list.  All that being said, I have two huge problems with all of this.

1) Why is it taking so long?

Seriously why Square-Enix?  This game of yours has had to cost you a pretty penny.  It’s been in secret production for a long time before it was even announced and it has been all but an abject failure.  The game magazine and website reviews are in and you have received some of the lowest scores for a so-called AAA MMO release ever.  Hell Star Trek Online and Champions Online got hugely better reviews than FFXIV did.  You have to be embarrassed at the quality of product you have released.  So as I see it, you have to options.  You can continue to be slow and push patches at a rate of 1 every 4-6 weeks and lose more and more of your player base.  Or get your act together and learn to work fast and patch once every week to ten days.  At this point, players are going to be willing to deal with the odd bug (hell there are already enough of them) if you start changing things for the better.  The little things like patching the proposed keybinding change should have ALREADY happened.

2) Most of the targeted changes avoid the core problems with the game.

The core problems with the game are being untouched by these announced changes.  Are the developers over there really not seeing that these little things are not what the reviewers and canceling players are complaining about?  People want a lot more out of your game and you have failed to even speak to these concerns.  Wake up SE and stop dealing with the little thing when there is not one, but multiple elephants in the room that need attention.

 

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More and More Negative Reviews For FFXIV

October 9, 2010

In the past several days, most of the professional game reviewing magazine, tv shows and websites have a released their reviews of Final Fanatasy XIV.  Let me just say, that most of them are pretty spot on.  However, the Gametrailers review was the closest to my opinions.  Their score on Visuals was a bit lower than I would have given the game, but I am assuming this is the overall presentation in which the UI could sink that score like a rock.  Check out the video review here.

I really hope that all this negative press will make the developers scramble faster to fix this game.  It has a ton of potential which is going to be lost quickly if the game doesn’t see significant improvements before the December release of Cataclysm.

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What does FFXIV need to do to keep its playerbase?

October 7, 2010

More specifically the question is, “What does Square-Enix need to fix or add in Final Fantasy XIV to keep players past the first month?

Now I realize that is a heavily loaded question. Final Fantasy XIV is far from a game without its problems.  Avid series fans and SE alike will like to remind you that every MMO starts off to a bumpy start.  They will remind you of WoWs initial woes.  They will remind you that on XI’s initial release the game was a disaster for a 6+ months before the developers got their feet underneath them.

The problem is that Square-Enix still believes that its 2002.  They believe the average MMO player is still extremely patient and trusting.  Unfortunately, they are wrong.  In a world almost 10 years removed from the release of their last game, they are still in the mind-set of the past.  That slow fixes and not communicating with the community are things that need to be left in the past.

So what do the developers need to do to make FFXIV survive better than games like Warhammer and Age of Conan?

1) Fix the Lag -

The sheer amount of lag that is prevalent in the game is unacceptable for the long-term viability of the game.  Now lag is not a new thing to the world of MMOs.  It’s a common place problem that all games in the genre.  However, the sheer amount of lag that is held within every aspect of the game precludes most of the fun.  Everything from combat to crafting to the mere act of trying to browse a bazaar are effected.

Combat becomes a little less fun when your abilities do not go off when you push the button.  Sometimes seeing 2 and 3 abilities going off in succession and sometimes having abilities happen on time.  When fighting monsters that can easily defeat you, any time lost due to lag can make or break.  Dying is not a fun experience, but feeling helpless due to ability lag is just not acceptable in a game of this type.

2) Fix the Economy -

Notice I am not saying that they need to add an Auction House.  I honestly, do not think that is a requirement to fix what is wrong.  The current system is outright horrible.  Trying to find a bazaar with the goods you are looking for is like searching for a needle in a very laggy haystack.  Attempting to use the Market Wards is an adventure in wasted time.

Spending hours a week trying to find the materials, armor, consumables that you may need is just plain not acceptable.  The changes to the Market Wards that have been proposed are a decent start.  They simply are not enough to fix what is wrong.  We may not need an Auction House, but we do need a way to quickly and easily search and purchase items.  This could be achieved by creating a database of all bazaar’s in the Market Wards.

What I believe will happen is that we will see a searchable database but still need to locate the bazaar in question.  Which simply is not enough.  In today’s MMO where time is as big of a commodity as anything else, we require a streamlined method to obtain goods and services.  The bazaar system has its uses.  It can even be used as a good base to build a global “shop” system.  If SE is so adamant about not having a so-called “Auction” based economy, that is fine.  Let players set their own prices, let the economy be run by players selling at a given price instead of having to guess what price people are willing to sell it for.  Although I really do prefer FFXI’s Auction House system over WoW’s, Aion’s or any other recent MMO release, SE seems to not want to go down that road.  It’s fine, but give us some easy to use way of controlling the economy rather than something that is based on the players rather than based on the players willing to spend an hour or more each day to find what they want.

3) Balance Skill Ups -

Skill is a very random thing in the game.  This randomness is not a fun aspect of the game.  The almighty RNG has been eliminated from so many aspects of the MMO because it was not fun, why is it being used in the very core leveling system in FFXIV?  We need to be able to play the game and not be surprised in the leveling process.  We need to be able to kill an enemy and receive an expected amount of skill towards are next level.

No player wants to go out and kill monster after monster and gain zero progress towards their level.  This happens far too often in XIV and it needs to be remedied in some way.

4) Add a Player Search/LFG System -

To put it simply, this game is a Massively Multiplayer game without an easy way to find people to group up with.  People are relegated to meeting people randomly at Aetheryte Camps and shouting or asking for help with their guildleves.  If you want to grind, you are more than likely stuck with hoping you have friends already playing the game that are willing to only grind.

The most important part of any online game is player matchmaking.  This is not something that is unique to the MMORPG genre.  Yet, in Final Fantasy XIV we do not have a way to find other people in order to do anything in the game.  In WoW we have a LFG/Dungeon Finder and a /who search system.  We do not necessarily require multiple systems like WoW, but we do need something.  The previous Final Fantasy MMO had one of the simplest and most highly functional player search systems out of any MMO that has been released in the past 15 years.  By not including one of the best designed functions of their former game, SE has shown us one more reason to believe that they do not know what they are doing.

MMOs are an inherently social genre of games.  However, not being able to easily group up with people across the entire game world inhibits that social interaction.  Final Fantasy XIV needs a /search system as well as the ability to invite players to groups, linkshells and the eventual companies no matter what game region they reside.

5) Fix the User Interface -

There is so much I could dump into this category.  I will just say that Final Fantasy XI was also designed specifically for the use of a controller on a console and not solely on the PC.  It had a very simple, elegant and extremely functional interface.

Things like sorting inventory are things that the UI does not allow.  A lot of the UI problems come down to lag, but not all of them.  There are so many issues here that its hard to narrow it down to just a few.

a) Get rid of the embedded menus -

In order to do just about anything the player is required to make far too many choices and confirmations.  Sometimes causing the player to spend upwards of 3-5 minutes just to do things like, check item durability, place synthesis materials in the synthesis area, equip or unequip armor, move items to and from retainers, check and browse other people’s bazaars, and much more.

b) Viewing and Sorting Inventory –

Currently there is no way to easily view your inventory.  In every other game in the genre you can press a single key in order to quickly bring up your inventory.  That is not the case in FFXIV.  Going further, you are unable to sort your items by type, name or any other way you may choose.  Items are placed in your “bag” in the order they were obtained.

While equipping armor in a certain slot the game lets you choose from all 80 items in your bag.  In its predecessor, you would only be given the valid options for that armor area.  Once again, why are we seeing things that were extremely well done in FFXI done in such a way that is so far from player friendly?  FFXI was far from a perfect game when it came to a number of areas.  However, there is a real reason it has lasted for 8+ years as a profitable entity for Square-Enix.  It did a lot of things better than any other MMO out there both at the time and now.  Why step away from these well done aspects in favor of something “new” just to be “new”?

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FFXIV: A Look At The First Week (Part II)

October 3, 2010

It’s been a week since the collector’s edition headstart began.  I have put off making any comments on the state of the game until after Square-Enix gave us at least the first patch.  That day happened yesterday.  So here are my initial thoughts on the state of the game as it moves into the its official start date tomorrow.

In the first part of my look at the first week of Final Fantasy XIV I discussed the good, the bad and the just plain strange parts of several parts of the game.  This time I talk about the good and the lag of the User Interface, Combat, Crafting and the overall Economic system of the game

Read the rest of this entry ?

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