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Um… Does SE “Get It”?

August 19, 2010

A Currently Unused Airship Dock

Gamescon starts today over in Cologne, Germany and last night the fine people from Curse (don’t get me

started on my current opinion on those guys) and the staff of FFXIVCore got to sit down with Hiromichi Tanaka and a couple of other well-known names on the development team to get some answers. Make sure you go read it here.  I commend those guys for grabbing these guys to get some much-needed answers.  Square Enix is notorious for giving cryptic, non-answers during these type of interviews and they actually got some fairly straight and surprising answers.

I say surprising because not a single answer they gave made me happy about where the game is going as it moves towards its September 22nd CE Launch.  That date is fast approaching and we have yet to see enough progress in-game play, camera, UI and economic systems to make any Beta tester happy.  Let me break down the interview a little and get to the meat of why I don’t think SE’s developers don’t “get it”.

1) No Auction House

Also after the release of the game we will see how it goes and for example find out what kind of search options players will want and need and improve the situation. We don’t really want to introduce the auctionhouse from the beginning because that is going to determine the economy system.

Now, I won’t say not having an AH at release is a 100% required thing to have.  I will say that the current Market Ward + Bazaar system is not adequate for any MMO.  Whether it be large or small, every MMO needs an easy and accessible way to not only sell items, but find the items you wish to buy.

What Tanaka is saying here is there will be no immediate way of searching bazaars when the game goes live.  The current system being tested in Beta is what they intend to go live with so they can “tweak” it as they go.  What my mind translates that statement into is something more like, “We really are behind the 8-ball right now.  We do not have the time to get every system in the game ready in the next 4 weeks.  So we are going to let this current system go live and then fix it.”

Not really the way a game company should be working.  At least in my opinion.

2) End Game

As for the launch however we want to make sure that the game is easy and accessible for casual players. Throughout version updates we’re going to introduce more hardcore content so even both casual and hardcore players alike will enjoy the game.

So basically there is nothing but Guildleves and Behest to do in the game at launch.  With Leve timers at a set 2 day interval not unlike a WoW Raid Lockout, that means every other day you will log on with only grinding monsters or sitting at an Aetheryte begging to join a group.  Having the game easy and accessible is one thing.  Not having anything to do once you hit 50/50 except level another class is another thing altogether.

One of the biggest complaints about the initial release of Final Fantasy XI was about the end game at the starting level cap.  To put it simply, there was none.  Now, with the advent of Factionleves there will be something to do.  I am sure of that.  The question is, is it enough?  With FFXIV moving away from the norm of “dungeon instances” that all other recent MMOs have embraced, will there be enough things to do at Rank 50?  Only time will tell, but Tanaka’s answer does nothing to make us believe there will be.

3) Hardware Mouse

At the moment we don’t have any plans for the hardware mouse

If there is one thing that has been asked for in the testing it has been a hardware mouse option.  Ever since day one of Alpha testing this has been demanded.  The in-game mouse control has been improved, but it is still extremely laggy, and the only real way to fix this for all systems and configurations is to provide the option for a hardware mouse.  The real question here is why SE is so hesitant to put this into the game?  Is it because they will have to rewrite tons of code or is it simply because they are being stubborn?  There could be another reason, but my bet is on the stubborn answer.

4) Guildleves

We are working on addressing that so group play will be more encouraged, so maybe either you get more skillpoints for example. Basically we’re trying to adjust it so that people do guildleves with other people.

This is about the only encouraging thing the interview had to offer in my mind.  The beauty of Final Fantasy XI was that it was a true MMO.  No I am not WoW bashing here, but in the simplest sense most MMOs that came after FFXI were designed to be so extremely casual friendly that you could do virtually anything solo.  Final Fantasy XI was exactly the opposite.  You had to group to be efficient.  It was a wonderful design model, but a bit to stringent.  They eventually made it more friendly to solo and duo in that game and I truly expected a similar experience in its descendant.

They are intent to do the opposite here.  They want to push us into groups through efficiency, but the entire game system pushes solo play.  There is a lack of the old school “Tank+Healer+DD” mentality in the game thus far.

We want to make it in such a way that the 48 hours cooldown makes sense.

When you toss in the 48 hour cooldown on guildleves it makes it a bigger issue.  People see the word “cooldown” and believe a timer starts when they finish the guildleve.  However, its much more like a Bi-Daily quest.  Where new guildleves become available at a certain time every 2 days.

The biggest downside here is that, now there is nothing else to do besides grind.  Which is effected directly by the mysterious “Surplus” system which makes that ineffective and overall fruitless.

Conclusion

The game has a long ways to go in its current state.  We have recently seen several testimonials and screenshots from the current internal build of the game that is slated for use in the Open Beta starting sometime in early September.  These lead me to believe that we are poised to see great improvements in almost all aspects of the game.  While the interview has left me soured on certain aspects of the game, I am still looking forward to September 22nd when my CE arrives and I get to dig into the game proper.

I just hope that the developers will learn to listen to the community and stop speaking in vague and elusive terms when asked questions.  These two aspects of SE are what they truly need to change in order to make FFXIV a true worldwide success.

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2 comments

  1. Excellent points. I’ve been overlooking all of the possible negatives for the mere fact that I’m so excited for this game. Unfortunately I have to wait until next year as the PS3 version doesn’t truly have a release date yet. From reading the interview it seems that the PC release date of September is only a release date for a Gamma version (if that makes any sense). It just sounds like what will be released is a demo and the game truly isn’t complete yet. I really don’t like the sound of that. Technically there’s so far to go yet the release date is weeks away. That doesn’t make any sense to me at all. It concerns me that the game will be broken before it even has a chance to establish itself. I loved FFXI which is why I am excited for FFXIV. I just hope it lives up to my high expectations >.<


    • Basically your “Gamma Version” statement is right on the nose. They did the same thing with XI way back in the day. They released a poor and unfinished version of the game and let Japanese players (and importers) jump right in, but the game really wasn’t finished and polished for 8 months. I am not sure that model will fly in this era of the MMO, but we will have to see. If there are not weekly or bi weekly patches in the first few months, the game will see serious drop in subscriber base.

      I believe they see the PS3 street date as the true launch of the game as most Japanese players will not hop on board until then.



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