Posts Tagged ‘XIV’

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

September 30, 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.

Final Fantasy XIV is Square-Enix’s second foray into the Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game genre.  I say that it is an MMORPG specifically because the term “MMO” is being handed out to a lot of titles these days.  The MMO part of MMORPG used to be able to be used as shorthand for the genre in which Final Fantasy XI, World of Warcraft, Everquest and Ultima Online stand firmly as the forerunners.  However, these days games other games such as CitysXL, Second Life and even first person shooters are referring to themselves as MMOs.

Final Fantasy XIV (hereafter referred to as XIV) is firmly in the RPG category.  Gameplay is based on attempting to strengthen your in-game avatar through multiple means.  Yet at its core, the game is a game of combat.  Yes the armory system allows players to grow as a gatherer or a crafter and gain physical levels while doing so.  However, the real center of the game is based around combat like every other MMORPG out there today.

I started to write this review trying to be open minded and in the words of Fox news … “Fair and Balanced”.  I simply can not continue to do that.  I am a final fantasy fanboy through and through.  I know a lot of people that are.  I know a good number of people who have looked at the franchise with an increasingly skeptical eye.  Ever since the release of Spirits Within all those years ago, we have been wondering what has gone wrong in the minds of these former visionaries.  Final Fantasy X was a truly great game.  Its sequel was a fun if worthless, fluff of a money grab.  Final Fantasy XI started off extremely rocky and after 18-24 months turned into a game that few others in the genre have matched in terms of story, music, and longevity.  Twelve was a flat and less than stellar game that tried to take some of the core elements from XI and placed them unsuccessfully into a single player game.  Even XIII was a decent game, yet in the end it had very little content or imagination.

Which brings us to XIV.  The game that many of us fanboys and avid MMORPG players alike saw as hope.  A shining light in the darkness that we had been so completely surrounded by during the course of the last 2 years.  We lived through a stagnant expansion cycle from XI.  We stepped into Northrend with the giddiness of a school girl with her first crush only to be bitch slapped by the boy after finally reaching the dance.  Hell, we even stepped into Aion, Warhammer and AoC over the last 3 years only to be disappointed.  Final Fantasy XIV was supposed to be the thing that took us away from WoW and the stagnation of the genre.  We could step into a world that was new yet familiar.  A world where we could be a Galka, Mithra, Tarutaru, Hume or Dhalmel err Elvaan once again.

What we have been given is a game that needs a great deal of work.

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FFXIV: Skill Up Bans?

September 27, 2010

Square-Enix has done it again…

I will get my review of the first 5 days of play on the live version of Final Fantasy XIV up tonight or tomorrow and let me say it will be a doozy.  There are so many things good and bad with this game it will be difficult to adequately cover them all in one post.  Until then I bring you the latest news out of the SE camp on an exploit that they fixed late last night.

We have confirmed an issue where players may obtain large amount of skill points by casting enhancing or healing magic to the party member. The issue is currently being addressed.

Also we would like to remind that repeating this method intentionally is considered as fraudulent behavior. With players who have abused this method, an additional investigation shall be made and their account may receive penalty including account suspension in case we determine it to be malignant. The investigation is expected to take a while until the completion. For those of you who have happened to abuse this method without knowing it to be fraudulent, please report yourself through GM Call. By reporting yourself in, the amount of skill point and skill rank you have gained will be corrected by GM and the penalty to your account will be exempted.

For details on account penalty and prohibited activities, please refer to the following pages.
Account Penalty Policy
http://support.na.square-enix.com/faqarticle.php?id=902&la=1&kid=56910
Prohibited Activities in Final Fantasy XIV
http://support.na.square-enix.com/faqarticle.php?id=902&la=1&kid=56909

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

This comes on the heals of many players of the Disciplines of Magic basically starting a guildleve and then engaging a monster and doing no offensive action towards it.  Simply healing themselves until they are out of MP and then killing the monster gaining thousands of skill points.  When you take into account that it is possible to gain zero skill while killing a monster and the average skill gains are probably along the order of 100-150 per kill, you have a large problem.

The answer to this is to threaten bans and suspensions and ask players to self report.  I can’t decide whether Square-Enix is arrogant or stupid in this request.  I am leaning towards a fair amount of both.  The players that will end of seeing repercussions are the ones that are already rank 25-30.  The rest will see nothing but a nerf to their skill.

The second step in the developers fix for the problem was to reduce the chance and amount of skillups that could be obtained from healing and buffing.  In a system that is designed to encourage the grouping of players this is a hugely bad thing.  The Random Number Generated skill up system already has a huge set of problems attached to it.  By removing the ability to adequately gain skill via healing, this limits Conjurers and Thaumaturges to casting damaging spells and TP abilities in order to gain rank skill points.  Not everyone can heal themselves.

Final Fantasy XIV is not unlike any other MMO.  There are tanks and healers and damage dealers.  If the healers can not level up via healing they are left who is going to heal?  Imagine a world where everyone was a Black Mage.  Not a very healthy world to live in.