Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I got really excited when SE made the announcement about FFXIV at E3 a few weeks ago. I watched the trailer several times, spent the evening talking about it with my brother and most of that night digging around the internet for more info. This led me to the ZAM FFXIV forum, which at that moment was nothing more then links to the official FFXIV site and a whole lot of speculation. Reading the threads there got me even more excited about the game, and for awhile I was pretty convinced I wouldn't be able to wait a year until it's release. I was even considering sending a bunch of emails to SE begging to get in on the NA playtest.

The talk on the forum very quickly moved into the realm of asking how much the new game would be like FFXI, which quickly led to asking what parts of FFXI needed to be fixed, what could be learned from other games and what worked well and should be carried over. This is the point where it occured to me that playing FFXI could scratch my itch and hold me over until FFXIV. And that's pretty much how and why I started playing.

I've been keeping up with the FFXIV forum and I've noticed a few things that I find pretty... disturbing/amazing/insane. Granted, any forum is going to be populatedby people opinionated enough to post their opinions (myself included), but still...

- It seems like a huge amount of the forum population has a thriving, all consuming hatred for World of Warcraft. Not a passive indifference, or the dislike of someone who tried the game but decided it wasn't for them, but the kind of seething hatred usually reserved for the people who killed your family. This means that any conversation comparing FFXI to WoW, mentioning the merits of WoW or even making a casual reference to WoW quickly degenerates into nastiness and name calling.

This is too bad because it seems very, very likely that SE will make use of many of the ideas that have worked in WoW. This would include stuff like accessable solo and small group content, easy travel, seamless zones, easy party formation, quicker leveling, alternative ways to gain experience (like exploring and quests), more in game instructions and directions and... well, that's just the tip of the iceberg. This doesn't mean that FFXIV will be a clone of WoW ( despite what many, many people over at ZAM have been shouting). Rather, SE has the chance to learn from the success and mistakes of the current generation of MMO's. Like they did when they created FFXI.

- FFXI is not a flawless game. I'm new to it of course, but I have a little bit of previouss exprience with it, and I did some research before I started. I know that travel, waiting for parties and grinding for experience are all hidious time sinks. I know that soloing is very difficult (although apparently easier now then it used to be). There are other problems as well, but it seems to mee like these are the big ones. Time sinks are not fun. This is a universal rule of game design. I won't fault FFXI for being the way it is. It's an old game, part of a previous genration where time sinks were acceptable. I'm positive that SE recognizes these problems and will be addressing them in the new game. But...

It seems like there's a sizable number of people on the FFXIV forum that don't want these problems fixed. Conversations surrounding these issues have included such stunning responses as (and I'll be paraphrasing here since I did not have the forsight to bookmark specific threads):

1. Soloing shouldn't be an option, because this is an MMO and if you want to solo you should play FFXII.

2. Faster travel will ruin the game. I enjoy running everywhere. It makes the world seem larger. Better travel options would ruin that.

3. We can't get rid of the grind. If people want to play an easy mmo they should try WoW. Without the grind people would reach the level cap in a few months. Only noobs want an easy game. Hardcore players appreciate the grind.

4. Grinding should be the only way to gain experience. Nobody want to do quests where you just have to kill 10 of the same monsters. It's too easy and it gets boring fast.

5. Quests and in game instructions that help players find their way through the game make the game too easy. Noob's who can't just figure this stuff out on their own should go back to WoW.

It's kind of insane, isn't it? Clearly the game has problems, but so many of these players have been dealing with the problems for so long that they no longer see them as problems. Or they've developed a kind of badge of honor for having dealt with it so long. And if they had to deal with it, so does everyone else!

-There's some kind of crazy consensus that somehow SE is only interested in courting hardcore gamers, and has no interest in the enormous casual market that WoW and other games have managed to capture. The arguement is that because FFXI is clearly aimed at hardcore players, FFXIV will be as well. Except I'm pretty sure that's a false assumption. FFXI may have become a home for hardcore players, and it certainly comes from a generation where MMO's were much more about overcoming time sinks, but I doubt that SE ever inteded to drive away casual players in favore of hardcore ones.

While I can't imagine FFXIV will be accessable in the same ways as WoW is now, I find it hard to believe that SE won't be trying hard to entice new players with easier content, more intuitive controls, easier partying and leveling, much more social content, more charatcer customization options, more solo and small group content, more alternative play options, less draconian billing and registration options, faster and easier travel and easier access to end game content. The crazy thing is that none of these things are to be feared. All of them will lead to a better game experience!

Alright, I'll end by saying that there are lots of smart people over at the FFXIV as well, many of them making interesting and valid arguement. It's worth a read.



  1. Eh, I'd say #3 is true and legitimate concern.

    You gotta remember that FFXIV will be like a sequel to FFXI (like FFVIII is a sequel to FFIX) so most of the people posting there are some kind of SE-fanboys already. Say if WoW2 was announced and somebody went on their forums to tell them "Make it more like FFXIV plz" wouldn't they be just as hostile?

    I'm not really defending their stupidity by any means, but it's quite a normal reaction I guess. Each game will have these dorks unfortunately, we just gotta cope with it.

  2. Thanks for commenting!

    Hmm... If the concern with #3 is reaching the level cap too soon, surely there are better ways to prevent that then grind? How about more content? Content that is actually dynamic and engaging, that will keep us exploring and adventuring happily for as long as we want? Repeatable events fall into this category. So do player competitions. I'm not talking about PVP fights, but instead in game activities that allow players to compete in different ways.

    The key here is making the trip from the first level to the cap enjoyable, interesting, challenging and engaging without being a grind, right? And really, what's the problem with reaching the level cap too soon? Despite popular claims, most players in a given game never reach the cap, and out of those that do, most take months or years, not weeks. Even in WoW. Really. Yes, a super hardcore player (where hardcore equals having more then a few hours a day to play) might rush through WoW in a few weeks. If they know the game. Most players have neither the time or knowledge to do this. So if the idea is that grind has to be inserted to artificially increase the time it takes hardcore players to reach the level cap... that just hurts everyone, and it drives away everyone who doesn't have the time to mindlessly grind for hours every day.

    And why would you want to grind anyway? Is it fun? Really? Wouldn't it be better to have some other experience providing content? So that you had the option to quest, kill monsters, explore, craft, socially interact, race, gamble, gather natural resources, defend your city, invade other cities, steal, work jobs, learn the history of the world or participate in some kind of pvp, and it all provided experience?

    Or maybe I missed what your concern was?

  3. Hmm, I think you have the right idea here. What needs to be done is create more content to the low-mid-game instead of putting most of it to the end of the game. This would create more interesting game overall, but the grind would still be there, just hidden behind everything that makes it interesting.

    Getting to level cap would still take long time, but there would be so many things to do that it wouldn't get boring so fast. I think it's still true that you can't take the grind away, not until somebody comes up with something as time consuming that will keep the players playing for months or years on.

    But yes, what SE should do is take away the boring kind of grind. The word has a negative sound to it, but I think it could be enjoyable if done right.

    I don't think there's anything wrong about getting to the level cap fast, but in my case the journey was always more fun than the destination (as it was in FFXI). Taking months to get to level cap might sound like a lot,
    but in reality I find it to be kind of a short time in the long run, especially if the purpose of the game is to keep you playing for years and years.

    What needs to be done is to take the 'mindlessly' away from the grind. Make it interesting, diverse experience and something casual in a sense that you could progress even if you don't have lots of time to play. Not casual as in 'easy', but casual as in that you don't need huge blocks of time to do something. That's one of the things that WoW overdid; they made it casual in the both ways, which isn't necessary and waters down the experience.

    Grind also isn't just about killing monsters. It's something you do repeatedly and that takes most of your playtime. You could grind by questing, killing monsters, crafting, gambling or gathering natural resources. The problem in modern MMO's nowadays is that the leveling grind is only about killing monsters. I wouldn't mind diversity in this aspect, but even if there were a lot of choices it wouldn't mean that there won't be grind.

    So basically, what I agree with in #3 is a) "We can't get rid of the grind." b) "Without the grind people would reach the level cap in a few months (weeks, really)." c) " Only noobs want an easy game."

    Although c) is a bit unclear to me- noobs as in casuals? Easy game, to me, means that the difficulty is low, not that the game is not time consuming.

  4. I think your really right. Any repetitive action is going to be a grind, even if it's a fun action. But with enough options hopefully none of these actions would ever become too much of a chore. Hopefully the fun would be retained.

    Easy means the same thing to me. But I think there are a lot of people equating easy to fast, or rather hard to time consuming. Which is just silly.

    I'm not sure about the context of "noob" either. It seems like I'm seeing it used as a derogatory term to describe anyone who disagrees with the poster, most especially people who play other games. So when I read "only noobs want an easy game" I'm hearing "your an idiot who doesn't have my hardcore experience, and therefore I can't take your opinion into consideration".

  5. That's most likely the case. There's too many of those kind of posters around really, spoils potentially good arguments (I've had the pleasure to encounter some of them at ZAM, too).

  6. What gets me the most, is that people like you mentioned who give examples of "there should be no soloing", "limit fast travel" etc, and their arguments against them are basically "I don't like it, so nobody else should even have the option". LOL

  7. Well they're obviously entitled to their opinion, but they won't be winning any arguments like that for sure!

    I have my own opinion about soloing, too, but I'm not taking such an adamant stance about it that there shouldn't even be an option to solo. I'd just rather keep it as a secondary method of progressing your character if possible. Probably not the best approach to take about it lol, just my FFXI'ism showing I guess. I won't probably care either way, it's just a personal preference.

  8. Tarmus, that drives me nuts as well! It never occurs to these people that a game can encompass more then just what they specifically want, or that other players might also have valid approaches to playing.

  9. I personally think they could do better ideas for quests to get people to actaully do them. How about a quest for a merchant, where if you beat it, yay experience reward and hey cool, I can buy better items from you than someone who hasn't done your quest.

    People shouldn't be afraid they are taking ideas from WoW and other games. I've personally heard many people talk about how the only story you get in FFXI is missions. No one does quests, even though there are actually some quests that have a good little mini story.

    SE needs to make it actually helpful to character growth by immersing your player in that world. The fame system could have some really cool perks if they decide to implement that again.

  10. Yes! I agree completely. I was always impressed by just how many of the characters in WoW had a story you could interact with, or who ended up having small roles in other characters stories. Smae with other games. there's some of that in FFXI, and what's there is really good, but as you said it's mostly confined to missions.

    Better rewards. more interaction. More story. That's what I want.

  11. The only thing Id say is SE did gear toward the hardcore gamer because look at the thousands of updates they could have easily made this game less of a grind by supersetting the amount of exp you gain by killing mobs

  12. Except didn't they increase the amount of experience gained from mobs? At least at low levels? I've read this a few places, and I know it seems like I'm getting more xp now then I did way back when I first played after the NA launch. Also, they've added stuff like FoV and the xp boosting ring to up the amount of xp you can get by killing mobs.

    I doubt SE ever really intended FFXI to be a hardcore only game. Rather, they just made a game using the examples that were available at the time,and this is what they got. And after a few years all the casual players went away, I think primarily because less time consuming and more rewarding games (for the amount of time put in) became available. So they ended up with what they ended up with, and were forced to cater to the players that stayed behind because that was their only audience. And even after that they have done a lot to make the game more accessible and easier. Or so I'm told.

  13. FFXI is like hazing in a frat. People who have gotten through the pain and grind become more attached to the game because of the investment (this includes me).

  14. Sure. I can see that. I get that. It's just that it's blinding people so much more then it should be. I think an amount of that is totally reasonable, but after you pass that amount you're just being... an idiot.

  15. Not you. I'm sure you're not an idiot. I meant everyone else.

  16. I don't know...

    I personally can see the points of people who say that "if you want to solo, why play an MMO" however... It would be very nice to have the ABILITY to solo while waiting, for example, for a party or, on those occasions where you've only got an hour or two of spare time between college and sleep and don't have time for an all-out party that can take 3+ hours at times.

    It would be nice to have some activities that can fill those small time gaps and still be rewarding as opposed to either having nothing to do because your class isn't suited to solo play or doing (as was relatively recently introduced in FFXI) Fields of Valour pages over and over again.

    As for the other arguments against more casual gamers... Um... Honestly, I've been an MMO player for years now, I've had days where I can commit hours and days where I can commit maybe 1-2 hours tops. Are these people saying that I should just not bother to log in at all on the latter?

  17. Why play an MMO if you want to solo? Well...

    For some reasons that is simply more enjoyable. Why do you think FFXI included the BST as a job? There are still many things and people to interact with in the game world apart from leveling. Even if someone prefers to solo, they will still be a part of the community by auctioning items, crafting for other players, etc.

    Anyway, nice article, Keelut.

  18. A lot of FFXI is solo content anyway. We shop solo. We talk to and interact with npcs solo. We craft solo. We travel solo. We begin and end our quests and missions solo. We inhabit our house solo. We mine, harvest and fish solo.

    The only group activity the game offers is various flavors of killing monsters, and while it is fun and beneficial to work as a group, you can do a lot of solo hunting as well.

    The problem is that monster killing is for the most part the only activity that rewards experience. So I need to rely on other players for my experience and advancement through the game.

    It's a dual problem. I can only advance by killing monsters, and to kill monsters effectively I need a group.

    Solving this is... going to be fodder for my next post I guess.

  19. "I personally can see the points of people who say that "if you want to solo, why play an MMO" however..."

    I can't. People who say that are linear minded and low in IQ. Soloers want to PLAY THE GAME... you know, THE GAME... not install another messenger client.

  20. I just read this now, and I must say I agree with your post! I've never tried WoW, but it must be good to have so many players on it. There is a very open hatred towards WoW shared among the FFXI community that seems to come from the idea that because you can level quicker in WoW, it's immediately bad. It somewhat detracts from the appeal of the FFXI community.

    Also, just to throw in my 2 cents about grind: A lot of people say that grind is good because you learn how to play your job. While I agree to an extent with this (67 SMN myself), SO much grind is not necessary. For example, healing has remained the same for all 67 levels I've had to do it; I eventually got more powerful cures, but they did not in any way alter the way I cured overall. I could have grinded for 1/4 the time I've done it to get to 67 and be just as good at healing as I am now. So yes, more varied grind (or significantly less grind of the same type in XI) would be great.

    Finally, the argument for more solo-content is completely valid, I feel. "Solo-content" is limited to things like crafting (which is "fun"), gardening (which takes all of 5 seconds then you wait a day for it to grow), questing (which CAN be fun, but honestly, how would I ever know to go to the "???" in X place at J-7??), or soloing bombs (as a SMN) for perhaps 4k an hour. Fields of Valor and Campaign are even worse experience, and when compared to the 10k/hour of partying is really "viable". It is, simply put, dull. I played FFXI solely for the story and to put another FF under my belt, which I feel is a valid reason to want to play it (in opposition to the "if you want to solo don't play an MMO" argument).

    I don't want to make it sound like I don't enjoy FFXI, I really do love it, but you're 100% correct when you mention the people who view is flaws as its strengths.

  21. I would have to agree with #3

    What I liked about ffxi was that I wasn't constantly assaulted by players who
    sP@cK Le1k Dis
    all day long. The intense difficulty (Starting at level one with not so much as a cure spell) really helped eliminate the ten year old kids who love to spam the flashy moves and run around massacring people in over accessible pvp.

    I started when I was like thirteen though, but I feel its really helped me mature over five years. The slow parties (I was loldrg) and the constant frowning upon if I didn't have good gear, didn't turn me away from the game at all.

    What did turn me away from it, eventually, was the lack of accessible cash. Lets face it, you can't exactly go out and farm for an hour and come back with heavy pockets.. Especially if you haven't leveled thief. And all the good gear requires end game and the ability to put up with psycho linkshell members for weeks and weeks.. Even as a crafter you were still hard pressed to turn an easy profit. Maybe I was just n00b, but it took me a year to get some "above average" gear for my dragoon (what average gear you say? just stuff like flame rings and Thalassocrat, good boots... I finally just bought marine M boots I think)If you made a killing with your BCNM and KSNM that's great for you. Personally, in over fifty BCNM's and a couple KSNM's I never got a decent drop. I made more money from the divided gil drop then I ever did from the items. Either the players were stupid and panicky or I just didn't get anything on my orb.

    If there's anything I'd like to see in FFXIV it's easier cash by making NM's (if there are any) more accessible and being more lenient with drop rates. I think it's safe to say, nobody liked competing with the ever vigilant Taru Taru beast master for their O-kote until four A.M or fishing with fifteen people for one devil manta, for a CHANCE of angel skin... (I got two in two weeks straight fishing, and that's lucky).

    As far as soloing goes, they're going to make it easier. Just the idea of being able to switch jobs instantly screams solo and eliminates the concept of required partying (for xp)

    And I love the idea of more customizable characters.. Although I'll miss bonding with those rare twins you find on the airships from time to time.

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