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#202 Sep 20 2016 at 1:25 PM Rating: Excellent
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For all the flaws XI has, story isn't one of them.


And I'll never criticize XI's storyline... not aware of anyone here who has.

Agree with Hyrist though regarding the delivery of XI's story. It was atrocious. The WoTG expansion took like three years of updates to release the complete storyline, and that's just garbage. FFXIV's delivery is vastly superior; you buy the expansion, you get the story. And then you get additional storyline through patches, but the expansion itself is like a stand-alone game.

So much more sensible than paying for a game and not being allowed to play through its core for three years.
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#203 Sep 20 2016 at 5:49 PM Rating: Good
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I'm bias as someone who RPed/wrote long before XI was even a thing, but I tend to find most MMO stories either mediocre or outright awful. Some of it is the direct result of painting with the broad brush of us being the heroes, while others you can pretty much tell little effort gets put into plot at all since it's so rapidly consumed that real attention gets put into grind mechanics. That said, RoV has some of the best CS choreography XI had to offer, with WotG having some moments before that. SE certainly "learned" with XI as the expansions piled on, but in recently redoing CoP on some private servers, I kinda find myself thinking, "Why should I care about these characters again...?"

One thing I hated about RoV, however...
...was our briefly lived godhood turning into a poorly presented DBZ fight. I swear this **** started with Advent Children, and eventually Dissidia, but zipping around hurling energy balls and what not isn't very engaging combat. And I 100% realize that's my earlier mentioned RPer talking because one of the fundamentals we tried to stress in our games was that actions had consequences. Everything that followed was pretty much mental chess if you're trying to get a foe to do what you need them to. When you're flying, the environment pretty much ceases to matter. That means no taking advantage of natural cover, no unfortunate slips on the terrain, or really manipulating them to where you want them to be.

But this may be more an issue for Japanese action storytelling at large, since it tends to all manifest pretty frequently in manga/anime, too.
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#204 Sep 20 2016 at 10:50 PM Rating: Decent
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Hyrist wrote:
Sorry but I actually prefer ffxiv's story formatting. We get a complete story from the onset of an expansion. Granted with continuing arcs. But we do not have any mid main storyline hard stops as they did for pretty much every expansion they had.


It's not complete. There are tons of threads hanging, to the point the format is usually "There's this high important thing I'm telling....But something else is happening, go check this out first", for about ten millions times. The story hasn't advanced, more or less, in three years. All of what happened in HW, save a minor thing or two, is a side story. IF the game crashes and burns (hypothetically) one day, the story won't be finished at this pace.

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I even prefer the episodic story continuation to ffxi's format. It's just objectively more story content. Not liking the pacing is just a subjective conversation. Which is fine. But how is that different from any other "my favorite ff is better" argument?


It's written way worse, and do not play the "personal tastes" here. Patch 2.55 and HW's beginning is a perfect example of terrible script.

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Agree with Hyrist though regarding the delivery of XI's story. It was atrocious. The WoTG expansion took like three years of updates to release the complete storyline, and that's just garbage. FFXIV's delivery is vastly superior; you buy the expansion, you get the story. And then you get additional storyline through patches, but the expansion itself is like a stand-alone game.


I think you're not using the correct example, as WoTG was clearly watered down to buy some time (the reasons are unclear, I'm not one of the people who said it was done to "kill XI"). Vanilla + RoTZ+CoP should be the example to follow, IMO, not the garbage we're getting at the moment.
Paradoxically, even the idiot brothers of RoTZ, who get really minimal development and are mostly there for "shock value" are better "hahaha"-style villains than the Ascians.


Edited, Sep 21st 2016 6:56am by xizro
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#205 Sep 20 2016 at 11:59 PM Rating: Excellent
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It's not complete. There are tons of threads hanging,


What you're talking about is overarching narrative, which is different than what Hyrist and I are referring to.

And you're right... FFXI really didn't have much of an overarching narrative. The game kind of started off with the Crystal War looming, and you eventually resolve that by beating the Shadowlord. Then RoZ came along and added a new layer... and eventually resolved it. Then CoP... then ToAU...etc.

FFXIV has an overarching narrative, kind of like Star Wars had an overarching narrative. However, like Star Wars, each FFXIV expansion (and the base ARR game) has its own self-contained storyline, which is what Hyrist and I are referring to.

You could buy Heavensward and only play what was available when the expansion launched, and you'd finish with a complete storyline. Yeah, there are little threads hanging off here and there, but the Heavensward expansion story had a clear beginning, middle and end.

What we're ripping on re: FFXI isn't the quality of the script, nor are we trying to argue XIV's storyline is better -- all of that is opinion and completely irrelevant. What we're arguing is that XIV's way of delivering story is far more sensible than XI's delivery.

I can't think of many goods and services where I'm required to pay the full fee up front, but then it takes anywhere from one to three years to get what I paid for. That's what FFXI did. FFXIV definitely treats the customer more fairly by delivering each expansion as a complete standalone product.
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#206 Sep 21 2016 at 12:50 AM Rating: Decent
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Thayos has the distinctions correct.

Again, you can choose personal favorites all you like on the story. I pretty much don't care one way or another on that department. I am addicted to Final Fantasy's storytypes and I really don't knock the stories themselves either way.

But you cannot objectively tell me that the delivery method of FFXI's was better. Sorry no. Objectively, it's not. Out the gate, not counting initial month's fees, you could play the entirety of Heavensward story in one shot.

As Thayos said, however, you would have to wait months, years even in certain cases, for the entirety of CoP, ToAU, WoTG, and even SoA. If you were subscribed during that period, you got left to rot.

Storywise, we get one complete arc with Heavensward, and successive episodes with every patch after that. Which, while all leading the same over-arching narratives, were still fairly self contained in and of themselves as well. I, truthfully, adore this format. I think it's the best story format I've seen an MMO do - and it remains my one untainted praise for FFXIV.
#207 Sep 21 2016 at 1:05 AM Rating: Excellent
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Storywise, we get one complete arc with Heavensward, and successive episodes with every patch after that. Which, while all leading the same over-arching narratives, were still fairly self contained in and of themselves as well. I, truthfully, adore this format. I think it's the best story format I've seen an MMO do - and it remains my one untainted praise for FFXIV.


Yep, and this pretty much guarantees I will always play FFXIV for as long as the game is expanded.

By the way... if you bought XI's WoTG when it launched and remained subbed until the storyline was finished, you ended up paying nearly $500.

Compare that to the Heavensward expansion... you pay $40 and then can finish the story in a month without killing yourself... kind of like $500, but with one less zero, which is awesome.
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#208 Sep 21 2016 at 11:16 AM Rating: Decent
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Thayos wrote:
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It's not complete. There are tons of threads hanging,


What you're talking about is overarching narrative, which is different than what Hyrist and I are referring to.

And you're right... FFXI really didn't have much of an overarching narrative. The game kind of started off with the Crystal War looming, and you eventually resolve that by beating the Shadowlord. Then RoZ came along and added a new layer... and eventually resolved it. Then CoP... then ToAU...etc.


Actually, Vanilla + RoTZ+CoP are all neatly tied together, because they were part of the original plan (5 years MMO). And what I'm interested is the quality of the script. The delivery method is irrelevant for me. In XI's favor, the time limit they set helped creating a somewhat coherent narrative till CoP. In XIV, I suppose they have a rough idea how the story should end, but no idea when, and so there's a ton of padding.

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FFXIV has an overarching narrative, kind of like Star Wars had an overarching narrative. However, like Star Wars, each FFXIV expansion (and the base ARR game) has its own self-contained storyline, which is what Hyrist and I are referring to.


Except the unanswered questions keep piling up, the narrative keeps opening threads and doesn't close them often, to the point certain plot points are closed in the most infuriating method possible, see for example Ul'dah's turmoil in 2.55 (as stupid as it started), which was "solved" within one cutscene with a character saying he'll fix it because it's EEEVILLL but also a SMARRT politician...but the player sees (and the character doesn't react at all) nothing of this. I really wish the script would stop trying to insult the player intelligence. After three years the motivations of the Ascians remains as unclear as ever, and only with a semi-talking head cutscene you get a glimpse of what they're trying to do. That's poor storytelling.
And as much as I liked the (original, no prequel, no Force Awakens) Star Wars...that's not really a good point to make.

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You could buy Heavensward and only play what was available when the expansion launched, and you'd finish with a complete storyline.


Absolutely not. By the end of HW's "vanilla" the only feeling I got was "That's it? They haven't solved anything. What was the point of the entire story?". Also, the "clear end" was abruptly retconned in the first patch saying there was "unrest"...that was neither hinted nor shown till that part. And showing a character then completely forgetting about it for months isn't sign of an "overarching narrative".

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What we're ripping on re: FFXI isn't the quality of the script, nor are we trying to argue XIV's storyline is better -- all of that is opinion and completely irrelevant.


Except you can argue with it. XI has padding (CoP's "Three Paths", WoTG's penultimate mission), XIV has padding (most 2.0 missions, several HW's missions) in the story. That's a fact, not an opinion. Just to make an example.

A reason I stopped playing XIV (not only for that one though) is that I felt the story was going nowhere, and to see those little bits of nothing I had to sit through horrible dungeons just to get enough ilevel to do them.

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As Thayos said, however, you would have to wait months, years even in certain cases, for the entirety of CoP, ToAU, WoTG, and even SoA. If you were subscribed during that period, you got left to rot.


And? As I said, both methods of narrative are fine. My playtime was extremely limited back then and even now (till I unsubbed, that is). What I'd like is a coherent script. Not something that tries to go for shock every now and then and in which the player character continues to act like an idiot, and yet people praise him/her.


Edited, Sep 21st 2016 7:21pm by xizro
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#209 Sep 21 2016 at 11:53 AM Rating: Excellent
My points about delivery completely stand.

You are referring to script quality, which is purely subjective, so I won't even try to argue with that.

But I will say:

Quote:
After three years the motivations of the Ascians remains as unclear as ever, and only with a semi-talking head cutscene you get a glimpse of what they're trying to do. That's poor storytelling.


No, this is just not your preferred flavor of storytelling.

FFXIV's primary storylines are contained within each expansion and then in the transition content between patches. The overarching narrative that serves as a backdrop to these stories won't be concluded for a very long time.

The Star Wars comparison is actually right on point. But if that's too much of a sacred cow, then think about the original X Files television series. Each episode had its own contained story, yet they strung out an overarching narrative that really wasn't solved until the final episode.

In fact, for a more recent and relevant example, consider LOST (I loved that show). Each episode contained its own story arc while also leaving lots of little threads, AND there was an overarching narrative that wasn't "solved" until literally the episode before the series finale. But each episode still had its own self-contained storyline, just as each FFXIV expansion has its own contained storyline.

LOST wasn't everyone's cup of tea though, because some people don't like storylines that don't instantly give all the answers -- and I get that. But to those of us who don't need everything to be explained right away, the "LOST" form of storytelling is vastly superior to "Point A to Point B" plot lines, which is what FFXI was.

(Before you get upset, keep in mind that I loved XI's storyline and wouldn't change a thing about its script. But script quality is irrelevant to me in this thread.)
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#210 Sep 21 2016 at 12:12 PM Rating: Good
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Thayos wrote:
xizro wrote:
After three years the motivations of the Ascians remains as unclear as ever, and only with a semi-talking head cutscene you get a glimpse of what they're trying to do. That's poor storytelling.

No, this is just not your preferred flavor of storytelling.

Huh. I actually disagree with Thayos. That's rare.

I'm with xizro on this one. It's been three years. THREE YEARS, and we know almost no more about the Ascians or their plans or motivations than we did back in 2.0. They just stand around in the dark saying mysterious things and planning... something. Being mysterious is fine, but after a while you have to start explaining something or what's the point? A mystery is only interesting it there's a possibility of figuring it out. The Ascian thing has been going on so long with no explanations now that I've stopped caring about them altogether.
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#211 Sep 21 2016 at 12:22 PM Rating: Excellent
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I'm with xizro on this one. It's been three years. THREE YEARS, and we know almost no more about the Ascians or their plans or motivations than we did back in 2.0. They just stand around in the dark saying mysterious things and planning... something. Being mysterious is fine, but after a while you have to start explaining something or what's the point? A mystery is only interesting it there's a possibility of figuring it out. The Ascian thing has been going on so long with no explanations now that I've stopped caring about them altogether.


Again, I'm not arguing over whether the writing is good or bad.

I'm more pointing out the mechanics of the writing, and the fact that each expansion is a self-contained story set against an overarching narrative -- and that's an acceptable (and, for some of us, superior) means of storytelling, not just in games but throughout popular culture.

We know the Ascians are back there pulling strings. First, they manipulated the Garleans to revive the Ultima weapon, and then they capitalized on the tensions of the Dragonsong War. They are presumably doing this as part of an overarching plot to awaken their god that's the counter to Hydaelyn. It's this ongoing struggle over time that leads to the Umbral Eras.

So it's not like the Ascians are just randomly appearing for no reason in particular. We're aware of the larger struggle, and that's all that needs to matter right now.

NOTE: Here is a good primer on what we know of the Ascians so far: http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Ascian

I'll be reading up on this myself for a full refresher.

Edited, Sep 21st 2016 11:29am by Thayos
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#212 Sep 21 2016 at 12:29 PM Rating: Decent
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Thayos wrote:


FFXIV's primary storylines are contained within each expansion and then in the transition content between patches. The overarching narrative that serves as a backdrop to these stories won't be concluded for a very long time.


Except that HW's story is a direct consequence of 2.55 (and in fact, players are required to complete the story before getting to Ishgard), and as various glimpses of cutscenes show, the world is still going on regardless of what players are doing. And that's the biggest issue: HW, being a total sidestory, offers no explanation of what's going on, save a few scenes interrupted with "but you have to do something else!" routine. You also have to add that the script was muddled due to localization choices, making the story even more confusing than it actually is (all of Midgarsorm's dialogue in 2.55 onwards in English was completely changed to make it more "mysterious", while in the Japanese dialogue he's actually more straightforward and you can actually understand what's going on).

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The Star Wars comparison is actually right on point. But if that's too much of a sacred cow, then think about the original X Files television series. Each episode had its own contained story, yet they strung out an overarching narrative that really wasn't solved until the final episode.


Oh, I actually hated the X-Files, especially after the first couple seasons. My belief is it's way harder to do a complete logical story where everything fits than doing the "mysterious" stuff.

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In fact, for a more recent and relevant example, consider LOST (I loved that show). Each episode contained its own story arc while also leaving lots of little threads, AND there was an overarching narrative that wasn't "solved" until literally the episode before the series finale. But each episode still had its own self-contained storyline, just as each FFXIV expansion has its own contained storyline.


LOST was another series that dragged for too long, and only by some sort of miracle they managed to complete it. XIV, story-wise, risks the same.

And while you keep gutting the script stuff, that's what is most interesting to discuss. For example I feel 1.0's story, despite being a messy disjointed and unclear narrative, had far more interesting ideas than what we're getting now.
Also working on a script you can point out were it doesn't work without doing the "personal tastes". It's a personal choice to ignore certain nitpicks, but it doesn't mean they're not there. Again, It's been three years the player character has been thrown around with little input (as in doing something, not player choice) with several idiot choices, and yet people act like he/she's the saviour of the universe.




Edited, Sep 21st 2016 8:33pm by xizro
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#213 Sep 21 2016 at 12:38 PM Rating: Excellent
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Except that HW's story is a direct consequence of 2.55


I think we are talking about two completely different things at this point.

I am pointing out that each of FFXIV's expansions contains a completely self-contained story arc, which is 100 percent true. You pay $40 for Heavensward, and you immediately start with a cutscene that sets up the story. You play through the plot, uncover a conflict and put an end to it... The End. Yes, the overarching plot goes on, but the immediate HW storyline is over. Beginning, middle and end.

The self-contained storyline of ARR ended with the defeat of the Ultima Weapon and the establishment of the player as the Warrior of Light. If you never played a minute of FFXIV after finishing that story, then you would have received a self-contained storyline. The same can be said of the HW expansion pack.

This is night-and-day different from FFXI, which only gave you the first few chapters of the self-contained story before stringing it out for one to three years.

Nowhere have I even tried to argue script quality, because that's completely subjective. I get that you want to talk about it, and that's fine, but that's not at all what I'm addressing -- so I don't understand why you keep disagreeing with me. We're literally not talking about the same things.

To be totally honest, I actually liked (much of) the actual story of XI better than XIV. (FFXIV stepped up its game with HW and recent side quests though.) But again, that's not what I'm talking about at all.

But if you want to focus only on script quality -- the strengths and weaknesses of storytelling in XIV -- then let's do it! That really could have its own thread. I love in-game storylines and would love to hear from other people what does and doesn't work for them (and which games they believe does storytelling exceptionally well).

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LOST was another series that dragged for too long, and only by some sort of miracle they managed to complete it. XIV, story-wise, risks the same.


LOST is probably my favorite TV series of all time. LOVED the storytelling and character development. Loved that the writers rewarded my patience with an epic resolution while leaving room for imagination. It's rare these days for shows (or game designers) to take such risks. So I don't expect you and I will see eye-to-eye on script quality, but that's why I won't argue about it. As a writer by trade, I'm genuinely fascinated by the types of stories that float people's boats.



Edited, Sep 21st 2016 11:52am by Thayos
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#214 Sep 21 2016 at 8:02 PM Rating: Decent
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Thayos wrote:
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LOST was another series that dragged for too long, and only by some sort of miracle they managed to complete it. XIV, story-wise, risks the same.


LOST is probably my favorite TV series of all time. LOVED the storytelling and character development.


If memory serves, there was a writer's strike for a little while somewhere in the middle of that series. I wouldn't excuse the entire thing, but it definitely had an impact on the overall story progression.

As for the length of completion,I don't think it was so much that WotG's story took several years to complete as much as it was that there were only slightly modified copies of already implemented zones and no actual expansion. If you recall, this also led into the mini expansions which were more of the same and I feel the turning point for the worse for XI.

Also, the trend of players only completing story required for progress was set even before that point. That said, WotG didn't have the lockouts that expansions before it had in place to funnel players through content(e.g. clearing ZM for dynamis access, more ZM for sky access, ect.).
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#215 Sep 21 2016 at 8:13 PM Rating: Excellent
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If memory serves, there was a writer's strike for a little while somewhere in the middle of that series. I wouldn't excuse the entire thing, but it definitely had an impact on the overall story progression.


There was, right in the middle of the show. Without looking it up, I believe either season 3 or 4 had to be parred down pretty significantly.
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#216 Sep 21 2016 at 11:23 PM Rating: Decent
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Funny thing is, I didn't really keep up with Lost while it aired. I feel like I was introduced to that show from a random advertisement. I could be way off, but I feel like it wasn't the typical TV show ad. Instead it was an ad for something related to the show that didn't actually exist.. but if you followed up on it there was some sort of bread crumb trail that led you all over the internet looking for clues.

I could be way off, but I feel like that was Lost. It's been a little while.
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cocodojo wrote:
Its personal preference and all, but yes we need to educate WoW players that this is OUR game, these are Characters and not Toons. Time to beat that into them one at a time.
#217 Sep 21 2016 at 11:40 PM Rating: Excellent
That sounds like LOST. The entire show is filled with Easter eggs and foreshadowing. I've watched it all the way through three or four times; it's the only series I've watched more than once. But once you get through the show and fully grasp the overarching story, then if you go back and watch it again you'll see obvious clues in the first few episodes that you wouldn't have even known to think about the first time through.
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