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Comparison & Speculation for FFXIVFollow

#1 Jul 27 2009 at 8:14 AM Rating: Good
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Warning: Long post

So we've officially been teased, with very little (or none, for the most part) detailed information regarding what FFXIV is going to offer the FFXI community and MMO community in general. With so many aspects to MMO's, I though I would put a consolidated outline together of some of my own thoughts, and things I've discussed with RL friends that are fans of FF content & former players of FFXI.

With knowing "nothing", we can logically make a primary comparison to the only other FF-based MMO, FFXI. Likewise, I'll add additional thoughts regarding other "various" MMO's (that's right, no WoW vs. FF primary comparisons here). So to start:

The World

So we know the "world" is Haiderin. We know Eorzea is a "region" of the world. In FFXI, we have Vana'diel which carries the characters of a "world" (ie. multiple continents). So by sheer scale, let's assume that either:

A) Eorzea is going to be a very small sub-region of the overall world, and the world is simply prepped for expansion throughout the games life-cycle deliberately from the start. This would leave the game open to major expansion.

B) Eorzea is going to be a very large sub-region of the overall world, and the world is simply prepped for
expansion throughout the games primary end-game content from the start. This would leave the game open to
minor expansion & content progression.

I'm hoping for "A" here, as I'd like to see SE prepare for a long life-cycle with FFXIV. The main reason I'm thinking Eorzea would be a smaller region in comparison to a vast world is the way it's already been described. In FFXI, Vana'diel was the world, and it was spoken and described as such. But the "sub" regions that made up the world were never really given individual acknowledgement other than through a means of geoographical assignment. Right out of the gate, Eorzea, as region of the world is made clear to not "be" the world, but just a part of the world.

Other games have followed similar paths, forcing world-changing events or otherly dimensions to play a role in creating expansion content along with FFXI. FFXI saw visiting of past (WoG) and alternate area's (CoP) to aggressively tackle expansions. This would probably be one of the "first" times a largely fantasy-based MMO would develop with a large portion of the "world" hidden at the start of the game.

Or, my assumptions could fall flat and Eorzea is just the first region SE decided to state existed, and they could release information about the rest of them before the game even goes to Beta. However, I'd like to think my assumptions are on track, because I think it would make the game very "exciting" in terms of opening new unexplored and even "unknown" areas of the world for future content.

The Story and how it's told

Let's face it. We know nothing at this point. Any guess or assumption would be foolish (and most likely wrong until they release at least "some" information). However, how they tell the story is something that can be discussed. FFXI was very unique in how it told it's stories and quests. There were no giant exclaimation points over the NPC's, no clues or tips other than dialogue from a former quest or discussion with an in-game NPC (or your Moogle). Quests are not mindless objectives for "gil" or exp. They were story, told for a purpose, to expand on a game-long story that made sense and had backstory. No intruding dialogue windows...instead we were treated to cutscenes that made us feel emotionally attached to the world and our characters.

If FFXIV does not retain this and goes the route of an intrusive in-game "Quest Log", it will be a true shame. Every MMO suffers the "Quest Log"...the little leather-bound "book" in which your NPC dialogue is contained, along with your objectives, what you need, and where to go. A road map for the quest. Yay...

What this leads to is mindlessly pummeling through the content. No concern to "think" about the story, the events leading to this point, and to think about the objectives as you've interpreted them. No, it's just "Go get X and bring it to Y for Z". Now don't get me wrong, every online MMO suffers the usual repetative "I don't want to do this again, where's the skip button" issue. But at least the initial exposure is there. The awe of seeing your first cutscene, finishing your first string of quests that completes a well told story.

So here's hoping (and speculating) that the FFXIV team sticks true to how FF content is told...through meaningful stories and immaginative cutscenes that build emotion and attachment to the world you spend your time in. No exclaimation points, please!

The Combat

I believe FFXI got most of the combat thing right the first time around. The only thing that was lacking was "speed" and the ability to tackle the world while waiting in between groups to level your character (which is another section all together).

As far as speed goes, a minor "pick-me-up" in the way of combat speed is I think all that's needed. These other games with their "Real-Time" cooldown-tracking spammy-as-all-heck combat systems remind me of playing Mortal Kombat when it first came out. The person that could mash as many buttons in the shortest time period won. It wasn't like Street Fighter and using the joystick & button combo's to perform Ryu's Hydoken...it was just a mish-mosh slam fest of ability after ability. Blah...

Don't misunderstand. I like visceral, speedy combat engagements. I just prefer there be a skill & purpose behind the actions other than using your strongest abilities over and over until things are dead. So a little more speed over FFXI in terms of combat with the same winning formula of logical decision-making when acting in combat I think will be great, however...

The one thing (especially in early FFXI) that was always a bummer for me was if I wasn't a job with the ability to solo, I could barely go out and beat up EP mobs. This made farming an exercise in visiting much lower-level area's. This also made HELM frustrating when you're in an area that "isn't" easy to deal with and you cannot even defend yourself to make an escape or fend off attacks. Lets face it, you don't always want to get into a group...or have the time. Or sometimes you just mean to farm. But you don't necessarily want the game to be so solo-friendly that content can be completed this way (Oh noez! That's right, I used the "Solo" word!!!!), right?

This all leads to the next part of my thoughts regarding classes & leveling...

(...to be continued)
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#2 Jul 27 2009 at 8:15 AM Rating: Good
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Jobs & Leveling

Ok...here is where things get crazy. Over the lifespan of Final Fantasy based content, there have been soooo many job/class/etc. variations that it's going to be impossible to impliment them all, and there are just some that don't translate well to the MMO universe.

That said, there will be the popular archtypes, most likely. Healers, Tanks, DPS, and Support jobs. Or to further classify it: Offensive casters, Defensive casters, Melee DPS, Ranged DPS, and Melee mitigation roles. I liked FFXI and how it started, I started to dislike it right around the Treasures expansion. This was primarily a balance issue with roles (Tank, Heal, Support, DPS). There was arguably too many DPS jobs and too few primary core jobs in the mix to hold interest. If you enjoyed playing a primary core (Tank/Heal) job and wanted to do something else when you were bored, you played DPS. If you played DPS, you'd likely try another DPS. Few and far between, a DPS would switch to a Tank/Heal role as well for fun. But because of the lack in quantative balance, I believe it affected the popularity of jobs and created imbalances that affected leveling and group play.

Hopefully we'll see some common jobs that offer familiarity, while still providing some new twists and flare to create the *gasps* and cool factor we all like to see in new games.

As for leveling, I would like to see FFXIV retain a large portion of the group-orientated leveling scheme. It's too common now for an MMO developer to create a game largely based on solo-leveling and no group play. By the time you get to end-game in FFXI, you've made friends with people, become attached to a Linkshell most likely, and feel like you're a "part" of whatever group you play with. In other MMO's, you largely are a loner only relying on passerby players to help complete any group-based world content.

This needs to stop. Solo-friendly content is fine. But this is an MMO, and this is what I used to like the most about FFXI and how unique it was in that aspect. So while players are able to solo experience points to some extent (which should be at a much slower pace with marginal rewards compared to group play), they should primarily be encouraged to work with others to progress. End-game is a lot, but it's not everything. But at the same time, players shouldn't be city-bound when not in a group, either. This is something I hope is addressed in FFXIV.

So far we know of no definate jobs translating from FFXI, and we know the character progression system isn't necessarily going to be "Levels 1-75"...but more likely players ability will be extensions of their experience with their weapons. This reminds me of working on my Warrior towards the quested Weapon Skills in FFXI...which I hope plays a role (along with how Dynamis weapons were "earned"). If this existed as the means of character progression, I think it would be an interesting dynamic, if don't properly.

Together, (progression-wise), the idea really (ironically) reminds me of FFX-2 and how the jobs progressed through repetition and collection of points through weapon use. And while FFX-2 is not heavily "honored" as a better game in the series, it definately was on to something with how the job/level progression system worked.

End-game Content

So you get to where you're suppose to go, and now there's end-game content to explore. In FFXI, it was originally a means of going to a floating island and participating in the destruction of Gods in Sky. Later on, it was a similar notion in Sea. And unfortunately my experience with FFXI ends with the entry of Treasures, so I don't know where else we're going here (I know WoG is suppose to revisit the era of the great war...and that's it).

So this kinda goes with the "World" and "Story" situations. Obviously a story should lead to the end-game for climatic and storytelling purposes. Everything at this point is pure speculation. But what can be discussed is this.

Dungeons? Instances? Open World? NM's? # of players/groups = max raid? Dynamis?

Hopefully they'll get the whole "Open World Bosses w/ respawns" thing under control. Seriously...what a mistake. But I don't necessarily like the idea of dungeons either. I like dungeon crawling, but I also like the idea of the open world being a part of the action. Competition (just like there really would be). Not just grinding the same "instance" over and over again until you're numb. Edgy, exciting competition, but without a 24/48/72 hour respawn timer that bots take advantage of. Make it the "Challenge" that dictates the winners, and the time frame be a thing of the past that isn't repeated. Also...seamless world with no zoning, anyone? {Yes, please.}

Other stuff

Art-wise, I think SE has it under wraps. FFXI had no shortage of good art considering it's graphical limitations. And while the system is absurdly aged, logging in and modifying some registry keys to optimize the resolution and texture mapping to current systems still yields fairly good looking graphics years and years later.

Should the level cap stay the same or progress with expansions? Stay the same...absolutely. There's nothing worse than leveling to cap and then getting thrown back into a grind after you've already done it, probably with more than one job.

Should character stats be more transparent for the number-crunchers out there and less of a mystery? Nah...I thought it worked well in FFXI. It took real time and thought to determine certain things regarding jobs and their related stats.

All in all, there is a lot to hope for in FFXIV, and I'm very excited. So excited, I've nearly lost all interest in other MMO's! Good job, SE... Smiley: rolleyes

Edited, Jul 27th 2009 12:43pm by Ryneguy
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#3 Jul 27 2009 at 10:51 AM Rating: Excellent
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Quests are not mindless objectives for "gil" or exp. They were story, told for a purpose, to expand on a game-long story that made sense and had backstory. No intruding dialogue windows...instead we were treated to cutscenes that made us feel emotionally attached to the world and our characters.

If FFXIV does not retain this and goes the route of an intrusive in-game "Quest Log", it will be a true shame. Every MMO suffers the "Quest Log"...the little leather-bound "book" in which your NPC dialogue is contained, along with your objectives, what you need, and where to go. A road map for the quest. Yay...

Maybe you can expand on this. I don't think I understand why you say quest NPC markers, quest logs, and dialogue windows preclude good storytelling. Can't there be both?

Symbols to identify quest-giving NPCs seem pretty harmless to me. I guess they might not encourage you to speak to random NPCs and learn bits about the world, but doesn't anyone who wants quests just go check a website to find them anyway? Those who want to learn about the story will still talk to the other NPCs.

Regarding dialogue windows, maybe you have in mind something different from what I'm imagining. I was just thinking the other day how much better it would be if FFXI's cutscene dialogue appeared in speech windows up with the characters, like in other games in the series. Speaking of immersion, there's nothing more distracting than trying to watch a cutscene and having the dialogue constantly interrupted by party, shout, and linkshell spam.

And as for quest "road maps..." I was thinking of starting a thread about something along these lines, so it's interesting to hear from someone with your opinion. It seems to me that FFXI's stubbornness about giving the slightest hint or aid to the player with quests was responsible for the exact situation you describe, where people just plow through a checklist of objectives without concern for what they mean. The reason is that by offering zero resources to players, we were forced to turn to outside guides for help. A quest giver might tell you to go find an item in a particular zone. Who could imagine that that means killing a certain mob for 3 hours until it drops the right item, using it to open a door, and killing an NM spawned by clicking a ??? mark on the floor?

It was especially an issue when the quest required help from a lot of friends. You couldn't round up 12 people and tell them, "Okay, the guy said I have to go to the Eldieme Necropolis. I guess we'll figure it out when we get there." Instead you had to make sure that you knew every detail of what was coming and how to handle it, which meant having a guide memorized or close at hand. It made it impossible for quest stories to unfold naturally.

That's why I'm all for FFXIV throwing players a bone on this stuff. They don't have to give every detail (and online guides will be popular regardless), but at least give enough information to make it possible to complete quests without outside sources. So yeah, give us the exclamation marks next to NPCs, if that's the best solution they can think of. Give us quest logs (although I think they should only contain information already given to you by story NPCs). And give us some kind of alerts to let us know when a quest has been unlocked by our actions (in FFXI, you had no way of knowing when or how something as fundamental as AF quests could be started). That would go a long way towards improving the storytelling.
#4 Jul 27 2009 at 12:07 PM Rating: Default
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Maybe you can expand on this. I don't think I understand why you say quest NPC markers, quest logs, and dialogue windows preclude good storytelling. Can't there be both?

Symbols to identify quest-giving NPCs seem pretty harmless to me. I guess they might not encourage you to speak to random NPCs and learn bits about the world, but doesn't anyone who wants quests just go check a website to find them anyway? Those who want to learn about the story will still talk to the other NPCs.


To me it kind of does rain on a good storytelling parade because you can skip everything and always have something pointing you in the right direction. You say well can't you just look it up on the internet, yes this is true but somebody has to actually do the work before you can do this. When new stuff is added as far as missions or quest, there is no guide on any websites and people rush to be first in order to tell their story. This is what I enjoy, the players actually figure out quest and stuff for themselves and then help others out through online guides. This puts the quest in the player hands, and let them enjoy and figure out the path for themselves.

Like in resident evil, you can just look up how to solve the puzzles, but half the fun is finding out yourself. Players will always make guides after they have done it, so other players could always just check after a few days if they want to do quest this way. The FFXI way of questing just gives the people that like to figure stuff out for themselves a chance to, before the guides come out. You will probally say well having a quest log and guide doesn't make you look at it, but its kind of pointless not to look at something when its in the game.

Quote:
A quest giver might tell you to go find an item in a particular zone. Who could imagine that that means killing a certain mob for 3 hours until it drops the right item, using it to open a door, and killing an NM spawned by clicking a ??? mark on the floor?


Somebody had to imagine it, because every guide thats up there now is player written guides. New quest and new missions are done by players as soon as they come out so it must not be so hard to figure out. Especially if the quest is an rewarding quest (like new avatar or something), then it is completed by some people as soon as it is added. Missions are the same way and is completed by people as soon as it is added and a guide usually up in a few days. Think of how fast people had blu, cor, and pup when they was added. Well I think this gives the people that would like to enjoy and figure the quest out a chance. This also lets players communicate with other players through player guides rather then a quest log that points you in the right direction. I'd rather let another player tell me whats next then the game tell me where to go in an mmo.

As far as a quest symbol goes, i'd rather not have one. I'd rather I talk to an npc because hes new or because I never have before, rather then talk to one because I knows hes going to give me a quest. This would kind of make some npcs totally pointless because nobody would talk to them. I also don't see why a quest symbol would help much, because if you don't know what he will say then just talk to him and see. I would like the ability to cancel quest and maybe get them again at a later time. I didn't like when you might talk to an npc by accident and your stuck with the quest now.

Edited, Jul 27th 2009 4:11pm by HocusP
#5 Jul 27 2009 at 12:48 PM Rating: Decent
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I think your speculations are interesting, Ryne.
For the most part I agree with them.

Surely we can find a middle-ground between "so chilly" and "here, let me just draw a dotted line between you and your objective"

Edited, Jul 27th 2009 4:55pm by Zemzelette
#6 Jul 27 2009 at 1:35 PM Rating: Excellent
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Somebody had to imagine it, because every guide thats up there now is player written guides. New quest and new missions are done by players as soon as they come out so it must not be so hard to figure out.

They're figured out by sheer brute force of numbers. When you get 50,000 players at once trying to figure out a new quest, one of them is going to stumble onto it pretty quickly. That doesn't mean just anyone could do it in that amount of time.

You mention Resident Evil, which I think is a great example. Puzzles in single player games like that are designed to be figured out by individual players. Quests in FFXI are not, and that's a fact. When, for example, the fifty cap quest guy asks you to bring him three random items without giving any information about where they might be found or how to obtain them, the developers never expected players to know off hand where to find those things, and they didn't expect them to each roam through every zone in the game killing everything until they found out. They planned for different players to stumble onto different parts of the solution, and collaborate. I don't know if they anticipated the use of outside guides to the extent that they came to be used. Maybe they expected all of this sharing of information to happen within the game, which is why they were against the windower for so long.

But that was never realistic. The internet is a far more efficient way to share information, and of course players were going to use it.

And that starts to affect even the quests where it isn't needed. Not every quest in FFXI was so obtuse. The lower level ones, especially, where perfectly solvable by the average player. But once people learn to rely on outside guides, they're not likely to stop. When the NPC told you to go to a certain zone and gather information, you never knew if he meant go there and watch a cutscene, or go there and fight a level 90 HNM. That's the kind of stuff people like to have some warning about.
#7 Jul 28 2009 at 12:10 AM Rating: Decent
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i agree to almost everything, except the part where end-game should have a place in the main story.

it can be a story by itself, but not everyone has the time to do end-game and they too want to know how the story ends
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#8 Jul 28 2009 at 2:21 AM Rating: Excellent
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Borkachev wrote:
It was especially an issue when the quest required help from a lot of friends. You couldn't round up 12 people and tell them, "Okay, the guy said I have to go to the Eldieme Necropolis. I guess we'll figure it out when we get there." Instead you had to make sure that you knew every detail of what was coming and how to handle it, which meant having a guide memorized or close at hand. It made it impossible for quest stories to unfold naturally.


IMHO, there is little as fun as going into a new quest or area with little knowledge of what you're suppose to do other than the hints provided, and working together to fit the pieces together and complete the objective.

Of course, it's only natural for the internet to become a one-stop shopping resource for information about any MMO. It's been happening since the original EQ, so it's not going to stop now. And from a certain standpoint, it's a great thing to have when you get stuck.

But far too often it's not being "stuck" that leads people there, it's that the content holds no value and the requirement of having a group is nil for the objective...which leads to "I'm gonna plow through cause it doesn't matter one way or another". Someone always goes first...someone always figures out. I personally enjoy figuring things out (or trying to) before referring to a resource for the answer. It adds greatly to the illusion of being "in the world".

Borkachev wrote:
Maybe you can expand on this. I don't think I understand why you say quest NPC markers, quest logs, and dialogue windows preclude good storytelling. Can't there be both?

Symbols to identify quest-giving NPCs seem pretty harmless to me. I guess they might not encourage you to speak to random NPCs and learn bits about the world, but doesn't anyone who wants quests just go check a website to find them anyway? Those who want to learn about the story will still talk to the other NPCs.

Regarding dialogue windows, maybe you have in mind something different from what I'm imagining. I was just thinking the other day how much better it would be if FFXI's cutscene dialogue appeared in speech windows up with the characters, like in other games in the series. Speaking of immersion, there's nothing more distracting than trying to watch a cutscene and having the dialogue constantly interrupted by party, shout, and linkshell spam.


Finding the NPC's that provide quests should be a task. You should learn about the story by seeking out the quest giver, not the other way around. Again, this is my opinion. And if SE can find a middle ground where quest givers are in some way easier to discover without the intrusion of imaginary exclaimation & question marks to pinpoint them, I'll be perfectly happy.

As for dialogue, I didn't mean chat windows/bubbles, I'm referring to the gossip panel in most MMO's where the quest information is relayed, and other communication means for game content. And while they work, I think cutscenes in FFXI helped with the world illusion to make you feel like you're part of the world, rather than playing a game.
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