I have seen so many topics recently that are a mixture of complaints and praise about what y'all think the game will be like. More often than not the majority of the posts are complaints about how epic a fail FFXIV will be because you can't see how a leveling system based on weapon use will work, or be comparible to the flexability you had with FFXI's job system. Others are unhappy as they assume that they will be stuck having to lvl multiple chars to get the full experience of the game or that the whole experience will be too restrictive. Some of you feel that something you had in FFXI will be lost when it comes time to start FFXIV, or that S.E.'s stated intent to make their new game more casual friendly will have a negative impact on your enjoyment of the game.
All these posts full of fear over things that have not been properly announced. Whats the most suprizing is that whether you loved every aspect of FFXI, or thought it was in need of major improvement it seems like the vast majority of you are setting your negative expectations of FFXIV inside the FFXI box. Yes the new game will have the roughly the same races, but from the looks of it this is about the only comparison you will be able to make between FFXI and FFXIV.
When I first saw the E3 trailer and read some of those initial interviews I noticed that they said they were including races similar to the FFXI races to give FFXI vets something familiar in this brand new game. They also mentioned at the time that the battle system/leveling system would be very different. They also said that they would like FFXI and FFXIV to co-exist with players being able to play both games if they wanted.
In recent weeks I have been reviewing this release of information and I fully believe that what they meant was "We are going to release a new MMO that is going to be completely different from FFXI but just so all you FFXI vets don't get scared were going to make the playable races the same".
So my advice is to leave all of your expectations, all of your FFXI comparisons at the door, and start thinking outside the box. They said FFXIV won't prescribe to the same leveling format as other MMO's this includes FFXI so talking about maxing level chars, job selection, or anything you might have experienced in other MMO's will likely become redundant.
If I was in charge of producing S.E.'s next MMO masterpiece I would look at what works very well in other MMO's and try to include that, but I would make it a priority to not let other MMO's or even the previous S.E. MMO be the limit of my aspirations for the game I am creating. This is especially true if I was hoping to create an MMO that will become the most innovative and popular MMO on the market.
WOW is currently the undisputed leader in the MMO market and no other game will come close to being more popular if its aims are to copy that game or stay within the same gaming conventions that WOW and every other MMO currently on the market has. I have never played WOW but I imagine that when it was first released it did a number of things that at the time were considered innovative and superior to the way other MMO's were at the time of its release (including FFXI)and this is why it became the most popular MMO.
Its simple and logical business practice to release a product that were possible is more innovative and superior to its competetors otherwise your only going to release a product that is inferior to the competition. Why would people switch from WOW to a new product that is like WOW or follows the same conventions as all the other products on the market?.... They wouldn't, thats why every other MMO after WOW has failed because they didn't innovate enough for the public to view their product as an improvement over WOW to make it worth switching.
I am sure the folks at S.E. are a **** of a lot smarter than I am especially when it comes to producing RPG's and MMO's. So if I have thought of this you can bet your Life, Wife, or something else really important that the S.E. Devs realize that they need to produce a game that is the next evolution in MMO's. So drop the thoughts of making comparisions between FFXI and FFXIV as they will be so different from each other that the only ties between the two games will be the Final Fantasy name, the playable races, airships, and choco's and really all these things that will be carried over are just surface similarities to keep the long time FF fans happy.
I view the information S.E. has released so far to mean that when this game is released in 2010 it will defy everyones expectations of what an MMO truly is. With all the information released so far and with the information they will release in the next few months I would definately think that it will not be comparible with other MMO's that are currently out there. When S.E. says "we will not have char progesion through LVLing and we will not have jobs in the traditional FF or other MMO sense" I would take that as an indication that worrying about reaching lvl 75 or not being able to have 1 char that is a fully lvl'd PLD, BLM, and BRD is pointless as they are not going to have LVL's or Jobs so don't compare FFXIV to FFXI or any other MMO's that use a job based and Lvl system.... Think outside the box.
So if FFXIV is going to be nothing like FFXI, WOW, or any other MMO currently out there, and if they are truly going to innovate in the creation of their new MMO, what does the information thay have released so far really mean when it comes to the us playing the finished product?.... and how are they going to do it so that its innovative, an improvement over the current offerings on the market, and appeals to the broadest spectrum of players?.... Well your guess is as good as mine, but I have been thinking about it for a bit and I do have some thoughts on what we might see in the finished product.
1. S.E. said that their would not be any conventional lvling in their new game.
My take on that is that maybe S.E. has identified that the majority of MMO's are set up in a strict linear fashion. You start as a weak lvl 1 killing bunnies and grind as fast as possible to max levels where all the cool spells/abilities are available, you don't really pause to enjoy the mid levels and are always working to the next most powerful spell that will be available at level 64, 72, 75. Maybe in FFXIV it will not be as linear and much more organic experience. Your a new Character and you decide to become a mage so you pick up your staff and get to adventuring, exploring and doing quests as you play you begin to get access to different spells and abilities... Not when you reach a certain level but as soon as you have enough points to allocate to learning the new spell, or maybe the spells are obtained from a shop or from a quest, but whatever the sytem is all the spells could concievably be available pretty much straight away it would just be much easier to obtain the weaker spells than to obtain the harder ones. Or maybe all the spells are available to buy straight away but they increase in power/duration/effectiveness with the amount of experience you have as a mage. Imagine playing an MMO where you could obtain pretty powerful spells/abilities relatively soon but doing so will leave you as a one trick pony for a while since you had to save up for that one uber powerful spell. There are a ton more possible scenario's for S.E. to remove the levels and the associated grind but still retaining a players commitment to play a job long term but still enjoy the entire journey not just endgame that every other MMO has all you need to do is think outside the box.
2. S.E. announced that there will be 4 major job paths, Fighter, Mage, Gatherer, and Crafter (they might of titled each category differently). Within each discipline are a number of different paths a player can explore.
My take on this is that S.E. realizes that again things don't need to be so linear and have created a system that allows players to customize their chars to a much greater degree than has been seen in other MMO's. Tying in with point number 1 above, previously it was the norm to have your char take a job and progress from 1 - max level in that job and learn new abilities/spells in a strict fashion. In other MMO's you cant change jobs on the fly and to experience other jobs you had to create a new char. FFXI was a little more innovative and allowed players to switch their jobs on the same char.
I think FFXIV will innovate even further by allowing players to aquire skills and abilities in a much more natural manner. Rather than lvling Brd to 75 and then going back to square one and lvling WAR to 75 and at no time were the myriad of skills and abilities learn't as a BRD still accessable in the new job (unless you had a BRD SJ or you went back to your MH and changed your job to BRD). I would imagine that S.E. will make it so that to access the skills and abilities you have already taken the time to learn all you would need to do is whip out your flute and hey presto you can sing a song.... after all why does trying to follow a different "job" path mean that you suddenly gained amnesia regarding everything you had previously learn't. I also think they haven't done away with the conventional jobs as a method of limiting you but instead opening up so many more possabilities.... You want to have your char know how to cast healing spells, summon a wyvern, use blue magic, and kick *** with a Long Katana?.. no problem, although it will take you a long *** time to have access to all of those abilities/spell sets.
For those of you worried about not being able to master every job and every ability do you really think S.E. (who have been developing this game for 4+ years now) really plan to curb the amount of time you spend playing the game.... Do you really think it would be a wise business move to plan for players to only be able to master 3 job paths max? If you do then I am so glad your not in the game development business. What is a lot more likely is that the majority of the player base will not have the time even in 5 years to master every job and every discipline available. Again take a moment to think outside the box, don't think of this game in terms of lvls and clearly defined job catergories.
I know that a great many of you are feeling negative about whats been announced so far because a great online FF game is really important to you and when you care about something its hard not to be dubious as to what the finished product will be like. However I do encourage everyone to read the press releases and also read between the lines, think outside the box and leave your expectations based on previous MMO's at the door. I have a feeling that S.E. is going to release a game that really will define the standards for the next generation of MMO's and that will cater to everyones needs.
Edited, Aug 10th 2009 2:03pm by NuckingFuts