Keep it civil please, and don't derail
So now we've seen a small glimpse at what the FFXIV might resemble, although Dev's at Gamescon were quoted to mention that the partial Alpha version shown is outdated and the UI is much better on current Alpha builds.
I see a lot of discussion regarding comparison to mainly WoW's UI setup, as well as how numerous copy-cat MMO's have essentially copied the UI element from WoW to their own MMO's. From what's viewable on the viewed Alpha build from Gamescon is a fairly lightweight and streamlined UI compared to FFXI and much more like what we see with other MMO's these days. It looked to have a fairly unintrusive action bar of sorts in the bottom-center of the UI, as well as a typical Chat Window bottom-left and a compass/info panel on the bottom-right. It seems very minimalistic and not graphical at all, which is nice and something I prefer, personally.
From a coding perspective (and this is coming from a code-monkey and WoW addon author), I'm really hoping they restrict addon creation in their UI. This is not because I detest addons, but more that they create additional balance issues and heavy development monitoring on the side of the dev team for the game.
Balance Issues: Anyone who plays WoW, Vanguard, EQII, or any of the other current MMO's on the market that utilize 3rd party AddOns know that some things just cannot be done without. WoW players love their Omen, Grid, Clique, so on and so forth and at this point in time...the game almost becomes unplayable after big patches due to addon dev time and updating requirements. I'll repeat that...unplayable. If you've ever been an author, or even read the forums/comments at WoW addon sites on patch days, it's just a nightmare. The official forums, too...just endless scores of players complaining that they can't play because Blizzard broke an addon or an author didn't update their addon yet. It's hellish, and unfair. WoW has been a primary showcase at how fun, free AddOns created by authors in their free time becomes a staple requirement where authors and the game dev's become the scapegoat of players frustration due to the assumed necessity to have these tools in their hands.
One should also take notice that over the years, Blizzard has implimented into their standard UI engine a lot of practical and originally 3rd-party developed addons. Scrolling Combat Text, streamlined combat log, equipment manager, advanced quest tracking, multi-item mail...all ideas originating from 3rd party addon developers. Consider that if these features had already existed within the games UI, how "required" would 3rd party addons feel?
Monitoring: Really, personally, I'd rather the boys/girls/gods at SE spend their time monitoring the game, and focusing on game content than have to monitor adaptable source code from addon developers for legitimacy and safety. That's all I'm really going to say...nothing sucks more than losing dev time to monitoring and enforcing policy on addons.
What I'd like to see: LOTRO is a good example. You can modify game UI "skins" to customize the UI, along with element placement on screen (which we saw previewed at Gamescon). Allow the game developer to handle implimenting the "right" tools to get the job done. Alpha's and Beta's, and then released gameplay results in player suggestions that can result in additional elements being added in the future. In todays MMO market, SE is essentially forced to compete on that level. But let them compete...not the players and 3rd party addon developers.
I do not want to see a FFXIV where:
- I can't "play" unless I have the latest tools developed by people other than the game devs.
- I have to wait for updates from authors to be able to play.
- I have to rely on additional tools to play consistently.
- Players mob authors for updates.
- Authors charge for addons.
A functional and streamlined UI is required in todays market. But other games have shown that you don't need crazy addons to be able to function, either. I'd like to see what's going on with the current builds UI, and get some info from SE regarding it (man, info cannot come fast enough), but I truely do hope they stray away from the large addon market that WoW and other MMO's have become so attached to.