Honestly, I have never complained about a game outside of conversations with friends before, but I do have something to say that might be a small break from the typical complaints we're seeing here.
Let me start by saying that I fully expect any game, upon release, to be full of annoying bugs. All games I've ever played at release have been. This isn't any exception. Nor do I think that the combat and game, in general, is any more boring than FFXI was at the beginning - though I gladly grinded(ground?) my way through that game. I'd agree that the game is clearly unfinished, but what I see as being the most glaringly painful aspect of this game is simple: there is a complete divergence between the 'philosophy' the creators used when designing the game and the actual game itself.
Nobuaki Komoto said, "First off, the main concept behind FFXIV is allowing those players with little time on their hands to play effectively, and game balance is based off of that. Furthermore, it is being designed to not give those with more time on their hands to play an unfair advantage."
Here, Mr. Komoto is defending SE's decision to implement the fatigue system (which I happen to like). HOWEVER, the real question is what he means when he says 'time on their hands to play effectively'. Effectively? See, my imagination dictates to me that effectiveness, within the context of video game design, is like the wonderful hybrid between smooth and efficient. Maybe even so smooth and efficient that you CAN accomplish something in a few hours each day.
After a few weeks, it is clear that FFXIV's game design is anything but efficient. This is the part where I launch into my complaints which are somewhat pertinent to my topic, but may be the same since we play the same game - so if you've had enough of these, stop reading now.
- Why does it take me 3 hours to outfit myself to level 6-7 items (from level 1 items)? It isn't just that I am a bargain shopper, it's that I can't actually find anything I'm looking for. I check PC bazaars in guilds and elsewhere; I frequent the APPROPRIATE market wards (and the Battlecraft Ward which appears to be where everyone sets up) on a regular basis. I even use my oh-so precious anima points to warp around to different cities to check for goods. I just can't find anything!
- They want us to level many different classes at the same time, yet, I have NO ROOM in my inventory to do so. Even if I wear all/all gear, and avoid wearing jewelry, I have very little room for loot. If I want to level efficiently, I have to delete or vendor-trash my items... which leads me to my next point.
- Selling items to vendors, moving items in and out of your inventory, and loading critical windows should NOT take up a more-than-incredibly-small amount of your total game time. I have never in any game, even during EQ in 2000, had to spend so many minutes and/or just trying to balance my inventory. Which leads me to another point...
- Currently, combat and crafting are half-awesome and half-terribad. Combat itself is very boring, but the items you obtain from slaying monsters are very exciting (so many useful items and they drop so often). However, for this to REMAIN exciting, you need to spend a great deal of time returning to camp to sell half of your booty. Or pray once you get to your retainer, he/she has sold something. The alternative is to take all that stuff and craft with it! I love crafting, and I initially loved crafting in FFXIV, but it is SUCH a PITA. There is no menu to select recipes you already know, you cannot choose to craft multiple of the same items, most items require sub-combines from other classes, which require sub-combines from other classes, which require sub-combines from... on so on. I am completely open to a *complicated* crafting system, but not without an EQ-like bazaar or a Every-other-MMO-like auction house system. In order to create the item you want, you have to carefully decide what items you are going to need to keep during your adventures for the next 14 levels, which generally ends up being every item you get if you plan on leveling multiple classes. A maximum of 180 inventory slots means you're full by level 15-20.(Note: I even tried buying another character slot to help with the item load, but without mail the transferring is incredibly slow, tedious, and unhelpful).
- Anima regeneration is pathetic. 10 hours per point? 6 points to travel outside of the zone you're in? so... roughly 3 Earth days to teleport across the world once? Two Earth days to travel from the camp you're currently at to the one a mile south of you? Very very friendly to the casual player who, if they play an hour or two every day, would require an entire day of playtime to run from Ul'dah to La Noscea.
- I LOVE the idea of gear that wears down because it keeps crafters and cities (especially after expansions) in business. However, the rate at which your gear wears down, and the inability to repair it to 100% without assistance from a crafter or leveling all but two of the crafting classes is pure ridiculousity*! I actually FEAR moving away from the city because doing so will vastly increase the time I spend running around every hour or so when my gear is breaking. God forbid the day I go to gain exp in a zone outside the newbie ones. Just dumb, dumb, dumb. Not being able to repair gear to 100% without player help OR having to find a repairer quite frequently are INDIVIDUAL punishments. Together they're pretty severe. And the behavior being punished is PLAYING!
- This may be my own issue, but is there like... zero chat in FFXIV? I know there are people that speak English on Gestahl, but I've only seen about 4 (shout)messages in two and a half weeks. I have absolutely no reason to ever come into contact with another person except to b**ch at them for ninja-claiming the squirrel I was going for... and I'm not that kind of player. The only thing that sets MMOs apart from other games is the community, I see little game-related benefit to engaging yourself with one in FFXIV. (Note: I've asked to join groups but never receive a message back, the translator function seems to only translate a few, and very specific, phrases... no carryover from XI?)
- While it is all fine and dandy that SE limits the productivity I get from the game after some amount of time (fatigue system) - I should not have to pay 10.99 or whatever for a month for that limitation. Most "casual" games made specifically for "casual" players don't charge, or charge less, than the major franchises. This amount is only lower than most games if you only play one character; playing more will cost you anywhere from average monthly charge to higher-than-average monthly charge for other games.
All of the above problems aren't the result of a major cultural difference between Japanese and "western" designers and gamers. If it were, the philosophy behind the game would simply be DIFFERENT than what many of us might be used to. Instead, the 'casual' philosophy SE has claimed for FFXIV has been jeopardized by pointless limitations and myriad little annoyances. If you don't agree with me, please take into consideration that FFXIV is, indeed, a game - and is reliant on people ENJOYING it to succeed. If you make a game so inaccessible to players that a vast majority are unable to ever become immersed in your creation, you have failed. Don't be proud, SE. Don't be stubborn. Live up to the name we all thought so highly of - you're halfway there already. Just make the changes.
If my point isn't clear yet, the link between "made for casual players" and "casual play" is non-existent. One could argue that casual play should be something like running outside, killing 10 rats or squirrels, mining a few ore nodes and then throwing the stuff up on the retainer to sell and logging out (an event that would take about 30-45 minutes). However, this is hardly what attracts people to MMOs. In order to keep people playing, they have to feel that they are able to meet a goal within a reasonable amount of time, provided they work quickly and efficiently and don't give up when things get a little hairy or boring. Instead, when I log onto FFXIV I quickly regret having wasted so much time... since I have loads of life goals I can accomplish in the amount of time it will take me to ORGANIZE enough to start what I wanted to set out to do in FFXIV. Somewhere in the fantasyland, there is an equation which goes something like this:
A [interest] x B [reward] - C [time investment] x D [tedium] = F [level of fun].
FFXIV fits that equation something like this (all values are from 0[none]-10[loads], based on other MMOs comparatively):
7 [interest] x 4 [reward] - 8 [time investment] x 20 [tedium] = -132 fun.
I want to love this game so much, but every time I play I end up asking myself "why am I playing this?"... an event that usually occurs after about a year of playing any MMO, if it happens at all. The desperately depressing thing is: I can see this game being loads of fun. Because of this, I'm staying until their first big update. If that addresses much of the tedium and game-components removing any fun from playing casually, then I'm in. If the update doesn't address this fundamental disconnect, I expect this game will suffer a mass exodus.