Or it could fall to naught.
Before anyone says anything, I hope this will be an intelligent conversation.
I started playing FFXIV since its Open Beta release, and I have had my fair share of disappointment and interest. Yet, I was planning to remain quiet (if this being my first post doesn't clue you off, I had been lurking in ZAM and everywhere else to read what people say), giving FFXIV the time and benefit of doubt before I fight for or against my most anticipated MMORPG's release ever since Square announced Rapture.
Unfortunately, I had enough of all the negativity. For the sake of argument, lets look at FFXIV with some value of positivity and optimism.
Final Fantasy XIV, with no doubt at all, should never have had been release before it was ready. If there is anything Square Enix must learn from the leading MMORPG's makers, it is that perfectionist Blizzard only releases its game when they think it is ready (without any regard of any promises made to their anticipating fans). Even then, might I add, the early days of Azeroth isn't without their problems.
For whatever reasons Square had erred on that, they have been trying to salvage the mistake. The second month of free trial is evidently enough in their effort to cover their mistakes and appease their fans. However, that isn't enough, Square Enix only value is to deliver what their promise, and continue to positively encourage feedback, and acting on it.
Aside from that, Square made a few design flaws mostly on their user interface. It is hard to, and for anybody, to navigate the interface without first feeling extremely frustrated. While I find it reasonably use-able after awhile, I cannot say the same for everybody. We all know that is a problem, so I am going to skip this as well.
Where XIV disappoint me the most, is their failure to deliver their promises in character customization. In most of my studies, I valued personalization as the core of all MMORPG. Customization represents individuality, which leads to loyalty and commitment to a character, which XIV had so obviously attempts at that direction.
It is apparent that FFXIV failed in many exterior design aspect (I am not talking about graphics thou, their graphics are just AMAZING). Everyone knows the already over-said truth. Therefore, I am not going to continue on all the other problems that we already know.
I am going to continue on the biggest problem, as well as its greatest virtues: that, this game is overwhelming. So overwhelming as if Square sadistically just dumped us in their newly designed cheese maze. The steep learning curves were, exponentially scary.
Which leads to my point of "Coup d'etat" (took awhile didn't I?).
Games, since forever, have been refining tutorials, allowing a soft introduction to its players. A smooth welcome to the game is essential without a doubt. There is where, left-wing theorists would gladly disagree.
For the longest time, gamers have been debating the direction of gaming future. Games as it is, is an entertainment, should be fun and light-hearted should it not? Why would anyone compare a game to reality? If anyone wanted a reality inspired game, they should be living their life instead. Gaming is, after all, an art of escapism.
However, many would not stop short in correcting you. Gaming, by many other names, includes more popularly: Virtual Reality. Virtual Reality promises a world, which does not exist in our real world, as near to reality as possible, so players can immerse themselves in the world of make-believe.
And all MMORPG's designers role, is to make a premise which players can immerse in.
Everything else falls in second. If you want action, pick FPS or Hack-and-slash. If you want storyline and/or the gratification of being hero, get a RPG. If you want things to be simpler, play tetris.
MMORPG is as complicated as a society is. It isn't just a game, it is a civilization. There is just no other genre of games out there with that much intensive researches on reality. Economics, communities, social sciences, demographics, balance issues, to name a few There is just no other game that is more transparent and impressive as putting thousands of humans together in a game.
FFXIV, like most other purists MMORPGs, put us in an overwhelming world for ourself to adventure and to discover. Not the smartest choice if we are thinking mainstream. Yet there is value in that thought.
In fact, FFXIV is like a world of adventure. They throw you in a world, teaches you only the basics of the basics, and leave everything else to yourself, your own choice and decision. It is overwhelming yes, but it creates individuality, it creates stories. It creates adventures. You won't know where to go, like a blind searching for his way in the room, and you tend to find something interesting when you get lost. An underground cave, a small unknown town, beautiful breathtaking views.
FFXIV blurs your vision so you can look at the bigger picture, instead of: You are a swordsman, you start out in newbie town, after you reach lvl 10, go to sub-newbie town. Then at lvl 15, you can go to graduation town. Maybe become a knight or gladiator. Oh, and ignore all the small little things along the way, those aren't important. What is important is when you reach lvl 100. Don't you just want to play end-game content? No?
It is as if all those MMORPGs should just ignore the hassle, destroy the whole leveling system and just go straight to end-game.
Square knows RPG by heart.
FFXIV scares alot of people like how real life can be. You could choose to be a lawyer, a doctor, a pilot, a soldier, but no one is going to tell you how it is done step-by-step. You have to find out yourself. And if you find that maybe medicine along the way isn't for you, drop it and learn to fly a plane, maybe? Anyway, when you were young, the future is blurry, probably something for future you to worry about. Now you are just contend with the remote-controlled helicopter that can fly. Maybe you could be a pilot, but you won't be worrying about that just yet.
That is putting value to all level content. That is an RPG. That is a meaningful growth. Sadly, its greatest revolution is never well-appreciated, probably due to bad execution of a well thought.
Suddenly, you realized where Square has been putting their eyes on, albeit a tad blind. Look deep into Final Fantasy XIV, and surprise, surprise:
The comprehensive Crafting and Gathering system is one of the most impressive and creative way to revamp Online Gaming economics. I will touch on this later, because you will need to try to see for yourself first.
Then there is the lores. The stories that make the world a world. I played Gridania, so I can't comment on the other two. But I love how they give the characters' stories. They gave me an idea that if I were the native of Gridania, I could be a believer of faith. And everyone in Gridania plays that role. Then the story would continue to question the authenticity of their faith. It makes the player thinks for the moment.
Instead of, hey at end-game I am going to be a super paladin cause it is good in PVP, and I am going to make a name for myself in the PVP sector. Nevermind that I am a Paladin, I have no idea what faith I have, I don't care I am killing, and I makes a **** lot of money and I don't believe in charity. No, I am not in character, why do I care? I just want to be the top of the table.
While some games like LOTOR, WOW and Star Wars have a long line of franchise and stories to aid them with. Square is trying to deliver the stories on its own. There is certainly a lack of lores now, but given Square expertise in storytelling, all it needs now is to create the content, which they promise they would...
Or if you look at its combat system. Yes, a lot of people states that most MMORPG requires strategy. Like WOW. Strategies often consists of what people know what they are supposed to do. The healers heal, the tankers tank, the buffers buff his allies and debuff the enemies, and the nukers... nuke.
Don't get me wrong, WOW is comprehensive and smart in its own right. However, FFXIV could possibly deliver more (could but have not yet). Players are now required to know what others players could do. So they can experience a whole lot of other content, explore all the different possibility, and slowly form your own team and style. There is no one way to play FFXIV combat system.
In fact, FFXIV true beauty is one of self-exploration and experience. Their creators must have put too much considerations in its core, like giving an ugly person a heart of gold. Sure someone is going to treasure that, but most of us are obviously more shallow. I know I am. They forgotten many other important things that makes... A game a game.
So much so that it even constantly reminds us of our real life.
Which crazy developers will encourage their fans to stay away from the game?
Unless, of course that is because Square Enix is trying to target the right demographics: its original fans. Most of us fell in love in Final Fantasy during our youth. Unfortunately, we all grew up. We all now have responsibilities, and MMORPGs do not encourage responsibilities. Square is trying to stay loyal to us: the working class, who had first played and be loyal to its franchise.
So lets discuss. I could be wrong. Maybe most of you don't see XIV as a revolution, just a failed idea, but then you won't be here. Or maybe you can see what I see. That while interfaces can be changed, banks could be made, there is something that can never be re-touched. Its very foundation.
And the greater the foundation the higher the pyramid could be built.
Lets share our insights, academically instead of self-preferences, of what XIV could be.
To end this first post: FFXIV is a platform built on Potential but fails in Execution. However, what was done, cannot be undone. Square Enix must look forward and fulfills its promises it made, only then FFXIV will be the Coup d'etat of modern MMORPG.