That's the only option? One group must be villains and the other must be heroes? Games with Open World PVP don't even use "villain vs hero," distinctions, and both sides are essentially "questionably good with separate ideals and goals." Again, it's a complete lack of imagination or lack of faith in the writing staff to believe that "just because it hasn't been done then it shouldn't be done because it hasn't been done!"
Pawkeshup, Averter of Apocalypse wrote:
Name me one FF title that you play as a villain with a storyline set of missions or has a moral choice system.
No, it isn't. The simple fact is that, unquestioningly, the entire franchise has had an entirely co-operative theme to it. It hasn't had "quesitonable good with separate ideals and goals"-type storylines. Ever. If they want to make an MMO like that, it would be best to do so under a new title, because this name has brand recognition and a fan base that has an expectations.
Let me put it another way: New Coke.
Now, all sodas are basically the same. Carbonation, high fructose syrup, et cetera. So why do people prefer a brand? Because when they purchase a brand they recognize, they expect it to taste a certain way. In 1985, Coca-Cola decided to change the formula of their main product, and simply label it new. It still was in the traditional red can, and if you did not look closely, you would get a sip of a product you most likely did not want. It led to it being rebranded, and eventually discontinued.
Brand recognition means something. It's not just a cutsey marketing phrase. When you have a tradition of a certain set of criteria that your product has always has, a radical departure from that can result in a major negative backlash. Like, say, making jobs tied to weapons, and those jobs not feeling unique enough to honour the tradition of the franchise. Sound familiar?
Now if the franchise had dipped its toe into those waters, or was more about internal conflict, or faction warfare like, oh, Warhammer, or Warcraft, or Star Wars... then I would expect them to include PvP and storylining to back that up. Final Fantasy never really has had too much in the way of moral ambiguity or multi-pronged storylines about warring nations. Pretty much, every story is two-sided. There are rarely even multiple factions in play, it's normally rag-tag heroes of differing backstories facing down against a unified front of unquestionable evil/destruction/malevolent intent.
FFXI did have conflict among the nations, but you see how it was handled. The writers did, in fact, put in the fact that the three nations were not on the same page, and had greatly differing ideas and methods of working. However, there was no question that the nations knew, at the end of the day, it was stand united or fall into darkness. When conflict games were introduced, it was more based, again, on teams of players rather than open PvP; PvP in the sense of taking one another out wasn't even the focus, it was about scoring goals in a game, like Blitzball. It failed mainly because it was ridiculous to join a match at times unless your server was mostly on board for it (the fact that level sync wasn't a thing back then hurt it too). However, that mechanic is more in keeping with the "game within a game" mentality you see in the series. If they had made it so groups could have started the event, rather than it be scheduled, it likely would have been a broader success.
You want to know what happens when you try to totally change ideals of a game? Chocobo Racing. You see, if they had just stripped out the racing mini-game from FFVII, layered in more content, and released it, it likely would have been somewhat more successful. What they did was buckle to investor pressure to jump on a bandwagon, and sell out the brand. Instead of trying to see the franchise through a new light, they simply dropped in a new mechanic to an existing property and expected that brand recognition alone would move product. By taking FFXIV, turning it into an Open PvP, and releasing it, it would be no less than making Chocobo Racing II. It's obvious that it is to jump on the PvP bandwagon, and try to win new fans from that experience rather than providing the experience people expect when they buy an FF game.
Again, it's not a matter of could, it's a matter of should.
"This franchise has never been about online play." So you must agree that Final Fantasy XI, by virtue of the "doesn't feel like" argument, doesn't feel like a Final Fantasy game either. By extension then XIV doesn't feel like a Final Fantasy game either. Here's another example: "This franchise was never about mini-games." A motorcycle chase through a highway? Submarine battles? Card games? Underwater Rugby? We just eliminated 7 through 10 because they don't "feel like Final Fantasy games." I don't see the outrage over that, though. In fact, I see excitement over it, yet those mechanics are very clearly not Final Fantasy. You know what made them "work?" A writer. Arguably another writer could have made Open World PVP work as well. We can probably eliminate every Final Fantasy that isn't Final Fantasy 1 as "not feeling like a Final Fantasy game" if we bother.
Pawkeshup, Averter of the Apocalypse wrote:
So when people say "It doesn't feel like Final Fantasy", they mean "This series has never been about PvP, or playing the villain within the cannon of the story, it's always about reconciliation, redemption, and overcoming adversity by coming together, not by fighting among ourselves."
There's no such thing as "it doesn't feel like Final Fantasy." You know what does feel like Final Fantasy, though? The developers trying new things. That's the only true constant (besides the obvious similarly objects, named or otherwise). It's pretty hit or miss, but the alternative is stagnation which is infinitely worse. Just dismissing an (hypothetical) idea simply because it hasn't been done yet is hardly a good reason to not do something.[/quote]
You are confusing storyline and thematic tones with game mechanics. Square has always played with gameplay mechanics, and it's even known for doing it. The game has gone from turn based, to real-time combat. It has had varying leveling systems. It has had differing settings and environments. It has even played with the genre with success (Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy Dissidia, Chocobo Dungeon), even if it has failed when not trying to honour the thematic tones of the franchise. Also, their very first game in the series had a tile puzzle game embedded in it, so yea, games within games have existed as long as the series has. But it has also had unified themes. Don't believe me?
From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Fantasy
Plot and themes
The central conflict in many Final Fantasy games focuses on a group of characters battling an evil, and sometimes ancient, antagonist that dominates the game's world. Stories frequently involve a sovereign state in rebellion, with the protagonists taking part in the rebellion. The heroes are often destined to defeat the evil, and occasionally gather as a direct result of the antagonist's malicious actions. Another staple of the series is the existence of two villains; the main villain is not always who it appears to be, as the primary antagonist may actually be subservient to another character or entity. The main antagonist introduced at the beginning of the game is not always the final enemy, and the characters must continue their quest beyond what appears to be the final fight.
Stories in the series frequently emphasize the internal struggles, passions, and tragedies of the characters, and the main plot often recedes into the background as the focus shifts to their personal lives. Games also explore relationships between characters, ranging from love to rivalry. Other recurring situations that drive the plot include amnesia, a hero corrupted by an evil force, mistaken identity, and self-sacrifice. Magical orbs and crystals are recurring in-game items that are frequently connected to the themes of the games' plots. Crystals often play a central role in the creation of the world, and a majority of the Final Fantasy games link crystals and orbs to the planet's life force. As such, control over these crystals drives the main conflict. The classical elements are also a recurring theme in the series related to the heroes, villains, and items. Other common plot and setting themes include the Gaia hypothesis, an apocalypse, and conflicts between advanced technology and nature.
I honestly was about to rewrite the majority of that here never having read it in this article! Just being a long-time fan of this series, you see the recurring themes. Sacrifice, devotion, teamwork, setting aside rivalry for the better good, fights against unquestioning evil. WoW, one of the major PvP games out there, is set up with warring factions since the first games in the Warcraft franchise. **** it's set in the same bloody world! It's literally the same story just seen via different mechanics.
Nowhere up there does it say that FF cannot transcend the genre of game (it has tactics-based games and even a couple of solid fighters based on it). Nowhere in that summery does it state that there are rival factions either. Changing thematic tone in a series is a dangerous thing. If done well, it can be respected, and even praised. But by and large, shifts in tone are panned. Let's look at Resident Evil.
Resident Evil started as a tense horror game, where resources were limited, the enemies seemingly endless, and where you were very much dis-empowered. It was a critically praised game, even if it had terrible dialogue. Over the course of the series, however, the horror elements have been stripped away, leaving a generic shooter game where the enemies are zombies. The plot has become utterly laughable, and the thematic tones of the series largely lost under the shift of gameplay style. Now, when they made each game, they faced a choice. Should they continue to cater to fans of horror, or should they lighten the survival elements to cater to a broader audience. They chose the latter, to the ruination of what the franchise was about.
I can fault Square for tons of things. TONS. I am not a fan of their games after XI (XII felt like offline XI, which felt terrible, XIV had major issues, and I didn't even play XIII when I heard the phrase "it gets good 18 hours in"), but one thing that I can see about those games I do treasure is that I can see the thematic reason why. Square has done an absolutely brilliant job of maintaining Final Fantasy as a brand recognized for quality stories, interesting characters, solid game mechanics and, yes, strong thematic undertones making it all feel connected. To suddenly jar that is unwelcome and unwanted. You can see I'm not alone in this. I am willing to bet that everyone who says PvP does not feel like Final Fantasy has been a long-time fan of the series.