Letter from the Producer, III (02/17/2011)

FINAL FANTASY XIV fans the world round, the third Letter from the Producer has arrived for your viewing pleasure! Pore over the complete letter below, or visit the Lodestone.

Discuss this in the ZAM Forums!

Hello again, to all of you continuing to enjoy FINAL FANTASY XIV.

Your devoted Yoshi-P is here, back for my third letter, despite some stiff shoulders that have been giving me trouble lately. What are you gonna do, right?

Patch 1.15a went live with all of the intended content (resulting in a bit of behest-induced fever on some forums, hehe), and the dev team is now on the next step in improving the game. After balancing skill and experience point awards in 1.15a, I logged in and clandestinely took part in a few behests. I was left with the impression that everyone seemed to be having a good time. And it reinforced my conviction that MMORPGs are all about people getting together and having a good time.

Of course, we're still on the fence a bit about balancing the degree of difficulty for fifteen-member parties, but I personally am of the opinion that everyone playing together is what makes the game fun. And so that is the direction in which I would like to take the game, and take it as quickly as possible. It was for that reason that I opted to balance the skill and experience points rewards first, with the intention of later tackling the difficulty level, rather than vice versa. Further balancing adjustments are ongoing, and are being based on the new designs in place for a maximum party size of eight members, as well as the smaller four-member party, both of which I've added to our list of intended changes.

I kept a close eye on how things went for the week or so following the release of 1.15a. Not surprisingly, the maximum number of members and levels of difficulty for behests were less than ideal. Therefore, in the coming days we'll be looking into further improvements to bonuses awarded when participating in groups of nine or more. For now, I'd be happy to think that we've already taken care of some balancing issues that relate directly to future content. Also, the amount of experience points awarded to Disciples of the Hand is a bit on the large side, and will be balanced to be more akin to those awarded to Disciples of War and Magic.

A bit wordy for a lead-in, I know, but now we can move on to what many of you no doubt are waiting to hear about. As I mentioned in my last letter, our FINAL FANTASY Players' Poll the Second begins today, focusing primarily on the battle system. I've set the deadline at one week from today. I apologise for shortening the submission period from last time, but quick responses will lend themselves to quick results. I hope you all take the time to submit your answers and have your voices heard!

Next, I'd like to post the updated list of planned changes. There have been a number of changes to the list since 1.15a was released, both new additions as well as progress updates. Items marked as –NEW– have either been added or updated. Those tasks that are in grey have been completed, and will be removed from the chart as of my next post. Consider yourselves warned! (I apologise for my chart being a bit artless... It isn't the easiest thing in the world to read, I know.)

Category Planned Current Tasks Future Tasks
Quests Tutorials for new players Planning and implementation of tutorial quests Introduction of additional quests
Quests revolving around the danger facing Eorzea Planning and implementation of quests Introduction of additional quests
–NEW– Storylines and world quests –NEW– Development and release of supplemental storylines and world quests –NEW– Introduction of additional quests
Public company quests Planning of public companies and related quests in Limsa Lominsa, Ul'dah, and Gridania Introduction of additional quests
–NEW– Quest-related system changes –NEW– Addition of icons to make quest NPCs easily recognizable –NEW– Addition of several icons to distinguish between quest types
–NEW– Addition of quest NPC locations to maps –NEW– Division of map data for various quest types
–NEW– Addition of confirmation windows for accepting/refusing quests –NEW– Opt from among several rewards upon quest completion
–NEW– Ability to abandon accepted quests
User Interface
Improvements to the log Changes to behavior of windows when moused over
 Removal of auto-log activation (complete as of 1.15a)
 Abiility to target behind log (complete as of 1.15a)
Automated show/hide feature
 Log hidden after certain period of inactivity (complete as of 1.15a)
–NEW– Examination of new log config settings
 Ability to set length of inactivity before log is hidden
Revision of text colors by message type
Brighter system messages for easier reading (complete as of 1.15a)
Increased log tabs
Increased color customization by type
Improvement of dialog windows
(ex. market area selection)
Changes to increase the amount of on-screen data to reduce the need for multiple pages (complete for market area selection screens as of 1.15a) Reexamination of page-scrolling mechanics
Conversion to specialized query windows
Improvements to journal usability Changes to consolidate all current quests and levequests on one screen Ongoing changes
Additional list entries
Increased speed for text scrolling in general, and further speed increase for continuous scrolling
Addition of page-scrolling control for gamepads (moved from Planned Tasks to Current Tasks)
Adjustments to window size and scrolling position
 Consolidation of levequest details on one screen (complete as of 1.15a)
Addition of entries to journal list (moved from Planned Tasks to Current Tasks)
Character jump feature Examination of the implementation of jumping Implementation following completion of a favorable examination
Increased visibility of combat damage display (complete as of 1.15a) Use of distinct colors for player and enemy damage (complete as of 1.15a)
Adjustments to prevent overlapping of combat text
 FINAL FANTASY-esque changes to number pop-up animations (complete as of 1.15a)
–NEW– Rank/Level up fanfare –NEW– Examination of dramatic effects when a new rank or level is attained –NEW– Further rank/level up fanfare enhancements
Increased usability of maps Examination of increased refresh rates for more responsive maps (complete as of 1.15a) Implementation of chages (complete as of 1.15a)
Subsequent increase in the number of points and icons pictured on maps
Improved minimap usability Addition of PC field-of-view display on the minimap (complete as of 1.15a) Quest NPC directional indicator
Improvements to camera usability Changes to prevent random reset of camera distance settings (complete as of 1.15a)
Changes to allow camera distance settings via gamepad (moved from Planned Tasks to Current Tasks)
Changes to notification windows Changes to window placement
Reduced intrusion of windows when engaged in combat (complete as of 1.15a)
Changes to increase the specialization of windows
Improvements to targeting mechanics Changes to allow targeting by type (PC or NPC) when targeting with a gamepad Examination of target indicator customization
–NEW– Addition of an "attacking enemies only" type to targeting system
–NEW– Ability to target by clicking on character name displays –NEW– Examination of additional information display on unit frames
–NEW– Emote usability improvements –NEW– Display of text commands for each emote on the emote list –NEW– Alphabetization of emote list
–NEW– Auto-translate dictionary update –NEW– Update of auto-translate dictionary contents
Guildleves Improvements to guildleve-related information Command-based display of time remaining until guildleve renewals (complete as of 1.15a)
Additional information when exchanging guildleves
Revision and balancing of local leve issuing conditions Ongoing revision and balacing
Balancing of guildleve rewards Changes to less popular guildleves in line with reward balances Further release of new guildleves following balancing
Synthesis, and
Adjustments to item condition values Adjustments to lower the rate at which item condition deteriorates Ongoing balances in line with player feedback
Higher visibility of the optimal rank of items Changes to the color of item names to convey the disparity between optimal rank and a player's current rank
 Currently assessing costs of implementation
Color categorization of item names
Reassessment of the gear affinities Introduction of gear with rank requirements to create player-oriented goals Further changes to gear affinities
–NEW– Reexamination of class-based requirements for gear –NEW– Addition of class-specific gear to enhance class uniqueness and goal-oriented play –NEW– Reexamination of recommended class system for gear
Revision of battle loot and quest rewards Ability to obtain weapons and armor via battle loot and quest rewards Implementation in line with quests
–NEW– Synthesis interface improvements –NEW– Examination of synthesis recipe balancing
 Adjustments to begin after settling on specs
–NEW– Implementation of synthesis recipe balancing
–NEW– Expansion of synthesis recipe history (currently stores eight recipes) –NEW– Ongoing improvements to recipe history feature
–NEW– Adjustments to the item synthesis process
Changes to item stack sizes (complete as of 1.15a) Examination of increased stack sizes from 12 to 99 (complete as of 1.15a) Implementation of increased item sizes after finalization (complete as of 1.15a)
Increased pace of gathering actions Changes to the frame rates of action animations to speed up gathering (partially complete as of 1.15a)
–NEW– Introduction of new synthesis concepts –NEW– Examination of new synthesis concepts –NEW– Initial development following settling on concepts
Market Areas Improvement of market area connectivity and stability Reduction in the frequency of market area crashes Ongoing improvements to market area stability
–NEW– Retainer system improvements –NEW– Ability to summon retainers currently operating a bazaar –NEW– Ability to save retainer location
Improved usability of the item search feature Addition of prices displayed together with search results (complete as of 1.15a) Examination of ability to search by specific item names
Examination of an auction house system Final examination of retainer and auction house systems Initial planning following final decision
Battle System Ability to toggle display of head gear Ability to toggle head gear to allow display of character faces (complete as of 1.15a) –NEW– Addition of a menu option
–NEW– Party system changes –NEW– Examination of maximum single party size
 Changes aimed at improving battle balance
–NEW– Reduction of "full" party size from 15 to 8 members
–NEW– Release of "small" parties made up of 4 members
–NEW– Redesign of UI elements in line with new party system –NEW– Examination of a buffing system and party display for small and full parties
Revisions to party-based skill point acquisition in parties
–NEW– Battle adjustments for new party system
Improvements to skill point acquisition for parties (complete as of 1.15a)
–NEW– Adjustments to degrees of difficulty and bonuses for behests for full parties (8 members)
–NEW– Adjustments to period of time between behest resets
–NEW– Auto-attack system –NEW– Examination of an auto-attack feature –NEW– Examination of risks of and scale of changes for an auto-attack system
–NEW– Character collision detection –NEW– Removal of character collision
Changes to enmity calculations Revisions to enmity algorithms Ongoing revisions to enmity algorithms
–NEW– Adjustments to positioning algorithms of enemies in relation to PCs –NEW– Ongoing adjustments of algorithms as necessary
–NEW– Adjustments to ranged attack algorithms of enemies –NEW– Ongoing adjustments of algorithms as necessary
Revision of crowd control actions Revision of crowd control actions for each class to improve party-based play Implementation of changes after finalization
Changes to enemy group dynamics Introduction of enemy group variability, as well as enemy group highlighting to enhance combat visibility
Changes to claiming/engaging enemies Examination and implementation of changes to claiming and engaging enemies Ongoing balancing of skill point acquisition following initial changes
Balancing of enemy attributes Changes to enemy attributes and drops Ongoing balancing as necessary
Addition of beast tribes Release of beast tribe monsters as both roaming and quest-related enemies Further implementation in line with new quests
–NEW– Environment collision detection –NEW– Risk analysis of collision detection adjustments to improve movement response –NEW– Ongoing adjustments to environment collision detection
–NEW– Enemy distribution adjustments –NEW– Examination of free-ranging enemy distribution
 Changes aimed at clearly defined territories and secure travel routes
–NEW– Gradual adjustments to roaming enemy distribution
Revision of enemy sizes Optimization of enemy size for ease of play –NEW– Ongoing adjustments to enemy size
Design and release of notorious monsters Release of notorious monsters Further implementation in line with new quests
Conversion of roaming monsters to notorious monsters Implementation after finalization
Changes to actions for Disciplines of War & Magic classes Further changes to enhance class uniqueness Initial implementation of partial changes
–NEW– Reexamination of stats –NEW– Addition of an auto-MP regeneration feature –NEW– Ongoing reeaxmination of attributes and stats
Changes to class names Possible introduction of traditional names such as paladin, monk, white mage, etc. Announcement of further changes as they arise
Introduction of public companies Introduction of public company leaders in each city-state Announcement of further changes as they arise
Introduction of public companies in Limsa Lominsa, Ul'dah, and Gridania to combat the threat to Eorzea Announcement of further changes as they arise
The Lodestone Official forums Test launch of official forums in JP, EN, FR, and DE beginning in early March Improvements to forums based on test period results
Determination of final launch date
Additional blog features Addition of a "Like!" button to mark preferred posts
Ability to add decorative text, HTML links to blog entries
My Site automated notifications Notifications of new blog entries, new followers, etc., posted at the top of My Site pages
–NEW– New Content –NEW– Instanced PvE Content (Dungeons/Raids) –NEW– Examination of dungeon content for full parties (8) of high-rank members
 Ongoing examination together with battle system adjustments (8-member content)
–NEW– Examination of dungeon content for small parties (4) of mid- to high-rank members
 Ongoing examination together with battle system adjustments (4-member content)

We've received a lot of feedback from players regarding collision detection issues hampering player movement, and are working on resolving these now. Unfortunately, fixing all of them in one fell swoop would pose too great a risk, and so we'll be addressing them in stages. We've also completed our examination of the balancing and placement of freely roaming enemies, and are in the midst of holding meetings now to begin implementing the planned changes. Also, the routes players take when travelling through areas must also be adjusted so as not to have a negative influence on quest balance. All told, we'll be making changes of this sort up until the onset of spring.

We are also in the process of putting together a new workflow to handle the development of new quests and sidequests. Though we will begin releasing these in the next patch, it will be difficult to release a large number of them at once. It is certainly possible to continue developing quests until we reach a target number, and then release them simultaneously, but this would slow the rate at which this new content would become available. I prefer to release fewer quests regularly as part of the monthly patches instead. This may give the impression of less content per patch, but I'd like to try it this way for a span of about two months or so and see how it goes. At the same time, we'll gradually be implementing system-side changes related to quests as well, aimed at improving user-friendliness.

I’d now like to speak about the battle system and its forthcoming changes. The tasks laid out for the overhaul of the battle system are being divided up and divvied out, and the office is a maelstrom as we try to settle upon the final specs for the system itself. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t have a battle-related meeting of some sort, and it is my strong hope that we finalise a direction to take as soon as possible after receiving your feedback and opinions from the second poll.

We are also looking into players using death warps (or blood warps, or whatever other name you wish to give them). We will be making a decision on how to address this following the release of quests. After all, having a bunch of adventurers committing suicide isn't very FINAL FANTASY-esque, now, is it?

And finally, a few words on the large-scale PvE content I tacked onto the end of the list last time. Our current thinking is that this will be content aimed at high-ranked or endgame players, and are now looking into design aspects and costs, as well as viability for middle-ranked players, together with NMs. Hopefully, we'll be able to get all of our ducks in a row, hammer out an engaging battle system, and bring a slew of new and exciting challenges to all of you soon!

I suppose that just about does it for this Yoshi-P letter. For those interested, in my next letter, I am hoping to talk about items and the in-game economy. The more astute observers among you may have already noticed that a few changes pertaining to these topics have already been added to the list... ^^;

How about this weather, huh? Cold enough for you? Well, I suppose that depends entirely on where you are... But it’s cold in Tokyo. It looks like influenza is popping up all over the place, regardless, so take care of yourselves lest you miss out on your adventures in Eorzea!

Until next time, keep your hopes high and your noses to the gri—bad choice of words. Just keep having fun!

FINAL FANTASY XIV Producer & Director, Naoki Yoshida


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keep up the good work
# Feb 18 2011 at 5:51 AM Rating: Decent
14 posts
should be very interesting keep up the good work SE......... we love ya just discontinue FFXIII/FFXIII-2 pleeeeaaase they let the series down in my opinion :)

More good stuff to hear
# Feb 18 2011 at 12:57 AM Rating: Decent
I'm really glad to see these updates but I have one and only one issue with ffxiv and that is graphics. I don't have graphics issues on any other MMOs and I have many times over the requirements recommended to play this game. For whatever reason there is 'choppy' play. In my own settings and through the ffxivconfig, as well as in-game, I have played around to get minimal results. The recent patches have helped a lot but the gameplay is still not 'smooth'. I hope it gets addressed soon.

Edited, Feb 18th 2011 8:35pm by Tekma
I don't really see soloing as bad as it was in FFXI...
# Feb 17 2011 at 9:01 PM Rating: Decent
136 posts
I was always a strong advocate for solo play but i'm going to have to agree at the lack of party based content. I really think group challenges would add a lot of purpose to leveling. I'm also pleased with the small groups although i think the ratio should be something like 6:3 but if their are no challenges that require anything more then 8 people then i have no problem with that. Assembling anything more than 10 players for a fight takes way too much organization for a video game that i play to escape the cumbersome organization challenges of my daily life...

I'm really pleased to hear they've been in the office every day looking at the battle mechanics and i'm glad they realized that the mechanics here are not as ground breaking as everyone was expecting.

But on the point of soloing i'm okay with low level grinding, trading, crafting, and gathering, leve quests, being my low time soloing activities.
Blood warp
# Feb 17 2011 at 8:01 PM Rating: Good
Deathwarp/Bloodwarp or Suicide, whatever you wanna call it... is VERY Final Fantasy-esque... that was clutch in FFXI, and I would be upset to see it go....

Update Releases
# Feb 17 2011 at 7:32 PM Rating: Default
1 post
"We are also in the process of putting together a new workflow to handle the development of new quests and sidequests. Though we will begin releasing these in the next patch, it will be difficult to release a large number of them at once. It is certainly possible to continue developing quests until we reach a target number, and then release them simultaneously, but this would slow the rate at which this new content would become available. I prefer to release fewer quests regularly as part of the monthly patches instead. This may give the impression of less content per patch, but I'd like to try it this way for a span of about two months or so and see how it goes."

QFT. I hate the big updates of FFXI. Remember the ones that would take a whole day because you kept getting kicked off the server? You'd get all excited about the new content, but wouldn't be able to play that night.

This is much preferable. Small, monthly updates P2P-style are much faster and won't get in the way of gameplay. I can start the update after I get home from work and it's ready before dinner's even ready.

I also like the small party thing. :) I'm kind of a hermit and we're working parents, so the time we have to game anymore and how we interact with other players has changed since college, when we had the 10 hrs that used to be required for the high tier HNMLS's. And before kids. LOL I can't believe how long ago that was!

But this still feels too different from FFXI and from FF series in general. I'd like much more story and quest content, and it looks like they're working on that, too. :)
# Feb 17 2011 at 6:49 PM Rating: Decent
17 posts
So if groups of 9 or larger actually hurt xp, how does that work for behests now?

15 > 8
# Feb 17 2011 at 2:15 PM Rating: Decent
513 posts
I like how they're making groups smaller. That was definitely needed.

As far as group/solo goes, I like that there are guildleves and synthesis for when you want to just solo/duo when you don't have much time. For everything else I couldn't care less if it's impossible to progress solo.
# Feb 17 2011 at 2:01 PM Rating: Default
29 posts
Great game and with the updates it will make it better. Though I still have no idea why teleportation costs aren't being addressed. The rate of anima regeneration is horrible.... either invoke an option to pay gil for teleporting like in FFXI, or raise the regen rate of anima.

You said you dont like the idea of people using death warps, but really people have no choice when they have no anima.............

Edited, Feb 17th 2011 3:11pm by Novak0877

Still no Chocobo's, Airships WTF.
# Feb 17 2011 at 1:09 PM Rating: Decent
11 posts
All these updates are very good and all but still, no form of travel other then teleports or by boat. We all know that it is a key element to the game and not having those forms of transportation really slow us as players down. I enjoy the game very much and probably will become a lifer on the game. Please Yoshi P.... come up with another form of transportation and give us player's what we need.

By the way, does anybody know where i can find the new poll question? Are they out yet?

Still no Chocobo's, Airships WTF.
# Feb 17 2011 at 4:09 PM Rating: Good
53 posts
The link for the poll is embedded in the upper portion of the Letter from the Producer. Looks like they are thinking about mirroring the FFXI system with some tweeks.

Battle changes
# Feb 17 2011 at 10:46 AM Rating: Decent
It looks like they finally are answering the call on battle updates too with the new survey out. I really think before they start to tack on any new content as far as instances and NM's they really need to balance out the classes and make each class more unique.

I have quite a few skills that says "Deals (insert blunt/slahing/peircing) damage" and nothing else. It doesn't do anything but take up space on my action bar. Also, if anyone is playing a Gladiator, enmity/hate is hard to get and keep. They have a combonation of the energy system with cooldowns and it makes the battle start fast then slow WAY down. Not to mention that if you need to generate any sort of hate you have to suffer and watch your party get pounded until you get enough energy to use provoke. I would understand if it was on Cooldown but to be punished for doing everything I can to grab and keep hate makes me frustrated.

As for grouping, they need to make objectives that reward being in a group. The couple thousand gil you get for helping out players doesn't make someone who is sitting in camp have any motivation. And since that reward is common knowledge, most people won't even bother trying to make a party.
Progress... the opposite of Congress.

Bring it on
# Feb 17 2011 at 8:35 AM Rating: Default
3 posts
the problem is when you are a casual player, you don't wanna wait for several hours finding a group just to do one quest while you have only 2 hours to play.

Bring it on
# Feb 17 2011 at 8:01 AM Rating: Good
19 posts
Looking forward to all the updates...

"...but I personally am of the opinion that everyone playing together is what makes the game fun. And so that is the direction in which I would like to take the game, and take it as quickly as possible.

Why did anyone ever think of making a Final Fantasy game a solo MMO game alludes me. All I can say to this is Duh!

Solo and Group
# Feb 17 2011 at 8:41 AM Rating: Decent
141 posts
I like the option of both solo and group. Sometimes when I get on, I like to just play solo for a while, do some things on my own. And at times I do like to group up and party some.

I mean right now it's kinda dull seeing as how you have to mash buttons 1-8 or whatever and can't really type, except in camps. But once that is fixed should make it alot more fun.

But I think the option to both worlds should remain open, Yes they should get less SP an hour than a group, but they shouldn't be hampered so much they just give up and quit. There is nothing wrong with people wanting to get on and solo for a while, and there is nothing wrong with people wanting to get on and group up and take bigger things on. But to close the door to the solo option, that is rather stupid in my opinion. As there are alot more soloers in the MMO world than groupers.

I love and am still loving FFXI. They just made it easier to solo with the experience points boost, and taking the once a Van'diel day FoV cap off. But I still enjoying grouping up and having a good time with party members.

So lets hope that FFXIV will follow in FFXI steps in that aspect.

But other than that, I do think that FFXIV is heading in the right direction, now if they would just add a pet class I would be ecstatic.
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