Could the Grand Companies of Eorzea turn the tides of Final Fantasy XIV?
Recently, some forum posters requested they be able to write their own op/ed pieces and express their excitement for Final Fantasy XIV on the ZAM news page for everyone to enjoy. Already, we have received a completed article from Sephrick, who was inspired by the great detail and subtleties Square Enix has already put into the land of Eorzea.
Read on below and let us know what you think in the ZAM Forums!
If you want to write in and help make Disciples of the Pen a regular feature, just send a PM or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas and submissions!
On the Precipice of Change
The Grand Companies have returned to Eorzea -- sort of.
The recently-added “company-related” content in patch 1.17, released April 15, has set the stage for an epic confrontation. But will the rank and file of these historic groups be enough to save the land, and Final Fantasy XIV? One thing is certain: the time is upon both the occupants of Eorzea and Square-Enix to rise against adversity.
However, nobody knows how much this feature has changed since it was first touted in June 2010.
"We have a system called 'company,' a little bit larger than a linkshell," said Hirochimi Tanaka, then executive producer of the game, in a June 2010 interview with Massively.com at the Electronics Entertainment Expo. "At this moment we can only say that there is a gameplay element to grow a company, but we'll be announcing full details of the company shortly, so stay tuned."
Only vague information has been released about the feature since then, but a panel at E3 added to Tanaka's interview stating that Companies would be similar to guilds in other games and would feature player-owned real estate and ships.
The feature dropped off the radar in light of a rushed – and critically dismal – retail release.
It wasn't until a schedule of changes was released in November 2010 detailing adjustments and additions set to take place throughout the remainder of the year as well as for the first version update of 2011 that the feature was mentioned again. The feature was again listed as being player-run guilds featuring player-owned assets.
Despite a personnel change that saw Tanaka step down and Naoki Yoshida assume the role of producer/director, the message stayed the same.
“In some aspect, the Company system will have aspects that are similar to and can link with that Linkshell community. But it's also going to be something larger. It's going to be more of a global type of community on a larger scale. I can't really say much more than that. I can tell you that toward the end of March there will be revealing stuff coming up on the Lodestone,” Yoshida said in a March 2011 interview with ZAM.com.
After nearly a year in the making, the company feature is about to be implemented.
Is it too late? Should companies have been unleashed sooner, even if the concept still needed tweaking?
“The thing is, we realized that we could bring out player Companies, but then if there's nothing for the Companies to do there wouldn't be any reason to bring it out,” Yoshida said in the ZAM.com interview. “We decided to reverse that and first make sure that there's going to be content and stuff for the Companies to do before releasing the Companies. The whole coming danger that's approaching Eorzea is going to play a big part in something for the Companies to do.”
Just as adventurers must stand against an evil empire and the unknown dangers on the horizon, SE must fight from its heels against an unforgiving industry. But the question remains, after months of hinting at the Companies feature, is it a weapon strong enough to lead in the fight to rebuild a near-forgotten game?
The parallel between Square-Enix's continued development of XIV and the hinted in-game storyline was best summed up in a poem Yoshida posted on Lodestone, the official XIV Web site; “Ne'er till land consumes sun can sea bear moons, Heavens spew crimson flame, hells seep black dooms, Stray seeds quicken in ash's grey embrace, Valiant blades forged under the Twelve's good grace.”
Final Fantasy XIV's time is running short. But if the Companies feature and other forthcoming changes finally turn the tides for the game, E3 2011 could prove to be a brighter mark in the young game's history than a year prior.