Saturday, August 08, 2009

FFXIV News: Another update!

SE have never been afraid of keeping their fans on tenderhooks, infact it is their default modus operandi in just about anything they do. Regardless of what game or release they are tendering at that particular time they drip feed the player base to generate interest and speculation.

AND! It works!!!. As much as people grumble and groan and complain about how much SE never says anything, doesn't give enough information, doesn't do this that and the third, forums are filled to overflow with people talking, communicating and wildly speculating on what is to come, what has been and what shall never be.

Its good, old-fashioned marketing. In this day and age of instant communication, SE play the rumour mill like a seasoned pro. It is so easy, to just give in to everything that people want, after all, its just a click of a button away at that point, but the suspense, mystery and build up is lost. There was a reason Lucas held off sales of Episode I, to recreate the snake of people around the cinema that we just don't see any more in this digital age.

Of course there are drawbacks to this, the actual product eventually usually ends up being an anti-climax, a complete dud and just occasionally a shining spot of gold although that is extremely rare. Which is where you are at now with FFXIV.

Comparisons are inevitable, come on SE have been making THE SAME GAME for 14 incarnations at this point, this area is going to remind you of X zone, this character is going to remind you of Y person from FF(Fill in the blank). Infact for 14 incarnations of its Final Fantasy series, SE have plagarised, stolen, looted, lifted and reused themes, plots, characters and ideas from their own series.. Isn't this why we keep coming back?

I mean come on seriously, I listen to all the complaining and whining and realise I just don't care. LoL I am interested just for its own sake, not for what parallels I can draw from elsewhere. Oh look its a field, looks like a field in Rolanberry Fields (FFXI) it also looks like the lane just coming out of my father's house in Scotland. *gasp* SE must be fiends for just reusing rl generic landscapes.. oh.. wait... when you actually break it down it starts to sound a little ridiculous and mostly generated by fear of the impact it will have on a game that most of us have played for a good 5+ years now.

After all, we have good reason to wonder what SE are doing with their time, with these half-hearted updates and scenarios to try and maintain the player base, but that is rather like Ringthree trying to cure an entire alliance while "someone is WRONG on the internet", the alliance doesn't end up looking too healthy at the end of it due to the division of attention.

Better speculation would be to wonder why SE are not keeping the two games seperate, the whole thing smacks of the same people doing both games, and not being able to focus on both, in a company that size, they must be able to have 2 teams able to look after both games independantly surely?

A closer look at the released artwork and content of the game definately sheds a little light on this, SE have taken the lessons learned from FFXI and expanded, updated and polished off to a gleaming shine the results. If anything, FFXIV makes XI look like a beta test. Just a VERY LONG beta test. People are getting upset at how similar to FFXI this new MMO from SE looks, they feel abandoned because FFXI is being left to limp along with the content it has, and the groupies are thirsting for blood (which is a little creepy) but I get something different from it. I definately get a huge sense of love from SE for what they created. So much so they don't just want to toss it to one side and forget about it, and start from scratch.

Instead, they've taken something they have invested a colossal amount of time in, and lets be honest here, they have spent MORE time on this game than we have, and made it look better and more accessible (they are a business after all). It is so selective how people view improvements. I don't see people complaining over mobile phone technology and the speed at which it is developing rendering your "new phone" obsolete in a matter of months. Which is 500x more expensive for the consumer than what we are doing here. I am sure "SE" is just as passionate about Final Fantasy as we are.

Since SE has updated their site for FFXIV with a lot more detail and content, you can take a closer look at what, at least for now is the surface patina of the game. There is the introduction to the world of Eorzea, with the usual planet-wide crisis that threatens civilization, nothing like SE aping RL at all is it hmmm. Then the exposition of how the denizens of the world cope with the threat, and where we as the playerbase fit into this grand scheme of things.

Fair enough, a well crafted mmo needs a solid, well-thought out storyline to carry it or it will fizzle out and shrivel up like SO many other MMO's before it. And the one thing I will not begrudge SE on is craftmanship, their attention to detail and their desires to really push the boundaries on what is possible graphically and technically is always apparent in each incarnation of their new releases.

There are lots of nice new clickables on the website that expand on the cities, on the races, and highlight a little bit on what to expect from the job classes and the system. There are several things on reading that which did pique my interest.

The job system for FFXIV seems very much to be a cross between the access to all jobs and complete change that came from FFIV combined with the class specific progression of FFIX. It definately promises to offer a lot of flexibility for the people roaming around the world and doing whatever it is that real people do in a sandbox game. I also speculate that chocobos will not be so much as ridden as become your "nomad moogle" for all your articles, weapons and pieces of gear, quest items, drops and other random bits that you want to carry around with you. A mobile packmule to further enhance this idea of a greater accessibility and flexibility in what you can and can't do within the scope of the game.

The other thing that caught my interest was a bit in the characters segment that hints at a way to customise your character beyond the slightly generic creations that exist in FFXI. If they DO make this available, that means that basic models might look the same, but everyone will be unique. Which is a fantastic idea, everyone wants to look different in an mmo, but definately in FFXI there is limited scope for that as everyone wears the "best" for their job and ends up looking identical. Line up Clubber, Izman and Ninjafox on WAR in Versus and you would be hard pressed to really see that much of a difference. While SE gave us a vast selection of gear options, really it became a much narrower field to excel, only mages seem to be able to get away with a greater flexibility in what they wear.

Its odd really, people become so comfortable with the familiar they essentially assasinate the strange or new if they feel it encroaches and no matter how you twist in the wind FFXIV IS going to encroach on FFXI. I remember when I first started playing FFXI, I logged in and the vistas were stunning, the animations were crisp and smooth and it was exciting. FFXIV holds the promise of all that over again in even prettier depictions, smoothness and boldness.

SE are definately getting a lot of flak from the community over this game, but I can't help but realise there is a tingle of excitement over how crisp and slick this game is looking already. Go play on the website, go oooo at the pretty scenery, ponder the implications of the Guildleves and the armoury system (WHICH SE has spelt correctly for once and not Americanized /cheer of approval) but most of all, go look at it with an open mind and not one filled with hostility over the new kid on the block. You never know, it might not be all bad. ^.^

1 comment:

Tuufless said...

I also approve of the ARMOURY!