Interview with Naoki Yoshida at Zam

Yep. Another interview with Naoki Yoshida, aka Yoshi-p, aka the current producer/director for Final Fantasy XIV.

You can find it here.

Apparently he has been in Square Enix’s North American HQ recently for a small meeting with the local media. So there you have the explanation for two interviews in such a small interval of time.

On this one he goes into a few more details about stuff that will be coming on patch 2.0. In particular, it cleared some doubts I had about the Free Companies. As I guessed they will be pretty much like guilds in other MMORPGs and thankfully there will be no restrictions to who can join them. Well, no restrictions besides whichever the Free Companies leaders decide to impose that is.

The other thing is about the change from the seamless world we have now to one separated by zones. This is something that I am honestly a bit apprehensive as I hate zoning. Nothing kicks me out of being immersed in a game’s world than zoning. Now there are a few cases I can live with zoning. For example, when there is an instanced dungeon. In this case the benefits outweigh any immersion breaking. Or when there is a separation between exterior and interior environments like in the Elder Scrolls games. In those games the interiors are pretty detailed so again it outweighs the bad parts. There are also cases where I will still not like it but will grow a skin thick enough to live with it if the gameplay/content is interesting enough. That was the case with Everquest 2 since  a lot of the zones felt interesting and there were some gameplay ideas I found interesting. Zoning was a small price to pay for it even if I hate it every time the freaking loading screen shows up.

Anyway, I can understand the reasons for the change. Eorzea, Final Fantasy XIV’s world, does certainly look repetitive, lacking some interesting landmarks. Zoning should help with that. Hopefully it should also make it easier for the developers to make new content. Easier to make new content means more new content being produced. Yoshi-P also said in the interview the zoning will be similar to Final Fantasy XI. I never played it so my guess is that it is similar to Everquest 2 which in that case it is something I can live with.

All in all though, I am still pretty confident about Final Fantasy XIV’s future. Like I said before the team has been very transparent with their plans for the game, what they are working on and when those changes will come. So far all that has resulted in changes for the better. I don’t see any of that changing in the near future. Plus they are still giving players two months and another patch before asking players to decide if they want to pay the subscription fee or not. To me that should be plenty of time to decide if I want to stick for the long haul or not.

Hallowen in two different worlds

The Pumpkin!

Actually it should have been in three different worlds. However there hasn’t been any news so far of a Halloween event on Fallen Earth. My guess is that they are still with their hands full with the influx of players due to the switch to free to play.

Which two worlds will be covered then? It will be Everquest 2’s Norrath where it is pretty much old hat to me now and Final Fantasy XIV’s Eorzea where not only it is the first time for me but for the game too I think.

Currently they are my main poison as far as MMORPGs go therefore that is the reason I am only making a post about them. And not covering other games which I technically still play… like… Lord of the Rings Online. >_>

Anyway, read on if you are curious to see what was new on this year’s Everquest 2 “Nights of the Dead” or about Final Fantasy XIV’s “All Saint’s Wake”.

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Plot Twists! (Plus a lot of punching)

Yesterday I was whining about the end of Final Fantasy XIV free-to-play (which was never intended to begin with, to be fair). It annoyed me because I have been in a no-MMORPG mood lately and felt forced to play to make sure I would still want to subscribed. Well, after playing the game today I am glad for it. I haven’t had this much fun with Final Fantasy XIV since the game was released when everything was still new and shiny. Before getting into the why though let me just add a side note.

Before that announcement Yoshi-P wrote a developer’s letter where he goes pretty much on what he thinks the nature of a modern MMORPG is and what are his plans for the future of Final Fantasy XIV. It is an interesting read and for those who are curious you can read it by yourself here. Now, I said this before and will say again. Even if I don’t agree with the final product, Yoshi-P will have my respect for  what he is trying to do. This letter cemented that feeling even more.

He is the type of person who knows what he wants, knows how to communicate it and apparently knows how to listen to what others are saying too. Also, big kudos for Square-Enix to be keeping up with their promise of keeping the channels of communication as open as humanly possible. For those who play american MMORPGs and speak english fluently this may not seem as a big deal. But as someone who played a korean MMORPG it is very easy to have the feeling that your suggestions and complaints aren’t being heard, even if that may not true. The team of Final Fantasy XIV is japanese and I doubt most, if not all of them, don’t speak english fluently. So there is a lot of translation work being done both ways to keep players and developers in touch with each other. Once again, big kudos to everyone keeping those communication lines open! 🙂

Alright. With that said, on with the show….

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End of free to play and a roadmap for Final Fantasy XIV

Gee… This month is really becoming a bad month for me to be in an isolationist mood. First Final Fantasy XIV had a major patch, then Fallen Earth goes Free to Play plus a few other significant patches before that. Now it is back to Final Fantasy XIV again shaking my MMORPG world.

Anyway, as announced in the Lodestone, the official Final Fantasy XIV community site, Final Fantasy XIV will end it is free to play period between late November and somewhere in December of this year. They also released the roadmap for next year, which they are calling Final Fantasy XIV 2.0. The concept artwork and planned features (player housing!) looks cool. However those things are like dreams. They are perfect as that but you only find out they are really worth it when they are transformed into reality. And reality is much more complex.

The release of the PS3 was also announced. It will be between October and December of 2012 with a second free trial being offered by then.

What all this means to me is that I will have to find a way to break out of my isolationist mood and start digging deep into Final Fantasy XIV. I want to make sure that by the time they start billing for the game I know if I want to stick around for the long haul or not.

Urgh… Some times life really can be a pain. Even with simple things like games.

My Little Chocobo

Casimir on a rented chocoboI have been in an isolationist mood recently which means not playing MMORPGs. Still last week there was a humongous patch for Final Fantasy XIV which, among other things, introduced chocobos as mounts. Because of that I decided to log in quickly last week just to check it out. I was holding on making a post until I took some screenshots and tested a few other things out. Given my mood though it seemed a better idea to write this post now before the patch becomes old(er) news.

Despite the title of this post I do not have a chocobo to call my own yet. It is just a reference to the system’s nickname back when it was announced. That and it amuses the hell out of me. Anyway, right now there are two ways of getting a chocobo mount. The first one is by renting a temporary chocobo. The second one is by joining one of the Grand Companies, earning their marks and buying it from them. My only option right now is renting so that is  what I got to test.

Rented chocobos are…. pretty slow actually. That was probably my biggest disappointment. It might just have been my impression but it really didn’t feel like it was run much faster than my own two feet. Probably just an impression from the animation since it looked like the poor chocobo was running in slow motion. Another thing that I found disappointed was the price. It seemed a little expensive for my perma-noobie pockets even more so considering that there is a 10 minutes limit or that the chocobo goes back to the stable the moment you unmount. Again, might be a question of wrong perception.

By contrast the permanent chocobos I could observe were pretty fast. They could easily make me eat dust while I was running around on the  rented chocobo. Also they don’t have a time limit and you can summon and unsummon them at will according to the patch notes. No clue how easy or hard it is to acquire one yet. As I mentioned before you need to be in one of the Grand Companies for it and my level is too low for it right now.  In both cases you can’t fight while mounted on a chocobo. Something about the animations being a complicated point if I recall correctly….

What I did like though was… well, it is a chocobo! As a mount! It even had the traditional chocobo theme music as you ride it. I will admit that is something that just someone who enjoyed a Final Fantasy game will understand. For someone who never did all I can say is to give it a try.

Another thing that this patch changed were the crafting recipes as well as some materials. I didn’t give a try yet but I plan to do it next time I get in the mood to play Final Fantasy XIV. I am looking forward to it because it looks I can finally craft appropriate gear for my own levels. Also hopefully being able to move from my current potato sack outfit to something with some actual color on it.

I also found interesting that Yoshi-P considers the patch as a halfway mark to make the game into a true Final Fantasy game. I don’t know what is Square-Enix’s definition of a Final Fantasy game is these days but there are definitely a lot of things this patch brought that makes me think of a Final Fantasy game.

Besides that there is a ton of stuff this patch brought that honestly I can’t comment on right now. I just lack the game knowledge to say how it changed things or if something new it brought is interesting. If anyone is looking for a more in-depth look at the patch (or anything Final Fantasy XI/XIV related) I will just point you to the Mog Log, a column by Eliot Lefebvre at Massively. Unlike me he actually plays the game in a constant basis and has actual knowledge about the game.

For now, my analysis of this patch is…. I am actually excited about Final Fantasy XIV! Well, not enough to break my isolationist mood. But enough to start seriously considering keeping my subscription whenever they start charging it. 🙂

EDIT: Added a screenshot of the rented chocobo.

One year of Final Fantasy XIV

Casimir looking out at the stars from Limsa Lomnisa

Time pass so fast…. It seems Final Fantasy XIV’s one year anniversary is close by. Yet it doesn’t feel like that. Of course, it doesn’t help either that I barely played the game during that time period.

Anyway, giving the event it seems like a good time to finally write a bit about my experiences with the game as well as my thoughts about it. Unfortunately there isn’t much of the first and too much of the second. So I will try to balance them as much as possible and try to aim at something coherent. Just in case though I am filling this under ramblings as well.

Alright. With all that said, on with the show!

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