Live Letter from the Producer 6

Just wanted to throw this up on the blog as I think it is jam packed with information and news about FFXIV.  Even though there is still much work to be done before the game is finished for launch, a lot of these elements talked about in the video should be available in phase 3 of beta when the NDA is lifted.

I was very happy to see the tour of Limsa Lominsa in the video, and was glad to see that the town remains mostly in tact from what I remember from 1.0.  I was scared they would change the layout and flow of the town to something strange.  From the video it felt like I could just take over the controls and know exactly where to go based off of memory, and kept finding myself trying to move the video around myself and then realizing it was just a recording 😛

The housing system looks amazing, and I’m wondering how large the area will end up being with the amount of players on a server all eventually going to be wanting housing.  They’ve said before in interviews that personal housing won’t be available at launch, but will be implemented later, so I am wondering if what we see here is the free company housing which will be public for other players to explore and perhaps personal housing will be instanced like when we go to the inn?  Not sure, but either way it looks great and the view of the surrounding landscape is amazing.

In the video I also see they hide the UI and mention it is going through an overhaul for the next phase of testing.  I can’t help but be excited about this news.  If you watch the alpha test videos or the last Live Letter from the Producer, you’ll see in the game play examples what the UI is currently looking like.  While it does look amazing, I can’t help but think there is still more that can be done to sleek it up and give more customization, so I am looking forward to that new look.Image

I won’t go into too much depth on what was in the letter, because it is already there for you to see with the new subtitles.  There is some mention of the fishing system and how weather patters would affect what types of results will be given.  There was mention of FATE features and how other events in the game, such as finding relic weapons and the hamlet defense will be using the FATE system.  There was mention of new dungeons and how chocobos will fight alongside players, the armory system, materia, PVP, and how character data will be transferred from 1.0.  I suggest watching the video, and then commenting below if you’d like any more thought from me on the video.  It is worth the time it takes to watch.

ImageI really appreciate how much SE is staying true to the design and mechanics and feel of the original FFXIV while at the same time adding many more features that fans of the series are looking for.  They did a re-haul of the game, but not in a way that would upset the fans and former players.  Everything I’ve seen on the remake of FFXIV has been based off of keeping all the good and wonderful things of FFXIV 1.0, but then adding additional features on top of it that make sense and work well.  I know there will be a lot of changes made, but there are also a lot of things staying the same that didn’t need to be changed.  No other game in history has done this.  My biggest fear is that the game will be “too much” if that is possible.  I think i’m going to spend WAY too much time on FFXIV once it is released.  I hope that is a good thing.

Beta Phase 2 Blues

Beta phase 2 is going on in FFXIV ARR right now as I write this, but I am not participating.  I am not the only one either, many people fro phase 1 are not logging in as much on phase 2, which frees up room for more new testers to come on board.  It is essentially the same content from phase 1, but now with game pad support.  I do not have a game pad, so to me it is exactly the same.  (Well, a few changes but nothing substantial).  Since there are many mechanics and areas that will not be implemented until phase 3, and all our progress in phase 2 will be wiped, I think I will wait on diving back in and doing more testing.

Now, to be honest, I didn’t reach the level cap in beta, and I haven’t done absolutely everything on every job or go into every dungeon, but I did get to a point where I don’t want to go any further on my characters.  I know some players were very hardcore when it came to beta, and they wanted to get to the end as fast as they can and get to the max gear and take down the biggest baddest bosses they can find.  I am not one of these people.  I usually play until things get too tedious for the day or lose my attention, then I move on to other things.  I know eventually if I keep working at something it’ll add up over time and I’ll look back on my progress and be proud.

In version 1.0, for example, I knew quite a few people who were trying to get to level 50 on all of their classes and earn those achievements.  I was not one of these people.  I liked the idea of having everything at 50 and earning that fancy crown item. I’m sure eventually I would have gotten there, but I wasn’t able to focus on it enough.  I had my two magic classes to 50 and PLD of course for variety, but that was it.  No high-rank crafting or gathering classes.  I’d spend an hour mining and then get very bored with mining and switch over to my Jeweler class, and then get tired of Jeweling and switch to Culinary, and then get bored after making some recipes and try out Fishing – and then I’d think how cool I would look as a Marauder lalafel so I’d swap out all my gear to try that for a few levels.  I ended up having a whole hodgepodge of classes at different levels and always no money.  Oh how I wish I had money.

One thing I never skimped on were the events in-game and the special items as they were released through patches.  The summer festival, the new years, the holiday events, the egg hunting – I would always log in and collect those items.  I still have my lunar summer top and bottom from the first summer event and my Santa suit from the first Christmas.  I have my gobbule mount and my chocobo and my chocobo armor and my grand company gear.  I have the full job sets of WHM, BLM, PLD – all of which are awesome.  I’ve explored many areas and seen many strange and wonderful sights.

ImagePerhaps that is why I don’t want to log into phase 2 beta.  So many memories and collectables and achievements and friends were left back on my old server on my old character.  Everyone in beta is a stranger, using a fake name, and all items are limited and areas to explore are limited.  I can only live as a shadow of my former self with strangers for so long before I miss that feeling of being home – being myself again with the people I remember, the places I am familiar with, and the things I had.  I miss Limsa Lominsa, and I miss Ul’dah.  I never spent much time in Gridania in 1.0, and while it is a nice and interesting place to see in beta, it isn’t where I belong.

More on Guild Wars 2

FFXIV has entered Beta Phase 2, which is the game pad phase.  While I can’t go into any detail on what I’ve experienced, I am glad to see they’re trucking along to the release date, whenever that will be.  Looking at the beta test schedule we might see a date of sometime in June or July for release.  It sounded like a nightmare to think of that happening back in November when I was expecting a December/January release, but now that we’re into April, a couple months doesn’t seem so bad.  I’ve been keeping up on all the latest news on the Lodestone and I can’t wait to see what happens in phase 3.

So in the meantime between the beta test schedules I’ve been working on Guild Wars 2 some more.  I made it to level 18 on a few characters.  It isn’t too far into the game yet, but since it is not subscription based and there is a lot to explore I don’t mind taking my time a bit on it.  I’m really impressed with the detail put into character variation in GW2.  Not only can each class use several different weapon sets, but a weapon set on one character’s class will be completely different on another character.  For example, both a warrior and an Engineer can use a rifle as their main weapon, but the weapon skills they gain while wielding a rifle is different.  I find this very enjoyable how no two classes are alike, even with the same weapons.

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Having played some more with the different characters, I also appreciated how in GW2 multiple characters on the account are still tied together in certain ways.  When you’ve selected a server to play on, that account can have up to five different characters on the server.  However, because they are tied to the same account the game doesn’t treat you as a stranger to the server when switching characters.  If you’re in a guild on character 1, when you log out and log into character 2, you still retain that guild membership on the new character – which I think is awesome.

Another perk for multiple characters is that the bank and collected items stored on the account are shared throughout all characters.  If you’re playing your level 25 thief and find some unusable cloth armor for level 10 – you can put that in your bank, log out, and log in as your alternate level 10 mage and wear that armor.  This is a huge benefit for people who like variety in their character creation and like to try different play styles.  In a way this kind of account/character system feels similar to how in FFXIV you could have multiple classes on the same avatar.  Granted you have to log out and back in on GW2 to switch classes but you don’t lose everything and it provides an incentive to explore other character options.

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Now, there are some things that don’t transfer between characters on an account that I wish would have been included.  Crafting levels don’t transfer.  Each character is allowed two crafting classes at any given time and each character’s crafting experience is unique.  If I am a rank 134 with my cooking craft on one character, and take up cooking on a second character, that rank would not be based off of the original character.  This does mean though that if you have three characters which can each have two crafting classes, you’re able to use that to your advantage.  Instead of being limited to the two classes, suddenly you can be working on four, six, or eight different crafting specialties.  Depending on how much time you have to sink into GW2, this can be great for making money, helping out guild members, and getting some great gear.

Map exploration also doesn’t carry over between characters on an account, which I did not like.  It was amazing to unlock all the points of interest and vistas and skill locations on a map to get 100% completion, but having to do it a second and a third time became very dull and uninspiring.  It was nice to re-visit all the lower level locations again and know what I actually had to do the second time through, but still upsetting.

The final thing I wanted to point out about GW2 that I’ve been noticing is that it is much more empty compared to other MMORPG’s i’ve played.  I haven’t been all over the map yet, but I’ve been to some very common locations where people should have been and found not a lot of people there.  I’ve been down many roads and participated in many real-time events.  It isn’t nearly as crowded on the server as WoW or Tera (or FFXIV was at times).  I don’t know if this is by design or if there is a population issue going on as the game becomes more saturated into the market.  It feels more realistic to not run into so many people, but it also feels a bit lonely.  My guild is fun when there are people online on evenings and weekends, but if I try any off hours, I often find nobody online to talk to.

ImageIt will take more time to get into the feel of GW2.  I am much more comfortable than when I started out, but there is still so much I’ve yet to learn and explore.  For the month of April they have an ongoing event called the “Super Adventure Box” which looks like all sorts of fun and shows the developers and community are both alive and well.  The graphics in GW2 are still very well done and the world still feels fresh and inspiring wherever I go.  I think, even though I am a fan of FFXIV always and forever, if for some reason I didn’t like the Final Fantasy series, GW2 would be my favorite game to hang out online and live out my dream of adventures.