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Final Fantasy XIV Failed Due To Overly Detailed Flowerpots 195

Posted by timothy
from the discretion-is-the-better-part-of-computation dept.
_xeno_ (155264) writes "You might not remember Final Fantasy XIV, the Square Enix MMORPG that flopped so badly that Square Enix fired the original developers. But Square Enix certainly does, and at a recent GDC panel, producer Naoki Yoshida explained his views on what caused its failure. One reason? The focus on graphical quality over game play, leading to flower pots that required the same rendering power as player characters, but without the same focus on making the game fun to play. Along with severe server instability and a world made up of maze-like maps, he also cited the game being stuck in past, trying to stick with a formula that worked with Square Enix's first MMO, Final Fantasy XI, without looking at newer MMOs to see what had worked there."
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Final Fantasy XIV Failed Due To Overly Detailed Flowerpots

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  • by the_Bionic_lemming (446569) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @09:43PM (#46555241)

    Instead of trying for massive multiplayer, Maybe they should of concentrated on the people that got the series there in the first place - the ones not playing multiplayer?

    Thoughts?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 22, 2014 @09:46PM (#46555261)

      Yeah. They should have learned from Blizzard. Warcraft and Warcraft II were single player, as all things should be. But then they ruined it. Remember what a big flop World of Warcraft turned out to be?

      • World of Warcraft can be played as a single player game if you want, pretty much. It's a single player game that gives you the option of grouping up.

      • by CastrTroy (595695) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @08:16AM (#46556825) Homepage
        World of Warcraft is to Warcraft as JavaScript is to Java. They arenrelated by name only. Warcraft 1 and 2 were real time strategies, while world of Warcraft is an RPG. Also, Warcraft 2 (don't know about 1), did have multiplayer, although it wasn't massively multiplayer. Still remember playing that game over modem with my friends.
        • More like WoW is a theme park based on the Warcraft universe.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Javascript and Java aren't even related by name. That's just a very, very unfortunate coincidence.

    • by Yosho (135835) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @09:57PM (#46555305) Homepage

      Considering that FFXI was (and still is) wildly successful and FFXIII has been a series of disappointments, I'm not sure how well that would've worked out for them.

      (also, the game you're looking for is Bravely Default)

      • XIII has been quite successful, and Lightning Returns is actually a pretty good game.

        • by Yosho (135835)

          Well, we could argue about whether it's actually any good or not -- I'll point out that critic reviews have been pretty middling, which is rather bad for an AAA game. Even if it is, the entire FFXIII is completely different from the older FF games, and so it's not a particular good way to appeal to the "people that got the series there in the first place", as the original poster put it.

          • For Lightning Returns I gave you my personal opinion, which I think is more valuable than professional American reviews.
            When it comes to reviews, it's interesting to see that all Final Fantasy games are better received in Japan and in Europe.

            FFXIII and its sequels aren't that fundamentally different from previous Final Fantasy titles. The fighting system is always a bit similar with some elements unique to the title, sequels are more mission based, and most titles take place in a world mixing magic and tech

          • by Talderas (1212466)

            I noticed that a lot of Americans who hate FF13 tend to do so for three primary reasons. The first two and foremost being the linear nature and that combat was relegated to spamming X. FF13 cast as the illusion in FF games that I had known to exist for some time. All Final Fantasies were linear. Sure they contained a forest you could get lost in but that was part of the illusion that it wasn't linear. The second was an illusion that your choices other than spamming X would matter in 99.9% of the fight. They

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Instead of trying for massive multiplayer, Maybe they should of concentrated on the people that got the series there in the first place - the ones not playing multiplayer?

      They're never going to get me to play multiplayer. So unless they want to kick out some epic single player games for the PC (I'm not buying any more consoles) they're just not going to care about me. Or, probably, you.

      • They're a japanese company. In Japan, games are for consoles, not PC.

        • by lgw (121541)

          Well, I have FF7 now for the PC. Never played a FF game, but I hear good things about 7.

          • by pspahn (1175617)

            FF7 for the PC was a direct port. It came out a little bit after the Playstation version.

            • FF7 for the PC was a direct port. It came out a little bit after the Playstation version.

              I've never playied the PC port myself, but I hear it's quite bad. Very buggy.

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                I've never playied the PC port myself, but I hear it's quite bad. Very buggy.

                It depended primarily on what kind of graphics card you had, at release time. If you had a PowerVR you had tiling errors leaving gaps in things. Some cards would render better, I didn't own them. :) These days there are fancier patches that supposedly clean the game up very nicely. I think I still have the original, but after beating it two or three times it loses some of its appeal. I don't have the patience for grinding baddies any more. Now I either want to grind with a grinding wheel, or the contents of

            • There are new ports for VII and VIII. Or at least, re-done ports. Out on steam a few months ago.
        • Only because computers are linked to porn so heavily in Japan.
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Instead of trying for massive multiplayer, Maybe they should of concentrated on the people that got the series there in the first place - the ones not playing multiplayer?

      Thoughts?

      That crew probably all left for greener pastures. Pretty unusual for the same to to hang about, particularly if they didn't share much in the rewards of getting to the pinnacle.

    • I still remember watching the announcement for FF14 via live streaming. I was in a chat with a few dozen other hardcore gamers from an awesome gaming site that has a great community [backloggery.com], and as soon as we could tell it was a proper fantasy Final Fantasy, the chat exploded in glee. People were praising Square-Enix for finally returning to its roots and finally giving them what they wanted. It was a sign of the franchise's return to excellence.

      And then the announcement closed out with the title for the game...whi

      • Damn straight. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by stoploss (2842505) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @01:20AM (#46555931)

        God, yes. I bought a PS specifically to play FFVII. In fact, that's why I ended up with a PS rather than an N64. I played many of the other FF releases on a variety of platforms, with many fond memories.

        As soon as I heard Square Enix was jumping on the goddamn MMO bandwagon with the series, FF became dead to me.

        I want something I can play at home, offline, as the fucking singular, main character around which the entire epic plot revolves. I even enjoy the oddly culturally inaccessible Japanese angst that is imbued in these storylines. I also *like* that each damn JRPG revisits the same basic tropes, albeit from different angles.

        ABOVE ALL, I DON'T WANT A FUCKING ONLINE, SOCIAL GAME WITH A GODDAMN SUBSCRIPTION MODEL! WoW already has nailed that market perfectly, for those who are interested in that kind of experience. For all practical purposes they own the market and the market seems both satisfied and fully tapped (ie. there's unlikely to be a vast untapped market for MMO subscribers so competition is effectively a zero-sum game among the various companies).

        Square Enix, do you want to be an also-ran with a mediocre MMO that everyone compares to WoW, or do you want to once again be the unrivaled master of the JRPG archetype?

        • by MugenEJ8 (1788490)

          I'd mod you up but ran out of points yesterday. I second everything you say in here. It just seems like the Square Enix merger was the beginning of the end for the Final Fantasy franchise. Like they decided that had so much incredible JRPG assets to pull from that they just couldn't fail... That mixed with the MMO revolution, and their mainstay brand completely lost its identify...

          Truly sad days :(

        • by lgw (121541)

          It's possible someone could make an MMO I'd really enjoy. But it wouldn't play anything like WoW. As you say: Blizzard nailed that, no need for another. Let alone 50 clones. While I'm not going to say "it can't be good if it's an MMO", as that is simply unimaginative, no MMO can substitute for a well-plotted single-player fantasy RPG.

          • by cbhacking (979169)

            For what it's worth, Eve Online is a popular, well-funded, and long-running MMO that plays nothing *at all* like WoW. It also plays nothing like FF, of course. In fact, I can't think of any game it really does play like... it's a space game, but it's nothing like Elite or Descent or Homeworld or SoaSE or... yeah. It's its own thing. But it's fun!

            Subscription required, but if you make enough in-game money you can effectively pay that to other people to get them to buy your subscription for you. There are tri

            • by Rich0 (548339)

              Yup - that's basically the point though. If you want to carve out a niche, you need to actually make it a niche. Doing what everybody else is trying to do isn't finding a niche.

              Final Fantasy jumped the sharks ages ago for me.

            • by lgw (121541)

              The problem with Eve is it has the meanest community around. Even by MMO forum standards, Eve is bad. Cool movies of the big battles tho.

              PvP can be fun, if the people you play with are nice, but it's not really a substitute for content. What ever happen to first-person games with content, anyhow?

        • I think you're mixing up the symptom with the disease. The company changed before the online one was put out. It came out in 2002 a year after 10 [wikipedia.org]. Look at the dates on the "key people" of square [wikipedia.org], the people who had been there for a long time when the series was in it's prime all left at the same time. I've heard it attributed to the utter and complete failure of the terrible movie. After losing so much money and having to merge with Enix, the powers that be decided the artsy types who had created the
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @05:17AM (#46556475) Journal

      Instead of trying for massive multiplayer, Maybe they should of concentrated on the people that got the series there in the first place - the ones not playing multiplayer?

      Thoughts?

      Anyone willing to endure the ISO Standard JRPG levelling mechanics ("Wander around an apparently empty landscape until a random encounter occurs, fight it out with some NPCs, repeat A Lot because even if you are now massively overpowered, you know that the actual major boss will fry you into a grease spot with just a nasty look unless you do.") is a perfect candidate for MMORPGs...

      • by stdarg (456557)

        Yeah the game-play of an MMORPG is not radically different, which is why it's in the RPG genre I guess. The big two problems with them are the players and the resurrection of characters.

        The players ruin the RPG environment because most of them are not there to RPG, they're there to chat or trade stuff. Most other players ignore you. It's just too annoying to go into town and suddenly it's like "hay ne1 got flour? I nd it 4 Barta's Recipe qst" or whatever. That kind of noise is no fun.

        The constant availabili

    • by dicobalt (1536225) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @06:58AM (#46556617)
      I agree, but only because a MMO is a fucking career, while a RPG is just a game. I have no interest in a MMO.
    • by pla (258480)
      Instead of trying for massive multiplayer, Maybe they should of concentrated on the people that got the series there in the first place - the ones not playing multiplayer?

      Personally, I agree with you 100%. I got hooked on Final Fantasy way back with the original NES version; bought every US version that came out; I even got into console emulation largely to play the half of the series never released in the US (or in English - Thank Zeus for groups like DeJap and RPGe!).

      And I simply have no interest in
    • I think the problem was multifaceted. Starting with making the combat system as generic as possible. Combat is one of the areas where real creativity can shine. Just look at the varied systems between pre-EOC Runescape(no class concept, multiple level trees for different combat styles, weapon based special attacks, and mixing gear types for the situation and on the fly) versus Guild Wars (initially top tier gear was diverse in graphics only, attacks based on weapons with some influence from skill trees) ver
  • Why would I not remember a game that was revamped and re-released less than a year ago?

    Of course I remember it, I'm still playing and there are plenty of others on my server.

    • I think the game they refer to is the one that you cannot play anymore because that what you play now is what it got turned into.

      Trust me: It was a veritable turd. If anything, it should have been in the textbook on "what to avoid in an MMO".

      • Yeah, it had a lot of problems. One I haven't heard mentioned much yet (possibly because it got patched away within a few months after release) was the wonky experience system. You literally couldn't figure out how to level your character.

        • by _xeno_ (155264)

          One I haven't heard mentioned much yet (possibly because it got patched away within a few months after release) was the wonky experience system. You literally couldn't figure out how to level your character.

          Well, it wasn't so much that you couldn't figure it out, is that it was entirely random.

          OK, first off, I have to explain that you have two levels: your character level and your class level. Your character level would slowly go up by getting regular old XP. Your class level involved getting "SP" and SP was randomly rewarded by doing actions related to the class.

          And I mean that literally. Using a class's action had a random chance of gaining SP, depending on the level of the target the action was being used o

          • As far as I know, they never got rid of the "character" level, whose sole purpose was granting "bonus" attribute points.

            Nope, "physical levels" were abolished in patch 1.19, which went live on Sept. 29. 2011. That was a big patch; it included true induction into a Grand Company (before 1.19, you could only be a recruit), Ifrit became the first Primal fight released, the first beastman strongholds, Kobolds and Amal'jaa, were opened, airship service was started, chocobos were introduced, XP chaining was intr

            • My apologies, but I didn't stay THAT long. Sorry, but there is a limit even to my ability to endure suffering.

  • by blackicye (760472) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @10:18PM (#46555411)

    It failed for many more serious reasons than engine performance.

    There were no quests in version 1.0, it was pure grind. Most of the players were so bored out of their minds they took to crafting.

    • Crafting is supposed to be a fun mechanic.
      The problem is that modern games are too much loot-based, rendering crafting and player creativity useless.

      • by Rich0 (548339) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @10:43AM (#46557371) Homepage

        Crafting is supposed to be a fun mechanic.
        The problem is that modern games are too much loot-based, rendering crafting and player creativity useless.

        That, and in most games there is nothing creative about crafting. Grind materials, put into formula, get predicted output, sell on market. It is just another form of grinding.

        Now, something like Second Life (disclaimer - I've never played it) where you can actually model your own objects and write code that governs their behavior - that is creative. The problem is that it is hard to do something like that for a casual gamer. Something like Minecraft is going in that direction, and of course it is popular as a result.

        • by Talderas (1212466)

          FF14:ARR has one of the funnest gathering and crafting systems I've ever seen.

          Let's start out with some basic things. Items from monsters are automatically looted to you. You don't need to click on a corpse and click take all or any such nonsense. It may still be grindy to gather materials from monsters but at least they remove some of the tedium.

          The other methods of gathering (mining, botony, fishing) are also far more entertaining than the standard WoW model. In WoW, you run up to a node. If your skill is

  • So how did this game compare with Final Hallway 13?

    • by _xeno_ (155264)

      Imagine instead of being a long series of hallways that you were linearly lead down, you were instead dumped into a large maze of nearly identical hallways and given absolutely no direction...

    • by tepples (727027)

      So how did this game compare with Final Hallway 13?

      I know it's a joke about the perceived linearity of FFXIII, but why does that sound like it'd be the title of an entry in a too-long-running horror flick series? Perhaps I have too much Final Destination and The Shining on the brain.

      • by Talderas (1212466)

        It's a joke because everyone that utters it is pissed off that the illusion of non-linearity was dispelled with FF13.

    • by GTRacer (234395)
      I said it when it came out and I'll repeat it now. After (during) years with Final Fantasy XI and its, "Take your next step in saving the world. We'll be somewhere waiting. And we aren't going to do more than give vague hints about what to do, where to go or whom to speak with. Good luck!" quest system, I *adored* XIII's linearity. I could enjoy the story at a reasonable pace without constant hops onto a wiki for guidance. I may also be in the minority in saying I didn't hate Vanille. That honor went to Ho
  • That, and the fact that it's an MMO in a series that has traditionally been a single player character-driven story-based adventure.
    • Final Fantasy has never been about the story. It's about good fighting systems.

      • That's a good description of XII, actually.

        XII's battle system was essentially just XI's MMO system turned single-player, but as a person who had never played an MMO, I found it very fresh and interesting.

        • by GTRacer (234395)
          *THANK YOU* This is what I thought was so neat about XII - it looked and played like an MMO but wasn't. Also, I really got a kick out of the Gambit system and the Job Board. A system I wish they'd have kept as an option for later entries.

          Semi-serious thought - would the desire for botting in XIV drop if a proper Gambit system was added to aid in grinding or crafting?
  • The test was not a success, but that does not mean it was a failure. It just means we now know the next version of the Matrix have that feature set. It's hard to get you humans to perform calculations for the sake of calculating. You think homeomorphic encryption is hard? Just try running programs atop a logic lattice that require teenagers to do their homework! Hell, you even propagate errors ON PURPOSE just to be lazy. That's why there has to be so much redundancy!

  • So why did EVE fail? The same thing - labrynthine GUI, endless grind just to get through the tutorial, massive download size, perpetual patch treadmill.

  • My comments on this (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Megane (129182) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @11:18PM (#46555629) Homepage

    Along with severe server instability and a world made up of maze-like maps,

    That's one little problem I have with the later maps in FFXI. While the original areas had nice big areas, most of the later expansion areas were what I call "outdoor dungeons". Pits connected by trench hallways, with the areas in between being up on 10 foot high cliffs. There are even some areas you wouldn't realize are outside except when you look up and see a tree canopy.

    Another problem XIV had was the degree to which sections of a map were copied and pasted. Sure, in FFXI you can see stuff like similar looking forks in the road, but in XIV, entire small hills were practically rubber-stamped all over a zone, without so much as even rotating them.

    he also cited the game being stuck in past, trying to stick with a formula that worked with Square Enix's first MMO, Final Fantasy XI, without looking at newer MMOs to see what had worked there."

    My own analogy of what happened is that they effectively had a list of "stuff that didn't work in FFXI and we need to fix when we don't have PS2 Limitations", and "stuff that works great in FFXI and we should keep". They used the first list, and threw out the second.

    Another problem I think XIV had was that someone had A Great Idea, which is always trouble. "Hey, guys! What if we made your class depend on the weapon you were using?" Which sounds like it could possibly be a pretty good idea. Except they apparently never bothered to actually play test it to make sure it worked well enough, or even tune it. Instead, all the preview demos were all about the uber graphics resolution. Of course, this being in Japan, anyone who might have pointed out that it wasn't such a great idea would have instinctively held back so as not to embarrass his superiors.

    Other radical ideas were thrown in, apparently from just trying to do something different without trying it, such as "People weren't 100% happy with the auction house in XI, so let's not have an auction house! We'll make people's characters stand around and bazaar their stuff even when they're not online!" Except that the number one problem with that is NO INDEXING. If you want, say, a cotton thread, you have to check every character's stuff individually, with no way to compare prices or even know who has what you want. Or at least that's what I understood the problem was from reading a bunch of forum posts from people in beta, because no way was I going to start another grindy MMO from the start, so I stayed with XI. (If I do go try other MMOs, I've sworn that it will be for exploration and seeing cool landscapes and maybe cool plot lines, not for grinding gear to help me grind more gear.)

    • Individual shops favor social interaction.

    • Oh my god - EverQuest had the bazaar model figured out like 12 years ago! Central list where you look up who has what and at what prices then worst case you have to hunt around a little to find the exact trader. I heard that they started allowing offline traders over there a year or two back (finally). To see such a regression is..troubling. I mean surely some people on staff played a few other MMO's out there to see what worked well and what didn't?
    • by Talderas (1212466)

      I don't see anything inherently wrong with having a class based on a weapon. The potential problems come in with FF's job system. So a job is based off a class but since classes all have various types of weapons associated with them, that means the job has two hurdles. The first is that the base class has to make sense. It has to use a weapon available to the base class. The second problem is that the base class need to have abilities useful to the job. This is one of the things I perceive as a weakness wit

  • I find the prettier the graphics get, the less I seem to like their characters. If I hate the characters, I'm not going to get into the game enough to finish it. And I'm not going to drop $60 sight-unseen from a studio whose characters I typically hate. I've gotten to the point where I pretty much just ignore new game announcements from them, and that consider that to be an indicator of pretty bad health for the studio. They very much need to put some effort into making sure their games are actually fun and
  • I remember how it took me nearly two weeks to get to level 12 in FFXI.

    Why would I ever want to subject myself to the same kind of leveling game mechanic a second time?
  • The focus on graphical quality over game play,

    You'd think that they would know this by now. Dong Nguyen has over 170,000 followers on Twitter for a good reason and it's not the graphical quality of Flappy Bird and neither is it game play. It's the fun factor.

  • the game being stuck in past ... without looking at newer MMOs to see what had worked there.

    Creativity isn't about following the latest and greatest trends, or throwing your resources at a project. Yet with large Japanese bureaucracies, approval requires precedence, and innovation turns into copying. This is a general trend with any large bureaucracy, but it is especially severe in Japan, where they make it a formality. Proof that it is a formality is in this speech. Even given failure, they attribute the cause to not copying the latest trends well enough. That is why game companies should never m

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