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Role Playing (Games) Games

Square Enix Attempting Final Fantasy XIV Damage Control 215

basscomm writes "Just the other day, it was discussed here on Slashdot that Final Fantasy XIV was released into the world as a buggy, incomplete mess. Now, it's been announced that due to 'generous amounts of player feedback' that lots of changes are coming (honest!). And, as a result, anyone who registers their game before October 25th will have their 30-day trial upgraded to a 60-day trial. But will it be enough to keep the game from hemorrhaging players once the free trials end?"
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Square Enix Attempting Final Fantasy XIV Damage Control

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  • by Lord Byron II ( 671689 ) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @10:37AM (#33917452)

    From the reviews I read it sounds like the entire concept was borked. The game itself is buggy, the installation is a mess, the game play is boring and tedious. One review I saw showed a five minute gameplay clip where the character was being relentlessly attacked by butterflies.

  • by Wain13001 ( 1119071 ) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @10:44AM (#33917492)

    As a long time player of FFXI, as well as several other MMORPGs, my feelings were that a lot of the highly negative reviews were really harping on subjects that for the most part were irrelevant. That being said there is a LOT of work necessary to get this game going. I was about to cancel my subscription and wait 6 months and see where they were at.

    AH, Interface issues, Repeating terrain graphics are all things that actually didn't matter much to me. I don't mind having to learn a new way of doing things for a new game. What got me frustrated quickly was that the world seemed to have no content.

    One of the things I like about FF games is that when you're in a large city it tends to be well-developed, with lots of weird little quests among various townsfolk, and lots of hints about up and coming content that you won't see for hours, levels, or even at all depending on how you play. None of that is present in the game currently. Every step of the one major town quest (which is a chainquest) feels like a tutorial exercise (which it is of course)...not like environment deepening material.

    The world is simply not alive enough. If you run around outside there are few monsters...no killer bunnies...95% of the mobs are instantly generated for a specific person's grind-quest and aren't attackable by anyone else.

    I love FFXI, I love slow worldly feeling MMOs and regular RPGs, but at this point the game is a series of grindy-quests that you pick and choose at with no end-goal in sight...there is one story-arc quest line that gives you very little and reoccurs in your progression extremely infrequently.

    At the moment the game feels like they got their basic systems down, but they've got nothing actually in the game that's game-like yet.

  • by whoda ( 569082 ) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @10:57AM (#33917590) Homepage

    Holy shit, they aren't even releasing the patch for over a month?
      I don't even play this and that sounds absolutely ridiculous.

  • by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @11:37AM (#33917836) Homepage

    Having played this game and read the list of "updates", they don't have a prayer. The "updates" are more like basic features and UI stuff that no serious MMO would launch without.

    - They're adding a way to "search retainers in a ward for specific items." aka: Functionality like an auction house. It's good that they're adding this. It's not good that they launched the game with a system that was so completely and fundamentally broken at the design level that it never should have been let out of alpha. Seriously, someone thought it was a good idea to make players wander around from retainer to retainer in the hope of finding item that they need, in a game where crafting is heavily dependent on player made inputs? Have these people ever played a MMO?

    - They're also adding a shortcut to reply to whisper messages directly. Which is good, since you can't right now. Again, who ever heard of a MMO where you can't reply to messages? This isn't rocket science, it's the most basic chat functionality on the planet. (While they're at it they should make message size limits something slightly larger then a twitter message.)

    - They're adding a way to let you scroll the map with the mouse. Seriously. Go read it yourself. You can't scroll the map with a mouse. In a PC game. I can't make shit this stupid up.

    These are just some of the changes. They're also hitting the broken targetting system (target, pick a spell, then... target again? For real? Who thought this up?). Hopefully they do something about the poor performance and terrible stability of the client. But it won't matter.

    You only get one chance to make an impression in the MMO market. Recovering from the perception that you've got a bad game is extremely difficult after the fact. This game has nothing going for it except that it's pretty (if you spend enough on a computer that can actually run it with acceptable performance). In basically every other area, it's inferior to that other game that has 12 million players and just happens to have an expansion launching at the same time as the patch that will add basic functionality to FF 14.

    And if you get past that, shortly after there's some Star Wars MMO coming out. Between those two games, a buggy PS3 port with the worst UI a MMO has ever seen has no chance of recovering. It'll be running at 80,000 subs (if they're lucky) in 6 months. Fortunately for them, it's really meant as a PS3 game anyway and on the PS3 the competition is much weaker.

  • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @12:06PM (#33918058) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, and that patch is basically full of bug fixes and things that should never have missed beta. Like being able to sort your inventory or reply to tells.

    Also note that "late November" is just long enough for the extended free trial to have run out.

  • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @01:26PM (#33918588) Homepage Journal

    If it's not a bug, then Square Enix is hopeless. It's that simple.

    If Square Enix doesn't think that Alt-Tab crashing the game is a critical bug that must be fixed by the next release, then, well, there's no hope for them, because they'll never get to the other glaring "this is a PC and not a console" issues.

    Plus, here's a challenge: explain how crashing on Alt-Tab prevents cheating. The simple fact of the matter is that it doesn't, and even if it did, people were able to release programs that windowed FFXI, thereby making the whole "Alt-Tab" issue moot.

    The real reason Alt-Tab crashes the game is because the PC engine is amateur hour. Handling Alt-Tab in Direct3D is annoying, because it basically means that you have to reload everything into the GPU. The easy solution is to say "screw that" and just crash. It's fairly obvious which route Square Enix went.

    If Square Enix wanted to fix the game engine, they should just throw the entire thing out and license Unreal or another game engine. Their current engine is hopeless. But it's the whole "not invented here" thing taking over, so we'll never see a capable PC game from them.

    I was hoping that their experience in FFXI would have taught them some lessons on how to make a PC game, but it's obvious that it hasn't even taught them lessons on how to run an MMO.

    I'd love to see them make a competent Final Fantasy-based MMO, but their current offerings show that they're incapable of doing so. It's kind of sad - Final Fantasy XI showed that there is potential in a Final Fantasy MMO, but it along with Final Fantasy XIV have proven that Square Enix will never be able to realize that potential.

  • by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @02:35PM (#33919076) Homepage

    Then they're fucking morons, and anybody who believes them is a moron fanboy.

    Alt+Tab is one of those core windows things. It's REQUIRED for GFW certification. Even if you want to disable it, the correct way to handle it is to pop up some kind of message about blocking it, not just crashing.

    Crashing happens when the engine can't handle what the user is doing, which is the real problem. They didn't deal with this bug, and now they're coming up with a bullshit excuse to try and cover their asses. Sadly, it's always true that there's at least one raging fanboy who will believe anything a developer says, no matter how retarded it is.

  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @07:40PM (#33920770) Journal

    Actually, the effectiveness of that is not beside the point at all. If it doesn't even actually solve a problem, it's taking away basic functionality without offering anything. Plus, you can gauge people's (or companies) competence by the solution they come up with: seeing someone come up with a pencils-up-the-nose pants-on-head retarded solution is actually a bad sign.

    First of all, it's an idiotic solution anyway. I've seen, used and in ye olde DOS days even _made_ trainers for games, and none ever needed switching to the trainer to activate. The way you do it, is you hook on certain key combinations that the user can press while in game. E.g., numeric 1 = add a million cash, numeric 2 = infinite health, etc. The game never sees a task switch at all.

    Second, if you're really determined, even that is old hat, and you run the game in a virtual machine instead. Glider did basically that to get around WoW's checks. Again it's not stuff that'll need a task switch, or the game to notice one.

    Third, and even more important, it was defeated already by making it run windowed. So it's a thoroughly incompetent solution even for the stated problem.

    Fourth, and the most important, anything important should be checked by the server, and you shouldn't trust the client for more than movement and animation. It's not possible to memory-hack WoW and give yourself more money or duplicate items, because the server doesn't trust the client with that. That Square-Enix even needed something like that, is reason to worry. If the client is trusted enough to worry about client-side cheating tools, that's a crap MMO implementation and reason to expect a deluge of duped gold or duped items or whatever down the line.

    That's the real important part. Crap implementations aren't beside the point, and aren't just academic discussions in how competently the game is implemented. A crap implementation can set the stage for bigger problems down the line. And that they even need to try to disable ALT+TAB is not a good sign.

    Fifth, MMOs are inherently social setups and in more than one way. It's not just a SP game plus an in-game chat. A lot (most?) players also use guild web sites, some have an IRC channel too, check or update sites for advice with quests and whatnot, have at the very least as Ventrilo or TeamSpeak running, many use some form of IM to keep in touch with other players or just friends, etc. Restricting access to those is seriously crippling something which is by now pretty standard MMO gameplay. Needing to basically close the game every single time you even do basic stuff like post something to the guild site or checking some guild schedule or to post a screenshot of your char or to IM a guild mate, isn't just a pain in the butt, it's crippling the experience of playing the damned game as a MMO.

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