Dev Insights on FFXIV’s Upcoming Fixes

FFXIVcore has a great translation up of an interview Square Enix did with Japanese site 4Gamer. It gives a lot of interesting insights into how aware they are of the problems and what they’re doing to fix them. The questions seem like they’re pulled straight from the community and the answers are fairly candid, so I found the interview to be especially interesting.

Here are a few of the more interesting points:

Aren’t fixes for problems that persisted through closed and open Beta tests a little too late to the game?

This is mostly due to prioritization. We had a strict timeline to work with, so unfortunately we focused on certain bugs while being unable to address others. Beyond that, some problems we have only become aware of since early release.

Timelines, timelines. This really seems to reinforce what we’ve all said from the beginning: the game wasn’t ready to launch. Square is doing better this go ’round and they seem to have pulled their heads out of the sand. I guess it happened a little too late, though, because how they thought they could get away with releasing a game so far from what it should have been is beyond me.

I’m sure the bulk of the problems are slated to be fixed in the upcoming updates, but are there any plans to instate a public test server (a la EverQuest or World of Warcraft)?

[They essentially say no, cite problems with doing the same on the PS3, before following up with…] RMT (I imagine everyone is familiar with the term) would know which new items would be most profitable to farm and could in turn control the market on those.

Really? I don’t see what the big deal is about separating out how they handle the different platforms of the game. They don’t need the same UI and they don’t both need access to the test server; if they do, they can install it on the PC since accounts aren’t platform bound. Citing RMT is a weak excuse and ignores the spammers already in-game.

I want some way to confirm beforehand what I’m throwing away when my inventory is full. Also, do you plan to provide some kind of notification via the UI when i reach that dreaded 80/80?

A: The real issue is how easy it is to reach capacity in the first place. It is also hard to keep track of when that happens, so we plan to add something to help with that. We will increase inventory size, but that still does not address the problem that the variety of drops is needlessy large. We are considering color-coding items based on region, making searching for particular items a little bit easier. Another issue is with high quality versions such as +1-3. Combined with the regular version, that’s a potential four slots taken up by one item. We are considering phasing out +1 and +2 via drop rates, leaving only the standard and +3 versions.

This is a great move. When I first started the game, I saw the 80 slot limit and figured I’d probably never hit it. When you begin to play different classes, however, it fills up remarkably fast. I don’t know that phasing out items that make loot tables “needlessly large” is the best way to go about fixing the problem, but it’s a step. I also like that they’re considering dropping the +1, +2 stuff. The game doesn’t explain that system very well and it winds up making things more convoluted than needs be. Cutting out those extra pluses should definitely help cut down on inventory clutter, too.

Everyone loves it when the monster their fighting continuously runs away and regains a large chunk of it’s health (I personally love it to death!). Is this intentional?

A: This has to do with the pathing of said monsters; they aren’t designed to follow players outside of their “comfort zone.” We will continue to work on these pathing issues, particularly deciding how or when a monster has left its particular “zone.”

Honestly, I didn’t know this was a bug. What happens is that, when you’ve killed all but the last mob on a leve, they run away and regroup with some friends to make the battle more challenging. I liked that mechanic but every now and again mobs would run, literally, from top to bottom on the map. When they got too far away their node would also stop showing on the mini-map leading you to wander aimlessly. Quirky, yes, but now that I know this it a bug and not just deliberately time-intensive, I welcome the fix.

I have to rely on third-party sites for recipe lists, since recipes themselves are so complex. Would it be possible to select an item which I’ve learned via completing a Local Leve, which would then automatically pick the ingredients from my inventory? Also, isn’t the process of starting each synthesis a bit too circuitous?

A: We have our sights set on such a feature. The mid-December update will incorporate things such as a synthesis history and recipe memo, which will list your eight most recent synthesis items. Choosing something from the list will select the ingredients automatically. We also intend to streamline the steps needed to start synthesizing. For the next update, we’re looking into allowing players to browse their entire (entire??) synthesis history.

Woot, woot. Up until now I’ve been writing my most common recipes down in the CE journal to keep from having to run in windowed mode (alt+tabbing in fullscreen closes the game). I don’t know that an entire history is necessary but it couldn’t hurt.

I get the feeling players don’t really know what to do with themselves right now. From my experience, it seems like ranks 1-20 are just a tutorial.

A: Indeed it is intended to be a tutorial of sorts. However, the trek to 20 takes longer than we would have liked, so people aren’t getting to the class quests as quickly as desired. Therefore, we’ll be speeding up the trip to rank 20. Also, we will be adding more content for various levels in order to flesh things out. We also want to tweak guildleves and faction leves and have a few things planned for that, keeping crafters and gatherers in mind, as well.

Good, more variation and faster leveling. So far, I haven’t had much problem leveling up my physical level since everything you do contributes XP towards it. Class ranking is a lot slower after level 10 and could use the boost. I’m hoping they also add in traditional quests, separate from just guild leves. Our GL has a friend within SE and claims they’re coming. How soon is yet to be seen.

I want to try something on to see how it looks before I buy it from a bazaar.

A: You will be able to have your retainer wear the things you are entrusting to them, allowing for players to get a quick glance at what they’re buying.

Eh, I’m partial to the ctrl-click method used in LotRO and WoW. With the way their menu system works, and the limited places you can summon your retainer, I doubt I’ll make much use of it.

A comment to our readers, if you would be so kind.

A: (Director Komoto) I want to let everyone out there know that we are listening. We highly value your opinions and wishes and are constantly in touch with management about how to best address them. We are working on getting fixes for those big problems out as quickly as possible.

The development team is hard at work addressing as much as possible in the late-November version update, in particular the areas that need fine-tuning. Before the end of the year, we will see the introduction of Notorious Monsters as well as addition of new market features. I hope these will give players some clear goals to aim for. We also have some things we’re working on behind-the-scenes as well much more I haven’t mentioned. I’ll let you all know more as soon as I can.

We can tell you’re listening and it’s much appreciated. I wonder how many people, once seeing how drastically different XIV is from WoW-type games, will bother coming back, though. Myself, seeing how much is on the horizon, am even a little hesitant to invest too much. These fixes, the November-December updates, in my mind, make up what the game should have been at launch. I find the game fun now. I enjoy it a lot. But I can’t help shake the feeling I’ll be paying for a beta if I stay subscribed once my free time winds up.

I’m happy to see all of this stuff and I greatly enjoyed reading through the interview. It’s nice to see them respond and come forward. The hard truth is that they didn’t do this when they most needed to and the fallout is a result. I’ll keep playing for the next week, but, after that, I’ll be watching from the sidelines until post-December.

Keep an eye on it, guys. It’s getting better. Can’t say I blame you for leaving, though. This is what happens when you force a game out the door too soon. Lesson learned, Squeenix?

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