Final Fantasy XI
was my first MMORPG, and as such it's shaped a lot of my attitudes toward the genre as a whole. The problem was that inasmuch as one could be a typical player of the game, I was not. The details aren't relevant; what is
relevant is that I would frequently look at patch notes, sort of squint a bit, and assume that any number of the features were aimed at the audience that I was not a part of. After all, there was no way the developers would add in a feature if literally no one in the game's community wanted it, right?
Time has made it clear that this was most definitely not the case. Maybe it's due to the difference between American and Japanese audiences, maybe it's something lost in the translation, or maybe it's just Square
's periodic bursts of insanity manifesting itself, but Final Fantasy XIV
carries on in the proud decision of listening to players and taking entirely the wrong message away. I'm incredibly impressed by the vast majority of Naoki Yoshida
's work, but there are a lot of features that have been added or are being added that seem to have completely missed the point of player requests.
The Armoire feature has brought this out in my mind quite sharply. OkK, the devs want to have a way for you to store some items that you might not have the space for otherwise. I appreciate that; I've got five full swimsuits kicking around without any real use, for instance, and a full set of pumpkin heads from last October. You know, the assorted items that usually get pegged as "roleplaying" items despite the fact that it's hard to provide situations during which one could actually roleplay with them. Most of my endgame stuff I actually want out and accessible, but the option to store these things is beyond welcome.
But then there's the list of restrictions on the service, starting with the fact that in order for you to store these items, they have to be repaired up to 100% durability.
If you've never once used these items, of course, this isn't a problem. But the odds of an unused Onion Helm are virtually nil at this point. The full durability requirement turns what should be a nice bit of added convenience into another chore to free up a slot in my inventory, a clear marker of making something far more complicated and obnoxious than it actually needs to be. Was it so difficult to add on another set of storage slots? Just a normal bank system instead of a very narrow set of allowable items?
Heck, give us something truly unique, like a special bag for storing just seasonal items. That would clear up one of the problems that has polluted nearly every single MMO since, oh, roughly all of eternity
. It would doubtlessly be a coding challenge, but I really can't imagine that it would be so insurmountable as to be impossible.
I ranted about this before when it came to the way that dyes were put into place. The development team managed to get this wrong once, then went back to fix it and screwed the whole thing up a second time. We went from colored items having substantial stat differences to having a more open system... in which stat bonuses created a large item glut and you were still stuck with a narrow range of colors for any given item. I like my cobalt plate armor, but I'd like it a lot more if I could actually give it a nice purple or green hue instead of just red, white, and blue.
Before anyone asks: Yes, I do find it slightly amusing that as a result you can dress up in plate armor in the same color layout as Optimus Prime. But you could do that with an open dye system as well.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't do it at all unless you can do it perfectly. It's the implication that the development team has heard the community requests and has now fixed the problem -- that's what gets me. It bothers me because while the devs might have heard the community request, the solution that's being presented makes it clear that they either don't understand the request or aren't capable of fulfilling the request at the moment. Dyes, for instance, are said to be in the state they're in due to the way the game is currently coded, which isn't really the present team's fault. But if that's the case, don't turn around and say "we heard you and now it's fixed!"
It's not fixed. It's changed, sure, but the core problem is still there. Likewise, the Armoire is a case in which the designers understand the central problem but haven't really come up with a working solution. Players need more storage space or fewer items to sift through, and the armoire is a clumsy layer added to try to address the issue. But it misses the point, either because the designers can't actually address the issue or have chosen not to.
It's a minor case amid a whole lot of great work, but it still speaks of something uncomfortably familiar. It's a gap in communication, just a small one, but one that merits a notice after years of Final Fantasy XI
development that were often equally ignorant. It's an uncomfortably dissonant note amid many wonderful responses to community wishes, and I can't help but look at that and wonder whether "can't" or "won't" is the appropriate assumption. One of them isn't so bad, but the other makes me wonder whether we're just on the verge of seeing the same problems that plagued the older game.
Feedback, as always, can be sent along to firstname.lastname@example.org
or left in the comments below.. Maybe the Armoire is perfect for a large group of players I just don't happen to be a part of, and that's fine. Next week, I'm going to talk about summons, pets, and how Final Fantasy XIV
can learn from the example of its predecessor.
From Eorzea to Vana'diel, there is a constant: the moogles. And for analysis and opinions about the online portions of the Final Fantasy series, there is also a constant: The Mog Log. Longtime series fan Eliot Lefebvre serves up a new installment of the log every Saturday, covering almost anything related to Square-Enix's vibrant online worlds.