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Final Fantasy XI

The Mog Log: Final Fantasy XI's future might just be bright

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Consoles, The Mog Log

The Mog Log header by A. Fienemann
We might not have another roadmap for Final Fantasy XI just yet, but we have the next best thing: a letter from producer Akihiko Matsui talking about what's at least being gingerly planned for the next year. More accurately, it's about delays in the existing roadmap, the state of the game, and what Matsui plans to do about it in the near future.

While the letter itself is a little old at the moment, I'm going to be honest and say that I keep re-reading it amidst a mixture of disbelief and hope. I've been getting up on the same soapbox for almost three years regarding Final Fantasy XI's biggest problems, and Matsui's dispatch by and large seems to indicate that the team in charge of the game right now is aware of exactly these issues and actively wants to correct them.

This is kind of staggering. It's the good sort of staggering, but it's the sort of thing you don't expect to see, especially not from a game with a lot invested in gleefully ignoring the rest of the world. But this could mean that despite FFXI's age, next year could be the best one for the game in a long while.

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The Mog Log: Consoles and the online Final Fantasy

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log

The Mog Log header by A. Fienemann
You could be forgiven for losing faith in the prospect of Final Fantasy XIV ever coming out for the PlayStation 3. Yes, it had been a promised platform, but it wouldn't be the first MMO to abandon console promises. Heck, the development team is still working on fulfilling some of the promises made by the original team; it could be forgiven for putting that one on the back burner.

But it's a real thing. We've seen the screenshots, and we know that two years after the game's initial launch, we will finally get to play around in Eorzea on our televisions. (The "we" in this case refers to fellow PS3 owners.) This is sort of a mixed blessing.

This isn't a column about console gaming compared to PC gaming; I really don't care which platform you prefer, and it's also not the point. This is a column about the fact that Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV are both going to be console games as well as computer games, and that introduces some interesting wrinkles.

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The Mog Log: Where in the world is Seekers of Adoulin?

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Expansions, Opinion, Consoles, The Mog Log

The Mog Log header by A. Fienemann
Square-Enix has long had a very different approach to MMOs compared to the rest of the world. In some ways, this is understandable; I know that every company operates in its own way. But where American and European companies are playing the electric guitar and Korean companies are playing keytar/acoustic duets, Square seems to be bringing out the xylophone to do a heartfelt rendition of Long Distance Runaround. (For those of you not willing to click the link, that song is not normally played with a xylophone.)

As a result, on one level I'm not surprised that we know virtually nothing about Final Fantasy XI's next expansion beyond the upcoming jobs and the fact that it's not going to be released for the PlayStation 2 here in America. I am also completely baffled that in the time since the expansion's announcement we have heard nothing about it. We first found out that the expansion existed in any form back in June, and we've learned pretty much nothing new since... and that's not a good sign.

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The Perfect Ten: Worst expansion names of all time

Anarchy Online, City of Heroes, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Final Fantasy XI, Lineage 2, Star Wars Galaxies, Ultima Online, Humor, RIFT, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

The Perfect Ten Worst expansion names of all time
When SOE announced that EverQuest's 19th expansion would be titled Rain of Fear, I instantly found myself tripping over the name. I shouldn't have -- it's a few simple words that are first round picks for spelling contests -- but it defied the traditional naming conventions for MMO expansions. Many people I talked to kept wanting to write "reign" instead because "rain" seemed like a deliberate misspelling by some intern in Smedley's empire.

Homophones aside, Rain of Fear is hardly the worst expansion title I've ever seen. The industry has had its share of bad names, from the confusing to the downright unpronounceable. Sure, we get used to these titles, and perhaps it's nit-picky to lug them out at such a late point in many of their lifespans, but petty is my middle name. My first name is Tom. And these are 10 poorly named expansions. Deal with it.

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The Mog Log: Final Fantasy and free-to-play

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Business Models, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log

The Mog Log header by A. Fienemann
Subscriptions are dying. There's no two ways about it. Star Wars: The Old Republic is switching over, and whether or not they liked the game, fans of Final Fantasy XIV have no room to throw stones about the game's success. That leaves a handful of holdouts in the normal subscription space, and that doesn't include the next major release on the horizon, as Guild Wars 2 is under the same buy-to-play model as its predecessor.

Final Fantasy XIV and Final Fantasy XI are two of the holdouts. And in a world increasingly dominated by games without subscription fees, that's pretty significant. So the question becomes whether or not the games will embrace the free-to-play option, whether or not they should, and how this sort of option could work in the game's favor rather than against it. After all, there are some roadblocks to making the system work quite right, but there's a lot of pressure on the market for a change.

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The Mog Log: Final Fantasy's bargain bin villains

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Lore, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log

The Mog Log header by A. Fienemann
The Final Fantasy series has always had some spectacularly memorable villains. Sometimes that's been a challenge; this is a series in which your main antagonists have included an evil tree, a general who dresses up like a clown, and an adult version of the creepy kid from grade school who can't breathe very well. But for some reason, this has never carried over into the online installments. And with Final Fantasy XIV's first major villain debuting in the current patch, it's worth talking about.

I don't mean to say that Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV haven't had antagonists or anyone to step into the role of "villain." They certainly have. Final Fantasy XI has an entire rogue's gallery with Eald'narche, Promathia, the Shadow Lord, and whatever we were fighting in Abyssea. (I think it was the dread monster Apathy, but I sort of clocked out for a while there.) But compare it to the villains of Star Wars: The Old Republic or the single-player installments of the franchise. Heck, compare them to the villains of World of Warcraft. The villains here just don't quite get to a memorable level, and I think there are a few good reasons.

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The Mog Log: The zone design of Final Fantasy XI

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Opinion, Consoles, The Mog Log

The Mog Log header by A. Fienemann
Gustaberg is one of the ugliest zones in Final Fantasy XI. For better or worse, it's a bunch of bland plateaus swarming with vultures, worms, and bees. It wasn't a visual treat when I first saw it, and the years have certainly not been kind. But the fact of the matter is that even after several years, I still get a little smile on my lips when I walk into that dessicated husk of a land. From the waterfall near the Wadi to the narrow pass to the Highlands, Gustaberg is painfully nostalgic.

Final Fantasy XI created a lot of magnificent regions for players to explore right from the moment it launched, and every subsequent expansion has added new areas without making them feel redundant. Considering that the game's next expansion is on the way, I thought it was apropos to look at what makes the zones so wonderful as well as what mistakes the designers might try to avoid when making the new areas in the west.

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The Mog Log: Distinct linked games

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log

The Mog Log header by A. Fienemann
By early next year, the environment will be an interesting one for both Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV. Both games will have a major update out, whether that update is a large-scale revamp or a trim new expansion. (Speculation on that last one, yes; munch on a grain of salt as we proceed.) They'll both be poised for players to enjoy, each with its own distinct flavor... possibly.

See, there's a definite problem with all of the coming updates in the online Final Fantasy space. Both games need a distinct identity, and yet they're also both overlapping in several core areas. Square-Enix clearly wants players to be able to enjoy Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV as two different experiences, but is that really possible?

I'd like to think it is. I think that both games can deliver a rich experience for players of all stripes without becoming mirrors of one another, even disregarding superficial elements like jumping. I think both games also need to come together on certain points of common ground, so players of either can enjoy certain shared features that would otherwise be taken for granted.

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The Mog Log: Unabashedly squealing about Seekers of Adoulin

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Expansions, Previews, Opinion, Consoles, The Mog Log

The Mog Log header image by A. Fienemann
It seems almost unbelievable, but it's here. It's coming. Seekers of Adoulin is the fifth expansion for Final Fantasy XI, the first one in what seems like an eternity, a genuinely new experience for players above and beyond the many recycled bits that have dominated the game for years now. It's a new region, a new set of challenges, all sorts of new. It's what players have been asking for for years on end, and as surreal as it seems, this is a reality. That it's not coming until next year almost seems like a footnote.

Needless to say, I'm excited. I think that if handled correctly, this is a great opportunity for Square-Enix to revitalize Final Fantasy XI in the wake of Final Fantasy XIV's relaunch later this year. It's a chance to give the game a new audience and let players come back to enjoy it on their own terms. Most of all, it's a chance to show how much life the older game really has, possibly to players who would never have seen it otherwise.

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MMO Blender: Eliot's self-made legend

City of Heroes, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Final Fantasy XI, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Game Mechanics, Warhammer Online, Opinion, TERA, Miscellaneous, MMO Blender

Yes, I sort of had a Greek thing on my mind with this one.
I like games that make your characters feel legendary, but sometimes I think they've gotten the whole formula wrong. The problem is that the only thing important about your character is what he or she has done, not what he or she is. World of Warcraft has a lot of quests and raids that seem to imply your character is a big deal, but how big a deal can you really be if you're learning all of your tricks at the local trainer?

What about a game where your personal history has as much to do with your future development as anything else? A game where your accomplishments aren't just backstory but an integral part of your character's abilities? A game where every new encounter is a chance for your character to learn something unique? I'd love to see a game where your accomplishments are not a list of things that you've killed but a clear litany of skills learned and scars accumulated -- a game where the path to power isn't necessarily clearly marked.

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Final Fantasy XI: Seekers of Adoulin not on PS2 outside of Japan

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Expansions, News Items, Consoles

On the plus side, you can probably get a PC that can run the game for the price of a hamburger.
If you're a Final Fantasy XI player still playing the game on the PlayStation 2, it looks like you're in for a disappointment. After the surprising announcement that the game was getting a new boxed expansion, it was noted that the official site didn't list PS2 support. According to community representative Matt "Baryohne" Hilton, that wasn't an accident: Seekers of Adoulin will not be available for PS2 players in North American and European markets.

Japanese players on the console will still be receiving the expansion, likely due to the higher percentage of console subscribers in Japan compared to other regions. Hilton was quick to point out that support would still be offered to PS2 players, but that's cold comfort to any console players left out of the upcoming expansion. There's been no word yet on whether or not the game will begin phasing out console support entirely, but if you consider the age of the PS2, it's entirely within the realm of possibility.

[Thanks to FusionX for the tip!]

Massively Speaking Episode 206: Tear harvesters

Podcasts, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EVE Online, Final Fantasy XI, MMO Industry, News Items, Massively Meta, The Secret World, Massively Speaking, RIFT, Miscellaneous, Diablo III

Massively Speaking Episode 206 Expanding our minds
It's expansion week here on Massively Speaking, as we tackle numerous additions to our favorite games (as well as a brand-new one launching this week)! Bree's back with her acerbic charm, and Justin's positively bouncing with the desire to relay all of this in a giant showtunes number. The MMO news train stops for nobody, so hop aboard and pull that whistle!

Have a comment for the podcasters? Shoot an email to podcast@massively.com. We may just read your email on the air!

Get the podcast:
[iTunes] Subscribe to Massively Speaking directly in iTunes.
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[MP3] Download the MP3 directly.
Listen here on the page:



Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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Final Fantasy XI is the most profitable in the franchise

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Business Models, Expansions, Anniversaries

Final Fantasy XI the most profitable in the franchise
Behold the power of MMOs to generate a Fort Knox of income. Square-Enix announced that out of all of the Final Fantasy games from 1987 through today, Final Fantasy XI has been the most profitable.

This comes from Square-Enix President Yoichi Wada, who was hyping the title over the weekend amid the news of its upcoming expansion. Wada also said that if you tallied the accumulated play time of all current FFXI players, you'd end up with a mind-boggling 200,000 years /played.

Final Fantasy XI recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and announced its first new expansion in six years, Seekers of Adouli.

Hiromichi Tanaka is retiring from Square-Enix

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV

For each new horizon, a departure.
If you know the history of Square-Enix, you know the name Hiromichi Tanaka. More recently, if you've had anything to do with either Final Fantasy XI or Final Fantasy XIV, the name will also strike a chord, as Tanaka was the driving force behind both games. At the end of last week's VanaFest convention in Japan, Tanaka announced that he will be stepping down from his current position as producer of Final Fantasy XI and leaving Square-Enix, citing health issues that he declined to elaborate upon.

Tanaka's role on the FFXI staff will be filled by Akihiko Matsui, who previously briefly served as the game's director before moving on to work as Final Fantasy XIV's battle designer following the game's troubled launch. This announcement comes in the wake of several major announcements regarding FFXI during VanaFest, including the promise of a new boxed expansion next year and a new UI for the game with the new expansion.

Final Fantasy XI's fifth expansion, Seekers of Adoulin, announced

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Classes, Expansions, Game Mechanics, New Titles, News Items, Consoles

I looked on the chair, I looked on the table.  Tried to find the answer to fifty million fables.  They call me the seeker...
Final Fantasy XI players have been waiting and hoping for a new expansion for more than half a decade now. All of those hopes have come true at last with the announcement of Seekers of Adoulin, a new expansion taking players to the far western shores of Vana'diel.

Seekers of Adoulin promises players new areas, new adventures, and of course new jobs. The only known new job at this time is Geomancer, which appears to be a support-style mage job with a variety of enfeebling and buffing abilities. Notably, its buffs appear to be centered on specific locations, and its enfeebling effects cannot be resisted by enemies, a trait that would make the job extremely powerful in the current environment.

A short trailer has also been released with the announcement. Curiously, the official site does not list the PlayStation 2 among the expansion's supported platforms. That shouldn't stop longtime players on every system from regarding the new trailer with excitement -- it's the cap to an announcement that's been a very long time coming indeed.

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in!]

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