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Paragus Rants

Rants, reviews, and interviews from an MMO veteran and guild leader.

Author: Paragus1

Rant: FFXIV's "Fatigue System"

Posted by Paragus1 Tuesday August 31 2010 at 1:45PM
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Rant: FFXIV's "Fatigue System"

If there's one thing I've learned over the last few years when it comes to buying games, it's that preordering a game far in advance before the release can often be a bad idea.  You never know when those little surprises about your next game will get revealed in the weeks right before launch that will totally shatter your vision of the game.  Some of the greatest hits in this category include such things along the lines of "by the way, we are cutting some classes and capital cities", "by the way, we aren't using dedicated servers", and "by the way, you might be using your real name on our forums after launch".  Now it seems fans of FFXIV just found out that Square-Enix will be using a "Fatigue System" to limit the amount of exp players can earn over a set amount of time, which has given a lot of followers cause to cancel their preorders.

[Image: ffxiv.jpg]

Let me preface this by saying that I am a former FFXI player (75 Red Mage) who enjoyed the game immensely for what it was, a pure PvE focused game with a staggering amount of content despite its grindy nature.  I'd even go as far to say that FFXI was probably one of the best pure PvE MMO's I have ever played.  The fact that FFXI continues to sustain the population numbers it has for a game that old is a testament to the game's value.  I have no axe to grind against Square-Enix or the franchise in general because I completely understand the appeal of a game like this.  In this case though, I have to take issue with this system and how it fits into their game philosophy.

The philosophy has been stated as the following...

"First off, the main concept behind FFXIV is allowing those players with little time on their hands to play effectively, and game balance is based off of that. Furthermore, it is being designed to not give those with more time on their hands to play an unfair advantage. Because of that, systems such as Guardian's Favor (a bonus to Guildleves) have been implemented to make leveling in the short-term easier than leveling in the long-term."

[Image: ffxivretainersepl703.jpg]

Last time I checked, FFXIV is a pure PvE game like it's predecessor, so the question that begs to be asked is what exactly is the advantage to be gained in a pure PvE game?  If the game had a PvP element to it, I guess maybe there could be a case to be made about getting ROFL-stomped by power grinders, but I would actually argue that the game as a whole would be better off for a wide variety of reasons if they let players progress at their own speed.

1) Having a select group of players reach higher end areas ahead of others is a good thing.  If FFXIV's crafting system is anything like the crafting system in FFXI (or any other MMO), some recipes require items from higher end areas and monsters.  Having these items available helps a crafters economy flourish because it generates demand for goods.  On the other hand, having every crafter locked into the same part of the curve crafting the same exact items will be an absolute nightmare.

2) Ever play a new MMO right out of the gate on day one and experience leveling bottlenecks?  By limiting the speed at which players can progress, leveling and bottleneck situations run the risk of becoming far more likely.  Hell anyone who has played FFXI can still find some popular / mandatory leveling spots to be jammed with players fighting over camps of mobs. Since the overworld of FFXIV is not instanced to my knowledge, keeping the initial rush of players globbed together moving at same speed could make for a horrid experience.  Imagine if FFXI had this system and the entire server was stuck in the dunes fighting over every crab, only to have the situation repeat in Qufim and so on.

3) Let's say hypothetically I buy FFXIV and I play it for 2 weeks and decide to recommend it to some friends or guildmates.  They join the game 2 weeks after me looking forward to getting a chance to play the game with me.  Since the fatigue system places artificial shackles on the speed of progression, my friends will never ever catch up to my main unless I stop playing all together or switch my class.
 

The fact of the matter is people play all play at different speeds.  If you take a cross section of any group of people you will find some who have more time to commit to the game than others.  Why do we need the maker of the game to dictate to us how much time we are allowed to commit to progressing in a PvE game whose main purpose is progression.  It strikes me as some sort of RPG socialism with the redistribution of experience points to make a level playing field.  People who are willing to commit more time should be rewarded for doing so without the developer worried about someone's feelings getting hurt because they can't play enough.  I am fairly sure that everyone at this point understands the nature of MMORPGs, especially fans of FFXI which recognize the grindy nature of the game.  I can't imagine what this system will be like at the higher levels when the amount of exp needed to level up ramps up dramatically.  If it's anything like the leveling curve in FFXI, the fatigue system is going to give new meaning to the term "hell level".

All of this begs the real question: Why? I'm not talking about the nonsense given to us by the game director because it's not believable to me.  Don't tell me your trying to make things casual friendly in a game where people will need to find a group of six to kill a dodo bird, because it doesn't pass the smell test.  These have always been time intensive games where the real hurdle to progress should be the game's innate challenge and finding a group of people to tackle them, not big brother over your shoulder taxing your experience points to stop you from getting ahead.
 
 


I can only think of two possibilities off the top of my head to justify this type of constraint on progress.  The first possibility stems from a cultural difference between how the East and West view internet addiction.  The East has had a lot of issues in their culture with people spending too much time online and limiting that time for health reasons.  We have to remember that FFXI was the same game that had a warning when you logged-in reminding you not to forget your friends and family.

The second possibility is that since FFXIV is a pure PvE game at heart, one of the most important aspects to determine if the game succeeds or fails is the amount of content in the game at launch. When FFXI was released in the US, it already came packaged with the original game and the Zilart expansion included.  Perhaps the endgame content in FFXIV may be a bit light in the loafers and they are using the fatigue system as a mechanism to slow players down in an attempt to buy themselves some time to flesh out the high end content.

So where do you stand on this?  Maybe I am way off base on this, which is always a possibility, but this system has definitely been a factor in the purchasing decision process in various communities including some of my own guild members in a negative way, some of which are casual players.

Paragus
Co-Leader of Inquisition

Darkfall: Community Q&A with Aventurine #2

Posted by Paragus1 Wednesday August 4 2010 at 10:23AM
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Darkfall: Community Q&A with Aventurine #2

It's been months since the original community Q&A with Aventurine, and much has changed in the last half year or so. Just in the recent weeks, AV has patched in some major balance changes, has a new expansion coming soon, changed the price of purchasing the game to only $30, and is now offering free trials. With all that has happened the last few months, I decided to check in with Aventurine to see if they would be willing to once again to field some questions from the Darkfall community.

Lucky for us they agreed, so now I'll turn things over to them!

---------------------------------------------------

We delayed this QA as many of the questions asked are related to topics we cannot talk about yet or we don’t feel comfortable embelishing on. The reason we can’t has little to do with marketing and a lot to do with functionality. We are still testing features to be included in darkfall and we haven’t greenlighted many of the things that are under consideration. We didn’t want to delay the Q&A any longer so we’ve gone ahead and quickly addressed all the questions as best as we could, and we’re issuing a big IOU to the community as far as Darkfall 2010 information is concerned and more details on what we’re barely touching on here. We consider all these questions open and will answer them properly as soon as we can. The same goes for a lot of your questions and suggestions posted on the forums (and in other places) which we are tracking.




1) We've heard about DF 2010 plans and have had some screenshots of new models and tales of upcoming mounts and things you are working on, when can we expect to see the next significant expansion? – Squatch

We’ve missed ETAs on this next expansion due to the large terrain upgrade which is a pretty massive undertaking and connected to core systems of the game. We weren’t happy with final testing a few weeks ago so we had to go back and rethink a few things. We believe that the expansion will be ready to launch in less than a month. Darkfall 2010 comes after the next expansion and is a much bigger proposition. “Darkfall 2010” is our internal code name for this project. Our intent is to have it complete within the year, but we can’t rule out that it will take longer than that. We’ve been working on this for quite a while, it’s parallel development to Darkfall and almost as big a project as making a new game.

2) If possible, could you explain in detail any of the current prestige classes that are in the works for the Q4 expansion? - Dorn Divin, Alpha Legion

I’m afraid we can’t right now but the prestige classes will be getting their own special presentation when we can.

3) How many prestige classes will there be when they are released? - Hopeless eatsu

We’re not sure yet, but there will be enough to provide large diversity and many specialization options.

4) Will there be a boxed release any time soon? - Oboy Sweman, AlphaQ UP

There is a boxed version in Greece already, there will be one in Russia soon and we’re slowly moving to releasing more boxed versions across Europe and in North America.

5) Any chance of Darkfall showing up on Direct2Drive or Steam to increase marketing? - Cora
Mor


Darkfall is already on Direct2Drive and other Digital Distribution partners like GamersGate, Stardock/Impulse, Gamesload, Nexway, Zstorm, Metaboli etc. it will be on Amazon and hopefully on Steam and others before too long.

6) Are there any plans to limit schools of magic in order to allow mages to specialize in other schools? - Meaty Maggnus, Inquisition

Yes, some of the prestige classes we’re working on will allow for this.

7) Are there any plans to make warhulks even more common and attractive to use ? - Dirty Sjouks, DPS

Yes by considerably increasing their availability, making them cheaper. We’ve added the Fun Hulks for events and there are more changes coming to make warhulks as useful as possible.

8) Do you plan on putting a type of cloak or tabard to represent clans / alliances? - ogre SKG, NAVY SEALS

This is very high on our internal wish list and we hope to have something like this for DF2010

9) Are there any plans to make crafting more stylistically diverse? That is, different styles (not based on race) of leather, banded, colors and so on. - Silvyn Ghostwalker

Yes there are specific plans, we’re not sure exactly when they’ll be included but it’s something we’re currently working on.

10) Are there any new magic schools/spells in the works? - Happy Bear, Fraternity of Assassins III

No new magic schools in the works, but there are several new spells coming.

11) Is Aventurine working on eradicating the stuttering that occurs when another player approaches you or spawns nearby? - Raff Raff, Nomads

We’re constantly working on improving performance, this particular issue has to do with hardware, the open world, no instances etc. It’s an unfortunate side effect. We’re looking to enhance some core elements that should help it considerably but in all honesty there is no magic bullet.

12) I chose Mahirim race for the 4-legged run when the game was released and I am still waiting. Should I stop hoping for it or is there any plans on implementing it in a close future? - Xzyzz ZyXz

It’s pretty unlikely, however as races keep getting differentiated, if we can reasonably balance this we would love to add it. The 4-legged run as functionality goes is complete, our main problem is that it is an unbalancing factor.

13) Villages and seatowers were an excellent addition to Darkfall, but are there any plans to further stimulate PVP within Agon? - Kizzay Entreri, Black

Further Improvements to villages and Sea Fortresses and other PvP elements are afoot. And of course more coming. We have many plans for more land-based pvp centric additions other than the villages.

14) Why the change from 3 days to 10 days on the Sea Tower instead of augmenting it's live times per server? - Wild Wood, Calamitous

We wanted to make them more special and more epic when they go live, that’s why we increased their rewards. We understand the random timing might be an issue and we’re looking into it.

15) Why was mounted damage reduced so drastically, given that many earlier patches have seen mount nerfs already? - Ban Hammer

This was obviously done for balancing purposes, we’ve been testing and following user feedback and most people polled agree that it was a move towards the right direction. We’ll keep looking at this and making adjustments as needed.

16) Any plans for Archery to get some secondary skills or utilities? - Izure Blackweb

We’re working on several new additions to archery in connection to the prestige classes.

17) What can we expect to see happen to Archery to make it more attractive as a primary play-style? - Rok Strike, Dark Hand of Valor

What we said in the question above, also, we’re going to offer more weapon types and ammunition types for archers

18) Do you have any plans to add an extra hotbar to the user interface? - Talon X, VAMP

We’re re-making the entire interface.

19) Are there any plans to introduce race changes when launching the new character models / textures etc.? - Cyndane Vidane

We’re working racial differentiation and it’s certain that more changes will come. Balanced racial differentiation is an ongoing project for us and we’ll keep working on this and adding new elements indefinitely.


20) Have Aventurine considered a server merge between EU and US servers and situate the server on east coast US or Iceland? - Lord Seph

No we haven’t, we’re actually looking into opening up more servers long-term as population increases through the free trial and other initiatives, like Darkfall digital distribution partner availability, local distributors etc. We’re also speaking with partners in Asia about offering Asian servers as there seems to be strong interest in the game.

21) Will there be a shift towards a more racially charged Agon, where it would be beneficial to have a single race clan rather than an ARAC? - Shyheim Tolkein

We’ve been continuously working on this and will keep doing that, always focusing on keeping things balanced.

22) Is there any plans to make bolts more viable in PvP? - Anarchy Explosion, The Black Company

Some players feel that bolts are already viable in PvP. We understand where the question is coming from however and are actually looking into this.

23) Is the Current Alignment System working as intended, and if not what are the future plans for modifying the Alignment System ? - Morad Wrothmarch

We have plans to do some things to improve it and make it more versatile, we feel for the time being that it’s adequate. We’re also looking into adding more controls as ways that improve your alignment.

24) Any plans for adding new dungeons and dungeon-related content to Agon? - Lord Abominax

We have major plans for dungeons and dungeon related content. You should be able to start seeing some of these in the next expansion.

25) Will you change the texture of the sea to make it more beautiful, maybe with waves if possible? - Deimos Shadowblade

Possibly, for Darkfall 2010. We used to have waves as old timers will remember from a pre-beta video released early on after a clan leader visit to our studios. There were issues at the time which forced us to take them out but we’d like to give it another look.

26) Any plans for introducing Mounted Archery? - Ktorr Shadowfell

Not yet, but this is something we’re keeping in mind.

27) Any update on any sort of official alliance system that may or may not be in the works? - Taylorias Starguard, Nox

We have no current plans for an official alliance system.

28) With skills like Sprint, Run, Swimming, etc, no matter how one plays their character those skills will eventually hit 100, and their primary use today is for stat-gain (swimming to gain vit/str). Are there any plans for a revamp with such skills to bring some decision and real functionality to them? - SynCaine GodHand, Blood

This being a pvp game, and for balancing purposes we want it to work this way for the time being. There are no specific plans to make changes in this area at the moment.

29) Can we have the option to place vendors at player hamlets/cities? - Asnar Grafton, MoD

Most likely, this is under consideration.


30) Are there any plans to add small scale PvP content such as an upgrade of rewards for capping villages? - Without Remorse, Alpha Q Up

We are changing the reward system for villages soon.

31) What plans are there to make viable the Sandbox crafting economy, in relation to mob dropped loot? - Shiva Firewing

We’re working on several things, one example is adding many craftable-only items to the game.

32) Any plans on introducing some kind of bank type that can be reached for the whole alliance? - Sacra Luna, SUN

There are no plans for an alliance bank.

33) Are there any plans to add some kind of salvaging Skill? - Rochus Beerbelly, Pandora

This is something which is planned but low priority at the moment.

34) Does Aventurine still plan on releasing 3 expansions a year as stated prior to Darkfall's commercial release or have these plans changed? - CattBoy SiN, Zealot

We did 2 in the first year, along with 30 patches, most of which were very large; this year we’re hoping to release a massive update which is as good as several expansions. Our goal isn’t the number of expansions, it’s based on how things need to be done. For example we could break up the Darkfall 2010 project into several expansions but that wouldn’t be what’s best for the game. It’s the game itself that’s determining what needs to be done, and when we said 3 expansions per year it was our estimate before we knew how the game would need to evolve. We believe that at the end of the day, we’re actually giving more to the game than what we orignally estimated.

35) The introduction of cargo holds to ships has already been announced, along with the ability of cities to prevent raiders from using their banks. What is the extent of this localization process, and will this end goal include local / regional banking? - Comrade Zaffa

We’re working towards regional and local economies, not so much towards local banking.

36) What plans does AV have to improve clan / alliance customization and further additions to city construction? - Tony Perkis

We’re rolling out a political map in the near future and several other clan tools. We also have several plans for additions to clan cities.

37) Are there any plans to implement a treasure hunting skill? You collect different rank treasure maps. Use the skill to decode the map. Navigate to the cords. Dig up the treasure. - Grim Creaper, Grief

No but a similar feature is on its way for the next expansion.

38) Will weather ever play a major role in naval combat as was originally announced back in early beta? - Korvos Sly

We’re working on making this feature less annoying than it was during original testing.

39) Are their any plans to give Darkfall a more interactive, more detailed world? Such as books on bookshelves actually being readable (with reference to game lore or perhaps even small bonuses to skills), the ability to sit on chairs, and more interiors for buildings which are currently just props - Farrel Calhoun

Yes we’re working towards further improving the interactivity but some of these requests are low priority at the moment. As far as the detailed world, there are several people working exclusively on adding thousands of details to the world. These additions get lost in patch notes filed under “updated areas” which nobody seems to pay attention to, while there has been a tremendous amount of work put into them.

40) Will you ever remove the siege / political change global system messages? - Zig Zag, Lux Arcana

No we happen to like the messages. Why do you want them removed?

41) Are you considering taking away spell fail rate when someone has 0 magic encumbrance in order to get rid of the luck factor it plays in pvp and reward mages who don't spec out in a hybrid suit of armor? - Vhaeraun Baenre, Outnumbered

No we’re not considering this yet, but we plan to reward mages a different way soon.

42) Are there any plans to remove fizzling spells? This helps destroyers far more than mages because fizzling of unburden or the already weaker heal spells frequently determines the outcome of the fight, rather than skill. - Nacitar Sevaht, Desperate Housewives

Same answer as above.

43) Will we ever see NPC driven race alliances being able to fight other race alliances for control of territory? - Xpiher Duminous , Desperate HouseHusbands

Never say never, but probably not.

44) Are there any plans to remove the ability for a City's cannons to destroy it's own walls? It seems rather broken that someone can take down your city's walls with its own cannons. - Jayro Bloodfist, FOURTWENTY

It’s pretty realistic actually, but we understand where you’re coming from. This is one of the things on our to-do list, that’s been there for a long time and keeps getting pushed down by more important or urgent things coming up. We’ll get to it eventually.

45) Are there any plan to introduce ambient and environmental sounds (wind, rain / waterfalls, wildlife etc.) ? - Phoboss Woodblade

There was a spotlight on this topic, along with a teaser video here:
http://forums.darkfallonline.com/showthr...p?t=251965
Darkfall will soon feature one of the most advanced environmental sound systems. We think it’s quite amazing. It’s difficult to get the full effect from the video, but this addition will considerably improve the user experience.

46) What is AV's take on the current Darkfall population and what plans are being implemented to increase the active playerbase of Darkfall. - Type Forced, Undead Lords

This is our slower season for player activity and there have been ups and downs in active accounts in the past, but we’re currently growing at a pretty steady rate with the free trial going, Darkfall being offered on digital distribution channels, various local partnerships, and many other initiatives we’re working on should help the population to keep growing.

47) Pre-beta there was talk of roaming mobs who would gain experience from others mobs or players they killed and would eventually spawn a small army of mobs around them and be able to attack player cities. Is there any plan for ever getting this into the game? Tyrelan Theel - VAMP

Actually we’re working in this direction, the summer expansion is mostly about PvE. Darkall’s monsters already gain skill and there are many more plans along these lines which should be implemented very soon.

48) Will we ever see Player Deaths from fall damage? - Champion Sacred, Vamp

No, there are plenty of things that will kill you in Darkfall, we don’t want players to die due to knockbacks, lag, or random factors.

49) Do you plan on revamping the placement of house in the near future or just adding new villages/new spot in existing villages? - Owh Wooah, Covert Operations

Yes we’re adding both new villages and housing slots.

50) Will we be given more tools to play with in the sandbox? (Something else to do other than PvP or PvE against mobs) - Draus Thorn

You mean like Fun Hulks and Use Flags? We’re working on a lot of things along these lines, we’re just not feeling the love.

51) Are there any plans on providing end game 'raid' style PvE content? - Opeth VtW, Outnumbered

We are moving towards more end game pve content with the total dungeon revamp. But we don’t have plans to do instancing.

52) Character customization is another way of making people feel more attached to their characters. When are we going to see some more customization of our characters being possible? (dyes / dyeable robes or further cloth accessories that are external to armor.) - Many Marsh

Several of the things you mentioned are in the works as we speak.

53) Is there anything in the works to expand or add more land to the world? (e.g. places like Niff / Ruby / Cairn / Yssam or underground / above ground content) Ezekiul Skullcrusher, Grief

We have enough land as it is. We are adding new dungeons however and there is constant worldbuilding to improve what we currently have.

54) Are there currently any plans for alternative methods of travel on land, specifically in the forms of stage coaches or chariots? - Rigan Peer, Nomads

No plans currently but we’re considering adding a portal system.

55) It is currently virtually impossible for a player to be a successful full-time crafter due to basic materials (wood, iron ore, herbs, etc.) and armor / weapons being easier to come by through killing mobs than gathering and crafting; Are there any plans to make full-time crafting more viable and lucrative as a playstyle? - Kimoshu Grakenshalmn

We have specific plans to considerably improve crafting, We’re adding craftable only items, rare ores to metal nodes, and we’re always evaluating and looking for new ways to boost crafting..

56) Are there any plans for rare / unique recipe drops for crafting weapons and armor? - Kaok Stinkbane, ANG

There are currently no plans for rare or unique recipe drops.

57) Are there any plans to make EVERY spell useful by rebalancing their damage, AOE, projectile speed, mana cost, cast time etc, or adding powerful secondary effects (knockbacks, blinds) to bring them up to par with other spells of the same category? - Bomanz Beezlebub, ZzZzZ

We’re currently running evaluations of all spells in the game. We’ve recently added more dedicated designers to the team to do this, as well as to help evaluate the balance and the usefullness of everything in the game. You should start seeing improvements in all areas.

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I would just like to thank Aventurine for taking the time to field the questions, and also the Darkfall community for your participation, patience, and support.

Paragus Rant
Co-Leader of Inquisition

 

EDIT: Aventurine has added a bit more information in response to player feedback from this Q&A.  It is quite lengthy and can be found HERE.