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Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn 

General Discussion  » Invisible Walls and Corridor map design. Is it still like this?

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27 posts found
  Homitu

Hard Core Member

Joined: 10/01/09
Posts: 2037

12/03/12 11:07:36 AM#21
Originally posted by Alberel
Originally posted by Homitu
There ARE indeed times when you want to avoid the stuff around the mountain and just get to the stuff on the other side.   Most people who played Skyrim, for example, didn't want to walk all the way across Skyrim every single time they got a new quest that led them to the other end of the world.  Thus, waypoints.  Hopefully the game you're playing will offer some mode of fast transportation when those moments occur as well.

I don't know if you ever played Morrowind, but there's a common feeling amongst the older TES players that waypoints killed the world in Oblivion and Skyrim. The game lost its sense of scale as a result of travel becoming trivial and you did indeed miss out on a huge amount of discoverable content by using waypoints. There were a lot of mods created just to remove the waypoint systems.

The issue here is something that has plagued 'virtual worlds' since their inception. Convenience in travel is constantly sought and demanded but then once players have it the game suddenly loses something and they don't know what. That something is scale. If you can trivialise movement in the world then it stops feeling like a world. This is one of those cases where (in my opinion) what players want is actually not in their best interests. There were times when playing FFXI that I wished I could get somewhere faster, but looking back at the game I know it was precisely because things took time that I valued my experiences in the game so much more than any other.

Think of an epic quest that requires a player to travel the world collecting valued items from several different dungeons. If that player could just teleport between the dungeons to get each item the quest would instantly lose much of its epic scale. As much as people equate time=grind (which isn't always true), time is a necessary factor in making things in MMOs have value.

Your comments with regards to climbing mountains and such hits on another issue with the genre though. There seem to be two types of immersion that I've noticed. Some players focus on world immersion whereby they have complete control of their character and are free to do anything their character would realistically be capable of (even if it doesn't make sense for their character to be doing that). Other players focus on character immersion wherein players are restricted to the things their characters would realistically do in a given scenario (such as not jumping in rivers or climbing mountains; in reality people would find an alternative route).

Though I recognise the value and appeal of both, different games cater to different tastes on that one and the FF series has generally always catered to the latter. That doesn't necessarily mean invisible walls galore though. A good developer will find ways to mould the environment to organically restrict players, rather than giving them arbitrary barriers.

Sporadically replying to points raised by both Aleberel and DarknessReign.

FFXI was my first MMO, which I began playing shortly after release in 2003 and played through CoP; Oblivion was my first ES game.  So there might just be some old-school/new-school disconnect going on here between us.  But at the same time, I can totally commiserate with the nostalgia-fueled lamentation of the loss of old ways, even concerning transporation.  I couldn't possibly go as far as DarknessReign goes when he says he appreciated or even enjoyed the agonizingly slow transportation of classic FFXI.  I found absolutely no redeeming factor in walking a real life 30-40 minutes to get to my destination across landscapes that were mostly completely empty, and I certainly got nothing out of missing an airship by 15 seconds, resulting in an 18 minute AFK wait.  I experienced all those things he recounted as well, but when I recall them, I'm not exactly overcome with extreme fondness.  My general assessment of FFXI's transportation is that it was almost masochistic.  I would personally combine that with a rather negative assessment of the "content" you experience while traversing Vana'diel (which was essentially summarized by Darkness) and I can't help but say good riddance.

But of course, all that says nothing other than he and I have different ideas of what constitutes *fun* sights to see while exploring.  

That said, I absolutely agree with your claim, Alberel, that it is important to preserve a sense of the massive scale of the world. I would add that it is also important to preserve a sense of geographical continuity across the world.  And I agree that instant teleportation all over the place endangers this sense.  I have games of my own where I lament changes made for convenience's sake.  The last time I played WoW, which was during WotlK or it's 2nd expansion, they introduced a dungeon finder system, which allows players to simply click a button and queue for any dungeon in the world.  Once the queue was ready, that player would teleport inside that dungeon and be grouped randomly with strangers.  To me, this took so much away from the sense of lore and geographical continuity of the world.  No longer would players quest through a zone to learn about a dungeon fortress and some of the enemies that await within.   No longer would new players know where the dungeon entrance was or, indeed, even where the dungeon itself existed in the world.  There was no more context for being there.  The dungeon was no longer an ominous monolith looming over a part of the world.  Instead, it was completely disconnected from the rest of the wrold.  There was a loss of purpose...other than to get loot, of course.  But I won't turn this into a rant about dungeon finders.  

One of my fondest memories in WoW occured very early on when I wanted to do my first dungeon.  I caught wind of a dungeon appropriate for my level named the Deadmines.  But I was a Night Elf, and the Deadmines were in a far away land.  I resolved to travel to them, even though I had no idea where to go.  I had to take a flight to the elvish port town of Auberdine, then catch a boat to a human harbor on another continent.  From there I had to ask players for directions.  They pointed me south to the Dwarven lands.  Thus I began my trek on foot across the swampy Wetlands, crocodiles beyond my level nipping at my feet.  I caught sight of the great waterfall, a consequence of a colossal dam built by the dwarves, as I made my way up the carved-out mountain pass.  I had to stop at a local leather shop to purchase a pair of thicker boots.  The thick snow and jagged ice were foreign and harsh to my soft elven feet.  That and my old boots were on their last tread after the swamp and the crocodiles.  NPCs from every town I passed beckoned me for their aid, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.  I was on a mission!  Besides, there were plenty of other players around to help them.  I eventually ascended into the volcanic capital of the Dwarves, Ironforge.  This seemed to be a dead end to me, until players directed me to the Deeprun Tram, an underground mechanical railway system designed by the ingenuitive gnomes.  It turned out this engineering marvel connected Ironforge to the human capital of Stormwind.  Ah! To behold two wondrous cities on one journey!  

I was now finally in the region of the Deadmines.  A comparatively short trek through a peaceful forest and some rural farmlands later, and I arrived at Moonbrook, the town above which I was told the Deadmines were dug.  There, I helped others fight off bandits while I sought a party for the dungeon.  I eventually allied myself with some worthy looking companions and we ventured forth through the labyrinth of mines.  The rest, as they say, is history.  

Now, of course I embelished this experience in my recantation, as surely as DarknessReign embelished his.  But this is exactly how this memory stands with me today.  I'm sure I was wide-eyed with glea throughout it all.  It was a truly immersive MMO experience for me.  (I'd add that I was also simply much more enthralled by the environments, zones and variety of sights and sounds to see in WoW compared to FFXI--but again, that just speaks to a difference of personal preferences.)  I related that whole long story only to say that I'm sympathetic to experiences of the *journey* one can encounter in an MMO, and also to lament the fact that such experiences, in all liklihood, will no longer be had by new players in WoW today.  They will just press their little green button and instantly teleport inside the Deadmines in a matter of seconds.  Plain and simple, this is sad to me.

That said, if I had to make that long arduous journey every time I wanted to do the dungeon, I very likely simply wouldn't have run the dungeon much more after that.  So there are flaws with the opposite extreme too.  If desireable content is so spread out and it takes so long to get to different things, players will simply miss out.  There needs to be a happy balance between experience of the scale of the world and accessibility of content from all over.

I haven't fully brainstormed what I think the optimal balance of both would look like, but I do see 2 broad rules as being vital:  

First, players must explore their way to new content their first time through on a character.  The game should make it impossible for players to bybass lore and context for a given area; and players should have to geographically find where they are going.  If I were to praise any aspect of FFXI, it would be this.  The zones, although mostly vast wildernesses of nothingness, were like puzzles to navigate.  Collecting maps and navigating through them to reach your destination or explore a dungeon area was effectively a form of gameplay in FFXI, and, in my opinion, the most fun gameplay the game had to offer.

Second, once players have unlocked access to a new area, they should be able to get back to that area more easily.  The journey should not be as difficult or lengthy the 2nd time.  Here, a balance must be struck.  Return trips to anywhere shouldn't necessarily be instantaneous, but they shouldn't be too tediously lengthy either.  I agree with the assessment that adding some time to travel, and requiring some level of geographical traversion adds value to the experience of the MMO world, but too much can take decrease value of other MMO experiences.  

A lot of this conversation has deviated from the original topic, so apologies for that, but I do think the resulting conversation has been interesting and fun :)

  Alberel

Novice Member

Joined: 12/02/09
Posts: 1121

12/03/12 12:25:55 PM#22
Originally posted by Homitu

I haven't fully brainstormed what I think the optimal balance of both would look like, but I do see 2 broad rules as being vital:  

First, players must explore their way to new content their first time through on a character.  The game should make it impossible for players to bybass lore and context for a given area; and players should have to geographically find where they are going.  If I were to praise any aspect of FFXI, it would be this.  The zones, although mostly vast wildernesses of nothingness, were like puzzles to navigate.  Collecting maps and navigating through them to reach your destination or explore a dungeon area was effectively a form of gameplay in FFXI, and, in my opinion, the most fun gameplay the game had to offer.

Second, once players have unlocked access to a new area, they should be able to get back to that area more easily.  The journey should not be as difficult or lengthy the 2nd time.  Here, a balance must be struck.  Return trips to anywhere shouldn't necessarily be instantaneous, but they shouldn't be too tediously lengthy either.  I agree with the assessment that adding some time to travel, and requiring some level of geographical traversion adds value to the experience of the MMO world, but too much can take decrease value of other MMO experiences.  

A lot of this conversation has deviated from the original topic, so apologies for that, but I do think the resulting conversation has been interesting and fun :)

The story you described echoes a few of my own. When a world is new and alien exploring it can be a real adventure and my greatest experiences in MMOs are generally all related to such long journeys through unexplored lands. You're right though, there needs to be a balance somewhere because that journey won't hold the same wonder after the first time and once you get to know the world it can start to feel like a chore.

I don't think any games have really struck that balance though. WoW, as you said, has taken it to the extreme of convenience and essentially killed the world. Flying mounts contributed to this a great deal as well due to the way they let you completely circumvent even areas you've never been to before. FFXI was quite harsh in comparison but I found the time spent waiting around for airships or such allowed me a great deal of time to simply socialise and form strong friendships with other players. The white mage's teleports also helped a great deal, but not everyone had access to them and requesting another player to teleport you could prove expensive (I mained SMN/WHM in the early years).

Personally (with no compromise available) I favour XI's nigh-masochistic approach to WoW's but that's down to personal taste. I just like a game that forces players to socialise as I feel it encourages a stronger community. As for how a compromise might be made though I couldn't say. Some kind of waypoint system would probably be the obvious choice but GW2 did that and I feel that was too extreme (it also didn't make much sense in the lore). Perhaps something akin to XI's travel options but made somewhat more extensive? I don't know...

This has been an interesting discussion. To try and return this to FFXIV though,as far as I'm aware the game has the same travel options as XI (airship, chocobo, etc.) as well as teleportation between the aetherite crystals. How extensive these will be in ARR I can't really say though... I imagine Yoshi P will make things slightly easier for getting around but nothing drastic.

  Homitu

Hard Core Member

Joined: 10/01/09
Posts: 2037

12/03/12 2:30:40 PM#23
Originally posted by Alberel

The story you described echoes a few of my own. When a world is new and alien exploring it can be a real adventure and my greatest experiences in MMOs are generally all related to such long journeys through unexplored lands. You're right though, there needs to be a balance somewhere because that journey won't hold the same wonder after the first time and once you get to know the world it can start to feel like a chore.

I don't think any games have really struck that balance though. WoW, as you said, has taken it to the extreme of convenience and essentially killed the world. Flying mounts contributed to this a great deal as well due to the way they let you completely circumvent even areas you've never been to before. FFXI was quite harsh in comparison but I found the time spent waiting around for airships or such allowed me a great deal of time to simply socialise and form strong friendships with other players. The white mage's teleports also helped a great deal, but not everyone had access to them and requesting another player to teleport you could prove expensive (I mained SMN/WHM in the early years).

Personally (with no compromise available) I favour XI's nigh-masochistic approach to WoW's but that's down to personal taste. I just like a game that forces players to socialise as I feel it encourages a stronger community. As for how a compromise might be made though I couldn't say. Some kind of waypoint system would probably be the obvious choice but GW2 did that and I feel that was too extreme (it also didn't make much sense in the lore). Perhaps something akin to XI's travel options but made somewhat more extensive? I don't know...

This has been an interesting discussion. To try and return this to FFXIV though,as far as I'm aware the game has the same travel options as XI (airship, chocobo, etc.) as well as teleportation between the aetherite crystals. How extensive these will be in ARR I can't really say though... I imagine Yoshi P will make things slightly easier for getting around but nothing drastic.

Finding that elusive balance will always be tricky because, like you said, part of it comes down to personal taste.  Not everyone enjoys the same parts of MMOs, and not everyone would have enjoyed my treck from Teldrassil to Westfall.  I'm sure there are some people who would have logged off in frustration and maybe lost interest in the game entirely.  Game developers have to take into account all kinds of players.  

I do think you hit something with an earlier point you made though.  I think many players mistakenly trick themselves into thinking they want certain conveniences, when in fact those very conveniences cause them to lose interest in the game more quickly than they otherwise would.  This adds another element to the developer's conundrum, as it's obviously in the developer's (and really the health of the game's) best interest to keep players playing longer.  However, I don't think this should just mean arbitrarily increasing the length of time it takes to get from point A to point B.  That would be akin to old RPGs like Final Fantasy 2, which claimed to have "over 40 hours of gameplay!", an insane number at the time; but in reality, a solid 20 of those hours were spent grinding random encounters to get strong enough to survive the next area.  Games can add all sorts of tedious obstacles to prevent players from reaching certain content too fast and, as a result, keep them playing longer.  But nowadays, those obstacles tend to be more transparent to players who have been around the block and experienced a variety of games with varying levels of convenience.  If something is in place solely to slow players down, they tend to identify it and complain about it.  

I tend to agree that GW2's waypoints are a bit too extreme.  Fine tuning them would be an extreme challenge, but I think it can be done.  There are moments when I'm immensely grateful for them and I couldn't imagine playing the game without them; but when I think about it on the grand scale, I think I would have had more experiences like the WoW story I related if there weren't quite so many.  I especially don't think one should be able to access Lion's Arch and all other major cities immediately by traveling through a gate without either exploring your way to those places first or otherwise earning the right to use the Asura Gates, much like FFXI treated the Kazham airship pass.  

I've grappled with GW2's handling of waypoints several times in the past on these forums.  My initial posts were dead against them...until I played Skyrim and loved them.  I then warmed to the idea of waypoints even further after playing the GW2 beta.  I concluded that I could still travel on foot whenever I wanted to, or if I wished to arrive at my destination faster, the convenience was there.  The world was still there for me to explore if I wanted.  But now, after having time to reflect, I DO think the city gates and excessive waypoints (not to mention loading screens between zones) have prevented me from having the same kinds of awe-inspiring traveling adventures, or at least as many of them, as I did during parts of early WoW.  Even when I did force myself to avoid the fast transporation, like when I resolved to walk to Ebonhawke on foot rather than take the gate in Divinity's Reach, the experience of my journey felt tainted.  All the walking I was doing was unnecessary.  I could have gotten there by now.  Even knowing it's all psychological, it's very real nonetheless.  (All that said, I do have to add that I think GW2's cities, world and zones are infinitely more beautiful than any other MMO I've ever played.  The areas within each zone are an absolute joy to explore.  Not only are the zones some of the most massive zones I've ever seen in a game, but they are jam packed full of content, life, and hidden secrets around ever corner and in between every nook and cranny.)

So have I arrived at any further conclusions about transportation in MMOs after all this discussion?  I'm not sure.  Here's where I'm personally at with this philosophy:

  • Areas, espeically major locations like cities, must be traveled to on foot the first time around to gain proper perspective and an appreciation for the size and scale of the world.
  • Too many waypoints littered all over can potentially shatter this perspective.  This is not worth the added convenience to me.
  • Flight paths.  This is something we haven't talked about yet.  LIke everything else, there are pros and cons to FPs.  They can become just more AFK time akin to waiting for airships in FFXI.  They can be viewed as waypoints with a really long loading screen.  BUT, they do help maintain perspective of the geography and scale of the world without forcing players to tediously traverse extreme distances manually every single time when they only want to get to their destination.  The speed of a flight path can be tweaked (ie. Aion's felt much faster than WoW's to me) to strike a balance between AFK boredom and maintaining perspective of the world's scale.  Then there are also land equivalents to flight paths like horses in LotRO.  
  • This brings me to FFXI, probably the most tedious of all MMOs I've played.  To an extent, FFXI does have a limited waypoint system, but only to very spread out areas and usually not to a zone of interest (Ie. if you took Teleport: Dem, you were probably trying to get to Valkrum Dunes or Selbina, not somewhere in Konschtat Highlands.)  So there was still plenty of walking to be done after the teleport.  The port just greatly reduced the walking.  Chocobos/mounts are there to increase land travel speed.  
  • Then you also have boats and airships, both of which provide a sense of prominence to the places you are traveling to and from.  I think these are important too.  They also usually serve to realistically indicate a great distance is traveled, even if you don't necessarily get an accurate picture of the geography traversed.  
I honestly think all of these can be combined to some extent to create a transportation system of ample convenience that also still grants a sense of massive scale and fascilitates traveling adventures.  
 
I like the teleport system of FFXI, but I think it should be more extensive.  There should be several more points that cover more ground.  (I'll reiterate that I'm speaking of old FFXI, through COP and into the beginning of Zilart.  I have no idea what changes have been made since then, and they're really besides the point anyway as this is all theoretical.)  I also think there needs to be some additional measure of convenience.  Either any player should be able to teleport to any of these locations at any time (a la GW2), or most of the teleports operate from the same location (a major city), which the player has easy access to (some sort of home point recall system.)  
 
From those teleport regions, one could take ground/flight paths to nearby locations.  From any of the flight path locations, players could have faster land movement speed via mounts of some kind.  Boats, airships, additional portals can all be reserved for special territories or expansion areas.  
 
Above anything, all of this stuff must be earned in the game first.  Places must be discovered before you can teleport, fly or ride to them.  Fast transportation linking cities, airship travel, mounts, specific boats, or even the major waypoints should also have to be earned in some way.  Not only does this make you value your improved transporation more when you earn it, but it adds additional progression goals to work toward (aside from just leveling and more gear--this is something else I thought FFXI did well), can feel like a fun reward when you acquire it, and can create fun quests and gameplay in order to earn it, all of which ultimately feel more meaningful than ordinary quests because of the unique overarching goal.
 
 
Agree/disagree with these compromises?  Think it's all rubbish and that players should just have to put on their hiking boots and walk everywhere?  As I said and will continue to say, some of this is simply subject to personal preference.  But I'm not just trying to outline what I think would be my personal favorite MMO transportation system, but rather an MMO transporation system that I think could be satisfying to the largest number of people while completely alienating the fewest number of players.  

 

 

  Pratt2112

Elite Member

Joined: 2/12/12
Posts: 1148

12/03/12 7:41:43 PM#24

Can't/won't say too much... but... if you're hoping for "fewer invisible walls".. Well.. wouldn't get my hopes up.

You can see glimpses of it in some of the official videos released by SE if you pay attention. Yoshi's also already indicated that there's going to be places where they specifically will not let you jump - even if it looks like you could or should be able to.

Let's just say a whole lot of the "jump anywhere" folks are going to find themselves frustrated in short order. I expect a lot of complaint threads about it. You can call that a prediction.

"Devs need to stop trying to make MMOs for people who don't like MMOs" - thevampirelematt/Reddit

  Snowdon_Cloudripper

Novice Member

Joined: 11/10/12
Posts: 604

I was a 5 star elite member but my awesomeness was showing and the Mods cant have that

12/03/12 9:18:50 PM#25
yeah I noticed that also , but yoshi really did not want a jump in game but did it anyway . but if you go on realism can someone jump off a 80 ft bridge unto a 2ft stream and not shatter there ankles ? would you attempt this in reality or would you cross the bridge and walk to the shore ?

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  Pratt2112

Elite Member

Joined: 2/12/12
Posts: 1148

12/05/12 7:15:24 PM#26
Originally posted by DarknessReign
yeah I noticed that also , but yoshi really did not want a jump in game but did it anyway . but if you go on realism can someone jump off a 80 ft bridge unto a 2ft stream and not shatter there ankles ? would you attempt this in reality or would you cross the bridge and walk to the shore ?

I saw footage of someone trying to jump over a railing and into a stream that was maybe 5 feet below them. Invisible wall stopped them. They tried jumping over another spot later on where they would not have injured themselves... Invisible wall stopped them.

And so on.

The limitations on it are pretty arbitrary and inconsistent, frankly. And again, I can see a lot of people complaining about it. Probably well before full launch.

Personally, I'm in the crowd who was fine with no jumping at all. I'm not "anti-jump". I'm more "add jumping if it's absolutely necessary". It wasn't in XI and it wasn't in XIV 1.0 (people not wanting to spend "forever" (as in 5 or 6 extra seconds) running around a cliff to get to a ramp once in a while notwithstanding).

That jumping was added at all is, like you say, a blatant concession to "appease the masses" as Yoshi stated it would serve no purpose in the game other than to just let people hop around because they can. That disappointed me. Had he said "we're implementing jumping, and to make it interesting and useful, we're going to be building some content to make good and challenging use of it, that would have been awesome. But he didn't. It's a useless "feature" added just to try and get more warm bodies into the game.

Yoshi's making an awful lot of concessions with the game and, personally, I'm not okay with a MMO being built on ass-kissing and fan service, mixed into yet more "WoW-inspired gameplay". 

And nothing I'm saying there is hyperbolic or inaccurate. Yoshi's commented on each of those things on a number of occasions. I'm just responding to what the bigger picture is when you put all those separate bits of info together.

"Devs need to stop trying to make MMOs for people who don't like MMOs" - thevampirelematt/Reddit

  DirgeBlast

Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/05/12
Posts: 2

12/05/12 9:04:23 PM#27
Originally posted by TangentPoint
Originally posted by DarknessReign
yeah I noticed that also , but yoshi really did not want a jump in game but did it anyway . but if you go on realism can someone jump off a 80 ft bridge unto a 2ft stream and not shatter there ankles ? would you attempt this in reality or would you cross the bridge and walk to the shore ?

I saw footage of someone trying to jump over a railing and into a stream that was maybe 5 feet below them. Invisible wall stopped them. They tried jumping over another spot later on where they would not have injured themselves... Invisible wall stopped them.

And so on.

The limitations on it are pretty arbitrary and inconsistent, frankly. And again, I can see a lot of people complaining about it. Probably well before full launch.

Personally, I'm in the crowd who was fine with no jumping at all. I'm not "anti-jump". I'm more "add jumping if it's absolutely necessary". It wasn't in XI and it wasn't in XIV 1.0 (people not wanting to spend "forever" (as in 5 or 6 extra seconds) running around a cliff to get to a ramp once in a while notwithstanding).

That jumping was added at all is, like you say, a blatant concession to "appease the masses" as Yoshi stated it would serve no purpose in the game other than to just let people hop around because they can. That disappointed me. Had he said "we're implementing jumping, and to make it interesting and useful, we're going to be building some content to make good and challenging use of it, that would have been awesome. But he didn't. It's a useless "feature" added just to try and get more warm bodies into the game.

Yoshi's making an awful lot of concessions with the game and, personally, I'm not okay with a MMO being built on ass-kissing and fan service, mixed into yet more "WoW-inspired gameplay". 

And nothing I'm saying there is hyperbolic or inaccurate. Yoshi's commented on each of those things on a number of occasions. I'm just responding to what the bigger picture is when you put all those separate bits of info together.

 

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