Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn made its official debut this week opening its world of Eorzea to all. This past weekend I got the chance to play, and it brought back a lot of fond memories from Final Fantasy XI. Many of us have been feeling the suspense and excitement leading up to FFXIV’s re-release. It’s a special experience starting a new game. In fact, starting FFXIV reminded me of how many similarities there are between what authors go through when beginning a novel, and what game developers go through for a game. Let’s take a look.
When I start writing a novel, I envision a movement. Not just within the story, but impactful moments, those life-altering experiences that have changed my perspectives, my routines, and my whole way of thinking. Then I think about if these moments could influence someone else’s foundation too. This may sound grand, but I think it’s important to write not only what you know, but also what you feel. You may have heard something similar about game design.
So where do you start? This is where FFXIV comes in. FFXIV did a great job of getting me invested early on. Game cinematics have become a strong way to instantly connect us with what’s important which resembles what writers want for their opening pages of a book. When I watched the flashback to Calamity I felt the looming danger, the world on the brink of being overthrown, which led us to the introduction of the main character. Similar to when I’m writing a novel, I start at the moment that will challenge my character’s foundation and define his future. That character’s introduction in a book is pivotal because the reader needs to connect and relate on some level instantly to gain a buy-in. In FFXIV, we got to connect with the character during character creation.
As the player, we get to fill in our own personality, define the look with tons of personalization options, and actually help create the final visual image of our hero within the story. The game designers give you tips and rules to keep your character within the boundaries of the world, but you feel an attachment to your character immediately. You’re invested in its success or failure and you’re concerned with what happens next. The reader does this with his imagination, connecting what the author shows with his own details from personal experience. The reader creates and perceives his version of the author’s world in the places left open by the author simultaneously.
As I played FFXIV, I became more and more involved. The UI was easy, clean, and there was no confusion—like in a good book that excludes needless details cluttering the reader’s imagination. The game has the aesthetic of a Final Fantasy game with the characters that I care about, in a world that I want to explore.
In addition, knowing that I only need one character in FFXIV to play all the classes creates an instant investment and attachment. Similar to when you like a character in a good book, it’s exciting knowing you’re on a journey with him, and you’ll see his growth from beginning to end.
After all the customization was finished, there was another short cutscene with a glimpse of my character’s future in high-level gear, which was a perfect way to whet a player’s appetite.
As an end-level player, seeing what I could become was very exciting. This method is used literarily as well to show the reader a possible future or provide some context for character motivation.
Also, there was another great cutscene that introduced me to the city of Gridania. The cutscene gave me the feel and tone of the environment just like an author gives you the setting of a story or scene. Once in the first city, each quest told me more about the town and its residents. Some felt more important than others and I paid close attention to that dialogue. Like getting into the next chapter of a book where secondary characters and conflict is revealed, these quests kept pulling me further and further in to the game.
I have been thoroughly enjoying FFXIV. The gameplay, class balance, storylines, and an intricate world have captured my attention, and the attention of so many other players as well. Authors strive to bring something of value and importance to readers, and FFXIV has done this with me as a player. Definitely give this MMO a try; it’s a blast.
Every week, Holder’s Dominion author Genese Davis opines about MMO gaming, the issues the genre faces, and the power of shaping online worlds.
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