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So let’s talk a little bit about design philosophy. Frankly, I think this is a big cause of a lot of the issues people are having with the current state of the game.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Plea to the Devs

Introduction

 

So let’s talk a little bit about design philosophy. Frankly, I think this is a big cause of a lot of the issues people are having with the current state of the game. What do I mean by this? Well, let’s look at stats as an example. We have main stats and secondary stats. Main stats just benefit a job’s throughput in a standard way, boosting damage, healing and health pools directly. They’re the base for making our characters more powerful. That is their purpose. Secondary stats do the same thing, but in a smaller way. Crit boosts how often you see those big flashy flying numbers rather than normal ones and make the numbers that those show even bigger. Skill/Spell Speed makes you attack faster and drains resources faster. Accuracy makes it so you can hit things in some content but can’t in other content without more of it. Piety gives you more MP to use. Determination… acts exactly like main stat, but smaller. And Parry makes tanks want to jump off—err, makes it so sometimes you take slightly lower amounts of damage, but unreliably. 

 

I think it’s pretty clear which stats I don’t like here, but let’s think, why are these stats the way they are? What underlying philosophy made SE pick these functions for these stats? Unfortunately, it’s not really clear. The only thing I can say for certain is there’s a tendency towards having “punishment stats,” where there’s a stat that no one will want because its effects aren’t good enough or are even actively detrimental. And while it does make sense to have this effect to some degree to add urgency to gearing in some way, having it be the only notable trend in trying to figure out the philosophy behind these stats is troubling.

 

A Plea

 

So to the devs, please, share with us what your vision is for this game's future. We want to understand why you do the things you do, why things are structured the way they are, what feedback you've looked at and considered implementing, and what may be stopping you from doing so. But we can't, you won't let us. When we finally have the first "general questions" section of a Live Letter in a long time, rather than actually give us details on this, you give us pure unadulterated fluff. When there's a 100+ page thread talking about all the problems people have with the game as it is, we get radio silence. Actually, it's not even radio silence, as that would imply we ever hear anything about these topics, when we haven't since 3.1. And even then, all we got was this info as it related to the specific systems that were the biggest problems at the time.

 

How Blizzard does it

 

People give Blizzard a lot of flak for how WoW is run and all the mistakes they’ve made with that game over the years, but one thing that from what I’ve seen really shines with them is clearly communicating to players their design intentions. Seriously, look at these patch notes. These are the patch notes from the pre-patch for Warlords of Draenor, and while that was an extremely rushed expansion with a lot of flaws especially in its lack of patch content, you can’t honestly tell me that after reading these patch noted Blizzard had no direction that they were headed for with the game. There’s so much detail on why changes were needed in all these different areas and what they hoped these changes would achieve. And their interviews continue this trend. Rather than the bland “this is the content you’re getting and we’ll talk about its base functions vaguely” stuff we get in Live Letters (when we even get that and not piles of BS like whatever that thing at E3 was supposed to be) the devs at Blizzard actually talk about what they hope different pieces of content will achieve, design ideas that drove class design and all sorts of more in-depth topics than we ever see from Yoshi-p and co. But I’m not writing this as some sort of love letter to the WoW team, I’m trying to point out how this sort of communication could do wonders for the state of this game. 

 

Examples

 

If we actually had any sort of idea what SE was going for with half the content they give us we could probably make better informed suggestions on how things could be improved. As an example, once again, I’ll go back to stats. Right now, secondary stats don’t seem to have any real direction behind their existence, they’re just sort of there. If it were me in charge of this section of the game, stats would have a more clear direction. Primary stats exist as they are, as the main way of progressing a character’s power. This doesn’t need to change. Secondary stats, on the other hand, would exist for reasons besides doing this. 

 

Final Fantasy XIV: A Plea to the Devs

 

Secondary stats should exist to open up different ways of playing a given job. To this end, Determination would have no place in the game, and would be replaced by something akin to WoW’s Mastery stat. Instead of a stat that works in the single most boring way imaginable, we would have a stat that functioned differently depending on what job you played, and which would by design interact with how your job is actually played to some degree. Examples, as I always offer, would be giving a Fire IV the ability to proc a Firestarter, with the chance of it happening being based on your Mastery, or the amount of time removed from Blood of the Dragon by using Gierskogul being reduced by some amount related to how much Mastery you have. The goal of this new stat, and changes I would have made to other stats, would be to make it so the effects of secondary stats are actively felt during gameplay. 

 

Another example I could give is content difficulty. Right now content difficulty is basically as follows:

 

Dungeons and some Trials> Normal 8-man raids and 24-man raids and Trials>>>>>>>EX Trials> Savage 8-man raids

 

There’s not really a curve here, and rewards are kind of all over the place. Maybe there’s a reason for this besides “cater to the casuals cuz they bring us moneyz”, but if there is then it hasn’t been made even remotely clear to us. The only thing we really know on the reward front is that SE is very okay with quickly invalidating older content and only considers raid tier clears as relevant during the patch cycle where they’re newest, and afterwards they must be made irrelevant immediately so there are no gaps in player output that we may need to consider for dungeon balancing. And to that end we have the current patch system of alternating raid patches and catch-up patches so that people can always stay up to date with content and gear and raids become gradually more clearable while they’re relevant until they get nerfed and a new one comes out. 

 

But as we’re seeing with the playerbase starting to visibly dwindle, some players are getting very tired of this system and would like to see it change. People want their hard work rewarded in a way that means something. They don’t want to see something they’ve worked very hard to achieve just be given to other players because “it’s catch-up time.” And I acknowledge this isn’t something that we’ll see being fixed before 4.0. But 4.0 is big, and it will be a big deciding factor in a lot of people choosing to remain with the game or leave for greener pastures. 

 

A Plea Reborn

 

No matter where you look, there are people clamouring for changes to a number of aspects of this game, and the way content is developed and released is one of the biggest complaints we see. And there are plenty of other areas of this game I could apply this to. What exactly are they trying to do with PvP? Why do we keep getting new BGs when we’ve seen how that just kills the old ones? Why is this the one area of the game that actually has rewards that will always mean something? What in the name of Nophica were they thinking when they gave us Lord of Verminion? Why did “Exploration” content end up being a mindless mob zerg? What reasons will hardcore, max-level players have to go and do Palace of the Dead more than once? Why are raids, content that is supposed to involve high time investment, all sectioned off into different instances for each boss with little to no exploring? And the questions just keep going. SE, this game needs direction. And even more, that direction needs to be clearly laid out before not just your team, but also the players. We want to understand why you do what you do, so we can make helpful suggestions in improving the game that don’t go against your desired direction for the game. And it paints a really bad picture when instead of doing this you talk about housing changes, flying Slepnir and sleep poses when you have the biggest stage possible to draw people in. Please start talking to us, and letting us have even the slightest glimpse into your world.

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