Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Some interesting questions proposed of the Japanese player base...

I can't say I'm friends with the JP Button crew -- and if I knew of their little April Fools' stunt, I'd have done something really stupid, like translate my entire first page to Japanese or something...

(For those who don't know, the JP Button crew, which basically now has allied with Fusionx of Pet Food Cheater, decided to mock my site (and my vitriol) with an April Fools prank of me "taking over" JP Button...)

But that is neither here nor there for this post.

I did find something interesting there, though, as they posted the 12 questions which American players (culled from several of the popular FFXI forums) wanted to ask their Japanese counterparts. Several are pertinent to basically anyone, and I'll answer (just for the record) for myself, even though I'm not Japanese.

(Questions are taken directly from the JP Button site.)

1) Does Square Enix communicate regularly with the Japanese-speaking community? Do you wish the Final Fantasy XI Development Team would communicate more openly with the players?

I sense they communicate a bit more with the Japanese (see Creator's Voice Z), but not to the extent that I think any part of the player base would like.

I think a significant part of that is a matter that the player base has earned a quite healthy dis-trust from the people who made and run FFXI. I think that has a lot to do with the amount of true communication that you see between the sides.

I think that the Dev Team would communicate more openly if they trusted the information not to be abused -- left, right, and up the center.

2) If you bought A Crystalline Prophecy, did you buy it for the story-line or the body piece? Either way, were you satisfied with your purchase?

I bought it as new content. Since we are, more than likely, finished forever with the large-scale expansions of the game, it's going to be situations like this which are going to provide new content for FFXI.

The problem is simple: I was dissatisfied with the purchase because the purchase was not the amount of new content which would be commensurate with a new (mini-)expansion costing a third of what a large-scale expansion would cost.

What I really fear, given other things I've seen in the game, is that you are essentially paying $9.99 for a daily grab at the goodie box in Lower Jeuno. As I said before, to get the better-augmented loot, it's like you have to pay Square-Enix for the privilege.

There is some decent stuff in there (the 30-level one for the first Seedspalls actually has an Utsusemi: Ni in the list), but that shouldn't be almost the equivalent of reverse-RMT, which is what Square-Enix is falling into.

The storyline was essentially non-existant, the battles far unbalanced point-to-point.

It turned the regular beastmen in several zones into bot-camping situations.

Sloppy planning, sloppy execution.

3) What do you think about the Tidal Talisman, Mog Satchel and other in-game items that come with merchandise? Would you like to see more, or do you feel they should be put directly into the game?

I think you're already, as I just said, bordering on reverse-RMT on the part of Square-Enix with regards to the likes of the Mog Satchel/Security Token and the Tidal Talisman/RL Jewelry motif.

I think, frankly, that if they're going to do this, they need to be honest about it and basically say "Yeah, we're going to make people pay to actually have better opportunities in the game...", which would probably degrade FFXI a step or two further toward those "free MMO's" which basically have people pay for the better gear therein.

I can't say I'm crazy with it either way. I think it's another example of the "$2 whore" which Square-Enix now believes FFXI is.

4) Which battle systems do you enjoy the most? Do you like to steadily earn points towards an item like Einherjar and Campaign, or do you like taking a chance at drops like Salvage and Dynamis? Does getting zero drops after 50 Salvage runs frustrate you, or is that grinding a necessary part of the game?

Dynamis gets frustrating, yes -- Dynamis has been getting a bit more of a grind lately (I think the fact that I have 4/5 DRG and there are several other BST in the linkshell might have something to do with it.

I think the real frustration, though, lies in the fact that the relic weapons are just too damned impossible without some form of hijacking the process so you can get all the Big Money which goes toward it.

As for one over the other? I kinda like Campaign, because you can get into a team concept and earn points toward stuff. Dynamis has its moments, but can get a bit of a grind after a period of time.

5) What do you think of scheduling Dynamis on a website or calendar? Many high-level shells on various servers have their own ways on scheduling Dynamis together so as to avoid conflict. If there were a site available in English and Japanese, would you utilize it?

I think there does need to be a standardized method of scheduling Dynamis, before you start getting groups effectively "ninjar-ing" runs to block other groups from getting in.

What we do is we find out what's available when we go in -- but, sometimes, that results in being handed the last available zone. If there's some rotation, you can get some idea of what you want to do thereon before, say, 45 minutes before you're scheduled to go in.

So some sort of resource, which would probably have to be multi-lingual, should be implemented across all the servers of the game, if plausible.

6) When searching for a camping spot, how can we politely ask Japanese players which camp they are at? Using the Auto-Translate Function (e.g. {Camp} {location} {where?} ) often times fails to elicit a response.

I think a lot of that, bluntly, is distrust between the Japanese and American player communities (something I am surprised was not asked about!). I think that if either felt the other would not infringe, you'd see a lot more communication.

If one side or the other feels they are about to get pinched off or squeezed out, they're not going to say anything -- so, at least IMODO, it's a trust issue, not a mechanics issue.

7) Many foreign players feel that Game Masters lack a basic knowledge of the game, which leaves them unable to punish obvious cheaters or even answer simple game-related questions. How do you feel about the overall effectiveness of Game Masters? Do your experiences with Game Masters make you feel happy, or are you left frustrated and dissatisfied?

Largely frustrated, sadly. I think many of the rulings made by the GM's are made to take the easy way out and not actually have to deal with the situation at hand, be it RMT, cheating, or God knows what else.

Take the Salvage bans, for example. GM's were being notified -- and I think it's partially a matter that the GM's don't know about the game (at least what they are being asked about), and partly that I think they, in the name of getting the $12.95/month from each player, trust the players too much.

I do not believe in the concept of "Innocent until proven guilty". I think that if there's something which could go out of the ordinary, someone is going to exploit it (because such exploits are required to essentially become "elite" in FFXI), and it needs to be put down.

I think the GM's are too trusting of the players and don't take into account that many of the players involved in a lot of the stuff being called on are violating the Terms of Service.

Hence, I think they just take the easy way out, whenever possible.

8) What do you think Square Enix will “ninja fix” next? Feel free to speculate wildly.

That's a hard question to answer, though I do think that they might take a look into nerfing SAM a bit, probably downplaying some mage stuff, much to the chagrin of the Tarutaru, and probably make life a bit harder on all the players (perhaps, now that the pressure has died down a bit, nerfing the Seedspall drop rate, etc.)

Something I'd really like to see them ninja fix? Allow the Beastmen to take the cities in Campaign.

9) What songs or albums do you listen to while playing the game? What are your favorite snacks and drinks for adventuring in Vana’diel?

I might have my iTunes on, which has everything from Deborah Gibson to anime music.

I also have some music and AMV's from YouTube.

I also will watch soccer matches from ESPN360.com.

Snacks? Little Debbie snack cakes. Bologna sandwiches. And water/Powerade.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner of champions. :)

10) How do you feel about online friends? Do you treat them the same as real people with feelings and emotions, or do you view them as strangers behind the screen? Also, do you ever meet in person and become friends outside of the game?

I think anyone who can put up with me enough to call me a friend would be more than someone as a stranger behind a screen. I met my roommate online in 1998. I had a friend who suggested I move to California after my release whom I met online at least in 1993...

But the fact is, I have an earned and violent distrust in people. It's not pretty. So I don't have many friends, because I have a few too many stab-marks in my back over the years.

And that applies as much to FFXI as it does to RL.

11) This is a question for long-term Japanese players:The majority of foreign players have had the Rise of Zilart expansion from the beginning and have never known a Vana’diel without the Zilart areas. What was the game like before Zilart was added? Where did people level, and how were parties set up?

You might want to listen to the latest Limit Break Radio, the first "informal episode" about "The Way Things Were". As for me, I got into the game after Zilart had come out.

12) In one of the threads created for foreign players to post questions, there was a lot of debate about the play style of Japanese Corsairs. People felt they played the job too similarly to Bard, and the topic erupted into the merits of support CORs vs. damage dealing CORs. That said, are there any jobs in particular you feel that foreign players just can’t seem to play right in a party?

I'll expand the question beyond "foreign players".

I think the big problem is that we've gotten to the point that the number of meaningful jobs in the game isn't many more than about a half a dozen. And if you aren't THE certain job for a given situation, you won't see the final fight in ACP (RNG and SMN and the like) or CoP 4.2 (BLM and PLD), etc. and so forth.

The game has become too centralized on just a few jobs. (Don't even think of doing most endgame without being /NIN and with Ni -- that's one of the worst examples...)

So, that's the list and my answers thereto. Take it or leave it.


Elmerthepointy said...

"I can't say I'm friends with the JP Button crew..."


I thought we were friends.

Shawn said...

Not so sure what you mean by downplaying some mage stuff - if you're talking about on the healing side of things... Ah, what would you downplay? If you're talking BLM, a nuking SCH or however, no offense, go level one of those jobs yourself. You may enjoy doing things solo for lack of trust in the playerbase as a whole (sometimes I think you're right on) but having to level BLM from pretty much level 30-75 solo really put a damper on my hopes for the job. It's a challenge, considering you almost *need* the top-level gear for every step of the way - one little resist on a Sleep or Bind and you're dead.

Good to see a lot of your opinions on those questions aren't as... vitriolic as they have been before.

Starcade, now from Leviathan said...

Elmer: I know you take me for an idiot, so I will note the dripping sarcasm and move on.

Shawn: I'm actually talking on the nuking side of things, since it seems that a coordinated bunch of black and red mages can basically down stuff that melees have no prayer at.

As I said before, how many _real jobs_ are there on FFXI right now? 6???

As for the vitriol, a lot of that hasn't changed -- just that it was not on these 12 questions.

I'd be more interested in questions like how the Japanese players really feel about American players and their ethics -- that would probably draw the vitriol out. :)

Elmerthepointy said...

"I'd be more interested in questions like how the Japanese players really feel about American players and their ethics -- that would probably draw the vitriol out. :)"

You might like this article:

Are we friends yet?

Shawn said...

I see your point as far as a coordinated group of nukers, and I'm far from being biased here, I've leveled SAM, RDM and BLM all to 75 so I know 3 of the 4 main archetypes of jobs pretty well. Let's see... 6 main jobs, what would those be. SAM, RDM, BLM, DRG, WAR, BRD? The 5 most commonly invited to... well, just about anything, whether it's endgame, merit parties, what have you. Then you've got the black sheep of the "popular" jobs. I can see why people could go to either side of the fence as far as "usefulness" in an endgame situation, but I think that some of the old strategies for parties need to come back (Skillchains, Magic Bursts, etc) and ToAU needs to die in a fire. I used to think you were one of the screaming "ZOMG DO IT THIS WAY OR YOU FAIL" types, but after reading your blog for a while, you do make some good points. Changed first impressions for the win, eh?

Starcade, now from Leviathan said...

Elmer: I still think you're being sarcastic -- I will, however, answer the JP questions in my next blog post.

Shawn: Trade WAR for PLD for tanking. You probably have it otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Starcade, you could call this a game flaw or power in numbers, I don't care. But this form of fighting has been in nearly every FF game.

The Same job, A Fucking Lot of them, blow shit up!
(Holy shit I made an Haiku)


Some back story on who I am...

I was the co-leader of Theflock. A Beastmaster and Summoner linkshell, until it disbanded in 08 for lack of interested members. We rocked everything and got everything we all wanted so some of us went back home to our servers. I stayed on Quetz. There is Talk of restarting TheFlock with puppetmasters allowed(Wave to Elmer! :p).

Guess what? 6 blms can do some neat shit. 16 Beastmasters and 2 summoners can straight tank Kirin and beat him in 21mins. 26 Beastmasters(8 sub whm). took Dynamis Sandoria all the way to the boss before running out of time with hardly any deaths. We had a token thf pulling mobs(for TH4), spread jug pets out on mobs and all bsts bum rushed the target mobs Siviard(thf) called out. Its hilarious to see and quite powerful.

We even took down Cerberus with nothing but beastmasters and Summoners. Final number was 26 beastmasters and 9 summoners who we cycled in and out and even had a few bsts whose job was to funnel monsters to us to charm past the trolls.

There is power in numbers, numbers of any job.

Whitemage skelly burns.

Monk burns. Skellys are squishy, plus 6 boosted chiblasts is like standing in front of a firing squad.

Drks Zerging with Kraken clubs.

Pup burns with stringing pummel.

Arrowburns from rangers.

Hell there are even Brd burns where you sub nin and keep all of the regen songs on. Only one brd would sub whm and the reraise song would be kept up too.

I've leveled drg too, and 3-6 drg on puks is just sick as well.

What my point is, you can't state to downplay any job in this game until you have leveled it and experienced every aspect of it. I have leveled these jobs between my character and my second account, Cabensis.


I really want to hear your opinion of underdog jobs like beastmasters and summoners grouping together and taking out...

Jailer of Temp, Faith, Fort, Hope, Ix Drg, Ix Drk, Ix Mnk, Kirin, All 4 sky gods, All mini NMs in sky for pop items, Hydra, Cerberus, Tiamat to 9% before it was stolen, Jormy, Dynamis Sandy, and Limbus.

Is it cheating? or smart mechanics of the game we used. Do you demand a nerf of organized large forces because they use there jobs abilities to the max in a group setting? Should they downplay all the jobs i mentioned?

Cardinal rule, Throw a lot of shit at something and its bound to fall sometime.

Starcade, now from Leviathan said...


The point I'm trying to make is that there are 20 jobs in FFXI in name only.

In truth, there might be... Six, maybe seven or eight, with the rest being useless filler and, bluntly, pretty much a waste of time.

(The latter including the BSTs and the DRGs and the like of the world.)

There's a reason your BST/SMN linkshell got put down for lack of numbers -- realistically, all BST is, to most people, is a bunch of antisocials who basically have no regard for what FFXI is really all about.

(Hence, no secret that my first 75 was, in fact, Beastmaster.)

I'm surprised you didn't just have it as a SMN linkshell, especially with all the "Astral Burn for XP and profit" motifs out there.

The problem is that I do downplay it because it is not the optimal means that all the l33t players come out and operate with.

And that's why you have so many people have trouble with getting such groups together.