Thursday, November 29, 2012

And the producer speaks... sort of....

Quick note:

One-day fee vacation.  Gotta reset, as the money comes in on Friday, so BG gets a one-day jubilee in-game from my sorry you-know-what...  :)

Anyway, to the point of all this:

Yesterday (Wednesday) on the Japanese forums -- translated soon after for English-speakers, Akihiko Matsui, the director of Final Fantasy XI, basically took to the forums...

... basically to apologize for all the official silence.

Basically, the impression I got from the official translation is that Matsui is overwhelmed by the amount of necessary work on the game he has had to encounter since taking over for Tanaka this summer:

I think that Matsui said it best (in the translation) when he said:

"I'm at a point that I'd really like more time for all of this, but I can't just keeping saying that."

And, with that, he immediately addressed the roadmap from earlier this year.

All but confirming that Seekers of Adoulin was probably a desperation move on the part of Square-Enix, he said:

"I apologize for the delays with the currently released roadmap. There are two reasons for this.

The first reason is that since the schedule was released before the announcement of Seekers of Adoulin, the effects of the development load for the expansion were much larger than anticipated." 

The problem with that is that it really appears that they felt either that they could half-ass the expansion, or that they never anticipated how much work they would have, so to say that they never really expected to have a fifth Final Fantasy XI expansion.

Then, basically about the one large announcement from this post:

"While we looked into a revised version of the roadmap to release, instead of redoing everything that was up until March 2013, we feel it's necessary to take time to build out a proper development plan from next year on, starting with redefining development plans and then deciding on the practical work content so that we do not disappoint all of you."

Emphasis mine.

They're basically going to change out of what they've been trying to do for the last who-knows-how-long -- probably up to about the five years since Wings of the Goddess hit the table.

Here's the problem:  The community needs at least a soft date on Seekers -- and it needs it now.  From announcement to release, Wings of the Goddess was six months.  About Christmas Day will be six months from the announcement of Seekers, and the facts are that almost NOTHING has been said about the new expansion, which leaves the possibility open that the plug might get pulled before Seekers ever sees release.

But it's basically being decided that, if Final Fantasy XI is going to survive (see the blog post below (Yoshida's comments about the damage XIV has done) for one of the reasons it may not!!), major changes in the development of the game and what's going to be worked upon it are probably going to have to be made.

After (and he knows this is a problem) asking for a little more time, he goes into further detail:

"For example, there's the concern with content and that the necessary content is not reaching the necessary people."

Well, that is part of the main problem (a larger part being that Seekers needs to at least be seen as coming soon to keep people interested), the fact is that a large reason this is the case is that many of the players on the Test Server are using the same illegal third-party add-ons and programs they use in the game proper.

Hence, by committing illegal acts on the Test Server, they skew the content harder than it would be if all players were forced to abide by the rules and license limitations of the game.

By the time the content goes live, the content is actually not balanced, and, if anything, needs to be balanced AGAINST the players who cheat their asses off -- many of them contributing to the testing.  Of course, when this fails, these players get exactly what they want:  Many of these players DO NOT WANT the "necessary content" to reach the "necessary people".

They believe they are the ONLY "necessary people" entitled to be involved, and that players who do not RMT and/or cheat have no place in Vana'diel.

Matsui again:

"Currently, due to the fact that there's a lack of low-difficulty and casual content, a majority of players are focusing on high-difficulty content, and there has been a lot of feedback that even though they log in they can't do what they want (nothing to do). Also affecting this is that things have become more complicated since adjustments have been made to drop rates and item stats."

There's two parts to this.

One, even with all the stuff that can now be soloable at level 99 from the former content, Matsui admits that there is actually very little casual-level content.

Again, this is what the predominant (at least North American/English-speaking) game population wants.  They abhor casual players, believing they take up space and are an unnecessary evil (at best, if not simply contrary to the continuance of this game as an MMO!) which should be shunned, if not eradicated.

In fact, as I said five months ago when Seekers of Adoulin was announced, I think it clear that they would love to block all other players but their elite (and cheating, almost exclusively) selves.

Second, "they can't do what they want"/"nothing to do".

The problem here is two-fold:  One:  You have a system of levelling, at this point, which is contrary to the Terms of Service.  The predominance of players will basically book-burn a job to 30, get into Abyssea, and then basically Fell Cleave/RMT (though not all Fell Cleave groups are RMT, they all are illegal, and the vast majority of the people involved in putting them together and announcing them ARE RMT...) their way to get whatever jobs to 99 that they want.

Two:  The fact is that either the players are of the class who wish to dominate the game over all the other players (and disgrace the other players in so doing), or they are shunned by that same first class of players.

Under "Development Plans", Matsui lists the following:

"I'd personally like to see players that are below level 99 reach level 99 quickly (we will be looking into whether we can make adjustments so that the level 95 limit quest can be completed solo), and for players that have reached level 99, I’d like to create separate elements such as solo, group, casual, hardcore, and provide game play after defining themes for new elements and adjusted elements."

Actually, in most cases, people are reaching level 99 FAR TOO QUICKLY.  I think I know why Matsui wants players to reach level 99 -- Seekers, if the game survives long enough to get a release, will be the level 99 expansion.  Zilart was a 50ish expansion, CoP was a 50-75, ToAU was basically a 75 expansion, Wings even more so, and now, with the level cap of 99, there needs to be more 99 content than just rehashes.

The problem, again, is with the illegal Fell Cleavers, etc.  99 is a matter of gil now, not time nor skill.

More promising the idea of separate elements.  Far too much in the 75 Vana'diel required large groups to attempt the material.  The Vana'diel of level 99 has blown up a lot of the power structure allow the elitist cheaters to basically rule the day, but not all of it.  Perhaps the creation of separate tiers of the game for solo, group, casual, hardcore, etc., might actually blow the rest of the power structure up.

"It's necessary to make adjustments to increase the win/success rate for content that has already been played out by the top groups so that players that come later can catch-up."

You can't think BG likes this one Matsui said.  The entire reason many of these people exist is to humiliate other players or basically force them to pay for illegal clearances (Neo-Nyzul at 10,000,000/win is a good example!).

Before any of that can take place, Mr. Matsui, you need to determine if the tactics and programs used by these "top groups" are legal and allowed.  If they are, you have a serious rewrite of the rules of the game ahead of you -- BEFORE you can do any of what you state.

If Windower/Spellcast/etc. are legal, then the scale of the game changes completely, as the Windower/Spellcast/etc. players will openly attest to.  It's either illegal to play with these implements under License Limitation 2.1, or it's illegal (if the player has the equipment to do so) NOT to play with these implements, as the level of play is demonstrably lower, disrupting the game experience of the other players, and creating an illegality under License Limitation 3.2 .

And then, at that point, would you really need to increase the win or success rate, if the programs once declared illegal effectively become the legal/preferred/only way to play the game?

"Also, in regards to existing content, we will be redefining the number of people required, the level spread, and reward difficulty, and look into making adjustments to fit the needs of the current Vana'diel.

(I feel it would be best to work on the paths to these various types of content for adventurers that are coming back after a long break.)"

Give us a date for Seekers first, at least a soft date, or NONE OF THIS matters.  You're not going to get a serious uptick of people on the game again (you're basically at the point that, if there were no Seekers on the horizon, you'd have to force another set of server merges -- Leviathan is routinely under 1,000 players during much of the weekdays) until Seekers is 3 months, 6 weeks, 1 month or so away.

These goals are correct, as you are intending to bring adventurers back, but none of this happens until we actually get real news and a date for Seekers of Adoulin.

"Additionally, there are a number of things that need to be decided such as aspects of battle that are not balanced up to level 99. For example, I believe the workings of the entire enmity system needs adjustment and the problem of TP given to enemies is an important issue to look into."

Basically, you cap emnity far too easily.  And if you want to see a good example of TP problems, watch some of the reasons that the Voidwatch fights often turn into Fanatics Drink spam-fests.

I just don't know.  He says a lot, but then he says nothing.  We need some idea of how long we are going to have to continue to wait (and probably finance your FFXIV boondoggle) before we get what we really want -- and that's a fifth expansion I'm still not 100% sure we see!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Now even Naoki Yoshida is admitting Square-Enix is in rather serious trouble, and out of chances.

Was just toodling around the Net today, and found a very interesting comment.

Naoki Yoshida, the director of the currently-on-hiatus Final Fantasy XIV, has publicly come out and said that another mistake like XIV would kill Square-Enix.

Not the kind of words that would inspire investor confidence, and the server populations on XI can't be confidence-builders either (currently 953 on Leviathan, and if the conquest update were right now, Bastok would fall in Campaign).

I'm really getting the impression Seekers of Adoulin is either vaporware or an outright sham scam.  It's been five months since we had the original announcement, and not only is there nothing on Seekers, but everything is now months behind schedule, on both XI and XIV:A Realm Reborn.

My best advice for Square-Enix' dwindling chances?  Pick one of the two MMO's, go all-in on that MMO, close the other one for good.

Friday, November 23, 2012

More and more rounds of SE Fail on the SP's: Let's have a look.

Let's take a look at the SP's now, from when they started to where they are now...

I thought only half of these were any good August 1, when I posted the original list.

We're now almost four months later, and they're still junking and revising (as of the November 22 test server update):


WAS:  Regular attacks will become non-elemental and grants a drastic increase in accuracy.

IS:  100% Double Attack for 60 sec.

That's better, to an extent.  Though there are still situations where Formless Strikes would actually do better, frankly.  Sidegrade to slight upgrade.


WAS:  Grants a 100% counter-rate against regular attacks from enemies. Also, the amount of enmity gained by this will increase drastically.

IS:  Doubles your max HP and recovery to full HP.  HP doubled for 30 seconds.

Is MNK supposed to be melee or a tank in this?  Sidegrade at best.


WAS:  Grants party members protection from status ailments.

IS:  Add Dispel to that.  30 seconds.

Kind of an offshoot of the Perfect Defense nerf.  Should be longer, but it's a start.


WAS:  Grants a drastic decrease in enmity generated by magic attacks.

IS:  Add an increase in magic accuracy for 60 seconds.

This is getting to be a halfway decent one, but still Manafont is preferable.


WAS:  Grants an increase to the effect of enhancing magic.

IS:  Increases the effectiveness of the next SINGLE enfeebling spell you cast, but only if it is within the next 60 seconds.



WAS:  Major damage is dealt to the enemy and all enmity will be transferred to the player standing in front of them.

As I called it, "Fuck you both!"

IS (November 22 Update):  Steals one beneficial effect currently on the enemy, including any SP/2 hours which might be on it.  But one beneficial effect must be on the enemy to steal, or it fails and has been used.

And from what I'm reading, the effect MAY _prioritize_ the SP's.  If so, this one is getting good.


WAS:  Grants an increase to the chance of blocking with a shield and reflects the blocked damage to the attacker.

IS (November 22 Update):  Damages the enemy with a shield and drastically lowers their melee attack and accuracy.

Some people are saying this attack/accuracy lowering is to minimum levels, but more testing needs to be done.  Still not really a PLD thing, though.


WAS:  Steals an enemy's TP through regular attacks while the effect is active.

IS:  Not sure if the current 30 second duration was there on August 1, but the effect is unchanged.


WAS:  Absorbs the pet and recovers both HP and removes status ailments. Also, the player will receive a Reraise effect.

IS (and I believe this may be about the third such attempt) (November 22 Update):  Increases the likelihood of charming enemies and eliminates the recast time for Call Beast.  When either Charm or Call Beast is used, the pet will have 300 TP and there will be no ability delays for Sic or Ready.

Here, let me rewrite that as a long-time BST to the reality of today's Vana'diel, and you'll see why this might not be enough without granting the pet full Meikyo Shisui (the SAM 2-hour SP):

Increases the likelihood of charming enemies and eliminates the recast time for Call Beast.  When either Charm or Call Beast is used, the pet will have 300 TP and there will be no ability delays for Sic or Ready.



WAS:  Drastically reduces the magic defense, magic evasion, and INT/MND of the target.

IS:  Allows an additional song to be cast upon party members.

Yawn.  Just simply yawn.  Not enough people actually know how to play BRD to make that work.  (Nor do I, that's why I don't play it.)


WAS:  The range modifier will become the optimal distance no matter the range to the target. Also, ammunition will not be consumed.

IS:  Halves the delay on Ranged Weapons.  100% Double Shot and Triple Shot activation.

Eek.  Going from no ammunition consumed to boatloads!


WAS:  All damage caused by physical special abilities will be evaded. Additionally, weapon skill damage will increase as more special abilities are evaded.

IS:  Evades all special attacks with physical or magical damage.   Enhances the potency of your next weapon skill as more special attacks are evaded.

An upgrade!  Wow.


WAS:  Grants a drastic increase in parry rate. Additionally, Ninjutsu recast times will be reduced by 50% and ninja tools will not be consumed.

IS:  Increases the number of auto-attacks based on the number of your Utsusemi shadows.

Finally!  An effect I could actually see from NIN -- finally allowing the shadows to attack as well!


WAS:  Wyvern’s HP is completely restored and all status ailments are cured. Additionally, the wyvern’s stats will increase.

IS:  Eliminates the recast time of your jump abilities for 30 seconds.

This actually can work -- the only questions people have are the delays Job Abilities have as a function of their being used consecutively. 


WAS:  The recast time of both summoning magic and Blood Pacts will become 0 while under the effect of the ability.

IS:  Only Blood Pacts lose their recast time to 0, but all MP is restored upon activation.

There you go!  Now we're getting somewhere!

WAS:  While the ability is in effect, blue magic from Unbridled Learning can be used continuously.

IS:  Add that Unbridled Learning will have no recast time.

Now we're actually getting to some jobs that actually might have a 99-able "SP"/"2-hour".


WAS:  Grants the ability to use up to 3 Phantom Roll effects.

IS:  Reduces the recast time on SP's of all party members, excluding yourself, depending on your roll.

Rats.  Though it included your own.  Not quite a 99 SP, then...


WAS:  Automaton will use special abilities. Special ability usage will depend on the automaton head.
Harlequin Head: Mighty Strikes
Valoredge Head: Invincible
Sharpshot Head: Eagle Eye Shot
Stormwaker Head: Chainspell
Soulsoother Head: Benediction (Will apply to the party members and automaton itself)
Spiritreaver Head: Manafont

IS:  No change, though I think there's a typo in the current article on the Official Forums.


WAS:  Grants maximum amount of Finishing Moves and the recast time of all Flourishes will be reset.
Additionally, while the ability is in effect, Finishing Moves will not be consumed.

IS:  The effect can only be used 3 times, or in 30 seconds.



WAS:  Will direct enmity of all party members to an indicated player.

IS:  No change, just clarification that it has to be a member of your party.



So, almost four months on, and you've probably got workable 99 SP's for:

The three Aht Urhgan jobs (COR to a lesser extent), DRG maybe,  NIN, SAM, maybe THF, possibly WHM, maybe WAR...

So it'll take til when?  May 2012 before we can get 20 decent 99 SP's?



Friday, November 16, 2012

More thoughts on yesterday's whopper, and the reaction to it...


That went over well.

No, I'm not talking about my post, though Tohihroyu did a nice job on the Official Forums adding issues that everyone else seems to ignore.

I'm talking about Camate basically telling off, according to different players, pretty basically much all the remaining paying customers.

Unfortunately, no one is addressing the Windower issue here.  What people seem to forget is that the predominant game communities, and, hence, the most rigorous testers, are using conduct contrary to the User Agreement, and, hence, the game mechanics are not being calibrated versus legal conduct.

So the question remains:

1) Is Windower legal?
2) If so, does Windower not become REQUIRED for any player who can feasibly use it?

I mean, I read stuff like this on BG and then have to ask another question:

"I'm kind of lost for words when it comes to the ragefest SE's response created. And I almost wish SE would just shut down their forum. It seems to have drawn every single player who think they deserve to get what they want with as little work and effort as possible, to post there."

3) I really wish Mairja from Asura would read the User Agreement and ask the BG community if it's not time to GM every last player they consider incompetent and drive them from the game once and for all?

It is illegal to disrupt the Game Experience of other players, without limitation as to exactly what constitutes the disruption (User Agreement 3.2).  That degree of incompetence could easily be considered disruptive, especially with a Camate post effectively telling the players to get off their asses.

The problem is not that they need players to get off their ass.

The problem IS that players appear to be required to commit violations of the User Agreement (creating questions as to whom, if anyone, is a legitimate player anymore!) for what another player correctly said:

"Most people, whether it be by VW's crappy luck system or not having a winning NNI group, are going to be stuck with gear that is good, but is also fairly outdated/ranked."

Hence, minus committing illegal conduct, there may be a deliberate creation of a glass ceiling only the BG types can break.

Which then, of course, raises the final issue that a couple players have at least skirted around:

4) With the complete lack of Seekers of Adoulin news and the shutdown of XIV 1.x, does the development team actually desire to ever see Seekers of Adoulin released, or is their intention to force all FF MMO players to XIV-2, A Realm Reborn, and shut down XI without Seekers of Adoulin being released?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A discussion on difficulty gets a very important admission, and even some MORE important questions...

There have been a number of discussions, especially given the Perfect Defense and Embrava nerfs, vis-a-vis the difficulty of some of the content, such as Neo-Nyzul and Legion.

What was responded, between the translated Japanese response and the English edition by Camate, may have very serious ramifications on the remainder of this game, however short or long it might be.

When the JP person basically comes out with a statement translated to:

"I hope you can read this and view it honestly without being offended."

 it basically confirms BluGartr's entire modus operandi with respect to FFXI, at least at first glance.

Camate openly lies to the community out of both sides of his mouth with this whopper, which doubles as a huge admission of something I've been nailing on this forum for about four years now:

"Including comments from many of you that feel like the development team is creating content that they don't want you to beat.

Of course, that's not the case, but the development team does believe it's okay to have content that cannot be beat."

It isn't the case that the content is designed to be impossible, but it is OK for the devs if it is?

That's ridiculous, Camate.  On it's face, it's ridiculous!

It's either such shoddy game design that you really don't want casual players (however you choose to define the term) to pay for and play the game at all, and/or there are some really disturbing questions which must be asked.

1) Is the prohibition on the usage of third-party programs (User Agreement 2.1) a material falsity, and, in fact, upholding 2.1 now becomes a server-wide violation of User Agreement 3.2?

From the official site:

2.1 Cheating and Botting.
You may not create or use any cheats, bots, automation software, hacks, mods or any other unauthorized software designed to modify the Game and gameplay. In addition, you may not take advantage of game system bugs and exploits during gameplay. 

3.2 Disruption.
You may not in any way disrupt or interfere with the Game experience of other players, including without limitation the disruption of SQUARE ENIX’s computers and servers.  

It is clear that the statement Camate and his Japanese counterpart have made indicates that, even to access Legion and Neo-Nyzul, such a high barrier of entry is required that it is almost certain, given the current social realities of the game, that violations of 2.1 are effectively required to be an elite player.

1a) Is Windower legal?

and then 1b) If yes, then is it then not a violation of User Agreement 3.2 NOT to use it (if possible -- which can also raise the possibility of the removal of remaining PS2 support), because of the high level of barrier which is admitted in this discussion?

Additionally, this statement from Camate:

"very good gear and a high skill level"

raises the question:

2) Is part of that "very good gear" third-party programs is part of that "skill" the ability, willingness, and proficiency in using them?

This has been one of the big questions I have had with the BluCheater fuckers for a long time now.  Most of them believe that the vast majority of the players are disrupting the game through sheer incompetence, almost illness-level stupidity, etc.

Given this admission, isn't this effectively a statement that User Agreement 2.1 is, in fact, a complete nullity, and, on top of it, basically a barrier to the progress of the players choosing to abide by it?

This is what BG believes.  That, to be a good player in the game, you MUST subvert 2.1, as a matter of definition, and have no place in the game otherwise.  Everything comes down to that you must have the tools, both in-game and on top of the game, to succeed, or don't even bother trying.

The only difference Camate's post is to this is that there is no statement of legality on Windower.


3) In response to:

"Of course, because of this, there will be a need to help players gradually strengthen themselves and have a wide selection of moderate content to choose from, so we would like to do our best to fill that need."

No, there won't.  The real question is whether you actually intend to re-create that stratification which existed at 75, here at 99 -- and then basically answer the questions above.

Non-Windower players have no place in Neo-Nyzul -- and it appears Camate is admitting this.

Same with Legion.

So, just what is a "legitimate player"?

At that point, you must...

4) Bring RMT onto the table.  Is the entire existence of the STF, then, a farce designed to, as 2.1 does, hold back players with morals and a conscience from any degree of reasoned success in the game?

Hence:  Should RMT, on a limited scale, be legal?

It's clearly how some of these players not only advance, but also make a good coin RL, in the game.

It is refreshing to see Camate admit effectively (whether he admits to the admission) what I've believed (and have also believed farcical):  That it is acceptable (and I believe it being done) to make content designed to be effectively impossible under the User Agreement.

Now, the question:  Is the User Agreement simply an Animal Farm scenario?  All are equal, some more equal than others?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Epic Fail Which is Final Fantasy XIV-1 Is No More...

I didn't think it would have to come to the absolute shutdown of XIV, with an indeterminate timetable to the release of what effectively should either be called Final Fantasy XV or Final Fantasy XIV-2 (A Realm Reborn).

One of the biggest jokes in the history of gaming finally fell to reality on Sunday morning, as the servers were finally terminated on v. 1.x of Final Fantasy XIV.

To be clear, they still fully intend, at some point in 2013, to release A Realm Reborn.

But also to be clear, the only six minutes of Final Fantasy XIV 1.x which were worth a tinker's damn to gaming was the termination trailer, in which Eorzea was destroyed.

I almost wish that everything involved with Final Fantasy XIV went with it.  The inescapable reality that the joke which was XIV, from the day of it's release back in September, 2010 to November 11, 2012 has probably irreparably tarnished the Final Fantasy franchise to the point that it's very future has to be stated as, at best, murky.

There are several things to take from the shutdown of XIV 1.x:
  • The MMO Division of Square-Enix, and through it's sheer incompetence, is in far worse trouble than anyone is truly willing to admit.
I've always maintained that I felt that XI was propping up XIV -- and it became clear, when the decision was made to emphasize "Rapture" (XIV's codename) over XI just after the 2009 Salvage bans, that XI was only being kept around to fund XIV.

Anyone who's seen Final Fantasy XI over the course of the last few months knows that's not possible.
  • XIV's timetable is already 2 1/2 months behind a timeline which was released in October of 2011.
The beta is now scheduled for late-January/February of 2013.  Actually, according to the roadmap referenced, they actually scheduled to have software for the 2.0 reboot ready by October of 2012, so they are now looking at at least four months behind, and probably MUCH further.
  • And what does this mean for Seekers of Adoulin?
We have not received one meaningful piece of news about Seekers of Adoulin since VanaFest.

Massively had an article on this in October.

The problem with the announcement being "too early" is that this game needs subs to prop up not only XI, but the development of XIV 2.0 .  And if they wait for 2.0 and beyond to take root BEFORE they go hardcore on Adoulin, they will lose subs.

From what I've been seeing on Leviathan, they've been flying away with some frequency.  I mean, if we look at an April or May launch for XIV 2.0, and THEN work on Seekers, the rate these guys get behind, 2013 for Seekers might be a reach, and, at that point, probably better for Square-Enix to throw all-in on their MMO Division for XIV 2.x and be done with it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The latest RMT findings and STF bannings have FFXIAH in a debate!

Eek.  Let's actually put some text on this one.

This thread talks about a month where the most gil ever has been removed from the system by the Special Task Force.

And, according to the accompanying charts, it's NOT CLOSE.

About a similar number of accounts, but 6 billion gil burned out, and that's nearly 70% above the previous record (3.6 billion in January 2010).

Everything went normally until Arkitanx from Fenrir fired off this missive:

"And then the japanese wonder why their game isnt worth anything anymore? When will the japanese learn how to remove their heads from their butts and learn to do what Blizzard has done with Diablo 3? Incredibly stupid people deserve eradication! It would make the world a better place!"

Basically stating that he only plays games to make money anymore.  After the Diablo III RMT Auction House, there are many more of him than one might want to admit.

This is why the Diablo III experiment was a very BAD idea.

Very bad.