Being rewarded for what you were going to do anyway (Rested xp in FF14, guild achievements in WoW).

Final Fantasy 14 is shaping up to be more innovative in many ways than many commenters were expecting.

The creators have said explicitly that their main audience is not current MMO hardcore players. Instead they’re aiming at players who like the Final Fantasy games and maybe haven’t gotten into MMOs before. So given that accessibility and similarity to previous single player games are at the top of the agenda, what have they come up with:

In the lastest FF installment, you can switch your character between any class between battles. The MMO will also feature this facility. Your main can level in any class available in the game (which includes some crafting classes as well as adventurers) and switch between them at any time.

Levelling becomes a weekly quest. Each week, you will be able to earn up to a certain amount of xp in each class and then the xp earned will tail down to zero.

Squenix attempt to explain this here:

Firstly, the concept for FINAL FANTASY XIV was to design a system of character progression that offers meaningful advancement for those with limited time to dedicate to playing. We did not want to create a game that forced people to play for hours on end to see their efforts rewarded.

Here is my simplified version:

Each week you can earn up to a threshold value of xp in each class. After this, the xp earned will tail to 0. However, the xp curve will slowly reset whenever you aren’t doing anything that would earn skill or experience points.

So you can max out your warrior xp, then do something non-xp related (not really sure what though – maybe exploring or RP) and your xp threshold will slowly reset.

As per the quote above, their goal with this system is to not force people to get all hardcore if they want to stay competitive. A nice side effect is that it tends to reward people who like to do lots of different things with their character anyway. So if you naturally would want to fight a bit, then craft a bit, then try healing for a bit, or go exploring for a bit – you will come out ahead here. You’ll be rewarded (or at least not penalised) for doing what you would have done anyway.

Compare this to current MMOs where if you want to keep up with your mates, you need to play at least as much as they do. Just think forwards to the release of Cataclysm – how many people will feel pressured to get to the level cap as fast as possible, taking as little time as they can to craft or explore or even read quest text on the way?

To me, this game just continues to sound better and better. I’m not going to cry for people whose ideal play style is to play non stop until they hit the level cap and are now complaining that the game is designed to stop that. This game is not for you. Some games are, this one is not.

So I think the general idea is good – although I’d wish that xp from one class only counted towards the threshold in that class. The devil is ivery much n the details here. Much depends on where they decide to set their thresholds and what sorts of activities are in game that don’t affect xp or skills. The other big issue here is how xp in groups and guildleves will work. If the game awards groups with more xp, then players will wear through their xp thresholds more quickly. If xp was turned off in instances, they would suddenly become useless for levelling.

In any case, the game is still in beta so they are liable to be tweaking many of these numbers.

The threshold values are being re-examined, and we plan to further adjust the different rates of earnable points based on feedback from our testers. <…> We also plan to improve experience point reduction rates, even more so than for skill points, considering the threshold is unaffected when changing class.

The main thing to take away is that if you were going to play in a way that never would have hit the thresholds anyway, you will only benefit from this mechanic. It’s an incentive to adopt that playstyle.

Grandfathering in Old Achievements in WoW

Blizzard this week did an about turn on previous thoughts about all guild achievements needing to be started from scratch in Cataclysm.

Apparently if you are in a raid guild which has acquired legendary items now, those will count towards an achievement in Cataclysm that is rewarded with a swanky guild mount.

I was noting in comments on Larisa’s blog that I find this devastatingly unfair. I speak as someone who worked on legendaries with a guild in Vanilla and is currently working on legendaries in a raid alliance right now. Neither of those previous efforts will count with anyone for anything because I am not in ‘the right sort of guild.’ The old 40 man guild split up (obviously) and the current raid set up won’t qualify for guild achievements.

I think it’s fine to record previous feats of strength if it is possible to do so. Meaningless achievements work fine for this. But those past achievements have already been rewarded in meaningful ways – otherwise we wouldn’t have done them at the time. It’s unnecessary to give some people an extra perk for doing what they would have done anyway, and unfair to only give it to people who happen to be in the right type of guild.

Maybe this is a deliberate tactic to encourage existing 25 man guilds to stay together and to use up the dog days of the expansion in scheduling endless runs to get old legendary items. And it is totally understandable that anyone who finds themselves in this situation would be pleased. But fair is one thing that it is not.