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.

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

  1. It IS a tricky issue and I suppose that regardless of what you’ll do, someone will be at disadvantage. There is no way to please everyone, and what’s fair to one is totally unfair to another. For my own part I think that asking guidls to reproduce legendaries they’ve already worked their butts off to get is unfair too. It’s ridiculous. And mind you – on an individual level we had a LOT of achievmenets regestred from the backlogs as the system was introduced.

    I suppose the most senisble thing to avoid drama would have been not to make up an achivement for legendaries at all – especially not if it’s connected to some attractive award.

    • “For my own part I think that asking guidls to reproduce legendaries they’ve already worked their butts off to get is unfair too. It’s ridiculous. ”

      It might be unreasonable, but it isn’t unfair. (Or in other words, I will have to do it if I want the shinies, as will anyone else who helped get legendaries and whose guild later split up — why should anyone else get a free pass?)

      I think the best thing to do would have been not to give a reward for the old legendaries. And given that Cataclysm is still in beta, that’s probably what we should be angling for as a change.

  2. There’s a lot about FF XIV that’s going to have current MMO players griping, I think.

    My fear for Square Enix is that today’s MMO players will shun it and bad mouth it to the point where newbies to MMOs won’t give it a chance.

    I don’t know why they haven’t lifted the NDA but they ought to, if for no other reason than to start managing expectations.

  3. FFXIV sounds like it’s doing a lot to help people not feel that urge to cap and be ‘hardcore’, and yet they need a pretty hardcore gaming system to play the game ;p

    • Yeah, so who is their audience on PC? Non-MMO gamers with high end systems. So who is that? What springs to my mind are competitive FPS players; somehow I’m not sure they’ll go for the fairly sedate pacing of FF XIV.

      I think if the game ever “hits” with Western audiences, it’ll be when the PS3 version ships.

      Er, I sound like a real naysayer but I’m not. I pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition and am really looking forward to playing.

      I’ll probably only lightly touch the open beta (if I get in) because the game seems so story-driven. I want it all to be ‘fresh’ at launch.

      • I think it’s rigged the way it is because western audiences are ancillary rather than the target audience.

        If FFXI was there to deliver EQ style gameplay in a format that was palatable to a Japanese audience, FFXIV is there to deliver the WoW Paradigm in a similar format. With this including a more casual pacing.

        Which is probably a good thing, since FFXI was almost absurdly hardcore.

  4. I think the only problem for the hardcore types will be them needing to readjust their understanding of what it means to be hardcore.

    First. Check out this clip from a guy trying to explain and show how all this works.

    If I am understanding him right, players will get separate sets of 8 hours for each of their classes. Where I think it is confusing people is that your physical class, the one that determines the level of your physical stats is also limited to the 8-15 hours. So you could level up a mage to say lvl 20 in the first week using all 15 hours, 7 of which has diminishing returns. Then you would be a lvl 20 mage and a lvl 20 character with lvl 20 hitpoints and mana and so on. Then you could continue playing for another 15 hours as a fighter, get that to lvl 20 and now you would be a lvl 20 mage / lvl 20 fighter / lvl 20 character. Over all, you are still just lvl 20 just like your friend with kids who could only lvl up 1 class but now you have a much more diverse lvl 20 then they do.

    So there is a limit to how far you can get but not so much a limit on how much you can do. There are 15 classes from what I hear including the non combat / crafting type stuff. That gives you 120 hrs a week of lvling classes at 100% exp even if you can only get so far in your overall character lvl. That is a lot of play, if you are willing to see diversity as the path to hardcoredom.

  5. WoW can be played in this manner. I fight a bit, craft a bit, heal a bit, explore a bit, fish a bit, etc. and feel as if I’m rewarded for doing so. If it was important for me to keep up with everyone else, I would have burned out a long time ago.

  6. Oh someone with a positive take on the fatigue system in FF14? Hehe I have had quite some chats about this today and although I’ve written a rather negative review on the matter myself (to be fair this isnt the only thing vexing me), I agree with you that essentially this comes down to playstyles. If you enjoy doing different things every few hours, then it might just be the perfect thing for you.

    I think what annoys me most about it, is that they feel the need to regulate this at all. I would assume a ‘slower’ player that enjoys to craft as much as to level for example, would stick to such a playstyle anyhow – while another more progress-oriented person could play the way he likes too. I don’t see how that was such an issue in WoW for instance and I don’t think you can ‘force’ players to take a game slower. If anything they’re likely to just stay away completely?

    • It does depend on what else there is to do in the game, and — truth be told — a decent sidekick system would have solved the same problem.

      But I do remember even back in my first MMO where I was keen to go off and RP and explore, that I got way behind the curve and suddenly found I couldn’t group with half my guild because I’d been ‘having fun’ and they’d been grinding out levels. I think that’s the sort of thing they’re looking at. I suspect you’re right and that people will tend to do their X hours per week and then not bother logging in until the next week.

  7. But every mmo forces people to slow down to some extent otherwise there is no sense of developing over time. Except maybe Guild Wars but I haven’t played that. But for the most part, everybody gets throttled back some how. Usually it is in terms of how long it takes to gain exp and how much you need to level. In wow, for end game, it is how long it takes you to earn the badges you need and how your lock outs play into that.

    With just a straight exp curve is that the whole game has to be throttled back to the fastest acceptable pace for hardcores. So if it is ok for a hardcore to finish the leveling up process in say 2 months then that is what you get. The problem is that all the casuals have to get worked into the same curve. It could be skewed some by a system like rested exp making up for some down time but mostly it is limited. If it take a hardcore 2 months it will take a casual 4 or 6.

    At the other end of the spectrum you have a super hardcore, dog eat elephant, pvp game like EVE where the progression is fixed strictly to real time. There is no way in that game to catch up in SP if you start the game today. But then you don’t need a set amount of sp to hit endgame. If you know what you want you can target a new character to fit a particular role within a month or so. You just have to train the right stuff. Not everything that comes at you.

    I think Square is simply doing something in between the two. It is more active in the sense that you can’t just fill your training queue and not play the game, rather you have to play to get the training but your training is limited in how much you can get in a particular period. So it still take the hard core 2 months to get to end game but it also takes the casual 2 months to get to end game, as long as they are satisfied with a character that has much less versatility than the hardcore.

    I really think it simply comes down to people adjusting what their understanding of hardcore is. Some wont be able to handle it at all but I think they will be fewer in number than most think. Don’t forget, that those who talk about a game a month before its release tend to lean in the hardcore direction.

    As for those who are putting up polls and demanding that SE remove this feature, I think they are fighting a loosing battle. This system is not just something tacked on to the side of the game that could be removed leaving nothing more than an ugly spot needing some paint. This is the core mechanic that is throttling the whole pace of the game. Removing it means changing how much exp every mob and every quest give in relation to how long they take to kill or complete. The fatigue system is not going away.

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