FFXIV A Realm Reborn: Alpha testing, Story, and More.

The final phase before the ship that is FFXIV attempts to turn about is taking place.  Global Alpha will send invites on 11/26/12.  The dedicated player base, keeping a strong presence on the FFXIV Forums, is determined to see the process through.  They diligently round up any trickling bits of new information.  Thanks to Soukyuu for translating these interview summaries between Naoki Yoshida and 4Gamer, Dangeki, Gamer, and Gamewatch.  I’m going to include his comments, because he makes good points for those who are familiar with FFXIV terms.

Blue = Soukyuu’s comments

Red = My comments

4Gamer Interview Summary

  • Story
    • Main story will introduce a character related to Louisiox
    • Why Bahamut was sealed is related to the Crystal Tower
    • There will be no need to know the 1.0 story, as everything will be explained in ARR. [I’m thankful for this because I had little involvement with the 1.0 story]
    • Concept art of items obtainable in the Great Labyrinth of Bahamut [click]
  • Name changes 
    • Changing char name is possible technically
    • This will mean your friend list [and probably LS membership] will be lost, though
    • They are worried about people mistyping their char name, since it’s a one-time opportunity and there is no confirmation dialogue on char creation, so they are asking to be careful about it
    • HE NEVER SAID “YES” DIRECTLY! WAIT FOR AN OFFICIAL CONFIRMATION!
  • Character customization
    • Bust sizes vary by races, for example Roegardyn will have bigger sizes than sunseeker, moonkeeper coming after it. [Hyur/Elezen not mentioned]
    • Bust physics will be kept as modest as possible [But still there]
    • Other char model movements involve Miqo’te ears & tail, as well as Elezen/Lalafell ears.
    • For miqo’te tails, there will be 5 tail types, ranging from more lion-like movement to more cat-like movement [Yay~] [Interesting attention to detail]
    • Barber NPC will make you do a quest that will allow you to change your hairstyle, it’s color as well as facepaint. Not face/body proportions though.
  • FATE
    • Definition of NM [Notorious Monsters, large (sometimes) signature/unique monsters that require a skilled/geared player or small party] as “monsters that suddenly make the otherwise safe environment dangerous”
    • Rewards are decided based not on party, but individual performance
    • All players treated as “one large party” [so basically you just get flagged as “near enough to be evaluated for a reward, which also level-synchs you to the event level] [WAR Public Quests!]
    • Level sync only works one-way: if you’re above content level, you will be de-levelled, if you’re below content level, nothing happens. [Half of what GW2 offers and the reverse of WAR’s Apprentice system]
    • Other FATE types:
      • village/city invasion (example: bandits/thieves)
      • chocobo escort
    • No limit on how many people can participate in a FATE
    • They are thinking about a system that automatically creates an instance and moves the half of the people to a new one should the number of people reach a certain number
    • While this system is technologically possible, the cost is high, so they are planning to monitor the events in alpha&beta to decide if it’s really needed. [Let’s hope it works out]
  • Housing
    • To be able to afford an M-Sized house, three players would have to level to 50 by clearing all quests [so… solely questing to 50 and banking the rewards] and combine the gil they earned from that. Apparently, that would take about 50 hours. [Hopefully it’s 50 hours to get to 50 from quests, a decent time for 1-50 in my opinion*, and not 50 hours to level cap “three times”]
    • The housing system is comparable to Dragon Quest X [What does this mean?  I’ve never played Dragon Quest X… *Google*]
    • Can make your house a public space for all to enter or limit it to friends
    • Land and House prices are separate
    • Land starts expensive, but if it’s not bought, the price will start to drop [Ok, hypothetical here; What if I buy up a large portion of the “prime” reality in an area/instance and hold onto it until more people want to buy it, then sell it for more than it’s worth?  Huh?  Can you answer my hypothetical?  Wordpress?  Someone?…]
    • There are only 3 L-sized patches of land per instance
    • Apparently, once we will see the amount of gil needed to buy an L-sized patch of land, we will recoil in horror.
    • Since the price will be falling with time, he wants us to worry about when the right timing to buy it will be
    • Retainers will be placed in our homes
    • You can buy from them there, or alternatively from the board [probably our current marketplace system]

*The average speed of leveling from 1-60 in WoW was 24-30 hours when I was playing (pre-WotWK) and it felt too fast.  50 hours to 50 seems better.

  • Free Company
    • Free Company ranking and “earning reputation from a Grand Company” is just a setting they thought of for the roleplaying community. Non-RPing players won’t really have to pay attention to that.
    • Example of perks for taking the top position in a GC ranking: That GC NPC will greet members of that FC with more respect, saluting once you approach them. [I wonder if other players will see this animation as well]
  • Marriage System
    • For bonuses for getting married, they are only thinking of simple things like using the wedding ring to teleport to your partner. No bonuses in battle, else it will just lead to fake marriages. [Heck, for partner teleportation I’d marry my brother (nohomobro)… I thought marriages weren’t even finalized yet for ARR]
    • To be able to marry, you will have to clear a quest with your partner. [Like getting our parents to accept the union, egads]
  • Mounts
    • Only chocobo will be fighting by your side, others are for riding only 
    • When you level up, your chocobo levels up with you [Boco, I choose you]
    • There are plans to make the magitech armor customizable [think mecha parts]
    • Magitech armor will somehow be connected to the story, he said they prepared an episode that will make us sit there grinning [Maybe some FFVI references?]
    • Using it in PvE/PvP is possible, but they currently have no plans for it [They might look into battle in your Magitech armor if people show enough interest, afaik]
  • PvE/PvP Balancing
    • They’re carefully balancing damage and status effects between those two [seems like the rulesets are NOT separated after all.]
    • Some kind of “item level” will be introduced which describes the usefullness of your equip.  [Oh no] Not only the DPS but also the status effects are taken into account, so that we can go away from “if you’re not keeping up your DPS, you’re useless”-mindset  [But still, if your gearscore doesn’t meet my requirements GTFO]
  • Items/Equip
    • Inventory limited, but banks will have larger capacity
    • Vanity items still class restricted (no heavy armor mages)
    • In PvP, vanity will be disabled, so you won’t be able to trick people with it [no PvP vanities?]
    • FATE rewards will contain vanity items among others
  • New Races
    • Reason why he is torn between Viera [A what?] and something more brute-ish, like a reptile, is because Viera are too close to humans and he wanted to introduce something more beast-like. Also, Viera has only appeared as female so far… and he doesn’t want to have a gender-locked race… [read: do you seriously want to see bunnyGUYS?!] [That’s a loaded question]
    • He is also worried about crossing a certain line after which it will become hard to distinguish between PCs and NPCs/Monsters
  • Alpha
    • currently, zone servers can handle up to 700 players with about 300 battles taking place in one zone and all the AI running
    • servers start to lag extremely @800 players in one zone, with about 380 battles taking place
    • they plan to increase that to 1000 players per zone
  • Beta
    • PvP will be available for testing
    • They are thinking of people with alpha invites to be brought to phase1 beta too, but it’s not set in stone yet.
    • The dev team is practicing PvP matches already, meaning we get to fight them 
  • Game content
    • normal quests soloable
    • dungeons and raids require a party
    • normal mode clearable when forming one via content finder
    • hard mode is only clearable if you have people with experience working together[implying you CAN try to clear it by auto-matching, but you’ll need a lot of luck]
    • content may be hard at first, but if for example a patch introduces some new content that gives you a nice item, it will raise your “item level”, making clearing previous content easier.

Dangeki Interview Summary

  • Alpha
    • Alpha -> Wipe -> Beta, to not risk dragging any data bugs from alpha to beta
    • alpha is currently the minimal niveau they want to have
    • Global alpha will start at the end of the month [invites: 11/26/12; playtime: 11/28/12]
    • Plans are to get a lot of people in.  If login counts drop more players will be invited.  Aiming for a login rate of 60% of invited players. [Hopefully we’ll see more than that]
    • PR will be parallel to alpha, for example promoting characters not usable in alpha [I’m guessing he means new races?] [Possibly no Arcanist/Summoner]
  • Beta
    • Beta content packaging started
    • Beta will be next year [January/February]
    • Controller UI will become available
    • Phase 1 will once again be a (closed) stress test
    • in Phase 2 they will increase the amount of participants
    • Phase 3 will make our saved data available [From Nov. 1]
    • All races will be present in the beta version
    • Not all animations will be present for all races, so dummy animations will be used (for example, miqo’te ears not visible on a helm)
  • Story of ARR
    • something similar to 4 heroes of light of FFI [possibly elemental crystals and the balance of nature]
    • end of era trailer has a continuation -> opening of ARR
    • ARR is set 5 years after end of 1.0.  Why has the world recovered so fast?  It is related to what happened in the last moments between Louisiox and Bahamut. This will be the main of the 3 storylines in ARR until the first expansion and will explain about the Allag Empire, Dalamud, why Bahamut was sealed and what became of Louisiox.
    • 2 other storylines:
      • conflict with Garlemard
        • first goal of the empire is to stop the beast tribes
        • conquest is only secondary
      • fight against the primals
        • aether energy is same as FFVII lifestream: use (summoning) damages planet, needs to be stopped [Arcanists and Summoners are ecoterrorists]
    • story will be episodic
      • first ep: conclusion of the 7th umbral era catastrophe [the moon-meteor Dalamud] (cap still lv50)
      • “Ishgard”, “Recovery of Ala Mhigo”, and “The Garlean Empire” used as examples for new story episodes/expansions
    • old 1.0 story got scrapped, however the essence is still there.
  • FATE
    • every participant gets a reward
    • start will be announced in the field
    • event flow:
      -> get close to the area
      -> party is autoformed + level synched
      -> fulfill objective
      -> reward based on damage and participation time
    • no timers to be able to participate again [I’m hoping for more diversity in an area than I found in WAR]
  • Housing
    • S-sized land = S-sized house
    • no expansions; if you want a bigger piece of land, you have to buy it (full price)
    • if you don’t need land, you can sell it to the NPC
    • moving to another patch of land is also possible
    • a newly bought house comes without any furniture
    • apparently, in L-size houses you can distribute the space inside to make own rooms.[Not sure I got that correctly]
  • Cities
    • LL & Ul’dah won’t be shown a little longer. Both maps and the cities were changed.
    • “Universal design”: all DoW Guilds are marked red, no matter the city
    • What was changed was mostly the ways between point of interest, making them shorter.
    • In case of LL, floor textures were changed to better distinguish between lower and upper floors.
    • Ul’dah’s gate MIGHT be able to open now.
  • PS3 Version
    • PS3 Beta after PC Beta enters phase 3
    • Aiming for about 40 players visible on screen
    • additional to that, 4 M-Sized or 1 L-sized monster
    • since there will be LOD, you won’t get the impression there are only 40 models visible on screen.
    • PS3 version coming along nicely
    • More about the PS3 version at the beginning of 2013
  • Misc
    • You won’t be able to use macros from 1.0
    • Safe to delete the old client, but don’t throw away you registration codes! [probably needed to DL ARR CE?]
    • Both PS3 preorder and collector’s edition will have a bonus
    • All music in alpha is by SOKEN
    • Dev team size is currently 9 times the size of the original team
    • Bahamut design comes from Hiroyuki Nagamine, base by Akihiko Yoshida. Naoki Yoshida requested for Bahamut to be less mechanic and more leaned towards classic design, so that everyone seeing him would instantly recognize him.
    • He thought about voicing the NPCs too, but decided against it to favor faster update cycles. Voicing 4 languages takes too long, and should new languages be added, it would take even longer.

Gamer Interview Summary

  • Alpha
    • Aiming for 5000 players per server, 1000 players in one zone lagless
    • Two approaches to zone congestion
      • Display a message “too many players in zone, entry denied”
      • Spawn instances of a zone to allow for more players [I’m seeing more of this in modern MMOs.  I appreciate its function and usually prefer playing on the less populated “channels”]
    • still testing which one to take, as 1000 players in a zone is rarely happening naturally
    • alpha is planned to continue till the second week of December
    • they actually already have enough data from the stress tests and also enough feedback to be used for beta
    • letting us into the alpha is only to test how far the performance will degrade because of the distance to the servers as well as to perform stability tests over extended periods of time (servers running 24/7)
    • login counts are not falling, the devs have been telling Yoshida-san that “it’s because YOU log in all the time!”
    • he’s very happy to be able to talk to players directly and already had numerous discussions [I hope we don’t scare him away if he attempts to do the same with us… seeing how our “discussions” usually go]
  • Mounts
    • Apparently, the sprint ability introduced in alpha makes mounts seem slower [Can the mounts sprint?  Or the players?]
    • All mounts have the same speed
  • Misc
    • Starting city is fixed depending on your first job, but once you reach the quest to go to the other 2 cities you can freely chose which city’s quests you want to do first.
    • Legacy characters will start at a different place, the one where the hero party drops from the void. [I’m reading it as legacy = created before end of the era, not legacy = created on a legacy account, but I’m not sure]
    • Legacy characters will still be able to take all the quests just like non-legacy players, he says to think of it as a “stronger new game” [i think he means kinda like you can start a new game but keep all the items in some RPGs]
    • Arcanist will be available at release, Summoner could make it too, but there seem to be delays on the battle side of things, so it might not make it.
    • Wedding quest involves exchanging the rings at some point.
    • After you get your ring, you can get married.
    • Beta content not yet finalized, but he plans to include all the core story
    • Arcanist’s “hitting with a book”-animation is being worked on, he plans to show it the next LIVE letter, if possible
    • No plans to novelize FFXIV’s story, nor release some goods for now. Not until after release, when the community has grown and the game is successful enough for such investments to be worth it.
    • There might be an offline event where players will be able to fight against the dev team, he’s thinking about doing it about half a year after ARR release if the game is successful. [I hope they will still do online events too, else people outside Japan are left out again…]

Gamewatch Interview Summary

  • Story
    • Nael is dead. [Sounded pretty final, so no “coming back as omega weapon” etc]
    • Gaius was just observing which party is going to fall, so he and his troops are unharmed. He is going to be our opponent for the time being.
    • Garlean Empire’s motivation is “Primals are killing the planet, so we have to stop them. Unite under our banner to bring on an era of peace! If you go against us, this means you are aiding the beast tribes to destroy the planet. This means, you are our enemy.”
    • Crystal tower is related to the mystery behind the Allagan Empire, and is it’s legacy.
    • All of the 3 storylines are interwined somehow.
    • Dalamud was a machine created by the Allagan Empire [so, it was not the same as the sealing ceremony Louisiox tried to perform!]
    • The emperor Xandes (sp?) of the Allagan Empire is not dead. He is actually in a cold sleep chamber. Yoshida-san wants us to speculate whether Nael was trying to bring Dalamud down to awaken the Emperor and whether the appearance of the Crystal Tower signifies the Emperor’s awakening or not.
    • Main story will end at lvl50 with a tentative ending, what will follow are numbered patches, just like with the 7th Umbral Era storyline of 1.x. He emphasizes that he’s not talking about expansions here. Those 3 storylines will come to a conclusion before the first expansion is released.
    • “The Grand Labyrith of Bahamut” is not meant figuratively, but literally. It’s going to be huge.
    • It appears that Bahamut was not allowed to roam around freely, which is why there is a labyrinth and why the world has recovered. The whiteout at the end of the End of Era trailer takes place right before something happens. [Odin after all?]
  • FATE
    • Rewards won’t be useless (like, “here, have a potion”), but won’t be anything rare/powerful either
    • Rewards will have something to do with the type of FATE cleared. For example, completing a chocobo escort will yield a reward related to chocobos.
    • The claiming system is disabled while in a FATE
    • Once a FATE starts, everyone on the zone will get that huge FATE message and the location will be marked on the map
    • When you get close to the FATE location, your normal objective list will be replaced with the FATE one. Once cleared, the normal objective list will become visible again.
    • Planning to have 5-10 different FATEs per zone
  • Housing
    • After you build a house, you can’t trade that patch of land. [He did not elaborate.]
    • Once you build a house, there won’t be any upkeep cost.
    • Housing is planned to be implemented in the first big update after release. However, since debugging still needs to be done, we will get to test it somewhere at the end of Beta.
  • Alpha
    • A lot of positive feedback on alpha (“Amazing” “Didn’t expect so much from an alpha” “could have released this as beta”). He was very happy to hear that because he expected a lot more negative comments. [Do I sense a fellow perfectionist soul there?!]
    • Alpha was branched 2 months ago [I wonder how much they improved it in those 2 months]
    • Regional datacenters won’t be ready for Alpha
    • First 2 days of global alpha will be limited time-wise, if everything runs well, it will be running 24/7 starting from the 3 day.
    • Alpha will end before the end of the year. [Yes. About 1-2 months of waiting time till beta]
  • Beta
    • Goals of the beta include (among others) stress test, pc search and market system testing. These are sceduled for beta phase 1. They will put dummy items into the marketplace and will ask us to search for something all at once.
    • Basically, just as in Alpha, it comes down to squishing bugs and tweaking code to be more performant. Apparently, removing one loop from the battle code improved the performance allowing for 200 more battles in a zone – laglessly.
    • “Why was the Beta delayed?” “Because I told them to *wry smile*”. Basically, he wants to polish it more because of the feedback he received. He’s been telling the dev team that saying “it’s just alpha” is not allowed and that thinking like that was what has lead 1.0 to be all over the place. [Hear hear! <3]
    • Beta length will depend on what kind of feedback they will receive. He wants the testers to say “it’s enough already, just release it” before he does.
    • Still not clear if there is going to be an OBT and/or early access, this will depend on beta feedback, too.
  • Animations
    • 3 animations for taking damage, different animation depending on damage taken
    • Final motion blending animations are not implemented in the alpha. [this should calm down a lot of people, including myself]
    • Beta will introduce some, but not all animation blending.
  • Misc
    • They expected the servers to crash a lot on the last day
    • Reason why they went along with it anyway is, they wanted as many people as possible to watch the trailer at the same time
    • We definitely won’t be able to experience the 7th Umbral Storyline/Content again, but not saying “no” to time-travel in general
    • Apparently, 1.0 servers were running on LUA scripts, and the biggest problems were instability and memory consumption.
    • Back when he decided to destroy the world [oooh, evil ] instead of just shutting down the servers, he was looking for a way to do that. That’s when he asked what the dot near the moon was. Apparently, Dalamud was supposed to be used in a future scenario of the original story. Well, what he did was to ask “is it okay to make it fall?”
    • That’s when he started to prepare the plot and thought “just dropping it is boring… what is typical for FF? Summons… speaking of summons… Bahamut! 
    • He admits his choice was inspired by WoW’s Cataclysm to some degree. He felt this way there would be a surprise, while still staying FF-like
    • We didn’t get the full roadmap, but a simplified one. For example, in the full roadmap, there was also a roadmap for DoL/DoH, so he did not neglect them as claimed by some players.
    • YoshiP “sucks at drawing” [his words, not mine xD], so he wrote the script describing the events in the End of an Era trailer instead.
    • ARR opening may feature a narration by Louisiox. [Don’t jump to conclusions yet]
    • The opening will include the summary of the end of the 6th astral era (3 minutes) and will be around 8 minutes long in total.
    • He’s thinking about including a “no cut” [end of era + opening] version of the movie on the ARR CE
    • Our character data is handled with utmost care and there are backups in place should something go wrong
    • He will be thinking about implementing other client languages depending on how many players speaking that language there will be. He knows there is a large demand for a Spanish version and he was also thinking about a Russian one. This is for something after ARR release though.
    • They plan to show off systems like FATE in future videos
    • NPC speech will only be visible in speech bubbles, not in chat log, apparently.

Overall a very interesting round up.  If you succeeded in reading all the way to this point, consider yourself up-to-date on all things FFXIV:ARR.  Until next time.

- TTred

End of an Era

Completely blown away on this.  I look forward to seeing what they do with the story.  Wow…

Thrangis the Troglodyte

I’ve been secluded from much of the MMO world these past few months.  With FFXIV shifting gears for 2.0, and me without an alpha testing confirmation, I have turned to simpler games all together.  I’ve been trying to conquer the Lord of the Rings: The Card Game.  I’m stuck on Escape from Dol Guldur.  Damned hill trolls.  I’m sure I’ll get it eventually.

What have I got planned until the end of the year?  I’m looking forward to FFXIV: A Realm Reborn’s BETA testing.  I want to contribute to making the game spectacular.  Aside from this I’ve been enjoying indie games, Crusader Kings II comes to mind.  I’ll be picking up FTL: Faster Than Light after the end of the month.  As for right this minute I’ve been playing Black Mesa Source, an SDK mod remake of Half-Life.  It’s great, but the ladders are still a pain.

I’ll try to refrain from allowing too much dust to settle on this old place.  When I, eventually, become active again I’ll probably do a visual update for the blog.  We’ll see. :)

- TTred

Thrangis the Exile

I’m sure I talked about Path of Exile before… somewhere in here.  One moment.

Aha!

It was vague, but oh well.  I have been playing PoE on and off since then.  The random legacy dumps can be frustrating – sticking all my characters on an “old characters” server where no one else is playing.  After three of those I was giving the thing a break.  But, I was able to get a confirmation on reddit that there may be only one more wipe before Open Beta.  Meaning that OB will be synonymous with launch.

[–]chris_wilsonGGG

There will be a complete wipe (excluding character names) when we enter Open Beta. That will be the last wipe.

There may be legacy migrations before then (where we put all the characters in the legacy league), but I’m trying to avoid those because it upsets players.

I’m currently leveling a Shadow and I hope to test out a spell-crit build for him before OB begins.

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- TTred

A Realm Reborn

 

I tried FFXIV sometime last year, September if my memory serves me well, and I enjoyed aspects of the game.  All together I wasn’t thrilled enough to continue a full-time sub, partially because I could barely run it on my computer at the time.  I have made some adjustments to my PC since then, just as Square Enix has adjusted several features of XIV.  The coming of 2.0, which I see is being called “A Realm Reborn”, has me head over heels for the game once more.  I am looking forward to Sept-Oct. this year.

-TTred