I’ve had a couple people ask me why I’m not even looking at Final Fantasy 14, to which I generally reply that I’m pretty much over and done with my love for the Final Fantasy series, and I disliked almost everything about Final Fantasy 11. Of course, it doesn’t help matters when Square Enix comes out with ridiculous plans like penalizing customers for playing their game for more than a certain time period.
The proposed “fatigue” system in FF14 has stirred up a lot of controversy this past week. Basically, if you play a character for more than eight hours a week (not a day, a week), then you start to get less and less experience as you go along until you’re finally getting nothing at all. This system resets after the full week’s gone by.
Now, to you or I, this smacks of punishing players for playing, right? But to Square’s wacky mentality, it’s because they’re trying to impose some sort of artificial fairness across all of the playerbase:
“First off, the main concept behind FFXIV is allowing those players with little time on their hands to play effectively, and game balance is based off of that. Furthermore, it is being designed to not give those with more time on their hands to play an unfair advantage. Because of that, systems such as Guardian’s Favor (a bonus to Guildleves) have been implemented to make leveling in the short-term easier than leveling in the long-term.”
I don’t really have the energy or desire to spell out why this is incredibly stupid, but it’s already starting to bite the company on its bum, as well it should.
The funny thing, to me, is that right here is an example of history repeating itself, and companies failing to learn the lessons of the past.
Way back in early 2004, World of Warcraft was in the beta stage, and those of us on the outside were devouring every scrap of new information, patch notes, etc., as it progressed. In April, Blizzard threw testers for a loop with a new concept called a “rest state.” To quote the 0.6 patch notes:
- The Rest state modifier only affects experience earned from killing monsters. It does not affect experience earned from quest rewards or other experience rewards in the game (such as future PvP experience rewards).
- As players kill monsters and gain experience points, they become increasingly tired. Their rest level reflects this tiredness in five tiers: well rested, rested, normal, fatigued and exhausted.
- Well-rested players receive bonus experience points for killing monsters. Rested players receive a smaller bonus. At the normal rest level, players receive no bonus experience points for killing monsters. Fatigued players receive half of the normal experience points from their kills, and when exhausted they will receive a quarter of normal experience from a kill.
- To become well rested and start earning bonus experience from killing monsters again, players must either log out or rest online at an Inn (see below) for several hours.
- Thanks to the comforts of a warm bed and a hearty meal, players who rest or log out at an Inn can regain energy up to the maximum level: well rested (it takes 8 hours to go from exhausted back to well rested). Players who log out anywhere else in the world will only regain energy up to the normal level.
- Note that while your character is resting at an Inn, you can play other characters on your account. The rest state is per character only.
Now, this is certainly not what made it into the game, and the reason was that testers and followers flipped their collective lids over it. Penny Arcade even made it into a strip, which you can read above, gently mocking both sides of the debate. But do you see the similarities? Both games are/were trying to manipulate how players spent their time in the game, by rewarding those who used alts and punishing those who stuck with one character for a great length of time.
Blizzard, of course, decided to rethink this, and eventually toned it into a no-punishment, all-reward system that we see in WoW today (and many games since). I thought it was an interesting experiment at the time, but nobody likes to feel confined in their gameplay, and unless you’re very sensitive to these things, it didn’t make any difference whether others were leveling faster or slower than you. But apparently FF14 doesn’t think so, and history loops back on itself.