The Mog Log: Community watch

The summer slump is just about over, and those who have enjoyed an entire summer away from school are going to have to get back into the swing of it in the very near future. The rest of us will simply have to acclimate ourselves to the decrease in the temperature, the decrease in big-budget movies, and the increase in game release schedules. But there's one last gasp of summer to be had, and let's spend it watching our favorite ongoing entertainment: community forum discussions.

There's no shortage of topics for discussion lately, what with Final Fantasy XIV stampeding ever closer to launch, Final Fantasy XI's September version update stampeding ever closer, and various other stampedes taking place somewhere. (I kind of started that sentence without a conclusion prepared.) September is going to be a busy month in general, and even with a couple weeks to go there's a lot of talk being flung around. So let's get right into the meat of the community, shall we?
Why aren't people happy?

There could be an entire book written about how polarizing Final Fantasy XIV has become. There no doubt will be an entire article written about that at some point, because it's an interesting topic on everyone's mind. But it's well worth noting that even if you fervently disagree with the people looking at the current build of the game with disdain, most of them aren't just random trolls. There are reasons why people are anxious and loudly proclaiming that issues need to be addressed.

All right, there is a certain portion of the population that just wants to scream and complain, but that's true in any group of people. Far more people are upset because, well, there are areas they see as very lacking in the current build, and there isn't enough time between now and release for these issues to be entirely ameliorated.

If I have to take umbrage with the post, I will take it with the idea that World of Warcraft's implementation of game structure and control scheme are best copied by all current and subsequent games. It's a fair cop that the game has become accepted as the best incarnation of the current model, but it got there by having something of a stroke of genius and everyone else falling into step. Remember that there was also a time when everyone knew that forced grouping and harsh death penalties were necessary for a successful MMO.

That having been said, if you're one of the many people who aren't happy with how FFXIV is shaping up, you'll like this. And I understand where you're coming from. I don't necessarily agree, but I understand.

Speculation on the new Abyssea

First, the teaser site was released. That included a trio of screenshots, which resulted in immediate speculation from the Final Fantasy XI community. After all, when you know that Abyssea is taking the same zones as before and propping them up as new leveling regions, it's only a matter of figuring out where the new zones are.

While there naturally isn't much to go on from a handful of screens, people are still fairly excited, as Abyssea has largely been a welcome addition to the game. Not universally, of course -- some people are a trifle annoyed that the game is embracing the idea of high-damage burn parties -- but the fact that you're not crouching in Crawlers' Nest for another eternity is welcomed by all. (I actually liked the nest, but I have odd taste in leveling spots.) So even with virtually no concrete information, people are chuffed.

That's good. By any metric you care to use, FFXI seems poised to keep going well after the spiritual sequel launches, and I couldn't be happier. Especially since continuing to subscribe will wind up being dirt cheap. If you don't want to play both games, you don't have to, but you won't be penalized by taking the occasional jump into Vana'diel afterward.

Leves locked out, and I'm OK

And now, from the other side of the fence, someone who recognizes all of the limitations within FFXIV... and sees them as not only being good things, but making the game more friendly to casual players.

To summarize the argument, which is well worth reading in its entirety, guildleves are the main method of progression in the game. By limiting use of them to only eight or so every two days, Square-Enix has essentially put a hard limit on character progress, meaning that while a hardcore player will be able to level a wider variety of different jobs, she won't outpace a more casual gamer in a matter of days. It's an interesting approach to take, especially in light of the searing unpopularity of the 48-hour lockout.

To be fair, there's no indication that the developers have any intention of lessening the lockout in the first place, so whether you like it or not, you're going to have to deal with it. But it's an interesting look at what a lot of players have loudly decried as being very restrictive, and it's an apt summation of how the lockout's not really such a crushing impediment. Not that this mitigates the issues with controls or the UI for those people unhappy about that, but hey, you can't please all of the people.

While we didn't highlight quite as many discussions this week as in weeks past, the quality should make up for the quantity. Disagreements about that statement, concerns with any other part of the column, or the usual cavalcade of whatever may be sent along to eliot@massively.com or left in the comment field. Next week, we're diving into questions and answers, and we'll also have a sad announcement to unveil. So check back next week. (Sadness brings all the boys to the yard, I'm told.)
This article was originally published on Massively.