Allow me a little bit of woolgathering. When I started working for Massively, it was October of last year, and Final Fantasy XIV had just been announced as the official title for the game code-named "Rapture" and unofficially codenamed "the sequel to Final Fantasy XI" by everyone else who had seen a single screenshot. About four days after you read this, the game is going to be officially live for players around the world willing to shell out an extra bit of cash for various doodads and a headstart.

This is kind of baffling. Objectively, you know that the game is getting close to release, but it's not made real until the release is right at your doorstep. So before I go too far off the deep end and start thinking about things like the franchise having started when I was four, let's move on to the discussions coming out of the impending launch. And really, do come back next week when Final Fantasy XIV comes out, as I'm sure we'll have plenty of things on launch day. (Very sure, in fact.)
Is FFXIV for you?

I'm going to have to admit that I kind of hate what's been deemed the Penny Arcade defense.

The thing is, that strip was meant as satire. The whole point of the strip was that people are going to judge your work based on its quality (or lack thereof) whether or not you're making it for them. It's a variant on the principle that you don't have to be a chef to explain that a sandwich tastes bad. So the idea that FFXIV might be exempt from criticism because it's not really for you makes me vaguely uncomfortable -- criticism should count even if the critic isn't quite the target audience.

All that having been said, however, Square-Enix has produced a game that is not going to be everyone's cup of tea. I kind of like that fact about the game, honestly, but it's also going to mean that some folks will fire the game up and be instantly disenfranchised. This piece is as succinct a summary as you're likely to find on the game as a whole, so if you haven't yet fired up the open beta but want an idea about whether you'll like it, this is what you should be reading.

Yes, that Fatigue video

About a dozen people sent in this link more or less simultaneously, which is usually a sign that it's made the rounds quite handily. But if you haven't seen the video yet, here it is -- and Eorzeapedia has a nice transcript of the entire video as well, on the chance that you want to read it instead of just watching the video.

In this case, though, watching is highly preferred to reading the summation. The actual meat of the discussion isn't all that different from what we've been seeing for some time, that being that fatigue is not going to ruin the game and serves as a compromise between players with lots of game time versus those with only a little time to play. But the presentation is clean, effective, and elegant. So it's worth seeing if you've missed it.

Is FFXIV going to fail?

Recent history has not been kind to MMOs as an aggregate. For a very long time, no major titles had gone under, and big-budget games didn't just get the rug yanked out from under them. These days, however, people are a bit more nervous about the prospect of server merges, game shutdown, and general instability in our genre of choice. So it's natural to worry that FFXIV is going to head the same way that several other recent high-profile launches have gone, with a big burst of initial hype followed by collapse and destruction.

Of course, the game also has something going for it that many of the higher-profile failures haven't had: a company that hasn't made this game its only big project. Square could, honestly, release the game, watch it flop on launch, and really not be hugely affected by that fact. SE's in the rare position where there's enough money backing the company that it would take something truly catastrophic for the game's numbers to fail to justify continued support.

Whether or not the game will dethrone World of Warcraft is questionable at best, but the game does have a future. I suspect we're all still jumpy from what happened to Tabula Rasa and getting overly vigilant lest it happen again.

Changing of the guard

I remember not so long ago when I received a heartfelt mail from a reader thanking me for still remembering that Final Fantasy XI exists. The game is no longer quite the powerhouse that it once was in terms of subscribers and reputation, but it still runs, and a lot of people still enjoy it. And while the big news right now is the fact that FFXIV is coming down the mountain, that doesn't mean we can just forget about its predecessor or pretend there's been no news coming out of Vana'diel.

Really, it's been a busy month for the game already, and a lot has happened since we last checked in on community threads. In that time, we've seen the second of the year's major updates, with this one bringing up the level cap by another five levels and introducing an additional mini-expansion. Oh, and we've also seen an entirely new director take control of the game for the first time in its eight-year history, so that's pretty significant.

Naturally, there are people who are happier with the new boss than the old boss from the word go. What this means for the game's future isn't totally certain, though -- times get shaky when an old game is competing with a new game, especially when the new game is clearly meant to replace the older one on several levels. We'll have to see how updates and resources play out for FFXI over the next several months, although I have my theories.

Those are the community threads for this month, with an admitted bias toward the game that's releasing on Wednesday this coming week. (And yeah, it's kind of a big deal.) Next week we're going to be doing our usual questions and answers, although with concessions made for... again, launch. If you do have questions, comments, or just a deep-rooted wish to tell me why the ending of Final Fantasy VIII was total garbage, you can always send off an email to eliot@massively.com or just leave a comment after the article.

From Eorzea to Vana'diel, there is a constant: the moogles. And for analysis and opinions about the online portions of the Final Fantasy series, there is also a constant: The Mog Log. Longtime series fan Eliot Lefebvre serves up a new installment of the log every Saturday, covering almost anything related to Square-Enix's vibrant online worlds.

This article was originally published on Massively.