Without further ado then, let's jump into the Age of Adventure.
Final Fantasy XIV is a strange beast of a game and necessitated some shifts in my usual data collection approach. It boasts a number of servers and communities, and I elected to focus on one of the more populated shards for this initial look at the game. I rolled two characters on the Besaid server, spending a good bit of time in and around both Limsa Lominsa and Ul'dah. For my community questions, I made use of the game's spatial chat, tell system, and linkshells to poll my fellow players. Due to the lack of true global channels (that don't require an invite) and the lack of noteworthy responses in spatial, I've eschewed the usual concluding data table in favor of giving you my general impressions on the community question responses.
Additionally, I submitted an in-game GM petition and a help ticket on Square's support website, both designed to test the game's customer service system.
Answers in spatial and /shout were virtually non-existent, and it wasn't until getting into a linkshell that I began to realize the enormous differences between the community setup in FFXIV and the majority of other MMORPGs.
For my second community question, I opted for a more gameplay-related topic:
Despite my inability to get any definitive answers to my questions via spatial chat, it wasn't a complete loss. More than once, I was approached by random roleplayers (mostly around the camps and aetheryte locations that seem to be social hubs) who initiated some fun exchanges that I was loathe to break with OOC questions. Also, during my time as a fisherman, I met several kindred souls who shared my affinity for particular fishing spots and who (when not angling their way up the progression ladder) took the time to congratulate me on level-ups and the like.
The in-game support menu is fairly robust and accessible via the support desk link on the main menu tab. You'll be presented with a menu listing four options: FAQ, general questions, feedback, and report. The first one is pretty self-explanatory and needs no elaboration. The general questions tab will link you to the external support website, which is where you'll need to file account-related petitions and the like. The feedback button also directs you to the above link and suggests a number of forms for certain types of feedback submission. The report button is subtitled harassment, bad names, RMT solicitation, and stuck; clicking it opens up another window with a "GM Call" button.
I managed to get my character stuck in the world geometry a short way outside of Camp Black Brush and made use of the GM Call button for assistance. After a short wait, my plea for help was addressed by a live GM. I also filed a support ticket on the aforementioned site, which, after a bit of menu-hopping, directed me to a live chat interface. The agent was prompt and courteous and handled my ticket in an efficient manner.
The website support ticket experience was similarly smooth, and Square should really think about streamlining its initial account creation process (an absolute abomination of unnecessary steps, confusion, and general unfriendliness) to match its website support system. After logging in with your master account, you're free to click the "contact" button and fill in a few brief blanks, after which you'll be connected with a live help chat representative. GM Nicole was just as pleasant and helpful as her in-game counterpart, and my issue (quest advancement) was resolved in a matter of moments with very little fuss.
If I had to find one thing to pick on with regard to Square's customer service, it would be the lack of an email trail to track your open tickets (and ticket history). There are buttons for both on the support website, but SOE's methodology of sending you mails at each step of the process seems like a little less work for the customer.
That about does it for my first foray into Eorzea's Age of Adventure. Despite some of the forum rancor you've no doubt read pertaining to Final Fantasy XIV's gameplay and level of polish, the community and customer service are actually quite good as far as MMORPGs go. The former takes some getting used to because of the game's unorthodox design, but the latter is on par with the best that the genre currently has to offer. Until next time, I'll see you in the wilds around Ul'dah, and don't forget to weigh in with your opinions in the comments.
Join Jef Reahard every other week as he goes behind the scenes to file first-hand community and customer service reports from the front lines of your favorite genre titles. From Aion to Zentia, the Community Detective case files are an essential part of any game-hopper's research library. Suggestions welcome, care of firstname.lastname@example.org.