A game mechanic that drops the amount of experience points earned after a set amount of play time has Final Fantasy XIV fans in an uproar. Game director Nobuaki Komoto explains the eight hour a week limit.
Fans have been railing against the Final Fantasy XIV experience limiting system for a while now, but Komoto was too busy getting interviewed at Gamescom in Germany last week to respond. Now he's back in Japan and has issued a statement regarding the system on the Japanese beta test website, translated by FFXIVcore's Savalithos.
Massively multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft have systems in place to reward players for taking a little time away from the game, but few if any have directly penalized players for playing too long. That seems to be exactly what the Final Fantasy XIV game mechanic is doing. Komoto's message begins with an explanation of why this system is in place.
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.
He says to think of the experience limiting system as a counterpart to real-world fatigue. "No one could train ad nauseam in the real world with no ill effects." That's true, of course, but we don't play MMO games to be burdened with real-world limitations, now do we?
Here's how the whole thing works. Once you begin training in a class, you have eight hours in which you can earn full experience. Once those eight hours is up, the amount of experience you earn will lower over the course of seven hours. At the end of those seven hours you will no longer be earning experience.
Final Fantasy XIV's job system allows players to switch classes on the fly, however, so if you begin to approach the threshold on one class, you can switch to another class and play that instead. The system is on a weekly timer, so seven days from the time you begin training your skills, you'll be able to start again with full experience.
OF course this is all still being tweaked and tested. Komoto says they are still looking into tweaking the rate at which experience points begin to drop off to make the system a little bit friendlier.
I can understand how players could be outraged over such a system. It effectively limits one class to an hour and change per day of full experience in any given week. That seems awfully low, and won't sit well with players hoping to focus on a single class.
Asking folks to pay you a monthly fee to play your game and then dictating how long they can play their favorite class without penalties seems like a very bad idea indeed.
It works out for me, though. I'm going to have to review this beast, and get a taste of every class while doing it, so chances are I'll be switching up so much the system will never touch me.
But for your average MMO player? This could be a deal breaker.
We've contacted Square Enix for comment on the mechanic, and will update should we receive further information.
Update: The North American beta test site has been updated with a better translation of Komoto's message, which should clear up any misconceptions. Here's an excerpt:
Now I would like to take a moment to respond to the many questions and opinions regarding the manner in and rates at which experience and skill points are obtained in Beta 3.
Firstly, the concept for FINAL FANTASY XIV was to design a system of character progression that offers meaningful advancement for those with limited time to dedicate to playing. We did not want to create a game that forced people to play for hours on end to see their efforts rewarded. To that end, in addition to the Guardian's Aspect and guildleve systems, we introduced a means of apportioning swifter advancement to shorter periods of play.
In order to achieve this balance, we calculated a value for the amount of skill or experience points that could be earned in a one-hour period. This theoretical value represents an hour spent engaged solely in combat, levequests, or any other activities that earn skill or experience points, and sets a threshold delimiting how many of these points can be earned in a period of play.
Based on this, we have implemented a "threshold value" concept. These thresholds are regulated by a one-week timer that begins counting down the instant you earn skill/experience points. After a week has passed, the thresholds will reset, and the moment skill/experience points are earned again, the timer begins counting down anew.
For the first eight thresholds during this week-long period, players will receive skill/experience points at the maximum rate possible. The actual amount of time spent reaching these thresholds is not significant. That is to say, a player who exceeds eight hours of gameplay will still be rewarded the maximum amount of skill/experience points, so long as the total amount earned is below the eighth threshold value. For the subsequent seven thresholds, players will earn skill/experience points at a gradually decreasing rate, eventually reaching a rate of zero.
It is worth noting, however, that the reduced rate will also gradually recover while players are engaged in activities that do not yield skill/experience points. In this manner, it is possible for the threshold value to reset completely, even before the completion of the one-week timer.
Any skill points earned in excess of the threshold maximum-that is, at a rate of zero-will be stored as "bonus skill points." These are specific to each class, so players limited to earning bonus skill points still have the freedom to change classes and begin earning skill points again at the maximum rate, allowing their reduced skill rates to recover in the meantime.
The experience point threshold, however, is unrelated to class, and switching classes will have no effect on the decreasing rate of earnable experience.
That makes a bit more sense, though it still seems rather convoluted. Can't we just play?
Surplus and You: Komoto Speaks! [FFXIV Core - Thanks Steven!]