There's some stuff we can reliably predict at this point, of course. There are no more patches aside from the last bits of 3.5 between now and Stormblood, and thus this is going to be our densest chunk of information about the expansion prior to launch. It's also impossible to predict everything that we'll hear about, since Naoki Yoshida loves to troll and surprise us. So this will, by necessity, be equal parts wishes, speculation, and prediction. Take it with the requisite grain of salt.
final fantasy xiv
Final Fantasy XIV
Studio: Square Enix
Launch Date: September 30, 2010; relaunched August 27, 2013
Genre: Fantasy Hybrid Themepark
Business Model: Subscription (Cash Shop)
Platform: PC, PS3, PS4
One of the largest and most enduring arguments of the MMO genre is the purpose, legality, and profitability of so-called lockboxes in games. We've certainly railed against them pretty hard here on the site.
MMO Bro takes an interesting position this week by saying that, yes, lockboxes are annoying, but we need to move on from grousing about them: "If I may play devil’s advocate here for a moment, I think the time may have come for us to take a step back and examine whether all the furor over lockboxes is really productive. It’s clear that lockboxes are here to stay, so perhaps it’s time for us to learn how to live with them."
Agree? Disagree? That's why we have the comments section. Now that you're fully awake, why not check out the rest of our roundup from the MMO blogosphere, including essays on early access stumbles, costumes, multiplayer mounts, and -- everyone's favorite -- geography!
During our Elder Scrolls Online housing stream earlier this week, Larry and I joked about World of Warcraft's half-hearted and ineffective attempts to satisfy player demand for housing over the years, from farms to garrisons to order halls. I certainly wouldn't call any of these "player houses," no more than I'd consider Guild Wars 2's home instances to be housing.
Interestingly, most of the other games I'd say are in the top tier of MMORPGs have housing now, many of them having only just added it in the last few years, from Final Fantasy XIV to SWTOR. Even Lord of the Rings Online recently reinvigorated its housing (stay tuned for an in-depth look at that this weekend). In my mind, the best trend of the year so far has been this renewed emphasis on player domiciles, not just because I enjoy that type of content but because it's clearly a money-maker for the games that implement and monetize it well.
So for today's Daily Grind, I ask you: Which no-housing MMORPG needs housing the most, and why?
Massively OP reader and frequent tipster Gibbins wants us to play match-maker.
"I love the wonderful world that Bethesda created with the Fallout franchise, not too bleak but very post apocalypse with a very kitsch '50s feel from the time of duck and cover educational films, but I wish it were multiplayer. The huge volume of mods for Fallout is also is a massive bonus, giving the game great variety and replayability. On the other hand, I also love the satirical in your face style of GTA Online and its no-holds-barred multiplayer experience, but I wish there were more to the story and more support for mods. Both games offer so much, and I would love to see how each studio would add to the other's game. Which two development teams would you like to see married... and which game would be their love child?"
Let's complicate Gibbins' request and say that the love child game must be an MMO! I've posed his question to the team for this week's Massively Overthinking.
It's probably not worth the panic, however, as the same report also notes that revenues from operation have held very steady.
"In the area of massively multiplayer online role playing games, revenues from operation has been showing steady performance while net sales and operating income declined significantly compared to the same period of the prior fiscal year mainly due to the absence of expansion disk releases during the nine-month period ended December 31, 2016."
It's not exactly a secret that FFXIV is not an alt-friendly game, and it never has been. Leveling alts is, by and large, a thankless and uncomfortable prospect mixed with the fact that a lot of the stuff you have to do on alts is a repetition of things that you have already done. The game doesn't offer you any alternatives to the MSQ in the long run; you're going to have to level through it, one way or another.
And yet people still play alts in the game; I know for a fact that I'm not the only person with more than one character at reasonable levels. And while there are things that could be done to make the game more alt-friendly, I suspect some of the obvious options would actually lead to a worse game overall, which makes "how can the game be more alt-friendly?" an interesting question.
The lives of NPCs are unpleasant within MMOs. Imagine coming into existence knowing that you are forever doomed to perform one singular function, one thing that you have to do until the end of time. Bad enough in and of itself, but then you realize that you're going to always perform that same function until the servers finally shut off. No one will care if you do well at it or not, they only care that you continue to do it, over and over, forever.
If they have a religion, it's probably bleak.
Of course, some NPCs have it worse than others. Some of them just have an existence which is bleak; others have existences which are actively a parade of suffering. So here, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, are the lives of MMO NPCs from best to worst. You probably won't change how you behave around some of these poor souls after understanding their plights, but you can at least respect what they're going through.
Players can earn a new emote, a new minion, a new Orchestrion track, and a new vase by taking part in the year's festivities. The event will also supposedly feature certain previous rewards to be purchased in-game, although details are not provided. Still, you'll be able to find out for yourself on Tuesday; the event runs until Wednesday, February 15th, so you'll have plenty of time to earn whatever rewards you want as you celebrate the meaning behind Valentione's Day. (Which, like most holidays, appears to have an underlying meaning of getting cosmetic items.)
With Elder Scrolls Online's new housing system coming early next month and LOTRO testing out some much-needed housing improvements, homemaking seems to be a subject on the mind of many players these days.
Contains Moderate Peril says that MMO housing has yet to live up to potential: "What you can do with housing is a far more interesting talking point. At present housing mainly offers in the MMO genre additional storage, an opportunity for aesthetic customisation, and convenient support services [...] What housing across most MMOs fails to do is offer any additional social facilities or unique group content."
Meanwhile, Dimension Gallery featured one house designer that came up with some impressive dimensions (my favorite is the Spongebob Squarepants!).
Housing not your thing? After the break we have blog essays on Final Fantasy XIV, welfare epics, and the true endgame activity of MMORPGs!
I can also warn you right up front that there will be spoilers here, since otherwise the entire post would probably be enormous spoiler tags. Which it might be anyway. Fairly warned be ye.
There's still one more big patch left to go, of course, as patch 3.55 is meant to finish the transition into Stormblood and wrap up everything completely. But we still have lots of side stories that have finished up, and even if we know more MSQ is coming, we can talk about what we have so far. So let's get cracking.
The story is based off of a series of blog posts written by a young man about bonding with his 60-year-old father while playing the game together; the show will include scenes both in the real world and in the game to weave a narrative. So it's a story about the stories going on behind an MMORPG, the human dramas that unfold from shared experiences. Which is, let's face it, pretty darn cool. The show premieres this April.
In March of last year, MOP's Justin wrote a detailed guide to the most common death penalties in MMORPGs. Last September, Gamasutra pulled seven game developers together to discuss the most effective gaming "fail states," several of which involve death. Both articles came rushing back to me this week when Crowfall revisited the subject of its own death penalty, which involves a brief ghost period and a fast-track trip to the temple for resurrection.
This week, I've asked the MOP writers to consider MMOs and non-MMOs and propose their own favorite death penalty. Is it an old one, a new one, or one no one's done at all? What's the best way to implement death in a modern MMORPG?
We can expect to hear about the remainder of jobs being added to the game with Stormblood, see more details on the new areas, and presumably get more information about new abilities and combat changes for patch 4.0. There will also be previews of patch 3.55 and more events to excite and delight, as always. Plus, since these are digital tickets, you don't have to worry about them running out.