Wisdom of Nym: Much ado about Final Fantasy XIV’s Diadem

    
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Great big world.

There’s a whole lot to be said about the Diadem. Let’s start: It’s kind of a mess because it’s a really solid idea lacking the clarity of purpose found in most of the game.

Well, that was quick. Who wants lunch? Or, no, you want me to elaborate on that point for another several hundred words as I always do. I suppose that’s fair.

In the broadest terms, the Diadem is sort of meant to be a new style of content for Final Fantasy XIV, something that it hasn’t tried before. The designers have showed that they know how to design dungeons, large-group challenges, massive raids, solo content, crafting content, and so forth. What the game hasn’t yet had is content aimed at loosely banding several players together for content at a lower stress threshold. That was the idea behind Hunts, but due to a number of factors, they didn’t quite work. And most of those same factors are hitting the Diadem just as hard, just from different angles.

I'm not trying to be difficult, although I'm succeeding brilliantly.The biggest complaint that people have leveled against the Diadem – or the biggest one from particular quarters – is that it makes acquiring gear too easy. Instead of having to focus your efforts on earning level 210 gear, you can just randomly get it for showing up! It decouples any idea that you should be getting the best gear from more challenging content!

This is not my complaint. Leaving aside the sheer numerical improbability of getting a full set of level 210 best-in-slot gear from the – I can’t stress this enough – totally random process of the Diadem, if it happens? I don’t care. I’d be perfectly happy if everyone got a set of the best-in-slot gear when the patch launched and then it was a matter of unlocking vanity appearances. I think there’s something to be said for those pointing out that there’s now pressure on progression groups to run the content because best-in-slot gear might randomly drop and might prevent all progression groups from starting on the same footing with patch 3.2, but that’s a minor concern.

What bothers me far more is that the Diadem is, for lack of a better term, boring.

Any open-world content suffers for this, at least in part. Instead of having to balance something to provide interesting challenges for four players, or eight, or 24, you have to balance for interesting challenges for four players up to infinity. That is nigh-on impossible for several reasons, not the least of which being that most of the tools in one’s arsenal to make such fights interesting start vanishing against the fact that players won’t be able to see it any longer.

Instead, what winds up happening is the same thing that happened to FATEs and Hunts: Everything simply turns into a damage sponge. Spam your abilities, eventually reduce its health. Hope you did enough damage to get a solid rating.

FATEs, by themselves, did a lot of damage to players leveling solely via spamming them rather than actually playing content, since they emphasize nothing so much as “spam abilities and use whatever AoE you have.” There’s nothing in that style of content which teaches players about positional awareness or solid rotations or adapting to mechanics, and so a lot of players hit walls in more developed content requiring all of that. Hunts, meanwhile, created a backward economy wherein the most rewarding course of action was to go right back to “spam and wait” instead of pursuing any other content, with a huge amount of drama over when someone pulled the boss.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes content rewarding to clear, and I think you could pare it down to three basic axes: challenge, company, and compensation. When one of those skews pretty badly, the content itself gets skewed. Dungeons offer solid challenge and compensation, but random queues can make the company you keep a bit dicey. One of the big complaints about Alexander Savage is that it offers plenty of challenge, and since you’re running with a static group the company is presumably solid, but the compensation lags behind significantly.

And sometimes the company is so good that your whole crew be on point.

Hunts, FATEs, and the Diadem all jacked compensation up to the point that you kind of can’t ignore them. Challenge was nonexistent, and company was no assurance either, since you mostly just needed enough live bodies to pour damage into a target. Thus, we get the attitudes we see in the Diadem: Get Gold clears, kill enemies quickly, hurry it up, don’t waste time gathering because I’m here for me.

Some people have proposed that the core problem is that this content was designed for Free Companies, not for groups of random players, and if it had been restricted to just companies things would be better. And it may very well have been better in that regard, but at the cost of breaking down the game’s current flexibility regarding free companies, weakening the game in the long run.

Leaving aside the fact that there are tons of companies out there with the members and resources to buy a house but no actual houses to buy, I’d argue there’s currently nothing in the game requiring a free company. Chocobo stabling and gardening require some form of house, but not a free company, and a friend who lets you access those features ensures that there are options available. (Not as many as I would like, but that’s another discussion.) You do not need to be in a free company to do anything, up to and including advancing.

Tying the Diadem only to free companies would eliminate that. Suddenly, the game would swing pretty severely in the direction of the megaguild, something that the game as a whole has tried pretty hard to avoid. Why join a small free company when a bigger one can ensure you get into the Diadem and get better rewards, after all?

That’s disregarding the fact that the Diadem is still open-world, and that means you’re going to have different groups clashing with one another for different goals and rewards just the same, and we’re right back to the problem we currently have. This, I think, is ultimately a lack of focus for the Diadem as a whole.

I want what I want.

Most of the content in the game has a pretty clear picture of whom it’s for and what it’s doing. The Diadem is a place with gathering nodes, and also monsters to fight, and a lot of very powerful rewards for doing both. There isn’t a clear sense of what one “should” do in the Diadem, and as a result people are butting up against one another trying to figure it out while looking for the best possible compensation along the way.

All of this is good. I am glad to see the designers trying something without knowing how it’s going to turn out. And the hope is that the designers are watching what’s happening, seeing the various bits that are still very disconnected, and taking notes about what can be done better the next time around. Yes, it’s a mess due to a lack of focus, but that doesn’t mean a focus cannot be found and developed over time.

I would rather hope the next iteration has more interesting forms of content in place, though.

Feedback, as always, is welcome down in the comments or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next time around, I want to talk about something near and dear to my heart – job stones, roleplaying, and the cultural place of various jobs within the setting.

The Nymian civilization hosted an immense amount of knowledge and learning, but so much of it has been lost to the people of Eorzea. That doesn’t stop Eliot Lefebvre from scrutinizing Final Fantasy XIV each week in Wisdom of Nym, hosting guides, discussion, and opinions without so much as a trace of rancor.
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AGx
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AGx

This bit of content sounds horrible or….just like HUNTs really. If you want my opinion, they should take the idea of FATEs, which they stole from RIFT, and tweak them to be closer to how RIFTs rifts work and make them better. Instead of small amount of re-spawning cannon fodder, scale the number and difficulty of the mobs spawning to the number of players involved. Instead of them being little piss enemies, they should damn near qualify as bosses. This would make grouping and keeping other players alive important. Also, the enemies wouldn’t just spawn and hang around waiting to be attacked either. Any player in the defined area is sought out and attacked. This would force players to break off into groups and dispatch the mobs separately, so it would be like having several dungeon sized groups all supporting themselves in a massive battle. I mean, that sounds at least fun (to me anyway).

eirei
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eirei

exeeter Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

Krenian
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Krenian

So yesterday, I had my first “poor” reflection of The Diadem. 

In essence: we only had five people in the FC to go in Normal and so we went, expecting we could help out with the rest of the groups in there. We are a close knit FC that likes to play together and albeit we don’t really mind pugging some members, we prefer to just keep it inhouse.

The algorithm for chests to drop really skews any chances of us to do any meaningful farming of the place. 

First: we clear the first objective, get our aetherial flight, and as we have a gatherer, we clear that. Wife finds a hidden chest, and in about 20 minutes, we’re done the stuff. So my thoughts is this: it’s like FATEs so let’s go find the main group and grind to get chests.

Wow is it ever NOT like FATEs. 

At least in FATEs, I would get some credit for doing work on the 5. This time, we got 3 chests out of maybe 30 mobs killed. 

To say that I was not impressed is sugarcoating it. 

I love the idea of the Diadem but I feel like if you’re a smaller group, you either need to farm your own island, which is kinda dull when you’re only 5 and it takes about two minutes per mob, or you don’t get any rewards past the 40 ESO you get in 20 minutes. They need to review the structure a little bit on how things can be done and the rewarding. I understand if you are two, in a group of 30, it won’t work but when we’re 5 and giving a decent go at it (one dps tank, one healer, and 3 dps should be enough when we participate in about 20% of the creatures’ health), we should get some reward. We shouldn’t have to pug three members when we want to do it with more than half a group. 

Note: I`m not saying this should be allowed to be done with two people with no issues. I fully agree that there needs to be some sort of commitment to helping out the others in Diadem to slay a mob and two just doesn’t cut it. But the fact that we’re more than half a full party and not getting it feels like it’s penalizing us. 

Anyway, this is more of a mini rant than anything. Good idea, but it needs to be fleshed out a bit.

Flimflamberge
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Flimflamberge

*gestures at the middle of the article* Hey it’s me!

Vexia
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Vexia

Ramellan I guess one could just make a party finder for Diadem with the specification that the group would be switching between battling and gathering. It just seems kind of silly to me that because the Diadem is for disciples of war, magic, and the land that one of the three would get the second-class treatment when there’s an opportunity for them to coexist.

Ramellan
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Ramellan

That sounds good in theory, but it might only work if everyone in the group agrees to it beforehand. Getting the best loot takes a full party of 8 dedicated to it, because like fates if your party doesn’t do enough damage you get secondary rewards. The combat characters can leave after they get their gear, and the rest can stay and finish off the time limit. Hmm, I’m no expert on socializing, but the only real problem I can see would be if some of your party wanted to just farm year and nothing else. But like I said, if you make it clear beforehand what’s going to happen I don’t see why not.

exeeter
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exeeter

Do you guys think if they added some kind of system that needed to be done from within the diadem (maybe somthing like what Eliot suggested ealier in the comments) and have it reward pop items, ie. Items that when used summon a particular enemy or encounter for the group/s that are present, that can only be summoned in a particular area or time of day etc.
These encounters can not be publicly assisted and are tied to the group or alliance that summoned it. This can allow them to create interesting fights with actual mechanics.
These pop items should also be tradeable. And each type of pop item has the chance of summoning 1 of 3 different encounters to keep things exciting and unknown.
Just my thoughts

exeeter
Guest
exeeter

In my opinion, I feel the diadem is a good foundation or template if you will. It is a very flexible system that can easily be iterated upon and expanded when need be.
In its current form (assuming players have in fact discovered everything there is to diadem) it’s sorely lacking and I called it. Like most things 14, it deals in absolutes. A basic one direction approach for rewards. In this case it’s the same situation as with hunts.
Rewards in ff14 are not satisfying to obtain simply due to the lack relevance they possess when you consider how frequent this game pushes new patches that close the ilvl gap or adds higher ilvl gear.
Why do I bring this up? Well think about this….
what is the future of the diadem if it functions as it does now? Will the gear that drops stay up to par ilvl wise when next patch hits?
If not, it becomes a catch up system that will reward gear slightly below the current end game raid, which will akwardly sit somewhere in the middle of Alex and voidark.
If yes, it’s like it is now where it’s an alternative to savage to help players find potential bis gear to supplement there raiding, or help gibe them that small boost they need to clear a certain phase they are stick on in savage, which is a fine approach to be sure, expect that it is mind numbing easy, no more engaging as doin fates or hunts.
I have never experienced an mmo that makes its own inner workings redundant so often as much as ff14 does.
Expert roulette is already boring as bloody hell, voidark had a nice spectacle but the shiny paint has already faded.
path of least resistance will always be taken when dealing with returns for time invested, and 14 continues to prove this with how and for whom it releases content.
Expert roulette

Vexia
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Vexia

Ramellan I hit 60 with my first job a matter of days ago and haven’t been in the Diadem yet, so excuse me if the answer to this question I’m about to ask is rather obvious. Since you can freely change your class in there, why don’t groups do both battling and gathering activities? Everyone could contribute to clearing the mobs as battle classes, and then those who have gatherers could switch over and collect materials, right? For me, it sounds like the best solution, so I’m sure there’s some complication thrown in there that makes it less than viable, or else people would be doing that. Right? Although, I will say that the general community gets prickly over non-issues sometimes, so maybe you very well could do that, but nobody wants to because reasons.

Belegorm
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Belegorm

I’m not currently playing XIV, but this new Diadem mode has been the thing in some time to make me want to jump back in, for a couple reasons.
First, it’s a substantially different kind of content than what we’d had before.  Instead of grouping up with a small group for a dungeon, or a raid, you’re grouping up with a bigger group.  Crystal Tower is probably the closest analogue, but in other ways I think it’s different.  Having a bigger variety of endgame events will be more beneficial in the long run, rather than everyone banging their head against the current raid, or doing the faceroll 24 man raid.
Second, instead of having this 30 minute thing that requires your full concentration, it’s longer but can be more relaxed than even a dungeon (which is supposed to be pretty casual).  You can fighting, you can take time to chat, you can drop in or drop out.
Third, even while this particular implementation might not be the greatest yet (lack of challenge, repetitiveness), it adds a system to the game for SE to design better big group content, and to design more content for Free Companies, or for Linkshells.  I mean, the tone in the article seems to suggest that big free companies would be the worst thing ever, but as it is right now, if you’re raiding there’s no reason to have a free company bigger than 8 members, and if you don’t do the hardcore raid there isn’t a real reason to be in one at all other than having another chat channel and a prefab house with some trinkets spread around.  Isn’t this one of the flaws of modern MMO design, that it’s been pointless to have a guild at all?
Finally, while I think people have compared this event to hunts, from all accounts it actually is more cooperative than hunts because instead of having a clusterfuck of hundreds of people vying for damage on something, you’re limited to one alliance, working together.  Oh yeah, right, I’d practically forgotten alliances are in this game.  Furthermore with considering how low the droprate is for the 210 gear, it incentivises you to go in with your FC so you can prioritise who gets what, because good luck spamming this forever and hoping for lucky drops!