See, there were other things going on at the fan festival, other revelations here and there that I don’t think you can really just tie on to the expansion. While I found the overall information content a bit lacking in places, the pieces we did get to chew on tended to be meaty, and they were pretty interesting on a whole.
So today I want to talk about all of that, starting with something that was easily one of the least controversial moments during the entire weekend, though it has a bit more controversy attached to it after rippling outward.
No more PS3
Those of you who were adamant that the PS3 is totally holding the game back forever and ever are going to have to find something new to blame it on. And quite frankly, I find this a fascinating decision because it’s aggressively different than the one made for Final Fantasy XI all those many years ago.
I admit that I’ve never been involved in design meetings for FFXI, but I’d be willing to bet that one of the foundational principles of the game was that if you owned a copy of the game, you should always be able to play with that copy of the game. The game also had a different genesis than FFXIV, launching first on the PlayStation 2 in Japan long before it launched on PC stateside. The result was a game that always had to be playable on the oldest version of hardware that housed it, meaning that the game started looking increasingly dated not just in terms of graphics but in terms of its UI.
The PS3 has never held FFXIV back, particularly, beyond a few concessions here and there. Much of what’s held the game back has more to do with server structure and the like, as reiterated at the fan festival. But we’re dropping the legacy console now well before we can reach the point of actually struggling against its limitations.
A few things stand out here. First, this means that FFXIV is, first and foremost, a PC-based game; unlike FFXI’s client, the FFXIV desktop client is the main priority for the developers to improve rather than simply one of the options. Second, this also means that at some point in the future, the PlayStation 4 will likely find its support removed as well; console support is now officially something that happens only as long as the console can handle the game as a whole.
This does have a negative impact for people who are still on the older console, but I think this is the right choice in the long term, and it’s a situation where the bandage needs to be ripped off sooner rather than later. By cutting support now, the game never really hit a point where the PS3 significantly held back development in terms of patch size or feature complexity; it’s just a platform that mattered right up until it didn’t. Considering that consoles already have a lifespan, I think it’s the right decision.
It does suck, though, for people who are still on the console.
Storage space and databases
I don’t actually know what the database structure for FFXIV looks like, but we’ve been told time and again that our characters take up a lot of space and that database structure is why we can’t just have endless inventory space/housing space/etc. While I think it’s a fair question to ask why those database choices were made, I also think it’s fair to accept these explanations as explanations because they certainly ring true, especially since we know this is getting reinvested in FFXIV to improve inventory space come 4.0.
Inventory space in FFXIV is a weird animal just due to the nature of the game; we have a lot of need to keep things around and a lot of things to keep around. Very little in the game is actually pure vendor trash, with even the most useless items like blue yarzon legs having some use at one point or another. We also all got burned by unloading our endgame materials in 2.5 only to find them being vitally important for several early crafts in 3.0, so that doesn’t help anyone’s natural resistance to throwing away anything for any reason ever.
It also doesn’t help that there are a lot of items that are hard to get but valuable only in larger quantities, thus leading to everyone forever holding on to the partial stack in hopes of getting the full stack one of these years.
What we don’t know, at this point, is how big our inventories will actually become and whether or not there will be anything associated with that change. I wouldn’t bet on more than 50 spots per slot for our armoury chest, since that’ll easily set us for new jobs through another eight expansions. An across-the-board doubling of space would certainly solve everyone’s issues for a long while, even though it doesn’t entirely address the core problem of how much stuff we have that’s worth holding on to. I’m also wondering if we’ll have some gobbiebag quests to go along with it, although that might be a combination of wishful thinking and Stockholm Syndrome.
Nothing was actually conclusively said about this at the fan festival, of course; Yoshida simply acknowledged that there were people who do want open PvP in areas and mentioned, offhandedly, that if this system were put into place, it wouldn’t cover every server. That alone, though, opens up the possibilities for server types, something that FFXIV currently lacks except insofar as servers are recommended for certain regions.
Adding server types after the fact, of course, is a hornet’s nest (as is merging servers, which is something also acknowledged at the convention). You have to open up transfers and mobility for people who may or may not want to be a part of a given server, and considering the designer’s reluctance to prevent people from giving up things like houses and such, having to transfer servers might itself look like an unacceptably pricey cost of actually designating server types.
But with that having been said, it can also lead to positive growth when the game specifically has its servers split by people who actually want to be there. I don’t know if it’s going to happen, and my instinct is to assume probably not, but considering the strain that Balmung is under due to the sheer volume of roleplayers on it, I can’t say the thought doesn’t give me a bit of a curious nudge.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, this column will be going live on Halloween, so it’ll be appropriate to share with you tales of horror! Or at least the scariest places, dungeons, monsters, and so forth of FFXIV.