Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s weekly caps and whether they’re useful

    
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It's that time.
One of the elements of Final Fantasy XIV that has remained remarkably uniform throughout the game’s history is how Allagan Tomestones work. Aside from a bump in the weekly cap from 300 to 450, it’s pretty consistently been handled the same; every other patch introduces a new sort that means trading up your old stuff, the high-end ones have a solid weekly cap, and you can get oodles of them from doing quick runs for a couple of days. At this point it’s almost stupidly easy to cap out; you could do so in a day or two if you ran everything and really wanted to do so, and that’s with minimal repeated content.

This isn’t just about the weekly tomes, though; it’s also about custom deliveries. And beast tribe quests. And the many, many elements of FFXIV that are gated in how much you can do per day and per week. No matter how many dungeons you run, you will never get more than 450 of the newest tomestone in a given week. If you already have that, you are strongly discouraged from doing any more dungeoneering until the limit resets on Tuesday.

You can do a lot of capping just by farming PvP, which worked out here.There are exceptions, to be fair; during the last period of an expansion there’s usually a doubled cap in place, and obviously the weekly cap is not something set in stone. Sure, it hasn’t changed in many years, but it still can be. The question, then, is whether or not it should be. It’s something that gets argued back and forth a lot on the forums, but I think before you answer that you should start by explaining what the cap actually does in the first place.

Limits like this effectively serve two purposes. The first is to provide a limit on how fast someone can climb. No matter how aggressive your play schedule is, you’re never going to get more than one drop from the latest Savage progression tier, you won’t get more than 450 tomestones in a week, and so forth. That means that players who can’t play much in a given week can never fall further behind than that; if you have to miss a week, you’ll only be down by a small margin.

The other element this serves is to give you a target to accomplish, beyond which you don’t actually need to play. If you cap out at 450 on Tuesday, you can theoretically not log in again until next Tuesday if all you care about is capping. Your play sessions have a limit.

And as much as it might grind the gears of some more dedicated players, I think these are both pretty good things.

The former element of putting the skids on progress is always a tricky thing to do, simply because it’s a matter of choosing a certain pace and saying that anything faster is too fast. If you did nothing but Expert Roulettes every single day, for example, that alone would get you 630 tomestones a week without having to worry about the cap. Why not let people go that quickly?

But the limit being where it is means that you will, in fact, have a longer path to fully assembling your tomestone gear. A full set will take you about 13 weeks to put together… or about as long as it takes for the next patch to arrive, with a couple weeks of wiggle room in there. So if you play regularly, by the time the upgrade patch rolls around, you can start working on upgrading the whole set, and then you’ll have some time and space to enjoy that set before you start upgrading again. It’s a very intentional pattern.

Increasing the limit would mean that you could be all geared up far earlier, which tends to lead into boredom of the more tedious sort wherein you’ve got nothing to do. It also means that you’d be less inclined to keep returning on a weekly basis to play things again… which ties into the second point of creating a limiting point.

You might think that this is antithetical to keeping people logging in. I can cap out my tomestones in a couple of days, after all; shouldn’t it take me all week, to keep me playing? Wouldn’t that be more advantageous?

The thing is, really, not everyone can get in a daily session of an hour or two every single day. Not everyone even wants to. By putting that weekly limit in place, it causes a few things, the first of which being that I don’t need to allocate a block for running a dungeon every night. I need to allocate enough time to cap out, but it’s easy to find the time to do that at some point during the week; as long as I manage that, there’s nothing to worry about.

Moreover, it means that after I’ve capped out, if I still want to play I need to find something else to do.

You can go level alts, if you're a fool and have alts.

This is sort of an underappreciated side of the game because it’s subtle and I’m sure there are people who resent its presence. But it’s not enough just for FFXIV to be an expansive game; it’s an expansive game that funnels people into trying different things. Once you cap out, you need to do other things, and there are lots of other things to do in the game. Maybe you want to level another job. Or you could play around with crafting. Or you could focus on some beast tribe quests (those reward a pittance of tomes, but that’s hardly their primary reward). It’s very rare for you to actually be out of things to do.

Putting a hard limit on how far you can climb in one go is worthwhile simply because it pushes you to try other things for the rest of the week. Or, by the same token, it pushes you to stop playing.

Yes, that’s also a positive thing. It’s almost a relief, in a way. I can reach a point in FFXIV when the game says that I can take a break and do other things for a few days without any fear of falling behind or missing progress. Just take a step back.

WHAT SECRETS DO YOU HOLD?!That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the game; obviously I do, otherwise I wouldn’t have continued playing it since launch. But there are times when I want a break, or times when I need one. Sometimes I’m on vacation for a few days. Sometimes I’ve got another MMO I want to play. Sometimes I just don’t feel super into the game. Having these weekly limits is a good thing then because it means that if the thought of running a dungeon fills me with dread on Tuesday, I do not have to do so. Come back tomorrow and see how you feel.

So does this mean that all of the limits are good ones? No, it just means that these positive functions provided by the weekly limits are a good litmus test for a given limit. If that weekly limit doesn’t either give you a good break point or push you to doing other things, it’s not really pulling its weight.

The weekly custom delivery limit, for example? Not helpful. All it means is that you choose which two NPCs you provide deliveries for; it doesn’t actually provide any additional cap on scrips, and since the weekly limit exists for both individuals and collectively, it’s more restrictive than needed. Keeping it at six deliveries per person would accomplish just as much if not more.

I also feel like there may be too many activities rewarding tomestones at this point. Yes, it’s nice that you can cap out easily; what’s not so nice is that you’re inclined to not do other things once you cap, some of which would be more rewarding if those capped tomestones could be turned into something else. That may be technically difficult to do, but I’d love to see the cap replace the tomes with, say, the next tier down in Heaven-on-High.

But overall, this is a good thing to have in place. It has issues, sure, but when you consider what the weekly caps are doing as a whole, they’re beneficial for the game.

Feedback, like always, is welcome in the comments or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, it’s time for another annual retrospective on the game!

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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David Blair

There’s a 3rd reason on the tomestone cap. Expert Roulette keeps a pool of seasoned players available for the slower players that are coming up through the mandatory Dungeons and Trials of any given patch. If my busy schedule doesn’t allow me to get to Swallow’s Compass until 6 weeks after the patch dropped, I’m still able to queue up and get in.

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Matt Redding

I liked how RIFT ran the equivalent of daily duties, or at least the PVP one I remember: they stacked up to 7. So if you could only play on Saturday, fine, do the roulette 7x and be caught up. Or do it once a day if you were an every day player.

But on the subject of currency caps as opposed to roulette limits, I think the actual weekly caps contribute to boredom and burnout. They are pretty much tuned for people who obsessively want to upgrade every item as soon as possible to get that tiny bit higher average ilevel… but actually you could blow off 1 or 2 tiers of upgrade at this point and it wouldn’t make a difference unless you were a hard core raider.

It didn’t feel like I was accomplishing anything significant. I’d rather do something else with my time. If I did get a new job to 70, I’d actually like to be able to spend a week getting the current gear without any artificial cap holding me back.

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Schmidt.Capela

On the other hand, having a weekly (or daily) cap means that if you miss the cap even once you can never catch up to the front of the pack, which is kinda frustrating and puts a lot of pressure on always hitting the cap; it’s why the use of daily caps to gate story progression in MoP prevented me from returning to WoW.

I would do it differently: a hard cap on the total earned that is increased every week by what would otherwise be the weekly cap. This way the front of the pack is still under what is functionally equivalent to the weekly cap, while anyone that fell behind for any reason can grind back to the front of the pack; this would make it so you don’t feel the need to always hit the cap, as you can catch up later.

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Sorenthaz

They’re useful to keep folks from running out of things to pursue, but honestly the weekly grind gets boring to me after awhile of doing it. Ultimately unless one is trying to progress into the higher end raiding content (Savage and I guess now the Ultimate primals) there’s not a whole lot of reasons to bother meeting the weekly caps on a consistent basis other than you can grind the content a bit easier and be more ready for the next content update.

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IronSalamander8 .

I’ve not really hit the caps as I’ve been away for a bit. I’m more curious about the red and gold armor the Au Ra is wearing in the 1st picture after the title pic as it looks amazing! Do tell!