Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s leaks and the seduction of partial information

    
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Well, we got something right!

I’m going to start off with a statement that should be fairly uncontroversial but could be otherwise and refer back to it: At this point none of us in the audience know what’s happening with Final Fantasy XIV’s next expansion.

When it comes to making jokes about this, I do not have any moral high ground. I’ve been making jokes about pretending to be really surprised when Square-Enix unveils the title “Shadowbringers” along with everyone else. But that joke is, well, a joke. It’s meant to be silly. It is said with tongue firmly in cheek and a full understanding that it may, in fact, not be the expansion title. We don’t know yet! It’s still in the speculation stage.

Of course, the community has been dealing with someone who has claimed to have more knowledge than us for a while now, and those who either do or don’t believe him have been going back and forth with gusto. I’ve more or less stayed mum on this until now, but with what we’ve now seen of datamined information, what we know with patch 4.4, and what speculation we’ve got, it seems like the right time to ask if it’s all true and what we know.

No spoilers about this guy being a dick.The short version of the leaks that we’ve received so far are as follows: Before 4.3 and 4.4 were released, this person claimed, in order, that 4.3 would contain a segment in which you play as Alphinaud and players would fight against Tsukiyomi. (That’s not a typo; all of the leaks I’ve seen typed the name as “Tsukiyomi.”) In 4.4, the final boss sequence would go Chaos, Midgardsormr, Omega, and Adam & Eve. Then, for the next expansion we’ll get two new races, a gunblade-wielding job dubbed “Soldier,” Dancer, and Blue Mage.

Now that we’ve got 4.4 here, people are already arguing that it must be all true. After all, that is the final sequence of Omega bosses! Sort of. And it’s that “sort of” that’s worth picking apart in more detail.

Those of you who have actually fought through Omega know that the final boss is… Omega. Yes, the boss takes on humanoid forms, but there’s no vagueness about their identity; it’s Omega. They’re named Omega-M and Omega-F. The story is relentlessly clear on this point. Similarly, you probably know that the trial boss from patch 4.3 is Tsukuyomi, not Tsukiyomi. The latter spelling is seen sometimes, but Tsukuyomi is the generally accepted one.

Neither of these facts makes any of the predictions wrong, clearly, but it starts to suggest something that’s worth a bit of, if not cynicism, at least questioning. Because they suggest that the leaker has access to some information, but it is in fact a rather narrow field of information.

Consider what the leaks didn’t contain, for example. We didn’t hear what the next set of bosses would be in the Alliance raid, or the bosses of 4.4’s dungeons. (And one of those is a big Final Fantasy IV reference, let’s be fair.) There was no discussion about what the actual story would contain, just about the presence of an Alphinaud sequence. We didn’t know that the Savage mode of Omega’s final fight would include a “merged” form. And then, following the leaks about 4.4, the leaker promptly said he could reveal no more due to community members speaking out against him and stopped talking.

All of this is suspicious, right along with the “kitchen sink” nature of the promises for the next expansion. The leaker claimed Blue Mage would probably be released before 5.0, that it would be revealed at E3, and that it was basically done. None of these things came to pass. In addition, nothing was said about the actual content of the job’s abilities, no hints about what these new races would be, and twice as many races as we’ve ever gotten.

Does that mean it’s false? No. The point of this is not to say “you guys, this is obviously fake,” because that’s arguably little better than assuming it must all be true. Making a prediction that’s right means that prediction was right. It doesn’t affect your further predictions positively or negatively; it just means that one thing happened.

It’s good to look at both sides of things with a measure of cynicism. Clearly, the leaker had some knowledge of what was going on. Clearly, it was also incomplete knowledge, and that means anything we hear should properly be filtered through that understanding. I’m willing to be that there’s a solid dose of truth there, but we don’t have the full picture, just like people freaked out at the sight of certain UI elements they were certain meant Blue Mage and Dancer were on their way. Rhythm gauges? Blue vials? These must be connected!

'Blue mage confirmed!' announces someone about any announcement ever.

Except that people then quickly mined out that the former is going to be part of this year’s winter holiday celebration, and the latter was explained at Tokyo Game Show to be part of the next Eureka installment. Which quite possibly is what the leaker saw that led to the conclusion of “this must be Blue Mage.” We don’t yet know enough about the Logos actions to be sure, but at a glance it certainly looks plausible. After all, you learn parts of abilities from enemies, you combine them to make new abilities, there’s a special setup for it… if you’re in the room and touching the elephant, so to speak, this is the conclusion you’re going to draw.

Dancer confirmed, right?Two new races? Well, that could easily mean two tribes of one race… or it could be a misunderstanding of something like new races of beast tribes, which would require their own animations. Dancer? That could be tied to the aforementioned rhythm mechanics for the winter holiday. Soldier? Not sure, but it could be tied to new gunblade animations or something similar; my instinct is to guess this is someone who worked in a limited capacity on testing animations or database entries, or perhaps in playtesting.

Of course, right now we honestly don’t know. It is entirely possible that yes, we are getting exactly what was leaked. Perhaps the developers found a way to make Blue Mage work with its sole defining trait (get hit by ability, learn ability) while still playing in the structure of this specific game. Maybe the winter holiday stuff is just a preamble for Dancer. People have been asking for gunblades for ages; it’s not exactly without precedent.

The problem is that, again, it’s all still in the realm of speculation. There’s enough amiss with the predictions that nothing has actually become irrefutable or certain. When Yoshida walked out on stage in 2016 with a Scarlet Witch shirt on, that was pretty irrefutable proof of Red Mage being added to the game; by contrast, seeing his Spider-Man shirt wasn’t proof of Samurai, even if a lot of people did make the connection quickly.

But a lot of people also made the connection that it must mean Blue Mage, which it didn’t. And that’s the real danger with datamining or leaks or any of the above. It’s very easy to take bits and pieces of information and use that to shore up what you already want to see. It’s just that none of that falls into the category of real. It’s still speculative.

And what we’ve heard from the leaks? Equally speculative. There’s stuff that looks like it can support or refute the predictions further out. So if Yoshida marches out in an Eiffel 65 shirt next month, that’s certainty.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, let’s talk about what has been mined out about a job already added to the data files without much information and what that might mean; we’ve got lots of possibilities.

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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Danny Smith

By the sounds of it i imagine the leaker or someone they know has some ‘in’ to the modelling staff. You can look at ‘chaos_boss_A1’ and its pretty easy to leak what it is and still have no idea about the story content. If there was anything that would be easy to leak it would be having a look over a cubicle wall since a lot of japanese studios stick to the ‘everything in one room with a small facilities room’ style of office they have since the zainsoft days. The interviews and stories you hear in books like ‘the history of japanese development’ suggests they dont have the same paranoia for corporate spying we have in the west. Of course they don’t have yearly cases of someone sneaking into a devs building to steal a build like we do over here either. So it could just be as simple as a mail guy thats a fan sneaking a look or something.

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Toy Clown

They can do whatever they want, as long as they let us have Lyse’s red dress in a dyeable version!

hypefordays
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hypefordays

The best kind of leaks are the one sprinkled with inaccuracies to not only make you guess what is right and not ruin the surprise, but also to hide their presence. At that point, it could just be chalked up to good guesses or putting pieces together with any clues that might have actually been given. That or it is a person with access to third party information or limited access when it could actually be someone high up, just masking themselves. Such things as people are speculating with already.

That said, I’d like to remark on the bit about Spider Man not instantly being recognized as Samurai for someone that had been following closely. Though I guess the assertion is that the uninitiated individual just tuning in might not have instantly thought it. Aside from the Sam Raimi reference that many instantly put together, Yoshi-P had also admitted that he was collecting the famous Samurai Spiderman action figure and enjoyed the spinoff of such. That, in addition to understanding that he said the color theme for the classes was red this time around (thus eliminating Blue Mage instantly), made it pretty darn easy to guess what was. This is not even including the fact that he said Samurai by name several times throughout that year in particular and mentioned it being one of the top requested classes for them (and the fact there was a Samurai Tease in-game with the Rhapsodies of the Maiden limited time event — much like there was an Au-Ra and Ninja tease before they were available).

Blue Mage and Dancer were the two most popular guesses for the next expansion, especially after all the questions they had regarding what class the person was in the Stormblood cinematic and people being sure it was a Dancer (and Yoshi-P getting asked that a lot in interviews). In addition to Blue Mage also being asked about before the reveals. Soldier is the oddball here, but the Gunblade is iconic and popular with people, so it seems an interesting move. Personally, was hoping for Beast Master with double one-handed axes.

Assuming the classes are on point, the only question now would be what is the tank and what is the healer out of those three? Having them all be DPS again is the quickest way to get a Tank and Healer community to riot after being passed up for four years (or two expansions). The new races, again if true, is also interesting. Though I’d imagine it’s two races that only have one gender so that it’s essentially the same amount of work as creating animations for male and female of the same race.

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Danny Smith

I think Dancer is one people want as a new healer/support but i don’t think theres been much to suggest it in Stromblood. Which was surprising because in 1.0 there was a group of ala mihgan assassins that were a troupe of dancers who everyone expected to show up in 4.0 but they seem to have been forgotten. Meanwhile other jobs like GEO have shown up multiple times, with the AST storyline entirely based around Geomancy being the offensive, reactive counterpart to Astrologian defensive, premeditated healing. With dungeons like the monkey king dungeon showing a bunch of GEO stuff from FFXI to boot. Dancer would be cool, it would be nice to see a nod to Primrose from Octopath traveller, but the way the expansions teasing new things i think Geomancer is going to be a melee range magic dps that uses a chime/bell like XI

500px-Geomancer_concept_art.png
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Carebear

It must be sadistic to add more races in a game that we supposed to have only 1 character! I already have very hard time to settle between Miqo’te, Huyr and Au Ra and used quit a lot phantasia potions over the years..

Hope new race (if there is any) will be either super awesome and much better from others or totally bad lol.

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David Blair

I’ve been hoping for the Viera as a race. I’d be pretty content with no new classes. I’d like to see them improve on the existing classes and make them a bit more unique from one another especially in the rotations.

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Carebear

I for one, wanna see a melee DPS class that will not have positional attacks!

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David Blair

Oof. I fizzled out on Samurai because of that. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the placements…

hypefordays
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hypefordays

I would enjoy more melee without positionals, as I do think we have enough. That said, I have a lot of alts with max levels and the story beat, so a little change here and there with race options would be nice.

But I do think they enjoy being a little sadistic at times. As for them improving classes instead of adding new ones, I don’t think that’d fly with many people. It didn’t do much for Tanks and Healers when they came up with that excuse: All they got were the normal “wait for patches to be relevant” stuff, but had no new classes to go to and try out just for fun or a change of pace in the mean time.

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Danny Smith

Well with Tsukuyomi they got the bunny eared woman model base and Yoshi knows it would be a fantasia bonanza, the catgirl population would vanish over night.