Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s Ishgard restoration after the first phase

    
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Sorry about wrecking your stuff.

The biggest thing that disappointed me about the Ishgard restoration in Final Fantasy XIV was when it was clarified pretty early on that we were going to be rebuilding the Firmament rather than the rest of the city. Like, don’t get me wrong, there’s obviously stuff to like about rebuilding the Firmament itself (and I’ll be getting into that in this column, don’t you worry), but Ishgard is kind of halfway a wreck even now, and there’s stuff that’s falling apart when we could really expect it to be done in-universe. It feels like a missed opportunity.

Of course, that’s a fairly minor thing to be upset over. Indeed, at the end of the day this was content designed and conceived with the best of intentions, making a whole new form of content for gathering and crafting that went beyond just collecting things to turn in for scrips… in theory. In practice… well, let’s start dissecting that, keeping in mind that we are still on the first phase of the content.

Not those scrips, different scrips

Too many monsters in Ishgard.At the end of the day, the system in place during the first phase of the restoration was more or less the same as the collectable system that’s existed in the game since Heavenward. Gather stuff, make it a collectable (thereby forming a more granular scale than the binary of HQ or NQ), and then turn in the product for scrips. Buy things with those scrips. Rinse and repeat. The fluff is different, but the core system remains the same.

While I definitely feel like the FFXIV team has been happy with the broad strokes of the collectable system (hence refining and re-using it for two separate expansions now), you also get the sense that it’s never quite sat at the place the team wants for it. Part of that is that it has an issue with the very nature of how crafting and gathering work compared to dungeons.

In essence, scrips are supposed to be like tomestones. But tomestones have a weekly limit on how many you can acquire in a given week for the most recent stuff, and you can’t really design crafting content to only take part in half-hour bursts or any of that. There’s no real space for weekly limits on gathering stuff or crafting stuff. It’s a system that wants to have a perpetual churn to it where you’re always rewarded for regular participation without it being mandatory for most of your play time.

(For the record, if you hadn’t realize that as a part of FFXIV’s design, now you know it. The game is basically trying to pull the constant art of motivating you to do things because the queue system relies on a constant stream of players having good reasons to take place both as leveling content and for endgame progress, thus ensuring that new players don’t wind up zoning into empty games or never being able to do Sastasha because everyone else is already at the level cap. I could write an article about it. Probably won’t, though.)

Rebuilding Ishgard is thus, well, a derivation of a familiar crafting loop. It has established changes, of course; you are at least theoretically working toward a common goal, and it also works more effectively for leveling. But for all the talk about this being new content, the most “new” part of it is joint crafting, which is… uh…

Well, I have no idea. I had no chances to take part in one of those outings. The Firmament was always full to the brim when they rolled around and thus I can tell you nothing about them; heck, it seems they’re done once this phase is completed, so that’s about all there is to say.

Obviously, more stuff is due out in the future. But the biggest thing to dislike, at least from where I’m sitting, is that Ishgard restoration feels like just another variant on what we already do with custom deliveries and normal scrip turnins. That’s fine in and of itself (after all, normal raids, alliance raids, and dungeons are very similar forms of content as well), but it certainly doesn’t feel like the sea change it was kind of sold as.

See if you can get some masonry away from the Firmament while you're out there.

Building a home

Let’s start with something we all know by this point: The Firmament is very clearly paving the way for Ishgard housing. That’s just what it is. The only real questions are when and how; the map layout and file structure are all in place to confirm it. I could believe that it’s during this expansion or that it’s a feature of our next expansion, but we all know that it’ll be in there.

However, beyond that fact is a reframing of something we’ve seen in FFXIV several times: a rebuilding. Every single expansion has featured one, but Revenant’s Toll and Idyllshire just… improved over time. You walk into them now and they’re fully functional in ways they weren’t at the start. To some extent it’s a shame that people can no longer access the original Revenant’s Toll to appreciate the difference, but both of them were build and improved over time.

Stormblood changed this equation with Doman Reconstruction, so you now had the sense of personal investment in rebuilding the area. That’s a good thing! Unfortunately, the rebuilding also was entirely personal. People who lagged behind on a given week saw a different Doman Enclave, and since nothing of particular relevance beyond MSQ entries happened there, you really didn’t lose much by opting out.

This appears to be the equivalent shift for this expansion, and it’s an interesting change. We still have the feel that if you missed the early stages, you miss out on what things used to be. But the fact that we all feel like it’s going to be housing also contributes a sense of building up real, actual stuff. This isn’t just arbitrarily adding new structures, it’s rebuilding for something basically everyone wants. And since the rebuilding relies on crafting, you get much more of a sense that this is a direct result of player effort.

It also helps that you can level insanely quickly with this content. At this point it even seems to work for combat jobs, which is probably an oversight or a massive problem, but for crafting and gathering it’s excellent. It both gives you a good way to level up quickly, and it encourages you to get other max-level crafters once you can just get a nice set of level 80 items to turn in. (I have not tried it for combat jobs, for the record; I couldn’t if I wanted to. Do not do this expecting to level combat jobs.)

And while it’s definitely frustrating to be locked out of big crafting events due to player volume, there’s also something… well, heartening about that fact. Think about that. The big draw for this small patch wasn’t the new chest-pounding progression content, it was building stuff. Yes, to get new hairstyles and new dress-up options, but the point is that players cared way more about that than anything else.

That makes me happy. Even if there were queue and population issues, even if it’s not perfectly polished, even if at this point it’s a familiar basic loop. People were eager for this, and that’s not assured.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, let’s do something odd and talk about the content we don’t know about yet.

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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Toy Clown

I’ve tried on several occasions to grasp FFXIV’s crafting system. I mean, I understood the basics, but I didn’t understand all the stuff that went past it. There was a low-lying feeling of frustration that hung over me like a wispy cloud every time I attempted to level some crafting skill.

When I heard about this project, I leaped in feet first, found a guide and some basic macros, and through the process of leveling all of my crafters into the 40-50 range I discovered that I was finally started to grasp the things I couldn’t wrap my head around!

Do you realize how exciting this is to a player that has always felt on the outside of crafting, wishing I could just grasp it? It felt freaking marvelous, I tell you! And now I’m seriously laying out a play how to gear, what scripts are all about, what melding does, etc. I’m really excited to discover this side of the game. It also gives me gameplay to focus on outside of combat, which with the induction of Shadowbringers brought on a level of gameplay that makes it painful for me to indulge too much in. It saddens me that I’ll never see some things because of physical limitations, but now I have crafting, lots of glamours to unlock, and things to learn how to make! One day I’ll be able to make all of my own things!

Nephele
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Nephele

My biggest complaint about the system we saw this past week is that they set the goals for each stage too low, and so it was literally done in less than a week. If they hadn’t turned off cross world visits, my server would have been finished on the third day. Even with that, several did finish on the third day. If SE wants this to be something that everyone can feel like they’re contributing towards, then it needs to last long enough so that people who can’t really log in during the work week have a chance to contribute. The cross-world thing was a part of that for sure but a lot of it was just down to the stockpile targets being too small for the number of players participating .

Apart from that, I agree that it really doesn’t feel very innovative or compelling. It’s basically just another collectible grind. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great either.

I think SE is struggling with what how to make crafting and gathering feel meaningful to players in general. In ARR the systems very clearly were about producing equipment and items for everyone to use. However the expansions and updates over the years have really diluted that purpose. Many players go from 1 to 80 on multiple jobs without ever touching anything crafted unless they are decorating a house. Everything they have tried to implement for crafters and gatherers to do has been finite and so they have to keep trying to think of new ways to make that sphere of gameplay relevant to players. Maybe they will finally land on something before 6.0.

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Coldrun ??

I’m doing other stuff currently – some Hildibrand, some other combat jobs, etc. If I want to try crafty stuff in Ishgard in a few months, am I just out of luck? Is this basically just a short-term, one-time event?

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Ruby Lancer

Honestly, I feel like they will need to sell us on the area being solely for player housing with the in-game story because… well…

It would be kind of crappy to have a bunch of people come in, rebuild the city, and then, even after having been paid/rewarded for their help, take the newly rebuilt section over entirely for their own use while those that would have gotten it are still left out as it is.

Like, mechanically and all, I’m fine with it being for player housing. It’d be kind of stupid to make this new area and then have nothing for it to be used for after all the rebuilding is done. Even the other areas we did similar for have use outside of just being rebuilt. Its just a bad look from a narrative standpoint to say that we’re doing this out of the goodness of our hearts only to then stab the people in the back.

The initial seed is planted for it to be player housing, along with other seeds, so we’ll see how it ends up going, as we still have a long road ahead of us.

Also, have they actually said this story line for the Crafters and Gatherers would be done by the end of the expansion cycle? I know they said it would last through it at the least, but I’m kind of wondering if this might end up being something dragged on through to the next expansion…

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Dagget Burmese

The system needs some tweaking still. They need to re-enable world visit to the zone, but block those ppl from getting rewards for participating in the frantic FATEs. Then they should have servers that are behind generate more scrips for world visitors, so they have some motivation to go help lagging servers once their own has reached the next milepoint.

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Ruby Lancer

The problem with the world visit is that people were using it not to help, but to prevent people from being able to help or even do the FATE stuff themselves. There were even rather public Discord servers having been set up specifically for it. Increasing the rewards won’t change the fact that there will be more people doing it just to be jerks than those that would legit want to help.

Heck, I even heard stories of people who were legit visiting other servers to help out end up being treated like the jerks because there were jerks claiming to be helping as well and the like.

If they were to re-enable world visits, they’d have to have a system in place to remove visitors from the Firmament when a FATE is about to pop and to prevent them from going in until after it was done. Otherwise we’ll just end up where we were before.