Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV has no addons and doesn’t seem to want them

    
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And if you don't love me now, you will never love me again.

So long ago I can’t remember when, interviews with Naoki Yoshida had him talking about Final Fantasy XIV getting addon functionality. To his credit (as are most of the things he does), he never gave a firm answer or a date for any of it; he simply said that he understood the demand and what addons could do for a game, and it was something under consideration so long as it could be done in a positive fashion.

That was before the relaunch. I’m pretty sure this ain’t happening now.

Of course, this is not exactly going to surprise anyone; people would be far more surprised if addons were announced, and it wouldn’t enormously shock me if we did get an announcement about that at some point. But it seems as if the community has long since generally accepted that we’re never getting any sort of addons, and that brings me to the question of both why and why players aren’t demanding this functionality. I think there are answers for both.

The why is probably easier to answer, of course. It’s DPS meters. Or more accurately, it’s the thing that DPS meters represent, and what effect that would have on the game to have them integrated. One of the consistent refrains that’s been put forth is that this is a game to play with friends, and I even did a whole article talking about the design philosophy that puts the game in a distinct space meant to discourage elitism as much as possible.

There are limits to what can be done there, sure, but DPS meters generally seem to be the overall red flag. Not that this has stopped third-party meters, of course, but it has at least rendered that the domain of people pushing for progression and otherwise leaving them alone, by and large.

Obviously, addons can have functions beyond that. Anyone who played World of Warcraft at launch would know that addons were downright revolutionary for the title and still provide a breadth of interface options that many games would aspire to. You can take the existing game and make it look like something completely different, displaying wildly different options and giving you access to features like outfit switching and roleplaying biographies and so forth far beyond any meters for your DPS.

Except… I feel like most of those functions aren’t just unnecessary in FFXIV, but actively planned around. And I think that explains some of the reason why the developers aren’t really rushing to get that working.

It's a boss, and it is deadly.

For starters, it’s a pretty fixed point that most jobs in the game require around 24 buttons for your actions, with maybe one additional bar for occasional abilities, consumables, and so forth. (Personally I really dislike layouts that have hotbars as a big 3×12 block in the middle of the screen, but to each their own.) However, the game gives you by default ten different bars to play around with, free to be moved, rearranged, rebound, and copied as necessary. People have made elaborate macro systems allowing you to have bars automatically shift as conditions are met.

Threat meters are baked into the base game very effectively; ditto indicators for facing, quest locations, dungeon objectives, and so forth. Your map tells you a lot about relevant points. You can already display enemy health in percentage format if you need to. The game lets you set yourself with tags like “roleplaying” or “looking for guidance.”

Heck, one of the most common modifications for WoW is a pack of notifications specifically for boss mechanics… and FFXIV handles that by teaching you the mechanics without a callout to be found. You learn to read the mechanical tells early enough that if you fail to stack for an effect or overlap a damage field or whatever, it’s a failure of execution instead of understanding.

Not all of these features were in at launch, either. Indeed, there seems to be a preponderance of features being added solely for quality of life, like the /gpose interface for taking better screenshots, the tagging for estates, more robust player tags, and so forth. Heck, while the Communities feature has thus far been something of a wash, it’s just awaiting some more work to make it truly sing, since it’s rare to the point of nonexistence to see something not get revised and improved over time.

Any given players might prefer that these features work a little bit differently, sure; you might wish that item trading to NPCs was more automated, or that threat meters displayed the next-closest player to see if someone was about to overtake your threat or whatever. But those are comparatively minor quibbles. At the end of the day, players aren’t consistently crying out for addons because the necessary elements of the interface are already there, and continually improved.

That’s not to say that it’s perfect by any means; it just is consistently a matter of the prospect of addons making for a mildly better experience rather than a transformative one. Compare the amount of work needed to make the game moddable, and it seems like a low-fitness investment, especially when it seems easier to just… ask for the features and see when they get rolled out.

We make for war.

Does this mean I don’t want addons? Well… no, that’s not right either. Sure, I might complain about having to update the dang things, but the fact is that I love playing with a bunch of modifications to make the game interface wildly different. I suspect it’s kind of a problem. I really enjoy having elements to, say, track my income and expenses, or include new art assets, or whatever. I can think of some tools that would make FFXIV more fun to play, sure.

It’s more that when you weigh what would inevitably happen and the work needed against those minor irritations… you know, I can build myself a tracking spreadsheet, I don’t need an addon to track how my overall leveling is going. A better mail interface would be nice, but I can work around it. And, hey, if enough people have an issue with this one it’s likely to be improved in the future.

I suspect that’s also why questions about addons have kind of quieted down and dried up, on a whole. Weighing the list of addons you don’t want against the ones you do and the stress of making a functional API could easily lead to a point wherein the easiest thing to do is just manually make the stuff players want… and yes, it might need refinement and support over time, but the return on investment is worth it just the same.

Much like having free-roaming primals, this seems to be one of those things that was discussed or floated early in the game’s development that just didn’t wind up happening. We went off in different directions. It might not be perfect, but you can understand why all the same.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, we’ll finally have a new live letter, which means that we’ll have a chance to talk about new drabs of information about the upcoming patch.

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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Carebear

The only addon I am missing in every game I play except wow is “Weak Auras”. I dont like looking at the bottom of my screen for abilities procs, cooldowns, etc. I wanna create a “UI” in the center and have the information I want there.

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kothoses

One of the BIG reasons FFXIV doesnt have addons is covered in the article, simply put the game is designed to be played without them.

Raids for example and dungeons are designed to cue you visually, audibly and through patterns that you can recognise. Unlike in other games where the dungeon and raid mechanics require a third party addon screaming at you to move out of bad. Or telling you what to do next.

Part of that comes down to the consistency that FFXIV leverages mechanics, you see an indicator, and you know for the rest of the game what that indicator means, you don’t know how it interacts with other mechanics and that is the learning part, but the game does the best job of any active MMO bar maybe Tera of telegraphing mechanics.

Now in terms of crafting and inventory management, it is sorely needed (For the love of all that is good and the sake of my sanity give me a better bank system than retainers, better yet let me craft directly from them). It is not Path of exile levels of inconvenient and obtuse, but it is close, and POE is designed to be annoying to manage your inventory, thats literally their business model. FFXIV doesnt need to do that, but it still does.

So some addons would be good, but I think they need to be restricted away from Combat/crafting and gathering and focused on the things that are needed, UI streamlining, inventory management and such.

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laelgon

Just my opinion, but if a game is such that an add-on can greatly improve the game experience, then it’s not a well made game. UI tweaks are whatever, we all have different tastes. But if your players are putting out stuff that makes the game easier, looking at the “required” add-ons for WoW endgame, then that’s a problem. It means you’re not giving players the information or functionality they need.

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Sorenthaz

Add-ons would be nice but they shouldn’t be necessary, and it would create a divide between console and PC players. I prefer the way it is right now where they exist and you can set them up if you really want, but they’re not supported and will be punishable if you brag about them or try to harass people on their DPS.

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Ardo Norrin

One thing that addons would introduce, beyond drama, is stratification between PC and Console players, in a game where they’re otherwise integrated with little drama. Unless there was some way introduced to install addons on PS4, PC players with addons, if said addons were perceived as providing some sort of gameplay benefit, would be preferred by “meta” groups trying to maximize advancement, while console players would be relegated to a lower perceived tier.

Bereman
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Bereman

This is one of the main things Yoshi-P has in fact mentioned in some past interviews related to addons and such – being careful to make sure that console and PC players have as similar an experience as possible.

Godnaz
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Godnaz

One thing I learned about 3rd party add-ons is that while they can add some great additions or modifications, they often break and require the author to keep updating. Sometimes the mod author doesn’t play anymore and cant/wont update and then there goes your convenient utility. Then again, I couldn’t see myself playing ESO without them now..

John Artemus
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John Artemus

I feel like add-ons would be a useful tool for raid leaders in savage/extreme content, where you do need to be performing optimally. The problem is, you start seeing damage meters in normal dungeons that really don’t require it.

This leads to DPS doing dumb things, like ignoring mechanics and tunneling on boss fights just so they can top the damage meters. Or people calling out others for doing poor DPS. And you’re, like, in a level 30 dungeon. That was my WoW experience anyway. People constantly watching meters even when doing normal leveling content.

I like the FFXIV community very much, and it does a pretty good job of preemptively limiting any kind of toxicity. And add-ons are a great way to introduce drama.

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IronSalamander8 .

I’m not against addons in theory but I used very few of them when I played WoW, and mostly when the guild required them for raiding (like DBM for example). Some addons I was not a fan of at all but I don’t mind utility or convenience mods much.

I never used addons in CoX (I don’t think it had any either, but not 100% sure), but like FF14, you could move the hot bars around, change their color and shape, and so on. Also the in game maps had customizable waypoints built in so I never felt the need for them.

And yes, I found that FF14 really does mechanics pretty well, especially after I watch a boos fight video or two and then have to recall which thing was which to execute it properly. It’s not perfect of course but overall I’ve had pretty decent dungeon/raid experiences in FF14 and not an addon in sight.

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styopa

“include new art assets”

Just say it, it’s 2020, no shame here: https://sites.google.com/view/naughtypatch2/home

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Ruby Lancer

We could still use -some- call outs or clarifications on a few mechanics for some players, honestly. I mean, I’ve seen people get the stack marker and then run away from everyone so often that they’re either ignorant of the fact that they’ll die without enough people, or trying to be trolls and get a few people killed with them on purpose.

The mechanics aren’t that obtuse if you’re used to them, but with the level and story skips, plus just how fast leveling can be pre-70, it wouldn’t hurt for SE to implement a helping feature, or even just expand on the Hall of the Novice so that people can get a bit more experience with some of the more common mechanics and really make it such that you’re either being willfully ignorant, a troll, or just having a bad time executing.

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IronSalamander8 .

I do wish they better describe some of the mechanics at times although overall I think they do a pretty good job. Players from other MMOs and especially WoW will see a target on them and will instinctively run away from other players to avoid bombing the raid. It can take some getting used to, to know when to stack up instead of run away.