One of the things that I think is important to note about Final Fantasy XIV‘s new adventurer plates is that they are in an early state. The portraits and the plates themselves are being described by Naoki Yoshida as being in a beta state. And yet they are already something that the community adores.
I’m not going to pretend this took me wholly by surprise; I mentioned in an earlier column that this was a feature I was looking forward to. But the way in which the community as a whole seems to have leaned in and agreed that this is a wonderful addition to the game is still heartening to see, and it hopefully heralds a bright future for this particular new feature, even as there are clearly some areas that require some work and some obvious blank spots.
So let’s talk about adventurer plates! Let’s shine a spotlight on these wonderful little additions to the game so that everyone can appreciate just how fun they are. And while we’re at it, let’s talk a little bit about what things aren’t quite working as well as they could… and what will hopefully be improved for the future.
First and foremost, I think it’s important to note that in a very broad sense, adventurer plates right now offer only two things in terms of raw information that were not available through other means beforehand: The play focus information and your active times. Everything else is readily available through other means. Your search comment being on the plate is already there, your jobs are also viewable through other means, you can change your title manually, and so forth.
So why is this such a great feature? Well, for one thing, it provides a bit of information that is otherwise not readily available despite that. I might be on Monk at the moment, but my adventurer plate can tell you that my main job is Samurai and display what my Samurai glamour looks like. I might be using another title (say, one of the Makai titles for the achievements) but the plate shows my preferred title. It’s useful as a way of putting forward your personality.
But it also lets you display that simply by how you choose to customize your plate. What do you choose for your header and footer? How do you want people to see this information? I’ve seen people decorate their plates like formal ID cards or like wanted posters, like pages in scrapbooks or high-tech profiles. All of them say something about the character and the player beyond just the specifics. These things convey information, too.
The other thing that they provide, even now, is a new vector for cosmetic rewards. And this is important because, well… we need those. We’re always going to need more of those.
Think about it for a moment. You can have only one minion out, use only one mount, dress up in only one cosmetic set at a time. You can have only one title alongside your name. That doesn’t mean that we have every conceivable minion or mount or cosmetic set or whatever in the game as it stands; it just means that you can offer these things as rewards for only so long before a certain degree of overload hits, where you don’t need another one of these cosmetic options. You don’t need more outfits.
Plate customizations give us another vector for unlocking cosmetics that you can display alongside all of the other ways you can express yourself. It gives you a new means for showing things off and being rewarded without competing with existing rewards. If you get a new set of customization options to celebrate getting through content or clearing an achievement, that’s valuable. It means more possible rewards for doing things, and that’s always a good thing.
So it’s a bit of a pity that some people just cannot stop being horny with this feature.
FFXIV’s development team has generally been pretty cool with the fact that people are, well, going to be people and going to get horny in this game. The team’s policy has long been pretty clearly stated as “we’re not going to stop you so long as you keep it out of the public eye so that it’s all opt-in. Don’t start nothing, won’t be nothing.”
And yet some people just cannot stop themselves from making risque portraits and plates, and it’s… honestly just tiresome. The first time you see it, it’s clever. The second time, it’s a bit tedious. The tenth time it makes you roll your eyes and just be like “we get it, you creatively cropped your portrait to make it look like you’re undressed, this is not inventive.”
The GM team has already been taking action in this context, suspending people who decided to do inappropriate things with their portraits. This is a good thing, but I wonder how many people are going to actually take this as a chance to learn a lesson. It’s one of those “this is a fun feature with a lot of benefits, please don’t abuse it” moments.
It’s especially relevant because I want to see this feature not just persist but become bigger. And no, I don’t just mean that I want more options for adventurer plates, more direct editing of your search info and stuff. I want to see the team do more with the feature on a whole.
For example, someone suggested the other day that it’d be great to have a party’s plates display at the start of a dungeon, and I think that’s an excellent idea (sort of an expansion of the instant portraits you see in PvP matches). It’d be a little harder to do for Trials or Raids, but the spirit is still there. It makes you see people as people, not as just names who have no reason to necessarily stick out in your mind. It encourages socialization and talking and even just “hey, I like your plate/portrait.”
Plus, you know, it lets you know right away what people enjoy. “You like Blue Mage, too? I like Blue Mage! Nice to meet you!”
I’d also like to see more information on plates. We might need two display modes for plates, like a full or partial version (since I do like the idea of having them pop up in dungeons, as mentioned before), but it’d be good to see things like how many jobs someone has capped at a glance. Maybe even a “showcase” feature in which you could highlight your favorite achievement or things like your mount collection would be fun, another way of showing off what matters most to you in the game.
The feature is still fairly early in its implementation, obviously. There are places to go, more customizations to be added, and so forth. But I really like what we’ve got so far and I want to see them become more visible and more useful. That’s the mark of a good improvement, and there’s not even any actual content here.
Feedback, as always, is welcome via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments down below. Next week, I want to talk about whether or not FFXIV’s story is approaching a continuity lockout point and what’s being done to address that issue.