FFXIV:It’s the countdown

On November 1st, it’s the end of the world as we know it. I’ll let you know then how I’m feeling.

All right, the game will still be online for another week or so, but November 1st is the last day that any progress is getting saved. You can go ahead and ignore Final Fantasy XIV after that last server photograph, unless you had an urge to spend all of your gil on airship rides but couldn’t bear the thought of being broke. Not that you’ll even need to worry about that after September 29th if you’re not currently subscribed, as that’s the last chance for people to come back even if it’s just for a short period of time.

It’s hard to avoid looking forward to the end of the game as it stands, and the fact that we have a precise timeframe only exacerbates the problem. We’ve got 45 days until the ending hits, and while I’ve already talked about what to do with the time you have left, there are questions that need to be asked as we look at the numbers.

Let's take photos of places we can't arrive at yet!

What are we going to do for the next month?

The story of the current version of the game has come to a conclusion. It’s concluded. All that’s left is to take part in more efforts to keep Eorzea safe and healthy, something we already know is going to fail. (Spoiler alert: Dalamud doesn’t just up and leave.) This is not bad storytelling, but it does raise the question of what in the world we’re supposed to spend the next month doing.

Seriously, odds are good that if you were going to cap out the story, you have done so by now. What’s left is hunting some achievements and apparently dealing with Atomos, who looks uncomfortably similar to his Final Fantasy XI incarnation. Every update along the way has built up to the single conclusion, but now that we’ve got a lull before the end, it’s hard to fill it with activity.

Hopefully, testing will start expanding to people outside of Japan fairly early just to keep player interest up, since otherwise we’re going to have a very long October. Even if we have some sort of Halloween event, it’s going to feel mostly perfunctory, as we’ll be crunched for time to play through it. Plus, once we start hearing more about 2.0 in practice rather than in theory — something that should start happening later this month — odds are good that it’ll either be great (in which case we’ll want to play that version) or be awful (in which case interest in the game will flatline).

So, yeah. Look for more testing and invitations in October. That’s my guess, anyway.

I'm kind of surprised that catboys have become the poster child for the version change.

How long will testing last?

I was only involved in the very last portion of Final Fantasy XIV’s testing, but from what I’ve heard, it was an intensely frustrating process. Testers offered feedback while being told explicitly that they weren’t testing the full game, that there was a ton of content just not being shown during the test period. (For those of you uninvolved in the testing altogether, this was a lie.) If Final Fantasy XIV wants to avoid making the same mistakes as the original version, this round of testing should really avoid that specific mistake first and foremost.

Assuming that Naoki Yoshida wants to do this round of testing right — and I’m willing to bet that he does — I think the game needs to have a longer testing period this time around. That means that even if the testing starts right now, it’s going to take longer than three months. It probably needs a minimum of six months in the cooker, pushing its release to be roughly concurrent with Seekers of Adoulin.

A lot of testing has been taking place already, but part of the problem the game had with the first round of testing was that it didn’t give any extra time for player feedback. The game was tested internally, and the beta turned into an extended stress test rather than a test of whether the game worked, had enough content, and was fun to play.

I’m a little worried about this simply because the game already has such a firm timeline for shutdown. That seems to imply that the testing is almost perfunctory, and that doesn’t inspire confidence. If testing already has an end date built-in, you can rest assured that it’s not going to be as rigorous as it ought to be.

Yoshida has gone on record saying that he’s going to be considering player feedback very carefully and using that as the basis for moving on from alpha testing to beta testing and so forth. It’s not that I doubt his intent; it’s that I’ve heard these lines before from the community management team. I’m not disbelieving, but I am taking this with a grain of salt.

How much of now is going to matter?

The other two questions here have answers. This one honestly doesn’t.

Let’s say you have 10 million gil right now. You feel pretty confident that going into version 2.0, you’ll be set. But we don’t actually know that just yet. It could be that everything is balanced around veteran players and your gil is only a pittance. Or it could be that you can basically buy anything in sight from vendors and break markets on a whim. We don’t know how much gil players will be earning regularly, what vendor prices will look like, or what vendors will even sell.

Are all of those crafting items you’ve got on retainer going to be worth anything after the version change? Will they even still be there?

This is an area that I’m hoping to get more communication on in the coming months. If I know full well that there’s no reason to save certain items, I won’t cry over it; I’ll just get rid of them. There are so many things set to change in the new version that we need more information than just a closing date. We need hard data on what won’t matter because in a little over a month, it’ll be too late to act on that information.