Sunday, August 2, 2015

Blaugust Day 2: Never Make the Same Mistake Twice

One of the things that continually impresses me about Final Fantasy XIV is that the developers are very good at learning from their mistakes. Sometimes systems don't work quite how they were intended to at first, but improvements get made and the game develops over time. One good example of this is cutscenes.

The storyline in FFXIV includes a lot of cutscenes throughout, many of which can be fairly long. All well and good, but at first those cutscenes would often be in the middle of dungeons. If not everyone in the dungeon wants to watch the cutscene, then you end up with some members of a group either having to wait for the others to finish, or running on ahead and starting fights without the person who was watching the cutscene. The very worst offenders were the final two 8 person trials in the initial story, Castrum Meridianum and The Praetorium. It is entirely possible for a player to watch the cutscene triggered before a boss in one of those trials and find that by the time the cutscene is over the rest of the group has already defeated the boss and moved on without them.

In the content that was added in later patches however, mid-dungeon cutscenes are noticably rare. When they do exist they are usually very short. Cutscenes at the beginning of dungeons are usually quite short as well, with the long ones almost always placed at the end of dungeons where watching them won't hold the rest of your group up. The lesson was learned and adjustments were made to avoid repeating the mistake.

I've been working on my crafting jobs recently, and I've noticed the same sort of thing there, where choices appear to have been made to address weaknesses in the crafting system or to fix elements that don't have the expected effect.

Crafting in FFXIV is a mini-game that involves using various abilities to fill a progress bar while also trying to increase a quality bar as much as possible to improve your chance of producing a high quality verison of the item you're making. For final products a high quality item is noticeably better than the normal version, having higher stats across the board. You have a limited number of actions to do this with as well as a limited amount of crafting points to spend on your abilities. To complicate things even further, your craft has a material condition which can vary over the course of the craft, adding an element of randomness to the process.

In theory, one needs to pay attention to material condition and react differently depending on the current condition since it heavily affects the amount of quality added by abilities. In practice, at most points in the process changing which ability you use would result in wasting the effects of previously used abilities or using too many crafting points and running out too soon. Thus, condition ends up just being something you don't pay much attention to that occasionally greatly helps you or screws you over.

In Heavensward, all the crafting jobs get a new ability at level 53, Precise Touch, which increases item quality. This ability is identical to the very first quality increase ability you receive, Basic Touch, with two differences. Precise Touch can only be used when material condition is Good or Excellent, and it adds a level of Inner Quiet to your Stack. Inner Quiet is a status you can stack that increases the effectiveness of all you quality increase abilities.

That's useful in and of itself, of course, but more importantly that stack can then be spent to fuel the ability Byregot's Blessing, which increases quality by an amount dependent on the size of the Inner Quiet stack.

What this means is that any time you would normally use Basic Touch, it is better to use Precise Touch if possible. Now you need to pay attention to material condition so you can use the better ability. It's not a huge change, but a small step to slightly more complex crafting. Of course, whether you think that's a good thing or not will depend on whether you view it as interesting complexity or not. I'm still not entirely sure on that point, but it's at least an attempt.


  1. I enjoy FFXIV's cutscenes, but I do find a big issue with cutscenes in group-based content. I wish there was a better way to implement it without slowing everyone else down or missing out on content while you watch. Maybe it could play during the queue if you wanted it to?

    1. That's an idea, have the intro cutscene play when you initially queue if you want. Might help appease the folks who get antsy at the start of dungeons.