Questions by Brian Perry Jr.
Answered by the Final Fantasy Team
Onrpg: Final Fantasy XI is a game that has been around for quite some time now. Why do you think it has lasted so long and continues to thrive?
FINAL FANTASY XI was the first cross-platform, cross-region MMORPG in the world. For almost six years we have provided an identical gameplay experience to both PC and console users, while releasing simultaneous version updates in four languages. With such a wide variety of players, adventurers populate the lively world of Vana’diel 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Major updates—including all-new features, system changes to improve balance, and the implementation of user requests—take place every few months. This never-ending stream of content ensures there is always some exciting new facet of the game to explore. All of these factors have contributed to the establishment of a player base that has remained at an almost constant 500,000 users over the course of six years and continues to enjoy the evolving world of FINAL FANTASY XI.
Onrpg: What new classes did Wings of the Goddess, the latest expansion, bring to the game?
The dancer and the scholar were the new jobs introduced in the Wings of the Goddess expansion pack.The dancer stands at the forefront of battle with the melee and heals by using points earned through attacking the enemy–a job style that did not previously exist in FINAL FANTASY XI. By setting a melee job as a support job, it is possible for the dancer to be effective solo or in small groups. The scholar is a magic user, but with multiple abilities that allow for effective and flexible use of spells. As well as providing another magic-using job to choose from, the scholar also allows players to exceed the limits of a spell-based character through creative combinations of magic and abilities.
Onrpg: Where was the focus in terms of content for this expansion?
The main focus of the Wings of the Goddess expansion is the Campaign system and the Crystal War—a conflict that took place in Vana’diel twenty years before the current timeline. The Campaign system is divided into four main elements: Campaign battles, Campaign Ops, headhunting, and tactical assessments. Player involvement in these activities helps chart the course of the war effort on a week-by-week basis.Campaign battles refer to the conflicts with specific monsters that arise in an area within a select region. The control of the region in question can be shifted to the army of your allegiance through accumulated victories against the occupying beastman forces. Lesser in scope than the large battles waged over the control of lands, Campaign Ops refer to those special operations that afford players the opportunity to engage in a plethora of war-related efforts, including troop reinforcement, supply runs, escorts, reconnaissance, espionage, and small-scale skirmishes.
By participating in the weekly “tactical assessments,” adventurers can voice their opinions and alter the military policy of their respective army. The tactical assessment results and completion rates of Campaign Ops are then tallied to determine the following week’s battle strategies. In every area, players may encounter NPCs who have no ties to any allied nation. Such NPCs are called “freelances.” Players may convince these freelances to enlist in the Campaign effort, at which point they will ally themselves with the player’s army for a period of one week (Earth time), during which time they will engage in Campaign battles. But rather than read a long explanation such as this, the best way to learn about Campaign is to play it!
Onrpg: Are there any unique game mechanics that were added in for the Wings of the Goddess expansion?
Most of the new game mechanics in the Wings of the Goddess expansion were added to support the Campaign system. Players have expressed appreciation for the ease with which they can travel from town to areas under conflict by using the Campaign-specific warp services. Another game mechanic added at the release of the expansion was the ability to invite other people into your Mog House. Entry to a Mog House was previously restricted to the owner, but now players can share their clever layouts and show off those rare pieces of furniture to their adventuring friends.
Onrpg: How does this expansion affect some of the core gameplay aspects of the previous versions of Final Fantasy XI?
The core aspects of the game remain largely unchanged in the expansion. However, we have implemented many small adjustments and added several new features that affect gameplay. Some of these features include the official windowed mode, the Mog House invitation system mentioned earlier, as well as adjustments to battle music that allows players to hear the change in music when engaging a monster regardless of whether or not they have a weapon drawn. And now that macro information can be stored on the server, users can enjoy playing at a net café or other location just as if they were logging in on their own computer.
Onrpg: Were there any new quest lines similar to the artifact quests added in to give players more to strive for?
New quests and quest lines are added with every version update. We’re planning on releasing a range of quests that explore a variety of themes, so keep an eye out!
Onrpg: What is new for the so-called “endgame” for those who are at level 75 but do not want to play another class?
There is a wide variety of high-level content to choose from in FINAL FANTASY XI. There are the large-scale challenges such as Dynamis and Einherjar, as well as the smaller-scale challenges such as Limbus and Salvage. For those times when less people are available, single parties can also attempt the Nyzul Isle Investigations, or a player can undertake an Assault mission with as few as two friends. Players can choose to participate in any or all of these activities depending on their personal preference and play style.
Onrpg: Can you tell us a bit about the forms of PvP that have been added in since the game originally launched?
Since the launch of FINAL FANTASY XI, we have implemented two PvP “sports” known as “Ballista” and “Brenner.” While characters do have allegiance to one of the three nations, the setting of Vana’diel does not really support warfare between the countries. We therefore opted for a “friendly rivalry” approach that emphasized fun, and included no penalties such as loss of experience when KO’d. Balance between the various jobs and support jobs was our number-one priority. We continue to implement checks such as the system that automatically distributes team members by job, and restrictions that are imposed only during PvP to limit certain balance-destroying job abilities.
Onrpg: One major concern that has persisted is the difficulty of starting out. Many have said that without joining the game with friends it can be anywhere from difficult to nearly impossible to reach a point where you can consistently get a party together. Has anything been done about this, or are there any plans to look closer at this?
We are in the process of developing methods for new players to form parties with friends who are already veterans of the game. The exact nature and timing for the introduction of this method has yet to be decided; however, we are aware that this issue has troubled players for some time and hope to implement a solution as soon as possible.
Onrpg: SquareEnix has long taken a stance against Real Money Transactions. Can you tell us why you are so strongly against them?
There are two main reasons why RMT is prohibited in FINAL FANTASY XI. The first reason is the fact that FINAL FANTASY XI was never designed with the existence of RMT in mind. We believe that the objective of a person playing to simply enjoy the game is fundamentally different from a person who plays with the objective of making real-world money. This difference can lead to the actions of an RMT player hindering the playstyle of non-RMT players. The objective of making money encourages excessive farming, and the use of bots and cheat tools, all of which lead to an unhealthy gaming environment and cause other in-game economical problems such as rapid price inflation.
The second reason is simply to protect our users. RMT transactions usually take place via a third-party RMT site. However, there are RMT sites that exist purely to deceive users into divulging account data and other personal information, as well as sites that seek to infect user PCs with viruses. We have prohibited any RMT activity in FINAL FANTASY XI to prevent such unfortunate incidents from happening.