Posted On: 11/20/2013 at 07:41 PM
Producer and director Yoshi-P here.As you'd expect, there are many more factors to consider when designing an MMORPG like FFXIV, compared to a stand-alone console game. These factors heavily influence combat design and balance.
Recently, we've noticed a number of threads discussing the weekly limit on Allagan tomestones of mythology. I'd like to talk about the reasons for this limit, as well as changes coming in patch 2.1 that will affect their acquisition.
Progression in FFXIV
Each encounter in FFXIV: ARR is crafted with a particular difficulty in mind. As players grow stronger by increasing their level, they will be able to complete early encounters. However, upon reaching level 50, players who wish to become even more powerful and tackle the hardest challenges must instead obtain better gear, thus increasing their item level. The time required to do so is dictated either by drop rates, or by the rate at which tomestones can be acquired, depending on the gear being sought.
Progression can therefore be described as follows:
Our ultimate goal is to give players the freedom to advance at their own pace. Having said that, the current design has room for improvement, which is why we will be implementing changes with patch 2.1.
- Players reach level 50 while clearing the main scenario.
- Upon reaching level 50, players begin acquiring gear to raise their item level.
- Players take on encounters appropriate for their item level, acquiring new gear.
- Upon acquiring new gear, players raise their item level, allowing them to challenge more difficult encounters.
Expectations for Progression Until Patch 2.1From the initial release of FFXIV: ARR, we predicted it would take roughly a month and a half for the most dedicated players to reach the Binding of Coil of Bahamut, and roughly two months for the general player population. Furthermore, we wanted players to acquire gear using Allagan tomestones of mythology in tandem with clearing the Binding Coil. This served as the basis for determining the rate at which tomestones can be earned, which is currently limited to 300 tomestones of mythology per week. With the release of patch 2.1, this limit will be increased to about 450 tomestones per week, for reasons which will be explained at the end.
The Two Paths for Player ProgressionOne unique quality of MMORPGs is that, depending on how much time they have to play, a disparity between players can easily emerge. For example, let's say player A plays two hours per day, and player B plays five hours per day. After a week, there's a difference of 21 hours, after five weeks a difference of 105 hours, and after ten weeks a difference of 210 hours. MMORPGs are designed to be played over a long period of time, and as such, this gap between players will only increase as time goes on. This inevitably leads to several problems:
In an attempt to combat these trends, and also to encourage users to continue playing, most developers of the first generation of MMORPGs decided that items should only drop a fraction of the time. Because the chance of obtaining items was so low, it took a relatively long amount of time to obtain gear, meaning users would play longer.
- It becomes difficult for new players to join.
- Casual players are likely to lose motivation to play.
- The community is likely to become fragmented.
However, when considering the lifestyle of users in today's market, the freedom to play at a more leisurely pace is essential. With no option but to continue running through instances, with no guarantee that the desired can be obtained, users are more likely to become stressed and stop playing all together.
These concerns led to the birth of the token system, which we have adopted for FFXIV: ARR. The merit of this system is that, although there is a limit on tomestone acquisition, users are guaranteed to obtain desired items after obtaining a set number of tokens.
Because every duty in ARR offers a set number of tomestones, players can easily determine how many instances they need to clear and how much time it will take. They can then play at their own pace to acquire the gear they desire. Furthermore, the more difficult encounters also incorporate a more traditional system of drop rewards. This offers players two options:
Although these methods are different, each allows for the acquisition of level 90 gear.
- Play through the Binding Coil of Bahamut and obtain gear from drops.
- Collect Allagan tomestones of mythology to exchange for gear.
In short, players who have ample time to play are free to collect tomestones, or challenge the Binding Coil, and those who have less time can still acquire tomestones at their leisure. Despite the difference in time available to players, the game is designed so that everyone can potentially obtain item level 90 gear.
However, please bear in mind that high-item-level gear alone may not enough to overcome some challenges. Because of the armory system’s design, end game encounters have been balanced for players who have not only leveled one job to 50, but who have also obtained abilities from other classes. That being said, we have no plans to make multiple jobs a requirement.
Providing Additional Paths for Player ProgressionThere's one key problem with the encounters available in 2.0: the limited number of options leads to linear progression for battle classes, and essentially leaves crafters and gathers by the wayside.
To be more specific, players are being pressured to join a party to play through a limited selection of instances for tomestones; there are few, if any, options for those who wish to collect them leisurely, efficiently, or even alone. Patch 2.1 will serve as a means to resolve this problem, giving players many more options to collect tomestones and play as they see fit.
Here is an example of how the upcoming update will appeal to more players:
- Beast Tribe Quests - Learn about the beast tribes in daily quests and acquire tomestones.
- Treasure Hunts - Search for buried treasure with up to four players and obtain crafting material, consumable items, and tomestones.
- Duty Roulette - Join a duty at random and receive bonus tomestones and experience points.
- Housing - Build and furnish a home with the aid of Eorzea's crafters and gatherers, or use your own skills to do the same.
- Wolves' Den - Test your combat skills against your fellow players, earning fame and fortune.
- Crystal Tower - Challenge an ancient tower with 23 of your strongest allies and face the dangers within.
- Pharos Sirius - Explore an abandoned lighthouse to obtain new gear and tomestones.
- Two Hard Mode Dungeons - Face greater dangers to obtain new gear and tomestones.
- Aesthetician - Keep your characters fresh by changing their appearance.
- Extreme Primal Battles and Good King Moggle Mog - Confront a mysterious new enemy and three familiar foes to obtain new gear and tomestones.
- New Main Scenario Quests - Work together with the Scions of the Seventh Dawn for the sake of Eorzea.
- New Side Quests - Take part in additional side stories to learn more about the peoples and cultures of Eorzea. As you can see, this upcoming update will add more options for adventuring alone or in a group; the means to challenge other players in PvP; more incentive to craft, gather, and collect items; and new chapters in the game's ongoing story.
Patch 2.2 will introduce the next section of the Binding Coil of Bahamut, and we highly encourage players seeking a challenge to prepare for the new dangers ahead. To those of you have obtained all available gear in the Binding Coil, we hope you'll give the Wolves' Den a try and see how you fare against your fellow dungeon runners.
Raising the Tomestone Cap in 2.1As I explained previously, because there are only a few ways to acquire tomestones, players have had no choice but to run the same dungeons over and over. While there are those who are fine with the current state of affairs, there are others who dislike the limit, as well as those who feel obligated to hit the weekly cap.
A. Players who dislike the limit:-> “Once I reach the weekly cap, there's nothing else to do. If the limit was raised or removed, I would have a reason to play more.”B. Players who feel obligated to hit the cap-> “If I don't hit the weekly cap, I’ll fall behind. But having only a handful of dungeons is boring. I just want it over with fast.”If we were to increase the weekly limit before patch 2.1, players who fall under category B would increase significantly. To satisfy both types of players, we feel it best to prioritize giving players more options.
I realize patch 2.1 was originally scheduled to be released in November, but due to problems with server congestion, and the need for server and system improvements, we were forced to delay the release one month. However, I assure you that the wait will be worth it, as the upcoming patch will not only include plenty of new content, but also improvements to the user interface and additional system updates.
There have been several posts asking why we have not split patch 2.1 into several smaller updates, the answer to which can be found in a recent post here on the forum.
We're working to have everything ready in a timely fashion, and we greatly appreciate your continued patience.