Gamasutra reported on a speech given by Robert Peeler, Assistant Online Community Manager, at the Game Developers Conference in Austin this past week. According to his bio on the GDC website, Robert “heads up the planning and coordination of community efforts for FINAL FANTASY XI and FINAL FANTASY XIV.” Not surprisingly, the speech focused on FFXI, but FFXIV was mentioned, and the lessons learned from FFXI will undoubtedly play a part in how Square Enix addresses issues in FFXIV.
The overarching issue addressed by Robert was the difficultly of managing the flow of information from a global playerbase to a Japanese development team … and back.
“One of our problems is conveying the users’ opinions in any language to our developers, who live in japan and speak only Japanese. One of our biggest concerns is being able to address the thoughts and concerns of all of the players in our game.”
By way of example, Robert mentioned a few issues from FFXI, where the delay inherent in consolidating issues raised in various forums, translating those issues into Japanese, waiting for a developer response, and translating and disseminating the response, led to significant complaints by the player community. Specifically mentioned was an issue with an elemental resist bug following a patch, and the length of time initially reported to defeat Pandemonium Warden. Also mentioned was the fact that Square Enix has shifted from multiple, smaller, fan festivals to the one annual fan festival, which the past few years has been held in Los Angeles.
As for FFXIV, Robert mentions that his goal is to support loyal FFXI players in their experimentation with FFXIV, while continuing to support their play in FFXI. Robert also mentions that his team works “directly with several fan site leaders or major player advocates in contest promotions, getting the message out, and in developer Q&A.”
After years of dealing with the FFXI community, it is good to see Robert at the helm for FFXIV. While some may take issue with how certain community issues were handled in FFXI, the experience of Robert and his team at Square Enix will certainly be invaluable when FFXIV is released to the masses.