Tanaka: Foreign Sites Making Up Things About A System We Released No Information On

Hiromichi TanakaHiromichi Tanaka, via his Twitter account, commented on foreign websites that have recently been talking about the Surplus EXP system (which is being called “fatigue” by many players). It appears that the Final Fantasy XIV Producer is upset that people are creating false statements about the experience penalties that players have been experiencing in phase 3 of testing.

The basic idea of the system is that if a player levels a certain discipline for too long (around 8 hours), they need to switch to another class to level. If they don’t, the experience points they earn from defeating monsters will decrease. After waiting a period of one week, players will be able to receive the normal amount of experience again. By implementing this system, casual players will be more evenly matched with hardcore gamers who are now forced to spend their extra time leveling multiple disciplines instead of devoting a majority of their play time to one.

Now, I’ve tried to keep an open mind about Final Fantasy XIV. After all it’s a new MMO and there are bound to be some issues with it. No MMO is perfect at launch. However, there are some things that I feel need to be addressed.

It’s no secret that Square Enix is aiming Final Fantasy XIV at casual gamers. However, with everything going on with the Surplus system at present, it also looks like they are alienating their hardcore players and forcing them to either adopt a casual play style, or play other disciplines that they may not have an interest in. You either have to level multiple disciplines, or not play as often. There are those that have started to speculate that the whole reason for this Surplus system in the first place is because there simply isn’t a good amount of endgame content yet, and by slowing down the hardcore gamers with Surplus EXP, they won’t reach endgame as fast.

Tanaka’s tweet complains that people are making up false statements about the fatigue system. This wouldn’t be happening in the first place if Square Enix had accurately described the system to its beta testers before implementation. He’s basically saying “Stop making up stuff about a system we released no details about”. By not telling testers how this is supposed to work, players are forced to talk amongst each other and try to figure out how this system is working for themselves. It’s hard for beta testers to give feedback when they don’t know how a particular system is supposed to work in the first place. Of course, it’s also difficult for testers to give feedback about the beta phase of the game when the more recent batch of beta keys that were handed out restrict testers from even posting on the test forums.

Another issue that some people could take offense to is the specific mention of “foreign sites”. As stated by Elmer at ZAM, even the Japanese beta testing forums are full of confused players that have absolutely no idea what’s going on with this system. By calling out foreign sites, not only does Tanaka insult the foreign player base, but he also does nothing to dispel the ongoing idea that Square Enix shows favoritism towards Japanese players. This is made even worse by the fact that Director Komoto posted an explanation of the Surplus EXP system on the Japanese beta test site. At the time of this post, there is no similar message posted on the NA test site.

So let’s rewind. Tanaka complains about foreign sites discussing misinformation. They then release more details about this system to Japanese players, not the foreign players where this problem was said to have originated.

Square Enix has been doing a great job about keeping each region/language updated to this point. However, in this case, I feel it’s more important than ever to make sure the message reaches all of the players at one time. Now, clearly most people’s response is “they need someone to translate Komoto’s message, and that’s why there’s no post on the NA test site yet.” And I’d agree with you in that yes, that a reasonable statement. However, given the specific mention of foreign sites being the issue in this case, they should have posted on all of the sites at the same time. By doing this they insult foreign players even further.

This whole incident has happened at the opportune moment. The game still has a few weeks before it will be released to the masses which means there is still time to make adjustments that will be present in the retail copy of the game. Hopefully with as much negative discussion as this system is getting, Square Enix can make adjustments that make their players excited to play instead of canceling their pre-orders.

What are your thoughts on Surplus EXP? Should all players be on even ground? Should players be able to level whatever job they want, as much as they want without interference?