Casuals Are Fine And You Are Too

casualsnoooo

Director/Producer Naoki Yoshida is aiming to make Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn an accessible game that will be friendly to casual players that may or may not be familiar with the MMO genre as well as rewarding more skilled, experienced MMO players.

Unfortunately, some members of the community seems to be having trouble understanding the balance that Yoshida is aiming for with the second iteration of FFXIV. Several threads sprung up on various forums after the latest live letter with people saying they were going to quit because they don’t want to play a game that’s “made for casuals.”

What some fail to realize is that a community is made up of players from all around the world, with different amounts of free time, different play styles, and different amounts of experience with the MMO genre. Unfortunately for these players, they have a negative outlook on players that are different from themselves and blame them for making the game more easy. But is this really the case? Let’s take a look what what we know!

With the eighth live letter from the producer, Director/Producer Naoki Yoshida talked about the levels of difficulty that players can expect to see with certain content in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

The Crystal Tower, a 24 man raid will be able to be accessed via the game’s Duty Finder- making it easy for anyone to join a group and experience the content. In the live letter, Yoshida said that at present, they found the difficulty of the content in the Crystal Tower to be too high, so they’ll be adjusting that and releasing the tower in patch 2.1.

The concern is that the Crystal Tower’s difficulty is being made less difficult and added into the Duty Finder so that anyone can just go in, get clears and earn gear. Why is this a problem? Are people worried that after they get their Sword of Awesome, some “dirty casual” will be able to jump into the Duty Finder, join a Crystal Tower group and then get their own Sword of Awesome?

When it comes down to it, difficulty levels, while set up by the development team, can be easy or difficult depending on the group of players that are doing the content. Ask yourself this: What group has a better chance of succeeding? A 24 man alliance from a Free Company that does the Crystal Tower? Or a group constructed via the Duty Finder that’s full of people who may have never met one another, and are unfamiliar with each other’s playstyles, and have not previously discussed various strategies of the content they’re about to do? Hopefully the answer is pretty clear. Duty Finder doesn’t guarantee success- it only allows quicker entry into the content for those without a large shell or company.

Chances are pretty good that the first groups that run the Crystal Tower will fail. They’ll be defeated and walk away with nothing. This is the same with any endgame level content in any MMO and Final Fantasy XIV is no exception- in fact things already transpired this way in version 1.0. Any time new content comes out, the community throws everyone on it in order to be “first.” After that title is claimed, the strategy for how that group completed the content is released, and then more and more people will use that information to complete the content for themselves.

The level of the content won’t change, but the amount of knowledge the players have about it will increase dramatically. A bad player is still going to be a bad player in this regard. The worst thing that could happen in a situation like this is one such player gets into a Tower group via the Duty Finder and then wins a piece of equipment over someone else that feels they deserve it more. Here’s the thing though- that’s the possible consequence of using the Duty Finder for content. If you’re afraid of something like that happening, grab 23 other members from your Linkshell or Free Company that have a better sense of “who needs what” to do the content with.

Let the players who don’t have the luck or schedule to have raid nights use Duty Finder to experience the content in the game that they’re paying for. Whether they’re winning or not, they’ll still be able to try the content and that’s the important thing here.

In Final Fantasy XIV, each job has a special set of armor that can be obtained via quests. In 1.0, some of those quests required a full party in order to beat some of these quest’s bosses. For A Realm Reborn, Yoshida stated that a skilled player will be able to solo these quests and obtain the special armor by themselves. There will be NPCs within these fights, Yoshida said, that will help you so that you can solo the fights.

A Realm Reborn will have a progression for players to proceed through for content. Players will level up the classes and jobs of their choice to their cap and then do the various types of endgame content which will reward them with powerful equipment.

Endgame content will be such that in order to complete the Great Labyrinth of Bahamut, it would be strongly advised that players gear up from the Crystal Tower. To be successful in the Crystal Tower and get gear to take on Bahamut, players would get equipped via the Primal Battles. How do players get ready for the Primal battles? By completing their sets of job specific armor.

What is it about the aspect of soloing this gear that makes beta participants so upset? Note that Yoshida said that a skilled player could solo these quests. It’s not like you’ll go in and spam one through zero on your hotbar without paying attention and be rewarded with new shiny armor.  Many will fail. Even if they succeed so what? They’ll be walking around with the same armor as you? If you’re an amazing hardcore player, you’ll have better gear- from hard mode dungeons and extreme mode Primals. Meanwhile, they’ll be able to move on and try other content, and because of their equipment there’s even a chance that they’ll be able to succeed.

 

20 thoughts on “Casuals Are Fine And You Are Too

  1. Speaking as one who does endgame hardcore content on a multitude of different MMORPGs, I do agree that it is ridiculous for that everyone cries foul whenever content becomes nerfed or changes occur in an attempt to rebalance the game. Everyone is so quick to throw a “they’re making this for casuals” card whenever it happens.

    However, I’m a little concerned about the difficulty in the content. The Duty Finder is to allow players to quickly find a group to tackle content, and that in itself is great. However, you’re also pulling in from a huge pool of players that may or not be well verse in the game’s mechanics. You’ll end up with the best or the worst. As such, my main concern is making everything capable for those using Duty Finder while giving some challenge to those that go in as a pre-made and are well organized and skilled.

    I’m not too concerned about playing with randoms. The advantages of using the Duty Finder and obtaining your gear that way is great for anyone who doesn’t have time or does not want to commit to any group. But when I go in with an organized group and stomp the content within the first day of its release, it doesn’t matter how brilliant the gear is. The challenge is not there. The interest dies, at least for me.

    1. Garuda is a DF’d event, and people couldn’t even farm that in 1.0. Not to mention CC and AV (the two instanced level 50 raids from 1.0) were so difficult that maybe 1/500 PuG’s could even clear it, never mind complete all the requirements to get all the chests.

      Then let’s add on the fact that unless you had a LS with 8 people that played like we used to play in XI, who weren’t selfish tools etc, even they had trouble getting the right ‘flow’ down to where it was total farm status.

      They made getting to 50 easier, so that it doesn’t take the year it took you in XI, the Instanced raids (up to level 35 at least) are all pretty easy, at least to anyone who’s ever raided in any MMO before.

      People are judging before they even experience it. They said they had to mess with Titan too because of the difficulty but no one started crying about that.

      The fact remains (I know I’m semi-bias) this is one of the best well-rounded MMO’s that have launched in a long long time. It’s not SWTOR where leveling was super fun but endgame was lacking, it’s not gimmick-y like TERA where it’s every other MMO except for the battle system. ARR is well rounded so that ANYONE can pick it, and enjoy it, but the content is difficult too (as it will be at endgame).

      Also, the beta forums were FULL of people crying about the difficulty of the level 15 mission. They couldn’t even beat that.

      There’s so much more I could say, but I’m going to end on this:
      All MMO content is easy, as soon as one group beats it and a guide is made. (except for pre-abyssea AV)

      1. >All MMO content is easy, as soon as one group beats it and a guide is made.

        This is something I’m actually hoping is not the case with ARR. Knowing the fight should be, at best, half the battle. The other half is taking that applied knowledge and putting it in the execution.

        I trust in Yoshida with balance, but at the same time it is a little jarring to see pre-emptive nerfs without giving the public a go at it. While the QA crew at SE are probably a lot more well versed than anyone else in FFXIV ARR at this moment, it’s ultimately going to be about the many thousands upon thousands of players that will dissect the content and use that sample size to truly see if such adjustments are needed.

        1. I agree, saying that content is easy once a guide has been released is like saying that being a top chef is easy if you just follow the cooking recipe.

        2. It’s a piece of cake to bake a pretty cake

          If the way is hazy

          You gotta do the cooking by the book

          You know you can’t be lazy

          Never use a messy recipe

          The cake will end up crazy

          If you do the cooking by the book

          Then you’ll have a cake

          … Erm, sorry.

      2. The primal fights in v1.0 were challenging and fun –even with a good group that knew the fight and worked well together.

        But v1 was a different game with a different battle system. It remains to be seen if these fights will remain so challenging.

        Mog Knight brings up a valid concern: if the content is accessible so easily through the duty finder, it necessarily must be easy to complete. The primal fights in v1, which required many runs to figure out and practice, cannot remain so difficult for the duty finder, because you can’t learn the fight without repeating it with the same people, and discussing tactics.

        If one first has to “learn” the fight with an organized FC group, then what’s the point of the duty finder?

        SE’s solution is simply to make a “hard mode” for people who want the challenging fight. But ultimately what’s the point of doing that, if for the most part, you get the exact same armor, wi perhaps a bit of a stat boost? There’s little -social- incentive to want to do the extreme dungeons.

        Having a tiered endgame approach like WoW, where one is obligated to go from tier to tier in order to “gear up” insures game play cannot be challenging except at the last raid.

        People claim it will work this was..originally thinking the Crystal Tower was the big “raid”. But that theory has been blown out of the water.

        A broad endgame approach like FFXI had would be better, with fun challenging low-man content, easier Zerg content, and large organized LS content, all giving interesting and different gear.

        It’s sad to imagine SE would throw away all the ideas they had for FFXI endgame systems, just to mimic the stale feature-creep treadmill WoW uses.(not to mention that this system makes endgame crafting kind of boring and leveling up e GC pointless if everyone “needs” the Crystal Tower gear to move up to Bahamut.) I’m not willing to speculate based on a few fragmented translated sentences. I’m just going to play, have fun, and see for myself.

  2. I hope just because you can solo the quest doesn’t mean that is the only way. In FFXI and FFXIV ver.1 I liked helping friends, LS members and random people.

  3. That’s fine maybe gee I dunno my friends will actually play FFXIV if it’s not FFXI Version 2. I don’t know why so many people are afraid of the duty finder either. I’ve never once had a problem with the dungeon finder in WoW.

    1. Personally I’d kill for duty finder in XI now. I’ve spent nights trying to find people to do Rune Fencer AF1 fight for the great sword because everyone did it in the first day or two when I wasn’t playing. Never anyone there, no shout groups, no one will join a shout group, and not nearly enough friends still playing.

      Very excited for XIV /le~sigh

  4. I for one am terribly excited to play again when ph4 opens, and I really appreciate what SE is doing with the game, making it accessible to folks with less time. I played FFXI when I was in high school and college and back then i had the time to blow having fun playing a FF game, but the facts are that I can’t do that anymore, and SE knows that. They also know that money makes the world (Eorzea) go round. They need LOTS of people to play this game and spend their hard earned cash to do it. They also know that it’s a game about community and fantasy at its core. They are listening to all of these concerns (way more than I have ever seen) and are trying to find the best balance. They aren’t going to forget/ignore the non-casual requests. Just be patient and don’t hate.

    1. There are even more college students today than when FFXI debuted. If it just came down to having time to waste, by your logic, SE could make as hard core a game that only college students have time to play and be even more successful than they were with FFXI (their biggest money maker).

      The reason for the more ” accessible” gameplay isn’t because SE cares about your busy adult lifestyle, but because modern MMO players aren’t willing to do anything that requires patience.

      Ironically, if vanilla WoW debuted today…with its 3 month to cap leveling curve, large scale raids that needed long chain quests and attunements…it would be considered “hard core”.

  5. Good read.
    I think it’s dumb that we have to be labeled as “hardcore” or “casual”. What happened to just being gamers?

  6. Very good read.
    And I totally agree about the Duty Finder not making it easy for people who don’t have parties, or are – what “hardcore” gamers called as – “casual players.” I’ve tried it, and although the first two contents were pretty easy…even the 3rd could be taxing if there’s no organization in your party.

  7. The point is that if you find all content in game easy, you want the next challenge.
    Which is not there if the hardest content is made easy enough to be finished by pugs.

    It’s the same question as you asking if I care about “casuals” getting same gear as me.
    Well, yes and no, if it didn’t affect my gameplay by making my content easier so you can do it too, then I wouldn’t care.
    So why do you care if I get some content aimed at me and too hard for you?
    The answer you ll give will be pretty much the reverse of mine.
    Because there will be content you paid for and can’t do.
    But why is that a bad thing, knowing there is harder content available whenever you put in the time and effort for it if you are willing to do so.
    Making the hardest in game content easy leaves no enjoyable playing room for players that want a real challenge while being maxed out, without gimping the content by themselves like going in naked.

    The fact that the dungeon is now in the Duty Finder, isn’t the problem.
    It’s the fact that they are making it EASIER which is the issue.

    It has nothing to do with me caring about what the “casuals” get, it’s about me being able to do content where I have only a slight chance of succeeding even after 20 runs and being super geared.

    The rewards from such content should be appropriately special and unreachable even by most of the “hardcore” players including myself.
    Just compare it to the medals during olympics or other sports.
    Not everyone gets the gold medal even though they all participate.

    1. This hits it on the head.

      Personally I couldn’t care less if Tommy 2 hours is walking around with that sword of awesomeness. The problem is more the fact there gets a point where the the fun is gone because everything’s too easy.

      Its usually not the hardcore crowd that is bothered by someone having gear, its more the casual players.

      If they cant have that Super Awesome Sword then there straight to the forums crying nerf and how they paid for this content, which in itself is a flawed argument as they don’t pay for the content they pay for the chance to reach that content. Also the flip side is the hardcore’s pay for hard content.

      I’m fine with content being available to as many as possible I just hope there are some things that are catered to Hardcore crowd aswell. WoW had the right idea with LFR normal and HM raids but they didn’t have the spine to say now there’s 3 tiers catered to 3 kinds of people if u cant do HM do normal if u cant do normal do LFR if you cant do that? well there’s bigger problems than content difficulty.

      The one thing that does annoy me tho is how this hardcore vs casual argument pops up and its always the hardcores that get the flack for wanting a challenge when most of the time the problem lies with casuals not being content with hitting a wall and having to find a way to climb it, they just cry till the walls knocked down.

  8. basically what snow said.
    the thing about ffxiv is that game is cater to the ‘casual’ players but none for hardcore. you have your content why not ours.
    are we really asking much? whats wrong with asking few harder contents for the other percentage of the crowd?

  9. Accessibility to Crystal Tower isn’t the problem. Retarding the release of the dungeon to streamline it, dumb-down the mechanics, the removal of challenging content (subjective decision at best) and effectively rendering what was promised as a hardcore, old-school MMO experience as a casual-fest is what truly bothers people: deceivement and misinformation.

    Over the last 3 years, we’ve had SWTOR, GW2, TERA, TSW, Neverwinter, and a few other good/decent/mediocre MMOs who have all taken the “everybody-gets-to-access-end-game-content” approach and albeit one — GW2 which still has no solution for people looking for a themepark/traditional end-game experience — all games as they currently stand are effectively void of challenging and, therefore, interesting end-game content.

    Yoshida wrote a very long post explaining the design elements behind FFXIV. When he set to design FFXIV, he claimed to jungle between his “gamer” and “producer” hats to get the game right. I disagree. He never wore a “gamer” hat nor did he wore a “producer” hat: his hats were clearly marketer” and “corporate” hats. Now that we’re close to release, the door for feedback keeps getting narrower and narrower to the point of being completely shut; this new-found SE that’s all about transparency and communication are showing their true colors when it matters most and their attitude is obviously the standard we should expect for things to come. I’m not optimistic. The team has lost a lot of steam closer to release and they seem very, very happy (almost too much) with their product. That’s where ego creeps in and will obfuscate what needs to be changed/should be changed/will be changed. Given Yoshida’s catering to the super-casual crowd, any veteran/serious MMO player should remain very skeptical.

    We’ve had none, zero, zilch, nada, void, null, 0 insight about end-game, its subsequent boss mechanics, longevity, tactics, or any of that good stuff that comes along with end-game until 3 weeks before release and what did we get? The 24-man raid many people were looking as a goal, or challenge is not only going to be unavailable for release but it’s also being modified for the worst of reasons: to turn it into a 24-man CoD lobby experience where communication will be kept at a minimum to enable people to obtain good gear with the least amount of effort and therefore dilute the entire experience of the game overall.

    This trade-off of accessibility for short-term appeasement of an impatient and, honestly, entitled playerbase does nothing but hurt the game in the long-term. I don’t understand why so many game developers have tunnel vision and don’t understand that challenging end-game content that is out-of-reach for many players needs to be there. It shouldn’t dominate end-game, in anyway, but it should be there to provide an ultimate goal (and the adequate rewards that come along with the invested effort) and therefore create a very long end-game experience for players of all backgrounds.

    As it currently stands, FFXIV 2.0’s end-game looks eerily similar to the end-game that awaited players who picked up SWTOR during Dec 2011 – Feb 2012: 2-3 hours-long raids filled with Pinata bosses with very simply mechanics and non-challenging tactics (I’m sorry Mr. Yoshida but having 4 players get hit by a specific type of damage and then have your tank get hit by another then finish the fight isn’t challenging content).

    That’s what the more “hardcore” (and I consider myself hardcore-casual) players are having gripes with: the radio silence post-Phase 3 about end-game and people’s worst fears of having the 24-man raid nerfed, a supposedly epic/difficult/one-of-a-kind raid that was promised to us for the last 8 months.

    1. All these problems are mitigated if they simple follow FFXIs pattern of broad endgame, with many different levels of content for large groups and Small, things that can be done with pick up group, things that need the organization of a free company, or things you can organize with a few friends, or do solo.

      In FFXI, if you didn’t want the time commitment of the big LS things like Dynamis, you could do pug stuff like Assault or BCNMs, or even play solo and do things like hunting NMs, Campaign, or later, creating Magian weapons.

      If they follow WoW’s linear endgame path, you will always have a problem with certain groups complaining they can’t get past a roadblock and are being “denied” content. Having multiple tiers of difficulty is unsatisfying, because the encounter is basically the same (Ifrit puts out 8 spikes instead of 4 — big deal) and rewards are cosmetically Identical. Hard core players enjoy the challenge, but they want to be rewarded and recognized for it. MMOs are social games.

      Again, I’m hoping that FFXIV will go broad. If its just about tiers of armor like WoW, what’s the point of the crafting classes (rather than push button WoW crafting) or the whole challenge of ranking up GC to access top tier armor.

  10. I’m somewhere in between the two, when I have time to play I like to do the hardest most difficult thing, but I’m older and don’t have as much time to play. I want my content to still be challenging, I’m okay with crystal tower being more casual and bahamut’s labyrinth being really hard, that means you have something casual to do with your friends, and you have something hardcore to do with your friends, this game seems to suit me perfectly being stuck in the middle of the two. 1.0, I was in my last few years of college during it, and while I did progress far, it often was too hard to obtain certain items, I didn’t particularly wanted it to be more lax, I wanted a token system, to so I run this content, I don’t get the drop, but I get tokens, they added that, that’s cool.

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