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Old 11-16-2003, 02:30 PM   #1
TipaDaKnife
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Default Impressions after Two Weeks

First impressions... reminds me a lot more of DAoC than EQ. Locking on target, relative ease of soloing compared to games like EQ, crippling death penalty, fairly realistic scenery and character models, etc. There is a lot I like about FFXI, but some stuff that really bugs me.

UI
well, FFXI Online is meant to be playable on the PS2, and the interface is the same on both platforms. This was a huge mistake and cripples the PC player, who does not need to do everything on a gamepad, to accomadate the console player. The interface that works well on single player, turn based games, most definitely does not scale up well to massively multiplayer games.

EverQuest allows complete and total customization of the user interface to suit your needs. DAoC allows some customization as well. FFXI Online has a lot of work to do in this area.

Some real annoyances are the tendency for the UI to disappear when it thinks it is not needed, making it hard, for example, to find out your TP level(1), exp to next level, current resists and other useful info without scrolling through menus.

Having to use CTRL and ALT to access your macro buttons, as in the default keyboard layout, simply wastes the keyboard. Since you must assign nearly every action to a macro (unless you want to chase through menus in the heat of battle), this should be done automatically for you, which you could then customize.

Items should stack automatically. Why don't they? It makes no sense!

The UI stinks. It is easily the worst I have seen. I can only blame Square for not making a separate version for console users. PC users come in different sizes and styles and have different needs - work with us.

Combat
Try to change targets. C'mon. Try.

Hah! Couldn't, could you? And now you're in trouble. Now try to run away. Bwahahahahahaha! You turned too sharply and autorun shut off. Start running again! You can do it! Wait, you're still attacking! Turn attack off and stand still for three seconds while you put your weapons away. Oops, you're dead.

Aside from the stupid autolock and autotarget functions, combat is fun and enjoyable. Skill chains and a wide variety of stances and combat moves make each battle a joy. More strategic than EverQuest, while not quite as dependent on positioning and melee skill chaining as DAoC, it's a blend of both games and makes leveling far less of a grind. Exp chains and skill chains reward teamwork while allowing individual style of play.

Magic
The magic system is lifted straight from console games, where knowing exactly how much of an effect magic did was not precisely necessary. Magic effectiveness is based on your skill with that sort of magic, and the element your target is affiliated with. Aside from elementals themselves, which are more or less obvious (and utterly gorgeous), it is hard to know exactly what element you're up against (is that fire hornet fire, or wind? the only way to find out is to see what crystal it drops, or to experiment).

I want to know what my spells do. Dia is CLEARLY a damage over time spell, yet the description says "Light damage(2) and hinders defense"... or something like that... but nothing about the DoT effect, or how powerful it is. And yet I see monsters "fall to the ground" and die due to it. Poor spell descriptions make it hard to decide what magic to use.

The magic system itself is nicely balanced between nuking-black mages, healing-white mages, and crippling-red mages who share spells with both black and white mages as well as their own abilities. White mages get sufficient offensive spells to add a dimension beyond simply casting "Cure" over and over. Advanced classes such as summoner, beastmaster and ninja add even more variety to the magic system.

Compared to EverQuest's hundreds (thousands?) of spells (so many that they implemented "spell sets" to quickly memorize groups of spells for any situation), FFXI falls a little short; but it is a good improvement over DAoC's more skill and level-based approach to magic. Like DAoC, all your spells are available for cast all the time. A graphical, customizable hotkey bar to see and cast spells quickly would be very welcome.

The cost for spells from the stores quickly reaches the stratosphere. Spells drop from appropriate level monsters as well.

It will be a long time before another game approaches EverQuest's astounding variety of magic. FFXI has chosen to offer fewer spells, but to make each one visually beautiful and distinct. The lack of information about spell effects, and a lack of UI support for spells, mar a simple and elegant magic system.

Races
Race choices are limited to the weaponmaster Elvaan, the magical Tarutaru, the jack of all trades Hume, the agile Mithra and the massive Galka. You can choose from a selection of faces, each of which have two hairstyles. Any race can do any job, but they are racially predisposed to certain jobs. In this, FFXI Online follows the path of every other RPG. The races run the graphical gamut of fairly realistic (Hume) to cartoonish (Tarutaru). The character models are detailed and articulate, and the ones they do supply have a level of animation EverQuest does not come close to matching. They are very reminiscent of DAoC's character models.

While looking stunning, they lack in variety compared to EverQuest and DAoC. Such are the tradeoffs. The races are sufficient, but there is definite room for more. In particular, the beast races (goblins, orcs, bird-like Yagudo, turtle-like Quadav) would fit in well with the plotline as it pits them against the current three nations.

Jobs
The most innovative element to FFXI Online is their "Job" system. Any character starts with a base job of their choice (warrior, thief, monk, red mage, white mage, black mage), but can at any time change jobs, though you only gain experience in the job you have at the time. At level 18, you can do a quest to choose a second job as your subjob, which can give you the additional abilities of the subjob, up to half the level of your main job. At level 30, you can unlock six additional jobs, giving 132 possible job combinations (though most of those are not very viable). In FFXI, you eventually have an unparalleled ability to customize your abilities through choice of job and subjob.

Each new job starts at level 1, and must be your main job to get experience in it. If at 30, you decide to change jobs and focus on something new, you will have to start in the newbie fields again, with newbie gear - and most likely, unless your friends choose to play new jobs with you - with a whole new set of people. Which isn't necessarily bad. And you can change back to your old, higher level job at any time.

It is a horrible pain to change jobs (see Mog House), seeing as you have to keep different equipment for each one in your very limited storage space. Though you can change jobs at any time, it is unlikely you would do it very often.

FFXI requires you to pay extra to have a second character. EverQuest allows eight characters on an account, and DAoC allowed four when I played it. It is far easier to just start another character in those two games, where they have their own inventory, bank space and gear, than it is to change jobs in FFXI. After a time to experiment with different jobs at the very beginning, and once the extra jobs are unlocked and players choose their preferred class mix, I don't see this feature being a large part of the game.

FFXI would get a better grade if it allowed players to choose from all 12 classes from the start, rather than having them have to level to 30 in some different class to get the class they want, and restart. Admittedly, they will have a decent subjob all set to go at that point.

(continued in next post)
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Old 11-16-2003, 02:31 PM   #2
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Default (continued)

Mog House
Every player gets a room where they can bank, change jobs, get packages, and store furniture. Yes, furniture. You can decorate your room how you like it, if you have enough gil. But nobody will ever see it but you. As far as I can tell, that table you just paid 50,000 gil for is good for nothing. Give me a wardrobe that holds the gear for another job, or a wall safe that extends your vault space, or workbenches that increase your success at trade skills, or a cupboard to store food... and then, I could see it being worthwhile to buy furniture. Right now, it just seems to be a place to take a screenshot of you and your moogle standing next to the stuff you blew your fortune on.

Storage Space
You have 50 slots in your vault, which includes any furniture you bought. Your personal inventory is 30 slots, which includes all you are carrying or wearing. Your gear will take up about half of those slots. You will run out of space every time you leave town. Not only are you lacking in inventory, but it is hard to manipulate.

EverQuest is the big winner here, with nice, graphical inventory and loads of room, plus the ability to make seven more characters and load them up as well, and exchange items and platinum through shared bank vault space. DAoC has a text based display, but with autostacking, far more bank space, and gear separate from inventory, it, too, is head and shoulders above FFXI.

Square needs to put some work into this. It is severely annoying.

Commerce
FFXI provides two ways of selling your goods; through the "Bazaar", which allows other players to buy things directly from you, and through the Auction House, where you can sell up to seven items at a time to everyone at that town. Auction houses are in the three starting cities and Jueno, and in all cases, a good half hour run from the nearest teleport or by airship. This is a good thing - each auction house has its separate market, making this the first game that encourages arbitrage, to my knowledge (perhaps SWG does; I didn't play that long enough to really determine that). The finest items will be in remote Jueno, but the crystals to make them will be in the cities, scarcity determined by the sorts of monsters that roam.

The auction house interface is clunky, as is the entire FFXI UI; answering the question, "how much does this item I have usually sell for?" can take you ten minutes of scrolling through list after list, though that same information is instantly available if you want to buy something.

Auction houses provide a market for your goods matched perhaps by SWG's Bazaar terminals, and approached only perhaps by EQ's Bazaar zone. EQ, however, requires you to leave your machine on all the time, and since is just one bazaar per server, doesn't allow inter-market dynamics like FFXI does.

Community
Square made the decision not to make new servers for the English release, which means - you will be on a Japanese server. It would be nice to have this be a choice. The usual Japanese person understands English barely better than the average English-speaking person understand Japanese. Communication between the languages is very difficult and consists mostly of emotes and the two culture's versions of smileys. Combined with the difficulty of choosing a server with people you know, the starting English-speaking player is dumped into a well-established server where most everyone she meets speaks Japanese, which becomes even more prevalent as you level.

The game includes a tiny phrase book that can translate the names of spells and abilities, and is heavy on the "How are you?" and short on the "May I join your party?"-variety of useful phrases.

FFXI's verion of guilds are called "linkshells", which are more a chat channel than a guild, in that you can belong to as many linkshells as you have room in your inventory for pearls. This is a nice feature; you can invite that nice Japanese person you met into your linkshell so a friend who knows Japanese can help translate, and at the end, the Japanese person can equip their old linkpearl with no problem.

The linkshell names don't show, only the linkpearl itself sits before your name above your head. So it's hard to know a player's affiliation without running up to them and inspecting them. This is semi-inconvenient, especially since the linkpearl colors are not unique.

I have not seen any strong communities arise from the English speakers on Gilgamesh yet; your linkshell is a private matter, and its accomplishments (if any) likewise private.

Raiding
I'm not high enough for this, yet. Three parties can gather into an alliance for the raid-encounter monsters, which are confined to instanced battlefields that can temporarily change your level, which may make it impossible for you to equip your current gear. EverQuest becomes more and more about raiding as you level; the same with DAoC, though that became more a Realm vs Realm exercise. It will be interesting to see what FFXI has there. I expect instanced boss encounters.

There are a million things I haven't covered - the plot revealed through missions and cutscenes, the conquest of land by the nations and the beastmen - and maybe those will be more important as the game goes on. But this is long enough

EverQuest is huge. It's the Microsoft of online roleplaying games, and is massive enough to meet most every play-style. FFXI is a nice break from EQ, where the high end game is more like a job than a pasttime, but it won't be a serious contender until it shakes off its console roots and gives the PC player the sort of features its competitors give, especially in the UI and the inventory system.

The addition of English-speaking servers would allow English speakers to form their own communities. I enjoy interacting with Japanese speakers, and it gives me a chance to practice those few words and phrases I know. But make that choice to be on a Japanese server optional, let English-servers make their own communities, and FFXI will be a very strong contender for the EQ heavyweight.

Tipa, Mithra 18 monk/8 red mage of San d'Oria, Gilgamesh (yay finished subjob quest)
Tipa Ebonstar, 65 halfling rogue, Erollisi Marr
Etha Tanglewood, 65 halfling druid, Erollisi Marr
Dera Sockmender, 65 halfling cleric, Stromm
Tarla O'Carolan, 38 Celt Bard, Guinevere

---

(1) You can make a macro to display your current TP level. I made one which looks like:
/echo <pos> HP:<hp>(<hpp>) MP:<mp>(<mpp>) TP:<tp>
and displays like:
(J-8) HP:150/300(50%) MP:0/0(0%) TP:35%
I have another which reports this same info to my party.

(2) Light damage... damage done by "light" magic, as opposed to "dark", "fire", etc.
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Old 11-16-2003, 06:01 PM   #3
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Thanks for the indepth post. I think you saved me 50 bucks, since I totally would'nt like being put on a random server, with very few people I could communicate with.

Might give this a try if they make an english speaking server.
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Old 11-17-2003, 08:39 AM   #4
TipaDaKnife
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There ARE Americans... at some hours of the day, the auction house area can seem as bad as PoK. In the mornings, it is often French. Just the hours I play (late), it's Japanese. I have duoed with some Japanese people, and we both rely on the auto translate function (as limited as it is), and our own knowledge of each other's language. Though usually the Japanese quickly goes beyond me, and I just smile and bow...

Buji... safe... see, I didn't know that one. She was yelling at me (while I was running away) "buzi! buji desune!" If you shout in a zone that you are looking for a party, in English, you will only get English replies. But if you're sneaky you can get in Japanese groups ;;^^) Usually I get in English speaking groups unless it is very late.

nigekiru... think that's "run away!"
mawaru... running around looking for stuff to kill!

Also, I just found out yesterday that you can expand your vault space. It is, of course, another quest (actually three others), and at least the first is triggered by putting a bronze bed in your mog house and waiting two days. Then you get the quest.

For all its quirks, it's still fun to play.

Tipa, 10rdm/5mnk, Gilgamesh
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Old 11-17-2003, 08:54 AM   #5
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You can expand you mog house vault and inventory space via quests.

For example, in Jueno there's a goblin that wants you to give him certain
items. You give the items to him, and in return he gives you a pack which
increases your inventory size by 5. You can do 4 such quests, upgrading
your inventory to 50 slots.
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Old 11-17-2003, 01:19 PM   #6
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Oddly, while I will admit I skipped part of your post after it started comparing to EQ, I found myself going "why didn't he just press X" or "why didn't he just do X" for part of your problems.

While some of your concerns seem valid, wtf is with the expensive furniture O.o, many are easily gone around by a simple button or two.

I have found the interface rather easy to use and navigate, having no problems getting to what I need. Since I'm a whm right now, changing targets hasn't been an issue since I use the function keys to target group members or use macro's to autoheal said members.


Dunno, I'm enjoying myself immensely so far.
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Old 11-17-2003, 03:48 PM   #7
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Here's my thoughts on your first thoughts

UI - I thought it was a bit clunky at first as well.. although I played PSO which has a similarily clunky interface.. that might have helped me adapt as quickly as I did because by the 3rd day I could do anything (including changing targets in mere seconds.. and I am a pro at running away now) without much difficulty at all.. of course playing a red mage helped that a bit.. since they can do so much you really have to learn the UI to be able to play them as well as I like to play my characters

I do agree about the sorting.. it should automatically stack items if you want it to.. I hate having to manually autosort (yea.. I know.. manually autosorting..) after every couple of battles to avoid losing loot.

The only bad thing about using the ctr and alt buttons for hotkeys is their close proximity to the evil windows key on most US keyboards.. but that is easily solved with a winkey disabler program, editing it out in the registry (only do this if you know what you are doing..) or like I did.. taking a butter knife to the key in a fit of rage

Combat - I love everything about the combat.. yea so it's hard to switch targets, and it is hard to disengage and both take a second to accomplish.. I think it adds a bit more thinking.. you need to think ahead a bit and it works just fine.. I LOVE the graphics on the special moves and there really are a ton of things most classes can do in combat by the mid levels.. including renkeis and magic bursts.. which take coordination and timing.. and intelligence.. but can pay off big.. Make it take a bit more skill than hitting A and pressing taunt and bash every few seconds till dead..

Magic - yea.. I guess some people want everything spelled out for them.. if you pay attention like you did.. it's easy to tell dia is a dot.. you can gauge roughly how much damage it does by watching the enemy's bar tick away.. it doesn't do much at all.. but it helps the tanks hit harder.. which helps a ton.. It is usually the second spell I cast on a mob in a combat.. after paralyze which is a truly amazing spell.

Also learning creatures weaknesses is part of the game.. if you want to beat the really tough creatures then you better learn how to do the right renkei's (all renkeis have an element associated with them.. and if you use the right one against the right creature.. it can do massive damage) and magic bursts to take them down quickly. The magic system does have a bit of a learning curve to it.. but not a severe one, but once again.. I like the depth it adds to the game.. starfire doesn't just do 1024 to everything unless it resists anymore..

there aren't as many spells overall in FFXI as in EQ, but there aren't any spells that I have deemed truly useless yet either (summon wisp, flare, any of the vision spells, most of the other summon spells from the early days.. I could go on for days ) all the spells have their uses as far as I can tell.

Races - yea.. they are a bit limited.. only 5 races and few different faces to choose from.. and most of the high level people wear their artifact armor.. which all looks identical.. reminds me of the days of fear/hate armor.. pretty much everyone in eq looked the same at one point too.. maybe they will fix it later, but even if they don't.. the characters in FFXI look 100x better than any EQ characters in my humble opinion.. so I can live with the lack of variety

Jobs - This is the best aspect of the game.. I LOVE the job system.. it allows for so many combinations that you can truly do just about anything with your character.. you don't like the fact that the more powerful jobs must be quested for.. but I love that.. the stories that accompany most of the advanced jobs are really cool, and most of the jobs aren't too hard to do at all (the 3 expansion jobs are pretty tough though.. samurai, ninja (which I did), and dragoon (which my roomate, Melakie did)) you can have a 2nd character.. you just have to pay another $1.50 a month for each additional character. so if you REALLY want a mule.. you can have one.

Mog house - pretty neat idea.. people can send you stuff directly to your moghouse.. and anything you put up for auction gets sent there if it doesn't sell or if it does then the money is sent there instead.. there is a personal bank that you can store 50 items in (that is expandable through quests as some posters have said) you can grow plants that can yield some decent stuff you can use for tradeskills or sell for a decent price at the AH. This is also where you change jobs.. you can't change jobs anywhere else.. which makes sense to me because being able to change jobs anytime you want would cause problems.. when a level 10 you are competing with for something suddenly changes to his level 70 summoner and you are ass out.

Storage space - like the others said.. this is expandable.. you just have to do some quests.. the game is very quest driven.. it is a squaresoft game and they have always been big on storyline.

Commerce - you pretty much hit the nail on the head here.. exept once again I don't think the inerface is clunky at all I can navigate through it all in a few seconds.

Community - there are a ton of americans on the Fenrir server.. I think it might be the unofficial us server.. I know there are upwards of 100 american players in my linkshell alone.. and I know of at least one EQ guild that moved there as well..

Even without americans.. it isn't hard to use the translator.. if you type a word then hit "tab" it usually finds the word and will translate it to japanese.. it is harder to use if you are navigating through it with the menus though.

Raiding - well I have only fought one boss battle yet.. the dragon to get to rank 3 i bastok.. and it was awesome.. your party enters the area.. via a big burning circle and you are confined to the battlefield area.. we got our levels bumped down to level 25, but we were 26ish so it wasn't a huge deal.. it went through a nice cutscene and gave a ton of story.. then we got to kill the dragon.. it was a blast.. best big fight I have done in a MMORPG... the story elements that drive the game (and a big reason for all the quests) really make the game feel more like an RPG and less like a powergaming fest..

Just didn't want anyone to look at your post and get the idea that the game sucked just off one persons views.. expecially since my view was so different
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Old 11-18-2003, 10:44 AM   #8
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It doesn't suck, but it certainly isn't perfect, nor an EQ killer.

Well, last night I was in an all Japanese group - when I go for seek party, I go JE, because I can read and write some Japanese (though guildmates in CE know just how limited that is ;;-_-) The auto translate function REALLY is inadequate for this, you HAVE to know some of the language. Anyway, kanji is flying past in battle spam but I get the pretty clear impression my renkeis are coming too soon, or in the wrong order, so I ask them to slow down a bit because kanji is very hard for me. So they all started using romaji, which was kind of them And I mastered renkei and made a level and a half and killed incredibly tough mobs and got exp chains up to 5 and 220+ exp for some kills and my Japanese started drifting back to me in bits and pieces. Balanced party - me (monk/rdm), warrior, bard, white mage, red mage, black mage, warrior pulled, I made myself look like an idiot (atarashii go! jibaku!). At least I got my macros in order finally, after seeing theirs.

I was in an American group in the Gusgen mines helping some people finish their subjob quests. For some reason there are a lot fewer American mages... We had a rdm/whm doing all the healing but - an alliance group with eight members - it was VERY hard to see what was happening. And without someone sitting down and saying - this is what renkei to use - me and another monk just did compaction by chaining our shoulder tackles. And without more mages, we had a lot of downtime. I have had to be the debuffer for groups using my subjob abilities, which means I can't renkei because I have to med so often (I have 38 MP to use with rdm as a subjob, I can debuff about two mobs before having to heal).

Also tried to three-person the Sandorian dragon, but... that didn't work out so well.

Met my first American dragoon, she was very weird.

Bards are pretty fantastic. The bard in my group used kanji a lot, so I wasn't sure everything he did, but it seemed there was a song to increase TP rates, and MP regen, short duration group rune, haste... he seemed to be doing a lot of very cool things.

I posted this originally in the Alla FFXI forums, where people were lauding this as "a game that does everything right, where EQ does everything wrong". I don't believe that is the case. FFXI has some flaws - in big battles, for instance, or in crowded places like the beach in Valkurm, frame rate can go to nil (what is Japanese for "I was lagging so bad I didn't see your Red Lotus Blade until it was way too late/pointless to do my Combo"?)

I personally have real trouble finding American groups who have a clue, so usually I end up soloing or duoing with swapped jobs (rdm/mnk) until the Japanese players log in.

In the end, for me, all new games are fun just for their newness, but each time I have come back to EQ. There is just so much there, and stuff to work toward that rewards hard work. I still haven't gotten a good sense of the FFXI high level game, and perhaps won't until I am high level. I have a couple of link pearls people have given me, but they are just sparsely peopled chat channels, and everyone I know is leveling with no real sense of purpose beyond getting to 30 and starting all over again.
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Old 11-18-2003, 01:53 PM   #9
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Your Japanese party experiences are scaring me :eek:

I WILL NOT LEARN JAPANESE MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!
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Old 11-23-2003, 10:29 PM   #10
TipaDaKnife
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After a third week:

Killed my first dragon, same one Gurglespit did. It was fun and over quick. A thief and two monks with hundred fists up really didn't give the poor dragon much of a chance. Warrior and two white mages finished the group up. I would put this group against anything. It was fun commenting on the cutscene as it happened.... It was utter horror getting a group to do it, though. Distances are so great and travel time so tedious that if you know someone who can help, and they want to come right away, it came take them an hour to get there.


A lot of the guides say subbing a mage class to a melee class is stupid. This is so wrong. I have been on groups where I don't have to use my red mage spells, but they have been few. Even just a paralyze on an incoming is handy, and while the mages are healing, I can top off peoples hit points. I use my spells when soloing and in groups and rarely need to med in a good group.

Renkei are fun. There is a renkei calculator out, so before we get going in a group, we decide which renkei we will use, then do that throughout. Ownage.

Now that I have decided what I would like as my eventual extra class (Beast master), I'm pressing on to 30. Qufim is great experience even in a slow group at 21.

Tipa, 21/10 Monk/Red Mage, Gilgamesh
Chocobo Tamer and Black Dragon Slayer
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