Just a bit of news: FFXIV Open Beta Postponed due to Critical Bugs

From the EU FFXIV Registration Page:

FINAL FANTASY XIV Open Beta Test, which is scheduled to begin at 02:00 (GMT) on Sept. 1, 2010, will be postponed due to a confirmation of critical bugs. New schedule will be release? at a later date.

Along with the postponement of FINAL FANTASY XIV Open Beta Test, the issuing of registration code for FINAL FANTASY XIV Open Beta Test will be postponed as well. With the download of client software’s installer, it will be suspended at 02:00 (GMT) on Sept. 1, 2010.

I imagine a ragestorm will happen, but well, beta is meant to quash bugs. Better they find it now than later during release, which would mean post-release downtime and a worse PR hit.

Square Enix: Making Playing FFXIV More of a Hassle Since 5 Minutes Ago

FFXIVCore just posted some new information that comes directly from Square Enix’s Account Management website in Europe.

To put it simply, Square Enix will be changing their account management system when FFXIV comes out and, in the process, appears to be discouraging me from purchasing a copy of the MMO through Play-Asia.

As I understand it (and I could be wrong on a point here so correct me if I am) people who already own Square Enix accounts and everyone who plans on creating a Square Enix account will need to register a country of residence when they sign in past September 1. Connected to the release of FFXIV, folks will also have to ensure that the copy of FFXIV they will get will need to be of the same region (either Japan, The Americas, or Europe and Other Regions) as their account.

All in all, that sort of discourages importing copies of the game from elsewhere, but I digress. What makes this rather unsettling and potentially very difficult for me is this potential scenario:

Imagine if the Philippines is not an actual Square Enix account region. This would mean I’d have to essentially tweak (okay, lie on) my future Square Enix account page when purchasing a copy of the game from an import site like Play-Asia (which has US copies for pre-order). Thus, without any information to base a purchase on, I’d have to hope that a Philippine-based credit card will be allowed to pay for a US account.

If the Philippines isn’t an actual Square Enix account region, and my credit card isn’t going to be allowed to pay for a US account, then I’m going to have to jump through some additional hoops just to be able to play the game, which may include reimbursing a friend through Paypal to pay for my sub on my behalf with that person’s US credit card.

A similarly horrible scenario will occur if Square Enix will carry that second layer of security that PlayOnline uses on the accounts they have on FFXI, which is to require you to have a Mastercard SecureSomethingorother or Verified by Visa capable credit card. Even if I do purchase a US version or wait for a Southeast Asian version of the game to come out, if the game still requires an added layer of protection that my country doesn’t support, then I’ll still have to find a friend to pay on my behalf.

Yet again, this would be another reason why I’m still gathering information before making my final decision on a purchase of FFXIV. I do believe I’ll have to try making a Square Enix account in September to see if the Philippines is a viable region.

New Info on Character Growth from FFXIV’s Beta

This might be old news for some of you out there, but well, it’s news to me. Nobuaki Komoto, the director of Final Fantasy XIV recently addressed the beta-playing public with some new details on the character growth system (That sounds much better than my previously used term, “leveling system,” which is inaccurate) that will be used for Final Fantasy XIV.

Komoto explains the character growth system they’re implementing in FFXIV, as well as an oversight they were unable to rectify in time for Closed Beta 3, in this following post from taken from the beta site by FFXIVCore:

Once again, we would like to thank you all for your participation and support during the Closed Beta. We will continue to take your valuable feedback into consideration as we develop the game during Open Beta and even beyond the official release.

Now I would like to take a moment to respond to the many questions and opinions regarding the manner in and rates at which experience and skill points are obtained in Beta 3.

Firstly, the concept for FINAL FANTASY XIV was to design a system of character progression that offers meaningful advancement for those with limited time to dedicate to playing. We did not want to create a game that forced people to play for hours on end to see their efforts rewarded. To that end, in addition to the Guardian’s Aspect and guildleve systems, we introduced a means of apportioning swifter advancement to shorter periods of play.

In order to achieve this balance, we calculated a value for the amount of skill or experience points that could be earned in a one-hour period. This theoretical value represents an hour spent engaged solely in combat, levequests, or any other activities that earn skill or experience points, and sets a threshold delimiting how many of these points can be earned in a period of play.

Based on this, we have implemented a “threshold value” concept. These thresholds are regulated by a one-week timer that begins counting down the instant you earn skill/experience points. After a week has passed, the thresholds will reset, and the moment skill/experience points are earned again, the timer begins counting down anew.

For the first eight thresholds during this week-long period, players will receive skill/experience points at the maximum rate possible. The actual amount of time spent reaching these thresholds is not significant. That is to say, a player who exceeds eight hours of gameplay will still be rewarded the maximum amount of skill/experience points, so long as the total amount earned is below the eighth threshold value. For the subsequent seven thresholds, players will earn skill/experience points at a gradually decreasing rate, eventually reaching a rate of zero.

It is worth noting, however, that the reduced rate will also gradually recover while players are engaged in activities that do not yield skill/experience points. In this manner, it is possible for the threshold value to reset completely, even before the completion of the one-week timer.

Any skill points earned in excess of the threshold maximum—that is, at a rate of zero—will be stored as “bonus skill points.” These are specific to each class, so players limited to earning bonus skill points still have the freedom to change classes and begin earning skill points again at the maximum rate, allowing their reduced skill rates to recover in the meantime.

The experience point threshold, however, is unrelated to class, and switching classes will have no effect on the decreasing rate of earnable experience.

This is how the progression system currently works.

This system was not introduced in Beta 3, but has been in place since the beginning of beta testing. There are several reasons why many people believe that these features were only recently implemented:

– Leading into Beta 3, operation hours were extended, making it possible to play more often during the span of a week.
– To encourage players to form guidleve parties in Beta 3, skill and experience point rewards for guildleves were significantly increased.
– The process that reduced the amount of skill/experience points awarded for weak enemies attacking in groups was unintentionally removed at the start of Beta 3. (This issue has been addressed.)

That last reason in particular was the biggest cause for players running up against the threshold penalty, with characters earning far more skill/experience points than we anticipated. We also faced an issue where we were simultaneously unable to adjust the amount earned for guildleves as well as the effects of crossing each threshold.

We sincerely apologize for the lack of explanation and our failure to make the necessary adjustments in the game.

The threshold values are being reexamined, and we plan to further adjust the different rates of earnable points based on feedback from our testers. One of the top issues we are looking at right now is fixing the excessively rapid drop after crossing the eighth threshold. We also plan to improve experience point reduction rates, even more so than for skill points, considering the threshold is unaffected when changing class.

At the very least, we can promise that players won’t be running into the threshold penalty in the same short time span as they did in the beginning of Beta 3.

We would like to take this opportunity to also explain the following issues.

The diminishing results experienced during gathering are a function related to that class alone, and have no connection to this progression system. We are in the process of adjusting this system, and plan to make changes based on tester feedback.

We are currently in the process of considering the means in which bonus skill points can be used. There have been suggestions for various types of incentives, but as encouraging people to play with that in mind defeats the purpose of this threshold system, we will be examining this issue very carefully.

These are not the only adjustments we have planned for Open Beta. As mentioned previously, we are looking into increasing the amount of skill points earned when fighting in a party, and we look forward to seeing your input on these changes.

Last of all, I would like to apologize for the delay in releasing a developer’s comment due to my recent attendance to Gamescom. The article based on my interview during that trip, coupled with conjecture, outdated information, and some misunderstandings on overseas websites, only added to the confusion. In the future, I hope to avoid similar problems by responding directly through official developer’s comments as often as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

See you in the Open Beta Testing!

Nobuaki Komoto


It takes guts to admit an error or oversight, especially a big one that has far-reaching effects on the perception of a game that’s in development. While the damage has been dealt, hopefully the explanation given above can pacify some of the folks out there who have begun to grow annoyed with FFXIV.

Of course, none of the above apologies will change the fact that they are trying to put in effect a system that rewards casual, balanced play more than a hardcore style of overnight gaming binges, but I’m looking forward to knowing how people will react to the nature of the character growth system once they’ve implemented the actual, complete version into the game and fans have gotten more data from their own play sessions and written about it online.

I’m just hoping people won’t rage over the way the game system, seeing as it’s trying something a little different which, depending on the person, can be a boon rather than a bane.

Waiting for More Info on FFXIV’s Leveling System

English-speaking players who’ve recently learned from one source or another about the way the leveling system works in FFXIV seem to be mighty displeased.

The basic idea given from the article translation that sites like Massively and Kotaku are putting up is that XP accretion in-game is slowed down past an 8-hour limit per class, up to a point where no XP is given for that chosen class if you play long enough. Switching your class changes the internal XP bar, meaning that you can level up multiple classes, but only up to a certain point per week. After seven days, the XP rate resets to 100% gain.

For most people, this sort of cap would be an annoyance to the spirit of having fun, and I can understand their displeasure well enough.

The knee-jerk reaction, however, of hating the game or canceling a preorder based on a translation of a tidbit of information from a Japanese source doesn’t sit well with me though.  For one thing, we don’t know how final the XP accretion rate will be until launch. More importantly, all it takes is a bit of untranslated or mistranslated information to skew a message, and a potentially erroneous or misleading message is not what I would call sound information upon which to base a decision on.

That said, Additional information on FFXIVCore’s coverage of the Leveling translation notes that there is some additional information that was added to the original Japanese article.  The information added by the Japanese to the original article, when translated,  reads, “Even if you reach the XP limit mid-week, your fatigue will recover in the time not spent skilling up. The one week period is simply a guarantee that it WILL recover then no matter what.”

That would probably sound a whole lot more sensible for some folks who want to go all gung-ho and level up one or two classes exclusively for the entirety of the game. It still will sting for those who want the freedom to hit MAX on day one, but you can’t please everyone.

Personally, with that much information on the leveling system, I’m still waiting for beta testers to determine the rate of XP gain that is lost per hour of active play above the optimal mark. Based on it though, I find myself understanding why people would be concerned while at the same time appreciating the leveling system to a certain degree.

First, it discourages one aspect of illicit RMT, which is power-leveling. By capping one’s ability to accrue levels, power-leveling services have less of a foothold in the game, which makes it less of a target for RMT companies to exploit.

Second, it encourages experimentation. While leveling one class exclusively is essentially a staple of MMOs, flexibility has always been a cornerstone of the modern character class in an MMORPG. The capping of XP gain lets players try out something they normally wouldn’t do, and with some luck, they’ll still find something worth playing that will complement their existing “main” class because of the skills one acquires that can be equipped regardless of class.

Third, the cap gives developers a break. Even developers need to rest sometime, and I would imagine that increasing the time that players reach endgame allows designers more time to rest or, perhaps with some chagrin on their part, work on creating more content.

Lastly, and this one is more personal for me, it’s perhaps the only system in an MMO that I can think of which actually nudges a player to take a break from playing a game beyond a simple “Don’t forget to go outside” message on a loading screen. The cap, as FFXIV director Nobuaki Komoto puts it, is a sort of reminder that if these MMO characters were real, they couldn’t go out adventuring ALL THE TIME. As Komoto said in the article,  “No one could train ad nauseam in the real world with no ill effects,” and in much the same way, we shouldn’t go about spending the whole day doing the same thing, since life probably has far more to offer us than pretty graphics and the Final Fantasy brand name.

With all that said, I’m still excited for FFXIV, perhaps even moreso knowing that the game may actually be the first to remind me to balance gaming with work, school and other activities. Whether it catches the hearts of the gaming populace around the world is another thing, but there’s still time for the Square Enix team to work it out.

Juan Gamer Against the Zombies 1: Zombapocalypse 2010

It seems that, in the event of a worldwide zombie outbreak, the technologically inclined people are going to stock up on supplies, hole up in their own houses, and tweet about their experiences.

Unfortunately, I don’t have that luxury.

Sure, I can hole myself up at home, safe for a few days while they all mill about aimlessly trying to eat people, but there’s a problem with that. I live in the Philippines, and I’m in Japan with a foster family on scholarship to learn Japanese. Then all this happened. The Japanese language training isn’t exactly helpful now, is it?

My name is Juan Lakbayan, a Filipino gamer who operates a gaming blog when time permits. As of this writing, however, it would seem all gaming activity will be suspended in lieu of the outbreak. The Watanabe family, my foster family here comprised of father Hiroshi, mother Eri, brother Tsuyoshi, and sister Saeko, are all here in their house trying to gather information through the television. I’m right beside them now, looking through newsfeeds worldwide and tweets from people for more word.

For some reason, when it happened, people were tweeting their heads off trying to get information on flash mobs biting people, not exactly reasoning out that flash mobs don’t normally operate on a worldwide scale, and that they’re not supposed to bite people’s skin off and chew. Luckily, Tweeter was mostly unaffected during this time, as more sensible people (myself not included) dropped everything and either ran away from the biting menaces or died trying, keeping the service well under capacity but sufficiently terrifying enough for the technologically inclined.

No one has any information available on how the zombie outbreak came to be, and in fact, the general news media across the world has opted to call them “highly aggressive individuals” instead, with pundits pointing out terrorists or other countries as a potential threat instead of the glaringly obvious yet highly implausible truth. On Tweeter, however, the trending topic seems to be #Zombapocalypse2010, as if they had nothing to worry about. I suppose they’re like me, in this case, who are more or less trying to muster whatever courage they have left in order to prepare for the eventual reality of the situation to bear upon them like some massive, crushing weight. Either that, or the reality hasn’t bitten them in the face yet, literally.

At least JournalPress is up. I was thinking of shutting down the blog, but as someone who writes often, it seemed anathema simply to close up shop just because the world was beginning to end. Better to chronicle my time alive and my struggle to survive, I thought, than to worry about dying. And so, a couple of clicks later, Juan Gamer became Juan Gamer Against the Zombies.

I hope it lasts longer than my old blog, at least.

Juan Gamer Against the Zombies is a new series of posts scheduled to come once every two weeks (or possibly sooner) chronicling the events of one gamer’s trek across the world in search of a new home… preferably with as few zombies as possible.

Diablo III gets all Artisan-y on us

Hi folks,

I haven’t talked much about Diablo 3, and that’s mostly because Diablo 3 doesn’t have a lot of information out. If Blizzard keeps playing nice and doesn’t institute weird-ass Real ID practices on us, I will probably buy the game, and will most certainly play a monk.

Since gamescom is currently happening in Germany, I decided to see if Gametrailers had any new stuff to show on various games, and there’s good news on that front. There are new videos out for Diablo 3. There are two of them actually, both dealing with Artisans and how they can tweak or create items for adventurers so long as you play nice as well and earn the artisan’s trust.

You’ll find both videos embedded after the cut. Please note that I’m currently uploading the second one, so you may have to wait to actually watch the gameplay video.

EDIT: The second video keeps getting corrupted for some reason, so you can check out the actual gameplay video at Gametrailers.com

Read more

Plants, Zombies, and Puzzles

I gave in and bought Plants vs. Zombies. Then a day later (I had finished most of adventure mode in a day, sadly), I purchased Puzzle Quest 2 through Steam.

For some strange reason, my mom offered to pay for Puzzle Quest 2 via reimbursing me after I pay for my credit card bill, so that’s not so bad.

Honestly though, I can’t wait to find a new job that fits with my grad school schedule so I can pay her back by buying her something nice. Sigh…

Sway My Retail Therapy: Puzzle X Zombies

My Horrible Paint.Net Skills at Work

In addition to picking up a fever last week, I seem to have acquired a bad mood as well. So much so that I’ve not really written anything substantial at all this week, despite having some really good ideas come to me.

While I won’t go into detail about what’s bothering me (If you know me on twitter, then you have a minor inkling though), I will ask for some assistance.

In addition to purchasing a month’s sub to Vanguard: Saga of Heroes (write-up coming soon), I want to buy something somewhat more casual that I can install on my current computer, and on the new one I’m planning on spending for when Final Fantasy XIV comes out. I have two ideas already as to what I want to get, but I’m not sure which to choose.

First off, we have Puzzle Quest 2, available on Steam for US$ 19.99. Loved the first one, though I was a bit taken aback by the lack of a definitive ending to the original PQ. On the other hand, we have Plants vs. Zombies, GOTY Edition, available on Steam as well for US$ 9.99. I’ve only ever played a demo of PvZ, and I found it addictive, so I’m wondering if the GOTY edition will give me more variety than the demo.

What I’m looking for: value for money in terms of the game’s longevity past the first playthrough.

What I want you to tell me: which game you’d buy and why you’d purchase it.

And…. GO!

More Fallout: New Vegas Voice Actors Made Known

Fallout: New Vegas is certainly looking to have an impressive array of acting talent pushing it forward. In addition to earlier news about Wayne Newton being the voice of Mr. New Vegas in this latest iteration of the Fallout franchise, there’s now word on USA Today that Zachary Levi, Felicia Day, and a host of other actors will be joining us in post-apocalyptia.

First off, Zachari Levi, the titular Chuck Bartowski from Chuck, will be playing Arcade Gannon (pictured above), who is supposed to be a member of the Followers of the Apocalypse.

Felicia Day, of The Guild fame, will be playing Veronica, a Brotherhood of Steel Scribe.

Matthew Perry (Friends) will be playing Benny, the head of the Geckos family.

Danny Trejo (It’s DANNY EFFIN TREJO!) will be playing Raul the Ghoul mechanic (and potential companion) for your trek across the wastes.

Kris Kristofferson (The Blade Trilogy) will be playing Chief Hanlon, who is described as being a “grizzled soldier at the end of his career.”

On the Star Trek front, Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek: DS9) will be playing the enigmatic Mr. House, to whom the saying, “The House always wins,” will be literally be attributed to in this game. Furthermore, Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG) will be returning as Marcus, the intelligent super-mutant, from Fallout 2.

John Doman (Mystic River) will be heading Caesar’s Legion as the aptly-named Caesar.

William Sadler (The Shawshank Redemption) will be playing, strangely enough, a robotic companion who talks like a cowboy, and is appropriately named after me, Victor. 🙂

Of course, I won’t forget to mention the awesomeness of Ron Perlman, who’ll be reprising his role as the narrator for the game, probably until he dies, which I doubt will be anytime soon. GO RON PERLMAN!

All in all, the future’s looking bright… all things considered for a post-apocalyptic wasteland.