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Thread: Five Things I Don't Want to see in Final Fantasy XVI

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    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Nom nom nom Five Things I Don't Want to see in Final Fantasy XVI

    XVI is likely a pipe dream at this moment as SE tries to churn out that KHIII DLC and then prep us for the episodic FFVII Remake, which will both likely swallow all of their attention for the next few years. But in the long shot process that whoever gets burdened with the task of directing and making Final Fantasy XVI happens to be scouring the web at 2 a.m. Tokyo time, to brainstorm ideas to present to the head honchos so they can keep their jobs, maybe this little list might come in handy.

    Understand that this list is largely my own opinion, and while it's hardly a comprehensive list, and I could have easily listed story or gameplay mechanics to tailor the title more to my taste, I opted to stick to changing what I feel are stagnating trends within the franchise as a whole as opposed to usurping elements I just don't care for personally because I'm a grouchy old fan who can never be pleased.
    5. Customization Mechanics that involve Dots and Lines: I know this is a weird one to start with, but have you noticed that the last few FF games largely involve this weird visual map where you go in lines and unlock dots that gain you skills. Even something like the License Board, which I happen to like, is just a variation of this same mechanic. The real issue I'm having here is that it just feels like customization systems in this series are getting more and more streamlined, to the point where there really isn't much thought put into them. I mean did anyone really feel like XIII and XV's crystal line customization systems were really fulfilling? They often feel more like just visual representations of the idea the player is getting stronger, as opposed to a mechanic that gives the player control over how they want to play the game. Even older titles like X and XII have issues as X's board offered a lot of customization potential, but sadly relegate it all for post-game hijinks as opposed to being an intuitive part of the whole game. XII;s vanilla system just made everyone without imaginations opt for complacency and even with the improvements the Zodiac Age brought with the Job system and the option to use two boards, it's kind of disappointing you'll likely max out both boards before you hit the 2/3rd mark in the main story.

    My point here is that, whatever happened to real customization in FF games? I mean remember when you used to argue which team builds were the best, or when fans liked to show off their materia load outs, or argue what the best job class build in FFTactics could be? Why is SE minimizing the game aspect of the series even more so? This is not to say that a game's value is solely in the complexity of it's gameplay and customization options, and I myself love several games that would be described as minimalist vanilla RPG combat, but it just feels like watching your characters grow over the course of the game is being marginalized more and more with each new installment. I want to feel like developing my characters for the gameplay actually feels important again. Not just a chore I have to do where I jump into a menu to follow a linear line path to activate a few nodes to make my characters stronger, I mean most JRPGs do that for you, I don't know why making the player go through the trouble is somehow more rewarding. I want to actually feel like I'm personalizing my team again, instead of just following the set path that all players are given.
    4. Repetitive, MMO/Open World Quest Lines: You want to know what my greatest Achilles Heel was in academics? Homework. I don't like doing repetitive tasks unless I'm grinding, and even then, you can bet your ass I'm doing something on the side to offset the boredom, like reading or even playing another game. One of the most obnoxious trends to permeate the genre in the 21st century is this repetition of samey fetch/collect/or kill the thing quests that are staple for MMO and even sandbox style open world games. It kind of makes sense to have these types of quests in those games, because the pacing of the game is based on the player, and in the online titles cases, you at least have the added benefit of playing with other players to offer some variety to the samey quests. The issue is that these types of quests just don't really work in a single player experience unless the design team goes out of their way to personalize the missions in a way to mask the core gameplay intent they present either by adding fun narrative pieces to it or exciting enemy encounters.The issue is that most dev teams don't have the time to craft these questlines like that anymore, and gamer complacency has allowed for more lazy design to become a standard of the franchise. This has created this terrible misconception among game developers and publishers that how many hours it takes to "complete a game" is somehow an idea of it's value, but if half that time is basically just being bogged down with tedious back and forth quests of a repetitive nature, then is it really worth the value of purchase? The other issue here is that these types of quests tend to hurt the narrative of the games they are thrust into. I can't tell you how much titles like FFXII and XV could have been if the optional quests didn't hurt the pacing of their stories. XIII only had one optional main optional questline and the sheer repetitiveness of it's design as a "go kill this list of things" only exacerbated the linear and claustrophobic nature of the title.

    I feel the next FF should return to form, and take a "less is more" approach. I'd rather see XVI offer maybe three or five smaller story based quests that are just well designed over having 10 to 20 hours of samey fetch quest lines. A cool optional dungeon with the party actually chatting and engaging with each other would be far more interesting than needing to travel all over a barren world to find a thing and kill it or collect an item that randomly spawns every twenty minutes. I don't want to see NPCs with silly quest logos over their heads, I'd rather stumble upon it like walking into a town I've traveled to a dozen times only to trigger a unique cutscene where two random npcs discuss a problem about a monster causing issues in the valley, and then the party decides to investigate with a fun filled romp through a short dungeon before stumbling onto the game's uber super boss. I'm not a kid anymore who has lots of free time and can only afford to have one game a year. I'd rather have an engaging experience than just stuff to do.
    3. No Balance and integration between Fun gameplay and the Story: Okay, I get it, a lot of players are only here for the story and the drama and all those characters they can't wait to fangasm over, but I don't understand why the people who still like the game side of things have to wait to get to their part of the game. Some FFs feel like being stuck in one of those "free" time share schemes where they offer a free weekend for a ski trip or something, but you have to use up one of those days listening to the sales pitch before you get to spend what fleeting time they have left to get to the fun part of this whole exchange. That's not to say some players are only here for the gameplay alone, but the basic design SE has adopted for the past two decades isn't doing their games any favors. This is not to say, post game content is a bad thing, but in certain titles, it just feels like the devs left all of the optional content there, and in most of their games for awhile, it feels like the main story campaign is on training wheels until the post game opens up. This can create a good narrative experience, but hurts the gameplay experience overall. I'm not saying we need to fill the game with optional content either as my point above shows that this can hurt the game as well if it's not a meaningful experience. Yet, I'm tired of feeling like the gameplay part of the main quest is simply a formality. I want a little challenge in my games. I could have really enjoyed FFX's CTB mechanics if I didn't have to wait until Calm Lands to really experience it's actual potential. I'm tired of unlocking cool weapons and abilities that are only balanced solely for a post game super boss and utterly break the rest of the game in half.

    What I want is a better balance of both halves of the game. I want my cool story and characters, but I want to have some fun gameplay along the way. I don't want to feel like the "fun" has to take a back seat until I get the work out of the way. I should be looking forward to hopping into a dungeon or boss battle as much as I'm looking forward to the next nugget of plot and drama unfolding. I like playing games, and I enjoy narrative, but SE has this bad habit of making both concepts exclusive to each other. One way to fix this would be to simply add a difficulty option. I don't want to make people who only care about the plot slog through challenging gameplay to get to it, but I, in return, would like the option to have that challenge so I can feel rewarded when I do finally reach that cool new cutscene. A difficulty mode would be an easy way to accomplish this. The only issue I foresee is that SE's track record with difficulty modes has been less than satisfactory. Sometimes you get KH shenanigans where all the modes feel like they are one tier below what they say they are, sometimes you get Crisis Core shenanigans, where Hard Mode is basically Dark Souls NG+7 on a first playthrough. If SE needs to remember what challenge is, ask Kawazu, cause I've been surprised how challenging his flagship series SaGa has stayed consistently throughout the years.
    2. A protagonist or "face" of the game who can only emote two feelings: Am I the only person who has noticed that with the mainline single player series, SE has kind of a weird obsession with stoic characters? I mean granted, they usually get one other emotion to make them have a personality (Squall = awkwardness, Ashe = anger, Lightning = anger, and Noctis = awkwardness) but holy hell, can we finally just get another main character that actually feels like they want to be here? I even love the moody main character archetype, but I feel FF has abused this trope so bad that the next time they use it, we should sanction a court order and let the poor trope tell the world by pointing at a doll where SE brought the pain.

    I've been kind of writing up an early draft in my head for my FFV retrospective and one of the things I've been mulling over in the story section is how refreshing Bartz is among the leads of the 16-bit hero. I mean he has fun. Not that Cecil, Terra, and Celes couldn't have fun, but Bartz genuinely felt like he wanted to be there as opposed to the other heroes/heroines who were sort of thrust into their situations. The more I thought about it in the greater context of the series, the more I realized how Bartz, Zidane, and Tidus are the exception rather than the norm. So I would be pretty chill if XVI's main character, or at least the one that is going to be plastered all over the promotional artwork actually smiles in it, as opposed to them smiling being treated as some great character moment because obviously FF games just take place in future incarnations of Russia and smiling without some deep emotional growth is grounds to be sent to Siberia. I mean, let's have a fun character, let's do character who is plain adorkable and actually kind of having fun traveling the world with the party instead of feeling just obligated to do so.
    1. A multimedia, DLC infused, sequel spewing amalgamation: I know I'm kind of a broken record on this, but after the fiasco of the Fabula Nova Crystallis (if I had a sixth, point, you bet your ass it would be no more gratuitous Latin), I feel like SE really needs to step back, refocus and simply build the best game they can. I'm a gamer, and while I enjoy other things like film and books, I don't need SE trying to appeal to every aspect of my life like some emotionally needy partner with severe insecurity issues. I want an awesome game I can enjoy from beginning to end, and I would be happy to not have to read the light novel series and waytch the movie as a precursor to actually understanding the plot, nor do I want to have to drop extra money for the Season Pass, as I like to call them, my vouchers to play the other 33% of the game you didn't finish I would be so happy if XVI wasn't a service model title, and I would be even more happy if SE didn't feel the need to expand the universe into some cash cow franchise before the fans even know if they're going to like it or not. While this has been a growing issue ever since the Compilation of VII, I feel we witnessed first hand how really bad this whole model can hurt the brand image of a title with XV. I'm sure this one will come on deaths ear considering how much all this supplemental nonsense generated as revenue for SE, but I've also read that the series image among fans has been turning into a concern for some of the higher ups as well, and basically my advice is to simply not make these games as the greed machines that a multimedia service model title tends to reflect to consumers. Just simply set out to make a great game, and while I'm sure it will not be able to win over every fan, the fact you stayed classy and wasn't so hungry to bleed your fanbase dry will not go unappreciated and I honestly feel you'll still make a successful product this way, and hey, maybe that appeal will drive up the desire for actual DLC and sequels. In mean that stuff should be planned only after the main title has proved itself, not being made co-currently with the main event, or basically green lit a week after the game was released.

    Overall, I would just like to see a game that was made to be fun, not trying to appeal to certain demographics, I would be happy if the development team spent less time talking about how great their story is or how they tried to appeal to certain fans, and instead talk about how they wanted this game to just be fun. The kind of game a fan will want to immediately start a new game after completing because the title was just fun to play and experience, not because it was required to grab the last three trophy/achievements locked behind the NG+ hurdle.
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    Last edited by Wolf Kanno; 03-10-2019 at 07:24 PM.
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  2. #2
    Radical Dreamer Fynn's Avatar
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    While Iíll agree that a shorter, more focused game would be refreshing at this point, I really wouldnít mind it if they kept sidequests, but only if they went the Witcher 3 route and made them all actually engaging, memorable, and with interesting storylines. Of course, thatís easier said than done since the Witcher 3 was using an already established universe as a setting.


    If only FF had an established universe that could be used as a canvas for such a game. Imagine how much fun it could be if we could explore a world that already has its lore, culture and rules established in other media, or even other games, so that you can just jump in and make things even more interesting since people already know whatís going on.

    Shame there isnít a setting like that

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    My biggest one is tell a proper story. Yeah I want a good balance between story and gameplay too, but at least if you're going to make it on rails story telling, tell it well. You could have a game that's nothing but cut scenes and dialogue and I'd still complain that there's no story if it doesn't have a proper and coherent narrative arc.

    Fynn's point brings me to a related one. When it comes to storytelling, lore is not that smurfing important and should always take a backseat to actual plot advancement. Any lore should be revealed naturally in the course of the story and not as huge info dumps. One of the most boring ways to open a story is with a bunch of background info about the world. To FF"s credit they've never really done that at least and even the recent entries despite their warts have generally jumped into the action. There are many lesser rpg series that do suffer from that flaw though.

    I'll give a caveat to this using an example of a game where I find the use of some lore in an encyclopedia to actually be kind of nice. FFVIII provides some nice extra world-building info in the text menus about details like Paramagic, Dr. Odine, Hyne, etc. The reason I find this use of lore appropriate is 1. It's not an overload of info. It's some nice additional details but not overly thick. 2. It might provide some answers to some questions people might have but none of it is really critical to understanding the plot. You have everything you need in the unfolding of the story.
    Last edited by Lord Golbez; 03-07-2019 at 10:20 PM.

  4. #4
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    I find that lore works best when dealing with an open-ended story that leaves room for the players interpretation. Narrative is a tough and subjective issue, which is why I didn't really dive into it for this topic too much because what I might enjoy in a narrative would be the absolute worst for another person. Like I really strongly dislike the silly game changing plot twists the series like to run on, but I know people on this forum and elsewhere who love this trout and would have enjoyed a game like XV better if it turned out Noctis was a time traveling alien that Lunafreya dreamed up as a child.

    I myself prefer structure in my lore, characters, and plot. Everything needs to fit neatly together and I get rather persnickety when certain elements start undermining each other. It's why a lot of the PSX and recent titles drive me crazy because they have plot twists for the sake of having a twist, but the writer's fail to understand how this twist can sometimes undermine the rest of the narrative and setting they established. Other people don't really mind because all they care about is how the story makes them feel, and whether it makes any logical sense doesn't matter to them. So that's why I didn't go into that too much. I mostly talked about the lead characters because it just kind of felt like an odd trend in the series, made obvious in games like Dissidia when you quickly realize how stoic most of the main heroes are.
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    What a great post. I would LOVE to play Wolf's FFVI. Especially with respect to more involved/story-involved sidequests, and the classic customization of parties and abilities. In my mind nothing beats the materia system! I'm currently playing FFV for the first time and even that party customization ability is really great for the series I think, especially as a SNES game.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf Kanno View Post
    t I know people on this forum and elsewhere who love this trout and would have enjoyed a game like XV better if it turned out Noctis was a time traveling alien that Lunafreya dreamed up as a child.
    SPOILERS! Now I know that Noctis isn't a time traveler, an alien, or a dream.

  7. #7
    Newbie Administrator Loony BoB's Avatar
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    Just started reading through this post but just wanted to quickly point out that the first thing in the list is customisation that doesn't include dots and lines, rather than customisation that DOES include dots and lines. If this is things you don't want to see, I'm pretty sure that's a double negative you've got there which would mean you DO want to see dots and lines customisation. Am I reading that wrong? It's early in the morning so who knows...

    EDIT: Same goes for a couple of the other headers, they seem more things you do want than don't.

    Pretty sure I agree with most if not all of your points on this though!
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  8. #8
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Fixed it for you.
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  9. #9

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    I thought the same thing but I decided to hold my tongue ... er keyboard strokes.

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