Final Fantasy 14: Endwalker was released six months ago, ending the game’s decade-long story arc, and fans are desperate to know where director Naoki Yoshida and the team will take the world next. This month’s patch 6.1 is laying the groundwork for this and introducing more endgame content for players.
As with pretty much every great MMOG of all time, there are a number of third-party tools and mods that experienced players use. When I got back to WoW for a brief stint in Shadowlands, and I’m no veteran of any kind, I probably spent about two hours fiddling with the UI, inventory, and map mods before taking a single step. They are so ubiquitous in these games that they seem to be part of the scenery.
Hold that thought, because here comes Final Fantasy XIV director Naoki Yoshida saying, no, these things are really bad.
In a new blogpost, Yoshida writes: “With the release of Patch 6.11 and Dragonsong’s Reprise (Ultimate), we’ve heard concerns from players about the use of third-party tools and the potential for game server emulation. I’ve covered these topics earlier in LIVE Letters, but I’d like to take this opportunity to formally address them.”
The post begins with a reminder that FFXIV’s terms of service state that “Using third-party tools is strictly prohibited. Players using third-party tools will have their accounts suspended or permanently banned for repeat offenses.”
Yoshida says players have asked the development team to define which tools are and are not allowed: but that would require them to evaluate all third-party tools available on all devices.
“Unfortunately, such an undertaking is physically impossible, which is why we have decided to simply prohibit the use of all third-party tools and software.
“Similarly, it’s impossible for us to verify which programs are installed on each player’s PC. That’s why we can’t identify and reprimand offenders 100% of the time.”
Yoshida then gives examples of the rule violations that the FFXIV team prioritizes:
- Use of tools that allow players to complete content more easily.
- Modification of the UI to display additional information.
- Use of package spoofing tools.
- Any public actions or statements that promote the use of third-party tools.
Yoshida essentially says that Square Enix’s position remains the same. Particularly surprising is that UI modifications are among the team’s targets, because making the UI look right is an obsession for many MMOG fans. Yoshida approaches this in a way that I suspect many players will not be happy with.
“We believe that people use the [UI] tools to expand the HUD and display more information because they feel that the existing functions are insufficient to handle high-level tasks. In recognition of this, we intend to review the most prominent tools and, to discourage their use, try to improve the functionality of the HUD. While it will take some time, we are determined to make it happen – primarily for the benefit of those playing on consoles.”
This is a promise of a solution, not a solution, and I’m not sure any developer in the world can keep up with the demand for micro-tweaks that mods provide. Oh well: whatever Square Enix says, they’ll still be everywhere.
Yoshida goes on to address the race between players to complete wild/ultimate raids, and it seems that a combination of supposed PvP hacks and races has brought this to light: he basically says that if players aren’t participating in the intended way (i.e., without tools), developers will fail to recognize these achievements.
“As these races are unofficial, we generally limit our engagement to a few comments after several teams have done their duty. By offering our congratulations via the official Twitter account and confirming the timestamps, we want to recognize your achievements and add to the excitement of the community. However, if our recognition encourages excessive competition and controversy as players turn to third-party tools, I’m sorry to say we may have to reconsider making comments in the future.”
Yoshida then addresses a recent leak thanks to data mining, which, among other things, revealed the final boss of the raid. The director says the leak came from “an oversight on the part of the development team [that] passed our checks.”
However, a screenshot of a part of the game that players have not yet reached has also leaked. Unfortunately, this one looks like it will have far more serious consequences for someone.
“We believe it came from an insider and we are in the midst of a full investigation,” says Yoshida. “We refrained from making this known before because it would make the investigation more difficult if the suspect was aware of it. Such leaks are totally unacceptable as they not only undermine the efforts of the development and operations teams, but also take away from our players pleasure. .
“Previously, when a major leak occurred before the release of Shadowbringers, we were able to identify the culprit and take legal action. We will take steps to avoid a repetition of the situation.”
Yoshida continues to regret sharing such leaks and ends: “I’ve made this request before and I’ll do it again: please refrain from disclosing mined data.”
Final Fantasy XIV is at a point in its history where there is more interest and scrutiny than ever before. Yoshida himself says that he “became a titan between games”.
“Many more eyes are now on FFXIV, and posting about it attracts a lot of attention, which has changed the way information is shared online and spread throughout the player base,” Yoshida writes.
“With that in mind, I’d like to encourage the development of a strong FFXIV community by continuing to provide feedback as I have today. In fact, I can’t apologize enough for the many mistakes we made in 6.1, and the resulting disappointment in such a patch. main.
“However, we intend to move forward so that FFXIV continues to bring joy to as many players as possible, and we hope you will stay with us on this journey!”
Well… this one will run and run. Of course, Yoshida is justified in feeling irritated about the leak in particular: with a giant joint project like this, the in-house team ‘ruining’ the surprise of new content must be irritating. At the same time, the target of your wrath shouldn’t be the players or sites that later share the material – though I say that, of course.
When it comes to third-party mods, it’s hard to see how Yoshida’s words will make a difference. Most MMOG developers come to some sort of mutually beneficial truce with rogue third-party mods. Blizzard will not pay attention to WoW UI mods unless the creator is trying to monetize them. ArenaNet turns a blind eye to similar things in Guild Wars 2, and that’s been the story in pretty much every MMO I’ve played.
If you’re sinking hundreds of hours into something and want to tweak the UI elements, this is really understandable and in my opinion doesn’t affect others. Final Fantasy XIV has absolutely everything going for it at the moment. So God knows why Yoshida wants to alert players using harmless tools to increase their fun.