Like every game in the series, Final Fantasy XIV is a fascinating piece of gaming history. XIV’s claim to fame however, was its disastrous launch and eventual Phoenix-like rise from the ashes. Square Enix kept the first version going while secretly working on the much improved update for two years. Once it released, they declared the new version the only way to play XIV, and essentially removed access to the original.
Danny O’Dwyer – formerly of Gamespot – launched his NoClip documentary venture on Patreon to focus on his passion for the medium. His piece on Final Fantasy XIV delved deep into the reasons behind the failed launch.
Engineering Lead Hideyuki Kasuga elaborated on the design issues that hindered the project’s success.
“Initial concept was for the game designers to write the scripts to create the game. Of course there is an advantage of utilizing scripts in that the game designer can write the script and then it’s executed quickly. You don’t have to consult with an engineer to talk about how the game is structured or you don’t have to debate on the different parameters that have to be set if a script is used. So the majority of the game elements were built upon the usage of scripts that kind of automate the process.
The user interface was effected by this as well./ When those scripts are running it uses a lot of CPU resources. The usage is extremely high to just run these different scripts. So as we try to execute something in-game it led to the servers being slowed down because it’s trying to execute these scripts. And so wherever we tried to do would lead to the slowdown of the servers and then the load that was on those servers was just too heavy. And we could not do anything robust or rich in terms of in-game depiction.”
Individual parts not becoming greater as a whole
English Localization Lead Michael Christopher Koji Fox
“That type of situation. I mean you know we had a battle team they’re like yes you have this great battle system with stamina and these things that you can do and then you had the story team yes we have this story oh hey we have these guildleves. And all of these parts and everyone was really really proud of their parts. You know look at this grass it’s so beautiful. Look at this barrel it’s the most beautiful barrel ever to be represented in graphical form…All these teams were very proud of thier work…some of the best minds in Square-Enix…leads that could probably even create lead their own projects…it became a lot of tiny little groups making something that was really great, but once you put it together it was kind of a mess.”
Part 1 of NoClip’s documentary on FFXIV is 50 minutes of development goodies, so be sure to watch the video if you crave more.