Final Fantasy XIV first released on September 30th, 2010 — nearly two years ago now.
At launch the game was plauged with problems, ranging from interface design to world design and all under a hefty mess of lag. And so the game was largely panned by critics and fans alike. The development team retreated to lick their wounds, but they knew that the game had to be rebuilt — not only for the sake of making a great MMORPG, but to help the struggling image of the Final Fantasy brand. Some fans voiced an opinion that the project should be outright dropped, and that Square Enix should move on altogether with XIV being a dark blemish on the numbered series face.
In went current director and producer Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida, and after the first several months after launch — the game’s problems were fixed to a point where XIV was a stable and steady experience. Still far from ideal. But fixing what was broken in-game wasn’t the only challenge Team XIV took on, they had to rebuild their reputation. They had to build a game that was worthy of the brand, worthy of the quality fans of Final Fantasy expect.
And so the roadmap for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn was laid out. A comprehensive plan was drawn to rebuild the game from the ground up: new engines, new interface, more content, compelling design, the “Final Fantasy feel”. I say these things rather casually as if I’m checking them off a list, but as a currently player looking to the future of this game — I can safely the effort to incorporate these elements into the new XIV is nothing less than herculean. So that is exactly what it should be considered: a brand new Final Fantasy game.
In that respect, it might be a disservice to the game to see A Realm Reborn as a “patch” or “update”. The team has gone into this project to show you a realm reborn — a brand new game built with the same ambition any numbered Final Fantasy title would have.
Today, Yoshi-P issued his usual letter addressing the fandom and declared the official end to Final Fantasy XIV 1.0. A maintenance period on November 1st will be performed to save all character data to be transferred to 2.0. What the team wants you to know is that if you play after this point character data will not be transferred to 2.0. That means come time for A Realm Reborn, you’ll revert to your character’s status as of November 1st. All world servers will go down November 11th, 2012 — the expected downtime will last a few days while the transition takes place.
Of course, before that all goes down, there will be an alpha testing phase that will begin shortly for what Yoshi-P calls “test and tweak” as well as server population stress tests. The alpha will be divided into four phases, with the first phase only available to players in Japan (due to the servers’ location in Japan, they’ll be able to address critical issues faster).
We’ll keep you updated here on Final Fantasy Network when the alpha recruitment website goes up so that you can apply. Keep in mind you’ll most likely need to be an active subscriber of XIV, and that alpha test phases often have many unfinished elements.
What’s next promotion-wise? Well, Yoshi-P has a new trailer cooking up showing off footage from the game’s battle system that will debut shortly (methinks at the 25th Anniversary Event, yes). The team is aware of the footage that has made it’s way onto the internet from this year’s Gamescom, which you can view by clicking here. Yoshi-P gives an interesting explanation on why they haven’t uploaded that presentation to the internet:
“Speaking of showing videos, some of you have been wondering why we haven’t officially released the footage of the demo we ran at gamescom. The answer to that is simple: it still looks like an ordinary MMO. Sure, our current players have been bowled over by the differences between the original version and A Realm Reborn.
However, for those discerning MMO fans who haven’t played the original version, A Realm Reborn in its current state merely looks like your everyday MMO…just with better graphics. Yes, we expected fans to upload their own videos of the gamescom demo, but I think that at this point in the dev cycle, this is a more exciting way for people to be a part of the whole process.”
Essentially, the team wants to ease outsiders into the game before introducing more of A Realm Reborn — so the footage might misrepresent what to expect the final product.
To read Yoshi-P’s full letter, click here.