FFXIV XP Cap: Rehab for MMO players?

I’m starting to get a little worried here. First Tobold starts playing (and enjoying) a hardcore niche MMO, then he agrees that used game buyers are thieving parasites (not his words), and now we find ourselves again on the same side of the latest ‘issue’ in MMO land; the FFXIV xp cap. The hell ice-skating rink is open for business.

The reason I initially favor the cap (I’ve not actually played FFXIV, so expect an EG review sometime next week) is simple: MMO players turn into soulless drones when given the option to chase a shiny. If something will advance a player in-game, the majority will do that and only that until they fall over dead, even if it’s the absolute least-fun activity. Be it chain-queuing WAR scenarios, blood walls in Darkfall, or playing WSG for 16 hours a day for 5 weeks straight in WoW (old High Warlord), if there is a shiny, MMO players will walk over glass and through fire to get it, complaining that the game is broken all the way there.

The other thing we know is when you DON’T offer a direct path to a shiny (or it’s not yet know what’s the most effective/painful way to get it), MMO players actually, wait for it, play for fun. And, even more shocking, actually HAVE fun. The hour before UO servers went down (they did not record that hour), the first week of a new MMO (before the ‘optimal’ path is discovered, wiki’ed, and youtubed), the final days before a server wipe or a game shutting down, etc; all of this leads to the drones waking up and doing what they find fun. Amazing how that works eh?

So the way I see it, FFXIV players will do whatever soul-sucking activity gets them the shiny fastest for the first 15 hours of a week, and then either log off (if you are a true masochist, i.e. the hardcore), or stop and do whatever activity is simply the most fun in-game, which if the game is designed in an even half-decent manner, will be something social that truly plays up the best parts of playing an MMO; the Massive and Multiplayer stuff.

In an odd way FFXIV might just become a very casual and ‘friendly’ MMO with the xp cap. Of course this heavily depends on how important levels ultimately become. If all the good stuff is at the end, then yea, the xp cap is a horrible idea, but if levels are not a major factor (CoX-ish), or despite differences in character power players can still play together (DF, EVE) it could work out for the better.

Chuck-o-the-day: Every time Chuck Norris leaves a room, the song “There Goes My Hero” starts playing out of nowhere.

9 Responses to FFXIV XP Cap: Rehab for MMO players?

  1. Sean Boocock says:

    This seems to be a trend with some upcoming MMOs, and has even been bandied about as a regulation for all MMOs in places like China (might even be “on the books”; not sure of the current legal situation).

    Following the development of Cataclysm, I’ve read the developers state numerous times their intent to implement gating mechanisms for the same reasons you give in the post. There will be a weekly cap on tokens or points one can earn from doing group PvE content, a cap that is lower than what one could gain by doing all of the content once without restriction. Part of the stated rationale for the change to raiding lockouts – both sizes of raids, 10 and 25 player, share the same lockout – is to prevent players from feeling obligated to run the content in both sizes to maximize their *insert whatever* gain.

    I think this general trend is a positive one. The satisfaction from doing a lot of mostly repetitive tasks is an important part of most MMOs but at some point the game systems should put a hard break on that. Otherwise those short feedback loops are too psychologically basic, too irresistible for a lot players. I’d like the games I make in the future to be compelling but not to the extent they turn people into stereotypical slots playing zombies. While some people are predisposed to that behavior anyway, there are two horns to the dilemma and this is addressing the game systems side.

    • kiknarse says:

      Loser just stop playing :). No one is forcing you to rerun numerous times.

      Noobs like you like to be “compelled” to do or not to do things. How about we tie you up and take your pc away from you, is that compelling enough?

      People have choices, they can or should not, but when you start “compelling” them one way or another, you need to be shot.

      Thank you.

  2. Tobold says:

    Actually I’d be worried if you started playing A Tale in the Desert. Because while you call it a “hardcore niche MMO”, it has to be pointed out that there is absolutely no combat in that game, not even PvE. I think it would be stranger for you to play a non-PvP game than for me to play a sandbox niche game.

    • SynCaine says:

      You called it a hardcore MMO, saying it was more hardcore than EVE, a point I agree with. You don’t need full loot FFA PvP to make a game something most casuals won’t enjoy/get.

      And I’ve played a ton of PvE-based MMOs, just so happens I prefer a PvP-based one most of the time. Actually looking forward to the FFXIV open beta thanks to the recent time cap drama, just to see if the game overall does anything for me.

    • mbp says:

      I haven’t been around for a while but it looks like I missed something. When did you guys start reading each others blogs again?

      • Billy Hicks says:

        Syn never stopped reading Tobolds blog. It was Tobold who made a big thing out of removing Syn from his RSS Reader.

        I remember Syn calling Tobold out a few times after that and Tobold replied using the excuse ‘a friend told me Syn said XXX’.

        With some luck this means we can get back to the flame wars. I don’t agree with either side completely, but having two people bring good arguments to the table to try and explain their position was interesting.

        See if I can get em going….Syn, Tobold said all PvP games are played by people too softcore to raid…..runs for cover.

  3. Bhagpuss says:

    Geez, it’s weird enough Tobold and SynCaine agreeing, let alone seeing them actually talking to each other!

    I’ve been in FFXIV beta since it started (wasn’t in alpha). My summation is:

    Looks stunning.
    Highly literate.
    Don’t believe I would ever even hit the xp cap thing (never seen the “surplus xp” so far) so don’t consider that an issue for my playstyle.

    but, and it’s a Robert Crumb but…

    Haven’t logged in for many days. Just don’t get any “pull” to log in. It’s really, really dull. I love a slow paced game where nothing much happens, but this is beyond anything I could call entertainment. The quests that they are withholding from beta had better really be something because at the moment the only actual content is coming to terms with the shortcomings of the game mechanics.

    I very much look forward to both of your reviews.

  4. Ryan says:

    I wonder how they would time this 8/15 hours. Time logged in, including time in town/non-combat? Or time spent in combat mode? Seems like it would get a little sticky in any situation.

  5. Omi says:

    If I remember correctly(I was invited to the beta but didn’t go because of hardware limitations), I think that there are a number of ‘exp’ bars to grind out. So wouldn’t you be able to keep skilling up different weapons and skills without gaining stats?

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