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The Silence of the Devs

The silence is deafening.

More than two weeks have passed since the most recent update of Final Fantasy XI -- an update which many have criticized as the most lackluster in the game’s seven-year run.

All updates have their shares of glitches, bugs and hiccups. That’s why the community immediately assumed a mistake had been made when the potency and duration of several kinds of magic -- most notably enfeebling spells -- took a significant nosedive.

Certainly, the playerbase said, this is something SE would fix.

Several emergency maintenances later, the issue remains. What was once perceived as a bug has grown to the equivalent of a giant marid sitting in Aht Urhgan Whitegate. Scores of longtime, dedicated players have been left to wonder whether they’ve just been slapped with the most sweeping ninja nerf this game has ever seen.

And SE refuses to acknowledge them.

Allakhazam.com has sought answers from Square Enix. Is this a nerf? Is this a glitch? Is this an issue that’s being worked out, or is it an adjustment that’s long been coming? Why was there no mention of these changes in the recent update notes?

So many questions, yet only one response from SE.

Silence.

The strange thing is, I’ve met several members of the FFXI development team. In person, they seem to care about what we think. I believe they are passionate about the game. To us, they may seem out of touch, but they’re certainly not unfamiliar with the world they’ve created.

It was only last July when I accompanied Pikko to the Premier Site Summit at Square Enix’s North American headquarters in El Segundo, CA. The whole purpose of that summit was to build bridges between SE and the premier sites. Two-way communication is great for everyone. They get great publicity. We get better access and some inside scoops. That fuels our desire to keep playing which, again, is good for SE.

Communication wins. They know this.

At the site summit, the Square Enix representatives reiterated again and again the importance of communication; that the relationship between them and us is about more than monthly subscription fees.

Yet now, when many of SE’s most valued customers are desperately seeking communication, they are receiving none. The players don’t understand why developers felt the need to change such a fundamental aspect of the game, especially something that was a complete non-issue to the playerbase. Flame wars about enfeebling magic never covered the premier site message boards, as was the case when bards were spamming songs for easy experience points in campaign. This enfeebling magic adjustment feels completely out of the blue, no less random than the winning numbers of last year’s mog lottery.

Nerf or not, this adjustment to enfeebling magic impacts many who play, especially those who play as black mage or red mage. If you follow the Vana’diel census -- or if you do much Dynamis-Xarcabard -- then you know that red mage is one of the most popular jobs in the game. Many players have spent years perfecting their red mages as enfeebling specialists. They burned countless real-life hours to merit their skills and wait in line for specific pieces of endgame gear.

For unknown reasons, the results of their efforts have been diminished. Why?

Like all aging MMOs, this game has seen its share of adjustments. There was the infamous ranger nerf, followed by the infamous beastmaster nerf (cleverly disguised as an MPK patch). Dragoons, ninjas and most jobs that don’t rhyme with “samurai” have tasted the bitter bash of the nerf bat.

There’s just one difference -- none of those were ninja nerfs.

Is the enfeebling adjustment a ninja nerf or an honest mistake? Or is it a planned adjustment that, by human error, simply didn’t make it into the update notes?

Therein lies the problem with SE’s ongoing silence. A lot can be said by saying nothing. Problem is, you leave it to others to interpret what you’re trying to say.

What is SE saying?

“It’s a nerf, but our community doesn’t matter enough to tell them.”

“It’s a bug, but our community doesn’t matter enough to tell them.”

“It should have been in the update notes, but we don’t care enough about our community to admit we made a mistake.”

Regardless of which it is, it's clear they don't care about us as much as they should.

I’m as close to a lifelong fan of Square Enix (formerly Square) as anyone can be. I played the original Final Fantasy when I was a boy. The series has held my interest into adulthood. I’ve embraced and enjoyed the opportunity to work with Allakhazam, which has given me tremendous insight into the creators of my all-time favorite series.

Yet I am among the scores of players who are left scratching their heads over SE’s path of inaction. This isn’t the first time concerns have been raised about SE’s response times to critical issues. Anyone who views our general forum regularly will recall the horror stories as people fought to reclaim accounts hijacked by RMT. In response, Square Enix overhauled its account investigations and internal procedures; the company also lined up the new account security tokens. The entire process took months.

In this case, all SE needs to do is speak up.

Tell us what happened. Explain it. Justify it. You won’t make everyone happy, but at least we’ll know we matter.

How much do you care about your customers?

Again, the silence is deafening.

 

Discuss this editorial in the FFXI General Forum.

Comments

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/sigh
# Apr 23 2009 at 9:56 PM Rating: Decent
Keep it up SE... if you want "Rapture" to do well you better improve FFXI first, nobody is going to want to play a game from a company that abuses their player base so much.
like this one time..at band camp
# Apr 22 2009 at 1:51 PM Rating: Decent
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254 posts
What amazes me is. Before I started playing this I was waiting on the next big mech game on 360. Long story short, we've been trying to get another one made for years. So Mechassault has been out for years now and there's never gonna be another one. BUT AT LEAST THE DEVS from that game communicate with us more than SE and they arent even making money...
Ok I know, didnt have much to do with topic I guess, but hell....look in my sig

And
I'm just glad they didn't ***** my DNC




Yet

Edited, Apr 22nd 2009 4:52pm by Skreechy
Update
# Apr 22 2009 at 7:18 AM Rating: Decent
I signed out and signed back in after a short break this morning and got an update. I wonder if SE is trying to fix things....or if they 'fixed' things....
Update
# Apr 22 2009 at 8:33 AM Rating: Decent
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373 posts
"Dragoons, ninjas and most jobs that don’t rhyme with “samurai” have tasted the bitter bash of the nerf bat."

lmao...

Really even pup got a lil nerfing >_>;; SE loves Sams :3
Update
# Apr 22 2009 at 8:30 AM Rating: Decent
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111 posts
You know, I didn't want to believe it, but it has become pretty obvious that SE really doesn't care for the NA audience that FFXI has earned them over the years. You can't go a day in any other major MMO production without hearing something from the developers, but it is common place in this game. Oh well.
Update
# Apr 22 2009 at 9:11 AM Rating: Default
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126 posts
I'm not so sure it's us they target specifically on that front, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they're equally tight-lipped with their Japanese players. They've actually gotten a lot better about it, too.

They used to always schedule server maintenance during JP low tide only, damn NA and EU prime times - They were often put squarely in the middle of those. Also, their patch notes used to be exceedingly terse, 90% of the time not even delineating WHAT they patched, just that some nebulous 'issues' had been addressed. Nobody ever knew what they were doing.

Also, their customer service used to SUCK. I heard many horror stories from friends both online and off about trying, and failing, to get issues resolved with customer service only to meet with procrastination, indifference, and impotence. From what I hear, it's vastly improved in recent years. Also, their update notices now actually include what the heck it is that the updates are FOR.

My personal conclusion is that this is new and untested territory for SE, they've made mistakes, they ARE making mistakes, and despite trying they're not really sure how to STOP making mistakes. It seems like the company is seized by some curious sort of customer-relations inertia that's keeping them back from having the community relations they ought. Despite all this, they're most definitely improving. The question becomes: Is it too little, too late?

Edited, Apr 22nd 2009 12:13pm by Hecatoncheire
Update
# Apr 22 2009 at 2:07 PM Rating: Good
Quote:
I'm not so sure it's us they target specifically on that front, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they're equally tight-lipped with their Japanese players. They've actually gotten a lot better about it, too.


Really is that why the JP players can actually receive quarterly newsletters about FFXI including such things as food effects and other useful bits of information?

I'm not positive it's still the case but the admin at mystery tour (yeah way back in the day) had posted that the reason they were able to so accurately list their food effects was because of the newsletters. I used to have it screenshoted and I know I've linked to it from here back when mystery tour was usable but I'm not going to bother looking for it these days. I know others around here have seen it.
Update
# Apr 22 2009 at 12:37 PM Rating: Good
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Hecatoncheire wrote:
I'm not so sure it's us they target specifically on that front, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they're equally tight-lipped with their Japanese players. They've actually gotten a lot better about it, too.

They used to always schedule server maintenance during JP low tide only, damn NA and EU prime times - They were often put squarely in the middle of those. Also, their patch notes used to be exceedingly terse, 90% of the time not even delineating WHAT they patched, just that some nebulous 'issues' had been addressed. Nobody ever knew what they were doing.

Also, their customer service used to SUCK. I heard many horror stories from friends both online and off about trying, and failing, to get issues resolved with customer service only to meet with procrastination, indifference, and impotence. From what I hear, it's vastly improved in recent years. Also, their update notices now actually include what the heck it is that the updates are FOR.

My personal conclusion is that this is new and untested territory for SE, they've made mistakes, they ARE making mistakes, and despite trying they're not really sure how to STOP making mistakes. It seems like the company is seized by some curious sort of customer-relations inertia that's keeping them back from having the community relations they ought. Despite all this, they're most definitely improving. The question becomes: Is it too little, too late?

Edited, Apr 22nd 2009 12:13pm by Hecatoncheire


Used to? Used to?

Newsflash: Nothing has changed. A few PR publications and they "magically" got better? They're still just as horrible on all of those fronts as they were when NA first started to play. People just don't want to admit it.
Update
# Apr 22 2009 at 10:09 PM Rating: Default
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126 posts
Or perhaps they're so attached to their villainous image of SE that they can't see it?
  • Server maintenance used to be plopped smack in NA primetime - afternoon, as people were getting off work and coming home from school. Now they tend to be scheduled late morning/early afternoon, when people are usually busy. Not really all that much better, but undeniably a little better.
  • Customer Service used to be all but worthless, I have RL friends who quit in disgust over it. More recently, I myself have had pleasant experiences with them and heard similar from linkshell mates.
  • Patch notes used to be completely inscrutable, containing no actual information. Now SE at least makes a token effort to list what all's been worked on.
  • Communication with the community used to be absolutely nil. Now they make a, granted, token effort via their 'premier' sites.
  • Certain patches and adjustments in recent years show that they actually do have the capacity to listen to the community and respond. Einherjar was in part implemented to soothe ruffled feathers over the difficulty of obtaining ground king abjurations, FoV and Campaign were implemented to provide means of solo exp.
Now, does all of this add up to good PR and good community relations? Hell no. It's them giving an inch when a mile really would have been more appropriate. I'm not defending SE, I've long been calling for them to pull their head out of the ground. But to say they've made no improvement at all is simply willful belligerence.
.
# Apr 22 2009 at 12:17 AM Rating: Default
i still don't feel much difference..
i still solo lots of stuff.. i can even solo more on my rdm..
maybe i sub blm all the time as rdm..
enf spell still the same before update
enh spell last for ever make solo kite easier..

can anyone explain what is the change so far...

i only feel the + .. didn't get any - on my rdm..

i'm blm rdm capped..

reset
# Apr 21 2009 at 10:13 PM Rating: Excellent
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339 posts
I think SE needs to hit the Reset button on this update and try it again from Square 1.
more nerfs
# Apr 21 2009 at 8:21 PM Rating: Good
I don't think its just the enfeebling spells that got nerfed, I solo alot from a long tima ago and I use WHM sub all the time. I noticed that buffs seem to last alot shorter then they used to as well anybody else notice this?

Also I don't know if this is a glitch just for me but has anybody gotten a treasure chest from a mob, unlocked it, and was told you cannot obtain the item? The chest will dissaper right when you open it and once you select the item it says you can not obtain at this time. I did not have a full inventory and the items were not Rare/Ex, anybody else have this happen, twice for me already.
As a fan of Square and the Red Mage since FF1...
# Apr 21 2009 at 8:14 PM Rating: Good
45 posts
In as few words as possible:
As a result of the way Square-Enix has handled this game and its players, this will be the last Square or Square-Enix product I will ever pay for. Consider a lifelong customer lost when the servers shut down.

Edited, Apr 22nd 2009 12:17am by Dragir
A few words....
# Apr 21 2009 at 6:27 PM Rating: Excellent
Sage
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847 posts
Whenever major screwups like this (if this is, in fact, a screwup) I often see phrases like "Japanese pride" and "saving face" tossed around.

The ironic thing is, the more they try to save face, the more that same face looks absolutely pie-smeared.

So if SE is watching, allow me to say this:

You're not fooling anyone. The more you try to look perfect and infallilble, the more you prove that you're the exact opposite.

I'd like to think I speak for most of the people that visit this site when I say that if saving face and looking good are really important; then the best thing you can do is man up and admit your mistake.

We don't expect you to be superhuman, because we know you're not. We don't expect you to be perfect, because we know you're not. Even the best really ***** things up once in a while.

But remaining silent about this whole thing like nothing is wrong only makes you look smug and arrogant. And saving face at that point is damn near impossible.
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Pluh.

Koalagal wrote:
I was driving to work this morning, just zoning out, listening to my radio, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a BLACK MAGE TARU HEALING ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD! For one split second, I thought "Omg he needs to get out of there he's gonna aggro... what a noob."

Then, I realised it was a black garbage bag left out for pick up.

I wouldn't expect comment for a while.
# Apr 21 2009 at 4:15 PM Rating: Decent
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438 posts
They're trying to save face.

It is possible it was a mistake, or they thought it wouldn't make as big of an impact as it did. They could be discussing this internally, but they won't admit anything publicly because they don't want to see this impact the PR image of the company in the way that the Pandemonium Warden (and subsequent nerf) did.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that the lack of communication is a top down decision.
#REDACTED, Posted: Apr 21 2009 at 4:15 PM, Rating: Sub-Default, (Expand Post) Why does it seem that this time they didn't get 'nerfed' as much as totally stripped.. (ninja)
Much agreed
# Apr 21 2009 at 2:44 PM Rating: Good
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2,895 posts
Smiley: clap

Thank you Thayos. This nerf has serious left me thinking whether I want to continue with my rdm or just move on to another job or maybe even another game.

As a career rdm I almost feel like I've just wasted 3 years of my life leveling, getting gear and trying to be the best I can be.

While I do not look down on any rdm's who like to melee I do not chose to do so. It looks like by choosing not to I will need to put my rdm away for a time...

Fail SE. Major Fail.Smiley: disappointed
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A bit melodramatic, but ok
# Apr 21 2009 at 1:44 AM Rating: Default
.

Edited, Apr 21st 2009 12:44pm by Dragonli
A bit melodramatic, but ok
# Apr 21 2009 at 2:24 AM Rating: Excellent
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I think you've mis-understood things. Ninjas weren't nerfed. Square Enix nerfed the effectiveness and duration of enfeebling spells and did not tell anyone about it. Thus, they "ninja nerfed" the skill.
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A bit melodramatic, but ok
# Apr 21 2009 at 6:51 AM Rating: Good
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349 posts
Honestly, since its not in the notes and they haven't spoken about it, there's one of two things going on.

1. They ninja edited it and everything is working correctly as they want.

2. They broke it by accident and cannot figure out how to fix it.

I called a GM about it, and they would not comment on whats going on with enfeebling, yet they knew exactly what i was talking about.
A bit melodramatic, but ok
# Apr 21 2009 at 5:43 AM Rating: Decent
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867 posts
lol Dragonli, I think what he means by "Ninja nerf" is as in it was done as a sneak in without say, you kno same as when someone "ninja lots".

But do kno how it feels it really disappoints me when they do something and not even acknowledge the playerbase. I don't really use my Rdm much so havn't really tested any of the stuff they did, but another issue that seems to be unmentioned is the security token delema. I have been unable to play since Saturday morning because my Token is giving a "wrong one-time password" for some reason. I followed the directions step-by-step and double checked all the information before and during the process, but still got shafted. Part that saddens me the most is SE hasn't acknowledged anything didn't see anything about it in currently known issues or anything.

Just a "We're experiencing technical difficulties with some account verification (tokens), please be patient as we address the problem." would of at least been a little comforting... better than nothing and being left in the dark same as enfeeble nerf.

-edit- wrong name

Edited, Apr 21st 2009 8:03am by Asyrian
A bit melodramatic, but ok
# Apr 21 2009 at 4:11 AM Rating: Default
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314 posts
lol
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