TSM Episode 117: Popular Demand

Mere words cannot express the expertise which the Final Fantasy XI and XIV development teams have when it comes to building an immersive, realistic world.
New-found success yields new-found problems.

Download: Produced 2013.09.15

Despite another week of news from the front lines of the console wars, Caspius, Gyme, and SiliconNooB instead choose to examine the surprising success of Squeenix’s recently-relaunched Final Fantasy XIV and the perils of being too successful by half.


  1. Just finished listening to the podcast!!!

    I wish I had the money to buy Pokemon X/Y and a 3DS or even an OLED tv, or both but I spent it all on donations to the site, and apparently, Runescape membership. :L

    When I heard you talking about the 2DS last week, I really wanted one as its cheaper and I get a slightly upgraded DS (As I am stuck on a DS Lite) but as soon as I searched for an image and basically. I fucking hate Nintendo!!!

    Funnily enough, this is the first time I have heard about Dragon Quest 10, since WAY before it was released. Woah, I haven’t heard absolutely anything about that game. Weird.

    And also, I want FFXIV as well, I NEED a job!! :(

  2. Also, I thought I’d change my name to better suit my status!

    And sorry about all the multiposts!! :$

  3. I also read the tags! They’re a good indicator of what I can look forward to on any particular Monday-morning-boredom-killer (TSM).

  4. -I loved the HateFacts stuff.

    -“Whiter Whites, Blacker blacks, sharper colors” I think Lusi quoted a laundry detergent ad to describe the Vita screen.

    -Wow, you managed to not “goblin” a couple words there.

    -I guess I’ll take an opposing view here on “gimmicks” or “innovations” in the new consoles. One of the draws for me to purchase a new console is not only the good games on it (though that is the primary draw), but also what that console can do that my current can’t, and I don’t mean upload video to twitch or have 2x as many pixels. For that reason I’m more interested in getting a Wii U than I am either the XBone or PS4. The Wii U has abilities that can fundamentally change the way I play console games, and that’s pretty cool. You might ask then, “DiceAdmiral, if you like the Wii U so much, why don’t you own one?” To which I’d reply “Great question. The answer is that it’s been too expensive with too few attractive games”. The recent price drop puts it on my radar, and I’ll probably get one once something like Mario kart 8 or Smash bros U or Mario 3D world finally gets onto the system. I’m less interested in the eighth version of AssCreed where I can pirate people in higher def than I am seeing what a touch control for console gaming with the possibilities of asymmetrical gameplay can do. Granted, the 3D on the 3DS is mostly useless, but it CAN be neat (Mario 3D land used it well on occasion) and the Motion Plus made the Wii Remote an amazing motion control tool (after too long though).

    Also, the XBone and PS4 aren’t backwards compatible, which means that if I wanted to play some of the PS3 games that look interesting or I’d banged my head enough times to want to play Halo or COD on them, I couldn’t.

  5. Worry not: Caspius.com does not have a policy against double-posting because such policies are stupid.

    @DJ Stone: Caspius.com supports your efforts to gain a job, especially if it will mean more and greater donations!

    @DA: I only block out seriously objectionable terms if they are used in a way which is not conscientiously focused upon their use. Because we were actually talking seriously about the words and their usages, it would have defeated the purpose to block out the words that were the focus of the conversation. The same thing is true in, say, a college classroom, where a discussion of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn might well include a conversation about the use of the word nigger, but such a discussion would not be (of its own volition) objectionable. –Unless one is a potato-head and objects to words without taking into account the way in which they are used (which is rather the point of words, of course).

    Also, stop supporting gimmicks, you badman.

    You write, “DiceAdmiral, if you like the Wii U so much, why don’t you own one?” To which I’d reply “Great question. The answer is that it’s been too expensive with too few attractive games”.

    Exactly right, but that is not the only point at issue. The problem with the Wii is that the gimmicks raise the console price, deter developers, and confuse buyers, creating a circular loop which leads, in turn, to the situation that you are experiencing.

    I absolutely object to your assertion that “the Motion Plus made the Wii Remote an amazing motion control tool”, though. I desperately wanted to play Zelda, and found my efforts consistently foiled by the controller which never approached anything like the fidelity of traditional controller inputs. It wasn’t even adequate. That game is the saddest legacy of the Wii: a beautiful masterpiece hanging in a syphilitic garret; an Arabian stallion with a spike-seat saddle.

    The degree to which PS4’s PSN releases will be backwards compatible has yet to be determined: I expect PSone functionality will be fine, as that is pure software already. PS2 may be okay with limited releases (as current), PS3 almost certainly not. So don’t junk your PS3s, guys.

    With Xbone, who knows? It’ll probably change next week anyway.

  6. @DA: Having a gimmick is alright, but basing a console entirely upon one is a different story. This is where Nintendo fails. Their consoles are almost exclusively dependent upon gimmicks. They get so excited over their gimmicks that they demand developers to use the gimmicks even when a game does not benefit from it.

    Lusi’s Zelda example is perfect. The controls in Twilight Princess were fucking terrible. It soured me on Skyward Sword because I had no desire to play another motion based Zelda game.

  7. I couldn’t play past the opening section of Skyward Sword, as the motion controls made it feel too much like work.

  8. While I agree that the Twilight Princess controls were awful, I think the Skyward Sword controls worked really well and I liked them quite a lot. It made combat much more engaging. Wii Sports Resort also really showcases the potential of the motion plus, many of those games are a lot of fun and work really well with the motion controls. The main problem, is that Nintendo seems to be the only company that knows how to use their controllers properly and even then, not all of the time. While this does prevent some games from being released on the system, I don’t buy Nintendo consoles for third party games really, and both Wii and Wii U have non-gimmick controllers available for developers who choose not to spend their time on that kind of very specific functionality.

    In regards to gimmicks increasing price: That really seems to be true for the Wii U and 3DS but both the DS and Wii had gimmicks and were both reasonably priced. Both of those systems also eventually got to a point where their gimmicks worked well, though obviously there is some disagreement here about that. I think that Nintendo has had some problems recently and I’m not sure what’s behind it. It may be that this is more of an attitude problem at Nintendo than it is a problem with the general “gimmick” system methodology which has served them well in the past.

  9. @DiceAdmiral: No, the Skyward Sword controls really were rubbish. Better rubbish than Twilight Princess, but Rubbish nevertheless.

    The DS, when launched, suffered from a similar dearth of meaningful titles, and didn’t really take off until major releases came later on. The price cut helped too. I remember, I was selling them at launch!

    The Wii sold its gimmick largely because it had a new target audience and benefited from being a fad. The gimmick itself was not the success; it was the way in which that gimmick was marketted and appealed to that target audience, not because the gimmick somehow took gaming to a new level.

    Motion controls are terrible, and you should feel ashamed for supporting them.

  10. Argh! You are responsible for the decline of the industry! The blood is on your hands! IT IS ON YOUR HANDS!

  11. @DiceAdmiral: I bought my Wii U for $120, second-hand.

    I believe this is where I say, “YOU GET NOTHING! YOU LOSE! GOOD DAY, SIR!”

  12. Your point being? You obviously thought it was worth owning one, even if you got it on the cheap. If you think that arguing for the benefits of ‘tangential gaming controls’ is worse than paying companies that are making games for featuring said controls, then I disagree. Unless you weren’t planning on buying any games for your Wii U, then I’m confused instead.

    I’ll almost always argue for a system trying something new and interesting rather than a shinier version of the same old thing, even if those new things are of debatable practical function.

  13. Shinier version of same old thing got us Final Fantasy XIII, Puppeteer, Journey, &c.

    Wii got us… Mario Kart again? Another 3D Mario? Some really shitty Metroid games?

    ‘Innovative’ console features does not equal innovative gameplay. In fact, usually the opposite is the case, as developers are forced to hobble their games by shoe-horning gimmick features to it at the demand of the console manufacturer.

    How someone can defend Nintendo’s practises despite the overwhelming evidence of the past several console generations is beyond my ken. If you want to do so, fine–but you should at least make a pretense of being aware of what it is that these policies have led to, and where support for them is now very clearly going.

    I bought a Wii U because it was cheap, Nintendo didn’t get any money from it, and it had a solid, non-gimmicky 2D Mario game on it. That is the extent of my ‘support’ (Note: Nintendo earned only the royalty on Mario for me, where I rewarded them for making a 2D Mario game. They made no other profit from me). If it had been more than $150, or if it had been new instead of used, I would not have bought it. I have no intention of supporting any hardware developer whose view of ‘what people want’ is so blinkered. This is the same reason I refuse to buy EA games.

    When Nintendo make a console I can get behind, I will buy one from them brand new as I have repeatedly done with Sony. That hasn’t happened since the GameCube, and I doubt that is likely to change any time soon, considering how deliberately wrong-headed they seem to be.

  14. I decided to buy FFXIV and set GW2 aside for the time being. I am pretty excited about getting into it. I do, however have around 45 minutes to wait before the downloading process finishes, but I am anticipating a good time, and plan on building a character on the server you mentioned on the podcast.

  15. @DA: Arguing merely for the sake of something trying something new smacks of Chris “Fine Now/I Love Ouya” Privitere’s mentality. The number of games that control better with motion controls can be counted on a hand with 5 severed fingers. Gamers had no desire for motion controls. But the Wii wasn’t designed for gamers, it was made for soccer moms.

    You support Nintendo with their ‘innovations’ but what about their rivals? Do you support Microsoft’s Kinect? What about Sony’s connectivity between the Vita and the PS3 and PS4?

  16. “I think the Skyward Sword controls worked really well and I liked them quite a lot. It made combat much more engaging. Wii Sports Resort also really showcases the potential of the motion plus”

    Skyward sword was the game which really showed me that motion controls have no potential, because if a best practice implementation of motion controls can be that unenjoyable, then I really don’t see any point in their existence.

  17. @Caspius you’re playing the Windows version of FFXIV, are you staying on this one version or are you gonna change to a console version later? Same question goes to any other staff member or friend of the site. This sites support of platform and staying on a specific server might push me to get the game…

    I’m pretty set with GW2 right now, and have my reservations about this game, but the Final Fantasy in me is very tempted in giving this a try sometime.

  18. @Savante: FFXIV is Cross-platform. People on PS3 play with those on Windows (and PS4, later). I am currently playing on PS3, but most of the people I play with are on Windows at present.

    @Kobold: Sargatanas will be opening for more players probably today (if it is not open already). It usually only shuts for 12 hours at a time. My advice: be patient, check often, and don’t be afraid to have an alternate character somewhere else in the meantime, as that’s a great way to learn the ins and outs of the game before you join me and Mel!

  19. @Lusi 18: Mario Galaxy is a great game, as is New Super Mario Bros Wii and several other Wii games as I’m sure you well know. If you’re going to ignore a large swath of awesome Wii games then it looks like you’re being either dismissive of relevant facts or willfully ignorant and I’m not really sure what to say to either.

    @Gyme 21: Sure, I think that Kinect and the inter-connectivity of portables and consoles are neat features and should be applauded. Sometimes these features are dumb and/or boring but that doesn’t mean that companies should stop trying to create out of the box things. If Vita/PS4 connectivity takes off, it will be the culmination of the idea that Nintendo started with GBA/GCN connection, which was also gimmicky at the time.

    The first version of an idea is quite often terrible. Let’s look at the CAT (http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000037.html). That device was silly and clunky, and that article rightly criticizes it and similar technology. What does the CAT sound like though? QR codes are the evolution of this technology and are pretty cool, if not yet entirely refined. The Kinect is a clunky technology too in a lot of cases, but the technology is also used in tons of other neat devices and experimental robotics etc. Touch based gaming was also quite clunky to begin with but works quite well now. If you count mobile devices, touch gaming has a very large market share.

    I’m not arguing that implementing a gimmick instantly makes for better games, or even that it necessarily has that as an end point. I’m for the perpetuation of new technologies in general, and gaming has a unique window through which these ideas can be introduced to mass world consciousness.

    If you’re mostly considering short term game quality, then I think you have a very valid perspective, but that perspective is not mine.

  20. @DA: No, Mario Galaxy is not a great game, despite the praise heaped on it by Nintendo Fanboys who desperately want to believe that a 3D Mario with Motion Controls is somehow innovative in a way that all the preceding 3D Mario games without motion controls were not.

    I would argue that structurally, Mario Galaxy (and Mario Galaxy 2, both of which I have completed) are weaker games than Super Mario Sunshine, let alone the truly innovative Mario 64.

    NSMB Wii is a solid game, but it feels very much like a b-string effort compared to the excellent NSMB Wii U, or Mario 3D Land.

    So no, I’m not ‘being either dismissive of relevant facts or willfully ignorant’–a bifurcation that you yourself set up, and which is not, actually, a list of the only two options. I’m simply refusing to talk up mediocre games into great ones just to serve my particular argumentative attempt.

    But far be it for me to encourage that you adopt a similar approach.

  21. Truly LOL at “QR codes are the evolution of this technology and are pretty cool”.

    Well, that takes care of that, I think.

  22. @Lusi: You were right. I played around getting a character to level 5 last night, mostly marveling at how good the game looks. I created a character today on the server mentioned on the podcast just now, and I have to head out, but I am going to get some playtime in tonight. I am pretty excited. I didn’t realize the opening sequence was going to be different. This time I was on a ship… At any rate, the character is created (Zalbag Tyrnth). I will look yours tonight.

  23. I agree that structurally, the Galaxy games are weaker than Sunshine and 64. That is certainly a loss for atmosphere and immersion. The Galaxy games do not feel like their own universes (ironically) in the way that Sunshine and 64 do. Also, 64 is certainly the most innovative and important to the industry out of the four titles. I also agree that the motion controls in the Galaxys do nothing but detract from the experience. The spin move is an excellent addition to the moveset, but mapping it to a motion is awful. It takes away precision from a move that is best used precisely.

    All that being said, I think Galaxy 2 is the strongest from a level design and mechanics standpoint. It is the most focused and aware of itself. Meaning that the levels are designed with the most intimate knowledge of how the game is controlled best. The controls and levels inform each other. It is something Nintendo is best at when they’re at the top of their game: making it easy to pick up, but revealing more depth to level design and controls the more intimate the player becomes with them. From a design standpoint, I think it is a marvel. One that necessitated the release of the original game to reach the level that it did. But of course, depending on what one values in a game, I think there are strong arguments for all four titles. I take no issue with people having no interest in Galaxy 2, but I find it the most impressive, challenging (although it takes until the later and post-game stars to really get there), and fun.

    I don’t think the Galaxy games are innovative however, to clarify. Maybe mechanically, but in such a subtle, technical way that it’s not worth using the word in the way it’s typically meant between gamers. I would argue that Galaxy 2 is great, although I would hesitate to apply the same word to the first title. Edit: and certainly it is not mapping waggle to a move that makes either game good.

    “Skyward sword was the game which really showed me that motion controls have no potential, because if a best practice implementation of motion controls can be that unenjoyable, then I really don’t see any point in their existence.”
    Pretty much this. I am luckily able to enjoy the Skyward Sword controls, but given the option between motion and traditional controls for a Zelda game, there would not be a moment of hesitation. Motion controls only work for something incredibly simple like Flower. In fact, Flower is the only game in which I would want to keep motion controls, and even thatgamecompany knew to switch to traditional controls for Journey which required a jump button. That one tiny touch of complexity was enough to switch to normal controls because they knew it would provide the best experience. I argue for the competence of Skyward Sword’s controls, but certainly not for their continued use.

  24. Also, I also leveled to 5 in FFXIV last night. It makes me sad to play it because I do not imagine I’ll have the time to do so in any meaningful way.

  25. “It makes me sad to play it because I do not imagine I’ll have the time to do so in any meaningful way.”

    This. There is nothing I should rather play, but I have a pile of papers to grade (and more on the way), a presentation to draft, and hundreds of pages of early Early Middle English poetry to read. Sigh.

    If you (or if any readers) are on Sargatanas, let me know in the comments when you are in-game and I will get you an invite to the Caspius.com Linkshell, so you can chat with and do quests/dungeons with Caspius.com readers and staff members (and some former staff members).

  26. Zalbag Tyrnth, in the event that it’s easier to have the name here as opposed to buried in my previous post. Also, I am really enjoying the game a lot so far.

  27. I really liked Caspius’s rants about the gimmicks. It brought to mind the short ‘Designed for Dreaming’ riffed on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It was basically a car show from General Motors for cars that ultimately crashed and burned (Turbine Power Firbird 2… never happened!), figuratively, and during the short, one of the riffers said, “Just because it’s futuristic doesn’t mean it’s practical’.

    I mean, while it’s good that Nintendo has tried its best to innovate, I think they may have gone off on a strange angle when the Wii came along. The good part was that the controls were intuitive and simple. However, the execution left a bit to be desired and as a result, the only way games could be made was with gimmicks. And now, they’ve gone the complete opposite of the spectrum with the WiiU Tablet, with something that’s not as intuitive and simple.

    And despite your glowing accolades of FFXIV, I’m going to wait until six months out before I make a decision, because that’ll show just how long term the designers of Square were thinking when they redid this game. if they did.

    Stupid Tetsuya Nomura. It’s all his fault Square’s gone bad… yes, I’m aware it’s more than just him, but he’s my favorite target.

  28. Nomura doesn’t hold a candle to Toriyama – through I suspect that management is more to blame than anybody.

  29. Just found the site and am currently awash in intense self loathing for not being aware of it sooner. On the plus side, I have plenty of podcasts and articles with which to gorge myself. Work two jobs so I may not be able to comment as much as I’d like on all of it, but I wanted to at least send some love in your collective direction.

    Keep up the fine work. I will try to spread the word to my game playing friends.

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