Final Fantasy 14 director tackles desperate task of trying to get MMO players to uninstall UI mods
Final Fantasy 14: Endwalker was released six months ago, capping the game’s decade-long story arc, and fans are desperate to know where director Naoki Yoshida and the team will take the world next. This month’s patch 6.1 lays the groundwork for that and introduces more endgame content for players.
As with almost every great MMOG, there are a bunch of third-party tools and mods that experienced players use. When I came back to WoW for a brief period around Shadowlands, and I’m not a veteran, I probably spent about two hours playing around with UI, inventory, and map mods before doing one step. They’re so ubiquitous in these games that they feel like part of the landscape.
Save that thought, because here’s Final Fantasy XIV director Naoki Yoshida to say, no, these things are really bad.
In a new blog post, Yoshida writes, “With the release of Patch 6.11 and Dragonsong’s Reprise (Ultimate), we’ve heard player concerns regarding the use of third-party tools and the potential for game server emulation. I’ve covered these topics previously on LIVE Letters, but I’d like to take this opportunity to officially address them.”
Yoshida normally appears as a fairly cheerful figure, a wine-and-cookie type. But he is in a very stern mood here and also says not to share “extracts of this text out of context”!
The post begins with a reminder that FFXIV’s Terms of Service state that “Use of third-party tools is strictly prohibited. Players who are determined to use third-party tools will have their account suspended or permanently banned if recidivism. “
Yoshida says players asked the development team to define which tools are and are not allowed: but that would require them to evaluate every third-party tool available on all devices.
“Unfortunately, such an undertaking is physically impossible, which is why we have decided to ban the use of all third-party tools and software altogether.
“Similarly, it’s impossible for us to verify what programs are installed on each player’s PC. That’s why we can’t identify and reprimand violators 100% of the time.”
Yoshida then gives examples of rule violations that the FFXIV team prioritizes:
- Using tools that make it easier for players to complete content.
- Changed UI to display additional information.
- Use of packet spoofing tools.
- Any action or public statement promoting the use of third-party tools.
Yoshida is basically saying that Square Enix’s position remains the same. What particularly raises eyebrows is that UI changes are part of the team’s goals, as getting the UI to look perfect is an obsession for many MMOG fans. Yoshida approaches this in a way that I suspect many players won’t be happy with.
“We think people use the [UI] tools to expand the HUD and display more information as they feel the existing functions are insufficient to tackle high-end tasks. In recognition of this, we intend to review the most important tools and, in order to discourage their use, strive to improve the functionality of the HUD. Although it will take time, we are determined to make it happen, especially for the benefit of those who play on consoles.”
This is a promise of a fix, not a fix, and I’m not sure any developer in the world can meet the demand for micro-tweaks provided by mods. Well: whatever Square Enix says, they will always be everywhere.
Yoshida goes on to talk about the race between players to complete wild/ultimate raids, and this seems to be a combination of alleged PvP hacks and the race has brought this to a head: he’s basically saying that, if players don’t participate in the intended way (i.e. without tools), the developers will stop recognizing these achievements.
“Because these races are unofficial, we generally limit our involvement to a few comments after a number of teams have completed their duty. By offering our congratulations via the official Twitter account and confirming timestamps, we want recognize your achievements and contribute to the excitement of the community. However, if our recognition encourages undue competition and controversy as players resort to third-party tools, I regret to say that we may need to reconsider to comment in the future.”
Yoshida then addresses a recent leak through data mining, which notably revealed the final raid boss. The director explains that the leak comes from “an oversight on the part of the development team [that] escaped our checks.”
However, a screenshot of a part of the game that players haven’t yet reached was also leaked. Unfortunately, this one seems to have much more serious consequences for someone.
“We believe this is from an insider and are in the midst of a thorough investigation,” Yoshida said. “We refrained from making this known sooner as it would make the investigation more difficult if the suspect knew about it. Such leaks are completely unacceptable, as they not only undermine the efforts of the development and operations teams , but we delight players.
“Previously, when a major leak occurred before the release of Shadowbringers, we managed to identify the culprit and took legal action. That there was another leak despite this is deeply concerning, and in addition to ‘bring the offender to account, we’ll take action to prevent the situation from happening again.’
Yoshida goes on to lament the sharing of such leaks and concludes, “I’ve made this request before, and I’m making it again: please refrain from spreading datamined data.”
Final Fantasy XIV is at a point in its history where it’s garnering more interest and scrutiny than ever before. Yoshida himself says he “has become a titan among games”.
“A lot more eyes are now on FFXIV, and posts about it are getting a lot of attention, which has changed the way information is shared online and spreads through the playerbase,” Yoshida writes. .
“With that in mind, I would like to encourage the development of a strong FFXIV community by continuing to provide feedback as I did today. Truly, I cannot apologize enough for the many mistakes we made. in 6.1, and the resulting disappointment major patch.
“Nevertheless, we intend to move forward so that FFXIV can continue to bring joy to as many players as possible, and we hope you will stay with us on this journey!”
Well…this one will run and run. Obviously, Yoshida is right to feel angry about the leak in particular: with a giant joint project like this, internal staff “ruin” the surprise of new content must be infuriating. At the same time, the target of his anger shouldn’t be the players or sites that then share the material, although I would say that of course.
When it comes to third-party mods, it’s hard to see how Yoshida’s words will make a difference. Most MMOG developers come to some sort of mutually beneficial truce with unauthorized third-party mods. Blizzard won’t pay any attention to WoW UI mods unless the creator is trying to monetize them. ArenaNet turns a blind eye to similar things in Guild Wars 2, and that’s the story of nearly every MMO I’ve ever played.
If you put hundreds of hours into something and want to change the UI elements, that’s really understandable and in my opinion doesn’t impact others. Final Fantasy XIV has absolutely everything at the moment. So lord knows why Yoshida wants to warn players to use harmless tools to enhance their enjoyment.