The Final Fantasy
series of games, without a doubt, have been some of the most widely
heralded, best-selling, and genre progressing video games ever
released. Millions of copies have been sold all over the world, and few
brand names are as recognizable by gamers of every generation.
Characters like Cloud, Cid, Squall, Vaan, and Tidus have become
household names to Japanese RPG fans and common gamers alike. Fans of
the series - and it’s development company, Square Enix -
can’t get enough of the blend of storyline, strategy, and
old-fashioned hardcore leveling, and there's so much excitement for the
series that it has spawned a href="" target="_blank">huge
collection of merchandise that aficionadoes can collect.
Every iteration of Final Fantasy brings even more players into the
fold, and more gamers to support the growth of the franchise.

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Even after nearly seven years of live service, it's amazing to know that FFXI is still
going strong.

With this knowledge in mind, it comes as no surprise that href=""
Fantasy XI
, despite being almost seven years old, still
retains several hundred thousand players and continues to support a
very strong and active community. For those of you that remember, the
idea of an auction house was first devised by the FFXI developers, and
the widespread implementation of this facet of MMOGs can rest squarely
on the developers at Square Enix. Few games can claim to continue to
retain so many regular players after such a long amount of time, and
couple that with the population sucking power of href="" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">World of Warcraft,
and the longevity of FFXI is astounding.

However, every game goes through its fair share of changes, growing
pains, and obvious overhauls. Even with its longevity, style="font-style: italic;">Final Fantasy XI
certainly isn’t the same game that players logged into years ago, and nor should it be. When it was released, FFXI had a
reputation for being a game that focused almost exclusively on
group-based play, and leveling as a solo player wasn’t
recommend or easy.

Yet in one of our target="_blank">most recent play sessions with the
FFXI client, the Ten Ton Hammer staff discovered that soloing had
become easier and the FFXI developers had created a way for higher
level players to group up with their lower level comrades without
totally unbalancing the gameplay or taking experience points away from
the party. This system, which was dubbed “level
sync”, changed the face of FFXI. But solo friendly gameplay
still is something that a large number of potential players are
clamoring to have more of in FFXI, and this reporter is one of those
individuals. While I’ve heard nothing but good things about
the communal experience in FFXI, the group-based aspect of the game is

So when I (along with a small group of other media outlets) was given
the opportunity to interview a collective panel of Square Enix
developers at their annual Fan Festival, I couldn’t help but
touch base with the devs to see just what they had planned for the
future of gameplay in FFXI.

“Solo play is definitely something that we want to engage in
and that we want to introduce more of into the game,” the
developers said. “But even when players are engaging in solo
content, we want make it so that players are exposed to party play and
find out that party play is also fun. The depth of gameplay is there
[in party play], and they definitely want players to develop an
appreciation for that area of the game.”

“Games that focus on solo content; people don’t
tend to play them as long as games that include a variety of group
activities,” they continued. “A lot of games that
have solo events and solo gameplay, those gamers finish all the content
quickly, then there’s no gameplay left for them to

“Final Fantasy XI has been around a long time,” the
developers stated. “We have to make it so that even the
players that come in recently can enjoy themselves and level up and
have a good time.”

Another area of the game that could use improvement – but not
as drastically as the solo play aspect in this reporter’s
opinion – is their current level of graphics. Although the
game still looks above average at its ripe old age, the fact
that all of the graphics are built to be supported on the PS2 is a bit
of a hindrance. With more and more games like href="" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Age of Conan
and target="_blank">Warhammer
coming out with fantastic graphical
experiences, it seemed obvious to ask the FFXI developers if updating
graphics was something they wanted to pursue.

“Nope,” the developers said plainly.
“There are no plans to do this.”

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The level
sync system in FFXI has certainly helped rejuvenate the community.

“Even with things like clouds or terrain,” the
developers continued, “we can’t really do graphical
updates to specific elements in various areas; the game areas
aren’t like puzzle pieces that can be moved around. When an
area was made, that’s the way it was designed.”

One of the issues that has plagued Final
Fantasy XI
throughout its lifespan is the continued abuse
of the game by real money transactions and gold farmers. Even with a
veritable treasure trove anti-goldfarming technologies [ style="font-style: italic;">Editor’s Note: You can
read more about these later in the week!], the developers
still face a regular infusion of gold farmers that they have to fight
on a daily basis. While many games try to do away with gold farming by
making high end weapons “bind on equip”, this
hasn’t been a technique commonly used by Square Enix. When
the question was raised - “Do you feel like the currency
requirements for the more expensive weapons encourage real money
trading?” – here’s how the FFXI devs

“It certainly may be the case that some people do do that to
get the higher end weapons, but we’ve found that the majority
of people buying gil aren’t even level 75 (max
level),” they stated. “One of the major reasons
that people buy gil is to help them along in their leveling process.
They don’t see mythic and relic weapons as a big contributor
to RMT.”

An active “banhammer” can lead to inadvertent bans
being distributed out to the community, especially if players are
buying gil without knowing that this activity breaks the
game’s Terms of Service. These individuals may end up getting
banned, along with those people that bought gil to buy the higher end
weapons and items. However, one of the press members in the discussion
suggested that perhaps making some in-game items saleable again might
be in order, since there has been such a dramatic decrease in RMT sales
in FFXI.

“The moment we make those items saleable, there’ll
be another new spike in RMT activity and we’ll become VERY
busy again,” the developers said. “We feel like
most of the banning that they do is to selling agencies and people like
that. We didn’t feel it was affecting a vast number of
buyers, but if they are buying gil, they shouldn’t be doing

Speaking of items, another major aspect of FFXI is the fact that the
game is incredibly itemcentric. Just like href="" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">EverQuest II
or World of Warcraft,
players need incredible gear to progress through the various stages of
the end game in FFXI. However, it’s become difficult for many
players to collect some of the older gear that is available in the
game, even if it is comparable (or better!) than some of the newer
items in the game. The collected press wondered if there was ever any
consideration put into making identical items to the older ones in the
newer areas of the game.

“There’s comparable gear you can get from newer
things, but old content is stuff that we want people to continue to
play,” the developers said. “We don’t
want to make [particular areas] totally obsolete by making it easy for
people to just go and get an exact replica of that piece of gear in a
newer area. We want people to continue playing old content.”

On the topic of older versus newer areas of the game, the developers
also stated that although there was some arguments for overhauling some
sections of the game world, they weren’t planning on making
certain areas into instanced zones, simply because doing so would break
what they considered to be part of the game world. “In some
of the areas, they really just wanted to push the idea that there
really is only one area and one world that the players are in, so it
can only be accessed by one group at a time.”

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The first
downloadable mini-expansion to FFXI will be available to players very

In a short amount of time, the newest content in FFXI will come to the
game via downloadable mini-expansions, which Ten Ton Hammer announced
last month. Since that time, players have had plenty of time to stew on
this latest advancements to FFXI, and a vast number of them are
probably more than ready to jump into the scene and grind through the
new content. However, the FFXI devs are notorious for keeping content
grinders relatively in check. The current estimated time for completing
the new storyline expansions is somewhere between one to two months,
and we wondered exactly how the Square Enix developers were going to
keep players from devouring this content without taking the time to
enjoy it.  

“Certain items that you’ll need to get to progress
might take a week to get or something like that,” the
developers said. “Or perhaps a piece of content that
you’ll need to finish to complete the storyline will be hard
to get your hands on. However, if high end players really focus on the
content and want to get it done as fast as possible, it’ll
probably take less than a month. End game linkshell guys will probably
have it done extremely quickly. But who knows?”

So why did the FFXI developers opt to go down the mini-expansion route
rather than develop another full-blown retail expansion. We asked them
this question as one of our final “general” state
of the game questions, and, according to the developers, the answer was
simple: they wanted to release more content on a quicker timetable.
“The live team is so busy with the regular version updates
that we decided to bring in an outside team; a different development
team to do this story,” they said. “It’s
really a different concept for us, and we had to restructure a few
things to make sure it got done. It’s just a different
concept from the previous expansions that we’ve

We’d like to thank the Square Enix development team for
taking the time to sit down and chat with the media, and the Ten Ton
Hammer staff certainly looks forward to more conversations with the
team in the future. Make sure you continue to come back to Ten Ton
Hammer over the course of the next few days to hear all about the
future of Final Fantasy
and what is in store for current and future
players of the game!

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Final Fantasy XI Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016