A couple of weeks back, Square Enix finally gave Final Fantasy XIV Bards the ability to play real music. Now YouTube is filling with great (and only occasionally terrible) Bard performances.
Since Square Enix’s has users agree to not use the new Bard tools to recreate third-party music, most of the tunes showing up online are standard Final Fantasy fare. Here we see Solaris White plucking out the Chocobo theme with an appropriate companion.
While most Bards are starting off simple, recreating easy tunes with a single voice, others are taking things to the next level, recording multiple tracks and splicing them together. MintormentGaming’s version of “Matoya’s Cave” is just gorgeous.
Some Bard players, not content with being limited to the harp, utilize other in-game sound effects in their compositions. In an early attempt at multi-screen performance, Windy FFXIV uses hotbar switching noises as percussion while performing the game’s Alexander boss fight theme. Even more impressive, the performance is done using gamepad controls instead of keyboard.
One of the most impressive Bards on YouTube so far is ADZDarkStone, whose multi-track performances are breathtaking. Here is “Battle on the Big Bridge.”
Many of the more complex Bard melodies are being created using macros, pre-programmed instructions that hit the right note with the right timing. ADZDarkStone doesn’t do this, as demonstrated in his performance of “The Decisive Battle.”
It’s great to see the tools being used to recreate some beautiful music. I was worried that, in the wrong hands, the feature would be used for evil.
Today’s 4.15 update for Final Fantasy XIV adds a massive new 48-person player-versus-player battle mode, but that’s not important. Bards can play music now. It’s beautiful and horrifying.
Players who have achieved level 30 as an Archer and have made the jump to the advanced Bard class can now travel to Old Gridania and finally learn to play that harp they’ve been carrying around. As long as the player can complete a quest involving clicking on a prompt, they’ll immediately gain access to three octaves of pure barding power.
A special “Performance” tab opens up under the “Actions & Traits” section of the character menu, featuring almost too many notes. By dragging these notes to the hot bar, players can use keyboard shortcuts to perform music, or at least make noise.
Here’s my clumsy first attempt:
Note that in order to unlock these “Performance Actions,” players must agree to not use the tools for performing third-party music of any kind. That’s totally gonna stick.
The tools are simple, but with the right macros and some synchronization, I’ve no doubt this new addition will eventually lead to in-game concerts, or maybe some musical theater.
For now, non-Bards might want to steer clear of Old Gridania until the cacophony dies down. It’s pretty painful.
Oh, and check out the patch notes to learn more about that new “Rival Wings” PVP mode. It seems nice.
Toward the end of Games Com this past week in Germany, there was a cosplay contest for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Naoki Yoshida, the game’s director, helped judge it. “Step on me, please,” he told the winner.
Let me explain.
Stormblood was released earlier this summer. The expansion included new job types, locales, and characters, one of whom was Yotsuyu, the imperial viceroy of Doma. She’s a villain who interrogates perceived enemies of the state and plays to the dominatrix archetype. The below clip is part of the marketing Square Enix used to introduce her character prior to release and it soon went viral in the FFXIV community.
The best part of all this though is Yoshida deploying the meme in an fan cosplay contest in Germany. Square Enix had a whole stream dedicated to the game and its new content, but those three simple words definitely stole the show.
The game director was extremely impressed by the Yotsuyu costume. “Everything has been recreated so close to what’s in game,” the translator said on his behalf, before he topped the commendation off by saying “Step on me, please” in English.
Now that our Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood review is up, there are only four things left to do. Beat the final boss battle and dance, dance, dance. YouTube video creator Denmo has those last three covered with an outstanding musical journey through the expansion. Mind the spoilers.
Fans have been creating music videos in their massively multiplayer online role-playing games since MMORPGs have been a thing. Hell, even I dabbled in my own clumsy fashion. But what Denmo has done here in his “Find Your Dance, Eorzea” video is on another level.
The transitions between areas are seamless. The music, a tune by Mondo Grosso, fits perfectly. I can only imagine how much editing went on here, but it sure paid off.
As for the beating the final boss bit, not happening any time soon. I’m all about prolonging the magic. Now dance.
The biggest threat to Eorza isn’t the Garleans, or some other villain that I don’t want to look up because I haven’t even finished Heavensward yet. It’s Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, which have been hitting Final Fantasy XIV since June and show no sign of stopping, according to the developers at Square Enix.
Square says that the DDoS attacks have grown more difficult to thwart over time, moving from Final Fantasy XIV’s servers to “upper-tier internet service providers” and leading to all sorts of server issues.
“Since mid-June, a third party has been targeting the Final Fantasy XIV game servers on the NA data center,” writes Square Enix today on the company’s website. “Until now, we have been implementing defensive measures at our own facilities to combat DDoS attacks against our Final Fantasy XIV game servers, and have been able to keep the impact to services at a minimum. However, since July the attacks have shifted away from the Final Fantasy XIV game servers and the target has changed to focus on the upper-tier internet service providers (ISPs) that are required to connect to the data center. These attacks to the upper-tier ISP network are causing lapses in communication to the game servers, giving rise to instant disconnects during logins.
“Because we can no longer combat the situation on our own, we have been in contact with the upper-tier ISPs, who have then been taking defensive measures sequentially on their end. This implementation has already been effective; however, there is the possibility that the attacks could occur again. Therefore, we will seek to strengthen our cooperation with the upper-tier ISPs and continue observing our defenses.”
DDoS attacks, which involve firing enormous amounts of data at a target in an attempt to clog its servers, are easy to perform and nearly impossible to stop. They also suck for just about everyone. More reading:
Naoki Yoshida just wouldn’t stop looking at his computer. The beloved producer, credited with transforming Final Fantasy XIV from disaster to dream MMORPG, kept typing and clicking as I spoke to him last week in a private room at E3, frowning occasionally. So I asked what he was looking at.
“Because we’re under maintenance right now, any sort of issues that happen at this timing could potentially delay the start of early access,” Yoshida said, speaking through a translator. “If my response is not fast enough, that could delay the opening of the service to players.” Then he laughed. “And plus for myself I’m downloading the patch.”
That was Thursday, June 15, a day before the early access launch of Final Fantasy XIV’s newest expansion, Stormblood. In the days following our chat, Stormblood would run into a series of server issues that undoubtedly led to much more frantic clicking, typing, and frowning. The servers have settled now—and fans are loving Stormblood’s new quests and dungeons—but it was a rocky first week.
Yet Naoki Yoshida is still having a blast. He’s been director and producer of Final Fantasy XIV for nearly five years, ushering it from the disastrous 1.0 launch to the well-received A Realm Reborn and its stellar first expansion, Heavensward. And all the while, he’s interacted directly with fans, speaking to hundreds of thousands of Final Fantasy XIV devotees through weekly streams and Q&As. It’s been a long, grueling journey—but Yoshida’s not interested in retiring.
“I haven’t gotten sick of it yet,” Yoshida said. “There’s still a lot of things I want to accomplish inside of Final Fantasy XIV. Also, I’m not making the game for myself. It’s not like this is a project that I’m doing for my own ego. It’s more about: how do we satisfy our customers, our players, who have paid to play this game, and that payment is actually going into my salary.”
Yoshida, whose light red hair and extensive collection of jewelry make him instantly recognizable to Final Fantasy XIV fans, says he loves listening to fans and changing the game based on what they say. “That’s what I want to pay attention to, rather than being selfish about ‘Oh I want to make this, or if I can’t make this I’m going to leave the company’—I wouldn’t think of it that way,” he said. “And I do have the personality to be able to be frank, even when talking with corporate. I don’t hesitate in letting them know what’s on my mind. That allows there to be trust between Square Enix and myself. Square Enix has given me liberty to be able to do things in my style.”
When I asked what else Yoshida had left to accomplish, he pointed to the story, a highlight of Final Fantasy XIV. The intricate, ongoing plot is the main reason the fourteenth Final Fantasy is so appealing to those of us who don’t love MMOs, and it’s one thing that Yoshida wants to complete before he ever thinks about retiring. “There’s this overarching story, and I’ve actually set a goal or endpoint for that arc,” said Yoshida. “That’s one of the things I want to accomplish is to be able to finish that narrative.”
“How long will that be?” I asked.
“I think we’d need at least another two more expansions,” Yoshida said.
More from our interview, which has been lightly edited for clarity:
On whether Final Fantasy XIV will ever change its old areas the way World of Warcraft has:
Yoshida: This is my personal thought and not anything that’s set in stone. Looking at some of the areas in A Realm Reborn, our [original] 2.0 areas, that was when we were making updates to the original 1.0 and rebuilding the world from scratch in such a short time. So if you look back at it now, we can’t enable flying, a lot of the side quests have been so accumulated that it’s become a hassle.
Now that the development team has game experience of running the MMO, I do notice a lot of points that could be improved upon, and to be quite honest, it would be nice if I could rebuild the areas of A Realm Reborn.
On what class Yoshida plays:
Yoshida: Black Mage.
Schreier: So is Black Mage going to be overpowered in Stormblood?
Yoshida: I don’t think so. The Black Mage has never been overpowered at all. It’s really funny because a lot of players out there who do main as a Black Mage make comments like, ‘Yoshida, stop using the Black Mage,’ because I have a relatively high player skill level, and I’m very careful in making the adjustments to that particular job, so they don’t become overpowered at all. People actually complain about it.
On what they can do now that they’ve ditched the PlayStation 3 version of Final Fantasy XIV:
Yoshida: One of the biggest challenges we had was the hardware trying to access files—the IO, or in and out… The speed at which some of the files are being read on the [PS3] hardware and then transferred into memory was slower compared to some of the other platforms. This is a 10-year-old-plus piece of equipment.
Where that caused an issue for Final Fantasy XIV was that for example if the player is moving across the field at a relatively fast speed, some of the NPCs or the other characters would not show up as smoothly as on other platforms. Because the speed at which the files were being read was slow, you did see a difference in the way it’s being displayed on screen. So there always had to be a cap so we could accommodate for that hardware capabilities.
But now that we are phasing out of that platform, not having that bottleneck anymore, we have made improvements on usabilities. One example is, as of 4.0 Stormblood, your ground mounts can travel faster now.
On the inevitable Final Fantasy XV crossover:
Yoshida: Plans for these are moving forward. The Final Fantasy XV team has settled down on their end. We feel that it’s going to be rather hefty in volume in terms of this crossover. Once we are able to get some visual references, some graphics available, and when we decide on timing, we’ll make sure to make an official announcement.
On bringing Final Fantasy XIV to Xbox and Switch:
Yoshida: I’ve said this on several occasions, but it hasn’t changed. We would love for as many players to be on FFXIV as possible.
Conversations have been had with Mr. Phil Spencer of Microsoft, and the upper management teams of Nintendo. But I have proposed a condition every time I speak with any platform manufacturers. It’s that the game has to have the capability of cross-platform play.
Of course with an MMORPG, once it launches and starts going into live services and operations, there will be a community. No matter how small it dwindles down to, we have to be responsible for taking care of those communities. It would become an obstacle if the first-party or manufacturer changed how patches are being implemented or online regulations. Some of our external parties’ regulations don’t have MMORPGs in mind in terms of how they’re regulating their online activities. Those can become a hurdle when we consider operating FFXIV for an extended period of time, and so when I talk to those first-party companies, I ask them, ‘Do you have the capability to prepare for that, do you have the resolve that you’re going to make sure to take responsibility and take care of those, do you have that willingness?’
If we are able to come to some sort of agreement, a handshake so to speak, or if it does end up being that unfortunately we can’t do a handshake with Final Fantasy XIV, either way we’ll make sure to communicate with our players. But we have been tenacious—we’ve been trying to keep at it and be persistent about our conversations.
Final Fantasy XV‘s first piece of expanded story content is out now with the release of Episode Gladiolus. Square Enix has sent over some new screenshots showing off what we can expect with the game’s March update.
Episode Gladiolus includes a new story told from Gladiolus’ perspective, showing us what transpired when he left the party during the events of the main game. Players can try out a new combat system that focuses on his block and counterattack play-style using the new “Valor” and “Rage” functions.
New areas of Eos are also open for exploration along with with brand-new gameplay modes, “Score Attack” and “Final Trial” made available upon completing Episode Gladiolus.
Additionally, Square Enix released a free game update that adds cutscenes that enhance Chapter 13, two different playable Chapter 13 routes for players to choose from, more powerful ring magic and additional areas to explore in the game. We’ve got more on how all that plays out here.
Square Enix has released a new trailer for Star Ocean: Till the End of Time running on the PlayStation 4.
The optimized version takes advantage of the PlayStation 4’s PS2 emulator to up-render the game in full HD with reduction in jaggies and improved lighting. The digital-exclusive title also includes trophies, share features, remote play and, as an added bonus, removes the inconvenience of disc-changing and lengthy load times.
View the video below:
Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is set to release for PlayStation 4 on March 31 in Japan for ¥2,800.
It’s called Final Fantasy XIV: Daddy Of Light and is apparently the first time that FF has been the basis of a live-action TV show.
According to Model Press, the show is about the bond that develops between a son and a father while playing the popular MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV.
It’s inspired by a Japanese blog by a FFXIV player who wrote a series of posts called “The Father of Light” about his 60-something year-old father playing the online game. (Note that the Japanese title 光のお父さん or “Hikari no Otousan” is the same for the blog and the TV show. The official English translations are slightly different.)
Final Fantasy XIV: Daddy Of Light will star Ren Osugi, who often appears in Beat Takeshi’s films, as the father. Yudai Chiba will play his son.
The TV drama will mix live-action and in-game scenes to tell the father and son’s story.
Final Fantasy XIV: Daddy of Light will debut on Japanese television this April.
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Due to massive demand, Square Enix has released a limited number of additional tickets for Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival in Europe. If you missed out on tickets earlier, now’s your chance to secure yours here.
This year’s European Fan Festival, taking place from February 18 through February 19, will feature a number of special guests including Masayoshi Soken, Susan Calloway and Nobuo Uematsu. Ticket holders will also get exclusive access to Final Fantasy XIV merchandise, with pre-purchase available here.
During the show we expect to hear the latest on the game’s upcoming expansion, Stormblood. Stormblood is set to see a number of new additions including the Red Mage job class, swimming, a new high-end raid and a lengthy main scenario quest. The expansion is tentatively planned for release on June 20.