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Final Fantasy XIV's Fatigue System: Much Ado About Nothing

Final Fantasy XIV's Fatigue System: Much Ado About Nothing

Written by Colin — 30 Aug 2010

Alright so in recent days, a certain feature of Final Fantasy XIV was brought under the ever watchful and scrutinizing eyes of the gaming populace. Basically, the issue is FFXIV's going to limit your playtime. Once a player hits 8 hours of game time, experience gained starts to drop, hit 15 hours and there won't be any gain at all. It's called the Fatigue system.

"First off, the main concept behind FFXIV is allowing those players with little time on their hands to play effectively, and game balance is based off of that.

"Furthermore, it is being designed to not give those with more time on their hands to play an unfair advantage."

Game director Nobuaki Komoto was recently quoted briefly explaining the system, describing it as a means to curb those with an unfair advantage - aka those with lots and lots of time on their hands. According to Eurogamer and VG247, it keeps track of how long players are on and limits the amount of experienced earned after so many hours.

This is what sparked the outrage among fans.

Understandably, with such a concept, not many players would be very thrilled. However, it was blown out of proportion due to a misunderstanding on the part of the media. The system is actually much more complex than what we've been led to believe and, in fact, isn't directly related to how many hours you grind. So don't go flipping any tables just yet, literal or proverbial.

Thankfully, Komoto posted an official developer's comment on the beta site. Contrary to popular belief, the fatigue system is far more than simply tracking hours and limiting experience earned. According to Komoto, the fatigue system calculates how much experience can be earned according to a "threshold" concept that was designed to fully compliment Final Fantasy XIV's character progression system. Komoto describes the threshold as a "theoretical value" that typify's an hour worth of play engaged only in activities that net experience and skill points. Based on that, a threshold is set "delimiting how many of these points can be earned in a period of play."

The system is in place so that players can earn the maximum amount of experience within the first eight thresholds. However, these thresholds are not limited to hours, meaning that players are still able to earn the maximum amount of points even after 8 hours of lovely grinding, as long as the amount doesn't exceed said threshold.

"The actual amount of time spent reaching these thresholds is not significant," added Komoto.

Of course, once the eighth threshold is exceeded, the amount of experience that can be earned starts to gradually decrease, hence the appropriately named "fatigue" system. It is also worth noting that everything resets after a week.

One key important point is that the threshold gradually recovers while players are engaged in non-experience yielding activities. According to Komoto, it is even possible for it to completely reset itself well before the one-week timer is up. Each different class has its own fatigue threshold, meaning that a threshold for one class can recover while another is being progressed. In essence, you can play for hours upon hours without ever noticing any fatigue affecting character growth.

Another point worth mentioning is that whatever experience is earned after exceeding the threshold limit, while the rate is at a depressing zero, is not entirely lost in the void. These points are stored as "bonus skill points" and are specific to each class. As to what these bonus points can be used for, Komoto and his team are still in the process of detailing that out.

This issue also only became blatantly noticeable during phase 3 of the beta test. Square Enix was simply testing the system in order to balance it properly prior to its launch on September 30. Komoto goes on to say that they will be reexamining the threshold values and improving on experience point reduction rates.

"At the very least, we can promise that players won't be running into the threshold penalty in the same short time span as they did in the beginning of Beta 3."

All in all, it doesn't sound much like a system that punishes players, but one that rewards players without an endless amount of grinding which is a feature that's more than welcome. So don't go getting your knickers up in a knot. The open beta kicks off on Wednesday so give it a shot if you're interested. The PC version will release on September 30. And of course, the PS3 version has been delayed until March 2011.