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FFXI: Still the same tedious setup, yet the game has improved

BlogWell I'm now a level 3 Tarutaru black mage on Fenrir. The setup for Final Fantasy XI is still extremely annoying, and it no doubt was complicated by my purchase through Steam. Here are a few gripes and (to my suprise) pleasantries I have found so far while playing/installing/setting up.

Here are my grips with the game:

1) I understand games need patches, especially MMOs. What I don't understand is why FFXI insists on checking every single file against every current file, and then downloading over 15,000 new files. Where's the compressed patch? Where's how big the download is? (This matters in Australia where we seem to have a lot more constraints on our internet than other overseas folk.) Where's the torrent/other source so I can queue the download up for my off-peak downloads? Bah.

2) Signing up to PlayOnline is always fun, PlayOnline itself is a huge mess of buttons, options and codes to enter. At least this time around I only had to enter one CD key and I could enable all the expansions and add-ons in one easy step. Yet why does PlayOnline exist? Who's idea was it to have a separate system with loads and loads of crap on it that forces you to wade through it each time you want to play the game?

3) You can't play Final Fantasy XI on a PC without a gamepad. Possible correction: I cannot play Final Fantasy XI on a PC without a gamepad. While this rant is mostly my problem, it's a gripe nonetheless. My USB adapter for my PS2 controller seems to crash Windows every single time I try and go to the controller properties. I blame Windows 7 (and likely dodgy shoddy drivers). Updating the drivers did nothing, so I went out and got myself an Xbox 360 controller for Windows (turns out they don't sell the wireless adapters for the controllers anymore, sigh). This led to the controller only working in PlayOnline. Turns out (possibly thanks to Steam) the FFXI settings program that Steam opens does not actually change the game at all. After rooting around the folders, I found there is in fact two folders with a config utility; 'ToolsEU' and 'ToolsUS'. Turns out if I setup the controller in 'ToolsEU' it works. Go figure.

4) The graphics suck. Turns out all this time I can remedy this by a registry edit where I can make the background graphics 3360x2100 (double my native resolution of 1680x1050). This coupled with me forcing v-sync on (in the nVidia control panel) has sorted out all my graphics issues. Why does the settings utility not allow you to push the background graphics past 1024x768 despite the fact that the game clearly runs fine (assuming you have the hardware) well past this? Would it kill Square Enix to add a v-sync option?

Good points since I last "played" (by "played" I mean got to level 5 or so):

1) The game actually tries to teach you how to play. This time a friendly NPC Tarutaru gave me all sorts of useful advice (though all of which I knew from prior experience or from online). This was sadly lacking last time where I was thrown in the deep end.

2) The game doesn't horrible this time, thanks to point 4 above where I managed to fix the graphics issues.

3) I have found good online wikis with actual communities, something I admit I didn't really try doing last time.

4) They actually added a windowed mode. Finally I can alt-tab and check something on the internet, or even listen to music (and therefore change tracks) without the game crashing entirely. Yes there was a game mod for this, but it was technically against the TOS since any 3rd party application is not permitted.

5) For one reason or another mobs sometimes are 'hiding chests' which basically means a chest drops upon their demise. Yay, free loot.

So to summarise: Square Enix still have a long way to go in regard to making a game an actual PC game. Fortunately they have improved the game's introduction and early fights so the game seems far less crap. Hopefully it continues to hold my interest and I find a fun community and some degree of a story (since the game promises it so often) as well.

  • Posted by Alex

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