Thursday, July 22, 2010

An open letter to Square-Enix

Dear Square-Enix,

Hi, my name is Ultima Black Mage and If it wasn't obvious by the name I use, I am a big fan of Final Fantasy, your once perfect franchise that over the last 6 years have been treating poorly. Why am I saying your treating it poorly you ask? Well ever since the release of Final Fantasy XII the franchise has been going down hill and even Final Fantasy X-2 shown some of the signs as well.

Let's start with the mission system of Final Fantasy X-2. I don't know who was responsible for that idea but even though the story was the last good story of the series, the missions kinda got in the was of the actual flow of the story. This is a minor complaint about the series because it still was a great game.
Final Fantasy XII has the major problems starting with it's MMORPG style of play. I like Final Fantasy XI even though I don't play it very often and the combat worked in that but in XII is was annoying and having AI partners that even with a good configuration still managed to screw me over made pushing forward in the game an annoying and frustrating task. The story is an even bigger gripe I have with Final Fantasy XII. I loved the stories of Final Fantasy up until XII. The characters were flat and unlikable and I tried my hardest to enjoy it but it just was never going to happen. The fact that the main character wasn't really a main character was annoying and the super political story that seemed like it should have been a documentary or a series of new reports irked be because it interfered with the characters who I just couldn't see evolve much during the game and kept making it hard to want to keep playing to the end. Now admittedly I do like the open world to roam like in Final Fantasy X but wider. That was a good improvement on the series and I'll go into details on how to improve it for Final Fantasy XV at the end of this but I still have complaints to go with.
Final Fantasy XIII did make some improvements that the last game screwed up with admittedly but I still have complaints. Combat was pretty good in this game but unfortunately you dropped the ball again by only allowing the use of 1 character again and hoping the AI would help. Now the AI was helpful but I throughout the game so far have been wishing I could control the so they can fight more strategically in battle and here's the biggest complain, why is it game over when the leader dies? why can't the AI partners revive me? That was a stupid idea and if you did it to make the game more challenging then congratulations you made the game more challenging for me to keep playing. I also hate the classes in the game and the removal of MP. The classes or whatever in the game were annoying and even though it added new strategy to the game, it became more of a nuisance especially since the skills were learned at different times with each character on the crystarium. I like having MP in the other Final Fantasy's because it actually gave a sense of a mental limit to how much magic a person could spare before exhausting themselves, but since you can cast and chain spells willy nilly in the game it loses all sense of being a real spell caster. The so called good bit of Final Fantasy XIII isn't as good as people keep saying because the only thing that's good about it is the fact that it's close to how the world map system should be. I hated the lack of real side quests in the game. Monster Hunting is boring except in an MMORPG and it just felt like an unnecessary grind and normal battles are already a grind. Now admittedly the story was better then XII but it still wasn't as good as the others. Also I like the way the summons were set out with a time limit but again the AI wasn't what I was hoping for.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII was a good step forward in the series but the mission based system like in X-2 was counter productive. The combat, story and general feel of the game were good but held back by missions and no real big world fell the other Final Fantasy's had. Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII also has serious problems like the others but it's just the fact that it's a 3rd person shooter with bad controls. I think you should have waited until you acquire Eidos before making it.
If you noticed I didn't target the spin offs like Tactics, Crystal Chronicles and Legends. This is because those are not part of the original number series and are still managing to be good... other then Crystal Bearers.

Now on to Final Fantasy XV. I'm not sure if you have started work on this but I have a boatload of ideas that will be helpful to you for every Final Fantasy to come.

1)Graphics: I would love to see more 3D Final Fantasy's but a 2D Final Fantasy XV with graphics like an anime with anime cut scene would save time and money for you guys and you don't need my help if you go with that path.

2) Combat: You have 2 choices, real time action or turn based.
If you choose turn based keep the old formula from the old Final Fantasy's which are the original all the way to X. It's worked for so long why screw with it.
If you choose action combat then make it like Kingdom Hearts! The battle system in it seemed like it was meant for the next evolution to Final Fantasy! I don't know any fans of Final Fantasy who didn't like the Kingdom Hearts combat style and every one of them I've talked to agree that if Final Fantasy was to leave it's turn based roots, this is the way to go.

3) Magic and Summons: This is simple for magic, keep it the way it was in the good Final Fantasy's and don't screw with them. Summoning on the other hand is a different story. If you choose to make XV turn based then here's my idea. Have every character have a summon spirit and be able to summon it to replace the character on the field, but only that character. Also allow the other characters to still fight like normal until the summon as left. Now as for the summon I though about X and XIII summons and have come up with a good idea for them in battle. Allow the summons to earn exp and perform 1 command every 10 levels until it reaches LV50 and has 6 commands. This will allow the summons to be fun and strategic at the same time. Once every command is used or dies it can't be used again in that battle and if you haven't used all the command and decided to call it back you can re summon it later in the battle if it's still going. Pretty much Final Fantasy X's Aeons with a limited number of commands before it's called back unless told to.
If you go with the action combat from Kingdom Hearts have it replace your teamates and fight like the Eidolons from Final Fantasy XIII. In an action RPG that summons system is perfect! Just remove the Gestalt mode!

4) Bring back the levels system!

5) Every character can learn every ability: This should be done in 1 of 2 ways. 1] learn skills through equipment like in Final Fantasy IX except weapons which should be unique to each character or 2] Bring in the job system and have the characters have a normal state where all the abilities can be equip... well some of them equal to something amount of skill points or something. It should just be limited so you don't have characters with too many commands to select from.

6) No random encounters to shut up the whiners: I honestly like random encounters, but a lot of western players complain about it. Final Fantasy XIII did this right so just keep it like that for turn based combat and for action combat just have them on the world map like other action RPGs.

7) The world map: Final Fantasy XIII once you get to Gran Pulse was huge and immense looking. Now make a world map that's like that then it will be awesome! Now navigating this world by foot would take a while but with no random encounters if will go faster and shut up the western audience that whinges about it. Also have a car like Final Fantasy VIII to avoid combat and travel faster around the world map but with unlimited fuel and bring back the airship!

8) Story: This is a problem because I'd love to have the dream team back together to make a Chrono Trigger quality story but just get whoever you can from them and maybe get the guys who writes the mangas that you publish to help write an epic story worthy of the older Final Fantasy's.

9) Length and side quests: This is also crucial to the game. make it's story on a rush through 60 hours and put in side quests for rare items, super boss monsters, extra character development side plots, hidden areas with super monsters worth huge amounts of exp.

Well that's about it because anything else is the American Square-Enix's responsibility because I hate a lot of the voice actors out there because I've heard them in everything like Bleach, Naruto and Dragonball Z. If you follow my ideas to make Final Fantasy XV I'm sure it will be a smash hit and if it's not then there's no hope a fans ever going to know how to fix it and bring it's popularity back. If Final Fantasy XV fails regardless of how you make it, maybe you should just let Final Fantasy end and follow a new path and remember you still have Dragon Quest to fall back on before trouble really hits. I do hope you can revitalise the game series and make it as good as it used to be because I loved Final Fantasy's 1-10 and I don't want to see the series die before I do.

Thanks for taking the time out to read a letter from a true fan of the series and I hope I helped inspire your company to make they right changes to help sell Final Fantasy XV. All hopes for the future,

Ultima Black Mage.

P.S. If you do decide to follow my ideas please don't forget to credit me and let me play test the game during development. I don't care about being paid for it, I'd just like to know I helped if it's a success and if it fails just stick to making the games whatever way you want.

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