Final Fantasy 14 isn't even out yet, but its players are already calling "No Fair!" The MMO is in beta, and Square Enix has decided that the game will try to balance the different time commitments of MMO players by cutting XP awards for players who are on for long periods of time.
Here's how Square explained the system on its Japanese message board:
"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. Because of that, systems such as Guardian’s Favor (a bonus to Guildleves) have been implemented to make leveling in the short-term easier than leveling in the long-term."
“To achieve this balance, the amount of possible skill/experience points earned after a certain period of time has a threshold. Think of it as real-life ‘fatigue’ from working at improving your skills via battle.”
The game will reward you with full XP for your first eight hours of grinding, then limit your XP for the next seven hours. After that, it's zero XP. The timer resets every week.
On the one hand, I get it -- my real life responsibilities prevent me from spending more than a couple hours a week playing an MMO, but if I did play one, I'd still want to be "competitive" within the game world. On the other hand, it seems to go against the main reason a lot of players are on MMOs: To waste a ton of time getting "better" by grinding.
In spite of the best efforts of MMO makers, I don't think these two competing play styles can ever really be reconciled. I don't see how you can make a game casual friendly without making it less hardcore. My response to not having enough time to play MMOs is to not play them -- I don't like other people that much anyway. But if I did want to play an MMO, I'm not sure I'd pick one that seemed gimped by its own leveling system.
What do you think of attempts to balance out MMO XP systems?