Not even two weeks ago I published a post about dungeon finders being dangerous for the future of MMOs, and today I see a video published on the official FFXIV youtube channel introducing and explaining a feature called the “Duty Finder.” The Duty Finder is FFXIV’s version of WoW dungeon finder with only a few alterations.
The themepark metaphor is really overused, but for me it’s spot on. When I go to Disneyland I want to experience the rides — they’re a huge part of my visit. Yet at the same time, there’s a magic to the atmosphere and environment. Traveling from one ‘world’ to the next while in Disneyland introduces new sites, sounds, smells, and even tastes if you can afford the food. I feel like I am completely immersed in the magical experience Disney has cleverly crafted to give me that warm fuzzy feeling. While I can definitely appreciate the tools to help facilitate getting on rides faster, there comes a point when the line is crossed and part of the magic is lost to convenience.
I hate how players can group across servers. When I get matched with random people from other worlds, I can’t possibly form any meaningful relationships. I will never see those people again. People have no obligation to behave or conduct themselves appropriately. I used to care immensely about my reputation. I remember accidentally wiping a group in EQ, and the wave of fear that came over me as I worried that my group would tell others. Lucky for me, I had been a great member of this group and they shrugged it off. on the other hand, I have hundreds of stories about bad group members and horrible people being blacklisted. When someone used to say, “I found a Monk named ‘name’ who wants to join”, people could say, “No way I grouped with him last night and he’s a real jerk” or “Yeah, she’s a fantastic person invite her.”
I’m worried that the FFXIV Duty Finder will promote a disconnected feeling, and a lack of socializing. Players can stand around in towns conducting commerce and instantly be teleported to dungeons, so why would they go out into the world and ‘live’ in the adventure? The world becomes an annoyance and a hindrance, something in the way and unnecessary when the bulk of the ‘content’ can be ‘run-through’ via something like the Duty Finder. These tools of convenience meant to help players come together end up destroying — yes, destroying — a huge part of the world and ‘experience’.
Why not build tools that help players find each other? I remember having nothing but a local chat channel to facilitate forming groups. We used to split up and travel to major locations to find people. Sometimes it would take hours to build the right group. Then came the LFG tools which allowed players to tag themselves and leave a message. These tools expanded, and quickly players could search for classes and roles. I would rather see this type of tool expanded.
My fingers are crossed that FFXIV doesn’t become entirely about the Duty Finder like WoW has become centered around the dungeon and raid finders. I think Eorzea deserves better than a cheap themepark experience.