Last week, we saw the first clear of Dragonsong’s Reprise (Ultimate), the raid that is currently the hardest content in Final Fantasy XIV. Though the Neverland group got the world-first clear, a few other competitive groups have seen the end of this Ultimate, an alternate timeline version of the Dragonsong War. Just recently, the FFXIV team congratulated the groups that have cleared the encounter.
At the same time, FFXIV creative director and lead producer Naoki Yoshida reiterated that third-party tools are “strictly prohibited” in the game. The statement comes after the potential discovery that a number of groups who have cleared the encounter have potentially used third-party tools to help with specific mechanics of the fight.
“The use of third-party tools is strictly prohibited,” he said in one of many clear-cut statements in the Lodestone post. “Players who are determined to be using third-party tools will have their accounts suspended, or permanently banned for repeat offenses.”
Yoshida also acknowledged other topics in his statement, including data mining and server emulation. But most players, especially those part of the influx that occurred right before Endwalker, are wondering why the FFXIV team is so adamant about restricting third-party tools.
World First Players On That Tool Tip
It’s clear that at least some part of this sentiment is tied to specifically world-first clears. “A race should be fair, and it’s our earnest wish that participants don’t use third-party tools,” Yoshida wrote in the post. “Indeed, we’ve only released duties that we have proven can be beaten with the game’s standard features.”
In the past, players have used third-party tools to provide enhanced information during fights. These tools provide information like party buff and debuff timers, or enhanced enemy DoT tracking. Awareness and usage of some of these tools are common for many enthusiast-level players. The issue is world-first players are sharing videos of their clears, with many of the tools readily visible. If the FFXIV team didn’t comment on this, it would be easy to perceive that as an implicit approval of those activities — hence Yoshida’s emphasis on tools that give players an edge in completing content, further modify the user interface, and allow packet-spoofing. He also explained that some of these tools can end up being spyware and malware.
Some players have pointed out that some of the features provided by these tools would be useful in FFXIV proper. To this end, the FFXIV team is looking into adding features with similar functionality to improve the in-game UI — however, they have not set a timetable.
“We believe that people use the aforementioned tools to expand the HUD and display more information because they feel that existing functions are insufficient for tackling high-end duties,” said Yoshida. “In recognition of this, we intend to review the most prominent tools, and in order to discourage their use, endeavor to enhance the functionality of the HUD. Though it will take some time, we’re determined to make it happen — not least for the benefit of those who play on consoles.”
Yoshida also explained why the team refrains from doing more around the world-first race outside of offering a small congratulations to the winning team. Essentially, Yoshida doesn’t world-firsts to be a huge focus. He said that if these congratulations were to spark “excessive competition and controversy to the extent that players resort to third-party tools,” then the team would reconsider even those minimal congratulatory statements.
Mining Your Data
The second issue Yoshida addressed was data mining and leaks. The final boss of Dragonsong’s Reprise was actually available in the data from Patch 6.08. At the time, that data was mined and the boss’ character model was leaked. Yoshi-P had the hot fire for such actions.
“Such leaks are utterly unacceptable, for they not only undermine the efforts of the development and operation teams, but also take away from our players’ enjoyment,” said Yoshida. “Previously, when a major leak occurred prior to the release of Shadowbringers, we succeeded in identifying the culprit and took legal action. That there has been another leak despite this is deeply concerning, and in addition to bringing the offender to account, we’ll take measures to prevent a repeat of the situation.”
Yoshida once again asked data miners to refrain from releasing any mined data — especially screenshots from upcoming or current patch content that the team would prefer for players to uncover themselves.
You Can’t Fake the Funk
Yoshida also took the time to put the kibosh on one of the biggest rumors in the community: that certain groups had private servers where they could run the fight and determine progression mechanics ahead of time. He essentially said there is no truth to those rumors.
“FFXIV is run by a variety of independent programs operating on a multitude of specialized servers, so to completely emulate its server environment outside our infrastructure is impossible ─ it would cost tens of millions of yen just to obtain the necessary servers,” he explained. “Without these servers and their proprietary programming, while one could potentially pull the client software and display model data and the like, the game itself will not operate. Even if one were to somehow accomplish such a feat, it would still be physically impossible to run the unique programming introduced to the servers upon the application of each patch before the patch is even released.”
The Snopes rating on that is gonna be False, folks.
In closing, Yoshida noted how the growth in FFXIV has changed how the community talks about it. Despite that, the team endeavors to have the same welcoming community the game has always had. Focusing on the additional data and information that some of these add-ons provide creates a more competitive, potentially toxic environment for players, which is why the FFXIV team tends to avoid endorsing third-party tools.