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10 March 2010 @ 12:01 pm
FF13 through 4 hours  
I got to the four hour point in FF13 last night, which is right after the first major set of cutscenes and where they finally start letting you level up your characters.

I've got to say that in theory i love the leveling system. It is in fact a lot like the sphere grid. However it may have the crappiest UI of any Final Fantasy leveling system yet. They tried to make it artistic, which i suppose they succeeded at, but they also made it really confusing and awkward. I suppose that's something else that i may get used to after playing with it some more, but this isn't a problem i've had with other leveling systems before.

The basic usability complaint is that i have a tough time navigating it. So far at least i can't tell which crystals are glowing or not. I can tell which i've learned by looking at the "you've spent this many CP out of this many CP required" text. (Even though the numbers are a little too blurry to be sure of the exact amount in SD, i can at least tell if the first blur matches the second blur =) However that requires me to "mouse over" each skill to see if i've learned it or not yet. Maybe i'll get better at interpreting the glow later on.

My bigger concern is the fact that you've got a whole bunch of little circular sub-menus within each job, and each time you get to the edge of one little circle it jumps the entire screen over to the next little circle.

I seem to be heavily biased towards function over form. I certainly can appreciate a better form, but not at the expense of function. The same seems to apply at a bit more of a macro level as well. Back when FF10 came out, everyone else get a sense of wonder over the graphics. I admired the graphics, but my "OMG" moment was in response to opening up the sphere grid and seeing all those abilities i would get to learn. In FF13 everyone else starts the game and gets the sense of wonder from the graphics. I'm think the graphics are fine, but i get to the Crystarium menu and see a single circle with five or six skills on it to learn and say "That's it??!?" Intellectually i know that more stuff will get opened up to me later, but i can't see it now, so i don't get that visceral sense of wonder. I'll never be able to look down at a big chart of all the skills and see how much i've accomplished.

As an aside, the first thing the i remember learning about FF5, and the thing that convinced me i really wanted to import it, was seeing the chart of all the different jobs you could learn, complete with cute little anime depictions of the costumes for each of the jobs.

And this is going to be one of my big stupid gripes about FF13 (the other big one would probably be the missing music themes i supposed =) I know it's not that important, i know it doesn't really affect gameplay, but it bugs me. Why the hell did they change all the job names? After all this time slowly adding a couple jobs at a time why was this the point to throw them out? And from everything i've read it's not because of any gameplay reason, a Medic is still pretty much a White Mage. Which seems to me to mean that the only reason they did it was to be cool and try to appeal to the Modern Warfare 2 crowd, which bugs me out of all proportion to the actual affect on gameplay. Throwing out tradition because you've got something better to replace it with is one thing, just throwing it out in an attempt to be cool is something else.

Of course in my personal experience the effect has been that while the battle keeps on going in real time, with my losing points every second, i'm peering at the Paradigm menu's too small for SD text trying to figure out what the hell a "Ravager" equates to in normal job terms. (It turns out a Ravager is actually a Black Mage.) Like the problem with telling which skills i've learned or not, the direct gameplay affect is something i'll probably get over fairly quickly, but the aesthetic reverberations may stick with me for quite awhile.
Pava: TomoAtWorkjmpava on March 10th, 2010 08:16 pm (UTC)
Perhaps it might be time to get that hdtv you've been talking about for 2 years now. ;->

(In somewhat seriousness, given the sheer shinyness of the game, I feel like you might be missing out on almost 50% of the 'point' right now ;-> )

I'm still not seeing the 'sub-spheres' you are talkign about, so I can't comment. In my very limited exposure to it, it just feels like the rest of the game: Maybe a TAD too shiny then it needed to be, but not too debilitating. It's certainly not as streamlined as the sphere grid of course. But the sphere grid also wasn't class based. (Yes, you had class tracks, but it wasn't as specifically class limited as this seems to be. So far. Which is probably meaningless).

The class names don't bug me that much. But since I'm not even 1/100th as enamored of either 5 or tactics as you are (and therefore jobs in general), I suppose that's not saying too much. Have you done much customizing paradigms? I spent a bit of time there (and in abilities) looking at the different jobs to get a feeling of what they are when I was not in battle ;->
DonAithnen: Games: FF Crystaldonaithnen on March 10th, 2010 08:49 pm (UTC)
I was doing some searches during lunch, and found confirmation that each job has a number of "discs" within it. (I also found a screen supposedly from the Crystarium which just consisted of a list of a whole bunch of abilities, so apparently there's some other view of things that we either haven't found or isn't available yet. (Although it looked like it only showed what skills you already have or something, it didn't seem to be a different way to manage character growth.)

The thing is, the International version off FF12 _did_ do a job system using the license board (which was originally an all-in-one thing like the sphere grid,) so not only is the basic idea conceptually easy, they've actually implemented something like it before.

I opened up the Paradigm menu but didn't play around at all. I just explored the Crystarium part (a bit more than you it seems ;) before taking a "nap" =P
Pava: Osaka Sez!jmpava on March 10th, 2010 08:58 pm (UTC)
I've never played ff12 intl, so I can't comment on that.

As mentioned in IM, I think the item you are seeing as 'locked' is actually the starting point (since IIRC it's behind all the pre-unlocked items). There's definitely more discs, but I expect you need to get to class level 2 or something (presumably plot related) before they show up.

Play around with paradigm (and abilities). It made it clearer for me then just trying it did.

You sidestepped the fundamental question though of whether this will now get you to finally get an HDTV. That's what really matters ;->
Laura Parkinson: Vincentstormfeather on March 10th, 2010 08:26 pm (UTC)
Hrm, I'll have to catch up on this later: last night I got up to:

Spoilers! For others reading!:

The point where you basically find Serah and she goes all New-Agey, and juuust past there, to the next save point.
DonAithnendonaithnen on March 10th, 2010 08:54 pm (UTC)
That is _right_ before the big giant cutscene section :)
DonAithnendonaithnen on March 10th, 2010 08:55 pm (UTC)
Also, i am amused by the method of your obfuscation :)
Laura Parkinson: Sephirothstormfeather on March 10th, 2010 11:45 pm (UTC)
I liked it. ;)

And I got to the point you were at, myself! I'm... not sure how I feel yet about it all. I'll probably play a bit more, then post a "thoughts so far" post later tonight or tomorrow.
Andrewneonelephant on March 10th, 2010 08:47 pm (UTC)
My first or second reaction to the crystarium was that they spent an excessive number of polygons on it.

If I had to guess at the reasoning behind the job name changes, it's because a) the mapping from old jobs -> new jobs isn't going to be one-to-one and onto, and b) there are going to be AI implications to the job choices for the non-leader party characters. Perhaps that's giving them too much credit.
Pava: Osaka Sez!jmpava on March 10th, 2010 08:55 pm (UTC)
That, fwiw, was also my impressions. The names indicated abilities AND AI, not just abilities. I suppose you could argue that you could have still done that in the old names, but I'm not sure that's exactly the same thing.