There's been some strange talk surrounding MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV recently, with various corners of the internet claiming that the game was both secretly developed in China and quietly altered, for everybody, in accordance to the Chinese government's strict laws regarding MMOGs. Which wouldn't be a huge surprise. According to US based research firm DFC Intelligence, China has more than 100 million MMORPG players, which is just under the entire population of Japan. Except this makes no sense whatsoever since Chinese MMORPG Zhengtu Online recorded 860,265 concurrent users at its peak. Good job, DFC Intelligence.
The hubbub surrounding FFXIV, which was released yesterday, has sprung out of the language in the Japanese version of FFXIV. In summary, Japanese and Chinese both use kanji characters, though Japanese also uses hiragana and katakana character sets for, among other things, writing phonetically. For example, "チョコ" is katakana meaning "Chocobo". Yet for reasons unexplained by the developers, FFXIV only features kanji. As such, in FFXIV Chocobos are called "馬鳥", which translates literally as "Horsebird". And that's not all.
While kanji characters often mean different things in Japanese than they do in Chinese, Final Fantasy XIV's kanji for "index finger" was also written in Chinese, not Japanese. A suitable comparison would be if you found a single French line of dialogue in, say, Duke Nukem Forever. It's very odd indeed.
Another mystifying feature of FFXIV is its Fatigue system, which as far as I can tell is in all versions of the game and stops players from gaining any experience at all if they play the game for more than 8 hours in a week with a single character. The suspicion is that this is because of the Chinese government's law that all online games must limit how many hours somebody can sink into the game. That's not how Square Enix see it, however. In an interview with Japanese games mag and site Famitsu, a spokesperson for Square Enix came out with this spectacular line:
We wanted to introduce a system to reward players who don’t have a lot of time to play. Maybe it looks as though we are placing long playing users at a disadvantage, but the idea is really to let play for short periods be viable...
Won’t that cause some concern amongst players who play for longer?
We want these players to try different classes. If you change class the fatigue doesn’t affect you, so you could try non-combat classes as well. You actually have more play choices now as you can make more characters.
With any luck we'll be taking a look at Final Fantasy XIV are getting you guys a Wot I Think next week.