FFXII diary. Mostly rants

I started playing FFXII yesterday after everyone was raving about it (including Daniel Renkel, whose review I hope soon to comment properly after I played the game enough myself).

Anyway. So far I have the following complaints:

Typography. Dialogue texts and subtitles are in small cap… WTF?

Whoever thought this would be a good idea should be fired. If they want to make an epic impression, this is definitely the wrong place. Title of the current location (on the lower left) would have been an acceptable place to use small caps, but no, they decided to sacrifice readability of the actual texts. I end up avoid talking to NPCs partly because of this.

Plus, they used way too many fonts. There’s a script type for certain story screens, sans-serif for menu stuff, another, bigger sans-serif when entering new locations, yet another sans-serif (and somewhat comic-like) font for Mob hunts. And “spoken” texts use yet another font (and in small cap).

Anamorphic widescreen is poorly implemented. Only the 3d graphics view is anamorphic, all the text and even the License Board is distorted when using widescreen. Plus the widescreen 3D view is showing less than the 4:3 format, the image is vertically trimmed. Bad.

The main character’s older brother looks better (the linke image on Wikipedia doesn’t show this fully, I might make a screenshot sometime). I don’t like to use Vaan.

Usability issue: You can press Triangle to read the dialogue history, which is good so far. But they failed to show that you have to press Circle to cancel that mode. Both Triangle and X are displayed during the normal mode, indicating history and proceeding. But when the history mode is active, only X for browsing is displayed, and you don’t go out of the history mode when proceeding on the last page.

More to come.

Yu-Chung Chen

Yu-Chung Chen is a designer working primarily on video games. He studied at Köln International School of Design and has contributed to a number of published games. Currently he works as a freelance UI designer at Keen Games.

2 responses to “FFXII diary. Mostly rants”

  1. Krystian Majewski

    Exciting! Hearing today’s KISD lecture about Service Design I realized something funny. The cool thing about Service Design is that they sell smart thinking and ideas – literally “intelectual property”. Therefore, every Service Design company puts a lot of effort into polishing the process of creating that intellectual property – because this is what they sell after all. They end up having a very well defined, well thought-out design process with lots of activities with intangible results. Often it seems like silly stuff. You are paying them a shitload of money and they invite people from streets and drink coffee and chat with them. They give them some funny cards and play with them. Or they will simply follow a person the whole day and make notes. From a rational standpoint this doesn’t seem to make sense. Yet, this process is set up very deliberately and it seems like in the end, it yields exactly the kind of results they are looking for, even if the intermediate results are invisible.

    My point is that I do respect how those companies focus so much on developing and maintaining those “non-efficient” solutions to end up with qualitatively superior products. I think the process is something completely overlooked in games. The only case I heard about was the Valve Cabal thing and .. you know.. it’s pretty much the least you can do. It’s pretty obvious stuff and only scratching the surface. Also I don’t like the result.

    So I’m fond of the Idea of systematically writing out what you notice about a game when you play it. In a way, this might be also a kind of “non-efficient” solution. I would like to try to develop a well thought-out process of game design. I think looking at games, especially at details like fonts is one big part of the puzzle. In other words: “keep it up!!” ^_^

    The thing with fonts: It might be because Final Fantasy was made in Japan. I remember, Ridge Racer R4 was quite stylish, but had some awful typography (messed up descenders) and I’m pretty sure it was because the Japanese designers had too little experience with western typography.

  2. Yu-Chung Chen

    re: lecture on service design.

    Yeah, I can’t help but to think of Danc’s essay on game play notation.

    I don’t know the Half Life feature yet, though. Gotta skim through it some time.


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


follow Krystian on Twitter
follow Yu-Chung on Twitter
follow Daniel on Twitter