FFXII diary. Strange pacing

5 hours into the game (yeah I know. 5 hours in almost a week is not much. Am I a casual now?)

Anyway, so far I find the pacing a little odd. After a couple of short, introductory quests in and around the first big city (can’t remember the name), I commenced a moderately long quest (long for the early phase I’m still in).

Although the game warned me that I couldn’t go back for a while, I find it strange that Squarenix decided to put such a part at this point in game. During this quest I’m still in, there’s no possibility to buy new stuff, making all the License Points pretty much useless – unless you knew what upgrades you want beforehand. And asking uninformed decisions from the player is never a good idea. But even if I knew, i didn’t have enough money, plus leveling/saving was not an option so early on.

Short explanation on how the License system works. In order to upgrade, you need to 1) own the object to use and 2) have enough LPs to activate the corresponding tile on the License Board. You need to monetary buy magic spells, weapons, equipments etc in a shop (or find them in treasure boxes), then buy the “right” to use it on the License Board.

In RPGs it is essential to upgrade in a certain rhythm (today, the genre is defined not by playing out personalities of characters, but by having multiple, growing stats) and especially in the early phase when the player needs low hanging fruits, and also to better grasp the concept of License board and gambit. In the last 2 or so hours, I didn’t have any meaningful new growth.

I’m guessing that the learning phase for the License Board is over when I entered this first long quest. During this quest I got introduced to the Gambit System. Maybe the game is trying to keep the Licensing low right now so the player can concentrate on the Gambit. But the Gambit options so far are few and so there wasn’t much to accommodate to.

Fighting has been rather arbitary, mainly due to the lack of new skills. All I can do now is to physical attack the hell out of enemies. Trading hitpoints, no strategies, even with bosses. The only difference would be: I needed to manually heal and revive my group.

Maybe a couple of nice words: Top notch production value. Nice cinematography and just stunning graphics for the 7 year old PS2. But this you heard enough from your other gaming sources.

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.

4 responses to “FFXII diary. Strange pacing”

  1. Krystian Majewski

    Interesting. Recently, Square/Enix produced games with questionable pacing. Remember Kingdom Hears 2 ?

    Also, I remember similar problems in FF7 and FF8. You get introduced to a system (Materia / GF Junction) but you can’t do any important choices in that system with the tokens you have at that point.

  2. Daniel 'sirleto' Renkel

    as with all (newer?) final fantasy titles ffxii has a slow start (well, as expected because of the huge amount of playtime the game offers).

    aproximately 10-12 hours playtime is what i needed before “everything” was going smooth and i had my rythm – but then it is well balanced.

    at aprox. 20h playtime i think the game starts running in full motion – actually i only played 7-10 hours more and then went out of time (and interest?).

    btw, krystian: can you tell which final fantasy episodes had the player buying new spells and what other methods (receiving, leveling up, etc.) exist in the ff line of games to get new spells?

  3. Krystian Majewski

    Final Fantasy 1, 2, 3 and 5.

    In FF4 you automatically learn it as you level up.

    In FF6 you learn it from “espers” – special magic crystals you can equip. You cannot buy espers.

    In FF7 you get it from Materia.(But you can buy Materia, too!)

    In FF8 you draw it from enemies.

    In FF9 you learn it from items.(You can buy those, too!)

    I don’t know abot FF10, FF10-2 and FF11.

  4. Anonymous

    In ff10 you use the sphere grid
    in ff10-2 you use the dress spheres


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.


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