The end of the Final Fantasy 14 Dragonsong’s Reprise world first race has turned a little controversial today as Square Enix have released their first announcement on the topic. Rather than a personalized congratulations to the world-first team, they paired general praise for the community with a post detailing their thoughts and rules on third-party tools. They have also copyright-claimed the world first video that featured some signs of those third-party tools.
For those unfamiliar with third-party tools, it’s a term used in MMOs, and most regularly by FF14 players, to refer to anything that changes or helps play the game from outside. This is a wide, wide list, from model switches and graphics tweaks to hacks and cheats. In the official blogproducer Naoki Yoshida defines it as:
- Use of tools that allow players to more easily complete content.
- Modification of the UI to display additional information.
- Use of packet spoofing tools.
- Any actions or public statements that promote use of third-party tools.
Three and four are probably fairly obvious, the former being used for straight cheating with how your character is placed or what they’re doing. Two has its own specificities that we’ll deal with below. One is where much of the problem lies, and believed to be the reason for the take-down on that world first video. From memory, and based on community reports, it featured a common tool used by some players that automatically says how and where to run for certain mechanics. This version of the same clear from a different perspectivewhich doesn’t feature those auto-callouts, remains available.
In comparison, for the previous ultimate, The Epic of Alexander, there was a personalized picture and specific message congratulating Thoughts per Second on the official twitter. Yoshida makes reference to this in his post, saying that “by offering our congratulations via the official Twitter account and confirming time stamps, we want to recognize your achievements and contribute to community excitement. However, if our recognition encourages excessive competition and controversy to the extent that players resort to third-party tools, I regret to say we may have to reconsider making comments in the future.”
The post goes on to talk about data-mining, and a screenshot leak that Square Enix believes originated within the company, and the legal action being taken on both. Data-mining is the act of extracting information from the game client (or elsewhere) when it is not yet available to players, and then usually distributing it. It’s a very common practice in World of Warcraft, one a whole industry of fan sites and news coverage is based on, but much less common and far less accepted in FF14. It is mentioned in the post that legal action is being considered and taken when it comes to data-mining. Countering a particularly persistent rumor, Yoshida also says that emulating a full FF14 server and playing on it would be impossible.
We’ll have to see how this story develops as the news of the copyright claim takedown spreads through the community. I’ve contacted SE for comment.
Written by Ben Barrett on behalf of GLHF.