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Square Enix has launched official forums for FFXIV. Where does that leave ZAM?

What will the official forums of Final Fantasy XIV become?

Nearly a week since the launch of the official forums, the general discussion pages are filled with several engaging topics. There have been threads about implementing death penalties, proposals for adding advanced classes and debates about – gasp! – creating a jump feature. There’s not much trolling, although some negativity is to be expected these days. For now, the moderators of the official forums are doing their jobs well.

Yet for all the activity and constrictive vibes on the official forums, I can’t help but notice that the vast majority of threads are feedback threads. It’s like ZAM’s FFXIV Feedback Forum on steroids. That’s why I’m not worried about fan sites like ZAM and Eorzeapedia getting left by the wayside.

Discuss this in the ZAM forums.

The official forums are where we will go to talk to developers – to pray to the on-high at Square Enix. The fan sites are where we’ll go to talk to each other.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m digging the positive, constructive vibe that currently permeates the official forums. It’s refreshing to hear from players who are having fun with the game, but think it could be better. It’s also nice to read critiques from players who are unsatisfied, but haven’t lost their minds over a video game. Lately, some posters in the ZAM General Forum have been about as hospitable as Hannibal Lector at a dinner party, and other popular fan forums haven’t fared much better.

Still, we talk to each other on the ZAM forums. I know how TheRealDestian feels about fans vs. fleas, and I know HardHotThrobbingAetherite will go to great lengths to troll as many topics as possible. I firmly believe that if I think really hard about what I want for breakfast tomorrow morning, then Mikhalia the Picky will have already posted a poll about the topic by the time I wake up.

An online community is like a highly dysfunctional family, and every day is Thanksgiving. The quality, enlightening discussions are often interrupted by your drunk grandma or the screaming baby at the kids’ table. Occasionally, you’ll be bored to tears when grandpa starts telling you about the way things were when he was young. Mom and dad do the best they can to keep things civil, but sometimes you just can’t stop family from being family.

It’s too soon to know what the official Final Fantasy XIV forums will become. Right now they are informative, constructive and very positive – but from a social standpoint, they are also sterile. That may change as certain members become more active, and as post counts begin to climb. However, other forums have taken years to build the communities they have, and mostly these communities bonded during the heyday of Final Fantasy XI.

Can users of the official forums come together in so short of time, especially when the prevailing discussion topics are written toward the development team? I can’t help but wonder, would these forums have a vibrant, cohesive community had they been launched last September? And how would having a forum venue moderated by Square Enix have affected the collective attitude toward this game? A few of us admins are also curious about whether players from distinctly different fan communities -- such as ZAM, 'pedia, FFXIVCore and Order of the Blue Gartr -- can coexist in the same sandbox.

What we can say is this – the official forums are already serving a purpose. The fact that threads can be pointed to specific portions of the development team is fantastic. Also, if you look through various posts, you’ll see moderators are already busy deleting posts which are useless and offensive. If the moderators can keep this up, these forums can be a tremendous tool for developers and players alike.

Here’s to hoping these official forums are successful, and that they improve the quality of the discussion surrounding Final Fantasy XIV as the game inches closer to its eventual Playstation 3 release. Square Enix has no reason to fail with these forums, because all developers need to do is post information and users will respond positively. Next to actual improvements to the game, players want nothing more than to hear from developers.

And the real silver lining is this: If these forums really do result in more communication from the development team, then the ZAM community is going to have a lot to talk about.


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