FFXI Importing Impressions

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FFXI Importing Impressions

Postby Zenki » 07/19/2002 @ 07:07 PM

taken from http://ps2.ign.com

June 21, 2002 - Final Fantasy XI has been out in Japan for just a little over a month. While those that are lucky enough to be in the Land of the Rising Sun can play the game, most of us happens to be on the wrong side of the ocean. Unlike most games, FFXI is an online game, and thus the normal rules of importing don't apply...or do they?

Since FFXI is an online game for the PS2, just having the game itself isn't enough. I ordered my PS2 BroadBand Unit (the network adapter) and HDD hard drive from an online import shop way back in February, hoping to get a head start with the FFXI Beta test. However, the first time the shop sent out my order it got lost I couldn't participate in the beta test. Eventually, after many emails and complaints they sent me one of the new HDD shipments from So-Net (one of Sony's ISP partners in Japan) in May. A keyboard is also helpful, and easier to find. Ordinary USB keyboards work, although importing an official PS2 keyboard or the Logitech NetPlay keyboard/Dual Shock combo requires a little more effort from those who demand authenticity.

In the initial setup and installation process, I ran into a couple of problems that I couldn't figure out at first. The first problem that I had was I couldn't connect online during the installation of the PlayOnline Viewer. The POL Viewer connects to the server to check if you're using a legal or bootlegged copy of the software, so don't even think about pirating FFXI. After I figured out what was wrong (forgot to reset the cable modem...so the problem was on my side rather than the game's), I had no problem getting online at all. As long as you have the information and know what you're doing the setup is a breeze.

Others have reported that they spent as long as two to three hours for the installation and updating process, but I was able to finish in about one or two hours. In my case, the POL Viewer and FFXI itself each took around 20 minutes to install initially. Since I got my copy of FFXI after the first patch last week, both the POL Viewer and FFXI needed to download their updated versions, which again took roughly 20 minutes each to download and install. Of course, the entire setup and installation required partly depends on your internet connection. The faster it is, the shorter the patch download would take.

The other problem that I was having with the PS2 isn't with FFXI, but the PS2 BroadBand Browser itself. I kept getting a DNAS Verification error and I had no way of solving it. DNAS, or Dynamic Network Authorization Server, is Sony's system for authenticating hardware, software, and media online. In this case, the rub may be a detection scheme for blocking users with modified PS2s. My PS2 (SCPH-10000, the first release in Japan) has never been opened nor tampered with in any way to my knowledge, so I shouldn't have had that error. The only solution according to other importers and some reports from those in Japan was to send the PS2 to Sony. This (and a couple of other errors with the BB Browser) might be related to the fact that this version of the Browser is the prerelease version 0.10. The DNAS error is supposed to be fixed in version 0.20 release, but I have no way of confirming this. Either way, the DNAS error suddenly disappeared a couple of days ago. Even now I still haven't figured out where the problem was and how it was solved. In any event, the DNAS error doesn't affect FFXI's ability to get online. I was online and playing FFXI for a couple of days before the error went away.

In my opinion, I'd say the hardest part of importing it would be to find a real Japanese address that you can use to register for PlayOnline. I asked one of my friends from Japan if I could use her Japanese home address so this wasn't a problem for me. There are reports from Taiwanese importers that the only field POL checks is the prefecture address ([something]-tou). For example, if you put it Tokyo-tou, it doesn't matter what you put in after that. Importers in Taiwan reported that they just put Toukyou-tou and their Taiwan address after that and they received the registration card from Square/POL with no problems.
Actually, any Japanese address would work for this considering this address isn't the billing address for whatever payment option you choose. There are some importers that just looked up any random address from the net and used that as their address -- I know at least one person that used the Japanese Diet's address as his address. Most likely, as long as you're not stupid and use SCEI's address, Microsoft's address, or other obvious ones like that you should be fine. Apparently, some importers in Hong Kong had their accounts banned because they used Square's own address. No matter what, it's still the best if you can borrow the address of someone you know.

Since I'm on a cable modem over here in the US I haven't noticed that much lag at all. At least my connection is good enough that I didn't notice anything in my playing. The one thing that I noticed(along with a lot of other gamers in Japan and Taiwan) was that the game seems to be a bit slower after the first patch. From what I've observed the slowdown isn't limited to a certain area, as I've seen it occur when I'm the only one in the plains or in the heat of the battle. But like I mentioned earlier, the slowdown isn't so bad that it gets in the way of the game. It's more like a little annoyance that will hopefully be solved in the future.

Finding English speakers to play with isn't a problem that I've dealt with so far -- I don't have my keyboard so I've been playing solo most of the time. It also helps that I can understand enough Japanese to play the game with no problem. Most of English speaking importers are on the Ragnarok server, so that's the best bet for anyone that is looking to import FFXI but has minimal Japanese ability.

Since the server that you're assigned to is randomly selected, you can't choose what server you want to be in. The normal solution to this problem is to get your hands on a World Pass and move into the desired server. Since World Passes aren't cheap here's a little trick that I learned from Taiwanese importers that would allow you to go into whatever server you want at no cost. After you created a character and select your starting nation, you can choose to log in right away and play. Don't do it. Instead back out to the top page of the game and go into the top option (Select a Character). The second line of your character's information is the server that he/she is assigned to. If it's not the one you want delete the character (third option on the top page) and make it again. Repeat until you have the server you want. It took me around 10 to 20 minutes before I was able to get to the server that I wanted, so expect to spend a little time doing this.

I would rate Final Fantasy XI to be very high on the do-not-import-unless-you-know-Japanese list. All the Quest and Mission instructions in the game, as well as all the dialogue with NPCs, are in Japanese. If you can't understand what your Quest requires you to do or what the NPCs are saying, it's next to impossible for you to be able to enjoy the game. Not to mention, as an online game, one of Square's biggest focus for FFXI is the emphasis on team play. At the current stages, the population Vana D'iel population is overwhelmingly Japanese-speaking -- it's hard to work together with the language barrier in between. If you absolutely have to have your FFXI now, though, send us your thoughts on the import experience.

-- Andy Tsai

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