Offline Teams and Third Party Addons
I want to start off by saying I’m extremely proud of what we have been able to do with the World Race scene over the years and this most recent event was the biggest we’ve ever had. We were able to help raise over $56,000 for children’s hospitals in less than a week. While that event in particular kept it’s core focus on streaming teams, it wouldn’t have been possible without the growth of the scene which involved non-streaming teams. The FFXIV World Race scene overall made this happen. It has grown exponentially since I first got involved around Midas and Creator. I’m always impressed by the knowledge and skill the World First teams exhibit.
What’s the situation? Recently one of the offline teams claimed the world first clear of The Omega Protocol (Ultimate). Shortly after videos leaked showing a zoomed out perspective giving an unfair advantage in examining the area and breaking an intended game mechanic of a controlled perspective. While this has little to do with our recent event, it does have an effect on the overall tracking I’ve done since Heavensward. I’ve always adhered to what I believe the general consensus of raiders and what would be considered fair. For example, when players started using Ultra Wide monitors it also gave extra vision of the arena and it was able to be achieved by simulating an ultra wide resolution of the game without the monitor. At first, players considered this some level of cheating, but it became accepted as a feature of having the monitor instead of breaking the game. However, the extra vision given by what was used from this team was much more egregious. That being said, this situation also highlights my role and responsibility in curating the list of first clears.
What is considered cheating? Normally that’s pretty easy, we defer to the developer’s definition and depend on their enforcement. However the general raid community doesn’t believe that is true. The developers have stated clearly they don’t believe any third party programs are acceptable. You can push pretty hard in this direction and see how unreasonable it can become (using discord, etc). Most raiders believe tracking DPS, having some level of automated call outs, and small graphic adjustments do not cross that line. Then we dive into what most players overall would consider is not acceptable, which would be pulling assets/information from the game client and having overlays that give more information than what was intended. In general, the idea is that nothing used during the raid should break core game mechanics. This is based on my opinion and what I believe the general raid community would agree upon. However I do my best to be fluid so I can respond with the current interests of the community.
How are offline clears certified? This has always been a community effort with reporting and verification. Outside of achievements being displayed on Lodestone (if the player has it enabled), there are no other official means of verifying clears besides official tweets and communication from Square Enix. It’s always been an exhausting effort of checking tweets, player submissions, scanning screenshots, watching VODs, and whatever other means are there to check. When clears are called into question, I will work to verify its integrity. However, there is only so much I am personally able to do and don’t believe in witch hunting. There would need to be solid evidence the player is doing something that is considered unacceptable by the raid community, otherwise the clear is counted.
What decision will be made? In this case, the general community believes this activity is unacceptable. Tracking the World Race has always been something I’ve done for the community, not for myself. I’ve spoken to multiple world first players, and while not all of them use this type of tool - it’s not something that comes as a surprise. To be competitive in the race, you have to be able to keep up with other teams and what they are doing. Some teams refuse to use these types of tools, but they wouldn’t blame other teams for using them. The players I spoke with also all agree that they wish for more clear enforcement against tools, so there is no question as to what is considered cheating or what isn’t. In this case, I believe it severely gives an advantage that isn’t meant to exist and will not be counted in my own tracking. That being said, this point won’t matter as much after we go into the next point…
What does this mean for the future of the FFXIV World Race? Again, this is all a volunteer effort. I do my best with the tools available to me to track the race without creating an overbearing burden on the players racing. Trust is a major aspect of tracking the race as the racers don’t make money by being World First, they do it to challenge themselves. However, without heavy enforcement to create some level of integrity to offline teams, I will never be able to prove legitimacy of those clears. There is an arms race behind the scenes I can’t control and will never be able to. With that being said, I will stop tracking the overall clears for the race. It’s outside my abilities to give full integrity when all I have to base the clear off of is a screenshot and any data sent to other websites. Instead my focus will be purely on team sign ups and creating streamed World Race events. While questioning clears will never go away, having a full stream of progression helps create the level of legitimacy the community is looking for. I understand World Racer’s desire to not give away strategies and respect that decision, but unfortunately there isn’t a secure system for me to monitor that type of scene.
I’m sorry for all the teams that may be disappointed by this, but I just don’t have the ability to moderate a scene I can’t see. This situation definitely reminds me of this. I have a large amount of respect for all world race players and appreciate all the positive interactions we’ve had together. There will be other means of recording offline clears, but I will not track them personally. I am still pushing to create events for hardcore teams when new content comes out, but in terms of tracking offline teams I will have to discontinue it. Thank you all for understanding and I’m still hoping to create a platform to help charity and the hardcore raiding scene.