Final Fantasy XIV is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) in which players control a customized Adventurer avatar. To create this avatar, it is possible to choose between five races that are divided into two tribes. In almost all of them, one can choose a male or female character. Something characteristic of this game is the Armory System that allows to determine the class of the player character according to the weapon or the crafting tool equipped. These classes are divided into four disciples: Disciples of War, masters of physical combat, Disciples of Magic, practitioners of the magical arts; Disciples of Hand, crafters and handymen who synthesized and repair items; and Disciples of the Land who gather resources from the environment. Since multiple abilities could be used by two or more classes, in a post-launch addition, Square Enix presented the Job System to introduce exclusive armors and abilities for each job. The latter are based on classic Final Fantasy character jobs and are best suited to party-based combat.
What has been described so far created the need to generate a resource that would allow to quickly identify classes and jobs, considering this essential when it comes to being in a team, buying weapons, looking for abilities, among other things. For this reason, each class and job has a distinctive icon.
To create the icons, the game designers had to take into account different elements and ideas to choose the ones that best suited each class or job. For example, they had to observe at weapons and clothing, role in a combat party or classic aspects dating back to previous games in the series. Therefore, this post is going to analyze where each icon comes from and to do so, it will group them according to their main source of inspiration. On this occasion, the icons analyzed will be those of the Disciples of War and Magic, leaving those of the Disciples of Hand and Land for another moment. So, let’s get started!!
As discussed earlier, looking at the weapon characters use when they have a certain class or job is a good way to get the idea for an icon. The concept that arises from this idea has to be abstracted to the point where enough detail is preserved to allow the icon to be quickly related to the class or job it represents. At the same time, it should contain as few elements as possible so that it is well appreciated in different sizes. The above task may seem simple, but it is not. However, if successful, the vast majority of people will understand the icon without any problem. This is why most of the class and job icons in Final Fantasy XIV take the main weapon as inspiration. So, these icons will be explained in detail below.
Gladiator is a Disciple of War that has the role of tank and is one of the starting classes in the game. Gladiators specialize in handling all kinds of one-handed swords. The shield is also part of their arsenal too, as it serves not only as protection, but also to draw the attention and attacks of enemies upon themselves. At level 30, it is possible to evolve it to Paladin job, keeping the sword and shield as weapons.
In this case, the initial concepts to design the icons are the sword and the shield. The decision to utilize the sword abstraction for the Gladiator and the shield for the Paladin rests on the fact that the Paladin sacrifices attack power to gain more defense and learn more skills to reduce damage compared to the Gladiator.
In this way, the shield symbolizes how the Paladin focuses more on defense than the Gladiator.
And the Gladiator takes the sword as a representation. Due to its slim shape, placing the sword in an inclined position is the best option to obtain a larger and more detailed drawing than if it were placed vertically. However, as this causes too much blank space in the corners, the designers decided to use not one, but two crossed swords. To justify this, leaving aside the aesthetic part, one can take the fact that two crossed swords pointing upwards mean “ready to fight”, something that Gladiators always apply since, as tanks, they must always be at the forefront of a battle.
Marauder is a Disciple of War that, along with Gladiator, is one of the game’s starting classes used as a tank. Leveling up to 30 unlocks its main job, known as Warrior. Both Marauders and Warriors are specialists in combat with a type of battleaxe called greataxe. Greataxes are two-handed axes considered fantasy weapons, as they are larger and heavier than real axes, making them impossible for a real human to wield.
At least in FFXIV, Greataxes can be single or double-bit and are the inspiration to create the Marauder and Warrior icons. As it was done with the Gladiator icon, the one for Marauder is two crossed axes that allow more details and avoid blank spaces. In addition, it was believed that this symbol was applied by the Nordic tribes to communicate that they were ready for war, so the idea is similar to that already explained about the relationship between the Gladiator and the crossed swords.
Compared to the Marauder, the Warrior has the capacity to build a larger HP pool and although this costs them a loss of their damage abilities, over the course of battle their critical hit rating increases to compensate for this deficiency. In practice, within a battle, the Warrior is better than the Marauder. This superiority of power can also be represented by a double-bit axe as an icon. The reason is that a well-known double-bit axe is the labrys, an ancient Cretan weapon that played a major role in Minon culture and was a symbol of power.
Conjurer is a class that belongs to the Disciples of Magic and is one of the initial classes for players who prefer the role of healer. Upon reaching level 30, Conjurer can upgrade to the White Mage job using the Soul Crystal. Conjurers and White Mages wield the same type of weapons, which can be rods or staves. Therefore, the designers had to choose which weapon to assign to the Conjurer icon, and which to assign to the White Mage. The final decision was to use a rod for the Conjurer and a staff for the White Mage.
The rod that inspired the Conjurer icon is shaped like a tree branch. Probably the reason for this is that the game describes conjury as the practice that calls upon and harnesses the power of the elements of earth, wind, and water to weave spells that wreak havoc. To achieve this, conjurers must embrace nature. So the best way to represent mages who have a close relationship with nature is the rod in the shape of a tree branch. It should be noted that within the game, the player can acquire rods in this form and there are NPCs Conjurers that used them too.
Then, this leaves the staff for the White Mage. Probably the most powerful reason for employing a staff as an icon for this job is that the official illustration depicting it is a character in the classic white robe from Final Fantasy and a staff with an orb on top.
However, there may be another reason behind this shape, and that is that most representations of medieval magicians have a cane or a staff with a sphere at the tip. Looking at the icon, it is possible to see how the designer took this into account by adopting the abstraction of a cane and adding a circle near its curvature to simulate the orb.
Lancers are masters of polearms, which are weapons formed by a long shaft, typically of wood, with a pointed head. Pole weapons featured in Final Fantasy XIV include spears, halberd and tridents, however, their shape did not influence the creation of the Lancer icon. This time, the inspiration was taken from the historical lances wielded by mounted warriors or cavalry soldiers, know precisely as “lancers”. So, although there are not such lances in this MMORPG, the designers decided to honor the name of this class using the abstraction of these spears as an icon.
With a bow in hand and a quiver on their back, archers deal precise damage from afar. In FFXIV, Archer is one of the starting classes and has the advantage of both range and instant cast abilities.
To achieve an icon that was easily related to this class, it was necessary to include the two items that archers employ to attack, that is, the bow and the arrow.
Pugilist is also one of the classes that players can start with in FFXIV. Pugilists require an incessant training aimed at mastering traditional techniques of hand-to-hand and, to increase the damage, they equip themselves with claws and knuckles. Because the latter are only to maximize destructive potential, they are not considered characteristic of pugilists. Therefore, it could be said that their main weapon is their body.
However, utilizing a body drawing for an icon can be confusing, as it can look more like someone fighting, making the icon very generic. Therefore, it is decided to use a fist to refer to the “hand-to-hand” technique and to the fact that in FFXIV it is the hands that can be equipped with a weapon.
With the aforementioned, a simple abstraction of a fist would be enough, but there is an important detail to take into account when observing all the icons of the classes and jobs, and that is that they are all represented by objects. This makes it necessary to transfer the concept of the hand to an object. And this is how the Pugilist icon ends up being a glove with a wristband.
Rogue is a class characterized by its assassin-style attack with stealthy movements. It is a Disciple of War that uses dual daggers as a weapon, and these are precisely the ones that were abstracted to create the icon of this class. Just to avoid monotony, the daggers are pointed in different directions: one points towards the upper right corner and the other towards the lower left corner.
Machinist is a job introduced in the first expansion pack, Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensword. In the FFXIV storyline, Skysteel Manufactory decides to developed advanced armament when Ishgard turns to technology to protect its people after the dragoons laid down their lives in defense of their home in the war with Dravania. Because of this, it takes the emergence of a new job to handle these devastating weapons, thus giving rise to the Machinist job.
Although machinists deal ranged damage with firearms and can deploy mechanical turrets to aid them on the battlefield, their main weapon is a gun and that is why the icon for this job is the abstraction of a gun.
Astrologian is another job that debuts in Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensword expansion. For the birth of astromancy, it was necessary not only to master the skill of foresight by reading the starts, known as astrology, but write their movements as well. This is possible when astrologians attune their aethereal energies with those of the constellations, learning to wield magicks with unseen properties. This new form of magick grants its user power over fate.
The object, considered a weapon, for people who practice astromancy in battle is a star globe and a divining deck. Taking the concept of the divining deck is a good option, since the cards are noticeable and identifiable item when one sees the Astrologian’s weapon, so putting them on the icon is very representative. However, reading the history of the astromancy, the star globe is also an important component to consider. That is why, in a subtle way, the designer adds the star globe using an arc that passed behind the cards. The icon can be said to be a fragment of the weapon of the astrologian, as there are only two cards and an arc, which is like the fragment of the globe.
Sage is an upcoming job that will appear in the Endwalker expansion of Final Fantasy XIV. Sages are practitioners of a new altruistic art which draws upon the wisdom of aetherology, sorcery, and medicine. Known as somanoutics, this new art focuses on healing and protection by manipulating corporeal aehter through nouliths, a flying array of foci. As well as the classes and jobs mentioned so far, the concept behind the Sage icon is the nouliths, the main weapon wielded by this job. The nouliths are fantasy weapons created especially for the Sage from Final Fasntasy XIV and, for now, it is possible to see them in some illustrations and videos on the official game site.
The Sage icon was presented on July 30, 2021 and featured the abstraction of the four vertically placed nouliths. If the icon is detailed, the nouliths are like lines with a rhomboid at the top which has a hole. The latter is taken from the horseshoe-shaped element found at one end of the nouliths.
However, this design had to be modified because it received feedback from players around the world, who said it made them feel uncomfortable or fearful. This was because the shape of this icon triggered the trypophobia in some people, that is, discomfort at seeing clusters of small holes or bumps. So, considering that the job icons are prominently visible in the game, the creators, thinking in their customers, decided to redesign the Sage icon.
The icon continued to be based on the four nouliths that form the sage’s armament. But, to address the problem, the new icon reduces the holes and focuses on the position of the elements to represent the movement of the nouliths when used in battle.
In fact, this last icon highlights the importance of taking into account not only that the shape of the icon is easily identifiable, but also that the existence of factors that can bother the majority of the target audience that visualize the design must also be considered.
This particular case showed that it is good to involve, to some extent, the user in the design of a product. A good decision from the creator of FFXIV was to present the icon before being applied in the game and on the merchandise, as this reduced the possible extra expenses of the redesign.
Final Fantasy XIV has a lot of classes and jobs, so the icon list is large. This first part was about the icons based literally on the main weapon, but this post will be divided into three parts where other groups of icons will be described. Hope you liked this post and are looking forward to the next two parts. Please comment on what you think about these icons and this post. But until then, see you in the second part of this post.
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