Fashion Frustrations: Tail Clipping

I’ve been complaining about tail clipping issues in Final Fantasy XIV for a very long time—the problem is at least as old as A Realm Reborn (and possibly older, though I’ve seen a lot to indicate that, at the least, the problem wasn’t as bad in version 1.0). There’s a fundamental issue with the way tails (and hair and au ri horns) and gear all interact together that causes lots of clipping issues. With respect to tails, the issue is further compounded by the fact that gear for miqo’te and au ra is primarily modeled to fit hyur bodies (unlike Final Fantasy XI, where as far as I’m aware, every race got a specific model for each gear piece).

Modifications to gear in FFXIV to accommodate tails and ears (or horns) for au ri and miqo’te have always been rare, with the practice largely having disappeared (outside of miqo’te ear modifications on some helmets) for new gear designed after 2.0 itself. Gear brought over from 1.0 usually has things like tail slots, which don’t show up on most new gear, though there are exceptions here and there. That lack of attention has led to a lot of small clipping issues over the years, but more recently, the issues have gotten glaring, showing up in pretty high profile pieces (like Artifact Armor and even Mog Station items).

That the problem is fundamental can’t really be overstated: such little care is put into the gear designs that even a piece of the Miqo’te-specific starting gear (the Miqo’te Loincloth) clips through the tail on females!

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Some of the issue seems to arise from the adjustments made to character waists in the transition from version 1.0 to A Realm Reborn’s 2.0, which flattened the spines on miqo’te female models, causing their tails to extend at an angle different from the one that the game assumes when it models the appearance of gear. That’s my best guess, anyway, as even in gear with tail slots, the tails frequently miss the slot or jut out from it at a bad angle, such as on the Noct and Adamantite Loricas (on both male and female miqo’te, with the problem being even worse for the males).

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The problem shows up with a wide variety of gear, but often you won’t notice it since the clipping is largely obscured by normal camera angles. You can see it even in gear that otherwise seems innocent, like my favorite Shire Emissary’s Jacket. In normal use, the clipping isn’t very visible, but from a side view, you can plainly see the tail clipping on the Jacket in much the same manner that it does through the Miqo’te Loincloth.

So, as far back as 2.0 and all the way through Heavensward, gear in FFXIV has been modeled largely without respect to character tails (outside of a couple specific instances, one of which I’ll be getting to a little later). The clipping that results from this has usually been minor. You probably won’t notice the clipping on the Miqo’te Loincloth unless you’re looking for it, for example. It’s hard to tell when it exactly it happened on the development end (since the gear development process apparently takes several months according to past comments from Yoshi-P), but late in Heavensward, we started seeing gear that ignored tails in really noticeable ways.

The Berserker’s and Viking Scale Mail body armor from Sohr Khai (or the crafted versions of those models introduced in Stormblood) were, I think, the first really noticeable instance of this, but one in particular stood out: the Fuga Attire, purchasable only from the Mog Station for the steep price of $18 for only two pieces. Because the Fuga Haori hangs back loosely off of the shoulders, the tail just protrudes out of it, which, in motion, makes it look like the character’s tail is higher on the back than it actually is.

The problem isn’t so bad on miqo’te females (though it’s bad enough that I can’t personally use it). It’s particularly noticeable on the males, though, with their tails all but disappearing except for the very end because of the way they stay closer to their characters’ frames. Because the Fuga Attire is Mog Station only, and you can’t test for motion with in game preview windows folks were quite surprised to find significant tail clipping issues after shelling out money for the gear. The issue was striking enough to me that I started doing Mog Station Reviews (though thankfully, no similar issues have popped up with other Mog Station sets yet).

But high profile issues have continued going into Stormblood, with little care being paid attention even to tail clipping issues on iconic Artifact Armor sets. There’s no clearer example than the new Chivalrous Armor for Paladins, which is, to my mind, one of the best sets of Armor we’ve ever seen in the game, outside of the fact that tail clipping is horrible on miqo’te characters (and I assume, au ri ones, though their designs usually have fewer tail issues thanks to overall better modeling of their frames).

This set is one of the flagship ones for the Stormblood expansion, iconic armor in a classic Final Fantasy that’s supposed to represent Paladins for this era of the game, and the team chose to design it in such a way that it has awful clipping issues on one of the game’s most popular race choices. Yes, I understand that the team is strapped for time and resources, but you’d think for such a high profile set of armor, they’d put in a little more care! The problem also exists for the Abyss Armor for Dark Knights, though to a lesser degree (and you can probably tell at this point that capes are a major source of clipping issues).

For a game series that has always prided itself on its aesthetic merits, it has always saddened me that the team has taken to cutting corners in such a glaring fashion. It’s certainly easier to slap hyur models for armor on characters with tails when it won’t cause glaring issues on most pieces of gear, but it seems to me that extra care should be taken in those instances where the issues are glaring. And the thing is, we know the team can make exceptions for tails—the tech for that exists, going as far back 2.2. The Evenstar Coat (and its successor, the Chimerical Felt Coat of Casting) had an admittedly laughable “tail sheathe” for miqo’te and au ri characters.

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While the end result looked pretty ridiculous, the important thing was that the team tried to do something about the fact that, otherwise, the tail would have clipped in an ugly way through the gear’s wide skirt. This attempt got a lot of negative feedback, but rather than trying to do better tail-specific modeling in the future, most gear after this point has basically ignored the existence of tailed characters (with pieces like the Bunny Tights consequently giving miqo’te females two tails). There is one notable post-Stormblood exception, however, in the Werewolf Body from this year’s All Saints’ Wake seasonal event.

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Following from these pieces, the team seems to have the ability to toggle tail display on and off, or to have gear override its display, much like we can do for head gear display and they can do for hats with ears (which really only shows up for miqo’te, and never consistently). In the case of gear with capes, one potential solution would be to simply activate this apparent tail toggle for the model, since, realistically, the tail would be under the cape in the first place. That will cause a little weirdness with side views, so it’s definitely not a perfect solution, but even giving us the ability to toggle tail display individually would go a long way toward allowing each player to deal with these clipping issues according to our own.

Since these clipping issues are so fundamental, outside of a full character model overhaul (which isn’t completely impossible but highly unlikely), they probably aren’t ever going to go away. I do wish, though, that the team would pay more attention to them and how they can really hurt the overall quality of otherwise great pieces of gear, especially in a game with some of the best graphics for an MMO on the market right now. The Final Fantasy name deserves that level of care, and so do all of us that play this game that so miraculously turned things around for Square Enix following 1.0’s crash and burn.

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