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Developer Interview: Naoki Yoshida
Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival 2014

October 23rd, 2014 by Sharjeel Hanif

This past weekend, Final Fantasy Network had the opportunity to attend the 2014 Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event was a lot of fun, with multiple activities for fans to partake in including the world premiere of an Odin Fight, speed runs, primal challenges, frontlines battles, art and costume contests, the first time sale of Final Fantasy XIV merchandise, and more. You can check out our coverage of the event here.

At the festival, director Naoki Yoshida announced the next expansion, version 3.0, titled Heavensward. Alongside the first tidbits of information on this new expansion, said to have as much content as the 2.0 release of A Realm Reborn, more information about upcoming patches 2.4 and beyond were revealed.

We were given the opportunity to chat with Yoshida last Sunday morning about Heavensward, the Fan Festival, and the team’s development philosophies going forward.


Naoki Yoshida:
First and foremost, thank you for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to come to our very first Fan Festival here in Las Vegas. We had our original release, and then with ARR we had our relaunch. Now we are expanding it even further – we are announcing Heavensward, we’re really happy that we’re able to do that, so thank you. We are happy to work with you on this interview.

Final Fantasy Network:
We really appreciate the opportunity. I started the series with Final Fantasy IX and always considered it a single player series. And then Final Fantasy XIV came out, and they made the announcement that there was going to be a new director, and that’s when I started following it. The way you guys have turned it around has been pretty amazing.

I kind of wanted to start with a bit of a fun question. When I came in on Monday at the registration event, I had seen you step out and the crowd just went crazy. They were cheering, they were screaming, they were trying to shake your hand… I was wondering, what does it feel like to kind of gain almost like a celebrity status among the fans?

Translator:
This is at the registration area right?

FFN:
Yes, at the registration area. On the first day.

Yoshida:
(laughs) It’s a little bit embarrassing.

All:
(laughs)

Yoshida:
So, honestly speaking, the game is everything. It is not about who made it. To tell you the truth, I have never really followed any other interviews of other game makers or developers. That’s a personal stance. It’s great, but it IS kind of embarrassing. You know, walking down the hall, there are regular casino guests. And they wondering, “who in the world is he?!”

All:
(laughs)

Yoshida:
Especially in the North America region, everybody is so straightforward and honest with saying “congratulations” or “thank you”. We want to thank you for sticking with us. There were a few times when the players were saying, “you’re my hero”. That’s more for like superheroes in American comics and things like that. It’s great, it’s a wonderful feeling.

FFN:
Have you learned anything about the North American fanbase from attending this event that you may not have known otherwise, or maybe something that’s surprised you?

Yoshida:
I have been traveling with David, our PR Manager, for almost four years now. We’ve gone to many different American or western game events such as E3 or PAX. Every time, even since we were kind of rebuilding 1.0 and evolving it into ARR, I’ve been in direct contact with players in the US. There’s nothing specifically that’s brand new to this Fan Fest experience. Of course having a few thousand people gathering in one place, and just the sheer power and passion of the players, is something that’s very exciting. Everytime that I go to these events, it’s just overwhelming, it’s such a great feeling.

Everytime I go to these events and get direct comments from the fans, its motivation to continue working hard, to bring a great game to the players. It encourages us.

FFN:
Obviously the big announcement yesterday was the announcement of Heavensward. You guys hinted at a new job potentially…

All:
(laughs)

FFN:
I understand we probably can’t go into that. A lot of people kind of want to know though, what is the development team’s thought process when coming up with a new job, especially when there is demand coming from different fans. Some fans might want Gunner, some might want Ninja, which we’re getting soon. So how does the development team decide what to do next?

Yoshida:
So first and foremost, with Ninja for example, we felt that the rogue-or-scout-type DPS role was kind of lacking. There were not enough of those kind of options that you can take for your DPS. So the thought process behind that was to supplement what is available for the players.

DPS probably has the most players. By having more options available, you won’t have a duplicate of the same job. We’ll be able to fulfill the needs that are required in that particular role.

Aside from what is planned for 3.0, our thought process is that with our different roles: tank, DPS, and healer, we want to add and supplement the jobs with equal balance and make sure we have a good balance in each of these different roles.

When we do add the different jobs, we have to make sure that when you are in a party that the player feels like they have their own place, that it is a big role, as well as having interesting and fun options when you are playing with other characters. Of course, we will keep that in mind as well as the fan demand and kind of incorporating what’s the best balance.

So yes, there have been so many fan requests. You mentioned Gunner. There’s been Red Mage, Blue Mage, Samurai — so many requests, so it’s very difficult to choose what we need to add into our new roster. So we have to keep in mind what would make the party play more enjoyable and what would fans enjoy as having available as an option to make. So that is something that we definitely need to consider as part of our thought process.

What we can say about the jobs in 3.0 is that it will be something that people can pick out, and something that they want, that they can enjoy.

gondaibatman
Battle director Mitsutoshi Gondai holds up a Batman tee shirt from a fan — it’s a new Heavensward job hint!

FFN:
One of the things I’ve really enjoyed between the original release of 2.0 and now has been the changes we’ve been seeing in Revenant’s Toll. I was wondering if we would be seeing more transformations of locations in 3.0?

As for a follow up to that, one of the big contributors to that transformation was the introduction of the Domans in 2.2. With patch 3.0, it seems like we are going north, which is something that a lot of people have been waiting for, since years ago, back in 1.0. But will the Domans still have an influence and will the Far East ever be explored?

Yoshida:
People have taken notice. For example, in Final Fantasy XI there was a place that’s very – how should I say it – very Japan like. A very Far East image. But the image that the Japanese have of Japan versus what westerners have of Japan is very different.

With that difference in how the Japanese view Japan versus how westerners feel about Japan, if we create something that is Japan-like to our western audience, people playing in Japan may look at it, and think ‘that’s not quite the way we see it’. Of course we are going to consider it, but it’s not going to be the main focus. For example, we might go to one of the islands on Doma, but it might not be a main part of the story. Of course Eorzea and everything that is related to it is our main core. It (Doma) might be a detour, but not necessarily a main part of the places that will be explored. With 3.0, we are aiming for this to be more of a gothic and high fantasy type of situation. We are probably not going to divert into that direction (the east), at the start of 3.0. Maybe in the future, in some kind of patch, but nothing considered at the moment.

You mentioned earlier about Revenant’s Toll. We are planning for something like that in 3.0. So we hope you will look forward to what that is going to be like.

FFN:
One of the other big announcements that people were excited about yesterday was airships. I’m being asked by a lot of folks whether this airship will be controlled like a flying mount where you can go through the map, or if it will work in some other way?

Yoshida:
What was announced yesterday, if we could set aside controlling the airship by yourself, it is more of a free company thing. You build your airship, and you go as a group, and you access areas that can only be accessed by airship. You have different content available, like different battles and certain materials that you can only gather and certain areas you can only access by the airship. So it is more that type of game content. It is not about controlling the airship by yourself.

FFN:
It’s about opening up to new areas, new content — crafting you mentioned?

Translator:
Yes.

FFN:
Okay, I wanted to move on to the more hardcore content. Some of the players have expressed a desire to practice and clear the Final Coil of Bahamut without having to wait for a weekly lockout. The example I am thinking of is the Crystal Tower, where you can play as much as you want but you can only obtain one loot item per week. In your personal opinion, do you feel like the weekly lockout is still necessary for the Final Coil, and will these type of lockouts exist in 3.0?

Yoshida:
Before I continue I’d like to establish the difference between The Binding Coil of Bahamut and the rules of the Crystal Tower.

The content positioning is different.

With Crystal Tower, this is a 24-person raid. It is more of going in there as a group and having fun. You can have really good players, but also people who are kind of in the beginner stage and still be able to complete and clear the content.

Because of that, the item level on the rewards that are dropped in that dungeon are not necessarily the highest. It is actually the ones right below that (the highest), so that you can go in there, have fun, and raise item level kind of slowly and gradually. Just enjoy the dungeon.

On the other hand, with the Binding Coil of Bahamut, this is considered high end content and whatever item drops is considered to be the ultimate item level, it is the highest available. You’ve got your turns one through four, and regardless of what your actual role is, there will be an item that drops. The stance for that particular content is that the people with the highest skill take on that challenge.

Because this is such high end content, if we have people that are going into say the Crystal Tower, and they are not as high skilled a player, we don’t want them to get involved in the Binding Coil of Bahamut and kind of affect those higher skilled level players and have people kind of get disgruntled, like ‘why are those people even in there?’ So we kind of wanted to delineate and differentiate the skill level.

So that’s why, after a new patch is released, the prior content has no restrictions anymore. Because the Final Coil is coming out, the Second Coil now will not have any of those lockouts or restrictions. So people who were kind of intimidated by the really high level play, they can go back to the previous content, they won’t have any restrictions on that area. And the more intense, hardcore players, can go to the new content and our top players are encouraged to try out the new raid and the Final Coil.

That being said, this is something that we are still discussing whether we implement it in the upcoming 2.45 or the future 2.5 patch. There has been feedback (from fans) where they would like to help the members of their free company, they don’t care about the items, they would just like to help this one guy out. There has been feedback about that. We do want to consider implementing a sort of capability for helping out members in the community.

FFN:
I like that you mentioned that. Because I consider myself — not necessarily a casual player — but Final Fantasy XIV was my first MMO. I was able to do Turns 1 through 4 through Duty Finder. But Turn 5 was very… impossible. And it was my Free Company that got me through it.

FFN:
I think I will end it with something a little fun too. Do you have any favorite memories this past weekend of the Fan Festival, or anything you’d like to share with or about the community here?

Yoshida:
Favorite memories, it was mentioned in an earlier question, have got to be at the registration line. Going there. Giving people high fives, everybody cheering! I will never forget that.

FFN: That’s great.

Yoshida: Something I would like to say to the fans. There are so many ways to say this: Thank you for your support and coming up to patch 2.4, 2.5, and expansion 3.0, we are going to work hard to continue building content that we can give back to the warm words that we’ve received from the fans and return the favor of the love you’ve given us.

FFN: Thanks.

Yoshida: Thank you!

jels

Thanks to Naoki Yoshida, his translator Aimi Tokutake, and Square Enix public relations representative David Yang for taking the time out to make this happen.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is out now on PS3, PS4, and PC. The first expansion, Heavensward, will be released some time in Spring 2015.

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  • ElAbuelo69

    interesting bit about Doma. If this game lives as long as XI we might get there though! Just as XI recently released a whole new contintent this last year!

    But yeah, it makes first we focus first on Eorza…Ala Mhigo, the Garlean Empire, etc.

  • Tony Garsow

    I’d love to go to Doma! Though you remind me of Ala Mhigo which there was artwork of at one point that I thought was really beautiful — so I’d really like to go there.

  • Great job Tony! Keep up the good work!! Yoshi-P as awesome as ever!

  • Tony Garsow

    Thanks! Credit goes to Sharjeel who interviewed Yoshida at Fan Festival while I covered things on the homefront. 😉

  • Felipe Medeiros

    I hate how he views his fans saying he dont want ppl with less skill to go to the second coil. How dare him? Everyone plays and pays this game, so everyone should go to however they wanted. Wish lots of ppl quits to make him feel this.

  • CleavedDragoon

    He’s being realistic: the people who play second coil don’t want to have to carry the average dude who can’t even figure out fire orbs in Scylla. Just because you pay for a game doesn’t mean you’re entitled to clear every single bit of the content- hard modes exist for a reason, and if you just entered a game and won it with no effort is that really a game? I suggest you try getting good before you throw a temper tantrum. Or waiting for echo.

  • This was really nice! I haven’t been able to get online much recently, so this was super informative. Lovely job, Sharjeel!

  • Felipe Medeiros

    Im not speaking about me =). Its for the ppl who still are on Twintania to this day. Thats not fair, the amount of lockouts on this game is insane and the number of ppl who cleared T9 by now is really small. So Yoshi is favouring a little part of the fanbase, letting the rest stay behind while they are the ones that makes this game runs.

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