Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn director/producer Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida is a pretty busy dude lately. Just off the plane from this year’s Japan Expo in France, he spent part of the day looking over some brand new minions — some new Mandragora dsigns to give the “okay” to. Also, the Before Meteor: Final Fantasy XIV Blu-ray soundtrack (that includes a special Dalamud minion in the initial print run) needed some attention too.
Of course, we’re still putting together all of the information that came out of the event, and our frends at Final Fantasy World and Final Fantasy Ring have sent us an English transcript of their interview with Yoshi-P. Various subjects include recent fanservice announcements, the Duty Finder, and PvP.
Without further ado, please expand the article below to read on:
FFWorld|FFRing: Final Fantasy XIV was one of Square Enix’s main attractions at E3 last month. Please share some memories from the show!
Naoki Yoshida: From the Final Fantasy XIV point of view, E3 is usually a very challenging platform to introduce a game, especially an MMO, because of the huge focus on consumer producers with really flashy new titles. Adding a MMORPG there is kind of challenging because touching it for fifteen minutes doesn’t really tell you the whole scale of the game. But that’s one of the reasons why we decided to go with Ifrit battle challenge. By going in this direction, we were able to show the exciting parts of FFXIV, also the quality of the graphics. Showing it work on both PC and PS3 worked very well I think. People could really see the game and the Final Fantasy aspects of the game. It was very popular and at some point, the waiting queue was five-and-a-half hours to participate in this Ifrit battle. Personal memory of E3? I didn’t get the chance to see anything else.
FFWorld|FFRing: I have read your recent explanation of the core ideas of FFXIV with a lot of interest. But I was very worried that you expect us to feel like we “belong” in Eorzea after what you call “the end”. As a casual MMO player who doesn’t really like to play with strangers, and as much as I understand your vision for the game, is the “real” Eorzea forever out of my reach?
Yoshida: With “A Realm Reborn”, we are introducing the Duty Finder which will make it so easy to join party. It’s going to be really casual, so you don’t need to have any stress. Once you go through this stages, you will be able to complete the main storyline and once you do so, you will feel like you did save the world. So you will get the feeling that you belong to Eorzea. Of course there will also be the housing, the PvP stuff, but for this content you can also use the Duty Finder system, so don’t worry about it. Also, if there were really a hardcore end content like a super difficult Ifrit battle or something like that, once we do more patches in the future with new content, these sort of challenges will get easier and easier. As long as you don’t rush to do everything first and go at your own pace, you will be able to complete it and to feel the real Eorzea.
FFWorld|FFRing: Some players have concerns regarding the “duty finder” system. They are afraid it would not encourage “lazy” players to go and explore the world, and just stay in town until they can get in queue and go into a dungeon. What are your thoughts regarding this issue?
Yoshida: Personally, I’m a hardcore MMO player, so I do understand the feeling. Yes, we will provide this beautiful and enormous world, so some people might really enjoy exploring it and reading all the texts to understand the background and sidestories. But we don’t want to force players to do it. If they just want to use the contents finder to wait for an empty dungeon slot, that’s up to them. They may only have 1 hour per day to play, so we can’t force them to explore the world first, because if we did that, then they might just decide not to play. My job is to make sure there are options for all players. But I also have to make sure there are these easy systems for people who enjoy to play casually, in their own way. None of this is right or wrong: it’s all up to the players. And I’m sure the hardcore MMO players will find their own way to enjoy the game.
FFWorld|FFRing: In regards to that explanation, have you really developed the MMO you would have liked to play, as a hardcore gamer? I felt some sort of “sacrifice” from you.
Yoshida: Actually, because I’m also a Final Fantasy fan, I understand what the players want in a FF online game, so I’m not making any sacrifice there. I’m really focusing on that “open” ideology. From a personal, player point of view — yes, I’ve played all sorts of games: name a game, and I’ve played it. So if I made the game I want to play, it would only be PvP and high end contents. No one would buy and play this, because it’s too difficult! In order to make sure people can get to that stage, I have to make an easy and understandable entrance for everyone. But since I’m also selfish, I’m going to make sure what I want to play is there too!
Final Fantasy has such a long history and I’m a fan as I said, being able to decide the world and the dialogue of the characters is very enjoyable. That makes me happy and excited. For example, the “End of an Era” trailer was something I wanted to make and I’m glad to have been able to do it. So, no sacrifice at all.
FFWorld|FFRing: Last February, I shared my worries about the use of many fan service elements in Final Fantasy XIV. What I saw yesterday displeased me a lot [the reveal of a Lightning cameo]. You told me it would always be included within the game while adding the right amount of “Final Fantasy XIV flavor”. Yet, yesterday you just showed Lightning as she is in Final Fantasy XIII. Where is the flavor? How does she belong in this world?
Yoshida: There is going to be a dedicated storyline and cutscenes. This is something unique, that can only be done in Final Fantasy XIV. Personally, I would never want Lightning to suddenly barge in the FFXIV world, so I wanted to make sure there is a meaning behind it. We are actually deeply looking forward to that content. So just sit back and see how we are going to do it, we want to make you happy.
FFWorld|FFRing: There will be [Final Fantasy cameos] more later?
Yoshida: At the moment, there are no big plans for a while. Actually, the announcement we made was really focused on the Japan Expo audience. There could be some people who haven’t played Final Fantasy XIV and who are more focused on the Japanese subculture, so this was why it was more focused on the character, the costume and the equipment. We felt there was no real point explaining the deep storyline that explains her presence in FFXIV now. But for people like you, who really understand the XIV world, there will be an explanation and she will be appearing naturally. Previously, the numbered Final Fantasy titles were individual titles separated from each other. But from now on, our different teams want to work closely with our players to try and “connect” each numbered title. We want to bring Final Fantasy forward as a franchise. This is not just my personal opinion, this is what the company wants to achieve. This is the basic idea behind this announcement.
FFWorld|FFRing: So this is not just Lightning cosplay put into the game?
FFWorld|FFRing: How is PvP mode shaping up?
Yoshida: It is moving forward well. First of all, we are planning to introduce the casual PvP content through the Coliseum (4-vs-4, 8-vs-8) to beta phase 4 to do some balance testing. Once we analyze all the results, we will probably introduce it after the release, with the 2.1 version update. Then, we are probably going to introduce the other PvP mode in about six months after launch. This will be the hardcore one, the large-scale Frontlines mode. The team is working on it.
FFWorld|FFRing: I have been told you were a big “Dark Age of Camelot” player. The PvP in that game was very unique, with the realm vs realm mode. Any influence on FFXIV’s PvP system?
Yoshida: Yes, the frontline especially was hugely influenced by Dark Age of Camelot, since it’s basically the realm vs realm. But because I was a hardcore player of that game, I did feel that the field was so vast it was quite difficult sometimes to meet other players and do PvP. I took this into account while making the level and game design in XIV, to make sure it would suit the game. I’m really involved in that process and I’m giving a lot instructions to my team. Once it’s released, you can be sure I’ll probably hang out in that area only.
FFWorld|FFRing: This is the part where you actually had fun creating the game!
Yoshida: I do enjoy working on PvP, but the part I enjoy the most is probably the main storyline. I feel there is a common belief among the general public that PvP is just “murder”, so they just hate it from the beginning. That’s not the case, because PvP can be really as enjoyable as a sport. I want to let all the gamers know about the excitement of PvP. Try it out, and if you still don’t like it, that’s fine. But that would be cool if they learn a new way to enjoy the gaming experience.
FFWorld|FFRing: Will Final Fantasy XIV make an introduction to the eSports world then?
Yoshida: Yes, we would definitely like to investigate the possibility of a battle tournament.
FFWorld|FFRing: Are you planning to further improve the quality of the PlayStation 3 port before the final release?
Yoshida: Yes. One thing we definitely want to focus until the release on is the loading speed because we heard a lot of feedback from the players. As you know, it’s a 7-year old hardware so we are reaching the limits of the hardware itself. Just because we try hard, it doesn’t mean the speed will be improved, but we are going to do our best to make all the playable zones appear as quickly as possible. We are also going to use the feedback from the user interface. From the graphics point of view, I think we have pretty much reached the perfection for the PS3 version. We have tried so hard until the very last minute, we feel comfortable that we have managed to have worked with the limitations of the PS3 hardware as an MMO with this quality of graphics.
The original interview in French can be found on Final Fantasy World here.