Saturday, October 29, 2011

Compilation of Final Fantasy XIV Interview Questions with Producer/Director Naoki Yoshida (October 2011 Version)




The last couple of weeks since the announcement of "Final Fantasy XIV 2.0" have been crazy filled with interviews and leaked details coming behind the man leading the project. Interviews from all over, so I am compiling them all in one long list. Credits to FinalFantasy14EU, JeuxOnline, JPGames, Massively, BlueGartr, ZAM, RPGSite, and Famitsu.
 
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FinalFantasy14.eu Interview:

Link -- http://forum.finalfantasy14.eu/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=1993


Naoki yoshida :
We are the ones who should really be appreciating the community. Since the launch of FFXIV in September 2010, it has been a year now and since we took over, its been 10 months. During this time it was very difficult and tough time but the reason we were able to continue working on this project is because we had players playing the game and also giving us warm, kind words. So it’s really us that want to tell the community, thank you very much.

The reason why we made the announce of 2.0 is not to reach outside to the new players, to tell them there is a FFXIV 2.0, but we really wanted to reach out to the current players and let them know FF has a really bright future and we are going to make a lot of changes. We really want them to enjoy playing the game now. Of course there will be a lot of challenges in the future as well and I understand because 14 had such a tough start players had a lot of trouble inside and outside the game, but I really want players to enjoy 14 and show them that they can trust us and that there will be a lot of new content. We are going to make sure the players enjoy 14 in a way that you cannot in other MMOs. It’s going to be really unique so please look forward to it.


Finalfantasy14.eu :

All right, let’s start!

Finalfantasy14.eu :

Is the new graphic engine, about which you’re talking, linked to the Luminous studio graphic engine, that Square Enix announced a couple of months ago?

Naoki yoshida :
We have been receiving this question a lot during the media tour, probably due to the announcement of the two consoles we made and the announce that the Luminous studio made was very close in timing . People are thinking these two are related to each other. Also because Mr. Hashimoto is related to 14 as well. However the Luminous studio engine is related to the console game, so what they are trying to achieve with that engine is to make the still graphic really beautiful, while for MMOs the most important thing is to have lots of characters and high quality graphics so the aim is slightly different. So because of that we have two different engines.

Although it’s not two different engines, the people who are working on the FFXIV graphics engine also belong to Luminious studios. So some people are working on two projects. Some of the writing/coding we use for the engines and the shader are not quite two different engines. You can consider them brothers. The engine for xiv is more focused for mmos.


Finalfantasy14.eu :

On another screenshot showing the future graphic quality of the game, we can see a character on a chocobo. Will the chochobo fights be set before the 2.0 version?

Naoki yoshida :
What I can promise now is that it will be in 2.0 for sure. Of course we would like to implement this feature to allow players to fight together with their chocobo before 2.0 but its not that easy to do that because when we change the server the data structure we have currently needs to be changed for the new server. So we need to migrate all the data to the new strucuture and if we add a lot of things to the chocobo rising its going to be really complicated. So as I always promise I want to bring this in as soon as possible, so we will plan and see how much man power and time this is going to cost and if its doable we will bring it in sooner. For now I can only promise it will be at 2.0 at the latest.


Finalfantasy14.eu :
Speaking of chocobos, are you considering introducing in the future a breeding system, as we’ve already seen in former final fantasy?

Naoki yoshida :
Yes, we are planning to. We are thinking of all the different possibilities for example maybe fat chocobo that can keep items for you, or maybe a strong chocobo that is really good at fighting and we don’t really have a focus on its speed only because if we do make it the main focus people will only want chocobos for speed and we want players to raise their chocobos for different purposes.

Maybe it will be interesting to have a chocobo that grows by eating materias. So lot of potential.


Finalfantasy14.eu :
By the way, would you mind telling us more about the chocobos personalization (armour, color,etc)?


Naoki yoshida :
You love chocobos! (laugh)


Finalfantasy14.eu :

All french love chocobos (laugh)

Naoki yoshida :
With patch 1.21 chocobo armor is something we want to implement in the game. We are going over the designs and making more finalizations to get prepared for this update. As I said before, because of the data structure its very difficult to add too many functions to the current engine before 2.0 but that being said if we don’t do anything that’s boring so we will add small content to chocobo slowly but surely and chocobos are provided by the grand company so players can provide services for the grand company and the grand company will supply you with parts for the chocobo. There is a lot we are planning to do. In the next live producer letter we will try to give you more information there.


Finalfantasy14.eu :

In the new game version, will the current history still be available? And what about the initial characters?

Naoki yoshida :
Would you like to know about the character data? I really don’t want to spoil the storyline for the players by giving away all the information, but with the 7th umbral era event, which is happening now, after the finale some of the cutscenes you might not know what what has happened. Things might disappear and you will wonder where they’ve gone but the main quest storyline will continue with the new verison, but the 7th umbral era is going to change and make more interesting content for the players. For example, ishgard is going to be evolved in the 7th umbral era. Not only zones will be affected but characters as well so I hope you look forward to this event.


Finalfantasy14.eu :

As players we see that the FFXIV world is reshaping, will there be additional zones in the 2.0 version or even before that? Will it be possible to reach to Ishgard before that version?

Naoki yoshida :
I can tell you that access to Ishgard will be available in 2.0, because ishgard is very special area and people are saying there is a dragon there. So I think it will be more dynamic if we use the new map system to show ishgard rather than the current. That’s why I really want to be comfortable and confident to provide excellent quality of ishgard to the players that’s why I want it in 2.0

That being said, I’m not saying we are not going to add anymore zones. In 1.20 you will be able to fight against moogles, which will be in a new zone. And after that you can fight against primal garuda and also in 1.21 we will add two more instances content so when we add this content it is going to be new zones. So there will be new zones added to the current map as well.


Finalfantasy14.eu :

So far, we have been discovering the primals Ifrit and Batraal. Will it be possible in the future to summon them? Allowing primals to fight with us?

Naoki yoshida :
You will be able to summon them after 2.0 but with this ff14 we are considering these traditional primals such as ifrit and leviathan like a god. So I want to separate the traditional summoning system from these new primals. You will be able to summon 1 primal per 1 world, such as 1 ifrit for 1 world. So there will be ifrit, garuda, and so on but only 1 each. So with this new system Im planning to implement, the free companies who have defeated the primal have the ability to summon them. In the previous series, someone could summon Ifrit as well as other people could summon Ifrit. So there would be serval ifrits in one world but I don’t want it to be like that, so people will have to fight each other to have the ability to summon ifrit.

If summons are not considered primals, they will be more common and more people will be able to summon them. We will add the summoner class which can summon carbuncle but theyre different from primals. So primals can only be summons by free companies.


Finalfantasy14.eu :

In the future, will there be the appearance of less common primals? Such as doomtrain?

Naoki yoshida :
For the summoning class we would like to have smaller avatars, rather than large ones such as Ifrit. For doomtrain, if we see that it is suitable we will consider if it could be primal or avatar. We are still considering what we should add so please discuss this on your website or the official forum so we can see what avatars and primals players would like to see. If a certain primal makes players really happy we would like to add it. Personally I love ff7 knights of round but it is too hard to make.


Finalfantasy14.eu :

The next upgrade concerns the dragoon knight. Will he be accompanied of his own dragoon?

Naoki yoshida :
During this interview tour we have received that question often and to be honest we are considering adding a pet class in the future. So we were not thinking of adding a pet to the current class, but because we received this question so many times we will start thinking about it differently. Its very tricky because dragoon knight is supposed to be very strong because it has the dragons power but if you have the dragons power together then the dragoon and pet will be very hard to balance. Having a pet as well as having the power of the dragon is very tricky to balance.


Finalfantasy14.eu :

You have made it a priority of reinforcing the community for players. Nevertheless, before that, are you thinking of adding new tools permitting to change basic things such as personalized linkshell logo, interact with a member of one’s own linkshell without him needing to be connected?

For your information my linkshell counts 115 members, but the number of members limit causes some problems/trouble. Moreover, if a member doesn’t respect the rules, excluding him is impossible if he’s not next to me.

Naoki yoshida :
First of all I’d like to start with the personalization function. We will add that to the free companies system so for the free company you will be able to design your own emblem or crest and put it on your armoury or shield. That is something we really want to add for the free company system. The linkshell system has more to do with the general communication so there will be a separation between the two systems. We are aware there is a problem with the LS kick function. With 1.20 we will add two search functions one is for searching players and one is to search the market. and the ability to search the market wards. Once we implement these two features we will fix the linkshell kick function. It will be after 1.20.



Finalfantasy14.eu :

In the description of the future world changes, we notice that Eorzea will undergo an incredible change. That kind of change is very appreciated by the roleplayers, as well as the apparition of personal flats. Will other similar things be set for that kind of player, such as weddings?

Naoki yoshida :
The map we showed during the live broadcast was of the Northern area, but actually in the South there is a place which is going to be a cathedral. It would be nice to have weddings there, it is something we are discussing.


Finalfantasy14.eu :

To digress a little bit: is the new loot items system currently dysfunctional? Or is it deliberate? Indeed, right now the items automatically fall into the inventory, in contrast with the past when it went into the loot inventory. Consequently, if we already posses the items, they disappear.

Naoki yoshida :
We are going to fix this problem, so that players may decide who gets items. It may take some time though.



Finalfantasy14.eu :

You are going to add more stable servers. Are you planning on a possible long term migration or will it only be possible to migrate once without losing personal character data?

Naoki yoshida :
With this new server its going to allow more flexibility, because we are going to have more this server and content finder. This is going to allow players to find each other and enjoy content. For example, if you want to fight against ifrit even if you are on different servers you can find French players on other servers to play with and enjoy the content. I think this will help communication system so they can join the same party regardless of server theyre playing on. Of course if they want to change the server itself that will be possible. We have not decided if its going to be something that you have to pay money to do or if it’ll be allowed once a week for free. We haven’t made that business decision yet but this new server will allow you to play with people on other servers.


Finalfantasy14.eu :

Thanks for your time and your answering the questions.
I’m still supporting you for the game evolution and I regularly encourage the players to have a got at FFXIV throughout the end.

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JeuxOnline Translation- By Chuki

Link: http://rainyautumnskies.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/10-27-2011-interview-with-naoki-yoshida/



Naoki Yoshida : First of all, thanks for coming today.
So, as you know, Final Fantasy XIV was launched last September, and it’s been one year anniversary with this September. And it’s been a very tough year but thanks to all the kind and warm support from our XIV community, we managed to come here today and on behalf on the whole dev team, I really want to thank you, all of the community, and we really appreciate your kind support.
As you know, we announced 2.0 recently and it was quite a big announcement so, worldwide players have been really getting excited to this announcement, which is great, but I want to let you know, this wasn’t targeting the new players, this is more to the current players who enjoy the game now, because we have been updating the game this whole year and trying to keep it updated, and make improvements, but we really want to let you know that we’re putting a lot, a lot of efforts in this game, beyond your imagination! and we want to bring more exciting elements to the current players who are enjoying the game. So this announcement was really towards these players, to let them know more about what’s coming up for them, to make it more exciting. I really want to comfort them and reassure them that there’s more exciting feature awaiting for Final Fantasy XIV. To do that, it’s all thanks to the great help of the community.
So, maybe you’d like to ask any questions?

Chuki : True! So first, well, we’re from JeuxOnLine, we’re from France, and well, it’s been maybe 7 or 8 years that JeuxOnLine is working with Square Enix, thanks to you (*pointing towards Ms. Saori*), and I hope we’ll be able to continue, something like that!
I’ll start then, there are a lot of players who pre-ordered the game, but they didn’t enjoy it at all, so they quickly stopped playing. Are you planning something like a « come-back campaign » in order to make them try it once again?

Naoki Yoshida : For all the players who purchased the current version, who have the package already, who have the PC already, I believe they can try out again anytime they’d love to. The reason we had made an announcement for 2.0 now, before the billing is going (end of November/beginning of December), it’s because we wanted to give them as long time as possible to let them try the game once again before we start charging the players. If they feel like it, I want them to try out 1.19 patch and 1.20 to see how things have changed. If you tried out and you like it? We would love you to stay but if you’re still unsure and you want to see how things go, it’s up to the user’s choice, so for these players, they can always come back at 2.0′s release, when the new version comes out.
Of course, for the players who have the current version, we will provide a new client, so they can try out the new client as well, and there will be a certain period of free trial for the new version as well, so we’re going to make sure players actually feel, touch the game and then make their decision. We understand that the players who have a negative impression is because they tried the game, so we want to let them know how things have changed, to prove them by letting them touch the new client. Once they know things have changed, we believe they will make a decision to come back or not. It’s up to the player.

We will do some campaigns, definitely, but the priority is to make sure the game quality is being right, otherwise the players won’t be coming back.

I believe the most important campaign is the voice of the players who try out the game once again and say « It’s exciting! ». If the player says it’s good, then other players will recognize it has changed, then they will come back. I think that’s the best come-back campaign we can do, so what we can do is to make sure the game quality is good enough so that kind of « mouth-to-mouth » campaign will continue.

Chuki : About the 2.0, will you give us more information about the new game as you continue working on it?

Naoki Yoshida : First of all, I would like to make it clear that Final Fantasy XIV 2.0 is the same Final Fantasy XIV we’re working on now. It’s not like a totally new program, it’s in the line of the current version so all the updates we have been making for the last ten months, thanks to all the feedback we gathered from the community we made these updates, and this will be reflected in 2.0 as well.

Yes, we will be making more announcements about 2.0 but not only 2.0, with this current version as well. We will be continously giving updates about what’s going to happen on the current version and when the 2.0 version comes nearer, then we will of course start to reveal more information about 2.0. I just wanted to make sure that the players are confortable that this is the same game, and that it’s from the same line. The announcements we’re going to make are not just going to be focused on 2.0 but it’s related to a whole Final Fantasy XIV world.

Chuki : Recently, I think you talked about regional servers, but you didn’t mention anything about their location. Players are very, very concerned with latency, so do you plan moving servers out of Japan?

Naoki Yoshida : About the possibility of moving the game servers outside Japan is something we’re really being careful but we’re considering the possibility because if we do move them out of Japan, it’s going to be quite expensive for the operation cost, for the servers moving, so it’s not something we can give an answer straight away, we are carefully considering what’s the best solution.
That means that we understand the latency problem, we had a similar question during the interview in Germany and we recognise that a lot of people are noticing these issues. What we would like to do is to find out how the network route is coming through from the players’ environment to the game servers. We’ll trace a route for the network connection because there’s a way to improve the performances by changing the settings for specific ISP partners, for example. That’s why we need to have more information from the players, to find out what’s the individual player’s environment. We will be gathering information and based on that, we are going to look for the best solution. We might not necesserarily remove servers from Japan, there could be other areas in the network route. We will continue to look into this issue.

So far, from what we’ve seen, the data we found out really varies from player to player’s environment, depending on the environment, some people may be experiencing terrible lag problems but some people are fine so we really want more information as we look into it.

Chuki : I see, with the current version, it’s quite bothersome to quit the game before being able to configure it, will it be possible to change all of the game settings without having to close the game first?

Naoki Yoshida : That problem will be addressed from the 2.0 for sure, especially because we are making the graphics engine and the user interface flexible, customizable to the user’s preference. There’s going to be a lot of options for them to choose, for example, if they want to have a better experience for optimizing the situation by reducing the characters number to display on the screen, you can set that by yourself, or maybe you just want to have your own character’s effects to display on the screen and remove all effects from other characters to optimize the performance, that will also be possible in the 2.0. We are going to make it easier to access these in game especially for the PC players who have so many different specs.

The 2.0 for sure, but even for the current version we’re trying to improve it, like changing the limit of the numbers of characters the current version is displaying. We are going to improve the current version as well, but you will see a big difference in 2.0.

Chuki : So, do you have plans for a Linux or Mac release after the PS3 release?

Sage Sundi :
Linux.

Naoki Yoshida : It’s too early to talk about that. *laughters*
So far, we don’t have any plans. The reason behind that is because I really want to make sure I’m keeping the promise, and I don’t want to spread all the different ideas before I complete the promise I made previously. First of all, I really want to improve the Final Fantasy XIV game for the PC users of course, but also for the PS3 users who’re waiting for the PS3 version to come out. These two are the priority. Once I achieved these promises, then I will look into the next stage, the next option and listen to what the community is asking for, and then I will consider other options but so far, my priority is to improve the PC version and bring the PS3 version out for the customers who are waiting.

Chuki :
Well, yes. Let’s get into the game details, players are expecting to be able to customise their Free Company, like being able to create their own symbol (crest), or their armbands, company cap, etc. Will it be possible? What about Linkshells?

Naoki Yoshida :
Um… *laughters* What should I start with. First of all, I will answer the Linkshells side of the question.

Free Company is something that I really want to have a strong bound between the communities, so the Free Company has to have really really strong bounds. But I think that would be too harsh if that is the only community existing in the world, so I want Linkshells community to be a bit more like a wide layer around the Free Companies. Even if the players belong to different Free Companies, they can still chat with each other, have a really wide community thanks to the Linkshell, while the Free Company is going to be a really tightened, strong community.

For the Linkshell, you can belong to several Linkshells, but for the Free Company I really want to let players belong to just one Free Company. Through Linkshells, you can talk to each other, regardless of which Company they belong to, but for the Free Company, you can only join one. That’s how I want to divide the two communities.

About Free Company, the emblem, the crest you can make for your own Company, of course, it’s difficult to allow players to design their own and apply it to the texture, but we are going to have several options so they can choose different parts of a crest and combine each other to make your own crest. And then you can have your unique crest, that can also be added to your equipment. That’s how I’m planning to make the customization.

Also, the whole structure and the organization of a Free Company is going to be customizable the way you like so the leader can have his own policy and decide what kind of Free Company he wants to make. For example, having different titles, having different hierarchy, maybe you can be a « Newbie », a « Guest », « Officer »… there’s going to be various options. I think there can be a lot of different types of communities, maybe some of them will be army-like, strict, while some other Free Companies can be very big and general, and the whole Company can be like one Free Company if the leader wants to have it like that. There’s going to be a lot of different options, so you can decide how you want your own Free Company community to look like or be like.

Chuki : Right. What about Great Swords and Katanas? We expect to see many weapons from Final Fantasy XI but we don’t have anything about that. Maybe you can tell us more about it?

Naoki Yoshida : Yes, of course, we are thinking about how we can introduce Katanas and everything else.

If we are going to add Katanas, then of course, we need Samurai. It will be added when we’ll add more new classes, for example, I’m thinking about who should hold two Katanas, should that be Ninja? Should it be a job? In that case, should Thief be the class? We are sort of discussing the things with the dev team. That being said, there a lot of attackers, fighting classes in the game at the moment, and there’s not many Disciples of the Magic. We need to adjust the balance, the class balance and the battle balance. And I don’t want too many fighter classes before we add other classes. I want to make sure there’s more magic-related classes first.

Also, in the dev team, we have a keyword about something that is « DARK », so we are thinking about something related to this « DARK » thing. Please look forward to the future announcements.

Chuki : Dark thing, huh. Next, about raising chocobos, will we be able to have coloured chocobos with special abilities? For example, maybe a Red Chocobo casting fire spells? Something like that.

Naoki Yoshida : The colour variation is definitely important, it’s like how the Chocobo can have his own identity, but I’m not quite sure if that should be equal to the skillset, because if you have one colour, it automatically relates to a skillset. That’s really going to limit the identity of the Chocobo. We are going to make sure that when you are raising your Chocobo, you can sort of change the direction of the Chocobo, if it’s going to be more like a Healing Chocobo, more like a Fighting Chocobo or magic-related Chocobo. These are going to be the directions you can select when you are raising a Chocobo.

About the colours, for example, Black, Blue or Red, there’s a lot of important meaning behind that, considering the long history of Final Fantasy. We’re still thinking how we should bring these colours into the game and how special we want it to be when we bring the coloured Chocobos in the game.
For example, Black Chocobo, you have that image that is really strong, so maybe we should keep it as a rare colour. As a MMO, I think it’s really important to keep a Mount System related to that achievement system, so maybe we can keep these special colours for the achievements. We are really thinking carefully about how we want to introduce these different colours to the game.

Chuki : Fine, next question then. What should we expect with the renewal of the market district in the new game? What about the retainers?

Naoki Yoshida : We are going to improve the market before the 2.0 comes out, with 1.20 we’re going to have this search function, players will be able to search for the item, and purchase items through a list directly. I think this was really a good feature from Final Fantasy XI, to be able to view the last twenty purchases, that gives the player a very good idea of the price of the item. We are going to add that kind of features starting from 1.20 and upgrade the market system, it should be much more easy to use than now.

From 2.0, we are going to change the market system quite drastically, we’re going to keep the retainer system, but we are going to make changes to the appearance and impression you can get from the market street.

Personally, I think the current design is quite scary, quite shocking, when you move to the Market District, especially for the new players. You see all these retainers moving slowly, staring at you, it’s quite scary I think! I’m really going to make huge changes to that, so it’s going to be cleaner and easier to use.

Chuki : In the PDF, you said that Excalibur is a legendary weapon but that its appearance may change. What did you mean?

Naoki Yoshida : The reason behind the whole idea, I think Final Fantasy XI had the same problem, but because it’s a MMO, it’s difficult to bring these legendary, traditional weapons as additional items, for example, the Genji set, or Excalibur, Ragnarok… that kind of very important items which you saw in previous Final Fantasies. When you bring it to a MMO, the power level will always increase, for example, if I do bring the whole Genji set in the next raid, as a reward you can get in the raid, in a one year time, there’s going to be a stronger raid, and you’re going to need stronger items. And the people will be saying « the Genji set in Final Fantasy XIV is just a really weak rip-off! ». We don’t want to give that different impression while it’s supposed to be a legendary item, we don’t want to make it weak in MMO just because it’s a MMO. That’s why I decided to make this new system for Final Fantasy XIV.

Instead, of course, we can’t just keep Genji set off the game until it is old enough, because that’s not the whole point. We are going to divide Final Fantasy XIV in seasons, that might be one year or two years, we carefully see how the game balance is moving forward. But within these seasons, I want to make the players able to apply for these legendary items, in order to register for your own special item. For example, for the Grand Company, if you have a sword with like, level 30 strength and level 40 piety, and you have a weapon that matches that, then you can apply for the Excalibur. And in the case you have it, you will have special graphics for your new Excalibur.

But then, for example, in another year time, when the whole game is going to be even more difficult and complicated, we’ll be changing the rules of what can be called Excalibur. Then, you have to apply again to have the new graphics for this new Excalibur, there’s always going to be different types of Excaliburs, maybe having like a Legendary Season. For the next rule, you might have to work close with the crafters who can use Materia to make the new weapon so you can have a cooperation. We really want it to be like a Final Fantasy special item, to be part of this legacy item.

(Saori Hill : Does it make sense? Do you need me to clarify this?
Chuki : No it’s fine, thanks.)

Chuki : Storywise, it seems that the Moogles will be more important. Can you tell us more about it?

Naoki Yoshida : I would very much like you to try out this new battle against the… the…

Chuki : EVIL Moogles!

Naoki Yoshida : Yes, the Evil Moogle, from 1.20! And it will still be during the free period, so I want lots of players to try out to see what actually happens with the Moogles.

About the Moogles, the Primal Moogle itself is not really related to the main story itself, I mean, it’s going to be more like Primals –which used to be called Summons, Avatars from previous Final Fantasy– joining the game. Each of them will have their own background story, their own episode, so please look forward to it.

For this occasion, we have revealed quite a… maybe too much information *laughters* so people already know that Garuda is coming out soon, but a lot of these Primals will be joining us soon and each of them will have a very unique background for Final Fantasy XIV.

And you’ll be able to obtain very unique and cute items with the Moogles! But probably it will be more difficult to defeat him compared to Ifrit.

Chuki : Then comes the battle system. We saw the Battle Regimens system, we couldn’t use it for a while, and then you talked about « Self-Combos ». What about it?

Naoki Yoshida : Towards 1.20, we are really reviewing how the class balance should be, and for the seven battle classes, we’ll be checking all of the class actions, magic skills; we are rebuilding everything and all the details are in his laptop here.

*Tsuki slowly moves his hand towards the laptop, laughters*

…but of course we can’t reveal it at the moment. We want a very unique identity to each class. The whole idea is to make sure that even if you play solo, you can have a dynamic and exciting experience when you’re participating in a battle. The position is also going to be very important in the new battle system.

For example, if you have skills A, B, C, D. Maybe you’d need to do A first, C second, and then B to do bigger damage. Also, you might have to move in front of the enemy, then move to the side, or maybe you should start behind the enemy before using your skills, so there’s going to be a lot of requirements to succeed these combos. This is really going to help the battle system, even for solo players, to enjoy a dynamic experience.

With special skills, some of them might have some kind of abilities like Short Stand, so you can stop an enemy first, then you move behind, and then you use different skills. That kind of tactics will be involved in the battles.

Also, it’s not only for the fighters, but also for example, for the Archers, or those in the range class, maybe by using specific combos, the hit rating might be reduced but then in return, you can get a big critical damage. In different combos, maybe you can have the damages certain through a battle… to have a constant damage for each battle, for example. Depending on the situation, you can try out different combo systems, and there is going to be a lot of different variations, so all combat classes can use combo.

At the final stage, I’m thinking that maybe if you combine Combo and Combo, you can have a Battle Regimen for example. At the moment, you can sort of use Battle Regimens, but if that’s too easy to do, when considering the battle balance, we’ll think people always use Battle Regimens. Instead of that, we want to make it interesting, for example, during a big boss battle, you can only use this once if you like it, with everyone using a skill at the same time, so it may be challenging to succeed this Battle Regimen. And I think that makes it more interesting for the players and also, it would help us have a better battle balance.

Maybe you heard of the word « hissatsu waza » (Coup de GrĂ¢ce, Finishing Move), like in the Japanese mangas, that’s something we’re thinking about. Something you can use once in very special occasions.

Chuki : Some kind of secret attacks then!

Naoki Yoshida : Yes! Probably it will be more exciting for the players watching the battle and you can have beautiful effects when you’ll succeed.

Chuki : I think you recently mentioned Magitek Armors, and we’re pretty interested in it. So, could you tell us anything about it?

Naoki Yoshida : With 1.19, we managed to introduce the foundations of the Mount system, with the Chocobos. If we change the Chocobo appearance, that means we can add more mounts to the game. In the Japanese forums, in the poll « What kind of mounts do you want to have in the game? », it’s a bit shameful for us, but instead of wanting a Final Fantasy XIV Magitek Armors, players wanted a Final Fantasy VI Magitek Armor! That’s something we’re really looking into at the moment.
…And also Red XIII is one of the mount players wanted. *laughters* We might as well rename it « Red XIV »! *laughters*

Chuki : Well… that’s a quite random question, but if you had to use a Final Fantasy XIV character for Dissidia, who would it be?

Naoki Yoshida : [himself, not translated by Ms. Saori] … How tricky…! That’s difficult! They’re all too weak at the moment… That’s a really difficult question.

Saori Hill : That’s one of the most difficult question we had to answer.

Sage Sundi : Yes, indeed.

Naoki Yoshida : Rather than having any characters representing Final Fantasy XIV, because they’re all so weak, maybe we should have Ifrit so we can have him destroy the game.

Once we introduce the Job system, maybe we should have a character with a full job dedicated equipment in the game. Especially, at the moment we’re working on the design of these armors for these jobs, and I’m telling the designers « Please remember how the jobs used to be in the early days of Final Fantasy. » We try to see how much we can show in the current Final Fantasy graphics of the original Amano-san’s designs, to see what and how we can have that in the current generation graphics. Once we implement that in the game and that players enjoy it, maybe we can get a character we can bring in Dissidia.

*sigh* For XI we already have Shanttoto… so maybe we can’t really have a Lalafell for XIV. Probably a Roegadyn to make a difference. *laughters*

Chuki : I think it’s about time, so one last question then! It must have been hard for you not to tell players what you were preparing all that time. So, maybe you could tell us more now?

Saori Hill : To tell more news you mean, or how hard it was?

Chuki : Mmm… Everything?!

Naoki Yoshida : Mmm…

Saori Hill : He’s trying to remember if there’s anything he forgot to mention in these 2.0 announcements…

*Tsuki points at Naoki Yoshida’s laptop on the table*
*laughters*

Naoki Yoshida : Eh? That?! Well, with 1.20, you will find out very soon anyway, the class balance anyway. I’m planning to provide a list with all the changes anyway so I don’t think that would be a scoop for you.

What didn’t I say yet… well. How I explained about how you can customize your Free Company, you guys are the first ones to hear the news, that’s your scoop. I’ve been telling you everything I could so far.

Sage Sundi : Actually, Yoshida-san’s secret data is quite small, he’s willing to provide information if you ask. Otherwise, it’s difficult for him to give you information. It all depends on how you ask! *laughters*

Naoki Yoshida : Well, yes. I can’t think of anything else. Maybe the Project Manager is looking for a boyfriend now… *laughters*

Product Manager (we don’t have her name (yet?)): Please stop!

Naoki Yoshida : No, that’s the only thing I can think of.

Sage Sundi : Now you got a headline! *laughters*

Chuki :
Yeah!

Naoki Yoshida :
But I think I told you everything I could.

Chuki :
So there’s nothing at all?

Saori Hill :
He’s very open, if you have any question, he will answer!

Chuki :
So… can you give me a copy of your hard disk content?

Naoki Yoshida :
It’s all in Japanese!

Chuki :
We’ll manage…! *laughters*

Naoki Yoshida :
It’s not final yet anyway!

Chuki :
So I think we’re done then. Thank you very much!

Naoki Yoshida :
Thank you!

Sage Sundi :
Thank you!
 
Saori Hill : Thank you!
——




JP Games Interview with Naoki Yoshida:

Link: http://jpgames.de/2011/10/jpgames-de-our-interview-with-naoki-yoshida/

Last Monday, we had the opportunity to interview Final Fantasy XIV producer Naoki Yoshida and Sage Sundi. One full hour! And we took the chance. Have fun reading it…

JPGAMES.DE, Michael: Let us introduce ourselves first, we are from JPGames. We originally started as a FINAL FANTASY XII fan page; developed into FINAL FANTASY FUTURE and now we are called JPGAMES.DE, the difference is that we now cover Japanese games for all platforms. I’m moderator for the FINAL FANTASY XIV forums and Frederick is a real hardcore player.

Frederick: Yeah. *laugh*
*everyone laughs*
Yoshida Naoki: First of all, thank you very much for joining us today. As you already know, FINAL FANTASY XIV had a very hard launch since last year’s September and last month has been the one year anniversary. Thanks to all the FINAL FANTASY XIV players and communities that support us with very warm and kind words which really helped the development team, that is why we wanted to make this announcement about FINAL FANTASY XIV 2.0. To show there is going to be more and more exciting experiences awaiting all the players. That is why we would like you to enjoy the game and look forward to the added features as well.




JPGAMES.DE, Michael: Thank you for this interview and let’s go straight to the first question: European players experience bigger time lags than US and Japanese players, which makes, for example, the Ifrit fight harder for them, because they can’t react so fast, are you aware of this situation and how do you plan to improve it?

Yoshida Naoki: First of all I would like to explain the situation, we are aware that there is a lot of discussion going on in the forums about these delays; however, some of them might be related to the server structure, while others might be related to the actual graphic design. We try to split these different issues, if it is about the server structure then: Yes, we are going to amend those delays.
I would really like to find out about this situation, so I would like to ask you this question. For example for the Primal Ifrit battle, probably the easiest example is when the flames come from the ground and you feel like you have avoided them but you might still get the damage. Is this happening to everyone in Germany? What do you think, or what is the voice in the forum?

JPGAMES.DE, Frederick: Most of the players in the European region are suffering from this lag, we call it delay. The radiant plume, that is a special attack from Ifrit where those large circles spawn beneath you, that is where we suffer the most. On your screen you might be 10 meters away, but you still get the damage.

Yoshida Naoki: And that doesn’t happen to Japanese or US players?

JPGAMES.DE, Frederick: We saw a couple of videos from US and Japanese players and it seems like they have 4 to 5 seconds longer time to evade these attacks. While we avoid those plumes on our screen, other players on teamspeak claim we run right into it or aren’t moving at all.

Sage Sundi: It seems like a network lag…

Yoshida Naoki: Thank you very much for this information, it’s very useful. We have heard a lot of voices from the player side that the Ifrit battle is really exciting, but at the same time we are aware that a lot of players are suffering from these lag issues. We are finding out if this is a server problem or a network problem, or if this happens when the client is accessing the server. We are going to investigate this, but any kind of information like ‘this is happening in a certain area of Germany or for a certain IP address’ is very useful. We will definitely look into it, we want anyone to enjoy our product.

Sage Sundi: I really would like to have everyone suffering from this issue to report to our support forum, so we can look if we have a network problem, not just too many hubs but also… If you have, like, over 1000 milliseconds, it’s probably a network problem. But if it’s not this, then we have to fix that on our side. So if anyone is experiencing this, post your address route result.

JPGAMES.DE, Frederick: To our next question: When your vision of FINAL FANTASY XIV 2.0 is realized, will there be anything left from the current game or are we going to play a whole different one?

Yoshida Naoki: Because we made such an announcement with all the information and that particular screenshot, we have a lot of questions from around the world like: “Is FINAL FANTASY XIV 2.0 going to be totally different?” Actually, it’s not going to be a different game, it’s still FINAL FANTASY XIV, of course, and the realm of Eorzea stays at Eorzea. The only difference is, as you experience now, the umbral era event, this is really going to change the world drastically. So whatever you are experiencing now is brining the future. For example guild leves remain, but some content can only be experienced in the current game. Also, there were worries we would wipe all the character data, we won’t do anything like this. So enjoy the game now and continue when 2.0 comes out.

JPGAMES.DE, Frederick: We definitely will.

Yoshida Naoki: For the guild leves, all the feedback that we receive from the players will be implemented and the proper ideal of good and evil will be brought in with 2.0 as well, also the instanced raids that you are experiencing now will be different as well, but for the primal, what is happening now due to the 7th umbral era, that might not be continued with 2.0. So, what is related to the umbral era you should really experience now.

JPGAMES.DE, Michael: We really wish FINAL FANTASY XIV all the best, but, especially on the MMORPG market, there is a huge competition. Why should a newcomer choose FINAL FANTASY XIV and what is unique about it?

Yoshida Naoki: It is very difficult to have one specific attraction for MMOs. If you really want to target a particular group of audience and forget about the majority, then it is much easier to make an MMO for that kind of audience. But what we are trying to archive with FINAL FANTASY XIV is, like I said in the producer letters, to try and create an amusement park. We have a long history with the FINAL FANTASY series, you have XI as a previous MMO and now you have XIV. So we want to make sure that this MMO has a lot of attractions in the style of FINAL FANTASY and that is the reason why I think about it like an amusement park.

We want a lot of attractions in the game, some for players without much time and some for the players who really want to try hardcore content, so we want to have a variation. For example, in World of Warcraft, it’s typical to say: ‘What makes World of Warcraft, World of Warcraft.’ *chuckles* So as an MMO, it has a lot of different variations and places. It is up to the players, we want them to feel comfortable in their environment. Whatever they are looking for, we want to have it in the game. That’s something we want to make sure of. It is up to the players, after all. I believe if it is a good game, the community will tell: “It is a great game, why don’t you come in?” And while they are in game, they enjoy; or if they don’t, perhaps they might leave, it is really up to the players. We want to make sure to listen to the community and to make the game as fun as possible.


I always talk about the game design, but the thing I forget about is the graphics. *laughs* It is something really, really important to stand out compared to other MMOs. In a FINAL FANTASY game, you can experience really high-quality graphics.





Final Fantasy XIV 2.0 is on the horizon


JPGAMES.DE, Frederick: So, we would like you to imagine December 2013, what significance will FINAL FANTASY XIV 2.0 have for players and, especially, for the media? What realistic goal do you have?

Yoshida Naoki: How we would like the media to see us?

JPGAMES.DE, Michael: Yeah, what is your goal?

Yoshida Naoki: That is a very tricky question. For example for the PS3, the media is going to look at a new title, so we are going to approach like “We are really competitive with this new kind of title for the PS3, so please have a look!” That is probably going to attract the audience, while the community probably sides with you, or the hardcore MMO media… Probably they are going to compare this new FINAL FANTASY XIV with the last one. Depending on the audience or the media, our message will be different. What we really want to make sure is, as we had a terrible launch previously, we want to make sure to have a great impact. So we are going to make sure that the user interface improves and we also make the flow up to level 20 a triumph for the players, those two issues are something we need to improve, it is quite tricky where we will see us at the time.

This relaunch is very, very unique for an MMO title. Most MMO titles that fail at the beginning just disappear, but we really want to bring this game back and make a big comeback for FINAL FANTASY XIV, so to make this happen, we really have to do our best. And what we want the media to write about us? We need to make it happen, so the media will write about it. It is not like we want them to do this, we need to prove it. To make sure of this, we will make more travels around the world and do meetings like this, to make sure a lot of players can actually touch and see the change we are making. It is up to us to do this, rather than asking the media.



Maybe, at a time, we want the media to realize that the miracle actually DID happen! *everyone chuckles*

JPGAMES.DE, Michael: Between October and December 2012, you plan to integrate the PS3 Version in an all-new FINAL FANTASY XIV, do you think you will have material to show at E3 2012? Or is this too early?

Yoshida Naoki: Visual Works, the company that makes the trailers and movies for SQUARE ENIX, is actually working on new movie trailers for FINAL FANTASY XIV, we should be able to show that to the public at E3. But about touching the game… I’m being quite cautious this time, I really want to make sure that the user interface is perfect and comfortable to show to the public, so E3 2012 may be too early, but probably we can show screenshots at that time. We will do our best to distribute information. So please, look forward to it.

JPGAMES.DE, Frederick: So no gameplay material at E3 2012?

Yoshida Naoki: Hands on or movies?

JPGAMES.DE, Frederick: Movies.

Yoshida Naoki: We will do our best, we can’t make any promise. But we will do our best to show gameplay movies to the public. Personally, I don’t like CGI-only movies. I want to show the gameplay, so we will do our best!

JPGAMES.DE, Frederick: With the work on FINAL FANTASY XIV 2.0, the work on the new graphic engine should be finished. Based on the current system requirements, is the graphic going to improve for “high-end systems” or will there just be better options to customize the graphics for “lower systems”?

Yoshida Naoki: Actually, we are aiming for both. If you have a “high-end system” already, then you will be able to have more characters, monsters or objects displayed on the screen with the current high quality, but if you switch those options off, the game still works with great graphics. But you will be able to see less characters or monsters. We want to aim for laptops being able to run this game and at least to have the PS3 compatible.


But we can’t show those great graphics on the PS3 version of the game, that is very important.

JPGAMES.DE, Michael: The plans for player versus player have been released already, will this content be totally optional like in FINAL FANTASY XI and will there be new skills for the player versus player action?

Yoshida Naoki: First of all, PvP is going to be based on areas, unless you go to that area you won’t be engulfed in any PvP activities. Even if you try get into that area by mistake, you will see a warning like “There is PvP going on in this area, are you sure you want to join?” We will make sure to let the players know when they enter a PvP area.

I don’t have any plans to make a PvP-only server. Because it is area based, we don’t think we need any servers where you can PvP everywhere.

That is my plan now. *chuckles* But we might change it if we get a worldwide request from a lot of players, from around tens of thousands or more. Then, maybe, we can make a server dedicated to PvP, but that is only a possibility.



About your second question about the skill set: The answer is yes, we will definitely have special skills for PvP and I’m fully aware of the fact that PvP players need something to look forward to, so we will make sure that there is a special motivation to do PvP. It is going to be separated from the normal game, so both aren’t affecting each other. But for the PvP content, yes, there will be special rewards.

JPGAMES.DE, Frederick: With the recent release of information on FINAL FANTASY XIV 2.0, we stumbled upon the term “Crystal Tower”. *Yoshida smirks* What can you tell us about this content and is it going to affect the storyline even after the release of 2.0?

Yoshida Naoki: I don’t want to spoil your fun, I’m not going to tell you if it is going to be related to the main quest or not, but you know… it is kind of the “Crystal Tower” you had in FINAL FANTASY III, and if you think about that and apply that to FINAL FANTASY XIV, you might get an imagination of what it is going to be like. *chuckles*

For example, when you think about what the “Crystal Tower” was like in FINAL FANTASY III, you were not able to save the content, there where thunders and dark clouds in there as well and also the four elements. That’s how the “Crystal Tower” was involved in FINAL FANTASY III and you can guess what it will be like in XIV. I really want you and the players to get excited about it. The “Crystal Tower” is just the beginning of what we have planned for FINAL FANTASY XIV. Because there is the long history of the FINAL FANTASY franchise, not only FINAL FANTASY III, we really want to include this history into XIV, so this is just the beginning of the excitement.

JPGAMES.DE, Michael: The marauder is a very good damage dealer and also, for example in the Ifrit fights, a really good tank, even a better one than the gladiator. What are your plans for the marauder and its job warrior? How can the paladin/gladiator keep up?

Yoshida Naoki: With 1.20, we are going to adapt the class balance and actually… in this laptop *points*, all the information is in there… *Sage Sundi laughs*
*Judge tries to seize Yoshidas laptop*


Yoshida Naoki (in English): Only Japanese. *smirks*

JPGAMES.DE, Frederick: Damn. *everyone laughs*

Yoshida Naoki: We are going to make sure to do everything to get the balance right and then we are going to make adjustments to that. For example, the marauder is going to be a really strong attacker, but we don’t want to spoil all the gladiator’s tank positional skills. We are going to make adjustments, of course, when we bring in the job system. You can be more specialized in a different area, for example, the warrior will be really more warrior-like than a marauder going in that direction. You will soon see all those class identities with 1.20 and 1.21, when we make those balance adjustments. Of course we need to improve some areas and some areas might be shifted to a different job, so some people might get disappointed. *laughs* So, you can look forward to it, but you can also be quite wary of it.





The Dragoon


JPGAMES.DE, Frederick: What are your future plans for the lancer class, what role is he going to play in future groups and what role is his job dragoon, or dragon knight, meant to play?

Yoshida Naoki: Yes, the lancer is going to be the main dragoon class, plus another class, so you have to achieve those two in order to walk the dragoon route.
The dragoon will be a critical hit damage dealer. They will make the most powerful critical damage to enemies. However, they need to do combo attacks and if they are successful, then they will bring the most effective damage to the enemy. This attack is unlike the one from FINAL FANTASY XI. When they are successful, then they can make this really powerful damage.


But we are fully aware of players that are really looking forward to the dragoons jump, we are looking into possibilities on how we can show that aspect to the players. Regarding 1.20 and 1.21, we are thinking about what we can do with the graphic engine… But when we make the new graphic engine, releasing with 2.0, we are still thinking about what we can do, so we are aware of that element as well.

JPGAMES.DE, Michael: Recently you mentioned combined jobs, what can you tell us about it and what jobs could that be?

Yoshida Naoki: The requirement to get these jobs is to do a job quest, but to do a job quest, there is a special requirement too. If you want to become a paladin, you need to have a class level 30 of gladiator and 15 of marauder. Then you can apply to this job quest and then, if you complete it, you can unlock that job, so it is not really like combining classes. It is more like a requirement.

For example, paladin will be a really special job for tanking. To make sure that he gets those abilities, he will need do more different quests to get those abilities. You are going to protect others, but that’s not all. You have the marauder as a background class before you become a paladin. Those kind of class abilities will be connected to the paladin job. Even if you had more classes in the past, these are not related to the paladin and can’t be used.

JPGAMES.DE, Frederick: So called “free companies” are going to be implemented with the release of FINAL FANTASY XIV 2.0, additionally player housings and the summoning of the primal Ifrit are planned features. Can you give us some details on this matter?

Yoshida Naoki: About the housing estates for the free companies, at the moment most disciples of the hand or of the land are thinking: “Why are they concentrating on the battle side?” Housing estates are going to be very important for those players, because it is more related to the lifestyle. We can make sure these players, trying out different classes, can really fell like they are taking place in the game, that was really important to us. Even for an MMO it is something very special to have your own house in the game, so we are fully aware of that and we are making sure it is really going to be exciting.

Unlike other MMOs, in which you can only see your own house and each house is based on an instanced system, we want to make sure that other players can actually see your house as well. Around 20 houses can be in one area, you can make houses, not anywhere, but you will be able to decide in which part you want to have your house. You can also design your house itself and have your own garden, maybe you can grow your own Gysahl Greens there or house your own chocobo. You can really customize your own estate.


At the moment, in the Dev Team, you can actually see the mock up of the polygons. So you can see what the estate is going to look like. It’s the Limsa Lominsa version, and the concept is to make it like a European resort area, so it is going to be really beautiful. Up from the hill you can see the ocean, it’s going to be really nice, I believe. I’m looking forward to it.

JPGAMES.DE, Frederick: What about the primal and the summoning?

Yoshida Naoki: The summoning system of FINAL FANTASY XIV is quite different from what you know from other classes, like the summoning classes or the beast master classes. It’s totally different, because to me the primals – Ifrit, Titan, Leviathan or Moogle – are all gods in the game and I don’t want to have several mini-Ifrits on the battlefield, because that doesn’t make sense. *laughs* I really want just one Ifrit in one world and the free company that defeats him gets the license to summon this primal. If that company summons or calls Ifrit, on the whole world the weather will change, so everyone will realize that someone called Ifrit. The world will be like in flames. To me, this is really FINAL FANTASY-like. And of course I’m going to make sure it is not unfair, everyone will have this opportunity. But we like to have the free companies to compete with each other to make sure to get this primal as an opportunity.

For example, if they defeat Ifrit, they have one chance to summon. But once they summon Ifrit, it goes away and someone else needs to defeat him to have another go at summoning him. We will give you more details, but this is how it looks like at the moment – so be excited!


*laughs* Oh, I did tell you quite the information there, so… *laughs*








JPGAMES.DE, Michael: Okay, let’s turn to our last question: We really enjoy your “Letters from the producer”. They are written really friendly and open minded, but this kind of open communication is something we are not used to from SQUARE ENIX. *everyone laughs* So the question is: Are you free to write them how you want them to be or are your PR-people looking over your shoulder? *PR people laugh and point at themselves*

Yoshida Naoki: To answer the question, if I have the right to freely do so, then yes. But of course, to make sure that there are no mistakes, for example Sundi and his community team check them before they are published. But sometimes they ask: “Are you sure that we can mention that at this point of time?” When they ask me that… well, I’m the producer and director and I have the full power to decide what we disclose, but of course we shouldn’t talk too much about the companies’ secrets, so we do double check this. *Sundi laughs*

Sage Sundi: Well, the only problem is that Yoshida is always writing the texts at midnight *everyone laughs really hard* and sneaking out of his office to post it on the forums, so that really is the hardest part. *everyone still laughs*



So that’s the scary part about the community reps’ role, because they wake me up in the morning to tell me: “There is all the information on the forum!”, and I am like: “OH MY GOD!!!” *everyone laughs again*
Yeah… *chuckle*

Yoshida Naoki: Because it’s an MMO, and because I have really been a hardcore MMO player, I honestly think that this open discussion is part of the excitement and we really want to make sure to have this good communication. I’m the director and producer of this project and it is not like I was told to act, it is my own policy. I wanted to do this and I really wanted to do this by myself. That’s why I started it and it makes it more enjoyable for me and, I believe, also for the players. I really want to continue this communication.

JPGAMES.DE, Frederick: We hope so!
Yoshida Naoki: And I think SQUARE ENIX should generally change into that direction.

JPGAMES.DE, Frederick & Michael: We think so too. Thank you very much for your time.
Sage Sundi & Yoshida Naoki: Thank you very much.


---

Massively Interview with Naoki Yoshida:


Link: http://massively.joystiq.com/2011/10/21/our-interview-with-final-fantasy-xivs-naoki-yoshida/




To begin the interview, Yoshida had a brief set of opening remarks.

Naoki Yoshida: Since the launch back in September of 2010, it's been a little bit over a year filled with lots of different events. The first thing I want to do is start by really giving our thanks to the community that has rallied around the game. The launch back in September of 2010 was a rocky one, and since that launch, Final Fantasy XIV has seen many changes. Over this past year, the community has always been there, and our fans have continued to support us, and it is this support that has helped us keep our motivation at a really high level over the past year to make the game better.

This recent announcement (the roadmap leading up to version 2.0 and all of the changes that we're planning for version 2.0) -- while it's for our whole userbase, in large part this is to show our current userbase, the people who have supported us for the past year, that we have come this far, we have this plan for you, and there's a really bright future awaiting at 2.0. So we'd like to continue to receive your support and thank you for what you've given us so far.

Massively: The obvious question that surprised or at least was not expected by many people was the announcement that the subscription fee would be reinstated starting in late November or early December. Can you give us any insight into that decision, considering your earlier statements that the team's focus was improving the game rather than getting it ready for a subscription?

Naoki Yoshida: Out of this release, the big impact was meant to be everything that will be released in 2.0, and then on top of that that we would start charging the monthly fees. But we'd like to bring up again that the billing system won't begin until after about two months. We want players to play the content of 1.19, and then play the content of the upcoming 1.20 patch, and then (after they've seen the progress we've made in those patches) decide on whether or not they want to accept the billing system. This is including people who have played the game and then quit -- we want them to come back in these two months, play the content that we've been providing, and then make that decision.

The other reason that we won't be starting billing for another two months is to make sure that people won't be afraid that the automatic billing is going to start right away without their being able to make the decision. Also, those people who got away from the game deserve time to get back, install all of the patches up until now, and have a period of time when they can still play for free and see the changes that we've made before making that decision on whether to pay or not.

You mentioned in your question the previous interview in which we stated that the team wasn't working toward building a specific version for billing but rather was working toward making the game better, and this hasn't changed. The development team is still working toward making the game experience a better one, and we think that the players who have stuck with us for the past year really know that.

As you know, at the launch of the game, there were certain major features of the game that were not up to snuff, such as the UI and the battle system. We've spent the last 10 months going through all of the jumbled code, making things a lot nicer and neater. With the changes we've made, we feel like we had all of these problems in front of us, and we crossed the first peak and have gotten to a point where we can say that a lot has changed and a lot has improved. We've also added a lot of different things, such as taking the crafting system -- something that was so complex that only a few players could master it -- and redoing it to make it more accessible to everyone. We've added the materia system, we've added chocobos not just as background features but as actual mounts, we've added the Ifrit battle -- these sorts of things make the game have more of a Final Fantasy feel, something that was missing from the original FFXIV launch. By doing all this, we've set this foundation that allows us to build on it rather than going through and having to fix everything, so we can move to the next step where we can build on what we've provided so far.

While we've finally gotten FFXIV to a level where it has that Final Fantasy feel and we can call it Final Fantasy XIV, during the Producer's Letter live, we mentioned that the game was still at about 50% of where we want it to be at the time of 1.19. We still feel that's accurate, but the reason we used that 50% number was because we were still missing some of those basic things that we consider to be crucial to MMORPGs, things like a strong search function for players and markets, something similar to the Auction House in FFXI.

However, these two things will be going into 1.20, so we would like players to experience 1.19 and the things that we've changed up until then. These things that are still lacking are going to be covered in 1.20, and our hope is to have the players play and see the direction the game is moving in, the improvements that we have made. There's also the fact that over the next year we will be releasing the Seventh Umbral Era content, which can only be played during this year. This type of content (which can only be experienced before the release of 2.0 as a year-long event) -- this is pretty much the first time that it's been done in this industry. With all of this coming ahead, players can make the decision at 1.20 to decide whether to pay or not.

If at that time you're still having some doubts, players can wait until 1.21, when we add the job system, or wait until 1.22 and make the decision after hearing what the player reactions are for those. What we really want is for each player to have the decision be in his or her own hands.

And as you also know, being a title that is so large, we have costs. It's been a year for free-play for a lot of players, and during that time we've continued development with a very large team -- 250 people -- and we've continued running the servers. We put a lot of resources into this. So it was my decision that after releasing 1.20 we'd have the players decide whether or not they also want to make the commitment of paying.



Massively: Will the jobs that are previewed going to be linked to specific classes, or will they be somewhat more flexible?

Naoki Yoshida: To answer that question, we're just going to go into a little bit of an explanation of this job system. Let's say you're looking to become a Paladin and unlock the job. What we're planning is that you can get your Gladiator to level 30 and you also get your Marauder to level 15 -- and please note that these numbers are not set in stone. When both conditions have been met, you can unlock a quest, which you can accept to unlock the Paladin job.

Once that class is unlocked, you will earn a job stone (again, not necessarily the final name). When you equip that, you can change your class into the Paladin job. Beyond the level 30 quest through which you get the job stone, there will also be quests at, say, levels 35, 40, 45, and 50 -- just as an example -- that deliver you the story of the Paladin job.

The level of the jobs will always be connected with the base class, so by earning experience as a Gladiator, you will make your Paladin stronger, and any experience earned as a Paladin will go toward your Gladiator experience. There's no necessity to go and raise your Paladin separately from your Gladiator. However, there will be job-specific weapons and armor, and to unlock these, you'll need to do the quests after unlocking the jobs. Similarly, weaponskills and abilities won't be earned through levels but by doing those quests. Experience is how you improve your classes, but the quest chains are how you improve your jobs.

Obviously, the question is what's different between a class and a job. After discussing with the battle team how we wanted to do this, we decided that for light parties and casual play, we wanted players using the class system where you can freely mix and match abilities to make an all-around type of character. Jobs we want to make more specialized, like you see in a lot of other MMOs, such as where the Paladin would be designed as a tank. They have special abilities to defend other party members, and while attack power might be lower, they'll have abilities that will enhance defense and allow them to play a certain role in their party.

Of course, during this job system, to make sure that the job is specialized, there won't be as much freedom in using abilities of other classes. Players will be able to play a specific role, and with that they'll be able to know their roles in high-end battles that require more tactics and a more specific type of playstyle, rather than solo battles, which are more open and where we'd rather have players be using the class system to meet a more flexible style.

The best way of thinking about it is probably two different modes of character fighting style depending on what type of content you'll be playing.

Limsa Lominsa clearly has two guilds for classes that are not currently in the game -- the Arcanists who work on the docks and the Musketeers that make up the Knights of the Barracuda. These guilds and classes are referenced in quests but are not accessible by players. Are they still on the table for inclusion, or have they been moved off of the development schedule?

Because I got on to the project in last December after a lot of decisions had already been made, there was the decision on the table to bring those two classes in after launch. However, once I got on to the project, it was my job to re-assess the situation, and we decided that rather than bring in something just because it was there, it was more important to look at what the game needed and bring that in instead.

If you look at the game right now, the balance is more toward physical attack classes with very few caster classes. Looking at MMOs, we realize that this is not a good balance to have, so the first thing that we're going to be doing after introducing the job system is probably introduce another caster class because that's what the game needs. We realize that currently, the game is lacking in a lot of crowd control type of spells, and we need these to make battles more strategic. To introduce these types of spells, we think one obvious way is to introduce a new caster class that's able to handle them.

However, concerning the Musketeer class: It happens to be that just yesterday I was doing a Japanese interview and that same subject came up. Some day we really do want to get these sorts of Musketeer classes into the game because we think this is really interesting. It's not like we've cancelled it altogether; it's just that we needed to prioritize.

There's been talk about giving Gladiators more offensive abilities or the ability to dual-wield. Can you give us any more information about that?

Good news! In version 1.20, we have major adjustments planned for every class, adjustments that will change a lot of specs on abilities and weapon skills. For example, when it comes to damage dealing, we're planning on introducing what we're tentatively calling a self-combo, whereby solo players can tie together a bunch of different weaponskills or attacks to deal extra damage. These things will help make even defensive players more powerful in addition to helping straight attackers like Archers. We have all of these changes planned for 1.20, but we're going to make sure to get all of that information out to players beforehand so they can see all of the changes we're planning and then give us feedback about any further changes we need to make before the patch releases.

Disciples of the Land definitely got a boost with the addition of the Materia system. Are further improvements and upgrades planned for the gathering classes to make them more attractive to players?

We believe that with 1.19, we've finally provided a system for both gatherers and crafters in that if you put in your work, day by day, it's feasible for someone to get from level 1 to 50. From there, reading the market and figuring out which items are in demand and which ones are less important comes down to player skill. We feel that we've now got a system, though, that doesn't make it difficult for the player to get up to level 50.

From 1.20 on, the things we're thinking about adding is that endgame-type content, things like having to get a certain rare item and going to a dangerous place to get it or having really high skill to be able to mine or fish a certain item. This high-end content will be implemented from 1.20 on, and just like we did with the adjustments to the other classes, we will always reveal the changes that we have planned to players so that we can get the feedback from players before we implement them.

Also, at 1.20, we are going to be changing the crafting system such that players will be able to change the color of an item after the item has been created. This will also affect gatherers in the sense of collecting the dyes. So that's another way for gatherers to be more involved in the world economy after 1.20.

What do you feel the next top-priority item on the team's agenda?

Without a doubt, the top priority is what we mentioned before: the player search and the improved market search. We're getting that in to 1.20. Beyond that, the next thing would be revamping the UI.

A lot of interviews have asked about the challenges of working on Final Fantasy XIV. What have been the most rewarding parts of working on the project?

Probably the biggest thing in the past 10 months has been the release of chocobos because I was personally a very big part of planning the whole system, from the size of the birds to the little details like recast timers, whether or not you could be attacked, the background music, the whistle effect...

The development team had come to me and said, "Yoshida, you're way too busy, you shouldn't be doing this, leave this up to the planners," but deciding to do this myself and then seeing the player reaction, seeing how happy the fans were and how well it was received, has been a real boost.

Last but not least, has the development team had trouble keeping up with the pace of patches, since we've been getting a large patch every two or three months over the past year?

Yeah, it's been really difficult. It's probably been most difficult on me because when I start going, I never use breaks, just keep going. We've gotten a lot of worried comments from players saying, "You're going to burn out," but actually, we're doing pretty well. Because it had a lot of content in it, the last patch was tough for a lot of the planners, but a lot of them also came to us and said that they wanted to come in on Saturdays and Sundays because they want to release as much content to the players as possible. We want to get that out because we know the players are looking forward to it, so we didn't really mind coming in on weekends to get things done.

The biggest thing to keep in mind was that it wasn't me telling the team to do extra work; it was the team coming to me and asking for extra work, to make things better for the players, and that made a big impact on me. Yes, because of that extra work, there were people who got a little burned out, but we got through the patch, and a lot of those people are on little short vacations resting up for the next patch.

The schedule that we've laid out is what we're working to meet, and we've had it laid out for a long time, far in advance. That schedule has been made to meet the abilities of our development team, so it's not like we're doing something that's beyond that schedule. Meeting it has not been as difficult as a lot of people have thought, so we're not getting burned out -- this is pretty much what we had planned. So far we've been able to meet this schedule with a lot of success. So don't worry too much about us -- we're making it.

But myself, I'm really tired because I'm always working. (laughs)

___


RPG Site Interview:

Link: http://pc.rpgsite.net/interviews/327-final-fantasy-xiv-interview-with-producer%E2%81%84director-naoki-yoshida

It’s no secret that FINAL FANTASY XIV was met with a rocky launch and recieved a poor reception from both fans and critics alike. After essentially ditching the directorial staff, openingly calling the game "damaging" to the brand and dropping subscription fees, Square Enix finally feels confident enough in the game to talk about charging again and that much-delayed PlayStation 3 version.

Much of the change in attitude can be attributed to the replacement Producer & Director Naoki Yoshida, who has led the XIV team to conduct extensive title updates, community outreach and actively take on fan opinion in an attempt to fix and better the game - almost out of character for Square Enix's Japanese Development teams.

Coming out of this interview with Yoshida-san it's hard not to be optimistic about Final Fantasy XIV with the enthusiasm, dedication and plans for the future he has. To open the interview, Yoshida-san wanted to share a statement with us:

Yoshida: So as you know, it’s been a little bit more than a year, since the official launch of September, 2010. The biggest thing is that we have fixed a lot of problems since that launch, but even so, for the past year we’ve had the support of the community—they continued playing the game, they continued to support us. It’s been that support that’s helped drive us this past year making all the changes that we have to move towards a new FINAL FANTASY XIV.

We recently made the announcement of the road map to 2.0, but it wasn’t necessarily for new players. This is more for the players that we have now, to basically show them that there is a bright future on the horizon, that we’ve made the changes, and that if you continue to play, you’ll be able to experience all of this great content over the next year leading up to 2.0. We appreciate your continued patronage, but also that you continue to support and play our game.

RPGSite: Obviously FINAL FANTASY XIV shares a lot of design elements with FINAL FANTASY XI. Some people argue that MMOs today have moved away from the turn-based, less-dynamic gameplay that prevailed when XI was launched. How do you plan to make that more appealing in 2011?

Yoshida:
Back right around patch 1.18, when we were getting ready to bring in the auto-attack system, a lot saw that and thought, “Oh, it’s going to be XI-2!” When they got in and actually played with the auto-attack, they realized that it was really different from FFXI, even though it looked the same. They found that it was more action-oriented, a lot faster. Now in 1.19, we’ve added the Ifrit battle—you’re not just standing in a static position, you’re going to have to move around depending on the mode that the main boss is in, depending on the attacks that the main boss does.

Also, at one point - in our next large patch - we’re going to be adding what is called “self-combos” where players are going to be able to put together their own combinations of different attacks, and be able to create a more action-based, speedy type of battle system. While it is auto-attack, it is different from XI. We’re not saying that XI is a bad system, we’re just saying that both of these have their benefits.

RPGSite: Obviously, you’ve been very open with the fans since taking over, how and how much do you feel that this has helped FINAL FANTASY XIV?

Yoshida:
When I came onto the project back in December of last year there were a lot of problems with it. The players felt the same thing. Basically, but communicating with the players, and saying, “Okay, we think this is wrong with the game,” the players tend to agree with us. Getting on the same level, and showing that what the players are thinking is exactly what we’re thinking. By expressing that, and keeping that crystal clear to the players, then they begin to trust us. By saying we’re on the same page, and we promise we’re going to fix it, that they’ll hopefully believe us and continue playing.

Because of the rocky launch there’s a lot of people who said at that time, “What was Square Enix thinking when they decided to do this?” and they lost that trust that they were supposed to deliver a certain product and weren’t able to. We gave them this promise, and we didn’t follow through on this promise, so there is that damage that we received from that. But to repair that damage, to repair the damage of a broken promise, we have to show them by keeping new promises. We made these promises in our announcements, and then we follow-up by keeping those promises to slowly rebuild that trust. The biggest part of that is continuing communication. I love to communicate with the players, and I know they love communicating with me, and we want to continue that.

RPGSite:
Such as the recent YouTube video you did, right.

RPGSite:
Keeping with that subject, do you think developers of the single player games such as FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 and FINAL FANTASY Versus XIII might benefit from the same level of openness?

Yoshida:
This is a personal opinion, but a game publisher and a game producer should be giving a player something beyond they expect. That’s what makes the experience that much better, but at the same time, there’s things like user interface, game length, level design, things that players have their opinions on, things that they expect. Not listening to those opinions can be damaging, and so it’s always good to get opinions on things like that.

However, it’s not like Square Enix is doing nothing, as maybe you know, on the same day we released the announcement for 2.0, in Japan they selected a bunch of players to come in and test out FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 to come in and play and give their opinions. They’ll then take those opinions and then incorporate them into the game. So the company is moving in the direction of opening up communication lines—talking with the players more, getting their opinions.

RPGSite: Such as the Fan Meeting before TGS, right?

Yoshida:
Yes.

RPGSite: Before FINAL FANTASY XIV launched, Tanaka-san was very forthcoming in saying that he would have liked XIV to be on the Xbox 360, but Microsoft policies have obviously prevented that from happening—he said you would continue to look into it. With the current state of the game, has that idea fallen off the list of priorities? Or are any other platforms in consideration for the project?

Yoshida: Like I mentioned before, the one thing to regain that damaged player trust is to keep those promises, and one of the promises was to release a PlayStation 3 version - we made that promise long, long ago, and we still haven’t kept it. We made that promise not only to the players, but to Sony as well. The first thing that we need to do, to regain that trust, is to fulfill those promises of bringing the PS3 version. Our priority right now is getting that version finished.

Currently, as stated in the road map, we’re designing a new graphics engine to replace the one that we have. This new engine will allow for play on broader environments. So [we’re] currently on high-spec machines only, but with this new engine, it will allow us to run the game on lower spec ones.

Of course, because the game is developed on the PC, moving it to the Xbox 360 platform wouldn’t be that difficult, but as we said before, the thing we have to get done first is getting that PS3 version done. Once that’s done, we can take the next step from there. We are continuing our talks with Microsoft, but then you think, maybe next year Microsoft might be announcing their next hardware, and so our decision is do we wait for that next hardware? So we’re going to wait and see what’s happening after we delivered what we’ve promised.

RPGSite: With the new graphics engine, by chance will it be using the Luminous Studio engine?

Yoshida: As you know, it was recently announced, but the Luminous Engine is being more designed for console games, where the emphasis is more on passive types of games with high quality graphics. Because it’s a one player game, it’s about showing what’s there, but for an MMO, it’s different, it’s more about having lots of things—characters on the screen at the same time. You’re in a community with many, many people. The [Luminous] Engine is more developed for a console type of system. To get something that would be more suited for an MMORPG, what we did was we borrowed some of the engineers that are working on the Luminous system, and had them help us rebuild an engine that would be able to display high quality graphics, but is more tweaked to displaying many of those rather than just a passive type of image. That’s what we’ve been doing.

RPGSite: Similar to how FF Versus XIII is taking the lighting portion of that engine and using it in their game?

Yoshida: It’s different in the sense that it’s not a part of the existing Luminous Engine, because if we were to wait until that engine was completed, we wouldn’t be able to get the game out in time. What we are doing is taking people who are working on Luminous, and having them use their knowledge—some of those things that will be used in Luminous as well, to make a completely new engine. You mentioned the lighting—yes, probably the lighting we’ll end up using will be similar to what will be used in Luminous, but it’s not like we’re waiting for Luminous to be completed.

RPGSite: With the PS3 version of the game, what will you be doing to attract PS3 customers once the game comes out? 2013 seems like a long time from now, especially since, as you know, it was originally announced in 2009. Also, Sony might be announcing their new console as well next year, so what will you do to make it worthwhile for those players who have been waiting, and waiting for this game?

Yoshida: Graphic-wise, usually MMOs won’t put a strain on the graphical capabilities of a system. It’s more about getting the base onto the system. We’re not very worried about this next technology coming out being able to display what we have now. The biggest thing comes down to, that yes, maybe in the near future, a new system will be released, but when it is, the market will be small. The market on the PS3 is still going to be large at that time.

By releasing on the PS3, even if a new system is close, you’re going to get that big market of people who already have the PS3. By releasing on the PS4 instead, you’re going to lose those numbers, because only a small amount of people have it. Also, we’ve made people wait so long, so we want to offer this at a low cost. By offering it to the PS3, we’re able to keep those costs down to ensure that the maximum number of players that want to play it can play the game. That’s what’s important.

It doesn’t mean we’re sitting around doing nothing. We have our plans, and there will be a time when we can talk about those as well. It’s not like we’re ignoring the stuff that’s coming in the future.

RPGSite: Have you considered bringing FINAL FANTASY XIV to the PlayStation Vita?

Yoshida: Yes, currently this is all post-2.0, but because we’re doing a reconstruction of our server system, in those plans, we’re going to make sure that the servers can be accessed by outside devices such as smart phones. Not just the Vita, but also smart phones, so that kind of access will be allowed. What that will open the door to is things like applications that people can used to check their inventory, or check the market and purchase things from the auctions. Those are the things we are laying for in our server foundation, so we can be ready to implement those after 2.0.

For example, beyond that, maybe an application that lets you raise your chocobo, and then transfer it back into the game.

RPGSite: With the new server systems, will the major game breaking issues such as animation lock, server lag latency, positioning imprecision, and interface lag be greatly reduced?

Yoshida: Yes, all of these things will be fixed.

RPGSite: Are you also fixing the issue on the PC version where for some people still when you ALT+TAB out, it crashes the game?

Yoshida: Yes. That’s something that should have never been an issue.

RPGSite:
Will the newly introduced graphics engine support Direct X 10/11? Or will it still be limited to DX 9.0c?

Yoshida: With the development of the new engine, the first phase—the first thing that we are prioritizing, is to have a graphics engine that will support high-end users, low-end PCs and the PlayStation 3. The quality of graphics will be the same across all three, but depending on your system, it’ll be about how many characters can you display… how many effects can you display, draw distance.

You won’t have to have a high-end PC to have great graphics; the high-end PC people will be able to see more stuff, and for the low-end, we’ll be able to limit that so those people can still play it, and so PS3 users can also run the game. That is our first phase. Once we have gotten that ready for 2.0, the next step is getting that ready for Direct X 11. That might take between 6-8 months, but it’s on our schedule. We are pushing it back because if we had put that together, then it would mean delaying the release 6-8 months, so first thing’s first.

RPGSite: Not to mention, not everyone has a DX11 system.

Yoshida: It’s a very long schedule, and if you have too much stuff that you want to get in, then it just delays that release. We thought we could make that a step—release [2.0] first, and then go from there.

RPGSite: You’ve probably been asked this a lot… why start charging now? What part of the game that exists now makes you feel that it’s worth charging a monthly fee for? Do you feel most of the current user base will be retained once you put subscription fees back up?

Yoshida: With the release of all that information, and the announcement of the billing system, it kind of came as a shock, and a lot of people were saying, “Why now? Why are you starting now?” It’s not that we’re starting right now, I want to make it clear that it’s still 2 months in the future—after the release of the 1.20 patch. Players still have a 2 month period to play all of the updates we had in 1.19, and they’ll also have a chance to play 1.20 before deciding whether or not to pay to play.

To give you an example, back at the YouTube Producer Letter Live, we received a lot of different questions from around the world. One of those questions was, “I just stopped playing FFXIV, but I’m thinking about coming back because you put in all this new stuff. Why should I play this game?” And at that time, I answered, “Well, I still believe the game is about 50% complete.”

Why was that 50% number given? At the time of 1.19, we were able to release the chocobos as mounts—not just a background item, you’re actually able to ride them and call them at any time. We were also able to release airships, also the Ifrit battle—things that finally made it feel like a FINAL FANTASY game; things that were lacking from XIV, things that give it a FINAL FANTASY feel. On top of that, we had finally set up a foundation where we could continue on that. In the future, we’ll be releasing moogles… a moogle-based battle, and also the Garuda battle. The things that were lacking in XIV to give that FF feel, we think we’ve gotten the game up to what we can have confidence in.

If we finally have this FF type of feel into it, why did I still say 50% at that time? That’s because, at the time of 1.19, there was still a few things that we consider staples of MMOs that were still missing. Those two things are a very strong player search system, and the other thing being a market search system. At least something similar to what FFXI has with their auction house. Because these two are missing, we still can’t say that we’re beyond 50%, but as I said before, in 1.20, we will be releasing both of these features. By releasing both of these features, we feel that number is going to be bumped up, because we’re finally getting these major things in that we were lacking. This will move us up in that percentage. This is why we decided, after 1.20, when [players] see those changes, to ask for payment.

Releasing the announcement for billing at the same time as all of this new stuff for 2.0 was done because a lot of people would be paying attention to things like the screenshots, artwork, etc. To get the attention that we had lost, people who had played it, but then had left… by making the announcement here, we hope that people who played before might say, “Maybe I should try it again.” They’ll have a chance to play over the next two months, the stuff in 1.19, the new stuff in 1.20, knowing that certain things will be coming in 2.0, and decided that maybe, yes, a lot has changed… maybe I should start playing.

Of course there will be some people who say, “Well, I like what they did here, but I don’t want to start paying yet because I still don’t see what is there in 2.0. So maybe I won’t play.” While others might decide to start playing in 1.21 when we release the new job system. Looking at each individual, and what they want to do in Eorzea, and giving them the opportunity to let them play what we have now, see what we have in the future, and make their decision when they want to come back, and when they want to pay.

To get to the final part about how many people do we want to retain… we’re not really worried about the numbers now, because we’ve made, and we’ve promised to our players that we’re going to be doing this. Even if numbers drop off, we still have those promises to keep, so we’re going to continue following that plan. Hopefully, even if it does drop off, the players will know that this is our roadmap. We’re not going to drop off, even if we’re not able to retain 100% of the numbers.

RPGSite: I’m sure once you release the PS3 version it will do well—I do know a lot of people are actually waiting for it—in Japan especially, that’s probably the case.

Yoshida: The one thing that we can do, no matter how many people decide to pay or not to pay—we have to continue showing how serious we are about keeping the promises we broke. Getting back the trust, showing them we’re serious, and that means some will come back for the PC version, and the PS3 launch. Perhaps if they see we’re working hard on it, maybe they’ll want to try it before the PS3 launch. We’re not going to change anything based on the numbers, we’re going to do what we’ve promised.

RPGSite: I know this was mentioned a long time ago, but will there still be cross-platform play between the PC and PS3 versions?

Yoshida: Yes, that has not changed. The thing is, we will be adding new world servers at the time of the PS3 release.

RPGSite: Can you explain what you’re doing with the story component of FINAL FANTASY XIV? When the game launched, it just seemed like those elements were missing—how do you plan on making the story more engaging for players?

Yoshida: Probably the biggest problem with the main story is that you get that opening scene, but before you can get to the next quest, you have to advance in level so far, that by the time you get to that next quest, you pretty much have forgotten what’s happened in the beginning.

It’s definitely one of the things that we’re looking to change, one of the big things being, filling in the gaps that exist right now between each quest. By filling in quests that players will be able to play before they get to the next point, it will help them learn more about the world, learn more about the NPC characters, more about side stories to lead them up to that next part that is currently empty. We hope to have that in by post-2.0.

The main scenario quests have very high quality cutscenes, which take a lot of manpower to produce. We felt that currently, we need to bring players a lot of content in other ways as well. If we concentrated on that, then too much focus would be taken away from other things. Right now, we’re concentrating on making more side story quests, as well as the 7th Umbral era content—all of this new story that is happening in the lead up to the world change in 2.0. Seeing that story that’s leading up to those changes—we believe that right now, that’s our main focus. We want players to play this event as something they’ll only be able to experience now. Once that is finished, we’ll go back to those old quests and fill them out, making sure they become more important.

RPGSite: Last question… what core mechanics—if any—are being drawn from western MMO developers? Such as the option to do things like swimming and jumping?

Yoshida: I’m a very hardcore gamer, and one of the first things when I got onto FFXIV was that I wanted to add a jump feature. When I threw that out to the community, what surprised me was that a lot of players were against that idea. Their complaint was that you shouldn’t be able to jump in a FINAL FANTASY game!

Just because it’s in all the other MMOs, does it fit with the image of FINAL FANTASY? For example, people didn’t want to see Lalafells jumping all around.
Personally, I don’t like the fact that my character is bound to the ground, so I definitely want to add a jump feature.

RPGSite: That’s interesting because they added a jump option to XIII-2, and I haven’t seen much negative reaction to that.

Yoshida: Everyone probably wouldn’t mind if their character could jump, but maybe there’s a lot of people who just don’t want to see everyone else jumping!
A lot of the Japanese players of XIV that only know about that game as well as FFXI, so they’re used to having a character that can’t jump. They don’t realize that you can jump in every other MMO in the world, so they have that aversion to it.

It’s not only Japan though. If you look at our forums, there are a lot of people, even in North America, who don’t want the jumping feature.

As for swimming, it would to be something that wasn’t just swimming. If we were going to put this in the game, we would want to make it a part of the game. For example, swimming to certain dungeons to do things, battles in water, etc. While this isn’t something we could put in for 2.0, it might be something we consider for the next expansion pack. We’d make sure that it would have something worthwhile.
We do have the swim suits, so they have to be good for something, right?

RPGSite:
Thank you very much!

 ___

Blue Gartr Interview:

Link: http://www.bluegartr.com/threads/107497-FFXIV-Yoshi-Interview-Transcription-%28Work-in-progress%29

1. With the new 2.0 server systems, will the major game breaking issues such as animation lock, the positioning imprecision, and interface lag be greatly reduced?

2. Payment using Click and Buy is something a majority of the users have come to not want. Since you seem to be listening very well to what the players want, why haven't we heard anything regarding SE's own private subscription plans and the abolishment of the Click and Buy contract?

4. Why are you deciding to charge now, when the game is only 50% to where you wanted it to be at launch? It seems awkward that we're going to be paying a subscription fee for a product that is only half complete, how do you justify this?

We did an informal poll after the decision to charge the game and 70% of our user base was against being charged a fee to play the current game in its incomplete state. Are you thinking of backing away from the intent to charge or are you considering offering it for a much lower monthly fee.

5. In the 2.0 PDFs, addons were highlighted as something you want to see happen. Tanaka said the same about addons early in XIV's development but we never saw anything come out from it. Will you be releasing a developer kit to help create new addons for the game and show you're fully supported in evaluating and balancing addons?


7. How are you planning on addressing the current loot distribution quagmire that seems to plague the game right now? Ifrit drops weapons that people can't use because they don't have the jobs leveled, nor do they want to level those classes. Loot cannot be master looted or need for greeded, and there is no random number roll. In 2.0 how are you addressing this lack of attention in the loot table and loot distribution department?

11. What are you planning on doing about the monotonous crafting mechanics? People literally sit and press enter for hours on end. Why was this specific crafting style chosen over something simplistic and automatic ala World of Warcraft?

24. Will the new engine allow for a full screen windowed mode that every other mainstream MMO has without the use of a hack. Will the new engine support muiltiple monitors and multiple video cards.

Will the new graphic engine support Direct X10/11 are will they be making the same mistake in sticking with Direct X9.0c?
classes and jobs that will utilize them, and how will summons come into play? --


4. Why are you deciding to charge now, when the game is only 50% to where you wanted it to be at launch? It seems awkward that we're going to be paying a subscription fee for a product that is only half complete, how do you justify this?

----

Sonomaa (BG): Why are you deciding to charge now, when the game is only 50% to where you wanted it to be at launch? It seems awkward that we're going to be paying a subscription fee for a product that is only half complete and going to be completely new at a year's time.

Square-Enix: To clear a little up - the payment system will not be starting now, we just announced it now. We are planning on starting the payment system sometime in December, after patch 1.2. In 1.20, some of the major changes we will be making includes a more advanced player search and to get a market system as close to the Final Fantasy XI auction house as possible. This would be where you could search for an item, and then buy that item, or see the past 20 auctions. This will be before we start asking for payments.

The 50% number, during the Live Producer letter, came from where they were at before the release of 1.19. Once 1.2 is released, that will be even closer to the final vision of the current game. We want players to try 1.2 and see that our game is officially worth paying for, which is when the customers can decide if they want to pay for it or not.

And then from 1.2 to 2.0 we will continue to release content that you can only play at this time - realtime updates with realtime story that you can only experience NOW. If a player plays through 1.2 and decides if the game is not there yet, they can choose not to play or do the billing system. But we ask them to keep coming back to check what we're adding in 1.21 or 1.22 because there will be a lot of content that they will not be able to experience in any other MMO. We hope that by offering different things that they will come back.

BG: We did an informal poll on our forums about the decision to charge for the game, and 70% of our users that voted in the poll were very against being charged a fee. However, when I brought up just as a side-question, what would they feel about paying, say, half that cost, while in this early developments stage, most were not against paying half for what they perceived as a half-finished game. But they also understand that what happens in FFXIV-I is not necessarily the same as FFXIV-II.

SE: It's interesting to hear that the player base was against it, but when offered paying half that more were for it.

BG: Yeah, to them it's still half of what they wanted, when the game was still released. So only paying half is like the beta phase/beta 2 phase. They were, "I can stand $6-$7 instead of $14."

SE: We went over many options when deciding to start the subscription system again. Maybe charging half, maybe charging less, maybe extending the free period. There's many options. The reason we decided to start the subscription system and charge the price we're charging is that, one of the things is players playing now, others players go "Why are you playing this game? It's not done." Maybe charging less for it, you get the sense, "Oh, it's still not done and you're still not getting a full product." This is our roadmap. This is what we're going to do. We're getting the players opinions and reflecting them in the game. We're also working to give players beyond even what they expect with update content, such as the realtime events that you will not be able to play anywhere else. We have to show the players that we'll be accepting money from you now, so now we have to work even harder in order to give you more than what you get for your money. But you went ahead and you had this poll and we know that you're a good group of hardcore players that have been there a long time. So we are taking this poll to heart and discuss this again and see if this is an option for us. We will then get back to the players and decide.


1. With the new 2.0 server systems, will the major game breaking issues such as animation lock, the positioning imprecision, and interface lag be greatly reduced?
Sonomaa (BG): With the new 2.0 server systems, will the major game breaking issues such as animation lock, the positioning imprecision, and interface lag be greatly reduced? Closer to the speed of FFXI? Or better than FFXI?

Square-Enix: First of all, we'd like for you not to worry. The interface lag will get much better when we introduce the server system for 2.0. As compared to 11, he (Yoshida) would rather compare it to World of Warcraft. It's going to depend on things such as your personal environment, equipment, etc. But it will be closer to that then what currently exists.

BG: That is important, because FFXI is good, but World of Warcraft is "I push forward, I go forward. I turn around, I turn around." In FFXI, I can turn around with a few button clicks and it's not that slow. In FFXIV, I turned around and it took 30 seconds to finish that rotation. I have a Core-i7 - a fast computer - and not being able to do that was a problem.

SE: The current plan, when we're redesigning the servers, is to have a system where there's difficult tactical battles. Like the Ifrit battle, he wants to make end content closer to this - where it's all about the positioning is important and where response is immediate so you have to decide in one second where to make these moves...

BG: Don't stand in the fire.

SE: [chuckling] Yes, don't stand in the fire. So, the current system they are building will allow them to have more battles like this - more action based content where it might take a lot of different tactics instead of whacking away.


2. Payment using Click and Buy is something a majority of the users have come to not want. Since you seem to be listening very well to what the players want, why haven't we heard anything regarding SE's own private subscription plans and the abolishment of the Click and Buy contract?
Sonomaa (BG): Payment using Click and Buy is something a majority of the users have come to not want. Since you seem to be listening very well to what the players want, why haven't we heard anything regarding SE's own private subscription plans and the abolishment of the Click and Buy contract?

Square-Enix: We have received a lot of user response to how they do not want to use Click and Buy. So in response to that, we have started moving forward with different ways of purchasing Crysta and using that towards your system. So we are moving towards options other than Click and Buy. We're continuing to get a lot of different opinions and what are the best options. We will use this data to give the community more options to pay. It is an ongoing process.

BG: Our community seems to favor credit cards, PayPal or prepaid cards, and I have never heard of Click and Buy before FFXIV came out. A lot of people were wondering if this is legit, or if it was something that was made up?

[Some discussion ensues among the SE staff. Possible take-away question for later?]


7. How are you planning on addressing the current loot distribution quagmire that seems to plague the game right now? Ifrit drops weapons that people can't use because they don't have the jobs leveled, nor do they want to level those classes. Loot cannot be master looted or need for greeded, and there is no random number roll. In 2.0 how are you addressing this lack of attention in the loot table and loot distribution department?
Sonomaa (BG): How are you planning on addressing the current loot distribution quagmire that seems to plague the game right now? Ifrit drops weapons that people can't use because they don't have the jobs leveled, nor do they want to level those classes. Loot cannot be master looted, needed, or greeded, and there is no random number roll. In 2.0 how are you addressing this lack of attention in the loot table and loot distribution department?

Square-Enix: First of all, we want to make adjustments to this before 2.0. It comes down to whether or not a Need/Greed system is the best way to go? Where the player's current class dictates if they can accept the loot? There are a lot of different options. But with the Armory system being the way it is - being able to take abilities from other classes and attach them to the class you're playing - currently the game may favor this one class with a certain combination. But in future battles maybe it will be other jobs (once implemented), with different abilities, will become more popular and so players will want items that they can use in the future. So it comes down to which is the best type of system that corresponds with the unique Armory system. And so designing a system that meets that is very difficult. Actually, he (Yoshida) has a question for you - what would you think be the most optimal loot system for the current FFXIV?

BG: There honestly isn't a question of that. The World of Warcraft system of Need/Greed and the option of a Master Looter. If say, I'm a Warrior, and I'm on Warrior. I can Need on Warrior gear, but I can't Need on Thief gear. But I can Greed on Thief gear! So that way it can be an option - a Need before Greed. This is something that went down in FFXI. You had Black Mages spending their DKP on E Bodies (Earthen Abjuration: Body/Adaman Hauberk), when Warriors did not have E Bodies.

SE: Regarding the DKP - because it's a big issue on the forums - we hope to address this along with the Free Company issue on Lodestone really soon, so please keep an eye there. But we agree that this Need/Greed system is what we want for the game - at least a variation on this, of course. So in the coming months, this will be one of the things addressed on Lodestone, but this will be something that does not have to wait for 2.0.

11. What are you planning on doing about the monotonous crafting mechanics? People literally sit and press enter for hours on end. Why was this specific crafting style chosen over something simplistic and automatic ala World of Warcraft?


Sonomaa (BG):
What are you planning on doing about the monotonous crafting mechanics? People literally sit and press enter for hours on end. Why was this specific crafting style chosen over something simplistic and automatic ala World of Warcraft? I hate to keep going back to World of Warcraft, but they're winning.

Square-Enix: It's a matter of priority so far. For the past 10 months, we prioritized all of the things we thought we needed to get fixed first. On the top of that list: UI, Battle System. Also, Content, where the content was based on Guildleves. So, over the past 10 months, it has been fixing the things that needed fixes and adding more content. With the Crafting System, again, we prioritized what needed to be fixed first. The first thing that needed to be fixed was that the Recipe System was way too complex - way too many ingredients, way too many steps to get to your final product. Something that was way too difficult for the novice player to get into. You would have to be hardcore if you wanted to make something. So getting those things fixed first was our priority.

[Yoshida speaks more]

And he's going on more; it's the amount of materials you needed. It wasn't just pressing Enter, it was having to get ALL of these materials before pressing Enter. And so the next step, which we hope to do really soon, is now shorten the number of steps to actually do the crafting. Instead of, you know, sitting down, doing the thing, standing up, getting your stuff, etc. Consolidate all of it and cut down on the steps is the next step being taken.

And one of the things we're planning is two different crafting systems. One that's very simplified and that you're going just for the item you need without having to worry about High Quality, with a small chance of High Quality. Then there's the other system, where it will take more time and effort, but the chance of getting that High Quality item will become higher. So the people who want to spend more time and do it carefully will have the higher chance of a High Quality, and then the people who want to get it done, they have the consolidated system.

BG: Will you be abolishing breaks? Like FFXI had breaks, where you could lose everything and it was heartbreaking.

SE: Yes, we've already begun discussing removing that loss probability. If it's below, at, or just a bit above your crafting level, then the loss probability would be removed. But if it's something far above your crafting level - if you succeed, then you get the experience bonus, but if it is far above your level, having those item lost are a good way...

BG: Agreed. Good.

SE: That's the standard, and we hope to get to that. That's what we're thinking.

BG: I just hated making arrows with my Ranger in FFXI that were 30 points below and blowing up the whole thing. Why am I blowing up my arrows?

SE: [Discussion and laughs among the SE staff] We'll take that into consideration.


5. In the 2.0 PDFs, addons were highlighted as something you want to see happen. Tanaka said the same about addons early in XIV's development but we never saw anything come out from it. Will you be releasing a developer kit to help create new addons for the game and show you're fully supported in evaluating and balancing addons?


Sonomaa (BG):
In the 2.0 PDFs, addons were highlighted as something you want to see happen. Tanaka said the same about addons early in XIV's development but we never saw anything come out from it. Will you be releasing a developer kit to help create new addons for the game and show you're fully supported in evaluating and balancing addons? I know one of the most asked ones is a parser for people who like to min/max their damage, and just customizing the screen to look more like what players want.

Square-Enix: Rather than XML or LUA, like World of Warcraft is using, we're thinking of provide this in Flash simply to make it more visual. We'll be preparing a dev kit and providing that with help for the players. Once we get closer to the release of the dev kit (before it's even released), we will talk to the community and show what we have planned to put in it - UI engine, what we're providing - and then we can get feedback. So you could say, "This is not going to be enough, we need this," so we can get that feedback and get as close to what the community wants as possible.

Ragns (BG): When should we be expecting to see this?

SE: We could start now, but we're using SQWT and the situation is that it's such a mess that it's something that players would not be able to work well with. We want to streamline things to make it easy for players so we can get the best addons from the players. We feel that this is going to come with the release of 2.0. So we hope to have stuff ready about the same time.

Sonomaa (BG): I know he wants to work on his custom Final Fantasy I UI.

SE: [laughs] You'll have lots of time to use that screenshot we released and how you want to rearrange that to make it more like Final Fantasy I. With a lot of games, they'll have their addon community. Within BlueGartr, how many would you say are in that addon community.

Sonomaa (BG): A lot.

SE: A lot?

Sonomaa (BG): I'm not even joking. I'm not joking. You're talking the core hardcore player. The parsers for Final Fantasy XI were almost exclusively fixed by the BG community. The unofficial Windower for Final Fantasy XI... most of the addons - the fixing, the creation of that came from the Final Fantasy community, our community. Addons were created by many of our members, including BG members - not forum members.

SE: [laughs] Don't incriminate yourself now!

Sonomaa (BG): Well, Yarnball is the only plugin that has not broken, so I know he (Ragns) knows what he's doing.

SE: [more laughs] We'll make sure the mods you guys make will be able to be used for a long time. We don't want to make it where you make a mod, we change something, and you can't use it anymore. So we want to work with you.

Sonomaa (BG): World of Warcraft does that a lot - every major patch breaks half the addons. That, to me, is a... "Why are you screwing the community so much?" I can understand if something is broken and needs to be changed because it's breaking the fundamental game. But if every patch you have to disable all your addons, it doesn't seem professional. Even though the community may look like amateurs, they are pretty good at what they do.

SE: As you probably know, Japanese game development has been console based for a very long time. This whole concept of addons is very popular in the West, but not something a lot of developers are used to in Japan. They don't know how big of a community that is in America. So getting our developers to realize the importance of this, and not just tacking on something in the middle of a game after it is finished and having problems created that way, we're getting the game ready to accept addons.

[One of the staff inquires about more questions in Japanese, followed by more laughs]

Sonomaa (BG): [sighs sarcastically] I have so many more!

SE: If you send some of the questions by mail, we can answer them afterwards as well.

*Transcriber's note: There's one or two more after this.


Will the new graphic engine support Direct X10/11 are will they be making the same mistake in sticking with Direct X9.0c?
Sonomaa (BG): Will the graphics engine support Direct X10/11 and additional features, such as a full screen windowed mode without the limitations of ALT-TAB killing your game. DirectX 9.0c was a great API for Windows XP, but we're not on that anymore. We have very powerful graphics cards. We want the game to play like we know it should. Will the new engine will be a DirectX 10/11 engine or will it be an older, legacy engine.

Square-Enix: First thing, we're going to make sure ALT-TAB does not kill your game! [laughs] We're sorry it still happens!

The first thing, with this current graphics engine, is that you can't do things such as display more than 40 characters at the same time. That, to him (Yoshida), was nonsense. First, we wanted to start off by having an engine that covers that, and get rid old problems like that. We're making the new graphics engine such that if you have a high-end PC, we want you to be able to display tons of different characters and not have it tax your CPU. But we're also making it to where low-end PCs can also play it and have a similar experience without losing too much, without having to have that high-end PC. We hope to have that by 2.0. After the release of 2.0, getting it ready for DirectX 11 is the next step. We had the option of having DirectX 11 ready at release, but it would have made release later. So we wanted to get the new engine out and have this type of high quality for high-end/low-end. Then our next step is DirectX 11. And again, it was a priority thing. We had this schedule of how we wanted to remake the game in an unprecedented time of 2 years and to make that, we chose to do that first and then go to DirectX 11. But we do promise that we will do it. It's not one of those things where, "But well, yeah, 11, yeah, whatever blah blah..."

BG: That's important for a lot of our community. They don't want to play an old game. They want to play a new game, and if they upgrade, they don't want their new hardware to not have compatibility. That's the problem our FFXI users are running into. They buy a new graphics card - Oh, we have a list of graphics cards not to buy because they cannot play FFXI on those graphics cards!

SE: That's one of the main things we have in our head when we're planning for our new engine. We want those high-end users to take advantage of their high-end platform and get the best out of it as they can. To make sure we have an engine that can support that.

4. Why are you deciding to charge now, when the game is only 50% to where you wanted it to be at launch? It seems awkward that we're going to be paying a subscription fee for a product that is only half complete, how do you justify this? Sonomaa (BG): Why are you deciding to charge now, when the game is only 50% to where you wanted it to be at launch? It seems awkward that we're going to be paying a subscription fee for a product that is only half complete and going to be completely new at a year's time.

Square-Enix: To clear a little up - the payment system will not be starting now, we just announced it now. We are planning on starting the payment system sometime in December, after patch 1.2. In 1.20, some of the major changes we will be making includes a more advanced player search and to get a market system as close to the Final Fantasy XI auction house as possible. This would be where you could search for an item, and then buy that item, or see the past 20 auctions. This will be before we start asking for payments.

The 50% number, during the Live Producer letter, came from where they were at before the release of 1.19. Once 1.2 is released, that will be even closer to the final vision of the current game. We want players to try 1.2 and see that our game is officially worth paying for, which is when the customers can decide if they want to pay for it or not.

And then from 1.2 to 2.0 we will continue to release content that you can only play at this time - realtime updates with realtime story that you can only experience NOW. If a player plays through 1.2 and decides if the game is not there yet, they can choose not to play or do the billing system. But we ask them to keep coming back to check what we're adding in 1.21 or 1.22 because there will be a lot of content that they will not be able to experience in any other MMO. We hope that by offering different things that they will come back.

BG: We did an informal poll on our forums about the decision to charge for the game, and 70% of our users that voted in the poll were very against being charged a fee. However, when I brought up just as a side-question, what would they feel about paying, say, half that cost, while in this early developments stage, most were not against paying half for what they perceived as a half-finished game. But they also understand that what happens in FFXIV-I is not necessarily the same as FFXIV-II.

SE: It's interesting to hear that the player base was against it, but when offered paying half that more were for it.

BG: Yeah, to them it's still half of what they wanted, when the game was still released. So only paying half is like the beta phase/beta 2 phase. They were, "I can stand $6-$7 instead of $14."

SE: We went over many options when deciding to start the subscription system again. Maybe charging half, maybe charging less, maybe extending the free period. There's many options. The reason we decided to start the subscription system and charge the price we're charging is that, one of the things is players playing now, others players go "Why are you playing this game? It's not done." Maybe charging less for it, you get the sense, "Oh, it's still not done and you're still not getting a full product." This is our roadmap. This is what we're going to do. We're getting the players opinions and reflecting them in the game. We're also working to give players beyond even what they expect with update content, such as the realtime events that you will not be able to play anywhere else. We have to show the players that we'll be accepting money from you now, so now we have to work even harder in order to give you more than what you get for your money. But you went ahead and you had this poll and we know that you're a good group of hardcore players that have been there a long time. So we are taking this poll to heart and discuss this again and see if this is an option for us. We will then get back to the players and decide.

---

Zam Interviews Naoki Yoshida:



Link: http://www.zam.com/story.html?story=28045

ZAM Question #1: While some people are excited by the announcement of FFXIV Version 2.0, others are apprehensive. They feel the game they started playing -- which they actually enjoyed -- is going by the wayside. What would you say to these concerned players?

Yoshida: "The question is a little bit abstract. There are a lot of different players and a lot of different players have their different tastes. For some people, they will like one aspect of the game and don't want that to change, but for other people, they didn't like that, but they like this aspect and don't want that to change.

"For example, you have the crafting system, and in (patch) 1.19 we got rid of a lot of those huge, long recipes where you have to take tons and tons of materials and ingredients before you were able to get to the final product. But among the players, there were a lot of players who enjoyed that complex system. I guess for them, you could give them one answer of 'we changed it this way, but we have this for you,' but that might not be the one thing that other players really liked of the old system.

"The one thing though is we don't want people to think that version 2.0 is going to be a completely new game. It's still going to be FFXIV, it's still going to be in the world of Eorzea, it's still going to have those features that players have come to get used to in FFXIV. That's through these updates that we'll be making up through Version 2.0, that the transition from the game we have now into the new Final Fantasy XIV will be very smooth, but it's not a totally different game.

"Yes, the graphics engine will be changing; yes, there will be overhauls in the UI; yes, we'll be redoing the server system; yes, we'll be changing the overall service; but even with all these changes, players will still be able to know this game is Final Fantasy XIV. Players won't have to worry about losing everything they liked about the game to begin with."

ZAM Question #2: Over the course of Version 2.0's development, how is the development team going to be allocated between the game's current version and the new version?

Yoshida: "It's not really black and white. There's not a line where you are only working on current content, and you are working on the future. There's a lot of overlap in there. If there was a line, you could maybe say 80 percent of the team is working on current content, whereas 20 percent of the team is working on Version 2.0. But the thing is, we're making changes to the battle system now. Those battle system changes are happening in real time, and they've been happening since the start of the new team, and the thing is those things are all going up to 2.0. The changes they're making now are not just for now, they're for Version 2.0 as well.

"And then in that 20 percent of the people who are working on stuff for 2.0, it's mostly programmers, getting that foundation ready, and the fundamental changes that they're making.

"As the producer/director, (I am) pretty much on both, no sleep."

ZAM Question #3: So have you maintained the structure of developers being split into teams with specific tasks, and now those teams are working on both versions of the game, in that what they do will be carried over to version 2.0?

Yoshida: "A lot of people in the game design teams will be working on both (versions). For example, they have their monthly tasks, and you could say the level design members will have maybe 20 percent of their tasks be stuff exclusively for 2.0, while the remainder of their tasks are for monster distribution in certain areas or contents that will be released in the next patch. You have your team, your level design team or your battle teams, and they'll be doing things for both.

"And one of the biggest things is because we have Final Fantasy XIV now and we're going to be making (the new) Final Fantasy XIV -- it's new but it's not a completely different game -- it's good to have people who are working on the current stuff also working on the future stuff. So you have that when you go into 2.0, it's not going to be a totally new game, because the people who are making 2.0 are also the people who are working on (patches) 1.20, 1.21.

"On the other hand, you have some (development team) members, for example, in Patch 1.21, they hope to be releasing two new instanced raids. We have one person right now who is only working on that, and he isn't allowed to do anything on 2.0 because we want him to concentrate on that."

ZAM Question #4: Between now and Version 2.0, there's going to be that unique storyline. When Version 2.0 launches, how many missions and quests in the game now will be completely scrapped or redone?

Yoshida: "We can't tell you a lot, but we can say a lot of certain contents will remain in 2.0. For example, big things that have been added like the beast tribe strongholds, you'll still be able to access those and content surrounding those will be kept. Things like the guildleves and the guildleve system we have now, we hope to keep that intact. Then you have things like all the story that is obviously in the now -- the Grand Company type of story, the Garlean Empire, the whole disaster type of scenario -- things like this will probably be, for the most part, 'this is it.' You play it now, and see it now, and that will change.

"The Grand Companies will still be around after 2.0, but, for example, most of the Grand Company quests you see now are all in preparation for this disaster that is approaching. The Garlean Empire is approaching and they're doing all this stuff in secret. Those quests will probably change."

ZAM Question #5: What about Grand Company membership? Some of those quests have been all about getting you to sign up.

Yoshida: "If you join Limsa Lominsa, then yes, after 2.0, you'll still be in Limsa Lominsa.

"For example, one thing right now is all the Grand Companies have their different agendas. If you played all three stories, you can see they're all going in different directions right now and they all have their different storylines. But we hope in the next few months to introduce content where all three companies get together to try to fight off one big type of situation that's -- I can't say anything more. But we have the scenario all written, all the way up to the end, a lot of exciting content. We're not just making it up as we go.

"Another example is the Ifrit battle. With the Ifrit battle, we expect it to still be available after 2.0, but the reason behind the Ifrit battle -- why are you fighting Ifrit now, where did he come from -- all of that background story is now, and you have to play now to be able to experience that."

ZAM Question #6: Can you shed any details on what the nature of this story is going to be?

Yoshida: "It all pretty much resolves around the coming of the Seventh Umbral Era. Currently, the world is in the Sixth Astral Era, and there's been all of the prophecy about the coming of the Seventh Umbral Era. This is pretty much Eorzea is facing, and the story that's going to be released is surrounding that, that there is this huge danger that is looming on the horizon, and it is fastly approaching Eorzea. What we can tell you is we've already shown you some artwork in how the field maps are going to change in 2.0, so you kind of expect that what's coming is something that's going to dramatically affect the world. Over the next few patches, there's going to be lots of different dangers, all this is going to come to light, and it's going to be about the players standing up in the face of this danger, attempting their best to push it back."

ZAM Question #7: Will this one-time storyline content be solo or small-group friendly? Grouping with people can be challenging given the lack of a party search tool and linkshell management tools.

Yoshida: "Hopefully for Patch 1.20, our next patch, we will have a greatly improved player search system in place so people who are looking for parties can find people at least with the same level of ease players in FFXI have. We hope to have that in place by 1.20.

"When you think about it, if you're having the players stand up against this huge threat that is on the horizon, having a solo player fight against Ifrit is not how you would envision saving the world. We want to have a lot of party-based content for the patches that are coming up with this storyline that we're doing, but we realized finding a party is very difficult, so that's why we made it a priority to get this in, not at 2.0 but at 1.20, so players can experience this party-based content in a party rather than have to wander around and find people.

"Another thing we're going to be adding for version 1.20 is we're going to be updating and improving the market system. It's going to be in a format that's really close to what the auction house is in FFXI, where you will be able to search for individual items, and you will be able to buy them from that, and then you will be able to see the last 20-something prices. It's something very close to what FFXI has. We want to have this ready for 1.2, then have players play this, see what we've done in 1.20, and then make the decision whether they want to start the subscription. And that's why we won't be having subscriptions start until after 1.20, so players can see what we've done in 1.20 before making that decision."

ZAM Question #8: Many long-time players felt jilted when their gear became dated in Patch 1.19. Any chance more gear becomes dated as Version 2 or future patches are implemented?

Yoshida: "(I) would like to apologize to all those players who had their items change to dated items, but (I) want to promise we won't do that anymore, we are pretty much done with those changes. The reason why we had to do this is when we made our major changes to the battle system, to maintain balance with this new battle system, we had to make major changes to the recipe system, and that was pretty much the only way that we could keep balance to the game after making those changes to the battle system. It was necessary to do this. Now that we've made those changes to the battle system, we shouldn't ever have to do that again. At 2.0, we don't have to worry about items becoming dated at that point as well.

"What we would like is for players who have those dated items, even dated items can be turned into materia. Those items players have made in the past and have been using, when the spirit bond reaches 100 percent, turn those into materia and then put those on the new items. Then you can have your old items and your new items together as one. That's the kind of image that we had."

ZAM Question #9: Seamless zones are being eliminated in Version 2.0. Many people like seamless zones, which weren't in FFXI. What is the benefit to having zones with transitions?

Yoshida: "One of (my) favorite games lately is Red Dead Redemption, and they did the seamless world really beautifully. If you could make an MMORPG that fit in that size of a world, then seamless would be the way to go. For a large MMORPG, you have to have a lot of content, and when the map becomes too small, then you don't have enough room to put all that content in. For example, you have a battle with Garuda, and you want to have that on the top of a mountain, a very big mountain. But in a seamless world, people are going to have to get to the bottom of the mountain, and then climb up this whole mountain to get there. Unless your MMO is called Mountain Climbing Online, it's not something that most players are going to want to do. Yes it's seamless, but do players really want to spend 30 minutes climbing the mountain before they get to the fight.

"If you do have, for example, a small road leading up there, then yes, you can have monsters on it and have it a challenge to get up there. But if it's a seamless, open world, then you're just going to have this big mountain, and players are just going to be running up this mountain and that's it.

"You can make the game so you have that road up, make invisible walls and make that road up to the mountain and have it filled up with monsters, but that just creates stress for the players. Yes it's seamless, but there's that unwanted stress, when players, what they want to do is fight Garuda. Even though you take away the seamlessness by having the zones, you can still make the experience similar. For example, once you get to the top of the mountain, you can still look down and see the bottom of the mountain and have this wonderful landscape in front of you, but without having to actually go up that landscape. You can go there, fight your battle and still see the beautiful scenery without having to go through the pain.

"The one benefit of going beyond seamless is you can make things more dynamic. If you want to do something dynamic, yes you can make something dynamic in a seamless world, but you have to do everything in between there as well, which takes a lot of time and effort and can be a very challenging thing. By removing the seamlessness, you can make each area be that much more dynamic and add that much more content to it, and so that's the exchange that we're offering the players. Yes we're going to be moving to this zone type of system, but each area is going to be that much more original and that much more dynamic."

ZAM Question #10: Will the giant zones in the game now be split up into smaller zones at Version 2.0?

Yoshida: "Currently, you have the main three large zones and then a few smaller zones that you have. You have the deserts of Thanalan, the forests of the Black Shroud and then you have the fields of La'Noscea. You can expect these to be split up into four or five smaller zones, and also there will be additional dungeons and additional instanced raids. So yes, the bigger areas will be broken up into smaller areas."

ZAM Question #11: What are Free Companies, and how will these be structured? Are these the player-run companies we heard about in the past?

Yoshida: "These are player-controlled companies. You can think of it like the guild systems that a lot of other MMORPGs have, the player-run guilds. Think of it as each player, for example, five people can be a Free Company. I can be a member of the Order of the Twin Adder, he can be a member of the Maelstrom, he can be a member of the Immortal Flames, but we can all get together and make our own Free Company. Individuals can do the Grand Company content on their own, and then we can make this Free Company with a lot of people from different companies. And also, the Free Company can sign up to join the Grand Company, so you can experience Grand Company content through your Free Company, even though if I'm in Gridania but our Free Company signs up to work with the Maelstrom in Limsa Lominsa, then we can do those contents as well. That's one thing where players will be able to cross over.

"So when players make their own Free Companies, they can decide what they want to do. They can go, "OK, I only want to have people from the Order of the Twin Adder be in my Free Company, and their Free Company is going to be hardcore, or they can have a mixture of lots of different players. That will be up to the players."

ZAM Question #12: Can people experience all the company content through Free Company participation, just by signing up with all the different companies?

Yoshida: "The content will be different. There will be the Free Company content of the Grand Companies, as well as the solo content of the Grand Companies. You'll only be able to do the solo content of the Grand Company you're in, but when it comes to the Grand Company content that's for Free Companies, it won't matter as a solo player which company you're in, it will matter which Free Company you're signed up with. It will be two different stories."

ZAM Question #13: With how servers will be set up in Version 2.0, players will be able to look for groups across different worlds. Will players be able to freely switch which server they play on, or is this server setup only for finding parties for specific events?

Yoshida: "It's going to be more for single content. It will be the matching system where a lot of people want to play a certain instanced raid, so you get yourself in a queue and then it matches you with people from all the different worlds for that content only. So it won't be something like, 'I want to play on this world today, I want to play on this world tomorrow,' it will only be for the single content, that matching system.

"But, for example, if you're on this server, but then a lot of your other friends join a different server and you want to move, by introducing this worldless server system it will make it easier for players to have this option to be able to change. It's kind of like FFXI, where every now and then we offer you can do world changes if you pay a fee -- that's not saying we're going to do a fee, we haven't decided yet. There is the problem with the RMT that if you make it easy to switch servers then all those problems come up. But whether we charge for that, that's something we'll discuss and we'll think about once we get to that point. But by going to the worldless server, that will make it easier to do that, and we hope to have an option to let players switch worlds.

"There are games such as RIFT that have their world-switching system, and so we're looking at things like that, things that are working in the world now, and we want to choose the best type of system that's going to benefit the players the most."

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Famitsu/4Gamer Interview: (Translated by RamseySylph of ZAM)
Link: http://eorzea.tumblr.com/post/11591026810/famitsu-ffxiv-ver2-0-interview-10-17-2011

●Previously unheard of simultaneous development!
On October 14th, 2011, a shocking announcement was made regarding FFXIV. In December of 2010, a new development team was appointed. With producer Naoki Yoshida at the helm, even in the midst of drastic changes to the development team, they began new developments and performing much needed fixes. During this time, as a completely new direction for a new FFXIV was planned, operations of current FFXIV remained in progress simultaneously, with fixes being made all the while. This second FFXIV one day will merge with the existing FFXIV with the goal of creating a perfect new experience, an unprecedented plan!

Famitsu: These developments are a really bold choice. 
Yoshida: I'm a long time MMORPG player, because of that experience, I know that there aren't any examples of an MMORPG making a full recovery when faith is lost. In many cases MMORPGs in this situation move to a F2P/cash shop model... So, immediately following the change in development structure, there was a considerable push to follow this precedent, but the development team discussed a new plan. And so, January of this year we based our plan around 4 keywords. FUN, LIVE, REBOOT and REBUILD are the words, and the time has finally arrived to discuss their meaning.

Famitsu: So, the decision to go forward with parallel development was made in January? 
Yoshida: Yes. Since those four key words were announced, which was about 20 days after I became Producer/Director. Whether or not the current service could live up to the expectations of current generation MMORPGs, we looked at what needed to be changed at the time, and we decided major points of concern were the user interface and server structure. Both the user interface and the server structure would be difficult barriers, they needed to be completely redesigned. The information was collected just before the team restructuring, so the foundation for simultaneous development was laid before the end of the year. The plan was to focus on server and UI changes as soon as possible.
 
Famitsu: But, why did you make the decision to not stop service during the redesign?
Yoshida: Of course, there were proposals to temporarily halt service during the redesign, but FFXIV is a Final Fantasy numbered title, and I did not want to end service for those players who remained. It should be noted that even now play continues, Square Enix has not given up, President Wada made it clear from the start that our customers are very important, the development team also supports this feeling very strongly. But even with the continuation of service, all of our energy was poured into improving the game, bringing fun gameplay and the best possible service is our number one goal. We are giving it our all to bring you the best possible experience now, and in the future. And we at Square Enix will continue to do so until it lives up to the expectations of Final Fantasy. (laughs)

Famitsu: What's changing in the New FFXIV? 
Yoshida: We have already published a lot of information regarding the changes on The Lodestone, but we'll try to focus on the most important changes here.


・New User Interface
・Map Redesigns
・Improved Player Communication Features
・Player vs Player
・New Player Character Options 
・Establishment of Free Companies
・Player Housing
・New Opening Movie
To coincide with Final Fantasy XIV ver2.0 there will be a reworked opening movie, which you will be able to see at E3 next year!

Today’s FFXIV will merge into FFXIV ver2.0!
The present FFXIV and the new FFXIV have different designs, that are not the same. Even as fixes are implemented in the current FFXIV, the “Seventh Umbral Era” is on the verge of bringing extraordinary changes to the world. The changes of the Seventh Umbral Era will occur in real time, and at the end of the Seventh Umbral era, the two Final Fantasy XIV will be united and a new adventure will begin in a changed Eorzea. From this day forward there will be no returning to the Eorzea of old. In other words, the scenarios leading up to the Seventh Umbral Era will only exist in the present.. See these magnificent changes take place before your very own eyes!●Current FFXIV and New FFXIV will coalesce!

Famitsu: Well then, please tell us the form in which this rebirth and fusion will take place.
Yoshida: With the FFXIV ver2.0, our vision is to bring together the PC and the Playstation 3. Data for PC players will be migrated over, no wipe will occur. Of course, there will be newly established worlds for new players, also it's still under review, but we may provide the option of language specific servers.

Famitsu: Language locked servers are a frequently requested feature by Japanese players, no?
Yoshida: With the present server system it would be a difficult thing to implement, but we feel that in this generation, many players feel that this is an important option.

Famitsu: Will the map changes take place at the same time as the change to Ver 2.0?
Yoshida: Actually, map changes will come before the change to 2.0, the current FFXIV will experience an earth-shattering event that will usher in a new world. Of course, Eorzea is Eorzea, country and region names will remain, however, the process of change has already begun.

Famitsu: That's right, signs have already begun to emerge huh?
Yoshida: The map will vary significantly, for the full story you'll have to play the current FFXIV, and you will come to understand. The changes in this world will unfold over the next year, so please play and experience the seasonal events. We believe this is a strong example of our keyword “Live.”

●PS3 Beta scheduled for fall~winter of 2012!
The schedule is currently for PS3 Beta to begin sometime in fall or winter of 2012. Of course, current work on the renovation of FFXIV will continue. Progress towards FFXIV ver2.0 is going forward at full steam. With this unprecedented development announcement, we want to inform you that it is our aim that the PS3 and a new retail PC version will b e available simultaneously.

Famitsu: From here on out, FFXIV and FFXIV ver2.0 will be building up attention, ya?
Yoshida: Our major focus is the support of our current players, and the establishment of a new and exciting world. FFXIV's launch was an uphill battle, however, right now, taking into account our current players, updates that have taken place and our communication with our fans, little by little I think we are making progress towards an enjoyable game. As everyone continues to post on the official forum, we will strive to make FFXIV ver2.0 closer to the perfect experience we want to bring you.

Famitsu: There have been some complaints about the end of the free period, what are your thoughts?

Yoshida: We are very pleased, on the other hand, “not yet” is an opinion many have voiced. We really wanted to extend the free period until the release of FFXIV ver2.0 but with a staff of 250 people, continual development would be impossible without funding. So we decided to aim for late November or early December to start charging. We hope that players will continue to support us as we continue to bring new content and work towards future developments.


※In addition to this unprecedented new information, check out weekly Famitsu issue on October 20th, November 3rd and Famitsu Connect!On on October 27th

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That's about it for now folks, he's going to hold a live conference on November 3rd, so I will be awake and posting the translated Q and A from Twitter in a future post.
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