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JE 2013 : Interview with Naoki Yoshida (ENG)

We complete our red wire about our adventures at Japan Expo 2013 with a last interview.

For the today release of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, we propose you to read our entrevue with Naoki Yoshida, game producer, who have also played the game of the random cards, just like Kitase and Toriyama previously.
Naoki Yoshida gave us a very friendly and memorable moment in answering at all our questions with huge passion, humor and details.

This interview was cut into two parts; the first was being held at Japan Expo, and the second was send by e-mail few days later. Yoshi-P, curious about the issues behind the veiled cards, gave us the honor of responding by mail.

It seems that you have been a champion of the MMORPG "Dark Age of Camelot". Do you think this experience has inspired your vision of FFXIV ARR, and how?

One of the biggest influence I got from that game is having three different major forces. Just like when you play Rock-Paper-Scissor, having three powers fighting against each other really gives an interesting balance and it’s easier to keep the balance. If it’s one versus one it seems it’s always like one force is stronger than the other.
This three different powers design really gave me a bit of influence, for exemple in FFXIV: ARR you will see three grand compagnies and we’re also planning to bring in a patch update the new PvP system. It’s a large scale PvP called “Frontline” and when we designed it we really had the Realm VS Realm system from Dark age of Camelot in mind. 

After the release of the game, how fast will the game be updated ? Dragon Quest X for example, offers two new quests a week and larger patch every two month. Do you also think about a regular plan like that ?

Our plan for Final Fantasy XIV is to have a large scale update every two and a half months, there will be a huge amount of content introduced with those. Of course if there are any sort of issues that we need to fix then we will do it right away between the large updates.
All the new content will be applied with thoses two and a half month patchs.
The game design itself is different from Dragon Quest X which is keeping the tradition of the previous Dragon Quest Series.
Just like they did with Dragon Quest IX they are introducing a lot of small plots and quests constantly but what we’re doing for XIV it’s adding a HUGE amount in one go.
Even for the launch time there will already be several hundreds of quests and with the next version update there will also be a huge amount of content introduced. So instead of bringing small amount constantly we want to bring a lot of stuff in one go, every two and a half months. 

Many MMORPG players appreciate to fight other players. We also know that you love playing in Player VS Player. What can you say about the PVP mode of Final Fantasy XIV ?

Actually, this is the first time we’re introducing THIS type of PVP in the Final Fantasy franchise and I think there’s quite a few of Final Fantasy fans who don’t like fightning against each other, fighting other players, they usually prefer to fight against monsters and don’t like the PvP system.
Even if I like the PvP, I don’t want to force everyone to do it in the game, so this is not going to be a mandatory type of content for Final Fantasy XIV, it will be an option to our players so if you prefer to fight against monsters, forming teams to challenge the boss battles or enjoy raids and dungeons, all the PvE content, then that’s absolutely fine but if you do enjoy PvP there will definitely be this type of contents in the game. We want to approaches the global audience who likes MMORPGs, I think it’s important to have people who likes different types of content as well.
We’ve been putting a lot of efforts into it, so if you do love PvP I really want you to enjoy it.

As to keeping it an option to the players, I made sure that the items are balanced and totally différent from one content to another. If anyone want to focus on the PvE and try to become a Warrior of Light that’s absolutely fine and just because you got some special items in the PvP contents it doesn’t mean that you will be able to complete the main storyline with them. At the same time just because you already completed the main storyline doesn’t mean that your powerfull gear will be usefull in PvP or anything like that. It’s two totally different type of contents.
So yes, you can play PvP as an option and if you like it I really want to enjoy it !
I really look forward to players to come and beat me ! I will be on the players servers.

At the E3, you unveiled the Arcanist class and both jobs related to the Arcaniste,  the Summoner and the Scholar. Can you tell us if other jobs related to existing classes are in preparation ?

We have already started to talk about updates and expansion packs plans so of course, we have started to think about adding new classes or jobs, yes.
Some classes that are already in the game will get more jobs related to them, but I can’t really guarantee that EVERY class in the game will get two jobs, maybe in five years yes but I can’t really guarantee it yet. I don’t know when or if that’s gonna happen or not but some of them will get more jobs.
What type of classes, what type of jobs will we had, we do get a lot of requests from the players and lots of medias ask this question ! Some people want Ninja, Samurai, others want the Blue mage and the Red mage. We are pretty aware that there is a high demand of different classes or jobs.
For now, we’re introducing the Arcanist class and the jobs Scholar and the Summoner, they all are based on a pet system and we really have to make them balanced more than ever. I think I eed to be focused on making sure that all the classes and all the jobs are perfectly balanced before I give more answers to all the requests so once the other classes, battles and everything will be balanced we’re likely to introduce mode classes and jobs which the players asked.

We loved the bêta on PS3, what were the firsts feedbacks you received for that version ? Because it was just amazing for us !

The thing that surprises me is that a lot of users are still using the virtual keyboard of PS3, that really surprises me !
With this PS3 version we worked really hard to exceed the limit of the plateform and we think that in terms of graphic quality, speed of user interface and to be able to actually play at a MMORPG on PS3, only FFXIV has managed to do all that. So when we read the feedbacks from our players saying that it’s really enjoyable and that they really are having fun moments on the game, it really gives us motivations, we’re really happy to read that type of feedbacks.
That being said, we also head players saying that the reading speed is still a bit slow so we’re working on another stage of optimisation before the launch time to try to make it a little faster. But of course this is PS3 so the hard disk is definitely a bit slower.
Also the development team is really focusing on the quality, a lot of people in the dev team are working with the PC version to really push the limit and the quality of the whole game but myself  I am making sure that the PS3 version is working as good as it may, so don’t worry the quality is not going to be less than what it can be. I’m going to make sure the PS3 quality is going to be great, so be confident.

So Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn releases in less of two month, how is the atmosphere within the team with the output of the game so soon and the bêta test that keep coming ?

It’s been like two and a half year since we decided to work on this new project. The motiviation is really high especially when we see the data from the beta test phase 3 which is currently happening. As you know the data is going to be wiped but the players are still really enjoying it. Usually for other MMO on closed beta, after two days people will just stop playing because they know the data is going to be wiped so, what’s the point of continuing playing and exploring the gameplay and everything. However what we’re seeing from Final Fantasy XIV beta test phase 3 is that people are still logging in and trying all the different contents EVEN if the data is going to be wiped so they’re really enjoying it. That makes us very happy and keeps us going, it really gives us a lot of motivation. It’s just great to see the players enjoying this much.
At the same time our schedule is getting tighter every day, so it’s good to have a good motivation and a good atmosphere with the team. 

So our motivation is really high but because it’s a MMO, when we’re going to release the game on the 27th of august, that will not be the end of the whole project, it will be the beginning. So we already are working on the 2.01 patch and the 2.02 patch. Some teams are already starting to work on making the scenarios and main storylines for the expansion packs so we’re really moving forward and focusing on the future as well. So the release of the game is not the end, it’s just happening and we are going to continue to see the community and listen to your feedbacks, we are really excited and motivated.
Of course there’s no time to relax and if we get the consent, maybe we’ll take some summer holidays, that’s something we need to think about (laughs).
We have a high motivation and we really want the players to enjoy so we’re going to continue focusing on the future updates as well.
Myself it doesn’t seem like I’m going to be able to take any summer holidays (laughs).

What kind of expansion packs can we expect for the future of Final Fantasy XIV ?

In the world of Hydaelin, and the region of Eorzea, there’s a huge area where the players haven’t been yet, even in the 1.0 version. Especially Ishgard which is the region of the Dragons and the Dragoons. The background story of Ishgard is starting to take shape and we really think there’s a lot of potential to bring a FF-like story in this area, so before I left for this trip I gave the plot to the dev team so they could think about it. We really want to focus on “how to help Ishgard” and make sure that there are events to rescue people in that area. Maybe we’ll be able to go to Ishgard during a version update and then maybe the expansion pack may open a little more of it and then it will also link to others areas as well.

Final Fantasy XIV was announced on PS4 at the E3, but could you consider a compatibility with the PSVita whose tactical functions for example can facilitate the gameplay ?

On the Sony side they really want us to have the Remote Play on this platform, so that’s something we’ll probably need to add.

What can you say about the bonus that you promised, like the gold saucer or the card game ?

As we were discussing earlier we started to talk about updates and expansion packs plans so after going back to Japan from this trip and before I leave for the next one to Gamescom we will continue to think on these ideas.
I can’t really answer when it’s going to be launched. It could be during an update but it’s closer to an expansion pack in terms of volume with all the mini-games, so I can’t really say yet.
Since we’re going to call it Gold Saucer, I want to make sure that the players really feel it’s FF-type mini-games and FF-type casino games. We’re going to have a dedicated staff working on this area and it’s features. Personally I like snowboarding so I really want to get the Snowboarding game in ! 

What's your favorite region of Eorzea and why ?

That’s a very difficult question because I really worked closely to the environment and level design teams and when we started doing ARR I told them how things were going to look like. For example when you go up on a hill and see the view at 360° I told them what I expected to see, for ALL the areas, so in every area I have a lot of important memories.
But if I had to choose one, maybe the plains of Thanalan. I have a really special memory there, I was walking on the west side where you can see Ul’dah in the distance, and you can see the sand going down and the plains are going really far away. It was at a beautiful time of the day and it really made me feel that ARR is going to be fine, and that everything was going to be fine. It really meant a lot to me so I think it makes it very special.

FFXIV incorporate a lot of element of the old Final Fantasy. Once the game is out, will you continue to provide more references of the Final Fantasy saga or you will focus on creating the own identity and universe of FFXIV ?

For the main storyline I want to make sure that there is something very special and very unique to XIV, something that you can only enjoy in XIV. That being said, maybe you’ve seen it already in the beta stages, the keyword to meeting the Scions of the Seventh Dawn is “Wild Rose”. That part is a hint to other references to all the previous games so, yes we will make sure that there are both elements in the game. We will be focusing on the XIV unique stuff with the story and also add some stuff from the previous games of the saga, for exemple did you see the Lightning announcement we made yesterday ?
There will be both type of contents so please look forward to the future announcements.

Playing FFXIV ARR, it looks like an Offline Final Fantasy. Was that one of the objectives of the development team for this new version of the game ?

Yes we wanted to make sure that all the FF fans could enjoy this game and because it’s online, because it’s a MMORPG we didn’t want people to get scared and to think that it’s a difficult thing so I’m really happy to hear that you feel it has good elements from old installments of the series.
So when you talk yo your friends please let them know that they don’t have to be scared, it’s just like any other Final Fantasy and it’s even more Final Fantasy like, that’s what we really focused on, so yes we made sure that it’s really a Final Fantasy game that anyone can enjoy even if this time it’s a MMORPG.

The interview has to finished before we can ask all our questions to Naoki Yoshida. He offered us the kind opportunity to send him the others questions, with the associated cards, by e-mail and promised to respond quickly.

There are the 5 last questions and their answers. They don't have been filmed.
Thanks again to Naoki Yoshida for his generosity.

What could you say at the people saying that the trend of video games is to "bring difficulty down" to make the game easier, instead of offering more challenge and difficulties ?

Video games are a form of entertainment, so the user’s needs and environment will evolve as time goes on. So in a way I think this is natural.
Video games have been played using hardware and software but it’s shifting to play on a device, so these boundaries are becoming less defined.
This means that video games which have been regarded as something special have become more casual and accepted as the norm by wide audience, which I don’t think is a bad thing.
So in other words, the people that sell and make games are in an era where we have to be in this mind set of “a game to be easy for players to get, ensure they can play right away and have something that is easily enjoyable”.
However this is a different topic from “bringing down the difficulty”. This is still something that should be thought about in the beginning or low level of a game and doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be applied across all levels in a game.
FFXIV: ARR is designed not to be difficult in the beginning and during leveling.
MMORPGs are considered to have a high threshold, but by doing it this way we can get more people to understand and try the game. Then when they are ready to take on the end game content, there will be a smooth transition for the players to attempt these harder and more challenging content.
This kind of refinement is always required and taken into consideration and I think it is really important.

What's your favorite class of FFXIV ?

My favourite class would be Thaumaturge, and favourite job would be Black Mage. I was always a spell caster since I started playing MMORPGs long ago and it is the same for FFXIV (haha).
It is great feeling when you send a barrage at maximum fire power from afar. Of course please make sure that you don’t gain too much aggro!

The Moomba from Final Fantasy VIII is the mascot of our website (Finaland). Is it possible to see this creature in Final Fantasy XIV ?

We plan to keep FFXIV: ARR running for a long time and we will be adding in even more FF elements that the fans have been asking for to go with the main story.
So your wish may come true one day :)

After the end of the main quest, how will you proceed to keep the players captivated ?

There will of course be the raising of your chocobo companion and achievements for cumulative type contents, but there will also be a host of other content including: epic weapon contents to revive the legendary weapons, battles with Primals that show their true power, the Great Labyrinth of Bahamut, Free Company development, getting equipment from each content and taking on the Crystal Tower with multiple parties. Patch 2.1 will see large scale housing and PvP, more battle content and the addition of end game daily quests. With all of this there won’t even be time to take a break!
The main quest won’t stop at the end of the credits as the story will keep on going with updates.

Do you think there will be another character from the Final Fantasy universe, like Lightning ?

Right now we are pouring all of our effort to get Lightning into the game and we have yet to confirm anything about other characters.
Fans have a lot of emotional attachment to the historic FF characters and we can’t simply pick someone. We have to take into account each character’s life, personality, way of life, episode, how they end up in Eorzea and whether it would work out as a “FF like story”. So if anything does materialize we will be sure to let you know.

We would like to thank wholeheartedly the staff of Square Enix France for allowing and organizing this interview with patience and kindness.

Transcription : Sheron974

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