(10.27.2011) Interview with Naoki Yoshida

Dear English-speaking friends, this is Chuki speaking!

I am most convinced that you came here because you were looking for the English version of the interview with Naoki Yoshida (10.27.2011) So here it is!

Well, of course, even though it is not a well updated blog, this is where I decided to put the “original” version of the interview. What is written here is what was said there. Including all grammar errors/mistyping/mistakes (actually, I’m just being lazy, I don’t want to spellcheck and to rephrase the strange sentences). I just corrected what was really unintelligible, I left everything else *almost* untouched.

If you have any use for this interview, be it on the official forum or on your own forum or website, whatever, please mention the source. I’d be grateful. :)

I’ll be glad to answer any question if something’s wrong with the interview — and I know something’s wrong! or if you just want to say “thanks”, please do not hesitate. I’ve worked four straight hours on it, it does no harm to thank me. Though it does none even if you don’t!

Well then, without further ado, let’s start reading!

-Chuki

 

 

 

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, customisable 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 optimising 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 optimise 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 customisation.

Also, the whole structure and the organisation of a Free Company is going to be customisable 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 Samurais. 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 Grâce, 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 customise 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!

——

Thanks to Naoki Yoshida, Sage Sundi and Saori Hill for the interview, and to Square Enix’s community department. Also to the JeuxOnLine – Final Fantasy XIV staff, because we couldn’t have done this interview without them.

Props to the (poor) Product Manager!

Thanks for passing by.

Chuki

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