(18.05.2015) Interview with Naoki Yoshida in Nantes, France

Note: I wasn’t among the interviewers this time. There were three groups, one of these being JeuxOnLine, the others I have no idea. I just did the transcription this time (+ FR translation), from what I heard, Mrs. Hill (the usual translator for SQEX) was off, adding to that the recording wasn’t perfect and I wasn’t involved in preparing any of the questions, there might be a few holes with this transcription. I’ve corrected the transcription where possible (e.g. stuttering, nonsense, etc.) and rephrased to make it legible (as much as I could!).

The whole interview lasted 45 min (bear in mind the questions are first asked in English (Interviewers) then translated to Japanese (from the translator) then Yoshida replies, then it’s retranslated to English), and it took me an hour to run through that.

Sorry Ms. Translator, I don’t know who you are, so I cannot credit you — but thank you anyway!

As usual, feel free to share and comment but it’d be much appreciated if you could leave the credits.
-Tsukihi

Bold = question

1. Will you migrate the entire Chaos data centre to Europe?
We picked up the place – now we are buying all the equipment and building the facilities. The process from now on is to work with Square Enix Japan and the staff in EU to connect the data centres.
A concrete timing is still TBC so we can’t say anything about that but we are aiming for the end of 2015.
I know many EU players are playing on the Chaos data centre, but at some point, all the character data will be saved and will be copied to the new data centre. It might take two to three days of maintenance but you will be able to play the game straight away via the new data centre.

2. What would be your favourite game and your favourite genre of game?
Do you mean Square Enix only or…?
No, any.
I try everything, but I prefer online games. I’ve been very busy developing Heavensward so the only game I’ve played lately is basically Heavensward. Recently, these last 6 months I’ve just been playing Heavensward.
As to my favourite game… do you mean the latest one or all-time favourite?
All-time favourite?
Tactics Ogre is my all-time favourite.

3. JP players are not known to be very big MMO players. How does the Japanese public feel about FFXIV?
14 years ago, on PlayStation 2, Final Fantasy XI was their first online game. It was a really great title that was brought to America and Europe. At that time, EverQuest was our only MMORPG, but FFXI is the actual first-generation of Japanese MMORPGs in the market. Since then, there was no big MMORPGs released in the Japanese market. FFXI was the only one they knew – they didn’t even know about World of Warcraft.

FFXI players have been playing the same game for 14 years. FFXIV was the first one in 14 years, so they were so surprised about the big changes, the evolutions, the difference between FFXI and XIV. Those who haven’t played FFXI and are really new to MMORPGs, they were totally surprised too with this new game experience.

When I go to events in Japan, or anywhere else, some people talk to me and tell me “this is the first time I’ve played a MMORPG, I didn’t know this genre, it’s fantastic”. When I hear this kind of feedbacks, I’m really grateful I’ve released this title FFXIV in the market, and the media seems to be very positive about it too. I’m so surprised and delighted there are so many MMORPGs players now from Japan to you here.

[inintelligible due to microphone being a bit too far]

4. A great number of Final Fantasy XI players regret the lack of “Alliance”-based content, like Dynamis, sky or sea. The teamplay required back then seems to be missing from the current we have now today in for instance, the Crystal Tower. Can we expect this kind of content?
It’s really hard to answer, because if I say “yes”, players will go “Oh my god Dynamis is coming to FFXIV!”, so I would like to choose my words very carefully… because there are so many people also not so happy about Dynamis on the other hand. It’s about keeping the balance.

People really like dungeons, content with variation, kind of similar to Dynamis, rather than just having a linear dungeon.
I’m not gonna say “Dynamis” because the concept, the image is too strong to many players.

However, in 3.x patches, the adventure will go into the sky, you will meet new people, loot new items, see new areas, there are so many challenges in it — please look forward to more information in the near future.
During these new adventures, I’m hoping you will be experiencing totally new things compared to 2.x, that’s what I’m trying to do with 3.0.

5. FFXIV was released a few years ago, what was your biggest challenge to keep the gamers now that you’re releasing Heavensward?
For FFXIV, we’ve been releasing a major update every 3.5 months. It’s difficult to maintain so after the launch, we want to make sure we minimise the quantity of bugs in each major patch while maximising the content.
While releasing a major update every 3.5 months, until 2.5, we were also developing Heavensward, the workload was even if not more — keeping these two projects running in parallel was really difficult for our developer team, but we wanted to make sure you will have a great gaming experience.

6. Was the setting of Heavensward clear; did you know which direction you were heading when developing Heavensward?
At first, I had two ideas in mind. One was sea, the other sky. I couldn’t decide at that time. Because it’s a FF title, there’s Cid. Flying around in the sky, having a playground there, making your own ship, exploring islands… this sounded more suitable for FFXIV because in the end, it’s still a FF title.
If I remember correctly, I made this decision to take the adventure to the sky around patch 2.1.

I want to go to the sea.
I also want to go to the moon…! *laughs*

7. On the official board, a player replied to another: “I think mass content (for lots of players at once) could be interesting, but this doesn’t suit FFXIV, so unless developers change their direction, I will not want this to happen.” Do you think this player was right to say this?
[massive confusion over the question – the translator didn’t get the question, she translated to Yoshida: currently, we have the FATEs, we have the Crystal Tower, but we’d like to see content even larger in size, involving even more players. ]
It’s not going to be Dynamis, but the content we are planning currently is large-scale.

8. You sound very enthusiastic about the game, you communicate regularly, you speak about the game. Other MMORPG developers won’t do the same — my question is what is your vision of the game, in the end? When Final Fantasy XIV is completed (if ever), how do you want it to be?
For FFXIV, I still have many things I want to do and that I must do, but in the long run, in 10 years time, players might think: “I want to try this new game” or “my lifestyle changed”; this might lead to an end.
I don’t have any concrete plan but as I did with the original game, when it became ARR, when the meteor hit the world with the new world being made, maybe when we’ll see that in 10 years, our planet gets destroyed and we’ll have to move onto a new planet, a new story will begin on that planet. It’s TBC, but that could be an option…

9. Will you separate ARR and Heavensward duty finder? If so, how are you encourage players to use and play with the old content?
We currently have will be the “story” duty finder which will include ARR and Heavensward.
However for the current hard/expert modes, they will remain ARR-only.
All the story mode dungeons will be mixed, players going through ARR will be able to receive help from advanced players. There is also going to be a huge bonus for those who clean a dungeon with new players.

10. I don’t expect any real answer, but as it happened with Lightning and FFXIII, don’t you think you could let us know if there are going to be any other guest appearance from other FF in FFXIV?
Mr. Tabata, the director [she actually said producer and Yoshida corrected her saying “he’s the director”] for Final Fantasy XV and I are good friends, we’ve been talking about some kind of collaboration… so in FFXIV you might see some four guys in a black car, running around in Eorzea. But I’m not sure if that car can fly… that’s another question! *laughs*

11. Will you make ARR seamless, we currently still have loading screens on these.
No, no changes. The PS3 cannot run it.
When will you stop supporting the PS3?
We’ll think about it after the 3.x updates.

12. How do you manage to keep the balance between hardcore players and casual players? It’s a very thin line between these two categories.
I’m a hardcore player myself, my tendency is to go towards the hardcore players, whether it’s about loots or content… but because I’m extremely busy I cannot play the game all night, I cannot do that at the moment; so I can also understand the player who’s busy with work, studies, those who can only play 2hrs each day or 6hrs over the week… I can feel, understand both sides.

To differentiate, I expect hardcore players to clear the hard content as fast as possible, I don’t expect casual players to play hard mode or anything like that; with that being said, in the future by giving them buffs or good items, we adjust the difficulty and they can gradually go through high level content as well.

We want to make sure that as long as casual players keep playing, in the end they will be able to get to the top level content.

13. How much do you sleep?
Uhhh… not that much. About 4/4.5hrs on average and I’m OK.

Credits:
JeuxOnLine – FFXIV
for providing me with the audio recording

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