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Gamescom 2012: Our Interview with Naoki Yoshida

Yoshida: The first thing we are going to show you is the CGI trailer you might already know, from there we are about to move to in game footage about 8mins long and finally we are having a movie about the fighting system and the new limit break system that we are going to implement into final fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

[Movie plays (GCI Teaser Trailer)]

Yoshida: Next is in game footage.

This in game footage has all graphic settings on high, pc’s that can run the current version of FFXIV can play a realm reborn at the highest settings, so there is no reason to buy a new pc in order to play final fantasy XIV a realm reborn.

[Fredericks notes: When first seeing the live presentation and filming it I thought “Well, you can see that the graphic got cut down!” But after seeing live HD footage on the TV I had thought the graphics are still pretty amazing.]

Yoshida: As you can see the new UI system has been completely revamped, we have the drag and drop gear swap but we will also have gear sets available so you just need to press one button to switch the entire gear.

[Fredericks notes: Plays a while – You can see him talking to a Mi’qote with “?” above her head, there Yoshida-san was able to accept a Quest after a brief dialog which was shown in English. After that we could see Yoshida-san invite some players with a brief right click on their avatar, choosing the invite option (works much like other MMOs), he was showing the Mail Delivery Moogle as well and opened the mail system for a short moment.]

Yoshida: As you can see the realm time shadowing and lightning is the first in the final fantasy series, and we believe that this graphic quality is the best kind of quality you are going to get in any kind of current mmorpg. Another thing that we want to point out is the animation, we completely revamped the animation. So you won’t get the animation lock as you get in the current version.

You can see the UI placement of each the components is completely customizable, for that we have two different systems available. In many mmorpgs it is in real time, where you drag and drop directly on the screen, that will be available as well, but we also know that players want to press a button in the heat of a battle and accidently then drag it, to prevent that we implemented the layout mode where players can move anything inside the layout mode and lock it.

Regarding the field maps in the current version, they will all be completely revamped.

[After showing us the UI system the newly formed party took their chocobos for a ride – The presentation ended with their arrival at the Tam-Tara Deepcrofts]

Yoshida: The arrival at the dungeon ends our video, next is a Trailer where they actually battle in that dungeon and are introducing our new Limit Break System.

[Next: Limit Break Trailer – Check Gameplay footage News]

Yoshida: So this is an overview of the limit break system, the idea is taken from final fantasy VII, the big difference to final fantasy VII is unlike where that system was an solo action but our system is going to be party based, so the party fills up their limit gauge and one member initiates the limit break. Depending on the class the limit break is going to be different, for example: if a black mage initiates the limit break this will summon a meteor, but for a paladin or bard this will have other effects, basically you will use that to form a strategy based on who is going to initiate.

Our interview with Yoshida Naoki

Alright, that’s enough of in game footage; let’s move to your questions.

[Start of our roundtable with producer Yoshida Naoki, with us a colleague from the british media (BM)]

JPGames-Frederick: With the over howl of existing maps will current players be able to choose a new starting city? After changes are made, maybe a Ul’dah player wants to choose Limsa Lominsa instead, will this be possible?

Yoshida: The current player won’t be able to choose a new starting city. The reason being that current players are playing the story now and the continuation of that story with Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – So we can’t make any changes there.

BM: So when Final Fantasy XIV first came out, the story it was trying to tell seemed much more darker and, like the environment. And there was this cool black airship… will this be back?

Yoshida: We believe there is a place for light and dark areas and want to combine both in the game, but I personally think that a lot of the recent Final Fantasy had a very light theme and that we must go back to the more darker themes. You know I want … if you go to the land of the elves that there are these high fantasy themes but at the same time those dark, lightning and evil places as well. That is something we want to aim for.

JPGames-Frederick: There was much talk about planned content for Final Fantasy XIV 2.0, which content will be there right from the start and which will be implemented later? I’m talking about content such as PvP, Crystal Tower, free companies, free companies housing, chocobo breeding system etc.

Yoshida: About the Crystal Tower and the chocobo-racing and the free companies, we cannot have this right at the launch, about PvP … we hope to have it at launch but because of all the balancing issues and with me being a hardcore PvP-player we want to make it perfect before releasing. We might have to keep adjusting and because of that we might not make it in time but if that is the case we hope to have it at the latest within a few months after launch and hopefully at the launch. The same thing goes for the housing system, but we hope to have that very soon after launch as well.

BM: You also mentioned the graphical update – is this part of the reason why you delayed the PS3 version up till now?

Yoshida: Actually, better actually, we have a presentation at the end of our conversation. We are going to show you the client up and running on a weaker PC, we have a core i5, it’s not a high spec PC but we have it up and running… This will give you an insight at how we handle the PS3 version and how far we got.

JPGames-Frederick: We would like to know more about 24-man raids, will those raids be a big and actual dungeon or are you planning to implement them as you did with the primal boss fights where there is only one boss to beat?

Yoshida: Yeah, they will be big dungeons.

JPGames-Frederick: And what about the time limit on current dungeon raids? Will they remain in A Realm Reborn?

Yoshida: The raids in the current version are basically things we have put together with very limited methods and that is why they are limited at the moment. This is not what we want to do in A Realm Reborn, we want to create many different things. Expect that instanced raids in the new version will be a lot of fun. We will probably remove the time attack type of system where you are fighting against a boss. Yeah, our instanced raids will have many different settings where you have to go through in order to make it to the final boss.

JPGames-Frederick: So it will possibly take a lot of time to clear those dungeons?

Yoshida: Yeah.

BM: So with the recent changes on the developer’s team… What sorts of effects did that have on the development when those changes happened? Did they completely change the direction you want to go with A Realm Reborn?

Yoshida: Uhm, a lot of the high profile members of the team changed and new people came to create a new core team but the remainder of the development team stays pretty much the same. It wasn’t like we had to start explain to everyone what they had to do. We had to explain the current team that we need to have updates for the current version of Final Fantasy XIV and at the same time create a new game, so we had to tell them that pretty much everything they are making over the year will be thrown away, so it will completely go to waste. To motivate the team telling them that all will be thrown away was very difficult to explain and hard on them. But when you look at the current version of the game and the changes we made that aren’t changes we made without motivation, but with a limited amount of resources.

And the second difficult task was to basically educate the team what the current global standard of mmorpg’s and to tell them that this is what players expect. With a Realm Reborn we want to get to this level and beyond it, so educating the dev team was pretty difficult, we started that last spring spending weeks basically training them.

JPGames-Frederick: We would like to know what of Mr. Tanaka’s work and ideas remain in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and what’s clearly from the current team of developers?

Yoshida: I really can’t answer that, for me it is not about who made something but rather about if it is interesting or not and we get a lot of ideas from a lot of different people in the development team. That can be from a great battle planner which entered the company just recently. But I don’t know what an original remaining idea is and what is new. So there could be things that are from Mr. Tanaka, but I can’t say who made it.

Everything that is going to do with A Realm Reborn has to pass through me and so if you play and you don’t think it is interesting than it is his decision to put it into the game and you complain to him, through the community we are going to keep this up.

BM: Final Fantasy XI just had its ten year anniversary and it got a new expansion coming up. You talked about educating the development team at what the standard is at a west MMOs, so with an eye of Final Fantasy XI that is hugely successful, what did they get right what Final Fantasy XIV wasn’t doing?

Yoshida: One of the reasons why Final Fantasy XI was so successful was that the whole development team went and played Everquest and they thought “Okay, we want to do exactly what they did with Final Fantasy XI!” You know there were times where you couldn’t contact any of them because of how much they played *laughs*, but because they did that they had a direction. One of the problems with Final Fantasy XIV was that there wasn’t that direction, they didn’t know what the standard was and they never played World of Warcraft, they didn’t know enough and because they didn’t know enough they couldn’t build something up to the standards of current MMOs. Plus when they started creating Final Fantasy XI there was Final Fantasy X that strongly influenced them.

With Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn we don’t want to create many new things, we first want to start of getting this global standard and then adding that Final Fantasy feel. We want to get the crystal tower in and the gold soucer to get that epic Final Fantasy feeling.

[Yoshida takes the notebook from his female assistant – an core i5 and starts to play.]

Producer Yoshida Naoki supports cosplay

Yoshida: We didn’t put the sticker of the i5 atop the i7 *everyone laughs* it is her work pc, she does all her work on this notebook. This is definitely not a gaming computer. In the video every graphic setting was set to high, these are set to low – You can barely see the difference.

[Fredericks notes: Even on lowest settings the PC version looked good!]

Yoshida: Because the PS3 has a memory restriction we have to cut down the draw distance and things like that a little bit. If I zoom out you can see the shadows get grainy but when I zoom in the shadow get high quality graphics. The engine reduces effects such as shadows when you zoom out, and increase them when you zoom in.

[Fredericks notes: He zoomed completely out, reducing the details of shadows greatly, when zooming in the graphic was on the same level as the high setting version from the trailer.]

Yoshida: When you zoom this far in, you get the same graphics as with high quality setting. (Works for PS3 that way too) There is still 30% more optimization to go within the next few months and currently the development team is working on optimizing the PS3 version and on its own UI which will be different from the UI on PC. If you see up, we have this screenshot about the same place I’m standing right now on TV, the difference, even on lowest settings, is difficult to notice.

[Fredericks notes: Screenshot and in game footage looked almost the same, with only differences in the shadow quality noticeable but still the graphics looked really pretty.]

Yoshida: We are working really hard to bring the two versions of Final Fantasy XIV as close as possible to each other with the low spec version looking as good as the high spec version and we think we got pretty close. So when you go and write your repots for the community make sure to tell them! *everyone laughs*

JPGames-Frederick: Well I guess we can, since you showed us the proof right here! Thank you very much for your time!

Yoshida Naoki: Thank you!