Elmer over at ZAM has just translated an article from Dengeki Games. A few highlights (with interspersed comments) are below:
Ｑ：How much of the game will players be able to experience in the beta?
Ａ：We started at about 10% of the final product with the playable Alpha version and are ultimately trying to perfect the underlying game system. The bulk of the game won’t be made public until the retail version is out.
This is nice to hear. It’s a balance for SE for sure, but nice to know that for both those who are able to beta test, and those that are not, that there will be a lot left unseen.
Ｑ：What can you tell us about the transition from the Beta to the final version or about world transfers in general?
Ａ：Once service starts, we want to make it so you can move along with the friends you make during the Beta to the same world. As for world transfers, that may be a possibility in the future, with some limitations probably.
Square Enix really messed up server selection the first time around with XI. You simply have to be able to play (from the very start) with existing friends. Frankly, this is even more critical this time around where players will almost certainly be moving en masse from XI. I expect this to be addressed from the very beginning, and not to limited to only those who beta test, as this suggests.
Ｑ：Does the main story concern the Eorzeans and Garleans battling over the continent of Aldenard?
Ａ：At first, the story will open in Eorzea, that is, the continent of Aldenard and its surrounding islands. However, the Garlean Empire is based on another, larger continent.
SE has stated that the released area for XIV will be approximately the same as that of Vana’diel when XI was released. The “expansion by area” concept has worked well for SE and other developers, and I’d expect the same expansion style here. They’ve set up the lore already to easily allow for it, and I would be surprised if they don’t already know where the first few expansions will be directed.
Ｑ：Give us the highlights on character creation.
Ａ：We’ve focused on really allowing the player the freedom to make any kind of character they would like, and designed them to be a much more natural fit with the game world. Depending on your class, even your starting equipment will be different.
I like it when they say things as if they are new – i.e. “even your starting equipment will be different”. If was different in XI too – and was meaningful for all of 10 minutes. Anyway I think the “freedom” comment here is more important. One of the distinguishing features of XI was the ability to create one character and test everything – jobs, hobbies, nations, etc. I expect this to carry over to XIV – and here’s hoping that references to “freedom to make any kind of character” means more than hairstyle or color.
Ｑ：How is the magic system?
Ａ：Magic is classified by levels and by the school the spell is from. For example, spells that serve the same function (e.g. heal HP) might have a different level of potency, an area of effect, longer casting time or higher MP cost depending on the school of magic the spell is from.
**Translator’s note: The answer used very general terminology, but it appears to reference how a healing spell can be classified as Cure I, Cure II, Cure III under White Magic, or at the same time, Pollen under Blue Magic. So there are different levels and different schools that refer to the same function.
We have so little information about the Disciples of Magic, but I think Elmer is on to something here – and it’s been widely discussed. XI introduced blue magic, which allowed the player to select certain spells, and not only did those selections give you access to the selected spells, but it determined your other abilities as well. Also, recall that Scholar was out there, and depending on what strategem you selected, your spell costs, durations, timings, etc. varied. I think these are a good baseline of what we will see in XIV, where your class and spell selection will provide the variety in the mage classes.
Ｑ：Can classes other than Disciples of Magic use magic? Also, can Disciples of Magic use swords or other weapons?
Ａ：Classes are somewhat pre-defined, but that isn’t to say there won’t be the possibility as you continue to level and grow your character.
I hope they don’t go overboard with this. I didn’t really like it when in FF1 my Warrior can all of a sudden learn white magic. It needs to be worked into the class if they want a hybrid class. We haven’t seen a hybrid class defined as part of the Disciples of War, but perhaps we will get one out of the Disciples of Magic when that information is released. I’d certainly expect that the second part of the question is true – that a mage can use a weapon of some sort – be it dagger, staff, club, hammer, etc.
Ｑ：Will monsters behave similarly to FFXI, with Active and Passive types, different ways to sense players, linking, and all that?
Ａ：Of course, there will be many monsters romping around in field zones. The behavior elements from FFXI will be used again, but there will also be other unique elements the can determine a monster’s behavior, like herd mentality or environmental factors.
Again this was something that XI excelled at. Monsters could be passive or aggressive – and could be spooked by all sorts of variables (sound, sight, magic, skills, etc.). With the advances in monster AI, I expect only improvements in this area. SE has already hinted strongly at the herd mentality, and the relationship between the environment and the monsters could also be a nice addition (unless they are referring to elementals – and then it’s not news).
Ｑ：Are there monsters that will fight each other?
Ａ：In the beginning, we came up with something like a food chain system, and it may end up in the game in some form or another.
They had an ecosystem in XI also, but the implementation was lacking. I think it would add a lot to see monsters interact out in the wild – but admittedly it’s another thing to balance. You don’t want players heading out to a zone only to find that the xp mobs are all dead because another monster happened through. I think the interaction can be done in a very limited way, so that you can see the lion attack the sheep every once in a while, but not to the point of it becoming a regular occurrence.
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Those are my thoughts. Chime in with your own!