On Wednesday at E3, we were able to sit down with Hiromichi Tanaka and Yasu Kurosawa and ask them a few questions about FINAL FANTASY XIV. Things were crazy, and you could see the Square Enix PR people scrambling to try and keep interview appointments. It seemed like everyone wanted a piece of Tanaka, from Fox Business News, to the New York Times, to Eorzeapedia. Video camera crews were coming and going. We waited patiently in the Square Enix VIP area outside of the interview room for our chance to see what we could learn. Saori Hill did the translation work while sporting an Eorzeapedia tee shirt. A reporter from the New York Times joined us at the last minute as well.
Eorzeapedia: Will you be optimizing the FINAL FANTASY XIV client to take advantage of 4 or more cores for next generation processors with 64 bit architectures?
Tanaka: We will guarantee that it will work (in terms of the 64 bit technology). We don’t think it will have much benefit for the users, so we would like to stick to the 32 bit. It is compatible, but we will be using 32 bit. We are working very close with Intel for optimization.
New York Times: I have a broader question. In terms of your general approach to the project, how do you want this game to fit into the overall MMO landscape, what advances you are trying to bring with this game over FINAL FANTASY XI, and in general how you see this game fitting into the MMO market and how do you want this project to be special?
Square Enix: FINAL FANTASY XIV is going to support cross region and cross platform. We will have the translation functions in the game so people will be able to communicate with people in other regions.
New York Times: What weaknesses do you see in other MMOs that you want to solve in FINAL FANTASY XIV?
Square Enix: One thing we are making sure FINAL FANTASY XIV has is time efficiency so people will be able to play the game even if they only have a short play time. To allow them to do that, we are introducing the guildleve system, which players can play even if they are solo players or even if they only have a small group. It will be more flexible for the players. And also with have the armoury system, which will allow people to change classes anytime they like. And they will be able to combine abilities to customize their characters. This is going to be very unique for FINAL FANTASY XIV.
Yasu: More unique, more flexible. It’s not so much as what we saw as a weakness of other MMOs, we want to make sure we do the right thing instead of learning from negative feedback.
New York Times: Each class levels separately, is that right?
Yasu: We have the weapon skill, and also we have the physical level. It’s not like experience point levelling, but you will be growing. As you switch classes, you are not a totally new class. Even if you change your weapon or change your class to a totally different one, the abilities that you earned with your other classes can be utilized as well. You will be a unique character which can be different from everyone else.
Eorzeapedia: Will there be any kind of new tools available for linkshells such as a common storage area, ability to select a linkshell emblem/logo, member ranks or banks?
Tanaka: This time we have the company system which is like an advanced system of linkshell which you will be able to level up as a group. We will let you know more information shortly. We can’t disclose too much information at the moment. Also, as a community tool, we will have this community website, which you can check out company status and your own character status. You will be able to enjoy the game even if you are offline.
Eorzeapedia: Will surnames be optional? If not, how will you make it easier to send /tells to other players?
Tanaka: It’s going to be mandatory. You have to have a surname. The surname and the name will be unique. There will only be one person on the server who has that name. However, you will have a sort of short version – a nickname of the full name. So for example, Saori Hill will be my full name, but if you make it remember “Saori”, then you only have to use “Saori” to /tell someone.
Eorzeapedia: Is that nickname chosen by the player during the character creation?
Tanaka: When you make a /tell for the first time, if you type in “Saori”, you will have every Saori in every world appearing in the results. So you select which one is going to be Saori for yourself. The user will decide what the nickname is going to be for the other person.
Eorzeapedia: There is a growing group in the community who would like to see the implementation of Male Miqo’te and Female Roegadyn in FINAL FANTASY XIV. Are there plans to make these yet to be seen gender and race combination playable? If not, what made you decide not to work them into FINAL FANTASY XIV.
Tanaka: Actually all of the design is ready, so we were planning to implement them into the game, however during the development process we had to put priority with what to put into the game, and due to the man power issue we had to give up implementing them into the beginning of the game. You will see them as an NPC, but it is not a race that you can choose at the beginning. We’ll see how it goes in the future, it might be a possiblity. We are still looking into it.
Eorzeapedia: How many classes will be available at launch, and do you plan to add more post-launch?
Tanaka: We haven’t confirmed how many will be available at launch, but in the beta version you will see many of the classes which you can find in the launch version. Also, even after we release the game we will add more classes as version updates, so there will be tens-of classes which you can enjoy in the game.
New York Times: Do you have to do anything special in terms of game balance in order to make it inter-operable between PC and console users? There is often a presumption that PC users will have an advantage over console users. What did you have to do in terms of design of the game to make it equally enjoyable for PC and console users?
Tanaka: It’s fair for both sides regardless of the platform because everything is based on the server side and has nothing to do with the platform side. So what the player is experiencing on the platform has nothing to do with the platform, you are just seeing what is based on the server.
Eorzeapedia: Will there be a way to group up certain pieces of gear so that when you change disciplines you don’t have to re-equip all your gear?
Tanaka: That was the initial plan actually, but after trying it out we found there were quite a few demerits by doing so, so at the moment we decided not to implement that into the game, but if that’s what the players want then definitely there is something we can do.
Eorzeapedia: TP seems to be abundant while fighting monsters in FINAL FANTASY XIV, however MP seems to be lacking. Will there be alternative methods of MP regeneration to assist casting classes without having to rely on an Aetheryte or a 30 minute abilities to replenish it?
Yasu: Very specific questions!
Tanaka: That is the game design at the moment, so on purpose MP does not recover automatically so you have to do some sort of action to make it recover.
Eorzeapedia: And real quick, is that character designed after Yasu? (see below)
Yasu: I kind of made the same hair style (laughing)
Given that the interview lasted only about 20 minutes, you have the back-and-forth translation time, and the NYT took time asking questions, the answers to which were known 9 months ago, a few nice tidbits were learned. Tanaka and Yasu each got their own Eorzeapedia t-shirts, and if history is any indication, they’ll be donning them in style. Hope you all enjoyed our E3 coverage. We’ll work on posting the video of the demo and interview soon, as well as a broader E3 FFXIV interview round-up, over the coming days.