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Dengeki and Tanaka at E3

20 Jun 2010

E3 is now behind us.  FFXIV Producer Tanaka Hiromichi is back in Japan, working on the latest version update for FFXI and the FFXIV beta.  However, that doesn’t mean we are through looking at all the exciting information to come out of the event!

Expect a number of articles to pop up on Eorzeapedia this week and next as we go through the Japanese media interviews and some of the interesting reporting they’ve been doing after the event.

For starters, we have a very lengthy interview from Dengeki.  I have to wonder how many times Tanaka answered variants of the “where are the male Miqo’tes?” question.  Who knows.  Maybe it’s not too late for them to go back and add them for us?  We can hope right?  Most of the interview covers things we’ve already seen in other interviews so it makes a nice review for people who haven’t been following every little piece of news to hit the site.  However, there are a couple things that might be interesting for even the most up-to-date fans out there.

As always, you can read our translated version below or check out the original interview with pictures on Dengeki’s website.

At E3 2010, Square Enix showed the world for the first time a new build of their highly anticipated MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV.  The build is almost identical to the beta build that will be released later to testers.  We were able to play the game for ourselves and follow it up with an interview with FFXIV Producer Hiromichi Tanaka.  We asked for more details regarding the beta and also future development.

–First, would it be alright to consider the demonstration build at this year’s E3 as the beta version?

Tanaka: I think it would be more accurate to call it a build that is very close to the beta.

–Please tell us what the biggest changes are between the alpha and beta builds.

Tanaka: The biggest changes are in the way graphics are displayed and the battle system, which was completely changed.  For the graphics, the biggest difference is in the shadows.  We’ve also changed the character creation system to something that is very close to how it will be in the final release.

–Do you plan on having the available races and clans nearly identical to what we are seeing now?

Tanaka: What will be in the beta is what we expect to include for the starting races when the game is released.

–Is there a particular reason for having only male Highlanders within the game setting?

Tanaka: In the beginning planning stages, female Highlanders were also on the table to be included but for a number of various reasons, we ended up not including them as a possible choice for character creation.  Male Miqo’tes will probably make an appearance as NPCs but sadly, they have also been excluded from the choices people will have at character creation.

–Is there any chance of additional races being added to the game in the future?

Tanaka: I can’t make any promises but it’d be nice if we could.

–Let’s talk about the new trailer.  There are a lot of NPCs that appear in the trailer.  What kind of creature is the white avatar-esque being?

Tanaka: That’s not an avatar.  It’s an elemental.  This time elements are a factor in a lot of things and are very important to the game.  Those elements are related to the elementals.  Unlike FFXI, the cycles of the moon and weather won’t have an effect on things.  Instead, the 6 elements will affect a number of things.

–Next, can you tell us more about the brand new battle system?

Tanaka: The tempo has changed the most.  With the prior system, your action gauge would fill up, and then after that, you would wait for your effect gauge to fill up in order to increase the strength or accuracy of your attack.  However, that time spent filling up would translate into just empty waiting time for the players.  So the first thing we decided to do was get rid of the effect gauge.  Then we made the action gauge longer and made it fill naturally over time.  Players could carry out any of the various actions available to them by using up a portion of that gauge.  If you fill the gauge completely before attacking, you can pull off around 3 or 4 actions in a row.  Even as you carry out those actions, your gauge will start filling again.  In the end, we have a battle system that makes for a much quicker battle tempo.

–So the 2 gauges that accumulate are the TP bar and the new action gauge?

Tanaka: In total you have 3 things that you use to carry out commands: the action gauge, the TP bar, and for some moves, MP.

–So we can expect that the reuse/recast time for a command will be different depending on the action you used?

Tanaka: Yes.  That is particularly true of moves that use up TP.  The recast timer on them is long enough that even if your bar has completely filled again, you still might not be able to use it.

–I imagine you had a lot of requests made regarding the user interface.  Have there been any major changes there?

Tanaka: The main menu has changed quite a bit.  We’ve also added in chat filters and made changes to the log.  We are also looking into making it possible for players to create multiple windows.  (Translation note: This is probably referring to multiple log windows so that you could separate your battle log and your general chat logs.)

–Will there be other communication systems put in place besides just chat?

Tanaka: We are planning on including a macro pallet system.  It could be used to trigger a command and a message at the same time to make it easier to communicate what you are doing to your party members.  Also, we are working on a system where when you are in a party, it is easy to tell which enemy your party leader is attacking.

–Will that be a visual cue?  For example, maybe the monster’s name would blink or there would be a number above the head of the monster.

Tanaka: You’ll have to look forward to how it works. (smiles)  Right now we are trying a number of different things.  The goal is for players to have some kind of communication tool so people don’t go off attacking different enemies.

–Let’s get back to the battle system.  Is there anything you plan on adding to it even after the beta version is released?

Tanaka: A basic version of it is included in the alpha version already but there is a system we are working on called “Battle Regiments”.  We are planning on making various situations in the game where you’ll have to use battle regiments when in a party along with the communication tools we already talked about.

–Will there often be “many versus many” battles in FFXIV?

Tanaka: Right now most of the monsters that are roaming around are just solo mobs.  However, we also plan on including monster groups, like maybe where there is one male and his harem of females.  In particular, the majority of the monsters you’ll fight while doing a guildleve will be in parties.

–Are there any systems that will be new to the beta version?

Tanaka: We’ve said before that items, weapons, etc, would degenerate.  That system will go live in the beta.  It doesn’t mean that your weapons will disappear.   However, they will get worn down to the point of being useless and require repair.  That should lead to an increase in the number of people who choose a class from Disciples of the Land or Disciples of the Hand.

We also plan on adding “Retainers” which are NPCs for hire.  In FFXI, you couldn’t run a bazaar if you were logged out.  However, for FFXIV, it will be possible to leave your items with a retainer and have them stay in the marketplace and sell your stuff for you.

I’m not sure what the timing will be but at some point linkshells will also be introduced to the game.  I think it will have a big effect on the community.

–Are the linkshells going to work the same as FFXI’s linkshells?

Tanaka: Yes.  However, there is going to be a broader level of community building as well and a lot of different things will be built into that system.

–Do you mean something like a power struggle between city-states? (Translation note: He is getting at the Conquest system in FFXI.)

Tanaka: Rather than having to do with the city-states, it’s like a company and the linkshells would fit in below it.

–So it’s more of a group that the players put together themselves versus something set  system-side.

Tanaka: Yes.  It is going to be reminiscent of guilds or clans.

–Will more areas be added to the game when the beta test starts?

Tanaka: We don’t know exactly how big the download will be for the beta version yet.  When you think about adding new areas… well, we’ll be looking into it but it might not be possible.

–So players can expect to be in the same areas around Limsa Lominsa that the alpha testers have been playing in?

Tanaka: It will probably be necessary to test other areas as well.  However, for the time being, we plan on limiting the beta to the area around Limsa Lominsa.

–How big will the final release be?

Tanaka: We are still making a lot of adjustments so it’s not set yet.

–Can you give us an idea of what kind of specs will be required for the PC version?

Tanaka: Once the beta test begins, we will release the required specs for the beta version.  Right now, graphic cards are probably a bigger bottleneck than CPUs so we want to work on optimizing that.

–Speaking of the Windows version, I was really surprised to see a 3D version on display here at E3.

Tanaka: Right now Nvidia is putting a lot of energy into their 3D Surround Technology that allows you to use 3 monitors so we agreed to cooperate with them to make the display.

–Any plans to include this technology in the final release?

Tanaka: We haven’t made any decisions about that yet.  Right now it’s just a demo of the technology.

–What can you tell us about the beta version for PS3?

Tanaka: We are still hard at work on it.  Director Komoto couldn’t come to E3 actually because this is crunch time for development on the beta and PS3 versions.  Right now back in Japan the entire staff is working hard.

–The PS3 can handle 3D images.  Any chance FFXIV might support 3D?

Tanaka: That is another thing we are considering, however, I think it would be very difficult to implement.

–Can you tell us when the beta test will start?

Tanaka: We want to start in July at the latest.  We’ll also announce the PS3 beta at some point in the future as well.

–We’ve also heard before that you are planning on moving to cross-regional service at some point during the beta.  Do you have any idea as to when that will take place?

Tanaka: Right now everyone is actually on the same servers.  They are just divided up into different login windows.  Once things are stable enough, we’d like to switch to something close to 24/7 testing so it might even be soon after beta testing begins.

–Do you plan on adding more testers?

Tanaka: Currently there are 10 servers for the alpha test and the number of testers is already in the 10s of thousands.  First, we’ll start with those testers for the beta.  After watching how things go and making sure everything is running smoothly, we plan on adding more testers.  I’d like to let the alpha testers know that we’ve listened to their feedback and made improvements for the beta version.  So please check out the beta and we’ll work on making it even better.  Of course we’ll continue to make adjustments even after the game is officially released.  Please keep sending in feedback!