Gamer Escape Interviews Naoki Yoshida- "The Truth Is Out There!"
Yesterday I had the pleasure of sitting down with Naoki Yoshida to ask him about some of the content in the recently released 1.19 patch as well as pick his mind on some of the information that was released this past week with the news of Final Fantasy 2.0.
Also present at the time of the interview were Yasu Kurosawa, Sage Sundi, Robert Peeler and Matt Hilton. Michael-Christopher Koji Fox was on hand to provide the translations.
But enough of all that, I’m sure you want to see what we asked and the kinds of answers we got! Read on for the full interview.
Yoshida: I’d like to start off by first just thanking the community that has supported us over the past year. It’s been a little more over a year, September was our one year anniversary and we really appreciate all the support that we’ve gotten in the last year from the community that’s stuck with us.
Recently we released a lot of information on where we’re going with the game in 2.0. A lot of road maps, features, screenshots, and artwork, but we’d also like to focus on the things that have changed up until now. 1.19 released a lot of new content. In 1.20, 1.21, 1.22 we hope to release even more new exciting features and content. We’ve gone from the stage of where we were fixing things that were in the old version and now we’re moving onto new content so that players can experience a lot of the new and exciting things now in real time while also, we’re working on stuff for 2.0 for the future. It’s not just about the future but it’s also about experiencing this new stuff now.
Gamer Escape: With the last update, a lot of the items that have been in the game are now “dated” items. They can’t have Materia attached to them and they’re made from older recipes. Are these items planned to be phased out? And will they ever be removed from the game?
Yoshida: The biggest reason that we decided to go through with this big change to the items and have all of these older items become dated items and add a set of new items, was to accompany the major changes that we made to the battle system. We have all of these changes to the battle system and the items that existed really didn’t fit with the changes that we had made and they were breaking the balance, whether it be the parameters or the restrictions on the items and whether they could be equipped by these classes or these classes. If we were to have kept these original items with this new battle system, it would have created a lot of confusion not just with new players but also with players that have been playing the game for a long time. So to remove that confusion and better keep the balance with the new battle system, we thought the best way to do this was by creating the new items.
One of the biggest reasons for not being able to put Materia onto these dated items is that the minute you’re able to put Materia onto them, it increases that confusion we wanted to avoid because the item will remain with its stats and parameters that don’t match up to the new battle system. So by not being able to attach Materia, it becomes a way of phasing out those items. We’ll also be removing the materials that create those items out of the game gradually as well as removing the recipes that depend on those items. Our aim is to have them replaced by a new set of items. But the thing is, we understand that a lot of players may have been using an item for many months up until now and they really like it. You’re not able to put Materia on it, but you are able to turn it into Materia. So that item that you’ve used, you turn that into Materia and put that on your new item. So in a sense that old item you used is now a part of your new item and that’s what we’re aiming for.
Gamer Escape: When I’ve converted some strength rings I’ve been getting Mind Materia! Is the Materia you get from an item random? Is there a chance of getting better Materia if you repair the item before converting it?
Yoshida: First of all, it is not random. There is a table we have with each item in it and that item will have a possibility of turning into one of these. That table is currently a secret, but we’re going to be releasing it very soon so players will know what items will turn into what Materia.
For example there are Materia that work with hate control like enmity, that will decrease or increase enmity and the thing is, right now, it’s very limited. There are only certain items that will do that and the chances are very low. Right now players just have to try to figure out what they are but we’ll be releasing it and so you’ll know. It won’t change the chance of you getting one of those enmity Materia, but at least you’ll know what items to use to get that one that deals with enmity.
And your second question about repairing it- it has nothing to do with the grade of Materia. You don’t have to repair it before converting to Materia.
Gamer Escape: With the live letter from the producer, there was a question about moon phase and direction with crafting (room laughs) I was really surprised! You’ve been so honest and straightforward with your answers and you didn’t really tell us anything! Can you give us a yes or no on if there’s something that affects crafting outside of stats?
Yoshida: Yeah I heard about this… it goes back to the times of FFXI where everyone’s talking about moon phases or that you have to face northeast to get a higher chance of things not breaking or high quality. What it comes down to for example like… this item will make this Materia. That type of information is necessary because I don’t like the player to try and make, for example, that enmity Materia from an item that will never produce it because that’s not fair to the player because they don’t know that. So releasing that type of data to the player that says “ok this item will get you a chance to get this” I’m all for it. But when it comes down to like moon phases, it comes down to what the player believes. There are times when that belief actually helps the player. If the player believes enough then maybe that will help them, or if they feel that will help them get the result they want then it works for them. But people that don’t want to believe that, that works for them as well. It’s something I’d rather keep a mystery because I like letting the players having something to believe in. But when it comes to an actual probability type of thing, those stats I’m not afraid of revealing which is why we’re going to be releasing that Materia table.
Gamer Escape: (sigh) I tried.
Koji: You’re never going to get an answer! You’ll have to wait until Final Fantasy XVII Online or something like that and maybe the next director will say.
Yoshida: By saying yes or no, it might destroy a little piece of somebody inside… you know, that dream they have that facing northwest is really going to help and.. maybe it does!
I love X-files so.. the truth is out there! That should be your answer. (room laughing) Trust no one! The truth is out there, trust no one! Fight the future is my motto. I’ve got it on all my e-mails! Fight the future!
Gamer Escape: We know for the most part which classes will get which jobs. For example Lancer will turn into Dragoon. But it’s a little more confusing when it comes down to the magic classes. It feels like Conjurer could be both White Mage and Black Mage. So what job is Conjurer getting? What job is Thaumaturge getting?
Yoshida: For patch 1.20 one of the things we have planned is a major overall of adjustments for class balancing. So you’re going to see a lot of changes to the actions and abilities that each class can use. We think that after these changes you’re going to know which one is going to be which. We’ll release a list of things that are going to change before the patch. So at that time you’ll probably know which one is going to be White Mage and which one is going to be Black Mage.
Gamer Escape: It feels like Dragoon could have ties to Ishgard. Will Ishgard be coming soon? Or will that be arriving after 2.0?
Yoshida: Currently, the story that we are preparing for patches 1.20, 1.21, and 1.22 is continuing this story that’s about the coming of the Seventh Umbral Era and the threat that looms on the horizon that nobody knows about that is coming and will come. Ishgard, while playing a small part, they won’t be playing a large part and the reason we decided to do this is that we have something really big planned for 2.0 that features Ishgard and it features some type of content that we want to have a lot of players be involved in at the same time. But with the current graphic engine you can’t display more than 40 characters at a time so releasing it at this time with our current engine wouldn’t make it as exciting as we intended it to be. So we’re going to wait till we have that new graphic and server foundation before releasing that content because we feel it will have more of an impact if we release it at 2.0.
As for Ishgard being part of the Dragoon back story… that will probably be done through quests. There will be some ties to Ishgard like talks about “the legendary Dragoon of Ishgard” and following in his footsteps. So the quests will be touching upon Ishgard, but those big “go to Ishgard and do stuff” type of content is going to be for 2.0. But it’s going to be one of the main things we’re going to want to push for 2.0 because we feel it’s going to be something that will hit the players and they’re really going to enjoy it.
Gamer Escape: The next classes that are supposed to be coming are Arcanist and Musketeer. Are they going to make it in before 2.0? Is there anything you can tell us about that and the jobs they’ll get access too? I think I heard Arcanist will get access to a Geomancer job?
Yoshida: Currently the class balance is… there are a lot of attacker type classes and not enough caster classes. So our first priority if we’re adding new classes, is to start with caster classes and the second would be to add a pet class. Because right now there are no pet classes. If you talk about MMOs almost all of them have their pet class and so we need a pet class and we want to beef up the choices on the casting class side. Those are our top priorities. After that we can think about adding new attacker classes. The talk that’s going about saying that Arcanist and Musketeer are going to be next… those might not necessarily be the ones that are next. Yes they do appear in the scenarios and it looks like the foundations are there, but whether those will be the next ones or not, it again, depends more on… we’re looking at what the game needs rather than what’s already there. So if it means starting up something new so we can fill that, then yes, we’ll do that. As far as the job system and what jobs will be attached to them… we don’t know. As for the timing, we still don’t know if it’s going to be before 2.0. There’s a chance it could be before, and there’s a chance that it could be after.
As you know, the biggest problem with adding a new class is all the stuff you have to add with it. If you add a new class, you have to add a new job. When you add a new class and job, it means you have class and job quests and then you have class and job items and then you have battle balance and so it’s a lot of extra work. We first want to get the system with our current classes in place and balanced and once that’s done to a point we’re happy with, then the next step is adding those next classes. We have a list internally of what classes we’re thinking of and the jobs those go to. As for when they get done… that depends on the schedule. If everything works out then yes we’ll get these classes and jobs in sooner then hopefully you’re expecting.
Gamer Escape: You mentioned adding things the game needs instead of things that already have a foundation. I was surprised to see the next primal fight, instead of something like Titan or Leviathan, is a Moogle? So the game needs evil Moogles?
Yoshida: We’re not stepping completely away from the foundation because a Garuda battle is coming. It’s in the works. The reason we decided not to go with some stuff that was already out there… I mean because you know in the main story you have the Kobolds and they worship Titan. Why not bring out Titan? Earlier this year in Japan we kind of had a.. big thing happen.. and you release things like that and people start putting them together and say “you’re not thinking”. So we had to think of the rest of the people, maybe even people that weren’t playing the game and say that OK, we’re gonna not do that because we want to respect you guys. So we decided to go away from that even though we had a foundation for that already. The biggest thing that’s been one of our mottos is we want the game to feel more like a Final Fantasy game because that’s been one of the biggest things that players have said- that it doesn’t feel like a Final Fantasy game. So with the addition of things like Chocobos, we’ve gotten a step closer, because all Final Fantasy games have Chocobos. Now we have Chocobos and the Chocobo theme.. and another thing are the Moogles. So by having this Moogle battle, you’re taking a step towards a game that feels more like Final Fantasy and also doing something that’s a little bit out there and a little bit crazy, something that’s not mainstream. You’re going to have this hardcore Ifrit battle this time and next time you’re gonna have a… oh you’re fighting a Moogle! But it’s going to be a hardcore battle as well! (in English) More! More!
Koji: Harder than the Ifrit battle!
Gamer Escape: Speaking about the Ifrit battle… I haven’t beaten it yet, but I’ve heard that when players beat it, the items are dropped into their inventory instead of the loot pool where they could then be transferred to somebody. I’d hate to spend this time beating it to get a Conjurer weapon for my Lancer and then I’d feel bad if there was a Conjurer in my group that wanted it and I couldn’t give it to them. Is there a reason it was made that way? Or is this a bug?
Yoshida: Currently that is pretty much what we had in mind, so it’s not a bug. Because the hard mode can be played by everyone, it depends if you have the lamp or not. If you have the Inferno Lamp when you go in, it means you have a chance to get a drop. And If you don’t, it means you’re just helping and you won’t get that drop. So it looks at each player and checks for the lamp and if they have the lamp then it will randomly choose the drop and it’ll give it to each player, so it’s chosen by each player rather than the whole group. There was a lot of talk within the development team whether to look at the class and say OK if it’s this class then they only get this item or it doesn’t look at the class and gives the random item. They went with not basing it on the class because they felt that with the armory system and the way it’s set up now, players probably play a lot of different classes and might not be participating in the Ifrit battle on whatever they consider to be their main job. For example, you might really be a Lancer but because of what the party needs, you went as Gladiator. We didn’t want to penalize that player by not giving them a chance at what they really want. But that doesn’t mean it’s a perfect system. We know that players have started complaining about it. We are moving towards having a system that is closer to the need/greed system like WoW uses. Where players can… if they’re that class they can “need” it, or “greed” it if they want to use it for another class and the “needs” will get precedence over it. We’re finding out how we want to adjust that system and fit it towards FFXIV. Before we do that, we want the opinions of the community on what they feel would be the best type of loot system.
Gamer Escape: It was mentioned that players will be able to call primal when they’ve defeated them. Does that mean we’ll see Summoner and Beastmaster types of classes and jobs?
Yoshida: We call tell you that we’ve decided to put a Summoner class in the game. I want to be a Summoner.
Gamer Escape: There was a tame ability mentioned as well, so does that mean Beastmaster as well?
Yoshida: Yes. The foundation or system for using pets in battle is currently being made. So yes in the future there will be a beast tamer type of class. Again, it’s all about that adding one class means adding more jobs and all these extra things. So all these jobs won’t come at the same time. It’s all about the priorities, but it is on the list and we are making preparations for it.
Like one idea could be for example maybe having a beast tamer class and that job would be like a summoner type of job.
Gamer Escape: So from bunnies to primals then?
Yoshida: Yeah, yeah, I think seeing how far you could take that class or take that job could be really interesting.
Gamer Escape: With these pets and summons.. and I believe with Chocobos it was mentioned there would be some type of growth or a way to level them up. Would this be a long term thing where the pet would gradually level over time or a short term thing where the stats of the pet would reset each time you call it?
Yoshida: Actually it was kind of all put into one thing on that document but there are three different ways to think about this. There’s a buddy system for a companion and then you have a pet system and then the summons. The beast pet would be kind of like in FFXI, where you tame it, use it and then it’s done. So there is no growth with the pet. With Summoner, what we’re thinking of is maybe when you summon for example like Carbuncle… that’s not saying that Carbuncle is coming. It’s just an example! But when you summon it at maybe level 20 there will be certain abilities that it can use and then when the Summoner is level 50, that list will be extended with level 50 abilities. Carbuncle won’t change, it will just be the abilities that it can use. Then you get the buddy system which will be with your Chocobo and your Chocobo will be yours forever. It will have a level and it will power up and grow as you feed it and use it. So yeah there are those three systems. So the confusion there where pets can level up, that’s currently not the case. They’re just a one time thing. It’s Chocobos that will have the levels.
Gamer Escape: Originally when FFXIV came out there must have been this story that didn’t involve some big disaster and having the world change. Can you tell us anything about that? Have NPCs like Tancred, the bard from Ul’dah been re-purposed?
Yoshida: Yeah… there have been a lot of changes in the storyline. But those NPCs that were originally in that first main scenario that the players saw concerning the Echo like Tancred, Baderon, Papalymo, etc. while they still have that main story that they’re attached to, they’re also a part of the coming story as well and they’re reacting to it just as any other player would react to it. And we’ve seen that some of these characters have started showing up in some of the related quests so you have like Y’shtola I the Limsa Lominsa quest where she’ll show up and talk to you about the empire and what’s coming and we expect that to continue on through. Yes they’re still a part of that original scenario but they’re also participating in the new stuff as well.
Gamer Escape: Will the echo still be around with 2.0?
Yoshida: Yes that will still be in.
Gamer Escape: 2.0 is going to be a new client, new servers, new engine. Is this still a form of Crystal Tools? Is this the Luminous engine? What can you tell us about that? Is there going to be support for Direct X 11?
Yoshida: First of all.. the current engine like Crystal Tools or the Luminous project, are made more for console games where they’re able to show the greatest level of graphics in a passive environment whereas an MMO is an active environment where, while you still want it to look beautiful, you also have many many people coming together in the same world. You have something like MW3 where the graphics are beautiful but what would happen if you had like 3 or 400 people on the screen at once. Would the engine be able to handle that? So what we wanted was something that could handle more of an active gameplay that we’re aiming for but also be able to provide beautiful graphics and landscapes. We found that Crystal Tools and Luminous would not be the optimal solution for this so that’s why we’re going to develop our own.
One of the reasons we had some trouble with the original launch of FFXIV was because we went through Crystal Tools and it was an engine that wasn’t really optimized for an MMO and so we’re currently working with technologists that are working on Luminous to make us a custom, optimal engine that will work for FFXIV.
As for DX 11, the first thing the dev team feels we have to do after the release of 2.0 is have a graphics engine that can accommodate the high-end computers and let those players have the highest quality graphics, smooth playability and a lot of different characters on screen- not the 40 we have now but having lots of characters displayed without having performance lag. But we’re also looking at the users with lower end computers as well and being able to create a system where you don’t have to have a high end PC to play. It also means having a system that will also handle the PS3 hardware as well that you have and just because it’s on the PS3 doesn’t mean it’s going to have lower quality. Maintaining quality for all three platforms- for high-end, low-end and PS3 and having an engine that will support this is what we’re aiming for with 2.0 and once that’s completed, and we hope to have that completed for 2.0, the next step will be to get the game ready for DX 11. So it’s in our schedule but we decided to make sure we had those three things covered by 2.0 and pushed back DX 11 for now. It’s not off the table thought and definitely the next thing we do after this.
Gamer Escape: You’ve said that MMOs are like amusement parks. What kind of other rides do you have in mind for 2.0? Some of the concepts looked like maybe there was something for a chocobo farm or racetrack. I’d love to see something like one of the Final Fantasy card games like Triple Triad be added into the game.
Yoshida: A lot of people on the development team have come to me with ideas for types of card games and even when I was a dev myself, I designed a card game as well but it was very difficult. The biggest thing is that when MMOs players play, they play for rewards and they want really good rewards and so making a good card game system that has a good balance that is difficult enough but that also has really good rewards can almost be as difficult as making a battle system that is balanced and so I’m waiting right now for the perfect plan to come across my desk. They have a lot of ideas but I’m waiting for the perfect one so when the perfect one comes, I’ll OK it. That’s not to say that we’re never gonna have a card game but the ones that have gotten to my desk so far haven’t passed the test.
As for other attractions coming in 2.0 we do have the crystal tower that has been mentioned, the Ishgard content that was mentioned before. Also Chocobo related things..we ‘re not going to say race or anything yet. Players won’t have to wait necessarily for 2.0 for some of these. We’re going to continue adding new type of content all the way up through 2.0 as well and so that’s another reason to stay around and keep playing.
We really wanna get the Chocobos out in battles so you can be with it and take it with you and have it – like in the concept screen shot with the Chocobo fighting, that’s one of the things we hope that players are looking forward to and want to do.
Gamer Escape: One of my favorite parts of the last patch was the Chocobo and how you could just call it with a single click.
Yoshida: That was one of the main things I requested, that we could one click and call it. We put the Chocobo in this concept screen shot so players could start getting excited. We want players to start thinking about what types of options could be available to them when the Chocobo is there in the party.
And there you have it! Unfortunately we had a lot of questions that we simply didn’t have time to ask. Hopefully we’ll see some answers to those in the coming weeks. Until then, jump in our forums and let us know what you thought about the answers we received!