E3 2012 Interview: Summons, Chocobos, Train Tracks and Rocks

While there’s no reveal of a new trailer for Final Fantasy 2.0, that hasn’t stopped Naoki Yoshida from talking about what he and his team has been pouring their hearts into over the last year.

At E3 this year we got a host of new concept art showing off everything from class specific armor for crafting and gathering classes, to screenshots of a dragoon fighting what just might be the biggest coeurl we’ve ever seen! But the fun doesn’t stop there! Today we got an hour to sit down and talk with Yoshida-san about 2.0 and we even got to see an early build of the 2.0 client running in front of our very eyes. Don’t worry, even though we couldn’t take pictures of it, we’ll make sure to talk about it as much as we can!

Read on for our interview and our summary of the 2.0 client demonstration!

Yoshida began by thanking us for taking time our of the busy E3 schedule to meet with him and also wanted to give a brief overview of the goals that he has, the devlopment team has, and Square Enix has, for FFXIV 2.0.  Yoshida thinks about FFXIV 2.0 as being based on three  pillars.  The first is the highest quality gameplay (which he understands that can mean a lot of things for an MMO).  The second pillar is that 2.0 must be considered the next entry into the Final Fantasy series and therefore must have a deep and involving storyline.  Finally, to achieve the first two pillars, it needs high quality graphics – something where players can be in-game for hours and hours.

According to Yoshida’s vision, on top of these three pillars is the community – one of the most important aspects of any MMO.  Only when you have a strong community balanced on the three pillars will a game achieve success.

According to Yoshida, the biggest problem with the original release was that while the graphical pillar was strong, the other two were not as strong so the game was unbalanced.  The last few patches, therefore, have focused on the other two pillars so that the “tripod” is balanced and will support the community.

Crafters will see big changes with 2.0

(NB:Questions and answers below were not only translated back and forth, but are also summaries/paraphrased questions and answers – they are not direct quotes unless otherwise indicated.)

GE: What can you tell us about changes to the crafting system in 2.0?

Yoshida:  In looking at the screenshot of the carpenter, you probably noticed that there is now “CP” – that stands for crafting points (tentative name).  Like how the disciples of magic and war have TP, there will be a point system for the disciples of the hand, and also the disciples of the land classes as well.  The new crafting system will use these points in order to utilize different actions (shown on the action bar).  When crafting in the current version, the player is basically using the same skills repeatedly.  With 2.0 the goal is to have a system where the players has to make more decisions as to which skill to use depending on the difficulty of the recipe and type of item.   So, for example, depending on what you craft, and whether you are looking for quality or quantity, you will have to decide which skill or action will be most beneficial, and consider the CP cost of that action.

Another common complaint from the disciple of the hand players is that there is no visual representation of the available recipes.  With 2.0 there will be a recipe book, which will tell you not only what is required for each recipe, but what ingredients you are missing.  From there, you can click and enter the crafting interface.   The goal is for a “streamlined” and “stress free” system.

We also understands that some players don’t get deep into crafting, so we also want to have a system in place where, if the item is easy enough to make, there is a one-button click to craft an item.

GE: We noticed that the action bar on the Carpenter is different from what we see currently (i.e. Throw Rock, etc.)  Is this part of that new system?

Yoshida: Definitely.  There will be more actions to pick and choose from for different situations.

GE: We know that there is some game content that will no longer be available with the launch of 2.0. Will any of the current achievements likewise be unavailable after 2.0?

Yoshida: Yes, there will be some that can only be obtained now.  For example, since the maps will be completely changed in 2.0, aetheryte will be in different places.  So there will be new achievements that players will be able to obtain based on the new locations.  Another example are achievements based on participating in the current events that lead up to the Seventh Umbral Era.

GE: Could the community get a list of which current achievements will not be available in 2.0?

Yoshida: That’s a great idea!  We will try to get it out with the release of 1.23.   We don’t want to upset the fans.

GE: Similar to crafting, what changes can we expect to see to the battle system in 2.0? Are battle regimens going to make a comeback?

Yoshida:  We are completely revamping the battle regime system.  It will be graphically stunning and big.

GE: what about new jobs or classes, or other changes to battle system.

Yoshida:  [Zips his lips shut]  We will definitely be adding more actions and abilities for the current jobs, especially because of the addition of the new PvP gameplay.  That will require all new types of crowd-control,buffing and debuffing actions.  We will tell you more about this system around when beta comes out.

GE: Speaking of Beta, will there be downtime between current game and 2.0?

Yoshida:  What’s going to happen is that after the current version is finished and storyline over, the servers will go down and the 2.0 beta will start up.  We want to make sure we don’t make the same mistake as before, and want to be sure we have enough time not only for the beta test but also to get feedback from the players and leave enough time to implement that feedback.  Also, keep in mind that transferring the characters to the new servers and systems could take up to a month.  So that process will be running while the beta test is in place.  There can’t be a launch immediately after the current servers are shut down.

GE: So the beta test and current game will not be operating simultaneously?

Yoshida:  No.  Because we need the time to convert the data from the current version to the new version, we can’t have people keep playing because they will keep updating their data.  That doesn’t mean we are not going to work hard to make sure the servers aren’t down for a long time.  We know that the community is there and want to maintain that community.

GE: How much downtime do you expect between the end of the beta test and the launch 2.0?

Yoshida:  It won’t be anything like the next day, but we hope to have it be as short as possible.  We need enough time to make sure everything is right and start it smoothly.

GE: Do you have any ideas yet on how will people get into beta?

Yoshida:  We decided not to tie it directly to the legacy campaign, but we want to prioritize getting the current players that are playing now into beta.

GE: What is the one aspect of new content you are most excited for people to see.

Yoshida: The new summon system.

GE: Ummm… what can you tell us about the new summon system?

Yoshida: [Laughs]  As you know there are primals – powerful demigods- in FFXIV.  Summons are a staple to any Final Fantasy game, but to me, in recent games the summons have been cheapened because they are so easy to access.  The current Ifrit and Garuda battles are hard, but I don’t want a world where everyone has summoned, and is walking around with, their own personal Ifrit.   It cheapens how hard it was to get access to that primal.   In 2.0 there will only be one of each primal per world. So one Ifrit, maybe one Shiva maybe one Ramuh, per world.  These primals will be somewhere in the open world, roaming,and players will need to find them and then get together to defeat the primals. If they win and are the first to defeat it, the primal will come under their (temporary) control.  For a 2-week period, the free company or linkshell who defeated the primal will have time to raise up the primals’ “gauge”.  If they get it sufficiently raised, they will get to choose when and where to summon the primal for help.  It could be used in any battle, and once they use it, the weather in the whole world will change so everyone in the world will know that the group used the primal.   Once they summon the primal, it will of course return to the open world.

GE: Will there be a way to know the status of each primal?

Yoshida: No.  Currently, we don’t want to show that.   We want players to talk among themselves about the primals and their status.

GE: How does the primal gauge get raised?

Yoshida: Other than “raising its gauge” we can’t say any more right now.   But what we can tell you is that it will be very community related.  The capturing group is going to have to do certain things to raise the gauge.

GE: We take that that if you don’t raise the gauge within that two weeks the primal is released?

Yoshida: Exactly. Also, its not necessarily two weeks.  That’s what we have now, but it could change.  It will be a set period of time.

GE: We know chocobo raising is coming with 2.0, any more details you can share?

Yoshida:  With chocobo raising you will be raising your chocobo not only to ride, but as a partner in battle.   You can raise a chocobo in four directions – to become a tank, a healer, an attacker or a caster.  This is chosen through a skill tree.  Also, there will be chocobo specific barding/armor that will effect the chocobo’s skills – so it will not just be for looks.

GE: Is that a system that you would do once, or is chocobo raising more of a cycle where you would raise multiple chocobos?

Yoshida:  It is still further down road map, but with the new estate/housing system, within your house there will be a personal stable where you can have multiple chocobos.   This is down the road, but raising will be available at 2.0 launch.

GE: We’ve been told that with 2.0 you will be able to change genders, but can you change names?  Also, will players be able to change servers at 2.0 launch?

Yoshida: As for changing names, we are working on whether it is technically possible to do that.  We understand that this is a name you will be with for a long time, and want a name that fits, so we are going to do everything possible to try to do this.  As for moving world servers, at launch we will be opening new servers, including more recommended servers, so we hope to be able to allow for such transfers at launch.

GE: How about server transfers after launch?  Any plans?

Yoshida: That’s definitely something we are going to want to implement after launch.

GE: So are there any other new systems we can expect to see at at launch 2.0 that we don’t have now?

Yoshida: One thing that will be implemented at 2.0 launch will be new instanced raids that will require alliances of 24 players.  In addition, for these, and other instanced raids, we will be adding difficulty selections.   So players can play on normal difficulty and get certain items, but then try again on a hard setting in order to obtain better items.

GE: Is this in combination with the dungeon, or content, finder?

Yoshida: Yes.  We’re calling it a content finder because it is not only for dungeons, but for pretty much anything including quests, behests, instanced content, etc.

 

After our questions, Yoshida grabbed a laptop (A Sony Vaio equipped with an Intel Core I7 and a Radeon GPU) and loaded up a male Miqo’te Paladin (complete with relic weapons) in the Black Shroud. The optimization right now for the client is about 15% and they’ll be spending time over the next few months working on that. There will be two benchmarks for 2.0. One should be up in time for the alpha test and there are also talks to have one up before the launch.

What we saw was also running on “high” settings, however there is still a lot of brushing up that needs to be done so it will look even better when it’s finished.

We spotted a small envelope icon up in the corner of the screen that indicates that there’s a message waiting for you to view at a Moogle. We had also asked for some more clarification about the dots located in the corner of the screen, which are used for inventory bag. It’s a quick way to see how many items you have and what type of items they are. We got a small glance at the inventory screen which was a small, dark grey window with a few tabs at the top to switch between the different bags. There’s also a small menu that comes up when clicking with the right mouse button… but that’s a secret for now. Also of note was the inclusion of X and Y coordinates at the bottom of the mini-map.

We’re also excited to say that we were the first western site to get a peak at Thanalan right outside of Ul’dah in 2.0. It looked like we were around the area of where Camp Black Brush would be since we could see Ul’dah in the background. After Yoshida started to move the character around a bit we made note of something on the ground.

Something that could look like a train track

GE: I see there’s like… is that a train track?

Yoshida: What? It could look something like that (laughs)

Currently a region will consist of 4-5 areas. The standard size of each zone will roughly be 1×2 kilometers. With the large changes we saw to Thanalan right outside of Ul’dah we wanted to know how the cities would be impacted by the events of 2.0. Changing the layout of the cities would require a lot more development cost, however they are looking to tweak the existing maps to make them more convenient and adding things like new paths to make it easier to get around or having it so you can select a location when you exit an area. Other than that the city maps won’t change that much.

Yoshida: That rock over there on the left side? That’s pretty much what’s going to be in the game but the rock on the other side is still in development. So when you tell your readers about the rocks you saw, only the one on the left is complete (laughs). The textures on the ground is fixed, that’s pretty much what it’s going to look like.

Yoshida tapped on the space bar and his male miqo’te jumped up (though due to the nature of the current version there wasn’t any animation for it. There are no plans for using the jump for any elements of gameplay it’s just there for those that want to jump. You won’t be able to jump to avoid Ifrit’s attacks or anything.