The Lore (and Soul) Train: PAX ’15

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It’s PAX 2015, and while Fusionx is on location (no doubt adding yet another “I Defeated…” shirt to his collection), I’ve taken it upon myself to cover the XIV-related attraction, Koji & Soken’s Wild Ride, a combination music and lore panel featuring Localization Lead / Co-World Creator Michael-Christopher Koji Fox and Sound Director Masayoshi Soken as they explore the lore behind various songs and explain their creation process. A summary can barely do the panel justice, but if you can’t watch it for yourself, we’ve got you covered.

Koji Fox, technically on vacation, was the first to come out, explaining that he originally worked with Masayoshi Soken on Mario Hoops 3-on-3 and with Nobuo Uematsu at Distant Worlds and, eventually, on Answers for FINAL FANTASY XIV. He figured that he’d eventually get used to working with Uematsu-san, but is still nervous every time. This was especially true for Dragonsong, as his mind kept wandering to the lyrics to Land of the Lost when the deadlines were already looming.

Both Answers and Dragonsong are from Hydaelyn’s perspective, Koji confirms. In Answers, the wandering races are lamenting their existence and how life is so hard, while Hydaelyn is explaining that suffering leads you to understand who you are and what role you will play. This is contrasted in Dragonsong, where Hyadelyn doesn’t understand why her children have let the circumstances of the Dragonsong War become what they have. The contents of the songs in the game are, indeed, canon, so keep speculating based on the lyrics – some do have deeper meaning.

At this point, Soken joined the panel with Aimi on translation, making fun of Koji for being here on vacation while he (Soken) was doing appearances in four cities. He also said that the panel will be themed Hellsward based on their workload – 4 primal songs, 100 sound effects, 500 voices, and more in a matter of weeks. The main boss of Hellsward, of course, was Naoki Yoshida.

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RAVANA

Because many of Ravana’s moves are dance-like and he’s accompanied by butterflies, Soken got the idea to make the song include a waltz be reminiscent of the powerful music in Jidaigeki cinema (Western-like samurai movies seen in Japan). When Koji was first brought the music for Ravana, he banged out the basics of the Gnath’s language in about a day so they could be used for lyrics. However, Yoshida felt that the music would be better for Alexander, so Koji was given a new song to work with. The idea came about to use a Japanese tenor, but he couldn’t do the Gnathic language so they used Dragonspeak. Unfortunately, that singer’s schedule was too full, so the lyrics were re-written again in English (and, fun fact, sung by the Localization lead of FFXV. This singer didn’t like his own voice, but Soken was able to bribe him with promises of auto-tuning).

BISMARCK

Soken found working on Bismarck more difficult than usual – it went through 12 iterations. He wanted it to make sure it was exhilarating because it was an airborne battle against a huge enemy. Again, Koji worked on lyrics … until this song, too, was repurposed to be the other song in Alexander. (There was also an unfortunate incident where Koji spent a few days writing lyrics to the wrong instrument after Soken gave him a version lacking the intended melody).

ALEXANDER

The original Ravana and Bismarck songs were revised to fit the new theme, though some traces did carry over. Koji admits that some of the lyrics to the song heard in the first three areas are now thematic of Alexander but not necessarily meaningful. For instance, the use of 72323 is completely random – it has no hidden link. (Yet…) For the fourth area, the song is called Metal and features a lot of Gobbiespeak. Goblins used to be much worse at Eorzean (English); there were few goblins so they had time to play with the language. In Heavensward, however, there are so many goblins that they’ve had them become better linguists to reduce the workload (perhaps they read up on it in Sharlayan). The panel concluded with a surprise, impromptu performance of Metal, though the crowd was shy about joining in at first and technical difficulties with the stream necessitated that the song be started over again.

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“It’s MY fault!? This is Reddit all over again!”
– Koji Fox