During our time at PAX East 2016, we got a chance to sit down with localization lead and co-world creator for Final Fantasy XIV Michael-Christopher Koji Fox. We got answers for an incredible amount of lore-related questions (Please look forward to it!), but we also asked him about another big project he’s working on: a lore book.
Fusionx: I was so excited when this was announced. I think a lot of that comes from my background of doing FFXI stuff, and there’s been a lot of XI stuff published. The announcement comes out and I’m like, “There’s a lore book! and it’s going to be in English!? A language I can read!?!?”
Koji Fox: I know, I was there for all of those FFXI books, too. I saw them all go by, and saw people ask “Well, why don’t you translate that?” Well, we have to translate the game… and eat lunch….
Fusionx: How big is it going to be? Do you have a set number of pages in mind?
Koji Fox: We do. We already had a set number of pages. We knew how long we’d have to work on it and how much I could translate in a day, and how much Oda-san could write in a day, so we went off of that. We knew, “Okay, we have to have it done by here for editing and then for printing”. I’m going to say it’ll be a little bit over 300 pages. We’re going to have a lot. It won’t be like ten words on a page and a big picture – it’s a lot of text on a page.
There’s going to be a lot of new stuff, too; it’ll be good, it’ll be thick. I just chose the font, too, and it’s an awesome font… It’s an awesome font.
Anwyll: Is it serif or sans-serif?
Koji Fox: It’s Comic Sans.
I think you guys have maybe heard of it? It’s the most comical of all sans.
It’s actually a font that’s very similar to—
It’s not bragging but… I just turned forty last year and so I had to buy myself a mid-life crisis present. So I treated myself to a book. A very old book. A book I actually hinted at on a Developer’s blog a while back. It’s the first English translation of Pliny’s Historie of the World (Naturalis Historia) which was first translated in 1601. Then, in 1634, they did a second edition. Back then you didn’t have editors, so the guy was just basically told for 30 years all the stuff he got wrong, and he made a list of them and wrote in the corners of the old book, and that become the second edition. So you have this awesome piece of work that’s actually been edited by the author 30 years later and it’s the first ever English translation of this Latin piece and I used that originally to get inspiration to write all the old English bestiary things I did for 1.0 (the Raimdelle Codex). I wrote a bunch of those, and used that book for inspiration and I thought how it would be so cool to have something like that, and I looked up the price and went, “Ahhhhhh!” But then I turned forty and went “Screw it, I’m gonna buy this”. And I did.
The font that’s used in there, it’s similar to that one. So it’s one of those old fonts from the 1600s or 1700s; Victorian times and that kind of style, and I wanted to use it for the book. We’re trying to find one that we can use license-wise without paying too much because we do have a budget, but I think we’re going to get something like that and it’s going to look so awesome. It’s going to be so beautifully designed. Oh, man… I wish I could show you.
Anwyll: How is the information laid out inside the book? What will it cover?
Koji Fox: We’ve got a lot. It’s going to have tons of chapters, maybe two hands worth of chapters. There’s stuff on history, the different organizations, we go into the backgrounds on primals, the twelve gods, races – because I know a lot of players want to know more about Hellsguard so they can roleplay or they want to know more about Au Ra. We’ll have nations, stuff on individual characters— We have these little blurbs for all these characters that we’ll spread around. We know a lot about the main characters because they have their own quests, but some of those minor characters you never find out about their background and so we’ll have a bunch of stuff in there on those. Then, of course, stuff on enemies, clearing up some of—probably a lot of—your questions. <laughs>
Anwyll: So now we know what the goals are for what the book should accomplish inside, but do you have any goals for what you hope to accomplish outside of the book, in the fan base?
Koji Fox: Personally, I was like, “We should just make it all hardcore.” But you can’t do that, because if you do that then, yes, that hardcore group will be, “Yay!”, but then that user that just got into XIV might be like “Ahhhh!” We want to make sure not to do something where no one is going to be pleased, so we’ll cater to the hardcore fans but also make it accessible to a lot of people.
So we’ll have some stuff that has already appeared in the game or on the Lodestone; there will be stuff that’s been out there. But I want to say that will make up maybe around 10% of the 300 pages. But I’ll say that probably around 80% or 90% of it will be all new stuff. I’ve already started translating it and, maaaaan. It’s not just text either, but art and assets that we’ve had on our servers that might be showing up for the first time. Maybe some of it might be stuff used in things like Famitsu or Dengeki, but it has never been used on the Western side… so maybe some new images and graphics and maybe some screenshots from 1.0 if we can find an old computer in a closet somewhere that still has the build on it.
Editors Note: We’d like to clarify the percentages above. 10% of the text will be text that has been used previously. The other 90% of the text will be new text, but not necessarily new information. However keep in mind there will still be a lot of new information and older material will be fleshed out.
Fusionx: If you could create an in-game item to be included with a lore book what would it be?
Koji Fox: <evil laughter> … I’m not supposed to talk about minions that could be connected to the book. But… you know… Artbook had a minion… Other artbook had a minion…
Fusionx: If this book does well, do you think you might do other books? Because I mean… you’re not busy enough.
Koji Fox: It’s not out of the question, but considering the amount of time that’s going in to it – especially now that Oda-san has taken over a lot of the writing responsibilities and is getting ready for the next expansion and working on stuff because things are planned way in advance—
Fusionx: Gotta get those peaches in there.
Koji Fox: That back story on peaches is at least a good five or six million words to write.
Anwyll: No less than two Witcher 3s.
Koji Fox: And of course we’ll need to have Peach Treants…
I’d love if my job was just making lore books – because that’d be awesome – but my job is not just making lore books, I have to do other stuff as well, I’ll probably have to sing at FanFest.
Anwyll: Maybe years down the road when we’ve accumulated another 300 pages of unknowns.
Koji Fox: I’d assume that, you know – with the expansions – lots of stuff gets introduced. Lots of new areas and, yeah, … all these places we haven’t talked about before and, when you introduce an area, you have all this background information. I wouldn’t think that it would take long to get another 300 pages…