Last week I sat down with Hiroki Fujimoto, the Producer on Final Fantasy Brave Exvius.
Before we got into our Q&A session, he gave a me a short presentation about the game and what the team is working on for the future.
Fujimoto: On June 30th we released the global version of Final Fantasy Brave Exvius and we’ve already acquired 6 million downloads. We released the Japanese version in October last year. This global version however, isn’t a simple port. We added new mechanics specifically for this global release. We incorporated Facebook login and daily quests that aren’t in the Japanese version. We also adjusted game balance and specific mechanics in the game to make it more enjoyable for players in the West. It’s all based on feedback from the Japanese release.
We actually aren’t doing this in the Japanese version… but for the global version we’re doing a character poll within the community and the most popular character that gets voted on will appear in the game to summon. These characters are already available in the game, but we’ll increase their drop rate sometime this month because they’re the most popular in the polls. We just increased the drop rate of Final Fantasy VI characters today (Friday, September 2nd). These characters are very popular, but they also have unique techniques and are very useful in the game. For example, Locke has an ability in the game that lets him steal from enemies or increase drop rates. The current event in the game is focused on collecting dropped items from enemies and so he can be very valuable right now because of that.
We’ve only had events unique to Brave Exvius until now, but we’re going to be doing a Final Fantasy IV event that’s based on that story. Those elements from that game will be in Brave Exvius. We’re doing this for Tactics as well, showing that we’re doing collaborations that aren’t just the main series titles, but spin-offs as well. We’re working with Gumi for this game, and so we’re also doing a collaboration with one of their titles, Brave Frontier. Lastly, we’re going to do a Halloween event for the global release.
Right now if you collect many characters and items you get an item called the Trust Master- and you want to increase the number associated to it by doing more quests or collecting more characters or items. It does become a bit difficult because of the grinding involved and so it takes a long time to increase that. What we’re incorporating now is an item called a Trust Moogle that will help you increase that Trust Master number.
We’re also going to have Lightning appear in the game, no date yet, but it will be sometime soon. She’s very strong in Brave Exvius- she was very popular when we released her in Japan. We have a lot of character appearances from other titles, however, Lightning is the first from Final Fantasy XIII.
Further into the future, we’re planning on release the game on the Amazon App store. We’re aiming to start this around mid-September. Since we are releasing the app through Amazon’s store, we’re thinking of releasing some t-shirts through Amazon as well. It’s called the Merch by Amazon line and we’re trying to make a t-shirt available through this as well. It’s actually this one (see above).
We’re also planning on having a PVP element in the game. It’s not a real-time battle. You would create a party of your own and compete against others parties and it will be ranked. If we just do a simple ranking system, there will be a certain party with specific characters that is the strongest in the game. To avoid that, we’re thinking of having specific types of regulations or rules each week or month that you have to adhere to. That way there’s no one strongest party in the game.
Gamer Escape: Because of the differences between the Japanese version and the Global version, I’m curious what kind of challenges there were when deciding what to change for each version?
Fujimoto: The way that they’re different… the speed that the users complete the game is different, the global users are faster. I had to think of ways to make the game interesting enough so they don’t run out of things to do early one. I also, tried to avoid creating an app that the more you pay, the stronger you get. The players that know the Japanese version might come along and ask “why did you change this?” but I did all these changes to make sure that all the global users can enjoy the game.
Gamer Escape: For a game that has so many characters from previous games, I was wondering if you had a process for deciding which characters make it into Brave Exvius?
Fujimoto: We first determine which character is the most memorable from a title. All of us working on the title are fans of Final Fantasy ourselves and so we all talk about the most memorable characters. We also have other characters that aren’t in this game- it’s not that they weren’t popular, we’re just keeping it safe for future use.
Gamer Escape: I saw that Shantotto from Final Fantasy XI is in the game, I was wondering if there are Final Fantasy XIV characters as well?
Fujimoto: The short answer is yes. Right now in Japan we have a FFXIV event going on with those characters. We don’t know when it will come to the global version, but it will definitely come.
Gamer Escape: You told me that PVP is on the way. I was wondering what kind of rewards there will be for those that earn high rankings?
Fujimoto: We intend to have rewards for people that reach a higher rank. We’re also planning to have a system where you get points just for participating so regardless of the ranking you’ll get points. Those points can be used to get new items to help you get stronger in the game like the Trust Moogles we mentioned.
Gamer Escape: There are so many Square Enix mobile games right now. Record Keeper, Grandmasters in Japan, Mobius, Justice Monsters V which just came out… how does Brave Exvius set itself apart when there are so many other titles?
Fujimoto: This is the first original Final Fantasy RPG title for smart phones. We created it as a completely new title and I believe it’s the first to do that. The concept for this title at first was that there are many good elements of Final Fantasy, but we focused on the classic games, one through six. Our idea is what if Final Fantasy evolved just using sprite artwork? What if we created a sprite based Final Fantasy game with current technology? I believe Brave Exvius is one of the answers to that question. The game plays out in 2D, but it has 3D animation from time to time and I believe that’s a nice marriage between that classical look and current technology.
Gamer Escape: Many times when I think of Final Fantasy, I think the latest graphics or 8-bit sprites and so it’s interesting to see something that’s in between those.
Fujimoto: Thank you.
Gamer Escape: I was wondering if there are any sort of guidelines or rules when making a mobile Final Fantasy title. For example, both Brave Exvius and Mobius use Cactuars to give the player EXP boosts.
Fujimoto: It’s not that we have any hard set rules to follow, but our goal is to have a game that’s easy to understand and is enjoyable. If we do a cactuar in one game, but moogles in another game for Exp- players that play both games will be confused after awhile. All the teams share information with each other and try to come up with a good solution together.
Gamer Escape: Is the story in the game able to be completed now? Or will it come with a later update?
Fujimoto: For the story itself, we’ll be releasing new storyline every month. The first season persay, will end around a year since the release of the game. That doesn’t mean the game will end there however. We’re going to release a second season after that. I hope to release more for the game as long as possible.
Gamer Escape: You said that story will come in once a month, what’s the frequency of other events such as character draws? How often will we see those?
Fujimoto: We’re thinking at least two events per month. So each event would be two weeks each. The most we’ve done is four but it will be somewhere between two or four.
Gamer Escape: When I was playing the game, I loved being introduced to exploration, or being able to walk around the town. Lots of mobile games have you simply navigate the world through menus. Why did you decide to let players explore and walk around?
Fujimoto: That’s a great question! I’m glad you noticed!
Final Fantasy is an RPG, and I feel like going around maps and searching through dungeons is something that really makes an RPG enjoyable and satisfying. Of course using menus to move around is faster, but I don’t think that’s the full experience of an RPG. It was challenging trying to incorporate it into the game but we’ve been getting really good feedback so I’m glad we were able to accomplish that.
Gamer Escape: There’s crafting in the game. Many mobile titles will have you do draws for items, however, Brave Exvius has you draw for characters so how did you come to decide on having this crafting and equipment system?
Fujimoto: I feel that crafting and finding new equipment in these RPG games- what’s fun about it is getting them through exploration or enemy drops and I wanted to keep that in this game. As for drawing the characters, you can use the in-game currency while playing, but you can also have in-app purchases available for those that want to try for a specific character. I didn’t want the game to make it so the only way to get stronger was to pay. I wanted to create a game where you can pay if you want more, but everyone can still get the same experience. That’s why I took that approach in the game system.
Gamer Escape: Is there anything that you would like to say to the players out there?
Fujimoto: Since smartphones are something a lot of people carry around, I feel this title is something that gives you an opportunity to touch the Final Fantasy world any time they have available. I’d like for everyone to try it and for those that have played Final Fantasy before, it’ll feel very nostalgic and you’ll love that about the game. For those that haven’t played Final Fantasy, I hope that this will intrigue you and make you want to try Final Fantasy. If that happens please try Final Fantasy XV or any of the other titles coming out. I hope that this title will become that kind of gateway to Final Fantasy for everyone.